“I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you]. Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you, My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.” John 15:1 AMP
A little while back our Bible Study class was discussing this passage in the book of John; pondering it brought to mind the many years that I had my gardens. Specifically it reminded me of tending to the couple dozen tomato plants I would plant in my vegetable garden each year.
Left alone tomato plants will overtake a good portion of your garden space while producing little or no fruit. They love the heat and the sun… add water and you have the makings for some pretty big plants. Notice I say “big plants”… I didn’t say a lot of tomatoes, just big plants.
The Power of the Cross: One Man Sinned and All Men Died – Another Man Died So All Might Live by James Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“The Catholic Church believes that when Adam sinned (Genesis chapter 3) his trespass caused a reign of death that ruled over all men. That view is correct (Romans 5:17). The Christian churches do not believe God would hold blameless men accountable Adam’s sin, therefore they do not believe Adam’s trespass caused death to reign over anyone. That is why the Christian churches refuse to teach that little babies must be baptized to take away Adam’s sin. That view is absolutely reasonable, true, and correct. How can both views be valid?” Continue reading
“As we are approaching the end of this age, we will come to see that those things which are to be shaken shall be removed and only those things which are not to be shaken shall remain. May we therefore seek for things unshakable which come through the spirit of wisdom and revelation.”[i]
Recently we began an all Church Bible Study called Experience Life by Pete Briscoe. In the week two study, we are challenged to develop and deepen our relationship with Jesus by committing ourselves to spending time with Him, becoming more the person He desires us to be. “Discipleship requires Discipline” “We have a new life in Christ – a relationship with our living Lord!” Just as when we meet a new friend, we want to get to know them better, we do this by spending time with them – talking, learning about them, their past, their likes, their dislikes, etc. “For the Christian, isn’t that what spiritual growth really is – getting to know Jesus better, communicating with Him, learning what He likes and doesn’t like, and adapting our lives to His?” Continue reading
Praying God’s Promises: The Life-Changing Power of Praying the Scriptures by Linda Evans Shepherd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Prayer changes things. Praying God’s promises changes everything. The Scriptures tell us that when we pray the will of God, he delights to answer our prayers. But what is God’s will in any given situation? How can we know it? And if we don’t know it, how can we pray it?
In this inspiring book, Linda Evans Shepherd reveals that God’s will is not a mystery–it’s clearly laid out in his Word through his many promises. Through stories, practical application, examples of prayers, and guided reflection, she leads you toward a more powerful prayer life. Arranged by topic for ease of use, this book shows how to pray God’s promises of peace, for health, for relationships, for our children, and so much more.” Continue reading
This is in continuation of the previous couple articles about false teachers, preachers and prophets. I think in my own mind I am trying still to answer the question of why it is so easy for false teachers and preachers to take hold and deceive the Church with their lies. Why doesn’t the Church recognize it?
I did some research and here was some enlightening information.
In a 2017 Gallup survey, 75% of Americans claim to be Christian, yet only 24% of them believe the Bible is the literal Word of God. “Fewer than one in four Americans (24%) now believe the Bible is “the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally, word for word,” similar to the 26% who view it as “a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.”
Why are so many denying the Word of God? Why are so many denying the TRUTHS of the Bible – the creation, the fall of man, the flood of Noah, the Ten Commandants, God’s covenant with Abraham, the exodus from Egypt, Israel enters the promised land, Saul, David, Solomon builds the temple, Jesus is born and baptized, Jesus begins his three year ministry, the sermon on the mount, the transfiguration, His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the last supper, Jesus’ betrayal, trial, and crucifixion, Jesus’ ascension, Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost, Saul’s conversion, John’s revelation of Jesus’ return for His church… and that just names a few of the hundreds of Biblical TRUTHS.
Our first responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ is to the TRUTH. We are called to speak it, teach it, write about it, and if annointed, preach it… but most of all we are to live it. And we aren’t to do this for a season or when it’s easy and comfortable – we’re called to do it until. Until when… until the Word of God is spoken to the four corners of the globe… until every ear has heard the TRUTH of Salvation through Jesus Christ.
Early in February 2018, the Holy Spirit woke me in the very early hours of the morning and impressed these words onto my heart… “Speak the TRUTH to the whole world”. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do next. So with an open mind and heart and with pen in hand, I prayed. I prayed for guidance about “TRUTH”. This is something which has been on my heart for quite some time. My desire to write an ongoing series of articles was born from a story I wrote in my book – “Refined by the Fire” – called “TRUTH”. The book was published in September 2017; it has taken me until February 2018 to begin the “TRUTH” series. And while I’ve hit some snags… I am discovering the articles which had the most impact were ones that flowed easily from my pen. The difficult articles took days and days to write, while struggling over words and defining the direction of the article, they did not flow as easily as I wanted, they were a clumsy and awkward read. It didn’t take long to realize that I had to take me out of the decision making process of what to write. I have taken the direction and subject of the articles out of my hands and now pray for guidance and let the Holy Spirit lead.
Speaking the TRUTH isn’t always popular, but… are we called to be popular… or are we called to speak the TRUTH? The TRUTH of the gift of eternal life and salvation offered only through Jesus Christ… to speak the TRUTH of good news of the Kingdom to a dark and dying world?
“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the [blast of the] trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain [on the earth] will simultaneously be caught up (RAPTURED) together with them [the resurrected ones] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord!” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 AMP
In theological terms, the word RAPTURE is defined as: “the experience, anticipated by some fundamentalist Christians, of meeting Christ midway in the air upon his return to earth.”
While the exact word “RAPTURE” does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away, or caught up. The concept of the “caught up” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 tells us that at God’s command, with the voice of an Archangel and the trumpet call of God, believers that have already died (the dead in Christ) will rise from their graves. Then the believers still alive on the earth will be “caught up” in the air with the dead in Christ to meet Jesus in the air. Together we will be taken to be with the Lord.
“And God spoke these words, “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have NO other God before me.” Exodus 20:1-3
The first of the Ten Commandments, along with the next three, tells of our duty to God. While the remaining 6, speak to our relationship with our neighbor. It is correct that this commandment be first as we had a Maker to love, before we had a neighbor to love.
He is Jehovah God. He is the singular object of our worship. The worship of any other god animate or inanimate is forbidden.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: Do not make any gods to be alongside Me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.” Exodus 20:22-23 Continue reading
“…we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, Who is the head of His body, the church”
Ephesians 4:15 NLT
“That I may walk in Your truth” Ps 86:1
What is truth? Well a Google search on “what is truth” returned 683,000,000 hits – so someone, or quite a few someone’s, out there knows what truth is. Or at least they are offering a definition of what truth might be. But are they offering us their truth? Is their truth true? Or is it my truth? Is my truth true? Just who’s truth is it and who and what makes it true? Now that’s a whole bunch of questions!
Since 683,000,000 Google hits would be a bit more time consuming that I am ready for… I will start at the beginning. What is truth?
How do we define truth? It’s simple to say that truth is something that is true. But does that really say what truth is? Continue reading
Written in collaboration with Michael Sullivan
“The Cross splits the world. Either you look at it and think – that’s pathetic or you look at it and you think – that’s powerful. If you think it’s pathetic, Paul says you are perishing. But if you think it’s the ‘Power of God’, you are being saved. But it’s one or the other” ~ Billy Graham
“Our faith must begin and end at the Cross. The trouble is that many Christians have bypassed the Cross and are trying to be moral by their willpower and self-effort rather than trusting in the indwelling power of Christ to transform them (Galatians 3:3) But if we attempt to build our spiritual life by any other foundation than Christ crucified, we are doing so by our natural strength.”[i]
“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Galatians 3:3 (NIV)
“’We preach Christ crucified.’ This is the focal point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a picture of blood flowing from Christ’s veins as He hung on the cross. The message of shed blood is repugnant to many, and they turn from such a gory sight, feeling that their delicate sensibilities have been outraged. Many people will accept Christ’s character, but they reject His crucifixion.”[ii]
“For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
The Truth of the Cross is that God Himself offered salvation by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross as atonement for our sins. This atonement, a free gift, provides each of us the single path to eternal salvation.