Thursday, January 18, 2018

Somebody's Nobodies

When God does something to make an impact, he always does it with a select few. The battle is not ours, but the Lord’s. God designed it so that victories are ultimately in His hands not ours. Without Him, we are nothing.

1 Corinthians 1:27 "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and to nullify the things of the world so that no man can boast." 

God always works through the “underdogs”. He proved this when He ordinary people, like you and me, to be His disciples. He could have chosen the rich and powerful of this world.  However, He chose a “ragtag” group of nobodies to change the world. God wants to take nobodies to make them into some-bodies. A “nobody” is a person of no influence.  If we're influencers, we influence others not by the world's ways but by allowing God to work in us and through us to will and to do of His good pleasure.  

The world's definition of “success” is those who accomplish great feats of influence and power and accomplishment. They are "gifted" in their own power. Jesus said, "Seeketh thou great things for yourself?  Seek them not." Contrary to the world's standards, God's success code is what John the Baptist said, "I must decrease that he may increase."

The world says, "Those Christians are nobodies, you can forget about them." The Christian church does not consist of those whom the world holds in high esteem. God never chose His men and women to compete with the world on the world's terms.  According to Romans 12, "Be not squeezed into the world's not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." The heart's desire of a person of God is to learn to become just like their master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Christians in America, we've been conditioned to gravitate toward worldliness. The wisdom of this world is earthly sensual and devilishness. However, when the Holy Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost, Christians were “born again” into a supernatural world. When a man or woman comes to the Lord, how do you explain the change in that person's life?  Peter himself had been radically changed on the day of Pentecost. The crowd took notice that he had been with Jesus. He was an unlearned Galilean and spoke not as others with enticing words of man's wisdom, but with the power of God in manifestation.  

In John 6, when Jesus said that you can't follow me unless you partake of my flesh and blood, the crowds decided not to follow him. Jesus said to His disciples, will you also leave me?  Peter answered, "Where else can we go?  You have the words of eternal life."  Jesus said, "Follow me." We do not know the destination ... but we can trust that He knows the way. A fool is a person who is lacking reason and prudence; one without good sense and composure, and one who takes no thought for the consequences of his actions. Everyone is someone's fool. Whose fool are you?

As nobodies, the world thinks that we're nothing. Great Christians are marked by humility. When Mother Theresa was touring Washington, a congressman looking for a photo-op approached her and gave her a million dollar check for her charity "Sisters of Mercy." She said to the man, "Please give this donation to someone who needs it more that we do.  God has always met our needs and he will provide. God works best with nothing."

To change the world, God has called us as "Fools for Christ." He has used the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:  But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”

According to 2 Corinthians 4:7, "For we have this treasure (the Holy Spirit) in an earthen vessel that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us."

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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sins and Salvation – Part 2

Romans 1:21-23 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God.”

Continuing for the last post, I know that in my younger days, I didn’t understand about the wrath of God against sin and sinners. “Fire and Brimstone” sermons were seemingly banished from the pulpits and bible studies of “kinder and gentler” churches decades ago, and the Great American Theologian Jonathon Edwards’ sermon, “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God” (, which sparked “the Great Revival” in America was never mentioned, let alone studied. How long did I and others believe that just about everyone was going to heaven before we were shown in the Word of God that the opposite was the truth? Bible verses from the Lord Jesus himself, like Matthew 7:13-14, John 3:3, 5 & 36, and Revelation 20:15 brought me to the realization that I must have been “living the dream”, because the thought of just about everyone going the heaven was a fantasy … a lie of the devil to deceive us. Sin must be paid for.

Matthew 10:28 “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

 One commentator asks, How does God reveal His wrath? Then points out that we are accustomed to thinking of God’s wrath as the pouring out of his anger in judgment against sin. The Bible does speak of God’s wrath in this way, predicting a final day of the Lord on which the Almighty will bring great destruction on impenitent sinners. However, we should see such descriptions of God’s wrath as the ultimate fulfillment of our Creator’s judgment against sin and sinners. That is because god is now showing His wrath in the lead up to that final day. He does so by handing sinners over to their sin  ...  gave them up and gave them over.

Romans 1:24-25, 28-32 “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

I read that it is important to note that God does not give people who are unwilling to sin over to sin. His judgment, at least this side of eternity, is to give sinners exactly what they want in preparation for the final Day of Judgment. And this is manifestly just, for sinners not only sin, but they take the extra step if justifying their sin and the sin of others. In our day, we see people agitation in the streets for the freedom to sin in the eyes of the Lord how they want without any consequences. If there are to be any consequences, they would be against anyone who dares to object against their sinful thoughts, words and deeds. They approve of sin – calling evil good and good evil – and they encourage others to do so as well. This evidences God’s giving them over to their sin in His wrath.

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

But all hope is not lost. God still rescues people who have been handed over to sin, and we should pray that He would do so for people who are reveling in their transgressions, no matter what their transgression may be. Sin is a universal condition. All need saved, but as my old mentor used to say: You don't really know where you have been "saved to", until you know where you have been "saved from".

Romans 3:21-26 “ But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Blessings in Christ.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Sins and Salvation – Part 1

Romans 1:32 “Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

I have always taken great interest in the doctrine of justification by faith alone – “sola fide”. Not being raised in the Christian church, I believed in God but had the misconception that by being good I would go to heaven. I had no means by which I could be explained why justification is necessary in the first place. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “justification” as: the 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. The word “righteous” is defined as: Just; accordant to the divine law. Applied to persons, it denotes one who is holy in heart, and observant of the divine commands in practice; as a righteous man. The reason we need to de declared righteous before God in the gospel is because we are unrighteous in our sin before him without it. As my old mentor Bill Stiles told me, “The default is Hell.” How many do not know that it is a life or dearth matter?

Romans 1:18-19 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”

Definition of terms is so important in our understanding and life application. I grew up never knowing what “sin” really was. It was clearly defined in that 1828 Webster’s dictionary, but not discovered until I heard about it on the Coral Ridge hour one Sunday. Sin is defined as: The voluntary departure of a moral agent from a known rule of rectitude or duty, prescribed by God; any voluntary transgression of the divine law, or violation of a divine command; a wicked act; iniquity. Sin is either a positive act in which a known divine law is violated, or it is the voluntary neglect to obey a positive divine command, or a rule of duty clearly implied in such command. Sin comprehends not action only, but neglect of known duty, all evil thoughts purposes, words and desires, whatever is contrary to God's commands or law. Sinners neither enjoy the pleasures of nor the peace of piety. Among divines, sin is original or actual. 

Actual sin, above defined, is the act of a moral agent in violating a known rule of duty. Original sin, as generally understood, is native depravity of heart to the divine will, that corruption of nature of deterioration of the moral character of man, which is supposed to be the effect of Adam's apostasy; and which manifests itself in moral agents by positive act of disobedience to the divine will, or by the voluntary neglect to comply with the express commands of God, which require that we should love God with all the heart and soul and strength and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves. This native depravity or alienation of affections from God and his law, is supposed to be what the apostle calls the carnal mind or mindedness, which is enmity against God, and is therefore denominated sin or sinfulness. 

Unpardonable sin, or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, is supposed to be a malicious and obstinate rejection of Christ and the gospel plan of salvation, or a contemptuous resistance made to the influences and convictions of the Holy Spirit. Sin differs from crime, not in nature, but in application. That which is a crime against society, is sin against God. Sin is serious business. Why do we take it lightly? God doesn't take it lightly.

Let’s continue this vital message on Sin and Salvation in our next post.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Blessed Reviled

Matthew 5:11-13 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

We finish up this short study of the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus Christ found in Matthew chapter five. Looking up the word “revile” in the Strong’s Dictionary of Bible words, we find that the Greek word is “Oneidizo”, which translates as “rail at, chide, or taunt and signifies in the active voice to reproach or upbraid. Oneidízō (from a primitive root meaning "to upbraid, revile, like in showing one's teeth,") – properly, to disgrace (insult), reproach; mock (curse); insult, cast blame (create shame). The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “revile” as: To reproach; to treat with opprobrious and contemptuous language - contumely. 

Reverend Don Friederichsen explains that man’s contention with Christianity and the ministry thereof is not ultimately with Christians, but with Jesus Christ. The Lord tells us in this final beatitude that while being reviled is a difficult part of the faithful life, it is also reason for great rejoicing. It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when” contention will take place. We will be reviled and persecuted by the God-rejecting world system. We will have all manner of evil falsehoods spoken against us. We will be verbally assaulted, physically accused, and defamed on account of Christ. In it, we can feel a light joy because in a very small way we are able to rejoice in suffering on account of the One who suffered for us.

John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Rev. Friederichsen makes the point that being reviled, persecuted, or falsely accused may not seem avenues for blessing, but there are at least three reasons to rejoice when it comes upon us. (1) If we are reviled on account of Christ, then rejoice because it is a sign that we are in Christ. (2) Rejoice because faithfully enduring persecution for the sake of Christ gives us reason to be counted among the heroes of the faith and the whole company of saints who have gone before us. (3) We can rejoice because in being reviled we are promised a great reward in heaven. While Christians may experience some blessings of God’s grace in this life, we are ultimately told to look to heaven for our reward.

Romans 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

The late Theologian Dr. RC Sproul stated that for the Christian to resist the seduction of this world, he must risk going against the tide. He must be willing to risk the loss of human approval to gain God’s approval. Hence, Jesus said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” The key words in this beatitude are “for My sake.” The nonconformity we are called to is not simply nonconformity for nonconformity’s sake. Anyone can call attention to himself or herself by being a maverick. It is the “for My sake” that separates cheap nonconformity from the genuine article. There is no virtue in being “out of it” indiscriminately. Our nonconformity must be selective. It must be at the points that matter.

Matthew 5:44-45 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

We can rejoice because the reviling of man becomes the praise of Christ. Dishonor becomes glory. Reproach becomes blessing.

Blessings in Christ.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Great and Hidden Things

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

Last Sunday, Pastor Kyle stated that this Bible verse would be the theme for 2018 at our church. That we should focus on these words of Scripture intentionally and devote our lives to calling to the Lord. Relationships take work and staying in love requires a conscience effort in rediscovering love all over again. The purpose of the Christian church never changes, but methods of ministering can change with the times to reach the day and age effectively for the Lord. Approximately 90% of the Christian life is repeating the holy Word, Will and Way of God, living it out in obedience. The other 10% of the Christian life is lived out in spiritual growth and discovery.   

Matthew 28:19 “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.”

The number one purpose of the Christian church is to “GO”. The “Great Commission” given to us by the Lord Jesus was not the “Great Suggestion”. Evangelism outreach is the duty of the body of Christ. In making disciples, we are advancing the kingdom of heaven and reducing the population of hell.

Deuteronomy 4:29 “ But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Kyle gave us some important things to keep in mind during seasons of discovery. First, rediscover Jesus’ love. Second, uncover new directions. Thirdly, recover new methods to minister to others. But, all three must always be going towards the church’s purpose and goal. Always keeping in mind that heaven is the destination. Think of seasons of discovering God’s great and hidden things in terms of mid-course adjustments rather than reinventing the wheel. Discovery includes reassessment of our life and direction to match our Christian growth and aligning our direction with the Lord’s.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

The journey is more enjoyable (and a lot more fruitful) when we do it together. God is excited to share our life discoveries. The Lord gives us the spiritual purpose of life ahead of time within the holy Word of God - the Bible. To know where we fit in God’s bigger picture puzzle means “accountability” to our position and purpose as “kingdom workers” in this world. We need to make ourselves available to really important things, like our spiritual life. We need to share what God has done, is doing and telling us to do, as we reach family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances for Christ.

There is a process that God is doing and we need to discover it for our life. The process is the reward. We go through this journey of life on earth committed to the process, to see what God is going to do. And, we must be committed to whatever God asks us to do. We call to God and trust Him to answer and speak to us of great and mighty things, which you do not know.  In doing so, in faith, hope and love, we make an impact in this world for the glory of God

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake

Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Continuing in a short study of the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5, associate professor Michael Glodo explains that the suffering that is blessed here is being persecuted for doing the will of our Master. To embrace the promise of this beatitude, the persecution must be for doing His righteous will. Jesus’ phase, synonymous with the “kingdom of God”, is his way of reminding us that God’s righteous rule is not man’s way in this fallen world. Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake are living out God’s way in the midst of a secular world that does not respect, will ridicule, display dismissiveness, exhibit marginalization, demonstrate exclusion, and will even reject them.

2 Timothy 1:7-10 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

Proclaiming the gospel is not “good news” for those conformable in their sin because the Word of God exposes the sinfulness and convicts the sinner. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus tells Believers: “You are the salt of the earth.” The late pastor D. James Kennedy explains that salt is a preservative that leads to purity, decency and morality, but stands against sin’s corruption, pollution and decay. This same salt of gospel truth also stings when rubbed into the open wound of sin. In a humanistic society that is filled with such wounds, bruises and putrefying sores of transgression, unregenerate hearts so not welcome the salt of the gospel. In fact, they are positively offended by it. But, that goes with the territory of being a follower of Jesus Christ. The goal of the gospel of Jesus Christ (that we are lost and hopeless until we find Jesus Christ as Savior of our souls) is not intended to rub the sinner the wrong way, but to get the sinner to turn around; to repent, be redeemed, forgiven and saved ... advancing the kingdom of heaven and decreasing the population of Hell. When the Bible brings deep conviction to the heart, repentance must follow. This salt of the gospel purifies, cures and heals the wounds of sin. But, this salt also seasons our live by giving zest, tang and flavor, while at the same time making you thirsty for the Word of God in Holy Scripture, within the pages of the Bible for the abundant life to the full that God intended for us.  

1 Peter 5:8-11 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 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. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Rev. Glodo asserts that Christ’s blessing here helps the disciplined, dedicated and devout disciple in several ways. (1) When we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, we can remain resolute that the kingdom of heaven is ours. (2) It is the source of our joy because in it we are identified with our Lord. (3) It is a signpost guiding us along the path of Jesus through this fallen world. (4) It invites us to take inventory of our Christian life and witness. Lastly, (5) Persecution testifies to our faith in and union with Christ. Union with Christ means a share in all things that are Christ’s, including the rejection, reviling, and the persecution that was His. For if we have a share in Him, ours truly is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessings in Christ

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Peacemakers

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

I remember early in my faith, this specific Beatitude made a great impact in my life. Continuing in this short Bible study of the Beatitudes by Jesus Christ on the Mount of Olives from the book of Matthew in the fifth chapter, Dirk Naves states that most of us want peace, but very few of us are willing to make it. It is easy for us to breeze through the Beatitudes and mistake peacemaking for a passive quality, one possessed by people who mind their own business. Their virtue is found primarily in avoiding conflict. But that is certainly not Jesus’ intended teaching. A peacemaker does not avoid conflict. A peacemaker engages conflict – not to inflame it, but to resolve it. A peacemaker is one whose posture is primarily active, relentless, in the pursuit of justice, harmony, repentance, and reconciliation. Peace is not when “nothing is happening”; it is when the Lord is happening. Most basically, peacemakers are those who proclaim and apply the gospel in evangelism and in conflict resolution.

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Naves explains that the peacemaking envisioned and embodied by Christ, the supreme peacemaker, has two orientations: towards God and towards our fellow man, and the citizens of Christ’s kingdom are called to labor with both aims before them. To find success in this endeavor, we must operate from a place of personal peace and reconciliation with God. Pastor Louie Giglio states that this personal reconciliation is centered upon the gospel truth of the Cross.

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In the giving of Jesus Christ as an atoning death on the cross, in our place, for our sins, we experience God’s love and grace towards us in unmerited forgiveness and redemption by faith alone. Hebrews 6:19 tells us: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.” In the finished redemptive work by the Son of God, the blessed Savior Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, on the Cross at Calvary where the sins of the world were laid and paid, do we stand and build on the rock solid foundation and anchor of our soul in the love, joy and peace of our salvation.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Naves points out that Jesus indeed warned that His truth would bring strife, but the heart of His mission was peacemaking. If we have found peace with God, the pursuit of peace with and for others should be a central aim of ours as well. Peace can only flourish where there is deep, transforming change within hearts. This is not work that accomplished in our own strength. Grace is what is needed. Rooted firmly in the peace made by Christ, today’s peacemakers must look to His life as a model.

Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

His peacemaking led Him to a cross. It also led Him to a crown, a throne, and a people from every tribe, tongue and nation. This is the lot of peacemakers for they are called sons of God.

Blessed in Christ