The Sovereignty of God

Powerful and Effective Prayer

“The Lord is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!” Psalm 91:2

A good place to begin a powerful and effective prayer life is in realizing that we are, in every way, completely dependent upon God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego understood that their lives were under the control of a sovereign God. Consider their response to the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, before he had them thrown into the fiery furnace:

O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (Daniel 3:16-18).

Think on these verses which highlight the sovereignty of God:

The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it (Psalm 24:1).

Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps (Psalm 135:6).

Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9, 10).

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17).

Once we acknowledge that God is sovereign we must place our trust in Him as it says in Proverbs:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

The Importance of Communication

As in any relationship, trust is established through communication – the exact essence of what prayer is all about.

A friend of my family went through a very difficult divorce. From all appearances, it seemed everything was fine in his marriage. He and his wife were active in their church and home schooled their children. He was very vocal about his faith and was very intentional in sharing the Gospel at work. When I received news that he and his wife had divorced, I gave him a call. As we talked he said, “BJ, at some point in my marriage I became a stranger to my wife. I felt like a single parent raising my kids.” This man’s marriage was destroyed when he and his wife stopped communicating.

Our human relationship with God will never grow unless we spend time communicating with Him. It is during those moments on our knees when faith develops. I foster trust in God by utilizing a prayer journal to record prayer requests and write down spiritual lessons God has taught me. This journal has proven a great resource to remind me of God’s faithfulness. It is encouraging to reflect on past requests and see how God has responded to them. Sometimes God did not answer the request in the way I thought He would, nor in the time I wanted, but in each case I am reminded that I serve a God who listens and responds to the needs of His children (Psalm 34:17; Matthew 7:7; John 14:13-14; Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 5:14-15).

Some of the spiritual lessons God has taught me have come through times of trials and tribulation, others during times of prayer and fasting. Regardless of the situation, in each case it has been valuable to reflect upon what God has taught me through the years. I also jot down key verses that have given me strength, encouragement and direction through various times in my life. What a faithful God we serve!

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7).

So then, the first principle in having a powerful and effective prayer life is trusting in the sovereignty of God. We are merely the vehicles which God uses to accomplish His sovereign will. Even in the uncertainties of life, we must realize, like Job, that we are dependent upon Him (Job 42:2-6).

The preceding was excerpted from BJ’s new E-book Powerful and Effective Prayer.

Two Rising Stars

by Bill Rudge

The Coming Antichrist and False Prophet

“None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” Psalm 101.3

The pages of history are laced with accounts of new movements generating such enthusiasm and momentum that a nation – even the world – was swayed.

As a teen in the late 1960s many of my generation got caught up in the sexual revolution, race riots, and rebellion against authority. Very few of us really thought about why we were involved or where these movements were headed. We were seized by the emotion of the moment and went with the flow of the crowd.

Hitler’s media propaganda and hypnotizing speeches influenced a nation and changed the world. Today, terrorists use slick social media to motivate youth and adults to join a regime that commits unbelievable atrocities.

The time is nearing when a prominent person will arise on the world scene. Carnage from terrorism, devastation from natural disasters, threat of nuclear annihilation, and the need to solve other potential global crises is motivating an increasing number of voices to cry for a global leader.

The majority of people on our planet will blindly submit to this compelling leader (revealed in prophetic Scripture as the Antichrist) who promises peace and prosperity. The Antichrist will appear to be the savior of the world and will acquire “authority over every tribe, people, language and nation” (Revelation 13:7). The masses will also readily embrace his cohort – an influential religious leader promoting love and unity, but Biblically identified as the False Prophet.

There is no denying that our world is ripe for such visionary leaders who will astound with apparent solutions to global problems. Their hypnotizing charisma, persuasive words, powerful speeches, pleasing promises, inspiring media visuals, moving testimonies, euphoric music, cheering supporters, incredible popularity, and displays of supernatural power will mesmerize the multitudes. According to Scripture these two “rising stars” will be demonically energized. They will take the reins of this world through deception and intrigue to ultimately lead humankind in a unified rebellion against the God of the Bible.

It is clear that a scenario is unfolding to create a global system of political power, economic control, military might, and religious unification. As Revelation foretells, we are moving toward a global society with a one-world government, a universal economy, and an ecumenical religious system offering tolerance and acceptance for all religions – except one, biblical Christianity. There is a growing movement of globalism, religious unity, and the celebration of diversity – along with a growing intolerance for biblical Christians who believe Jesus is the only way of salvation. Those who use the Bible to speak out against the immorality in today’s society and culture are often accused of bigotry and hate crimes with the aim to be silenced or eliminated.

Underlying the Antichrist’s facade is his ulterior motive to attain control over and receive worship from every human being on this planet. The False Prophet will attempt to help him achieve this – Satan’s ultimate goal.

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast [the Antichrist] — all whose names have not been written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

It is interesting to note that only two people in Scripture were possessed by Satan himself: Judas, when he betrayed Jesus, and the Antichrist, as he seeks to gain control over and obtain worship from everyone on this planet.

The Bible reveals that the Antichrist’s and False Prophets’s true intent will be concealed under a cloak of intrigue, diplomatic deceit and cunning manipulation. When the layers of glitz and glamour are peeled away, the shocking remains will be far removed from what was promised or anticipated. They will lead a world of undiscerning and biblically illiterate people down a deceitful path to global chaos and unprecedented devastation and destruction.

Words of Hope and Admonition

Although the days in which we live are becoming increasingly dangerous, treacherous, corrupt, and confusing, those who know the Lord in these end times will demonstrate wisdom and strength:

…the people who know their God will display strength and take action. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand (Daniel 11:32; 12:10).

Do not be seduced by the spirit of this age – whether it is in the political arena, social media, pop star realm, religious circles or any other venue. Do not be impressed, influenced or deceived by a well-turned phrase or the surface appearance of those who have ulterior motives and agendas. Do not reflect the values of an amoral society. Do not be a cultural Christian, motivated by feelings, desires and impulses, or influenced by every new and exciting trend or phenomenon that comes along.

Make certain you are, and remain, aligned with Jesus Christ and God’s Word. Follow the genuine leading of His Spirit. Be discerning. Examine all things carefully. Hold fast to that which is good and true. Live by the standards of Scripture. Stand rock solid as a biblical Christian in this day and age when Biblical prophecies of the end times and Jesus Christ’s return are rapidly lining up.

I close, as did Paul to the Corinthians:

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all you do be done with love (1 Corinthians 16:13, 14).

Are You Honoring His Name?

by Bill Rudge

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Photo by Roy DeMattio

What parent wants their name disgraced by his or her children? A bad name is a curse while a good name is a blessing. People live and die to protect the testimony of their name and the reputation of their family. How much more the Lord defends the honor of His name.

“I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8).

While many in today’s society are attempting in every way possible to silence and profane the name of the LORD, we as believers must acknowledge and reverence His name by both our words and the example of our lives. The third Commandment is:

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

First Chronicles 17:24 tells us His name should be “magnified forever.”

The prophet Ezekiel states:

“Thus says the Lord GOD, It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name…” (Ezekiel 36:21-23).

David said to Goliath:

“You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts” (1 Samuel 17:45).

Solomon built the house (Temple) for the name of the LORD (1 Kings 8:20). Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal in the name of the LORD (1 Kings 18:32). The Psalms frequently mention the name of the LORD. A few examples follow:

I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High” (7:17).

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (20:7).

“From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised” (113:3).

“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD” (118:26).

“Our help is in the name of the LORD” (124:8).

Proverbs 18:10 tells us that

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower.”

Micah 4:5 states:

“We will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.”

Psalm 23, which you have probably read or recited many times, says:

“He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (verse 3).

The Lord’s Prayer starts out:

“Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9).

Jesus told His disciples to ask of the Father in His name (John 15:16, 17; 16:23-27). The Apostle John tells us that his Gospel and the miracles of Jesus he recorded were

“written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

Acts 2:21 promises:

“And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

Acts 4:12 tells us there is salvation only in the name of Jesus for

“there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

The Apostle Peter said to the crippled man:

“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6).

At Damascus and Jerusalem the Apostle Paul was speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord (Acts 9:27, 28). Paul said to the slave girl possessed by a spirit of divination:

“In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” (Acts 16:18).

Colossians 3:17 exhorts:

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

James 5:14 instructs:

“Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

His Name the Only One

The primary motivation for me to live a pure life is to honor my Lord and not be a reproach to His name. The secondary reason is to avoid the consequences warned and exemplified throughout Scripture, and experienced throughout history by those who ignore or violate His Word.  In every way possible we as believers must respect and reverence the name of the Lord – just as we hope our children will honor our name! We must also believe in, trust in, pray in, and be witnesses in (through both word and deed) the name of the Lord.

The day is rapidly approaching when according to Zechariah 14:9:

“The LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.” 

The crucial question you should ask yourself daily is: “Do my words and behavior honor or dishonor the name of the Lord?”

The Root of Modesty

by Darlinda McDonald

The booklet, Style, by Wally Kubitz, revealed the slippery slope that we have been sliding down for the last nearly 100 years:

In the 1920s & 30s, briefer swimwear appeared which lead to the introduction of the bikini in 1946. By the late 40s and early 50s, Alfred Kinsey’s questionable studies popularized the notion that bedroom intimacy was a public, not a private, topic so the environment was ripe for a nudie magazine like Playboy to make its debut in the mid-50s. In the 1960s, the “sexual revolution” arrived on the scene opening the door for Mary Quant’s mini-skirt. Quant was not shy in declaring that the mini-skirt’s purpose “was to dress women so men would ‘feel like tearing the wrapping off’” (People magazine, 1988). The 1970s followed with short-shorts, also known as “hot pants.” Between 1960 and 2000, the divorce rate doubled, unmarried cohabiting increased ten-fold, and babies born out-of-wedlock increased six-fold.

It should come as no surprise then that our young people are confused. Society as a whole has become desensitized to “the sin that does so easily beset us” and accepts behaviors that even twenty years ago would have been deemed unacceptable. James 1:15 states, “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.” Modesty matters. The truth is that immodesty (skimpy clothing, seductive behavior) leads to temptation that leads to immoral thoughts (lustful thinking) that leads to action (physical sin).

How we see ourselves before God is at the root of modesty. When we understand and believe that we are precious children of God, bought with a price and loved beyond measure, everything we say and do will be influenced by that knowledge. Just as children who feel loved by their parents want to please them, we also will desire to please our heavenly Father.

Recognizing that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, our desire will be to honor God – not only by how we dress – but also by keeping our bodies pure and undefiled.

Why Modesty?

by Rosemary Lozier, BRM Staff

Eve had it, Bathsheba had it, and Delilah certainly had it. I’m talking about the ability that women have to use, or misuse, our God-given trait of persuasion. As Christian women, we have a responsibility to set a godly example before others, especially younger women and girls.

Much has been said about teenage girls and how they dress. Who is instructing them on this subject? Who is influencing them? Is it the world, or are they learning it at home? Are they dressing appropriately or are they dressing according to their friends’ standards? These questions are not meant to bash parents or to lay blame. We all know that sometimes, even though children may come from a Godly home with wonderful Christian parents, a child (especially in the teen years) may decide that he or she would rather follow the influence of this world.

Perhaps, as mentors and parents we could ask ourselves if we are doing all we can to set a good example to the young people in our church. The Bible instructs “older women to be reverent in the way they live” so they can train the younger women to “be self controlled and pure” (Titus 2:3-5).

And it’s not just women and girls, the Bible also speaks to older men about setting an honorable example to the younger men and boys:

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled (Titus 2:2, 6).

Young men, don’t allow yourself to be in a situation where you might give in to temptation and get caught up in something that you will regret – and that could change – the entire rest of your life. God speaks of this in His Holy Word as a warning in the book of Judges, chapters 16 to 18. Samson was a handsome man blessed by God with extraordinary strength. Yet he was completely overtaken by Delilah’s seductive beauty. Sadly, this cost Samson everything – his strength, his eyesight, his freedom and ultimately, his life.

This may sound extreme, but you – young women and young men –may think a thing like how you dress or how you speak isn’t that big of a deal. A small inconsequential thing. But seemingly small things – like lust – can have big consequences. Besides, everything we do as professing Christians is important because it sets the tone for our testimony. If we profess to follow Jesus, then what we do and even what we wear should honor God (Colossians 3:17).

So, to all young people (and adults), the next time you are getting ready for the day, whether going to church, shopping, or just hanging out with your friends, think about what message you will be sending in the way you dress or how you speak. Will others see Christ honored through you, or will they see you displaying and promoting yourself? I leave you with this:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is. (Romans 12:2).

Temporary Pleasures

by Bill Rudge

“I will set before my eyes no vile thing.” Psalm 101:3

The world recently praised the legacy of a renown man for his liberation from sexual limitations, however, the Bible has a different perspective. This man may have had a “funtastic” life but I would not want his eternity. He may have been proud about breaking down moral barriers and mocking God’s commands, but I am certain he is now humbled before the One who allowed him the temporary freedom to make his own choices and even live his sensual lifestyle – which influenced multitudes. Jesus said:

“Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied round his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin” (Luke 17:1, 2).

This well-known man may have boasted about “decontaminating the notion of premarital sex” (what the Bible forbids as fornication), but I wonder now that he has a “perspective from eternity” how he feels about all the STDs, adultery, ruined marriages, broken homes, shattered lives, exploited women, rape, abuse, abortions … he helped unleash on the U.S. and the world.

Instead of encouraging lustful indulgences and promoting pornography, he would have been better off to be like Job who said: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (Job 31:1). David asserted,

“I will set before my eyes no vile thing” (Psalm 101:3).

He may have temporarily enjoyed sex with over a thousand women and the opulence of being a multi-millionaire but how will he fare in the hereafter?

“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

My Story

As a person who had all the pleasures this world had to offer as a youth, I can honestly say that nothing or no one has fulfilled my life more than Jesus Christ. Living for Him has been an amazing adventure (filled with both blessings and challenges) as well as providing assurance of an eternal inheritance. Only Christ satisfied my constant search for meaning and purpose. The God who created and designed me has given me greater peace, joy and hope than all the pleasures and riches this world has to offer.

As Moses rejected the riches of Egypt, I walked away from the fleeting pleasures of this world. Since coming to know Christ, I have never desired to return to my former lifestyle, but have forsaken all, for what I gained in Him. I now understand what the psalmist meant when he said, “Besides You, I desire nothing on earth” (Psalm 73:25), and “As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1).

In the January-February 2018 issue of the magazine, Answers, an article by Dr. Owen Strachan states:

Through the fall of Adam and Eve, we not only became sinful, we sought to displace God as our rightful ruler. Now, we naturally seek different leaders than the divine…. Hollywood celebrities, who sell us whitewashed images and perfectly sculpted bodies, are our modern prophets – when they speak, people listen. For a populace that idolizes self and taps into mishmash spirituality, enlightened entertainers offer an alternate path to wholeness (until the smoking wreckage of their personal lives reveals the emptiness of their words).

My advice after you finish reading this article is to turn off your television, walk away from the Internet, silence your cell phone, discard your pornography and seriously ponder your choices and lifestyle … and the eventual (sometimes immediate) and eternal consequences.

It is far wiser to trust the words of the Creator as recorded in Scripture than those of an amoral society as reported through the media. It is far better to entrust your eternal destiny to the One who sacrificed His life for you than to those who are consumed by self-gratification and lust. Instead of following in the footsteps of someone who will lead you down an eventual path of disease, divorce, devastation and death, follow the One who promises abundant life here and now and true and lasting righteousness, peace and joy! NewOSIFront

David, the greatest king in Israel’s history, forgiven of a sordid past, confidently stated:

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11).

Write or e-mail to request a free copy of Bill Rudge’s insightful book, “Overcoming Sexual Immorality”.

My First Baby

by Tabitha Rudge Smith

It is so easy to lose the real meaning of Christmas with all the lights, shopping, gifts and the hustle-n-bustle. Each year God reminds me in some way of the true joy of Christmas. But through the birth of my first child on December 15, 1999, God reminded me in a special way.

Being a first-time mom at that time (I now have five beautiful children), I was a sucker for everything and anything. When I walked into a baby store, I felt like I needed to buy it all: the latest stroller, bouncy chair, high chair, mobiles, canopy crib, changing table, and the cutest toys and stuffed animals. This list didn’t even include all the adorable clothes I and most everyone else seemed to think my child would need.

After an exhausting day of shopping and preparing for the coming of my child, I was overwhelmed. I began to pray and ask God what was really needed and how we were going to afford all of it. That night during my devotion time the Holy Spirit gently reminded me of the verse in Luke 2:7:

She wrapped her babe in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The King of kings was laid in a feeding box the day He was born while my child was laid in a warm crib. My materialistic list did not seem as important anymore when I recalled the Christmas story and how my Savior came into this world. I was once again reminded of how amazing God’s love is for us. I was also reminded to live a humble and selfless lifestyle.

Have a Merry Christmas celebrating God’s
most precious gift – His Son and His love!