Thursday, April 30, 2009

What shall I do with Jesus?

Acts 4:12“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

The question that determines our destiny is the same question that Pilate asked in Matthew 27:22 - "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" The real question is: Do you know him today as Savior & Lord? … meaning, have you invited Him into your heart? Have you surrendered your life to him, denying self (putting to death the selfish desires of the flesh)? Have you turned over your will to His control, moving from self-dependent to God-dependent? Have you repented of your sins? Have you accepted Jesus as Lord & Master?

10 Facts that I need to know, without a doubt in my heart.
1. I am a sinner, and can not save myself from the penalty of sin. Romans 3:23- all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
2. By God’s plan, Jesus died for my sin and I accept His taking my place on that Cross. Romans 3:24-25 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?
3. God loves me. John3:16 - "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."
4. I have eternal life and I’m going to Heaven. 1John 5:12-13 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
5. I am a Child of God. John 1: 12-13 - Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
6. I repent (regret and turn away) from my sin. 1Corintians 6:9-11 - Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
7. I accept Jesus as my Lord, to control my life. Romans 12:1 - Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.
I truly love Jesus and he is in my heart. 1John 14:23 - Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."
8. I shall follow & obey Him with love. John 8:31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly my disciples (followers/students) if you obey my teachings and commands.”

9. I have fellowship with Christ in my heart. 1John3:24 - Those who obey God's commandments live in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Holy Spirit lives in us.
10. I shall live my life as a witness for the Lord to others. Matthew 5:16 - Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Colossians 2:7 - Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, April 27, 2009

War of the Worlds

1John 3:7-9 “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”

Are you aware that we're at war? But ours is a war of beliefs, not bullets. The spiritual conflict between Christ and the devil is intensifying at home. America is engaged in a spiritual civil war for the very soul of this nation. God shed His grace on this Country, founded on Christ and the Bible. This is evidenced by the founding documents of America and the writings of the Founding Fathers. Check the Pre-ambles of every State’s Constitution. But now, Anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-Christian morals and anti-biblical values attack in every venue, on any platform that they can obtain a national audience. Be it, Kathy Griffin and the Emmys, Sean Penn at the Academy Awards, or Perez Hilton at the Miss America Pageant, One nation under God, the biblical standards, faith-based character and ethics are being mocked and ridiculed by the ungodly, and tolerance is not an option. Michael Newdow, who sued to remove the words “under God” out of our Pledge of Allegiance, is now in Federal Court to have our National Motto “In God We Trust” removed from our money. We are losing our Liberty in America, and need to change the tide. Psalm 4:2-3 “How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him.”

With all the Christian radio and evangelical television ministries, CD’s, DVD, the Internet, books and magazines, there is more opportunity today to learn the Truth of God’s love, salvation through Christ and the balanced life that the Lord intended for us all. You'd think that more Christians would join in the fight, but many Christians haven't committed to do their parts to change our degrading land by standing up and standing firm for God, as Miss California did, and it cost her the title. Many in the American Christian community have not experienced persecution for their faith, because they are people of “conflict avoidance” to the point that they so compromise the Word of God & the Gospel, so that they are no threat to anyone. You may have heard that Christians shouldn't concern themselves with political and social issues because it is dirty business. But if Christians do not involve themselves in the issues and not put themselves into positions of community, state and national leadership, then the governing of our nation shall be given to the ungodly. And what would you expect them to do. We need to stand up and speak about the truth God has given us to those around us in our sphere of influence. Jesus has called us all to be salt and light in the world. We can't fulfill that call if we stay within the walls of our houses and churches. We need to touch the world around us.

Mark 2:17- Jesus said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." In Luke 2:17 Jesus said “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Hasn’t the Lord called us to do the same? We can start by praying for our nation. 2Chronicles 7:14 “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” But we also need to be a witness to the lost. So many of our dear neighbors simply don’t know what the Bible says, don’t know the Gospel of Jesus Christ, don’t understand the Love of God for them, that their sins can be forgiven and they don’t have to earn their way to Heaven. We should hold as our first concern Christ's last command-the Great Commission. We can change the direction of this country if we change ourselves and put forth the energy and dedication required to obey Christ's commands and bring the sure hope that is within us, demonstrating the steadfast convictions of our hearts, in genuine faith reflected in our lives. We all have a post in the great battle! It was Edmund Burke that said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing”. Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. And let us seek and save the lost, by speaking the Truth in love.

1Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Grace & Peace, Brian

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Does It Mean to Be A Disciple?

John 8:31-32 “ Jesus said to the people who had believed him, “ You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

I always want to know the truth and the full context of what things mean, so that I may have the “most” complete understanding of whatever subject that I am learning or trying to comprehend, especially in the spiritual teachings of the Holy Scriptures of the Bible. This “living” Word of God is life’s instruction manual for the “abundant life” that everyone is looking, so desperately, for … it is the “Book of Life”, for today and eternity. Read it and study it; live by “the Word” and be blessed.

I love digging for and seeking out the definition and getting meaning of individual words in the Bible verses ... a “word’ study. A guest speaker at our Sunday worship service, this week, brought up how the church uses many words that are not used in everyday language, which can cause an obstacle to those who do not know the Lord, to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By explaining the message plainly & simply, we make the way easy for others to see, understand and know the “good news” of Jesus Christ, that the Holy Spirit may open their eyes to the truth and speak to their heart, so that they may make a choice to accept the ‘free gift” of Eternal Life offered by God and be a disciple of the Lord. The “Great Commission” that Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 tells us that making disciples is our job as Christians: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and surely, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." But what does it mean to be a disciple? That’s one of those words that people don’t use everyday, but since being a disciple and making disciples is commanded by the Lord, it is important to understand completely what that means in order to live it out in our lives.

We were just discussing discipleship in our home-based small group Bible Study last night. Pastor Tracy of TLCIP wrote in his August newsletter, that the Greek word of disciple actually means disciplined learner, a committed student and pupil. Wikipedia states that the word comes from Latin “discipulus”, meaning ‘pupil’ – 1. A person who learns from another, especially one who then teaches others. 2. An active follower or adherent of someone, or some philosophy etc.

By plainly seeing these definitions, we wholly understand the true meaning of being a disciple of Jesus and can vision ourselves, not only as a Believer of God’s Savior to the world, but also as a committed Student of Christ, a disciplined Pupil learning God’s will and way. We see clearer then, what life is all about and how to live it “right” from the King & Master of all knowledge and wisdom, and an active Follower of the Lord of Heaven & Earth, who has all authority and power. With the unlimited amount of lessons that the Lord has in store for us to learn throughout our life, being a disciple and making disciples of all nations is an awesome perspective of the “Child of God”. May we rejoice in our discipleship, as we abide in Christ’s teachings, while we simply learn, plainly understand and know the truth that sets us free! John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”
Your brother and fellow disciple, in Christ, Brian

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Secret of Life

Psalms 119:111 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end. I hate double-minded men, but I love your law. You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God! Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees. You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their deceitfulness is in vain.

A few years ago, I was vacationing on a Cruise ship and one evening the discussion at our Dining table centered around a book / movie titled “The Secret”. This one individual spoke of this exciting concept of “positive” energy from the universe … a “Force” to be tapped into by projecting positive thoughts, and then positive energy was produced and returned to you from the Universe. When we returned home, a friend let us borrow the DVD on “The Secret” that their brother loaned them to watch, with an open mind. Sometimes, people are so open-minded that their brains fall out. It’s truly amazing what people believe, when they don’t believe in God! Here is a piece from their website:

“The Secret” reveals the most powerful law in the universe. The knowledge of this law has run like a golden thread through the lives and the teachings of all the prophets, seers, sages and saviors in the world's history, and through the lives of all truly great men and women. All that they have ever accomplished or attained has been done in full accordance with this most powerful law. Without exception, every human being has the ability to transform any weakness or suffering into strength, power, perfect peace, health, and abundance. The Secret explains with simplicity the law that is governing all lives, and offers the knowledge of how to create - intentionally and effortlessly - a joyful life. This is the secret to everything - the secret to unlimited happiness, love, health and prosperity. This is the secret to life.

The secret of life? Anything missing? God perhaps? Any mention of Evil or Sin? How about forgiveness or eternity in Heaven or Hell? Why? Note that they say: “everybody has the ability”. They have an “I’ problem and can not see the truth. This is a theosophy, and atheistic (“A” is Greek meaning “No” & “Theos” is Greek meaning “God”, so atheism = belief in “No God”). There are many similar Beliefs out there also (i.e. Eckhart Tolle). They all attempt to take God off the throne of man’s hearts, minds and souls; replacing God with “self” and “nature”, “a law of the universe” or “a force” (Romans 1:25). Know that a “No God” philosophy is simply the desire for “unaccountability”, where their thoughts, words and deeds that have consequences to a higher authority. A “force” is impersonal and sets no moral or ethical laws that must be followed. Without God, “Right” & “Wrong”. “Good” & “Evil” are relative to self only – what is “right” & “good” in my mind. (Isaiah 5:20) It’s the lie of Satan (Genesis 3:5 – you will be like God) and the depravity of mankind to reject the Truth and believe & trust in something else other than the Word of God. It’s looking for “the secret to life” in all the wrong places, making up a world without Divine intervention or providence in an attempt to avoid accountability to the sovereignty of Creator God.

Look no further then God and His plan of Salvation for truly abundant life. Read John 3:36 & 1John 5:11-12. Live by faith and stand firm; set in your ways, in the “right” way; in the Will & Way of the Almighty and Christ alone. It’s not the pursuit of happiness, but the pursuit of holiness! It’s not the pursuit of pleasure, but the pursuit of purpose! It’s not the pursuit of success, but the purpose of significance! These are the things that really matter. Dare to be a true disciple. Dare to stand alone. Dare to have a purpose firm. Dare to make it known. Who & What are we faithful to? Do we glorify God in our life? Rejoice!

Romans 1:16-22 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.

“The Force be with you, Luke Skywalker!” God be with you, brothers & sisters in Christ! Romans 1:16 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
Praise and glory be to God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – the true Secret of Life!
Your brother in Christ, Brian

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Life Companion

Genesis 1:25 God made the animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Today, our family said “good-bye” to our priceless Yellow Labrador Retriever named Sabu. She provided us with ten amazing years of unconditional love and continuous joy. She came out to see me off to work every day, and was the first one to greet me each day when I came home. Each evening, she sat in the front porch, just outside the front door and greeted every neighbor with a loving touch with an always wagging tail. Sabu was the neighborhood dog. She would fetch balls, play tug-of-war with her rope toy and catch Frisbees with eager and energetic enthusiasm. It was pure joy to take a walk with her or just to have her lying beside me. God created life, and pets make living that life a pure pleasure, with peace and satisfaction. We all develop a daily routine that we are comfortable with in life. This gift from God provided a never-ending source of happiness, bliss and enjoyment, as her total interest was to spend time with and please her family. I never thought that it would end one day.

There is now an emptiness in our home. There is a missing component in our loving daily routine. Our hearts are heavy and we grieve the loss of an incredible friend and companion. She changed our life by showing us the art of self-less love and caring. Her memory is etched into our hearts and minds forever. Sabu was the sweetest and kindest lady that a family could ask for. Her heart was so big that it finally gave out on her. We are grateful to God for allowing us to have her in our life. Because of her, our lives will never be the same ... so much better.

There is a truth in the saying “live and love like you are dying”. Life is short. No one is guaranteed tomorrow and we far too often take the relationships in our lives for granted and lightly. Cherish each moment that you have with your families and your friends and your precious pets.

Proverbs 12:10 A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.

Monday, April 13, 2009

iWitness News

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Comedian, Magician & Atheist - Penn Jillette of Las Vegas act Penn & Teller asks: “How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize (evangelize, witness to them)? How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” Click the following link & watch the full video clip to see why an Atheist would praise a Christian - 1Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

William Wilberforce – British Statesman who successfully lobbied Parliament to abolish “Slavery” stated in his 1829 book titled Real Christianity:” I think it should be enough to point out that all of us have the obligation to do whatever we are able to do to promote the welfare of our fellowman. If you love someone who is ruining his or her life because of faulty thinking and you don’t do anything about it because you are afraid of what others might think, it would seem that rather than being loving, you are in fact being heartless. Acts 4;12-13 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

The late Evangelist Dr. J. Vernon McGee stated on “Thru the Bible”, his radio ministry that goes through the entire Bible in five years, that is still broadcasting today, stated that if Jesus Christ and His saving grace were real to every individual, people wouldn’t be at the malls, at the parks, at the games or at home mowing their lawns and doing chores. They would be with us in church worshipping the Lord and Savior God. Jesus Christ lives and reigns in Heaven & on Earth. Why are we so ineffective at bringing those around us to the foot of the Cross and a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? We have to be careful that we care about those who are perishing more than our cares about self & things, promoting values in our culture that honor God and, thus, are good for everyone. Romans 10: 8-10 "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart"(that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Are we fulfilling the Great Commission of Christ, doing all that we can to bring the message of salvation to those who have not heard it? Is being a church member, going to church regularly enough? Are we trying to live our lives as God would want us to? Are we uncaring and uncompassionate to the “unsaved” by not actively seeking out those who are not Christians, not telling them the “good news” of Jesus Christ and his promise of salvation? A close friend described it this way to me: If you woke up one night and noticed that your neighbor’s house was on fire, and you knew that they were asleep in the house, you would do everything possible to wake them, warn them, get them out of the house and escape perishing. So why can’t do the same for our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances who are spiritually perishing? We are not all called to be a Billy Graham type evangelist or quote all the Scripture verses on any subject in the Bible from memory, but we are called to be a witness for Christ of the faith that we have and why we believe. By definition a “witness” is one who tells what they see and know. That is what the Lord calls each of us to do; tell our story of faith. What is social awkwardness when compared to someone’s very soul? If you & I could actually save someone from Hell by introducing them to God and Jesus, it would truly be something truly joyful that would make life worth living.

While accompanying my dad’s church on a short Mission’s Trip to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief in 2007, one evening our crew was walking the Levee Boardwalk of the Mississippi River in the French Quarter. A young lady approached us and asked us if she could tell us about Jesus Christ. What a great feeling of the love of Christ came over me that this teenager cared about our eternal souls. I pray that that this person’s love is in me and you also. John 6:68-69 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." Let’s get “The Word” out and stand for what we believe, with passion & compassion!
In Christ, Brian

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Busyness verses Balance

Proverbs 12:14 - From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.

A friend of mine told me lately of a Christian message that he heard that struck him to the heart and stopped him in his tracks … for a second. He was so busy running from one thing to the next, with a “things to do today” list that not only didn’t leave a minute of rest, but couldn’t possibly get everything done that he wanted to do. In the car, between one of the many bustling activities, a Pastor was speaking on the Christian radio program that he was listening to and said: “Satan uses busyness to distract Christians from their time with God“. He realized that he did not have his priorities “right” and in his attempt to fill the days with purposeful endeavors, the Lord had been put in the back seat of his life. His schedule was not only a hassle, but also a hustle. His soul found no pleasure or rest in the race to fill every space and gap with places to go, people to see and things to do. This wasn’t “abundant life”, but over abundance of living and the demands close in on you. Who has not been there? Raise your hand!

Living in this fast-paced American culture places an incredible demand upon our time and attention, but Christians need to live and walk through life through the gospel. What does that mean? The gospel is never divorced from ethics. Not only is the gospel deliverance from the evil of sin, its filth, and its guilt, but it also leads us to discover what we ought to do. Its aim, end, and design is to make us live “holy” lives. Always remember: “What did God do for you through Jesus?” Titus 11-13 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are to look at life through Christ and thereby have the balance of mind to allocate our daily time and attention properly. I remember buying those rubber wristbands that with the impressed letters “WWJD”, which stands for: “What Would Jesus Do”, and giving them out to my Sunday school class. It’s the same concept. We are not only to walk with God, but also to go to God. Satan uses the law of sin, which is adverse to all communication with God, to distract us through our busyness and allow no relief aids for the soul. No peace. All of these time-demanding activities may appear self-fulfilling, pleasant, benefit and are “oh so” tempting, but remember what the Lord said: "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." - Matthew 26:41. Out of that weakness grows our weariness.

Some will say: “Should we always pray and meditate, even when we neglect our duties and thus become useless to ourselves and to others in the world? That’s the opposite extreme and extremes are not balanced. Balance in life is what God desires and what we need. Are our daily lives and routines filled with special activities? Special activities and occasions must be determined by special circumstances. If we take more time than necessary to perform what we feel needs to be done, filling our time with busyness, we rob God of the time He deserves and we need for our souls. God will not bless us in that activity. It is important that all other duties remain subservient to our regard of God and His holiness. Yet so readily does the deceitfulness of sin use the busyness of a full schedule, more things to do than there is time to do them, to rob God of his due. The corrupt reasoning of our sinful flesh should motivate us to watch and pray, as we are easy targets for busyness in this fast-paced society. We must keep life in balance for the abundant life that God intended … centered in Christ.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 - So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Grace & Peace, Brian

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Where Will You Be Tomorrow?

Life can be over in an instant. We all know this but usually think it won't happen to us. We all plan to grow old well into our 80's. Nick Adenhart and Adriana Bachan may not have thought it would happen to them, but it did. Nick Adenhart (MLB Angels Pitcher) and two others were killed today in an auto accident. It happened to Adriana Bachan, killed in a car accident near USC last week. It shocks us especially when it’s someone we know or a famous person, but actually it happens every day of the year to someone. The moment they took their final breath they were in another place. Their spirit left their body going to heaven or hell. If they hadn't already made a decision for Christ it was too late to do so. They were probably loving, good people trying to do the right things but that alone won't keep anyone out of hell, which is a place of burning unquenchable fire and suffering for eternity. Nick and Adriana were young and doing good things with their lives, and probably thought they would live many more years. I pray that they knew Christ as their Savior.

excerpt from One Month to Live by Kerry and Chris Shook
In Ecclesiastes 7:4, we're told "a wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now". You can determine your destination right now if you haven't already. If you're not sure that you have eternal life right now, if you're not sure you'll be in heaven one day, God's Word says you can know it today. And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. So whoever has God's Son has life; whoever does not have His Son does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12) Basically, getting into heaven is all about who you know. If you know the Son, you get in. If you don't know the Son you don't. Don't wait.

Patty Todd

Ambassador for Christ

2Corinthians 5:17-21 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

As Ambassadors for Christ and the Kingdom of God, we need to make wise choices about what you read, listen to and watch because what you allow into your mind enters your heart. A biblical world-view is looking at everything in life through the “Word of God” to determine right from wrong from the ‘Author of Life” and the definer of what is right & wrong. 2Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. The World says: “What difference does God make?” Our natural propensity is to do what we want to do and not bent towards God. The focus is on the physical, the emotional, and the psychological aspects of life, but lacks and longs for the spiritual. Our vision, purpose and focus of life are horizontal only. St. Augustine wrote that we are born with a God-shaped hole in our hearts and when we don’t fill that void in our lives with Jesus, we try to fill it with all sorts of wrong stuff that doesn’t fulfill our hearts desire. All of us are born “spiritually blind”, but Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).

What exactly does it mean in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”? One of the biggest realizations for the Christian is to recognize that those who have not heard the Gospel (God’s Plan of Salvation) and accepted Christ into their heart as Lord and Savior are blind to spiritual truth. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3 Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." I’ve always concluded it this way: “You must realize that you are lost before you can be found”. Sin is defined as “falling short, breaking or rejection of God’s standards, laws and commands”. We must see that we have sinned against the one true “just” and “holy” God, our Creator and sustainer of life; we are Sinners with no way to redeem or save ourselves from his coming judgment and rightful wrath, then cry out with a contrite heart for His mercy and grace, which He freely gives those who truly repent, for forgiveness. This is the meaning of Romans 6:23.

But salvation is a choice! When we accept the “free” gift of salvation through the sacrificial and redemptive death of Jesus Christ on that cross in our place for our sins, a vertical relationship is opened, as God gives us … along with forgiveness of our Sins, adoption into the family of God as a “Child of God”, the Holy Spirit inside to guide us, and eternal life of the kingdom of Heaven … the missing piece (the Prince of Peace) that fills the God-shaped hole in our hearts, with eyes that see and understand the truth through God’s holy and pure Will and Way, by the Word of God. 1Peter 1::23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.

Grace & Peace

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Light of the World

Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Funny thing about darkness, you can bring a light into a dark room and the darkness is gone, but you can’t bring darkness into a lit room. You have to remove or eliminate the illumination (Spiritual enlightenment – Webster’s). In John 3:19 Jesus tells this truth: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

It is amazing the amount of darkness against God’s sovereign commandments, for us and our lives, that is in the world today. What do we allow into our eyes and ears, without blinking an eye, is staggering. What is acceptable to God, aligned with His Holy Will and “right” in His eyes, seems almost foreign in the darkness of vanity and immorality. Compromising dark messages come subtlety, tempting our fleshly desires to embrace the pleasures of Sin. I love the example of the Phantom of the Opera. In this Play's world-recognized feature song, the Phantom gives a message that I bet few have thought about the words:

Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation. Darkness wakes and stirs imagination. Silently the senses abandon their defenses. Helpless to resist the notes I write, for I compose the music of the night.

Slowly, gently night unfurls its splendor.Grasp it, sense it - tremulous and tender
Hearing is believing, Music is deceiving.Hard as lightning,Soft as candlelight. Dare you trust the music of the night.

Close your eyes for your eyes will only tell the truth and the truth isn't what you want to see. In the dark it is easy to pretend that the truth is what it ought to be.
Softly, deftly music shall caress you. Hear it, feel it secretly possess you.
Open up you mind let your fantasies unwind. In this darkness which you know you cannot fight. The darkness of the music of the night.

Close your eyes start a journey through a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Close your eyes and let music set you free. Only then can you belong to me. Floating, falling, sweet intoxication. Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation. Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in
to the power of the music that I write. The power of the music of the night.

Just a song? John 8:11b-12" Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Psalm 119:97-105 “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Walk in the light. Let your light shine before men. The world needs the light of Christ.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Faith in the Finished Work of Jesus Christ

Hebrews 11:1&6 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Nobody was ever “saved” from the penalty of sin by a profession of faith. Justification (the action by God whereby men & women are forgiven and freed from the penalty of their sin) is not by their “profession of faith”; you must possess faith (enter into it, to have it, own it, keep it, and control it – Webster’s). Faith is not an emotion or a feeling: it is the belief of one saved by grace & mercy, in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Not just saying “I don’t want to Sin – what would Jesus do?”, but living out faith, saying from the heart “Why would I Sin?” James 2:24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

Mistakenly, by not understanding the gospel, many believe that it is by “good’ works that they are “saved”, but God doesn’t “grade on the curve” to see who gets into Heaven or not. Others believe that they can make amends for Sins committed by performing “good deeds” to earn their forgiveness and salvation. God’s standard is not a scale that measures whether we “do more good things than sins”. “Good Works” add nothing to any merit of our own outside of faith. We contribute nothing to the grounds of our justification. My old pastor defined justification as “being found - just as if I had never sinned” by Christ taking our guilt upon Himself (paying our penalty on the Cross, while giving us His innocence. I’ve heard it put this way: Jesus paid a debt that He didn’t owe, because we owed a debt that we couldn’t pay. The only ground of our justification before a just & holy God is the merit of Christ and His righteousness alone. We need to understand this truth of authentic “saving” faith because many are being deceived about “earning your way” into Heaven, which is not the Gospel. In John5:39-40 Jesus says: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

The Bible explains in James 2;10-11 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery (lusting in your mind)," also said, "Do not murder (hate your brother in your heart)." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker”. Nobody’s perfect! Romans 3:22-24 explains that Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe; for there is no distinction; 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. There’s the key and if we truly possess “justifying faith”, then we will manifest that ‘true” faith immediately and naturally in the bearing of “good” fruit, loving your neighbor, and “good’ works. Ephesians 2;8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. I’ve heard it stated this way: “We don’t do “good’ works to get saved, but because we are saved”. And they are not empty, naked or worthless works, because a “Believer” is a changed person (from death to life by the Holy Spirit). It is out of the heart that we believe and out of regeneration that we embrace Christ and become increasingly Christ-like. If you are “Reborn” (Born again from above) of the Spirit of God, you are different; not a “cleaned and dressed up” version of yourself, but a “new” you in Christ (a new heart, a new vision and a new purpose) and “good” works shall naturally follow. From that point … 2Corinthians 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight.

Turn this lost & dying world, that doesn’t know the Gospel of Jesus, up-side-down. No matter what has been written in our book of life in the past, we can write “faith” on the rest of the pages. Look at life through God; not God through life! Live the abundant life in Christ!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Life is a Learning Experience

With a lot of scenery having gone past this old cart over my 52+ years, I realize that life is quite a learning experience that never stops. I ignorantly ran through the early years without realizing all that there was to know, but I 've had some great people in my life to help direct and shape me along the way and encourage me to dig and find the reasons, the answers ... the truth. I came to know the Lord unto "salvation by grace" in my early twenties and my life took off running from there, completely orchestrated by God for the ride of a lifetime. With the eternal perspective foundational, I've developed this desire to learn, know and communicate the Truth to help myself and with a passion and compassion for others to have "saving" faith, blessed assurance and the "best" life today; a life that is pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ and know why. I pray that I may be used as an instrument to serve God and, that all I do here, be for the help of others and to the glory of God Almighty. May this site ... all the writings and comments ... be a part of that holy service and that a heart, mind and soul be touched.