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Saturday, July 30, 2011

War and Rumor of War

Matthew 24: 3-14

3And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
 4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
 5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
 6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
 8All these are the beginning of sorrows.
 9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
 11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
 12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
 13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
 14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

In these verses Jesus is speaking about the nature of things in the run-up to 'the end of the age,' or, the end of the current era. To refer to this as 'the end of the world' is somewhat erroneous as things do not actually end but are transformed into something different--a 'new heaven and a new earth,' as the Bible calls it.

And this brings us to the proper interpretation of the term 'the last days.' Paul and the writers of the New Testament believed they were living in the last days. And they were. We are living in the last days today.

The Bible says that 'a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day.' Thus, 'the last days' is a symbolic term referring to an era of history--the period of time between the death and resurrection of Christ and the return of Christ which represents the beginning of a new era, the new heaven and the new earth.

During this lengthy intervening period in which we now live, some things are to be expected. War and rumor of war. Nations rising against nations. People turning against people. False prophets will arise. Christians will be persecuted.

While these things have always taken place since the death and resurrection of Jesus, they will only intensify prior to the beginning of the new heaven and new earth that will be ushered in by Christ himself. And when that new era begins, all wrongs will be corrected.

Only then will there be peace. Only then will people 'beat their swords and weapons into plowshares.'

Contrary to the teachings of Christian pacifism, as taught by such far-Left purveyors of Marxism masquerading as Christianity as Jim Wallis and Sojourners, Jesus never taught his followers to become pacifists. Nor did He teach them to push for government social programs. Individual Christians and churches are to engage in helping the poor and needy by their own voluntary action. 

Thus, Christians must wake up and realize that until the new heaven and new earth where peace will reign, there are some things worth fighting for and necessary to protect--by force.



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Joy

1 Thessalonians 1:6

King James Version (KJV)

 6And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.

Joy is a benefit of being a follower of Christ. Joy is not the same thing as 'happiness,' for joy is not dependent on circumstances. Rather, a person can be filled with overflowing joy even in the midst of severe suffering. It may seem contradictory or impossible, but those who belong to the Lord know exactly what I mean.

While happiness is fleeting, ebbing away when troubles comes, joy on the other hand is an inner knowledge that with God all is well, that we are kept in His care, and that in His will we are part of the greatest work that could ever be accomplished on earth. His presence alone fills our hearts with assurance, comfort, and yes, joy, no matter what the circumstances.

This does not mean we never get worried or that we are never troubled within. Those things are the natural human response to trouble. But joy comes in our hearts and minds when we realize that the God of all the universe dwells within and that with Him we are secure.

Praise the Lord.

Song: Ernie Haas and the Signature Sound Quartet sings 'Happy Rhythm.'

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just a Little Talk

Acts 12: 5-16

5Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
 6And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
 7And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
 8And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
 9And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
 10When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
 11And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the LORD hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
 12And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
 13And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
 14And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
 15And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
 16But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

This is but one of the many examples presented in the Bible of the results of sincere prayer. Peter had been arrested and jailed when Herod the King began his scourge against Christians. The church immediately went into fervent, around-the-clock prayer for Peter's safety and release.

Those prayers had great effect.

Prayer never goes unanswered, it's just that sometimes the answer is 'no.'

But still, as the song says, 'Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.'

Song: This one is a classic from the Thrasher Brothers Quartet. The Thrasher Brothers at one time were quite a force within Southern Gospel Music. And this song will demonstrate why. This one is presented live, and they sing 'Just A Little Talk With Jesus' as only the Thrasher Brothers could. Enjoy... 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Meditation

Psalm 119:47-49

King James Version (KJV)

 47And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
 48My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
 49Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.

The word 'meditate' can have several valid meanings when viewed within the Biblical context. In the context of the verses provided above, the Psalmist says that meditation has the connotation of pondering over great truths as represented by the words and statutes of the Lord, or in other words, to ruminate, to cogitate, or to engage in deep thought as we consider the meaning of the Word as directly applied to our lives.

Another meaning is that of 'listening to God.' Prayer has often been described as 'talking to God,' while meditation is described as 'listening to God.' It is for this reason that often in the Bible the people of God are told of the necessity for prayer and meditation.

Modern interpretations of the meaning of meditation often focus on the practice of engaging in stress management through the use of guided imagery, music, breathing techniques, and the repetition of soothing words for the purpose of disarming the harmful effects of stress and achieving a greater level of personal peace.

Many persons of faith who use such techniques report that they incorporate prayer and meditation, as defined in the Bible, into their daily stress management routine.

Regardless of how one chooses to do so, prayer and mediation are described by the Psalmist as a source of much happiness, joy, and delight, even to the extent of 'loving' the time one spends pondering over the great truths of God.

How can such a practice be anything but beneficial to human life?

Song: 'Quiet Time with God.'  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Watch the Lamb

Matthew 27:26b-37

26b and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
 27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
 28And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
 29And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
 30And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
 31And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
 32And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
 33And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,
 34They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
 35And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
 36And sitting down they watched him there;
 37And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

The following song is a sermon in itself. It is a Christian 'ballad'--a song that tells a story that illustrates Christian truth. The song is most powerful and moving, and illustrates the scripture passage above in story-form.

Listen to it very closely. You will learn the history behind the practice of the Jews to go to Jerusalem once a year to sacrifice a lamb and how that act translates to the Christ, the lamb of God.

Monday, July 18, 2011

John Saw a City, A New Heaven and a New Earth

Revelation 21

 1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
 2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
 3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
 4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
 5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

These words are of utmost comfort to Christians and symbolize what is known as 'the Christian hope'--a new heaven and a new earth, the Holy City, the NEW Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, in which there is no more sorrow, crying, pain, or death. 

AMEN!

Song: 'John Saw' by the Florida Boys. Quartet singing doesn't get any better than this!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Faith as Tiny as a Mustard Seed

Matthew 17:20
"And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

I was blessed to know the famed original 'positive thinker,' Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. His book, 'The Power of Positive Thinking,' is one of the best-sellers of all time. I was not close enough to him to be considered a personal friend, but I knew him and would regularly attend his popular seminars for Christian ministers in New York, which he called, 'The School of Practical Christianity.' I also regularly attended his church in NYC whenever I was in town. 

Many people did not understand Peale. For example, he wanted the title to 'The Power of Positive Thinking' to be 'The Power of Faith,' because he felt that the concepts he presented therein were based upon the faith that is taught in the Bible. But his publisher insisted that they change the title to appeal to a broader audience. That, it did, as the book has sold multi-millions worldwide and has been translated into practically every language on earth.

This fact about Peale's original title is important because many within the Christian community have mistakenly believed that the concepts he taught were not really 'Christian' but 'New Age' or some heretical deviance from traditional Christianity.

But the truth was that Peale was as traditional as they come. He simply believed that the traditional concepts of the Bible should be communicated in modern terms so that the unchurched could understand them.

One Christian fundamentalist angrily approached Peale on a sidewalk in NYC, thrust a 'test' in front of him and demanded that he check off each traditional belief to which he adhered. Peale carefully read over the doctrinal statements, and proceeded to check off every single one! The man was shocked, thinking that he would catch Peale in denying the traditional doctrines of the Christian faith. But Peale believed in them all--the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Birth, the authority of the Bible, the necessity of the sacrificial death and shed blood of Christ on the Cross for our salvation, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Peale preached on these beliefs on a regular basis.

But one of the key teachings of Peale came straight from Jesus himself--the mustard seed principle. I have often told people that the only way I got through college and graduate school was clinging to the mustard seed principle as taught by Peale.

And the concept is this--if you have faith even as tiny and microscopic as a mustard seed, then you can do far more than you could ever imagine or think...even to the point of 'moving mountains.' Of course, the mountain reference is symbolic, not literal. Christ was referring to the mountains that come into our lives that derail us--problems, troubles, difficulties, illness, pain, disappointment, grief, a poor self-concept, shyness, or whatever. Whatever hampers you in your desire to do what you must to make it in this life, you can move it out of the way with a faith tiny as a mustard seed, provided that faith is grounded and centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

As a shy person who was always beset with self-doubt, I needed such a message to get through the hurdles of life that to me seemed frightening and impossible to do.

Today, my closest friends tell me they cannot believe that I was ever shy or quiet. And my accomplishments in education and in other areas belie that part of me, which is still there, that tells me I am not good enough to achieve anything. I suppose that voice will always be with me.

But the good news is that I can choose to listen to a different voice. It is the voice of Jesus that says, 'If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, be removed, and it shall move, and nothing shall be impossible unto you.'

Praise the Lord!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Earnestly Contend for the Faith Once Delivered to the Saints

Jude 1

 1Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
 2Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
 3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
 4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
 5I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
 6And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
 7Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
 8Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
 9Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
 10But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
 11Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
 12These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
 13Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
 14And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
 15To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
 16These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
 17But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
 18How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
 19These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
 20But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
 21Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
 22And of some have compassion, making a difference:
 23And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
 24Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
 25To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

The book of Jude in the Bible is very short, only 25 verses, but it packs a punch. The writer is encouraging Christians to earnestly contend for the faith that Christ himself gave to the saints. The reason? That faith was under attack from within the Church itself!

Somehow, over time, people who are abject unbelievers creep into church membership. From there they do their dirty work, attempting to undercut the true faith, divide God's people, and engage in outright heresy.

Jude is very plain here. True Christians must fight the insidious creep of anti-Christian views within the Church. We must call out people for error. We must correct those who engage is blatant false teaching. We must forthrightly stand for the truth as Christ gave it, plain and simple, and unchanged.

Those who twist Christ's words and apply them falsely in ways the Lord never intended will pay a heavy price for such activity. He who hath ears to hear, let him hear!

Song: 'I'm On the Battlefield For My Lord' by the Homecoming Friends.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who has any right to judge another?

"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."--Romans 3:23

These words lay it on the line, the plain truth, unadorned, unvarnished, and stark. Every human being has sinned. No one is immune. Thus,  no one has a right to sit in judgment of another. The place to start with our judgments is the SELF. If we focus on self-examination and getting ourselves where we need to be, then we won't have time to go meddling in another person's life.

This issue is not the same as making value judgments or making a determination as to the trustworthiness of another or to deciding who we wish to spend our time with. Those things are a part of life, and we all do them everyday in order to survive. Imagine if we could not make an informed judgment about a stranger standing at the door with a gun pointed at us. Would we invite such a person in? Or would we duck or head for cover, and quickly close the door?

The issue when it comes to unreasonable judgments of others is spiritual in nature. We know who we are, and we know that before God we stand as sinners, along with everyone else. No one deserves the grace of God. The very definition of grace is 'unmerited favor.' We do not merit the love and favor of God. It is a free gift to sinners who don't have a leg to stand on.

So, the next time you are tempted to issue harsh judgments on another because they are rough around the edges, or because they use language we dislike, or because of various and sundry other things we find to be 'unacceptable,' just remember to go look in the mirror immediately. What you will find staring back at you is a sinner, just like the ones you are tempted to judge.

Song: 'Jesus Have Mercy on Me' by the great George Younce, along with the Cathedral Quartet. This is my favorite George Younce song of all time. And the great Glen Payne, lead singer and manager of the Cathedrals, introduces this song. A masterpiece. I encourage you, I BEG you, go listen to this.

Monday, July 11, 2011

O Taste and See...

Psalm 34:8
"O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him."


I have often said that God is the first to get the blame when things go wrong but the last to be credited and thanked when things go right. Why is that?


Perhaps it is our sinful nature. Perhaps it is our failure to express gratitude when it is warranted. And perhaps it is due to the fact that some persons are always sitting perched and ready to blame God as an excuse for the lack of faith or to justify their lack of belief in God at all.


The thing that strikes me most, however, is that those claim to have no belief in God will be the first to blame God, in unguarded moments, when their world falls apart. From a logical standpoint, this makes no sense whatsoever. You can't blame Deity for your woes if Deity does not exist.


By the same token, it is highly inconsistent for a believer to blame God for all that's wrong in the world but fail to thank God for blessings that are granted to us on a daily basis.


God is good. God is not vindictive nor spiteful. God wants the best for those who trust in Him. You can take it to the bank!


Song: 'God Is Good All the Time' by the Gaither Vocal Band. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Wonderful Personal Development Program

Micah 6:8
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?


This statement forms the basis of the best personal growth and development program upon which anyone could embark--to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.


Doing what is just and right and honorable is highest anyone can hope for in this life. This means letting go of what is wrong, harmful, unjust, and dishonorable. Much self-examination is required here to detect those parts of us that need to be extracted.


Mercy is the basis of all human life, given that we are flawed, ALL of us. God gave us mercy, not justice. In like manner, it should be our desire to grant mercy to others when they express true sorrow and regret for how they may have harmed us.


Humility in walking with God is perhaps the most difficult part of the program. God's people tend to get haughty and arrogant, touting our moral superiority over others and castigating them on their personal faults. The key to a good life is learning how to walk humbly with God, knowing that we are no better than anyone else in God's eyes.


Song: 'Purify My Heart' by Refiner's Fire.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

God Will Make a Way

Exodus 14 describes how God delivered the children of Israel from the bondage of the Egyptian Pharaoh. After God sent 10 great plagues to smite the Egyptians, Pharaoh decided to set the captives free. But when the Israelites left, he changed his mind and took his army to chase them.

When the children of Israel reached the Red Sea, they were frightened into panic, begging of Moses that he give them a way out. The great sea was in front of them, the Egyptian army was behind them. There was no place to go.

But Moses reminded them to look up and see the salvation of the Lord. God always makes a way when no way can be found. And up from the sea rose a dry path, allowing the Israelites to cross freely and safely. But when Pharaoh's army began to cross the clearing, the sea swallowed them up, covering the dry path with torrents of waves.  All of them were killed.

We never know how or in what manner God will make a way for us. But be remind, dear child, that He always comes through for His children, one way or another.

Song: God Will Make a Way.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cheerfulness

John 16:33

King James Version (KJV)
 33These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Cheerfulness is one of the marks of the life of a Christian. Does this mean we will always feel cheerful? No. Does this mean we never feel sad, depressed, or anxious? No. But, eventually we gain the victory over the tribulations of this life through the One who has overcome the world, conquering death, hell, and the grave.


Song: This one is vintage Southern Gospel Quartet Music from the 'golden era.' The Blackwood Brothers teamed up with the Statesmen Quartet to dominate the concert trail during the 50s to the mid-60s. Here you will find the Blackwood Brothers singing a song that opened hundreds of concerts and Gospel music radio shows throughout the era--'Give the World a Smile.'

Monday, July 4, 2011

Now Booking for July and August

Happy Independence Day, my friends! Let us remember freedom comes from God. Let us pray that America will always remain free.

I am now booking for July and August. Plenty of good dates are available. My new CD has done well in its first month, and I would love to come to your church or your meeting to do a program of Christian music.

These concerts are offered to you on a free-will, love-offering basis. There is never any charge for doing these programs for churches. Other organizations and promoters can secure my services for very reasonable rates. I simply love to sing, and I love to sing Gospel music. I promise you won't be disappointed.

If you are interested in having me in concert, contact me at anthonygmartin1@gmail.com.