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“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12 The trials of the Apostle Paul was sent to destroy him on the part of the enemy, but allowed to prove him on the part of God. Faith is not a mere idea of the mind, but a disposition of the heart. It is able to withstand the onslaught of challenges that would otherwise wear one down. When we are tried and pass the test, on the other side of that victory is a special grace useful in the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can then all the more identify with the price He paid by enduring much more than we could ever face in this life. There is a message preached by some who are void of experience that may stir the emotions and impress its hearers. But there is another message deeply rooted in experiences aligned with the sufferings of Christ. That message is able to make a deep impact upon its hearers because they not only hear it but see it. We live our message much louder than we…

“Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder)” 2 Peter 3:1 Our minds are purified as the result of hearing a pure word. The clutter of a misguided conscience and the pollutants of compromised values are removed and replaced with an understanding of absolutes that can withstand the scrutiny of contemporary questioning. A pure mind is to be treasured above all things. It means that the mind has processed what the heart has embraced. Then one is able to give a reason for the hope that is in them. They can defend the faith and withstand the scrutiny of error. Now that we can receive words of wisdom, we are not to entertain thoughts and ideas that can lead to moral failure. Our minds must remain pure in order for us to receive from God instructions for daily living. There are many things to be added to what we currently know. These are the building blocks that contribute to our becoming a spiritual habitation. They cause us to further set our minds on the things above and not be distracted by things around us and beneath…

“And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Matthew 13:10 He spoke to them with simplicity, but with profundity. There were natural things that they were able to see and understand. Therefore the language of Jesus was overly simplistic. Often His message is ignored because those to whom it has not been given may easily dismiss truths with such depth that the sharpest of minds may spend a lifetime examining one sentence, yet not be able to scratch the surface of its meaning. God has “hidden these things from the wise and the prudent and have revealed them unto babes.” There is a language that is coded for those whose hearts are open to receive the message. One must have a heart of understanding in order to have a mind of understanding. When Jesus speaks, we must hear Him with our hearts and not just our ears. The parables separated the seekers from the groupies. There are crowds that gather for entertainment. There is another select few that want to know the Lord. They have blessed ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to understand.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:15  A sanctified heart is directed towards God alone. There is no other direction to which it may be turned that can satisfy the believer for he knows that only God alone can meet the needs existing deep in the recesses of the soul. There are many things around to lure him away from the position in which he stands. But he does not see things as others who are blind to the devices of the devil. The enemy constantly works in attempting to raise doubt in his heart. He has heard the Lord speak concerning His own. He is affirmed as being God’s Son, and continually dwelling in the place of God’s pleasure. Since his heart overflows with love, he has an answer for everyone. Because he is able to see beyond the current crisis, his answer remains prophetic. The pure and heart is able to see God. God is with him; therefore his hope is to take on the character of God….

“As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.” Matthew 24:32 One major sign of the return of Christ will be the renewed courage and strength among those who carry the testimony of the Lord. As it was in the days of the prophets and later the apostles, so shall it be among individuals who will stand for truth without compromise. They will be among a people who have relented to casual Christianity, but will not allow the pressures brought to bear against them to discourage them nor diminish their faith. There will be new life within the Church as both young and old will boldly face persecution if required, for righteousness sake. The sign will be an awakening spreading to the ends of the earth. The Kingdom of God will be their message, the cross will be their standard, and zeal of the Lord will totally consume them. Professor Martin Scharlemann of Concordia Seminary said, “As soon as the missionaries are no longer welcome to do their work and their host countries begin to expel them, look up.”

“And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.” Ephesians 2:17 Those who were Jews as well and the Gentiles received the message of peace. The message was originally given to Jews. Great enmity existed between the two. There was division between man and man as well as man and God. But now the middle wall that separates and divides has been broken down. Any wall that would prevent the gospel message from reaching every people-group must remain down in order for the nations of the world to see Jesus Christ. It is our responsibility to bridge every gap, mend every fence, to close every breach if true peace is to be realized. We have been given the message of peace to proclaim to the world. All other efforts will eventually fail and only the right message will produce the right results. Why should we take our assignment so seriously? The world is awaiting the heralds that will cry in the streets with a sense of urgency during a time when chaos and confusion is everywhere. It is upon the lips of the saints in order to settle matters of upmost…

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 The household of faith is the instrument in God’s hands to bring sinners to salvation. They are the carriers of the Gospel message with the potential of setting the captives free. To do good concerning those who are of faith is participating in the expansion of faith. Our practice must be to do good to all. Benevolence must be practiced until it becomes a habit. But special care must be given to those who are of the household of faith. It frees the hands to work and the soul from unnecessary burdens so that it may be extended to those to whom God will to reach. The world is awaiting the release of love bestowed from God that is free from pretense and selfish ambition. Therefore we must take care in prayerfully considering those who are faithful within the household assisting them so that they may distribute to others what they so desperately need. Where should we lend a helping hand, and where should we direct our giving? God unites our hearts to a household of faith…

“Don’t run roughshod over the concerns of your brothers and sisters. Their concerns are God’s concerns, and he will take care of them. We’ve warned you about this before. (7) God hasn’t invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful — as beautiful on the inside as the outside.” 1 Thessalonians 4:6-7 (MSG) The care and concern we share with the brethren reflects the character of Christ that we possess. We share with them the love so richly bestowed upon us that is now demonstrated through us as an extension of God’s love. Our love must be intentional. Unless we are deliberate in our lifestyles to share the life of Jesus, the message would be shrouded by our careless living. We have been transformed into a vessel of honor. The riches of His grace reside within us as a priceless treasure. What more could we ever want other than a complete and glorious expression of life brought forth through us by way of His Spirit? Therefore we live for Him and He lives through us touching and changing all things by His renewing power. Praise God for the beauty of holiness!

“Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. (21) Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” John 12:20-21 Even though the pursuit of wisdom was common among the Greeks, the wisdom that they were attaining was not complete. The wisdom sought by the majority of them was from philosophers and Stoics who could bring them to a state of enlightenment in order for them to trust in what they had learned. This was the greatest level of achievement for them, that is, to attain wisdom. Yet there were certain Greeks that broke rank with the majority. There will always be some who will stand out among the crowd. They will not settle for what others have embraced as their Utopian dream. These few came to worship at the feast. These are the ones with a special inquiry, Instead of the wisdom of the Greeks, they wished to see Jesus. They believed that He could offer them something that was more important and enlightening than all others combined would ever come to know. To be introduced to Jesus is the…

“And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.” Luke 4:33 The conventional wisdom and language of the people was mere talk without power to back it up. There had been many who had made impressive speeches that dazzled the crowds and arrested their undivided attention. But none was able to speak with such words of power to command spirits that controlled their environment and lives as Jesus could. He did not mince words with senseless and endless babble. Every word was direct and true even when not fully understood. It was given for His disciples to know the mysteries of His message. He presented to mankind the kingdom of heaven, an order that was strange to the disorder existing on the earth. Little wonder why they were astonished when all they had ever heard were light-hearted messages that do very little for the soul and spirit. Now that His authority has been given to the Church, it is our responsibility to represent Him in ways where the integrity of His Words are delivered intact. If it is to be His authority, it must be both His Word and His Spirit communicated through a vessel that is…