Do Not Be Deceived

2nd Thessalonians 2

2 thess 2 15

This chapter talks about the coming of the Lord Jesus. It tells us not to be alarmed by others saying that the day of the Lord has already come. We are not to be deceived. This chapter mentions several things that need to happen before Jesus returns.

  • Rebellion occurs
  • The man of lawlessness will be revealed; he will set himself up in God’s temple and proclaim he is God.

When the lawless one is revealed, the Lord Jesus will overthrow him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him. Satan will display counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders to try to deceive us all. We need to be ready.  We need to anchor ourselves in the word of God, watching for these things. Stand strong in your faith and do not be deceived. I am going to end this devotional with verses 16-17:

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

 

Tomorrow we will talk about 2nd Thessalonians 3.

 

Many Blessing,

~The Ransom’s

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With Your Faith and Love

1 Thessalonians 3

1 Thess 3

Paul was very concerned for the Thessalonians. He was so concerned they were going to lose their faith he sent Timothy to them. He wanted Timothy to strengthen and encourage them. He had told the Thessalonians that they would be persecuted. He was afraid they would be tempted and walk away from God.

Timothy reported back that the Thessalonians had not walked away from God. In fact Paul was encouraged by their faith and love. We can encourage one another with our faith and not even realize it. You never know who is watching you. When we have something hard going on in our life and we tackle it with God we can uplift people and not even realize it. So as you go about your day, encourage one another with your faith and love.
Tomorrow we will look at 1 Thessalonians 4.

Many Blessings,
~The Ransom’s

The Driving Force of Faith

Matt 17 20

Matthew 17

After Jesus’ disciples failed to drive out a demon in Matthew 17, Jesus comes along and takes care of it for them. The obvious question they have is, “Why could we not drive it out?” Then Jesus tells them something very powerful: “Because of the littleness of your faith…” We see here that faith is supposed to be the driving force behind everything that we do as Christians; unfortunately, if Jesus were here today, he would probably say the same thing to the majority of us.

What exactly is faith? Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” There are a lot of things that we cannot currently see: God, Jesus, the kingdom of God, the dead rising, sin being wiped out, etc. However, if we have faith that those things are real, or will be made real in the future, then we can accomplish almost anything for the sake of Christ. We need to have unwavering faith that Jesus died for our sins and is coming back again to establish the kingdom of God. Without this hope, what is keeping us going in this life?

How is your faith today? Are you able to believe that the impossible is possible today in the name of Jesus, or are you skeptical of what can happen? “If you have faith as a mustard seed… nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20

-Talon Paul

When God Responds

matt 8 8

Matthew 8:5-10

When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6“Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.

In Matthew 8, Jesus is recorded as miraculously healing several distinct individuals that represent three classification of people who were viewed with lesser status in Jewish eyes. The first is a leper, who is considered unclean for a Jewish man to touch (vv. 1-4). Next is a servant of a Roman centurion, who was a Gentile foreigner and likely part of the oppressive Roman Empire, which Jews considered to be their enemy (vv. 5-13). Lastly, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law (vv. 14-15), which is unique as women were not looked upon with much recognition or significance in Jewish society. In addition, the passage also reveals that Jesus healed numerous other people who were demon-possessed around Capernaum as well (vv. 16-17).

In verses 5-10 when Jesus is approached by the centurion, he concedes to the centurion’s request to come and heal his servant. Jesus’ agreement to come to the centurion’s home is quite a startlingly turn of events in this passage as a Jewish person would be deemed ceremonially unclean if they entered the house of a Gentile (cf. Jn 18:28; Acts 10:28). But nevertheless, Jesus humbly agrees to go and heal the man (vv. 5-7).

But the centurion replies quickly to Jesus expressing his “unworthiness” for Jesus to make the effort to come to his house. Rather, the centurion reveals a keen understanding of Jesus’ authority to speak with the power of God. The centurion explains that he knows what authority means because he speaks, and someone obeys, and the task is accomplished. In the same way, he claims that Jesus only needs to speak the “word,” and according to the authority of his “word,” the centurion’s servant will be healed (v. 8).

This proclamation amazes Jesus because the centurion understood the power and authority of God that Jesus represented. And in response to the centurion’s understanding of this reality, Jesus declares, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith” (v. 10). What an unsuspecting pronouncement—that Jesus would confess such a great faith from this Gentile that superseded any he had seen in all of Israel. The emphasis here is that even a Gentile, who was not considered a member of God’s people, will see the power of God at work when they trust in Jesus, God’s Anointed.

What the passage can teach us is that God’s power flows in response to the exercising of faith (trust) in God as the source of all power and in Jesus as God’s Messiah. If we want to see God’s power at work in our lives, it begins by recognizing that God moves when we believe and trust in him, knowing that he is able to do even what may seem impossible in our eyes. Our trust in God doesn’t make God move; rather, God responds when we trust in him. And we must also trust in his character—that he responds as the good and loving God that we know he is.

-Jerry Wierwille

A Lesson from Peru: Faith

peru children

Missions Spotlight: Peru

Within the past five years, ministry in Peru has boomed!  After studying Miguel Cervetes, Pastor Edwin Mauricio came to know the beliefs we hold dear, leaving behind a life of preaching to congregations of thousands. Pastor Edwin mentors several other pastors throughout Peru; we are learning of new pastors and congregations with each visit!  Pictured is a group of youth Yesenia Ruiz Castillo teaches each week in the northern-region of Peru.  

 

The “faith chapter” of the Bible is called the “faith chapter” for good reason.  Did you know, the word “faith” is mentioned 23 times in Hebrews 11? Starting with the first chapter, we are told that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”.  People have faith in many different things.  We put our faith in our parents, teachers, doctors, and the government.  I have faith that when I flick the light switch, it will send electricity through the lightbulb and give us light. We as Christians know that faith is important because it is the vehicle of our salvation.  John 14:6 reminds us that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the father but through [him].”  Paul tells us, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).  This is nothing new, right?

 

Although you have most likely memorized the definition of faith in your 6th grade Sunday School class, I want to take a moment to reflect on the truly RADICAL things leaders have done in FAITH.  If they didn’t have faith, they surely would not jump out on a limb like this.  As you read through this list, try to put yourself in their shoes, imagine how they must have felt and thought.  I know these are stories we have likely heard before, but take a moment to capture how boldly these Christians stepped out in faith.

  • Noah – The whole world thought he was crazy for building a boat for the rains that no one had ever seen
  • Joseph – The man who stayed true to God even when he was betrayed by his family and sent to a strange land where he was a slave.
  • Moses – The man who returned to a country that hated him to command that Pharaoh set the Israelites free.  This same man had the faith to walk into the sea of reeds and watch as the sea parted before him and the entire Israelite nation walked on dry ground.
  • Daniel – The man who stood in the face of hungry lions with confidence knowing that God could deliver him from even the mightiest beasts.
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – The men who put their faith in God and told Nebuchadnezzar that God can deliver us from the fire, but even if he doesn’t we will not serve your gods because we know YHWH is the one true God.
  • David – The man who went up against a mighty giant with only a sling knowing that if God is behind him, then no one could stand against him.
  • Peter – The man who stepped out onto the water to meet Jesus, defining the natural laws of the world.
  • Paul – The man who despite his imprisonments, beatings, and shipwrecks kept preaching the gospel to whoever would listen to him.

 

Now I want to share with you several others who have stepped out in faith and inspired me on a personal level.  These are believers that live in Peru, and believe as we do.

  • Maria Poma – The woman who continues to serve her community and church after the tragic death of her husband, the former pastor.
  • Edwin Mauricio – The man who left pastoring a congregation of thousands to shepherd a small group, knowing he held the truth.
  • Marco Gutierrez – The man who spends hours travelling long distances to come to church each week to preach and lead Bible studies.
  • Yesenia Castillo – The woman who leads large groups of youth, even after the flooding and destruction of the church building.

 

God never promises us that we won’t have hardship in this life, but he does promise to be with us in the hard time. He will protect us from the hungry lions of this world, but even if he doesn’t, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we will still serve him. And because of that, we will spend eternity in God’s kingdom.

 

If you would like to support our family in Peru with money for transportation for Pastor Marco to travel to church, along with buying materials for a renovation of the Lima church kitchen, please follow this link. Thank you! https://www.givelify.com/givenow/1.0/MjM0MDg=/selection

 

Love,

Josiah & Amber Cain

 

 

 

A Lesson from Nicaragua: Community

 

Missions Spotlight: Nicaragua

alex davila

Alex Davila leads a small group Bible study in Nicaragua.  He also maintains a public YouTube channel and radio broadcast, sharing the Good News.  If you would like to check his website out (La Biblia y las religions: The Bible and religion), you can visit http://labibliaylasreligiones.com. He is also a perfect Spanish-English bilingual and would love to hear an encouraging message from you! 

 

Pictured above is Alex preaching at the Lima Church in Peru.  We love it when Alex accompanies us when we travel to Peru. 

 

Community is a compound word: common and unity.  This means that we are a group of people unified by what we have in common.  This is a perfect example of the Body of Christ: unity through common beliefs. Just like our human bodies are unified by the drive to survive, the body of believers are unified by Christ.

 

Sometimes, as Christians, we can get caught up in our differences.  Quarrels over wine vs. grape juice for communion, tattoos vs. no tattoos as a Christian, and Sunday school before or after the church service take place all over the nation.  Now, some of these quarrels seem silly, but you know as well as I do that feelings are hurt over simple differences in ideas.  In Galatians 5:6, Paul reminds us “for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love”.  It is our faith, exemplified by our love, that counts, not the small differences (or similarities) we may have.

 

Today, I want to remind you that we have more in common with one another than we have differences.  The Church should be the tightest-knit group of people in the universe.  We should have the highest sense of morale and comradery.  Watching the Olympics gets me hyped as I see hockey teams, and ice skating duos, curling teams (yes, even curling can be exciting) accomplish big things together.  Their sense of togetherness and years of hard work to achieve a common goal awakens my drive to seize the day.  Guess what, we have GOD and His son, JESUS CHRIST living in US!!! Imagine the radical acts of love we can achieve with divine power, strength and grace living in us.   Jesus says that the world should be able to know who we are by how we love one another.  What are you doing to show your neighbor your radial love?

 

You have probably heard this verse before, but I want to take it back to its original Greek.  1 Corinthians 6:19 – “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own..”. All of the times that you and your are mentioned in this verse they are actually plural which translates from the Greek into English as ‘you all’. Grammatically, this is known as the second person plural, and something our English Bibles hide from us sometimes because we do not have a direct translation for the second person plural that sounds nice in English. The closet thing we have in English is ‘you all’ or if you are in the south then ‘y’all’. Can you imagine your Bible saying “do you not know that y’all’s bodies are a temple of the Holy spirit”? Due to the mistranslation of this verse into English people usually take this verse on an individual level. The meaning of this text then becomes a verse used to support exercise to keep your “temple” nice however what the author originally intended was to mean the body of Christ is the temple. This means that how we treat each other as the body directly correlates to what the temple is like. That is a very important statement! When we are angry with or hate our fellow believers, we are desecrating the new temple that God has set up.

 

If you look at how the temple was treated in the Old Testament we see how holy and sacred it was. We need to translate the holy aspect of the Old Testament temple to the body of Christ today. So what exactly does it look like to be holy to each other? It is patience, kindness, forgiveness, and love. Next time you want to be angry at someone remember that how you treat them affects the holiness of the temple, the place that God dwells. Reading the passage for its original meaning is much more difficult than a simple command to exercise and eat well.  It is a command on how we should be as a community. Try reading the passage in this way, “Do you not know that your community is a temple of the Holy spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God”. This is Paul lifting the community of believers to a higher level. I encourage you to take up that call and to bring even more glory to God’s community of believers.

 

The latter half of Acts 2 describes a true community of Christ.  The Church devoted themselves to teaching, to fellowship, to breaking bread together, to giving to the needy, and all the while with glad and sincere hearts (Acts 2:42-47).  Let’s reach out to each other.  Let’s strive to love each other in a radical way that makes the world hunger for what we have.

 

Reaching out is exactly what Alex is doing in Nicaragua with his radio ministry.  Our love doesn’t stop within our culture, or backyard or our nation; we are an international community.  Although we can’t break bread with our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua, we can encourage them even from afar.  Alex would love to hear from you!  Just a simple message saying hi, the church you attend, and that you are thinking of him can go a long way.  You can find him on Facebook under the name ‘Alexander Davila’.  Remember, he is a perfect bilingual, so no need to use a translator.  Radical love awaits us ❤

 

Love,

Josiah & Amber Cain

 

 

No Resurrection?!

1 Corinthians 15_17

 

The next section of I Corinthians 15 we’ll look at are verses twelve through nineteen. In this section, Paul traces the implications of the claim that there is no resurrection. In verse twelve Paul asks “…how do some among you say that there is no resurrection from the dead?”. We’re not told anything about who these people are. They either could be outsiders that are influencing the church or it could be people part of the Corinthian church. Either way a group is claiming that resurrection is not a reality. This is not the first time Paul has interacted with the belief that resurrection does not exist. In Acts 17.32, the response to his preaching, that climaxed with the claim that God has made himself known through the risen Jesus, elicited a mixed response. Some believed and followed others sneered at the idea of resurrection.

Beginning in verse thirteen Paul sheds light on a world with no resurrection. To begin with first and foremost, if there is no resurrection then Christ himself has not been raised! And if Jesus hasn’t been raised then Paul’s preaching and the recipient’s faith is in vain! In other words, whether resurrection, specifically Jesus’ resurrection, is true or not, has a direct impact on how we live our lives and the manner in which we live them. Paul rebuilt his life around the risen Jesus and lived in such a manner, the recipients of Paul’s preaching reorganized their lives in light of the risen Lord. But if Jesus has not been raised, if resurrection is not possible, then we have to find something else to build our lives upon. This is why the resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in history. Everything hangs on it! It affects how we live and what we believe. He continues that if Christ has not been raised then it makes him a liar and God a liar because he falsely testifies that God raised him from the dead. In addition, our faith in Jesus is worthless and we still remain in our sins. Verse nineteen culminates with if we hope in Jesus in this life only, then we are the sorriest and most pitiful people there are. A hope in a non risen savior is no hope at all, it’s a delusion and a fraud.

The implications of no resurrection are bleak and grim, but Paul says in the next verse, “but now Christ has been raised from the dead…”. The reality described in verses 12-19 is not a reality because Jesus has been raised from the dead and resurrection is a reality. However, how can we have assurance or confidence that Jesus really did rise from the dead? This was an event that happened nearly two thousand years ago. I want to share some points that can help aid our belief in the resurrection. Our faith is not validated in what we can know intellectually alone but also we’re not supposed to check our brains at the door and just believe blindly or with no reason. Some reasons to have confidence in the resurrection are:

  1. The resurrection event is the best explanation for the rapid expanse of the early church. If someone wants to deny the resurrection then the burden of proof is on them to provide a more plausible explanation for the rapid growth of the early church.
  2. The resurrection is the best explanation for the change in the disciples. Again if the resurrection did not happen then a more plausible explanation needs to be provided to explain the disciples’ rapid change in attitude and disposition. The disciples transformed from cowards to men who preached boldly with confidence until their death, that God raised Jesus from the dead. Why?
  3. The resurrection event is attested in multiple independent sources.  When a historian tries to determine whether an event recorded happened or not they look for how many times the event is attested in sources. If an event is recorded in one source only then the likelihood of it actually happening decreases, however if the event is attested in multiple sources that are independent of each other (the sources have no knowledge of the others being written) then it is more likely that the event actually happened. The resurrection of Jesus is attested in five independent sources: Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and Paul. These accounts of Jesus’ resurrection span over fifty years (Paul the earliest source and John the latest source) written by five different men independent of each other and they all record the same conclusion: God raised Jesus from the dead.

-Jacob Rohrer