What’s the love-martyrdom connection?

Life is Tough, But God Always Makes a Way

When you think of a Christian being a martyr, what comes to mind?  Perhaps you think of this scripture.

Revelation 2:13 (NKJV)

13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

Jesus commends the faith of Antipas, who gave up his life rather than give up his relationship with his Lord and Savior. The faith Antipas had was of God, a fruit of the Holy Spirit. But there was another fruit of the Spirit necessary for Antipas to do what God wanted Him to do. That was love.  Consider this scripture about love.  I’m going to use a paraphrase version, which brings out the implied meaning.

Luke 14:26 (AMP)

26 “If anyone…

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Are poverty and persecution caused by a lack of faith?

Life is Tough, But God Always Makes a Way

You may have heard that problems and troubles  in the Christian life, if not caused by sin, are caused by a lack of faith.  You may also have heard of the 11th chapter of Hebrews, also known as the faith chapter and the heroes of faith chapter. Usually the readings from this chapter are from verses 1-35, telling us the how their faith of the men and women of God was part of  God working out His purpose in their lives.  God did the miracles. Even their faith was a gift from God through the Holy Spirit (It’s one of the fruits of the spirit). These verses are encouraging reading for us as we see that nothing and no one can stop God’s will.

The next three verses we hear little or nothing of.  The men and women of God mentioned in verses 36-39 also had great faith (also given…

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How the Holy Spirit(the helper), uses His power to help Jesus, the head of the church.

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Here is a way that the Holy Spirit’s power helps Jesus as the Head of the church.

John 16:7-11 NKJV

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

For those the Father has called, the power of the Holy Spirit convicts them of their sins.  He reveals to them what righteousness is and what…

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God the Holy Spirit and you and me

Is God the Holy Spirit supernaturally present in your life? If He is, that’s wonderful!  If He isn’t well, I pray that He will be present with you from this moment on.

Just like with any relationship, this takes time to develop.  Even though receiving Him into your life and experience takes but a moment, you learn about being with Him and being led by Him over time.  Even hearing His voice takes time, but it’s worth the wait and the practice.

Let me share part of my testimony with you in the hopes that you will be encouraged.  Some years ago, Pastor G and I belonged to a fellowship that largely focused on God the Father and celebrated Jesus a few times during the year.  We didn’t observe Christmas or Jesus’ birth, but we did observe Pentecost and the Days of Unleavened Bread.  Easter was not part of our spiritual calendar.  We mistakenly thought there were two members of the Godhead, the Father and Jesus. Together, for us, they were a spiritual family of which we would become part of one day.  We mistakenly thought that the Holy Spirit was a force from God but was not God.  As time went on, Pastor G and I realized that much of the fellowship’s teaching was, at best, incomplete and, in some cases, just plain wrong.

We started asking questions and begain to feel spiritually stifled when the answers were not forthcoming.  Both of us had a burning hunger to learn the truth about God and who He is as a trinity.  We left that fellowship we had been part of for more than 20 years and followed  God in a journey that continues to this day.  We discovered we could worship Him anywhere, regardless of denomination or doctrine.  Each fellowship we visited added to our experience and knowledge of God.  There was no person or spiritual leader who could teach us what we so yearned to learn.  God led us to themed books so we could see others’ walks with Him.  He also led us to scripture passages that remain in our hearts to this day.

This is part one of a series God wants me to share with you about God the Holy Spirit.  May He set you on fire just like He set Pastor George and me on fire.

John 14:26

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

 

Hugs and blessings,

Pastor Sharon

copyright 2019, Christ’s Disciples Ministries, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved

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Yes, Mary did know

 

Scripture says Mary kept things close to her heart, which means they were basically verbally unexpressed.  She did know that Jesus was the baby born of a union between her and God the Holy Spirit, so she did know that He was divine and special.  Whether she knew He would someday walk on water, we don’t know.  What we do know is that she was aware He could spiritually change physical things like He changed the water into wine at the Cana wedding, so astonishing the one who oversaw the feast.  It was the custom of the day to serve an inferior wine after serving the best to the guests.  Did Mary know He could heal?  Scripture doesn’t say, but I believe she did.  It would be interesting to know what went on in her household while Jesus grew into maturity.

Pastor G and I pray you join us in celebrating Jesus this December 25.  It likely is not the day He was born, but it’s a day worth celebrating because it is all about Him. Be blessed.

 

copyright 2018, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved

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God’s love and His covenants.

Could you name two things that the old covenant (established at Mt Sinai),  and the new covenant (established after Jesus’ death and resurrection), have in common? Both the old and new covenant do require obedience. But did you know that both covenants involve love? Lets look first at what Jesus said about what we call the old covenant, or what the Jews called the law.

Matthew 22:35-40 (NIV)

35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The expert in the law asked Jesus a question about what He believed was the purpose of the law, obedience. In other words, he thought God’s purpose for the law was to have His people behave in a certain way. But Jesus did not agree with that. He said that the purpose of the law was for God’s people to show love. The most important thing was to love God with everything you had. (All of your  mind, soul and heart)  Secondly, to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. So, love was the purpose of obeying the law. What did He say about the new covenant?

John 14:22-26 NIV)

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

In verse 22 we see that in the new covenant, God makes a covenant with His people on an individual basis and not a national one like in the old covenant. A Christian can only accept Jesus as Lord and Savior for him or her self. He or she cannot do that for family, community or nation. In verse 23, Jesus mentions love first, then obedience.  Christians are to show their love for God by their obedience. Jesus and the Father have given their word that they will love us and promise to live in us through the Holy Spirit.

Did you notice that Jesus says something else about the new covenant before He gives the promises concerning the advocate, the Holy Spirit? In verse 24 He plainly states that if someone does not love Him they are not in obedience to Him.  He also tells them that this command of love being required in this covenant is not from Him alone but from the Father. God looks on the heart, our attitude and intent.  We need to combine living love and obedience to be acceptible to God. Because you love Him, you want to obey Him. That’s the only way that Father, Son and Spirit will dwell in us.

Without love, there’s no way we can be in the kingdom with God for eternity.  After all, God created us to love us and for us to love Him.

 

Please pray with me.

 

Holy Father, I come before Your throne in Jesus’ name and in the Spirit. I do want to love and obey You, but I cannot do that of myself. In Your love and mercy, please use your divine power through the Spirit to change me, so I can love and obey in a way that pleases You. Amen.

Pastor George

 

copyright 2019, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, Christs Disciples Ministries, All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

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God’s love and His holiness

John 3:16 is possibly the most well known verse in the Bible.  If a Christian were asked the meaning of the verse, he or she probably would say something like, God sent His Son to give His life as a payment for our sins. Whether they would say anything about God’s love or holiness is an interesting question.

 

John 3:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

Could God have inspired the start of verse 16 in different words that were true to His nature and character? Yes, He could have. The verse could have started “For God so hated sin”, that would have been true, and not contradicted any other scripture in the Bible.

While God is holy, meaning there is no sin in Him, He put His love for His creation first.  Jesus giving His life as a payment for our sins was only the start of God’s purpose for us.  His doing so removed two barriers standing in the way of God’s desire to love us forever. The first is that a holy God could not be with us as sinners, even though He loved us.  The second is that an eternal God could not love us forever unless we live forever as well. And we couldn’t do that if we had to pay the death penality for our sins.  Please pray with me.

Heavenly Father I thank You in Jesus name for Your amazing unlimited love. I thank and praise You, Jesus, and Spirit for expressing that love towards me. And even though my love compared to yours is as nothing, I want You to know that I love You too. Amen.

Pastor George

 

copyright 2019, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved

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