Monday, September 26, 2016

Living Under Grace


ROMANS 6:15 “Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!”

I read that “justification” is defined in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary as “remission of sin and absolution from guilt and punishment; or an act of free grace by which God pardons the sinner and accepts him as righteous, on account of the atonement of Christ.” Justification is God’s legal declaration that we are righteous in His sight by the imputation of the merit of Christ to our records, establishes our heavenly citizenship and guarantees eternal life. By the blood of the Lamb of God, the wrath of God will “passover”. We are granted peace with God and are secure in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and we are confident that the Lord will preserve His justified people forever. In justification, we look only to what Jesus has done in our behalf. However, justification is not the entirety of our salvation, which also encompasses the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In other words, those who have been justified begin to serve God truly, but this service is never the basis for our right standing with our Creator. We don’t serve to get saved, but because we are saved.

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

The article stated that Theologians refer to this transformation by the Spirit as sanctification, which includes a definitive aspect and an ongoing aspect. Sanctification is defined in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary as “the act of making holy. In an evangelical sense, the act of God's grace by which the affections of men are purified or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to a supreme love to God. The act of consecrating or of setting apart for a sacred purpose; consecration.” When we first trust Christ, we are set apart as holy unto Christ once and for all.

Thus, Paul can refer to even the notoriously sinful Corinthian church as “sanctified in Christ Jesus”. However, there is also the ongoing process of sanctification by which the Spirit conforms us in practice to the holiness we enjoy in our Savior. Romans 6–8 focuses on the process of sanctification. Paul raises the question:  Does the fact that we are not under law but under grace give us license to sin? Paul’s answer is an emphatic: “By no means!” Grace not only liberates us from the law but also has a constraining power unto obedience. According to standard Jewish interpretations of the Old Testament, those who did not have the old covenant law had nothing to hold back their sin, and it is likely that some Jews accused Paul of promoting sinful libertinism by saying that in Christ we are “not under law but under grace”. The Apostle turns their interpretation of the Old Testament on its head, indicating that on the contrary, those in whom sin is excited the most are those who are under law. Grace alone, not more law, gives us the willingness to serve God.


“We are no longer under the law in the sense of being underneath the awesome, weighty burden of the law. We are no longer in the condition of being crushed under the weight of the law, no longer oppressed by its burden of guilt and judgment.” We are no longer under the law as guilty people, for we are righteous in Christ. We are living under grace.


In Christ, Brian

Sunday, September 25, 2016

With all your Mind – Part Two – A Biblical Worldview


Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

dr. Mackie continues, explaining that a "worldview" is the way that people think about the world in which they live. In Romans 12:1-2  the Apostle Paul  says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” What Paul is saying is that worship that pleases God is “informed”; that is, it is offered by Christians who understand who God is, what He has given us through Jesus Christ, and what He asks of us in response. The challenge is to live the pattern of the Kingdom of God and not the pattern of this God-rejecting world system of our sinful flesh desires nature in which we live today! This is what is meant by “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” – Galatians 5:16. The tentacles of our old sin nature are still around constantly tempting our flesh desires. We are to be in the world, but not of the world and here to make a difference for Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God with a biblical worldview. We are “born again” and given a new heart desire as children of God and citizen of Heaven … this is not our home.

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


A worldview is a frame of reference for helping us determine what is going on and what is really real. Some believe that there is no “right” or “wrong”, that deny God or believe that there is no God, who defines “right” and “wrong”, believe that we live, then die and that’s it! This pattern of thinking is being indoctrinated into society today and the children of God must be engage in our culture with the “great commission” of Matthew 28:18-20. As disciples (followers and students of Jesus Christ), when we grow and mature in Christ, we have to learn and unlearn things. We all have had our minds formed by the sinful patterns of this world, so have to unravel and deprogram our worldview by the Word of God and application, as we walk together in the Holy Spirit. It is not just information; its transformation. Light is more powerful when it is focused. Read the holy Scriptures daily, meditate on them day and night,  and let the Scriptures read you.  Discover the biblical applications in your life and develop your God-given gifts to bless your life and the lives of those around you for Christ’s sake. What do you allow into your brain? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”


In Christ, Brian

Saturday, September 24, 2016

With all your Mind – Part One – Meditate on these Things


Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Last Sunday, we were blessed to have guest Preacher Dr. Kirk Mackie, retired pastor of our sister church – Wilshire Community church. Dr.  Mackie pointed out how scientists have tried for decades to simulate our brain function. Yet, it takes 40 minutes of super computer artificial intelligence runtime to replicate one second of human brain thought. How amazing our brain is! It is the most incredible and marvelous thing in the universe. Thought, intricate data knowledge and complex information transfer cannot spontaneously generated, so there is no possible way that the brain could not have evolved by Darwinian Evolution. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and everything that lives and breathes. And God wants us be good stewards of our brain. What do you put into your brain? The brain records and remembers everything you look at, so what images are you putting into it. Are you intentionally eating and drinking the “right” nutritious foods and drinks for your mind and body? Also, are you also putting anything (any smoke, drugs, alcohol, et cetera) that harm your body and brain?   “Meditate on these things.”


Mark 12:28b-30 “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.


The Holy Scriptures say: “Whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy” ... but today, it is the radical, the nutty, the over-the-top, the malicious, and the immoral that seems to be the new normal and it is harming people, our culture and our society as these vices reprogram and rewrite our minds and associated thoughts. How do we love our God with all of our mind? Is what we think and do hindering us in our relationship with God? The whole mess that we live in today began with an idea. Original sin was the idea that God could not be trust; that our heavenly Father is holding back something really good from us. This is the essence of all temptation. That is the devil’s lie, putting doubt about God’s goodness in our mind (Genesis 3). Do you have any devil’s in your life telling you lies about God?

Let's continue my notes on Dr. Mackie's sermon on "Renewing our Minds" on the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Friday, September 23, 2016

My Father's Business – Part 2 – His Children



Michael continues from last post that Jesus' response to his mother Mary was, "Know ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"  These were the first words recorded that Jesus spoke. Mary and Joseph understood the carpentry business. However, his earthly parent's did not understand Jesus' heavenly Father's business. God has called each of His children as His sons and daughters to their Father's business. The Father's business is that we would be His epistles written not with ink but with the spirit of the living God, known and read of all men and women. We who are called of God understand His calling, one step at a time, as we walk in fellowship with Him.  To understand is to grasp the meaning of something. As we answer His call to follow in the Lord's footsteps He will open the eyes of our understanding about the function and the purpose for which we were created.

We do not segment our lives, giving some time to God, some to our business or schooling, while keeping parts to ourselves. The idea is to live all of our lives in the presence of God, under the authority of God, and for the honor and glory of God. That is what the Christian life is all about.” - R.C.Sproul 


Prior to this passage in Luke, Mary had taken the things about the birth of Jesus and "pondered them in her heart." Understanding that I must be about my father's business is both a "flash of insight" and a lifelong revelation as we meditate upon His Word, ponder these things in our hearts, and walk with him one step at a time. We must approach our Heavenly Father with a childlike meekness and humility. When confronted with the confusion of the world, what would Jesus do? Like Jesus, we must be about our father's business.  We have been called to exhort one another in love, to comfort those in need, to build up and edify one another in the household of faith.


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

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Father's Business – Part 1 – Left Behind


Michael asks; What's the worth of your life?  Often people feel that they're not worth much ... For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. However, when we feel our worst, the value God places on our lives is the worth of the priceless payment made by His Son on our behalf. For He who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice in our stead that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.

When we can't see God's plan, we can still trust his heart.  We don't know the path that he's prepared for us... but he does.  The just shall live by faith.  He is our sufficiency.  Our father has in store for us greater things than we can know in this life.  God reveals his plan for our lives one step at a time.  We need to reflect from this point in time to look back and see His hand of blessing over the days and months and years.  As David said, "I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High ...  will remember the works of the Lord:  surely I will remember the wonders of old."

Luke 2:41-52 recounts the story of Jesus at the temple at Jerusalem when he was twelve years old. Mary and Joseph took their son to Jerusalem for the celebration of the feast of the Passover. From Nazareth this would have been a three day journey. The women went before the men in the caravan to Jerusalem. When they were returning home, Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus was not in the caravan. This is like the story of Joshua who watched Moses perform his duties in the tabernacle. When Moses left the tabernacle, Joshua stayed and "tarried in the presence of the Lord." Jesus wanted to spend time in the temple in the presence of God. When Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus wasn't in their party they went back to look for him. Likewise, many people in today's culture, many have turned back to look for Jesus. Question: Does the church shape the culture, or does the culture shape the church?  When the culture shapes the church, the church will be compromised by the doctrines and teachings of the world.

Mary and Joseph finally found Jesus after three days. Jesus was sitting in the presence of the scholars of the temple. He was listening to them and asking questions. All were amazed at the deep questions Jesus asked. He was hungry for a deeper understanding of the scriptures and the things of God. When his parents finally found him, his mother said to him, "Why have you treated us like this?"  



Asking the right questions reveals the heart of a person. Especially, life’s deeper questions as; Where will you go after you die?  Who is Lord of your life?  Have you been “born again” of the Spirit of God? How do you know you'll go to heaven? Until you know that you know that you know, your life will be based on guilt and shame recovery and damage control. There is none good enough in the flesh ...  no not one. God has given us his word so that we will "know that we have eternal life", but not by our efforts … by His. The third beatitude says blessed are the meek. The meek are those who are teachable. The forth beatitude says blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. When God reveals himself, we're like little children in His presence ... all things have become new with the childlike faith of pure believing. Matthew 18:3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Let’s continue Michael’s message on being about our Heavenly Father God’s business on the next post.


In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Compromised and Distracted


This week Michael writes that in the Bible, Jesus tells a parable that starts: A Sower went forth to sow. God has called us to cast seeds. Seeds are the Word of God.  According to Isaiah 55, “So shall my Word be that goeth out of my mouth. It shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in that thing whereunto I sent it.”  Jesus' disciples asked him, "what will be the signs of your second coming?"  According to Matthew 24, it will be like the times of Noah. In those days, there will be laughing and mocking, as when Noah warned the people of the coming flood. The people were so focused on mocking Noah that when the flood came, they didn't know what hit them. Today, we're battling against "cultural Christians" who are shaped more by the secular culture than by the Word of God. There is no man so deep in the dark like the man who thinks he's in the light but he's really in the dark.  When the bar is lowered so far that "surrender to the Lord" is a foreign concept, then it's as if Christians have "lost their salt."  According to Matthew 5:13, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Compromise is to combine the qualities of two different things. "Carnal Christians" have compromised. There is no longer conviction to live according to the standards of Jesus Christ, the word made flesh. Cursed is the man who calls good evil and evil good. God has called his people to holiness: set aside to the purpose intended by the designer. According to Psalm 1, "Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law doth he meditate day and night."


Meditation is the best way to remember the Word of God. Meditation means to chew it over, break it down, and then digest it: as Jeremiah said,  "thy words were found and I did eat them and they were unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." God has empowered us with his spirit and has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness. He has called us to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. To know the voice of God, we must spend time in his Word. We must walk in close proximity with our Lord.

Distraction is the devil's ploy. So many Christians are distracted by the political process. Jesus when he was urged by the crowds to lead them as a political Messiah, said, "I' have other priorities...  I must do the will of him who sent me." Jesus prophesied about those who would follow in his footsteps, "the works that I do shall they do also, and greater works shall they do because I go unto my Father." We are God's plan to change the culture. God did not call us to judge and criticize unbelievers for sinning. Our calling is not to condemn the sinners, but as Jesus said, "let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven." To avoid the distractions of the world, focus on the things of God and the things of the Spirit. How's your soul? How's your marriage? How can you pray for others? How's your walk with the Lord? Pray that God will send men and women into your life to speak into your life. The word of God is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, for instruction in righteousness. Thank God for men and women who love you enough to rebuke, reprove, and correct you.  Correction is to restore to an upright position.


Compromise and distraction turn our hearts away from God and his Word and toward the World. To defeat compromise and distraction, deliberately, intentionally, and purposefully focus on the Word of truth. God did not call us to be influenced by the world but rather to influence the world.  Therefore, set your affections on things above, not on the things of the earth. Repentance is to turn away from the things of the world and to return our hearts to the Lord. Therefore, turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face...and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Beginnings


Mark 1:1-3 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’”

Many lives have been blessed by the “Through the Bible” ministry of Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Though he went to be with the Lord on December 1, 1988, his radio ministry of going through the entire Bible in five years, that started in 1967, continues on that “bible bus trip” today, “putting the cookies down on the lower shelf for the children to get” by explaining the meaning and life application for us today.

For example, in his edited notes, Dr. McGee writes that the Bible passage above is not the beginning of either John or Jesus. It is the beginning of the gospel, when the Lord Jesus came to this earth and died upon a cross and rose again. That is the gospel.

He states that there are three beginnings recorded in Scripture. And he put them down in chronological order. (1) “In the beginning was the Word” – John 1:1.  This goes back to a dateless beginning, a beginning before all time. Here the human mind con only grope. It is logical rather than chronological because in our thinking, we must put our peg in somewhere in the past in order to take off. If we see an airplane in the air, we can assume there is an airport somewhere. We may not know where it ism but we know the plane took off from some place. So when we look around at the universe, we know that it took off from somewhere and that somewhere there is a God. God we don’t know anything about that beginning. God comes out of eternity to meet us. We just have to put down the peg at the point where He does meet us, back as far as we can think, and realize He was there before that.


(2) “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” – Genesis 1:1. This is where we move out of eternity into time. However, although many people have been attempting to date this universe, no man so far knows. Man’s guesses have ranged from six thousand years to three billion year. We know so little, but when we come into His presence and begin to know even as we are known, then we will realize how we saw through a glass darkly. I’m sure we will marvel at our stupidity and our ignorance. God is Almighty. He has plenty of time.

 (3) “The beginning of the gospel …” Mark 1:1 is the same as “That which was from the beginning…” in 1 John 1:1. This is dated. It goes back to Jesus Christ at the precise moment He took upon Himself human flesh. Jesus Christ is the gospel! - V. Vernon McGee

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”


In Christ, Brian