Are you ready to surrender your life to God?
Are you ready to witness?
Are you ready to do good works?
Are you ready to face temptation?
Are you ready to suffer for the sake of Christ and the Gospel?
Are you ready to die?
Today is the day of Salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2.
For he says, In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
To the unbeliever and the lukewarm Christian.
You are out of your mind, Paul! he shouted. Your great learning is driving you insane. I am not insane, most excellent Festus, Paul replied. What I am saying is true and reasonable.
The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.
Then Agrippa said to Paul:
You almost persuade me to become a Christian.
Hymn: Almost persuaded.
Almost persuaded now to believe;
Almost persuaded Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On Thee I’ll call.
Lord wait until I am older!
Wait until I am out of school!
Wait until I’m married!
What is you excuse?
What are you waiting for?
Are you waiting for a time that is more convenient before you give your life to Christ?
History tells us quite a bit about King Agrippa.
He was the last king of the line of Herod the great and was a Jew. Having authority over the population of Jerusalem, he was not always liked by the Jews, and was rumored to have been involved in an incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice.
He and his sister were eventually expelled by the Jews from Jerusalem, and when the Romans marched on the Jews, he sent troops to aid them, and even fought in battle on behalf of Rome, being injured in the process. Following the destruction of Jerusalem, he and Bernice moved to Rome, where he was given a new title and new lands.
Agrippa died, so far as history knows, never having converted to Christianity. According to the words of the Lord, he died in his sins, and did not enter into that blessed realm where Christ awaits (cf. John 8:21-24)
There are many, many people who are in much the same position as was King Agrippa. They have heard the gospel preached, but they resist obeying it. When the preacher comes calling, they make vague promises about getting right with God at some future date. Hearing the gospel makes them uncomfortable because they know it’s true, and they know it condemns them in their sins, but they don’t want to make the changes that Jesus is calling upon them to make.
They are, in short, almost persuaded.
Such individuals may go on to do many things in life, even as Agrippa did.
They may fight important battles.
They may earn important honours.
They may have success as the world counts success.
But when they die, they will stand before God unprepared.
Rather than words of praise, they will hear that sad, final condemnation,
“I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23)
Almost persuaded, harvest is past!
Almost persuaded, doom comes at last;
Almost” cannot avail;
Almost is but to fail!
Sad, sad that bitter wail
Almost, but lost!
“The harvest is past,
the summer has ended,
and we are not saved.”
Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.
Christian are you ready for an uncertain future?
We are not called to be Doomsday preppers and to hoard up food and hide in bunkers, as Christians we have a purpose, an assignment, a job to do, and we do have a ruler and a King who has appointed us to represent Him. We mustn't get dragged down by what is going on in the world, we must rise to the challenges.
2 Corinthians 5:20.
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
We are Ambassadors.
Representing Christ today requires three basic skills.
First, Christ’s ambassadors need the basic knowledge necessary for the task.
They must know the central message of God’s kingdom and something about how to respond to the obstacles they’ll encounter on their diplomatic mission.
However, it is not enough for followers of Jesus to have an accurately informed mind.
Our knowledge must be tempered with the kind of wisdom that makes our message clear and persuasive. This requires the tools of a diplomat, not the weapons of a warrior, tactical skill rather than brute force.
Finally, our character can make or break our mission. Knowledge and wisdom are packaged in a person.
If that person does not embody the virtues of the kingdom he serves, he will undermine his message.
1 Peter 3:15.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect.
1 John 3:2-3.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
As a Christian, you are a witness, you don’t choose to be a witness, the only choice you have is to be a good witness or a bad one.
1 Peter 2:9.
But you are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies
of him who called you out
of darkness into his marvelous light.
Are you keeping your spiritual life alive and vibrant with the continual teaching and preparation of the Holy Spirit?
When you encounter someone, who needs to hear your story and the “Gospel Story” are you prepared and equipped to tell it?
Do you have a personal story?
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.
2 Corinthians 3:1-3.
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Do we as Christians do something about the mess that our towns are in, and our roads are in, or is our only contribution to moan about and run the government down?
These are FB posts from my Matric Afrikaans teacher.
This is a challenge to all people everywhere. Let’s all do only one positive thing to make a difference in our community that will add value. i.e., pick up one paper in town ,or on the pavement. Imagine 20,000 people do only that, what a difference this little gesture will make.
Multiply that by 30 days in the month and it equates to 6 million. Reminds me of that old song, What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours. Let’s make a tiny difference today.
What a job it was to clean the "structure" to the entrance to Nigel. Thank you to Aileen, to Neels, to Terence, to everyone who pitched in to help. It has made an enormous difference already. The centre isle is nearly completely cleaned and sprayed, but I think all involved can be justifiably proud of the result.
Thank you to everyone's efforts in keeping their pavements so beautiful and removing grass and weeds from their streets. We are winning the fight. There is much to do, but we dare not give up.
Nigel is by far the cleanest town in Ekurhuleni, thanks to everyone's efforts, we are succeeding.
Thank you for the tremendous response and support for Aileens announcement that she is standing as Ward Councilor in Nigel. She will be great, and with your support will work hard for our town.
Let's support local, our local businesses, our local schools, our local charities, our local churches, and each other where there is need
I love Nigel..
This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
People need to prepare for the Lord to move in their lives, but I see more in this passage of Scripture and that is that John the Baptist had a job to do, and he did it.
He was preparing the way for Jesus. Are you preparing the hearts of people so that when they encounter Jesus, that they are ready, the soil of their hearts has been prepared.
Noah took 120 years preparing the ark so that God could pour out His judgement on a wicked world. We too have a Job to do, even if there seems to bit little or no results, God’s Word will not return to Him void, but it will accomplish His purpose of leading souls to Salvation or setting a standard of judgement.
It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.
Rather, as it is written: Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.
This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.
Are you ready in season and out of season?
2 Timothy 4:2.
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage, with great patience and careful instruction.
Henri Nouwen, from “Time Enough to Minister,” in Leadership, gives us an excellent example of being and remaining in a state of preparedness.
Nouwen had gone to a monastery for solitude and prayer, but while there was asked to give a series of lectures to some students. His answer was, “Why should I spend all my sabbatical time preparing all those lectures?” The answer from the abbot came, “Prepare? You have been a Christian for 40 years, and a few high school students want to have a retreat. Why do you have to prepare? All those years of prayers, worship, scripture reading, and communion with God should have given you enough material for 10 retreats.” Nouwen continues, “The question, you see, is not to prepare but to live in a state of ongoing preparedness so that, when someone is drowning in the world, you are ready to reach out and help.”
1 Peter 5:8.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Do you have the armour of God on?
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.
We prepare the horse, but the Lord wins the battle.
2 Timothy 2:15.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
The Bible is the only offensive weapon mentioned in the armour of God.
Various swords of the roman soldier-
Five different types:
An extremely heavy, broad shouldered, long bladed sword. This was the most beautiful of all swords, but because of its weight, was the most cumbersome/awkward to use.
Referred to ‘As the two – handled sword; because it took both hands to use it. Two handed and swung with all one’s might. Sharpened on only one edge; the other side was blunt/dull.
The history of this sword for the Roman’s was that after they were terribly beaten by the Carthaginians, they abandoned the use of it, to adapt a more easily wielded weapon. Used in training to build up their strength.
Gladius is a Latin word meaning "sword", but in its narrow sense, it refers to the sword of Ancient Roman foot soldiers.
Used by: Roman foot soldiers Blade length: 45–68 cm
Length: 60–85 cm
Place of origin: Ancient Rome Wars: Roman Republic and Roman Empire.
Width: 5–7 cm
Mass: 0.7–1 kg
Second weapon- A shorter, narrower sword; approx. 17 inches long – two ½ inches wide; much lighter, so easier to carry & swing.
Third weapon- Even shorter than this second one. Looked more like a dagger than a sword. Carried in a small, hidden scabbard beneath the soldiers’ outer coat; used to inflict a mortal wound into the heart of the enemy.
Fourth weapon- a long, slender weapon used primarily by the cavalry. Like the modern-day fencing sword. Not a good sword for combat.
Fifth sword-‘machaira’ the type Paul mentions in Ephesians 6.
The word for sword in this text is ‘machaira’
A 19-inch weapon, razor sharp on both sides of the blade.
Because both sides were razor sharp, this was the most dangerous/deadly of all swords. At the end of the sword the blade was turned upwards, creating an extremely sharp/deadly tip.
The sword of the Spirit.
This sword was designed to create a wound far greater than any other sword. The Roman soldier was taught to thrust this sword into his enemy in short stabs, hold the sword with both hands and twist/wrenching the sword inside the stomach, and withdraw the sword with the entrails/guts of his enemy.
It was intended to not only kill the enemy, but also rip his insides to shreds. It was a weapon of murder. Too graphic? This is what the Holy Spirit gave Paul to use to describe ‘the sword of the Spirit’ we are called on to equip ourselves with.
For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
God’s Word is a weapon against Satan, but it is also a weapon to be used on our flesh.
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour? he asked Peter.
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:6.
So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
Therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken.
Luke 12:35-38 (NASB 1995)
Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.
Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.
Luke 12:35-38 (NASB 1995)
Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.
Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
Matthew 25:1-13. At that time, the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.
The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, the cry rang out: Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him! Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.
Matthew 25:1-13. The foolish ones said to the wise, Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out. No, they replied, there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves. But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived.
The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. Lord, Lord, they said, ‘open the door for us! But he replied, Truly I tell you, I don’t know you. Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
If the world hates you,
keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.
That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you:
A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also… But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: They hated me without reason.
1 Peter 2:19-23.
For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.
But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
2 Corinthians 11:24-28
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.
I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
Richard Wurmbrand used to be known as the voice of the underground church because of the suffering he endured in Romania for preaching the gospel.
He spent a total of fourteen years in prison, three of those years in solitary confinement.
One day after Richard was released from prison, he took his confirmation class on a field trip.
Though it was a Sunday morning, the pastor didn’t take the children to a church; he took them to the zoo.
Standing before the cage of lions, he told the boys and girls how believers in years past had faced such wild animals because of their faith.
He shared how they were killed by the powerful jaws of the lions simply because they loved Christ.
Why would Richard do this?
He wanted these young people to be prepared to face great suffering. He knew first-hand that believers have to be prepared for persecution ahead of time.
Richard observed, “It is too difficult to prepare yourself for [suffering] when the Communists have put you in prison. . . .
Why Nobody resists who has not renounced the pleasures of life before-hand.”
Establish this firmly in your mind now: Life is not about you having a safe, comfortable, happy life. Suffering is meant to be a part of your life, whether that suffering is emotional or physical, light or heavy.
If God calls you to great suffering, embrace it, for
the glory of God.
Don’t run from it.
You will miss out on something tremendous.
What tremendous things awaits those who suffer?
When you begin to focus on the other side of the cross, everything can change. Your focus is primarily on God’s glory, and that spotlight breathes a new dimension on suffering.
Open Doors International shares about a man named Mikhail Khorev, who wrote these words in prison:
“Lord, if my bonds glorify you more than my freedom, why should I want freedom?”
In his book Let the Nations Be Glad! John Piper says, “Loss
and suffering, joyfully accepted for the kingdom of God, show the
supremacy of God’s worth more clearly in the world than all worship and prayer.”
How can suffering show God’s worth more clearly than worship?
Think about what would happen at a typical church in America on a hot, sweltering Sunday morning if the air conditioning stopped working. People would gripe and complain, and many would eventually leave.
Why? They are willing to worship God in comfort, but when it comes to worshiping him in extreme conditions, well, quite honestly, he is not worth that much.
2 Corinthians 4:17–18:
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
The Greek word translated “preparing” is katergazomai, which literally means “to work fully” and by implication can mean “to perform, accomplish, achieve, work out, produce, etc.”
In other words, the suffering is “preparing” or “working out” or “achieving” a glory for us beyond all comparison.
There is a connection between suffering and the glory experienced in heaven.
If we take Paul’s words in earnest, it seems that although we will all experience God’s glory,
we will experience it in different degrees.
1 Corinthians 15:40-42. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another.
The sun has one kind of splendour, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendour.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.
But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.
Paul said that he was ready to go to prison and even to die for the Lord. Being ready like Paul was, is not just empty words based in pride.
Peter boasted that he was ready to die for Jesus and then denied Jesus three times.
Did Jesus die just so that you could go to heaven one day or does He have a purpose for you?
Matthias – Stoned to death.
Thomas – Speared to death.
Simon - Crucified.
Philip - Crucified.
Peter - Crucified upside down.
Mathew - Speared to death.
Andrew - Crucified.
Bartholomew - Beaten, then crucified.
James, son of Alphaeus -Stoned to death.
James, son of Zebedee - beheaded.
Judas (Not Iscariot) - Stoned to death.
John - exiled to Patmos mines.
2 Timothy 4:6-8.
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
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