Monday, November 20, 2017

Show Me Jesus - Part 2

Pastor Kyle explained two clear lessons about God from the church in Thyatira. (1) God recognizes our progress, no matter how small it may be. The Lord acknowledges when we are doing “right”; knows when we are working hard on our life, aligned with His perfect Word, Will and Way. (2) God is sickened by half-hearted Christianity. There are no half-hearted versions of Christianity. The person who tells people what they want to hear becomes popular, even if they are wrong. The fact is that it is better to be “wrong” with the people and “right” with God, than it is to be “wrong” with God and “right” with the people. But make no mistake, we all are being distracted, enticed and tempted into sinful desires of the flesh and damning behavior still today. Galatians 5:16-17 tells us, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” The light of true Christianity cannot mix with the sinful thoughts, words and deeds of darkness, yet they are taught. The sovereign Maker of heaven and earth, who has purer eyes than to see “evil” and cannot look at “wrong” shall not bless such mixing, which is spiritual adultery against Him.

Romans 1:24-32 “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 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.”

Many sinful practices are the false teachings of the deep things of Satan, believing that Creator Father God is holding out on and keeping “good things” from us, which was the original lie of the devil that lead to original sin (doubting God) in the Garden of Eden. The quest for hidden secrets of God or hidden knowledge that our Maker is keeping from us is a cheap trick and lies from the enemy, the father of lies, who comes to steal, kill and destroy. Don’t fall for the deceiver and accuser, who distracts and derails us with lies that create distrust and sickens our loving Father God.

Proverbs 12:15a “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.”

Our sinful culture says: “I decide what is good and right for me”, putting God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in an imaginary box, places them (they do not really know) on a shelf in the closet of their mind and shuts the door ... in the attempt of silencing what they do not want to hear. God’s holiness cannot co-exist in the presence of sin. He knows the truth and the true love, joy and peace that “the lost” are missing. 

Jeremiah 4:22 says, “For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding. They are ‘wise’—in doing evil! But how to do good they know not.” 

Let's conclude Pastor Kyle's message from the church in Thyatira on the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Show Me Jesus – Part 1

Revelation 2:18-23 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.”

This last week, Pastor Kyle continued in our Sunday Sermon series on the “Seven Churches of Revelation”. He stated the obvious, that we live in a “fallen” in sin, sick, chaotic and fearful world today, which needs Jesus Christ. But, our Creator father God does not want us to live in fear. Satan wants us to live in fear. It is impossible to mingle light and darkness, likewise it is deadly to mingle Christianity with sinful pagan practices.

Isaiah 9:2, Acts 26:18 “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. To open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me (Jesus).”

Jesus, in his “high priestly prayer” in John 17:15, prayed to Father God: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” The reason being that the child of God shows Jesus to the society and culture in which they live  and have a sphere of influence within; picking up and carrying the torch of “the light of Christ” to a lost and dying world to point the way to the “foot of the cross” for forgiveness and salvation, shining the light and sparking a flame in their heart for the Holy Spirit, who is working and preparing. The Lord’s message starts with His authority, then encouragement, moves to admonishment, then ends by challenging us, as the method of reaching people. The Lord’s church is exactly where He wants it to be in society and the culture, like a city on a hill. Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Revelation 2:24-29 “But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Let's continue Pastor Kyle's message on our next post.
In Christ, Brian

Saturday, November 18, 2017

God’s Will Hunting

1 Thessalonians 4:3 “This is the will of God, your sanctification”

Seeking God’s holy will in our lives and the specific details daily is a priority of every child of God. How to go about it hunting for and finding it is a virtuous and rewarding pursuit. I read that though Paul was an Apostle, he did not have automatic insight into all of the plans of God and His will in each specific situation. Life presents us with many opportunities for trying to discern God’s will for us. We face many situations in which we must make a choice between two good options, and we are unsure which one is what the Lord has willed for us. This is especially difficult when neither option seems to be more advantageous than the other. At such times, we often ask God to intervene in a special way to show us the way forward. Most of us, of course, can think of times when the Lord seemed to give us special aid. One of the good opportunities might inexplicably vanish. Maybe we get an unexpected phone call from a friend and the conversation turns out to have bearing on the matter even if we never mention it. Still, even though such things may happen, they are extraordinary. The Lord does not ordinarily guide our decision-making in such ways. We need to know how to make God-pleasing decisions when no special providence is forthcoming, and we need to know how to distinguish what seems to be providential direction from our own imagination.

The first place to turn when we must make a choice is our Creator’s wisdom in Scripture. His Word says that above all, His will for us is our sanctification. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “Sanctification” 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.

Thus, anything that works against our personal holiness is to be rejected. If we are fretting about God’s will for us in a particular situation and one of the options available is ungodly, we may fret no longer. We are never allowed to disobey our Creator’s revealed standards, and if one of our options would require us to do that, we must immediately choose otherwise. The Lord’s will for us is our sanctification, so we must study Scripture diligently in order to know His will and to understand what the holiness He demands looks like.

Blessings in God’s Will

Friday, November 17, 2017

The God of Peace

Romans 15:33 “May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

Here is a little thought to ponder today on "Peace".

The Apostle Paul had a plan to visit Rome after his church-planting mission in the eastern part of the Roman Empire was finished. This announcement of his plan, of course, follows Paul’s exposition of the gospel and its consequences for the life of the believer. Having communicated all the doctrine and personal information he wanted to communicate to the Roman Christians, Paul writes a concluding wish for peace to finish his epistle. This concluding wish is not actually the end of his letter. He adds an entire chapter of greetings and a doxology, but this passage (above) does mark a significant break. Paul has explained all that he has needed to explain with respect to doctrine, ethics, and his plans, so it is fitting to conclude his message with a hearty “amen.”

We would miss much, however, if we were simply to move on immediately from Paul’s
statement. In light of what the Apostle has said elsewhere in Romans and what the rest of the Bible teaches us, the little phrase “God of peace” carries great significance. In context, Paul likely intends his statement to mean, primarily, “the God who gives peace.” Almost everything the Apostle says in the section of his letter leading up to Romans 15:33 involves Jew-Gentile relations, and elsewhere in his writings he speaks of Jesus—who is God Himself—as our peace, the one who unites Jew and Gentile together in harmony. He is the God of peace because He makes peace between Jews and Gentiles in the church.

Revelation 14:6-7 “Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Let us not forget that peace between Jews and Gentiles is meaningless if Jews and Gentiles are not at peace with God. When mankind fell and the relationship between Creator and creature became characterized by war, men and women were set not only against the Lord but also against each other. Thus, in early human history, Adam attempted to blame Eve for his sin and Cain murdered Abel. Relationships between people that are fully characterized by the biblical notion of peace - wholeness, harmony, and the other blessings of the world to come - are impossible until such peace is established between God and His people. Only when we are at peace with God can we truly make peace with others. In Christ, we are at peace with the Lord, and this is the peace that God Himself provided by sparing not His Son in order to save us. He is the God of peace because in Christ He makes peace between Himself and us.

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

Many well-meaning people seek world peace, but as Christians, we know that this will not be possible until all the world is at peace with God. The only way to bring about lasting peace between people and nations is to proclaim the gospel. As this happens, the truly “born-again” and transformed Christian will repent and believe in Jesus, and once at peace with God in Christ, they will begin to seek peace where they are. Let us pray for peace and preach the gospel so as to be instruments of God’s peace.

The peace of God in Christ, Amen

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Choose Joy – Part 2

1 Peter 4:12-14 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

Michael continues: Suffering is a gift from God for those who want to glorify their Lord Jesus Christ. The greatest witness is when we have peace despite suffering.  We have been called, not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His name.  They cause us to turn your heart to God. In times of tribulation, as the Apostle Paul said, "to you O Lord I lift up my soul.  O God I trust in you. Let me not be ashamed." We want to glorify the name of the Lord despite the pain of this world.  

It's difficult to endure crucify the “old man” of the flesh by living according to nature of the resurrected Christ in us. Our calling is to point others to Jesus by the way we respond to adversity. God warns us that we will become what we focus on. If we focus on resentment and hatred for the pain that others have inflicted, we will poison our own hearts. However, the love of God is not burdened by bitterness and resentment.  Through our suffering, then we can identify with Him.  As Paul said, "that I may know him and the fellowship of his suffering." 

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

The calling of God is to mold us and shape us after His will. Either we deliberately choose to let God help himself to our lives, or the devil will have his way with us. When we choose to walk according to the Spirit of life in Christ, the Holy Spirit will check us in our thoughts and actions. His spirit will admonish us to seek the Lord and not the comfort of our own flesh. He will call us to a more worthy endeavor ... to let go and let God. The heart of a disciple says, "Show me your ways O Lord.  Lead me to your paths.  On you I wait all the day long.  For thou art the God of my salvation.  That I may live for thy honor and glory.  O Lord, remember your tender mercy and loving kindness...Remember me for your goodness sake."

Hebrews 9:27 says that it is appointed for all men once to die. And then comes the judgment. Christians will be judged righteous because of the righteous payment Jesus made on the cross for sin on our behalf. By His wounds we were healed. God gives us an open invitation to surrender our lives to Him. He will teach us through trials abandon self and to turn to Him. The question is not whether we will suffer.  Suffering is inevitable. We can choose to understand suffering as a gift to prove that joy is not the absence of pain. Rather, that true joy is to walk in His presence. For thy grace is made perfect in my weakness. Thy grace is sufficient for me.

May God richly bless you!

Your brother in Christ, Michael

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Choose Joy – Part 1

This week, Michael writes: Joy and rejoicing are a choice. Joy is not the absence of pain. Rather, it is the presence of God. The challenge is to focus on the Lord and the things of the Spirit of life in Christ. Our calling is to be a disciplined follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. God gives us trials and allows tribulation in our lives so that we can understand that our joy is not in this world, but only in Him. Happiness doesn't impress God. However, when we are joyful despite trials and tribulations, then we can rejoice because His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Life is hard.  We live in a fallen world, but there is peace in the storms of life for the Christian.  In John 16:29-33 Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”  “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. “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.”

Job said, "Man is destined for trouble like the sparks flying upward." According to Jeremiah, The heart of man is desperately wicked. The Holy Scriptures say not to be surprised when we have to endure suffering. Christians throughout history have been the victims of persecution ever since Jesus' Ascension. Jesus said, "Blessed are they when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake for great is your reward in heaven."  

Holiness means to separate according to the purpose for which God has designed us. 
The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “holiness” as: the state of being holy; purity or integrity of moral character; freedom from sin; sanctity. Applied to the Supreme Being – Creator God, holiness denotes perfect purity or integrity of moral character, one of his essential attributes. Applied to human beings, holiness is purity of heart or dispositions; sanctified affections; piety; moral goodness, but not perfect. Sacredness; the state of anything hallowed, or consecrated to God or to his worship; applied to churches or temples. We were never meant for the world's design. Our responsibility is to have an affinity, not for the things of this world, but for the things of heaven ... the things of the Spirit of God, in Christ, in us.
Let’s continue Michael‘s message on Christian joy in the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Joy and Peace, Abounding in Hope

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

What a great little article I came across the other day on “hope”. May it bless you with the joy and peace of the Lord.

Jesus brought hope to the Gentiles, taking people who had no hope of salvation because they were outside the covenants of promise with Israel and redeeming them, giving them a secure, everlasting hope of abundant life in the presence of God and eternal life in Heaven. In so doing, Christ also confirmed hope for the Jews, fulfilling the Lord’s promises to make the family of Abraham the source of blessing for the world because He, as Abraham’s seed, provides for the salvation of people from every tribe and tongue. This theme of hope is prevalent in Romans 15:8–12, as Paul establishes this teaching and then quotes extensively from the Old Testament to support his instruction. We find even more reasons to rest in the hope of salvation when we read these prophecies from Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Isaiah, and their fulfillment in Christ through His ministry to bring Gentiles into the kingdom of God. Jesus accomplished what was prophesied centuries beforehand, so we can trust the Lord who revealed to the prophets what was to come regarding the work of His Son. We can trust that He is able to save as He has promised.

This theme of hope prompts Paul to move once more into a prayer-exhortation in today’s passage. He asks “the God of hope”—the Creator who is the source and guarantor of the hope of redemption—to fill us with “joy and peace in believing.” The twin virtues of joy and peace accompany true faith in Christ. Of course, because of our remaining sin, there will be times when we do not feel joyful or peaceful. At such times, we must remember that the reality of the peace and joy that we enjoy in Christ does not depend on our subjective experience. If we are in Christ by faith alone, then we are at peace with God and not under His wrath, and the joy of salvation, even when temporarily obscured, is not destroyed. Heaven rejoices that we have come home, and the objective joy of kingdom citizenship sustains us in the night until we find joy again in the morning.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

God’s kingdom consists in “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”, which are ultimately grounded in the hope of final redemption that Jesus purchased for us. Faith in Christ and the hope He has secured leads to the joy and peace that this hope enables, and dwelling on this hope increases the joy and peace it provides. Even though the subjective experience of peace and joy will wax and wane to some degree over the course of our walk with Christ, we should nevertheless expect our sense of peace and joy to grow stronger as we mature in the faith. As we meditate on the surety of our hope to come, we will rejoice that there is treasure laid up for us in heaven and we will find more reasons to be at peace, knowing that this fallen world can threaten our peace only in a temporary sense.

Blessings in hope through Jesus Christ, our Lord