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By Donald James in Donald JamesLet yourself enter this scene.
The apostles are gathered around, maybe there's a small fire, the night might have a slight chill. They're sharing the remnants of bread and fish. I imagine there is some laughter, celebrating over the wonders they have been witness to. They have just seen five thousand people feast on five loafs and two fishes. They've been filled by a miracle of God. They have been present at the calming of the storm and the healing of an official's daughter.
And as their joyful chatter subsides for a brief moment, Jesus says, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" ~
The day had been so long. We were tired, yet filled with an excited energy. Jesus preached, we listened and the crowds gathered. With all that we have seen to this point, I... we still had our doubts. The day was growing toward evening. The time was getting short for all these people to return to the shelter of their homes. They were hungry.
Jesus fed them with his word, the words of God. He nourished their spirits, but their flesh craved something to eat, nourishment to fill their stomachs. We expressed our concern. "You feed them," he said. And that's when the most recent miracle occurred.
Now, as the darkness is upon us, Jesus asks us a confusing question. "Who do the crowds say that I am?"
"John the Baptist," one of my brothers says. "There are those in the crowd who repented of their sins when John called to them into the Jordan. They were greatly saddened by his death at the hands of Herod. They say that his spirit is reborn in you."
Jesus neither frowns or smiles. He waits for the speaker to finish and keeps silent, knowing another voice will fill the empty void.
"Some say Elijah or one of the prophets," the expected voice speaks. I hold my tongue and notice that Peter does the same.
"But who do you say that I am?"
A long moment of silence follows his question. If Jesus is proclaimed to be a great man, or a teacher with authority, the utterance would be acceptable to most. If we state he is a prophet, does that threaten those in control, those who govern our faith. We have treated the prophets harshly in the past, sometimes to death. But Jesus is more. He is so much more a prophet voicing God's word. I know we all believe this to be true. We have seen works only God could perform and heard words only God would utter. Yet we still hold tightly to our doubts, afraid to speak what is in the depths our hearts.
After peering into the eyes of the gathering, Peter turns his face toward the fire. He is our anointed leader. We look to him for strength. For a moment he simply gazes into the flame. I watch the light flicker against his face. After a deep breath is taken by all his eyes focus on Jesus. "You are the Christ, the messiah, the one we have been waiting for."
The burden falls off our shoulders. We are free to proclaim the Son of God, despite any repercussions. Peter is the rock upon which faith in Jesus will be built. Donald P James Jr (2016) http://scarletrobecreations.blogspot.com/ http://scarletrobescriptureverses.blogspot.com/
By simplyrhetorical in simplyrhetoricalOne of the most difficult words to understand and apply is the word FAITH. To grasp the reality of the word is to challenge what we know by sight and reason. Faith moves from the obvious to the unseen. Faith challenges the factual evidences of the five senses. Faith asks us to overshadow our carnal instincts and rely on things of which we have no physical knowledge. Faith asks us to get out of our boats of human understanding and walk on top of life’s stormy challenges. Faith asks us to trust, instead of reason; believe, instead of doubt.
The problem with walking by faith is that we try to fit faith into our lifetime experiences. We can talk about faith, but to walk in faith is an entirely different thing. Viewing the invisible is to defy all reason. Calling into existence things that are not is to challenge the very core of human understanding. To fully understand the basics of faith is to venture into actions that will either break through our mind barrier or reinforce our mindset. Our works will determine if we truly understand what faith is all about. Faith is either an action or just a word in our religious vocabulary.
Many Christians today have a qualified faith. They will accept selected Scriptures as long as it does not interfere with their human reasoning. Believing Jesus died for them is a basic faith that seems to be easily attainable, but when it comes to taking action that threatens their understanding, the action is limited.
How do we respond to life challenging events? How do we deal with the premature death of a loved one? How do we respond to personal illness and financial uncertainty? One of the most difficult steps that one can take is to move from fleshly acceptance to faith. The Word of God teaches that all of us have been given a “measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3) This means that we all have a limited or measured amount of faith. This initial faith opens to us an understanding and acceptance of God’s Grace. Every Believer has the responsibility to grow that faith to the point of believing, accepting, and experiencing the Word of God. This process is done by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) When we fail to read the Word on a regular basis, our faith will be limited. Our responses to the challenges of life will be measured by the amount of faith we exhibit. The growth of our faith is in direct correlation to the time we spend in the Word.
The reason so many Believers are struggling with life’s challenges is because they neglect God’s Word. Weak faith is a result of weak reading. The stronger our faith, the stronger we will be in resisting our spiritual enemy. Faith is the elevator that lifts us into the presence of God. Hearing Him assure us of His daily presence, we are able to walk into each new day with the confidence there is nothing that we cannot overcome.
During these trying times, we need more than ever to go to our Christian Library (the Bible) and check out one of the sixty-six books everyday. Feeding our spirits with the Truth will not only renew our minds, but will equip us to face the inevitable storms that will come our way.
By Keith Hobkirk in Keith Hobkirk's BlogThe A and the Z
(by DeWitt Talmage)
Christ is the A and the Z of the Christian ministry.
A sermon that has no Christ is a dead failure. The
minister who devotes his pulpit to anything but Christ
is an impostor. Whatever great themes we may discuss,
Christ must be the beginning and Christ the end.
A sermon given up to sentimental and flowery
speech is as a straw flung to a drowning sailor.
What the world needs is to be told in the most
direct way of Jesus Christ, who comes to save
men from eternal damnation.
Christ the Light,
Christ the Sacrifice,
Christ the Rock,
Christ the Star,
Christ the Balm,
Christ the Guide.
If a minister should live one thousand years,
and preach ten sermons each day, these
subjects would not be exhausted.
Do you find men tempted?
Tell them of Christ the Shield.
Or troubled? Tell them of Christ the Comfort.
Or guilty? Tell them of Christ the Pardon.
Or dying? Tell them of Christ the Life.
Scores of ministers, yielding to the demands
of the age for elegant rhetoric, and soft speech,
and flattering terms, have surrendered their
pulpits to the devil.
May Christ be the subject of our talk;
Christ the inspiration of our prayers;
Christ the theme of our songs;
Christ now, and Christ forever!
Philosophy is nothing;
but CHRIST EVERYTHING!
Clowns entertaining the goats!
"Feed My sheep." John 21:17
A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats!
"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth, and turn aside to myths!" 2 Timothy 4:1-4
By Keith Hobkirk in Keith Hobkirk's Blog"God does not come to us in nicely defined, rationally
explained, thought categories. (He) does not fit Himself into
our theological textbooks.... He is near, yet transcendent;
clothed in human form, yet holy; more terrifying than can be
imagined, yet compassionate; invisible, yet revealed;
judging, yet merciful; sovereign, yet humble...."
~ S. Moen
NORTH AFRICA: Captain on Trial for Throwing Migrants Overboard
Source: Christian Today
The Mediterranean Sea.
Photo: Wiki Commons / Andreas Meck
A boat captain faces a prison sentence of up to 90 years after being charged in Spain with the murder of six Christian migrants by allegedly throwing them overboard. According to the indictment against him, the captain and a colleague attacked the six Nigerian Christians because they believed the passengers' prayers had provoked a storm during the voyage from North Africa.
The inflatable boat had about 50 migrants aboard when it left Morocco in December of 2014 to make the 14-kilometre voyage to Spain. Police state in the indictment that the attackers pulled back slats and beat the Christians, then threw them into the "raging sea" where they were lost. One body was found a few days later off the coast of Granada.
The captain, named as Alain N.B. from Cameroon, has denied all charges. He was one of two men arrested in connection with the incident; the second man died before the start of the trial. Prosecutors in the Spanish city of Almería have requested 15 years for each of the six offences. If convicted of all charges, Alain will be serving 45 of the total 90 years behind bars.
So far this year, more than 300,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea in order to reach Europe, after fleeing countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Nigeria. Another 3,000 died while attempting to make the crossing. (For a report on a similar incident involving the persecution of migrants, click here.)
Please pray for the grieving families and friends of the six Nigerian Christians whose lives tragically ended while at sea. May they continue to sense God's comforting presence and strength. Likewise, let's uphold the loved ones of the many other migrants who perished while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in their attempts to seek refuge. In addition to praying that justice will prevail during the upcoming trial, please intercede on behalf of the accused captain who is, from an eternal perspective, spiritually lost and destined to perish unless he genuinely repents and turns His life over to God. May Alain experience our Lord's unconditional love and, as a result, receive His mercy and salvation.
PHILIPPINES: Fatal Gunshots Fired by Motorcyclists
Sources: VOM Australia, Release International
A dedicated church elder from Sultan Kudarat, Philippines, was brutally murdered by two men on September 11th. Witnesses say Perfecto Padilla, 52, was resting outside his house in a hammock when two militant Muslim men came by on motorcycles and began firing what was believed to be a 45-calibre pistol from about five metres away. Perfecto was struck by seven bullets in his chest, thigh and other parts of his body. The assailants quickly fled the scene.
Perfecto's daughter Naomi ran to her wounded father, crying and screaming for help. A pastor was nearby, visiting a church member, when he heard the screaming and promptly came to assist. Noting the seriousness of Perfecto's wounds, Pastor William borrowed a tricycle so he could immediately take him to the hospital, but the wounded man died on the journey. Perfecto is remembered for his dedication to the church and desire that more people come to know Christ.
Perfectos' two children, Naomi (12) and Joseph (10), are now left alone without parents. Since their mother went to work overseas many years ago, they have lost contact with her. Our local ministry partner immediately tended to them after being informed of the tragedy. VOM is providing financial assistance for the children so they can receive necessary care, rebuild their lives, and have a hopeful future. More on the persecution of Christians in the Philippines isavailable here.
Thank you for joining us in praying that Naomi and Joseph, who are deeply grieving the sad loss of their loving father, will experience the compassionate care, comfort and provision of their Heavenly Father who longs to meet their every need. Ask Him to strengthen their faith so that as they grow and mature, they will be able to build on their deceased father's spiritual legacy. May there be an end to the tensions between Christians and militant Muslims in the Philippines, particularly the Sultan Kudarat area, so that land disputes will be resolved and people can live in safety and harmony.
LAOS: Young Persecuted Christian Now Trains Teachers
A young Christian woman who was disowned by her parents because of her faith is now visiting churches in Laos this month to train Sunday school teachers. After becoming a Christian at the age of 14, Sonxi was beaten by her parents, denied food, and locked away in her room -- all in an attempt to prevent her from attending church.
When the abusive parents realized that none of these punishments was able to weaken Sonxi's faith, they threatened to force the young teen into a life of prostitution. As a result, she ran away from home and was eventually disowned by her parents. The Voice of the Martyrs ministry has since come alongside the abandoned girl, making it possible for her to receive practical skills training in sewing and, later on, with the required assistance to attend Bible school.
We are thanking God that today Sonxi vibrantly shares her faith and is involved with the training of new Christian teachers. May He wonderfully bless her life and ministry, granting her more opportunities to reach out to others and -- in His perfect timing -- even her unsaved family.
If you would like to post a prayer of praise or petition on behalf of our persecuted family around the globe, visit VOMC'sprayer wall.
The Persecution & Prayer Alert is a ministry of:
The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, P.O. Box 608, Streetsville, Ontario, L5M 2C1
Tel. 905-670-9721 Website: www.vomcanada.com PRAYER RESOURCES https://joshuaproject.net/people_groups/14672/KE http://prayercast.com/china.html http://prayercast.com/maldives.html SPECIAL SERMONS http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopupvideo.asp?SID=122141514431 http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopupvideo.asp?SID=111015159353 http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopupvideo.asp?SID=11241515310