Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Happy Ending – Part 1 – And They Lived happily Ever After

Ruth 4:9-12 And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day.” And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the Lord will give you from this young woman.”

Last weekend, I was visiting my dad at Bass Lake, California and went to church with him, so I’d like to share the notes from pastor Herk’s Sunday Sermon. The fourth chapter of the book of Ruth has a happy ending, and God can do the same for us. We all want to hear the words: “and they lived happily ever after.” The Bible tells us of Job, Daniel and Joseph, who knew and loved the Lord their God, yet met with great adversity in life (beyond our imagination) and these “pillars of faith” patriarch’s stories all had a “happy ending”. We have to get to the absolute end of ourselves in order to find the beginning of God.

Revelation 22:20-21 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

We must remember that Jesus Christ is the ultimate happy ending. When change the way that we look at life, we change the way that we live. Pastor Herk gave us four truths that lead to a happy life and a happy ending. (1) Don’t think of yourself as a failure. Sure, Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. We all have failed miserably in the past, but we are not remembered by our failures. God refuses to identify His redeemed people as a bitter failure, so neither should we. God can see our heart, so be a man or woman after God’s heart.

2 Peter 1:3-4 “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
(2) God has a way of working things out. How we identify ourselves determines our path in life. See yourself as holy people; righteous, blessed, sons and daughters of God through faith, out of the darkness of sin and into the godly light now and forever more. We are sinners saved by grace, however, grace says that we were once identified  as “lost sinner”, but now ‘saved saints”.

Let’s continue my notes on  Pastor Herk’s message on “A Happy Ending” on the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Science Fiction Defined

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Slow to Wrath

James 1:19-20 “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

A Greek-speaking Stoic philosopher named Epictetus (AD 50 – 135) once stated: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Wise words indeed! We cannot take back hurtful words spoken in anger. Many times we find that things said in hast ends up being a case of open mouth and insert foot.

I heard a story about a pastor who once counseled a church member with anger management issues and told him that every day he felt like arguing to remove himself from the situation by stopping immediately and take a five miles walk to cool down. The pastor told him to call him back in a week and told him how he was doing. A week later, the pastor receives a phone call from the man. When the pastor asked how he was doing with his anger issue, the man told him that he hadn’t gotten into one argument or fight the whole week, but was 35 miles from home and what to know if he could give him a ride back.

Proverbs 15:1-2 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”

Change the “short-fuse” in for a long one. Replace your “thin skin” with “thick skin”. If feeling hot-tempered, take a “chill pill”. Don’t lose your cool; find Jesus Christ, for our wrath does not produce the righteousness of God. In a heated moment, take a step back and slow it down, say a quick prayer for the wisdom and guidance of the Lord. Think about the gospel message of salvation. Listen twice as much as you speak and be the reflection of the Prince of Peace, our savior and Lord Jesus.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Truth and Tears – Part 2 - Authentic and Pure

Michael reminds us that teaching is not just data, rather, it points to the majesty of God. The exhortation is to not forget the teaching of God. The knowledge of God needs to be constantly in our mind as when Moses gave this final charge to the children of Israel before they entered into the Promised Land:  "When you enter into the promised land and your flocks and your houses multiply, do not forget the Lord thy God." What we truly desire we will never forget. If we forget the Lord, then he will no longer have supremacy in our life.

The Proverbs speak of the ways that the laws of God normally function. These precepts of truth are the way God designed His blessings to flow. Do not let kindness and truth leave you. Bind them upon thy neck write them upon the tables of thine heart. Kindness and truth go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other to reflect the character of God in your life. You will be loved and blessed when you walk with the Lord. Fellowship with the Lord reflects the nature of God Himself and as you walk with Him, God will bless you with those who need to be loved.  
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart. This implies total abandonment. Don't lean unto thine own understanding. The question is, "why not?"  The reason is because we are not worthy to build our own lives. We're not in control ...  He is. Our best understanding of the future is no more than a vague hunch. We cannot know value apart from what God says is valuable.  We need to come to this conclusion: "Apart from the Word of God, I don't know."  The human race is in an identity crisis without any frame of reference for truth. The older you get and the more thoughtful you get, the more you realize that the truth is the Word of God and that Jesus Christ is the meaning of the Word. He is the way, the truth, and the life and He alone is our moral compass.

Only God can make your path straight and bring you to your appointed goal. We often wonder, what will it take to get us there? Through the pressures and the tribulations of life, has God left the building? There is a story in the gospels about a storm raging while the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee. Jesus appeared to them walking on the water. Jesus said, "fear not." The answer to the trials and tribulations of this life is "fear not for the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go." Why do we experience these struggles in life?  It's because God wants to make you a person of joy, yet easily touched by compassion. He wants to make you a man or woman of passion and yet authentic and pure. In order for God to form you into the man or woman of character He wants you to be, He needs to mold you and make you after His will. He wants us to experience the truth of the Word of God to prove the power of God. Through the trial God says, "Give me your weakness, and I will give you my strength."

He continues to teach us through truth and tears. Great is thy faithfulness, O God my father. There is no shadow of turning with thee. Thou changest to not, thy compassions they fail not. Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.

May God richly bless you!

Your brother in Christ, Michael

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Truth and Tears – Part 1 - Compassion

This week Michael writes that in the gospel of John, toward the end of Jesus' ministry, Jesus and the twelve disciples were headed toward Bethany. They were on their way to his friend Lazarus' house because Lazarus' sisters Mary and Martha had sent word to Jesus several days before that their brother was sick and near unto death. Jesus said to His disciples that Lazarus had fallen asleep. He then told them that Lazarus had died, and that He was going to prove the power of God. Martha rushed out to meet them and said to Jesus, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died."  Jesus said, "Your brother will rise again."  Martha said, "I understand that he will rise again at the resurrection."  

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.  Believest thou this?  She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”

When they came to Bethany and Jesus saw the mourners and Lazarus' sister Mary, the scripture says, "Jesus wept."  He was overcome with grief and compassion for His friends. When you look at this story of Mary and Martha, Jesus gave Martha the truth, "I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me shall never die." To Mary, he gave tears. Jesus wept.  Sometimes, you say it best when you say nothing at all.  Jesus' life of ministry was a combination of truth and tears.

A pastor often travels to Nepal in trekking expeditions and to get away and meditate. On his first trip ten years ago, he picked up the luggage at the airport for the trekking team.  While passing through a slum area in Bombay to take the train to Nepal, he noticed the filth and squalor of the slum. He broke down and cried for the people in that area and at the utter depravity of their living conditions. Other times he went to Nepal, he was no longer moved by the sight of the slums. According to Lamentations 3:22-23, “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” His compassions never come to an end because morning by morning new mercies I see. Our compassion needs to be fresh and new every morning as though it were the first time. Jesus always feels the pain and compassion for God's people each new day.

The heart of a man and woman of God is truth. Jesus said, "Sanctify them with thy word; thy word is truth." A child of God is also a person of tears and compassion.  Keeping our heart close to the heart of our Lord means that we must share both truth and tears. According to Proverbs, the wisdom literature of the bible, wisdom is the application of the knowledge of the truth.  Proverbs 3:3 and following says:  "My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:  For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.  Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Let’s continue Michael’s message on “Truth and Tears” on the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Alpha and the Omega

Revelation 1:8 I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Living in a material world, we tend to think of things in a physical manner, and forget that our Creator God is Spirit and exists forever outside of the dimension of time and matter. Therefore, this ever-present, all-Powerful Creator God is all-knowing because He can see the end from the beginning. An infinite Maker of heaven and earth is beyond our finite comprehension, let alone being omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, but He reveals Himself to us all in His Holy Word and in His Creation. We are never out of His vision and care.

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.”

The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word "omnipresent" as ‘”Present in all places at the same time; ubiquitary; as the omnipresent Jehovah.” It is amazing to think about the fact that everything that has been made, was made by Almighty God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and even more amazing to think that we will be with Him in Heaven for eternity.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

In God We Trust is more than our national motto; it is our foundational statement of truth. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:31: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” God is the beginning and the end, so what do we have to fear? Rest assured, everything is in the hands of our heavenly Father God. Rejoice!

Isaiah 46:9-10 “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’”

In Christ, Brian

Monday, March 20, 2017

Worth the Wait – Part Two - Delayed Gratification

Psalm 52:2-7 “You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor. You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. You love every harmful word, you deceitful tongue! Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying, “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold.”

Pastor Kyle continues that (4) Ultimately, we reap what we sow. Payback is a hard pill to swallow. When we believe in God and His redemptive Plan of Salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, our spirit is regenerated, we are given a new heart bent towards righteousness and our eternal consequences change. This side of Heaven, if you want good things in life along your walk, then sow good things in other people’s lives along the way.

James 1:13-18 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Next, Pastor Kyle gave us three suggestions how to effectively deal with temptation. (1) Find better and healthier distractions. What is your coping mechanism? Sometimes, sure willpower may not always work. Situational circumstances do affect us, so find something that builds your soul – spiritually, physically and emotionally. (2) When resisting is not working, run! This side of glory, stress is here and unavoidable. Kid yourself not, life in the jungle is no bowl full of cherries. Plans have patterns, so choose your battles and learn to bail sometimes. (3) Get some accountability. Hunter S. Thompson once stated that “He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master." We’re all accountable to God, but accountability by other experienced and godly individuals is essential to helping our vision, purpose and attaining goals. Somebody around us has already gone through what we are currently going through. We do not have to reinvent the wheel. Treasure the experience and wisdom of your grandparents and parents, and those with more years behind them than there are miles in front of their cart and tap into their expertise. They have seen a lot of water go under the bridge of their life, so can honestly hear our concerns and help us not take the wrong path.

Psalm 24:1-6 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.

A quick recap on delayed gratification is (1) We can get one marshmallows now, or two marshmallows later. (2) We have more to lose by giving in than we ever stand to gain. Remind yourself often of everything you have to lose. There is a brighter future and a better plan when we align our motives with God’s perfect motives for our life. This side of glory, we will never be satisfied and will keep coming up empty when we try to fill the bottomless Christ-shaped hole in our life with thoughts, words and actions that are based in selfish pride and ungodly ambition. Remember that we cannot have whatever we want, whenever we want. Some things are worth waiting for.

In Christ, Brian