Monday, July 3, 2017

ARE WE CRUCIFIED TO THE WORLD? OR ARE WE WORKING TO IMPRESS IT?

"Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised.  The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.  Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh.  May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.  Neither circumcision or uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation."--Gal. 6:12-15
The cross of Christ is foolishness to the world. Scripture tells us that many times. Yet the world loves religious symbols and is enamored by stories of religious sacrifices. 

Christ was under continuous fire from religious people in Israel because He didn't adhere to the rituals and regulations that their religious leaders had instituted over the centuries. 

You and I should drop all defenses that involve our "religious Christianity" and boast and defend only the cross of Christ. It is only Him crucified that leads us through to our own death and resurrection.  We must not boast of anything but Christ. When confronted with Stalin's mandates to capitulate with the Soviet government and support its programs of imprisoning and killing its enemies, the Russian Orthodox Church capitulated, allowing government control of all its operations.  The Church leaders sold out their followers, and so entire generations of Soviet people lost the message of the cross. 

Why? Because in the end, religion will do anything to save itself. But no religious person will give up their life for Christ and His cross.  Each of us needs to examine his/her own heart. Do we value our religious form, our music, our rituals, our garments, our buildings, or do we value above all the cross of Christ?

When they come for us, will we capitulate or will we go to Golgotha gladly with our Christ?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

HIS VINEYARD HAS YIELDED ONLY BAD FRUIT. SO HERE'S WHAT GOD PROMISES TO DO.

"I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: 
My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it
with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
but it yielded only bad fruit.......What more 
could I have done for it?...Now I will tell you what 
I am going to do to my vineyard.
I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed.
I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. 
I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated,
and briers and thorns will grow there.
I will command the clouds not to rain on it.
The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah are the garden of His delight.
And He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness, but heard cries of distress."
--Isaiah 5: 1-7

What do we hear all day? All night? The news is constant with bloodshed and distress.Whether you watch fiction or non-fiction, in other words, whether you see it daily on the streets or on TV, it's a steady barrage of trash.  In the US, we have seen a steady decline in our society, with morals descending into the abyss, public vitriol, open rebellion against law and order. The social media have become cesspools of sickness and degeneration into social war, division, public bullying and harassment.  Politics is all shouting and anti-President debate. Schools, cities, and even states openly talk about defying the federal government. The people in America who try to have a reasoned discussion about any issue are shouted down by the hate-mongers.

America, like the rest of the so-called "Christian" countries, is awash in bloodshed, and cries of distress, and the churches are impotent, silent, playing games to keep themselves out of the news.

We in the most free of countries have used that freedom to create perhaps the most vile and disgusting society in history. We murder millions of innocent God-created children in the womb; we fill our minds with filth from movies, TV, and even turn music into a fleshly indulgence. We are profane, filled with lust, and hungry for evermore guilty pleasures. We run after things that were considered out of bounds only a few generations ago. And in the churches, we celebrate along with the world, we follow the trends, we run with the crowd.  What do we expect God to do? Let us alone to party ourselves to death with the world?

Brethren who really know and serve Christ, who are part of His great Ekklesia around the globe, take heart. The wasteland will make way for the Lord and His judgment, and the final product will be a Church without spot or wrinkle.  A remnant that stand purified by the blood of Christ before Him. His great love will win in the end.  

But for the foreseeable future, we face great trial and tribulation. No use trying to hide, but each of us must stand for what we know is true. Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

DREAMERS OR PROPHETS? STRAW OR GRAIN? IDENTIFYING THE TRUTH.

I DID NOT SEND THESE PROPHETS
A. Brother

“I did not send these prophets,
yet they have run with their message.”
Jer. 23:21

“…if they had stood in My council,
they would have proclaimed My Words to My people
and would have turned them from their evil ways
and from their evil deeds.” 
Jer. 23:22

“Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream,
but let the one who has My Word speak it faithfully. 
For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord. 
Is not My Word like fire,” declares the Lord,
“and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” 
Jer. 23:28,29

            We have a critical situation in the affluent western churches today.  Many occupy pulpit and podium who are not called and chosen by God to prophecy to His people.  These men and women hold positions of authority, influence and power among God’s people, yet they have not been sent by the Lord.  Therefore, we are listening to people and their dreams, instead of hearing and being broken before the Lord about our sins and our evil ways.

          Many men declare their dreams, which is straw, instead of faithfully speaking the Word of God that is like a hammer that breaks rock.  Straw is made for small-minded creatures, like horses and cows.  It is food only for the witless--those who need to be led about by bit and bridle.  The dreams spoken of here are brought forward by the false prophets, who cry “Peace! Peace!” to the sheep, and they follow without thought.  Like dumb animals, these people who are occupying the pews listen to these false prophets, and are herded this way and that by these men who dream their dreams for them, and announce things God has not spoken.
         
          Unlike straw, grain is the sustaining life-giving Word of God that feeds those “who hunger and thirst after righteousness”.  Matt. 5:6  So, as sheep, our responsibility is to hunger and thirst after God and His Word.

            God’s Word is like fire, that burns up “wood, hay or straw…because the Day…will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work”.  1 Cor. 3:12,13  So those who claim to speak the Word of God must undergo God’s quality tests, to make certain they are speaking truth.

            Men who are called by God, and speak God’s Word, in contrast to the false prophets whom God does not call, do it boldly, being willing to risk everything every day to deliver God’s true message of repentance and correction and instruction in righteousness to His people.
          They speak the Truth, bringing real nutrition to the ekklesia of God, and their messages are like fire, burning up the false and fake, allowing God to replace it with the gems of the Spirit.  These men speak the Word of the Lord, wielding God’s hammer, which breaks the rock of prison walls into pieces, so that God can deliver His people from their sin.
          When the Word of God is truly spoken, it brings pain and true godly sorrow, which in turn brings repentance and salvation.  The healing it brings is true healing, deep healing, with the peace of God that comes from righteous living.  The true Word of God counsels obedience to God, and never deceives.

          Today we hear much peace and comfort spoken from our pulpits.  We hear lengthy discourses on how God loves us, and God’s grace is all we need, and how we need not fear anything because God is with us.  Yet we are blind and poor and naked…“worldly—mere infants in Christ.”  1 Cor. 3:1
            The men who speak peace to those who should be repenting of their sins, and their lukewarmness, do not have the good of the people of God in mind.  Their interests are not those of Christ Jesus.  No matter how popular and influential they are, these men face the judgment of God for speaking on His behalf without His permission.  They are speaking falsely, and are to their sheep as shepherds who lead them astray.
          These men who jealously guard their positions and lifestyles speak on their own behalf.  They “fill you with false hopes…visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord…to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ “  Jer. 23:16,17
            These men “are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves.”  Jude 12
            These men who speak peace to troubled souls do not call the sinners to repentance as Jesus did, nor do they bring men into obedience to the Lord’s Word.  They don’t follow the Way of Christ, which is the Narrow Way of the Cross, but instead take Broadway, that wide, brightly-lit street of dreams and lead thousands to their destruction.
          Their teachings may be presented in small sanctuaries, with only a handful of sheep present, or they may be dynamically presented to large audiences, and go out with the latest technology.  Yet they lack any substance, or means of saving anyone.  The people of God perish in their comfort, while God is ignored.

“These are the men who divide you,
who follow mere natural instincts
and do not have the Spirit…
they boast about themselves
and flatter others for their own advantage.” 
Jude 19,16

            Don’t trust their flattering words, or their easy, comfortable gospel, which is no gospel at all.

          The true Word of God calls us to repent and follow Jesus.  Jesus says:

“If anyone would come after Me,
he must deny Himself and take up his cross and follow Me. 
For whoever wants to save his own life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for Me and for the gospel will save it….
If anyone is ashamed of Me and My Words
in this adulterous and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes
 in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.” 
Mark 8:34-38

            When Christ comes in glory to receive His own, He will say to many who’ve attended church and sat under these false prophets “…I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.”  Matt. 25:12

          And to these who prophesy smoothly as if God is speaking through them when He is not He says:  “The master of the servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.  He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites…”  Matt. 24:50,51

          This message is for those who claim to speak the Word of God.  You must examine yourselves and truly put yourselves to the test.  If you are called, you will know this.  Your anointing will be from Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit will rest upon you with power and authority.  Your teachings will be full of the Truth, and you will call God’s people to Him without flattery, and with conviction.  You will adhere to the Word, and sit in God’s council, listening and heeding His voice only.  You will not twist and distort the Word of God for your own ends, nor for the purposes of other men or institutions set up by men, no matter if they pay your salaries.  You will declare the simple Truth, and call men to repentance and obedience to Christ as citizens of His Kingdom.  You will preach the Word, sharing it morning, noon and night with those whom God has put in your care.  You will love the brethren above all, and give God’s love to them at all times, making the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

          You will call the Body of Christ to live like His Body, set apart, holy, and infused with the Holy Spirit’s power for righteous living.  You will teach the flock how to live with one another in love, and how to take care of one another in practical ways.
         
“For the time will come when men
will not put up with sound doctrine. 
Instead, to suit their own desires,
 they will gather around them a great number of teachers
to say what their itching ears want to hear. 
They will turn their ears away from the truth
and turn aside to myths.” 
2 Tim. 4:3,4

            This message is also for those who sit like dumb animals under the teaching of those who claim to represent the Lord.  You are responsible for your own lives, minds, and actions.  You can think, study and pray for yourself.  God will teach you His Ways if you truly want anything more than easy deception and comfortable living.  Would it not be tragic if you were to lose your own soul because you were too lazy or fearful to follow the Truth instead of smooth, flattering men who make you feel good?

          Don’t you want the Lord Himself, and His love, and His companionship, instead of false hopes?

“This is what the Lord Almighty says,
‘Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill  you with false hopes. 
They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the Lord…
In days to come you will understand it clearly.” 
Jer. 23:16,20

          Escape the trap Satan has devised for you.  Don’t follow anyone who preaches a gospel other than the one which was given you in Scripture.  Be willing to follow Jesus Christ, even if it means going upstream to the religious river that flows around you.  Better yet, get out of that river altogether, leaving the false prophets, and find those who truly teach and preach the Good News of God’s Word.
          I pray that we will come to understand this clearly, not when Christ comes back, and we realize in a rush of regret and fear that we have listened to the wrong gospel, but now, in grateful repentance and the experience of the grace of God in our changed lives, through His Son Jesus Christ.
           

Thursday, May 25, 2017

WOE TO YOU, SONS OF HELL.

NOTE: this is one of the key messages in Even the Devils Have Religion, A. Brother's newly published book of prophetic words from Scripture.  Help spread the Word by purchasing a copy through Amazon.com. WE'VE KEPT THE PRICE VERY LOW SO MOST CAN AFFORD IT.

 Click here: NEW BOOK: EVEN THE DEVILS HAVE RELIGION

WOE TO YOU, SONS OF HELL

A. Brother

          “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces.  You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
          Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”  --Matt. 23:13-15

          Sons of hell, this is for you.
            I rebuke you for your hypocrisy with these words of Jesus.
            There is a special place reserved in hell for those who make others stumble, and keep others out of the Kingdom of God, through their haughty and prideful religion.  Those who claim to be Christians, and to know the way, and to be a guide to the blind, but instead, are more lost than the ones they claim to guide.
            Better for you to choose a millstone now, or a rope to hang yourself, than to lead another poor soul into hell with you!
            Do you understand the gravity of your situation?  Do you not know that the worst punishment is reserved for those who lead others astray?  That God so cares about even the smallest, the least, of people, that He will judge with special severity those who make them stumble? 
            These teachers of the law and Pharisees were the most highly regarded religious people in their day in Israel.  When Jesus taught, these men would come around and judge what He said.  These were the leaders, the so-called proclaimers of truth to the common people.  They had the Scripture, and stood up and read it every Sabbath in the synagogues.  They were the ones who prayed very fervently on street corners, and led the processions to the house of God.  They were the ones who taught the young, and claimed to be holders of the keys to getting into heaven.  They were the ones who presided over marriages and funerals, and every major occasion of life among God’s people.
            Yet Jesus here rebukes them and tells them they’re not only going to end up in hell, but are taking others with them.  They are keeping men and women and children out of the Kingdom of God, not bringing them into it!
            Does this shake you, brother?  It should. 
            For many in the churches today are as much sons of hell as the teachers of the law and the Pharisees were in Jesus’ day.

            I rebuke in the Name of Jesus those of you who claim to be the keepers of the keys to the Kingdom, yet who yourselves are blind, impotent, sinful, disobedient, and full of deceit.
            I rebuke in the powerful Name of the One who came as Light in the darkness, this spiritual darkness you perpetuate by enslaving men and women to your self-declared leadership. 
            You who seek prominence, and position.  You who seek to stand in front so your egos and your self-worth are fed by the respect of your congregations.  You who speak words pleasing to the ears of your hearers, while letting them be taken to hell with the rest of the world.  You who treat the Word of God as if it is your private reserve of wine, to be doled out in small glasses as you wish to favor those who come to hear you.  You who care more about your programs and your church growth than you do about any individual man, woman or child around you.  You who have found a secure niche in the hierarchy, who favor us with your pronouncements, and your profound opinions, and your carefully-worded press releases.  You who speak from the seats of scholarship, safely dispensing your wisdom while the world dies for lack of knowledge.  You who wear the suits, and make the gestures, and intone the correct phrases, and pray the right prayers.  You who create whole industries around yourselves, and your ministries, and yet who do not speak the plain, simple, hard truths of God’s Word.  You who claim to be leaders, but are followers only—followers of your spreadsheets, and your financial advisors, or your denominational pronouncements, or your boards of directors.  You who claim to be free and claim to lead others to freedom, but who instead are the worst kind of slaves--slaves to pride and rebelliousness, slaves to self, slaves to religious convention and man-made tradition—who lead others into the same enslaving bonds, and sit on your couches in your comfortable homes and offices content and secure while your readers or listeners go to hell with you.
            Jesus would have a Word with you.
            He would like you to stop what you’re doing, and find Him.  To become true disciples before you speak another word in His Name. 
            His greatest condemnation is reserved for those who claim to be what they are not.  His fearsome condemnation sits heavy upon the hypocrites of our day, just as surely as it did when He spoke these Words to the religious leaders of His day.
           
            “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will be clean.”  --Matt. 23:25,26

          You must first learn to listen to the Word of God, and to obey it.  You must  bear the fruit of the Spirit in your own life, learning the difficult and costly lessons of the narrow road with Jesus, before others can drink from your cup.  Clean your cup and dish, take the plank out of your own eye, sit in humility and be nobody before the world, and then, perhaps you will be worthy to share this Good News with others.  Then perhaps God will honor you with the great responsibility of speaking His Word to His people.
            Jesus tells us we are not to be called “Rabbi” or “Father” or “Teacher”, and I would extend that in our day to “Pastor” and “Reverend” and “Doctor” and “President”.  Within the Body of Christ, we are all brothers.

            “For you have one Teacher, the Christ.  The greatest among you will be your servant.  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”  --Matt. 23:8-12



          Repent today of your hypocrisy, sons of hell, before the humbling comes!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

THE PANDEMIC OF SELF-FOCUS IN THE WORLD AND THE CHURCHES.

NOTE: this is one of the key messages in Even the Devils Have Religion, A. Brother's newly published book of prophetic words from Scripture.  Help spread the Word by purchasing a copy through Amazon.com. WE'VE KEPT THE PRICE VERY LOW SO MOST CAN AFFORD IT.


USE THIS DIRECT LINK: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ9TW5Z

The Smorgasbord of Self-Focus
A. Brother

"Even from your own number men will arise
and distort the truth..."
Acts 20:30

       I'm writing with a heavy heart today, as I'm overwhelmed by the massive distortions of truth perpetuated by men who call themselves believers in Christ.  Just visiting the blog world--the writings of the people central to all the so-called "Christian industries" such as publishing, and music, and the arts, education, and ministry--is a journey into the chaos of self-promotion.
      This is not Christ.  This smorgasbord of self-focus is not Christ.  The name of Christ is not mentioned, except in passing, like a reference on a resume.  
      Of course I serve Christ, so I do this, or that, and look at me, and at my fine, wonderful life of achievements.  Of course I serve Christ, but look at me and my family, and my latest book, or CD, or degree, or conference speaking schedule.  Of course I serve Jesus, that's why I'm so successful, and have a big following on all the social media sites, and why my book is being published, and I have a speaking tour set up.  Of course I am a Christian, and that's why my blog has a community of thousands, and my every word is commented on by hundreds of people a day.  Of course my life is an example, because so many people say nice things about me, and buy my stuff.
      ME, ME, ME, I, I, I, MINE, MINE, MINE!
      How lonely and ignored the Lord Jesus is today among our affluent, modern, fantabulous Christians!  In reading this drivel I'm driven by the Holy Spirit to remember and read in Scripture about my Lord's ministry--how humble it was, and how He never exalted Himself.  I think of Paul and the other apostles--outcasts and hated by the world, persecuted and hunted down, opposed even by many in the religious world.  Rioted over in the marketplace, lowered down city walls to escape mobs, protected from religious zealots by the pagan Roman armies, shipwrecked, beaten, hungry, cold, without permanent homes, and all because of their love for Christ and their refusal to compromise with the world.
      No such life for the modern, fantabulous American Christian.  Why should we live in such a Way?  Why should we not live lusciously delicious lives, full of success, full of ourselves?  After all, we've earned it!  How talented we are, and how brilliant!  We have become all we need, and to boot, we have Christ and the church!  The Christian mob throws its uncritical approval upon us, and garlands of praise, and so stamps us with glory!
      The Lord God stands aside for this procession.  He is not the subject of all this self-adoration.  He does not participate.  His Word stands today as it always has, and we either humble ourselves, giving all, dying to self, following Jesus, or we will be left out on the Day coming, when God's true ekklesia, His scattered, suffering, persecuted, loved, cherished, faithful remnant, will be gathered from the four winds to His arms.
      Other great processions, self-congratulatory parades of so-called 'Christian' religiosity, have marched across the globe at various times in history.  Where are they now?  Dead and buried and forgotten.  Like all man's endeavors, they pass away like the grass.  But the Word of God stands forever, and His Truth will always be, and only those who obey the Lord Jesus and follow Him on the nearly forgotten Narrow Road will be there with Him when He returns.
     Many across the globe have not bowed their knee to the modern, affluent, fantabulous Baal.  Thousands have continued to stand, uncompromised, unbowed, silent before those who ignore them, or accuse them, as our Lord Jesus was silent before the religious Jews and Pilate.
      What will you do when you find out that your celebrity, your achievements in the 'Christian world', your fine plaques and trophies, your long resume, your leadership, your popularity, your self-accomplishments, all mean nothing to Christ?  What will you do when He asks you who you are?  If you can't answer 'I am nothing--my life has been You, and You alone, dear Friend'--then He will have to throw away your press releases, and your framed photos of you and your adoring fans and say, "Depart from Me, I never knew you."
      Is all this temporary partying worth that?

Monday, May 1, 2017

ASK YOUR PASTOR TO PRAY THIS PRAYER WITH HIS ENTIRE CONGREGATION.

To order your downloadable ebook "Even the Devils Have Religion", the first published collection of the messages of A. Brother, please go to Amazon.com and purchase copies for yourself and your friends.  These messages are not for those who shrink back from truth, but for those who seek the Christ and His Kingdom.  
You can order by going to the Home Page of this blog and clicking on the link for the new book announcement.  Or you can order by using this link: 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ9TW5Z

CHRISTIANITY DEFILED:
WHICH PASTORS WILL PRAY 
THIS PRAYER OF CONFESSION
WITH THEIR CONGREGATIONS?
A. Brother

          With the same defiance Jeremiah was given by God, I stand in the "marketplace" of modern Christianity and pray the following prayer.  

Oh, Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth;
I am overwhelmed with grief and sadness over my sins,
and the sins of all those who claim the Name of Christ.

We have departed from Your Word. 
We have not listened to Your prophets.
We have ignored the simple commands of Scripture.

We have left the Narrow Road that our Lord Jesus
asks us to walk with Him, and have built superhighways,
freeways, and high-speed trains with our own hands.

We have left the simple, steep, footpath of Christ that
winds its way through the mountains and valleys,
preferring instead to bulldoze our own wide trails,
flat, smooth and free of obstacles.

We have built enormous, comfortable lodgings for ourselves,
while Your House lies in ruins.
We have designed beautiful, gracious religious buildings,
and built them at great expense
to satisfy our own cravings for recognition,
while our brothers in need go unrecognized and
the poor among us go unfed.

We have taught a gospel that is not a gospel,
which allows us to come to church and participate
without true repentance and renewal in our lives.
We have accepted and embraced the world’s ways,
marketing You like a commodity,
presenting Christ as a product,
selling our way of life like a better mousetrap.

We have given up on You.
We have left the Way, and planned our own trip.

We are captive to the kings and princes of this world,
yet claim we are free.
We are slaves to our own affluence,
rich in land and homes, cars and businesses,
electronic gadgets and leisure time,
yet are grindingly poor in Your eyes.

We have ignored You, and so You ignore us.
Our meetings, our festivals, our celebrations, our banquets,
our concerts, our shouting and loud worship, our solemn
assemblies, our processions, our programs, our curricula, our
advanced degrees, our fine educational institutions, our vast
entertainment industries, our constant activities—all are
an offense to You, and a bore.

Please forgive me, and forgive the sins of Your people.
Have mercy, Oh, Lord, and don’t sweep us away
with the lost on the Day of Christ.

May Your people return to You,
in true repentance,
in true saving faith,
in love for You and one another.
May we leave all other ways behind,
and follow Jesus, the Way.
May we sell all we have to obtain
the pearl of great price,
the Kingdom of God.

May we be willing to lose our own lives
so that we may gain Christ.
May we decrease and become nothing,
so Christ Jesus may become everything in us.

May the churches abandon their own plans
and schemes in favor of your revealed Word.
May our leaders repent of their sins,
leading us to You instead of away.

May you forgive us, and Your great
mercy be upon the modern, affluent,
self-satisfied ‘Christian’ churches.

When you discipline us, remember
to keep a remnant for Yourself, as
Your Word promises.  Have mercy on


us, Lord, and save us.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

THE UGLY GIFT. A PARABLE FOR MODERN CHRISTIANS.

THE UGLY GIFT OF GOD
A PARABLE FOR MODERN CHRISTIANS
A. Brother
©2010 Narrowgate Publishing
To order your downloadable ebook "Even the Devils Have Religion", the first published collection of the messages of A. Brother, please go to Amazon.com and purchase copies for yourself and your friends.  These messages are not for those who shrink back from truth, but for those who seek the Christ and His Kingdom.  
You can order by going to the Home Page of this blog and clicking on the link for the new book announcement.  Or you can order by using this link: 
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ9TW5Z

          “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.”  --Phil. 1:29,30

            Scripture teaches us that every man, woman or child who follows Jesus receives many gifts.  These gifts are given freely.
          We often talk of the gifts of God, such as salvation, freedom from sin, and the gifts given by the Holy Spirit to build up the Body of Christ.  We think of these things as very positive.  We think of the gifts of God as things like birthday parties, or summer outings at the beach, or a day skiing.  The enjoyable things, the bright and happy things, the good day, the warm, cozy evening by the fire. 
            The gifts of God can be these things, if brought by Him to us, and if they bring us closer to Him and His Kingdom.

            But there are other, deeper gifts that come to those who wish to sit with Jesus closely, and to love Him more intimately, and to become like Him. 
            Those who wish to know Christ in all His fullness, as a dear Brother, a close Friend, a heart-bonded Companion on the journey to Heaven will receive from Him gifts that will make that deeper journey possible. 
            One of these precious gifts is the gift of suffering.
            This gift is granted freely, for all those who will accept it.

THE UGLY GIFT.
            Most of us who claim Christ resist this huge gift, with its ugly wrapping, its strange and forbidding shape, and the long, uneasy shadow it casts upon our desires for brightness and easy living.  We are like fair weather friends to Christ, and though He beckons us to travel further with Him on the quest to become like our Savior, we resist, standing unsure at the edge of the dark forest, with its hanging moss, its dank, smelly, unknown, murky depths. 
            We think this Jesus thing is fine as long as it means “our best life now”, teeming with parties and happy music, with sunlit days and comfortable nights of restful sleep.  But when Christ rolls out this gift and plops it in front of us, smiling at us, freely giving to us as He always does, bidding us go further and deeper and higher with Him, we balk and stand shuffling our feet in the grass, diverting our eyes.
            “Wait, Lord Jesus, I must go bury my dead father,” we say with some embarrassment. 
            “Follow Me and let the dead bury their own dead,” Jesus replies kindly and cheerfully.
            We try to fend Him off with assurances of our good intentions.
            “Teacher, I’ll follow you wherever you go,” we say to Him, with a sincere, heartfelt look in our eyes.
            Jesus looks at us with tender understanding, but firmly He says, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”
            Glancing again toward the forest, where the path disappears into the undergrowth, we hear strange noises, and are afraid.
            Thinking fast now, we bring up our accomplishments. 
            “Lord, you know how I have so much responsibility.  I teach in the second graders in Sunday school, help clean the church, and give my tithe.  I’ve believed in You since I was a teenager.  I’ve been faithful in attendance, sincere in worship services, and I read my Bible every morning and pray.” 
            We look at Jesus now, hopefully, waiting for what we’re sure will be a commendation.
            Jesus looks at us fondly, then smiles, takes hold of our shoulders, and looks us right in the eye.
            “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow Me.”
            At this point, we turn and look back at all we have in life.  We see our friends,   family, job, comfortable lifestyle, toys, projects, goals and ambitions--the busy and successful path we’ve been on. 
            The good life beckons, and we stand glued to this scene, thinking that if we just try hard enough, we can do both.  We can have all we want in the world, and we can still walk with Jesus.  We think about the great sermons we’ve heard, and the good church life we’ve enjoyed, and all the good gifts of being with Christ we have, and we can’t understand why He insists on spoiling it with this new wrinkle.  We begin to question whether we heard Him right, and turn to face Him, and this time we’ll really ask Him some harder questions, because we can’t just drop everything to follow Him.  He’ll have to understand.  We’ll make it plain to Him and He’ll be fine with everything once we’ve explained.
             We turn reluctantly toward Jesus, still thinking of clever answers to His simple call.  But what we see is His back, muscles rippling beneath His shirt, as He blends into the shadows of the forest’s fringe, His feet already treading the unknown, twisting, narrow path that cuts into the blackness.
            “Wait, Jesus!” we call.  He turns and lifts His hand to us, motioning us forward,  and yells in return, “Anyone who loves father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”
            This is not what we wanted to hear.  This is not good.  We stand sweating in the sunshine, barely able to discern Jesus under the boughs of the great trees.
            “But Lord, I wanted to talk with you about this.  I’ve got a life, and it needs living!  I’ve got plans and goals and dreams, and friends and family and a job and a good life now, and you can’t just mean that I’ve got to be willing to give it all up, and come into the unknown, and possibly suffer and die with You!  This isn’t the Christianity I learned!  What will everyone say?  They’ll laugh at me, or be angry with me, and things will not go well for me!” we shout into the forest, shading our eyes, trying to see Jesus.
            His voice is getting faint now, and we hear the sounds behind us of our life and our desires, and it seems they’re growing stronger and louder, and we can barely discern the voice of Christ.
            Yet His clear, calm, loving answer cuts through the din, and as we’re surrounded suddenly by the church activities, and our career objectives, and the bills and the business, and the vacation plans, and the things we want and have worked toward, and the house and the cars and the busy days, and the comfortable Christian walk we’ve led so far, we can barely hear Jesus as He disappears.
            “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it!” 
            The echoes fade away into the leafy wall, and we turn a little sadly back to the life we choose, looking forward to dinner and a movie, and getting back to work in the morning--anything to take our mind off the ugly, poorly wrapped present still sitting
in the tall grass at the edge of the known world—anything to ease the pain and sorrow that we felt so keenly for those last few insane moments.
            Within a short time the memory of the encounter has mercifully faded, and becomes something we dismiss as the result of an overzealous imagination, or dangerous fanaticism.  Or maybe just bad eggs for breakfast. 
            Once in a while, as we’re reading our quick daily devotional and praying for God to bless us, we hear the soft voice of Jesus as He faded into the forest, calling us, beckoning us with a dim hand, and we feel that deep tug of desire for the narrow path that disappears into the unknown.  But mercifully, our cell rings, or the clock reminds us we’re going to be late if we don’t get going, or one of the children interrupts us, and we’re off for the day. 
            After all, what does Jesus expect?  We’ve got a life to live!

            Brethren, it has been granted to us to suffer for Christ.  It is a gift that appears frightening, but in fact, is the Way of Jesus.  We receive this gift with fear, yet it becomes to us the fountain of life.  If we persevere with Jesus, and go through the darkness with Him, and the pain, and the difficulties, we receive greater and greater gifts of love, peace, joy, and all the fruits of the Holy Spirit. 
            The narrow Way, the path into the forest, is one Jesus offers to each of His disciples, and promises to keep them to the end of the journey.  He becomes light in darkness to us then, and songs in the night.  When we are afraid, He gives us His courage.  When we stumble and fall, and are hurt or wounded, His is the touch that heals us.  When we stray from the path, tempted by the world, and idols, and sins of various kinds, He forgives and delivers us from the power of that sin, because like Jesus did while in his earthly body, we learn obedience from the things that we suffer.  When we are near to death in ourselves, because of the intensity of our trials, and the depths of our despair, Jesus holds us, and, like He did for Lazarus, calls us out of the tomb of our anguish, and raises us with Him by His resurrection power. 
            In suffering, we become like our suffering Savior, and so begin to resemble Him in this life.  We take on His heart of love and compassion.  We become sincere, and free from the entanglements of the world.  We find peace, God’s peace, and receive His gifts which are not as the world gives.  We leave our own weakness behind, becoming strong in Christ Jesus.  We become warriors in the Spirit, able to do anything with Christ, and nothing apart from Him.  We learn to wear the armor of God comfortably, and wield the weapons of warfare with His strength in our arms and hands.  We take on Christ, and put off the old man, with his sinful, selfish, worldly ways.  We put on the new man, who is like Christ in every way, and triumph over the forces of darkness that would bind us and hold us captive. 
            If we take up Jesus’ call to follow Him, He is with us, empowering us, never leaving us, always helping us.  He prays for us, and stands with us in our darkest hour.  There is nothing that can separate us from His love, on earth or in the realms of spiritual power.  Christ can become all to us, as His Father is all to Him. 
            As we learn obedience from the things we suffer, so we become one with the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and one in heart and mind with others who’ve chosen this dangerous, narrow road.  We can know true fellowship with God, and with one another.
            Even if you’ve rejected this path in the past, the Lord Jesus always stands waiting for you to obey.  The call is always there.  He will gladly embrace you the moment you decide to follow Him in true discipleship.  The moment you decide you are willing to give up all to follow Jesus, then He is there, enabling you to do it, because He went there ahead of us.  He knows the path that we take.
            Like Job, in suffering our dross and worthless things are burned away, and we are changed.

            “But He knows the Way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”  --Job 23:10

          Like Jesus, we will become obedient servants, willing and able to do our Lord’s bidding, through the toughest circumstances.

            “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him..”  --Heb. 5:8,9

          If you would be perfect today, kneel to Jesus, and obey Him.  Say yes to the road into the dark forest.  Into the unknown.  Let Jesus be your Guide and companion, and let the dead bury their own dead.  Let the world go its way, while you go Jesus’ Way.
            Hold out your hand and accept the gift offered you.  When you open it, you will find unexplainable joys, and feast from the best of God’s table.



            The gift is held out to all who come to Jesus.  Will you go with Christ, or stay?

LATEST NEWS

A. BROTHER'S FIRST BOOK RELEASED. "EVEN THE DEVILS HAVE RELIGION". 100 Collected Prophetic Words from A. Brother.

For the first time, A. Brother's messages are being compiled in a series of books.  These will be released periodically over the coming ...