*Volume 105 *No. 09 *Published by Christian Triumph Co. *Permit # 695 *NOVEMBER 2008
Contents: A Prisoner for Christ Happy Thanksgiving & Anita Helesteo Christ and His Bride – Byrum Christ and His Bride Beautiful Zion A Look at the Book of Matthew Matthew & Letters
1 2 3 3 4,5 6 6 7
A Prisoner for Christ Paul, a prisoner, bravely faced King Agrippa and other powerful men as he explained his belief about Jesus. In doing so, Paul simply spoke the truth about a personal experience that actually happened to him on the road to Damascus.
“About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” * (Goad= prod or “You are only hurting yourself.” The Living Bible)
Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied.” Paul definitely had seen the Light of God; in fact, it physically blinded him for a time. In accurately reporting this event to these
officials, Paul did so sincerely, as an eyewitness, because he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus had spoken to him and then had sent him “to open” the eyes of men and women, turning them from darkness to God’s powerful Light. Jesus’ Divine intervention changed Paul’s life forever, rescuing him from a religion that denied the sacred birth of the Greatest Hope in the world, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. After Paul finished sharing his eyewitness account, King Agrippa, still skeptical, said to him, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul’s humble response was and is Eternally Significant, reaching all the way to 2008. “Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” Paul, the persecutor of Christians, had become a Believer in the Savior of all mankind, and he spent the rest of his life as a servant of the Gospel. Soon Paul was preaching the message that righteousness with God comes only through believing and trusting in Jesus Christ. Although cynics attacked his credibility, no one could deny that Paul’s life had been forever changed that day on the road to Damascus. Many, many years ago, Paul told a true story to doubtful leaders who seemed to reject his eyewitness account. And yet, that “Message of Hope” continues - as powerful and accurate – as it did soon after Christ died and was resurrected. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3
Visiting with those who are ill or cannot get out and about provides a very special time of “feasting” and fulfillment.
“O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.” Psalm 30:12
Feasting Similarly, when the Thanksgiving meal is over and it is time for cleaning up all those dishes and utensils, Christians, too, need to find the time for their eternal souls to be cleansed and fed. Waiting for a “better time” may mean not having “the time” at all. SONG: COME AND DINE “Jesus has a table spread where the saints of God are fed. He invites His chosen people, ‘Come and dine.’ With His manna He doth feed and supplies our every need. Oh, ‘tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time…” Anita – “Please take time to feast with our Wonderful Lord, not only at Thanksgiving but throughout the coming year.” (edited) Faith Messenger
The Thanksgiving meal is one that most of us look forward to with pleasure. Not only is the food enjoyable but also the company – usually friends and family. Of course, clean up time involves more of a tasteless type of expectation. Large stacks of dishes, cups and cooking utensils, as well as excuses for delay, are easy to find: “I’m too tired…too full…let’s visit…or we’ve been in this kitchen too long!” Yet to procrastinate may not be in one’s best interest. There is another kind of “feasting,” however, that brings complete & perfect delight. Jesus issued this personal invitation to each one of us “…Come and dine…” in John 21:12. “Feasting with the Lord” is not only enjoyable but also essential in our busy lives. Food for this “feasting” comes from the Holy Bible because God’s Word fills us with instruction, direction, guidance and history lessons. “Hope” and a closer understanding of God fully satisfy our hunger and thirst. Sacred music also presents immeasurable amounts of spiritual pleasure, comforting and soothing our need for nourishment. Gospel literature, poetry, and missionary books are food for the soul as well as spirit-filled church services that support and enlighten.
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The Church of Today And Tomorrow
CHRIST AND HIS BRIDE Byrum C. Lee GOD'S SYMBOLIC RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL
In the Old Testament there are numerous places where God is described as being married to Israel, such as Isaiah 54:5: “(Y)our Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.” Because of Abraham's faithfulness, God chose Abraham and his descendants from among all others as a peculiar people, special to himself. The uniting of a man and a woman in marriage is the closest, and ideally the most beautiful, of all human relationships. In Mark 10:8, quoting from Genesis 2:24 Christ said, “they are no longer two but one.” This is what God hoped for in the relationship between himself and Israel, only to be heart-broken by her frequent flirtations with other gods, so that God even described Israel as an adulteress. When God created Eve as a life-partner for Adam, he intended that the husband/wife relationship should be that of one man/woman for life. For a time, allowance was made for a man to take more than one wife, but sharing the marriage bed was always fraught with problems even within Abraham's own family. However, polygamy wasn't God's plan for the human family. In his relationship with Israel God demanded exclusivity. The second of the Ten Commandments decreed, “Thou shalt have no other gods before (besides) me. . . for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:3,5 KJV). However, the history of Israel reveals many occasions of unfaithfulness to God; she frequently joined with her neighbors in worshiping the Baals. In Jeremiah, chapter 3, God expresses his frustration with Israel (the ten northern tribes) because of her infidelities, causing him to ponder the thought of divorcing her. (Continued on Page 4)
Helesteo - at Christian Triumph
What Money Can Buy! (An original article written for the El Mensajero by eleven year old Helesteo & translated by him for the Faith Messenger.) Money can buy houses, cars, food, hotels, pools, and televisions, but money cannot buy the blood of Jesus or God. The blood of Jesus paid for everything because God is everything. Some persons wear the Crucifix with Jesus hanging on it (as a piece of jewelry) but this does not have value because Jesus (God) is the only One Who is of (the highest) value and can bring us through. There is no other! Exodus 20: “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them…” ______________________________________________________
Have a blessed Thanksgiving! Christian Triumph is thankful for each and every person who is a part of this ministry. Approximately 3300 Faith Messengers are mailed monthly to our readers, and we greatly appreciate you. 3
God used this as a parallel, symbolically representing his relationship with Israel, saying, “the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord. (1:2) . . .I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. (1:4) . . .for you are not my people, and I am not your God. (1:9) . . . (Israel) is not my wife, and I am not her husband. (2:2) . . . I will expose her lewdness. (2:10) . . . I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals. (2:14) . . . They have deserted the Lord to give themselves to prostitution. (4:14). Like Adam they have broken the covenant” (6:6). But in spite of Gomer's many prostitutions God instructed Hosea to be reunited with her, and to “Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods” (3:1). The above several excerpts from the book of Hosea sufficiently illustrate that by Israel's repeated infidelities God would have been justified in divorcing himself from her permanently. And yet, because of his promise to Abraham, and his great love for Israel, God determined to win her back to himself, saying, “I am going to allure her, . . .and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14). But for all of God's attempts to win her back to himself his efforts proved futile. Yet he continued to hope for a better future, saying, that although “(they) will live many days without king or prince . . . afterward (they) will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days” (3:4-5). This passage is apparently a reference to Jesus, the Son of David whom God promised to send as their king, and of his plan for reestablishing the kingdom that had been forfeited because of their unfaithfulness.
Christ and His Bride But he remained hesitant about doing so, commenting, “If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely defiled? But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers—would you now return to me?” (3:1). What should God do? Through her repeated prostitutions with other gods, Israel had broken her covenant, but should he divorce her, with no possibility of restoration? As we look further, God says, “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of her infidelities” (vs 8). But should the divorce decree be permanent? Because of his promise to Abraham, and his undying love for Israel, we find God offering the opportunity for restoration, even pleading, “Return, faithless people, for I am your husband.” However, with little expectation of a wholesale return, God extended the invitation on an individual basis, saying, “I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:14,15). The people in Judah, not unlike the northern tribes, were continually following after the strange gods of the neighboring nations. And through the prophet Isaiah,God asks, “Where is your mother's certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away. When I came, why was no one there? When I called why was there no answer? Was my arm too short to ransom you?” (Isaiah 50:1,2a). The history of Israel/Judah records repeated periods of unfaithfulness to their God, which he viewed as infidelities. But repeatedly God sent messengers who pleaded with them to return to him. The prophet Hosea (whose name is the same root as Joshua and Jesus, meaning 'Salvation'), was instructed by God to “take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness,” (Hosea 1:2). In obedience, the prophet married Gomer, who broke his heart time and again by her continued infidelities.
CHRIST'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE NEW ISRAEL—THE CHURCH
The prophet Isaiah had a glimpse into the future when Christ would come to call Israel again to Zion and would be their king, predicting, “The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 51:11). Of that day the prophet envisioned, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. (Continued on Page 5)
almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: 'We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: 'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'” (Acts 13:23,26, 44-47). From that time, although the apostles continued in their appeal to the Jews, they were increasingly rejected, as Jesus had been, and they turned to the Gentiles, who heard them gladly. Addressing the Gentile Christians in Ephesus, Paul wrote, “You who are Gentiles by birth were excluded from citizenship in Israel, and foreigners to the covenants. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. . . Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household” (Ephesians 2:11,12-13,19). Through Christ they had become a part of the new Israel of God, something that even some of the Jewish leaders in the church were slow to accept. In controversy with certain Jews who claimed, “We are Abraham's descendants,” Jesus replied, “I know you are Abraham's descendants. . .(but) if you were Abraham's children you would do the things Abraham did” (John 8:33,37,39). In agreement, Paul wrote, “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel(ites). Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children” (Romans 9:6,7). In another place Paul wrote, “the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace, and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring— not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all, as it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations’” (Romans 4:16-17). It is evident that God never divorced Israel, but intended that they be incorporated into an enlarged Israel composed of people from every nation under the sun, including those who were not descended from Abraham, but who shared the faith (Continued- Page 6) of Abraham.
(Continued) Christ and His Bride For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe or righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head, . . . and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels”(Isaiah 61:10). “(A)s a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5b). In the Song of Solomon, God is depicted as singing to his beautiful bride, the church, whom he loves intensely, “How beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you” (4:7). Typically, when a young man is deeply in love with his bride he can see nothing but flawless beauty in her. That is how Christ will view his church, when he comes to claim her as his bride, “radiant . . . without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. . . This a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:27,32). When Jesus was born in Bethlehem it was in fulfillment of the promise of God, and the hope of being reunited with his people, Israel as their Lord and King. To demonstrate that Jesus was the legitimate heir to the throne of David, Matthew records Jesus' genealogy as a son of David and of Abraham. And when wise men from the East, by following his star, came to Jerusalem they asked, “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 1:2). But from the time of his birth, when Herod sought to eliminate him, to the day of his crucifixion, Jesus met with opposition from the 'establishment.' Although the common people heard him gladly, he was considered by the religious leaders as a threat to their authority. “He came unto his own (people), and his own received him not, but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:11). Addressing the mixed multitude gathered at Jerusalem during the feast of Pentecost, Peter declared, “let all Israel be assured of this: God has made Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Much later, in a Sabbath address at the synagogue in Antioch, Paul testified, “'From this man's (David) descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. . . . Brothers, children of Abraham, and you Godfearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent’. . On the next Sabbath
'Twas on Christ her foundation was laid, And to her God's saints love to gather. Of the Holy City, God once said That “this and that one were born in her.”
Christ and His Bride But when the Jews rejected Jesus as their King, even crucifying him, he instructed the apostles to go into all the world with the message of the Kingdom which would include all those, whether Jew or Gentile, who believe in him as their Savior and Lord. All the redeemed, including the Gentiles who were once no people, have been inducted into his church which is the true Israel of God today. This is the beautiful bride of Christ for whom he will one day return for a great wedding in the air. John, the Revelator, saw a beautiful vision, of which he wrote: “I saw the Holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God…’ (And) one of the angels . . . said to me, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.' And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:1-3,9-11). May the bridegroom hasten the day of his appearing to claim his bride! BEAUTIFUL ZION God so loved Zion's beautiful gates, That He chose to build His temple there, Where for Him the people would wait, As glorious things He would with them share.
From all the world, people come to her, And through her find the inspiration To go from there almost everywhere, Sharing the good news with each nation. Byrum C. Lee 08/2008
A LOOK AT THE BOOK OF MATTHEW SERMON ON THE MOUNT Chapter 5 (Reference for this study comes from the Holy Bible as well as the book, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1 By William Barclay) Matthew 5: 29, 30 “If your right eye proves a stumbling-block to you, tear it out and throw it away from you; for it is better that one part of your body should be destroyed, than that your whole body should go away to Gehenna. If your right hand proves a stumbling-block to you, cut it off and throw it away from you; for it is better for you that one part of your body should be destroyed than that your whole body should go away to Gehenna.” With these words, Jesus is making an important, spiritual- surgical demand: whatever would cause a person to sin must be removed from his or her life. “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Luke 9 We were created to live with God, today and eternally; however, sin - an action void of love – will surely keep us from God’s presence, as well as result in personal pain and sorrow. Just for one quick moment, imagine sin as a rock hiding in the pathway of a person enjoying an autumn stroll. Suddenly, the walker steps on the rock, turning his ankle and falls to the ground in pain. Sin is like that rock: deceptive, yet often portrayed as a unique but natural thing. Instead, it
On that same hill Abraham brought his son, Giving back to God the “promised one,” Not knowing that God was providing A ram that nearby He was hiding. But on that same hill God's only Son, For your sins and mine had to die. To replace His Son there would be none, For only He our freedom could buy. Zion was of God's church a great type, Which He founded when the time was ripe. The church, composed of all the redeemed, Is by her Lord immensely esteemed. 6
“We are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8 (It’s a promise!) Changing one’s lifestyle is challenging, but God will empower that decision. Counseling may be helpful. December issue: Matthew 5:31-32
becomes a stumbling-block planned purposely to “trip up” one’s relationship with God and others. Life can be tricky and complex, but choosing the ways of sin to improve things will only increase the frustrations of confusion and chaos. Why? Because wrong or unhealthy choices only lure us to heartbreaking, personal betrayal. In contrast, making a decision to stop, to think, and to remove the unhelpful, unhealthy and just plain wrong things in our lives will enable us to sort out mistakes and change direction. We’ll be able to find answers to perplexing relationships as we take time to ask God for His guidance in what is important to Him, ourselves, and others. It is a true fact, experienced by many persons, that God’s Word and ways are unbelievably productive and miraculous. Many times God called to His Beloved, “Come back to Me,” and “I will return to you.” God’s ways are not only merciful but bring total satisfaction. Temptations, destructive habits, and addictions are extremely hard to struggle with and Jesus’ command to “tear out” those damaging patterns comes from an understanding “Greater Power” than any human being can imagine. In asking for His Divine help, we can be assured that His Power is ready and available. Then we can begin to help ourselves. A supportive suggestion might be: fill the void of unhealthy or sinful patterns by thinking on these things: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…excellent or praiseworthy…” (Phil.4) Overcoming may take dedicated personal action - such as plunging into Christian service. In helping others, it seems we concentrate less on our losses, even those destructive ones. “Lose your life to find it in Jesus.” Luke 9 An aged idea: replace a bad habit with a good one. When temptation comes in its enticing form, turn immediately and go another direction, and do something else – think of something else. Purposely, ask God for His strength and His infilling with that Divine power which Jesus displayed in His resurrection. His death on the cross won our battles; and He lives again to give us hope and a promise of life in Heaven. God the Holy Spirit is active on this Earth in 2008, and there is victory over sin and despair.
Thank you for mailing to me a copy of the book, “Walking Man.” It was a very interesting story about missionary work in Latin America. Narciso mentioned the city of Mendoza, Argentina, in his travels. I have contact with the Archers, missionaries with World Gospel Missions…thank you for the Faith Messenger paper. Today, I am celebrating my 89th birthday. Marion I received the book (Walking Man) and am enjoying reading it. Annabelle We want to acknowledge the receiving of a book entitled, “Walking Man”…thank you. Olive Thank you very much for the book “Walking Man.” I have read some and it is very interesting….Idell I hope this will be a very profitable year for the Lord. I appreciate each of you that carry on this wonderful work. Lovingly Beverly Would you please send me your Bible course in English. I am interested in the Lord God and want to learn as much as I can about the Bible…Paul Unfortunately, at present, Christian Triumph has no correspondence Bible course in English. I appreciate your efforts and dedication to continue the ministry of Sister Evelyn, her parents, and all who have dedicated past years to spreading the gospel. God bless you all…Doris Faith Messenger Readers: Did you receive your FREE book, Walking Man? This is our gift of “Thanksgiving” to all our readers. Questions or comments? Please write: Christian Triumph, PO Box 5187, Corpus Christi, Texas 78465-5187 We are praying for your requests. Please remember Narciso’s wife, Udelia, who is ill. 7
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Praise the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very Great; You are clothed clothed With splendor and majesty. Psalm 104
Published on Mar 13, 2011