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Saturday, July 25, 2020

Freedom Lost & Freedom Gained

Freedom for churches is no longer guaranteed in the U.S.A.
I have read that the Supreme Court ruled against the appeal of a church in Nevada of attendance restrictions that made the allowance of only 50 people in a church regardless of the building size, yet they let casinos have 50% of their capacity.

In California, the governor (Gavin Newsome) has made some restrictions against churches meeting (especially indoors) as indefinite, yet they have allowed massive protests. 
They also have forbidden churches singing indoors.
Some churches are going outside.
John MacArthur and the elders of Grace Community Church at first went along with not meeting for a time due to the civil governments and churches being responsible about health (like Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2), but things have changed.
If you want to read their statement, you can see it HERE.

Here in Tennessee there is more freedom for churches, but there is no guarantee that it will last in this quickly changing nation and world.

This world is not the final home of the Christian.
Our true freedom is found in Christ no matter what happens to us down here.
If we lose our freedom here on earth, we must turn all the more to Christ for our hope and His eternal promises.
People need the Gospel in whatever ways we can get it out, and believers can pray for wisdom and courage for other believers who are making difficult decisions.
Whether or not we are completely certain about all of the decisions, people's consciences toward God to rule their lives (when it's basis is Scriptural) is something that should be considered.
There is a spiritual battle going on rather than solely a physical or political one.
It should not be a matter of a desire for being rebellious or worry about what others call caving in.  
It's a matter of conscience toward God.
People have to look at Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 as well as Acts 5:29 and Ephesians 5, etc.

We should care for and pray for brothers and sisters in Christ in these times.

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 
So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 
For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.
Hebrews 13:12-14 NASB

Monday, July 13, 2020

Este é o Evangelho!

Amigo, Deus é Santo.
Há um Deus no Céu o qual criou você e eu, e ele é a autoridade sobre ambos.
Ele é perfeitamente santo.
"Deus é luz, e não há nele treva nenhuma" (1 João 1:5).
E o problema com isto é que se nós quisermos ter comunhão com Deus, nós temos que ser luz e nenhuma escuridão.
E aqui está o problema: nós somos escuridão.
Nós somos cheios de pecados.
Todos quebramos a lei Dele.
Todos mentimos, roubamos, todos olhamos com luxúria, todos tivemos ódio contra nossos irmãos em nossos corações.
Todos estamos aquém do glorioso padrão de perfeição que Deus requer (Rom 3:23).
E não há nada que possamos fazer sobre isto.
Nenhuma quantidade de trabalhos, nenhuma quantidade de contrição, nenhuma quantidade de sentimentos ruins, nenhuma quantidade de presença em Igreja, nenhuma quantidade de leitura da Bíblia, nenhuma quantidade de evangelismo pode obter o perdão dos nossos pecados e a retidão que Deus requer (Tito 3:5; cf. Isa 64:6).

E ainda assim Deus é gracioso, e Ele nos ama, e enquanto Suas criaturas Ele quer mostrar a nós Sua glória ao nos resgatar disto.
E então Ele enviou Seu Filho – Deus na carne, o Senhor Jesus Cristo – para nascer como um bebezinho indefeso (João 1:14; 3:16; Col 2:9).
Deus do universo, sustentador do universo, Ele mesmo sendo sustentado no útero de uma jovem Hebraica, e sustentando o mundo pela palavra de Seu poder (Heb 1:3) enquanto Ele é sustentado pelos nutrientes do corpo dela!
E em grande humildade, Ele cresceu com as dores da vida num mundo caído, apesar Dele Mesmo nunca ter pecado algum em si – inteiramente sem pecado (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 7:26).
E Ele viveu uma vida de perfeita retidão.
Da forma que você e eu falhamos em viver às vistas de Deus – do jeito que nós falhamos em pensamento, palavra, e ato, e ficamos aquém da glória de Deus – Cristo nunca o ficou.
Nem sequer em pensamento.
Ele amou Deus, Seu Pai, perfeitamente.
Ele sempre caminhou em perfeita retidão.
Ele viveu a vida que você é comandado viver, que eu sou comandado viver, que nós falhamos em viver.
Ele viveu a vida perfeita que a dignidade de Deus demanda.

E não somente Ele viveu por nós, Ele morreu por nós.
Ele foi à Cruz.
Nosso Pecado exige a morte.
Nosso pecado exige punição eterna.
Nosso pecado exige a ira – a justa ira exercida em nós por toda a eternidade (Rom 6:23).
Mas por causa da infinita dignidade da pessoa de Cristo, Ele estava naquela cruz.
E naquela cruz, Deus exerceu Nele a complete fúria de Sua própria ira (Rom 3:24-26; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:10-14), que a mim e a vós era justamente devida, e que você vai receber se não se tornar do seu pecado e confiar neste Messias.
Cristo nasceu, viveu, morreu, e foi erguido (1 Cor 15:3-4).
E ele se ergueu do túmulo após ter sido morto, demonstrando assim Sua vitória sobre o pecado e a morte.

E agora Deus promete que se você se tornar do seu pecado, se você repudiar tudo que você é e tudo que foi e tudo que amas, e você se tornar contrário a uma vida procurando o pecado – e se você repudiar não somente seus trabalhos malignos como também suas benfeitorias, se você se tornar de tentar obter sua salvação por todos os bons atos que você possa desejar fazer enquanto uma pessoa moral – se você se tornar de tudo isso (Atos 17:30-31), e você confiar em Cristo sozinho para retidão (Filip 3:7-8; cf. Rom 3:28; 10:4), Deus promete que Ele vai te perdoar.
Ele terá tratado Cristo na cruz como se Cristo tivesse vivido sua vida.
E Ele então tratará você, justamente e legalmente e em retidão, como se você tivesse vivido a vida reta e perfeita de Cristo (2 Cor 5:21).
E você pode ser salvo para conhecer o Deus que o criou para amar e apreciar.
Você pode ter a totalidade da alegria, o eterno desfrutar que há à mão direita do Pai no Céu(Salmo 16:11), e começar mesmo agora, porquê vida eterna é conhecer Deus (João 17:3).

Amigo, você se arrepende? Você se torna do seu pecado e passa a confiar neste perfeito Salvador para te redimir frente a Deus, para pagar por seus pecados e te prover retidão?

Este é o Evangelho!
The English text translated from is used by the permission of Mike Riccardi and translated into Portuguese by T. C.
The original video and text in English are HERE.
You can also find the Portuguese translation HERE.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Church History, Kidnapped Amish Woman, & Encouraging Music

Lessons to Understand and Appreciate the Basics of Church History I have listened to lectures (online) by Nathan Busenitz on historical Theology, and this book on church history looks like it would be good for groups or classes!
There seems to be a teacher's guide.

Missing Woman
I've been following the story of a young Amish woman who disappeared in Pennsylvania on June 21, 2020.
I do not endorse the Amish as far as their beliefs go.
They seem to not have the true Gospel (they believe in being kept by works and generally not saved by faith alone..but by staying Amish & keeping manmade rules).
That being said, the latest update looks to be very sad.  They have some evidence of kidnapping, and they are charging someone.  They have not found her.  It's not looking good.
Please check out the photos of Linda, the car and man (suspect), and share, if you would like to help.

Man Charged with Kidnapping Linda Stoltzfoos

Go to this link to find a picture of Linda Stoltzfoos.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Many of us are going through difficult times of various kinds.
Darren Wiebe and a friend of his did an online hymn sing awhile back, and I've gone back and been encouraged by this song.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Long Distance Blessings

Some people may assume that only in person relationships and communication are of value.
That isn't always the case.

Think about this - though Paul met some of the people at the churches he wrote to, he may not have known all of the people in them in a close personal way...especially if the churches continued to grow in numbers.
Since God uses letters in His Word (and those are used in our lives as believers to put it mildly), then in a lesser sense - why deny that today long distance communication can have a great impact on people?

In the case of today, people can readily communicate back and forth, and we have audio and video available to us. 
Relationships and encouragement are not always a one way street. You never know just how much God may use what you say or share online, especially when it is Scripture or Biblically-based.

So, if you are a Christian, and you are reaching out to give the Gospel or encouragement to people or sharing Scriptures or spiritual songs, don't give up even when people don't or can't reciprocate.
I know that we shouldn't let how we act depend on how others behave.
Love should be others centered even when it's not returned.
It's a challenge, but then I remember how God is patient with me and loves me as His child.

I've been very blessed by some people online...hearing preaching, podcasts, singing, reading social media (yes, surprise!), and even receiving a rare prized card or letter or gift!

God has really blessed me as someone unable to do much, and I hope that God will use or has used me in the lives of some of you...even from a distance!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Thoughts on the Destruction of Statues

Those who destroy statues of sinners forget that they are sinners themselves.
Destroying the statues won't change history or hurt the people depicted.
Those people are either going to be judged by God, or they are forgiven sinners who are with the Lord (if they were believers).

The hate inside those who destroy (or those who want to overthrow the country due to the imperfect history it has) will more likely destroy the destructive angry people themselves.
It won't change their own prejudices or the prejudices of others.
Only God can tranform hearts and behavior and prejudices.

I believe some would be surprised to know that there will be people in Heaven who were sinners just like some of those depicted by the statues.  
There will be those who had slaves or supported it like Philemon, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield, etc.
There will be those who had multiple wives like David and Jacob/Israel, etc.. 
I'm not excusing sinful behaviors or practices, but it is a good reminder to think about that those things were in those God used greatly when they were on earth. 

In this day of canceling and writing people off quickly, we should be thankful that God doesn't treat His children that way when we sin in thought, action, word, or deed.
He even shows mercy and love to enemies by providing the sun and rain and food while they are on earth.
He is much more patient with us than we are with others.

The statues mean little and should not be worshipped, but they are a reminder of history ...both good and bad.
Not only is it wrong to destroy what doesn't belong to you, it also ignores that even out of the mixture of good and bad in history there are traces of God's handiwork to be found.

You can petition for things like statues to be moved to museums if you want.  
That doesn't bother me.
You will never be able to create a perfect country untainted by sin by destroying historical pieces or making demands to defund the police or completely change the government or justice system.

The Christian realizes that Christ will return, and His Kingdom will be better than anything previously known since the fall of man.
Anything that people come up with today will fail either immediately or eventually.
It will be tainted by sin.
The reason why is that sin infiltrates even the best of governments.
Even if the United (or not so United) States is allowed to destroy itself as a judgment of God, I know that my hope is in the Lord.

It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in man.
Psalm 118:8 NASB

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

John MacArthur on the Riots ➕ Free Expository Preaching Lectures

"Who's to Blame for the Riots? "
On Sunday, John MacArthur gave a message which outlined the restraints that God has given for people and society.
If you missed it, you can listen HERE.  I was watching it with family (live-streaming) Sunday afternoon, and I later saw comments by others about it online.  I recommend checking it out.

John MacArthur talked with Larry Elder about the message above:

Part 2: John responds to questioning from Larry Elder.

Free Lessons on Expository Preaching
The Master's Seminary has free lectures online which should be helpful for qualified men to learn the fundamentals of preaching.
You can find them HERE.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Should Respect for Governmental Authority Be Ignored in Times Like These?

The short answer is "No."
I watched some of the "news" this morning.
The media continues to undermine Presidential authority and the respect that should be shown to authority (as Scripture teaches).
I also notice that they have all but abandoned concern for the health of people.
You don't see them complaining very much about the mass gatherings or the risk of COVID-19...only maybe a brief mention.

Breaking the law is not peaceful.  
Yes, that means that people breaking curfew are not doing God's will (Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13-17).
If they are asked to disperse and refuse, law enforcement is perfectly justified in dispersing them.
Meanwhile, people's businesses have been damaged or ruined, people injured, and even the name of protest. 
People have damaged monuments and police vehicles (which is something that costs the taxpayers money).

Can people not see the hypocrisy of those showing hate and doing damage to people and property? 

The police are recruited from the same sinful human race as everyone else, and those who protest them are not any less prone to sin. 
There are those in law enforcement who do their best every day.  
The main thing that is systemic is sin's presence in all of humankind.
The Bible teaches me to obey authorities.  It doesn't even say "just the ones who are nice."
It teaches us to love our neighbors.  It teaches love and prayer even for enemies.

America has the blessing of allowing people to address things in a lawful and peaceful way.
So, those who see bad things that they want to address can do it without breaking the laws or disrespecting authority.
Many countries do not have nearly as much freedom as we have.
The most common injustice in America that causes death is against babies in the womb.
Sadly, that has been made legal.
Some people seem to think they can be anarchists when they see something wrong, but this shouldn't be the case with Christians.

Have you ever hated or been angry with someone?
Matthew 5:21-22 shows that in God's sight anger can be as bad as murder.
Even righteous anger can quickly turn into unrighteous anger.
Have you ever lusted?
That is as bad as adultery in God's eyes.
God's justice always will prevail, but the whole human race is sinful regardless of color or ethnicity.
There is none righteous.
We are born a sinful race.  All of us.
We need forgiveness and mercy, and the only way to have that is through faith in Christ ... to have His perfect righteousness credited to our account.  He died to satisfy God's just wrath against the sins of all who put their trust in Him, and He rose again (Romans 4:25).
Please watch this ➨What is the Gospel message?