Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Trilogy of Needs?

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

When people don’t meet my perceived needs, it humbles me and actually focuses me on the reality that I’m looking in the wrong places to get my needs met, and drives me to depend on Christ as my source and strength. It is a Divine transformation; not mere substitution. It is God that transforms our heart and gives us the ability and capacity to love and be loved, as He desired for you and for me. I tend to focus on myself ... I think that we all do to some extent. God created us (in a trilogy of body, mind and soul) with physical needs, social needs and spiritual needs. But I tend to gravitate to the first two too easily and neglect the latter, which is my (and everyone’s) true source of fulfillment. How so? The Bible gives us the answer in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”. This verse doesn't neglect any of our other needs, just puts things in the right sequential order, because that's where we tend to get things (like needs being met) in life out of balance. Because of our physical needs and social needs, we expect to be satisfying those needs through others. Fair or not, we depend on certain people to meet those needs. How do you feel when they fail to meet your expectation of meeting your needs and desires? Why? When they don't return or reciprocate your love and care, does it mean that they then don't care about your physical and social needs? Does it give a foothold for doubt? What is the message given? Is the relationship on the rocks? Who can you depend on? What is the answer?

Psychology (the study of the soul) falls short, when it neglects the "spiritual" needs as the foundational element, and focuses on the physical and social needs only. Jesus explains this in Luke 6:46-49 "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete." How much does God love me? What did God do for me in the past, what He is doing for me now, and what has He promised to do for me always? When I honestly think about that first, it puts the rest of my needs and desires into the right prospective. My spiritual needs are meet first and my focus is on who I am in Christ. I love God, I depend on God: God is dependable. God meets my spiritual needs, and by what He provides in my life ... the people, places, and things that can ultimately meet our physical & social needs. He is the One, by His Providence, that I can depend on to meet all my needs, which provides me meaning, purpose, balance, fulfillment, love, joy, hope and peace. You can too. I love people, but I can't always depend on people to meet my trilogy of needs. People don't always meet my (realistic & unrealistic) expectations and I sometimes get my feelings hurt. But what is God teaching me? I love my life ... but it's not just about me. What is our purpose? We all need to get our own house cleaned up first, and get our priorities straight. We need conformity with the name of Christ, our Lord and Savior, by His Word, and in His nature & character. God made us for relationships – spiritually (soul), mentally (mind), & physically (body). May your relationships meet all yours needs, in the Will of God.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Light of Ministry

It's been quite a week with some high points and others "not so much", but life in the Jungle is no bowl full of cherries and surely a learning experience. We learn from adversity and trials, so we can use the "bumps" in life to grow and mature, and help others. I've come to realize that my Mentor Bill Stiles (now gone home to be with the Lord) was right in stating that in the Christian life, everywhere you look there is a need for ministry.
There truly is something to be said about thinking "positively", and should be encouraged and practiced within reason. Philippians 4:8 tells us - whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. But we must be true; not everything goes well every day. There are many people hurting out there, needing love and care … (sometimes it’s us and the body of “Believers in the finished work of Jesus” can give an encouraging word or hand). There are scores of folks that do not know the Lord and need to hear the “good news” of the grace of God, forgiveness of Sin, and salvation by Christ.
This is clear in John 3:16-18, where Jesus explains: 16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. To bring the gospel that produces “saving” faith to a lost & dying world, “already” condemned, is the marching orders as Christians today. But, lets be honest, (God’s Plan of Salvation) the “good” news of Jesus Christ is not “good” news to those who choose not to accept this “free” gift of eternal life. In John 3:19-20 Jesus continues to tell us the truth: 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
As darkness is by definition "the absence of light" - (you can bring a light into a dark room and the room will be lighted, but you can not bring darkness into a lighted room), evil is merely the absence of “good” and Sin is falling short of God’s standards – absence of His Will & Way. The light of Christ that the Child of God ministers is not to condemn, but expose darkness, so that the truth may be known for those that will (by hearing the truth) then choose to walk into the light of salvation provided by trusting and accepting Jesus, unto eternal life.
Will those who are in darkness call “good” evil? Call the “good” news of Jesus Christ, bad news? Many, for sure, but not the hearts that the Holy Spirit has prepared in advance to hear the gospel of Christ and will respond by believing and walking into the light. It doesn’t get more positive than that! So we do not lose heart or compromise our witness for the Lord in our life and ministry. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus tells us: 14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Glory be to God!
Your brother in Christ, Brian

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pressing On towards the Goal

Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Understand that nothing is more important than knowing Christ and doing His Will. To know Christ is not to just knowing facts about him, but to have a personal relationship with Jesus that starts with receiving Him as Lord and Savior of our life, then trusting, obeying and following His teachings and commands. Knowing the will of God and doing the will of God. This includes ministering (to serve, supply & meet spiritual needs) because we are blessed to be a blessing to others on our way to eternity in Heaven. We serve a holy and righteous God in majesty (sovereignty, grandeur and nobility). Know what it truly means to be saved by Jesus Christ and being a Child of God. Continue to build upon your relationship with Him, then the love of God that fills your heart will translate into the love of life … full of meaning and purpose … centered on His perfect will. We do not walk through this life alone, but always in the loving hands of God.
Always ask, “What’s next?” and “where do I go from here?”. Don’t over-emphasize the successes of the past. Don’t live in the great moments of days gone by, because life is the here and now ... and pressing forward. We need to keep moving and never arrive, because if we don’t look forward to the goal, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, then we’ll always be looking backwards. We need to say, “I am” looking forward for current opportunities to continue to grow and mature. Don’t over-emphasize the pain of the past and move on towards what’s ahead. God wants us to take the next step and focus on where our lives are now, dedicated to God, in the race of life with a sense of purpose. The future is bright, in the light of Christ, and full of potential.
We must make our answer to God’s call, to be like Christ and doing His Will, our highest priorities; an aggressive and tenacious pursuit to be more like Christ. How we act, fulfilling the will of God, in everything we pursue and do; not only being Christ-minded, but also Christ-hearted. This means to honor God and humble ourselves as we exercise faith; doing more with our lives, using our God given gifts.
Be found Faithful!
In Christ, Brian

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Best Life

Have we come to the place where we are enjoying Christ and what He is doing through us? We do not have “great” Christian lives because we have “comfortable” Christian lives. Do we settle for less than the “best” that God has for us. What he has in store for us is the “better” life; more than the “good” life, it’s the “best” life.
John 14:19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. Come alive! Spiritually alive with regenerate hearts for eternal life.
2 Corinthians 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. Jesus Christ included everyone in His death so everyone could be included in His life.
The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but not living a full life knowing your Lord & Savior. A life without Christ is a life full of feelings of exhaustion, emptiness and entrapment. We live our lives at one of three levels. (1) The Survival level – barely getting by. (2) The Success level – meeting physical goals. (3) The Significance Level – “truly living”; making a difference (many don’t reach this level).
The “Better Life” is a Life filled with meaning, purpose, happiness and fulfillment. We think that we know ourselves; what will make me happy. We say “If I just had _______, then I’d be happy”; but there is always “one more thing” out there. But the pursuit of holiness is the true pursuit of happiness.
Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature
We will find meaning in Christ despite our earthly circumstances; the abundant life fulfilled in Christ. Until we seek Christ (the Way, the Truth and the Life), we shall seek meaning, purpose, happiness and fulfillment, but we shall not find it. Seek the Lord!
John 15:4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Living for ourselves is not the “best life”. We were not created to live for ourselves, but for God. Jesus always gives us a chance to start over – the Lord of the “second chance”.
1 Peter 1 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you.
The “Best Life” that Jesus offers is a life freed by Grace. There are two paths that we can take (1) trying to earn the approval of God or (2) accepting God’s grace. What are we going to add to what Jesus Christ has already done on the Cross as a free gift?
Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Whom shall you serve?

Joshua 24:14-15 - "Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

There are two world systems in operation on the Earth that each and every one of us must choose between to serve. Those two systems are unbelief and unbelief – the greatest decision, which determines our destiny for eternity. Revelation 20:14-15 “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Living by Satan’s world system of darkness and lawless sin for self-centered temporal lustful pleasures is contrary to God’s system of living in the light of righteousness and fruitful, purposeful humility.

To those who repent, die to their sin and turn to the Jesus Christ, there is healing and forgiveness for the shameful and disgraceful uncleanliness of inequity. If we did what is “right” in the eyes of the Lord and obey His Holy commandments, laws and statutes, our heart will desire the Lord. To stand up and stand with God, as a Child of Righteousness, and hear the words of God from Revelation 21:3-7 “ I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

Now its your turn. Choose for yourself this day whom you will serve.

Monday, February 16, 2009

President's Day

Psalm 33:8-15 “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth-- he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.”

Years ago, while attending an AT&A corporate annual meeting, I had the privilege to hear Coach John Wooden as our motivational speaker. One of the comments that Coach spoke of was the life-changing spiritual writings of one particular American. When asked who that person was, he replied: “Abraham Lincoln”. Being President’s Day, I thought that I’d give you a taste of our 16th President’s godly wisdom and faith that made him, arguably, our greatest President of all.
From the second inaugural address of Abraham Lincoln delivered on March 4, 1865: The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.

Coach Wooden finished his motivational speech that day with these words, which I shall never forget: “I would give away all my public fame, all my undefeated basketball seasons, and all my National Championships at UCLA to see my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Amen to that!Happy President’s Day! Brian

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Day That We Celebrate Love - February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine’s Day! A day that we celebrate “LOVE”. Where did it come from? Wikipedia says: “Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) is the name of several martyred saints of ancient Rome. The name "Valentine", derived from valens (worthy), was popular in late antiquity. Of the Saint Valentine, whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14.”
Strange how they never taught us these facts while we were placing all those paper valentines and candy hearts in decorated lunch sacks of our classmates in Elementary School. I think that a priest was martyred (executed) for his love of, and faithfulness to, the Lord brings a great new light to this day that we celebrate. It’s all about love!
John 3:16a "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

John 15:1214 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

1Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Galatians 5:22a But the fruit of the Spirit is love

“Be My Valentine”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Lord is Good

Psalm 100:1-5 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

The world that does not know the Lord misses out on the abundant life that He created us to enjoy through the knowledge of who He is and who we are. Life satisfaction, joy and contentment doesn't come from the things that we're going to leave behind, but from our standing before our Maker by His loving grace and mercy, who we are faithfully following and serving, while knowing exactly where we are going at the end and why. Who would not shout, worship, praise and thank the Lord? the Lord is good!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Plan in a Nutshell

My wife and I found a classic baseball game being re-broadcast last night and it happened to be her favorite baseball moment, so we sat back and enjoyed Game One of the 1988 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A's,which ended with a full-count walk-off home run by an injured Kirk Gibson off Dennis Eckersly for the win. Remember that game? the image of Gibson's fist-pumping is one of baseball's greatest moments also. I remember, back in those days, there was this guy who sat behind home plate with a rainbow afro wig. Wikipedia says that his name was Rollen Frederick Stewart , aka Rock 'n' Rollen and Rainbow Man. He was a fixture in American sports culture best known for wearing a rainbow-colored afro-style wig and holding up signs reading "John 3:16" at stadium sporting events around the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. What a great simple message he gave to every America home. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." It's the Gospel in a nutshell! It's the foundation of God's Plan of Salvation. I've heard it said that each of us can personalize this verse by replacing the word "world" with our own name. Give it a try and know the truth of God's love for you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Freedom of Religion

Having been born and lived our entire lives in a "free" nation, with Liberty and Justice for all, we can take for granted what freedom we have that no other nation enjoys. The Founding Father's knew first hand what oppression felt like and built the right to express the individual citizen view without suppression. They do not give the individual a right to not be offended by another's view or peaceful expression. the First Amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Freedom of Religion doesn't mean Freedom from Religion. Exercise your faith freely and enjoy the liberty that being an American provides. freedom to write a blog, if you feel like it! Have a blessed day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lost & Found - February 07, 2009

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

My wife and I were watching a new episode of the hit television series “LOST” this week and she suggested that I write a message on that Biblical subject. This Prime Time Sci-Fi Soap Opera has many complex characters, intricate plots and compound stories that the writers unfold with new and fantastic twists and turns, along with gaps in the storyline time that are slowly converging, while all-the-time with-holding some clues and revealing others that drive the imagination to keep the viewer guessing, on and off this mysterious island. It’s not about life ... or is it?!
Matthew chapter 7 (from the Lord’s “Sermon on the Mount”) is some of the greatest learning’s about faithful living from Jesus, which drives my life. From verses 12-14 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Along with the ”Golden Rule”, I grasped the reality that the path to Heaven was “small & narrow” which only a few find, while “wide & broad” was the road to Hell, that many travel in life. Wow! The truth of Christ’s words brings to light the scope and seriousness of reaching the lost in this culture and world around us who do not know the way. Eternal destruction or eternal life; it’s our choice ... and no choice is Hell. The default is damnation. Why? Sin. Habakkuk 1:13 “You (God) are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on iniquity.” Jeremiah 16:17 “For My (God’s) eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes.” Which road are you on?

Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to Heaven, or is that something you would say you’re still working on? Do you qualify to get in? To attend any University, we must pass an “Entrance Exam” that asks: “Why should I let you onto my campus?” In the academic world, not everyone is granted admission into an institution of higher education. Admittance is not the default; there is a strict criterion based upon high standards that you must meet to qualify. Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say, “Why should I let you into My Heaven?” What would you say? Admittance is not the default; there is a strict criterion based upon His highest standards (sinless perfection) that you must meet to qualify. Do you qualify for admittance through the “narrow gate”? We can not earn our way in Heaven. Romans 3:23 says: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Without Heaven, we are all lost.

But Jesus Christ is in the “Seek & Save the Lost” business ... that’s why He came. Matthew 18:11-14 “For the Son of Man (Jesus) has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Luke 15:4-7 "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. By grace, God provided a plan of salvation for you and me through faith in Jesus. Through the blood of Christ, who paid the penalty for our sins, we are off the road to perdition, on the narrow road of redemption and enter Heaven on His qualifications. Through belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven, born again from above and regenerated with a new heart, eyes that see and ears that hear with spiritual knowledge and discernment, that you may know that you have eternal life.

Romans3;20-26 gives the full context of that amazing grace of God; “By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 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; 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.” Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found; was blind, but now I see. And for you “Lost” TV Series fans: “Jesus Christ is your constant” - Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever".
Glory and honor be to God! Praise and thanksgiving be to Christ!