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  1. “Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy” – Psalm 86:1 As days go by in our life here on earth so many times our focus gets fixed on something transient and passing. Daily cares of life, all the needs and desires of others in our lives, even our own ambitions, and goals sometimes cloud the vision for what really matters. Remember when you started to know the Lord, the day you bowed your knee and spoke with your Lord who redeemed you? Remember the awe in your heart for Him who died for you? How sitting at his feet for hours was easy? We all can drift from this intimate focus on the Lord, where our hearts desire was for Him to just hear us and answer. Where we had a poor and needy attitude of being poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). If you have drifted from this goal, you can still put your main aim to know Jesus more intimately, He is waiting for you. There is a wonderful contemporary song that captures some of the heart of being a friend with Jesus but still having great fear and awe in what He did for us, here are some of the lyrics: Wonderful, merciful Saviour Precious Redeemer and Friend Who would’ve thought that a Lamb could Rescue the souls of men Oh, You rescue the souls of men Here in our weakness You find us Falling before Your throne Oh, we’re falling before Your throne Today, set your heart back to the place where you first found Him. Not in just Bible reading, or in ministry endeavours or other Christian things, but in that place where you sat at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39) for Him alone. One day we will bow at His feet in heaven in adoration. Let us also now be found at His feet in intimate worship and relationship. Lord, I bow today before Your feet, I look to Your face and just long to hear words from Your mouth. Forgive me for being so distracted with other things. Precious Lord let me know You more intimately day after day until I see you soon. Amen.
  2. Whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbour, and casts no slur on others. - Psalm 15:3 The psalmist David speaks of the type of person who can dwell near the Lord. When we speak against someone's reputation this is never a light thing. One who God dwells near should have absolutely no slander in his lips or in the heart. We all judge others or form opinions in our minds of others, we must be quick to cast down thoughts that are not based on our personal experience of the individual. When we hear stories or third-party stories of another brother and sister in the Lord and then cast a judgment we err. It is even worse when we take part in slandering someone when we have never known or spoken with the actual individual being blamed. Even if a brother or sister has erred in a significant way this is not our job or right to slander them, rather we should seek to pray for them and show the love of God. If we are praying for our sister or brother we will not be able to sin against them, but when we are sinning against them we can never truly pray for them. Polycarp bishop of Smyrna says, "Not quickly crediting an evil report against any one, not severe in judgment, as knowing that we are all under a debt of sin. If then we entreat the Lord to forgive us, we ought also ourselves to forgive; for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God." Though we know the theology that God is ever-present seeing all things, we usually act as if God cannot see. When we talk about others, ruin someone's name, write words that accuse we do not realize all of these words are in the sight of God. Our Lord even said that every single small word we utter or write will be held for account in the last day (Matthew 12:36). In the passage we are looking at the last statement is of significance. In Hebrew the words for "casts no slur" essentially gives us a word picture of someone picking up an object to throw at someone. Here we have words being spoken to others in reproach and scorn. The word "slur" in hebrew gives the sense of something that is despised. One who is a child of God cannot carry such hate in their heart no matter even if evil was done to them. When we speak about others in such ways we end up hurting ourselves spiritually and the Lord does not dwell near us. When we judge others like this we end up judging our Lord who became sin for that individual. We end up speaking against him as a despised thing. All humans are made in the image of God and when we sin against them we in a sense sin against God. David in his confession of sin against other humans realized that the sin was against God (Psalm 51:4). Let us do not wrong to our neighbour even to those who have hurt us.
  3. St. Cyril expounds of the passage of Scripture John 15:5 speaking of the union of the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit. A rich and powerful exposition from the Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt in AD 400. He is known for the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus where he defended the "inseparable unity" of the Divine and human nature of Christ. Read now his exposition: The Lord calls himself the vine and those united to him branches (John 15:5) in order to teach us how much we shall benefit from our union with him, and how important it is for us to remain in his love. By receiving the Holy Spirit, who is the bond of union between us and Christ our Savior, those who are joined to him, as branches are to a vine, share in his own nature. On the part of those who come to the vine, their union with him depends upon a deliberate act of the will; on his part, the union is effected by grace. Because we had good will, we made the act of faith that brought us to Christ, and received from him the dignity of adoptive sonship that made us his own kinsmen, according to the words of Saint Paul: He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. The prophet Isaiah calls Christ the foundation, because it is upon him that we as living and spiritual stones are built into a holy priesthood to be a dwelling place for God in the Spirit. Upon no other foundation than Christ can this temple be built. Here Christ is teaching the same truth by calling himself the vine, since the vine is the parent of its branches, and provides their nourishment. From Christ and in Christ, we have been reborn through the Spirit in order to bear the fruit of life; not the fruit of our old, sinful life but the fruit of a new life founded upon our faith in him and our love for him. Like branches growing from a vine, we now draw our life from Christ, and we cling to his holy commandment in order to preserve this life. Eager to safeguard the blessing of our noble birth, we are careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, and who makes us aware of God’s presence in us. Let the wisdom of John teach us how we live in Christ and Christ lives in us: The proof that we are living in him and he is living in us is that he has given us a share in his Spirit. Just as the trunk of the vine gives its own natural properties to each of its branches, so, by bestowing on them the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the only-begotten Son of the Father, gives Christians a certain kinship with himself and with God the Father because they have been united to him by faith and determination to do his will in all things. He helps them to grow in love and reverence for God, and teaches them to discern right from wrong and to act with integrity.
  4. “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” – Psalm 42:2 Life is full of needs. Emotional needs, physical needs, purpose and goals. We are constantly needing to find a sense of fulfillment in life in what we do, who we are and our surroundings. God made humankind with this inner void of needing companionship, comfort and communion. Jesus did not desire this as he shared with people that He would comfort them and give them rest of souls (Matthew 11:29). Jesus knew of the inward thirst of the human soul and put Himself as the giver of the solution (John 4:14). Though the world offers hundreds of solutions to the deep needs of mankind, only God truly fulfills all these needs. As Christians when we are honest with ourselves we realize that many times we have sought fulfillment in places other then God alone. At at time of knowing this Israel forsook God and sought their fulfillment and purpose in other things and God chastised them that these were “broken cisterns” that would not hold water (Jeremiah 2:13). How is it with you today? Have you been seeking pleasure and fulfillment apart from God and His ways? The greater tragedy is we can even be around the things of God and even serving Him but missing that fulfillment and living waters He promised. St. Augustine prayed this ancient prayer for the Holy Spirit to fill his longing soul: “Oh come, Thou refreshment of them that languish and faint. Come, Thou Star and Guide of them that sail in the tempestuous sea of the world; Thou only Haven of the tossed and shipwrecked. Come, Thou Glory and Crown of the living, and only Safeguard of the dying. Come, Holy Spirit, in much mercy, and make me fit to receive Thee—Amen.” The Psalmist David asks the question “When can I go and meet with God?” Is that your desire today? Are you longing to be with Him. Spend time in His presence, which ultimately is our greatest privilege on this earth. Have other things clouded your view and desire to be with the One who was pierced for your transgressions? God desires that we come to Him. Jesus says, “Come unto Me.” (Matthew 11:28). Are you weary? Come to Him. Are you tired? Come to Him. Have you spent your time and energies on lesser things? Come to Him. When we choose to simply sit at His feet and listen, He is pleased. If you are fainting or thirsting today, it is a clear sign that you need Him. God meet with God and find that life and joy in His presence that the world can never give.
  5. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. – Acts 17:11 In modern evangelical circles the Bereans are esteemed as model believers that all should follow, and yes there are great attributes to them but also there are implications taken from them that are untrue. Firstly they were jews, meaning they were religious jews but not believing Christians. Yet Paul the Apostle states they had “noble character” meaning they had a sense of them that they were deep thinkers before coming to quick conclusions on a matter. They were willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. Secondly, we see that they gladly received the message, meaning they were teachable, willing to learn and adjust their own beliefs. They were not so dogmatic to think that they were perfect or not needing correction or perfecting of their thinking of the Scriptures. When they heard reasonable words shared from the truth of Scriptures they eagerly sought these out to see if they really were Scriptural and true. They were not defensive but rather looking to learn and grow in their relationship and walk with God. They were also diligent in that every day they looked to see if the things Paul was sharing was true. They did not just give up or judge Paul but were willing to listen to the other side of the story and not come to quick conclusions. What a wonderful picture of a people who in the end mostly “embraced” the gospel message, they certainly were “noble” and the Lord honoured that. The Bereans did not spend hours looking for gaps and mistakes in Paul’s and Silas’s teachings but looked to see what was true of what they were saying. Modern believers who esteem Bereans think of these things in a different way. They look to diligently check things with the Bible so they can accuse and criticize another person or ministry. Most people are usually have their mind made up someone is wrong and therefore go ahead and simply look for ways to attack another’s character, calling and ministry. Such ministries are known as discernment ministries or even heresy hunters. Most of those who follow the ways of these “type” of Bereans are joyless, critical in spirit, bitter or even angry. Many believe they can take down the ministry they are accusing and feel they are doing God’s work just like the early Bereans. If you desire to have life and peace, stay with the Word of God and stay away from those who make it their life’s work to criticize and accuse others. Follow the example of the true Bereans who were happy and joyfully to rejoice in truth when it was shared and be willing to grow in our understanding of the Lord.
  6. Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. – James 2:13 We all have been shown great mercy in our lives. God has shown great compassion and forgiveness towards us in not counting our sins against us. We were in a place were God was ready to punish us and cause us great harm in sending us to hell for eternity for our great sins. Yet he showed great mercy and love towards us, forgiving our sins in his Son. When we therefore show no mercy to others, especially believers, we sin greatly. Warren Weirsbe says, “The most miserable prison in the world is the prison we make for ourselves when we refuse to show mercy.” Such a prison many believers are in not being able to show mercy to others but being a great benefiter of mercy from God. God came down from above as the compassionate one to forgive your sins, yet we cannot show compassion to the sins of another believer. Judgmentalism is one of the great sins in the Church, as we are always faulty in the way we see others, never knowing someones motives and heart (Jeremiah 17:9). When we learn to be full of mercy for others, we start to share the heart of Jesus Christ who did not judge but showed compassion to failing humanity. Look into the eyes of Jesus Christ now and see his wounds where he was pierced for you, can you say to him that you cannot forgive another? Have mercy to another? The Desert Fathers were those who sought the Lord in a life of prayer in solitude, they sought God for God Himself. These were some of the godliest followers of the Lord in that era of Church history. A story of a Desert Father on not judging says, “A brother in Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to him, saying, ‘Come, for everyone is waiting for you’. So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug and filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said, ‘what is this, father?’ The old man said to them, ‘My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.’ When they heard that, they said no more to the brother but forgave him.” If we see our sins as this old godly brother did, we will not judge but show mercy to a fellow believer on this journey with the Lord. If we judged our own selves we would see our failings as great and have great mercy to others. We should find ourselves as the publican calling out to God for mercy constantly (Luke 18:13). Just like the pharisee in the temple praying we can judge our fellow brothers, looking down on the errors of others, but not seeing our own. Lord have mercy on me and help me to be merciful to others. Amen.
  7. Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. – James 2:13 We all have been shown great mercy in our lives. God has shown great compassion and forgiveness towards us in not counting our sins against us. We were in a place were God was ready to punish us and cause us great harm in sending us to hell for eternity for our great sins. Yet he showed great mercy and love towards us, forgiving our sins in his Son. When we therefore show no mercy to others, especially believers, we sin greatly. Warren Weirsbe says, “The most miserable prison in the world is the prison we make for ourselves when we refuse to show mercy.” Such a prison many believers are in not being able to show mercy to others but being a great benefiter of mercy from God. God came down from above as the compassionate one to forgive your sins, yet we cannot show compassion to the sins of another believer. Judgmentalism is one of the great sins in the Church, as we are always faulty in the way we see others, never knowing someones motives and heart (Jeremiah 17:9). When we learn to be full of mercy for others, we start to share the heart of Jesus Christ who did not judge but showed compassion to failing humanity. Look into the eyes of Jesus Christ now and see his wounds where he was pierced for you, can you say to him that you cannot forgive another? Have mercy to another? The Testimony Of The Desert Fathers The Desert Fathers were those who sought the Lord in a life of prayer in solitude, they sought God for God Himself. These were some of the godliest followers of the Lord in that era of Church history. A story of a Desert Father on not judging says, “A brother in Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to him, saying, ‘Come, for everyone is waiting for you’. So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug and filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said, ‘what is this, father?’ The old man said to them, ‘My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.’ When they heard that, they said no more to the brother but forgave him.” If we see our sins as this old godly brother did, we will not judge but show mercy to a fellow believer on this journey with the Lord. If we judged our own selves we would see our failings as great and have great mercy to others. We should find ourselves as the publican calling out to God for mercy constantly (Luke 18:13). Just like the pharisee in the temple praying we can judge our fellow brothers, looking down on the errors of others, but not seeing our own. Lord have mercy on me and help me to be merciful to others. The Example of Jonah, A Prophet Without Mercy We all know the story of the prophet who was swallowed by the fish. Children are amused and enough the thought of it! Yet as adults when we take time to read through the details we realize a much more serious and importance message is being given to us. Jonah was a holy prophet and admired by the people of Israel. He heard the voice of God many times and obeyed in sharing the truth with the people of God. But when the voice of the Lord told him to go to a very wicked people who worshipped the fish god, Jonah said no. He went the opposite direction in a boat but the Lord had a way of getting his attention and encouraging him to obey and speak repentance to those people. Jonah had seen time and time again God show mercy to Israel when they did not deserve it and it turned his stomach to think he would show mercy to the very wicked people of Nineveh. Even after preaching and seeing the peoples repentance Jonah still felt that God should judge them in some way (Jonah 4:1). We Can All Be Like Jonah We all can be like Jonah at times, especially if we are the people who have been hurt by others. The people of Nineveh enslaved and caused great harm to Israel before so the thought of forgiving them and even God showing mercy to have them become believers was too much for Israel or their prophet Jonah to accept. Have we been hurt by others in the world who we have not forgiven? Maybe we have forgiven them but do we want them to be saved? St. Benedict of Nursia says, “To hate no one. Not to be jealous or envious. To hate strife. To evidence no arrogance. Never despair of God’s mercy.” God’s heart is full of grace, meaning he wants to extend his love and mercy to those who do not deserve it especially. God is compassionate and very slow to anger against those that we feel deserve it. We are never called to hate anyone, desire evil for anyone, if we shared the true Spirit of Christ we will seek the mercy of the love for all of humanity. This also extends to the body of Christ that we would seek the good of all those who call upon the Name of the Lord. Steps To Be Free Of Judgementalism The journey to freedom is one footstep after another. To get out of a pit one has to start the climb out. After years of habitual judging of others we can find ourselves in a deep chasm of rooted sinful behaviour. Here are some small steps you can take daily to help: 1). Meditate on the Passion of Jesus Christ – Spend time in silence thinking upon the wounds of Christ. Think of the Crown of Thorns, the Pierced Side, the wounds afflicted to Christ when the soldiers were mocking Him. See your sins there causing such hurt to the Saviour. See your judgemental words heaped on Him. Also see the hope that Christ died to free us all from our passions and sins. 2). Show Acts of Mercy – No matter if you think a person deserves it or not, show mercy and kindness. Make deliberate acts to see the good in others and applaud them for these God given gifts. See where people do things better than yourself. Glory in God for anyway people serve God in a way you are not doing. Show deeds of mercy to others in gifts and kindness. Let no thought of judging to come into your mind. 3). Remind Yourself of Your Faults – When you are tempted to judge someone, consider your own faults and sins. When did you fail greatly in the same area or similar area. Look to yourself, consider how much mercy God gave you and then show that mercy to others. 4). Learn to Hate Judging – Learn to not hate others as St. Benedict counsels us but rather to hate the sins of jealousy, envying, strife, arrogance. Hate the sin of habitat judging as it’s a cancer of the soul. Put your focus on God, in worship and adoration, do not spend your time considering the faults of others even obvious false teachers or those departing from the faith. Look to your own soul find your lacks and where you are departing and pray for God’s mercy to finish well. May God give you complete victory as you daily put this sin under the blood of Christ and the victory of His holy Cross. The God who knows all thoughts of our mind and heart will cleanse and give you victory in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
  8. When someone hears mention of the Anglican Church, the first thoughts that come to mind are unlikely to be about the Holy Spirit or deliverance from bondage. Yet, there is a movement within the Anglican Church of North America that is called “Via Apostolica” (Way of the Apostles) that originated from a large Church in Lethbridge, Canada where God called the lead pastor towards Anglicanism. The focus of their movement is called the 3 streams: Scripture, Sacrament and the Holy Spirit. This emphasis is defined on their website as those who “listens to Christ in the Scriptures, is connected to Christ by the Spirit, and communes with Christ through the Sacraments.” Bishop Todd Atkinson is the servant leader who has a passion to see radical discipleship and rooting in the great traditions of the Church. In a recent message given at a conference on inner healing called: Living Free. +Todd gave a powerful message on being set free from a life of self-bondage and focus. This inner healing and freedom from our own selfishness is part of what Jesus calls us to as disciples. The main Scripture shared in the message was the famous call of discipleship by Christ in St. Matthew: Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25 Here is an excerpt from the message where the life of self-focus is looked at: “We are just like the moon reflecting the sun. We do not have any light within ourselves. The more I look into myself the darker it becomes. I do not the answers. The more I look into myself the more hopeless and confused I become. Jesus did not invite me to a life of self-focus. He invited me to a life of self-denial. I am amazed how self-focused I can become and how I can spiritualize it and not know I am doing it. Jesus said we ought to deny ourselves. As Christians it should be foreign to us, a life of self-focus. Are you willing to hear Jesus call afresh to discipleship away from the things we have looked to and ultimately brought us death. The self life is like a hand full of sand, the tighter you squeeze the less you will have. Be open handed and let God take it.” During the epitome of the message +Todd leads in a powerful prayer of deliverance asking Jesus to heal our spirits of the life of self-focus. As he said in the message this is first-step in a journey of deeper discipleship with Jesus Christ. Consider to read it first to mediate on what is being said then when you are ready read out-loud this prayer to God meaningfully by faith: Lord Jesus Christ, I release To You my life of self-focus Lord Jesus Christ, write Your ways upon our hearts Release me from my individualism, From making things all about me. Lord, have mercy Release me from my sentimentalism, From being led by my raw emotions. Lord, have mercy Release me from my entitlement From thinking I am owed things. Lord, have mercy Release me from my materialism, From looking to things for happiness. Lord, have mercy Release me from my skepticism, From anticipating disappointment Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.
  9. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. – Jonah 4:2 We all know the story of the prophet who was swallowed by the fish. Children are amused and enough the thought of it! Yet as adults when we take time to read through the details we realize a much more serious and importance message is being given to us. Jonah was a holy prophet and admired by the people of Israel. He heard the voice of God many times and obeyed in sharing the truth with the people of God. But when the voice of the Lord told him to go to a very wicked people who worshipped the fish god, Jonah said no. He went the opposite direction in a boat but the Lord had a way of getting his attention and encouraging him to obey and speak repentance to those people. Jonah had seen time and time again God show mercy to Israel when they did not deserve it and it turned his stomach to think he would show mercy to the very wicked people of Nineveh. Even after preaching and seeing the peoples repentance Jonah still felt that God should judge them in some way (Jonah 4:1). We all can be like Jonah at times, especially if we are the people who have been hurt by others. The people of Nineveh enslaved and caused great harm to Israel before so the thought of forgiving them and even God showing mercy to have them become believers was too much for Israel or their prophet Jonah to accept. Have we been hurt by others in the world who we have not forgiven? Maybe we have forgiven them but do we want them to be saved? St. Benedict of Nursia says, “To hate no one. Not to be jealous or envious. To hate strife. To evidence no arrogance. Never despair of God’s mercy.” God’s heart is full of grace, meaning he wants to extend his love and mercy to those who do not deserve it especially. God is compassionate and very slow to anger against those that we feel deserve it. We are never called to hate anyone, desire evil for anyone, if we share the true Spirit of Christ we will seek for mercy and love for all of humanity. This also extends to the body of Christ that we would seek the good of all those who call upon the Name of the Lord.
  10. Over 3 years ago, God started to speak to me deeply on the great sin of division, slander, and gossip in the body of Christ. God started to have me in situations where great hurt was being done and I saw first hand the way the enemy used these tactics to destroy and hurt the testimony of Jesus Christ in others lives. One of many devotional articles I wrote during that time was called: God's Church Is Sacred In This Earth. The premise of the devotion was a warning that when we speak against the body of Christ we speak against God's Sacred Church of whom we are all a part. Recently, God spoke to Francis Chan on that exact same verse (1 Corinthians 3:17) to give us a loving warning to the body of Christ against division. Here is a recent statement Francis made in regards to people who divide and leave Church fellowship: "There is this terrifying verse in 1 Timothy where Paul talked about two men who rejected the faith. Paul said that he had handed them over to Satan, by which he meant that he’d put them outside of the church (1:20). Basically, these men were actively opposing the works of God, so rather than pretending everything was fine, Paul removed them from the safety and blessings of the fellowship of believers. He was hoping that the misery of being separated from the church would lead them to repent. Are you catching the weight of this? Paul equated removal from the church with being handed over to Satan! It is crazy to me that we live in a time when people are voluntarily doing this to themselves! No church has placed them outside of the fellowship; instead, they’ve handed themselves over to Satan!" What a sobering thought that those in our day in North America being critical of so much that is called Christian are doing to themselves what Paul the Apostle had to recommend Timothy to do to others as a last resort to have them repent of their pride and sins. We are living in a day where we are judging others and not ourselves. We are finding it easy to be critical of everything but our own sins we ourselves struggle with. Francis again shares on how God wants to send real unity to the body of Christ: "Real love, unity and blessing were supposed to be found in the church. Many are having a hard time finding that, so they’re setting off on their own. Jesus said that the world would see the supernatural unity and love we share in the church and believe in Him through that. But we’re not experiencing it. We’ve given up on it. We no longer believe it is possible." Perhaps we can start to change our minds and start looking towards others with seeing their good and not bad, speaking blessings over others and not curses. Remember we are fitted together in a temple of God with all saints of all ages. And Francis gives the example of someone taking a sledgehammer to this temple. What a fearful thing to do, of course we would depart from such an individual for fear of what God Himself would do to him. As the Scripture says, "Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them" (Titus 3:10). You can watch the full video message by Francis Chan, "Are You Destroying The Church" where he gives this loving warning against division in the Church: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJph3Z6cfxM
  11. For many Christians in our day, the concept of Christianity begins with the reformation period of the 1500’s, often with little desired to be known about the church before that time. And so, like a vessel adrift in the sea of modern individualism, we have in many ways strayed from the original course marked out for us by the Apostles of the Lamb. An Identity Crisis This identity crisis has been manifesting itself in very strong and even unnecessary divisions forming in the body of Christ. And, though true disciples of the Lord must of necessity refuse what is heretical, many of these divisions are due to ignorance and misunderstanding, and have been brought about by the deceptive wiles of the Enemy of our souls. Another symptom of this identity crisis is the continual inventing of new doctrines and ideas. If there is no original belief or foundational understanding, then truth is essentially up to everyone’s own private interpretation of Scripture. In our day, there seem to be almost as many interpretations of Scripture as there are people reading those same Scriptures—along with an endless questioning and re-questioning of everything. With currently over 42,000 Christian denominations, the rugged individualism of Western thought has allowed an unprecedented explosion of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes. Yet, in the midst of the wilderness of this modern quandary there is a renewed hunger and thirst for Christianity in its purest form. Many are asking questions such as, “What did the original, early disciples of the Lord Jesus believe?”and, “How did they worship? Meet St. Clement Many of us would love have been given the chance to sit down with the Apostle Peter, or have a meal with Paul the Apostle. St. Clement may have done both! Born in AD 35 and ending his earthly journey in AD 99, Clement was contemporary with the twelve Apostles. Paul the Apostle mentions Clement in his Epistle as a co-worker: “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.” Early Church Fathers Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome, amongst others, hold to the view that this is a referral to St. Clement in the Scriptures. What an exciting thing to know that this name “Clement” now carries much more significance in our Bibles, he having been a co-worker with the Apostle Paul. Not only this, but he also went on to become to the bishop of Rome. Connecting The Dots For much of Church history the writings of the early Christians were available and the traditions of the Apostles and proper interpretation of the Scriptures were passed on. Since the reformation times unfortunately there was a divorcing of the historic interpretation of many practices of the Church and the interpretation of each reformer was more important. Of course there were lost doctrines that needed to be re-emphasized such as justification by faith. But many historic doctrines and beliefs were minimized at the same time. Not only a minimizing of doctrines was occurring but also a great confusion ensuing where each reformer had his own viewpoint. Some stayed very close to the early historic church such as Thomas crammer in the starting of the Anglican Church. But most reformers decided the Church councils and decisions made in the past did not matter and they would re-find all truth themselves with the Scriptures in hand. This sounds good at first glance but when each person saying that comes up with a different interpretation of what the Scripture verse means then we have more confusion than clarity. A way for us to minimize this confusion and muddying of the waters is to connect the dots from the first century Apostles in the Scriptures to the second century bishops and leaders in the Church who were established. St. Clement who we highlighted above was not only contemporary with the Apostles but discipled by them and ordained through their choosing as the bishop in Rome. A Needed Study It is of conviction that I believe evangelicals need to make a study of these early Christian leaders and see how the faith was passed on faithfully to the next generation. It is through this desire that I have compiled 3 books being released with samples of the writings of Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Symrna. All of these men were leaders in the Church, knew the Apostles and were ordained with their blessed in passing on the faith to the next generation. We can read their letters and I believe it will help give some clarity to Scriptures and the faith we hold precious in Jesus Christ. The first in the Early Church Father series on St Clement has been published and it can be read and downloaded freely: Early Church Father Series: St. Clement of Rome - Kindle edition by Greg Gordon. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. WWW.AMAZON.COM Early Church Father Series: St. Clement of Rome - Kindle edition by Greg Gordon. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note... Enter the world of first century Christianity, hear the heart of an early Christian leader. You might be surprised and also blessed in what you read. The Lord bless you.
  12. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. - James 4:10 Humility is the way to heaven. Christ was humble, the prophets of God were men of humility. The Apostles Jesus choose ended up being men of great humility. Saints in church history are considered those who reached a place of humility. Pride is everything that opposes Gods will and way. The demons are proud and love to come near those who are of a proud boastful spirit. Humility of heart drives satan from us. Humility is not just a sense of being but hundreds of daily choices we make. We can humble ourselves in a manifold amount of ways each day in our thought-life, actions we make, in relationships we are in. The Spirit of God is working with us daily to allow us to choose the right humble choices. Archimandrite Joel Giannakopoulos said rightly: "Humility is, not only to humble your own self, but also to forbear the humiliations which others impose on you." St. Chrysostom said: "For he that is humbled, and bruised in heart, will not be vainglorious, will not be wrathful, will not envy his neighbor, will not harbor any other passion." The Scriptures say to humble "yourselves." And to realize that when we do this we are doing it "before" the Lord not only men. God see's our hearts condition and honours humility. He longs and desires to "lift us up" and grant us His blessings safely as we maintain humility of heart. There are many steps to take towards humility, here is one practical step. Consider to pray out loud this "Litany of Humility" even daily if it becomes a help to you: O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, Jesus From the desire of being loved, deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being honoured, deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of consulted, deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus. From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus. From the fear of being despised, deliver me, Jesus. From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, Jesus. From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, Jesus. From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus. From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, Jesus. From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, Jesus. From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, Jesus. That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
  13. Greg Gordon is the founder of SermonIndex.net, which was established in 2002. Millions of audio sermons have been distributed through this world-wide ministry. He has also been involved in organizing over 12 international historic revival conference events where thousands of lives were impacted. He is also the author of many free ebooks on various topics such as Church History, Christian Living, Martyrdom, etc.
  14. SermonIndex is not just a website but really has become a movement of believers seeking the 'old paths' (Jeremiah 6:16). This journey of faith weaves through the current state of evangelical Christianity and the passionate preaching of many godly ministers in our day. Many are seeking authenticity, reality and sincerity in the Christian faith. In a day when popular preachers are telling lies (Jeremiah 5:30-31), there is a great renewed desire to find the real Jesus in the midst of the counterfeit. SermonIndex has been able to archive many of the best preaching messages given in the last 50 years in audio mp3 form, as well as digging into the history of the Church and archiving many of the encouraging text messages given.
  15. We should also note and consider that the Church has gone through times of great departure but the Lord has always been faithful to bring the Church back. Think of the time of Nicea where Arianism was growing. At one point almost becoming 50% of known Christianity, of course now the arian movement is gone but the heresy does come back. The point is we have been through battles and will continue to go through them. The Lord corrects the Church and the Church itself self-corrects itself. May we pray prayers of unity and purity for the Church daily. Eternal Father, we praise you for sending your Son to be one of us and to save us. Look upon your people with mercy, for we are divided in so many ways, and give us the Spirit of Jesus to make us one in love. save your Church from schism. From false teachings and heresies. purify your elect from all four corners of the earth. We ask this gift of unity and purity of the Church, loving Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. "that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me." (John 17:21)
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