The Truth Shall Make You Free

July Fourth is a time of thanksgiving for our freedom.  Our freedom has been bought with the blood of many a person who died on battlefields around the world.

Two thousand years ago, there was One who came to earth for the purpose of sacrificing His life; so that we can enjoy the freedom from sin and death.  “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

What does it mean to have spiritual freedom?
 1. Spiritual freedom means a life controlled by truth and motivated by love
2. Spiritual freedom means are able to use our lives for the glory of God.
3. Spiritual freedom means the privilege of being able to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

Why do we need spiritual freedom?
Our need for spiritual freedom is caused by our bondage to sin. “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” (John 8:33)  Sin keeps us from entering into the presence of God.  Sin brings eternal death.

How do we receive spiritual freedom in Christ?
1. We must see our need for Jesus Christ, because we are all sinners before God. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Our sin places us under the wrath of God. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jon 3:36)
2.  We must understand that Christ’s  death provided the payment for our sin.  “But God commendeth His love toward in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ” (Romans 5:8)
3. We must turn from our sin and  receive Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith that His sacrificial death  alone can pay for our sin and bring spiritual freedom. “For by grace our ye saved through faith and that not ourselves, but it the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

What are the results of our spiritual freedom in Christ?
1. We receive freedom from the penalty of our sin. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
2. We receive freedom from Satan’s power. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” (Colossians 1:13)
3. We receive freedom from the fear of death. “And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:15) See also
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
4.  We receive freedom from the curse of the law. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)

The doorway to spiritual freedom is wide open.  As Jesus said: ” I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9) Let us accept and enjoy the freedom that Christ bought for us with His blood

The Goodness of the Lord in Troubled Times

Trouble, trials, and tragedy strike every person who has ever walked upon the earth.  When trouble comes, do we blame God? Do we ignore God; or do we trust Him?

King David had his share of problems, but he never forgot the Goodness of the  Lord.  He writes: “O taste and see that the LORD IS GOOD: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psalm 34:8)  How does God show His goodness in the troubles, trial, and tragedies of life?

1) God shows His goodness in His attributes. “The Lord is Good”  Every attribute reflects His Goodness (How well do I know Him?)
2) God shows His goodness in His promises.  “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: ” (2 Peter 1:4) (Do I know and believe His promises?)
3) God shows His goodness in His Actions. “Thou art good, and doest good” All that God does is Good. (Psalm 119:68) (Do I believe that “All things work together for good to those that love God.” (Romans 8:28)
4) God shows His goodness in His Love.  “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3) God’s love is His motive for what He is doing in our lives  (Do I believe that God loves me with an unconditional and unending love?
5) God shows His goodness in His Wisdom. ” In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3 ) God’s  thoughts are way beyond our comprehension.   (Do I trust in God’s wisdom or mine own wisdom?)

In the midst of trouble, trials and tragedy, remember the Goodness of God.  God’s plan for our lives  is the result of His goodness, even when there is pain in the process.  Will we trust in His Goodness today?

Grant Hoyland-A True Servant of The Lord (May 18, 1955-June 14, 2001)

 

In the early morning of June 14, 2001, the telephone awoke us.  Who would be calling this early?  I answered the phone and heard Pastor Ruben May (Johannesburg, South Africa) on the end of the line. His voice was quiet and sad. Something was wrong.  “Last night, Grant was carjacked and later murdered”.  Thoughts started flooding my mind.  “Why Grant?”  “God, why did you allow this to happen?”

Grant had entered  our lives in 1984.  He came to the church in Hillbrow as a result of being invited by a temporary secretary at the law office where he was working.  At first, his attendance was rather sporadic, but he soon accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as His Saviour.  As time went by, Grant became very involved in various church ministries.   He had a great love for the people in Hillbrow, especially the children.  He would faithfully do door to door visitation, and he ministered in the Awana Club Ministry.  He also became an excellent preacher of the Word.

After we left South Africa, Grant attended Bible College.  In 1999 we visited South Africa and stayed with Grant for a couple of weeks.  We had some terrific talks.   During that time, the Hillbrow church ordained Grant  for the Gospel ministry.  I never heard a person do so well in an ordination council.   Grant, by this time, decided to leave his full-time work as a lawyer and only work part-time.   His desire was to give as much time to the Lord’s service as possible as the Assistant Pastor of the Hillbrow Independent Baptist Church.

Though Grant is in the presence of the Lord,  he is greatly missed by many people in Johannesburg.  Here was one person who selflessly gave his life for those around him.

During the aftermath of Grant’s death, the young people in the Hillbrow church were challenged to fill the shoes that Grant had left behind.  One of the young people responded: “His shoes are too big for us to fill.”  Though many in this world never knew Grant, he was truly a man greatly used of God.

I thank the Lord for the privilege to have had been Grant’s pastor and friend. He truly lived out  1 Corinthians 15:58:  “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Hope in the Midst of the Ruins (What to do When Everything Falls Apart)

Photographer: Roehnert

Ruins tell the story of decay, neglect and destruction.  Our spiritual lives can also face times of ruin and decay.  We feel hopeless and in despair.  The Prophet Jeremiah faced a time in his life when he was in the midst of the ruins of Jerusalem.  Babylon had completely destroyed the city.  All hope was gone.  How did Jeremiah handle this hopeless condition? How can we handle our hopeless condition?

Jeremiah, in the midst of the ruins of Jerusalem, looks up to God.  He says in Lamentations 3:21:  “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.” He knows in himself there are no answers: ” My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:” (Lam 3:18) However, he knows that his hope is in God alone.

When we are facing hopelessness in our lives,  our only hope is in the Lord alone.  We must take our eyes off the ruins around us and in us, and focus on the Lord.  Jeremiah focuses on five attributes of God that brings great hope in his life in spite of the ruins around Him.
1. God is Merciful– “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, ”  (Lamentations 3:22) We find hope in His forgiveness, as we come to Him with a repentant heart.
2.  God is Compassionate. “because his compassions fail not.” (Lam. 3:22b)
We find hope in his compassion.  He does love us even in the midst of our hopeless situation.
3. God is Faithful“They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness“. (Lamentations 3:23) We find hope in His faithfulness to keep all of His    promises.
4. God is Omnipresent. (He is with me) ” The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” Lamentations  3:24 We find hope in His presence.  He walks with us in the midst of the ruins and the rebuilding thereof.
5. God is Good.  “The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.”  Lamentations 3:25 We find hope in the will of God, which is always for our good.

What will we do in the midst of our hopelessness?  Will we stay defeated and discouraged or will we look up to our great and mighty God?  Jeremiah discovered great hope in a hopeless situation and so can we!!

Temptation: Am I Prepared to Resist it?

     Temptation to sin is something every believer experiences.  Our Lord Jesus Christ faced direct temptation from Satan; yet He never yielded to the temptation. (Matthew 4:1-11)
 THE SOURCES OF TEMPTATIONS
      Temptation comes in many forms; but the three main sources of our temptations are:
      1. The flesh-” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
      2. The devil-Genesis 3:1-10 (The tempting of Eve)
      3. The world, which refers to the system of thinking that is against God. “
            “And be not conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2)
    Temptations can come upon us in a very subtle fashion to cause us to sin against God; or they can come suddenly with great strength.  Are we prepared to face the temptations that will come our way?
THE RIGHT PREPARATION FOR TEMPTATIONS
      Before any temptation strikes, we need to be prepared by means of our daily walk with God.  These questions should help to see how prepared we are to face temptations that will come our way.
     1. Is my whole heart seeking after God out of my love for Him?  “With my whole heart have I sought thee:”  (Psalm 119:10)
     2. Is the Word of God implanted in my heart? ” Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11)
     3. What brings the most delight in my life?  “I delight to do thy will”
         (Psalm 40:8)
     4. How is my prayer life? ” Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:18)
    5. Am I in regular fellowship with other believers? “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
     6. Have I laid aside every thing that hinders my Christian growth? “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily besets us”.  (Hebrews 12:1)
     Joseph, Daniel and others were able to resist temptation because they were prepared beforehand.  What about us?  Are we prepared for the temptations that will come our way?

My Good Shepherd Knows and Cares

     Why do I feel alone?  Does anybody care?  Does anybody understand what I am going through?  Where is God in all of this?
    “He calleth HIS OWN SHEEP BY NAME, and leadeth them out.”  (John 10:3) What a comforting thought, our Good Shepherd knows us! In God’s eyes, we are not a number, but we are the objects of His love!  He knows what we are thinking. He knows our sorrows and joys. He knows our defeats and victories. He knows our loneliness and confusion.  He is there to take us in his arms and say: “This is the way, walk ye in it.”  (Isaiah 30:21)
     We don’t have to walk alone.  Jesus knows us and He knows the way!
          

FOUR WORDS THAT BRING COMFORT

FOUR VERY COMFORTING WORDS! “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for THOU ART WITH ME; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
1. When I am lonely, thou art with me.
2. When I am discouraged, thou art with me,
3. When I am without hope, thou art with me.
4. When I am sick or facing death, thou art with me.
5. When I am confused, thou art with me.
6. When I am lukewarm spiritually, thou art with me.
7. When I am facing a trial, thou art with me.
8. When I am being tempted, thou art with me.
9. When I am sorrowful, thou art with me.
10. When I am rejected, thou art with me.
Let Jesus walk with you today, no matter what you are facing.