Sunday, April 23, 2017

Teach and Preach


Acts 5:42 “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

We have been commissioned to teach and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to every one within our sphere of influence daily for the saving of lives by the atoning death of Jesus Christ for our sins. I read that the Great Commission was given to every Christian and implied a daily ministry of witness by life and word. The early Christians took it seriously, as our text implies. Even when they began to be persecuted for it, this merely led to a wider proclamation of the gospel. “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” - Acts 8:4

The article stated that the command of Christ was to “preach the gospel to every creature” – Mark 16:15, and this required every Christian to be involved every day. The “gospel” includes the entire scope of the person and work and teachings of Jesus Christ, so both preaching and teaching are involved. Furthermore, Christ did not say “send” but “go!” Although it is vital that missionaries be sent and supported as they go to “the regions beyond,” each believer must go to those he can reach as ability and opportunity allow. “Jerusalem . . . Judaea . . . Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” – Acts 1:8 were all to be reached not consecutively but simultaneously, and this would require both personal and financial participation by every Christian.

 The message was to “teach and preach Jesus Christ” in all His fullness. Their witnessing was to be “unto Jesus”. It was to be both in public and in private —“in the temple, and in every house.” They were to pray to “the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvestLuke 10:2 and also to train “faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” – 2 Timothy 2:2.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.


 And the result of this intense first-century dedication to the Great Commission was that “the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatlyActs 6:7. However, the work has never been completed and the command is still in effect. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Celebrate the Son-rise


Matthew 28:1-10 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

I know that April was going to be a busy month, but never imagined that the month activities would include a week-long trip up to Bass Lake, California, as my 89 year old father needed some help following arthroscopic surgery. Missing Easter Sunday at my home church, I was able to attend the Easter Sunrise service at my dad’s church prior to driving down to Fresno with my son to take Dad home from the hospital – so a double blessing.

Pastor Herk asked if we ever wanted to join a certain club or a specific group but was rejected because we did not meet their qualifications or we were just not what they were looking for and wanted? Isn’t it wonderful that this is not true with the Kingdom of Heaven! Almighty God, who created every molecule in the Universe and Cosmos, desires an intimate relationship with us for eternity. Hallelujah!

Jesus Christ (God the Son) came and died for us to pay the price for our sins, and rose again to defeat death, that we may have eternal life. After His crucifixion, the tomb, in which Jesus was laid for burial, had a large wheel-shaped stone rolled in front of it. In the Matthew passage above, an angel of the Lord came and rolled the stone from the door. The angel did this not to let Jesus out of the tomb, but to let us into the tomb. God allows us to enter into resurrection unto new life forever.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”

Death is a mystery that we all have in common. Pastor Herk told of a passage in A. Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”: Mowgli, the man cub, asks the animals what’s
the most feared thing in the jungle. He’s told that when two animals meet on a narrow
path that one must step aside and let the other pass. The animal that steps aside for no
one would then be the most feared. Mowgli wants to know what kind of animal would that be? One tells him it’s an elephant. Another tells him it’s a lion. Finally the wise old owl exclaims, “The most feared thing in the jungle is death. It steps aside for no one
.”

As portrayed in the new motion picture “A case For Christ”, Investigative Reporter Lee Strobel, after extensive research, proclaimed that it would take more faith to believe in “atheism” than Jesus Christ rising from the dead. Without Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our life, we are going through the motions and just getting by without true joy. Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Only Jesus Christ can bring us back to life, regenerating the spirit and restoring real joy of life again – excited and exciting, with purpose and meaning. The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes our past, our present and our future.

The Christian church relies on the reality of the resurrection of Jesus, whom without there is no hope in this life. Christianity differs from all other religions in that our Lord and Savior is alive! Jesus came to seek and save the lost. We all need to ask ourselves: “Are we experiencing the power of the risen Christ?” We have victory in the resurrection and, united as the church body, we are commissioned to go tell a lost and afraid world that the tomb is empty; that there is hope in Jesus Christ by what He did on the cross.  

A sunrise is glorious, but does not compare to the Son rise. Let us celebrate!

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, April 20, 2017

No Other Image



Exodus 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.”


Idolatry is one of the most misunderstood issue in religion. I read this little explanation on the reasons for "making an image" to worship is idolatry. There are several reasons why idolatry is forbidden. The most obvious it that the triune Creator is too great to attempt to visualize. There is no thing or experience in mortal human existence that can represent the immortal and invisible Creator. Thus, God sees any effort to “picture” Him (idolatry) as rebellion. It does not matter how we may attempt to “see” God. “Any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” are all totally incapable of expressing God’s person.

 

Romans 1:18-32 reveals the heart of an idolater. Those who hold the truth in unrighteousness will not glorify God as God, even though they know Him by the creation itself. Instead, they change God’s inestimable glory into an earthly creature and consciously change God’s truth into a lie. Thus, by open choice and willing rebellion, idolators worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator, thereby abandoning God for a despicable and unnatural lust, for an ungodliness that, in turn, causes them to despise the very thought of God in their knowledge. Ultimately, the only pleasure they can find is among other idolaters.

 

Paul taught the “philosophers” in Acts 17:22-29 that the heart of idolatry is rejection of God as Creator. Idolatry, in any form or practice, strikes at the heart of salvation, because “he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek himHebrews 11:6.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rooted and Built Up

Colossians 2:6-7 “ As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Glory to God – Part 2 – Good Friday



“For I was crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Michael continues that if we have not died to self, then we're not Christians, we're humanists. Christianity starts with "repentance" which means to turn around from worshiping self, to worshiping the true God because of Jesus' supreme sacrifice at the cross on our behalf.  On Good Friday, we must remember God's goal for eternity. On Good Friday, the greatest good was done. For he who was without sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we should be made the righteousness of God in Him. What was the purpose of Good Friday, of Jesus having died on our behalf?  Jesus came not for us, but rather because of His love for us.  When Jesus prayed, "Father, if it be thy will let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not my will but thy will be done," what was God's answer to Jesus' prayer?  The answer is in Hebrews: “He for the joy that was set before him endured the cross and is set down at the right hand of God, for God's glory”. He died because of the joy that God revealed to him: Jesus' love for those of us who would believe on Him ... those of us who would be saved because of His perfect sacrifice for sin on our behalf, to the glory of God the Father.

All men and women have sinned and have come short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death. We all deserve the righteous judgment of a just and holy God. From a Humanistic point of view, why would a loving God send anyone to hell and eternal death? Isn't the end goal of Humanism happiness? However, from God's perspective, our happiness doesn't matter. From God's perspective, sin and iniquity must be paid for by a righteous and just payment. Our happiness is immaterial. If our goal is happiness, then we are worshiping the God of self and not the one true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The message of salvation is not to rescue sinners from hell. In all actuality, we are rescued from God’s wrath. Rather, we spread the message of salvation because God loved them and gave His only begotten Son on their behalf, that they might be made the righteousness of God for the glory of God. It's not about the glory of salvation and the saving of sinners, (though they are amazing natural consequences), rather it's about the glory of God through the saving power of his Son Jesus Christ. People are not judged for their sins, rather they are judged for their rejection of the Savior from sin, Jesus Christ.

Heaven is not about our happiness (though there will be indescribable happiness there). The present sufferings are not to be compared with the glory that should follow. That's why we endure, not because we're promised "happiness" in this life, but because of the Glory of God. Nothing else really matters. All is vanity except for the glory of God. Vanity is emptiness. Only a few things have substance, weight, glory, and value. Glory means weight. There is substance in the glory of God. The reason for the cross is so that God himself would be glorified. That which is seen is temporal, but that which is unseen is eternal. Only the things of the Spirit of God will be of lasting glory, worth, value and substance.

“So loved He the world that He gave us His Son . Who yielded His life an atonement for sin and opened the life-gate that all may come in. Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord. Let the earth hear His voice; Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord. Let the people rejoice. Oh come to the Father through Jesus His son, and give Him the glory, great things He hath done!” To God be the glory, great things he hath done. May God richly bless you!

Your brother in Christ, Michael

Monday, April 17, 2017

Glory to God – Part 1 - Humanistic Desire


 


This week Michael writes how Israel sent spies into the Promised Land to see if they would be able to enter into the land. Only two of the twelve spies, Joshua and Caleb brought back a favorable report. The other ten spies gave a bad report that Israel would not be able to conquer the land. According to Numbers 14 the Children of Israel grumbled and complained that God had "called them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness."  They wanted to appoint leaders to lead them back to Egypt. When Joshua and Caleb said that God would prevail if they went into Canaan to take the land, the people wanted to stone them.

Here is the story from Numbers 14:10-19 And all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Now the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel. Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.” And Moses said to the Lord: “Then the Egyptians will hear it, for by Your might You brought these people up from among them, and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, Lord, are among these people; that You, Lord, are seen face to face and Your cloud stands above them, and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if You kill these people as one man, then the nations which have heard of Your fame will speak, saying, ‘Because the Lord was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness.’ And now, I pray, let the power of my Lord be great, just as You have spoken, saying,  ‘The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.’ Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy, just as You have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.”

The people were concerned with their own happiness. They were in pursuit of the blessing. Did Moses say, "your job, God, is to make the people happy?" What was Moses' plea to God on behalf of the people?  Moses didn't argue whether the people should live or die for their rebellion and grumbling and complaining against God. Rather, Moses pleaded for the glory of God. When we seek the blessing instead of God's glory, do we deserve anything less than what the children of Israel deserved?  Moses reminded God that he is slow to anger and exceeding in love.  He also reminded God that he will not let Israel's injustice go unrequited.  God is a righteous judge.  Those who rebel against God will suffer the consequences unto the fourth generation.

The children of Israel subscribed to a "Humanistic" doctrine.  They were in pursuit of the blessing instead of the Blessor.  What makes something right or wrong according to "Humanism?"  Humanists don't think that God gives the standard for right and wrong.  Rather they think about the effects of their choices on others and the "right" or kindest course of action that will "do the least harm" according to the probable consequences of their actions.  They say that "morality" is something that comes from within:  affection, cooperation, and social instincts that are a "natural" part of community.  For a "humanist" the ultimate "morality" comes from within ourselves and not from an external God. The Humanist philosophy could be embraced by most so-called Christians. What is the fallacy of this "humanistic" doctrine? Humanism is the religion of “the flesh” desires. Humanism says I must worship myself for I am the master of my own destiny, I am the captain of my soul. Humanism reiterates the devil's original lie, "I'm my own God ... I shall be as God, knowing good from evil."

The question is "do we deserve the Promised Land?"  Do we deserve the promises of God?  All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way. A Humanist's decision point is "what's the level of personal benefit?"  If this is our decision criteria as Christians, then there is no difference between the actions of Christians and pagan unbelievers. In order to be resurrected, we must first die to the God of self. The heart of Christianity, as opposed to humanism, is the death of our selfish sin nature so that we can be alive unto him.

Let’s pause Michael’s message about “Glory to God” and continue on the next post. 
In Christ, Brian

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Christ Our Passover


Exodus 12:13 “Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

Came across this interesting article on Passover and the meaning behind the event. The Jews of the world have been keeping their annual Feast of the Passover for almost 3,500 years, fulfilling the ancient prophecy: “And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons foreverExodus 12:24. This was the beginning of the nation of Israel, when they left Egyptian slavery behind and started their trek to the Promised Land. The lamb had been slain and eaten, its blood placed on the door posts, and the Lord had spared all their firstborn sons when the Destroyer passed through the land of Egypt.


The feast was intended not only to memorialize the ancient deliverance, but also to anticipate the coming day when the “Lamb of God” would take “away the sin of the worldJohn 1:29. The night before Christ was crucified, He told His disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22:15-16. Thereupon, the Lord established His Supper, which Christians will continue to observe to “proclaim the Lord’s death till he come1 Corinthians 11:26. He fulfilled all that the Passover prophesied when He shed His blood on the cross, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:7-8.

Now we look forward to an even greater supper when Christ returns, for the promise is this to all who believe: “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” Revelation 19:9. We have been fed, we feed and we shall be fed in Christ,