Shepherd’s Heart – Saturday, August 13, 2016

I have been searching for the word that describes our society. The word is “lasciviousness.” This is a big word, often used in the New Testament (nine times) yet rarely understood. Let me describe “lasciviousness” for you, and ask yourself if this doesn’t describe your culture.

Rev. John Temple
Rev. John Temple

The following post is an article written by Dr. John A. Temple, Senior Pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church in Meridian, Mississippi, United States of America. It is posted here with permission. I should also note that Dr. Temple was one of my seminary professors at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr. Temple’s article caused me to pause and reflect on my own life, taking an assessment of my focus and values. I pray you have a meaningful experience as well.

Bro. Chris

Shepherd’s Heart – Saturday, August 13, 2016

Romans 12:2 (NASB)
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

I have been searching for the word that describes our society. The word is “lasciviousness.” This is a big word, often used in the New Testament (nine times) yet rarely understood. Let me describe “lasciviousness” for you, and ask yourself if this doesn’t describe your culture.

Lasciviousness is an inclusive term for any form of excess. It describes a lack of boundaries. There is no concept of right and wrong. There is no distinction of proper and improper. There is no remorse or shame when actions are considered unacceptable.

Lasciviousness expresses itself with insensitivity to others. It does not care about the impact on other people. The desire to please self supersedes the collateral damage caused. Statements reflect this concept: “Rights” override “responsibilities.” “If it feels good, do it.” “If you think it, say it.” “If you like it, take it.” “The end justifies the means.” Public decency is behind the times. Being over the top is to be popular and accepted.

Lasciviousness is reckless. There is no reference point to consequences. Many believe there should be no consequences. Such a person is outraged that someone calls their hand. They consider anyone who opposes their excess to be hateful and intolerant. Without reference to the future, living in the moment is all that matters.

Lasciviousness is a life without feeling. Such people become calloused. Nothing shocks them anymore. Bored with the latest excess, the next act must be even more outrageous. They search for fulfillment little realizing that the direction they travel will never completely satisfy.

Because lasciviousness is so prevalent in our society, Christians are tempted to join in the excess. Christians entertain themselves with the excesses of the world and consider it normal without realizing that such things are not the kingdom of God. Like the world, Christians, dress provocatively, speak crudely, think perverse thoughts, laugh at dirty jokes, and generally wallow in the excesses of a society that has turned from God. All the while, the Christians fail to see that their world is out of God’s purpose and so are they if they live like the misguided around them.

The wise believer will strive to not be conformed to the world. Their fulfillment will be realized by pleasing the Lord. Their desire is to walk worthy of their calling. Their mission is to live a life that encourages others to join in, being a compassionate neighbor and a considerate citizen. As we consider the future of our land, let us look for true character and merit.

Bro. John

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2015 and You: What Is Your Personal Vision?

As we enter a whole new year, it is important that we Christians have a vision and purpose as to where we are heading this year in order to fulfil the purposes of God for our lives. Christianity is far more than simply attending Christian meetings. They should be a means to an end so that we are equipped to accomplish greater things in 2015 than we ever have before.

Rev. Rodney W. Francis
Rev. Rodney W. Francis

The following post is an article written by Rev. Rodney W. Francis, Founder and Director of The Gospel Faith Messenger, based in Paraparaumu, New Zealand. It is posted here with permission.

Bro. Rodney’s article inspired me. I pray it inspires you.

Bro. Chris

2015 and You: What Is Your Personal Vision?

As we enter a whole new year, it is important that we Christians have a vision and purpose as to where we are heading this year in order to fulfill the purposes of God for our lives. Christianity is far more than simply attending Christian meetings. They should be a means to an end so that we are equipped to accomplish greater things in 2015 than we ever have before. It is all about progressing on in the calling of God that is on our lives. Every Christian is called of God to fulfill a vision ~ His vision and purpose as to why we are here on this earth right now. Jesus Christ has saved us to be part of the Answer to a needy and troubled world. Christians are “witnesses unto Jesus” (Acts 1:8) so the world will know that Jesus loves them and died to save them ~ and that He has risen from the dead to demonstrate that the power of God and the Gospel is very different to every other belief system. To be effective witnesses of Jesus we have to have a personal relationship with Him and know His voice and what He has chosen us for. We cannot afford to function “by habit” but to be awake and alive in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit to make a positive difference in a negative world. People of the world do not read their Bible ~ they read us the Christians! When we are inspired and motivated by a personal up-to-date vision of what we are called to be doing today, then they see that we are very different to most other people they meet. They will want to know why we are different. And your personal vision, inspired by the Holy Spirit, will lift you up out of negativity, despair and depression (of which far too many Christians seem to trapped in these days). Jesus comes into our lives to make a positive difference. At this time of the year it is good for us to do some self-evaluation/appraisal and ask ourselves some real questions:

  • What will your focus be this year?
  • Will it be more clearly defined than last year? Remember, it is God’s will that you live life to the full through Jesus Christ Who lives in you. With Him in your life you can be an overcomer every day.
  • What changes do you think are needed in order for you to accomplish your destiny in God in 2015 and beyond?
  • Do you need to have a heart-to-heart talk with another committed-to-the-will-of-God Christian so that you can be more clear in your thinking as to what your specific calling and giftings are?
  • You can achieve what He created you to achieve! “You can do all things through Christ Who strengthens you!” (Philippians 4:13)
  • Remember, there is no room for excuses when it comes to doing the will of God.

We all need to be encouraged, exhorted, inspired, challenged, even provoked at times to rise up more into that which God has purposed for us. The world situation is such that unless they hear, see and know a demonstration of the Living Jesus Christ, then they will continue to slide into a hopeless and lost eternity.

  • Jesus Christ has saved us to make a positive difference.
  • He has filled us with His Holy Spirit to make us effective witnesses of Him.

If the world does not see Jesus in us, then they don’t see Him at all! Be inspired to know who you are as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ! My heart for you is that 2015 (and beyond) will be the greatest and grandest times yet in your walk with God and in your service for Jesus Christ the Lord. To do this you will need to have a right and positive confession ~ based on the Word of God ~ that will cause you to rise above every obstacle, and to enable you to triumph in every situation. I pray that your life will not be hindered by the frustration of wanting to serve God and yet not knowing where you fit. So many Christians are disillusioned and frustrated because they are not being trained, equipped and released into their God-ordained calling.

  • Right now our generation needs every born-again, Holy Spirit-filled Christian believer to be living and occupied in the very centre of God’s will.
  • His heart for us is that we not only know God’s will for our life, but that we prove God’s will for our life by our living and walking in it (Romans 12:1-2)! Jesus said: “The labourers are few!” (see Matthew 9:35-38).
  • Does this not concern us?
  • We DO reap what we sow! (see Galatians 6:1-10).
  • We ARE the products of our believing, or our not believing!

The Holy Spirit, Who lives inside of every born-again, Holy Spirit-filled believer, is power for service (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). Service, not simply an added blessing! We cannot experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit ~ which is power for service ~ and then simply sit in church or meetings as passive hearers only. That frustrates the Holy Spirit within us! And if He is frustrated within us, you can guarantee we will be frustrated more! Be where you are able to function in your giftings! So…

  • What obstacles are there in the way?
  • What decisions need to be made?
  • What excuses need to be deleted?
  • What is stopping you?
  • What changes need to be made?
  • What challenges need to be faced up to?
  • The call and will of God does not just “fall into our laps” ~ we have to pursue it with all our heart.

The fact is that unless we do something about desiring change, then nothing changes! To change means making some definite decisions that show God you are serious about wanting to change for the better. Whatever the time, date and year, YOU CAN cultivate YOUR faith in the Promises of God NOW and be the man or woman He says you can be, and what He has called you to be. It is not too late!

  • Say what God says about you today ~ it really does do wonders, increases your vision, opens up new dimensions to you, and gives opportunity to be a powerful witness for Jesus Christ.
  • Does your faith move mountains ~ or do mountains move your faith?

Be a mountain mover in 2015 and beyond! Be a mountain mover on the authority of God’s Word given to you through Jesus Christ and the revelation of the Holy Spirit! He will not fail you. Right now the doors of opportunity are open for those who will hear God’s voice, listen to what He says and are prepared to demonstrate to God by our faith actions that we do believe Him. Faith is an action that is inspired by vision. Faith is demonstrated by what we do with what God says. He is speaking today to His people.

“For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, ‘Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them’” (Mark 11:23-24, NKJV).

Other helpful Scriptures to consider: Isaiah 6 and 54; Acts 2; Hebrews 11

Rev. Rodney W. Francis
“The Gospel Faith Messenger” Ministry
PO Box 57, Paraparaumu 5254, New Zealand
Email gfm@gospel.org.nz

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Now That I’m a Christian, What Next?

Share with others what Jesus has done for you. Begin to live for God. Publicly profess your faith by being baptized. Join a local Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church and get to know God better through prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other Christians.

If you have just prayed to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, praise the Lord! Please let us know! Please participate in our poll located at the top left column of the page and/or Contact Us.

Share with others what Jesus has done for you.

Romans 10:13-15 (NASB)
13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

Begin to live for God.

Romans 12:1-2,9-18 (NASB)
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. … 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Publicly profess your faith by being baptized.

Luke 3:21 (NASB)
21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened,

Romans 6:4 (NASB)
4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Join a local Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church and get to know God better through prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other Christians.

Romans 15:4-6 (NASB)
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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How To Become a Christian

Admit your sinful ways and desire to turn from them and be delivered from the judgment they bring. Acknowledge what Christ did for sinners on the cross, which was confirmed by His resurrection from the dead. Receive Him as the only means of eternal life. Appropriate His rightful claim as Lord of your life. And, pray the Sinner’s Prayer.

Admit your sinful ways and desire to turn from them and be delivered from the judgment they bring.

Romans 3:10,23 (NASB)
10 as it is written, “There is none righteous , not even one; … 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Acts 3:19 (NASB)
19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

Acknowledge what Christ did for sinners on the cross, which was confirmed by His resurrection from the dead.

Romans 5:8 (NASB)
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

John 11:25 (NASB)
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,

Receive Him as the only means of eternal life.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

John 1:12 (NASB)
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

John 6:40 (NASB)
40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

Appropriate His rightful claim as Lord of your life.

Romans 10:9 (NASB)
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

Philippians 2:10-11 (NASB)
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Pray the Sinner’s Prayer.

Holy God, be merciful to me: a sinner. Please forgive me. I want Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I believe He lived a sinless life, died upon the cross in payment of my sins, and conquered death so that I could have eternal life. Help me to live for You from this day forward. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Jesus Is the Judge

All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, “The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

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Jesus Is Lord

The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything. “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:3). Therefore, He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.

Romans 10:9 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority.

Contemporary thinking says man is the product of evolution. However, the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him.

The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything. “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:3). Therefore, He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.

Romans 10:9 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority.

Philippians 2:10-11 (NASB)
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Believing that God has raised Him from the dead involves trusting in the historical fact of His resurrection – the Pinnacle of Christian faith and the way the Father affirmed the deity and authority of the Son.

Romans 1:4 (NASB)
4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

Acts 17:30-31 (NASB)
30 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is more than simply being sorry for sin. It is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue holiness (Isaiah 55:7). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15) and “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).

It is not enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they do not love and obey Him. Their faith is not genuine. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus is the sovereign Lord. When you obey Him you are acknowledging His lordship and submitting to His authority. That does not mean your obedience will always be perfect, but that is your goal. There is no area of your life that you withhold from Him.

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Jesus Is the Only Acceptable Object of Saving Faith

Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He did not claim to be one of many equally legitimate paths to God, or the way to God for His day only. He claimed to be the only way to God – then and forever.

Some people think it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. However, without a valid object your faith is useless.

If you take poison – thinking it is medicine – all the faith in the world will not restore your life. Similarly, if Jesus is the only source of salvation, and you are trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation, your faith is useless.

Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He did not claim to be one of many equally legitimate paths to God, or the way to God for His day only. He claimed to be the only way to God – then and forever.

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Jesus Is the Savior

Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ…died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).

Our failure to obey God – to be holy – places us in danger of eternal punishment.

2 Thessalonians 1:9 (NASB)
9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (NASB)
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.” According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “for there is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In addition, we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

That does not mean we are incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. However, we are utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own.

Romans 3:10-12 (NASB)
10 as it is written, “There is none righteous , not even one; 11 There is none who understands , There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside , together they have become useless ; There is none who does good , There is not even one.”

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That is hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others are. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That is why simply changing our patterns of behavior cannot solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy.

Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ…died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).

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Jesus Is Holy

God is absolutely and perfectly holy: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3), therefore, He cannot commit or approve of evil. As God, Jesus embodied every element of God’s character.

God is absolutely and perfectly holy: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3), therefore, He cannot commit or approve of evil.

James 1:13 (NASB)
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

As God, Jesus embodied every element of God’s character. Colossians 2:9 says, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” He was perfectly holy.

Hebrews 4:15 (NASB)
15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

God requires holiness of us as well. “You shall be holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

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Jesus Is God

While Jesus was on earth, there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a lunatic. Still others could not decide or did not care. However, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

While Jesus was on earth, there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a lunatic. Still others could not decide or did not care. However, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). That means, He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh.

Many people today do not understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They are content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to deity. That is why they tried to stone Him to death (John 5:18; 10:33) and eventually had Him crucified (John 19:7).

C.S. Lewis observed, “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Mere Christianity [Macmillan, 1952], pp. 40-41).

If the biblical claims of Jesus are true, He is God!

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