Saturday, September 23, 2017

Stand Fast

Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.”

Several adjectives precede the command contained in this text. Not only does Paul twice use “beloved” to describe his relationship with the Philippians, but he also insists that he longs for them and anticipates joy at the recognition of the “crown” he will receive in heaven. One commentary emphasizes how these are intense words.  “Agapetos” is the descriptive Greek term translated “dearly beloved.” The Heavenly Father uses “agapetos” to express His love for His “beloved Son” in Matthew 3:17. Most of the New Testament letters freely use “agapetos” to describe various personal relationships with their brothers and sisters in Christ. That unique and deeply spiritual love is what demonstrates our difference to the unsaved.

John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1 Thessalonians 2:19 “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?”

 Philippians 1:27b “Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.’

1 Corinthians 16:13 “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.”

Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

1 Thessalonians 3:8 “For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.”

Friday, September 22, 2017

Creek Beds for Living Water

1 Kings 17:2-7 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

I read a interesting metaphor by Dr. McGee concerning this passage in 1 Kings today that I’d like to share with you today. Elijah is in the wilderness, and he goes to the brook every morning for water and notices that it is going down a little bit more each day. By that, he could figure out how many days it would be before it dried up completely.

When Elijah looked at that little brook, which was getting smaller and smaller, he learned a spiritual lesson. He saw that his life was a dried up brook. He was nothing … he was just a empty creek bed, a channel through which “living water” could flow.

John 4:13-14 “Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

We are an empty brook and a dry creek bed, and do not have any water of life. It is only as the water of life, the holy Word of God, flows through us that we can be a channel of blessing.
 God was telling Elijah, “You are not a big, strong, rugged individual/ You are no stronger or better than that dried-up brook. You will have no strength until the water of life flows through you.” And the lesson is that you and I, today, are just dried up creek beds unless the Word of God is flowing through us. May a fountain of “living” water springing up into everlasting life to flow in, through, and from us always and forever as creek beds full to the banks.

Praise be to God.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Do the Hard Things First

Psalm 1:1-2 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

A couple Sunday’s ago, Pastor Kyle started a new sermon series on three ideas to grow and improve in life. He stated that milestone in life are important. We celebrate achievements and victories along our life’s journey because looking back helps us realize just how far we have come, and articulates what God has been doing in our lives. Sometimes. Its hard to picture and know where we are going, until we pause and take a good look back at where we have been. It’s a “stake in the ground” and a “point on a map” to help us clearly see where the Lord has taken us on this walk, this side of glory. The first big idea to grow and improve in life is “do the heard things first”.

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”

We cannot see or know the future, but we can take the next step in the light that we’ve been given with confidence, because we know how faithful God has always been and continues to be. In Matthew 6:32-34, Jesus said, “These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” We saw a decal in a car window that said “No Bad Days”. With hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, terrorists, radicals, drug cartels, crime and disease in the world today, that’s unrealistic dreaming. Jesus realistically told us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Our life is powerful, but the Word of God is our Foundation. It's about His peace in the storms of life.

Almost all of us have or have had coaches in our life. They evaluate our personalities, our gifts and our talents, and are not afraid to tell us what we do not want to hear about ourselves. But, we know that it is their heart’s desire to propel us to the next level of knowledge, mind-set, confidence and skill in order to grow, mature and perform at our top potential. They identify, point out and correct areas of our functional operation and presentation for improvement and highest potential for prosperous achievements, because they truly believe in you and love you, so they encourage you along your path to success, which include philosophical and working principles for life and living to always do your best and nothing less. Tackle the things on your list that you wish would just go away. Do not stress out. Do not over-think and over-talk problems, or worry and fret about them; tackle them. Do not be stalled by them; do something about them. Do not put things off either, because they will still be there. Worship and work on them before they become a problem pattern in your life.

Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

God desires to be in the position of our mental, physical and spiritual authority; not over our leftovers or fitting into our busy schedule. Christianity is not a spend a little time, check off and move on situation. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” We are in covenant relationship with the Lord and there are expectations with that covenant relationship. Do what the Word of God says, living a life of worship and obedience continuously. Give God your best, service the Lord. It is not about time the that you do; its about doing your best when you do – making God the priority in your life.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Perfected - Part 2

God allows suffering for his purpose.  Suffering is necessary to bring us to the place that we need to be...  humbled before our Lord.  “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” - 1 Peter 5:10. Our God is a God of grace.  He is the only God that is gracious.  The gods of other religions are gods of vengeance and retribution.  Our God loves to do good to those who don't deserve it. Because of His grace He called us to His eternal glory. We who have humbled our hearts before Him are the ones who have been saved by his grace. When we humbled ourselves, He opened our ears and eyes so that we could understand ... so that we can know that we know that we are His and that He is ours. Suffering is necessary to go where he wants us to go.  He wants to strengthen, perfect, establish, and settle us. The requirement is that we "humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God." To perfect means to mend, to reconcile, to make whole and to heal. Without our Lord, there is something missing in our lives. God is always a God of plan and purpose. Through the trials and perfecting, He will reveal His purpose and teach us the meaning of his character.  

Hebrews 12 is about discipline. Our father who loves us disciplines us.  Although it hurts, chastening produces within us a quiet growth in grace and character. Some of us know how to be an All-Star and to bask in the limelight of worldly accomplishments. However, we need to learn what it means to sit on the bench and pull for the other guy.  During these times, Almighty God is building his character in us. God's character is learned, not in the limelight, but by sitting on the bench and swallowing our pride. Only on the bench can we learn to cheer and prefer others ahead of ourselves. Our question is, "Lord, what are you trying to perfect in me through this trial?" Through chastening and chastisement, the character that He is building within us is humility, self control, meekness and the love of God.  

God wants to perfect us and to "establish" us. He wants to make us as solid as granite.  Suffering will accomplish one of two things: either it will make a person collapse, or it will solidify them to stand before a loving God. Through the trial God will strengthen us as steel forged and tempered through the fiery furnace. Casual Christians become casualties in the spiritual battle. When we stop working out and preparing for the battle, we will slide into complacency.  Perseverance and persistence through trial produces character. God says, "have I not comforted you in affliction?  Have I not always brought you through the trial?  I will bring you through the fiery trial and the furnace of pain that you may be strengthened and tempered.  Therefore rest fast in my love...I have you in my own intensive care.  I want you to go through trials with a singing spirit.  Be a beacon light ... My glory will shine through you and the glory of Jesus Christ will be revealed in you."

God wants to settle us.  He will lay a foundation in our lives that cannot be shaken.  When we're shaken, He will shake out the things in this life that don't really matter. The shaking of life will make us understand our true foundation. Our true foundation is Jesus Christ himself, the cornerstone upon which our life is founded. The lessons of life will teach us to be established, strengthened, comforted and settled.  God is a God of grace who will humble us under his mighty hand so that he can lift us that he can exalt us in due time to his honor and glory.

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Perfected - Part 1

This week, Michael writes: An important theme of 1 Peter 5:5-11 is in verse 10: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” The context of this verse starts in verse 5: Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

God is a God of grace and wants to lift us up. The requirement is that we humble ourselves ... that we be clothed with humility. The story of Job is a story of humility. Job suffered and never knew the reason why. However, he never stopped believing God, even in the midst of tribulation, distress, pain, and suffering.  Throughout his painful ordeal, Job's confession was, "the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord." Our sinful nature has been propagated ever since Adam's original sin. Because of our sin nature, we'll be pushed to the limit of our earthly nature.  At such times, our prayer will be like Jehoshaphat’s, "We have no plan and we don't know what's going on, but Lord our eyes are upon you."  This is a foxhole prayer that God will honor when we acknowledge that we are powerless.

1 Peter 5:6-8 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour:”

Trials will show us what we're really made of. We all have adversaries. To understand our true enemy, we must first humble ourselves. Our resentment bank will keep us from humbling ourselves. Our fallen nature wants to get revenge. It thinks that justice means seeking "just retribution." However, God says that we must humble ourselves to stand in His power and not our own. The key to resisting the devil is to stand firm in the faith.  According to 1 Corinthians 13, the love of God beareth all things, hopeth all things, and endureth all things. Everyone needs God's help.  Tribulation in this world is designed by God so that we can understand that we can' make it on our own...that we are powerless in our own strength.

1 Peter 5:9 “Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

Let's continue Michael's message on "Perfected" in tomorrow's post.
In Christ, Brian

Monday, September 18, 2017

Jesus Was Baptized Too – Part 2

 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Continuing Pastor Herk's message on baptism: To be baptized with us, Jesus was baptized for us. To be our Savior, Christ had to take on our sins, and by His blood, baptized "washed clean" sinners back to God. John baptized for the forgiveness of sins; Jesus Christ was the forgiveness of our sins. Being our Savior was confirmed by the Holy Spirit descending upon Him like a dove after His baptism. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5:9, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” He also explains in Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” When we pay with less than our best, then we harbor pride, arrogance, lust, greed, thievery, dishonesty and hate in thought, word and deed. Christ Jesus, God incarnate (God was skin on), born of the virgin Mary, was tempted as we all are, but rejected all sinful temptations. So, was Jesus’ baptism by John only a symbolic gesture? Is there any real power in baptism? Are sins truly forgiven? John said in Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” John the Baptist shined the light on Jesus, the true Savior of the world.

 Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

After Jesus’ death for the sins of the world and His resurrection conquering death, He sent the Holy Spirit to baptize sinners and regenerate their spirit in his holy name. Baptizing in Christ is the transforming and sealing unto eternal life work of the Holy Spirit, who indwells the Believer by “saving” faith. In baptism we die to sin and are raised unto salvation as a new creation, born again of the Spirit. It is a baptism by fire because the old sin nature is burned up unto life in and living for Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, who gathers, guides and guards His flock of Believers. We are always doing the work of our heavenly Father in pointing sinners to God at the foot of the cross in repentance for their sins unto salvation. Jesus is our substitute on that cross in Calvary to pay our sin debt and forgiveness. It was foretold by the Prophet in Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Jesus came to fulfill all righteous of this prophesy and heal our sin-sick condition unto eternal life.

 Mark 16:15-16 He (Jesus)said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

The act of Baptism is an outward confirmation of our inward commitment, therefore, see Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, your Blessed Redeemer, and the loving Lord of your life. And remember, Jesus was baptized too!

Child of God, you are in Christ.

Blessings, Pastor Herk

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jesus Was Baptized Too - Part 1

Galatians 3:26-27 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

This last Sunday, I was up at Bass Lake helping and encouraging my dad as he underwent a successful heart valve replacement procedure. My visits always afford me the honor of attending his congregations Sunday Worship service, and this time a special church outdoor service with a picnic lunch following. As always, Pastor Herk preached, and because there was a special subsequent baptism ceremony, the title of his Sermon was: “Jesus was baptized too”.
We have a tendency to say the “right’ things at the “wrong” time. The old saying goes, (wait for it) “timing is everything”. John the Baptist was the “right” prophet at the “right” time to preach the “good news” of the Savior of the world - Jesus Christ. John baptized thousands of people and the Lord Jesus came to him to be baptized too. Matthew 3:14-15 explains to us that John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. Acts 19:4 tells us that, Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” But, why did sinless Jesus need to be baptized? He was baptized as a sinner in order to be our Savior. Jesus was baptized too, and this was the turning point of history. Redemption begins.

Romans 6:4 “We were therefore buried with him (Jesus) through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “baptize” as: To administer the sacrament of baptism to; to christen. By some denominations of Christians, baptism is performed by plunging, or immersing the whole body in water, and this is done to none but adults. More generally the ceremony is performed by sprinkling water on the face of a person, whether an infant or an adult, and in the case of an infant, by giving him a name, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which is called Christening. This is based upon Matthew 28:18-20’s great commission, when Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We are baptized into Jesus’ baptism. But we may wonder, if Jesus needed to be baptized, are we worth to be baptized? We ask because when we look into the mirror, we see our sinful, helpless, pitiful condition before Almighty God. 

Let's continue Pastor Herk's message on "Baptism" in the next post.
In Christ, Brian