Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Woe to Those

In the book of Isaiah, several chapters stand out in my memory. One of them is chapter five. Here are a few verses from it. It is God’s rebuke to Israel, 700 years before Jesus’ time on earth.
Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes, to those who say, "Let God hurry, let him hasten his work so we may see it. Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy one of Israel come, so we may know it." Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent. (Isa. 5:18-23)
These verses apply, I think, to the United States today. Verses 24 and 25 describe the judgment of Israel because of their sins.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 9-14)
This is the Christmas story according to John. This is the reason for all of my descendants and many other relatives being Christian today.

Bessie received Christ in 1935 at the age of 15 at a revival meeting in Edmonton, Alberta. I received Christ on October 18, 1947, at a Youth for Christ meeting in a Presbyterian church at the corner of North Avenue and St. Paul Street in Baltimore, Maryland. It was after a football game my second year at the Naval Academy. I had turned 20 on October 6.

The message preached that evening was by a Filipino evangelist, Gregorio Tingson. His text was Psalm 40:1-4: “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.”

After the meeting was over, Willard Peterson (class of ’49) took me to another room and introduced me to the Father through Jesus Christ. I wanted to sing for joy! If you do not know the Father, please read the next five chapters of the Gospel of John.

My favorite Christian carol is Isaac Watts’ “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come.” Watts did not write this for Christmas day. He did not believe in celebrating Christmas. Let’s look at it. Verse 3:
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
It sounds like the Second Coming when there will be great joy.

Look at Luke 10:17-21:
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”
“Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” … “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” … “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:2, 10, 21-24)
God is into parties when sinners are saved.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2017


Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Tim. 6:17-19)

Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, "Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment." …Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matt. 5:19-21, 23-24)
The Bible has a lot to say about giving. Please take time to read the following passages: 1 Corinthians 9:1-23, 2 Corinthians 8-9, 1 Timothy 5:17-18, 6:5-10, Philippians 4:10-19, James 1:27, and Romans 15:23-24.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Obeying By Imitating

Example and imitation are not just the best means of teaching and learning: they are commanded in Scripture.
Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Pet. 5:2-3)

Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Cor. 4:16-17)

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Cor. 10:32-11:1)

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Tim. 4:12)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph. 4:32-5:2)
Who are we to imitate? Timothy, Paul, Jesus Christ, and God. What are we to imitate? Speech, life, love, faith, purity, forgiveness, pleasing everyone. Why? So that many will be saved.

We cannot get graduate degrees in these subjects. Such degrees are not offered. We get these by the Holy Spirit as we imitate Jesus and those who imitate Him.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Church Discipline & Restoration

The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Cor. 2:6-8)
This may be the man spoken of in 1 Corinthians 5. If not, he is still a man who has been under church discipline. This discipline has worked, and the man is repentant. What is the instruction to the church?

1. Forgive him.
2. Comfort him.
3. Reaffirm your love for him.

Why? So that he will not be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow.

We do not see much church discipline today. When we do, we do not see the restoration of the repentant man as described above. Not to do this is sin on the church’s part. The church is made up of individual Christians who do the forgiving, comforting, and loving.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Reason for Christmas

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Gal. 1:3-5)

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Gal. 4:4-5)
These two verses give us the reason for Christmas:

 to rescue us from this present evil age
 to redeem those under the law so that we might receive the full rights of sons
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Christmas Story

Merry Christmas! Many of us know the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke. However, you might know it only from Christmas pageants, carols, and Christmas cards. (Most of them are only partly true.)

This Christmas season, read the Christmas story to your children from the Bible. You will find the story of the Wise Men and the Star in Matthew 1:18-2:23 and the story of the shepherds and the angel in Luke 2:1-39. There are also several other short accounts of this event in Colossians 1:13-20, Hebrews 1:1-4, Galatians 4:4-5, and Philippians 2:5-11.

Here is another account:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 10-14)

Friday, December 15, 2017

Writing Your Testimony

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the Enemy. (Psalm 107:2)

And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Rom. 6:20-22)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Heb. 2:14-15)
When we are freed from sin, the devil, and the fear of death, we are to say so. Paul’s conversion is recorded in Acts 9. He testifies to it in Acts 22 and Acts 26. In other words, there are three accounts of his receiving Christ. It must be important.

Have you written your testimony of how and when you were set free from sin? Have you given copies of your testimony to believers and unbelievers? It makes no difference whether you were three years old or sixty years old. It was still a great deliverance. If you have written it, please send me a copy or post it below. If you have not written it, please write it and send me a copy. And give it to your friends, neighbors, strangers, and relatives.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Isaiah & Micah

Isaiah was an intellectual prophet with a big vocabulary. He prophesied at the court in Jerusalem. As a prophet, he wore sackcloth from his waist down and sandals until God spoke to him, recorded in Isaiah 20:2-4: “At that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, ‘Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.’ And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot. Then the Lord said, ‘Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame.’”

Micah, who prophesied at the same time, was in Samaria when he also had to go barefoot and naked. Micah 1:8-9: “Because of this I will weep and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl. For Samaria’s plague is incurable; it has spread to Judah. It has reached the very gate of my people, even to Jerusalem itself.”

Today, they would be arrested and put in jail, where they would have to wear clothes.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The God of All Comfort

Did you know that God the Father is described as the God of hope, the God of all comfort, the God of peace, and the God of love?

Here are some of the texts.
May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

The God of peace be with you all. (Rom. 15:3)

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:23)

Now the God of peace who brought you up from the dead, that Good Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good… (Heb. 13:20)

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:9)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Demons in Recent History

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. (Deut. 18:9-13)
Here are a few accounts of demon possession in the Bible.
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” (Mark 1:21-27; cf. Luke 4:31-36)

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. (Mark 5:1-20; cf. Matt. 8:28-34, Luke 8:27-37)

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:17-29; cf. Luke 9:37-43)

News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. (Matt. 4:24)

While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” (Matt. 9:32-33)

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matt. 15:22-28)

Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah. (Luke 4:41)

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)

Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven…. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Luke 11:14-16, 20)
There are several truths that are revealed in these Scriptures:

• There are such things as evil spirits, demons.
• They recognize who Jesus is.
• They are subject to Jesus’ authority.
• More than one can be present in any one person.
• They can control other beings such as pigs.
• They are going to have a final judgement.

Before she went to India, Amy Carmichael had a short mission to the west coast of Japan in a city called Matsuye. She wrote a note in the Daily Light for July 14, 1893: “God’s power in casting out the Fox Spirit.” She later recorded it in her autobiography:
After a while spent very happily with the Buxtons I lived with two others of our party who had a house at the further end of the town, and soon after I went there we heard of an old man who was demon possessed by an evil demon. As in India, so in Japan, people might live in the country for years and never once even hear of, much less come across, this kind of thing. It was in the purpose of God that is should come my way, therefore it was so. The man who, as the people believed, was possessed by the Fox spirit lived in a street near our house. He was in a very desperate condition. When we were told of this, words I had read often came to me as if they were new: All power is given unto Me…. These signs shall follow them that believe; in My Name shall they cast out devils.

Misaki San and I read these words together and we prayed, and waited upon the Lord. Then, full of confidence that the power of the Lord would cast out the Fox spirit, we asked if we might see the man. We were taken to an upstairs room where he was confined. He was strapped and bound to two heavy beams laid crosswise on the floor. His arms were stretched out as if for crucifixion. His body was covered with burns. Little cones of powdered medicine had been set on his skin and lighted. They burned slowly with a red glow. That alone, one would have thought, was enough to make him mad; but it had not been done till all other means known by his people had been tried in vain. The idea was that the fire would drive out the Fox spirit. We had been told that he was possessed by six Fox spirits; but that was nothing to what the man had who said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.

“You will tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down” (Psalm 91:12).

Tommie Titcombe was a British missionary in the early 1900s. He was twice refused by the board of the Sudan Interior Mission. He told the director he was going to go to Africa anyway. When asked what board he would travel under, he replied, "I don't know, Mr. Bingham. It may be some old woman's wash board, but I'm going to Africa!" The director relented and accepted him as the first missionary to the Yagba people of Nigeria. Here is an excerpt from his biography, Tread Upon the Lion, by Sophie de la Haye.
One day on trek, I entered the village of Lofin. There in the marketplace I saw witch doctors disguised with grotesque masks, gathered in the center of a milling crowd. The noise was deafening; they were dancing and shouting to the accompaniment of intricate drumming. I pushed into the mob to see what was happening. When they shoved aside to let me pass, I was shocked to see a young girl lying stiff as a board, horizontal to the ground, but about two feet above it. She was perspiring profusely and foam oozed from her mouth. Being under the control of demons, she was oblivious to everything. I’d heard about this but hadn’t seen it before.

I became aware of an oppressive, strange feeling, and my amazement grew when I realized that this power that controlled her was defying the law of gravity. I just had to do something; in fact I was so shaken, I forgot to ask the Lord what He wanted me to do. Instead, I touched the girl’s body. It was as thought I’d touched a live wire. I became drenched with sweat and felt as though I was going to be crushed to death. “Jesus, deliver me from this awful power!” I cried.

The mob howled to see the servant of God defeated. I realized I’d brought this upon myself by stepping into this situation in my own strength. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit…” (Zech. 4:6)

I was badly shaken. As a child of God I realized the demons couldn’t have unchallenged power over me, but God had permitted this to teach me a lesson. In the midst of pandemonium, peace returned to my troubled heart. Withdrawing from the crowd, I sat under a tree and turned to God’s promises in Isaiah 41:10 and 13. They had helped me many times. Then I read Mark 16:17: “In my name shall they cast out devils.”

“Lord, what shall I do now?” I prayed.

“Fear not, Tommie, I will help you.”

I stood, not rushing this time, but praying every step of the way as I returned. The crowd parted, still laughing and jeering. I knelt down beside the girl and prayed, “Lord, deliver this girl from the bondage of demonism, in Jesus’ name.”

At once the girl dropped to the ground, limp. I picked her up and carried her to a nearby hut and laid her down. The crowd roared after me. I turned and said, “Remember, my God, who has delivered this girl from the demons, is standing by my side.” Hearing this, they went outside the town to a sacred idol grove.

The girl lay quiet, still unconscious. I sat beside her, praying silently, when she suddenly asked, “Where am I?”

“It’s all right,” I told her. “The Savior whom I worship and serve has delivered you out of bondage of the demons.”

My three companions and I slept outside that hut for three nights so that the people couldn’t get to her. On the third night, I had the joy of leading that girl to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

When she had fully recovered, I arranged for two Christian couples to escort her to Oro Girls School.

So, with God’s help, His servant trod upon Satan’s attempt to destroy this young life.

This was not an isolated case. In another village where the gospel had never been heard before, I came upon a group in the process of their Satan worship. They would jump up in the air and remain there with nothing to support them.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Antidepressants, Anxiety, and Depression

Time magazine recently had a cover story on antidepressants. The article says there are 16 million depressed people, one third of whom do not respond to treatment with antidepressants. Another 6 million are anxious.

I will not dispute whether these facts are correct. I suspect that some of these depressed people, maybe many of them, are Christians.

The Thessalonian Christians were told to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, for this was the will of God concerning them. Notice the three superlatives: always, without ceasing, in everything. These are not suggestions. They are commands.

We see the same thing said to the Christians in Philippi. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil. 4:4-8).

Notice the order: 1) rejoice always, 2) be anxious for nothing. If you are rejoicing always, it is easy to be anxious for nothing.

The next part is in everything, by prayer and supplication, make your requests known to God. notice again: always, nothing, everything, peace beyond all understanding.

The peace of God—not peace with God, but God’s peace which is beyond comprehension. It will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

This is a great preventative for depression and anxiety.

Happiness or depression are both based upon things that are happening or that you anticipate happening. Joy and peace are based upon your fellowship with God.

A Christian can and should follow the commands in these verses. But you first must confess as sin your anxiety and depression.

It is possible to rejoice always, or we would not have been told to do it. God would not command us to do something impossible.

The things that come before depression and anxiety are temptations of Satan. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). This says that God gives you the power to resist any temptation.

If you give into temptation, it is sin like any other moral imperfection. It must be confessed as sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

If this does not make sense to you, let’s talk. Leave a comment below, email me at jimwilson27@frontier.com, or give me a call at (208) 882-4383.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Floating Down the River or Praying in Jesus' Name?

Over the years, I have heard people say, “I don’t believe in Jesus. I just pray directly to God.” The awful part of their statement is they think it is a virtue or righter than the Christian belief. Here is what God says: “Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:22-23).

Others say they are Buddhist or Zen or just “spiritual.” Buddhists pray to idols; if they are well-informed, they know that Buddha is not listening, because Buddhism says that all consciousness is evil—Nirvana is like floating down an endless river in a fog. Zen is meditation to yourself, inward. There is no consciousness or praying to someone else.

Get your theology from reading the Word. Quit absorbing it from the world.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Are You a Disciple of Jesus?

Are you a disciple of the Lord Jesus? Here are a few things to look at. These are evidence of discipleship.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:22-24)

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God…. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Col. 3:1-3, 5)

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Col. 3:8-10)

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Eph. 5:18-21)
Are you willing to die?
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:23-25)

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-27)
Obey everything Jesus commanded His disciples.

Be perfect. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

Be holy. “For it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Pet. 1:16).

Be like this: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Your Word

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.... Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.... Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:11, 97, 105).

This month I will finish my year’s reading of the Bible, once through the Old Testament, and twice through the New Testament and Psalms. It has been such a great blessing. Every day I want to teach what I have learned that day.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Are You Only Listening?

“It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to a song of fools” (Eccl. 7:5). It may have been always so, but at present we seem to have plenty of songs from many fools. We also seem to be short on wise men. The greatest shortage, however, is in heeders. A heeder is one who listens (pays attention) and obeys what he has heard. James said it this way: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).

In my early Christian life, I memorized many verses of Scripture. I succeeded in deceiving myself. I was not obeying the Scripture at all; I was not heeding. I thought I was spiritual because I knew the verses.

It is a dangerous to be a listener. There are many good teachers of the Word. There are many more listeners. They flock to good teachers. The teacher should not be pleased that he has many listeners, unless he is going to teach them how to be heeders. This is one of the clear requirements in the great commission: “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20).
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. (Gal. 4:4-7)

Monday, December 04, 2017

What Pleases the Lord

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (Eph. 5:8-10)
This verse tells us what you were and what you are, and from this we have two assignments:
Live like what you are (goodness, righteousness, and truth).
Find out what pleases the Lord.
How do we live like children of the light? By grace! We are saved by grace. We live by grace. We are forgiven by grace. We obey by grace.

How do we find out what pleases the Lord? First, want to know what pleases the Lord. Second, read the Bible looking for truths to obey by grace. Third, pray for spiritual acumen when you are reading the Bible.

We are anticipating the new year. We are waiting with patience the Lord’s return, not necessarily in that order. I get letters daily from prisoners requesting Bibles and other help. I also receive letters from prisoners requesting copies of How to Be Free from Bitterness. Please pray that we will be able to meet the needs promptly.

May the Lord give you a blessed Christmas. Thank you for your intercession.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Opening Eyes

Here is a question that some of you might have. “I am increasingly being faced by family, friends, and acquaintances who state that all religions lead to God and there is no one source of written revelation from God. This attitude immediately dismisses anything I might share with them from the Word of God. What is a good approach with these people, an approach that will invite them to evaluate their false belief and leave the door open to more conversation?”

First, what the unbeliever wants to hear or not hear should not determine what the believer says. The unbeliever does not believe the Word of God. Of course he doesn’t! He has not heard it. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Before he can believe, he must hear the Word. It is the only source of faith.

We get our orders from God, not from unbelievers. However, that does not mean that we should force the word, for “the 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 Cor. 4:4).

There needs to be a pre-gospel opening of their eyes. “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18).

Here is a way that has been effective with many unbelievers. This Christmas, send the person a book that is not a direct declaration of the Gospel. (He is not likely to read a declaration.) Send him a book that he will read and will not be able to put down. Here are a few suggestions:

Peace Child by Don Richardson
And the Word Came with Power by Joanne Shetler
In Search of the Source by Neil Anderson
Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
To the Golden Shore (a biography of Adoniram Judson) by Courtney Anderson
A Prisoner and Yet by Corrie Ten Boom

Unbelievers think they know what Christians, aboriginal people, and missionaries are. In reality, they don’t know. By reading the books you give, they may realize they do not know and want to find out. Of course, you should read the books first! If you have difficulty finding these books, please let me know.