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What does Jesus know about forgiveness?

Forgiveness Luke 23Jesus’ mission from God our Father was to bring forgiveness to the world. On the cross, Jesus accomplished the mission. Hanging on the cross, he was mocked by the religious leaders and the Roman soldiers.

They gambled to see who would get his clothes. His Holy attitude was they didn’t know what they were doing by killing him.

And they didn’t. And neither do we most days. Our missing God’s goal (aka sin) for our life put Him on that cross.

Jesus is all about forgiveness. He knows love like no other. God is in a good mood.

“Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” ~~Jesus on the cross Luke 23:34 | (The Message Bible)

Forgiveness in the Bible is a “release” or a “dismissal” of something. The forgiveness I have in the Messiah involves the release of sinners like me from God’s just penalty and the complete dismissal of all charges against me.

  • Consider this from the Apostle Paul. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in the Messiah Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in the Messiah Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1).
  • Colossians 1:14 says that in God’s beloved Son “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” The Amplified Bible translates the last phrase like this: “the forgiveness of our sins [and the cancellation of sins’ penalty].”
  • God’s gracious forgiveness of our sin is to be the measure of our gracious forgiveness of others.

Jesus the Messiah’s ministry of forgiveness was foretold. God has a plan. God executes it in His son Jesus. Jesus paid the penalty for me. Amazing!

  • But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Master appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” | Matthew 1:20–21
  • Now here is some good news!  The next day John saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! | John 1:29

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What is peace, how do we make peacemaking real and what is the promise of Jesus?

Image result for peacemaker jesusJesus says:

“Happy [blessed] are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

The commendation of peacemakers – It is one thing to keep the peace and it is quite another to make peace. In the one case it already exists, in the other we are calling it into existence since it is lacking. Jesus calls us to be peacemakers. That is a huge challenge. Jesus gives us the power! We are to seek peace. We are to pursue peace. We are not to let up until we achieve it. Jesus challenges us to be tenacious.

How is peace made? Where does it come from? Consider this from Paul in Colossians (1:20). “Through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

Will Jesus complete God’s mission and goals?

Crucifixion and darknessIt was a dark day as Jesus hung from the cross. Figuratively and literally. The sun disappeared. Jesus was alone.

Jesus just hung there. Waiting for death to come. Waiting for His mission to be completed.

And where is God?

What is God doing?

God is just letting it happen. Imagine the pain of seeing your Son suffer so. God did it. Jesus did it. The goal was achieved. The mission is completed. It is over.

But God has a plan. Both God and Jesus know that death will accomplish the reconciliation that is needed.

They both know death will be defeated.

They both know that Jesus will be resurrected to reign with God forever.

For the joy that was before him, Jesus suffered the abandonment. Victory would come but first must come the death.

God had a goal in mind. Jesus knew what it was. He would be abandoned and suffer death for us. It must be done. He and he alone could do it.

Jesus never missed God’s goal. Never ever. Jesus would suffer and die for us.

Completely abandoned.

Alone.

No one to help.

From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around mid afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” | Matthew 27:46 (The Message Bible)

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How do we restore ruins in our lives?

Jesse Wahl shares on day 8 of our Train to Reign devotional. Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. http://ow.ly/l5SU30oS5pQ

Does the Origin of Life Point to the Existence of God?

This video, excerpted from J. Warner Wallace’s presentation of the evidence for God (from his book, God’s Crime Scene), summarizes the case for Gods existence from the origin of life.

  • Has science answered the question of life’s origin?
  • How do philosophically natural scientists tackle the “chicken and egg” problems related to the origin of life?
  • What is the best explanation for the information found in the genetic code?

For a robust review of the collective case for God’s existence from eight pieces of evidence “inside the room” of the natural universe, please refer to God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe. (For more information, visit www.ColdCaseChristianity.com)

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What is Jesus concerned about as he is facing a slow and cruel death for us?

Mary at the crossJesus’ mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. They witness the cruel death of our Master Jesus. Imagine the sorrow in their hearts and souls. 

Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her.

What is Jesus concerned about as he is facing a slow and cruel death for us? It is for his mother.

Jesus leads the way showing us it is not about us. It is about others. It is about family. He makes sure we are taken care of. No one is left behind. 

While the soldiers were looking after themselves, Jesus’ mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother. | John 19:26-27 The Message (MSG)

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Reading the Bible Upside Down: Why the Pope Changed the Lord’s Prayer 

John Piper has a take on the Pope changing the Lord’s prayer. I’ve looked at in the Greek and the usual translation is accurate.

Here is what R. H. Gundry has to say.

“ ‘And you shouldn’t [in the sense, “please don’t”] lead us into temptation.’ ” This request doesn’t ask that the Father should keep us from confronting temptation. It means instead that he should keep us from succumbing to temptation (see 26:41, where Jesus tells Peter, James, and John, “Stay awake and pray lest you enter into temptation,” even though temptation had already confronted them and they’d fallen asleep).

As usual, “temptation” also means “test,” because every temptation tests our resistance to sin, and every test of our resistance tempts us to sin (see 5:27–30 for the drastic consequence of succumbing). The mention of temptation naturally leads to a mention of that archtempter, the Devil, who has already tested Jesus (4:1–11): “ ‘Rather, rescue us from the evil one.’ ” This evil one has recently appeared in connection with present temptations/tests (5:37, 39), so that rescue from him would consist in coming through such temptations/tests victorious over the persecutions and enticements that tested our resistance to sin (13:18–22).

Gundry, R. H. (2010). Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation (p. 23). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

And from John Piper:

As the dust settles around Pope Francis’s approval of changing the translation of the Lord’s Prayer, there is one vital angle on this that has not received much attention — the implications of the Pope’s rationale for the change.

The Pope’s decision to approve the change from the traditional translation “Lead us not into temptation” to “Do not let us fall into temptation” was based on this reported rationale:

“I am the one who falls; it’s not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen,” Francis explained to Italian broadcasters about the phrase change. “A father doesn’t do that. A father helps you to get up immediately. It’s Satan who leads us into temptation. That’s his department.”

Others have weighed in on the exegetical and theological problems with the proposed change. It’s not a new issue. I wrote an article ten years ago titled “Does God ‘Lead Us into Temptation’?

All I want to do here is point out how the Pope’s reported rationale reveals an approach to Scripture that undermines its authority. His approach is to do what you might call a hermeneutical headstand. He turns things upside down.

Read more here:

Reading the Bible Upside Down: Why the Pope Changed the Lord’s Prayer | Desiring God

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What are The Consequences of Fatherlessness?

Courtney reads  our Train to Reign program devotional for the day.

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program — Oct 20 – Nov 2 | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. http://ow.ly/l5SU30oS5pQ

Scripture

Malachi 4:5-6 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

Look, I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Master comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Ephesians 6:1-3 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

Children, obey your parents in the Master, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.

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Christian Standard Bible (CSB) The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

 

Are we going to Jerusalem with Jesus?

JerusalemJesus destiny was in Jerusalem. God’s goal for Him would come to pass there. He would die and be raised from the dead by the amazing power of the Holy Spirit.

But notice how this was framed. He took the 12 aside and clearly said “We”. Jerusalem just wasn’t for Jesus.

The good news of the new agreement God has with us is that we have died and been raised to a new life in Him.

Oh my goodness. That is some very good news!

We went to Jerusalem with Jesus. We have shared in his death and resurrection. We have the power of the Holy Spirit, that raised Him from the dead, in us.

God’s goal for us is to live a resurrected life with Jesus.

Then Jesus took the Twelve off to the side and said, “Listen carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem.” | Luke 18:31

May I see how I am a new human being in Him.

May I know that the old me was crucified with Him and the new me was raised up in Him.



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Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | — Sept 2 – Nov 9, 2019 | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. ow.ly/Nhag30oRYRK

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program — Oct 20 – Nov 2 | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. http://ow.ly/l5SU30oS5pQ

Can I really escape God?

Hound of Heaven

Hound of Heaven

Ever heard of Francis Thompson? Young guy, drop out, drug addict, drifter, sometime homeless. Eventually diseased and dead at 48.

Probably not the kind of guy you would want to hang out with nor call a friend. And certainly not the kind of guy you would be inclined to be loyal to.

But right before his death in 1907, Thompson came to know to very the core of his soul what true loyalty was. He expressed it in his poem, “Hound of Heaven.”

It begins:

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears I hid from Him,
and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated, Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase, And unperturbéd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

The poem goes on and as Thompson unsuccessfully seeks peace through various human pursuits, he continues to hear, but ignore, the Voice that follows him unfailingly.

The poem, on its surface, is a dark story reflecting Thompson’s lifelong struggles. But beneath the surface, it is truly a love story. Thompson’s Hound of Heaven is God, our Good and Great God who loves us so much, He follows us through each step of our lives. He is at our side. He is loyal.

And so King David says:

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139: 7-14

 

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Is God first in my life? Am I trying to fool Him? Can He be fooled?

God knows. God cares.

God knows. God cares.

God knows how to do surgery. He can bring about internal purification. I can trust Him. He is good, all the time.

God knows me. I’m not fooling Him. There is no hiding with God. It is all out in the open. No point lying to myself and others.

  • Is God first in my life?
  • Is He second in my life?
  • Is He third?

Jesus wants to be my only priority. Jesus wants to the one and only. Jesus wants me to pick up my cross and follow Him. Jesus wants me to count the cost and be prepared to pay it.

What does Jesus want? He wants me and my complete life.

Not only does God know how but God cares. He loves us and paid for our redemption with the blood of His only Son. Jesus brings us good news. God is in a good mood.

I need more of that and only that. I can pay that price. He gives me strength.

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How Does the Book of Daniel Reflect Modern Problems? 

Below is an excellent overview by Hope Bolinger of the book of Daniel and  its current relevance to followers of Jesus.

Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 300 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids.

Her column “Hope’s Hacks,” tips and tricks to avoid writer’s block, reaches 2,700+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young’s blog, which receives 63,000+ monthly hits. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) just released. Find out more about her here.

Often, the church can forget about the Old Testament. Beyond Sunday school, many lessons such as Daniel in the Lions’ Den (Daniel 6) and the Fiery Furnace (Daniel 3) often fade into obscurity in sermons, online Christian articles, and Christian living books.

But, these passages in the Old and New Testament have strong bearings on our day-to-day life.

Daniel, a teenage prophet kidnapped from his homeland and forced into a pagan culture, has a great deal to say for our day and age, even though he walked the earth more than 2,500 years ago. Daniel has brought the following lessons to teach us about the world we live in:

We live in a modern Babylon

The Book of Revelation makes it clear that Babylon plays an important role in the end times, which we seem to be rapidly approaching (Revelation 17). Babylon indulged in every sin imaginable, praised other gods, and tried to squelch the religion of God’s people after they took them captive. Like the first Babylon, the one talked about in Revelation will meet a violent and abrupt end (Revelation 18).

America glorifies every idol imaginable. Our country has taught itself that greed is good, we deserve sex with no marital attachments, and we need power to satisfy our inner thirst for God.

Our culture encourages us to indulge in every pleasure and extravagance possible. Those who resist or avoid following these norms will, like Daniel and his friends, face derision, persecution, and possible death.

Our education systems face similar issues

If any Christian has kids, they have to face the age-old question. Do I send my kid to a public school, can I afford a private Christian school, or should I just homeschool? I’ve known parents who had great convictions for all three options. But we’ve entered a period where our children, whether in high school, college, or post-grad life, could have instructors who teach them materials that are anti-Christian in nature.

Daniel encountered a similar education. For three years, he had to learn not only the Babylonian language, but he would’ve likely learned subjects such as astrology and all about Babylonian religion. Those would have countered his strong, Jewish heritage.

Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, and other rulers will try to wipe Christians out

We encounter a common theme in the first six chapters of Daniel.

Chapter One: Eat the King’s food or die (Daniel 1).

Chapter Two: Interpret the King’s dream or die (Daniel 2).

Chapter Three: Bow to the King’s idol or die (Daniel 3).

Chapter Six: Don’t pray to your God. If you do, you die (Daniel 6).

Those in power sometimes use intimidation tactics and death threats to coerce Christians to abdicating their morals and to follow the status quo. Although most American Christians do not face death for their beliefs, the worldwide epidemic of Christian persecution is on the rise.

Powers and authorities will try to keep us from spreading the Gospel and from disrupting the status quo via any means possible.

Christians around us will cave (and already have) to societal pressures

I think we often forget one part of the story in Daniel 3. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel’s friends) stoodalone when faced with the test to bow to the king’s statue or perish.

Nebuchadnezzar didn’t just kidnap three Israelites. Hundreds, thousands of Israelites made a choice on that day to cave and bow to the king’s idol. These Israelites would’ve had the first five books of the Bible memorized in their youth. They would know the Ten Commandments by heart, including the very first of the commandments “thou shalt not have any gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). They knew better, but they succumbed to pressure and fear instead of trusting in God.

We’ve reached a point in our culture where we can’t be covert Christians.

Our ideals do not match those of our society, and when questioned about them or having to act on them, we have to make a choice. We can bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol and avoid a societal or (perhaps) physical death. Or, if we cave, we run the risk of facing a death of far greater proportions.

Like Daniel, we need to stand strong in our beliefs and trust in God

Daniel tackled death head-on.

He knew when he refused to eat the King’s food that he could possibly face death, but he trusted in God and held strong to his Israelite identity. He would not let the king’s food defile him.

Do we do the same? Do we avoid activities and words that could defile us or that try to wipe out our identity as God’s children? Or, do we stand strong in our convictions, even when we might lose respect, friends, and potentially our lives?

I think it often boils down to how much we trust in God.

One thing that strikes me is Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s faith when faced with a fiery furnace death. They believed God would rescue them from that terrible demise. But even if he didn’t, they wouldn’t cave.

Often, I wonder if I could tackle such dire straits with such faith. If America put a ban on prayer, could I pray as fervently as Daniel did? If a boss at work threatens to lay off workers because of something uncontrollable (Daniel 2), will I trust God even when faced with lions’ dens and fiery furnaces?

Source: How Does the Book of Daniel Reflect Modern Problems? – Topical Studies

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A Survivor of China’s “Re-education” Camps Exposes Atrocities in Xinjiang

Mihrigul Tursun is a survivor of a “re-education” internment camp in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

It’s incredibly rare to hear from a survivor of one of the camps. Detainees are rarely released. And when they are, they are closely monitored and intimidated by the Chinese government.

The camps appear to be designed to force Uyghur Muslims—an ethnic and religious minority residing in northwest China—to adopt the norms, language, and non-religious tendencies preferred by the Chinese Communist Party. Detainees are subjected to daily communist party indoctrination sessions, inhumane living conditions, and torture. It is estimated that China currently detains at least one million Uyghurs in these facilities.

A Uyghur Muslim originally from Xinjiang, Mihrigul was living in Egypt with her husband following her education. When she had triplets in 2015, she took her babies back to China so that her parents could help her care for them.

When she arrived at the airport in Xinjiang with her two-month-old triplets, Chinese authorities seized her children from her while she was questioned and beaten. Authorities then took her directly to prison where she was held without any idea if or when she might be released.

Following her release from prison two months later, she rushed to pick up her children from the hospital where the authorities had kept them. Upon her arrival, she was informed that operations had been performed on all three of her children. A day later, it resulted in the death of one of her sons. Despite her pleas, she was denied the request to see her son.

Mihrigul was again taken into custody—this time to a “reeducation” camp. There, Chinese authorities repeatedly tortured her. They put a metal device on her head which transmitted electric shocks sending a searing pain which could be felt even in her veins and bones. The pain was so great she begged the guards to kill her—convinced that death would be better than enduring more torture.

She was placed in Cell 210, a small room that held 68 women. One woman in the cell hadn’t been allowed to leave the room in 13 months—not even to shower. Occasionally, women were taken from the cell and never heard of again.

Mihrigul witnessed nine women die in the cell due to the brutal conditions of the camp over the course of her detention. When the police came to remove a body of the deceased, all the women were instructed to lie down on the floor. The police didn’t enter the room to pick up the body. Rather, they used a metal contraption to pick the body up by the neck and drag it out of the cell, as if trash was being picked up off the ground.

At one point, Mihrigul was sentenced to death and the police asked her how she wanted to die.

Thankfully, Mihrigul was released in April 2018 after having been detained for 10 months in total, and she was allowed to return to Egypt to seek medical treatment for her two remaining children who had Egyptian citizenship.

Even today, the nightmare hasn’t ended for Mihrigul. She can’t sleep at night. The images of the nine women who died keep coming to her mind. In her dreams, Chinese authorities want to kill her.

As I write this now, Mihrigul is living in the United States and speaking out on this issue, though recounting these memories is difficult for her. I had the opportunity to hear her tell her story at a conference held by the World Uyghur Congress in Washington, D.C. last week.

It was sobering to hear this testimony. The room was in tears over Mihrigul’s story. Over 1,500 Uyghurs reside in the Washington, D.C. area, and many of them have family members in China who have disappeared and are thought to be in “re-education” camps. Mihrigul’s testimony points to a terrifying possibility of what might be happening to their own family members in China.

China continues to shamelessly deny the true nature of these camps. Chinese leaders try to sell the narrative that these camps are merely “free vocational training” centers. One Chinese leader claimed the camps are “the same as boarding schools.”

Yet, the lies of Chinese government officials will not shelter them from the truth and their false narratives will not absolve them of their human rights violations.

There is ample evidence to prove what is really going on in Xinjiang. Satellite images, Chinese government budget reports, and witness testimonies such as Mihrigul’s reveal the truth of China’s brutal oppression of religious minorities.

The Western world cannot continue to treat China just like any other nation. The blatant lack of respect for human life and freedom is something that can’t be ignored.

The Trump administration has prioritized religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy—that’s something that needs to be taken seriously. The U.S. government must make it clear that there are diplomatic and economic consequences for China’s crackdown on religious minorities.

Americans benefit immensely from the religious freedom enshrined in our Constitution. In contrast, the Chinese government views the beliefs of religious minorities as a threat to the ideology of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. Thus, China sends Uyghur Muslims to “re-education” camps to be indoctrinated and tortured and arrests Christians for attending unapproved house churches. As Christians in the United States take notice of the victims of religious freedom violations around the world, such as Uyghur Muslims, we must advocate on their behalf.

Source: FRC Blog » A Survivor of China’s “Re-education” Camps Exposes Atrocities in Xinjiang

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How does God prove His love for us?

Radical Sayings of Jesus

God takes our salvation and relationship with Him seriously. We know that God loves us because He sent His Son to live and die for us. We miss God’s goal for our lives (aka sin) big time. We need Jesus.

Jesus set the standard for us. Check out Matthew 5 – 7  for a glimpse of how high the bar is set. It is traditionally called the Sermon on the Mount. I see it as the Jesus Manifesto for a radical new way of living.

It is only through Jesus and His redemption that we can live a holy and sanctified life.

Billy GrahamBilly Graham gets it right!

“God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’ ” ~Billy Graham

 

 

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Why should we obey our government and leaders?

Tax ReturnThis is pretty straight forward. We are to be responsible. We are to respect our leaders. We are to pay our taxes.

God’s goal for us is to live responsibly. That is the right way to live.

It is easy to put our leaders down. It is way to easy to complain about taxes. That is not God’s way.

God’s way is to recognize that all governments are under God. God wants order and peace. We have a great role to play here. We are to show the world what God wants. They will only hear it and see it from us. We are to be really, really responsible.

Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.

Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That’s why you must live responsibly—not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live.

That’s also why you pay taxes—so that an orderly way of life can be maintained. Fulfill your obligations as a citizen. Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders. | Romans 13:1-6 (The Message Bible)

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How does Jesus know about the generosity of God?

Generosity of God. He is in a good mood.

Generosity of God. He is in a good mood.

Jesus knows first hand the generosity of God. Everything starts from God caring and His generosity. Jesus has been with God from the beginning.

Jesus knows that God is a loving Father. Jesus knows God’s very nature because Jesus shares that nature. Jesus is God’s son. God’s DNA is in Jesus.

When we ask for a drink of water, Jesus reminds us (challenges us) to focus on what is important. Water will only quench our thirst for a brief period of time.

Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit (living water) who empowers us for all of eternity. We have that now.

May I drink from the living water of Jesus and realize the power of His Holy Spirit.

May I realize that now.

“If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”~Jesus (John 4:10)

How Ancient Eyewitness Testimony Became the New Testament Record 

Here is some great insight from J. Warner Wallace. He is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case ChristianityGod’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.

I often wonder precisely when the disciples of Jesus realized their important role in Christian History. As these men sat at the feat of Jesus and listened to everything He had to say, did they realize they would someday testify to everything He said and did? Most eyewitnesses I’ve interviewed in my casework had no idea they would later be called into a jury trial to testify about what they heard or observed. As a result, they sometimes regret not paying better attention when they had the opportunity. But the disciples of Jesus had a distinct advantage over modern eyewitnesses in this regard. They were students of Jesus. Unlike spontaneous, unprepared witnesses of a crime, the disciples were desperately attentive to the words and actions of Jesus, and I imagine their attention to detail became even more focused with each miraculous event. For this reason, the authors of the gospels became excellent eyewitnesses and recognized the importance of their testimony very early.

Should I beg God?

Beg GodJesus said, “Everyone who asks (begs) receives …” Sometimes it takes a lot for us to ask.

We think we don’t need help. We can do it ourselves. God’s help is not needed. We want to be independent, not dependent. Our pride gets in the way. I know mine does.

We will ask if we don’t have something we want or if we can’t do it ourselves. Otherwise, God tends to be our Genie in a bottle.

That isn’t the way of God. Like David, I need to get my feet back on the trail and follow God’s orders. I must remember God has a plan. I need to focus on what God wants, not what I want.

God has promised so much.  His love fills the entire earth. There is no end to it. God is good.

Because you have satisfied me, God, I promise to do everything you say. I beg you from the bottom of my heart: smile, be gracious to me just as you promised.

When I took a long, careful look at your ways, I got my feet back on the trail you blazed. I was up at once, didn’t drag my feet, was quick to follow your orders. The wicked hemmed me in—there was no way out— but not for a minute did I forget your plan for me. I get up in the middle of the night to thank you; your decisions are so right, so true—I can’t wait till morning! I’m a friend and companion of all who fear you, of those committed to living by your rules. Your love, God, fills the earth!

Train me to live by your counsel. | Psalm 119:57-64 (The Message Bible)

May I humble myself and ask.

May I beg for His help.

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I am bankrupt without love!

Bankrupt without love

Bankrupt without love

This scripture blows me away. There is a question to be asked. Jesus wants to know.

What is important?

  • Not what the economy is doing.
  • Not what I give away.
  • Not what I get.

I am bankrupt without love. That is the focus. Everything needs to come down to this.

God’s number one goal for me is to love. I am bankrupt without love. That is just the plain truth. I must focus on that every minute of every day. It isn’t always so easy though. Many days are just a whirlwind of activity. Lots of stuff to do.

None of it matters without love.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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What is hypocrisy? Why it is evil and hated by Jesus?

Image result for hypocrite

Hypocrisy is an outward pretense masking an inner reality. Jesus condemns hypocrisy, especially in matters of faith. Followers of Jesus should express their commitment to God in their words and their deeds, as well as in their inner motivation. There should always be alignment of the heart, the mind and our actions.

Jesus is clear and hates hypocrites. Jesus calls it out all the time. Our contempt allows us to ignore its reality in our lives. I must change my mind (aka repent).

The Greek word is ὑποκριτής (hupŏkritēs, hoop-ok-ree-tace) meaning  an actor under an assumed character (stage-player), i.e. a dissembler (“hypocrite”):— hypocrite.

The origin of hypocrisy  – Our nature is one that is fallen and we constantly miss God’s goal (aka sin). We try to cover that up by appearing to be a good person. I am not. You are not. 

God’s government (Kingdom) is not a democracy.

King JesusI need to change my mind (aka repent).

God’s government (Kingdom) is not a democracy. I have been raised to see democracy as the best form of government. And for us in America, it is.

The prophecy of Daniel 7:13-14 is so powerful and lays it out clearly.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

Jesus wasn’t elected. His way isn’t determined by a majority vote. God has always been in control and he has given everything over to His son Jesus, our Master.

God doesn’t need our permission to make a decision. It has always been that way. It always will.

On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem as King. The people knew it. After His resurrection, He ascended in Heaven and his Father made it official. He sits next to God and is in charge of everything in Gods world.

He has a new plan. It isn’t based on anything we know. Jesus put an end to that. No more trying to do good to please him.

Jesus is in charge of His world and government. He is in a good mood as a Father would be toward His children. He is also God.

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Everything Jesus had to say about the homeless, wealth, prosperity, poverty, riches, the poor, the needy and giving

Jesus had a lot to say about the homeless, wealth, prosperity, poverty, riches, the poor, the needy and giving. Here is a compilation of everything I have found. It is worth reading this to get a sense of what Jesus thinks and what he requires of us.

There is a lot of confusion among the followers of Jesus about much of this. When you read it all, you will get a sense of the mind of Jesus.

My suggestion is to read through this more than once. You may want to read it once a week for a while.

What Jesus tells us needs to be thoroughly absorbed. This is foundational to the radical world Jesus wants us to be a part of.

One question to seriously ask is “Did Jesus really mean all of this?”

The second question that follows is “Knowing what I now know, what should I do?”

Image result for jesus money

Texas City Bans Abortion Clinics, Declares Itself a “Sanctuary for the Unborn” 

Members of a Texas city council declared their home a “sanctuary city for the unborn” Tuesday in a unanimous vote.

KETK News reports leaders of Waskom, an eastern Texas city, said their pro-life ordinance is a preventive measure that they hope will keep abortion businesses out of their area.

Waskom is not far from the border of Louisiana, which recently passed a law banning abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable. City leaders said they do not want abortion businesses to try to open in their city to attract women from across the border.

The ordinance says Roe v. Wade and other laws permitting abortion are “unconstitutional usurpations of judicial power, which violate both the Tenth Amendment the Republican Form of Government Clause, and are null and void in the City of Waskom.”

“We decided to take things into our own hands, and we’ve got to do something to protect our cities and to protect the unborn children,” said Mark Lee Dickson, director of the Right to Life with East Texas, according to KTAL.

The mayor and city attorney expressed concerns that the ordinance likely would be struck down in court as unconstitutional. They said the city cannot afford an expensive lawsuit.

However, the city council passed the ordinance unanimously.

Here’s more from KTAL:

The final vote approving the move was met with cheers from the public.

In response to a possible lawsuit, the people of Waskom said they still support moving forward because they say God will take care of them.

Advocates of the ordinance say they got the idea for this ordinance from Rosewell, New Mexico, which passed a similar one earlier this year.

Roswell city leaders passed their pro-life resolution in March after state lawmakers considered a radical pro-abortion bill to expand late-term abortions. The bill narrowly failed in the state Senate.

About a month later, the Riverton City Council in Utah passed a similar resolution, declaring the city a “sanctuary for the unborn.”

In New York state, Batavia city leaders and Putnam County legislators also took action to condemn a radical new pro-abortion law in their state earlier this year.

ACTION: Thank city officials by going here.

Source: Texas City Bans Abortion Clinics, Declares Itself a “Sanctuary for the Unborn” | LifeNews.com

The Circus – A Train to Reign family production

The Christian Training Center has fun with the Train to Reign program. Here is our production of The Circus by one of our families. There were five of these productions. They were put together by each team in 15 minutes.

This wrapped up our evening. Everyone had a blast.

The Ancient Enemies of Israel Have Entered Our Land — Who are the Philistines?

Thank you for joining us today as we study the fourth part of our series.  We are looking at the ancient enemies of Israel, who and what they represent, and how these spirits are still relevant today in our nation and world. This is extremely valuable information to raise our awareness of the battles we fight daily. We know these battles are not of flesh and blood, but of spirits and principalities.

                                What happens when enemies enter our land?

Exodus 34:10 says “As of right now, I’m making a covenant with you: In full sight of your people I will work wonders that have never been created in all the earth, in any nation. Take careful note of all I command you today. I’m clearing your way by driving out Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Stay vigilant. Don’t let down your guard lest you make covenant with the people who live in the land that you are entering and they trip you up”.

Who were these enemies that had entered the land of Israel? Let’s define them and compare them to our America in today’s world.

Part 4 – Who are the Philistines? ~~ by Susan Pons

Philistine – The name Philistine means strangers, emigrants, foreigners, forces foreign to the Spirit of God.

A person who is guided by a Philistine agenda is usually disdainful of intellectual or artistic values. Philistine also means a people who are contentedly commonplace in ideas and tastes. They are called Allophyli, foreigners, in the Septuagint, and in the Books of Samuel they are spoken of as uncircumcised. Philistines are a people who are lacking in, hostile, or smugly indifferent to cultural values such as art work, theatre, manners, respect, homes in God’s order, etc. Christian and Godly cultural values are taught and learned in the home. Uncleanness can enter our homes in what we view, read, and the way we speak to each other. Tolerance of the Muslim faith but persecution of the Christian faith, this is the giant Philistine spirit operating in our nation.

Before we pray it’s worth mentioning that the Philistines were known to have giants among them. Do you remember the story of David and Goliath (the Philistine)? This is a giant problem in our nation today.

Father God, we pray for Your mercy and we repent for the sin of allowing uncleanness into our homes. We have slowly faded into a nation that allows things that You hate. We don’t even notice or see it as a sin anymore. Our values should and do begin in our homes. May we have eyes that see the areas that we need to change to please You. Let us be the change we want to see in this world and let us stand out as Christians to be an example for others.

Here at CTCI, our conferences and retreats throughout the year provide a time for Christians from far and wide to come together for insightful teaching, sincere worship and life-changing ministry. We have been blessed to host a number of outstanding Bible teachers including Lance Lambert, Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Johannes Facius and Gary Bergel. We are please to welcome Dave Kubal from Intercessors For America this summer as our repeat speaker during our Appeal to Heaven conference. Bob and Kathy Fittts will be leading worship! Most importantly, in all we do, we seek the presence of the Lord.

If you would like more information about our upcoming conferences or our ministry, please go to our website at http://www.lifeisrelationships.com, or fill out this contact form below and we will get back with you promptly.

 

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Are You Contending for Your Children’s Faith? 

Here is a great article by Jennifer DeFrates. The source is: Are You Contending for Your Children’s Faith? ~ Heaven not Harvard

Contending for your children’s faith can sound daunting. If you’re a Christian parent, you want to raise your children to know and love the Lord, but there is no one sure-fired 100% way to parent that brings kids to Jesus.

With 161 million search results on Christian parenting, it’s hard to know where to begin. We want to be the kind of parents who lead our children to Jesus, but how to do that is more complicated than just taking them to church anymore.

First, we can’t make our children love God.

We can’t force them to have a real relationship with Jesus. God has to call them and direct them and build a desire in them to seek Him. All we can do is point the way.

But we can’t point somewhere we’re not going.

“A leader leads from in front, by the power of example.” Edward Abbey

If you want to lead them in faith, you need to be walking in faith in front of them. Make sure they see you reading your Bible. Show them how you use Godly wisdom to make decisions and deal with your own sin. Teach them how to study the Bible and what a relationship with God looks like.

Contending for your children's faith can sound daunting. As a Christian parent, there is no 100% way to parent that brings kids to Jesus, but there are things we can do to give them a firm foundation. #Apologetics #ChristianParenting #ChristianMom #ChristianBlogger #Parenting #MamaBearApologetics #RoarLikeaMother

Yesterday, my daughter and I read James 1 together. We talked about how James thought his brother Jesus was crazy, but following the crucifixion became an ardent follower after seeing Him alive, even calling himself a bondservant or slave of Christ. We read a few different translations and talked about not reading tricky verses alone, but making sure we read in context.

How it fed my heart to have those moments with her. But I know I can’t secure her salvation, only God can.

But there are some ways you can be contending for your children’s faith.

Be constant in prayer. Praying for your children with intentionality and focus is probably the most crucial step you can take that requires no special knowledge or training. Just pray.

If you need some practical ideas about how to pray, what to pray, how to remember to pray, I have this resource for you.

Pray with your children for their futures. Pray with your spouse. Ask friends and family to join you in prayer for your children.

Give them a firm foundation in the faith.

A few years ago, someone close to me came out of the closet as an atheist. After listening to logical, well-reasoned arguments against Christianity, I went through a crisis of faith. I wasn’t sure what was true.

That crisis led me to discover apologetics for myself.

Apologetics might sound like some mysteriously difficult subject, but really just means to give a defense for what we believe.

I had to know – is there evidence for our faith or is the Bible full of fairy tales, myths, and legends?

I got tears in my eyes as I listened to J. Warner Wallace of Cold Case Christianity and Gary Habermas’s Minimal Facts Approach.

If I had known all that I do now, I don’t think I would have walked away from the faith as a young adult. I wouldn’t have struggled alone to survive the traumas I endured.

And, I want my daughter to have the kind of faith I do now, only better. I don’t want her to face the years of doubt and fear that I did.

I want my daughter to have the faith I do now. ‘Blind faith is easy to lose. Faith grounded in evidence is harder to walk away from.’ Hillary Morgan Ferrer #MamaBearApologetics #ROARlikeaMother #Apologetics

Now, I’m constantly studying apologetics and believe more and more strongly that there is powerful evidence for a creator and for the resurrection of Christ, but there is so much to know and learn. You can focus on evangelizing Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. or study the cosmological arguments for creation by God or the historicity of the scripture, etc.

Contending for your children's faith can sound daunting. As a Christian parent, there is no 100% way to parent that brings kids to Jesus, but there are things we can do to give them a firm foundation. #Apologetics #ChristianParenting #ChristianMom #ChristianBlogger #Parenting #MamaBearApologetics #RoarLikeaMother

 

But there is so much information, it’s hard to know where to begin. You need a basic grasp of a lot of ideas, a firm understanding of God’s views, and the way the world is trying to twist reality, and how to combat those false narratives as a Christian while being able to defend your Biblical worldview.

Does that sound crazy intimidating?? It doesn’t have to be!

I have found an excellent resource for all Christians, Mama Bear Apologetics. While the title is directed at moms, the book itself is such a great resource any Christian (every Christian) should read it to know what we believe and why. They also have a podcast and website to further equip Christian parents.

If you want to raise children with a firm foundation for their faith, START here! It’s still on sale and is the #1 New Release in Christian Apologetics!

This book is a cheat sheet to defending the Christian faith. (read my full review here*)

Mama Bear Apologetics™: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies

By Hillary Morgan Ferrer (Paperback – Jun 4, 2019)

$11.89 $16.99

Mama Bear Apologetics was written by a group of talented women with conversational writing styles. The authors have organized and fleshed out all the important apologetics ideas in ways that are easy to digest and discuss.

They start with ‘why care about apologetics’ when my kid has a cheerio up his nose. Because let’s face it, we’re busy. Adding one more thing isn’t going to happen. But, then they follow up with why it matters so much, the youth exodus. 

“Most studies indicate between 45-88% of youth leave the Christian faith after their freshman year in college and never return.” – Julie Loos

We can’t make them believe, but we can help our children build a faith that lasts on the foundation of truth.

Mama Bear Apologetics is Really a MUST-READ for all Christian parents in this post-truth culture!

There are so many great resources that I couldn’t possibly list them all. But if you want to get serious about contending for your children’s faith, Mama Bear Apologetics is a great place to start.

By chapter 4, you’ll be wondering why you hadn’t found it sooner, even if you’ve never considered apologetics before. I thought it was a few simple facts about creation. I had no idea how much better I understand the character of God and the Bible because I’ve learned how to read and study it.

Contending for the faith of our children has never been more difficult or more important. Are you prepared to meet the challenge and give them a faith planted on a firm foundation? #Apologetics #RoarLikeaMother #MamaBearApologetics

I’d also highly recommend Cold Case Christianity for KidsGod’s Crime Scene for Kids, and a Case for Christ for Kids.

For younger kids, JD Camorlinga’s series about James and Ruth are excellent. They are picture books that deal with the three main arguments against Christianity and the back of the book has a cheat sheet for parents to explain the concepts in greater complexity.

For older kids, another brand new resource is So the Next Generation Will Know by Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace. It will help you be an ally with your teens against the lies the world is spoon feeding them at every turn.

So the Next Generation Will Know: Preparing Young Christians for a Challenging World

By Sean McDowell, J. Warner Wallace (Paperback – May 1, 2019)

$12.32 $16.99

Rated 4.5 out of 5 by 20 reviewers on Amazon.com

Contending for the faith of our children has never been more difficult or more important. Our culture tells them there is no truth, do what feels good, there is no right and wrong.

We have to help them learn how to think for themselves. We need to understand the fundamental concepts that erode a Biblical worldview without being intellectually honest.

Are you ready to answer the call to fight and start contending for your children’s faith?

Source: Are You Contending for Your Children’s Faith? ~ Heaven not Harvard

7 things Jesus said on the cross as He died for us

Jesus on the CrossJesus hung on the cross and died for us. He said seven things during that time.

  1. Luke 23:34: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.
  2. Luke 23:43: Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise.
  3. John 19:26–27: Woman, behold your son. Behold your mother.
  4. Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34 My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
  5. John 19:28: I thirst.
  6. John 19:29-30: It is finished.
  7. Luke 23:46: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

These are all stunning individually but taken as a whole, they say so much about our Master Jesus the Messiah. He died for us. We died with Him.

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“Beware … ” ~Jesus — What the New Testament has to say on deception by religions leaders

Image result for false prophetsThis is a series of quotes to emphasize the seriousness of deception and our responsibility to look out for it constantly.

What are we to do?  “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Matthew 7:15-23  “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?‘ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

How to Use the Lord’s Prayer to Pray for Your Family 

Here is a great article from Mark Altrogge. He has been senior pastor of Saving Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have five children and five grandchildren.

Jesus gave us “The Lord’s Prayer,” as it has been called, not simply to pray as a standalone prayer, but as a pattern for prayer.

It is a great pattern to use when praying for yourself, your children, grandchildren and all your descendants. I use this pattern almost every day to pray for my family.

Here’s the Lord’s prayer in Matthew:

Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. 
MT 6.9-13

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Here is how I incorporate this prayer when praying for my family. I really like this pattern because it keeps me focused. And I can pray through the various sections in a short time.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name. 
(9)

Before we begin asking God for things for ourselves it is so wonderful and important to focus on his glory and holiness. “Hallowed be thy name.” Or, “Holy be your name.” Take a few moments to worship Him: It can be something as simple as, “Father, I praise you, for you are holy and good and loving. Praise you for your steadfast love and your mercies that are new every morning.”

Psalm 100:4 says:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

So before I begin to ask God to bless my family, I usually try to begin by giving thanks to him. Most days I take a few minutes to write 1 page in a moleskine to the Lord of things I’m thankful for. Focusing on God’s holiness reminds us of whom we are approaching – the infinitely glorious One. And beginning with thanks helps us not forget all the ways he has blessed us already, before we ask him to bless us again. It also strengthens our faith in how generous and gracious our heavenly Father is. Next Jesus tells us to pray:

Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
 (10)

Before we pray for our interests, we should pray for God’s interests. God’s kingdom is his rule. So I pray that the Lord would bring his rule into the world. That he would save multitudes in every nation, and our nation. But then I pray he would bring his rule into the lives of my family – me, Kristi and my children, every one of our grandchildren, and every single descendant until Jesus returns. I pray that he would save every one who is not yet saved, and that each and every one of us would follow Jesus wholeheartedly as disciples as long as we live. That Jesus would be the king of our whole family.

Give us this day our daily bread, (11)

I ask our heavenly Father to bless and provide for me and Kristi, and each one of our children and their families.

and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
(12)

The Greek word for “debt” means: “a debt, offense, sin.” (Thayer’s Greek lexicon). By “debts” Jesus meant “tresspasses,” for 2 verses later he says:

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (14-15).

But didn’t Jesus pay for all our sins on the cross? Yes, but we should still ask God’s forgiveness whenever we sin. As he says in 1 JN 2.1:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

And in 1 JN 1:8-9

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

So I pray something along these lines:

“Father please forgive me and Kristi our tresspasses. And please forgive each of our children and grandchildren for their sins.” Even when we aren’t aware of any sins, we all fail in numerous ways all the time. We may not have actively committed sins; but we all fail to perfectly obey him every day. We should ask God to forgive our children who are saved, but especially those who Jesus has yet to save.

as we also have forgiven our debtors. (12)

I don’t always remember to pray this, but I will often ask the Lord to help us and our children forgive anyone who has sinned against us.

And lead us not into temptation (13a)

This is a big one, which I think we often fail to think about. But I have seen so many Christians, even those who have followed Jesus for years, often Christian leaders, fall into sin. I want to fear God. I want to finish well. I don’t want to bring shame on the name of Jesus. So I pray this first and foremost for myself, then for Kristi and our children, grandchildren and descendants.

“Father, please, deliver me, deliver us and our children and grandchildren from temptation and sin. Please keep us pure and holy. Please help us to fear you. Please keep us from falling into sin. I also ask that you would deliver us and all our descendants from false doctrine.” I pray this because in our culture and in the church, so many pastors and churches are buying into the spirit of the age in so many areas.

but deliver us from evil. (13b)

I ask the Lord every day to deliver me and Kristi, our kids and grandkids from all evil. I know the Bible says that every Christian will suffer various kinds of affliction, but we are still supposed to ask our heavenly Father to deliver us from evil. Sickness is evil. Depression and anxiety are evil. I pray that the Lord protect us from physical harm and sickness and if it would be his will give me and Kristi and each of our children and grandchildren and all our descendants long, healthy lives.

Health is a gift from God. So I am going to ask our Father for that gift for our family. My wife and a couple of my kids suffer daily from health issues. I have a grandchild with heart issues. I don’t understand why the Lord allows these kinds of things to continue, but I trust that our heavenly Father is good and wise and loving. And I’m still going to keep asking him for the gift of healing and health for my family because he tells me to. Jesus said,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! MT 7.7-11

Our heavenly Father loves to give good things to those who ask. Just like me – I would give my kids anything good that I could. Our Father is infinitely more generous and kind to us than we are to our children. So I’m going to keep asking him for good gifts for my family, especially the gift of health. If it doesn’t come in my timing or my way, I’m still going to keep asking him.

So that’s how I use the Lord’s prayer to pray for my family. I make plenty of other requests for my children and descendants. But I try to pray through the Lord’s prayer pattern on a daily basis if I can.

Source: How to Use the Lord’s Prayer to Pray for Your Family – Mark Altrogge

19 Father’s Day Bible Verses to Inspire Your Dad

Is your father a man of integrity with a heart that follows after God? Why not bless him this Father’s Day with one of these Bible verses about fathers.

Bible Verses for Father’s Day

Image result for father's day1 Chronicles 29:17
I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity…

Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”

Joshua 1:9

…Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 24:15

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

1 Kings 15:11

And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as David his father had done.

Malachi 4:6

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.

Proverbs 3:11-12

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
and do not resent his rebuke,
because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.

Proverbs 3:32

For the LORD detests a perverse man
but takes the upright into his confidence.

Proverbs 10:9

The man of integrity walks securely,
but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.

Proverbs 14:26

In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.

Proverbs 17:24

A discerning man keeps wisdom in view,
but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

Proverbs 17:27

A man of knowledge uses words with restraint,
and a man of understanding is even-tempered.

Proverbs 23:22

Listen to your father, who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Proverbs 23:24

The father of a righteous man has great joy;
he who has a wise son delights in him.

Matthew 7:9–11

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Hebrews 12:7

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

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Why are fathers so important?

Larry Pons is the Chief Executive at the Christian Training Center.

This is a special message for fathers.

The program that we have for fathers is Train to Reign. Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack.

Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. Throughout the year, we welcome individuals, couples, and families from around the world who are seeking to strengthen their relationships – with God, within their own families, and with their fellow believers.

Every session, individuals, couples, and families from around the world are transformed, healed, and renewed. Barriers to forgiveness, personal growth, and hope are overcome in a supportive and intimate environment. Join us in this safe and holy place where painful and complex situations can be worked through – a place of hope and healing.

To register for the next Train to Reign program, go here.

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What a father does on Father’s Day!

Nikki Corbin talks about her father, Larry Pons. Larry is executive director of the Christian Training Center in Franklin, NC.

Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. The Train to Reign program is perfect for you and your family.

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Will we give up? These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times!

Here Today Gone TomorrowSometimes it seems like we just can’t make it. Yet, perseverance rules the day.

Even if it looks like things are falling apart, they aren’t. God is God and God is in control. ALWAYS!! FOREVER!!

Sometimes others can’t see what is going on inside. God is making a new life for us. He is doing it now.

Not a day goes by that God’s isn’t giving us everything we need for the day.

There are things that we see now that have no lasting value. They are here today but may not be 5 years from now. Or even tomorrow for that matter. Unrealized gains and unrealized losses. What is important is what lasts forever.

Chinese Christians are Memorizing Scripture Because Communist Government ‘Can’t Take What’s Hidden in Your Heart’ 

Wayne Cordeiro, pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii, is praying that American Christians become more like Chinese Christians.

In a sermon, the pastor of the Hawaiian megachurch shared an experience he had on a trip to China, where the church went to train leaders.

On that particular trip, he brought up twenty-two Christians from the Hunan Province, who road thirteen hours on a train to attend the leadership training.

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Married Couples & Parents See Fewer Barriers to Forgiving Others

For people of faith, an understanding of mercy is foundational to our understanding of the good news of Jesus and should permeate our daily lives — starting within our families and most intimate relationships.

Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God at the Christian Training Center. http://ow.ly/l5SU30oS5pQ

The external influences and internal dynamics of our households can complicate this effort. Moderating screen time, fighting for that ever-elusive work-life balancenavigating relationships in a fraught political climatediscussing faith in an increasingly secularized society, cultivating generosity in an age of compassion fatigue—these are just some of the factors that, as multiple Barna Group studies attest, influence the atmospheres and values of our homes. Technology alone, parents tell us, has made it harder than ever to raise children.

So how are families doing in cultivating merciful mindsets? A new Barna project produced in partnership with The Reimagine GroupThe Mercy Journey, examines the role of forgiveness and mercy in the lives of Christian adults in the U.S. The data suggest family relationships may heighten or shape forgiving attitudes in significant ways.

Read more here:

Married Couples & Parents See Fewer Barriers to Forgiving Others – Barna Group

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Building An Ark For Your Family

Brittany shares a Train to Reign Devotional on what it means for a father to protect his family in Hebrews 11:7.

Hebrews 11:7 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)  Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

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God is strong and never grows tired. God is better than the Energizer Bunny.

Good NewsThere is always good news with God. He is always happy to have us back when we miss His goal (aka sin) for us.

God is strong and never grows tired. God is better than the Energizer Bunny. God is energy so God is always energetic. That is just how He rolls.

God’s love brings us peace and calms us. God’s love drives out all fear in our life. Jesus teaches us to be worry free. Why worry? No need. God’s got our back. It is all a part of His plan, even the suffering and pain.

He is tickled pink to delight us. He is in a good mood and not upset with us. Like a loving Father, God disciplines us so we can’t just skate by doing everything we want. Our goal, God’s goal for us, is holiness and sanctification.

Yes, there is always good news with God.

Jerusalem will be told:  Don’t be afraid. Dear Zion, don’t despair. Your God is present among you, a strong warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.” | Zephaniah 3:16-17

May I be open to the good news and see that God is with me, powerful and delighted with me.

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How should ministries be financially supported?

Three Square MealsJesus sent the disciples out to spread the good news about how God rules. He recognized that they would need a place to stay and meals to eat. Jesus set it up so that they would not be in need.

The same is true today. Jesus takes care of His workers. Those of us being served should recognize that and help deserving ministers and ministries. It is for our benefit.

God is great. He takes care of us and our basic needs.

Imagine this. For over 3 years, Jesus and the disciples went from town to town proclaiming the good news. They weren’t working or earning a living. How did they survive?

They had benefactors who financially supported the ministry.

Will I help those who devote their lives to proclaim the good news of Jesus and who are making disciples in all the world?

“Stay at one home, taking your meals there, for a worker deserves three square meals. Don’t move from house to house, looking for the best cook in town.” ~~Jesus Luke 10:7 (The Message Bible)

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What is God’s goal for us? Do I get it?

Good FridayJesus knew why He was here. He knew how it would end. He knew He would go through the worst time possible.

God’s goal for us is to be redeemed into a right relationship with our Father.

We have missed God’s goal. Jesus died to pay that price for us. He is resurrected to prove the power of God through that redemption.

What was the end in His mind?

Not the sorrow or the crucifixion. It was the glorification. He knew what He had to go through crucifixion to get to the glorification and for the sheer joy of it, he endured.

And so, we benefit from God’s new plan. We have gone through it with Him.

Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Those who love their life will lose it, while those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. ‘Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. | John 12:23-27

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Are you a slave to sin?

Kiara Clemonts is an intern in our Heroes Summer Internship program. She shares what she learned about God’s liberating truth in John chapter 8 at our morning devotion time.

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Jesus is whispering. He is talking. He is shouting!

Listen to God - 01Jesus is whispering. He is talking. He is shouting!

Jesus has some amazing things to say.

In what I read. In what I hear in my heart. I have ears. I can hear.

Jesus’ point is that just because you have ears doesn’t mean you will listen and hear. We all know that. Jesus makes it clear that He knows it as well. The key is a spirit to listen to God. And having listened, to act on what God wants us to do.

There are also things He is not saying. Am I asking questions about things He has nothing to say? Am I focused on what He is saying or not saying?

God has a goal for us today. It requires that we listen to Jesus. He is in control.

Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” — Jesus Mark 4:9

May I listen to His word.

May I hear what He is saying to me today.

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Should we make a clean sweep? Should we call in the expert, Jesus?

1 PeterSo many days we are focused on our house.

Is it clean?

Is it organized?

There is even a show about people whose houses get so cluttered they call in the experts to fix it. It is fun to watch in a weird sort of way.

Jesus talked a lot about how what really matters is what is in us. Peter heard it first hand. We should focus on cleaning up “our inner life”. Make a clean sweep. Call in the expert, Jesus. Get rid of all the muck of pretense and hurtful conversations.

God’s goal for us is clear. No malice. No envy. No pretense.

So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. 1 Peter 2:1

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Scale of worldwide Christian persecution ‘deeply disturbs’ UK foreign secretary

Jesus predicted that we would be persecuted for following Him. It has always happened and still happens every day all around the world.

Britain’s foreign secretary said he was “deeply disturbed” by the fact that 215 million Christians faced persecution in 2018, one of the many instances of religious intolerance highlighted in a new survey published by the UK government.

The 2018 Human Rights and Democracy report, issued every year by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said that the denial of the right to freedom of religion or belief has become a matter “of increasing international concern.”

“Violations in 2018 ranged from inhibiting the freedom to worship, for example in the Maldives and Russia, to discrimination or targeted attacks against members of minority groups because of their religious identity, such as in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and Burma,” said the report, published on June 5.

Pointing to the large number of Christians facing persecution, the report noted, “Christian women and children are particularly vulnerable, and are often subjected to sexual violence as a result of their beliefs.”

The Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, announced on Dec. 26 that he had asked Anglican Bishop Philip Mounstephen of Truro to lead an independent review of the support which the UK’s Foreign Office provides to persecuted Christians, and to map the levels of persecution and discrimination against Christians around the world. An interim report was issued last month, while the final report – including the recommendations – will be issued later this summer.

In the preface to the human rights report, Hunt said Christians faced harassment in 144 countries in 2016, compared with 128 in 2015.

“I am not convinced that our efforts have always been commensurate with the scale of the problem or the empirical evidence that Christians often endure the greatest burden of persecution. We must never allow a misguided sense of political correctness to inhibit our response,” the foreign secretary said.

Read more here:

Scale of worldwide Christian persecution ‘deeply disturbs’ UK foreign secretary

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Are we called to judge?

Ian Debor shares what he learned in devotions about Jesus and his righteous judgment. Ian is from Spotswood, New Jersey. He has been in the Heroes program for two years.

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Is Jesus a lackey to the Sabbath? What is more important, rules or the Ruler?

Jesus is in ControlWhat is more important? Rules and regulations? Or the Ruler?

Jesus deals with the problem of “being religious” head on. The religious elites were giving his disciples a hard time about breaking a rule. Jesus establishes that He is in charge.

That is the central issue to be dealt with.

  • Do I believe Jesus is in charge (the Master) and act on it?
  • Will I believe it today or default to religious rules and procedures?
  • Am I willing to be a slave of Jesus?

God is God. He is absolutely in control. He has given all authority to His son Jesus.

“The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath. He’s in charge!” ~~Jesus Matthew 12:6-8 (The Message Bible)

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