Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Certainty of the Resurrection.

 
Dear Weekly Readers!

We have recently gone through lent and Holy Week, which culminated in Resurrection Day!  Those that believe are alive in Christ because Jesus is alive!   Please enjoy this article by Pastor Bylkas.
May God Bless your week! But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.1 Corinthians 15:20-22
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN ONCE WROTE: “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” Franklin expresses his hope that the Constitution for the founding of our nation would be sound enough to stand the test of time.
While Benjamin Franklin’s quote is profound in its own way, God’s Word teaches us that there are many other things that are as certain, or even more certain, than death and taxes. As we begin the season of Easter, we celebrate God’s sure promise of resurrection. As the Apostle Paul says, For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Jesus says, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (John 5:24-25) In the Gospel of John, the Gospel writer quotes the words “verily, verily” twenty- five times. The phrase can be translated “truly, truly” or “certainly, certainly” and comes from the Greek word from which we get the English word “Amen.” The promises and declarations of God are true and certain.
Luther says it well:
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? This is so true that even Satan cannot deny it. Christ’s resurrection and victory over sin, death and hell is greater than all heaven and earth. You can never imagine his resurrection and victory so great but that in actuality it is far, far greater. For as his person is mighty, eternal, without limit, incomprehensible, so also is his resurrection, victory and triumph mighty, eternal, without limit, incomprehensible. Were hell a thousand times more, and death ten thousand times more, it would be but a spark, a mere drop, compared with Christ’s resurrection, victory and triumph. Christ’s resurrection, victory and triumph gives Christ to all who believe in Him. Since we have been baptized in his name, and believe in him, it follows that even if you and I underwent sin, death and hell a hundred thou- sandfold, it would amount to nothing; for Christ’s resurrection victory and triumph, which have been given me in the baptism and in the word by faith, and therefore are my own, are infinitely greater. If this is true, and I most certainly believe it to be true, then let sin death and hell dog my steps and growl at me. What will they do to us? What can they do?
No matter how great our difficulties seem, the certainty of the resurrection is far greater. Instead of sin, we have righteousness, instead of defeat we have victory, instead of death we have life. Christ has overcome everything for us. May God grant us grace to look beyond our sufferings and by faith, lay hold of the finished work of the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. “Amen.”

These 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. (John 16:33) ~ 
Copyright © 2016 The Foreign Mission, All rights reserved.







Thursday, April 14, 2016

Good News!

Dear Weekly Readers!

The following is an except from a letter that the FM Chairman and Pastor Robert Maki sent to Nigeria recently.  This is shared here, as no matter where we live, we need the Good News of the Gospel!   May God Bless your week!


Dear Elder...(e)  God's Peace!

May the love of God through His son Jesus Christ and the communion of the Holy Sprit be with you now and forever.

As a Foreign Mission, we go forth as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has commanded when He said "Go forth through out the whole world and preach the Gospel, the good news to all people. The good news is the message of this Easter Season when God has so much loved us that He sent His only begotten son so that who so ever believes in Him, they will not perish, but they will have ever lasting life.
What is it to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus didn't come to condemn the world, but that all might live through Him. Jesus is true man as well as true God. He was from the beginning of time. All things were created by Him and nothing is that was not created by Him.

Man was created in God's own image as a perfect being. But through unbelief, our first parents were beguiled and fell into sin. We have inherited that same sinful nature. Sin separates us from God.  The word tells us, Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God." It speaks further, "All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. There is no one who does good. No, not one." Jesus speaks, "You must be born again." The word teaches, through the working of the Spirit, we die to our selves so that we may live in Jesus Christ."

God has ordained that, "Through the foolishness of preaching, man might be saved." That preaching of the Word, the law, does its work within the very heart and soul of a man. " The word of God does not return to Him void." But it does that for which God gave it to do. Apostle Paul testifies, "The law slew, killed, me and I died, but yet I live. But not I. But Christ lives within me." That is how we become "a new creature in Christ. Old things are then all passed away and all things become new."

When Jesus was upon Calvary's cross, the sins of the whole world, yours and mine and every ones was put upon Jesus. Jesus was the price,the sacrifice, the penalty for our sin,the lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world so that you and I who could never pay even if we spent eternity in hell could obtain eternal life in heaven. God even turned His face from Jesus and Jesus cried, my God. my God, why has thou forsaken me? God loved you and me so much that He turned His face from Jesus and allowed Him to finish the work of salvation for us. He shed His blood as an offering for our sins. When Jesus said, "It is finished !" The work of salvation was complete. He gave up the ghost and died. The third day Jesus arose from the dead. He lives! and because He lives. when we are in Him, we also will live through out all eternity with Him.

We are covered with the righteousness of Jesus because He took all our sin from us and when our sins are forgiven and by faith, the blood of Jesus washes away all our sins,this we have heard and believe because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. When we stand before a righteous and all knowing God, We stand perfect, without sin,and God remembers our sin no more. Jesus said,"Come onto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden. I will give you rest. Come and learn of me. I am meek and lowly and I will bring rest onto your souls. Take upon you my yoke. My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

It is for this reason why we go forth and reach out with the inviting words of Jesus to all people. We don't preach ourselves, but we preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  We have freely received of His grace, love and mercy. Even the forgiveness of sins, and we are commanded by Him to freely give.  We can only give that which the Lord has given to us to those who want to receive.

The word of God is spiritual and as ones who have been purchased with a great price, even the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, we don't belong to our selves but we belong to Him. We are partakers of His kingdom and His kingdom is not meat and drink, not a natural kingdom, but it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, "The kingdom of God is within you." The emphasis isn't upon ourselves, or the works of our flesh or signs and wonders, but it is only upon The Lord Jesus Christ. "We are saved by Grace through Faith and that not of ourselves but it is a gift of God." Jesus and His work of righteousness within us is the reason for the hope that lies within us.

I write what I have for no other reason then for you to know what is it that we believe even as the ALC missionaries brought to Nigeria about fifty years ago and many heard, their hearts were touched and they believed and they turned to the Lord Jesus Christ even for the forgiveness of their sins. They heard the gospel proclaimed to them and believed it and walked in that newness of life believing and trusting upon the Lord Jesus Christ as their only hope of ever lasting life. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes onto the Father except by me."

I leave you in God's tender care and pray He continues to guide you to walk in Christ by His Spirit and in the Word that is a light onto our feet and a lamp onto our pathway.

Your fellow servant in Jesus Christ!
Pastor Robert  (Bob) Maki
Chairman Apostolic Lutheran Church of America
Foreign Mission Board
Copyright © 2016 The Foreign Mission, All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Weekly Diner - December 9th, 2015

The Weekly Diner - We are to Pray and Not Worry
Dear Weekly Readers! 
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him”  (Matthew 2:1-2).

 Not much is known about these wise men. In all likelihood they were not Jewish, yet they knew about Jesus. How was this possible? It is entirely possible if we recognize that all nations began in the full knowledge of God. At creation everyone heard about the coming Christ child with each succeeding generation being taught of this. And those that entered the Ark were undoubtedly fully aware of this fact, too. Even though people began departing from God’s teachings soon after the Ark landed, it is easy to imagine that some vestige of knowledge of Jesus was retained by the many false religions that evolved over time.

Tradition says the Magi are known for their practice of magic and other arts forbidden by the written law of God. Obviously, they had at some point in their history turned their backs on this law to serve their own imaginations of eternal truths. Yet, they knew enough to search for Christ when a strange star suddenly appeared in the sky. God was calling specifically to the Magi in the wilderness through the appearance of the star, as He still does to each person today through various means. It must have been their past knowledge of Scripture, perhaps of Moses’ writings about a “star out of Jacob”
(Num 24:17), that caused them to answer God’s call by diligently searching for the Messiah of the Jews. What else could have motivated the Magi to follow this remarkable star to find the king of another nation? It had to have been the seed of truth planted many generations ago that was now being revealed to them by God.

When they arrived in Jerusalem the Magi immediately began asking the Jews for the location of the baby Messiah. After all, this was the royal city of the Jews so the Magi probably figured that there must be 
knowledge about His birth in this city. To their surprise, no one in the streets could answer their question until they were summoned to appear before Herod. This was not joyous news for Herod to hear of a competitor to his throne so he inquired of the Jews’ priests and scribes who were supposed to be well-versed in Scriptural prophecy. They were. They knew exactly where Christ was to be born: “in Bethlehem of Judea” (Matt 2:5). 

Although the Jews were fully aware of the coming Messiah they were unwilling to seek for Him. In fact, they eventually crucified Him. This brief treatment of the diligent search for Christ by a backslidden people illustrates the great love God has for all individuals, including you. There is an innate understanding in each of us—as there was in the Magi— to know that there is a God of the universe,

“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in
them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible
things of him from the creation of the world are clearly
seen, being understood by the things that are made, even
his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without
excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).


Like the Magi, if we answer God’s call He will lead us to the salvation provided by the Christ child. Jesus paid for your sins on the cross. Now He calls you to repentance and forgiveness of your sins in His name as proclaimed by a believer on earth. Are you willing to search for this gospel and believe it through the power of the spoken word and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, or will you count yourself as one of the priests and scribes of our day and be unwilling to accept this free offer of eternal salvation?

God’s Peace,
Charles Korhonen
TAPIOLA APOSTOLIC LUTHERAN CHURCH
 
Copyright © 2015 The Foreign Mission, All rights reserved.

The Weekly Diner December 2nd, 2015

The Weekly Diner - We are to Pray and Not Worry
Dearly beloved,

"Good news from heav'n the angels bring, Glad tidings to the earth they sing: To us this day a Child is giv'n, to crown us with the joy of heav'n." (Martin Luther 1535)
God is for us...
We are now in the season of Advent, a word that means arrival, or coming. It is a time of expectant waiting, a time of joy and of excitement. As we await the celebration of the first coming of Christ to His world, we experience a growing expectation, excitement, and anticipation as we attend worship services, go caroling together, gather with family and friends, or read, meditate and pray over Advent and Christmas texts from the Bible in order to be refreshed in the knowledge of God becoming one of us.

There is a sense of excitement in the air, even in the dark winter nights of life, that our brighter day of joy is coming soon. Even though we have had many Christmas celebrations come and go; nevertheless, each year it is as if it is the first one all over again.
“For God is coming to be with us.” (Isaiah 7:14)

Isaiah, by faith, 700 years before Christ, was able to peer into the future of the effects of the first coming of Christ, for he spoke of being able to “draw water out of the wells of salvation,” (12:3) and of how the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: “they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 35:10)

For God not only is for us, He came to be with us, so that He might be in us.

Having experienced the forgiveness of sins through Christ’s atonement through faith, we live under the covering of Christ’s righteousness, for we are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.(Ephesians 2:20-22) God now in us.

"Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die; Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth, Come, Desire of nations, come, Fix in us they humble home; O to all Thyself impart, Formed in each believing heart!

Hark, the herald angels sing, "Glory to the new born King!"  (Charles Wesley 1739)

May we have a blessed Advent season, and a Merry Christmas!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

 
Copyright © 2015 The Foreign Mission, All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Weekly Diner - We are to Pray and Not Worry
Dear Weekly Readers!

God’s Peace! 

Have you ever desired that your church would have more people in it?  Well, I have noticed that is so many churches around the world, the young men stop coming to church and do not return.  Hence the churches are mostly women and children.   This is so sad.  Therefore I am publishing this article by Pastor Rod about training up children!  

May God Bless your week!   John R. 


ANNUALLY, IN JUNE, WE AS a nation celebrate Father's Day and in our congregation we conduct the rite of confirmation for our youth. Both of these traditions are significant blessings which we share with one another in families and in the fellowship of the Church. Both are an important part of bringing up children in the training and admonition of the Lord.

As fathers, we have a tremendous responsibility to the children that the Lord has given us. We not only have the duty of providing for their physical needs such as food and clothing, but more so the guidance and instruction that is vital that they may live godly lives and serve both God and
their fellow man. It is said, "A lesson is not really taught until it is learned!" This requires a continual process of teaching and re-teaching the Word of the Lord, values, character, discipline, responsibility and a host of other things. It can sometimes be a difficult and tiring thing for which we need to remember that it is written in the Word of the Lord, Be not weary in well doing. (2 Thessalonians 3:13)
The requirement of "not provoking your children to wrath" requires patient, fair, consistent discipline administered in love. This goes along with frequent expressions in word and deed of love for one's children, filled with praise and encouragement. Also along with this, an example of godliness must be set, as the psalmist has written, I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way... I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. (Psalm 101:2)

When a parent spends time (both quantity and quality time) with their children, it pays great rewards. Recently, a father told me of his child coming to him and saying, "I am proud of you, Dad. You got up early to help me with my homework and I appreciated that!" When this kind of thing happens, everyone feels good about it, and it binds hearts and lives together. My response was, "It doesn't get any better than that!" And it truly doesn't. For this is what this article is all about: our relationships with one another and with God in the fellowship of His people.

When the Church undertakes the responsibility to train up the young in the way of the Lord, a foundation of knowledge is laid. Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105) The purpose is to teach children the way of salvation, and also to set the wisdom of God's truth before them as a guide for their lives.

Our confirmation camp program provides the opportunity for our confirmands to hear the word of instruction from several pastors, and get acquainted with them in an informal setting, along with developing friendships with other young people. All of these have proven effective in equipping the saints, preparing them for their witness in life as ones who worship and faithfully serve the Lord. ~ 

Pastor Rod Johnson
 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Do not be Anxious

Dear Weekly Readers!

Do you ever worry about the future?  Are you ever anxious about the events around you?  I know I am,  and I need to be reminded often that God is in control!   Leave it to the one who holds the future!   Please read the article about this topic below.
May God Bless your Week!   John R.


By: Pastor Nathan Juntunen

HAVING REBELLED against God by his first transgression, man slips from the realm of the limitless to the realm determined by a tyrannical limit: death. Our entire life is bounded by this limit, though the knowledge of it is almost always suppressed. It therefore forces upon us a certain measure of anxiety. This is our plague. We are anxious. Sometimes we do not know why; we cannot discern the source of our anxiety. But this we know—we are an anxious lot.

Jesus’ teaching about anxiety is therefore most astonishing, for it is incredibly simple: 
“Do not be anxious.” Take therefore no thought for the morrow... A vexing thought, indeed! In one word Jesus distills the entire weight of the Old Testament Law and the expectation of God transmitted through every prophet who has ever walked this green earth. Do not be anxious?!! How is the world supposed to keep turning without a bit of anxiety? (It has been said that love makes the world go ‘round, but I think it could more truthfully be spoken about anxiety.)

Jesus’ teaching about anxiety is deliciously similar to His teaching about judgment: “Do not judge.” Both teachings taken together illustrate for us the nature of Jesus’ commands: They are simply impossible to fulfill. I am a worry-wart, and beyond that, I am an incurable judge. I am confirmed in these two states by the word of Christ Himself (see for reference Paul’s discussion concerning the effect of the Law in Romans 7:7).

I am not only a judge of others, mind you, but a judge of myself. Therefore, to find myself face to face with Jesus bidding me to deny anxiety and forego judg
ment leaves me with all the more anxiety and all the more propensity to judge; now to judge even Him! The weight is too much, the demand too stringent; I cannot survive... 

Precisely the point... Jesus would later say: Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. (Matthew 21:44) It is not a pretty sight for the Old Adam when he comes into contact with the Living Lord. He must die or he must crucify him. He cannot have it both ways. We cannot survive an encounter with the real Christ; it provokes my old anxious and judgmental nature to its limit. He pushes me to the very boundary of existence and invites me to the other side. To venture to the other side—to go to God and lodge myself in the eternal One requires one thing: I must die. Not the “little death” of physical separation from spirit, but the “big death” of my ego, desires, self-will and pride.
But it is God’s will that we should die, so we may be raised to an unlikely form of life. We, in Christ Jesus, live an “impossible” life, because we are freed from anxiety in Him who took our anxieties upon Himself at Calvary. He bore our burdens, it is written. Those burdens were not only the sins piled up through the ages until His coming nor only the ones from the generations since–they are the burdens of our sin, death and our incurable habits of worry and judgment. When Jesus bids us to live a life free from anxiety and judgment, He is really calling us back to Himself. He is calling us back to the unity with God that we shared before our epic Fall, back to His singular and perfect will, a will that none should perish but that all would share eternal life, a non-anxious life. 
Through faith in Him we have already achieved what He demands. We have peace with God through faith in the Lord Jesus (Romans 5:1). Having believed, we are set free from the limit that provoked our anxiety. We are free from judgment, free from death. Jesus comes, therefore, not as an academic professor who counsels strict adherence to a code. Rather, He comes as One willing to die for our freedom from the code. He comes as One chosen to deliver us from the anxiety of the code.

Therefore we do not worry. Not because we have decided not to worry, but because HE has shouldered the burden of our worry and HE alone has the power to set our hearts at rest. ~ 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Forgiveness

The Weekly Diner - We are to Pray and Not Worry

Dear Weekly Readers!

John 13:35 says:  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

In order to maintain, exhibit, and sustain love to one another, there must be forgiveness.  The article today is about forgiveness! Dear Lord,  give us a forgiving heart!  John R.
 
FORGIVENESS IS IN THE FOREFRONT of a true believer’s heart. One must first be a partaker of the forgive- ness God offers in the shed blood of Jesus. At times it may seem forgiveness is the farthest and hardest answer that can come from our heart toward one who has offended us. We can never be completely at peace with God and our brother unless we are able to forgive. This is a hard lesson to learn and takes one being a partaker in the forgiveness God has in His Son. So we rest in the fact that we are able to completely forgive the offenses of others because we now walk in the Holy Spirit, who has guided us unto the perfect forgiveness God has for us. 
This believer’s heart is what God alone has made complete, pure, holy and has the testimony of the Holy Spirit. A heart that is caring, full of compassion, willing to carry the burdens of others. A heart that will listen and is able to hear the cry of the lost. A heart that is not ashamed of the Spirit’s guidance, not ashamed of the Gospel and not ashamed to be a child of the King. 
And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5) This is the heart of man, not the heart that has been washed in the blood of the Lamb. The heart of man is not walking daily by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in the forgiveness God has given. The heart of man is exceedingly wicked and has one thing in mind—to serve itself. If man trusts his own heart, he will find that his heart will fail him. 
Where can man trust if not his heart? We are asked to walk by faith and not look within ourselves for anything that will be pleasing to God. Man’s heart must first be right with God and then he can be at peace with others. Man cannot forgive unless he is at peace with God and has tasted the forgiveness God offers in His Son Jesus. 
The heart of man will become hardened if it has not come under the teaching of the Word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. (Exodus 7:14) Pharaoh's heart continued to be hardened and he would not submit to the will of God and let the people of God go. All of Egypt had to suffer because of Pharaoh's hardened heart. If you look at the believer’s heart you can see a heart full of compassion, a heart that is ready to forgive, a heart that never—not ever—holds judgment upon the evil work of man's evil heart. The heart of man has one thing in mind: to win or have advantage over others. With this heart, man will never admit that he has a hardened heart, and with this heart he can never forgive. 
A believer’s heart has only one choice: to forgive. A believer’s heart is willing to accept the heart of others; and he knows that man’s heart is unable to forgive until man’s heart experiences the complete transformation work God has to do in softening hearts in the true contri- tion. Man finds this forgiveness when his robe has been washed white in the blood of the Lamb, cleansed pure and found acceptable in the sight of God. This work of trans- forming the heart of man is done through the speaking and through the hearing of the Word of God.
We as God's children never hold judgment against man’s heart but always carry a forgiving heart, because this is the will of our Father in heaven. The heart of a believer should never seek his own will, but submit to the will of the Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit, should seek the truth, should stand and be known as one of grace, goodness and one after the heart of God. This heart should never rush to judgment but should search for all truth, should never stand with the will and ways of man even if he stands alone, should always carry a heart of forgive- ness. This heart should make full restitution for spreading or speaking falsely of others even when they may be right, and should never be one to divide the flock of God. This is very hard for our flesh to do. When we find our hearts drawn to the will of God in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit, we see and pray for a heart that is ready to forgive. 
I pray that God would reveal to us that our fight is over and we have the victory in Jesus. He has already won the fight for us. We can walk humbled and contrite in forgiving others. This is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength in the work of God in our hearts. This is because our strength does not come from within us, but comes from the work of God reconciling us to Him-
self. Thus we are able to forgive and because of this we can have the peace that passes all understanding. 

We should be willing and ready to make all things right as the Spirit leads us unto full restitution in the body of believers, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are called to not judge; the Word of God is the judge of man and will not return void to God but will perform that which it is sent to perform. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confes- sion is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:10) 
Father, cleanse my heart that I may walk with a forgiving heart toward others, praying Thy will would be made known in my heart and in the hearts of all others. Keep my heart humble before Thee and before Thy Word. Please do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. I offer this prayer in the name of Thy Son Jesus. Amen!

Mark Sunnarborg
Copyright © 2015 The Foreign Mission, All rights reserved.


 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Weekly Diner - We are to Pray and Not Worry
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Dear Weekly Readers!

Love and Friendship in this life is so important!  The below article speaks of such!  May God Bless your week!   John R.

 
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatso- ever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. 
John 15:12-17 
WHAT IS LOVE? WHAT IS FRIENDSHIPWhat does this mean to us? How does it bear fruit? What does it mean that our fruit should “remain”? Think on these things! 
It is written: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9) 
Isn’t it marvelous to know that God—who is love— loves us, His created beings? He loves us, even though we have sinned and come short of His glory. Isn’t it marvelous to know the love of a friend that abides through “thick and thin”? Isn’t it marvelous to know we can rely upon and trust one another? 
All of the above exist in fullness because of the love the Father shows us through the gift of His Son, by whom we have forgiveness of sins and are able to forgive one another as we have been forgiven. As He lives in us, we live in Him, and we are motivated to bear one another’s burdens. This is the amazing work of His grace! 

The questions asked in the beginning of this article are illustrated in the words of Jesus in the text above and the following Bible passages:
• The secret of the LORD is with them that fear (revere) him; 
and he will shew them his covenant. (Psalm 25:14)
• A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and 
there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. 
(Proverbs 18:24)
• Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends 
by name. (3 John 1:14) 
The following verses show the opposite of true friendship: 
  • My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off. They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischie- vous things, and imagine deceits all the day long. (Psalm 38:11-12) 
  • A froward (perverse) man soweth strife: and a whisperer (gossip) separateth chief friends. A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. (Proverbs 16:28-29) 

    To my dear friends in love! Pastor Rod Johnson








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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Our Focus is Christ!

Our Focus Is Christ 

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. 
Philippians 4:8-9 


OUR WORLD IS FULL OF DISTRACTIONS. What is worse is that

some of the distractions masquerade as being important. Before we know it, we can be caught up in a web of negative images and thoughts that rob us of our happiness and steal our peace. 

Yet Paul says we who are of the faith of Jesus Christ are different, and our minds are focused on Christ and the things that solidly enrich our lives and the lives of others. He says then that we should imitate in the Spirit what he has done in the Spirit both by example and observation. If we do that, then the God of peace is with us.
We need to work together to keep our minds focused rightly on what brings us to peace; our minds must be set on the good. It is wonderful to be part of a fellowship where we speak kindly to one another and encourage the good. Be encouraged, for your kindnesses are known. 


Paul made it clear what our minds should be focused on. We are to focus on the good, those things which reflect the incarnate God in the sphere of the incarnate. The true (real), the honest, the just, the pure, the bringing forth love, the inoffensive, the virtuous, the praiseworthy; these are to occupy our minds. These are not the things that fallen human beings dwell on; in fact, in our fallenness it takes only a single negative, disturbing or mindlessly entertaining thing to distract us and soon we lose our entire train of thought.

Yes, there is the problem. The world and its distrac- tions have stolen our peace. As long as we remain fixed upon our circumstance rather than our God, we shan’t have our peace back. If we regain our focus on our God our peace is restored. This is an important part of our mission as a church in this world, to bring peace, not as the world but the peace of God.

God’s peace. 
Pastor Jay Weidner Laurium, Michigan

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Did the Apostles Practice Infant Baptism?
One day a young man asked me the question, “Did the apostles and early church fathers practice infant baptism?” 
When I asked him for his reason for making this inquiry, he replied that he had read in a book on this subject that before the year 350 A.D., only adults were baptized. However, the writer had not documented his claims by quoting or even referring to any church father who lived during or before this date. Upon further investigation I have noticed that whenever anyone tries to prove that only adults should be baptized, they have documented their statements with quotations made during the sixteenth century or later. I have often wondered why they have not quoted, some of the church leaders of the first three or four centuries, Can it be that they have not been able to find any statements to prove their claims?
On the other hand, we who believe in and practice infant baptism can find an abundance of evidence from the writings of the early church fathers to prove that they did practice infant baptism. We can trace infant baptism back to the days of the apostles. Since this is true we must conclude that it was performed with their sanction, if not with their own hands.

From the scriptures we learn that the apostles were very thorough in conveying their directions, injunctions, and traditions to succeeding generations. Peter tells us in II Peter 1:15, “Yea, I will give diligence that at every time ye may be able after my decease to call things to remembrance.” And Paul says in II Timothy 2:2, “And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others, also.” With these facts before us, all of us must admit that the testimony of the men who lived near the apostolic age must be of very great weight in helping to decide what was apostolic practice.
Infant Baptism Practiced by Early Church Leaders
One of the foremost of the early churchmen is Augustine, who lived during the latter part of the fourth century. His testimony is direct and to the point that infant baptism was the common practice in his day and that it was apostolic tradition. His words are, “If anyone do ask for divine authority in this matter, that which the whole church practices, and which has not been instituted by councils, but was ever in use, is very reasonably believed to be no other than a thing delivered by or from the apostles.” (De Bapt. Cont. Donat.)
Chrysostom, who lived at the same time as Augustine, complained that “too many permit their servants, women and children to remain unbaptized.”
Gregory Nazianzen, who lived a half-century earlier, shamed a mother who hesitated to bring her child to be baptized because of its tender age by saying, “Hannah consecrated Samuel to God before his birth and devoted him to the priesthood as soon as he was born,” and, that “so children should be baptized in their tenderest age, though having yet no idea of perdition and grace.”
A certain minister named Fidus, who lived about the year 250, was somewhat squeamish about baptizing new-born babes, because he was expected to kiss them after baptizing them. Because of his scruples he brought it before a council of sixty-six bishops to decide whether baptism, for the sake of decency, ought not to be denied to infants until after they were eight days old. The Council with Cyprian, who died a martyr’s death in 258, declared that “the mercy and grace of God are to be denied to none from the moment he is born.” This proves that infant baptism was then the common practice.
Origen was born in 185 and died in 254. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were Christians. He traveled extensively, visited many of the apostolic churches, and resided in many of them. Consequently he was well informed as to the traditions of the apostles and the practice of the church concerning baptism. Therefore his statement concerning this topic must bear considerable weight.
Here it is. “The church received from the apostles the injunction (traditio) to give baptism even to infants, according to the saying of our Lord concerning infants.” (Orig. in Rom. lib. 5, cap. 6, p. 543.) Again, in his homily on Leviticus, he states, “Whereas the baptism of the church is given for the forgiveness of sins, infants also are, by the usage of the church, baptized.” In his commentary on the Book of Romans, he says, “From the Apostles (i.e., the days of the apostles) the church has received the tradition that baptism shall be administered also to small children.” 
Tertullian lived from about 150 to 225 A.D. As far as we have been able to discover his is the only voice that was raised against the validity of infant baptism. Since he was born about 50 years after the death of John, the apostle, and lived while Polycarp, a disciple of John still lived, his words are very signifigant. By his opposition to infant baptism, Tertullian proves that it was a common thing in his day.
Ireneus, who was a pupil of Polycarp, who was a pupil of John the apostle, declares, “Christ came to save all—all who by Him are re-born of God, infants, little ones, children, youth, and persons of mature age: therefore he passed through these several ages.”
Justin Martyr, who was martyred in 165 A.D., has in one of his Apologies, written about the year 148, declared that there were among Christians in his time many persons of both sexes, some sixty and some seventy years old, who had been made disciples to Christ from their infancy and continued undefiled all their lives. Now if you deduct sixty or seventy years from the time Justin wrote his Apology, you would be carried back into the very age of the apostles. Now we know of no other way to make disciples of infants, except through the sacrament of baptism. Consequently, if infant baptism was practiced during the days of the apostles, who can say that it was without apostolic sanction?
The Apostolic Constitution of 225 A.D. says: “Baptize also you little children and nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord. For he says, Let the little children come unto me and forbid them not.”
In the Didache, or the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, which dates back to the first century, we read as follows, “But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize, Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (running) water. But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water, and if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Dr. Wall, an eminent church historian and scholar, after a thorough study on this subject, makes this conclusion: “As these evidences are the first four hundred years, in which there appears one man Tertullisn, that advises the delay of infant baptism in some cases, and one Gregory, that did, perhaps, practice such delay in the case of his own children, but no society of men so thinking or so practicing, nor no man saying, it was unlawful to baptize infants, so in the next seven hundred years there is not so much as one man to be found that either spoke for or practiced any such delay but all the contrary. And when, about the year 1130 one sect among the Albigense’s declared against the baptizing of infants, as being incapable of salvation, the main body of that people rejected that opinion; and they of them that held that opinion quickly dwindled away and disappeared, there being no more heard of holding that tenet till the rising of the German anti-infant Baptists in the year 1552.” (Wall on Infant Baptism, Vol. 2, ch. 10, p. 501.)
From history we thus learn that infant baptism was practiced from the very beginning of the Christian Church, and also that anti-infant baptism did not become a problem in the Christian Church until the middle of the sixteenth century.
Scriptures Teach Infant Baptism
As we search the Scriptures we find evidence that the apostles did practice infant baptism, When the apostles and disciples proceeded to win converts to the Christian religion they went out among the unbelieving Jews and heathen. All those who accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior they baptized. Numbering among those who were baptized we find entire families. In Acts 16:14-15 we read that “Lydia was baptized and her household.” Now the Greek word translated “household” means not only her immediate family but also her servants and their families. In the same chapter concerning the Philippian jailer we read in verse 33, “And he took them in the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes and was baptized, he and all his, immediately.” In Corinthians 1:16, Paul states, “And I baptized also the household of Stephanas.” Now these are only three instances of “households” which the apostles and disciples baptized. Certainly they baptized hundreds, if not thousands of other households which were not mentioned in the Scriptures.
Likewise, the Apostle Peter declared on the day of Pentecost even before the first person was baptized into Jesus’ baptism, that children are to be baptized. In Acts 2:38-39 we read, “Repent ye and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for to you is the promise and to your children.” Thus he declared that children are to be baptized in order that they may receive these gifts.
Therefore the Christian Church still baptizes infants because the Word of God teaches it and the Christian Church, including the apostles and early church fathers, has always practiced it.
© 1983 A.M. Stone
Faith & Fellowship Press