Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Game Plan to Win

Romans 12:1-6a "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. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us."

While on vacation to Bass Lake, California to spend some time with my dad in a little piece of paradise in God's artistry of the western Sierra Nevada mountains, we joined our brothers and sisters in Christ for Sunday worship at the "Little Church in the Pines". What a blessing to find that the church facility was the location for the Fresno area Fellowship of Christian Athletes (SALT) Student Athlete Leadership Training for the week, and the Sunday Service was to be led by this Christ-centered group of dedicated and kingdom-minded disciples of our Lord, from Fresno State University. Exciting, emotional and heart-touching testimonials were shared by individuals of how Jesus has been present in and changed their lives, through living sacrifices ... and as one student said: "by showing me my past, God is now showing me my future" - a future founded on knowledge, righteousness and holiness; a game plan to win!

Matthew 18:21-35 "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Fresno FCA Leader Jamal Jones gave the Sermon message based on the Scripture of the Unmerciful Servant because this Word of God touched him so powerfully that week. How much debt were we forgiven, out of love and mercy, by God and at what cost? Jamal defined love as "to give what others need, though they do not deserve it, and it is at a great personal price, and expect nothing in return from them". I saw that, in order to appreciate the height to which we have been forgiven and raised, we should contemplate the the depth to which we have sunk in this world by personal sin (as in the parabol, we owe God more than we could ever pay). The corruption of sin has thoroughly pervaded human nature and the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law. The holistic character of sin shines through every intention. Romans 1:18 tells us -"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness". But in Jesus, paradise (God's kingdom and it's presence) is in the process of being regained in souls. With Jesus as our substitute, God's wrath is satisfied, we are forgiven the debt that we could not pay back, and God can justify those who believe in Jesus. He endured it on the cross for us, not with us. 'Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' Child of God, are you and I living like an unmerciful servant too? Wow!

You had to be there, and I was privileged to have seen, heard and felt the energy of the the Spirit of God flowing from these young men and women, who discovered who they were in Christ, with a whole wondrous life ahead, making real plans with the help of God for a purposeful, positive and productive walk for His glory. God bless the "Fellowship of Christian Athletes".

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, July 25, 2009

No Fear

Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Morals, ethics, character, honor, respect, charity, manners, ladies and gentlemen are terms that are disappearing from the American landscape of society today and we are reaping the consequences of a generation that does not know the Lord, nor have a moral compass to guide them; that live for radical lusts (the gods of this day), centered on sinful self-gratification … doing what is right in their own eyes. There is no king (God) to rule or command their life-style or actions. There is “no fear” of God; neither out of reverence or the consequence of their ways. They are a god unto themselves.

Examples are everywhere, and I’m sure that you all can tell me dozens of “first-hand” accounts. Here is one of mine:
A College girl, that I talk to frequently, told me of how a group of guy friends shamefully started talking immorally about fornication (sex outside of marriage) and degrading women to sex-objects for their pleasure. When she stood up for herself (and all women) and remonstrated the filthy obscenity, they reproved her saying: “Males have been born with sexual desires that naturally need to be met. This is our world today! By objecting to their lusts, females are suppressing their physical needs.” When confronted by an adult later on the matter, one of the guys voiced, “You and your standards are from a different era. We do not honor or respect your ideas or rules!” There is “no fear” of God. This reminds me of the different era that he and those who think likewise are like …
2Kings 17:34- 41
“They follow their former practices instead of truly worshiping the LORD and obeying the laws, regulations, instructions, and commands he gave the descendants of Jacob, whose name he changed to Israel (meaning God shall rule). For the LORD had made a covenant with the descendants of Jacob and commanded them: "Do not worship any other gods or bow before them or serve them or offer sacrifices to them. Worship only the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt with such mighty miracles and power. You must worship him and bow before him; offer sacrifices to him alone. Be careful to obey all the laws, regulations, instructions, and commands that he wrote for you. You must not worship any other gods. Do not forget the covenant I made with you, and do not worship other gods. You must worship only the LORD your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies." But the people would not listen and continued to follow their old ways. So while these new residents worshiped the LORD, they also worshiped their idols.”

The symbol of the clothing brand “No Fear” is a Skull with wings. The “Culture of death” has no fear of the consequences of sin, unbelief and rebellion against God’s standards. Darkness does not want equality, harmony, justice, etc., but just wants their perceived needs and desires met and preserved. To lie, to cheat, to steal, to lust, to hate, to disrespect and disobey to get what they want is acceptable in their eyes, because it meets their standards, as the means to the end result. I was once told that they will let you talk, but they do not listen to, or hear, what you have to say because they could care less. There is no fear of God, or Sin, or Hell.

Luke 6:43-49 A"A healthy tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a poor tree bear good fruit. Every tree is known by the fruit it bears; you do not pick figs from thorn bushes or gather grapes from bramble bushes. A good person brings good out of the treasure of good things in his heart; a bad person brings bad out of his treasure of bad things. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. "Why do you call me, "Lord, Lord,' and yet don't do what I tell you? Anyone who comes to me and listens to my words and obeys them—I will show you what he is like. He is like a man who, in building his house, dug deep and laid the foundation on rock. The river flooded over and hit that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But anyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a man who built his house without laying a foundation; when the flood hit that house it fell at once—and what a terrible crash that was!" We need healthy trees, so start planting seeds. Hearts are not changed by our tolerance of sin, evil and unrighteousness, but by bringing to light sin against God and turning lives around to the redeeming by the “Cross” & atoning “Blood” of Jesus Christ.

How do we be involved in affecting the lives of these poor “lost” trees? Answer, by the “Great Commission” of our Lord. Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus drew near and said to them, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age." The Kingdom of Heaven has a King … the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Jesus Christ. God put us in the world, not to tolerate sin or be a part of it. The definition of “Holy” is to be “set apart” from the sinful world that we live in, but also to be “set apart” by God, for God’s purposes. In reverence, not fear, let us live in obedience to the perfect Will of God, and rejoice in your right relationship with the Lord. May we be a godly witness to this godless world, with the love of Christ. Where is the healthy "Fear of the Lord"?

Deuteronomy 32:3-4 "I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he."
In Christ, Brian

Thursday, July 23, 2009

God Answers Prayer

Psalm 32:6 “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you (God) while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach Him.”

Have you seen those magnetic ribbons on vehicles that are all over? I believe that they all started from a Tony Orlando & Dawn song titled “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” ... remember that? They became popular again with the slogan “Support our Troops” after the War on Terror began on 9/11. But, today these ribbons say just about anything, and the Cancer society has adopted that symbol with each color representing a different type of cancer to help bring support for research for a cure ... and that is great. Visibility helps awareness that promotes action in a world looking for answers in all the wrong places. So on the tailgate of my truck, I have one of those magnetic ribbons and it says “God Answers Prayer”. In a world that needs prayer, we need godly guidance, spiritual revival and conversation with our Father in Heaven.

Deuteronomy 4:7 “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” How easily we forget that America was founded on the Bible and principles centered on the Christian faith, as proved by such documents as the Mayflower Compact, the Northwest Ordinance, the first Congressional records and much more that declared this a Christian nation. The darkness of Atheism and Polytheism are threatening this nation today by denying the One True God and the Savior of Mankind, and the blessings from Heaven that accompany. In God We Trust.

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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” This piece of Holy Scripture is the favorite Bible verse of many of my Christian friend’s today. Notice that it does not say “If everyone” or the “majority”, but my people, who are called by my name. The answer is not found in compromising the word, will and work of God, and not by tolerantly accepting thoughts, words and deeds that are sinful & wrong in the eyes of God, as normal, good & right. We need to humble ourselves, pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways, stand firm and act as witnesses for Christ to bring individuals to the foot of the Cross, for their salvation by a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We are not to remain discretionally or fearfully silent about the living holy God of Heaven and Earth, and our Redeemer Christ to this lost generation, so that unbelievers may stay spiritually lost & dying in sin for the sake of man-made peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. We have the spiritual medicine, the remedy, for people in a socially declining world on the wide road to destruction. So what are we if we never tell them the truth or give them the cure ... tolerant? Not only is our neighbor’s house on fire, but we have a fire truck next door. Is that what Jesus wants?

Jeremiah 29:12 “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” God hears and answers all prayers, and we hope that the answer to those prayers are always “yes”, but our Heavenly Fathers knows what plans He has for us, what is best for us, and what we truly need. Therefore, the answer may be: “You’ve got to be kidding. No way. What were you thinking”, or “No, I have something better in mind for you, let’s do it My way instead.” The other answer could be “Let's do that later, when the timing is right.” And that, of course is in God’s timing, so we must be patient children. Think about the privilege it is to talk to God in prayer... and our Father in Heaven listens to us!

James 4:2-4 “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” If at times we feel that our prayers are unanswered, we need to ask, “Did I pray to be empowered to live more comfortably, or inspired to live more usefully, as a Jesus-like servant?” The world tells us to seek power, position, profit and pleasure. Do our prayers reflect the world or Christ? Like Christ, we are to be about our Heavenly Father’s busy and making prayers and petitions in line with His will and purposes, not ours. In John 14:13 Jesus tells us, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” Prayer is not a wish list for our personal gain and prosperity. Our prayers need to be centered on "Thy will be done, not my will be done". We ask all in the name of Jesus, for the honor, the glory, the praise and the adoration of God. Amen.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

It Is What It Is!

Why do I share my Christian faith and bear witness to the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Is it because the Lord commands all Believers, His disciples, His followers to go out and tell everyone, everywhere, that do not know the truth, about God’s plan of salvation and eternal life - (Matthew 28;18-20)? That and more! Once you see the reality of our godless life and living before a just and holy Creator God, and realize the truth of the penalty for our sins, we can not help but accept the free gift offered by God’s mercy and grace, in God’s only plan of salvation through His Son, our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. If I don’t know that I’m a sinner, who cannot save himself on my own, then I don’t believe that I need someone to save me. If I do not know or believe that I am lost, then I don’t believe that I need to be found and reject anyone who comes to save me. You must be lost before you can be found. How can anyone make a choice for Christ without knowing that they need to and why? This is where so many churches are failing. It’s not just about how much better your life will be if and when you accept Christ into your heart, though that is certainly true. As my mentor Bill Stiles always said: “You must first know what & where you are saved from because you can know what & where you are saved to.” So today, I’m going to let the Word of God do the talking, and tell the Greatest “true” story ever told. It is what it is!

John 3:14-21Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. "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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 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. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

John 3:31-36 "The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son (Jesus Christ) and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

John 17:14-19 Jesus prayed: “I have given them (those whom you gave me out of the world) your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (Satan). They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.”

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed.”

1 John 5:10-13 “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 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."

Revelation 20:10-15 “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

Isaiah 1:15-20 “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the Lord has spoken”

Romans 6:20-23 “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Colossians 1:9-14 “We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

2 Corinthians 4:2 “We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”

Philemon 3:6 “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Stand Firm

Ephesians 6:10-18 "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

My wife, Patty, & I recently were invited to attend the annual Southern California conference and 25th anniversary celebration of the Family research Council (WWW.FRC.ORG) , by a dearly devoted couple from the church that Patty was the secretary prior to her “hyper-tension” condition that required her retirement. The whole evening and experience was a blessing, with the wonderful host and guest at our table, and then the outstanding Speakers that brought messages of the “Light of Christ” in these days that America and Americans are living.

The President of FRC, Tony Perkins, spoke how Christians are making a major difference in a sinful world that does not know the Lord, so acts and reacts out of ignorance or rejection and darkness to God’s perfect will. As Christians, Children of God & Followers of Christ, we need to trust the Lord, and with confidence in the power of God, put on the “full armor” of God and “Stand firm”. We are to stand up & speak out with the light and love of Christ to this society & culture for the peace and prosperity of God’s righteousness and providence. Pray for this nation, trust in God, defend the faith by bringing the light of Christ, and stand firm.

The Key note Speaker was Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas and 2008 United States Presidential candidate. Governor Huckabee delivered a powerful message on the battle for morality in the hearts and minds of Americans and in politics today. Mr. Huckabee expounded on how the atmosphere is rooted in greed and pride that leads in politics, but immediately pointed out that the Lord is in control and not the unrighteous. The God that created this world, with sovereignty, reigns the King’s domain. So our battle is truly not about people, but sin. Mr. Huckabee stated that if everyone would follow the “Golden Rule” found in Luke 6:31Do to others as you would have them do to you”, the USA would not be in the choatic state that we find her in today. The true need for America, and the World, is to follow Christ and change hearts for Christ. This must be our focus, our desire and our action; to know Christ and make Him known. But do not kid yourself the spiritual forces of evil won't attempt to stop the gospel from reaching those who need to hear the words of eternal life, so put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm!

Colossians 3:16-17 - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Proverbs 19:27 - Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causes to err from the words of knowledge.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Flip Your World

1Peter 1:13-16 “Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

We started a Summer Bible Study series that brought up a central point of the regenerated heart and renewed mind of the Believer and Follower of Jesus Christ. The Christian life is not “the most important part of life”; it is life itself. Christianity is not a slice of the pie that represents our daily living or a line item on our list of things to do today, that has equal value to the others and can be passed by or missed if not gotten to. We need to see all of life as a sacred affair, lived around the presence of Jesus Christ. 1Peter1:3-5Praise 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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power.” Our desire is to live an obedient life that is pleasing in the eyes of the Lord and reflect Jesus in all that we do. Christ is at the center of everything we think and do. A Pastor once explained to me that we look at all of life through Jesus; therefore we see nothing without Christ, our Lord. God has plans & purposes for this world and they may not be the same as our plans or our perceived purposes that are based upon our hopes and dreams. We want God to want what we want in life, but we have it backwards. We need to flip our world and our way of thinking to be aligned with God’s (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) and walk in His way.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 “What does the Lord your God ask of you but to (in reverence) fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord's commands and decrees.”
Revelation 15:3 "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.”

My priceless cousin Laura, who went to be with the Lord this past December, opened my eyes more to the godly “flip side” of viewing life from God’s perspective. When she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer at age 32 and people asked “why you?” She flipped it and said “why not me?” Laura explained that if there was anyone that had to contract this disease, out of love, she would want it to be her. Not that she wanted cancer, but knew that God had equipped her for this journey and was filled with joy that her loved ones didn’t suffer. - She unselfishly focused on the health, faith and well-being of others. We know that when we accepted Jesus Christ, we are “born again (from above)”, redeemed by Christ to eternal life, forgiven of our sins and given a regenerated heart that sees that which is spiritually discerned. It flips the way that we see and think in this life and culture, as we now walk in His way free from the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; seeking how we can glory God and love our neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).

Psalm 25:4-5Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Our viewpoint changes from “having to” against our true heart’s will, to sincerely “desiring to” as our true heart’s will. It is written on our heart. Proverbs 7: 1-3 ”My son, keep my words, And treasure my commands within you. Keep my commands and live, And my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; Write them on the tablet of your heart.” The perspective changes from God commanding me to “Do not hate/murder” (Exodus 20:13 & Matthew 5:21-22) to, with Christ in my heart, “Why would I hate or murder another?” But it goes even beyond that, to flip it and ask: “What can I give of myself and what can I do to enrich and help make my neighbor’s life better and joyful?” Not just “I shall not lust in my heart/commit adultery (Exodus 20:14 & Matthew 5:27-28) because it is sinfully wrong, hurtful and harmful – why would I do that?”, but “How can I promote, augment and protect the purity and honor marriage as God intended and improve the marriages of those couples around me?” Not just from God’s commandment “Do not covet – which is desiring enviously that which belongs to another”, to a heart that can say: ”I am content with and thankful for the blessings that the Lord has given me and I don’t need to keep up with the Jones, but also asks: “How can I bless others and meet the needs of others, no matter what they may possess, and help them keep and enjoy what they do have.” Not only stop lying and giving false testimony against your neighbor, but also “How can I build up my fellow man and help them to a good reputation? If someone is angry, ask “I wonder what caused them to feel that anger and have love and compassion to see beyond the emotion to the need. Love God & love people. That’s God’s way of thinking! Psalm 77:13Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?”

Life is not easy and there is no guarantee of reciprocation from mankind for living the Christian life and you may even be attacked at times, but it’s not about us when the focus is properly on “loving & glorifying God and our neighbor as ourselves”. It is for Christ's sake. We are to look beyond the sin in people, to the person that God loves and Jesus died for. This, of course, does not mean ever calling what God calls sin anything but wrong and needs repenting. We are to hunger and thirst for righteousness with God. Life is a learning experience that, by walking in the Spirit, produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, that the world doesn’t know or understand, because it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). That is what people really need and desire in relationship with God & their fellow man. Let’s flip our world, looking at life from God’s way and, with His help, get our life, our relationships and our culture in-line with God’s plans and purposes.

Matthew 5:6-9 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

God changes our "want to", that we no longer "want to" sin, and now we "want to" glorify God and bless people. We have been blessed to be a blessing to God and those around us.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

God Bless America!

Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.”

As we come to an end of Independence Day weekend, I think about the Liberty and Freedom that our Founding Fathers fought for and established some 233 years ago. The Patriotism and love for God & Country are an example and inspiration for all of us today. The founding of this Christian nation is well documented in the records, quotes and writings of our nation’s beginnings, though many secular revisionists attempt to deny despite the facts. Even the United States Supreme Court ruled on February 29,1892, in the famous Trinity Decision: “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian. No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation. ... These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”

This morning at our Sunday Worship service we sang "O Beautiful for Spacious Skies". The first verse is so familiar to every American, as it is sang proudly across this country, but how about the last verse of this loved Patriotic song. What a great testimony of this godly nation!

O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountains majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for men of faith Who founded this great land; Proclaimed for us, "In God we trust," And held to God's strong hand. America! America! God shed His grace on thee Till lives confess His righteousness From sea to shining sea.

Pretty clear isn’t it? But I know that our National Anthem is the Star-Spangled Banner. Well, look again at the first and last verse of this vocal symbol of this great nation.

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.O say, does that star-spangled banner yet waveO'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
O thus be it ever when free-men shall standBetween their lov'd home and the war's desolation;Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued landPraise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall waveO'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Need I say anymore? In God We Trust! As the attacks on religious liberty, the Holy Bible and Jesus Christ, rear their ugly heads and deny the Truth, may we stand firm in the faith. And I finish this post with one last Great American Patriotic song:

"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea, Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free, Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer." God Bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her Thru the night with the Light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam God bless America, My home sweet home. God bless America, My home sweet home."

God bless you and God bless America!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gotta Light?

I thank God for bringing me & others together for the ministry of each other and His purpose. I've been praying about this "darkness" problem that seems to be affecting our culture so tremendously today. The Lord placed us all in this particular day & age to identify it, deal with it and make a difference. The Sin nature is serious and causes internal stress through the conscience of unrighteousness because it is really rebellion against God's word and will. Unresolved Sin leads to spiritual death for unbelievers and spiritual battle between the flesh and the Spirit, then correction to true believers. The Bible makes it clear that God’s light can not be yoked with darkness; there will be a constant battle in the heart – Galatians 5:16-18. But everybody can make the choice to walk out of darkness, walk in step with the Spirit and into the light of Jesus – John 3:19-21. Let's go there!

God never forces people into Heaven. He tells us “the Way” to heaven, then let's us make the choice. Many skeptics and unbelievers say that they cannot believe in a God that sends people to Hell. But in reality, God sends nobody to eternal damnation; people make the choice to send themselves to Hell by not choosing God's free gift of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life in Heaven. Remember John 3:18 says: "Whoever believes in Jesus 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 make "no choice" is even a choice for Hell. So many people don't know this! Also, many believe that they can have it both ways, meaning receiving salvation through believing in Christ as their Savior, through his atoning death, but not follow God's commandments, standards and teachings. This is a sign of an unregenerate heart that has not surrendered Lordship to the Prince of Peace. Jeremiah tells us in chapter 17:9-10 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” They desire Jesus as Savior of their life, but not the Lord of their life. These people think that they "out smart" God, but its God's definition of "belief" that determines salvation; not theirs. Remember, God searches and judges the heart. If there is no "new" heart, born again of water and the Spirit, that surrenders all, that desires to walk in the light and follow Jesus' loving direction as Lord, then He is not Lord at all; you still sit on the throne. No one is forced; it is our choice who is King. Once we, by grace, through faith, come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (redeemed in His atonement for justification), the process of sanctification (maturing as a follower of Christ) begins. Through faith and obedience we grow in grace, constantly learning and improving, towards the likeness (manner and character) of Christ. Sure, we are tempted by our flesh to still sin. The flesh, the world and Satan will always be attempting to side-track our pilgrimage and look away from Jesus. Ever notice how the Bible speaks about Christian living so much? That's because when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior of our life, we don't miraculously know everything we need to know on this journey yet. Christians fall off the paths of righteousness, but repent and get back in conformity with the Father’s word, will and way. Luke 15:13-24 illustrates this in the parable of the prodigal son, and we learn that Believers sometimes fall into the pig pen, but don’t stay in the pig pen. Children of God get up out of the pig pen of sin and get back "right" with the Father. We fight this battle daily in the flesh - Romans 7:14-25. Without Christ in our heart and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17), we could not walk in the light of righteousness by ourselves. Our Lord loves us. The Holy Spirit is given, inside our heart, to guide us and teach us, but we are to seek always godly knowledge and ask for Divine wisdom for our understanding - the light of life. What a life! What a blessing!

Remember that Christians aren't perfect, but forgiven. And because of what happened on that Cross on Calvary 2000 years ago, we have been granted adoption into God's holy family - John 1:12-14, and eternal life with our Lord God in Heaven. Love God and love one another. If we love, then laws are not needed, because laws are not needed where they are never broken - they are written on our heart. Here’s an example: It turns from saying "I will not steal." to "why would I steal?" and living it, for the world to see your light. This is why it says in Galatians 5:6 "For in Christ Jesus neither following the Law nor not following the Law has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Does that make sense? John 8:11-12 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."

1 Peter 2:4-10 “As you come to Jesus, the living Stone--rejected by godless and sinful men but chosen by God and precious to him-- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,” The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone," and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.'

Lead those around you to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that they may walk out of the darkness of this age and into His wonderful light. Your very life is a witness. Matthew 5:14 "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.” This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine! Gotta Light?

God bless you and God be with you.