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Advent: Thirty Days of Jesus, Day 3- ‘Perfect Timing’

By Elizabeth Prata

We are in the section of my Advent thirty day flow where we examine PROPHECY, ARRIVAL, and EARLY LIFE of Jesus.

In this section I chose verses that reflect the prophecies that predict His coming. Prophecy warns of coming judgment but it also comforts in that it foretells the holy and wonderful resolution of all things for the believer. This resolution didn’t begin with Jesus’ incarnation as a babe in the manger, it began before the foundation of the world when the God-head held an intra-council discussion and Jesus voluntarily chose to become the sacrificial Lamb.

Introduction & Background to this series here

thirty days of jesus verse 3

Introduction/Background
Day 1 post
Day 2 post

Challies: Five verses on adoption

Ligonier: Adoption into God’s Family by Iain Campbell

Answers In Genesis: Adopted into God’s Family

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Advent: Thirty Days of Jesus, Day 2; He will come!

By Elizabeth Prata

Thirty days of exalting Jesus though selected verses with pictures representing the prophecy, life, death, resurrection, and Second Coming of our Savior.

More information and background on this series, here

thirty days of jesus verse 2

Day 1: The Virgin Shall Conceive

Ligonier: A Shoot from Jesse’s Stump: Devotional

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Isaiah 11:1

All the Named Men of the Bible: Jesse

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Why I am grateful for apostasy

By Elizabeth Prata

If you listen to old time radio pastors from the 1930s through 1950s and later, each one at some point, has said that this generation of church-going Christians or this era of Christianity is going downhill. Charles Spurgeon famously published an anonymous article actually written by his friend Robert Shindler (with input from Spurgeon himself) addressing a visible downgrade in an 1887 issue of his magazine, Sword and Trowel. That article, and its follow up, famously brought the “Down-grade controversy” to the public’s attention.

A hundred and fifty years before Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards wrote about the devil’s triumph in squelching a religious revival in New England and a lack of religious affections that had become evident in the people.

We can trace the genealogy of apostasy back to Genesis 6, or to Genesis 3. So is it anything new to say that this generation of church-going Christians are weak or falling away, that visible Christianity itself is downgrading itself in a compounding manner, faster and faster as we go? No.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, (1 Timothy 4:1)

Continue reading “Why I am grateful for apostasy”
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Do believers need the Gospel?

By Elizabeth Prata

Paul opens his massive and majestic letter to the Romans with effusive rhapsodies of his love for the Roman believers and his gratitude for their faith- which he said is known the world over. He speaks of his intense desire to come to them so that he can be encouraged by their faith. Paul mentions them all the time to everyone. And so on.

First, we note Paul’s ministerial desire for his flocks and his obedient submission to his ordained role as Christian, pastor, sufferer. He is surely a super-Christian, if one such designation existed.

In the iconic movie The Princess Bride, Inigo is sailing a boat with all due speed in attempt to get away with a kidnapping. He looks back at one point and sees a distant boat on the horizon. The breeze is gentle and the night is long, so he has no worries. When he looks up again, he sees the boat is now close. And after a while, closer, then closer… This perplexing phenomenon causes him to utter the well-known line,

I wonder if he's using the same wind we are using.

It’s like that with Paul. We might say, “I wonder if he is using the same Spirit we are using?” and the answer would be “Yes”. I am awed by Paul’s fervor, dedication, diligence and deep obedience never having wavered. He died poured out as a drink offering, a rushing torrent of obedience and love spilling across the altar of his beloved Savior.

Then in verse 15 of chapter 1, Paul says this-

So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. (Romans 1:15).

Wait, what?

Hadn’t Paul confirmed the Roman believers’ solid faith, their well-known faith, their doctrinal and loving faith? Yes.

Some could interpret the verse as Paul being anxious to come minister to them, which is definitely true. But he didn’t say only that. He said he is eager to come preach the Gospel at Rome to Greeks and barbarians, to the wise and the foolish, “and also to you.” The Greek word for Gospel in this verse is euaggelizó which means bringing or preaching the full Gospel of Christ.

Some could interpret this as Paul’s eagerness to preach the Gospel indiscriminately to all, and that would also be true.

But do believers need the Gospel?

The answer would be “Yes.”

The Gospel is not a once-for-all mechanism that saves a person from the wrath of God and installs him into the kingdom as a child of God. Not only. It is the launching pad, and the eternal linchpin. It is the indispensable necessity for life eternal in the believer on earth and forever. The Good News is always Good News, and it continues being so, even for believers. Especially for believers.

The Good News is the fullness of Jesus, the encompassing message, the total plan of God, the victory of Jesus over sin, death, and hell. It is a message of resurrection, triumph, power, and abundant life. We all need this message, every day! Paul knew this. The Gospel is the mighty rushing wind of power and sustenance for every believer on earth who lives by the Spirit. We are reminded of the verse from 1 Thessalonians 1:5a

because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.

Paul said in the very next verse, Romans 1:16 these famous and everlastingly glorious words:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,e as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The faith we live by is that Gospel, Good News of the savior Jesus Christ. We needed it when we were foolish, wise, Greeks, and barbarians. Now that we are saved, it’s a message “And also to you.” The gospel necessity never ends.

gospel
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Warnings to 7 churches are so relevant today

By Elizabeth Prata

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:15-20)

Often forgotten in the prophecies are the warnings Jesus gives to the churches in Revelation. As with many prophecies, there is a near fulfillment that is and a far fulfillment. The 7 letters to 7 churches that open the Book of Revelation were actual letters sent to actual churches and actually read as warnings, encouragements or indictments against them. The second reason the letters were sent was to reveal seven different types of individuals/churches throughout history and instruct them in God’s truth.

The last verse is the one I want to point to. Jesus is not ‘knocking at the door of your heart’ in this verse. It is obvious he is knocking at the door of the church. The church had become (and will become, like it is now) so pale and non-Gospel oriented that Jesus is outside it! Just think of Joel Osteen’s church at Lakewood and you have a perfect fulfillment of the kind of church Jesus is warning about here. Mr Osteen never preaches sin or wrath or judgment because he doesn’t want to offend anyone, wanting to stay positive. But how can a person repent if they don’t know they are sinning? He refuses to put a cross on his stage, because it might prove an “obstacle to anyone who might come.” But if they are not coming to the cross, what are they coming to??? Jesus is standing outside Mr Osteen’s church, knocking to get in.

That sad indictment is repeated over many parts of the body of Christ today. I pray you find a good church that has solid beliefs, and participate there. Support your pastor, if he stands on the foundational principles of the faith, and preaches them. He is a rarity these days, and precious. Treat him like he is.

The decline of belief is symbiotic. If you attend a church like Lakewood for any length of time, then you will fade into lukewarmness because the fire of wrath and rebuke from a holy God has disappeared. With the full counsel of God being preached, His perfect message of sin & wrath/mercy & redemption is held up and you will grow in Christ-likeness. Without the cross preached, who are the Laodicean congregants growing into looking like? Man, not God.

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We live our lives in a waiting room

By Elizabeth Prata

Life is a waiting room

It might seem strange to say this, but we are not living to live. Living is not the point of our living. Waiting is. We live while we’re waiting.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:11-13).

Paul is giving Titus some instructions and reminders as to our duties as Christians, to be done while we wait.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible reminds us also that this life is a preparatory for the one to come.

To look for the glories of another world, to which a sober, righteous, and godly life in this is preparative: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Hope, by a metonymy, is put for the thing hoped for, namely, heaven and the felicities thereof, called emphatically that hope, because it is the great thing we look and long and wait for; and a blessed hope, because, when attained, we shall be completely happy for ever.

In today’s time it’s not considered mature to speak of prophecy. I believe that’s wrong. I believe that because so many verses stress that we are to look forward, to hope in His coming promises, to wait for His return. I can’t think of a better encouragement than to dwell on His prophecies. This life is difficult. (John 16:33). It’s full of evil people and seducers waxing worse and worse. (2 Timothy 3:13). It’s full of disease, strife, challenge, and vigilance. (1 Corinthians 11:30, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Proverbs 28:25, Psalm 46:1,1 Peter 5:8).

We are being trained while we wait. But waiting is our task, our joy, our hope. We should look to His return for encouragement. He is the blessed hope!

Illustration by Chris Powers
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An encouragement on fixing our eyes on Jesus

By Elizabeth Prata

We have 4 elders. One is the main teaching elder, though any of the men can teach at the pulpit. The other three men rotate in leading the confessional. The Confessional-teaching elder gives a short talk based on what the upcoming sermon will be and then stands silently as we individually confess and repent in our pews. Then he closes in an audible prayer. I appreciate the opportunity to set my heart and mind aright, and to confess, particularly when it’s a Lord’s Table Sunday.

On a past Sunday, our elder gave  a confessional talk that had so many wonderful points. I’m paraphrasing, but-

If You want to look like Jesus, look at Jesus.

Our elder made the statement that we should fix our gaze upon Jesus, not the latest comedy or sports teams. I ended up focusing on the phrase “fix your eyes upon Jesus” from Hebrews 12:2. I looked up the word “fix” and the Strong’s says

872 aphoráō (from 575 /apó, “away from” and 3708 /horáō, “see”) – properly, “looking away from all else, to fix one’s gaze upon” (Abbott-Smith).

How helpful. I should not glance, not peek, not glimpse, but FIX my GAZE upon him, looking away from all else and steadily drinking in all that He is.

I need to spend more time with Jesus to look more like Him. What a great line. Moses only got to see God’s ‘back’ and His face after being with God was so bright it had to be veiled. We have the privilege of looking at Jesus’ “face” as it were, through His word. I want my face to be shining, to have my being conformed to Him, to have my mind transformed. But it won’t happen unless I read the Bible. I must look away from all other distractions and FIX my GAZE on Jesus. A Bible skim won’t even do.

If you’re interested in hearing the Confessional, here it is, in all its 13 minute power. I pray it convicts you as it did me, in some way that will honor and glorify the Lord as a result. I know what I’m going to be doing when I get home.

May 13, 2018
We become like what we behold.