March 31, 2013
Praise be to the Lord our Savior! Exalted be the One who made atonement for the sins of mankind, who reconciled us to God, and who freed us from the power of Satan! May all creation extol and reverence our compassionate, merciful High Priest and King! May thanksgiving be continually given to God for giving us Jesus and His Holy Spirit! For where would we be had He not redeemed us by His death and resurrection? We would be hopeless, eternally lost, forever imprisoned in the darkness of evil, and damned. Oh, but the riches of His grace! –His grace that brought us out into His light to partake of His own divine nature! All glory, honor, and worship be given unto the King of kings!
Do we truly understand what God has done for us? So many do not seem to understand. They believe only in part. They believe only a fraction. Yet God’s Word informs us repeatedly: Jesus bought us in order to transfer us into a New Kingdom, His Kingdom. (Col. 1:13,14; see also Luke 17:21 and 1 Peter 2:9 and Rev. 1:5,6 and etc.) Jesus bought us to transfer us “from the power of Satan to God, so that we may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ.” (See Acts 26:18)
But let’s look again at that last verse. Being forgiven of sin does depend upon our turn around. The turn around is “from the power of Satan to God.” We must submit to God’s power and rule in our heart and life so that we can indeed come out from Satan’s power. Moreover, we must remain under God’s rule so that we don’t get sucked back in under Satan’s power. Sadly, because this is not taught accurately throughout most of Christendom, many remain in bondage to Satan, and thus to sin, fear, chaos, addictions, obsessions, etc. For the devil only flees as we resist him in the power of the Lord’s Spirit, and this we can do only as we submit to God in repentance and continuous faith. (James 4:7,8)
But we certainly can do it! Did Jesus not come to destroy the devil’s work? He did. (1 John 3:8) As our Lord said when speaking about what the Holy Spirit would reveal to us, “…and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world [the devil] now stands condemned.” (John 16:11) Condemned! –Meaning that, because of Christ’s payment for sin, Satan’s rulership has been declared ended! As Jesus said in 12:31, “Now is the time for judgement on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” Driven out. –Out of our presence. Because those who are “in Christ” are surrounded as with a shield. The evil one cannot touch such a person (1 John 5:18) and so cannot cause him to sin. (v. 18,19) However, this freedom is appropriated only for those who believe in –and abide in (walk in / remain in)– the Truth and thus in its power.
So, as Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.” Wiped out means just that. Gone. Made pure and kept pure. For whoever turns to the Lord receives “times of refreshing from Him” (see same verse), receives ever-increasing conformity to Christ-likeness (2 Cor. 3:18), and receives a continuous walk of freedom –freedom from wicked ways (Acts 3:26)– that comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:17,18)
What exceedingly wondrous and excellent things we have to be thankful to God for today! –Today when we celebrate the resurrection of our Mighty Savior-King!
March 30, 2013
No matter how much evidence there is about God being the Creator of the universe, and no matter how much evidence is given about Jesus having risen from the dead, many people choose to deliberately disbelieve the obvious. For just as it is fully evident that creation, in all its amazing complexity, has a Creator, so history, along with numerous eyewitness accounts, make it undeniable that Jesus rose from the grave.
Yet what do most people do? They do what the Pharisees kept doing whenever they heard of, or even witnessed for themselves, all the miracles Jesus was doing. And what was it they did? They refused to believe what their own eyes and ears were confronted with –that Jesus was doing profound miracles. Or, when some had to believe, these attributed the power to Satan.
Yesterday, as I was listening to the Bible on CD (which my husband gave me last year and which, by the way, is absolutely wonderful to have available for ingesting God’s Word during those times when we’re doing household chores or driving), I again felt incredulous as I listened to John 9. For again, I was reminded of the stubborn blindness of those who don’t want to believe the obvious when it is in their best interests not to. Over and over the Pharisees questioned the man whom Jesus had healed of physical blindness as they tried hard to find some other explanation for the healing rather than it being a miracle that only God could perform.
The deliberate unbelief of the chief priests and Pharisees can again be noted in John 11:45-53 & 12:9-11 when, out of their jealousy and fear of having heard that Jesus had brought Lazarus back from the dead, they met to plot both Christ’s and Lazarus’ deaths. And when they did succeed in killing Jesus, yet had to be confronted with supernatural signs that crucifixion day –such as the three hours of darkness (Matt. 27:45), the temple curtain torn in two from top to bottom (v. 51), the earthquake that split rocks and broke open tombs from which holy people were raised to life and made bodily appearance (v. 51-53)– they still did not repent. In fact, they asked Pilate to secure the tomb in case Christ’s disciples would try to steal His body and pretend He had risen. (v. 62-64) So not only did they order a seal placed on the stone which blocked the tomb’s entrance, but they had Roman guards posted there. (v. 65,66)
Yet what did these deliberate unbelievers do when the guards came to them on the first day of the week and reported to them that, along with another earthquake, an angel had rolled back the tomb’s stone and caused them temporary paralysis? (Matt. 28:2-4) These deliberate unbelievers (these supposed scholars of God’s Truth) bribed the guards to say that Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body! (v. 11-14) So, the guards, who certainly feared for their lives for having failed their duty and who thus also wanted the truth kept hidden, agreed. (v. 15) But what a laugh! Either way –due to being terrified to the point of paralysis by an angel or by the disciples– the guards’ inability in keeping the tomb secure was a mockery.
In addition, being that it was evident that Jesus’ body was no longer inside, couldn’t both the guards and the priests recognize the unreasonableness of their story? Couldn’t they realize the improbability that any corpse-thief would take the time to unwrap the linen strips, leave them there, and even fold the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head? (John 20:6,7) Did they really think their story credible –that corpse-thieves had attempted to paralyze a bunch of Roman guards just to create a lie about a resurrection, and that they had gotten away with it?! Talk about making oneself a fool in order to avoid accepting the Truth! It’s just like the evolutionists who believe the impossible –that complexities such as DNA, the human eye, the humming bird, etc., evolved from nothing.
But alas, unable to see their own absurdity, the chief priests and elders (those esteemed “wise” men) circulated their impossible story. And being that many people then, and since then, have wanted to disbelieve that Jesus rose from the dead, multitudes choose to instead believe all sorts of other things much more far-fetched than that God, the all-powerful Creator, chose to come to earth as a man, died to pay sin’s debt, and rose victorious the third day.
Obviously though, many people don’t want to believe Jesus conquered death, for then they’d have to accept that His words, especially those about the need to repent of sin, are the very words of God and are therefore words they most definitely need to heed. No, they’d rather believe anything than to believe that.
March 29, 2013
The evil realm was certainly undiscerning when it crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Cor. 2:8) Had they understood that God would turn around for such great good that which they meant for revenge, they would not have crucified Christ. (same verse) But they did, and it was the purchase of freedom for mankind from the very captivity that Satan had thought he was solidifying. (John 12:31,32 // Col. 2:9-15 // 1 John 3:8) Through Christ, who was the sin offering, God “condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3), which means He rendered sin powerless (6:6) and took it out of us. (John 1:29 // 1 John 3:5) And why? Rom. 8:4 goes on: “in order that the righteous requirements of the law [God’s moral law] might be fully met in us” –which we meet by living under the control of the Spirit. (same verse & whole context)
But who believes this Gospel? Certainly it is not those who, even while claiming they’ve come into Christ, continue to walk in unrighteousness. For let’s remember these things:
~Only those who believe unto action are true believers. (James 2:14-26)
~Only those who repent (who make the 180 degree turn around from walking sin’s path to walking Christ’s path –Mark 1:15-18) are truly in Christ and thus new creations. (2 Cor. 5:17)
~Only those who follow Christ and His words –trusting in, adhering to, and obeying– will be given the Spirit (Acts 5:32 // Rom. 8:9) and eternal life. (Luke 9:23-25 // Heb. 5:9)
Moreover, all who begin the righteous walk, yet later turn aside to follow sin’s deceitfulness (Heb. 3:12,13), will, by their disobedience and unbelief (v. 18,19), not “come to share in Christ” (v. 14), for they did not “hold firmly till the end.” (same verse // Matt. 24:10-13 // 2 Peter 3:17) They allowed the Life in them to be crowded out (Luke 8:13,14 // John 15:6) as they carelessly continued to sell away their inheritance for fleeting bowls of porridge. (Heb. 12:16) Careless about holiness (v. 14), they allowed the vile roots of sin to grow up within them (v. 15), defiling God’s temple (same verse // 1 Cor. 3:16,17) and causing themselves to be rejected (Heb. 12:17) and thrown to the fire. (John 15:6) Their position in God’s grace, which once was theirs, they failed to hold on to. (Heb. 10:35-39 & 12:15 // 2 Peter 2:20-22 & 3:17) They forfeited (lost / negated / tossed away) their own eternal salvation. (Jonah 2:8 // Heb. 6:4-8 & 10:26-31)
Why are people doing such a foolish thing? It is because they are not paying attention to the Truth, to the true Gospel. The true Gospel declares clearly in God’s Word that by Christ’s atonement, we have been set free from the control of the evil realm –meaning:
Freed from sin (Rom. 6:16-18,22)
Freed from the sinful nature (Gal. 5:24)
Freed from Satan (Luke 10:18-20)
Freed from Self (Rom. 6:6,7 // Gal. 2:20)
Freed from the world (Gal. 6:14)
Freed from the Mosaic law (Gal. 3:25 // 1 Peter 1:18,19)
Freed from the fear of death (Heb. 2:14,15)
Freed from everything from which the Mosaic law could not free us (Acts 13:39)
It is about freedom. Is a person free of these things? If so, this is the proof of true faith.
But, careless to Truth, people are believing in vain (1 Cor. 15:2) as they believe a false gospel that, though it promises salvation, actually enslaves (2 Peter 2:18,19) and damns. (Gal. 1:6-9) However, those who believe the true Gospel know that since God, through Christ’s atonement, condemned sin in us, then righteousness really is able to reign supreme in all who believe the Truth; and that this faith really does cause believers’ lives to be full of purity, kindness, strength, assurance, and holiness. For God’s grace, which we walk in by having been redeemed from all wickedness (Titus 2:11,14), teaches us to say, “No,” to all ungodliness and worldly passions. (v. 12)
That is the Gospel. That is the Glorious Message of the Cross and the Empty Tomb.
March 28, 2013
The two new signs I made this week and wore downtown on Tuesday were sobering and I included the references in large print as well. My front sign said, “To keep sinning is as if to keep crucifying Christ. (Heb. 6:6 & 10:26-29)” My back sign said, “To sin = NOT belonging to Christ. (1 John 3:5-10)” Surprisingly, no one bulked at either. Instead, many came up to me, and in sincerity and agreement, wanted to discuss the subject.
While my mom gave out the treat bags she’d worked on all month (that she’d put little gifts, candy, cards, and messages about Christ’s cross and resurrection inside), I stood at the corner with my signs and gave out the three tracts I’d written in the morning that went along with my signs. Here are those three short tracts:
~~With concern and a sense of responsibility, just as a doctor informs a patient that he has a disease, we must warn that there is a spiritual disease of sin. We must warn that we must be cleansed of it or it will send us to an eternity without God. If we refuse to be cleansed and live clean, then the salvation Jesus paid for will not be applied to that rebellious one. If we do ask to be cleansed, then we must walk a new life, that of being obedient to God. (See Luke 6:46-49 & 16:13 and 1 John 2:3,4)
~~“No one who continues to sin has either seen Him [Christ] or known Him… He who does what is sinful is of the devil… No one who is born of God will continue to sin… Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God…” (1 John 3:6-10) This is God’s Word. May people heed it, and turn from false religion that has no power to deliver anyone.
~~“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.” (Heb. 10:26) Only judgment in Hell is left. (v. 27) To sin is to trample Christ, His blood, and His Spirit. (v. 29) Pretending to believe in Christ, yet shaming His name to the public by refusing to obey Him, is as if to crucify Him again. (Heb. 6:4-6) It is to disrespect Christ and to sin against His body and blood. (1 Cor. 11:27) It is to heap God’s judgment to oneself. (v. 29 & Heb. 6:8)
March 27, 2013
Yesterday I was able to drive my mom downtown to the train stop so that she could hand out her gorgeous treat bags she’d worked hard on all month with the message of Christ’s cross and resurrection. As always, we had tons of precious responses, as well as wonderful conversations with opportunities to pray with, encourage, and exhort many. I had made two new signs and 3 new tracts that I thought may cause some negative reactions, but no one was negative, and many were positive with gratefulness and openness, and even with excitement.
I would love to tell about all our encounters, but it’d take too long. I will mention one guy, though, in hopes that some of my readers will pray for him. He is a transvestite who I’ve talked with, hugged each time I’ve seen him, and tried to show God’s love to. Yesterday he was wearing a huge blonde curly wig (he’s a young black guy about 25 years old), tons of make-up, high heels, and the most ridiculous leopard outfit. He looked like a nut and others were even mocking him. I gave him an extra gift –a bookmark, for his Bible, I said, and read to him the verse on it as he looked at it with me. The verse was Zech. 4:6: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” I explained to him that the Lord is telling us that by human power we cannot overcome sin and the evil realm, but that by His Spirit we can. My friend said, “Ohhhhh, yes!” and I knew he was very high on some kind of drug right then, and his friends were calling him after them, so I reminded him to read God’s Word and I said good-bye.
I tell of that one incident, but there are always numerous people who approach us who are almost begging to have us help them be delivered from whatever addiction or oppression is holding them captive. It is SO heart-breaking how the devil has people bound! –Even while the Savior is available! If only they’d have their spiritual blinders removed! Indeed, how skillfully and deceptively the demons lure people by promises of wealth, happiness, pleasure, and ease; yet all that soon happens, is that the sinner finds himself entangled in a horrible net. One girl, after we prayed for her, and after saying good-bye, turned back, and with tears in her eyes, mouthed the words, “Pray for me.” I said, “We will,” and my mom and I have several times since. Then she blew me a kiss like she was saying, “I love you like you’re an angel.” With tears in my eyes, I blew her a kiss back, like I was saying, “Please remember our encouragements to you. Please let us see you in Heaven.”
People do often tell my mom and I that we are like angels to them. Yet we know it’s not us, but Christ in us they mean. For when any Spirit-filled person steps out to share Jesus with people, His Spirit does shine out to others, and the Lord, who is wooing people to Himself, uses us to start peeling off spiritual blinders. Isn’t it incredible that the God who is all-powerful chooses to use us weaklings to accomplish His work?! Unbelievable! Yet what a privileged and thrilling adventure it is to participate in! Truly, everything we do in His will is not by our skill or strength, but by His!
May all God’s people, therefore, fill themselves up with His Word so that they can be filled up with His Spirit. And may we walk obedient to His every instruction, doing so with rejoicing, with boldness, and with gentle, compassionate, faith-in-God’s-miracles love.
March 26, 2013
Last evening I went to a Passover Meal at a church I used to go to. It was a very wonderful and unique experience –a sermon as to what Passover means to us now, a simple meal at a long table under candlelight, and a foot-washing. I was blessed when a certain person hurried up to me and asked if she could wash my feet, and then gave me a long hug, letting me know that she held no bitterness toward me about a past falling out. What humble maturity on her part! So not only was the occasion beautiful, it was also healing.
Of course one part of the meal was that we broke bread and drank a cup from the “fruit of the vine” (Matt. 26:29) –meaning grape juice, for as the pastor pointed out, the word “wine” is not used– and as we did so, we remembered the Lord’s body and blood which He gave for the forgiveness of sin. (v. 26-28 // 1 John 2:2)
1 Cor. 11:26 says, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” We are to proclaim the Lord’s death. We are to do so when preaching or explaining the Gospel, but we are also to do so when we meet as the Body of believers. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (v. 24,25), doing so as we remember His body and blood. The bread, He said, is His body given for us, and about the fruit of the vine, He said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (v. 25) There seems to be no directive as to how often this “communion” should be taken, but this church does it once a year –though quite elaborate– whereas our regular church does it every Sunday. I actually like it done every Sunday because I think it helps everyone take time out to examine their hearts, to ask the Lord to reveal if there be any sin there, and then to repent. (v. 28, 31)
Unfortunately, there are those who take the bread and cup without repenting of sin. They may say, “I’m sorry, Lord, for what I did yesterday,” but they have no intention of quitting it. Such a person heaps judgement upon himself. (1 Cor. 11:29,30) Such a person, in being disingenuous, is taking the communion in an unworthy manner. And as verse 27 says, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”
What does it mean to sin against the body and blood of the Lord? Let’s think about it. The sin is against Christ’s body and against His blood. Doesn’t this have to do with trampling Him and showing contempt toward the covenant and the Spirit? (Heb. 10:26-29) Doesn’t this have to do with crucifying Him? (6:6) This is why I preach that those who deliberately sin are, in some form, deliberately re-nailing Christ’s hands and feet, re-piercing His side, spitting on Him again, striking His head again, and affirming that they care little that sin, including their own sin, is precisely what hung Jesus up on a cross. Moreover, “Christians” who deliberately sin are blaspheming Christ as they use His name to claim salvation even while refusing to obey Him as Lord. They are taking the name of Jesus in vain.
Now what about the foot-washing? Why do that? Well, I’ve always considered that to mean we are to serve one another in humility. But I thought the pastor brought up a very good point: That if we are taking the bread and cup as symbols of proclamation of the Lord’s atonement for us, and are doing so because He told us to do it in remembrance of Him, then why would we leave the foot-washing symbolism out when Christ clearly taught and modeled this right after “he got up from the meal”? (John 13:4) In verse 14 He tells us to wash one another’s feet, and then in verse 17 He says, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” What things? Didn’t He mean all those things which He’d taught them that night?
The Passover Meal is definitely a good thing to observe yearly if the one leading it understands how to present it as it should be now that we are in the New Covenant. For it is a wonderful opportunity to explain how Christ, our Passover Lamb, fulfilled the Law, paid mankind’s sin debt, and set us free from sin, fear, and law so that we might walk victorious as “we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Rom. 7:6)
This truly is the beautiful, wonderful, life-giving message.
March 25, 2013
This letter below, which Saeed was able to somehow send out to his wife, is both heart-wrenching and encouraging. As God’s Word promises, if we keep our hearts and minds on the Lord, He will fill us with His miracle love, patience, and forgiveness toward those who abuse us, as well as with His miracle strength, fortitude, joy, and peace until the day He makes a way of escape or allows us to be martyred for the furtherance of His Kingdom. It is obvious that Saeed is a modern-day persecuted saint. Therefore, may the rest of us bathe God’s throne of mercy with our prayers for him –that he continue to walk above his horrible circumstances in the power of the Spirit, that God will soon intervene to get him released from the Iranian prison he’s in, and that the Lord will lift his whole family, as well, to walk in supernatural peace.
Also, we can continue to alert the world and try to get more people to sign the petition and to pray. At this link is the new article, along with Saeed’s letter, which the ACLJ sent out a couple of days ago:
P.S. Here is Saeed’s letter:
Hello to my dear love and wife,
When I saw my family for the first time behind the glass walls, I could see my mom four meters away. As she approached me and saw my face, she broke down and could not get closer. She was crying. I understood what she felt because after weeks of being in solitary confinement in Evin Prison, I also got to see my face in the mirror of an elevator that was taking me to the prison hospital. I said hi to the person staring back at me because I did not recognize myself. My hair was shaven, under my eyes were swollen three times what they should have been, my face was swollen, and my beard had grown.
It was a few days ago when one of my family members, with weary eyes and after running around for 15 weeks in trying to get me out of prison, said that my dad says every single day that “this week I will get my son out of prison.” But this does not happen and he is not able to get me out of prison. In that instant I looked into the wrinkled and tired eyes of my dad. I could clearly see that he had ran around for months and he had no more strength left in him. It was very hard seeing my family in such a situation.
You, my wife, on the other side of the world, alone with the kids. Alone and worried. My family here in Iran, being interrogated, tired and under so much pressure.
With the loud voice of the prison guard, our visitation had ended and they put covers over our eyes and we returned to the dark room void of any natural sunlight.
I started praying for my family. My dear Naghmeh. You are the love of my life. I am always in love with you.
Dear Naghmeh, I have been stung so many times that I have become full of poison. This is an Iranian saying. A lot of people say that they have been stung by so many people that their whole being is full of poison like a poisonous snake. It means that we have been bitten by the snakes of this world so many times that, that all of the poison has collected in us and that we are like the poisonous snake. But if we sting anyone, we will die. This Iranian saying is full of spirit of revenge and unforgiveness and every time I would hear this in Iran, I would get very sick hearing it.
A few days ago they brought a young war veteran who was disabled in 80% of his body in my cell. He had been put in solitary confinement with his horrific condition. And this had made him very mad and he kept saying “why did they do this to me? I gave my whole life for their sake. See what they have done to me!!!” And when he would get very mad he would say “I will take my revenge!”
I spoke to this young man until 4 in the morning. I spent time with him and spoke to him to forgive. When we don’t forgive, we drink the poison ourselves and then wait for the other person to die. And we take the knife that has hurt us and we stab ourselves with it again! And this is the will of the evil one who wants to destroy us.
But when we forgive, we pour out the poison of the enemy and of the devil and we don’t let the poison stay in us and we don’t let the poison make us into poisonous snakes! So that we don’t become like the person we despised and who persecuted and tortured us.
Maybe you ask, what is the secret of being so happy in such a hard situation?
Forgiveness and a change of attitude. When we forgive, we become free and we become messengers of peace and reconciliation and goodness. And whoever stings us, we can take into our embrace and love them. And in this dark and evil time, we can live full of love and full of peace and full of joy and shine like the stars! Glory be to His Name.
I forgave the prison doctor who did not listen to me and did not give me the medication that I needed. I forgave the interrogator who beat me. Every day when I would see the interrogator and for the last time when I saw him, I forgave him. I smiled at him and with respect shook his hand and I said my goodbye. The minute I forgave them and loved them, that second I was filled with unspeakable joy. I saw in the eyes of the interrogator that he had come to respect me and as he was leaving, he could not look behind him. Love is as strong as death.
We have to get rid of the poison in our body because if we don’t, we will die. We have to get rid of both poisons; first the poison of the snake that bit us and also the poison in us that was created by that bite. We can get rid of the first poison by forgiveness and we can get rid of the second poison by humility, by dying to ourselves, and allowing the band-aid of love and goodness to replace the empty place of the wound. So that we are not a tool of darkness and revenge, but that we can be light and love and a vessel of forgiveness and we can be transformed in the process.
Surely you have someone in your family, city, work or environment that have become like poisonous snake who have bitten you and tried to make you poisonous. So, forgive them and use the antidote of love and be Victorious!
One of the chances of forgiveness came when I was blindfolded and a guard was holding my hand guiding me. He asked “what are you here for? What is your crime?” I said “I am Christian Pastor.” All of the sudden he let go of my hand and said “so you are unclean! I will tell others not to defile themselves by touching you!” He would tell others not to get close to me. It really broke my heart. The nurse would also come to take care of us and provide us with treatment, but she said in front of others “in our religion we are not suppose to touch you, you are unclean. Baha’i (religion) and Christians are unclean!” She did not treat me and that night I could not sleep from the intense pain I had. According to the doctor’s instructions, they would not give me the pain medication that they would give other prisoners because I was unclean.
I could not fall sleep one night due to the pain when all of a sudden I could hear the sound of dirty sewer rats with their loud noises and screeches. It was around 4 in the morning. It sounded like laughter in a way.
Even though many would call me unclean and filthy and would not even want to pass by me and they had abandoned me and they were disgusted to touch me because they were afraid that they would also become unclean, but I knew that in the eyes of Jesus Christ, and in the eyes of my brothers and sisters, I am like the sewer rat, beautiful and loveable – not disgusting and unclean – and like the rats I can scream with joy within those prison walls and worship my Lord in joy and strength.
The Joy of the Lord is my strength. Amen.