December 28, 2016

And When Eight Days Were Accomplished...

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:21-40

December 26, 2016

John 3:16 for Christmas

Vocals - Adam Boone
Production & Arrangement - Steve Serkosky 
Musical & Engineering Assistant - Adam Boone
Engineer (Trod Nossel Studios) - Justin Watson
Music Video Design & Production - John Zeller
Producer - DJP I.F.

December 24, 2016

The Advent of Jesus Christ

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:1-20

December 20, 2016

The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:26-38

Mary Visits Elizabeth
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord….

And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
Luke 1:39-46, 56

December 16, 2016

The Promise of the Messiah

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this,” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” (Micah 5:2).

December 8, 2016

The Reprieve by Dr. Rick Flanders

“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”
(Acts 9:31)

Dr. Rick Flanders
One important effect of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and his departure from Jerusalem to his home city of Tarsus, was the experience of “rest” (“peace” in the Greek) among the Christian churches he had been persecuting.  Persecution was and is an unavoidable part of the Christian life (according to Matthew 5:10, John 15:18-25, and also Second Timothy 3:12) but, for a time, the early churches experienced a reprieve from trouble for their faith through the removal of their chief persecutor.  It is obvious that the Lord gave them relief in order to facilitate the progress of the Gospel.  Sometimes in history, God will give His servants relief from persecution to open the door for them to spread the Gospel more rapidly.
Spreading the Gospel is what churches are meant to do!  The program the churches followed at the first was the one outlined and mandated by the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Olives just before He ascended into heaven.  He said,
“Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
(Acts 1:8)
They were to be filled with the Holy Spirit and then in the power of the Spirit to evangelize the city of Jerusalem and continue to evangelize the surrounding area, the next country, eventually getting the Gospel of Christ to “the uttermost part of the earth.”  Follow the progress of the following of this plan by the followers of Jesus in the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles.  Read the first chapters, and see what happened.
1.      The believers at Jerusalem were indeed filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and empowered to give effective testimony to the resurrection of Christ, and its saving message (chapters 1 and 2).

2.      That congregation grew by adding new believers and by multiplying disciples (chapters 2 through 7).

3.      The apostles, who led the Jerusalem church, were for some reason slow to move on to the “all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” sections of the Lord’s commission, but stayed in Jerusalem for years enjoying the fruit of their evangelism.  As a result, God, Who was and is serious about the Acts 1:8 program scattered the believers away from Jerusalem through the harsh persecution of a Jewish fanatic named Saul of Tarsus (Acts 8:1-4).

4.      The Christians persecuted by Saul were scattered all over that part of the Near East, spreading the Gospel.  They became active in establishing new Christian churches all over the region (see Acts 8:5-40 and 11:19-26).

5.      Important in the progress of this multiplication of churches was the reprieve God gave them through the conversion of Saul to Christ, and his being sent away to Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 9:1-31).
Although dedicated believers in Jesus will be persecuted for His sake, the reason God gave the churches relative “rest” for the period initiated in Acts 9:31 is clear, and it is the same reason He may sometimes provide a “reprieve” for His servants today.  He was opening the door for the rapid multiplication of churches.  Find in the record of the Acts how the Christians spread the Gospel of Christ through the rest of Judea, how God changed the minds of His people about evangelizing the Gentiles so that they would not hesitate to give the Good News to anyone, how churches began reproducing new churches, and how the churches started sending out missionaries!  All of this happened after God gave them rest.  See it in chapters 9 through 15, and onward!
Some believe that God’s people in our country and in the world have recently been given a “reprieve” from some difficulties through recent changes in the government.  Our national election on November 8 has certainly removed much of the threat of severe persecution that has been hanging over our heads.  Now don’t think that God is a Republican.  Don’t even think that He is an American.  But He is the Ruler over all, and has His way in the affairs of state (familiarize yourself with this fact by studying Psalm 75, Proverbs 21:1, Daniel 4,and Romans 13:1-7).  And the big Republican victory on Election Day has given Christians somewhat of a reprieve to carry on more vigorously and with less outside hindrance the evangelizing of the world.
Let’s not get into an argument, but let us face certain important facts about the results of this past election.  The election of the other side would have given us credible reasons to expect persecution by the federal government we Christians have never seen in this country since the Bill of Rights was passed.  Among those reasons are these.
1.      The Democratic nominee and her husband have made public statements overseas that they would seek to block further missionary work by American churches in certain countries.  Missionaries were warning us about this during the campaign.

2.      Significant cultural changes undoing the norms of Western civilization would occur in the next few years because of the appointment of radical activist judges to the United States Supreme Court.  The Democratic Party by various means of expression promised the appointment of such liberal justices who would not only preserve the extreme departures from traditional standards that have already come through recent Court decisions, but would also render many more destructive decisions, which would shape the brave new world in which our children would live and rear their families.  These decrees would also set Christians up to be persecuted.

3.      The government would seek to force Christians and their churches to abandon their Biblical convictions and conform to the new standards of progressivism.  When dealing with the question of what churches would do about new laws that require acceptance of homosexuality and the right of a woman to extinguish the life of a child in her womb, the Democratic nominee said that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”  For a politician to say that religious biases would have to be changed must mean that the government must force religious people to change their beliefs and practices.  Of course anything like this would require the state to ignore the protection of religious liberty.  This right is already being violated in other countries through the passage and enforcement of laws against “hate speech” and against religious people who “discriminate against” people who want to violate divine law.  Hate speech laws want to say that you can’t even publicly disapprove of certain sinful practices.  At this point, even “hate speech” (defined in a variety of ways” is still free speech, but the Democratic agenda put it and the free exercise of religion in real danger.  But now, for a while, it seems that we have a reprieve.

4.      The world will become increasingly more dangerous for Christians and Christian activity if those in power in the United States continue to make our country weaker and weaker in international affairs.  The bloody massacre of thousands of believers in Christ simply because of their unrelenting faith will no doubt grow under the kind of foreign policy our nation has followed for nearly a decade.  The restoration of American strength on the world stage would make Christians safer everywhere.

5.      A political philosophy that demands bigger government and higher taxes by definition restricts the freedom of Christians to do God’s work and to finance the spread of the Gospel.  The Bible tells us to pray that our rulers will allow us simply to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (First Timothy 2:1-2).  Christians want to be left alone so that we can be free to spread the Gospel and live lives that conform to the will of God.  We will not be looking for subsidies or federal programs to meet our needs.  Such an expansion of state activity limits our freedom to live the Bible way and do the work of the Gospel.  The Democrats were promoters of big government, but if the Republicans are telling us the truth, we have been given a reprieve from the threat of overbearing socialism, at least for a time.
Wednesday morning, November 9, did not give the people of God the dawn of the Millennium.  It did not bring us great joy over the character and faith of everyone that had been elected to office the day before.  But it may well have given us some kind of reprieve (“stay of execution, amnesty”) from the threat of imminent persecution and restriction of our freedom to evangelize.  God has granted us “rest” that we might preach and add believers to the churches and multiply the disciples of Jesus and, yes, multiply the true churches of Jesus Christ around the world.  Now is the time rise up and renew our lives to be lived for Christ.  It is not the time to sit back and count our investments, or just stop worrying so much.  It is not time to feel beholding to a political party or politicians.  It is time for revival.  The truth is that renewed believers in Christ ought to be going from street to street every day, spreading the Gospel.  Our churches should be filled to capacity and our prayer meetings attended like our other services are. We didn’t get new leadership in order to make our nation great. God has given us a reprieve to evangelize the world!

Dr. Rick Flanders
Revival Ministries