Category Archives: Inspirational

A MENTAL CHALLENGE FROM GOD


William Andrew Dillard

PARSON TO PERSON

A MENTAL CHALLENGE FROM GOD

All who take the name of Christ Jesus in salvation and discipleship are issued a distinct mental challenge from God. To ignore it is folly, incurring great loss. To take it up is to benefit in both in time and in eternal reward. What is this mental challenge? It is to have the same mindset as Jesus did in His earthly ministry. Now wait! Don’t you dare to shut your mind down to this challenge under the puny excuse that you can’t do that because you still live in the sinful flesh. Don’t you think God knows that? Do you think He is playing mind games with His people? No? Then think with me!
There is always an excuse for failure. He addressed that in Phil. 2: 3-4, but the biblical admonition is to overcome the excuses by dedication to the practices set forth in the grace and word of God. The apostle Paul appealed to the church at Philippi, and by application to the Lord’s true churches throughout the age, to press forward in Christian maturity to fulfill both his joy, as well as the joy of the Master. He was specific in the challenge.
Said he, if there be any consolation, comfort of love, fellowship of the Spirit, any compassion and mercies, they would fulfill his joy by being of one mind in these Christian qualities. The bottom line is concisely stated in Phil. 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
Consider then the exaltation/abasement of the God-man Jesus. He was in the form of God. He did not consider it robbery to be counted equal with God, but did not seek a reputation for Himself. He took upon Himself the form of a slave and humbled Himself in obedience even to the death of the cross.
Folks can twist the scriptures of Philippians 2:1-5, as many do, and surely will, but they remain in their purity the inspired Word of God, a challenge to every Christian to, as Peter puts it, “that ye should follow in his steps.” Still, many prefer to whine: “I can’t do that! It cramps my style, and I simply am not able.” What can one say? Poor ole God! In His infinite wisdom He asks us to do what we cannot do even with His divine help. Doubtless, all of His people would do well to remember more of the inspired Word, such as “Ye are bought with a price; therefore, Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Here then is the meaning and challenge of true Christianity. It is sad that in too many churches the main motivation is social instead of spiritual, and the whine may be oft heard: “There is nothing to do at our church!” If that indeed be so, may I introduce you to biblical Christianity? God has a mental, and spiritual, challenge especially for you!

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Just Look – We Won’t Say A Word


Pope’s Points

Julian Pope

Just Look – We Won’t Say A Word

I saw a sermon in an ad one day. Over the picture of a new model automobile were these words: “Just look – we won’t say a word!” Thinking of my efforts to get people to believe in God, I was reminded that my only task is to get people to look at Him. Although science proves God on every hand, you nowhere trying to prove God to one who will not look at Him, just as the beauty of a rose is lost to one who has his head to the ground, and as food is of no avail to one who will not eat. My task as a soul-winner is not to argue religion or try to prove God by logic but to introduce the sinner to God. I will let God speak for Himself! Read His Word, His precious promises.

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psalm 34:8

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How To Make This The Greatest Year of Your Life


Pope’s Points

By Julian Pope

A man in a hospital asked his doctor, “How long must I suffer in this hospital?” The doctor replied, “One day at a time.” Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Surely anybody can live beautifully, victoriously, for one day.”

I think a good New Year’s resolution to make is to live one day at a time. This is what Jesus taught in the model prayer, “Give us day by day our daily bread (Luke 11:3), and in the Sermon on the Mount, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: (Matt. 6:34).

If you do not live one day at a time, you will find yourself worrying about the future, or dreaming of magical rose garden in the distance while overlooking the flowers blooming at your door. If you will pray 365 times this year, “Give us day by day our daily bread,” and not worry about yesterday or tomorrow, this will be the greatest year of your life.

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AND MAN BECAME A LIVING SOUL


William Andrew Dillard

HEBREW HONEYCOMB
AND MAN BECAME A LIVING SOUL
Genesis has been described as the baby book of mankind. Certainly it is true to its name which means “beginning.” The book is of immense value, attracting the keen attention of all who would learn of their origin, and the beginning of so many things affecting modern life.
Relating the creation story, Holy Writ profoundly states “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Gen. 2:7. Researching the ancient language one finds interesting information not readily stated here, but confirmed in other places in God’s Word. Specifically, attention is drawn to the word “life.” In the ancient Hebrew language, it is plural, thus: “man became a soul of lives.” Since the dual number is used in Hebrew for two things that normally go together, but is not used here, the employment of plural indicates at least three. Thus does the bible affirm that man is a spirit, a soul, and a body. I Thess. 5:23.
The body that God created from the same elements as the earth was a lifeless form until He breathed into it the breath of lives. The result is man became a soul of lives. Soul is the working expression of an intellect and spirit appropriately housed in a physical body to which they give life.
For those with hearing ears, this provides great understanding of the species as it relates both to sin and to salvation. Sin stained all three aspects of mankind. Just so, all three must be saved to realize the fullness of salvation. However in the wisdom and purposes of God, no one receives salvation in totality at one time. Instead, in the new birth, the spirit of a repentant person is both saved and sealed with the Holy Spirit of God, Eph. 4:30. In obedient discipleship, the mind is saved by being renewed to a high state of spiritual maturity, Rom. 12: 2. Under the operating laws of our present cosmos: that of sin and death, there is no hope for the body. It MUST die! However in the rapture or resurrection the body will be saved in immortal newness. It is then that men will know the fullness of salvation, and more precisely what Adam and Eve lost in paradise in choosing to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil instead of the Tree of Life.
It is of immense importance that every offspring of Adam should know this information, especially those of the household of faith. It is of eternal consequence what is done with the application of this information regarding the soul of lives that each one is.

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Day 1 – Psalm 73:28 – Draw near, Trust Him and Declare His Works.


PSALMS OF COMFORT

Day 1 – Psalm 73:28 – Draw near, Trust Him and Declare His Works.

Here is the bold implication that we as a people wander away from God. This may not be our intention but yet the attractions of the world, the insistence of problems, distractions, work and family turn us to the beggarly things of this world and draw our attention away from God. A result of this separation are a growing dis-satisfaction with life. We encounter more afflictions and trials. We become engrossed in the art of fire fighting instead of seeking the nearness of the Lord. Stress, worry and indecision brings defeat, discouragement and dread. Our lives become a battle ground of drama, hurt feelings, loss of friendships, and broken heartedness. We are looking for acceptance of those that are infused with worldly wisdom. Anger and angst overtake our once happy peaceful lives. We have lost our joy of salvation, our joy of living and our thought process has turned from Godliness to self. When we draw near to the Lord rely and depend upon Him for the answers of life.

Our greatest need after salvation is to put our trust completely in Jesus. How often do we trust Him with our soul and not with our life? As we turn our sight more upon the Lord for our daily living, we find the help in the pitfalls of living. We rise up from our pity pot of sorriness and confer with the Lord about our attitudes. We rise above the pettiness of the world and strengthen our daily living with daily conversations with our Lord and Savior. When our bonds are strengthened spiritually, the critics of the world become irrelevant. Our desire is to please our Lord by trusting implicitly in Him.

Many are the people that have drawn closer to the Lord and thereby in obedience declared to a lost and dying world the great works of God. Those that are lost see the work of salvation that Christ accomplished on the cross. They see the myriad lives that have changed because of the inner work of the Savior. Our testimony is not just a verbal one but is one that is displayed by the life we live. We declare the mighty works of God. We affirm His spoken creation, His spoken decoration, and marvelous preservation of this world. Our greatest declaration and demonstration is of a greater work than creation of the world. Our greatest declaration and demonstration of the work of God and the Holy Spirit and the Son of God is the work they do in the cleansing of a wretched sin encrusted heart that is made pure by the work of Christ on the Cross.

Let us draw near and declare the work of Christ in man.

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WHERE THERE IS LOVE, THERE IS LEARNING


William Andrew Dillard

PARSON TO PERSON
WHERE THERE IS LOVE, THERE IS LEARNING
Love is a highly prized dimension of life, but unfortunately, considered to be a non-essential to the majority of the world. Some would say, “Now hold on there, preacher! Psychologists insist that love is essential to wellbeing.” Well, injecting “well-being’ into the thought creates a different equation, but just think with me for a minute!
In the great love chapter of the Bible, I Cor. 13, Paul said he might speak with the tongues of men and of angel without it. He went on to say that he might possess the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and knowledge, even possess such faith as to move mountains without love. He could be kindly minded toward the poor, and become a sacrificial martyr without love. But all of that would be for nothing…FOR NOTHING! It is love that survives, that preservers, that counts for something both in time and eternity.
Love is not static! It goes to the depths of problems. It is active in longsuffering, promoting others, hoping, believing, enduring, bearing all things. It rejoices not in iniquity, but in truth! Let the meaning of these words be applied then to the average Christian in modern times. Do they fit well, or seem to be all out of kilter with the status quo?
Most any churchgoer will tell you he loves the Lord; loves His Word; loves His church, but these are words; too often hollow words. Hollow words find their satisfaction in detached, mostly ritualistic, habitual actions of religion which are void of personal communion and growth in the grace of God and His inexhaustible Word. It is sad! Certainly, one can live in the same house with a spouse; provide material things, and appear to be the envy of the world, but not have love for that spouse or the true meaning of a home. This is often true in describing professing Christians. One might do well to ask himself how much time he has spent in prayer or in reading the Holy Word lately. One would do well to ask of self just when was the last time personal faith was shared outside the walls of a church house? One would do well to ask himself, when was the last time he actually learned anything at all from the Bible that had not resided in his consciousness previously?
Consider that a small child was given a wing pin by a pilot in an airport. He proudly proclaimed to his mother that he was now a pilot. His mother replied to him that in his eyes he was a pilot, and in her eyes he was a pilot, but in the eyes of a pilot, he was no pilot at all. Could this also illustrate the status of many professing church members. It is easy to say, “I love the Lord,” but love is not static. Love is active. Where love is, there is growth, progress, learning!

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IT IS APPOINTED UNTO MEN


William Andrew Dillard

HEBREW HONEYCOMB

IT IS APPOINTED UNTO MEN


The eternal powers have decreed, and no one may change it. One may foolishly live in denial, but that does not change it. One may prioritize it deeply beneath a thousand other things that consume all the time and energies of one’s days, but that does not change it. Medical science is powerless against it; governmental edicts are meaningless against it. It is universal and unalterable. So, what is this awesome decree? “It is appointed unto men once to die . . .” Hebrews 9:27.


Death is the very last enemy of mankind that shall be destroyed I Cor. 15:26. It is to be ultimately swallowed up in victory. Until then, it is no respecter of persons. It invades the cottage of the most humble peasant, and it does not give the palace of the king a pass. It takes old and young as well as those in the prime of life. The day of its appearance is not predictable, but its appearance is sure. “It is appointed unto men once to die…”


Men go to extreme lengths to beat death. They create medicines to cure every malady that could result in death, but death still comes. They engage in cryogenics to be revived at a later time, but that fails and death reigns. “It is appointed unto men once to die. . . “


Additionally, there is another part to this decree so stated in Hebrews 9:27, “. . . but after this the judgment.” As sure as death, so sure is judgment. None shall escape it. None shall alter it. There is the Judgment Seat of Christ for believers, and the Great White Throne Judgment for unbelievers. Both will be totally thorough, and both will be totally righteous even to the degree that not a single voice will be raised against their verdicts. 


Jesus described the people of the generation of his earthly ministry as children playing in the marketplace, lamenting because others were not marching in step with their every whim. Two thousand years later, that description still stands, but the people so engaged have multiplied exponentially. Regardless, the divine appointments stand, and surely it is the fool who lives in denial and determined unpreparedness to step into those unavoidable portals.


Thus it is unalterably decreed: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Is this not a wake-up call? Does this not underscore the importance of the prime directive of every person’s life? Hear it in the words of wisdom so ably penned by Solomon. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man,
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecc. 12:13-14. Are you ready for your appointments? You will keep them!

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HEAVEN ON MY MIND


HEAVEN ON MY MIND
Parson to Person

The Lyrics of a gospel song include the words: “I woke up this morning feeling fine; I woke up with heaven on my mind.” What an inseparable duo! They are cemented more securely than “love and marriage” or “horse and carriage.” When thoughts of heaven and of the Good Lord are founded solidly on the eternal Word, they become the substantiating of heaven on earth. How else could one feel then but fine, mighty fine! Think about it!
David described the blessed man as one who meditates in His law day and night, Psalm 1:2. That is feeling fine, mighty fine! When others dish out unfair treatment, instead of being discouraged, consider the marvelous meaning of the words in Psalm 119:78, “Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause but I will meditate in thy precepts.” This turns personal hurt and discouragement into feeling fine, mighty fine! When the forces and “friends” of this world bring pressure to think and walk perversely, remember Psalm 119: 15, “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.” This severs a bad situation and leaves one feeling fine, might fine.
Some folks are comparable to a reed shaken by the wind. They bend and sway with whatever force is predominant at the time. Others are more comparable to a mighty tree, realizing that even though evil winds may not be stopped, one may, but the grace of God, stand strong and not bow down to them. It is incumbent upon every Christian to know who he is through identification with the person and words of the Lord, not by simple, blind acceptance of the tenants of a church where he may belong.
In the classic movie “Gone With The Wind,” Scarlett dealt with unpleasant or difficult situations by procrastination: “I won’t think about that today, I will think about that tomorrow.” That mindset can only make matters worse by creating a vacuum evil is eager to fill. By all means, take the initiative!
Taking the initiative then to be in control of spiritual and mental matters, one will find himself marching in cadence with the Pauline instructions that speak so pungently to this point. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Now there is the subject matter having come full circle. With goodness and heaven on one’s mind, life is fine, mighty fine!

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A MILLION $ FOR YOUR THOUGHTS!


Parson to Person

A MILLION $ FOR YOUR THOUGHTS!
Wow! Inflation is worse than figured! Not long ago it was a penny for your thoughts! So how could thoughts be worth a million dollars? First, thoughts have to be forwarded into action, so, think with me and I will show you how it can happen.
I have asked several groups of people if they knew the exacted price from those who run over a chicken in Germany. None knew. The guilty party not only pays for the chicken, but also for all the eggs it may have laid over its lifetime. That is considered the value of the chicken. This principle applies across the board of life.
When anyone places a dollar in the offering plates at church, he not only gives up the dollar, but also the interest it would have earned over his lifetime. That is the value of a dollar.
So suppose one tithes his income, or more, for a lifetime. Also consider that each dollar given might have earned an average of six percent annually over his years. If those tithes are $50, $100, $200 per week, and that was begun in early to midlife, just do the math. It becomes astronomical. Now consider that Jesus said that whatever one gives up (houses, lands, etc.) he will receive a hundredfold, Matt 19:29. Now multiply your astronomical number by 100. The world has never offered such an investment return, and material things even as fine as His, are the very least of the Lord’s offerings.
Two things must combine here: first, one’s heart, then his treasure. Jesus taught us that where one’s treasure is, there will his heart be also, Luke 12:34. Some complain that they cannot afford to give such amounts. That indicates a heart problem. Everyone must remember that the gold and silver; the cattle of a thousand hills; yes, the earth itself, and all therein; the money, too, belongs to the Lord, Psm. 50:10, 24:1, Hag. 2:8, I Cor. 10:26. He who demanded the tithe under the Mosaic Law provides opportunity for us all under grace to exceed that in church support, benevolence, mission work, and reaching out to others in need. Such are opportunities rather than obligations, and the cheerful giver who seizes upon them is indeed wise. He is accumulating great treasure in heaven which is both secure and eternal. Put into proper action a million dollars may be a pittance for your thoughts!

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The Murderer Who Became a Missionary


An Excellent Read – repost from the cripplegate

The Murderer Who Became a Missionary

PersecutorSome time ago, when preparing a sermon on the life of the apostle Paul, I came across the story of Sergei Kourdakov. Today’s post is adapted from the illustration I used as the introduction to that sermon. 

The year was 1969.

A lot happened that year. It was the year Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. It was the year my parents got married. And it was the year that John MacArthur became the teaching pastor of Grace Community Church.

It was in that same year that 18-year-old Sergei Kourdakov, a Russian orphan who had distinguished himself as a leader in the Communist Youth League, began his term at the Soviet naval academy. Given his natural leadership ability and his commitment to the Communist cause, it was not surprising that Kourdakov was soon approached by the KGB, who put him in charge of a secret branch of the city’s police force.

As a secret KGB unit, Kourdakov’s squad of fellow soldiers was largely tasked with targeting church meetings and the Christians who attended them. These “believers” posed a threat to the state and to communism itself, or so Kourdakov was told. As such, they had to be found and stopped by whatever means were deemed necessary.

Over the next two years, Kourdakov would carry out more than 150 raids on Russian underground churches and Christian communities. On one such occasion, he and his men hid while an outdoor baptism service was being conducted. As soon as the baptisms were over, his men attacked. The Christians, of course, did not fight back. But that didn’t stop Kourdakov’s unit from treating them with brutality. Within minutes, all of the believers were beaten and bleeding, lying on the ground.  The pastor himself was dead, his body floating in the river where he had just performed the baptisms.

As the attacks continued, Kourdakov was shocked to notice that many of these believers were young people – even as young as he was. He was also startled by the fact his raids were not effective in stopping Christian meetings. To his surprise, people who were beaten and arrested at one meeting would later be found attending subsequent meetings.

It seemed that the more he persecuted the church the more the church grew.

In each of these raids, in addition to beating and arresting the believers, Kourdakov and his men would confiscate any Bibles or other religious literature they found. These would either be destroyed or sent back to KGB headquarters.

One day, Kourdakov himself was curious about what these Christians were reading. So he picked up one a few pages of Christian literature and snuck them back to his room at the naval academy.

What he read shocked him. The pages were from the gospel of Luke, and they changed his life forever. Here is what he said of that experience:

At the first opportunity I had, lying in my bunk at the naval academy, I opened up those pieces of paper and began to read them again. Jesus was talking and teaching someone how to pray. I became more curious and read on. This certainly was no anti-state material. It was how to be a better person and how to forgive those who do you wrong. Suddenly the words leaped out of those pages and into my heart. I read on, engrossed in the kind words of Jesus. This was exactly the opposite of what I had expected. My lack of understanding, which had been like blinders on my eyes, left me right then, and the words bit deeply into my being. . . . Through the days and weeks ahead, those words of Jesus stayed with me. I couldn’t shake them, hard as I tried. I wished I hadn’t read them. Everything had been so organized in my life, but those disturbing words had changed something. I had feelings I never had felt before. I couldn’t explain or understand them. (Sergei Kourdakov, The Persecutor)

He was now conflicted. Soon he began to realize that the communism to which he had dedicated his life was nothing more than an empty façade.

With the words of Christ piercing his soul, Kourdakov knew he had to get out of the KGB, and if possible, the Soviet Union.

Soon he had his opportunity. After graduating from the Soviet Naval Academy, he was stationed on a cruise ship patrolling waters off the western coast of North America. He thought that if his ship came close enough to land, he might be able to jump overboard and swim for shore. On September 3, 1971, Kourdakov jumped off of his ship into the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. The next morning he washed up on the coast of British Columbia. Amazingly, he was alive.

While still on the Soviet ship, Kourdakov had purposed in his heart that once he escaped he would serve the very Jesus he had persecuted so vigorously. True to that promise, he began attending an English-speaking church in Toronto, Canada. He also visited a Ukrainian church where he was given a Russian Bible.

Kourdakov immediately recognized the Russian Bible as being the same type of Bible that he had often confiscated from the believers in Russia. He asked where it came from, and was told that it was distributed by a missions organization known as Underground Evangelism—a California-based ministry that helped to smuggle Bibles into communist countries.

Soon after, Kourdakov himself moved to California where he worked with Underground Evangelism.

Incredibly, the man who had persecuted Christians, who had been involved in the beatings and even murders of believers, was now helping a missions organization do the very thing he had once violently opposed!

God had graciously brought Sergei Kourdakov to faith in Christ. Just a few months later, the Lord would take him home. On January 1, 1973, Kourdakov was found shot dead in his room. Based on threats he received before he died, he was almost certainly assassinated by KGB agents who wanted to silence him.

Kourdakov’s testimony is pretty remarkable: A man who violently persecuted the church for a cause he thought was right, only to find that the cause he had so passionately pursued was false and he had actually been fighting against the truth.

Confronted with the words of Christ, his heart was dramatically changed. He left his former life behind, and joined the very movement he had been persecuting, promoting the work of Underground Evangelism so that more Bibles could be sent back into the Soviet Union. In the end, he was killed by the agency he had formerly served.

In many ways, the story of Sergei Kourdakov parallels the story of the man whose life we will be looking at in our message today. That person, as you might have guessed, is the apostle Paul.

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