Victory in Seeming Defeat

Earlier today I was reading and this story stuck out to me. Where the story picks up the Romans have just had a triumph over the Goths and are celebrating in the Colosseum with bloody combats. It is a very clear picture of great triumph emerging from seeming defeat.

                The first part of the bloody entertainment was finished; the bodies of the dead were dragged off with the hooks, and the reddened sand covered with a fresh clean layer. After this had been done the gates in the wall of the arena were thrown open, and a number of tall, well-formed men in the prime of youth and strength came forward. Some carried swords, others three-pronged spears and nets. They marched once around the walls, and stopping before the emperor, held up their weapons at arm’s length, and with one voice sounded their greeting, Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutant! “Hail, Caesar, those about to die salute thee!”

The combats now begin again; the gladiators with nets tried to entangle those with swords, and when they succeeded mercilessly stabbed their antagonists to death with the three-pronged spear. When a gladiator had wounded his adversary, and had him lying helpless at his feet, he looked up at the eager faces of the spectators, and cried out, Hoc habet! “He has it!” and awaited the pleasure of the audience to kill or spare.

If the spectators held out their hands toward him, with thumbs upward, the defeated man was taken away, to recover if possible from his wounds. But if the fatal signal of “thumbs down” was given, the conquered was to be slain; and if he showed any reluctance to present his neck for the death-blow, there was a scornful shout from the galleries, Recipe ferrum! “Receive the steel!” Privileged persons among the audience would even descend into the arena, to better witness the death-agonies of some unusually brace victim, before his corpse was dragged out at the death-gate.

The show went on; many had been slain, and the people, madly excited by the desperate bravery of those who continued to fight, shouted their applause. But suddenly there was an interruption. A rudely clad, robed figure appeared for a moment among the audience, and then boldly leaped down into the arena. We was seen to be a man of rough but imposing presence, bareheaded and with sun-browned face. Without hesitating an instant he advanced upon two gladiators engaged in a life-and-death struggle, and laying his hand upon one of them sternly reproved him for shedding innocent blood, and then, turning toward the thousands of angry faces ranged around him, called upon them in a solemn, deep-toned voice which resounded through the great enclosure. These were his words: Do not, said he, requite God’s mercy in turning away the swords of your enemies by murdering each other!

Angry shouts and cries at once drowned his voice: This is no place for preaching!—the old customs of Rome must be observed!—On, gladiators! Thrusting aside the stranger, the gladiators would have again attached each other, but the mad stood between, holding them apart, and trying in vain to be heard. Sedition! Sedition! Down with him! Was then the cry; and gladiators, enraged at the interference of an outsider with their chosen vocation, at once stabbed him to death. Stones, or whatever missiles came to hand, also rained down upon him from the furious people, and thus he perished, in the midst of the arena.

His dress showed him to be one of the hermits who vowed themselves to a holy life of prayer and self-denial, and who were reverenced by even the thoughtless and combat-loving Romans. The few who knew him told how he had come from the wilds of Asia on a pilgrimage, to visit the churches and keep his Christmas at Rome; they knew he was a holy man, and that his name was Telemachus—no more. His spirit and been stirred by the sight of thousands clocking to see men slaughter one another, and in his simple-hearted zeal he had tried to convince them of the cruelly and wickedness of their conduct. He had died, but not in vain. His work was accomplished at the moment he was struck down, for the shock of such as death before their eyes turned the hearts of the people: they saw the hideous aspects of the favorite vice which they had blindly surrendered themselves; ad from the day Telemachus fell dead in the Colosseum, no other fight of gladiators was ever held there.

Foxe’s Christian Heroes and Martyrs – Pgs. 155-158

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35)

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Psalms 34:1-3

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

Psalm 34:1-3

As most of you probably know, I am attending a Christian training school for the summer. We had an assignment for Sunday afternoon to read psalms 34:1-3 and to look of the definitions each individual word. It was great. Below is something I wrote up, basically the verses including the definitions from Strong’s and Webster’s 1828 dictionary.

Kneel, bless and praise the Supreme Being; the self-existent and eternal Jehovah at all times. His praise and hymns shall be continually and constantly on my lips; as the continually rolling of the ocean.

My soul shall be clear, shining and celebrating the Supreme Being, Jehovah. The humble, depressed in mind or circumstances, shall hear intelligently and shall brighten up and exhilarate.

Make large Jehovah, the everlasting Supreme Being, with me, and let us elevate with joy and confidence His honor, character and authority in one mind with unity.

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Expelling Giants from Christ’s Inheritance

Joshua 23:4-5 “Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea westward. And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you.

In Ephesians Paul states that the saints are Christ’s inheritance. We belong to Jesus Christ and as long as we reject the Gospel we are withholding from Christ his inheritance. This is the flesh and not the spirit. If we allow him to, God will expel flesh from our lives.

Eph 1:18 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”

It is our duty as Christians to gain souls for the Lord. If we fail to intercede on behalf of the lost it shows a lack of concern for the Glory of God. We must be diligent to gain Christ’s inheritance in the souls of men. When Caleb and Joshua came back from spying out the promised land, they were the only ones to speak truth. Because Caleb wholly followed the Lord, he was granted the land of Hebron. There was just one problem. The sons of Anak lived in this place. They were the most feared of all of the giants. Their beds were 18 feet in length! When the Israelites entered the promise land and Caleb was granted his inheritance he was 85 years old. This didn’t deter him though. He led his army up the mountain where the 3 sons of Anak lived and Caleb expelled the sons of Anak from the land.

We must dedicate ourselves to bringing glory to god and reclaiming Christ’s inheritance with the same fervency in which Caleb expelled the giants from his inheritance. In this generation Christ’s precious inheritance is wasting away. The church is in a fallen state. “Christians” do not care for the poor, they do not even care for the glory of God. If our sole pursuit is not to bring Glory to Jesus’ name and to gain his inheritance in the form of souls, do we truly love him? And are we truly Christians? If we aren’t giving God glory, we are stealing from him the glory which he should be gaining from our lives. Please pray about this and ask the Lord to show you any area where you aren’t fully giving Glory to the Lord. There are many giants which are found hiding in our lives which need to be done away with before Christ can inhabit us and gain his full glory and inheritance from our lives. We must flee from all idols.

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kērussō

Mar 16:15  And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

kērussō (kay-roos’-so)

1) to be a herald, to officiate as a herald
1a) to proclaim after the manner of a herald
1b) always with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed
2) to publish, proclaim openly: something which has been done
3) used of the public proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it, made by John the Baptist, by Jesus, by the apostles and other Christian teachers

To preach the Kingdom of Heaven is the calling of every Christian. If we truly have the infilling of the spirit we cannot help but preach of Gods glory. God cannot gain the Glory due is name from us if we are not preaching the gospel. We must  change from Christians who are hiding the standard of Christ to the standard bearers of Christ Jesus. The success of this generation and every generation that follows is dependent upon the Church’s willingness to hold high the standard of our God, unashamed and unabashed. As Christians we need to realize that this will likely bring persecution(which is great, because it is nothing less than a chance to partake in Christ’s sufferings!).

I recently read the below quote from Foxe’s book of Martyrs, and I believe it is worth sharing!

In that age (64 A.D.)  every Christian was a missionary. The soldier tried to win recruits for the heavenly host; the prisioner sought to bring his jailer to Christ; the slave girl whispered the gospel in the ears of her mistress; the young wife begged her husband to be baptized, that their souls might not be parted after death; every one who had experienced the joys of believing tried to bring others to the faith.

Thus the numbers of the Christians rapidly increased. It began to be noised abroad that there was in Rome a secret society that worshiped an unknown God. The rulers, who believed respect for the ancient gods was necessary to the safety of the state, became alarmed and issued orders aimed against the Christians, forbidding secret meetings. Thus it came about that when any public calamity-pestilence, fire, famine, or flood- appeared it was blamed upon the Christians, who, it was supposed, had brought down the anger of the offended gods.

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Pure and Authentic

My sister Hannah and I were at a Coffee shop so we decided to write a post together.

What does it mean to be pure? Is the Christianity we so commonly see today authentic Christianity? Is the modern version Christianity pure? Is a pure and authentic Christianity available to the church today?

Websters 1828 Dictionary: Pure

1. Separate from all heterogeneous or extraneous matter; clear; free from mixture; as pure water; pure clay; pure sand; pure air; pure silver of gold. Pure wine is very scarce.

2. Free from moral defilement; without spot; not sullied or tarnished; incorrupt; undebased by moral turpitude; holy.

Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil. Hab.1. Prov.20.

Websters 1828 Dictionary: Authentic

1. Having a genuine original or authority, in opposition to that which is false, fictitious, or counterfeit; being what it purports to be; genuine; true; applied to things; as an authentic paper or register.

I would like you to look at the end section of the 1st definition for pure. “Pure wine is very scarce”. That could also define Christianity today. We have diluted it with the vain things of the world. The church is not free from mixture with the world; free from moral defilement; without spot; not sullied or tarnished; incorrupt; undebased by moral turpitude; or holy. What are we doing church of Christ? We have allowed truth to be trampled upon and we are in a backslidden state. We must become pure once more. Modern Christians are trying to mix Jesus Christ with the old man, also known as flesh, we are essentially putting new wine into old bottles. Church of Christ it is imperative that we repent of our sins and begin to seek the Lord.

Mathew 9:17 “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.”

Romans 6:6 “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”

James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.

We must go back to the authentic version of Christianity – that which is in opposition to that which is false or counterfeit. There are many counterfeits to Christianity, even within the churches today. For example: love is a central theme in Christianity today, which is as it should be, because God is Love (1 John 4:8). But, our culture has come up with a counterfeit for love.

Authentic Love – the original type of love where sin is hated. God is love, and God hates sin, therefore Love hates sin, and does not delight in wrongdoings. (1 Cor. 13:6). Many modern  Christians like to say “It is all about love” and say that they truly “love” each other and “love” God, when they themselves are living a life  in darkness and rejoicing in their sins right beside each other. I truly believe it is of the utmost importance that the church goes back to the authentic version of love. Honestly, it disgusts me that people can call themselves Christians and live a life in the flesh and take away God’s glory by calling it their own.

“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.” 1 John 5:18

I desperately long for the Church to seek after authentic Christianity. It is a very rare sight indeed, to behold a Christian who is sincere about their faith – one who is willing to lay down their life in order to bring God glory, one who runs after Jesus with all that they are, and truly loves Him with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength.

“A real(or authentic) Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen, talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another, empties himself in order to be full,admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up, is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and happiest when he feels worst! He dies so he can live, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible and knows that which passes knowledge. The man who has met God is not looking for something-he has found it. He is not searching for light-upon him, the Light has already shined!” A.W. Tozer

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Depriving God of HIS Resources

In our generation, particularly in the US/western hemisphere we have a very self centered mindset. The mindset of this generation is that if you work hard, you deserve to reap the benefits. Lamentably, this mindset has also infiltrated the Church at large.  Pastors all over the country speak about “working hard” so that we can then live a lazy, self-centered life which is believed to be deserved because the person had saved up enough money. This is absolutely ridiculous. As Christians we need to realize that everything belongs to the Lord. How dare we foolishly spend the Lords resources.

Below are a couple of the common resources that we waste on “non-eternals”. I have been convicted of these multiple times and I would like to challenge each of you to allow God to show you the areas where you are lacking. When he does show you an area where you need to change, repent, and repent quickly. If confessions need to be made, get it done with as quickly as possible. It is ruinousness to your faith and relationship with Christ to neglect repentance and confession.

The Human Body-

It is essential to the Christians lifestyle to take good care of our bodies. God created our bodies to be used for his glory, and taking care of them is clearly important to him. This means that we must not only spend sufficient time exercising but that we must also carefully regulate our diet.

Finances-

Are we spending too much money on non-essentials? Are we spending money which could be used to further the kingdom of God for our own comfort and glory? We often waste large amounts of money on personal comfort and appearance. Does God care about our fancy clothing, the newest electronics, and the new movie that came out more than he does the dying orphans that we are supposed to be caring for? Please ask  yourself these questions… examine yourselves to see if there is anything which has not been turned over to Christ for the use of the Kingdom.

Time-

Christ does not waste time. If we are truly Christ’s disciples we will not waste our time either. God has given us the opportunity of being his standard bearers on earth and we are wasting our time playing video games, sleeping, texting, facebooking and surfing the internet. If you are having trouble with an addiction to video games, get rid of them. Same with texting, facebooking, the internet and any other time waster plaguing your life.

“The very idea of a Christian is to renounce self and become entirely consecrated to God. A man has no more right to withhold anything from God than he has to rob or steal. It is robbery in the highest sense of the term. It is an infinitely higher crime than it would be for a clerk in a store to take his employer’s money and spend it on his own lusts and pleasures. I mean, for a man to withhold from God is higher crime than what a man can commit against his fellowman. God is the Owner of all things in an infinitely higher sense than man can be the owner of anything. If God calls on His people to employ anything they have-their money, time, children, or to dedicate themselves in advancing His Kingdom-and they refuse, they are more to blame than if they embezzled their employer’s money. Christians often fail here because they want things their own way, or they prefer to do something else.” Charles G. Finney

Psalms 24:1  ” The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”

Luke 16:13  “No servant 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.”

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For the Glory of the Redeemer

Below is an excerpt from Foxe’s book of Christian Heroes and Martyrs which inspired me. Particularly the bottom paragraph. Lord may none of us forsake thee, may none of us be a Judas. Transform us from Peters trying to accomplish your purposes in our own flesh to Peters with the very presence of God indwelling within.

      Before the persecution had reached the city of Venice. some Waldenses made their homes there. The authorities, as soon as they learned of their presence gave orders for their arrest, and many were martyred for their faith.

Various were the ways by which they suffered death; one in particular, being uncommon and singular, will be described. The prisoner, after being sentenced, was attached by an iron chain to a heavy stone. Both the man and the weight to which he was fastened were then laid upon a plank. The ends of the plank were placed upon two boats, which were rowed out on the sea; then the boats separated and the martyr’s weighted form sank to the bottom.

A citizen of Venice, named Anthony Ricetti, was sentenced to be drowned in this manner. A few days before his execution his son went to him, and begged him to recant, that his life might be saved, and himself not left an orphan. To this the father replied, ” a true Christian is bound to give up not only goods and children, but life itself, for the glory of his Redeemer.” The nobles of Venice offered him his life if he would change his religion; but finding their efforts unavailing, they ordered the execution of his sentence, which to place accordingly.

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