BKI Encouragement 295 - March 9, 2016
"Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets." - Luke 6:26
It has been said, "It is no compliment to say about a Christian that he has no enemies, for that is the same as saying he has accomplished nothing." While here on earth, the Lord's bitter enemies put Him to death. It was His death which made redemption possible to all who believe. Paul's enemies kept him humble while fulfilling his high calling as an Apostle to the Gentiles. The Old Testament saints experienced mocking, scourgings, chains and imprisonment, but through it "gained approval through their faith".
The early church faced persecution at the hands of godless men so that the Gospel might spread from Jerusalem to the uttermost parts of the earth. If you and I really walk by faith and proclaim His gospel to the lost, we should accept opposition as being normal in the Christian life. May our desire to live for the Lord always be greater than our desire to be popular among men. May we say with the Psalmist, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?" Be encouraged!
References: Luke 6:26; Hebrews 11:36-39; Psalm 27:1
BKI Encouragement 294 - March 2, 2016
"...if you knew Me, you would know My Father also." - John 8:19
Recently, a professor at Wheaton College faced termination proceedings because of her belief that we all worship the same God. She wrote in a Facebook post, "I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book". She continued, "And as Pope Francis stated last week we worship the same God." The Pope's statement is no surprise as he is a politically correct ecumentalist and Catholicism, going back to the 1960's has asserted that Christians and Muslims worship the same god. But do they? Islam rejects the deity of Christ and Catholicism rejects the sufficiency of Christ. Salvation is impossible if Christ is not God and if His cross is not sufficient. Jesus said, "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent." Knowing Christ cannot be separated from knowing the only true God. Praise be unto the Lord that by placing our faith in Christ alone for salvation and trusting in the sufficiency of His cross, we now know the God of the Bible, the only God, the only true God!! Be encouraged!
References: John 8:19; John 17:2
BKI Encouragement 293 - February 24, 2016
"Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people." - John 18:14
Caiaphas, the high priest, was the representative for the Jewish people. Christ had come "to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him." Caiaphas, blinded by sin and his arrogant desire for control and power, demonstrated this rejection even as he spoke prophetically about the death of Christ. One dying for all was exactly what God was going to do on the cross. One for all was the very heart of God's redemptive plan for He "gave Himself as a ransom for all the testimony borne at the proper time". "Christ died for the ungodly" which encompasses all humanity because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Paul summed it up this way, "So then as through one transgression there resulted in condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men." Yes, the very heart of the Gospel -- One for all, One for you! Be encouraged!
References: John 18:14; John 1:11; 1 Timothy 2:6; Romans 3:23, 5:6, 5:18
BKI Encouragement 292 - February 17, 2016
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." - Proverbs 3:5
Often we can be at a loss for how the Lord is leading or why He allows certain things to come into our lives. Ask yourself: Even if I cannot sense what God is doing in my situation nor understand His ways, where would I be without Him? To ask that question is to put things in their proper perspective. It leads to this conclusion: I can live for the Lord without fully understanding His ways, but I cannot live without Him. Since He is God and I am His finite creature, He is not answerable to me, but He has proved His faithfulness over and over again. I can trust Him. As we read in Scripture, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength". No matter what our circumstances might be, we can be thankful that we can please the Lord by trusting Him with childlike faith. Be encouraged!
References: Proverbs 3:5; Deserted by God, Sinclair Ferguson; Isaiah 26:3, 4 (KJV); Hebrews 11:6
BKI Encouragement 291 - February 10, 2016
"...with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins." - 1 Thessalonians 2:16
It was the Jews who stoned the prophets, crucified the Lord of glory and continued to hinder the proclamation of the gospel. As a result they were literally "heaping sin upon sin" until their cup of sin runneth over. God's judgment for them was certain. Is America going down the same path? We have witnessed the Bible and prayer taken out of the schools, the Ten Commandments out of the public square, the nativity scene from in front of the court house, the mocking of biblical creation, teaching evolution as a fact, abortion on demand, the legalization of same gender marriage and a growing tolerance for everything but biblical truth. Are we heaping sin upon sin? Many believe there is no turning back and judgment is certain. It certainly saddens our hearts to see so many in this country reject the only hope of salvation that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. How can we be encouraged? We must remember that not only is God's promise of judgment certain but also His promise of blessing to all who believe. The one who believes in Him "has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." Be encouraged!
References: 1 Thessalonians 2:16; John 5:24
BKI Encouragement 290 - February 3, 2016
"My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" - Psalm 22:1
In Jesus Christ, God became a man in order that through His death that He might redeem us from our sin. As a man, He experienced what humanity experiences in all its frailty. As He approached the day of the cross He was "very distressed and troubled" and He exclaimed, "My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death." On the cross He tasted the darkness of pain, opposition, accusation, rejection and loneliness. It was there that He cried out in His native tongue, "Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani" which was a direct quote of Psalm 22:1. He took on God's judgment and wrath against our sin. Sinless, He became sin that we may become righteous. He bore our guilt that for us its weight might be lifted. He accepted alienation from God that we might be reconciled to God. He felt forsaken by God that we might be accepted by God. "For consider Him, who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart." Be encouraged!
References: Psalm 22:1; Mark 14:33, 34; Matthew 27:46; Hebrews 12:3
BKI Encouragement 289 - January 27, 2016
"...I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord..." - Philippians 3:8
God has never been into positive thinking, mind over matter, therapy, psychology or any other form of human improvement. His answer to the problems faced by mankind is found in the person of Jesus Christ. In the words of Horatius Bonar, first published in 1860, -- "The one true goal or resting-place where doubt and weariness, the stings of a pricking conscience, and the longings of an unsatisfied soul would all be quieted, is Christ Himself. Not the Church, but Christ. Not doctrine, but Christ. Not forms, but Christ. Not ceremonies, but Christ: Christ the God-man, giving His life for ours... This, this alone is the vexed soul's refuge, its rock to build on, its home to abide in... It is not opinions that man needs: it is Truth. It is not theology: it is God. It is not religion: it is Christ. It is not literature and science; but the knowledge of the free love of God in the gift of His only-begotten Son." Only Christ can change one's life from the inside out, remove all the guilt and weight of human failure, change death into life and bring oneness with God. Be encouraged!
References: Philippians 3:8; Word to Winners of Souls, Horatius Bonar
BKI Encouragement 288 - January 20, 2016
"Behold, Children are a gift of the Lord..." - Psalm 127:3
According to recent research, more and more Americans, especially the "Millennials" born after 1980, have no religious affiliation even though most were raised in the church. The "Nones" according to the Pew Research Center have risen to 25% among the 18 to 29 year olds. Christian parents need to be encouraged to do better. We are commanded in Scripture to "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." If we farm out our children to all the technological advances and depend entirely upon others to instill faith in them, will it in the end, be saving faith? Paul exhorted the Thessalonians like "a nursing mother" and "a father would his own children"... imparting to them "not only the gospel of God but also our own lives". Parents should not only take their children to church but also teach them the gospel and live it out in the home. Christian parents should praise the Lord that He has given them such a privilege. Cherish the gift(s) that the Lord has given you that the "fruit of the womb" may be your "reward". Be encouraged!
References: Psalm 127:3; Ephesians 6:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-11
BKI Encouragement 287 - January 13, 2016
"fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith" - Hebrews 12:2
Last month an article in the New York Times described a culturally relevant church in Los Angeles. The church consists primarily of young people in their 20's and 30's, including some of the aspiring entertainers of Hollywood. The church does not adhere to a specific "strain" of Christianity and encourages the followers to unleash their creative spirits. "Relevance to the culture is not optional... You need not "convert to being a 1950's American Christian"... "we're trying to have fun" and the acceptance of those who live openly in a sinful lifestyle were some of the points of the article. One actor and father who thinks the church "bedazzles people" brought his four foster children to the church. He described it this way, "When I first mentioned it, they were like, 'I don't want to go to church.' But they were into it. They were super-confused in a cool way." As a believer, you don't need to be bedazzled. What you really need is to fix your eyes upon Jesus and let Him be the direction, fulfillment, contentment and joy of your life. Then you will not be confused. Neither will you be cool! Be encouraged!
References: Hebrews 12:2; New York Times, December 13, 2015. "Let There Be Neon Light." p. ST1
BKI Encouragement 286 - January 6, 2016
"...A star shall come forth from Jacob..." - Numbers 24:17
Christmas was somewhat different for Americans in 2015. Star Wars overshadowed Santa Claus, who has overshadowed the birth of Christ for untold years. Christians were caught up in the hype and lived in anticipation of the movie's release. One church in New Jersey presented a living Star Wars Nativity scene whose Princess Leia was Mary, Hans Solo was Joseph, Chewbacca represented the animals and R2D2 the wise men. The Pastor expressed that "Christianity had the greatest story but it is not enough to draw people." He stated, "We want to draw on the excitement surrounding Star Wars in order to reach new people." Biblical Christianity will always give the birth of Christ its rightful place in our hearts and lives as revealed in Scripture. Man pleasing Christianity always looks for a substitute. Since when is not the most exciting event in human history the birth of "the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star"? It was the birth of the only One who could take away our sin. Be encouraged!
References: Numbers 24:17; Revelation 22:16