VIDEO Chinese Pastor Exposes Persecution of Christians in China

China Aid founder Bob Fu, a pastor who emigrated from China after being imprisoned for his faith, shares with correspondent Alex Newman how the Communist Chinese regime has waged war on Christianity since seizing power — and how, ironically, the vicious persecution has helped the Chinese church to spread to the point where China may soon become the largest Christian nation in the world.

https://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/item/26675-alex-newman-chinese-pastor-exposes-persecution-christians-china

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A Biblical Work

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

“Over the past half century,” observed a pastor, “evangelicals have devoted vast quantities of energy and resources to the invention of novel church-growth strategies that tend to discount biblical preaching…. Many have borrowed their management philosophies from the corporate world; … their fashion cues from the entertainment industry; … imitated the communications styles of secular mass media; and … employed various bells and whistles from modern technology designed mainly to amaze and impress rather than to teach and edify.”

That’s a fair critique of some of today’s ministries. While we should use every legitimate tool at our disposal, we must pursue God’s work in God’s way. We can’t win the victory in worldly dress any more than David could confront Goliath in Saul’s armor.

God’s way is: Prayer; preaching of the Word of God, rightly divided; and the power of the Holy Spirit filling the one who is committed to Christ. That’s the only way to build a biblical work.

Preaching should take a Trinitarian form…. In so doing, it bears witness to the God who speaks, the Son who saves, and the Spirit who illuminates. Albert Mohler

Overcoming Obstacles

Matthew 17:14-21

Nothing is impossible for the heavenly Father. No obstacle confuses God or poses any kind of challenge for Him. Though we know He is sovereign over every situation, we have trouble maintaining this perspective, just like the disciples in today’s passage. Too often when difficulties arise, we …

Experience a shift in focus. During trials, we tend to take our eyes off the Lord and instead see only our problems. The longer we look at our circumstance, the larger it seems. As we dwell on it in thought and conversation, our mindset can become very negative. Though God still has a direction for us to take, we are no longer concentrating on His purposes.

Develop an incorrect assessment of resources. In our troubles, we start taking inventory of our own strength and abilities. When they prove insufficient, we become discouraged. The truth is that we don’t have what is needed for life’s trials—Jesus Himself told us that. (See John 15:5.) But God’s capabilities are unlimited, His power is never-ending, and His wisdom is complete. We need to take stock of His resources, not our own.

View obstacles as barriers. For the obedient believer, impediments represent opportunities, not problems. The Lord can demonstrate His awesome power through our difficulties. (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.) At such times, we grow in our faith and learn more about our Father. If we view hardships simply as troubles, then we can miss demonstrations of God’s love, power, and wisdom.

Start each day committed to a Christ-centered focus, a dependence on His resources, and an “opportunity” mindset.

A Non-Citizen’s Role in Society

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19)

Speaking primarily to new Gentile believers, Paul welcomes them into the body of Christ, made up of all true believers, either Jew or Gentile. Each new member enjoys full privileges and benefits given to all “saints,” those “of the household of God.” “For our conversation [literally ‘citizenship,’ same root word as in our text] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

Regarding our former state, Christ declared: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44). However, we have broken with this former alliance and transferred our allegiance to “God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:18). “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (v. 17).

Our function as non-citizens still living to a degree in our prior realm is revealed, for “God . . . hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18). God is in the business of reconciling others who are now estranged back to Himself, and even though He could do it all Himself, without any help from His feeble creation, He has in His grace given us a part in this blessed work. The work will involve a struggle, for our warfare is against the ruler of this world and his henchmen, but we will, through God’s enablement, be victorious (Ephesians 6:10-18).

“Now then [since] we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Let us be about this blessed business. JDM

“To obey is better than sacrifice.”

1 Samuel 13:1-14

1 Samuel 13:1

Saul reigned one year during that time no fault was found in him; but he was of that shortwinded race which cannot hold out to the end

1 Samuel 13:3

Having subdued the country the Philistines put garrisons in the fortresses to keep the people in subjection. Jonathan commenced the war of liberty by destroying one of these garrisons.

1 Samuel 13:3

This was the usual Hebrew war summons, the blast of a trumpet was answered by beacon-fires front hill to hill, and the country rose at once to cast off the Philistine yoke.

1 Samuel 13:5

The Philistines called in their allies, and resolved to put down the Israelitish revolt at once. Such was the terror inspired by so vast a host, that Saul soon found his general levy of the people dispersed; and even his small standing army shrunk from three thousand to seven hundred men.

1 Samuel 13:6, 7

Those who remained with Saul in person were faint in heart, and despaired of success.

1 Samuel 13:9

This he had no right to do, for it was an assumption of the priestly office, and a virtual disowning of his position as the viceroy of, the Lord. He ought to have waited for directions from the Lord through Samuel; but in his selfwill he proceeded to act as if he were quite independent of God’s guidance. His impatience cost him his kingdom.

1 Samuel 13:10-12

He was a hypocrite, and tried to cover his rebellious act by pretending great zeal for outward religion.

1 Samuel 13:13, 14

At first sight Saul’s offence appears little, but no sin is little, because there is no little God to sin against. He had virtually cast off Jehovah’s sovereignty, and therefore the Lord would not establish his dynasty.

 

Keep us, Lord, oh keep us ever,

Vain our hope if left by thee;

We are thine, oh leave us never,

Till thy face in heaven we see;

There to praise thee

Through a bright eternity.

 

A Celebration Like No Other!

Colossians 2:15

Have you ever wondered what kind of celebration took place in Heaven after Jesus’ defeat of the devil? Well, it is possible for us to know exactly how Heaven celebrated because Paul gives us a glimpse into that heavenly gala event in Colossians 2:15. It says, “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

This is an extremely graphic verse! It is a picture painted for us by the Holy Spirit—a glorious, vivid illustration of what happened the day Jesus defeated death, hell, and the grave!

The word “spoiled” is the Greek word apekduomai, which means to strip off or to put off as one would put off his garments. This word could depict the disarming of an enemy—literally stripping his weaponry and artillery from him and leaving him without any weapons with which to respond. One scholar has noted that it refers to stripping one to the point of complete nakedness. By using this word, the Holy Spirit tells us that when Jesus arose from the dead, He thoroughly plundered the enemy!

Furthermore, when Jesus’ sacking and plundering of hell’s powers was complete and His mission was accomplished, Paul tells us that He rubbed this defeat in the devil’s face by throwing the biggest party the universe had ever seen! Colossians 2:15 says, “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

The word “shew” is taken from the word deigmatidzo, and it literally means to display or to expose something. It was used in classical Greek writing to denote the display of captives, weaponry, and trophies that were seized during war on foreign soil. Once the war was finished and the battle was won, the reigning emperor would return home and victoriously display and expose the treasures, trophies, weaponry, and captives that he had seized during his military conquest. This was a grand moment of celebration for the victor—but it was a humiliating experience for the defunct foe.

But wait—there is still more to Colossians 2:15 that you must understand. Paul goes on to tell us that “… he made a shew of them openly….” The word “openly” is taken from the Greek word parresia, which is used throughout the books of the New Testament to denote boldness, confidence, or something that is done blatantly or even publicly. By using the word parresia, Paul declares that when this heavenly party and celebration of Jesus’ victory commenced, it was no quiet affair! On the contrary—He boldly, confidently, loudly, blatantly, and publicly exposed and displayed this now-defunct foe to the heavenly hosts! It was the greatest celebration in history!

In fact, Paul goes on to say, “… he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” The phrase “triumphing over them in it” is a major key to this verse. This phrase comes from the Greek word triambeuo, which is a technical word used to describe the general or emperor who was returning home from a grand victory in the enemy’s territory. The word “triumph” (triambeuo) was a specific word used to describe a glorious triumphal parade!

When news reached the city that the enemy had been defeated, plans for a triumphal parade went into action. By the time the gates of the city were opened wide to receive this emperor who was now returning home in triumph, his people were ready to celebrate his victory! As the gates swung open and this mighty warrior rode through, the celebration began!

Sitting astride a large, beautiful, white stallion; draped in his kingly, regal garments; and wearing his bright, shining crown upon his head, the returning emperor would lead the entire city in a procession of celebration and victory It was called his “triumphal parade.” As he rode down the main avenue of the city with his head held high and a look of elation on his face, the city would begin rejoicing. “He’s back! He’s back! Our king has won a massive victory!” the people would cry as they broke into jubilant dancing and singing, joyously twirling around in circles. This was indeed a time to rejoice!

In order to flaunt his great victory, the returning victor would parade behind him the foreign king—the defeated foe, taken in captivity and bound in heavy chains of bondage. Behind this now-defunct enemy would walk the defeated ruling men and leaders, bound and chained along with their ruined king. Further back in the procession were oxcarts loaded to overflowing with booty taken by force from the enemy’s homeland. Once these goods had belonged to the enemy, but now they belonged to the conquering king!

As the returning, victorious emperor rode down the avenue, he’d strut with pride, flaunting his defeated foes. In other words, he’d “make a shew of them openly.” He wanted everyone to see the fabulous goods he had stolen from his enemy’s hand—proof that the conquered foe had been completely “spoiled.”

But the most exciting moment of the entire celebration occurred when the emperor sang a song of victory. As he rode that horse through the gate, leading his triumphal parade, he would open his mouth and begin to sing as loudly as he could sing! With all his might, he would sing something like this: “The enemy is defeated; the foe is conquered; let it be known that I am still the king!” This song would throw the crowd into a frenzy. This was the voice and the song they had been waiting for! The king had returned, and he was still king!

Then, after riding down the main avenue, revealing his booty, and singing his song of victory, the victor would stop in front of a large set of stairs that led upward to a huge, ornate throne. His military conquest had proven that he was still the holder of authority. Therefore, he proudly walked up those steps, turned toward the great crowd who was watching, and lowered himself down to sit in his rightful place—the throne.

 

Since all this is the background to Colossians 2:15, the verse could be interpreted to read:

“He completely stripped principalities and powers and left them utterly naked; nothing was left at their disposal with which to retaliate. He boldly, confidently, loudly, blatantly, and publicly exposed and displayed this now-defunct foe, leading a gallant triumphal parade in celebration of the enemy’s defeat and His victory!”

Does all this mean that this actual type of celebration took place in Heaven after Jesus’ defeat of the devil? There is no explicit biblical account that records the type of celebration that occurred the day Jesus was raised from the dead, but Paul’s words in Colossians 2:15 certainly indicate that Heaven threw quite a party that day. Jesus’ victory over the devil was the greatest victory ever known! It would be entirely expected that Heaven would celebrate that victory with the Son of God.

So if you feel like shouting when you think about what Jesus did to the devil, go ahead and shout! If thinking of Jesus’ victory makes you want to jump up and down, dance, or twirl around in circles, then go for it! There’s nothing strange about this behavior at all—you have something to rejoice about! When you start rejoicing about Jesus’ victory over the devil, you join the throngs of Heaven who also wildly celebrate Jesus’ victory and Satan’s defeat!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I am stopping everything I’m doing right now to praise You for Your victory over Satan! Thank You for stripping him bare and for leaving him with nothing in his hands with which to retaliate. Thinking of what You did makes me want to shout—so right now I’m going to shout! Realizing what You did makes me want to jump with joy—so right now I’m going to leap up and down in praise to You! I’m excited about what You did, and I’m not ashamed to show how I feel about it. I praise and worship You for the great victory You gained!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I am free from Satan’s grip on my life because Jesus stripped him bare and left nothing in his hands that he could use against me! Jesus defeated and disarmed Satan; then He gave me authority over the devil and all his works. Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. That means in Jesus Christ I am fully empowered to enforce Satan’s defeat!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. What did you learn from today’s Sparkling Gem that you never knew before?
  2. How does this new insight into Jesus’ victory over the devil shape your view of your own ability to walk in victory through every situation of life?
  3. How long has it been since you spent some time thanking Jesus for what He did for you through His death and resurrection? After reading this today, don’t you think you ought to take a few minutes to really praise Him for His glorious victory and Satan’s defeat?

The word “openly” is taken from the Greek word parresia, which denotes boldness, confidence, or something that is done blatantly or even publicly. By using this word, Paul declares that when this heavenly celebration of Jesus’ victory commenced, it was no quiet affair! Jesus boldly, confidently, loudly, blatantly, and publicly exposed and displayed this now-defunct foe to the heavenly hosts! It was the greatest celebration in history!

 

Side-Stepping The Seducer

A few days ago I met with a married man who has become ensnared in an adulterous affair. During my morning reading, and with his situation in mind, I came across Joseph’s encounter with a married woman. The story in brief: Joseph’s ten jealous brothers sell him into slavery in Egypt where he ends up as the household manager of a military officer named Potiphar: Following are observations from Genesis 39:

 

1. Temptation may come amidst God’s blessing:

 

The Lord was with Joseph and he prosperedWhen his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant… ” (verses 2-4a)

 

2. We may be exposed to sensual people who will seek to seduce us:

 

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his masters wife took notice of Joseph and said, Come to bed with me.‘” (verses 6b-7)

 

3. When the pressure is on, it will be our intense desire not to sin against God that will keep us pure:

 

How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (verse 9b)

 

4. Radical steps may be necessary to extricate ourselves from compromising situations:

 

And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, Come to bed with me! But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.” (verses 10-12)

 

5. An innocent mistake may prove costly when a scorned person turns vindictive:

 

She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the houseJosephs master took him and put him in prison… ” (verses 16-18, 20a)

 

QUESTION: Have you predetermined what you will do the day you are presented with a similar situation?

 

My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to themdo not go along with them, do not set foot on their pathsDiscretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” (Proverbs 1:10, 15b; 2:11)