Monday, December 5, 2016

Blessed to be a Blessing – Part 3 – On Our Way

Genesis 12:6-9 “Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.”

Pastor Kyle continues that in our amazing imagination, we have what we think we do under control and what we think that we should be doing on our lives. And then you have the reality of what you actually have and do. Even fine dining means dishes to wash, the best “threads’ need laundered and folded, the killer “digs” that we live in do need dusting, vacuuming and cleaning.  You have to believe by faith in the vision that God has for your life. Despite the unpleasant reality that you may be currently facing and dealing with, you have to (figuratively speaking) pitch your tent in a land that doesn’t belong to you … yet. We may not be where we want to be financially, physically or positionally, but we know that this will not always be the case. Success is trusting and pitching a tent where God wants us to be, because we are on our way to where we are supposed to be; enlarging our territory.

1 Chronicles 4:10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.

Rebuild your life from “where it is”, sometimes from the bottom up. Joyfully accept where you are, and with contentment with the Lord. We may not feel that we have everything that we felt that we should have at this point in our life, or what society says that we should have, but we can choose to be content with God’s plan for our life. This is the true recipe to be happy, whole, complete and satisfied with every perfect gift that God has blessed us with and rejoice; not focusing on what we do not have. God’s plan, dream, idea or calling for us may look a lot different than our expectations and hopes at the time. The temptation that we all face and fight when we get to where God is leading us is that it doesn’t look like the “travel brochure” picture in our head. It is at these times in our life that God tells us to re-frame our thinking a little bit, because it is exactly what God has called us to be. We have been blessed to be a blessing.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Blessed to be a Blessing – Part 2 – The Burden

Genesis 12:4-5 “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.”

Kyle continues his message stating that every blessing by God Almighty has a cost. The reality is that every calling by God has a burden alongside it. It is easy sometimes to look at a person in a place of influence and significance, then desire their blessing. But, if you know what it took to get a person to the place where they are, you would look at it and say “No thanks, I’m good where I’m at right now.” What we frequently don’t see is the pain that people have endured in order to get to that position in their life. Understand the costs and the rewards involved. When we have “partial obedience”, God is not going to remove His hand of favor from our lives, but we will certainly price the price, in different ways, throughout our lives. Satan offered Jesus a shortcut, but the Lord understood that the enemy can never back up his false promises offered with the intent to deceive. The devil wants us to believe that we can live out our calling without there ever being any cost to us. The truth is that every calling has a cost.

Matthew 4:1-3 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him.”

The price tag of God’s blessing for every Believer includes three things: (1) Trading our comfort for God’s calling. The hardest part in any journey is that point when you are just a little bit too far to turn back, but you are still a really long way from where you need to get to. Not everyone is called to an Abrahamic “leave everything behind” kind of calling, but there are times when God calls us to leave “some” things behind. The point is not “Go do something and hope that God blesses it.” The point is that God already has blessing in store for you and I right where we are today, but it costs us something to get there. Walking in God’s blessing means, every day, a little part of our comfort mechanism and structures have to die. Jesus said in Mark 8:34-35, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” God’s promises in return exceedingly, above and beyond all that we could ask for or imagine, but in exchange we have surrender everything that we can imagine.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 (2) In faith, sacrificial obedience of time, talents and treasures for the things of the Lord. Sometimes, God will ask us to make offerings for things that are not yet reality. Jesus explains further in Matthew 16:26-27 asking, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” Sometimes, God will ask us to make offerings for things that are not yet reality. Sacrificial obedience is required of every Believer. (3) Patient faith in a future that God has already secured. We have to decide to start the journey to the land that God has already acquired for us in advance. We must have patient faith in what God has promised and obtained for our future, even though it does not look anything like our current reality.

Let conclude Pastor Kyle's message on "being blessed and being a blessing" on the next post. 

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Blessed to be a Blessing – Part 1 – The Cost

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The concept of being "blessed" is popular among circles of faith and even those who don't have any faith at all. With that said, what does it actually mean? The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “blessed” as “Happy”; Secular - prosperous in worldly affairs; Spiritually - enjoying spiritual happiness and the favor of God; enjoying heavenly felicity. “Something “blessed” - praising or extolling; consecrating by prayer. To give a “blessing” is defined as a benediction; a wish of happiness pronounced; a prayer imploring happiness upon another, in which happiness is desired, invoked or foretold. To be a “blessing” is defined as any means of happiness; a gift, benefit or advantage; that which promotes temporal prosperity and welfare, or secures immortal felicity. The divine favor is the greatest blessing. A divine blessing is being in the favor of God; under His Providence: protection and care. At our heart’s core, divine blessing is what everyone seeks from God. This divine favor from God opens the door to everything else that one could ever use in life, including prosperity, family and influence. Prosperity symbolizes livelihood, family symbolizes future and influence symbolizes honor. But, there is a cost that comes along with being blessed by God.  

Luke 12:48 “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”

One of the most ancient examples of it known to man is that of Abraham. The flipside to the Abrahamic promise was that he would have to give up more prosperity, family and influence then he could ever imagine. What we currently have in our life today seems a lot more concrete than what we do not yet have in the unknown future. We think: I see it. I can touch it. Why would we ever consider leaving it. It is a matter of willingly offering up our certain physical and financial future, our sense of security and our identity, by faith, into the hands of the Lord. It’s a matter of leaving the secular blessings that we know for physical and spiritual blessings that we do not know yet, trusting that it is out there.

In our lives, as we follow our Lord Jesus Christ, there are always two pulls. (1) there is a pull towards the things of God, and (2) there is a pull away from the things of God. Which one is ultimately going to win?

Let's continue Pastor Kyle's message on "being blessed and being a blessing" on the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Greatest Gift is Love

1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

Think about this question that one Christian writer asked; “Why is love so important?” He gave three thought-provoking reasons for us to consider: First, because it is the greatest virtue. Love supersedes faith and hope. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says:“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” This side of Heaven, we have faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love because on that side of Heaven we no longer need faith or hope as we stand face-to-face and walk with the object of our faith and hope – the Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, because it is the greatest command. Jesus stated this command in Matthew 22:37 saying: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The Lord Jesus also said in John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” It is only in our fallen, sinful flesh desires on this side of eternity, among the distractions of the world and the temptations of the devil, that we need this commandment. Only love exists in heaven. To know Almighty God is to love our Creator Father God.

Third, love is the greatest testimony. What is really going to make your community wake up and believe that your church is really the church of the Lord Jesus Christ? The size of your building? The music? The way your lawn looks? The signage at the street? No. The way you love God and show love to others.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.”

Nothing can motivate a lost sinner like the heartfelt love of Jesus Christ.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Declaration of Dependence – Part 2 - Christ-centered, Faith-based, and Grace-driven

Psalm 46:7-11 “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;  He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. 

The tares have been sowed among the wheat.  Though we may think that we are the wheat and not the tares, Christians may have a hard time praising God because of the nagging voice that reminds us that in our flesh dwelleth no good thing.  To be in the presence of the Holy Spirit is to rest in his righteousness alone...  not within our own righteousness, but within the righteousness of God in Christ in us.  For Jesus Christ who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in him.  For it is he that hath made us and not we ourselves.  We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. 

Joshua's farewell address was, "choose ye this day whom ye shall for me and my house we shall serve the Lord."  As Paul said, “That we may know Him and the power of His resurrection being conformed to His death. We preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” God will take what we offer Him and turn it around so that we ourselves will be blessed. The greatest blessing is to seek the Blessor and not the blessing. Our reward is not in what we receive, but rather in what we give. 

Our confidence is not in ourselves; our confidence is only in Him. For when we confess our sin, our broken fellowship, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The adversary and His minions will "tolerate" anything except the righteous standard of the Word of God. The freedoms that we have enjoyed as a godly nation are conditional upon obedience to the righteous standard of the Word of God. Freedom isn't free. Our freedom was bought with the priceless innocent blood of the righteous Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Our liberty is only in the liberation from the bondage of sin according to God's righteous standard. Stand fast therefore in the Liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage of sin and iniquity.  

Remember, as men and women of God, we are Christ-centered, faith-based, and grace-driven. Our Declaration of Independence from the powers of darkness is our Declaration of Dependence upon Almighty God. Our declaration of dependence says that even while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly. Not because we are worthy, but because Christ is worthy. Not because we are good, but because God is good.

Lord, thank you for keeping us mindful of who you are and whose we are. As the Psalmist said, "Be thankful unto him and bless his name.  For the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations."

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Declaration of Dependence – Part 1 - God's Righteous Standard

Learning Everyday Dependency With Jesus - Tiny Mathew

This week Michael writes: The distinctive about Christianity is that there is no discrimination according to God's righteous standard. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. For the Will of God is that all would be saved and come unto the knowledge of the Truth. Although there is discrimination and exclusion in the world, God is no respecter of persons. He is, however, a respecter of His holy Word. The condition is that we approach the throne of grace on His terms, not ours. His terms are according to His righteous Word. We are Christ-centered, faith-based and grace-driven. The sacred Word of God is our sole source of truth and practice, for Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man cometh unto the father but by me.”

History provides evidence that America was founded as a Christian nation. Our nation is unique in that it was formed, not by a specific ethnic heritage or geographic territory, but upon an ideal enshrined in our nation's founding documents; The Declaration of Independence. That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.  That among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, resulting from virtue. These are ideals based upon the Word of God.  Freedom to worship God according to the dictates of the heart (of Christ in us) is the foundation of our great nation. The Declaration of Independence was actually our nation's "Declaration of Dependence" on Almighty God. As the Founding Fathers signed with unwavering hand: "unto these ends, in firm reliance upon divine Providence, we pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." The Founders understood the "Puritan" doctrine of divine Providence. It means that our Lord God Jehovah will provide. That all I have needed thy hand hath provided. They understood that "blessed is the nation whose strength the Lord is."

Nations rise and fall. The vicious cycle of the rise and fall of worldly empires continues according to the Word. When the spirit of unbelief pervades a nation and the nation rebels against God's righteous standard, the fall is inevitable. When a nation turns its heart against God's prophets that speak on behalf of God, He will respect the standards of his Word, for God is no respecter of persons. Today we are engaged in a cultural war that has caused great division in our nation. America has been decoupled from her Christian heritage. The root cause is “spiritual warfare”, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the powers of spiritual darkness, against spiritual wickedness from on high.  Our prayer is not that God is on our side, but rather that we are on God's side.  The prayer of a righteous man is not God, take sides, but rather, God take over. 

As Christians, our times are in His Almighty hands.  We may be citizens of the United States, however, as sons and daughters of God, we hold dual citizenship. According to Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:” As citizens of heaven, Peter said, “We are an holy nation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people for his own possession.”  As American citizens, we lament not because of the results of man's election, rather we rejoice because we are the results of God's election.

Let's continue Michael's message on "Dependence on God" on the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Know God – the Fulfillment of Your Heart’s Desire

John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

Do you yearn to know God? Do you long for special relationship with the Father, the ultimate knowing that comes from interacting with Him as His child? I read lately that the new Testament says that we should “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. But how do we get to know God better? First, we spend time with Him. In Psalm 46 we read, “Be still and know that I am God.” Yet achieving this stillness is difficult. Noise and diversion constantly bombard us. But if we want to know Him better, we have to discipline ourselves to carve out quiet time and space to be with God. And as we fall silent, we can hear God speak to us about His nature.

Jeremiah 29:13 ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Second, we also grow closer to God by obeying His commands. We can’t grow closer to Christ while knowingly living in disobedience. If you and I want to know Him, obey Him in everything. Third, we also learn more about God by loving Him. The Bible says, “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God … for God is love” – 1 John 4:7-8. Christ laid down His life on the cross for us, and in return we need to love Him sacrificially, laying down our lives for God, submitting our will for His glory. As we do this, we discover more about God’s sovereignty and love.  

Does you soul pant for a more intimate relationship with God? Then spend time with Him this very moment, in His holy Word or in a quiet place. Choose to live obediently, and focus your love on Him. Do so, and you’ll come to know Him who loves you with a love far beyond anything humans can offer. You’ll find the fulfillment of your heart’s desire.