John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

Second only to the Bible in world publications Pilgrim’s Progress is a must read for “Christians” of all ages. – Mike


American Minute with Bill Federer

John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress – “The monster was hideous to behold…scales…wings like a dragon, feet like a bear…out of his belly came fire & smoke”

 

John Bunyan 

What would it be like to be imprisoned by your government for 12 years just for preaching the Gospel?¹

This was the fate of John Bunyan, author of the world renown book Pilgrim’s Progress.

 

READ MORE

Map of Moscow, Idaho
Moscow is a city in northern Idaho along the state border with Washington, with a population of 23,800 at the 2010 census. The county seat and largest city of Latah County, Moscow is the home of the University of Idaho, the state’s land-grant institution and primary research university.Wikipedia

¹ = Think this could never happen in America; think again it already has. READ MORE


 

OTHER RESOURCES:

The Pilgrim’s Progress: A Guided Tour Teaching Series by Derek Thomas

Today in Church History  Author, John Bunyan

A Picture of a True Minister (from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress)

See our Ministry Document and More Page

Steadfast Love

Written at a time of despair (Saul had sent men to watch form him and kill him)  the 59th Psalm is David calling out to God for help against his enemies. In the final verse (below) he makes a proclamation that God shows him even in these times Steadfast Love. 

Logos.com

Fortaleza mía, a ti cantaré;
Porque eres, oh Dios, mi refugio, el Dios de mi misericordia. (RVR 1960)

 

How many of us have a “STEADFAST LOVE” for God? What does the bible even mean by Steadfast Love? Well Webster’s 1828 dictionary gives us some insight:

STEADFAST, STEDFAST, a. [stead and fast.]

1. Fast fixed; firm; firmly fixed or established; as the steadfast globe of earth.

2. Constant; firm; resolute; not fickle or wavering. Abide steadfast to thy neighbor in the time of his trouble. Him[Satan] resist, stead fast in the faith. 1 Peter 5.

3. Steady; as steadfast sight.

Look at the second definition to be biblically “Steadfast” you must be consistent, firmly grounded in the faith, resolute or insistent about your beliefs, never wavering or  unpredictable. 

You should have a realization that biblical “Love” is the duty of every “True Believer”. We find that clearly in the command Lovethe Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Duet 6;5, Matt 22:37). This is the FIRST and GREATEST duty of man.

So putting these together Biblical “Steadfast Love” is a consistent, unwavering, and always reliable love first directed towards God then mankind. 

How do you stack up daily to this? 

Lamentations 3:22-23The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Psalm 118:1-29

Psalm 117:1-2

Psalm 86:15

How do you compare to our Father our example?

I know I am a work in progress – Mike

Daily Devotional – God is Faithful

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I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:13-17 (NKJV) 
Mi arco he puesto en las nubes, el cual será por señal del pacto entre mí y la tierra. 14 Y sucederá que cuando haga venir nubes sobre la tierra, se dejará ver entonces mi arco en las nubes. 15 Y me acordaré del pacto mío, que hay entre mí y vosotros y todo ser viviente de toda carne; y no habrá más diluvio de aguas para destruir toda carne. 16 Estará el arco en las nubes, y lo veré, y me acordaré del pacto perpetuo entre Dios y todo ser viviente, con toda carne que hay sobre la tierra. 17 Dijo, pues, Dios a Noé: Esta es la señal del pacto que he establecido entre mí y toda carne que está sobre la tierra. (RVR 1960)

The rainbow is GOD’S symbol though many have tried to appropriate it as their own, God, as the above verse shows, has the copyright as it were to it. It is God’s promise to mankind never to destroy him (even though we deserve it) for our sinful actions and disobedience against God. It is a symbol of God’s faithfulness.

Today I would like to list and briefly comment on some other verses that tell of God’s faithfulness.

1 Cor 1:9 (KJV) God is faithful [He is reliable, trustworthy and ever true to His promise—He can be depended on], and through Him you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Note here the implication is that God is faithful to persevere the saints that is those who are blessed to be called into fellowship 1 John 1:3 with Christ. 

Deuteronomy 7:9 – Therefore know [without any doubt] and understand that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who is keeping His covenant and His [steadfast] lovingkindness to a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;  There is a condition for God’s faithfulness, before anyone freaks out and thinks I have gone heretical, let me finish; that condition is our own faithfulness. He is God, the faithful God, who is keeping His covenant…with those who love Him and keep His commandments. I do not care what language you read this in but I encourage you to get a Hebrew Lexicon and a English bible and compare side by side, it is clearly saying God is faithful to those who are faithful in loving Him and keeping His commandments. Here is the catch though, as Dr. Gill in his commentary points out “which are not the causes or conditions of his covenant and mercy, nor of his keeping them, but descriptive of the persons that enjoy the benefit thereof.”

Joshua 1:8 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall read [and meditate on] it day and night, so that you may be careful to do [everything] in accordance with all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will be [a]successful.  This is one of my favorite scriptures, I once preached it at a very conservative church. I opened with “God wants everyone to be successful and I can prove it in Scripture”. They thought I had joined the name it and claim it crowd. But I quoted this text and demonstrated that God is faithful to us, in that spiritual success comes to those who diligently study, apply and keep God’s commandments on a daily basis. No small task, which is why success is so elusive.

Psalm 36:5 – Your lovingkindness and graciousness, O Lord, extend to the skies, Your faithfulness [reaches] to the clouds. I remember as a kid laying on my back looking up at the sky and pretending I could touch the clouds, (Little did I know then I would one day jump {skydive} through one) they seemed unreachable. Yet God’s love, grace and faithfulness knows no boundaries. 

Psalm 119:90 – Your faithfulness continues from generation to generation;
You have established the earth, and it stands [securely].  I think we have all heard the so called “climate” expert doomsayers pontificating their wares to anyone in the media that will listen. Yet the bible makes it clear God created all, He is sovereign over all and faithfully secures all until He determines differently. 

Proverbs 20:6 – Many a man proclaims his own loyalty and goodness,
But who can find a faithful and trustworthy man?
  I live in Jackson, MS the local starting wage for most jobs is 8.00/hr (Fast foods etc.) for kids in HS. WalMart is having such a hard time finding faithful and trustworthy employees that they are starting HS students as cashiers part time at 11.00/hr. We can always count on God but our fellow man (even our “Christian” friends) should never be put on the same pedestal. Yet all should strive for the title A faithful and trustworthy man!

2 Timothy 2:13 – If we are faithless, He remains faithful [true to His word and His righteous character], for He cannot deny Himself. How many of you know a perfect Christian one that never has a harsh word, never complains, is always helpful. If you answered I do, there is a problem, for only Christ was perfect and we are flawed at times faithless but God remains faithful no matter our faults. 

1 John 1:9 – If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose].  Well speaking of our faults (sins), is it not again amazing that God is so willing to forgive and forget those sins forgive our sins and cleanse us continually. All we have to do is sincerely repent [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins to Him. 

Well I could go on for there are many more but I think you get the drift. We serve a faithful God who expects our faithfulness (obedience) in return but understands we are sinners saved by Grace and will need to repent of our sins regularly. 

 

 

 

 

The Unfaithful Preacher

Picture1Ministers of the gospel hold a place of immense responsibility to God and the souls of men. If they suppress the truth as it is in Jesus, for fear of offending their hearers; if they substitute laxness of principle, for the doctrines of the cross; dry external morality for practical godliness–they do it at an awful peril…

Source: The Unfaithful Preacher

Rebuilding a Future Nehemiah Part IX

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PRAYING PART FOUR

5 And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.

7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.

8 Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.

10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

11 O LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Nehemiah 1:5-11

 

            Last time we began our look at Nehemiah’s actual prayer, with an eye towards its meeting our previous analysis of prayer.  We got through two topics last time, 1) Only God (that is the God of the Bible) is worthy of our prayers and 2) we must always acknowledge our humble state when we pray.

            Today we will explore the final two points of Nehemiah’s prayer, 1) His prayer was and our prayer must; be founded upon hope and 2) we must pray with faithful expectation. While at first glance these two may seem similar I hope to show their significant and important differences.

 

1)  Prayers must be founded upon hope  

Verse 8-9   Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.

            It may seem obvious but I think it may be helpful if I first define the word “HOPE”.  Hope has come to mean the following:

noun

1. A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

            Note the uncertainty of the matter, it is a feeling and desire

2. Grounds for believing that something good may happen.

            Again uncertainty; it may happen as in “he does see some hope for the future”

 

Now the classic or dare I say biblical definition is quite different. Although considered “Archaic” or out of fashion it is: a sense of trust or confident expectation

 

            You can see the modern translation is one of uncertainty a feeling without foundation as in wishful thinking. The biblical definition conveys conviction. It is in that manner Nehemiah prayed to God.

            Look with me what he prayed;

1) He implores God to remember

2) To remember His promise to the Israelites

3) That even though they had been disobedient and scattered abroad

4) If they repented He was powerful enough to gather them

5) Gather them not just anywhere but in Jerusalem

            Nehemiah points out that God had made certain promises and Nehemiah expected God to honor them. Should we expect anything less? I dare say no, for why pray to God if you do not trust Him to hear your prayers and more importantly be capable of fulfilling them.

            Our hope today is the same as Nehemiah’s. God has promised us just as He did the Israelites. Yet our Hope is founded upon something greater than that of those of Nehemiah’s time, our Hope is still in God but founded upon Christ.

1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;  I hope you see it is still God where our Hope lies, it is just founded upon Christ and His work at Calvary.   Psalm 130:5 reiterates this: I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

            Our hope stands in stark contrast to that of the wicked (those without Christ):

 

Prov 10:28 The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish

            Our hope brings joy

Prov 11:7 When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.

            The unrighteous only hope is death

Prov 11:23 The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath

            Believers desire (hope in) good things the sinner in evil

Prov 23:18 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

            Our hope is in a future that cannot be taken away          

 

2)  Pray with faithful expectation

10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

 

You need not utterly despair even of those who for the present “turn again and rend you.” For if all your arguments and persuasives fail, there is yet another remedy left, and one that is frequently found effectual, when no other method avails. This is prayer. Therefore, whatsoever you desire or want, either for others or for your own soul, “Ask, and it shall be given you.” — JOHN WESLEY

 

 

Elijah prayed to God for rain and then sent his servant to see if there was any sign of it (1 Kings 18:41–46). He sent his servant seven times—Elijah had great expectation in God! Expectant prayer conquers discouragement and waits upon the Lord. James 1:6–7 tells us to ask with unwavering faith. http://www.joelbeeke.org/author/jrbeeke/

            We have discussed many times that one must pray in a manner that honors God and acknowledges His authority and control in all matters. Praying in such a manner that imposes your will upon God, (belief things will always work out as you planned), that just by asking God He will remove all troubles in your life or asking God for proof He is with you, are all recipes for prayer disaster.

            Everyone who prays does so with expectations at some level. These prayers are either founded on Worldly Expectations or Righteous Expectations. Righteous expectations start with:

            1) God’s sovereignty – Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

            2) Obedience – Joshua 1:7-9 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success

            3) Faith – Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

            4) Confidence1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

            I like what R.C. Sproul says on the matter:

We can take comfort from the fact that God knows our hearts and hears our unspoken petitions more than the words that emanate from our lips. Whenever we are unable to express the deep feelings and emotions of our souls or when we are completely unclear about what it is for which we ought to be praying, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Romans 8:26-27 says, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” When we don’t know how to pray or what to pray for in a given situation, the Holy Spirit assists us. There is reason to believe from the text that if we pray incorrectly, the Holy Spirit corrects the error in our prayers before he takes them before the Father, for verse 27 tells us that he “intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”     Excerpt from Does Prayer Change Things?  by R.C. Sproul

            Let us look back on Nehemiah’s prayer a moment:

10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

            By declaring himself and those in Jerusalem God’s redeemed Nehemiah has a righteous expectation of God hearing these prayers of His people.

11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

            Humbly but with confidence Nehemiah asks God to look favorably upon his prayer. The end of which is so significant but many miss it.

I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

            Note what Nehemiah asks for, mercy from the King of Persia. Nehemiah did not ask amiss. He pleaded with God to look favorably upon him not by building him up but by changing the heart of his captor. In essence Nehemiah prayed God use this pagan to bring about your will. There was no ego involved here, no vengeance against those who had oppressed God’s people, no self in this at all. Instead Nehemiah prayed for God to bring glory upon himself by using a pagan King to do God’s bidding. That my friend’s is a righteous prayer, it is a God centered prayer. Only with God centered prayers do we have a faithful expectation of being answered.

            I will close by citing part of an article by noted author and Pastor Derek Thomas. He expresses 4 points in the article and I will only quote the final.

How can we ensure that our prayers are God-centered? Consider the following five-step strategy:

1. Remind yourself that there is only one God in the universe, and that you are not Him.

2. Adoration comes first, before confession, thanksgiving, or supplication. Worship the Lord in your praying.

3. Read a psalm before you pray, and attempt to emulate what you find: a preoccupation with God in all His multifaceted nature. Find psalms of joy or grief, praise or lament, and note how the psalmist spends time with God, making Him the center of his thoughts and desires.

4. Learn to love God’s names so that saying and repeating them fills you with an inexpressible joy, a reminder of who He is and His covenant faithfulness to you in the gospel of His grace.

5. Learn to “wait” upon the Lord. Watch how the psalmist, “fainting” as he thinks of his own troubles, finds relief by deliberately focusing on the great things God has done:

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds (Ps. 77:11–12). http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/god-centered-prayer/

 

Until next time may God watch over and protect you.

 

In HIS Service