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October 2013

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“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Mat 16:18 ESV THE CHURCH IS UNDERATTACK IN OUR DAY! It has been since the beginning of the church age. Satan is alive and battling Christians as much as he is able to. The attacks come from within the church and from those outside of the church. For example, from without there are activists that are constantly seeking after their own agenda and trying to push it on the church. Madalyn Murray O'Hair was an American atheist activist. She was the founder of the organization American Atheists. She is best known for the Murray v. Curlett lawsuit, which led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling ending official Biblereading in American public schools in 1963. This came one year after the Supreme Court prohibited officially sponsored prayer in schools in Engel v. Vitale (Wikipedia). It has been fifty years and we see where we are today in our society without that influence in the public schools. What activists claim as a victory has resulted in moral decay in our country and the generations that have followed. Now, the church is confronted with those who have an agenda for gay rights and same sex marriage and sad to say, some church groups and denominations have already fallen victim to that agenda. WE are also confronted with spiritual battles from within the church. Many trends in the life of the church have come and gone and many pastors and parishioners alike look for gimmicks for church growth without any dependence on the Holy Spirit. One trend in particular is a program called, “Church without walls.” They’re motto says, “We’re not going to church we want to be the church.” My dear friends those that are saved according to the Bible can say with great confidence and enthusiasm, “WE ARE THE CHURCH!” There’s another program called “Natural Church Development.” Maybe we should be in the Supernatural church development. I was always amazed that. If it is natural why does there have to be a program to promote it? We are dealing with and encouraged to change terminology so we don’t offend anyone. I like to call some of the changes in terminology “church euphemisms.” It is doing the same thing with a different name. Some pastors for example do not want to be called pastor but encourage folks to look at them as a “life coach.” On the website lifecoaching.com it says; What Is Life Coaching? " Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of

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The Church You Can Believe In Today: The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail by Bruce Wilson
the universe will be simpler." Henry David Thoreau “Life Coaching is a profession that is profoundly different from consulting, mentoring, advice, therapy, or counseling. The coaching process addresses specific personal projects, business successes, general conditions and transitions in the client's personal life, relationships or profession by examining what is going on right now, discovering what your obstacles or challenges might be, and choosing a course of action to make your life be what you want it to be. Life Coaching is a designed alliance between coach and client where the coaching relationship continually gives all the power back to you, the client. We believe that you know the answers to every question or challenge you may have in your life, even if those answers appear to be obscured, concealed or hidden inside.” Hardly Biblically based is it? Then there are the churches for people who don’t like church. I’ve even read of some with in the Reformation Movement. How can you be a Christian and not love the Church that Jesus bought with His own blood? It’s an oxymoron! We are promised in Matthew’s Gospel that the “Gates of hell will not prevail.” Praise the Lord. The translation from the Greek means that we, the Church, will not be overpow-

Inside this issue:

Revival In the Word and Spirit 2

Being the Church

Volume 3, Issue 10

4

Avoiding Rejection

6

The Work of Satan

8

The Realities of Christ

9

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Revival in the Word and Spirit
to it that tremendous pressure is exerted upon everyone who takes a stand for Christ in this World” (P. 60). Every day he throws at us anything possible to get you to turn from the Lord or at least to back off in your commitment to the Lord.

by Henry Scoff

When I consider the setting for the book of Revelation, I’m always impressed with what God had to say to the Church in the midst of persecution. Sixty-three years had passed since Jesus had been crucified. In about 95-96 A.D., the Roman emperor Domitian banished John to the lonely Island called Patmos. The book of Revelation tells us, “I John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus was on the Island called Patmos on account of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus”(Rev. 1:9). Lillie McCutcheon points out that he was sentenced to hard labor in the lead quarries on the island (P. 15, The Symbols Speak). Sister Divinely McCutcheon pointed out that built, divinely in ages of despair, the message ruled, to God of Revelation gave courage and she doth hope of eternal victory to milsubmit... lions suffering persecution and death. The truth in its pages challenges the church of today to engage in the final conflict of the ages. Here the Christian will find a new edge for his sword of the spirit; faith becomes strong in the promise of final victory (P. 16, The Symbols Speak). We aren’t facing a sentence in a lead quarry but we face challenges to our faith today and the book of Revelation speaks into our lives and calls us to revival. Sis. Lane, of Lane Bible School, wrote in her unpublished manuscript on Revelation, “Satan never signs a peace treaty, He sees

C. W. Naylor stated in the second verse of “O Church of God,” “Divinely built, divinely ruled, To God she doth submit, His will her law, His truth her guide, Her path is glory lit”. The hymn directs us to the Word of God as authority within the body of Christ. F. G. So what does the Lord say to the Smith points out who the two witChurch in the midst of persecution in nesses are by leading us through the first century and today that encour- scripture. In John 5:39 for inages us and reminds us to seek Him? stance, “you search the scriptures In Revelation chapter eleven we are because you think that in them confronted with two witnesses. The you have eternal life; and it is importance of these witnesses goes to they that bear witness about the very life, authority, power and me” (ESV). Then he takes us to 1 structure of the Church. John 5:6, “And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Let’s begin with authority. I was recently told of a change taking place in Spirit is the truth.” Smith states, “The two divine agents, authoritaa denominational group to help the district’s financial struggles. It seems tive and final, are evidently the Word of God and the Spirit of someone has come up with the idea that their problems will be solved if the God” (P. 124, The Revelation district has access to the bank accounts Explained). of the local congregations and they can D. O. Teasley wrote in 1901, just make automatic withdrawals for “Back to the Blessed Old Bible, the district. That struck me as a meth- back at the Master’s call, back to od I never noticed in the Bible! That the Words of our Savior, loving, sounds like the exercise of a line of obeying them all, never in sects to authority that I don’t find in the Bible be scattered, never again to do either. wrong, Unity, Holiness, Heaven, What does the Bible have to tell us about authority? In Revelation 11:3 we are told these two witnesses have the authority to shut the sky that no rain fall during the days of their prophesying. When we read the close of Matthew 28:8 we discover Jesus saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Power and authority in the church belong to Jesus and if anyone else exercises authority, it is delegated authority from Jesus. ever shall be our song, Back to the blessed old Bible, back to the light of its Word: be on our banners forever, Holiness unto the Lord” (Hymnal of the Church of God, 1953 ed.). The authority in the Church is Jesus and He manifests that authority through the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Smith had stated the Word of God is His revelation and the Spirit His empowering. In John’s day the message was

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clear. Circumstances aren’t going to change. They may get worse, but God’s authority will never be removed from the Body when they stand on the Word, preaching, teaching and obeying it. Then the Church, in every culture no matter what part of the age you live in, will live and minister as an Overcomer! Persecution is very real. Every period of this final age we are in experiences some form of persecution. While some Christians face tremendous physical persecution, others face the more subtle kind that undermines your life and thinking, constantly tempting you to conform and blend with the culture. Verse three tells us that they will prophesy in sackcloth. Sackcloth gives the meaning of mourning or grave concern. When Esther’s uncle Mordecai was concerned about the edict that the King had made against the Jews, he appears in the area of the Kings court in sackcloth. The message was clear. This is a grave matter that has come upon us. So in the persecution, the call was to stay faithful to the Word and the Spirit. Martyn Lloyd-Jones stated, "In difficult times it isn’t the time to start looking for anything new, you turn to what is tried and true, like Isaac digged again the wells of water which they had digged in the days of Abraham, his father” (P. 23, Revival). The world is on the attack from every side against the Church. We face the agendas of every imaginable group attacking the position of the Church and we must turn to the Word and the Spirit if we are going to see a resurrection of real life in the Church. We don’t need a gimmick, we need the power and presence of God. When Joshua followed Moses taking over the role of leader, the clear teaching that God presented him with was I will be with you, and Israel will know I go with you. In all of the trials of the day we minister in first and foremost, we need the presence of God! point of the Word and the Spirit.

The truth of the Word and the Spirit released in the Body of Christ is they speak to the heart of the individual not with words of tolerance but with words of conviction through the Spirit and the Word. When we understand that God’s two witnesses are always available and always powerful enough to When we look at what we refer to as the revive the Church again, then we will experidark ages, what was it that revived the ence our own personal revival in our lives Church? We discover God spoke to and our congregations. Martin Luther through the Word and the Spirit and brought him out of the Catho- In the Book of Isaiah God tells us that He will draw His sons and daughters from the lic religion beginning the reformation. north, south, east and west. He has made it I was recently informed by a Brother in plain...that is something He will do. When our congregation who works with the we unite with God in what He has already Gideon’s about a church or a religious blessed and become His prayer warriors and body that has taken up the worship of witnesses through what He is doing, we will the goddess Sophia in their congregaexperience revival because we are trusting God to move in His power and authority. tion. As he explained this, I must say I was a bit dumfounded. But when people Power and authority. We looked at that a few are looking for relevance with the world moments ago and recognized that true power and authority in the Church is from the Lord. they always seem to come up with We have before us the Word and the Spirit something like this. The Word and the Spirit made the first century church rele- and the direction in the Word that He will vant, whatever that really means during bring the captives out from the four points of the compass. That sounds like a plan for rethe severe persecution of the Roman vival to unite with. emperor; they are able to carry us through whatever need we have or whatever persecution we face. Martin Luther, given the assignment to study the book of Romans, came to see the truth of Romans 1:17, “The righteous man shall live by faith” (NASB). Consider he is in the bondage of Catholicism and through the Word and the Spirit he comes to the truth and out of that came the reformation, which of course set the Word free, only to step to man-rule overtime itself. Today we have many religious influences confronting the Church, dressed in the title of Christianity. But when investigated, we find ideas that are based on appealing to people through their wants and miss the

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Being the Church

by Kenny Seidler

Volume 3, Issue 10

The Book of Acts is the history of the birth of The Church. In Acts one we read of Jesus’ ascension to heaven and of the disciples returning to Jerusalem and gathering in the upper room. It is worth noting that each individual is named in the 2nd half of verse 13 “Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Emphasis mine). Did you notice that there were differences? Educated and uneducated one used to work for the hated Romans as a tax collector and there was one who was pledged to the overthrow of the Romans: a Zealot. Two of the eleven were brothers and wanted to be first in the coming Kingdom. There were women and the brothers of Jesus. They were as different as the pieces of a puzzle. Yet they were of one accord, in agreement, unified by their belief and in their purpose, and they prayed. And look at what happened, the Holy Spirit came and the end result was the addition of about 3000 to their number. In Acts 2:41-47 we read “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Did you see what they were? They were devoted. The Encarta Dictionary on my computer defined “Devoted” as, “feeling or showing great Love, commitment, or

loyalty.” With great love they were com- group that gathers once a week, or mitted and loyal to 4 things: the Apostles so, religious or not. teaching, the Fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Either we are united and devoted to His Church, seeking the Lord and Have you ever been puzzled? Not the walking in unity. Or we are still a kind of puzzled where you are confused child of Adam and stand united or perplexed, though that could be part with him: condemned. That is not of it, but where you realized you were the unity Christ prayed for when He part of something bigger or better but prayed for you and I. didn’t know how you fit in? Each of us In John 17:20-23 Jesus prayed “I are like the pieces of a puzzle, uniquely do not ask for these only, but also different, and yet when we are devoted for those who will believe in me to one-another and joined together in through their word, that they may fellowship we become one and show the all be one, just as you, Father, are total picture of the Church. Vs. 44 tells in me, and I in you, that they also us that all who believed were together. may be in us, so that the Not just once a week for an hour or so; world may believe that you have but, that day by day they attended the sent me.” Temple. Their devotion to God and each other was obvious to all and they found So that the world may believe, that favor with all the people. they would be compelled to come to Christ and His church. He conUnfortunately in today’s church, the tinues, The glory that you have givdevotion that was found back then simp- en me I have given to them, that ly is not there. Just as it is sometimes they may be one even as we are difficult to put all the pieces of a puzzle one, I in them and you in me, that together, the individual members of to- they may become perfectly one, so day’s church have a hard time being one that the world may know that you with each other and must learn to fit into sent me and loved them even as you the whole, to get along, and be the loved me.” Church. In being devoted to the fellowship We’ve seen it and heard it; divisiveness, of believers, the body of Christ, we discord, and disunity, a judgmental and participate with and in the Church critical attitude that tears down and belit- so that the world may believe. Only tles; “I don’t like the songs we sing”, in Christ will we find unity, peace, “The Pastor’s sermons are to long and and the grace to overcome. Only in did you see that tie.” “That is not the Christ will we ever be one and only way I would have done it” and so it goes in the one-ness He prayed for can one thing right after another. Is that be- we influence those outside the ing The Church? Church for Christ. Nit-picking and complaining about what is going on, stating that they would have done it differently, better or bigger and letting not only those in the church know but also those outside the church. That will not build unity or the church and shows just who they are truly devoted to. If we want to see revival, it has to start with His church being ready, and if we are only united in our apathy and lukewarm devotion to attending a church service once a week we won’t make the cut and are no different than any other If you are not working towards unity, you are working against it! And in working against the unity Christ prayed for, you are working against Him and His Church! Are your words building up, encouraging words or are they tearing down and discouraging? Is pride keeping you from doing the right thing, being righteous, and working towards unity? Are you going through something right now that God is trying to use to make you

more Christ like, are you fighting it? in the family of God, with your family at Every critical word uttered and every home, or in the work place. act of selfishness committed shows where our true devotion lies. In Ephesians 4 we are told to walk worthy of our calling, to be humble, gentle, paThe Great Commandment: “Love the tient, and to bear with one another in love. Lord your God with all your heart When being right becomes more imand with all your soul and with all portant than the God appointed relationyour strength and with all your mind'; ships of the church we are not living out and, 'Love your neighbor as yourthe Great Commandment, being Christself.” What you love is seen in your like or being The Church. focus and priorities, where you invest heart, soul, mind, and strength as In John 13 Jesus Said “A new commandwell as your money and time. (Love ment I give to you, that you love one an= T I M E) In Ephesians 4 we read, “I other: just as I have loved you, you also therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, are to love one another. By this all people urge you to walk in a manner worthy will know that you are my disciples, if you of the calling to which you have been have love for one another”(34-35). Learncalled, with all humility ing to love unselfishly as Christ did, and and gentleness, does, is not easy. It runs against the grain with patience, bearing with one anof our self-centered nature. But it can be other in love, eager to maintain the done in Christ through grace. When we unity of the Spirit in the bond of are one, bound together by Christ's love, peace.” Would that not be being de- the world will see God's love through us voted /showing great love? The NIV and in us and it will compel them to the says “Make every effort to keep the church. It is easy to say, that we love one unity of the Spirit”. This passage of another, but we must also practice it. 1 scripture tells us that it takes work, Cor 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind; effort on our part, an eagerness, to love does not envy or boast; it is not arrokeep unity in His Church. gant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does Pastor David Hall, in his sermon on not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices unity urged us to refute division. He with the truth.Love bears all things, besaid “When you hear that which is not lieves all things, hopes all things, endures unifying, but dividing, don’t partici- all things.” Verse 8, Love never fails pate in it, refute it, don’t just walk (ESV). It is love for God and love for one away stand there and refute it!” another that forms the bond of peace that These are our brothers and sisters in binds us together as one. Verse 4 There is Christ, your church, the body of one body and one Spirit—just as you were Christ, in which you worship and are called to the one hope that belongs to your an active member, why would you call—one Lord, one faith, one bapnot defend that which you love and tism, one God and Father of all, who is are devoted to? If we do not show our over all and through all and in all.” Just devotion, our love and loyalty, to like in a marriage we need to learn to get those we profess are our brothers and along and understand that we are now one, sisters, what does that say to the our differences complement or complete world? Unity of the Spirit is mainthe whole. We cannot be critical of the tained in the bond of peace. We are to church, each other, leadership or of the have a peace-loving spirit that looks programs, planning, and events of the to find things that we can agree on church. That does not build unity or rather than those over which we disa- show the love of God or the love we are gree. What you look for, you will to have for each other to a lost and find. The Holy Spirit in Romans 12 hurting world. Over the years I have partells us “If possible, so far as it deticipated and encouraged programs and pends on you, live peaceably with events in the congregations in which I was all.” As far as it depends on you, involved that would bring us together and means that you are to do all that you help us to get to know one another and can to bring peace to whatever situa- hopefully build relationships, I have also tion you may be involved in, whether encouraged events in the community so that they would know the church was

there, but programs and events do not build unity or His church, they encourage it. An event whether in the church or outside cannot bring the commitment needed to build His church. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said “I will build My Church.” Pastors are not to build it they are only to feed, tend, and shepherd the flock. In wanting unity I lost my focus and instead of seeking unity in the Lord I tried through events. You and I cannot build unity or the church through events. The only way the church will grow is if there is unity in Christ. The local church has become lukewarm and feeble, disjointed, and broken into individual pieces, no longer active or viable to many of the communities where they have been placed (See Revelation 3:16). In fact if the church should disappear most communities wouldn’t even notice. The Local church is falling short in its efforts to reach the lost, some are sin sick and separated into denominations that quarrel and bicker over their differences. And the world sees Christians spilt and divided over what they deem as minor issues. So what builds the church? Numbers? We can draw the numbers up with events: concerts, smoke and lights, entertainment. But that is not building the church. Is it programs and books on how to build your church? Many of us have tried that “Church in a box”, that is what it was , what it is, one size fits all, does not work, our congregations are not those of the Mega churches like Willow Creek, or Saddleback. And revival services, that’s been done, but if there is no devotion, no love, they are just another event…

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So what does work? The verses of God’s word that we have looked at today lay out the blue print for growing the church. Devotion to the apostles teaching, and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer, not events, not programs, just following the instructions and examples laid out for us in His word. We have the blue print, the example of that very 1st church and how it grew. But today’s church is broken into many individual and very different pieces that need put together. The church needs revived. Three words start the recipe for revival that the church so desperately needs if it is to grow. “If My People”, in order to be His people we must be united in Christ, we must be the church, the body of Christ. ONE church made up of individual puzzled pieces that are united in purpose, united in calling, and united in Seeking the Lord. Are you going to be that church?

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Avoiding Rejection
NO!!! God doesn’t show partiality, it says that in scripture. Okay, then what was so terrible about Cain’s sacrifice? Did he not give enough vegetables? Did he pick the wrong kind of peppers? Or was it that God wanted something living, like a calf or sheep? If that is the case, was Cain out of options, since Abel had the livestock? When it comes to God’s rejection, it may be a little confusing. We surely don’t want to experience the rejection Cain faced when we try to offer God something. We may not be offering God fruits or vegetables, but what about our tithing? Yeah, it may be collected like everyone else’s tithing, but what if God looks at us and is not pleased or content with what we tithe? What if he rejects our attempts to help others? Or even scarier- what if he rejects our request for salvation? How does that work? Can he really reject us?

by Josie Davis

Siblings can be so incredibly different. Brothers or sisters can look and act different, have different interests, and like different topics of study. If you’re a brother or sister, consider for a second the variations within your family. Two brothers many years ago displayed very different interests in life, which lead ultimately to jealousy and murder. One man’s interest was holy, the other’s was defiled. Cain and Abel could not have had characteristics farther from one another. Abel was a shepherd, so he worked with livestock. Cain was a farmer and worked the fields, dealing mainly with fruits and vegetables. The account of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4) is not really a joyful story. Since it is not one with a happy ending I don’t picture it being made into a movie anytime soon. Regardless, it is recorded in the Bible, so it is valuable for us to learn from. Every passage recorded in the Word is beneficial for us to study. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “ALL scripture is breathed out by God, and is profitable for teaching, for correction, for reproof, and for training in righteousness.” And for this reason, we study the whole of scripture, even this account. I hope by the end, you will learn how to have a heart like Abel, even when it’s tempting to have Cain’s attitude. Like I said, this story is far from upbeat because it ends with Cain killing his brother out of jealousy. Consider Cain’s point of view. Here he is presenting God a portion of his vegetables that he had planted and harvested. He gave God a sacrifice. Along came Abel, his little brother, who also gives a sacrifice. They both gave up something for Him, but God accepted only Abel’s offering, rejecting Cain’s. From his point of view, I could see myself getting jealous that God would pick which brother was His favorite. Did God favor Abel over Cain? Does God have favorites? Could it be that God preferred shepherds over farmers? Maybe you’re thinking that’s an easy answer -

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that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

FAITH is genuine. Give to God out of FAITH, and it will be pleasing to Him. Therefore, acting out of LOVE and FAITH makes you genuine to God. Abel gave out of faith. Cain, on the other hand, gave only what was within his “comfort zone” to give. He didn’t give enough that would cause him to rely only of God to provide for him. “Comfort zones” are where you find lukewarm Christians. I asked the youth what lukewarm meant, and they said, I know there are a lot of questions, but “When you take a shower, lukejust think about it for a minute. Right warm water is when the temperanow we are going to look at this account ture isn’t too hot and isn’t too as a way to learn “HOW NOT TO BE cold.” Lukewarm showers are the REJECTED BY GOD.” There are two types of showers we like to take guidelines I want to give you that will because they are COMFORTAprevent you from being rejected. I don’t BLE. want your sacrifices, like Cain’s, to be unworthy. Let’s make our sacrifices While lukewarm showers are acworthy of acceptance. ceptable, lukewarm Christians are Guideline 1: God NEVER rejects genu- not. Revelation 3:14-17 says, “And ine. Acting out of _____________ and to the angel of the church in Laodi____________ makes you genuine to cea write: ‘The words of God. Let’s fill in those two blanks. the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's crea1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 says, “If I speak in tion. I know your works: you are the tongues of men and of angels, but neither cold nor hot. Would that have not love, I am a noisy gong or a you were either cold or hot! So, clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic because you are lukewarm, and powers, and understand all mysteries and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so out of my mouth. For you say, I am as to remove mountains, but have not rich, I have prospered, and I need love, I am nothing. If I give away all I nothing, not realizing that you are have, and if I deliver up my body to be wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and burned, but have not love, I gain nothnaked.” Cain is an example of lukeing.” warm faith. God wants us all in or LOVE is genuine. Give to God out of all out. He does not want someone LOVE, and it will be pleasing to Him. stuck between two sides (hot v Hebrews 11:3-4: By faith we understand cold), sitting on the fence.

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There are other aspect of GENUINE that could be mentioned here as well. Genuine means your ON FIRE for God. Willingness, honesty, and other traits help define a genuine giver. Keep in mind that if your offering to God is genuine (out of love and faith), he will honor it. tion revealed when his face was “cast down” and he burned with jealousy. Cain showed the truly sad state of his heart when he murdered his brother. God searches our heart EACH time we come to worship Him. He desires a heart that is authentic in praise and on fire for him. Lukewarm praise is rejected, but firstfruits are accepted. God will never reject you and block Guideline 2: God NEVER rejects our We haven’t really addressed one quesyou from salvation, as long as you are genuinebest. Right now I want to look closely tion: Did God still favor Abel over Cain? ly giving him your all. Authentic worship at the two sacrifices given by Cain In other words, was there room for 2 ac- makes a person an authentic Christian. and Abel. In the course of time Cain ceptable sacrifices? Could God have acbrought to the LORD an offering cepted both Cain and Abel’s, or was he of the fruit of the ground, and Abel looking at whose was better? also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And A lot of children are convinced that their the LORD had regard for Abel and his parents play favorites. At my house offering (Genesis 4:3-4). growing up, it got so bad that my mother bought all of us shirts that said, “Mom’s Throughout all of history, God has Favorite.” We used to fight when one always ask that we give our first of child received our parent’s attention. I everything to him. Did you know that never knew who I was more frustrated the concept of tithing is that we give with, my parents or my sibling getting God the first 10th of the money we their attention. Looking back now, I see earn? Tithing is an act of worship, that complete jealousy in me was the real like Abel’s offering. Abel gave the issue. Cain was the same way. Jealousy FIRST of his flock. He gave lovingly drove him deep into hatred, which lead to and faithfully the firstborn, which murder. was a huge sacrifice to his livelihood. He could have rationalized, as many There was enough room in God’s heart to people love to do, and decided to love and accept both brothers. Of course allow his firstborn to mature and rethere was something wrong with Cain’s produce at least 3 or 4 more gift, he was the problem. We already firstborns. Thus he would increase his went over how Abel gave what cost him flock and give to God the same if not dearly, but in contrast, Cain did not. more from his flock. The problem Comparing the two offerings, we can see here is HUMAN RATIONALIZAthat God was dealing with formalistic TION and lack of faith. He decided worship and true worship. faith needed to be in action. He sacrificed enough to have to rely on God Cain’s style of sacrifice is compared to for supplies. today’s religious practice that says “I have to.. I have to.. I have to!!” But He brought his BEST from the flock Abel’s true form of sacrifice is different. to God. He knows our best, and asks God wants to hear our heart’s cry the us to be our best for Him. We are not same way, “I want to… I want to.. I want called to be other people’s best (by to!!” The focus is not on what the men comparing their abilities with ours), brought to God, rather it is on the men but we need to live up to our best for and their heart conditions. God’s favor God. “You shall set apart to the Lord was pointed directly at the person first, all the first opens the womb. All the then- and only then - towards the offering firstborn of your animals that are that person brought. This truth applies to male shall be the Lord’s” (Exodus our worship today. If the heart attitude 13:12). “Honor the Lord with your and condition is not found acceptable, the wealth and with the firstfruits of all gift brought to God will likewise be unacyour produce” (Proverbs 3:9) ceptable. My wealth may not be as great as your wealth, and your wealth may be Cain’s heart, not the sacrifice, was the true issue. You can see his heart condinothing like Bill Gates’ wealth, but that’s not the point. Give of the firstfruits of all your produce. Being at YOUR best is pleasing God. That also means to give God the first of your time, talents, praise, and worship. Make it FIRST and out of FAITH and LOVE- God will honor your sacrifice.

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The Work of Satan

by Blair Spencer

I have recently come to realization just how real Satan is and that he is running wild in our world, homes, churches, families, marriages, schools and anywhere else you can imagine. The scripture that keeps coming to my mind daily is John 10:10. It says: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” This scripture says it all, Satan wants only one thing, to kill and destroy God’s workmanship. Satan isn’t after us because of us; he is after us because we are God’s and he wants to destroy God and tries to do so through us. Satan doesn’t attack the weak; they are already where he wants them. Satan comes after the strong and breaks us down little by little and if we aren’t watching and staying prayed up and read up, we will be broken down. Have you ever missed a day of being in communion with God? If you have, you realize real quick that your day is completely different from a day when you are in communion with God. If I miss my time with God I am crabby, more sensitive, easily frustrated and easily angered. Satan knows that frustration and anger are my weak spots, but if I spend my time with the Lord each morning I can handle my day and the events ahead of me in a whole different way, in the way the shows the love of God and shines His light. Satan loves to run wild in our minds. He knows the thoughts we have and what thoughts he can use to consume us. For some people it could be something from your past that you did, not being good enough at something etc. And for some it could be using a sin to destroy us, giving you unwanted lustful thoughts, guilt, anger, putting you in a position to gossip. In Luke 4 Jesus was alone in the desert with Satan. Satan had him in the desert because he could mess with Gods mind better if God was alone, alone with himself and

government take prayer out of schools. We as the church should have fought harder and made it clear that we wouldn’t stand for that, but Satan fooled us, told us we would never win against the government, we aren’t the right people to stand up against it. We let Satan advance in a big way! We can’t be cowards to stand up as the church and fight for God. And guess what, that starts with YOU! God wants to Satan is looking and watching us every use YOU but we have to be on our day to see where he can start breaking us guard. Even the holiest person can down and begin destroying us. 1 Peter fall if they take their eyes off the 5:8-9 says “Be self-controlled and alert. Lord even if just for a second. Your enemy the devil prowls around like Here is the good news though, in a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the the second part of John 10:10 it faith, because you know that your broth- says “..I have come that they may ers throughout the world are undergoing have life and have it to the full.” If we keep our eyes on Jesus, stay the same kind of sufferings.” Our churches need to band together and cov- read up and prayed up God will give us life to the full. I believe in er each other in prayer. It’s been said the power of prayer right now more that 90% of church congregations are than ever, and I think our world either plateaued or declining. That is needs prayer now more than ever, exactly what Satan wants! He doesn’t want our churches growing and winning but we cannot pass the buck and just assume someone else is going the lost or reaching into our community to do it. Revival starts with us, on let alone being an influence. And Satan our knees, crying out to a Savior will start in the church the same way he who is waiting with arms wide does in us, little by little, a fight here or open for us to ask. Do not let Satan there, little disagreements that get goswin whatever battle you may be siped about, and break us down. If ever facing, that’s what he wants. It’s our churches need to be having weekly time we start taking a stand against prayer meetings its now! We need to be the enemy be God’s vessel to deon our knees crying out for God to pro- stroy him. We must keep our eyes tect us, and to revive our country and on God at all times and never think world. Let’s be honest, we live in a very, we are untouchable. very sick world that is in desperate need of a Savior and often times we just overlook the fact that revival has to start with us, in our small little churches. We sometimes think that we can’t make a difference but that is another lie of the enemy. I believe Satan advanced quite a bit when the church stood by and let our thoughts. When we are alone and not surrounded by our Christian brothers and sisters that’s when Satan starts. When someone commits a sin against us it’s easy to forgive them if we can quickly move on with our life and stay busy, but when we get alone and start thinking, that’s when we start to analyze it, that is exactly what Satan wants us to do so he can stir up more anger first in our mind and then in our heart.

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The Realities of Christ

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by Nick Wilson Revelation1:9-20

I had an English teacher in high school that used to tell us, “It is not reality, but one’s perception of reality that defines our actions and behavior.” In many circumstances that statement is true, and we see it illustrated all around us. When I was growing up my family never locked the doors of our home. There was little need to do so. We lived in a small town and crime was generally not something that was a great concern for us. We felt safe and trusted that God would protect us in our home. I had a friend who lived a few miles away whose family held the opposite perception of the town we lived in. Not only did they lock their doors when they left the house, they kept their doors and windows locked when they were home. They faced the same reality as my family, but perceived it in a different way. It is not my purpose to comment on the correctness of either perception, but to point out that our perception affects the way that we live. Perception affected the church of John’s day just like it does in our era. From the perspective of the early church there was little hope. The last apostle was in exile on Patmos, and the empire of Rome worked to stamp out their existence. As John considered the state of the church and wondered how God would work in such a hostile world his perception met reality. Jesus Christ revealed a vision that reminded John who established and sustains the church. He saw a vision of the glory of the one who built God’s church in this world; a vision that reminded him of the work that Jesus continued to do among God’s people. John wrote this vision to the church so that they could forge ahead into a hostile world with confidence that the reality of their situation was more hopeful than the common perception. Whether it was a church that considered their circumstances dire, or the Romans who believed that they could overcome God’s work, the reality was that Jesus Christ still carried out the work of God. Jesus Walks Within the Church “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the mist of the lampstands one like a son of man…” (Rev. 1:12, 13). No matter what the church faces, Jesus walks among His people. From the beginning of time God has desired fellowship with those who place their faith in Him. In the Old Testament we read about the construction of the tabernacle in the wilderness, and later, the temple in Jerusalem. God commanded the building of these structures so that He could live among His people. When John saw this vision of Jesus He was walking among His people – the place where we commonly expect to find God. Jesus does not simply walk among the church, but He does so in purity. William Barclay explains that the vision of His head and hair reveals the eternal purity of Christ to us. “The snow and the white wool are emblems of stainless purity.” The Son of God walks within His church to establish the purity that defines Him among the people who represent Him. His purpose is to set them apart and purify them. “So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood” (Heb. 13:12). To sanctify the people, Jesus set them apart for one purpose. He overcomes the double -mindedness of those who seek to serve Him and the world simultaneously and turns our attention solely to God. He works to set the people apart so that the works of the world no longer distract from God’s work and witness through their lives. As God’s people interact with family and friends, go to work and school, and live with a testimony of their priorities, God is seen through the things they do. God does not want a church that serves Him as they work toward other things, but people who will put Him above all else. He looks for people who will act as if they represent Him in all aspects of their lives – because they do. That is why James wrote, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double -minded” (James 4:8). In this vision of Christ, John saw One who is pure as well as one who is able to discern the purity of others. His eyes of fire pierce the depths of the soul and reveal the purity of our motives. As the church carries on the business of God’s kingdom it is necessary for us to assess our motives. People can speculate as to the motives of others, but no other person really knows. Nobody can really be positive why any of us do what we do, but Jesus Christ who walks among us always knows. He is aware of the reasons for our service to God. That alone should be enough to help us to be honest with ourselves about purity of motive.

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He does not simply stand within His church to judge His people, but walks among the lampstands of the temple and makes intercession for God’s people. “[His garment] is a description of the high priest…Jesus is our High priest, even in heaven.” As we strive to live within God’s will Jesus stands before God on our behalf. “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:23-25). No matter where God’s people find themselves, or what He calls them to do Jesus Christ stands as our eternal high priest. “He was girt about with a golden girdle, the breastplate of the high priest, on which the names of his people are engraven; he was ready girt to do all the work of a Redeemer.” Jesus Holds the Messengers to His Church

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The motives that seem to be called into question most often are the ones whom Jesus holds in His right hand. He tells us that the seven stars He holds are the angels of the seven churches. The term angel means messenger. Many scholars agree that this refers to the pastors of these congregations. Their ministry and fate lie in His hand of power (the right hand). Many Christians today have taken the fate of pastors into their own hands. They make judgments as to the motives and purposes of pastors. As we consider the work of pastors it is important to be familiar with at least a few of the Scriptures that address the response of people to God’s messengers. During the time of Isaiah we read, “For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’ and to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusion, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. 30:9-11). We read in Jeremiah, “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the men of Anathoth, who seek your life, and say, ‘Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, or you will die by our hand’ – therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘ Behold, I will punish them…’” (Jer. 11:21, 22). Amos wrote, “Now therefore hear the word of the Lord. ‘You say, “Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.” Therefore thus says the Lord: “…you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land”’” (Amos 7:16, 17b). There is an authority given to those whom God has sent to His people as messengers. They are under a great burden to speak only God’s word and no others, but they possess this authority nonetheless. God could have sent heavenly beings to each congregation in this world. He could have thundered His direction from the highest mountain, or from the very throne room of heaven, but He did not. He chose to use those whom He has called to preach His word. Jesus Christ holds them in His right hand so that this word might be proclaimed clearly to the people of God. The Apostle Paul recognized this call when he wrote Romans: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching” (Rom. 10:14)? It is imperative that the church of this day make every effort to understand the importance God places on this. “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 21). When the rich man in Hell asked for one to be sent to his brothers the response from Abraham was, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29). There are those who have been called by God to deliver His word, and Jesus Christ holds them in His hand. This is not to say that pastors are infallible, but far too many have lost sight of the fact that Jesus Christ has called them, and will protect them when necessary. There are times when it must be recognized that God will speak to them, and we must take heed.

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Jesus Provides Everything Needed to Sustain the Church God has given us more than messengers of His word to sustain the church. It is no coincidence that each of the characteristics of Jesus in John’s vision are listed in the letters written to the churches in chapters two and three of Revelation. They see the Son of God as the One who provides for every need that they face, and today we live with the reality that He provides for all that we need. Jesus Christ stands among the people with feet “as burnished bronze.” When John saw these feet of bronze the vision of Ezekiel would have come to the forefront of his memory. Ezekiel saw four creatures bearing the throne of God among His people in exile. Ezekiel 1:7 tells us, “Their legs were strait, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze.” These beings that Ezekiel saw revealed the throne of God. They surrounded Him, and His light came from their midst. Jesus walks within the church as the one who brought the throne of God into the midst of man. He came into the darkness of the world to walk among man and restore his fellowship with the Holy Creator. No matter how much resistance we face from the world, God’s throne is still among those who will submit to Him. Through persecution and trial, tribulation and difficulty God’s presence is with us. This is a promise that the church carries into a hostile world. God’s throne is the place from which His word proceeds. Jesus bears the throne of God in the New Testament temple, and from this place proceeds the sword of His mouth. The word of God comes into the world through the church. When our perception tells us that we face overwhelming obstacles, God gives us a word that will overcome all enemies. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). This sword of God’s word brings conviction that will cause the sinful world to stand exposed before God. It will work in each heart, and place each soul before the measuring rod of our Lord: “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11). God’s word always carries power with it. That’s why John heard the voice of Jesus that was “like the roar of many waters.” Matthew Henry commented, “His voice was as the sound of many waters, of many rivers falling in together. He can and will make himself heard to those who are afar off as to those who are near. His gospel is a profluent and might stream, fed by the upper springs of infinite wisdom and knowledge.” Just like a rushing river the word of God cannot be held back. Man may put a dam in front of it to slow its progress, but the power of God builds behind it until it cannot be contained. It will always burst forth into the world with the full power of heaven. It can be suppressed, but never contained, slowed but never stopped. Jesus spoke to the church in such a way as the world could not overcome the wisdom and power delivered by the Son of God. If our words, once spoken, cannot be taken back, how much harder would it be to stop what has been spoken by God about the church? Can anyone stop His promises, or hope to inhibit His power? No power on earth, or from hell, can keep God from carrying on His work through the willing, submissive soul. Our perception may tell us that things are hopeless, but the reality we live is that we serve a God whose very word cannot be overcome. It will work when it becomes a reality in the lives of His people. There are thousands of directions the church can look today for something that will sustain God’s work. We can consider each circumstance we face and the felt need of each person, but how can we possibly act on so many different perceptions of reality? The reality the church faces today is the same as the one John faced. Jesus Christ walks among us; holding the fate of those He has called; testing our motives and purifying us; interceding on behalf of God’s people; redeeming lost souls; speaking the word of God and overcoming enemies. We base our view of reality on a lot of different things, but shouldn’t it be on only one? Shouldn’t the church live in light of the

reality of Jesus Christ?

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Volume 3, Issue 10

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The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail ...Continued From Page 1
ered! That is a promise from Jesus. No doubt we will be attacked, but the victory has already been won. WE are able to stand with the power of God in us through the Holy Spirit. God gave us the battle plan in Scripture and the intelligence on the enemy the devil. The Bible says, “Be soberminded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” 1Pe 5:89 ESV We are also commanded to put on the full armor of God. Eph. 6:11-18. And Jesus said He would not leave us as orphans and that He would never leave us of forsake us. The Bible says, “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mat 28:20 ESV) and also, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. " I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16-18 ESV). Finally, Jesus said, “I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH!” The church, the called out ones, the congregation of the saints both here on earth and in heaven. His Church, His body, is alive and well despite what some would think. What the Lord builds cannot be torn down! In Psalms 136 the phrase, “His love endures forever” is repeated 26 times. 1 Peter 1:25 says, “The word of the Lord stands forever.” 1 John 2:17 says, “Whoever does the will of God lives forever.” John 12:34 says, “Christ will remain forever.” Luke 1:33 says, “Jesus’ kingdom will never end." We are a blessed people, God’s Church, and the victory is ours! We will receive the victor’s crown when we go on to glory. Praise His holy name!