Tuesday, November 13, 2018

THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD



Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

I’ve heard certain people say that the Old Testament is not necessary to read and study; that the new Testament is all that they need, even though the Lord Jesus and the Epistles quote directly from the Old Testament Word of God. I read where early in its history, the church confronted a heretic named Marcion of Sinope (85 – 160 A.D.), who believed, among other things, that the God revealed in the Old Testament is not the same deity who sent Christ to save us from our sins. As a consequence of that belief, Marcion also denied that the Old Testament is Christian Scripture, and he even cut out the references to the Old Testament found in those New Testament books that he did accept. Few professing Christians today would so blatantly deny the Old Testament as God’s Word to His people. Nevertheless, certain Marcionite tendencies remain alive and well in the covenant community. After all, many believers treat most, if not all, of Genesis–Malachi as an afterthought and less worthy of our study than the New Testament.


Whatever the reasons for this neglect of the Old Testament, such attitudes find no justification in the teaching of the New Testament itself. Old Testament allusions and direct quotations of the Law, Prophets, and Psalms are part of the underlying structure, base or foundation of the New Testament. In fact, the Apostles tell us directly that the old covenant Scriptures continue to have value for those who live under the administration of the new covenant.

Psalm 69:12-19 “I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me. But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. Hide not your face from your servant, for I am in distress; make haste to answer me. Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me because of my enemies! You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you.”

The lesson stated that the Apostle Paul quoted Psalm 69 to support his point that since Christ bore the insults of others as He suffered for our salvation, we should willingly endure the lighter suffering we undergo as we put up with the inconvenience of not exercising the fullness of our Christian freedom in front of immature believers. Psalm 69 and the rest of the Old Testament, Paul tells us, give us the encouragement we need to have hope. In seeing that the writings of the old covenant prophets are fulfilled in Jesus, we find assurance that Christ is who He says He is and that our hope of salvation in Him is secure. Moreover, the Old Testament Scriptures remind Gentiles especially that before Christ, we were people without hope in the world. Now that Jesus has come and fulfilled the prophetic hope that the Gentiles would serve the only true God — Yahweh, the covenant Lord of Israel. Those who are not Israelites according to the flesh are now full members of God’s covenant people in Christ. Thus, we possess all the rights and privileges our heavenly Father gives to His children.

John 1:9-13 “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

In conclusion, certain books and passages of Scripture have played greater roles in the history of theology than others; thus, it’s no surprise that some portions of the Bible are read more often than others. However, we must not make the mistake of thinking that there is any unimportant part of Scripture. The is a common thread of Christ that runs through every page of Holy Scripture. The Holy Spirit inspired it all, and it is all given for our edification. Let us therefore study the whole counsel of God and not just isolated portions of it.

Blessings

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Make the Picture the Reality – Part 2



Ephesians 5:22-33 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Continuing Pastor Kyle’s message on making the picture the reality, he reminds us that our relationships are not on auto-pilot and there are critical elements that must be maintained by focused attention and well thought out hard work. The same is true in our relationship with God. Our concerted effort allows us to grow and mature in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Problems arise when we do not work on and maintain our relationships because they are either growing or dying; there is no third direction. It may seem the opposite, but the truth is that it is more trouble to leave a relationship than to improve it because the reality in the consequences.

Jesus said in Mark 10:6-9 “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” To pull two objects apart is different than pulling apart a single object (one flesh); something is going to be severely damaged. But, God has grace.

We must learn to find and fill our needs in the Lord. Do we go to the Lord to have our needs met first? James 4:2-3 says, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” What change of perspective might we have if we look, not to others but, to the Lord with requested aligned with His Will for our life? The Lord says that we have the fleshly tendency to look at “selfish” passions and unrealistic expectations of getting them met that negatively drives us. Galatians 5:22-23 tell us that the love, joy, and peace that we desire and seek is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us, and they are always accompanied by patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Hurt people, hurt people. When arrows of discontent are shot, people duck. We like to act like we get hurt and don’t hurt others that we are in relationship with, but we do. Reality is that people want to be healed. People want to be listened to. Listening to hurting people is true hard, but it’s the only way to help them feel better. It takes faith to listen and be a “good” listener. Let them have the floor and be heard until they are done.  They just need to vent their feelings and frustrations. Remember the good is the goal and work to make the ideal the real. Be intentional in your relationships to make the picture the reality because, first and foremost, we have the picture of God sending His Son to die on the Cross for our sins as reality.

In Christ, Brian     

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Make the Picture the Reality



Malachi 2:13-16 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Our church has now been going through the Minor Prophet book of Malachi for several Sundays and last week Pastor Kyle continued in chapter two by first recapping that the proper response to God’s love is to give Him the best and the first of everything because our Almighty Maker deserves our honor, praise and respect for His loving protection and caring provision. Stop robbing God of His due and don’t rob others because in doing so, we rob ourselves of the blessed life the Lord has for us. Secondly, every Christian is a priest (in the royal priesthood of Believers), who represents the Sovereign Creator of Heaven and Earth to their world. Royal priesthood, do not allow corruption in the kingdom of God. There are times when everything seems to be going great and then they are not going so great. We must never lose sight of hope because the Lord God has blessed us all with miracle after miracle and life is going to have struggles; that is the reality of life.

It’s easy to look at he pictures of great moments in people’s lives and think of happy times. But, photographs are just images and memories. How do you make the picture the reality? We are constantly fighting to keep these ideals a reality, day in and day out, through the lenses that God sees us through.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

Today Bible passage reminds us that the two most important relationship covenants in life are: (1) our relationship with our Heavenly Father God, (2) our relationship with our spouse.  God created the family. Equally yoked Christians go to church and take their children to Sunday School in order to produce godly offspring. This is not about nominal “checkbox” Christianity, but someone who believes and walks faithfully with the Lord. Marriage to Jesus as the bride is the church’s number one priority, but the marriage to your spouse  is our greatest earthly gift from God. It is natural to protect your treasures in heart and mind. Do not stop remembering to cherish your covenant vows, made before God, to your spouse.

Let’s continue Pastor Kyle’s message on making the picture a reality in the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Friday, November 9, 2018

Our Maker & Creator



Psalm 95:6 “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”

As finite creatures, we tend to take for granted the infinite Creator God. Maybe that is because we cannot “create” something from nothing, but can only “make” something from existing material. I read an interesting article on Creator God; our maker, that pointed out that in the first chapter of Genesis we are told that God was to “make man in our (the Godhead’s) image.” Similarly, on the seventh day God “rested from all his work which God created and made”. God is, therefore, both Creator and Maker of all things, including the image of God in mankind. These two terms are not synonymous, though they sometimes seem to be used interchangeably. To “create” is the calling into existence entities that previously had no existence. No one except God is ever the subject of the verb “create”, because only God can create something from nothing. The work of making, on the other hand, is that of organizing created entities into complex systems.

It is interesting that God is called “Creator” five times in the Bible, whereas He is called “Maker” 16 times. God ‘created” His image in men and women, but He also “made” them in that image. That is, He called into existence the spiritual component of man’s nature, not shared in any degree by the animals. The article explains that He also organized the basic material elements into complex human bodies, the most highly organized systems in the universe, and these were made in that image that God Himself would one day assume when He became an incarnate human being (Jesus Christ). In this way, He is both Creator and Maker of His image in each person.

That image has been marred because of sin, but through the work of Christ we have been “renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created us.  Created and newly created, made and remade, let us humbly kneel before the Lord, our Maker and Creator.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Real You – Part Two



Continuing Michael's message, he states that in the old TV game show, "To Tell the Truth," the question was, "Will the real you please stand up."  When God sees us, he sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ himself. Who is the real you?  The real you is the man or woman who God created us in Christ Jesus when we were “born again” of God's Spirit. 

According to Colossians 1:26-27, the riches of the glory of the mystery is Christ in you the hope of glory.

God has called us to be “godly” so that we don't need to be afraid of judgment. We are sons and daughters of God by second birth. He has created in us a new life in the spirit of Christ in us. We have been saved by grace through faith. As Galatians says, the just shall live by faith. Faith produces knowledge of the cause and purpose of our lives. Faith produces fidelity, Faithfulness to stand strong to the end.

As a man or woman of God, we do things because of who we are in Christ. We were made the righteousness of God because of Jesus' payment for sin on our behalf. For he who was without sin became the perfect sin sacrifice for us that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him. The real you is Christ in you. It's his feet behind my feet, his hands behind my hands, his eyes behind my eyes, and his heart behind my heart. Faithfulness is not because of what we do but because of who we are in Christ and whose we are. To be devoted means that we have dedicated ourselves to His purpose and cause because of our righteousness in Him.

Each moment in time can be "our finest hour." Each moment is an opportunity to fulfill our "divine appointment" to walk in fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Our acceptance by our Heavenly Father is through his Son, for there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. The sin nature will pursue the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. However, you are slaves to whom you obey. We have the power of the Holy Spirit to flee from these things and instead to pursue the righteousness of God, in Christ, in us.

For there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ has made me free from the law of sin and death.  Therefore we can approach our Heavenly Father as sons and daughters of God.  We can live for our Father's glory, for it is God who works in you to will and to do of his good pleasure. This is the real you.

May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ, Michael


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Real You



As people of God, we need to keep our eyes on eternity.  Even though we live in the here and now, our eyes are on the hereafter.

Ephesians 6:11-12 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

This week, Michael writes that in the books of Timothy, it is pointed out that men and women of this world are naturally opposed to the things of righteousness. Many harmful desires plunge us into destruction and depravity through the sin nature of the flesh. The battle between light and darkness rages on within our soul. Charles Spurgeon said that we are the result of a siege that God waged against the fortress of our worldly hearts of sinful flesh. He has broken down the walls and led captivity captive.

Jesus Christ is the "Good Shepherd" who continuously pursues us. In 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul knew that he was approaching the end of his ministry and this earthly life. He reminded Timothy of the sins of our fallen nature that we inherited from Adam in original sin. To turn from sin Paul exhorts his readers to turn instead to righteousness. Because we have been created a new man and new woman in Christ Jesus, Paul said to flee from sin and to pursue righteousness.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Paul didn't say to convert these evil men. Rather he said turn away from and avoid them; To flee from them, and instead pursue six things: In verse 11, as a "man or woman of God," he says to pursue godliness: “But thou, O people of God, flee these things; and follow after (1) righteousness, (2) godliness, (3) faith, (4) love, (5) patience, (6) meekness.

Godliness is living life according to righteousness in the presence of God. The Bible says that the love of God keeps no record of wrongs done. God doesn't build up a resentment bank. To approach our loving Heavenly Father, we must approach Him with a heart of love and grace. 

 Let's continue Michael's message on the real you in the next Post.
In Christ, Brian