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July 2017

 
 

paSTOR`S PAGE

July 2017

 

July 2

 

People have always tried to unveil the mysteries of life. Life is like a train, and the stages of life are like the train cars that compose the whole train. The process of life is like a journey from the first to the last train car and the risk is for the traveler to believe that all the train cars are the same as the one he currently is in. After each period of ten years, the mind of a man changes and he sees life from a different standpoint; this process puts him in the situation to accept many things he had previously rejected and rejected many of the things he had previously accepted. People look at the past through memory, to the present through perception, and to the future through anticipation, creativity, and imagination.
The spiritual life is similar to the biological life – a sequence of events that compose existence. The spiritual life begins when a person exits the world and enters the Kingdom of God; this moment is called rebirth. This rebirth is realized through the Word of God that teaches man what to do, and through the Spirit of God who gives man the power to do what he needs to do. The event of rebirth is followed by the processes of sanctification and ministry. By faith, man receives salvation, but for ministry, man receives a reward. Man’s position is changed from sinner to saved/forgiven through rebirth.
Salvation is an internal work, mysterious, inside man, for the benefit of man. Ministry is an external work, public, through man, for the benefit of others. Every saved man needs to minister to others and to be sanctified, these being the two main objectives for the Kingdom of God. Rebirth offers man the grace of salvation. The baptism with the Holy Spirit offers man the power of sanctification and ministry. The intention of sanctification and trying ministry outside of the work and power of the Holy Spirit are like salvation outside of rebirth. The spiritual life beings through faith, and faith comes through hearing the Gospel (Acts 2:37). According to the teaching of Peter’s sermon, repentance and water baptism lead to the forgiveness of sin and are followed by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (v. 38). People who receive the Word are recognized by the fact that they listen to it and fulfill it: “those who accepted his message were baptized” (v. 41). The priorities of these born again people were to “devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (v. 42). Their spiritual lives were characterized by unity and generosity. (v. 44-45).
Fellowship and purity were obligatory. Their worship to God solidified their salvation in front of other people, and their testimony guided those around them to salvation (v. 46-47). A repentance that is not reflected in good deeds is an illusion. The repentance that Peter presents presumes to listen to the Gospel, focusing on spiritual priorities, practicing unity and generosity, keeping fellowship and purity. The world and times change, but God remains the same.

 

 July 9

 

It is a universally accepted fact that religion was and remains one of the most important influences in the lives of people. A person’s entire mentality about the world and life is decisively influenced by the concept he has about religion. In the last 50 years, the idea that religion in general and Christianity in particular will lose ground and even disappear has been misconstrued. Unbelievers have explained that in the far past religion played an important role because it helped people deal with the crises of life that they could not explain, but in the present, because of science, people are capable of controlling all things and religion has become useless. It is easy to realize that technology, information, and the improvement of the quality of life have encouraged skepticism and criticism of religion. This phenomenon has promoted relativism in the lives of many Christians who have either rejected a religious life or have leaned on a personal Christianity, without belonging to a local church, since the church insists on a certain standard for the spiritual and moral life as well as a strong dedication to God and people.
The strange mixing of these phenomena in the 21st century constrains us into accepting that people’s cultural mentality has changed into the belief that people do not inherit faith, but rather choose it. And so it happens that the number of skeptics as well as the number of born again Christians are both growing. In conclusion, we are witnessing an aggressive polarization of the world in regards to religion – a part of it is becoming more religions and the other part is becoming more non-religious. This phenomenon has emerged in the last 10-20 years, while the secular skeptics and the born-again Christians have both seen their convictions about the life and the world threatened. Because of these reasons, religious people agree with the political tendencies towards nationalism and Christianity, and skeptics agree with the political trends toward ethnic multiculturalism and religious pluralism. Authentic Christianity creates exclusivism and this is the secret to the misunderstandings between the two camps, on the global level. The dominant characteristic of conservatives is sanctification, while the liberal one is social implication. More so, sometimes the two camps have different opinions with regards to the traditional historical biblical teachings:
1. The infallibility of the Bible
2. The divinity of the Savior Jesus Christ
3. The indispensability of rebirth
4. The awaiting of Jesus Christ’s second coming to a holy life
Surely, these fundamental and authentic biblical teachings place authentic Christianity and born-again Christians in a new relationship of adversity with the rest of the world. Christians that are not born-again, the non-practicing, and especially non-Christians accuse born-again Christians of intolerance. For this reason, civil society leaders accuse religion, Christianity in particular, for disturbing the peace on earth and as a result try to find solutions.
1. Condemning religion
2. Fencing religion into a private space
3. Removing religion outside of the law
Regardless of the methods chosen by authorities, the apostles responded fearlessly, “‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!’" (Acts 4:19) Whom will we obey?

 

  July 16

 

The Bible says the latter times will be difficult times, but it does not refer to the material aspect of life, but to the spiritual, moral and familial aspect. "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" (2 Timothy 3:1-5) The latter times are characterized by ideological confusion and moral debauchery. The Apostle Peter writes two epistles to the believers, teaching them what and how to do in these latter times:
I. KEEP YOUR SPIRITUAL BALANCE BY STAYING IN THE SCRIPTURES.
"Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior" (2 Petru 3:1-2).
The Bible is the truth that motivates us to holiness, balance, and abstinence from sin, so the fundamentals of the Bible are essential:
1. The infallibility of the Bible
2. The Divinity of Jesus Christ
3. The indispensability of regeneration
4. The abstinence from sin and cultivation of sanctification
5. Waiting for the return of Jesus Christ
II. IN THE LATTER TIMES PEOPLE WILL BE SCOFFERS AND MOTIVATED BY LUST.
Lust is defined as the obsessive desire to do or get something by any means. "...knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts..." (2 Peter 3:3). People will live either according to the Bible or according to their lust. James said: "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James1:14). The Bible teaches us: " Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
III. IN THE LATTER TIMES PEOPLE WILL DENY THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST.
"...and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." (2 Peter 3:3-4) God's solution to death will be the resurrection only when man's solution to sin is repentance and sanctification.
Because of sin, God destroyed the earth by water and fire:
1. Noah's Flood (Gen. 6)
2. The Fire of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18)
The latter times are a great test of faith, love and fidelity. We have been created to achieve greatness, we are called to show our Master and to serve Him with responsibility and devotion.

 

 July 23

 

In our world some people invest much more time in training for a career than in preparing for marriage. Others pay more attention to wedding ceremonies than to the maturing of newly weds. What should the bride and the groom know about the wedding day?
I. They should know that being in love is not enough for a happy marriage. Although it sounds weird, the truth is that passion cannot solve the difference in education, temperament, interests, goals, habits, and value systems between the two spouses. Love is an obsessive emotional experience, but emotions change quickly and easily, and obsessions die out as soon as they are satisfied. The young people who are in love get along well now because they do not live together in the same family where all the differences between them will produce adversity.
II. They should know that romantic love has two stages.
1. Falling in love is the time when we do our best for each other, without taking into account the sacrifices involved. The person we are in love with seems perfect, and during this time of delight the two do not have to work on their relationship. During this time, any other priority in their life becomes secondary and the rest of the world does not matter so much.
2. Knowing your partner and loving him in a way he understands. There are many love languages, and each person has a specific way in which she needs to be love. Often, what is important to one of the two spouses is not important to the other. It is easy to understand that in order to learn and use the spouse`s love language, one needs much effort, understanding, maturation, self-denial, patience, and a very strong motivation.
III. They should know that each person is very much like the family they come from. To a great extent, we are the product of the environment in which we grew up and lived in the first 20 years of life. Most children resemble their parents more than they realize. In this reality of the differences between young spouses there are two alternatives:
1. Accepting your spouse as he or she is.
2. Negotiating the change of obvious faults.
The best time for change is before marriage, when each of them is reasonably motivated to make the changes that ensure the happiness of the couple by eliminating behaviors that can cause misunderstandings.
IV. They should know that asking for forgiveness is a sign of strength and that forgiveness is not a feeling. There are no happy families without asking for and granting forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness involves two things, both in the relationship with God and in the relationship with the spouse:
1. Confession - admitting that what we have done wrong or have not done well should be changed: forgive me.
2. Repentance - the voluntary return from that misconduct. Happiness in marriage is not by chance, it is just the result of a lifestyle, it's a choice. The bride and the groom should know these things on their wedding day.

 

  July 30

The Bible is the Book through which God revealed His will to His people. When we give up the Bible everything becomes relative. The first three Gospels end with the mission mandate that the Savior entrusts to His Church. Two thousand years have passed and the Church is still responsible for this divine mandate. The Christian church is larger today than two thousand years ago, it has more material resources, more theologically trained people, and the potential for the mission is huge. Christ Himself had a life dedicated to mission, investing everything in the fulfillment of the interests of God`s kingdom - "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38). Christ`s mandate for His Church, mentioned in the Gospel of Mark 16:15-20, is urgent and concrete:
- The obligation and urgency of the mission - "go"
- The mission field - "into all the world"
- The purpose of the mission - "preach the gospel"
- The beneficiaries of the mission - "every creature"
- The beneficiaries' conditions - "whoever believes and is baptized"
- The benefit - "will be saved"
- The proof of receiving the benefit - "In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. "
The Apostle Paul also acted like the Savior, preaching the gospel to every creature. His ministry was full of sorrow: "...five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren..." (2 Cor. 11:24-26) The mission of preaching the gospel to every creature is the mandate of the Church, the commandment of the Master. The mission justifies the existence of the Church and explains its purpose. Mission is mandatory and urgent. It should not be done because it is easy nor avoided because it is tough. Mission is the project of God, it is our responsibility. Paul said: "For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Cor. 9:16)
Shortly before He died, Christ said: " I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do" (John 17:4). Shortly before he died, Paul said: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith..." (2 Tim. 4:7).
We now come closer to the times when we will repeat the words of the Savior, of Paul, and of His apostles. We have little time left, but enough to do what is really important: continue the preaching of the Gospel, like our Lord.