Unconditional Surrender is What is Needed

images31“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:31-33).

Many people are fighting a war of resistance against the kingdom of God. They are attracted to the Lord Jesus and His call on their lives, but there is something within them that wants to keep distance between them and God. Many are afraid of the changes that becoming a Christian will cause. Yes, there will be changes in your life when you surrender to the King of Kings. But what is the alternative? Do you wish for your life to continue the way it has been? It is time to sit down and think through your options. There is only one option. The option of surrender! How long are you going to keep fighting against King Jesus? What are the terms of surrender that He asks? An unconditional surrender is what is needed! You must give up everything you have to Him to be all that you can be in Christ. Only when you surrender completely all that you are and all that you have can He begin to work in your life to transform you into His image.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

During the latter stages of the Second World War, a Japanese soldier was told by his commander to fight a guerilla campaign against American forces on the island of Lubang in the Philippines? His name was Hiroo Onoda and his commander’s strict orders was that he was forbidden to die by his own hand and they were to continue the fight until Japanese forces were to come back for him. When the island fell to the Americans, he kept to his orders and carried on fighting with three other soldiers. They survived by eating coconuts and green bananas that grew naturally in the jungle.

Occasionally they would come out of hiding, killing one of the local villager’s cows for meat. It was at one such time that they found a note left by a local resident, appealing them to come and surrender for the war had come to an end two years ago. The soldiers took it to be a clever propaganda trick to draw them out of the jungle to capture them. They received the truth that the world was at peace with mistrust and unbelief. They carried on killing and wounding the islanders whom they saw as the enemy. In September of 1949, four years after the war had finished, one of the soldiers, without a word to the others, sneaked off during the night and surrendered. The remaining three felt that he was weak willed and coerced by the ‘enemy.’ They continued their guerrilla attacks for another three years until Corporal Shimada was shot in the leg during a shootout with some fishermen. He died at the age of 40 years old. For nineteen years Onoda and the remaining other soldier, Kozuka, carried on the fight, refusing to surrender. They felt that the Japanese Army would return as they had been promised and recapture the island. Nineteen years after the death of Shimada, in October of 1972, 51 year old Kozuka was killed by a Filipino police patrol, ending his guerrilla war of 27 years. Lieutenant Onoda carried on the fight on his own, refusing every bit of information that came his way that the war was over and that he should surrender. The Japanese authorities sent out search parties but he evaded them all. In 1974, Norio Suzuki, a Japanese college student, managed to track him down. Still Onoda would not surrender, explaining that he would only surrender to his old commander, Major Taniguchi, who had given him orders to fight on and never surrender. Major Taniguchi himself went to Penang and told him that Japan had surrendered many years previously and that it was futile to carry on fighting. When the reality of the truth sunk home that peace had come and that he had been deceived into fighting a war that was over, he broke down weeping. He formally surrendered to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in 1974. He was pardoned for the crimes he had committed under the false belief that the war was still being fought and that he should never surrender. He returned to Japan to receive a hero’s welcome. His memoirs were entitled, “No Surrender: My Thirty Year War.”

Lieutenant Onoda fought gallantly but for a misplaced cause. In his 30-year war, he killed 30 individuals and wounded over a hundred people. If only he would have listened. If only his countrymen from Japan would have gone earlier to find him, so many families would not have been in mourning. Much pain was endured because He did not surrender. How about you? How much pain has been endured in your family because you have been unwilling to surrender to Christ? Can you hear the call to surrender? If so, today is your day to surrender fully to His grace.

Keith Thomas

Do Whatever He Tells You!

guantoucrossoff_2944287bHis mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).

God spoke to sister Chang of an Asian country, to do something that made no earthly sense at all. He told her to go and preach the gospel on the steps outside of the local police station. Such an action may lead to arrest even in Western nations, and in this country it is a sure way to invite severe punishment. But the more sister Chang prayed about it, the more clearly the inner voice of God continued to tell her to do it. Finally, she saw no option but to obey God. Standing on the top step outside the police station, she boldly proclaimed the gospel to astonished onlookers. Within a few minutes several officers dragged her inside and placed her under arrest. To the human eye her obedience looked foolish, but God can see things that we can’t. Sister Chang was sentenced without a trial and sent to the local women’s prison, where she was placed alongside thousands of spiritually lost souls. She boldly and lovingly proclaimed the gospel to her fellow prisoners. The light of the gospel spread like wildfire. Within just three months, 800 women believed in Jesus! The entire atmosphere of the prison changed, and new sounds of praise and worship were heard echoing down the prison hallways and in the courtyard. The prison director was greatly impressed at the change in the atmosphere and was able to trace it to the preaching of sister Chang. He brought her into his office and said, “You have made my job easy! There is no more fighting between the prisoners and the women have become gentle and obedient. We need more people like you working here. From today, we have decided to let you go free. We want to give you a full-time job here in the prison, and we will pay you 3,000 yuan per month” (about US$ 375, a fortune in rural Henan province). He continued, “we will also give you a car and your own driver, and will find you comfortable housing.” Sister Chang briefly considered the offer, and then replied, “Twenty years ago I became a disciple of Jesus Christ and he has been wonderful to me. I don’t believe your offer of a car, driver and salary is in line with what Jesus wants to do with my life, and I belong to Him. All I want to do is to preach the good news.” Despite her rejection of his offer, the director released her from prison that day, and she continued her ministry for the Lord. It always pays to do what the Lord tells you to do. Don’t argue, don’t fight about it, and don’t try to work out all the details with your mind. Just do it. That is the one mark of a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

From the book, Back to Jerusalem, by Paul Hattaway, published by Piquant, Carlisle, UK.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Guardian_Angel_190014Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14).

The writer of the Book of Hebrews in the Bible states that God knows ahead of time just who will take up God’s free offer of the gift of Salvation, and that He assigns an Angel to us, even before we actually commit ourselves to Christ. The creator God, the Lord of all the Earth, lives outside of time and acts inside of time on the basis of what He knows you will do with the gift of God—the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. The Lord might be dealing with you right now and has prompted you to actually click on this website to read this and is calling you to Himself. An angel of God has been assigned to you if you have become or will become a Christian—only time will tell as to whether or not you respond to Him. You might have noticed that the passage above says that the angels are sent to those who will inherit salvation—future tense. This angel sent to you is a ministering spirit sent to serve you. The Bible has many instances of Angels serving God and His people down through the ages. In fact, even when we are babies, scripture indicates that we have an unseen protector, an angel that watches over us:

“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven (Matthew 18:10).

We don’t talk to the angels or reach out to them—we talk to God about whatever we are going through, and He instructs His angels as to what to do. Of course, there are evil angels as well, Satan is an evil angel that heads up an army of evil angels that are opposing God and seeking to corrupt and destroy God’s greatest creation—Man. Most of the time the angelic beings are not seen, but occasionally God has let men see just how many are on our side. In the Old Testament book of 2 Kings there is a story of a king reigning in Aram who was angry because his actions and intentions were somehow being made known to the armies of Israel. He could not understand how Israel knew everything he was doing, and everything he plotted (2 Kings 6:8-10). He thought that he had a spy amongst his leaders. His problem was that Israel had a man of God, Elisha, who lived his life in such a way that he was able, by the Spirit of God, to know the very words that the King of Aram spoke in secret to his generals (2 Kings 6:11-12). God was revealing these things to Elisha, who was very aware of the unseen realms, and who had an intimate and powerful prayer life, which gave him this special insight. When the King of Aram found out about Elisha’s gift, he was so enraged that he sent his army to the town where Elisha lived, hoping to kill or capture him:

14Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. 16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” 17And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked (2 Kings 6:14-18).

When Elisha’s servant looked at the size of the army of Aram around and about the city, he began to lose heart. Things looked hopeless when seen only from an earthly perspective. But all was not as it seemed. There were spiritual forces around Elisha and Gehazi, his servant, which the young novice to the things of God was unaware of. Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened to the unseen angels in the spiritual realm around them. All of a sudden, at the prayer of Elisha, he saw beyond this physical world to the reality of the spiritual forces of God that were previously hidden from him, angelic beings that were much more powerful than the army of Aram. He saw the armies of heaven protecting and surrounding the prophet of God, available to serve him in whatever way the prophet prayed. The enemies of Israel were defeated with one display of God’s power at the prayer of Elisha. We too, as servants of the Living God, have angelic hosts that protect us. Isn’t it time you called upon the Lord to help you in what you are going through? Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (delivered) (Joel 2:32).

Keith Thomas

Who Is The God of This Age?

images-1The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

We are in the midst of an unseen battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. This war is being fought on a spiritual plane over control of the human race. The majority of the population of planet earth has had the cloak of deception placed over them and they cannot see the good news as to what Christ has done in redeeming (buying back) men from the grip of the god of this age. Satan is the god of this age, an evil angel that chose to rebel against God and drew away with him an army of angels and demons after himself. His chief tactic against you and I is a strategy of deception to keep you from seeing that the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible is a compilation of 66 books that tell the story of a God who is the creator of the world and loves you and I so much that He paid the penalty of sin and rebellion against God by dying on a cross for the just payment of our debt of sin.

There are many so-called gods in this world, how does one tell who is the true God? The Bible tells us that there are only two kingdoms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Satan has used religion against God. He knows that there is a missing piece that is absent from the jigsaw of your life—a part of your inner nature that cries out for the true God. Satan has served up different religions on earth in the hope that he can satisfy that inner craving for God that you have. That’s why our passage today describes Satan as the god of this age blinding the minds of unbelievers. We can tell who is the true God by the fruit that comes from the tree of the belief system of whatever god you have listened to in the past. Jesus in the passage below tells us to look at the outflow of a person’s life to see if there is evidence of true spiritual life—God’s life:

16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit (Matthew 7:16-18).

True Christianity is about receiving the gift of God, eternal life, into the core of your being. The result of receiving this impartation of the gift of God is that your life becomes “a good tree,” and bears “good fruit.” What does good fruit look like? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus contrasts the two kingdoms that are at war in this world. Satan is pictured as a thief whose plan is to steal what God wants to freely give you—the gift of eternal life in Christ. Satan wants to kill you and destroy you from ever being a threat to his kingdom. On the other side of this war, we see that Jesus Christ came to give you the gift of God’s life, eternal life, and the kind of life that is lived to the full.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).

Have you received this free gift of eternal life? There is nothing you can do to earn it. It is not worked for; it is a gift that one receives from the hand of God. Why don’t you ask Him to come into your life? Turn from serving self and Satan to serve the Living God. Receive the gift of eternal life today. Here’s a prayer you can use:

Prayer: Lord of Heaven and Earth, I come to you today acknowledging and believing that you are the true God and have sent Jesus into the world as my substitute for sin. I turn from my sin today. Come into my life and make me new. I receive today your free gift of eternal life in your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for all that you have done for me at the cross. Amen!

If you sincerely prayed that to God—welcome to the family of believers all over the world!

Keith Thomas

The Prodigal Father

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells us a story about two sons who really know very little about their father’s love. One just wants to give vent to his lower nature and sin to whatever depths he can. The other elder son is also a stranger to his father’s love and thinks that he can please his father by keeping rules. I think the story is more about the father of the two than about the boys themselves. The father is a picture of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and all who call upon Him. He is the prodigal Father. Let’s read the passage and then I will explain:

prodigal_son20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate (Luke 15:20-24).

Before you start your email program to throw me an electronic stone, let me explain by saying that the word “prodigal” is not mentioned in the text and actually means:

Rashly or wastefully extravagant:” as in prodigal expenditures on unneeded weaponry; a prodigal life. Giving or given in abundance; lavish or profuse: prodigal praise.” 

Yes, the younger son was wastefully extravagant, but the father was even more so with his grace, mercy and acceptance of his son back from the distant country. Let’s look at the parable with that view in our mind, the father’s lavish kindness toward his lost son. We are told that the son had gone to a distant country (v.13). Certainly there was no need in Israel for pigs, so he was probably amongst Gentiles (non Jews) in an adjacent country. Wherever he was, we are to see that he was several miles from home. The younger son comes to himself and decides to return home to his father. He makes up his speech and turns in the direction of home:   The father in this story is a picture of the Father who loves each of us. He also was a long way from home, waiting, looking for his son. We are told that as soon as the son turned for home, there was the Father, a long way from home (v.20). There was no anger within the father; the immediate emotion within the father even before he got up to his son, was compassion. Dictionary.com says that compassion is: Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. As soon as the father saw his son he ran to him. The father has been in pain for his son while he has been away from home. In thinking through this parable, why did Jesus have the father run to the son, what aspect of God’s character does this display?

Upon the son’s turning toward home, this father is so ready to forgive that he does not even give the young man a chance to speak his words. This is a father in great love with his son. He runs to him. No self-respecting aged father runs in the Middle East. But here we see the father is unrestrained in kissing his son. The English King James Version says, “he fell on his neck, and kissed him.” There is no thought about the stench of the pigs that still hangs on the boy. He is just so pleased to see him! The Greek tense says that he threw his arms around him and kissed him again and again and again. The father expressed his kindness before the son expressed his repentance. This speaks of God’s kindness and His readiness to be reconciled to those that have been apart from His love. Finally, the young man, in the midst of sobs, I’m sure, manages to get out part of his speech that he had prepared. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father cuts him off, and speaks to his servants to bring some things.

What things are brought for the son and what do they mean to us?

They were told to bring the “best robe.” There is a double emphasis here in the Greek text, the robe, that principal robe. We are not talking about a coat here; this robe speaks of the son being restored to a place of honor. It speaks to us of a robe of righteousness that covers over our pigsty of sin. The ring speaks of authority and power of attorney. In that day, rings were used to sign official documents. Often the ring had an impression on it that, when pushed into hot wax, was the official seal of the family. Pharaoh gave Joseph such a ring when he was elevated to second in command of Egypt, after interpreting Pharaoh’s dream (Genesis 41:42). We too are given authority by our God to do the works of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). The son was given shoes. No slave ever wore shoes, and the father would not let his son go barefoot. He was a son, not a slave. Our feet are shod with the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). We have been made sons of God. The servants were told to kill the calf that had been fattened ready for this day. This father had been slowly fattening the calf that he may celebrate when his son would come home. These were all gifts of grace lavished on the slave returning home to be restored to sonship. A Prodigal Father is quite an understatement! May you see God the way He really is!

Keith Thomas