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Love that Never Ends

We’ve all fallen, haven’t we? We’ve all had bad days. Problems in life. Stress. Confusion. We all just have struggles in general. It’s in those times that we feel like we can’t get to God. Our problems and our struggles hold us back from communing with Him. However, Psalm 51:17 tells us something different: 

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

As David is writing this and praying this, he knows that all he can offer God is a broken heart. Because, honestly, that’s all we have. Our heart, our soul is the only thing we really own. Everything else will stay behind when you enter eternity. So, the only thing we can truly offer God is our heart. That’s not much, is it? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’m anything special. I know that I’ve failed time and time again. The thing is, God accepts what we offer him when we do it with everything we have. When we really mean it, He eagerly accepts our offerings. And they thrill Him because that’s all He wanted in the first place. He wants fellowship with the very people He gave the breath of life. 

I hope this short post has encouraged you tonight! God bless!

-Austin

“Well my love is over
It’s underneath
It’s inside
It’s in between 

The times that you’re healing
And when your heart breaks
The times that you feel like you’ve fallen from grace 

The times you’re hurting
The times that you heal
The times you go hungry and are tempted to steal 

In times of confusion
In chaos and pain
I’m there in your sorrow under the weight of your shame 

I’m there through your heart-ache
I’m there in the storm
My love I will keep you by my power alone 

I don’t care where you’ve fallen or where you have been
I’ll never forsake you
My love never ends”- Tenth Avenue North

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What is the Purpose of Christmas?

This is a video journal I did for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

-Austin

Who Was the Angel of the LORD?

This is a research paper I did for my Biblical Literature class. I think it’s also a good teaching opportunity on a debated topic. I may use it in a sermon or to teach a Sunday School class as well. Enjoy!

            Throughout the Old Testament, the Angel of the LORD appears in various places to various people. The appearance of the Angel almost always preceded a major turn of events in Old Testament stories. We see this “Angel” in the book of Judges frequently. The identity of the Angel has long been debated. Some say this is just simply a messenger sent from God, but others argue this is a pre-incarnate form of Jesus Christ. Both sides have presented suggested evidence to support their theories. Most of the claims are based on grammatical usage in the text. Does the Bible ever directly tell us who the Angel is? What does the Biblical evidence say about the Angel?

            The word “angel” comes from the Greek word, άγγελος.  This means “messenger” or “one who is sent” (White, “Angel of the LORD: Messenger or Euphemism”, 299). We know that Jesus was sent directly by God as seen in John 8:29. It is important to note that the Angel of the LORD doesn’t speak in third person, as other messengers seem to do. The Angel speaks in first person as if he is God. Judges 2:1a is an example this: “The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers.” The Angel is talking as God and not just for God. This happens time and time again throughout the Old Testament. The Hebrew for angel and messenger is used 213 times in the Old Testament. The phrase for “Angel of the LORD” is used 48 times in 45 verses in the Bible. We also see people giving the Angel reverence that usually only God receives. For example, in Joshua 5:14-15 we find Joshua fall “facedown” and taking off his sandals before the Angel. (White, “Angel of the LORD: Messenger or Euphemism”, 300-301).  This would imply that the Angel is more than just a messenger if Joshua is responding in worship to him.

In Genesis 18, Abraham gets three visitors. The text describes one of the three as “the LORD.” The other two are believed to just be angels. However, the text indicates that one of the men is God himself, a theophany (Pak, “BIB 110 Lecture Notes”, 22). If these people saw God face-to-face, why did they not die like God suggested in Exodus 33:20? The answer is simple. Either the Angel is not God or God came in the form of the Son (pre-incarnate). That would make this a Christophany in the Old Testament.

Daniel 3:25 also seems to have an appearance of Christ. King Nebuchadnezzar sees a fourth man in the fiery furnace after Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was thrown in for not worshipping the image of gold. When Nebuchadnezzar sees the fourth man he exclaims, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” It is after that the Nebuchadnezzar seems to recognize the God of Israel as at least legitimate because he addresses the three men as “servants of the Most High God.”

Finally, we go to Exodus to look at the Angel appearing to Moses. In Exodus 3, the Angel of the LORD appears to Moses in a burning bush. The Angel actually says this in verse 6 which seems to be a clear hint of the Angel’s identity: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (“Fire Bible”, 410).

            The case against the Angel being Divinity doesn’t seem to be as strong. Again, the scholars that say the Angel was only a representative of God use grammar and other linguistic evidence, and custom in the text to support their theory.  The main argument is that saying the Angel is deity creates a problem for monotheists, such as the Jewish audience of the Old Testament (López, “Identifying the Angel of the LORD in the Book of Judges…” 15). However, we see the Godhead at work from the beginning.  The claim is that the text clearly distinguishes the Angel from Yahweh.

            This research project has further confirmed what I already had a strong belief in. The appearances of the Angel of the LORD are indeed pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus Christ. The Biblical evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of this. I even believe that God told us exactly who the Angel is on more than one occasion. There are a few Christophanies in the New Testament, too. Even though none of them are described as “the Angel of the LORD,” Jesus is the one who appears. Take the example of Saul’s conversion to Christianity while on the road to Damascus. Jesus appears to Saul, later known as Paul, in the same dramatic way that the Angel of the LORD reveals himself in the Old Testament (Newman, “Israel’s God and Rebecca’s Children…”, 155). Christ’s appearance to Saul also brings about a major turn of events just like the Angel of the LORD did in the Old Testament. The people the Angel appears to also fall in worship when they realize who he is as well. Other angels told the people to not worship them. Along with the textual evidence, the Angel’s claims and messages indicate that the Angel of the Lord is actually a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. God had a plan from the very beginning and he has always uses the Son to fulfill the plan. 

 

-Austin

A Call to Commit: Crush the Idols

 

So many who come to faith in Christ seem to want to return to where they were before. Why? They think it was better or “more fun” to live in slavery to sin. As I have shared before I call this place a “Christian’s Spiritual Egypt.” Obviously I am referencing when Israel wanted to return to slavery in Egypt instead of continuing to the Promised Land. They thought they’d be safer and more comfortable there. So a Christian (I am not referring to all believers) thinks their old life was better and they want to return. They want to return to their slavery to sin. That comes from a lack of trust in God which is exactly what the Israelites were suffering from at the particular time I’m referencing. My message here is to those Christians who are on the fence. I pray the Holy Spirit draws you close before you fall back into the vicious cycle of an utterly sinful life.

“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”- 1 Kings 18:21

In this passage of scripture Elijah is establishing to the people of Israel this same message that I’m trying to give to you: You can’t truly serve more than one god. You need to either choose the One True God or you can choose the worthless gods who will do nothing for you. I’m talking about money, popularity, power, sex, relationships, etc. Those are all idols when you put them before serving the Lord.

Elijah isn’t the only one who spoke this message in the Bible. Jesus told us that we can’t serve two masters. We’ll hate one or the other (Matthew 6:24). Sin is rebellion against God. And that is ultimately hatred towards God. Also, God can’t go against his own character. If you choose to live in slavery to sin, God will be forced to withdraw His presence, His Holy Spirit from you. We saw that happen to Israel’s first king, Saul.

“Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul…”- 1 Samuel 16:14

Saul chose to disobey God and lead a life of rebellion. He paid the price for it. God doesn’t change, so He is required to do the same today because He is just.

Sin is so deceiving and it sneaks up on you like a predator. You begin to tolerate one little thing and that gives a foothold for the enemy. Sin then slowly takes over your life. Finally, you feel trapped and you can’t get out. No matter how much you want to and how much you try you can’t. I’ve been there. Then, if you don’t confess your sin to the Lord and repent, you begin to love your sin and you’re back to where you were before Christ. Finally, you’ll begin to plunge deeper and deeper until you are destroyed by your sin unless you turn back to Christ. That is the downward spiral of sin.

“How come every time we buy into and idol, we’re the ones that get devoured?”- Jefferson Bethke

Because as Jefferson Bethke states in the video I just quoted, “An idol takes, it never gives.” When you’re so wrapped up in what people think of you that you’ll do anything to gain their acceptance, you are a slave to acceptance. You have now put that before God. It’s the same way with anything else. Popularity isn’t bad, unless you turn it into an ultimate. Money isn’t bad until it’s turned into an ultimate. What are your idols?

“This day I call the heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”- Deuteronomy 30:19

Life is found in Jesus Christ. Death is found in sin and the ways of the world. It’s as simple as that. Your choice. No one else can make it for you. God’s not going to force you to choose life, but he wants you to. If you turn your heart away from God and choose to be disobedient and serve your idols, you will surely be destroyed (Deuteronomy 30:17-18). Choose life (that is: Jesus) today.

You know who you are. If you are on the fence and are falling into the idol trap, you haven’t gone too far. The grace of God can reach you. No matter what you’ve done you can be made new. If you repent and turn back to your faith in Christ, you will be saved. God promises us that. If you have been ensnared by sin, pray to God and repent now. Don’t wait. Do whatever measures it takes to crush your idols.

Make this declaration:

“As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”- Joshua 24:15

Here is the video of Jefferson Bethke that I quoted. This poem is inspired by what true manhood is, but I believe everyone can get something out of this.

God bless you!

-Austin

 

A Problem in the Church

I was thinking recently. Yeah, I know…amazing right? 🙂 

No, but seriously. I was thinking about how people in the Church today will separate themselves completely from another Christian who commits is trapped by sin. Or maybe they try to help, but instead just try to find the easy fix. I started thinking, “Well, that can’t be Biblical, can it? Jesus commands us to love one another and be unified in the Body of Christ. And that is true. I started reading Francis Chan’s book, Multiply. In that he said something that I already knew, but it was still just as profound. He said:

“Or when we learn that a friend is struggling with sin, we are quick to explain why that sin is harmful and tell her we will pray for her (whether we follow through or not). But how many of us would take her struggle with sin so seriously that we would walk with her as she works through the issues involved?”

Yes, the Bible is clear that sin needs to be corrected. But it doesn’t end there. We can’t “correct them” and then condemn them. You see, there’s a difference between judgement and correction. Judgment brings condemnation down on the person being judged. Correction is done out of love with the hope of redemption. It’s like a parent. They may spank their son or daughter for hitting someone. A good parent doesn’t spank out of anger. A loving parent will spank (or use other forms of discipline) out of love for the child and to correct a wrong behavior. But the parent continues with loving that child. 

It’s the same way with Christians. Yes, we are to correct each other’s sinful behavior. But you had better do it purely out of love and you had better be willing to walk through the issue with them in order to bring them to redemption. I think part of the problem is that many believers don’t want to get “dirty.” They don’t want to be associated with someone who has a sin exposed to the public. It’s the same attitude some have towards non-believers. They don’t want to be seen with the “undesirables.” It might ruin their reputation. Then tell me, how are you supposed to evangelize and disciple them if you don’t associate with them? If they won’t come in to the church, you bring it to them. How can your Christian brother or sister be brought back to the cross if you want to find a quick fix or just blow them off completely? Galatians 6:1-2 says:

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Carry each other’s burdens. That will likely require you to be seen with the “undesirable.” But the attitude I mentioned above is exactly the attitude the Pharisees had. Did you know Jesus had more of problem with the “religious” people than he did with the sinners? 

It’s time we get over ourselves and be willing to walk through thick and thin with our fellow believers. 

-Austin

How Can We Escape if We Ignore Such a Great Salvation?

Hebrews 2:2-4: “For since the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. This salvations, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”

You know, today people are looking for an escape. I have no doubt that many are seeking God out of the deepest and darkest pits of their life. And others are looking for something else. They’re turning to idols and those idols will never satisfy them. They’ll never comfort them.

I have friends of mine that are in this boat that the verses above mention. They want to serve Jesus. I have no doubt about that. The problem is that they are missing, or rather ignoring the escape or the salvation that Jesus is extending to them. It’s frustrating because they want to do what is right. They want to get rid of their idols and follow Jesus with everything they are, but they just can’t seem to. As soon as something comes along they decided to put God on the back burner. It’s grievous to me. How can they escape if they ignore such a great salvation? They can’t. Jesus is the only Way out. God isn’t something we run to when our boyfriend or girlfriend other cheats on us. He isn’t something we run to when things don’t go our way. And He’s not something we run to when tragedy strikes. He should be our life. We shouldn’t be able to function properly without first seeking the Lord. Yeah, you’ll have to dump some things you might enjoy. But it’s so worth it.

If you find yourself in this situation, I urge you to come to your senses. God is extending his beautiful grace to you. All you have to do is take it. Surrender your life to Christ completely because he bought you with his life. You will either be a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. You pick.

If you will please join me in praying for those friends I mentioned. I pray that anyone who reads this is just solidified in the faith. I pray that if you are going back and forth with God, you stop and surrender to Him. You’re fighting a losing battle if you don’t

God bless!

-Austin

P.S. Sorry for not being able to post much lately. School is in the process of rapping up (just six days left!) for the summer and I have been busy with other obligations. I’m so grateful God has given you to me as an audience so that I may bring His Word to you.

No Turning Back- Full Length Sermon

This is the sermon I preached on Sunday night! Enjoy 🙂

 

 

-Austin

The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Matthew 27:32-56: 32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”

41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Jesus went through torture beyond any of our imaginations. He went through personal humiliation, physical pain, and spiritual anguish. The worst of all was probably the suffering that came in verse 46. He experienced separation from God. That is the ultimate consequence of sin. Separation. Spiritual death. I can’t even imagine what he went through at that moment. The weight of sin for everyone who ever lived, was living, and would live was upon him at that moment. That full amount of God’s wrath was on Jesus. Jesus had never sinned, but God made him to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). God’s Son, the Creator of the universe, was rejected by His creation and isolated from His Father. The separation had to be the worst suffering of all. The wrath of God was satisfied. Because of Jesus’ suffering, we are restored to a right relationship with God if we accept His FREE gift of salvation.

According to John’s account (John 19:30) of Christ’s death, what Jesus said in verse 50 was “It is finished.” These words mark the end of his suffering. It marks the completion of Jesus’ mission to restore us to a right relationship with the Father. At the time Jesus Christ died, the “curtain of the temple” was torn from top to bottom. This symbolizes that the way into God’s presence was now open. Because of what Jesus did, we have permanent access to God for all those who give their lives to Christ.

Just one person’s sin would’ve been enough to put Him on the cross. He would’ve done the exact same thing if you were the only person on earth. ‎”A cross, 3 nails, the weight of my sin, loneliness, pain and sorrow. That was on my Savior’s,”to do list”,for that day. I am the cause.”

“He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.”- C.S. Lewis

“It was my sin that held him there. Until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life. I know that it is finished.”

Jesus did all of this out of love. When He was hanging on that cross He was thinking of you. He gave salvation to anyone who comes into contact with His saving and delivering power. He paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we don’t have to be separated from God anymore. We now can have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

I also want to say that through Jesus’ ministry he was rejected by the world. Many mocked him, laughed at him, called him a liar,etc. We, as Christians, can expect the same type of rejection. If Jesus is the center of your life, the world system will reject you. David Wilkerson says: “It is a very costly mercy that;s been shown to us. Jesus paid a price in the human flesh. It’s the same price we are going to pay. We have to pay the cost of total rejection. Society will never accept you if Jesus Christ is the cause and the meaning of your mercy and grace.”

You see, the cost of following Jesus is great. Some of us will be rejected, mocked, beaten, tortured, and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ. Other religions will be accepted. Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism will be accepted. However, Christianity will never be accepted by the majority of society. Why? Because Christianity is the only true religion. The cost is great, but the reward is even greater- an eternity with Jesus!

Jesus tells us that the world will hate us. He tells us that we will be persecuted. Jesus went through considerable suffering so that we can have freedom from sin and death. Expect to face troubles on this earth, especially persecution. But take heart! Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).

The Greatest Story Ever, the Greatest Truth Ever does not stop here. There is more.

The Resurrection:

1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.

9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

On the Road to Emmaus

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

As I was looking through all four accounts of the Resurrection, I saw Luke gave the most descriptive telling so I decided you use his account. If you want proof of the Resurrection look at the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If Christ did not raise from the dead, there wouldn’t be that kind of demonstration of the Spirit’s power.

The Resurrection of Jesus is one of, if not the most central truths of the Gospel. If the Resurrection had not occurred, followers of Jesus would have no hope and their faith would be pointless. In fact Paul says, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14). As Lecrae says, “That implies that our lives are built around Jesus being alive.” Because Christ conquered death, death no longer as power on those who are in Him either. We can enter Paradise with Jesus. Christianity is the only religion on earth that can say that their “main man” is alive! Enemies of God try to stop the message of the Resurrection because they know the effect that the message can have! They can NOT stop a miracle, however! Without the Resurrection my whole life (and every Christian’s) would be wasted. He is risen!

Once again the Greatest Story ever, the Greatest Truth ever does not end there. It is an ongoing thing. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit after a ascended into Heaven (Check out Acts chapter 2 for more details on that). Jesus is returning soon! Are you ready?

“Paul said if Christ ain’t resurrect then we wasted our lives
Well that implies that our life’s built around Jesus being alive
Everyday I’m living tryin show the world why
Christ is more than everything you’ll ever try”- Lecrae

HE IS RISEN!

-Austin

A Letter from Pastor Saeed Abedini

This is a letter from Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is in prison at one of the most brutal prisons in Iran for his Christian faith. Keep him in your prayers. The ACLJ has put his letter onto a video. Here it is:

You can sign the petition for his release here:

http://aclj.org/iran/save-american-pastor-from-iranian-prison-sentence

God bless!

-Austin

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Exchanging the Truth of God For a Lie

Romans 1:25: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

My first question when I used to read this passage of Scripture is “Why would anyone ever exchange God for anything less? It doesn’t make sense!” Then my attention was turned to Israel. Israel seemed to be in a constant stage of rebellion against God throughout the entire Old Testament. At one point, they even wanted to return back to Egypt (read Exodus for more on that). I remember thinking, “Good grief! Why would you continually do things that grieved God? Why didn’t you learn?” Then one day, God told me this in my heart: “Austin, you do the same thing.” That was it. Not anything profound at all. However, I was completely humbled. I realized that so many times I choose worldly things, worthless things over God. The Lord also laid on my heart that often Christians want to return to what I call their “Spiritual Egypt.” We think it was better where we were before we accepted Christ. That’s just our flesh deceiving us though. That’s when I finally realized that God’s grace is so much greater than I had ever imagined. We, as Christians, often rebel against Him and yet He still chooses to love us and take us back when we repent of our trespasses. Our idolatry. Colossians 3:5 says this about our sin:

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

Paul calls our sin or our rebellion towards God “idolatry.” And it really is. Whenever you put anything before God, that’s idolatry. You’re worshipping something else. As Jefferson Bethke puts it, “What defines you, what do you give ultimate worth, and what, if taken, would bring ultimate hurt.  Now see, that is your god.” We often think of idolatry as literally bowing down to something else. That’s not necessarily true. You can worship money, drugs, your boyfriend or girlfriend, you popularity, etc. Anything you put in place of God is idolatry. Jefferson Bethke also said, “Where we exchanged ourselves for God thinking we could be Him, He exchanged Himself for us, absorbing all our sin.”

That’s grace. Even when we are in rebellion against the Creator, God still calls us our of the darkness. He doesn’t care where you’ve been. He wants you now. When Jesus was on the cross, He was dying for each and every individual that ever was and ever would be. His love will never fail you! Call out to Him in repentance and accept Jesus as your Savior! Only then will you be satisfied.

“Counterfeit gods, if you fail them, will never forgive you and if you get them, they’ll never satisfy you. This is the only God who will- Jesus and His resurrection.”- Tim Keller

God bless!

-Austin

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