“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways’, says the Lord. ‘For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’.” Isaiah 55:6-11
How can you tell the difference between real guilt and false guilt?
Corporate Guilt or Personal Responsibility?
We live in an age of guilt manipulation, where many reject the concept of an objective standard of right and wrong. Yet, while denying personal responsibility, many will accuse whole nations of corporate guilt.
A Brazilian Confession
An example of this was seen at the Cape Town 2010 Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation. On the final Sunday, at the Africa regional meeting, a delegation from Brazil asked to speak to the African participants. Their spokesman then read out a very long declaration, which in very categoric terms declared their guilt for the Slave Trade: “We are guilty of having kidnapped Africans from their homes, transported them across the Atlantic, to excavate our mines and to build our cities.”
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“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His Name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” John 2:23-25
The year was A.D. 155. The persecution against Christians had swept across the Roman Empire. It had come to the city of Smyrna. The Pro-Consul of Smyrna, swept up into this persecution, put out the order to arrest Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna. Polycarp was to be arrested and brought to the local Coliseum, for execution.
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"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 4:31 - 5:2.
Bitterness defiles and destroys lives, friendships, families and one’s future. Bitterness is like a cancer. It devours its host. Bitterness is self-induced misery.
Real or Imagined
When we sin, we feel guilt. When others sin against us, we feel bitter. Bitterness is always based upon someone else’s actions. These actions could be real or imagined, they may even be based on a false report, but the bitterness is always very real. Bitter people cannot imagine the possibility that they are bitter over imaginary sins. As far as the bitter person is concerned the other person’s guilt must always be real. Rioters, arsonists, ANTIFA and BLM protestors ae all bitter and angry over something they believe others are guilty of.
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15. The Bible warns us lest any root of bitterness spring up causing trouble and defiling many people. If there is a root of bitterness, it will bear bitter fruit. Bitterness is destructive and devastating.
The Roots of Bitterness
The fact that you cannot normally see roots does not mean that they are not there. Roots drink in moisture and nourishment and they spread. Because a root is something that is underground, it cannot normally be seen. But sometimes you can see visible evidence of their presence such as when they start to lift up driveways and pavements. The riots in many streets are also evidence of the roots of bitterness bearing destructive fruit.
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"Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, 'This is a hard saying; who can understand it?' When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, 'Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The Words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe'…" John 6:60-64
Many took offence at Jesus' teaching. They refused to listen to His explanations and were unwilling to accept His teachings. The Lord challenged them that if they were grumbling at His hard teaching, what would their response be to the scandal of the crucifixion and the offence of the Ascension?
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'" Matthew 16:24
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31 May is Pentecost Sunday.
John the Baptist was "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight." Matthew 3:3
John said: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I'm not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Matthew 3:11-12
"For our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:29
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31 May is Pentecost Sunday.
God has promised "I will give water to the thirsty land, I will pour out My power on your children." Isaiah 44:3
"Here is My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen One in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him and He will bring justice to the nations." Isaiah 42:1
Commands to Christians
The disciple of Christ must learn and experience what it means to:
Be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5: 18).
Be led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14).
Walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:26).
Pray in the Spirit (Jude 20; Romans 8:26).
As panic spreads over the Coronavirus (COVID-19), it may be appropriate to draw attention to spiritual diseases, which pose serious risks to us all.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones." Proverbs 3:5-8
We cherish health for our bodies but most tolerate disease in their souls. Holiness is to our soul and spirit what health is to our bodies. We are body, mind and spirit. Our thoughts affect our emotions. Our understanding affects our decisions. It is all interconnected. Many people today are living far below their potential and failing to fulfil their purpose, or accomplish their destiny, because of spiritual diseases.
The Vision and Mission of Livingstone Fellowship
“Coming to Him as to a Living Stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 2:4-5
The Foundation and Chief Cornerstone is Christ
Jesus Christ is the Living Stone, the Chief Cornerstone, the Stone which the builders rejected as worthless. If anyone falls on that Stone, he will be cut to pieces, but if that Stone falls on someone it will crush him to dust. Solus Christus!
Christ Alone is the Head of the Church
Christ alone is the Head of the Church. Christ alone is the Mediator between God and man. The wise man builds his house on a Rock. Christ is our Rock solid foundation. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” John 1:1. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Truth conquers. It is the Truth which sets us free. “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” 1 Cor 3:11
Come to Christ in Repentance and Faith
We come to Christ in Repentance and faith. We who are God’s chosen people are a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God, called to worship, work and warfare, for the extension of God’s Kingdom. We who were dead in our trespasses and sins have been made alive by His grace, received by faith, on the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s own blood upon the Cross of Calvary.
Living Stones, Sons, Servants and Soldiers
He has taken out our heart of stone and regenerated us, so that now we are living stones being built up as part of His Church, His family, His army worldwide. What a privilege to be sons and daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords! What a privilege to be servants and soldiers for the Creator, Saviour, Redeemer and Eternal Judge of the universe!
What Would You Say is the Greatest Sin?
If I was to ask you, what is the greatest sin anyone could commit, what would you answer?
Would you say murder, idolatry, adultery, hatred, perversion, blasphemy?
Those would be the sins one finds identified in the Ten Commandments.
When I was converted, 43 years ago, one of the main sins that seemed to be in most people’s minds was “judge not”, which was interpreted: think not, discern not. Many people accuse others of being legalistic, if they quote from the Law of the Lord.
“Intolerance and Racism”
Today, the greatest sins seem to be “intolerance” and “racism” (a term first developed by Leon Trotsky, head of the soviet Red Army, in order to counter criticisms of the communists. If you oppose communism, you are obviously “a racist”. An acronym for Racist: Rather Annoying Communist Inspired Silencing Tactic).
Another modern day sin is anti-Semitism. On my 5-country, 2-continent, 5-week mission for the Reformation 500, in 2017, ministering all the way across America and Europe through to Wittenberg, Germany, my first meeting was in San Jose, California. After a presentation on Martin Luther – Captive to the Word, the first question from a lady, sitting in the back was: “What about Martin Luther’s anti-Semitism?” I asked her what she was referring to? She said, he wrote the book “On the Jews and their Lies”. I asked her if she had read the book. “No”, she replied. I asked, “What is your position on blasphemy?” She replied, “I do not understand”. I said, “What do you think about blasphemy? The taking the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ in vain? Cursing and using the Name of God like a filthy swear word, an expression of disgust?” “I do not know” she said, “but I am against anti-Semitism”.
What about Blasphemy?
“I understand that ma’am, but considering that you live in California, within a short distance of the greatest blasphemy industry on the planet, Hollywood, what is your position on blasphemy?” “I do not know” she replied, “but I am against anti-Semitism”. “Well Martin Luther was against blasphemy and he wrote a book against blasphemers and against those producing pornography, running child prostitution and a whole lot of other vices, including robbing widows and orphans of their homes, by usury and other unethical banking practices. It is not that Martin Luther was anti-Semitic, it was that he was pro-Christ and anti-blasphemy”. Should we be accused of being anti-Semitic because we are against Hollywood’s blasphemy industry? Because we protest against abortion and pornography? Or because we are against communism?
Redefining Sin by Guilt Manipulation
Today, many people have started to define sin, not in terms of God's Ten Commandments, but in terms of some kind of societal guilt manipulation social engineering. There are those who have now come up with terms that are not found in the Bible and assert that these are the worst sins anyone can commit.
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Joyful, Prayerful and Thankful
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Plainly, it is God's will for us to be joyful, prayerful and thankful.
Nicolae Moldoveanu – Composing Hymns in Prison
During one of our missions to Eastern Europe, Rev. Bill Bathman introduced me to an extraordinary Christian Hymn writer, who composed many hundreds of Hymns while being tortured by the communists in Romania. Nicolae Moldoveanu was called “The Bach of Romania.” In his lifetime, he composed more than 6,000 Hymns, hundreds of those while suffering excruciating torture in the communist prison system of Romania.
Extraordinary Creativity and Mental Discipline Under Torture
Without access to the Bible, or any books, without any musical instruments, without pen or paper, Moldoveanu determined to compose Hymns of praise to God and commit them to his memory, to later be put down on paper, when finally released from prison.
The Testimony of Richard Wurmbrand
Richard Wurmbrand testified that Moldoveanu was “one of the greatest saints I met in my 14 years of prison. He came smiling from the torture room. His approach was that of a lamb. While I was protesting against the guard’s abuses, against others, or myself, he never protested.”