Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Flee


Ecclesiastes 1:9 “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”

This week, Michael writes that there is nothing new under the sun. The devil is up to his old tricks. Civilizations and cultures rise and fall. However, the word of the Lord lives and abides forever.

In 1 Timothy 6is Paul's exhortation to Timothy is to be a "man of God." This term is used seventy times in the Old Testament and always refers to a "messenger of God."  A man or woman of God delivers God's message. When the Word of God was imprinted in our hearts, we became God's messengers ... "living epistles" bringing letters from God known and read of all men and women.

The process of life in a sin-filled fallen world is a series of success and failures. The Christian life is full of failure because we're all human ... we must contend with our sin nature, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Thank God that He is a God of mercy. He forgives us even though we don't deserve it. The key is to focus on our Lord and not on ourselves. In 1 Timothy, Paul was training his "son in the faith", his beloved follower Timothy, to take over the leadership of the church. Paul reminded Timothy that false teachers are "destitute of the truth" and have evil suspicions. They encourage the pursuit of financial gain and worldly riches. However, godliness, not money, is profitable for great gain when accompanied by contentment.

1 Timothy 6:3-9, “If any man teaches otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strife of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmising, perverse disputing of people of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that (monetary) gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”

The goal of many in America is to get rich.  Worldly riches are part of the "American Dream."  Many men in America have sacrificed their families for the pursuit of material riches. According to 2 Timothy 3:1-2,  Paul said “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,”

In verse 11, Paul says, "flee from these things, you man of God." The key is to follow after righteousness and practice what you need to do as a man of God.  Practice makes perfect.  This is why God gave us His Word, that the man and woman of God may be perfect, thoroughly perfected unto all good works. A man or woman of God needs to make the decision to know what to flee from and what to pursue. God gives us the ability to control what enters our minds. It's not money that's the root of all evil, rather it's the “Love of money”.  What do you love most?  What you love most, you will pursue. How do you flee from the pursuit of riches?  According to verse 11, Likewise it's what you love that counts.“But you, O man of God, flee from these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”

According to verse 10, “But you have fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,”

We need to be mindful of that which we pursue. How do we pursue righteousness? It means pursuing that which God says to pursue. It means to give that which God requires. It means to give unto Cesar that which is Cesar's and to God that which is God's.  

God has called us to pursue godliness. This means that all of life is lived in the presence of Omnipresent God. The question for a man and woman of God is, "Do you want to spend the rest of your life learning to become just like Jesus?" If the answer is yes, this is the pursuit of godliness. We pursue godliness because we rest in the assurance that God's a “good” Father and that Father knows best. When we establish in our heart that God is good, then it is our joy and we rejoice to serve Him. Even though we have heartbreak and pain in our lives, these are opportunities that God has given us to know that His grace is sufficient. For thy strength is made perfect in my weakness.  As John the Baptist said, "I must decrease that He may increase."  

The Christian life doesn’t' make sense from an earthly perspective. The paradox is in that giving the earthly perspective away, we will be blessed even more abundantly. The issue is whether we are living according to fear or faith.

The challenge is to flee from sin which tempts us. Cry out to God and He will rescue us. Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. Turn your passion to the Word of God, which lives and abides forever. As we delve into the Word, He will give us the hunger and thirst for righteousness and the pursuit of godliness ... to choke in the dust of people of God, who are in hot pursuit of their Lord Jesus Christ.   

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

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What We Watch Matters


Proverbs 4:18-19“The path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.”

I read an eye-opening article in the American Family Association Journal on the growing epidemic of teen suicides that mimic a teenage suicides as a means of revenge from popular cable television show. Targeted for teens, the show is full of gratuitous profane language, drug and alcohol abuse by high school students, homosexuality, empty friendships, bullying and violence, graphic sex (including rape) and a gruesome depiction of a teenager’s suicide. Yet, teens are drawn to it – immersed in it and, in ways, controlled by its haunting darkness. Christian Counselor Julie Lowe explains that young people do tend to be drawn to dark things, especially if we are not giving them something or Someone better to be drawn to.

Romans 6:10-12 “For the death that He (Jesus) died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise, you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts”.

The article cites a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that internet searches about suicide were significantly higher than expected within the three week after the release of the cable show; 19% increase in the first 19 days. Past studies have validated that Internet searches mirror real-world suicide rates. Psychiatrist Dr. Fadi Haddad states that such shows distort the realities  of teen suicide and depression, thus leading to copycat suicide attempts. Social worker Brooke Fox call them “tutorials on how to complete the ending of your life. The major difference  is that fictional teens and their decisions played out as part of a script are reversible because it is fake/acting. Actual teen’\s decisions to end their life are real, the outcomes permanent, and the effects on their families devastating.

Proverbs 4:23-27 “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.

Though, maybe raised in a God-fearing home, young people become desensitized to the content in popular shows like these, when they immerse themselves in it, becoming their everyday reality. Lowe explains that these programs create a distorted sense of what is typical for American teen culture and set a bad precedent for the average teen/preteen, who is watching. If you get a chance, read the book Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman. The fact is that our homes have been invaded by darkness. The influence of media is powerful, especially when it feeds the innate sin in one’s heart. What you watch and take in through your eye-gate, and what you listen to is so important. Not everything is profitable to us, and some things are downright detrimental. We need to guard our heart. 

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.”

The article concludes that there is hope and that hope is Jesus Christ, manifested by resting in Him, trusting in Him with our lives, and being faithful to point our new generation to he One who fights on our behalf and saves. We must choose to take up the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God), then stand firm and fight each and every day for the Lord’s honor and glory. That is the life that is truly abundant and worth living.

Blessings in Christ

Monday, April 23, 2018

Blessed by Providence


Ephesians 1:11In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”

I was talking to a small church group of men witnessing outside the Vons Supermarket yesterday, and they told me that their emphasis was not merely in getting the gospel message out to a lost and dying world, but also, on knowing and experiencing God beyond a surface level for a meaningful and purposeful life (spiritually, mentally, relationally and physically) in both knowledge of truth and devoted daily application. The May issue of Dr. McGee’s newsletter speaks to the truth of the providence of God. If there’s one thing that the Word of God teaches, it’s that God is in control. Of the universe. Of the history of mankind. Of individual lives. The Lord is sovereignly ordering all history that happens whether we acknowledge God’s hand or not. God doesn’t have to report to anyone concerning His conduct. He runs the universe and runs it His own way. McGee explains that “Creation” explains the origin of the universe. Preservation explains how it continues. Providence explains how God directs all things – animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil – all towards a worthy purpose. Providence is God’s glory on display and the ultimate fulfillment of His purposes. 

The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “providence” as: the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures. He that acknowledges a creation and denies a providence, involves himself in a palpable contradiction; for the same power which caused a thing to exist is necessary to continue its existence. Some persons admit a general providence, but deny a particular providence, not considering that a general providence consists of particulars. A belief in divine providence, is a source of great consolation to good men. By divine providence is often understood God himself. McGee states that providence is Almighty God at the steering wheel. Providence means that God is behind the scenes, shifting and directing the happenings of the world. Providence is god’s hand in the course of natural and human events. He is there is the shadows, keeping watch over His own.


 The word providence means “to provide”. Jehovah-Jireh - God will provide. Providence means that God is in back of His creation today, in back of the human race, in back of those who are His own by redemption. God is giving men and women direction in the world today. The entire sequence of events sounds like luck, but it is God directing the plot. You can trace a bright thread of redemption all the way through history – even all the way through the Word of God. If you look closely, you’ll see God’s thread of redemption in your life too.

Blessed by providence.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

You Can Run, But You Cannot Hide


Jonah 1:1-3 “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of  Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Late Sunday, Pastor Kyle continued in a sermon series on the book of Jonah, by telling the story of famous American Boxer Joe Lewis, who coined the phrase “You can run, but you cannot hide” in reference to an upcoming opponent’s “hit & run” strategy. This phrase fits well with how God will find us wherever we try to hide. When God told the prophet Jonah to rise and go to Nineveh, he was prejudice and did not want the Ninevites to repent, so he flees. But, we have a pursuing God, who goes after us.  As we keep making bad decisions, God stays on message and mission.  

Psalm 139:7-10“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”

Jonah is asleep in the bottom of the ship, while the God sent storm rages topside. This part of the story mirrors Jesus being asleep in the bottom of the boat on the sea of Galilee as a life-threatening storm rages topside. Jesus’ peace though comes from being in eh center of God’s Will. In Jonah’s case, the feeling of being at odds with God is exhausting and haunts the conscience. The voice of obedience will ask us to do all kinds of things that we do not want to do, because it may be hard, but peace comes from making God’s will, our will. 

Isaiah 59:1-2“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

What really happens when we run from God is become poorer physically, spiritually mentally and relationally as there are consequences and costs involved in getting back on track. When we ignore our internal compass, then we get numb, lose and become useless. Feeling pain is actually helpful to us. Numbness, as a coping mechanism, is creating damage to others and closing our ears to God.  When we run from god, we wreak havoc and waste precious time and resources.

Jonah betrayed and let down God. What must God feel when we run from Him? Sin separates and  betrayal grieves and disappoints the Lord. Fighting against God doesn’t work well. When we are backed into a corner, consider repentance, not selfish desire. Do not limit yourself to two bad choices. Know that our public sins have e public consequences. Why do we refuse the ‘good” that God has called us to? How many times have we tried to silence God’s voice in our life?  God is still God. What if we decided to say “Yes” God instead? Silence your internal dialogue and say “yes, I will follow you” to the Lord. I will do what you are asking me to do, even if it is difficult and hurts. Don’t run away, but have the courage, strength and heart to run into the opening and loving arms of God with a “yes”.  

You can run, but you cannot hide, so go to Nineveh (or where er the Lord is calling you) to reach the lost and decrease the population of Hell.

In Christ, Brian  

Saturday, April 21, 2018

God's loved



John 3:14-17 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Friday, April 20, 2018

Foundations Are Destroyed


Psalm 11:3“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 

I read where the word here for “foundations” is not the usual word for, say, a building foundation. Used rarely, a better translation of this word would be “purpose,” or “basis.” The Greek word used is “shathah”, which the Strong’s Bible Dictionary translates as “basis”. The fear expressed is not that the foundations of our faith might be undermined but that we might lose our sense of purpose. These same fears were expressed at our last Board of Elders meeting at church and strategic thought is going into how to counter the humanistic culture’s sinful temptation and God-rejecting messages that are attacking our basis of faith today, distracting our focus (taking our eyes off God) and obscuring the purpose of godly living. 

One article points out that in the context of the Psalm, David was in danger of becoming demoralized by the pressures of wicked desires and evil ambitions all around him, and Christians surely have the same problem today. Why should we try to maintain high standards of doctrinal integrity, biblical ethics and moral purity when the people around us—even most Christians—seem to be occupied mostly with materialistic ambition and pursuit of pleasure? If we allow the devil, the secular humanistic world system and the sin nature of our fleshly desires to undermine the very purposes God has for our lives, wandering away from His will in favor of some temporal selfish interest with eternal consequences, then why even continue with a pretense of Christian living?

 

Leviticus 20:26 “And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.”

David’s solution was simply to remind himself that “the LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men”. He may allow the righteous to be tried for a season, but we must not forget that “the righteous LORD loves righteousness” and that “the wicked and him that loves violence His soul hates”.

The concluding thought is that when we are tempted to wonder whether it is really worth all the effort, and when our very foundation and purpose for living seems to be crumbling, we should remember that our God is Creator, Sustainer, and Judge of all—that He still is on His throne, and that we who belong to Him have been “predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). 

the righteous LORD loves righteousness

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Invisible Be Seen?


Romans 1:20“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” 

I read how this powerful verse introduces Paul’s burning description of the descent of human societies that once “knew God” into blind evolutionary paganism, spiritual adulteress idolatry, and pure wickedness. This deterioration was willful and inexcusable, for they had abundant evidence of God’s nature and power in the very creation which they had chosen to worship instead of the Creator.

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

The article stated that even though God Himself is spirit and invisible (being omnipresent), they could easily see the evidence of His existence and His grace (the fingerprints of God) in creating and sustaining all things, “for God has shown it unto them”. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork”. 16th century scientist, Johann Kepler stated that his scientific inquiry was a matter of thinking God's thoughts after him. Science is proving to ourselves God’s miraculous and magnificent Creation. 

Job 38:4-6 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone.”

Since these things were “clearly seen” and “understood” by men “from the creation of the world” (that is, from the time the world was created), it is obvious that there have been men and women there to see and understand these things ever since the world was created. This assures us that the creation did not take place billions of years before men appeared on Earth, as atheistic evolutionists and progressive creationists would like to believe. Men and women have been on Earth ever since its very beginning, and all should have recognized and worshiped the true Creator God.


Psalm 19:1-2 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.”

That being true, how much more inexcusable are our modern evolutionists—whether atheistic, pantheistic, or polytheistic—who not only reject the testimony of God in creation but also His far more complete testimony in Scripture and in the person and work of Jesus Christ. As the famous French biologist and member of the Academy of Sciences of the French Academy, Jean Rostand stated: “Evolution is a fairy tale for adults.”

See the mighty works of the Almighty.God in His Creation and your Salvation. Rejoice!