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Last Sunday evening we looked at the basic Apologetics subject of “How to explain the Trinity”. This may be the most difficult thing you attempt with an unsaved person. My favorite verse to use if I have the time to spend with someone is Isaiah chapter 16. ( You can hear the entire message here- http://www.southlandbible.org/podcast/ )
If you have time, have them read several verses in earlier chapters such as these to establish that there is only one God, not three.
Isaiah 43:10 “You are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me.
Isa 44:6 “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.
Isaiah 45:18 For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.

There are more verses than these that make it plain there is only one God, but this should be a start. It’s best to use a King James Bible.

Now you must establish in chapter 48 who is speaking and that God wants to get our attention and that what is coming up is very important. The person speaking is the Creator, the first and the last. The person who is speaking is “the LORD God”. Then this is very important, have them note how LORD God is spelled. The Name LORD is all caps. The Name God, only has the G capitalized.

Now have them read verse 16.
Isaiah 48:16 “Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me.”

Three persons are involved here.

Ask them who is speaking here and the correct answer is ‘Me’.
Then ask them who ‘Me’ is.
The answer is the creator, the LORD God.
Then ask them who it is that is sending the ‘LORD God’.
Then ask what the name of the one sending and how is it spelled.
The answer is the Lord GOD and His Spirit.

Then have them read verse 17 so they understand it’s Jesus who is speaking or is ‘Me’. The reason it is Jesus is because He is the Redeemer of mankind. All three of the Godhead are here in one sentence.

17 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.

Then ask them why God would word it this way.

You could write is like this;

The Lord GOD is sending the LORD God with His Spirit. Same name for God, but different spelling to signify a different person of the Trinity.
You could see it as God the Father, sending God the Son, with The Holy Spirit.

This explanation does take a few minutes but I have found it profitable.

Who is Melchizedek?

Several weeks ago in the evening service I asked two questions;
1. Who is the High Priest in Israel today in 2015?
2. Who is the king of Israel today?
The answer is Israel doesn’t have a king or a priest. They have a prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, but they don’t have a king yet, at least one they recognize. We were studying a strange character that comes on the scene during the time of Abraham in Genesis chapter 14.
His name is Melchizedek. He is a gentile king from Salem or what we now call Jerusalem. I believe him to be a prophecy and picture of Jesus Christ.
Gen 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)
Just as Melchizedek is a King and priest so is Jesus Christ.
Heb 7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,
He met Abram as he was coming back from defeating the kings of the eastern alliance. Abram needed a sermon so he knew that God wanted him to accept nothing from the king of Sodom, who intended on giving him a reward for defeating the four kings of the east.
Abram was not to align himself with wickedness. It’s interesting that of all the things he could bring to Abram, he brought bread and wine which symbolizes communion with Jesus Christ.
In 70 A. D. all the genealogical records of the Jews were destroyed when Titus Vespasian destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. Since all the records were destroyed, they have no idea who is from the Kingly line of David (Judah) or the priestly line of Levi. This is a major problem for them since when they choose a king and priest they must be of the correct tribe. They hope to have a temple again soon and only a high priest from the tribe of Levi (Aaron) can officiate. Since they don’t know who is of the tribe of Levi, they are at a stalemate.
But Milchizedek left open an exception in that law. He opened the door for a priest who is higher than the Levitical priesthood, a priest by the name of Jesus that satisfies the requirements of a high priest.
Heb 6:19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,
Heb 6:20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

We can see that God has set up through His word and through the law that when the Kingdom is reestablished for Israel, only Jesus will fill the requirements for High priest and King. The Jews all agree today that since they have no genealogical records they are not permitted into picking a king or priest. They have overlooked two records that have been recorded since before the temple was destroyed. Those records are in the New Testament. Mathew and Luke both show Jesus is from the family of David through Mary and Joseph both. This satisfies the law and prophecy.
Matthew 1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Luke 3:23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,
Luk 3:31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,

An angel, by the name of Gabriel, told Mary that her son would be King of Israel. I consider this as a promise from God that we will see realized before much longer the way things are going in the world.
Luk 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
Luk 1:33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

God has set things up to where only Jesus Christ can claim this higher priesthood since He is a priest forever and a King forever. God just gives us a glimpse of this obscure and unknown King called Milchizedek. He really exhibits a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ and way back in Genesis. Read Chapter 7 in the book of Hebrews to get a better understanding of the relationship between Jesus and this gentile king named Milchizedek.

All for now- God bless

dan

Do I love the Lord?

– I overheard a man telling a person that if they would join their church ( non-Christian), that all their life troubles would be over. I have also heard well meaning Christians tell unsaved people that once a Christian, life is easy.
If they mean that we don’t have to work for our salvation any more, that Jesus paid it all, then they are right. We now work for a Jewish Carpenter, and he is a far better master than the one who afflicted Job with all that God would permit.
But if we want to make a difference for God and be an example of what a Christian should be according to the Sermon on the Mount, then life is a little more difficult. A Christian who is imitating Jesus Christ is living by the word. Living by the word, will certainly force us to swim upstream against the current of the culture. This is Pastor Tim’s theme on Wednesday evenings this fall. The Christian who lives by the word doesn’t care if all his neighbors have all the toys by maxing out 10 credit cards. The Christian will live by the word and be debt free because the Bible says so. The Christian will use the money he saved on the interest payments to banks to help save the souls of people. The Christian understand that the souls of people will go to heaven and the toys of the world will not make it to heaven.
The Christian works hard on the job and is a blessing to co-workers. They don’t complain if they aren’t always treated fairly. Their Christian testimony is far more important than their pride or rights on the job. They show up on time and even do extra work without expecting to get paid for it so that no one can charge them with taking advantage of the company.
I like what Oswald Chambers said about this verse; Enter by the narrow gate….Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life…. —Matthew 7:13-14
If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all efforts of worth and excellence are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but its difficulty does not make us faint and cave in— it stirs us up to overcome. Do we appreciate the miraculous salvation of Jesus Christ enough to be our utmost for His highest— our best for His glory?
The disciples of Jesus were promised to sit on thrones and rule the 12 tribes of Israel. I don’t think they understood that they would be called to be servants in the present age. They imagined the life of luxury and taking it easy.
Mat 19:28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth: In the age when all things are renewed, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
They were looking forward to this life of easiness.
James and John and even their mother was looking forward to this-
Mat 20:20 Then Zebedee’s wife came to Jesus and brought her sons. She bowed before Jesus and asked him to do something for her.
Mat 20:21 Jesus said, “What do you want?” She said, “Promise that one of my sons will sit at your right side in your kingdom and the other at your left.”

The last question they asked Jesus before he went to heaven; was it time to sit on the thrones over Israel in the Kingdom age?
Act 1:6 The apostles were all together. They asked Jesus, “Lord, is this the time for you to give the people of Israel their kingdom again?”

The Apostles then found out God had given them the job of a servant. Life was hard, but they served God because they loved Jesus Christ and even died for Him.
If you were like me, you had teachers in school that you just didn’t connect well with. I had several teachers that because I didn’t like them, I didn’t try very hard and my grades showed it. But in High school I had an auto mechanics teacher that I really liked. For him, I gave it my all and my grades and what I learned that would help me the rest of my life showed it.
Religions that only work people and take and then take some more, will never satisfy a spiritual thirst or have true loyalty. But having a Savior that we love, and know he loves us is worth doing our best for.
The apostles even though they were looking for thrones some day were willing to give their utmost for His Highest. Here is a verse that explains life in the early church from the Book of Hebrews –
Heb 10:32 Remember the days when you first learned the truth. You had a hard struggle with much suffering, but you continued strong.
Heb 10:33 Sometimes people said hateful things to you and mistreated you in public. And sometimes you helped others who were being treated that same way.
Heb 10:34 Yes, you helped them in prison and shared in their suffering. And you were still happy when everything you owned was taken away from you. You continued to be happy, because you knew that you had something much better–something that would continue forever.

I’ll close what Chambers says on July 7th of his devotional. You can read it here.
http://utmost.org/

Dan
Thank God that He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a joyous thing, but it is also something that requires bravery, courage, and holiness. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10), and God will not shield us from the requirements of sonship. God’s grace produces men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not pampered, spoiled weaklings. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the worthy and excellent life of a disciple of Jesus in the realities of life. And it is always necessary for us to make an effort to live a life of worth and excellence.

One of the hardest questions I have ever been asked was after I shared the gospel with someone from a works based religion. They were confronted with making a decision for accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and spending eternity with God in heaven rather than in hell.
Now here was their dilemma; they had lost a parent and had believed that their parent was in heaven waiting to see them some day. Listening to me and considering what the Bible stated they now faced that their parent might not be in heaven but in hell waiting for final judgment in the Lake of Fire. If they believed the Bible and what it said, they felt they were condemning their parents and other family members who were also in a works based religion to the Lake of Fire. If they reject the Bible, all was well and they would be with family forever in heaven.
They tell you their dilemma and ask; what should I do? I’m counting the cost and I want to spend eternity with my family, what should I do?
How would you answer this difficult question truthfully and compassionately?

I’ve used different Bible passages because the situations were a little different. You can start this way; discuss that God is our heavenly Father and loves us more than an earthy parent. Jesus loves us so much, he died so we could spend eternity with Him. We can use several New Testament passages such as;
Mat 10:37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

This reasoning isn’t very compassionate for a young person whose emotions will always cling to a parent who has passed away. But we never know if someone may have been saved some time in their life and if they did, they will be in heaven for eternity.

Another answer that Jesus explained was about a family that would all spend eternity together but in torment rather than in heaven was in Luke chapter 16. We can use this true conversation and example to ask the question; where would your parent want you if they could speak to you from the grave?
Explain to them the story that Jesus told of Lazarus and the rich man. How the rich man was in hell and talking across a chasm to Abraham and a man named Lazarus in Paradise. The rich man is pleading for just a drop of water and finds out his condition is fixed and eternal.
Realizing that his condition will never change and he was wrong on how to get to heaven, he is aware that his brothers will come to the same fate that he is in. Since he loves his brothers he wants them warned so they will not be where he is. He does not want them with him in eternity. He asks Abraham if Lazarus can go back to the land of the living and warn his brothers.
Here is the text-
Luke 16:27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house–
Luke 16:28 for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

Notice that it says that he begs for the message to be sent to his brothers.
If I while walking in the dark stumbled into a deep well, would I want my dad or mother to fall in also and die with me just to keep me company? If they loved me they would do what I asked if I warned them to stay away from the well.
What we believe has no bearing on what the truth is. Believing that hell doesn’t exist or that being ‘basically good’ gets me to heaven, won’t change the fact that unforgiven sinners go to the Lake of Fire.
But how we tell people the truth and how we season it with salt is the tough part, but I believe we must use God’s word to explain the truth. I also believe it would be wrong to lie to them to comfort them.
One of the reasons I bring this up is that LDS Church members have long denied that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. Now that the LDS church has told some of the truth about their prophet, many LDS faithful are leaving the church and realize we were telling them the truth about Joseph Smith for all these years. They had accused us of telling lies about their prophet.

Many LDS people are angry and looking for answers and we need to be asking God to use us to reach these people for Christ. Lorene and I had such an opportunity recently to answer questions with three LDS families who are searching for the truth. They of course wanted to bad mouth the LDs church as they feel deceived. I tried to explain that focusing their energy against the LDS church wouldn’t get them closer to God. I spent at least an hour giving them reasons to trust the Bible for answers to life and salvation. We covered science and the Bible, and prophecy and the Bible and how trustworthy it is.
Southland has had a large influx of LDS people coming Sunday mornings looking for answers. Here is a link to the LDS website where they are now revealing the truth about their church history- https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo?lang=eng
Please pray that God will use gospel preaching churches in Utah to reach these wounded people for His glory. We sometimes think that just because a person leaves the LDS church they will automatically be saved, this isn’t true. They often feel God has lied to them and want nothing to do with God.

If we are sharing the gospel with people these questions will come up and we should be ready.
1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
All for now- God bless

Dan

Last Sunday evening we were in Genesis chapter 6 where God gives us insight to conditions on the earth and how flesh had been corrupted to the point that he would destroy the earth in a worldwide flood. We were looking at how Satan and his fallen angels had been involved in creating giants or the Nephilim in order to thwart the plans of God.

I gave some verses from Matthew chapter 24 where Noah is mentioned and Jesus makes a comparison between the Tribulation period and in which Satan will be very involved with, and the time before the flood.

Mat 24:37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

But here is the verse that caught some attention and I didn’t have time to answer your questions;
Mat 24:22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

The question was how do you shorten days? I didn’t have time to reference the verses Sunday, so I will do so now. This tribulation time period is yet future.

The seven year tribulation period is given to us for the first time in the Book of Daniel. (Daniel chapter 9) Jesus also refers to Daniel when he gives his disciples a staff meeting and discourse on the tribulation period.

Mat 24:15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

In the middle of the tribulation period, the Anti-Christ steps out on an arm of the new Jewish temple ( which hasn’t been built yet) and declares himself to be god. Daniel spoke of this almost 600 years before Christ. ( Daniel 9:27)
The seven year tribulation period is in two parts, the second half is called the “time of Jacob’s trouble” and/or “the great tribulation”. Jesus says this in Matthew 24:21, 22 below-

Mat 24:21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.
Mat 24:22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Jesus mentions that God must shorten the days or all flesh would perish during this great tribulation period that’s three and a half years long.

So here’s the problem; God mentions this time as being 3.5 years or 42 months and/ or 1260 days. The Jewish calendar has 30 days to a month. (42 times 30= 1260 days or three and a half years.)

John keeps mentioning this throughout the Book of Revelation so we understand the exact length of time in the number of days. Here are the verses below.

Rev 11:2 but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.
Rev 11:3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”
Rev 12:6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

God makes it very clear to John that the last half of the tribulation period will be 3.5 years and he gives it in days, and months so we understand that it’s a fixed number of days. (1260)
So if the length of days are shortened and yet the number of days is fixed, our only option is that the length of a solar day must be less than our present 24 hours. So here is my theory and it’s just a theory.
I believe the day may be shortened by one–third. Instead of a 24 hour day we just have a 16 hour day. Here are the verses I used to support this idea. The third trumpet judgment involves a space rock or asteroid striking the earth.
Rev 8:10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.

A large hunk of space rock hitting the earth just right could increase the spin of the earth and with the earth rotating faster, the earth would have shorter exposure times facing the sun and if this was 1/3 faster rotation speed, then the days would be 1/3 shorter and the nights 1/3 shorter. A 12 hour day would be 8 hours long and a 12 hour night would be 8 hours long. Days would be 16 hours instead of 24 hours. If God wanted to throw people into confusion and push them off balance mentally this would be of epic proportions. Can you imagine trying to get used to a 16 hour day?
I don’t have many verses to back up this idea. But here they are;
Rev 8:12 ESV The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night.

Here is the KJV- Rev 8:12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

It appears from this verse that it isn’t the number of days that are changed but the length of the day. Here is the main verse again- Mat 24:22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Only God would think of something like this and have the power to bring it about. Then after it happens just like God says, it can then substantiate the accuracy of prophecy in the Bible. People will understand that God is really in control, not the anti-Christ.
Will people go to a 40 minute hour or stay with a 60 minute hour? If God wants to really confuse people and throw them off balance, time is really a powerful way to do it.
If God can stop the earth so the sun stood still in Joshua’s time, he can speed up the earth so the day is shorter.

I could also be completely wrong about this interpretation of shortened days. But God is going to show His power during the tribulation period and this would be one way to really get people’s attention.

God Bless-
Dan Slyter

A doctrine I am seeing on the internet more these days is what I call hyper-Calvinism or at least falls under hyper-Calvinism even according to 5- point Calvinists. They argue amongst themselves over the doctrine of double predestination. Single predestination is the belief that God has appointed or chosen some to eternal life. These are called the elect. God chose them, and since God is all powerful; nothing can prevent them from being saved. They believe that God regenerates or causes them to be born-again so that they can make a decision to choose Jesus Christ as Savior and be saved. I’ll cover this doctrine in a minute.
Those that teach double predestination include eternal damnation alongside eternal life. They argue amongst themselves over whether God causes the unregenerate to sin or not. Those that claim God forces people to sin, then claim that God is the author of sin. We believe that God is not the author of sin. We also believe that God wants all men to be saved and that he doesn’t force us to accept Christ as Savior. Somehow, God allows free choice on our part while bringing people and circumstances and His word into our lives to help us with that important decision regarding His Son. We believe that salvation is a combination of free will on our part and God’s sovereign will. That is why we preach the gospel so people will hear the “GOOD NEWS” and accept Christ.

The double predestination camp teaches that God has by His sovereign will forces some to accept Christ as Savior and thus be saved. The reprobate or unregenerate God makes them so they can’t believe and be saved. God chose before the creation of the world that the non-elect were condemned to everlasting hell.
Here is a true story of someone I know that demonstrates how this plays out in the real world. A young girl who goes to a private school knows Jesus Christ as her Savior and is sharing the gospel with two of her friends. Her friends are asking questions and checking out scripture such as
Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Then a local pastor speaks at the school and he has accepted double predestination and decides to teach this to the students. The next day, the saved girl asks her two friends if they want to accept Christ as their Savior or discuss it some more.
They ask why? Why do we need to make a decision for Jesus? The pastor said; God is going to save whom He is going to save and we can have no say in that outcome. The pastor also said that God has already decided who is going to hell for eternity and no matter what we do can change that. Isn’t that what the pastor said? My friend said yes that’s what he said but he is wrong- you are still responsible for making a decision. If you decide to make Christ your Savior and save you from your sins then you are the elect.
The girls then said- we have already discussed it after hearing the Pastor. Here is how we see it; we might as well live anyway we please, do anything we please and not worry about any consequences. If God has chosen us to heaven, then there is nothing we can do to keep us out of heaven. God has decreed it. If God has condemned us to hell then we are going to hell and no decisions on our part can change that outcome. Therefore we might as well live life to the full and party until we die. According to the Pastor, nothing we do will change our eternal destiny, so why even try.

The two girls actually thought this through and see the logic to what is called positive, positive, double predestination. It is a very gloomy way to see life and I don’t see scripture teaching any form of this.
This 5 point Calvinistic camp says that we must be regenerated or born again before we can be saved. The Holy Spirit must regenerate us so we will want to make a decision for Christ. They claim we can’t have the faith to believe and that faith must precede making a decision or choosing to believe. That the only way we get the faith to believe, is by the Holy Spirit and regeneration and we don’t even need to hear the gospel for that to happen.
This isn’t what God says in Romans. Let’s look at where saving faith comes from-
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Rom 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Paul says that those who call on Jesus will be saved. He asks how do they believe. Then he explains they hear the gospel through a preacher who was sent by God.
So the next question is where did the faith to believe come from? We see it all through the book of Acts; it comes from God’s word. Paul also says that in verse 17.
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The Apostle Paul gives us the sequence to belief in the Book of Ephesians. We hear the gospel by the Word of God or the Bible. Then we make a decision to believe the gospel and be saved. Then being saved or born –again- we are given the Holy Spirit as a down payment. It’s that sequence, not receiving the Holy Spirit first and then believing. Read 1:13 below.
Eph 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

Here is the order of Paul’s passage. We hear the gospel by the Word of God. We then, after hearing God’s truth can make a decision to believe who Jesus is and what He offers us, which is salvation. Once we make that decision by faith, we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. I see no place in the Bible where we are born again, before we make a decision to accept what we have heard about Christ. We hear, we believe, we are saved (born-again), we are indwelled. (Born-again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit is simultaneous)
God says His word is alive and powerful, and he is right, it is where our faith to believe in Christ comes from. (Hebrews 4:12)
We pray that the girls who were taught double predestination will believe the truth of the Bible and not what someone told them. Rather than teaching them how to be saved he taught them, don’t make a decision for Christ, live anyway you want, the outcome is the same. What a lie of Satan.
God bless

Dan

Thanksgiving-Brownscombesm

 

Just thinking-unsaved people usually don’t care that our founders were Christians and they don’t see God at work in creating this nation as it is. I see far too many things to be considered “coincidences”. Let’s look at few things just surrounding the Plymouth Colony. I didn’t have time to cover these Sunday evening.
1. God directed them to a place where the entire Pawtuxet tribe had died, except for one young man, Squanto. Before the tribe died, they had cleared land in a perfect place for the Pilgrims and it had 4 very good springs of fresh water and an area ready for planting.
2. If Squanto hadn’t been kidnapped and sold as a slave, and Christian monks purchased him to set him free and gave him the gospel, he wouldn’t have had the desire to help them.
3. If Squanto hadn’t been kidnapped he would have died with the rest of the village.
4. If Squanto hadn’t been with Chief Massasoit, when Samoset came back from Plymouth and brought the news that the pilgrims were at the Pawtuxet village and they had no hope of surviving another winter, he wouldn’t have known they were there and they may have all died.
5. If Squanto had sailed back to New England from Britain later, he wouldn’t have been there to get the Pilgrims through another winter.
6. If the Pawtuxet tribe had not all died, the local fierce tribes would have murdered the Pilgrims immediately. But being superstitious, they wouldn’t go near the old Pawtuxet village. Therefore they left the Pilgrims alone.
7. If Squanto had been kidnapped when he was much younger he would not have yet learned how to plant, fish, hunt, and teach those skills to the pilgrims.
8. If the Plymouth colony hadn’t been  Christian, Squanto may not have had the desire to help them, in fact any other group would probably have shot and killed Samoset when he walked into the village the first time and someone yelled “Indian” coming. Massasoit and his tribe would have killed the small group of Pilgrims rather than spend a Thanksgiving dinner with them.
When you examine the timetable involved in all this, there is no longer room for that many coincidences. We see God’s handiwork here. The Pilgrims certainly saw God’s hand in everything and thanked Him for it.

God bless- Dan

 

God gave America liberty

– when we are undecided about an endeavor and we are seeking God’s will, we pay attention to things that tell us God is in the endeavor or He is shutting a door to that endeavor.
This was the case with our American founders. The preachers were the one’s primarily advocating liberty and freedom from England, but Romans chapter thirteen was a passage they were praying about and studying a lot.
Here it is;
Rom 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Under various charters they had been given freedom to govern themselves but at the end of 1683 King Charles the II sent a declaration saying he was pulling their charter and installing Anglican priests in their churches.
They had a decision to make; assume that Romans thirteen applied to them and be subject to Charles or did Romans chapter thirteen not apply as Charles was a tyrant and not subject to God. Was it God’s will to rebel against Charles and the crown?
The leading pastor in Boston, Increase Mather, prepared a sermon and had a town meeting in the Old South Meetinghouse. It was standing room only. Increase preached his sermon on Jephthah and Naboth and ended with King David saying it is better to “fall into the hands of God rather than the hands of men”.
So their decision was to tell Charles to take a hike and see if God was for their liberty or against it. They felt they were doing God’s will by rebelling.
Now it was up to God. They soon had what they thought was an answer. King Charles II sent a message that he was sending Colonel Percy Kirk and 5,000 troops to deal with them. Colonel Kirk was also known as Bloody Kirk for the way he tortured and killed people. There would be much blood in the streets. The People didn’t receive the news well. There was overall panic. Increase decided to spend the next day in prayer and fasting which he did. Had they read God wrong and He was not for their rebellion?
This was now February 1684. Increase Mather after a long day of fasting and prayer felt a sense of relief and even joy. He sensed God saying; don’t worry, this is my battle now. Two months later Boston is wondering when Bloody Kirk will arrive. They receive the news from London; King Charles has died from apoplexy, and Kirk is not coming. They took this as a miracle from God and that God was fighting for their liberty.
Increase checked the date of Charles death and it was the very day he felt God taking his apprehension away and giving him peace about standing up against England. This and many more miracles convinced Americans that God had a plan for America. Almost a century later Cotton Mather, son Increase Mather, and Jonathon Mayfield would predict that with God helping America become a great nation, that someday when the nations are raging against each other, America would have the power to “save many people alive” (Marshall, 1954) and save England from ruin, which has happened twice now.
As we look at our Christian roots on Sunday evenings we will see the role the Bible played in the founding of America and the preachers that God used to form this nation and that if God hadn’t brought Christians over from Europe in sufficient numbers at one time, this may have been a secular nation with secular laws and a secular constitution.
Have a great week and may God bless-
Dan

231sm
A little after 200 AD a Christian by the name of Origen started a bible school during times of intense persecution. Origen’s father was a martyr of the faith. Origen’s mother tried to prevent him from being a committed Christian. One time she hid his clothes to keep him in the house and from going to church meeting.

Origen’s bible school was expanding and many people were being saved especially young people. These young people were accepting Christ as their Savior, being water baptized, then being killed for their faith soon after. Roman authorities would watch water baptism services and record the names of those being baptized. In some areas of the Roman Empire, water baptism marked you for death.

Eusebius in his church history identifies seven students of Origen who were martyred for their faith. Those listed are Plutarch, Serenus, Heraclides, Hero, another Serenus, Herais, and Basilides who was a Roman soldier. Because young people were accepting Christ as their Savior and then dying in the arena shortly after being water baptized, Origen started a policy of delayed baptism. He discipled people in advanced bible studies for a few weeks before he allowed them to be baptized.
The students were called catechumen-(kat-a-kumen). It was a sad thing to see people just beginning their Christian life to be killed because of their declaration of being a Christian.

The question then is if they were being killed in the arena because an official recorded their water baptism; why not start secret water baptisms in homes where they wouldn’t be seen? Would it matter if the public did not have access to see the baptism take place? Does the Bible specifically state that baptism must be outdoors?

Regardless of how churches baptize today, the early church baptized outdoors regardless of it being a death sentence on the participants. They were baptized in the river one day and died in the arena by beasts and fire the next day. It would be hard to imagine seeing waves of new believers come into the church and soon after die for their faith. Believe, be baptized, and die, over and over.

Looking at the historical context of martyrs dying in the arena fighting the wild beasts, we see what Paul was talking about in the resurrection chapter of Corinthians.

1Co 15:29 (NET) Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are they baptized for them?
1Co 15:30 Why too are we in danger every hour?

Paul was seeing a group be water baptized and then dying, then another group taking their place. All Christians were in danger every hour as Paul says. Origen was teaching his catechumens that they would go home to be with the Lord immediately upon death. They would be resurrected unto life right behind those who died yesterday in the arena.

This is the context of being baptized for the dead. Paul also said concerning this that confirms this historical context-

1Co 15:31 Every day I am in danger of death! This is as sure as my boasting in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1Co 15:32 If from a human point of view I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what did it benefit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.

Paul says if those who were baptized and then died are not resurrected, the why fight beasts in the arena in Ephesus, then why get baptized we might as well party and enjoy life.

This passage on “water baptism for the dead” is easily understood when we look at the historical context concerning the Roman persecution the early church went through.

Easter is this Sunday- the early church referred to it as the “Festival” and it was the biggest Christian celebration of the year. You might consider some discussion topics while you celebrate around the dinner table this Sunday. Think of some topics that help us focus on the resurrection. Sometimes discussing Tim’s morning sermon is very good. You can look at the disciples on the way to Emmaus or various appearances of Christ after the resurrection or what Easter meant to you after you were saved VS before you were saved.

Enjoy the “Festival” and please pray for many who have never been to church, to be convicted of attending a church service this Sunday-
God Bless

Dan

This letter below is by our daughter Tara and what our church camp looks like through her eyes-
No other experience in my Christian life has impacted me spiritually the way counseling at camp has. During the weeks I spent counseling I learned that God could use me, God could change me, and God could sustain me. I saw God save kids and change lives. Over the summers I was there, I saw Him change entire families. During leadership camp we were thoroughly trained in our role for that camping season. We were impressed repeatedly that our focus was to see kids saved. And they were.
Anyone who knows me well, knows there is nothing I like better than to sit at home and read a good book. I am shy and quiet. I prefer not to be in large crowds of people, particularly with people I don’t know well. I like to be warm and clean. I despise spiders and have no athletic ability. I would seem to be the worst candidate for a camp counselor there could be. When I attended CMR it was even more rustic than it is now. The first year I was a counselor we had bright blue port-a-potties, one outdoor sink, a cold water shower that consisted of a tarp and garden hose, and a pavilion with dirt floors and tent walls. There was so much more to camp than the lack of amenities, and God used me despite my natural inclinations.
Were it not for those summers at camp, I don’t know if I would have understood that God could use me in any situation; even a ministry I am not naturally suited to. Not only did He use me, He gave me a love for that place and those kids that I could never have had on my own. The girls in my cabin for that week were mine. I was responsible for them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I loved and prayed for every one of them. Those days at camp may have been the only time in their entire lives they would hear the Gospel, or read the Bible, or interact with a Christian. What a tremendous responsibility with which we were entrusted. Our goal was to see every child go off that mountain assured that they were going to heaven one day. And though I don’t know if that ever happened, I do know that at most of the camps I was at, every child had the Gospel explained to them personally, one on one, by a counselor or staff member. And though not every child responded at that time, they heard how much God loves them. At some point in their lives, the Holy Spirit may prompt them to respond in faith to something they heard years ago at a summer camp. There were girls I spoke to that didn’t seem impacted when I shared the Gospel with them, but told me years later they had accepted Christ after our talk. How incredible that while I felt like a failure, God was at work! God is always at work. The only failing is in never talking to people about God, never reaching out, ignoring God’s prompting. Those children were entrusted to me and I was responsible for sharing the Gospel with them, but only God could work in their hearts
At camp I learned that through God I can overcome my weaknesses. I am a quiet, calm person most of the time, but I had to let go of my shyness on the mountain. I remember very well one rule we had at camp for the counselors. Be enthusiastic! And I was enthusiastic about everything.
The only personal time we had all day was before our counselor meeting at 7:00. After that the campers were up and our work had started. So if we were going to do devotions or wash our hair, (did I mention we didn’t have hot water? We didn’t even have tepid water) it pretty much had to be first thing in the morning. There was no guarantee we would have an opportunity later in the day. Any free time was spent building relationships with our kids. That was why were there.
As a counselor I was also able to see pastors in a setting much different from Sunday mornings in a pulpit. It shaped how I view people in full time Christian service. Those men didn’t wear suits and ties and sit behind a desk at camp. They wore grubby clothes and shoveled trenches and cleaned bathrooms and cooked and gathered trash. We got to see pastors as real men of God, dedicated to preparing camp for the souls of kids that would visit that summer. They talked to us, spent time with us, we saw them interact with each other and laugh. It was such an important thing for me to see how much more there is to ministry than giving a sermon. I gained so much respect for those men as they demonstrated a dedication to God through their work ethic and humility.
I saw through working at camp how important small jobs are. The camp speaker is an integral part of camp. It would be difficult to have a camp without him, but you also have to have the cooks, people to clean the bathrooms, haul trash off the mountain, buy the groceries, and pump water. There is joy in knowing that you are doing something for the Lord, even when no one else notices. And there is joy in knowing that it is important even if no one else realizes it.
It doesn’t really sound like a fun job. The schedule was 24 hours a day, there was no pay, the conditions were rustic, and sometimes the children were very difficult to the point of being frightening. In particular I remember a little girl, who we speculated was demon possessed, and a teenage boy that pulled a knife on one of the pastors. We had some very troubled kids. They came from all kinds of backgrounds. A lot of them were kids we knew from our home churches, and it was great to grow closer to them, but the point of camp was for them to bring their friends that didn’t have the same church opportunities. So we saw a lot of kids from very difficult home situations. It was heartbreaking to send them home at the end of the week, to less-than-ideal family situations. But often we sent them back with a Savior, and we trusted that He would protect them. I remember holding a bucket in the middle of the night for girls that were so homesick they made themselves literally sick (not very glamorous, but excellent training for parenting), and even when the job was gross, if you really loved someone, you didn’t mind doing it. And I didn’t. I loved those girls. For that one week they were mine, and I cared for them the best I knew how.
Despite the grueling job description, there were incomparable perks. Friendships: though we weren’t there to hang out with our friends, we did share bunks and tables with them. There were late night discussions and hurried conferences during the day and occasional opportunities to talk. We shared each other’s burdens in prayer, we looked out for each other’s kids, we rejoiced in victories together. We laughed when we were too tired to do anything else and we cried together when it was over. We made memories together. Cookies: there was always a secret stash waiting for us in the kitchen when we had a few minutes to enjoy one. It let us know that someone thought what we did was important and deserved some small reward. Counselor Parties: the last night of camp, we were allowed to sneak off for a few hours together. Usually the kids were too exhausted by then to notice we were missing. Sometimes we were too exhausted to leave. They were usually full of silliness and food. It was a time to decompress when we had just about reached the limit of what we could endure. Memories: I wouldn’t trade the memories I made at camp for anything. A hot shower: there is nothing like being clean again after a week at camp.
Though camp was not all fun, it showed me that God can use me for His purposes. Even though it may not be something I feel adequate for or under conditions I am comfortable with, there is a joy in serving the Lord that is unmatched by anything else. There is a contentment and satisfaction in knowing something of eternal value has been accomplished.
I gained so much from serving at camp. It shaped my life. It was there that I realized I could be involved in ministry. It was there that I realized that I wanted to be involved in ministry. At camp, I realized there is a world of lost people that are only going to hear about Jesus if someone tells them.
It has been eight years since I counseled at camp. Those experiences helped form who I am and what I believe about God. Girls I counseled are going to Bible school, becoming missionaries and pastor’s wives, and serving God. I don’t claim responsibility for the choices they have made, only God can do that, but I do thank Him that I was allowed to be involved in such an enduring ministry.
I wish every Christian could experience a campfire at Cedar Mountain Retreat. Those are some of the purest examples of worship I have ever been part of. The singing sounded subdued without any walls to amplify it, but it seemed free somehow as if it were somehow being lifted straight to heaven. Testimonies were shared, often amidst tears. God was glorified. Reluctantly, the campfire would draw to a close. We would softly sing “I Love You Lord”. To this day, when I hear that song, I smell wood smoke. I don’t know if there are campfires in heaven, but I think there will be the same hushed awe of worship, the shared love of God, and the warmth of fellowship. Nothing on earth will compare to heaven’s glory and the presence of God, but at Cedar Mountain Retreat I was given an idea of what I have to look forward to.

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