Posts by phil

A Place Where It’s Normal to Be a Christian

Posted on Sep 9, 2016 in Encouragement | 0 comments

Philly Christian Students is a place where it’s normal to be a Christian… …where it’s normal to love the Lord Jesus and to read the Bible. Every believer should have such a place; in fact, every believer NEEDS such a place. Here’s why. Two Ways of Living Many passages in the New Testament make it clear that believers in Christ Jesus should have a living that is distinct from that of unbelievers. The apostle Peter writes, “According to the Holy One who called you, you yourselves also be holy in all your manner of life” (1 Pet. 1:15). To be holy implies being set apart from everything to God. Being holy, or set apart, applies not only to our conduct outwardly but also to the inward source of our living—a living according to God’s holy nature. A few verses later, Peter mentions redemption, but not in the familiar way. When we as Christians hear the word redemption, we immediately think of Jesus dying for us as the Lamb of God to take away our sins (see John 1:29 or Ephesians 1:7). Of course, this is absolutely true and we praise God for this aspect of our redemption on a daily basis. But we may not realize that the New Testament applies the concept of redemption not only to the forgiveness of sins but also to our way of living. First Peter 1:18-19 says: “You were redeemed from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers…with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot, the blood of Christ.” Instead of “vain manner of life,” some translations say, “useless way of life” or “empty lifestyle.” Peter doesn’t say here that we were redeemed from sin—he says that Jesus shed His precious blood to redeem us from our old living as unbelievers to a new way of living. The Challenge of College Life If you’re a Christian in college and you agree that your faith should be expressed in your living, you’re in for a challenge. You don’t need to spend a long time on campus to find out that universities foster an environment quite contrary to the Christian life. Actually, the apostle Peter addresses such environments later on in his epistle: “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry” (1 Pet. 4:3). In other words, we who have believed have lived as the unbelievers live for long enough. The unbelievers, Peter continues to say, look at Christians with incredulity: “They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you” (v. 4). Please take note of three things in this verse: First, instead of “they are surprised,” many translations say, “they think it strange.” As you may well know, if you’re open about being a Christian on campus, you should be prepared to be viewed as if you’re a creature from another planet: “Why aren’t you coming with us? You’re going to miss all the fun.” “You’re wasting your time at that weekend retreat. You’re going to be behind in our classes.” “You believe all that stuff in the Bible? It’s just myths, old-fashioned rules, and bigotry.” Second, several translations refer to the “reckless, wild living” as a “flood of debauchery.” We shouldn’t think that we as believers can step into the flood and not be swept away. Third, even more than being thought strange, we may be verbally abused or slandered. Facing this, how much the believers need a refuge, a safe haven, a...

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A Proclamation of Peace

Posted on Apr 1, 2016 in Encouragement | 1 comment

The whole world aches for peace. War is rampant on the earth, and where there is no war, societies are filled with civil and political strife. Yet the believers in Christ may echo the Lord’s own proclamation of peace to a world in conflict—a peace that anyone can experience, a peace that can descend upon any situation, a peace that is beyond human understanding. This peace does not come from victory in war; it does not come from new legislation or judicial action; and it will not arise from demonstrations, protests, or from the ascendancy of any political ideology. This peace is Christ Himself. The Scripture “For He Himself [Christ] is our peace, who has made us both [the Jews and the Gentiles] one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.” (Ephesians 2:14-17) The Division In Old Testament times, God’s chosen people, the Jews, lived separately from all other races (which they referred to as Gentiles). This separation was effected by “the law of commandments expressed in ordinances,” that is, the Jewish ceremonial law. The separation created by the law was so strong that a Gentile might express surprise at being spoken to by a Jew (John 4:9) or, as Peter phrased it in Acts 10:28, “You understand that it is unlawful for a man who is a Jew to join himself to or come near one of another race.” This was the case, but Peter continues—“…yet God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” The Solution At the dawn of the New Testament age, through the shedding of the blood of Jesus on the cross, the wall—the separation between Jews and Gentiles—came down; Jesus abolished the separating ordinances on the cross. Now, He Himself is our peace, and as the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17) the Lord has come to all mankind to proclaim this peace! The Proclamation Translating more literally, one version of Ephesians 2:17 says, “And coming, He announced peace as the gospel to you who were far off [the Gentiles] and peace to those who were near [the Jews].” May all the believers realize and treasure the fact that we have what the world seeks—Christ proclaimed peace as the gospel! The New Man Ephesians 2:15 tells us that Christ created “one new man,” joining together the Jew and the Gentiles. In Colossians 3:10-11, the apostle Paul expands our understanding of this new man. In the new man, that is, in Christ, “there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11). What is implied here is more than just oneness in Christ—what is implied is that the separating ordinances abolished by Christ on the cross include the myriad differences that divide people from one another: things like race [“Greek and Jew”], religion [“circumcised and uncircumcised”], culture [“barbarian, Scythian”], and social status [“slave, free”]. Jesus Christ has abolished all the differences! The Arbitrator When the believers allow the peace of Christ to rule—to arbitrate, preside, or referee—in their hearts (Col. 3:15), they are kept in sweet oneness with one another. No earthly accord can compare to this peace. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together...

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In First Place

Posted on Jan 25, 2016 in Encouragement | 0 comments

At the beginning of a new year, many people reevaluate their priorities, recalibrate their goals, and make resolutions for self-improvement. Setting priorities means deciding what comes first, and we naturally make this determination according to what is most important to us. Suppose it’s Sunday morning and you’re debating whether to show up at church. There’s a football game to watch in the afternoon, or maybe there’s dinner with friends in the evening. But there’s also a paper due on Monday and you need to reserve some time to work on it. What do you do? Many times in our experience, “first” doesn’t mean that Sunday morning services, morning quiet time with the Lord, and Bible studies are scheduled before anything else and are untouchable. Rather, “first” often means that our time for the Lord is the first thing we carve out of our schedule to make room for our studies, work, social life, sleep, time at the gym…and so on. The Bible makes some striking statements about our priorities as believers—about what comes first for a Christian—and it’s worthwhile to take some time early in the new year to prayerfully consider them. God wants Jesus Christ to have the first place in everything. Christ is “the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15); that is, He is supreme among all God’s creatures. Christ is also “the firstborn from the dead” (1:18); that is, He is first in resurrection, the first among God’s new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Why? “That in everything He might be preeminent” (Col. 1:18). Another translation says, “That in everything He might have the supremacy”, and yet another says, “That He might have the first place in all things.” This point applies not only to believers—it applies to everything and everyone. Christ is preeminent now; eventually, He will be acknowledged as preeminent by all men (Phil. 2:9-11). One of the titles of Jesus Christ in the New Testament is “the First and the Last.” If this isn’t a clear indication of what place Jesus Christ should have in our lives, then nothing is: the Word of God calls Him “the First.” In Revelation 22:13, Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (The title “the First and the Last” is also used in Revelation 1:17 and 2:8.) If a plumber says his services are “from A to Z,” it doesn’t mean that he does “A” and “Z”—it means that he takes care of “A,” “Z,” and everything in between. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet; omega is the last. Christ desires to be, quite literally, everything to us! Jesus said that we should “seek first the kingdom of God.” Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). In context, “these things” are food and clothing—necessities of the human life. The Lord acknowledges our necessities as legitimate concerns, but makes it clear what should come first. In this age and economy it is nearly a necessity to seek a college degree. But what is our heart set on? We should love the Lord with “the first love.” In Revelation chapter 2, the Lord had one thing against the church in Ephesus: “You have left your first love” (v. 4). Many translations of this verse say something like, “…the love which you had at first.” This is not incorrect, but it does limit the meaning to first in time. The more literal translations say, “the first love.” In Luke 15:22, the...

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How to Be Useful to the Lord

Posted on Jan 19, 2016 in Reports | 1 comment

Congratulations to everyone that completed our Winter Break Reading Challenge to read Witness Lee’s book, How to Be Useful to the Lord, in five weeks! In addition to the spiritual benefit received, all the students that completed the challenge earned a $25 discount on registration for the Spring Retreat. The Lord wants to use all those whom He has redeemed for the fulfillment of His purpose. However, this requires us to be willing to open our being to Him and allow Him to work within us. Here is a sampling of what we enjoyed from the reading: Chapter 1 “I enjoyed that when we have a heart that wants to be used by the Lord, that is His work in us. It’s the Lord’s grace that we can have such a heart for Him and we should realize that this is not a small matter. Another part that stood out to me was about ‘paying the price.’ In the reading it says the reason the Lord is not back yet is because the price we are willing to pay is too small. The Lord wants us to give up EVERYTHING and follow Him. When we do that, that is when we will be able to receive a revelation from Him.” (Phoebe T.) Chapter 2 “The real lessons of pursuing the Lord occur in our daily life. Each day, we can learn to pursue the Lord by paying a price. Paying the price can be as simple as waking up five minutes earlier to spend more time with the Lord or as hard as choosing the Lord over our family, career, or reputation. The result of paying the price is that we gain God.” (Laura M.) Chapters 3 & 4 “I liked how these chapters talked about the importance of receiving God’s gift by enjoying it and using it in our daily life. I think this is a great reminder of how important it is to be in the word and live out our lives for God. By doing this we are then able to grow and mature in our faith.” (Eva E.) Chapter 5 “This chapter shows us the economy of God’s grace. He is dispensing His grace to us according to His eternal purpose. I was impressed that according to Romans 8:29, our salvation is for us to be conformed to the image of His Son! This is only possible with God.” (Viktor T.) Chapter 6 “We have received a serving life. Even for eternity, we will serve the Lord. Daily, we can choose to consecrate ourselves and afterwards receive his coordinated inward and outward dealings. Then, His life will be able to be expressed from within us and our function and usefulness will grow out from within us.” (Matthew...

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On Prayer

Posted on Dec 7, 2015 in Encouragement | 1 comment

In times of extreme distress, many people—even those who might not ordinarily do so—turn to God in prayer. On December 2nd, as a young couple opened fire on an office Christmas party in San Bernardino, killing 14 and wounding many others, several people trapped in the building texted loved ones with a request: “Pray for us.” And “outside the building,” one report said, “evacuated workers bowed their heads and held hands. They prayed.” It is normal for Christians to pray at such times. On the day of the San Bernardino attack, many people said, tweeted, or wrote that their “thoughts and prayers” were with those affected—voicing their support for them. Others, however, publicly expressed contempt for Christians who prayed for the victims, their families, and their coworkers. One publication stated that prayer is “an ineffective strategy” and even said that prayer is “useless.” A prominent newspaper ran the headline “God Isn’t Fixing This.” An avowed atheist simply said, “Stop praying.” As believers, our connection in Christ is outside the realm of politics; the political context of what is mentioned above is therefore irrelevant. What is relevant is the matter of prayer. Believers should take their cues regarding prayer from the Word of God, not from the trends of our society. With this in mind, consider the following points: 1. Don’t respond to the mocking of God, Christians, and prayer with anger. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” In Luke 6:28, He said, “Bless those who curse you; pray for those who revile you.” May those who showed themselves so strongly against prayer be found by and restored to our loving Savior (Luke 15:4-5; Rom. 10:20). 2. We should pray everywhere and all the time. We should pray everywhere: The apostle Paul says, “I desire therefore that men pray in every place, without wrath and reasoning” (1 Tim. 2:8). We should pray all the time: The Lord said in Luke 18:1 that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul says that we should “unceasingly pray.” 3. We should pray regardless of our situation. The apostle James says, “Does anyone among you suffer evil? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise” (James 5:13). Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope; endure in tribulation; persevere in prayer.” According to Philippians 4:6-7, our anxieties—the things that stress us out—can be replaced by the peace of God through our “prayer and petition with thanksgiving.” 4. The Lord hears the believers’ prayer; our prayer is effective. Peter says, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears incline to their petition” (1 Pet. 3:12). James writes in his epistle that “the petition of a righteous man avails much in its working” (5:16). 5. Our prayer can and does minister to others’ needs. Writing while imprisoned in Rome, the apostle Paul was confident that his situation would turn out to salvation through the Philippian believers’ petition and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:19). In other words, the prayer of the church in Philippi was supporting him in his affliction. Paul writes to the Corinthian believers: “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many” (2 Cor. 1:11). 6. We should pray for everyone, but especially for those in high positions. In 1 Timothy 2, Paul says, “I exhort…that petitions, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men; on behalf of kings and...

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