The Big Little Word “If”

If

Definition of if

a – in the event that
b – allowing that
c – on the assumption that
d – on condition that
Doing a study on 1 John in the Bible, I noticed how many times John used the word “if.”  That started me thinking about all the “ifs” in the Word of God.  It seems to me that there are many promises of God that we claim without taking into account the “if” that is associated with it.
It is clear that we can never earn our salvation.  We can never do enough good on our own to earn that gift of eternal life.  John 3:16 makes it clear that if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, he grants us forgiveness and eternal life.  Paul the Apostle also stated very plainly in Ephesians 2:8-9 that:
 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
But once we begin that walk with the Lord, it is clear that if our relationship is to grow and we are to develop as true disciples, there are conditions to be met.
The “ifs” seem to indicate that there is something required from us.  How we respond to these “ifs” will determine our receiving from God what He has offered.
Here are just a few for you to consider:

For IF you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you…Matthew 6:14

forgiveness

We talk a lot about how God forgives us if we ask.  But we must remember that forgiveness is tied to our forgiving others.

IF you are faithful to what I have said, you are truly my disciples…John 8:31

OObeying Word

So — if we are not faithful to God’s Word, how can we claim to be His disciple?  And how can we be faithful to His Word, if we never read it, never study it, never really know what it says?

 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, IF you love one another…John 13:35

 

One another

Interesting – the mark of a disciple according to Jesus is not all the great sacrifices we might make, the many talents we might use, but the love that we have for others.

IF anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him and We will come to him and make Our abode with him…John 14:23

obeying

We love to talk about desiring the presence of the Lord in our life, in our family, in our church.  Many of our worship songs are all about how much we love God.  But again, that big little word “if” says we only really love God and we only can expect His presence, if we keep His Word.

One of the biggest IF’s I think is found in Matthew 16:24

IF anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.

cross

Again, we love to talk about our commitment to Christ, but we are only committed when we truly deny our-self, take up the cross and follow Christ.  The idea about a cross is really lost to most in our society.  To us a cross is a decoration on the wall of the church or on the steeple.  It is a piece of jewelry we wear or hang on the wall of our home.  But to the society to which Jesus spoke these words, the cross represented death.  To truly follow Jesus requires a willingness to die to our own desires and be led by Him.

But one of the greatest “ifs” in the Bible is found in Revelation when Jesus said

Behold I stand at the door and knock.  IF anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in and sup with him.

jesus_christ_image_117

What a great promise!  To open the door – to invite Him into our life, that is all we have to do and He will be glad to come in, to have a relationship with us.  Notice that we are the ones to open the door.  He is a gentleman and does not force Himself on us.  But he extends that wonderful invitation.

If you have not done so, I encourage you to open the door.

 

 

 

 

 

“Miracle Boy”

Love and forgiveness among unbelievable tragedy

A few days ago I posted a blog regarding the persecuted church and showed a picture of a young boy whose face was horribly mutilated during an attack on his village.  (http://barblaneblog.c`om/2015/11/27/i-will-not-let-them-suffer-alone/)

Thirteen–year–old Danjuma Shakaru was critically injured during an attack on his village in northern Nigeria on January 28, 2015.  Muslim militants struck Danjuma on the head, arm and body with their machetes. His right eye was carved out, his genitals were cut off. Seeing his mangled, lifeless body covered in blood, the villagers who found him dug a grave for him.  Before he could be buried, he regained consciousness and began crying and shouting.  Taken to the hospital at the nearest city, workers there could not believe he would survive.

But survive he did!

Today, though his face is marked by horrendous scars where his right eye was carved out, his face shows a bright smile of joy for God had other plans for Danjuma.

In spite of what he has suffered, Danjuma is certain that God is still in control. He has no anger toward his attackers. “There is no problem,” he said. “I have allowed God to handle everything.”

I forgive them

Asked about his attackers, he said “I forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing,” he said, echoing the words of Christ. “If they had love, they wouldn’t behave that way.”

A defiant joy

While the attackers stole so much from Danjuma, they couldn’t take his joy. It is still evident on his face and in his voice. “The joy comes from the Lord,” he said.

Danjuma said his relationship with God has only grown stronger since the attack. He continues to pray regularly and seek God’s guidance. “God continues to guide and protect,” he said.

And today –

He recently had an operation that frees him from having to carry a bag for his urine.  Voice of the Martyrs is sending him to a school for the blind where he can learn Braille.  The hospital staff refers to him as “Miracle.”

Could/would I do the same?

As I read about this young man I have to ask myself, could I – would I forgive?  I think of the times I get all upset because someone said something unkind about me – or they did not respond to my phone call or text.  The words of Jesus ring in my ears:

You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I say unto Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if you love only those who love you, what good is that?  Even scoundrels do that much.  If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?  Even the heathen do that.

Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

What if we really did that?

What kind of a world would we have – how full would our churches be if we really completely did that?

 

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

Natalie Grant

Voice of the Martyrs

The Voice of the Martyrs is a non-profit, inter-denominational Christian organization dedicated to assisting our persecuted family worldwide. VOM was founded in 1967 by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned 14 years in Communist Romania for his faith in Christ. His wife, Sabina, was imprisoned for three years. In the 1960s, Richard, Sabina, and their son, Mihai, were ransomed out of Romania and came to the United States. Through their travels, the Wurmbrands spread the message of the atrocities that Christians face in restricted nations, while establishing a network of offices dedicated to assisting the persecuted church. The Voice of the Martyrs continues in this mission around the world today through the following main purposes:

Their ministry is based on Hebrews 13:3:

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

VOM’s Five Main Purposes

  1. To encourage and empower Christians to fulfill the Great Commission in areas of the world where they are persecuted for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  2. To provide practical relief and spiritual support to the families of Christian martyrs.
  3. To equip persecuted Christians to love and win to Christ those who are opposed to the gospel in their part of the world.
  4. To undertake projects of encouragement, helping believers rebuild their lives and Christian witness in countries where they have formerly suffered oppression.
  5. To promote the fellowship of all believers by informing the world of the faith and courage of persecuted Christians, thereby inspiring believers to a deeper level of commitment to Christ and involvement in His Great Commission.

VOM’s Mission Statement

“Serving the persecuted church through practical and spiritual assistance while leading Christians in the free world into fellowship with them.”

My “Compassion” Girls from the Philippines

It started with Claudine.  Claudine was a young high school student living in Cebu City, Philippines.  Through Compassion’s program to help release children from poverty, I began sending a monthly contribution to help meet Claudine’s educational and physical needs.  While in high school Claudine attended the Cornerstone Student Center.  Through the Center – in cooperation with Compassion – Claudine enjoyed good and helpful medical check-ups, help with school work, learned life skills such as cooking and baking and assistance in job applications.

With their help, she filled out her “My Plan for Tomorrow” workbook helping her to plan her future and set goals.  Extra-curricular activities were provided that helped her explore her God-given talents.

We enjoyed years of letters and pictures sent back and forth.  It was a bitter-sweet day when I received her last letter.  She had graduated from school, had a job and was now moving out of the Compassion program.  She was making plans to pursue a college degree.

She thanked me for the monthly sponsorship, for the birthday, Christmas and family gifts, but when she told me what she was most thankful for, tears came to my eyes.

What I will miss the most are your letters where you tell me about your life and what’s happening.

She said she hoped I would still sponsor another needy child like her.

I will never forget you and I will always love you and your will be forever in my heart.

So – in honor of Claudine and her hard work and faithfulness to God and her family, I chose another little girl from the Philippines.

Now comes Rachell Ann

PH2940161-Fullshot-200w
This time I decided to pick a little girl much younger than Claudine had been when our sponsorship started.  This would give me more years to develop a relationship with her and help her from the very start of life.  It is also nice that Rachell Ann is only 5 months older than my youngest granddaughter, Zoe.

Rachell Ann lives just east of Quezon City.  Because she is so young her mother writes to me for Rachell Ann.  Very interesting to see that the place she would like to visit is the same as many kids in the USA – Disneyland.  But the chances that she will ever be able to do that are pretty small.  While I can’t help her with that dream, I’m grateful that I can help see that this little girl has a better chance of growing up healthy and educated – and know the love of God.

I’m not posting this story to “brag” about what I’m doing.  I’m hoping you will read and decide that you, too, can help bring a child out of poverty.  It costs us so little – it means so much to others.

Check out the Compassion, Inc. site.  See what you can to do to help a child – and therefore a family, be lifted up from poverty.

 

 

 

Even Children Can Make a Difference!

The young people from Bethel Assembly of God standing with their barrels with funds raised for BGMC this past Sunday!

The young people from Bethel Assembly of God standing with their barrels with funds raised for BGMC this past Sunday!

Boys and Girls Missions Club (BGMC) is the missions program my church uses to teach the children to love the world – not just our own country – and to do what they can to make a difference in the lives of others.  Funds raised by the kids do what you would expect a missionary organization to do – share Bibles, Christian curriculum and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the communities where the money goes.  But just as Jesus did when He was on earth, the children also help to meet many of the “here and now” physical needs such as providing food, digging wells and providing help to the local church workers.

Buddy Barrel

buddy_barrel_lg

Buddy Barrel is the mascot for BGMC. Buddy was created in 1949 when the club shipped supplies to missionaries in barrels.  The barrels kept the supplies from getting ruined in route to their destination.  At first small wooden barrels were created for the children to save their coins in.  Today the barrels are now yellow plastic barrels.  Each month the children are encouraged to bring in the money they have saved in their barrels.

But what can little children do to make a difference?  A lot!

The following is just a small list of what the children have done with their fund-raising.

  • Sunday school shelters
  • Tabernacles
  • Generators and solar-powered digital Bibles
  • Buildings, equipment and supplies for children’s homes at home and abroad
  • Sunday School curricula translation
  • Children’s school facilities and resources
  • Drug free school assembly kits and outreach materials
  • Drug free and HIV AIDS free prevention resources to help children
  • After-school programs for needy children
  • Shelters for homeless children
  • Girls Ministries and Royal Rangers supplies for foreign missionary outreach
  • School books and supplies

This program is not just a fundraising program.  Through BGMC the kids learn about the needs of others around the world – teaching them to go beyond the “me-centered” world they experience growing up in the USA.

So far this year the children have raised $273,588.64 for the world!

Little children CAN and DO make a difference.

So – what are you doing to make a difference?