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Month: February 2011

The High Cost Of Liberty

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“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Luke 4:18-19

The author of the American Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson once penned the following regarding armed revolution:
We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s [sic] liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s [sic] natural manure.
Despite this incendiary rhetoric and all of his contributions to the founding of the United States of America, Jefferson never shed a drop of his own blood to create or defend liberty.
You Say You Want A Revolution?
The recent unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iran, and other despotically ruled nations once more shows the innate human desire for freedom from tyranny. It remains to be seen whether these protests will produce political situations where freedom may flourish. Yet on a higher level the Lord Jesus Christ “preached freedom for the prisoners…to release the oppressed” through the shedding of His own blood (Luke 4:18; Eph. 1:7.) He was willing to suffer the heinous torture of crucifixion in order to free repentant sinners. Rather than sending others to die for spiritual liberty, Christ Himself gave His life on the cross. By pouring out His blood He paid the redemption price to liberate people from the tyranny of sin, Satan, the grave, and hell. His resurrection shows that the rescue has been accomplished. Only the Lord Jesus can grant true eternal freedom to lost sinners.
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The School Of Adversity

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“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12
Paul was probably the most effective Christian missionary in history. His dynamic evangelistic and Bible teaching ministry resulted in many conversions and the subsequent formation of several Asian and European churches. Far from robbing the apostle of his effectiveness his imprisonment actually led to the advancement of the gospel. First, Paul diligently witnessed to his captors who were taken from the ranks of the elite palace guard (Phil. 1:13; in this verse “palace” is literally Praetorium, i.e. the place of the powerful royal bodyguards.) Second, the curtailment of his public preaching ministry, coupled with his resolute courage in the face of danger, motivated other Christians to begin proclaiming the good news of Christ in place of the incarcerated apostle.
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Only one will not do…How many have you?

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Today, February 9th, is the birthday of notable historical figures such as the 9th President of the United States, William Henry Harrison, and the 18th century philosopher and political agitator – not to mention inveterate infidel – Thomas Paine. Contemporary figures such as Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, the diminutive actor Joe Pesci, and the actress Mia Farrow were also born on this date. More pertinent to my situation: 38 years ago today I was born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA. This birth was somewhat surprising because I arrived 3 months early (I’ve always been partial to dramatic entrances!) The local doctors looked at this scrawny baby who weighed a mere 2 pounds 7 ounces and opined that I only had a 30% chance of surviving. Happily, there is a God who rules over all and determines the times appointed for men. Thus, in His sovereign mercy He spared my life.
A Mother’s Faith & A Faithful God
Although premature and suffering from cerebral palsy – which would go undiagnosed until I was nearly two – I enjoyed many blessings. My chief advantage was to be born into a household where the parents were devout Christians who had a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and knew the value of intercessory prayer. Anyone who has met my parents knows that my father is louder, larger, and much more forceful than my mother. Nonetheless, in the early moments of my life it was my faithful Christian mother who offered a “Hannah prayer” to the Lord. Those unfamiliar with this great woman of faith, Hannah, can consult 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2. Hannah prayed that the Lord would give her a son so that she could give him back to the Almighty for His service. Similarly, my mother said, “Lord if you spare the boy’s life, I’ll give him back to You for Your work”. I did not learn of this prayer for many years. It was only after I began preaching and teaching from the Word of God that she told me of her “bargain” with the Lord. In His grace, He honored that prayer and I have now been preaching His Word for over 20 years, spending nearly 12 of those in full time service for His glory.
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Another gem from the past: "The True Grace of God Wherein We Stand" by J.N.D.

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God is made known to us as the “God of all Grace,” and the position in which we are set is that of “tasting that He is gracious.” How hard it is for us to believe this, that the Lord is gracious. The natural feeling of our hearts is, “I know that thou art an austere man”; there is the want in all of us naturally of the understanding of the Grace of God.
There is sometimes the thought that grace implies God’s passing over sin, but no, grace supposes sin to be so horribly bad a thing that God cannot tolerate it: were it in the power of man, after being unrighteous and evil, to patch up his ways, and mend himself so as to stand before God, there would be no need of grace. The very fact of the Lord’s being gracious shows sin to be so evil a thing that, man being a sinner, his state is utterly ruined and hopeless, and nothing but free grace will do for him – can meet his need.
We must learn what God is to us, not by our own thoughts, but by what He has revealed Himself to be, and that is, “The God of all Grace.” The moment I understand that I am a sinful man, and yet that it was because the Lord knew the full extent of my sin, and what its hatefulness was, that He came to me, I understand what grace is. Faith makes me see that God is greater than my sin, and not that my sin is greater than God. . . . The Lord that I have known as laying down His life for me, is the same Lord I have to do with every day of my life, and all His dealings with me are on the same principles of grace. The great secret of growth is, the looking up to the Lord as gracious. How precious, how strengthening it is to know that Jesus is at this moment feeling and exercising the same love towards me as when He died on the cross for me.
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Another gem from the past: “The True Grace of God Wherein We Stand” by J.N.D.

TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE, CLICK ON THE TITLE.

God is made known to us as the “God of all Grace,” and the position in which we are set is that of “tasting that He is gracious.” How hard it is for us to believe this, that the Lord is gracious. The natural feeling of our hearts is, “I know that thou art an austere man”; there is the want in all of us naturally of the understanding of the Grace of God.
There is sometimes the thought that grace implies God’s passing over sin, but no, grace supposes sin to be so horribly bad a thing that God cannot tolerate it: were it in the power of man, after being unrighteous and evil, to patch up his ways, and mend himself so as to stand before God, there would be no need of grace. The very fact of the Lord’s being gracious shows sin to be so evil a thing that, man being a sinner, his state is utterly ruined and hopeless, and nothing but free grace will do for him – can meet his need.
We must learn what God is to us, not by our own thoughts, but by what He has revealed Himself to be, and that is, “The God of all Grace.” The moment I understand that I am a sinful man, and yet that it was because the Lord knew the full extent of my sin, and what its hatefulness was, that He came to me, I understand what grace is. Faith makes me see that God is greater than my sin, and not that my sin is greater than God. . . . The Lord that I have known as laying down His life for me, is the same Lord I have to do with every day of my life, and all His dealings with me are on the same principles of grace. The great secret of growth is, the looking up to the Lord as gracious. How precious, how strengthening it is to know that Jesus is at this moment feeling and exercising the same love towards me as when He died on the cross for me.
TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE, CLICK ON THE TITLE.