Monday, February 27, 2006

Soapbox Smashed, Nearly Beaten

Brothers and sisters,

Went out preaching last Thursday and had a terribly hostile encounter. I was first preaching on Luke 16, the rich man and Lazarus, and how the rich man was pleading with Abraham to send someone back to his brothers to tell them to repent, and had a good audience of people listening all over.

When I finished the message a young guy (20?) came across the street to where he was meeting his boyfriend and I posed a question to him: "Do you believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ?" That was all it took to set him off. I barely said anything to him and he became raving mad, clenched fists, cursing and swearing and saying "If you don't shutup I'm going to pound you" (my interpretation) and he meant it. I got off the box and walked right over to him and started to talk with him, but he was angry, sometimes I thought he would lash out, he took hold of my collar at one point. The young man was definitely demon possessed, you could see it in his eyes. He was an open homosexual and probably opened himself up at some point or another. Extremely violent, bad language, very dark...

He and his friend left and as they went by my box he picked up and took it down the street, then lifting it over his head he threw it down hard. That's the last I saw of it. I think he continued to take it down the street and out of sight. Later they came back and were talking to some tough older guys (all from the street I believe) and I honestly wasn't sure whether they were telling them to get rid of the preacher or what. I don't doubt it. By God's grace nothing happened.

I knew this in theory, but now I know from experience, that it is going to cost to be a preacher of the Gospel. I realize more than ever now that the cost of preaching Christ is welcoming in beatings, hardships and persecutions, ultimately it will cost you your life. We have nothing to be afraid of, we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ, we do not have a spirit of fear but a Spirit of power. God will receive glory from all of us who are willing to go all the way for Him!

Hope this report is encouraging and challenging. God bless saints.

Our God is a Consuming Fire (Part Two)

"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire." - Hebrews 12:28-29

If we would consider the sacrifice God made upon the cross to redeem us of our sins, we would live profoundly different lives. If we could understand the Kingdom of marvelous light to which Christ saved us into we would then see what shame and foolishness it is to wallow once again in the shadows of this world. If we could see in the spirit just how exceedingly sinful sin actually is, we would love God, and so hate wickedness with a deep and heavy conviction. If we lived by the principle that God is a consuming fire, we would brace ourselves for our personal encounter with His refining flames. Many Christians are unprepared to face our Lord Jesus Christ on the Judgment Day. The Bible tells us to be ready.

The veil to the Holy of Holies was rent in two from top to bottom when Jesus died upon the cross. Powerful happening! This veil represented hundreds of years of God's dealings with His people, from Moses until the time of Christ: a constant separation between God and man because of sin, uncleanliness and impurity. Thank God for His only begotten Son! The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin... now we can come in. Oh, privilege of privileges! Christian, have you considered your position in Christ? But remember, the Holy of Holies is still holy, but it is no longer behind a thick and elaborate curtain.

Imagine, if you will, a private club, members only, and the one way in is via invitation from the leader of the club. The club is the envy of the earth, and only the elect are welcome. Now image if you receive an invitation to this club. Thrilled, you attend your very first meeting. How will you act while you are there? Your resolve will be to express gratitude toward the leader for inviting you, doing your best to show everyone he did not make a mistake in choosing you, otherwise your carelessness will make the leader look bad. You, being invited, do not want this to happen.

This example is nothing compared to what Jesus did for us. What else would our response be then to do everything we can to thank our Savior? Wouldn't the last thing we would want to do is disrespect and shame our Lord by our behavior? Yet sadly, I am afraid many us do this very thing, by the way we live and by the way we represent Christ to the world.

I am convinced more than ever today that our number one priority in life (and death) is to magnify Christ in our bodies (Philippians 1:20). Not in our minds... not in our churches... in our bodies. The body is the one thing that we have this side of eternity to glorify God with before a fallen world, a boiling hell and a holy heaven.

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
(2 Corinthians 5:10)

That we would meditate on this Scripture day and night... the Judgment Seat ever before us. Paul wrote: "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." (1 Corinthians 3:13) What fire? Holy Ghost fire? Hell fire? (Have you ever noticed how fire is such a huge part of our faith?) What exactly is Paul talking about here? It is the fire spoken of in Hebrews. It is God, the consuming fire.

Consuming fire burns all things and bares all things. We will all be put through the fire, and let me say this: Only that which brought glory to God will survive. Only those things which magnified Christ will survive. Do you want to tell me that your pride will endure the refining fire of God? Or your vain ambition, greed or lust? Will you pass through only as one who escapes through the flames, bringing nothing with you? How much of who you are right now will survive the purging of consuming fire? 50%? 20%? 10%? 5%? Oh, God... may it be 100%!

Whatsoever I am and do,
Oh that it may endure!
Whatsoever I labor for,
Oh that it may endure!
Whatsoever I treasure dear,
Oh that it may endure!
May everything I do
Bring glory to You,
Oh God, Thou all consuming fire.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Our God is a Consuming Fire (Part One)

"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire." - Hebrews 12:28-29

This entire twelfth chapter of Hebrews never fails to cause me to tremble. We find throughout this text certain portions of Scripture (not often quoted) that have the ability to pierce our hearts through, revealing some of the most terrifying truths in the Bible. For example:

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."

These are by no means comforting thoughts, but serious words of exhortation and warning. If a person can read the passage above and lightly cast it aside without hesitation I would wonder of his heart. For as quoted earlier, let us "serve God acceptably with reverence and fear", and take seriously the things God says.

Let's meditate on this for a moment. In verses 18-21, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that we have NOT come unto the mount which the Israelites in the desert had come upon (Exodus 19)... smoke and fire and thunder; God speaking out of the cloud; borders assigned all around the mountain that no man or beast would draw near to touch...; "And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake." (12:21) I certainly have not come unto this mount, and I'll wager that no one reading this article has either.

But (for those who were just breathing a sigh of relief), we have indeed come unto a mount, yet one far greater than the one described above. Reading on: "But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (12:22-24)

Hebrews is such a deeply profound book, rich with the treasures of heaven! We know that the stories and events of old "serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things" (Hebrews 8:5, 10:1), and we further know that the covenant brought about by Christ's blood is far greater than that of bulls, lambs and goats, and so thereby we can conclude that our approach unto Mount Zion is far more exceedingly glorious and fearful than that of Moses' approach unto the mount of fire, smoke and tempest. The point I am trying to make is this: if in the past men considered the covenant with God terrifying, how much more today, whereby our covenant of God is not bought with the blood of animals, but with the blood of Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son?

My concern is this: that Christians very often tread upon the things of God with such carelessness and recklessness in utter disregard for Scripture and for that which is holy! This is dangerous ground.

"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire."

We ought never to use God's grace as a permit for frivolousness. Never! To say the blood of Jesus gives us freedom to tread recklessly upon the Word of God is treacherous... it is exactly the opposite! How much more should we be reverent unto God, walking in obedience to Him because of the great sacrifice it cost Him to redeem us? I firmly believe the mountain to which we have come upon is far more frightful than the one Moses' and the Israelites approached, though it is unseen and heavenly, and not visual and earthly. How much more, dear saints!

"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." (Romans 11:22)

Lord, praise You for the love You have lavished upon us in Jesus Christ Your Son, and teach us how to respond to the marvellous high calling it is to be those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Amen.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

CJRI Radio Interview

Yesterday I had the priviledge of being on Open Mic with Heather Hughes, a radio talkshow featured on CJRI.FM 94.7. What followed was a fruitful and blessed interview that is now available for download right here on the website! I strongly desire that all who visit this site would take the time to listen to the program, because in it I explain what Timothy Ministry is all about, how it began, it's vision, and what you can do to help. May the Lord raise up people in this city who know their God, who will take the gospel message of salvation to the lost sheep of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. All glory goes to Jesus:

Eli Brayley - Open Mic with Heather Hughes (CJRI Radio Interview)
(Click the link above, then click Download, Save, then rename and place the file)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Salvation in the Streets!

Last Wednesday a brother and I went preaching out at the Tannery after dark, and almost immediately we were engaged with a few people, talking to them about the Lord and their souls. Not long into the night a young man gave his life to the Lord in repentance and submission, praying for the Blood of Jesus Christ to forgive him of his sins and to give him a new life in the Lord! It was wonderfully encouraging. This is the first salvation I have seen so far since I started preaching at the Tannery back in January.

Also during that night, the other brother with me was able to talk with a young man, practically the whole two hours we were there, about the Bible and some pressing issues the young man had questions about. I thank God for the help and blessing it was having this brother along. It seems the Lord brought him out to talk to this young man specifically, a person I don't believe I could have ministered to very effectively. The Lord knows best!

The next day (the 16th) I went out again in the afternoon and was able to preach to what seemed like 30-40 people all over the streets, people stopping and listening everywhere. About 15 minutes into the preaching an angry drunk man began cursing and swearing, yelling and at me and causing quite a disturbance. But it was about this time that the same brother who came out with me the night before arrived, and was able to calm the man down, who was so angry we both thought he might get violent. He later calmed down and we shook hands, ending the situation in a manner the Lord would be pleased about.

Was able to talk to many people between those two days of preaching, and I believe scores of souls were impacted by the simple preaching and of the Word of God, and by hearing the proclamation of Jesus Christ as the living Son of God. Glory to the Son!

Please continue to pray for this ministry on the streets of Fredericton. The Lord has shown me that there will be "many more souls won" in the future! Praise God.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Simple Gospel on a Cold February Day

Went out preaching with a brother last Saturday, the 11th, at the call center across from the Tannery. This is a small segment of the work that day which lasted about half an hour before we were kicked off the property. May you be blessed as you hear the gospel being proclaimed on the streets of downtown Fredericton. Download below:

Eli Brayley - Simple Gospel on a Cold February Day (Open Air)
(Click the link above, then click Download, Save, then rename and place the file)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Understanding the Times

A timely message for the North American Church: to know the times we are living in and to know what we ought to be doing in these times. Preached Feb. 10, 2006 at Philadelphia House. Download below:

Eli Brayley - Understanding the Times
(Click the link above, then click Download, Save, then rename and place the file)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Open Mic with Heather Hughes

Timothy Ministry is going on the radio next Monday, February 20th, upon invitation to "Open Mic with Heather Hughes". Be sure to tune in to CJRI.FM 94.7 at 12:20pm to hear what Timothy Ministry is all about and how you can help spread the gospel to this needy city of Fredericton.

You can also listen to the broadcast online by clicking here.

Again, that's 94.7FM at 12:20pm (afternoon). May Jesus be glorified, the devil be petrified, and the saints be edified!

(ADDED: Click here to find out what happened)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Does the World Love You?

I was recently talking with an elderly brother and sister in the Lord and the brother shared something very interesting that stuck with me. An old friend of his from before he was saved said to him: "I liked you better before you became a Christian." Now this got me thinking.

This brother, before he was born again, was the type of person who was the center of the party. Funny, animated, larger than life, living it up in the world... Everybody loved him. But then the cross of Jesus Christ exposed what was really in his heart: sin, pride, anger, selfishness, lust, love of pleasure, drunkeness... He was exposed as a sinner. The intervention of God in his life, by being born again, radically reconstructed who he was. He stopped his partying, his sinful lifestyle, and became obviously different in the eyes of his old friends.

This testimony rings so true in my own life, and after asking some others about this they also testified the same. Our old friends now find us repulsive, boring, unattractive, foolish. A Christian is no fun to the unbeliever. I want now to just examine the seemingly "boring" characteristic in the one who is born again. To the world this is so, but to the body of Christ, the exact opposite.

A person who is born again is a brand new person. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

The ones who are born again are given an entirely new perspective on life. They realize their position in Christ and their position in world. This new perspective causes them to act totally different than how they would have acted in their old way of thinking, or as Paul says: " the vanity of their mind." (Ephesians 4:17) Compare the unbeliever and the believer's state of mind:

-the unbeliever lives in the flesh, the believer lives in the Spirit
-the unbeliever loves the things of this world, the believer hates the things of this world
-the unbeliever seeks extravagance, the believer seeks meekness
-the unbeliever is restless, the believer is resting
-the unbeliever puts on a show, the believer is transparent
-the unbeliever has much to boast in, the believer has nothing to boast in
-the unbeliever seeks man's approval, the believer seeks God's approval

The list could go on. Those things that are wonderful to the Christian are foolishness to those who are perishing! What a bore to pray, to read the Bible, to be transparent! But the sad thing is that many Christians find these things boring as well. Examine yourself: Do I seek those things that the world seeks after, or do I seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? Which is more desirable? Do you find some Christians boring? I wonder if it is those very Christians who are the ones seeking God and putting off the deeds of the old man? If you are falling into this trap, I believe the diagnosis is worldliness. Perhaps you need to be born again?

"But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:20-24)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thoughts on Philippians 3:1-14

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.”

It is no trouble for Paul to write the same thing over and over, for by repetition does a point get confirmed and imprinted upon the mind. The Bible is full of repetition: 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Deuteronomy (2nd Law)…
Paul repeats himself in most of his epistles, stressing the same point to firmly plant the instruction into the readers mind. Many people have to hear something numerous times before it finally leaves a mark. It is not grievous for Paul to do this, yet, for many of us, and for many preachers and ministers, we fear being repetitious. This is most often because we are working for ourselves and not for God. We feel the need to maintain our reputation. A good teacher will repeat and repeat until the hearers understand fully. This is good teaching. Bad teaching would be to move on before the point in implanted. This may be another cause for the poor condition of the Church today… men in the ministry are trying to please man rather than God. It is for the safety of the people that Paul uses repetition, not for their delight or gratification!
“Rejoice in the Lord.” Rejoice, meaning, be joyful, be glad. In the Lord: “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20, see also Psalm 85:6) Rejoice in what God has done for you!

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”

The Christian ought always to be on the alert for:
(i) Dogs = lazy and greedy men (Isaiah 56:10-11, see also Matthew 7:6 and Revelation 22:15)
(ii) Evil workers = simply, men who work evil
(iii) the Concision = cutters of the flesh, in this passage Paul is referring to the circumcision group, who by the works of the Law seek to obtain a righteousness of their own (he goes on to explain in the following verses)

“For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

Paul explains here what he meant by concision in verse two. “We are the circumcision…” That is, circumcised in the heart. “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Romans 2:29, see also Leviticus 26:41 and Acts 7:51) “…Not in the letter…” Whereby our righteousness does not come from the Law, but from Jesus Christ, and has “no confidence in the flesh.”
Paul then goes on to explain how if by the flesh a man was justified, he (Paul) would be the foremost example of such a man (verses 4-6).

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”

Realizing that no man can be justified by the Law, and that all righteousness is found in Christ Jesus the Lord, Paul counts all his past accomplishment for nothing. They “…were gain to me…” And so it is, in the futility of our minds do we think these things to be full of merit, and so often as Christians we find ourselves tending back towards our old way of thinking, believing our works to be of gain. Agree with God that all our righteousness is but “filthy rags” or as Paul says in the following verse: dung.

“Yea, doubtless, and I count all thing but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,”

Doubtless! Without a doubt and with no thought otherwise, all hope lies on Christ’s blood and this alone. “…the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord…” The knowledge of Christ Jesus and salvation by that Name, but not only this, also the increasing knowledge of God: the depth and height and width and breadth of the love of God, the unfathomable wisdom of God, the immeasurable glory of God, for which Paul counts all loss and agrees that this is the prize which is most excellent and praiseworthy and worthy of all.
“…for whom I have suffered the loss of all things…” John Wesley says: All things which the world loves, esteems and admires “…and do count them but dung…” Dung being the ‘vilest refuse of things.’ “That I may win Christ…”

“And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith…”

Completely justifed before God by faith in Christ alone. This is distinct from the Christian life, which is spoken of in the next verse:

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”

The complete Christian experience:
(i) To know Christ = namely then, to know God, Jesus the Son, by whom we know the Father, by whom we know the Spirit, and His character and His being and His will and His fellowship; to be one in Him
(ii) The power of his resurrection = to be alive by the Spirit which raised Christ from the dead, to live and walk by the Spirit of power and holiness; that which is contrary to law of sin and nature (Romans 8:11)
(iii) The fellowship of His suffering = to know Jesus fully and to be like Him, this most certainly is the decisive fellowship. To take up your cross in identification with Jesus, to deny yourself and to follow Him through the valley of the shadow of death, “being made conformable unto his death.”

“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

Death before resurrection. Resurrection to glory.

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

Paul is saying here that he has not yet been perfected, or completed. This does not mean his justification was imperfect, but rather, that there is still much more to be attained in his Christian life. Reading verse 16 we are given more insight into this: what he has already attained is perfect, but the increasing knowledge of Christ, the sanctifying work of the Spirit, the ongoing work of his calling, the further revelations of the glory and power of God; these such things find no end until the body is resurrected and all things are made whole.
“…but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” For what aim did Christ apprehend us? To be saved only? No, this conception is false, for we read why Christ died for us in Titus 2:14: “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Christ died to save us from our eternal damnation, yes, but also to make us a holy people unto himself, a royal priesthood, that we should “show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) For this does Paul strive and follow after with all his might.

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,”

Or, ‘Brethren, I do not consider myself to have grasped the fullness of all that Christ has saved me for.’ There is an abundance to be attained! Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) It is a stirring question to ask oneself: ‘Have I achieved all that Christ has saved me for?’ Which concludes that there is no reason for you to be resting where you are. Reach forth “unto those things which are before!”

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

And this is the high calling: “That Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” (Philippians 1:20, see also 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)