“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:12

The Apostle here tells the Ephesians that in their natural state, before divinely quickened and made alive unto God, they were “without Christ,” that is, without manifest union and communion with him. Though in the purposes of God, and by their eternal election in Christ, they were members of his mystical body, they had not been baptized into Christ by the Spirit so as to be made living members of his spiritual body, the Church (1 Cor. 12:13), and therefore had not “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). And as they were, such were we. We were “without Christ” in our Gentile days. He had no place in our thoughts. We knew nothing of his Person and work, blood and righteousness, beauty and blessedness, grace and glory. He was to us a root out of a dry ground, and in our eyes he had no form nor comeliness. His name might have been on our lips, but his Spirit and grace were not in our hearts. And if matters be in any way different now with us, if there be any faith on him, hope in him, or love to him, grace has wrought it all. Let us never forget what we were before we were called by grace. Let the remembrance of our sins and of the whole bent and current of our lives be bitter to us, that we may all the more prize and admire the riches of that sovereign grace which stooped to us in our low and lost estate. The paschal lamb was to be eaten with bitter herbs. The remembrance of Egyptian bondage should ever accompany the enjoyment of gospel liberty, and godly sorrow for sin the feeding on the flesh of Christ.

http://devotionals.ochristian.com/j-c-philpot-daily-portions.shtml

‘God’s Not Dead’ Star Kevin Sorbo Says Talking With Someone as Angry as Bill Maher Is Pointless BY STOYAN ZAIMOV, CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER

Kevin Sorbo of the upcoming Christian film “God’s Not Dead” said there is no point speaking with someone as angry as TV host Bill Maher, who recently called God a “psychotic mass murderer.”

“I wonder what happened to him in his lifetime, because the atheists I have met, not all of them are angry. I’ve got some very good friends who are atheists and they just don’t believe, they simply don’t believe. We’ve had great debates about it and things like that,” Sorbo said in an interview with Newsmax, posted Tuesday, after being asked about Maher’s comments.

“There is no reason to even try to talk to a guy like that because he has so much hate.”

Maher, who has described himself as an “apatheist,” made hiscontroversial remarks last week on his HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher,” when he started talking about the biblical account of Noah’s ark and the flood.

“The thing that’s really disturbing about Noah isn’t the silly, it’s that it’s immoral. It’s about a psychotic mass murderer who gets away with it and his name is God. Genesis says God was so angry with Himself for screwing up when He made mankind so flawed that He sent the flood to kill everyone. Men, women, children, babies, what kind of tyrant punishes everyone just to get back at the few he’s mad at?” the comedian and talk show host said.

Responding to those comments, conservative radio host Bryan Fischer, director of Issue Analysis at the American Family Association, reminded listeners on Monday that the picture presented of God in Scripture is that He is the Creator of the entire world, and that the reason for the flood was the evil of men at the time, who according to the story had nothing but evil in their hearts.

“The point was, God had nothing left to work with. God’s heart was not to destroy, God’s heart was to redeem, but He only found one man, and perhaps the members of his family, who had a heart to respond to Him, to work with Him, to obey Him, and that man’s name was Noah,” Fischer said.

Sorbo added in his interview that it is sad that Maher “has so much anger and hate,” and suggested that he is a “very angry and lonely man.”

In “God’s Not Dead,” Sorbo, who is most famous for the ’90s TV series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and the sci-fi show “Andromeda,” plays an atheist professor whose belief system is challenged by one of his Christian students.

The movie, set for release on March 21, also stars Willie Robertson and his wife Korie from “Duck Dynasty,” who play themselves.

“I was very impressed with how they made the movie,” Robertson told The Christian Post in an interview last week. “I would definitely say my own faith was strengthened – I was glad to be on the side of the kid defending his faith.”

http://www.christianpost.com/news/gods-not-dead-star-kevin-sorbo-says-talking-with-someone-as-angry-as-bill-maher-is-pointless-116415/

Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them. Ezekiel 36:37

Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication. You have found this true in your own personal experience. God has given you many an unsolicited favour, but still great prayer has always been the prelude of great mercy with you. When you first found peace through the blood of the cross, you had been praying much, and earnestly interceding with God that He would remove your doubts, and deliver you from your distresses. Your assurance was the result of prayer. When at any time you have had high and rapturous joys, you have been obliged to look upon them as answers to your prayers. When you have had great deliverances out of sore troubles, and mighty helps in great dangers, you have been able to say, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It goes before the blessing as the blessing’s shadow. When the sunlight of God’s mercies rises upon our necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill of mercies, He Himself shines behind them, and He casts on our spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest certain, if we are much in prayer, our pleadings are the shadows of mercy. Prayer is thus connected with the blessing to show us the value of it. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought for them earnestly.
“Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw;
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love;
Brings every blessing from above.”

Recall What God Remembers

Thus says the Lord: ’I remember . . . the kindness of your youth . . .’ —Jeremiah 2:2

Am I as spontaneously kind to God as I used to be, or am I only expecting God to be kind to me? Does everything in my life fill His heart with gladness, or do I constantly complain because things don’t seem to be going my way? A person who has forgotten what God treasures will not be filled with joy. It is wonderful to remember that Jesus Christ has needs which we can meet— “Give Me a drink” (John 4:7). How much kindness have I shown Him in the past week? Has my life been a good reflection on His reputation?

God is saying to His people, “You are not in love with Me now, but I remember a time when you were.” He says, “I remember . . . the love of your betrothal . . .” (Jeremiah 2:2). Am I as filled to overflowing with love for Jesus Christ as I was in the beginning, when I went out of my way to prove my devotion to Him? Does He ever find me pondering the time when I cared only for Him? Is that where I am now, or have I chosen man’s wisdom over true love for Him? Am I so in love with Him that I take no thought for where He might lead me? Or am I watching to see how much respect I get as I measure how much service I should give Him?

As I recall what God remembers about me, I may also begin to realize that He is not what He used to be to me. When this happens, I should allow the shame and humiliation it creates in my life, because it will bring godly sorrow, and “godly sorrow produces repentance . . .” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

http://utmost.org/recall-what-god-remembers/

Gay Blogger Tells Straight Christians: Don’t Confuse Your Best With God’s Best BY AUDREY BARRICK, CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER

A gay blogger has a piece of advice for Christians who tell him he should leave his homosexual lifestyle: don’t confuse your best with God’s best.

Azariah Southworth, who maintains that God affirms his homosexuality, recently wrote a blog post about lessons that “straight Christians must learn.” In it, he suggested that conservative Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin are mistaken in their interpretation of the Bible.

“[W]hen you tell me my life would be better as x,y,z; you’re minimizing my relationship with Christ. I have a different interpretation of a couple verses in the Bible,” he wrote. “I have reconciled my faith and sexual orientation. There has to be respect for my personal journey with God.”

Southworth, formerly host of “The Remix,” a popular Christian music program, has spoken openly about his negative experiences in the church, which include ex-gay counseling.

But despite what many preachers say in condemning homosexuality, he insists that God not only loves LGBT persons but also affirms them.

Since coming out in 2008, Southworth said he has received emails from old friends, strangers and past fellow church members – “people who are reaching out to me in hopes for me to ‘see the light’ and come out of this ‘lifestyle’ – for me to deny my identity.”

One email from Connie (whose last name was withheld) reads: “Jesus has soooo much better life for you than what you’re experiencing now. As long as you have breath, there is hope….”

Southworth responded on his blog, saying, “I just wish Connie could know the Jesus I know. The one that delivers us from fear, breaks the bondage of ignorance, the one that loves and affirms all people; regardless of their sexual orientation.

“I’m not hurt by Connie’s email because I know she means well. She has reached out to me time and time again, she truly cares and wants the best for me. However, Connie is confusing her best with God’s best. Connie has done what countless others have done and continue to do; they have made God nothing more than a mere reflection of themselves.”

The gay blogger, who outed young evangelical Jonathan Merritt in a controversial blog post in 2012, insisted that homosexuality is not an “abstract theological concept,” but rather “a piece of me.”

“I didn’t choose this anymore than you choose to be straight,” he wrote.

He also argued that there are “many interpretations” of the Bible and believes Christians should do their research on what the Scriptures say on homosexuality.

His statements are nothing new.

Among some of the more publicized arguments made by those who identify as gay Christians, Matthew Vines challenged the belief that homosexuality is a sin. An over hour-long video of Vines making his case garnered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.

But many Christians, including those who struggle with same-sex attraction, rejected Vines’ arguments.

You can read a three-part series on Vines herehere and here.

In the end, Southworth wants Christians to get to know him and have a “mutually respectful dialogue” about homosexuality.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/gay-blogger-tells-straight-christians-dont-confuse-your-best-with-gods-best-112544/

“Thou shalt be to him instead of God” (Ex. iv. 16).

Such was God’s promise to Moses, and such the high character that Moses was to assume toward Aaron, his brother. May it not suggest a high and glorious place that each of us may occupy toward all whom we meet, instead of God?

What a dignity and glory it would give our lives, could we uniformly realize this high calling! How it would lead us to act toward our fellow-men! God can always be depended upon. God is without variableness or shadow of turning. God’s word is unchangeable, and we can trust Him without reserve or question. Oh, that we might so live that men can trust us, even as God!

Again, God has no needs or wants to be supplied. He is always giving. “Rich unto all that call upon Him.” The glory of His nature is love, unselfish love, and beneficence toward all His creatures. The Divine life is a self-forgetting life, a life that has nothing to do but love and bless.

Let us so live, representing our Master here, while He represents us before the Throne on high.

http://devotionals.ochristian.com/a-b-simpson-devotional.shtml

Have You Ever Been Alone with God? (2)

When He was alone . . . the twelve asked Him about the parable —Mark 4:10

His Solitude with Us. When God gets us alone through suffering, heartbreak, temptation, disappointment, sickness, or by thwarted desires, a broken friendship, or a new friendship— when He gets us absolutely alone, and we are totally speechless, unable to ask even one question, then He begins to teach us. Notice Jesus Christ’s training of the Twelve. It was the disciples, not the crowd outside, who were confused. His disciples constantly asked Him questions, and He constantly explained things to them, but they didn’t understand until after they received the Holy Spirit (see John 14:26).

As you journey with God, the only thing He intends to be clear is the way He deals with your soul. The sorrows and difficulties in the lives of others will be absolutely confusing to you. We think we understand another person’s struggle until God reveals the same shortcomings in our lives. There are vast areas of stubbornness and ignorance the Holy Spirit has to reveal in each of us, but it can only be done when Jesus gets us alone. Are we alone with Him now? Or are we more concerned with our own ideas, friendships, and cares for our bodies? Jesus cannot teach us anything until we quiet all our intellectual questions and get alone with Him.

http://utmost.org/have-you-ever-been-alone-with-god-2/