Friday, April 17, 2015

Usefulness



                   The crude arrow displayed in the photo was given to me by an Indian man when I was on a preaching mission in Mexico’s interior.  It is hand made with a flint head tied to the shaft with leather strips.  The feathers are carefully tied at the notched end and the shaft has clearly been shaped by a sharp knife.   Contemporary archers, with their precision made equipment, would find little usefulness in such an arrow.  However, for millennia, hunters and warriors have used such instruments effectively. 

Perhaps there is a lesson in this arrow for you and me.  Time and again I’m told by genuine Believers that they don’t know enough, or they’re not versed enough in Scripture, to witness.  They seem afraid their inexperience, or lack of knowledge, will harm an unbeliever and keep that one from coming to Christ.  However, God uses those of us who are inexperienced, who still have rough edges, and who have not yet become precision instruments.  He seems to delight in using the weak and those deemed foolish by this world to work His wonders and His infinite Grace. 

In 1 Corinthians 1:26ff, we’re told, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;  and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,  that no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—  that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.

Certainly we should study, and learn, but we must not wait until we know every thing, or until we have been polished, and machined to near perfection to become useful in God’s service.  You and I are useful, if we love Him, and are willing to be used by Him.  Let your usefulness in His Kingdom’s work be utilized today. 


©                Mike Rasberry              2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Abiding In Christ

I hear much lamenting today about the condition of Christ’s Church and consequently the world in which we live.  Though not intended as an exhaustive list; among the plethora of supposed causes these are usually included:
    •    Ineffective Government
    •    Ineffectual Parenting
    •    Purposeless Education
    •    Self-indulgent Living

At the risk of being branded simplistic, I believe the answer to the quandary can found in John’s Gospel, Chapter fifteen.  Jesus is there speaking to His followers, about whom He says in verse three, “...you are already clean...,” meaning I suppose that they are saved by faith in promise He has proclaimed.  However, He does not stop there.

Jesus, in verse four, issues a warning that should His followers not abide in Him, they will be fruitless.  Thus it is self-evident that one can be a genuine Believer while living a fruitless life.  It is also obvious that such a condition is a choice because Jesus, though not issuing a command, is seemingly warning them of the consequences of the failure to so abide.

He continues in verse five with the same theme saying that those who abide in Him will be fruitful, while those not abiding in Him can actually do nothing.  In fact, He says in verse six that one’s usefulness for Kingdom work is determined by the choice he makes in this particular matter.

If you and I are genuine Believers in Jesus Christ, we must purpose to abide in Him, thereby becoming fruitful and useful to His Kingdom work.  Such fruitfulness will result in untold numbers coming to faith in Christ, and just as those called Christian at Antioch were instruments of worldwide change, so you and I can become world changers. 

Would you purpose, with me, this day to spend time with Christ in Bible Study and Prayer, submitting your will to His and allowing Him to use you for His glory?  You can abide in Him, even as He abides in you.

©             Mike Rasberry                 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Peace Jesus Leaves Within


The African Proverb reflects man’s greatest battle–to be at peace with one’s self.  The problem one faces in that battle is that the enemy is an unseen power with great influence.  He is called the prince of this world system, and while he is not omnipresent, he has untold numbers of minions to assist him in his nefarious purpose. 

Man is unable to even recognize this spiritual enemy, much less defeat him with the finite resources innate within humanity.  But, Glory to God, a resource has been provided so that man can not be cognizant of the devious workings of this enemy, but can be triumphant over them.  Jesus, the Christ, left the glories of heaven and taking upon Himself the cloak of humanity, effectively and irreparably destroyed the power of man’s enemy by paying man’s sin debt and purchasing him with the precious blood of Himself.

Jesus did more than deliver man from the clutches of this once powerful enemy, He gave man the possibility of personal peace as he travels through life’s journey.  Those who, by faith, have consciously become the Children of God by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are also promised this great peace of John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

You and I need not fear anything this world can throw at us because, if we are His true followers, the enemy within has been defeated and Jesus Christ reigns in our hearts.  Trust Him to do what He says, He will give such peace that the world can do us no harm.



©                      Mike Rasberry               2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Wasted Years


This morning my heart is heavy because people I love are struggling with the challenges of life, and cannot seem to trust God enough to simply let go and let Him have complete control of their lives.  They continue to act as if The Heavenly Father is not willing to lead, direct, empower, provide for, and protect them in this life.

     "Said the robin to the sparrow, 'I should really like to know
    why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so.’

    Said the sparrow to the robin, 'Friend, I think that it must be
    that they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you and me.'"

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

These for whom I grieve are not unbelievers.  Were it so, I could approach them with the truth of God’s Word, and perhaps they would be convicted of their lostness and be converted to a new life in Christ.  Rather these are those who are wasting the precious years of their lives wandering in the wilderness of doubt and fear, failing to cross over Jordan to appropriate the abundant life awaiting in the land of promised rest. 

The greatest tragedy I know is that of those who have come out of Egypt by the supernatural working of God’s Spirit, but fail to enter into His rest.  Perhaps the manna and quail of the wilderness satisfies their palate and they fear they might lose even that if they attempt to take on the giants and fortified enemies of yonder promised land.

Wally Fowler wrote a song which I believe is as appropriate for these Believers living beneath their privilege as for the unbelievers.  This is what it says: 

        Wasted years, wasted years, oh, how foolish
        As you walk on in darkness and fear
        Turn around, turn around, love is calling
        Keeps calling me from a life of wasted years.
       
        Have you wandered a lot on life's pathway
        Have you lived without love, a life of tears
        Have you searched for a great higher meaning
        Or is your life filled with long wasted years?
       
        Wasted years, wasted years, oh, how foolish
        As you walk on in darkness and fear
        Turn around, turn around, love is calling
        Keeps calling you from a life of wasted years...

Dear Friend, If you are a Genuine Believer in Jesus Christ, please stop wasting these years of your life and purpose to live out His will for your life every day.


©                 Mike Rasberry                2015

Thursday, April 02, 2015

True Revival In These Days


True revival in these days might mean more a willingness to suffer reproach for the cause of the cross, than a great awakening of unbelievers who have hardened their hearts to the truth of God’s Word.

Genuine Christian Believers in The United States should not be surprised at the plethora of attacks against Indiana precipitated by the recent Religious Freedom Acts in that state.  As wannabe Bible scholars trip over themselves in vain attempts to show that Holy Scripture does not condemn homosexuality, or sodomy; celebrities and political leaders are casting ignorant aspersions on the honorable citizens of this country who understand the consequences of calling sin righteousness, and righteousness sin.

Athletic Director Pat Haden of USC stated that he would not attend the NCAA meetings in Indiana because he is the “proud parent” of a homosexual son.   One is left to wonder if he’d be proud of his son if he were a bank robber, child molester, or murderer.  The willingness to excuse, rather than mourn those imprisoned in the homosexual lifestyle, is but one more nail in the coffin of America’s greatness.

Throughout the past week I have engaged numerous individuals in discussions concerning this matter, and the vast majority seem bent on limiting religious freedom in order to empower people living the abhorrently aberrant lifestyle of homosexuality.   That homosexuality is sinful, morally degrading, and socially destructive seems beyond their ability to comprehend.  Otherwise relatively intelligent people, become inexplicably devoid of logic, and act as if the synapses within their brains are misfiring at an astronomical rate during such discussions.

This phenomena should be expected by Genuine Believers as the end of the age grows closer and closer.  Scripture indicates that men’s hearts will become hardened and they will be unable to recognize truth as the time for Christ’s return approaches.   Let then all who genuinely hold to the faith once delivered stand firm against the tide, knowing that He who purchased us with His own blood will undergird and sustain us during the harsh and terrible days which are surely to follow.  True revival in these days might mean more a willingness to suffer reproach for the cause of the cross, than a great awakening of unbelievers who have hardened their hearts to the truth of God’s Word.


©        Mike Rasberry          2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sinners In The Hands of An Angry God



Jonathan Edwards preached this message on July 8, 1741 in Enfield, Connecticut after having already preached it to his own Massachusetts.  History records that the Enfield church was not responding to the moving of the Holy Spirit and that the Pastor invited Edwards to preach with the hope that his congregation would be stirred to take hold of God.

The sermon’s theme, "There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God,”  was central to the Great Awakening and permeated the sermon in its entirety.   We are told that Edwards was interrupted several times with people crying out such questions as, “What must I do to be saved,” and “Mr Edwards, is there no hope for me?”

Beyond the central theme, Edwards put forth ten propositions to prove his theme.  I think today’s culture needs be reminded of these important issues:

    1.    There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment.
    2.    They deserve to be cast into hell.
    3.    They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell.
    4.    They are not the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God that is expressed in the       torments of hell.
    5.    The devil stands ready to fall upon them and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him.
    6.    There are, in the souls of wicked men, whose hellish principles reigning that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire if it were not for God’s restraints.
    7.    It is no security to wicked men for one moment that there are no visible means of death at hand.
    8.    Natural men’s prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment.
    9.    All wicked men’s pains and contrivances which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment.
    10.    God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise, to keep any natural man out of hell one moment.

I believe that Edward’s sermon ought be declared across the depth and breath of America during these dreadful days we are entering.  God has given us a period of mercy during which time He is calling out to sinners to come to Him, however, He is under no obligation to extend that call one moment.  Should you sense the realization within yourself that you are in need of His mercy and grace, turn to Him with He still calls, lest the time be past and you enter eternity without Him, and as the eternal subject of Satan, whose abode is the lake of fire.

Friday, March 20, 2015

PONDERING AMERICA’S RELATIONSHIP TO ISRAEL

End Times
Many Bible Students have wondered why no reference seems to exist concerning America in “End Times Prophecy.”   It just might be that America will no longer be a world power during the last days, that she lies in ruins, testament to her secularism and her rejection of God as her ultimate Sovereign.  Even now, President Obama is maneuvering to set the United States against Israel’s best interests by hinting that his administration will not back Israel when the United Nations adopts a resolution pushing for a two-state settlement of the Palestinian issue.

Such a position would severely change the dynamic America has enjoyed as the nation has historically, wholehearted supported Israel, thereby obtaining, I believe, the blessing of God as per His pronouncement in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Should America, already under the judgement of God for her blatant legalization of perverted sin according to Leviticus chapter 18, now become Israel’s antagonist; the discerning Believer should recognize the imminent destruction of America looming on the horizon.

The growing secularization of America’s universities, schools, and churches is leading to a multiculturalism which by its very nature rejects God and His Word as the absolute authority.  Since America’s stand with Israel is based upon the influence of a significant number of Bible Believers whose vociferous support has, heretofore, carried the day; how much more diluted can that voice be and still influence national policy? 

In the book of Genesis, Abraham attempted to intercede for Sodom six times.  Abraham obviously understood the nature of Sodom because he seemed to fear that very few righteous persons resided in that hell hole of a city.  Estimates of Sodom’s population range from 1200 to several thousand, but even so Abraham’s final request would have been less than 1% of the population.  I don’t know what percentage of America’s two hundred million plus citizens are genuine Believers.  Certainly it is far less than the percentage of cultural Christians.

One man has declared, “Sin that once slunk down the back alley, now parades down Main Street.”  It is worse than that.  About one hundred years ago, the Fabian Socialists infiltrated American Universities and educated generations of government school teachers.  Today, the fruits of that education system have created an environment conducive to the election of a wholly socialist President, and the abandonment of Biblical authority.  The subsequent abandonment of Israel to those inspired by the prince of this world system, Satan, might just be the straw which breaks the back of the proverbial camel.

Secularists and liberal theologs will deny this hypothesis, but those who genuinely seek to be led by the Holy Spirit of God will know that this nation’s only hope lies not in her armed forces, nor her diplomatic maneuvering, but in a revival of true religion in the hearts of genuine Believers which drives them to fall on their collective faces at the feet of Jesus, crying for mercy.  Such revival will probably precipitate such a spiritual awakening that sin will no longer be celebrated, and Biblical authority will once again be the basis of local and national governance.



©                 Mike Rasberry            2015