A Crown of Thorns

A Crown of Thorns

1 Peter 4:1, 2

“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”

We live in a world with a fallen nature, one that hates the will of God. Our natural desires are to be our own god, to make our own rules, to hate righteousness and love wickedness. Scripture says that we have all gone astray, that none has sought after God, and if we are seeking Him it is because He is drawing us to Himself (Isaiah 53:6; John 6:44). This is our natural state before we are born again, we are dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1).

Therefore, when the Spirit of God makes us alive in Christ, He changes our desires. Now our spirit wants to do the will of God yet our flesh still wants to do its own will, thus we have a war in our members for the rest of this life. Any person who is truly following Christ Jesus will live for the will of God, and that means that our flesh will suffer.

If a person still does all they please in life, they don’t belong to Jesus. For Scripture tells us that whoever lives according to the flesh will die, but if, by His Spirit, we put to death the deeds of the body we will live; for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Romans 8:13, 14). This is essential to understand. We have multitudes of professing Christians who still live for their own will and are not led by the Spirit of God.  

Please dear reader, if you say you follow Christ then arm yourself with the same mind; prepare to go to the cross. Let nothing stop you, die to yourself and pursue His will. Then you will find true life! Let your spirit thrive; obey your Master! Don’t look to the right or the left, nor follow the average professers; follow Christ!

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 With love in Christ Jesus, Jonathan, Stacy, lil J and Israel

 

Count the Cost

Luke 14:28, 33 “For which of you, desiring to build a house does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?””So therefore, anyone of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple.”

Jesus taught something that has been for the most part rejected by the west, and that is counting the cost of actually following Him. We have been en grained with this “fast and easy” mentality that has also influenced the Church. We think salvation is a simple one, two, three; 15 minute grace message, sinners prayer and then send um out the door. There is no weighing of the issues, no stopping and really considering if we are willing to surrender all, even family if required, to follow the Author of Life. Because of this there are many false converts in the US, people who have said a prayer once, but have never been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus on the other hand deals with us differently; He instructs us to first consider if we are willing to pay the price of following Him. What is that price? That price is money, job, sister, wife, children, parents, everything dear to us we must be willing to renounce if it comes between us and Christ. God must be number 1, or we are not His. In all of our Churches, with all those who profess to know Jesus, who will follow Him at that cost? Would they give up their job for Him? Leave house for Him? Lose their reputation for Jesus sake or even lose their wife because of obedience to the gospel? But that is the cost for ANY who want to follow Jesus. If people would truly count the cost, their conversion would be radical.
People are paying the price for their faith all around the world; they are imprisoned, away from their families, hungry, and refusing to deny their faith even in the face of death! Yet they are full of joy!
Is your faith like that my friend? Have you counted the cost?

The Wonderful Mercy of God!

The Wonderful Mercy of God

Titus 3:5, 6

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior”

What a wonderful thing that God has done for us through Jesus! If only we would understand the depths of love that God has shown us! If we could even grasp a small understanding of the great mercy that God had offered us in His Son, we would forever be thankful; living a life of gratitude and obedience to our Savior.

You see, to the one who doesn’t understand how wicked they truly are, and how deceitful their heart really is, the sacrifice of Jesus will seem of little importance. Is this you dear reader? Does Calvary seem like no big deal to you, or does your heart rejoice at what the Lord has done for you? Does your inner man long to live to please the One who loved you and gave Himself as a ransom for your soul? For to the one who understands that they have sinned against heaven, when the mercy of Jesus is extended to them they gladly receive His gift, knowing that they could never obtain righteousness by their own merit.

Jesus said that those who have been forgiven much love much, but to those who do not love much have not been forgiven much (Luke 7:47). Think, who would be more grateful: the one who has been forgiven 5 dollars or one who has been forgiven 1,000,000 dollars? Once we understand our true position, that we have never sought after God, that our hearts are prone to stray, that rebellion flows through our veins, then and only then will we rejoice to meet the Savior who has loved us anyway! Oh, the riches of God!  

Praise be to God that He would save a wretch like me! I am one who knows that I deserve hell, and could never earn heaven, yet Jesus died in my place and gave me the gift of everlasting life! It is more amazing that I can express, that God would love me even though He sees the secrets of my heart! His love toward me is without condition! He is willing to call me His Son, though I used to blaspheme His name!

Has He set His love upon you, dear friend? Have you understood what your Creator has offered you? He offers life instead of death, blessing instead of cursing, He offers you righteousness in exchange for your filthy garments of sin and He offers you Heaven instead of Hell! And the greatest part of it is that it is only offered as a gift, one that you cannot afford to earn or buy, but only humbly received. Will you take it? Will you trade in your rags for riches, at Christ’s expense? Who can afford to reject such an offer? 

Morning and Evening, Charles H. Spurgeon

Morning and Evening by Charles H. Spurgeon

Luke 23:31

“For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Among other interpretations of this suggestive question, the following is full of teaching: “If I, the innocent substitute for sinners, allow thus, what will be done when the sinner himself- the dry tree- shall fall into the hands of an angry God?” When God saw Jesus in the sinner’s place, He didn’t spare Him; and when He finds the unregenerate without Christ, He will not spare them. O sinner, Jesus was led away by His enemies: so shall you be dragged away by fiends to the place appointed for you. Jesus was deserted of God; and if He, who was only imputedly a sinner, was deserted, how much more shall you be? “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” What an awful shriek! But what shall be your cry when you shall say, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken me?”And the answer shall come back, “Since you ignored all My advice and would not accept My rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you! What whips of burning wire will be yours when conscience shall strike you with all its terrors. You richest, you merriest, you most self- righteous sinners – who would stand in your place when God shall say, “Awake, O sword, against the man that rejected Me; strike him, and let him feel the smart forever”? Jesus was spit upon: sinner, what shame will be yours! We cannot sum up in one word all the mass of sorrows which met upon the head of Jesus who died for us, therefore it is impossible for us to tell you what streams, what oceans of grief must roll over your spirit if you die as you now are. You may die so, you may die now. By the agonies of Christ, by His wounds and by His blood, do not bring upon yourselves the wrath to come! Trust in the Son of God, and you shall never die.

Free from Men’s Blood

Free from Men’s Blood

Acts 20:26, 27

“Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”

Preacher, do you want to be free from the blood of all men? Then fail not to declare the full counsel of God, even the parts that make people uncomfortable. For as ministers, we are dealing with the eternal souls of men, not a mere trivial matter! It is essential, no, imperative that we deal faithfully with the gospel message that was entrusted to us by God. If we see danger and fail to declare it to the people, their blood is on our hands (Ezekiel 33:6). 

The very reason Paul was innocent of the blood of all men was because he did not failed to declare to all the whole counsel of God. This tells us that we are guilty of men’s blood if we are failing to teach people the Lords full counsel. You see, many teachers refuse to talk about topics such as “sin”, “righteousness”, “the cross”, “judgment”, “God’s wrath”, “repentance”, and “hell” because they don’t want to ruffle any feathers, so they will only teach on love, mercy, grace, and then more love. Now it is true they will have a happier crowd, but none of that will matter if they perish and go to hell.

 The problem with cutting out all the hard stuff is that people get this false image of a god who would never hurt a fly. They don’t fear God for they feel no reason too; they are left comfortable in their sins because they believe that God is only love and will simply forgive them. People’s minds become so conditioned with this one sided message that when they do hear more difficult Scriptures taught, many of them reject it. Nevertheless, God has told us who He is, what He has done and what He is going to do. His word is a rock, it will never change and we must not change it to suit our needs.

What happens when the hard stuff is removed is that the fear of the Lord disappears, which is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. God’s people perish for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). We must understand the nature of God, and what He has promised He will do.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Yes God is good, but He is also severe (Romans 11:22); yes God is forgiving but He is also righteous and will by no means clear the guilty (Numbers 14:18); yes God is love (1 John 4:8) but He is also holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:3; Revelations 4:8); yes God loves (John 3:16), but He also hates (Proverbs 6:16- 19); Yes God is patient and kind (2 Peter 3:9), but He also gets angry (Psalms 7:11); yes God forgives but He also condemns (John 3:17); yes God makes alive, but He also kills (Deuteronomy 32:39); yes God is merciful, but He also has wrath (John 3:36). 

Please, reader, understand that one Day every living soul will stand before God and give an account of their life to Him. Every secret will be revealed, even the dark secrets of our heart, and God will judge us in righteousness by the Man Jesus Christ. Knowing this fact, let us walk wisely in this life, pursuing holiness through Jesus. Let us deal faithfully with others, speaking eternal truths to them because we love them and do not wish for them to perish, but to have eternal life!

I love you all because of Jesus,

 Jonathan Ball

Using Our Freedoms For Him

Oh professing Christian, what are you doing with your life? You who are free to speak as you wish, to write as you wish, to express yourself freely without fear of punishment, what are you doing with your freedom? To whom much is given, much will be required by God, and truly, in the US, much has been given. But as we speak, our freedoms are under brutal attack, and are being stripped away one by one. Even now our government is trying to hand over control of the internet to the UN, including Iran, China and Russia, all who want to limit and control what is sent over the internet. So my challenge to you who profess to follow Christ is how have you been using these freedoms to further the kingdom of God? Or have you been wasting your time talking of things that don’t matter in eternity? Please, I urge you to use your freedoms to turn people to Christ that they might find eternal life! God does not care about pictures of what you ate last night, what He cares about are the multitudes of lost people on their way to hell, and that is what we must care about too, if we claim to know Him. So please, redeem your time as we are commanded; be kingdom minded, not earthly minded. While we are free, let us use our freedoms to do God’s work. Share your faith with others, use the internet to spread truth. What an opportunity we have at this moment that millions around the world can only dream about! Use it while it lasts!