Thursday, December 30, 2010

God With Us

John 1:9-14 “The one who is the true light (Jesus), who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” NLT

Last Sunday marked the return of your Pastor from his honeymoon and the final Sermon message on this year’s Christmas series “Advent Conspiracy” that covered the topics of Love All, Spend Less, Give More, & Worship Fully. The bulletin states: It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It’s a season where we are called to put down our burdens and lift a song up to God. It’s a season where love wins, Peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath. It’s a party of the year. Entering the story of the Advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest. Some 2000+ years ago, a baby who would change the world was born. Emmanuel or Imanu'el (Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל "God [is] with us" consists of two Hebrew words: אֵל (’El, meaning 'God') and עִמָּנוּ (ʻImmānū, meaning 'with us'). But have we lost His message amidst the chaos of the holiday surrounding Jesus’ birth? Where does Jesus dwell in your life?

Mark 4:19 “The cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless.”

How many let the greatest news in world history get lost and go unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of worldly desires and pursuits? John 3:16-18aFor God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.” People lose Jesus, but Jesus wasn’t lost. We have the opportunity to have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe! Who can say, “Where is my motivation?” Jesus, the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Son of God with us, has pay the price for our sins in His atoning sacrifice, offers and provides transformed hearts and lives unto life eternal in heaven. He alone is worthy of our praise and worship. May we grow spiritually in regular & faithful reading of the Word of God, a consistent prayer life, a humble and compassionate hand reflecting the loving and true light of Christ, and share our faith with others that do not know the Lord. More of the same does not bring change. Let's improve. Romans 8:31b "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Rejoice, God is with us! Now, let’s start living out our faith to the fullest in 2011.

Romans 12:10-13 “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”

Happy New Year – in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ – 2011

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Presence

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The Youth Pastor Ben gave the Sunday message, that in this time of frenzied gift buying, giving and receiving, to not miss the meaning of Christmas, God’s Gift of Emmanuel – God with us – Jesus the Christ and what that truly means to us all. God gave His unmerited grace to us. Out of unconditional love, God gave His Son, Jesus, as an undeserved atoning sacrifice in our place to pay the penalty of our sins, that we may find salvation and eternal life in Him alone.
Mark 1:14-15 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
The Lord Jesus, who we celebrate the birth of at Christmas, was ultimately saying, “I have some good news and some bad news.” Yes, there are two sets of news. There are two kingdoms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan’s worldly desires. There are two trinity groups, the holy trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or the unholy trinity of the devil, the lawless world and the sinful flesh. There are two places to spend eternity, Heaven with God in endless joy or Hell, separated from God and in endless torment. God gives us the choice of which kingdom and trinity to follow in this life and our choice of our eternal dwelling place after this life. Either we choose to say, “Lord God, Thy will be done.” Or our Creator God will say to us,”Thy will be done.” Through Adam & Eve, we all inherited our sin nature, so no choice is not an option, and believing that these choices or the choice giver do not exist is as not believing in gravity. We can deny, ignore and pretend all we want, but truth prevails in the end. But the "good news" is that, through Christ, we have a choice that will transform us, our lives and our destiny.

Philippians 3:17-20 “Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”

Some deceive themselves into thinking that they can go through dishonest motions in a ceremony and/or say empty words for salvation that are not from the heart, in hopes of escaping the deserved consequences of their sinful iniquities against God, while willfully continuing in them. This is, essentually, saying: I want to sin against God and not pay the penalty for my disobedience. Saying that Jesus may be my Savior, but He cannot be my Lord. Saying, God obeys me; I do not obey God. Bottomline, this would be saying that God is not God, I am! Do not fool yourself, because God looks at the heart and you can’t have it both ways, so the question is: “Where does your allegiance lie?” A Christian means to follow Jesus as a believing disciple, not out of fear, but in awe and reverence of God's mercy and grace, in the joy of your salvation, in the free gift of Jesus. This is why Jesus was born. This is what Christmas is all about and proclaims to all who do not know the Lord and the love of God.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The Lord is ever present. His grace is greater. His peace is purer. His devotion is dearer. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it is still a gift … and the greatest gift is Jesus Christ - John 3:36. Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let Earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare Him room!
Merry Christmas, Brian

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Conform Me, O Lord

Ephesians 1:11-12 “In him (Jesus Christ) we were also chosen] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.”

A prayer by apologist Pascal revealed a mind that recognized the sinful desires and temptations of this life that each of us deal with and Christ died for, along with a repentant and regenerated heart now bent towards God in both dependence and gratitude for the Devine hand required and given out of His pure grace, mercy and love unto forgiveness, restoration, and salvation, to live and battle for a godly and righteous life in the eyes of God, in front of his fellow man. May we be as bold for Christ and yet humble.

“O Lord, whose Spirit is so good and gracious in all things. For no change of my circumstances can ever alter your will for my life. If my heart has been in love with the world when I was in robust health, destroy my vigor to promote my salvation. Render me incapable of enjoying the worldly idols, that my delight may be only in you.

Grant , O Lord, that I may in silence adore all the order of your wonderful providence in the disposal of my life, Almighty Author and Master of nature. Grant me the grace to rectify my reason and conform my feelings to your ways. Purify my thoughts that they may no longer contradict your own. For everything that is not God is unable to fulfill my desires. It is you alone I seek, that I may have you.

O Lord, open my heart. Rather, continue to possess it, for it belongs to you. You who alone could create the soul, you alone can create it anew. You alone could create it in your image, so you alone can reproduce it, and reimpress that defaced image. Jesus Christ, my Savior, the express image and character of your essence is that image and likeness I desire.

Therefore take from me, O Lord, that self-pity which love of myself so readily produces, and from the frustration of not succeeding in the world as I would naturally desire, for these have no regard for your glory. You alone know what is expedient of me. You are the Sovereign Master. Conform my will to yours, and grant that with a humble and perfect submission, and in holy confidence, I may dispose myself utterly to you.

O Lord, I know only one thing, and that is that it is good to follow you and wicked to offend you. Grant, O Lord, that being what I am, I may conform myself to your will. Unite me with yourself, fill me with yourself, and with your Holy Spirit. Enter my heart and into my soul, so that being filled by you, it no longer be I who lives, but you, O my Savior, who lives in me. AMEN.”

Merry Christmas, Brian

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Where's the Line to See Jesus?

A Christian friend of mine wrote to say “Merry Christmas" today and included a link to a song that I had not heard of before. This holiday song prompted by a 4-year-old's question, "Where's the Line to See Jesus?" and recorded by Becky Kelley has gone viral on YouTube with more than a million hits. With the politically correct's push in America to remove references of the birth of Jesus Christ by to replacing “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings”, & "Winter Break or Festival", it is refreshing to both hear this song's message, and see the growing popularity. The world needs a Savior today, as mush as ever before. It’s time that we proclaim the gospel proudly and boldly, because salvation is found nowhere else and people need to hear the truth. We all need to come to a "saving" faith in Jesus. Enjoy the video and Merry Christmas! Brian

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In Rememberance

Today, I just respectfully remember my priceless cousin Laura, who went to be with the Lord two years ago today. What a blessing she was, and an inspiration for all that got a chance to know her personally. She battled bravely, but succumb to breast cancer. She knew and loved the Lord, was dearly love and is dearly missed. I shall see her again one wonderful day in Heaven. I honor you today Laura.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Voice of God

Proverbs 7:24 Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth.

The late, Pastor Adrian Rogers gave this devotional thought: The United States Government doesn’t teach Treasury agents to detect counterfeit bills by having them study fakes. They show these agents real dollars over and over and over until they have the pattern memorized. Then, when a counterfeit is put in front of them, they recognize it instantly because it doesn’t fit the pattern their eyes are looking for. Do you know the voice of the Lord? The only way you can be sure that it is His voice you are hearing is to hear it so often that a stranger’s voice is instantly recognizable. It is far wiser to spend time learning the One True Voice than it is trying to learn to detect a multitude of false voices.

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].

The Lord instructs us to listen, to pay attention, to hear and heed His voice in the reading of His word given in the Holy Scriptures of the Bible. Why? Because, there are counterfeit voices in this world marketplace of ideas and opinions which are seeking everything from love, joy and peace through distractions from God, to power, position, and prosperity apart from the Lord, in selfish ambition, self-dependence, self-sufficiency and self-centered pride that defies God’s sovereign will and way, while luring and tempting others to do the same. This is done mostly through subtle omissions, compromises and mis-interpretations of God’s word in order to take the precepts, the instructions, and the teachings of God out of context. The result weakens, and can ultimately destroy, one’s faith, in confusion and uncertainty. Instead of hearing the voice of God, we are hearing a different voice.

Romans 10:17 "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

I once heard a saying: “Sin will keep you from God’s Word (the Bible), but God’s Word (the Bible) will keep you from sin.” The Lord gives us an ethic & moral code through His holy word that are not standards based upon feelings and lusts (as the secular world does), but upon true love, and meets our true needs. Lust is just an imitation of love. Make no mistake, there is another voice out there vying for your attention, your imagination and your mind, to turn your ears away from the One True Voice of God. Just like the example of the Treasury agents, we must read and study the truth in the Bible to recognize the true voice of our Lord and identify clearly the false voices of unbelief.

John 6:67-69 - So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."

When you take anything from the earthly realm and make it your God, it becomes a demon. But this is exactly what those who do not know the Lord and the true gospel of Jesus Christ are doing, preaching and teaching. God is love; not love is God. Joy ceases to when it is an end in itself, instead of a natural product of an end (such as in the “joy of our salvation”). God’s word given in Holy Scriptures of the Bible is the voice that we all need to be listening to and hearing daily for the truth on how to live in true love, joy and peace.

John 17:16-18 Jesus prayed, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

Our Creator, Father God sent his Son Jesus Christ, as a free gift, to pay the penalty for our sins and give us eternal life in heaven. What else higher could God do for those who are on the wide road to destruction in hell? May we remember from what great heights we all have fallen and the great lengths that our Maker has come, in giving us a Savior, to redeem our soul, regenerate our spirit, replace our heart, and restore our relationship with Him? Rejoice this Christmas for what God has already done for us in the encarnate visitation of God in the birth of Christ Jesus, the exemplary life of Christ, the atoning death of Christ, the conquering resurrection of Christ to the right hand of God to intercede for us. This is the message that the world needs to hear. This is the voice that the world needs to hear.

Merry Christmas, Brian

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's So Merry About Christmas?

Luke 2:8-14 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

The Sunday Sermon passage (above) drove the Congregation directly into “the meaning of the season”. The words of the angel of the Lord, with the glory of God shining the light from heaven, still brings good news of great joy to all people. The Savior of the world, the Messiah of God, the Lord Jesus the Christ was born. God incarnate (with skin on), Emmanuel, God among us. Redemption from the price of our sin and salvation from the penalty of eternal damnation had arrived from above. Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill toward every man, woman and child. This is a holy day! God the Father sent God the Son to save us. This is the celebration and something to be truly merry about. Tell everyone that you see, Merry Christmas! And tell them what you are merry about Christmas. This is the Happy Holy Day that the world needs to know.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Merry Christmas, Brian

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Easy Expedience of Repentance – Part Two

Romans 2:4-5 Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”

The church elder replies: “That would be true contrition. The fathers of the Jesuit church, by their superior wisdom, teach unanimously that it is an error, close to heresy, to represent contrition as essential and to maintain that the shallow remorse of sin arising solely from the fear of hell, which keeps someone from sinning openly, is not enough without the sacrament of sacred church rites. So profitable is this doctrine that our church fathers have released us from the troublesome obligation of loving God, which is the privilege of the evangelical as distinguished from the Jewish law. One authority says, ‘It is reasonable that by the law of grace in the New Testament, God should do away with the irksome and difficult duty which was attached to the rigorous law of exercising an act of complete contrition (repentance of sin) in order to be justified, and that he should institute church sacraments and rites to make up for our defects and to facilitate obedience.

Hebrews 5:14-6:1 “Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God."

“O Father,” Pascal bursts out, “I am horrified at these statements. You site them without and sign of disapproval. The liberty you take to corrupt the most sacred rules of Christian conduct extends even to the entire subversion of the divine laws. You violate the great commandment. You stab piety in the very heart. You take away and quench the spirit which gives life. You affirm that the love of God is not necessary to salvation. You even assert that ‘this exemption from loving God is a great benefit which Christ has brought to the world.’ All this is the very acme (culmination) and depth of impiety. What! The price of the blood of Christ obtains exemption from loving him! What strange theology we have in our days! You destroy what the apostle John says, that he that loves not abides in death! Even the declaration of Christ himself you take away: ‘He that loves me not keeps not my commandments’- (John 14:23-24). In this way you make those who never once loved God in all their lives worthy of enjoying his presence forever! Surely this is the mystery of iniquity now brought to completion.”

Acts 17:30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”

“O, my good Father, at last open your eyes. Let these latter examples undermine your confidence by their sheer extravagance. I wish this for you with all my heart and in all brotherly love, pray God that he would condescend to show you how false and dangerous is such teaching (of “cheap grace”). Instead may he fill with his love the hearts of those who dare to dispense others from this obligation.”

Revelation 3:3 “Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.”

May we keep the message of the gospel humble, keep it simple for all to understand, and keep it about Christ, our Lord, King of the kingdom, Savior of the world. May we, the children of God, stand up and stand firm when it is not, for Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, & the Life eternal.
Blessings, Brian

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Easy Expedience of Repentance – Part One

Matthew 4:16-17The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Back from the beauty of the western Sierra Nevada mountain range in central California. Taking time out to continue in the reading of the “Provincial Letters” of Blaise Pascal, I came to an excellent writing, “Letter 10”, of an exchange in quick and easy “Believism” within the church of 1656 that can and has arisen again and again, when the focus is taken off of the Kingdom of God. An anti-kingdom system that places Jesus into the background of life and glorifies humans by permitting biblical teachings and commands which formerly forbidden, as Pascel puts it: “heretical allowances devised to please all and offend none.”

Ephesians 5:6-8 “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”

An elder of the church explains to Pascal how people’s conscientious scruples and sense of guilt and shame may be remove, by showing that what was once supposed to be sinful is not really so, expiating real sins (mortal and venial) with ease. The principle removes all the embarrassment and unpalatable bitterness of confessing personal sins, preserving the esteem of the confessor. Include habitual sins when giving general confession, because, be it a Priest, a Pastor, an accountability partner or group, or trusted family member or close friend, “has no right to force the individual to confess sins to the shame of divulging his frequent relapses and falls.”

Pascal replies, “How can this be, Father? It’s like saying that a doctor has no right to ask his patient about the time when he was struck with a fever. Do not all sins differ from each other according to the circumstances? Ought not then a genuine repenting penitent disclose to his confessor the whole condition of his conscience, with the same sincerity and openness as if he were speaking to Jesus Christ? Is not that person far from having a true disposition if he conceals his frequent relapses in order to veil the seriousness of his transgressions? Do you think that a man deserves forgiveness when he objects to the least painful service (true conviction, guilt, or shame of that sin) to expiate (atone for) his offense? They truly have not repented in their heart and is not genuine. How can you imagine that a man who indulges in these occasions of sin can genuinely detest it? Is it not on the contrary too obvious that he is not aware of its enormity, as he should be, and that he is far from that true conversion of heart which would make him love God as much as he had before loved things? When you say that attrition (imperfect contrition due to defect in motive), arising solely from the fear of punishment, is sufficient with the sacrament for the justification of sinners, does it not follow that a person may expiate his own sins and be saved without ever loving God throughout his whole course of his life?

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

We'll pick up next post with the church edler's reply and Pascal's conclusion.

Blessings, in Christ, Brian

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Properly Fear the Lord

Proverbs 9:10 “ The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."

Up in the High Sierra Nevada mountains near Yosemite National Park in California, we are visiting my dad. With the early Fall snow dusting the pine covered slopes with fresh power, the panoramic vista is a true wonderland. Visiting my father's church for Sunday worship, we were privileged to hear the first Sermon of newly ordained Pastor Rolff on one of my favorite topics "the fear of the Lord". He kept it humble. He kept it simple. And he kept it Christ. Here are some of my notes.

Proverbs 16:6 "By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil."

In the past, preachers gave sermons on Hell fire and brimstone and it would (though true) put the fear of God into the hearer. Today, the church may have gone to the opposite extreme to preach that our Creator is just a God of love, ignoring His holy, just and righteous indignation of sin, and in doing so has forgotten the balanced message and true attributes of God. The fear of God includes awe, respect and reverence of our sovereign Almighty Lord, with a place for trembling because of our natural unclean state before Him.

Matthew 10:28 "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell."

We all stand as a convicted criminal before the pronouncement of the verdict of death (both soul and body in hell) for our willful sins. But for the Believer in Christ, sin is atoned for and we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus in our saving faith and repentance. The knowledge of our forgiveness and justification by the mercy and grace found only in the love of God. Our regenerated spirit is in a new heart willing to obey the statutes and commands, and desires not to disappoint or offend our Lord, our Maker, our Redeemer, our Savior with a desire to depart from that which is evil in the eyes of God. No fear of the Lord leads to a life of corruption, permissiveness, and the lack of motivation to turn to God to work our our salvation and miss out on the blessings in the love of God.

Proverbs 8:13 "The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate."

The fear of God, in full context, perfects the steps by step process of our holiness in sanctification. We need to pursue the knowledge of God through His holy Word and then we need to live it out in our lives. It does not good to talk the talk without walking the talk. The Lord tests us, as His loving children, because He wants us to know what is truly in our hearts, that we may grow and know victory in this world and truly live.

Proverbs 14:26-27 "In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death."

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pride & Humility

Psalm 10:2-4 In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, "There is no God."

In last Sunday’s sermon, our Pastor gave a message that each and every one of us need to reflect upon and take to heart. He asked, “What is life worth living for?” Honestly, who do we listen to and work to please – the enemy (the flesh, the world, & the Devil) or God (Father, Son & Holt Ghost)? Proverbs 16:17-19 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.

Temptation surrounds us, seducing us to grumble and complain about what we want, what we do not have and the way that we desire. Pride competes with God, as we want things our way, not His. The flesh tends to worship disobedience and rebellion and takes pleasure in fighting conformity. The notion that we are individuals that desires to do “our own thing”, even if it involves breaking the rules. That is the sin nature.

Mark 7:21-23 “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."

There is a doctrine of “Regeneration” that involves God do a work in us. This change in our heart is initiated by the Lord and we need to respond. This is not a change in mindset or behavior, but our will. We are transformed from the inside out and receive a new heart bent towards God. Not because we have to do the “right” thing, but because we want to do the “right” thing in the eyes of the Lord and His desires are our deepest desires, for His purposes, His good pleasure, and His glory as we cling to the redemptive blood of Jesus.
1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

We live for something higher then the distractions and temporary pleasures of this world. We put it all on the line for God and to be a part of where the Lord is moving today, as He cultivates our faith and knowledge of Jesus for our growth and maturity, while we depend and rely on His love and provision in aligning our desires with His and our moving with His movement in the world today. With love, joy and peace in humility, we affect the world for Christ. Amen

Colossians 3:11-13 “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Only One Way?

Acts 4:10-12 “Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Proclaiming the Jesus Christ is the only way to “Salvation” & “Heaven” is radically unpopular in the “Post Modern” philosophy of today’s culture. In a society that teaches moral relativism and all roads lead to heaven, it is important to understand and communicate the truth claims of Christianity, gospel of the Savior of the world, and why we believe ... our faith, our hope and our love in the God of the Bible. 1 Peter 3:15 In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

One way to salvation & heaven is God’s plan. There are no other gods. Exodus 20:1-3 And God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” You shall have no other gods before me. Sin suppresses the truth for a lie to serve the creatures and creation instead of the Creator (See Romans 1). All other religions belong to the generic category of anti-Christ. The Greek word means to be opposed to and pretends to be in the place of Christ. God only has one begotten Son. There is only one incarnation Emmanuel - God among us. There is only one Savior. What did He claim?

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

In America, all religions have equal tolerance under the law, but not validity. The law simply gives people the right to be wrong. There is only validity if there is no God, but there is one true God, who created us, giving us breath & live. This God does not give equal rights to toleration of other religions and calls all to repentance. Innocent people do not need a Savior, but all have sinned. No other religion has a Savior sent by a holy and just God to pay the penalty for our sins (imputing His perfect life on us) as a free gift to provide forgiveness, restoration of relationship with God, regeneration of spirit, salvation from Hell, eternal life in the kingdom of Heaven, adoption as Children of God, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Has God done enough?

John 1-5 & 9-13 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The question is not “why aren’t there many ways to God?” In a world that universally rejects and defies Him by sin, it is amazing that there is even one way. His mercy is amazing. It is truly amazing grace.
Thank you Jesus!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Compared by Light

Ephesians 4:17-24 “With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the (unbelieving) Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”

I now go to a Men's Bible Study at our church on Wednesday nights. Pastor leads the study (currently through the book of Ephesians) and the diversity in the group is fantastic, from 80 to 18, so many views are expressed and voiced. I've invited a couple friends to the Study group and they now attend regularly too. We are so blessed by the Spirit working through this time to mature our Christian walk and keep our focus on Christ and what is truly important in life in the great scripture messages that we experience. This passage above sparked such great discussion within the group that we didn't even make it through the whole text. That's great because "real" hearts were being poured out in the meaning and application for life today as Christians in an unbelieving world, full of temptation. Who we are and what we live for and why, took center stage. John 3:13 -21 sheds light on this very subject. We, living as Children of Light, stand for Jesus and His glory. Holiness is being set apart, as the body of Believers in an unbelieving world, by the Lord, for the Lord’s purposes; not man’s. This is where true love, peace, and joy flow.

Ephesians 2:6 - “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

the late Pastor Adrian Roger wrote: “Have you ever noticed that we buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like? We try to keep up with the Jones family, but when we finally catch up with them, they refinance! Let me exhort you to get off that comparison treadmill of this world's rat race and onto the pathway of serenity. You are accepted right now in Christ. God does not change you so He can love you. He loves you so He can change you! God loves you as much as He loves Jesus. If you are saved, you are in Christ. And where is He? He is seated in the heaven lies. You are also seated in those heavenly places, even though you still have your address on planet Earth. You are enthroned with Him.” When was the last time you compared yourself with someone else? It’s time to get yourself unharnessed from the comparison yoke and break free as a child of the King! Child of Light! Saved by Jesus! Incomarable glory!

Psalm 89:5-7 “And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints. For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the LORD? God is greatly to be feared (the fear of letting Him down) in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him."

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Imaginary Reality

Philippians 2:1-4 “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Many years ago, our old Pastor gave a Sunday Sermon on the destructive message given by reality shows on television where people were voted off the show. Competition shows had evolved to the point were the “best” person (most equipped to win) would not win the completion because they would be identified as the “greatest threat” with the “most potential” and simple be voted off by the lesser equipped contestants. Gossiping, back stabbing, alliances, and deals became the new strategy to “get an edge” on the competition, to end up on top and ultimately win. Check out this video of reality shows:

This last Sunday, our guest Pastor had the same message. “I didn’t come here to make friends. I came here to win!”, is the attitude that promotes the self-centered pride and malice towards others. It does not build community, nor love of others … let alone esteeming others better than ourselves. It has gone beyond survival of the fittest to pure “dog eat dog” mentality. We call this entertainment and then wonder why our society is disrespectful, confrontational, and hateful towards each other. For the sake of drama, we’ve not heeded the words of the Apostle and abandoned fair play, down-played the ethics of dedication, devotion and desire in hard work and honored the deceiver, liar and thief, who look out for their own interest only.

Proverbs 6:16-19 “These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.”

Is it time that we say: “Enough is enough”? Is it time that we start pointing to the Savior in our thought, word and deeds, to show the world the standards of life that are given by our Father in Heaven. When a person, a nation, or a world takes its eyes off the Lord, then depravity will soon follow. Let us promote and project the attitude of the heart of God and demonstrate the virtue of love in Christ.

Luke 10:27 “So he (Jesus) answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Your Truth (Part 3)

John 17:16-18 “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

The problem is that unbelief is not based on the truth, but a lie. They do not believe the truth that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth - Genesis 1:1, that the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being – Genesis 2:7. But, there is a day to come where each and every one of us will have to give an account of our thoughts, words, beliefs, decisions, actions and deeds. Reality is that there is a “come to Jesus meeting” for us all one day. Romans 14:10b-12 says, For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of themselves, their lives and their beliefs, to the Lord Christ himself. Judgment Day is Justice Day, when we all stand before Jesus, our Maker (read John1:3 &10). And the price to pay for unbelief and believing something other than the truth is eternal.

Psalm 96:12-13 “Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the LORD. For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth.”

Talking with my dad on this subject the other morning, he said that many claim to not believe in God because they do not want to stand before Him in their willful disobedience and intentional rejection of Him, their Creator, nor wish to face the consequences of their thoughts and actions here on Earth. And likewise, they do not believe in Hell because they do not want to be thrown into that lake of fire and torment for eternity by that God that they do not want to believe exists, but does. I have to agree. They want rebellion without wrath.

John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

The truth is that no one is going to get into Heaven on their own merit. None of us are good enough, none of us can earn our way to eternal life, and none of us can buy our way into the kingdom of God. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Psalm 119:142 “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth.” The wages (the price tag) of sin is death and a just Judge can not justly excuse a guilty person from paying the penalty for their offense. Psalm 119:151 “You are near, O LORD, and all Your commandments are truth.” But there is “good news! God sent His Son Jesus Christ to save us by taking our place and paying the penalty of our individual sin with the sacrifice of his own life. Jesus Christ is the TRUTH and the truth shall set us free from the bondage and price of sin, if we believe in Him, accept the free gift of , repent and cleave to the Lord, our Savior. The person, who told me that my truth was not their truth, also told me that I would have to be willing to leave if I didn’t accept theirs. But we are not told by God to leave the fight for souls. I pray that the light of truth shines through me and you to this lost and dying world seeking His truth. Psalm 119:160 “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.” Let's make His truth, our truth and in love tell the world the truth.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
While God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on.
Battle Hymn of the Republic - 1856 by William Steffe

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Your Truth (Part Two)

John 18:37-39 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

I heard a Pastor on the radio state that it is amazing what people will believe in when they refuse to believe in the One True God, Creator of Heaven & Earth. Secular humanists state that their godless pagan beliefs are tolerant of everyone, yet willfully state that they are intolerant of a sovereign God (their Maker) that sets rules, that tells us what is right to do and what is wrong to do in His holy & just eyes, that they must trust, obey, and follow. In truth, their obedience is to the sinful desires of the flesh, the world that tempts with temporal lawless living and pleasures which are disobedience to the word, will and way of Almighty God. They fall into the same deceitful lie of Satan that led to the original sin and fall of mankind: “you will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4) … “you will be like God” (Gen. 3:5); meaning you will be your own god.

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

Unbelief takes many different forms. Some take the path of Atheism, believing there is no God and no after-life. Some take the path of Naturalism, believing that nature and the Universe is God and worship the Creation. Others take the path of other religions which focus on self and are based on works and power within our own mind, body and soul. We recently saw a movie where a woman determines that she is no longer happy in her marriage, so leaves. Finds new men and travels to many places searching for happiness, to forgive herself and to love herself again. At a Guru resort in India discovers that “god is in her and god is her”. It is the worse movie that I’ve ever seen because it promotes an empty life and the pursuit of happiness in every direction, except towards the one true God, away from the only Lord & Savior of the world and true joy.

Proverbs 14:11-13 “The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the godly will flourish. There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.”

Everywhere you look, you see ministry because there is a world out there living a lie and looking for happiness in all the wrong places. More to come on the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, November 8, 2010

Your Truth (Part One)

Psalm 25:5 “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

The other day, I was talking to someone about the immorality and blatant disregard for biblical truth in the lives of so many Americans today. We were discussing moral and ethical standards in society today and where they originate from. Just about everyone agrees that there is a real lack of character, charity, honesty, integrity, manners, purity, et cetera in our culture in this day and age. This non-Christian, but religious person stated that “your truth is not their truth”. What they were saying was that all truth is relative to each individual’s belief system. What is true for me, may not be true for them and vise versa.

Psalm 26:2-4 “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth. I have not sat with idolatrous mortals, nor will I go in with hypocrites.”

What does that mean? Basically, that non-Believers do whatever they want with no conviction on “wrong-doing” because they personally decide their value system and moral standards, not some God that they do not know or care about … except for that Hell thing. The world that rejects God’s moral standards (statutes, teachings, laws and commandments) dogmatically proclaims that there are no absolutes; and that they are absolutely sure of that fact. Why?

Psalm 40:10-11 “I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your loving-kindness and Your truth from the great assembly. Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O LORD; Let Your loving-kindness and Your truth continually preserve me.”

What this person, and multitudes of others, was saying is that God is not their god, but they are their own lord & master of their life. They set their own standards to follow, which are based upon their individual desires of their body, mind, will and emotions. Pursuit of unbridled pleasures, happiness, and gain without boundaries or responsibilities are the goal as they call all the shots their way. By saying that biblical truth is not their truth, they are back-handedly saying that God (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) does not exist as the Bible declares and that Christians and Jews are living a lie. How many have put themselves on the throne of their own life, in control of what the do, where they go and who they “hang with” (good term), by their rules, following no one, but themselves … or are they?

Psalm 86:10-12 “For You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God. Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forevermore.”

Something to thing about. More to follow next post.
In Christ, Brian

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Dimensions of God's Love

Ephesians 3:12-21 “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored. When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”

So many take for granted the great height that mankind fell from in original Sin. What great and marvelous communion, relationship and live was broken with our Creator Father God that separated each and every one of us from the intended daily love, joy and peace of fellowship with our just and holy Maker. The sinful flesh, the God-rejecting world, and the demonic realm of Satan (the unholy trinity) are constant reminders of how impossible for infinite mankind to reach the infinite by our own plans, power and effort. It is only by God’s loving plan of Salvation through justification in Jesus Christ dying on that Cross to pay for each of our Sins against Him that any can be forgiven, the spirit inside each of our hearts be regenerated alive, that our relationship with Creator God be restore with total access to the father again, adoption into God’s family as heaven-bound children, citizenship in the kingdom of God, brothers & sisters with Jesus in our hearts as Savior, and sanctification begins strengthening and empowering of our inner most being through the Holy Spirit, growing daily into the likeness of Christ, our Lord.

Rooting our life on the solid ground of righteousness, and building in knowledge and understanding of the foundational love of Christ that encompasses every dimension (length x width x height x depth) and area of life this side of heaven, that only comes from God to accomplish Him glorious will and way towards His perfect plans and purposes here today, being revealed to his church (the Believers, the saints in Christ) daily, that all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Praise, and honor and glory to our Father God in Heaven and to our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ!

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"

I once heard the late Pastor D.J. Kennedy broadcast where he explained the origin of the modern American celebration of October 31. He explained that Halloween came from three streams.

(1) the Druid or Celtic New Year/Harvest festival called Samhain that included belief that on that New Year's eve,the earth came closest to the unseen spiritual world and believed that ghosts appeared. The Irish went to homes and asked for treats for the celebration. Later children dressed as ghost asked for the treats and if not generous, tricks by these ghosts would result.

(2) Secondly, Midle Ages Central European witchcraft celebration of the High or Black Sabbath of Witches on October 31 with feasting and revelry. this is where witches on flying brooms, black cats, skulls and pumplin heads came from.

(3) Thirdly, Pope Gregory III of the Roman Catholic church appointed November 1 as "all Saints Day, called Allhallowmas. The celebration associated on the evening before, on October 31, was called All Hallow E'en. All Hallow meaning all hallow ones ... the saints (the sanctified church). Hallow E'en contracted, we get the word Halloween.

Of course, in 1517 Martin Luther's 95 Theses were nailed to the church door in Wittenberg and sprung into existance that October 31 as the birthday of Protestantism, or the Evangelical faith. Soli gratia (sloely by grace), Soli Christus (only by Christ), & Soli Fides (only by faith) constituted the three streams of eteral live that flow from the throne of God. Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world is the gift of all gifts. Happy Halloween because, not dressed up children, but Jesus Christ, stands at the door and knocks.

Blessings, Brian

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I’ve Got Some Good News & I’ve Got Some Bad News

Ephesians 1:18-2:5 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he (Father God) has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air (the Devil), the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

Going through this great epistle of Ephesians by the Apostle Paul, wonderful foundational truths come clear; truths that the world system contrary to God does not know or understand, and that our hearts need to be enlightened to daily, as a reminder in a culture of contradictory humanistic ideas. A world that claims tolerance, community and peace, but is either ignorant of or rejects God and is indifferent or hostile to their Maker. And this Creator God has a hope to which He has called us, knowledge of His glorious inheritance to His children and of His incomparable great power for us; power immeasurably more than, beyond and above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given forever and always. And with this supreme power, God the Father placed all things under the authority of God the Son (Christ Jesus– God incarnate) and appointed Lord over everything for the body of Believers – the church, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. What “good news” this is! But there can not be “good news” if there isn’t some “bad news”. And this is what the world is missing and not seeing.

When we hear someone say: “I have some good news and some bad news”, we reply: “Give me the bad news first”. Here is the truth: As for you (and me and everyone), you were (Spiritually) dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live; gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. We were by nature objects of wrath. All have sinned and fell short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). In willful disobedience to the sovereign rule and authority, power and dominion of Almighty God, we have crossed the line, fell into Satan’s trap and missed the mark set by God by putting ourselves before Him, and our desires before His. And in doing so, broken relationship with Maker and placed ourselves in the position of paying the price for it. Strange how we want to break the rules and then not want to pay the penalty for breaking them. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) … Spiritual Dead … the death of the Spirit (as I explained in “The Three-fold Nature of Mankind”). In John 14:23-24 Jesus said to him, `If a person loves me, he will obey me. My Father also will love him. And we will come to him and will live with him. The person who does not love me does not obey me. The word which you hear is not my word. It is my Father's word. He is the one who sent me. Who do we really, truly love and obey? The bad news is that in our love of ourselves and the lawless world, which led to our willful disobedience and violation of God’s rule and authority, our Spirit was dead. We were by nature objects of wrath.

But there is “good news”! Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Though we were spiritually dead in sin and hell bound for it, loving Father God, in pure mercy and grace for us, sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the price and penalty for our sins, forgave us, saved us and gave us eternal life, regenerating our Spirit, giving us a new heart bent towards God and against sin, restored our relationship with our Creator, changed our destiny from Hell to Heaven, through the Savior as a free gift – not earned, not purchase, and not deserved by us. We have nothing to give to pay what Jesus paid. God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. We have something to praise the Lord about everyday and all day long, because the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23-24). Something to shout about!

Glory to God and peace on Earth, through Christ! Mercy & grace, Brian

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sharing Faith Begins at Home

Psalm 78:1-7 “O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past— stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” (NLT)

I was listening to one of the local Southern California Christian radio stations today (KWVE 107.9) and the Pastor was talking about how our society has digressed in character and morals today. As the culture has taken its focus off God and Christ and the Bible for its moral compass and guide, the nation and the world has lost its way and its identity. This is not a surprise; just about everyone I know thinks that the populace is in the worse state of disorder they have ever seen and in need of revival. The radio pastor spoke about times past, not so long ago and that I remember, where the virtues of courtesy, politeness, honor, respect, modesty, purity, honesty, patriotism, faithfulness, loyalty, hospitality, integrity, thoughtfulness, and spirituality were the standard and acceptable manner of daily live. Children and adults were offended, confronted and corrected improper and unacceptable behavior because we followed a biblical morality and our parents taught us this in our daily upbringing. Today, the vices of pride, lust, vanity, profanity, lewdness, promiscuity, envy, willful disobedience, malice, strife, deceit, lying, stealing, cheating, and lawlessness stand unchecked and unabated. The answer is clear, but being missed. Jesus Christ changes hearts, that in turn changes lives.

I heard that Satan baits the hook and the god rejecting world dangles the bait in front of the flesh, but it is the flesh (our carnal mind, will and emotions) that ignores the hook and takes the bait. How are we to “walk in the Spirit” if we do not abide (live) in the word, will and way of God; if we do not read and study the Bible, seriously pray in commune with our heavenly Father, hang and worship with brothers and sisters in the faith, parents that teach their children about the Lord and hold them accountable, and Christians that stand up for virtues and stand against vices in the eyes of God Almighty. John 3:17-18 “He who believes in Him (Jesus) is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” What the world, the society and the culture needs is faith in Jesus Christ – the Savior of the world. There can be revival in America today. And sharing faith begins at home, then out to the community, the state and nation. Unbelief is big, but belief is bigger and God is in control.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Unity in Christ

Ephesians 2:11-22 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

The joy of our salvation stems from looking back and remembering the deplorable state that our soul was without Christ Jesus. We must know what we have been saved from before we can realize what we have been saved to. We must be lost before we can be found. Our Bible Study group was wowed by this lesson. My Matthew Henry commentary states that the natural, unregenerate man (prior to conversion and transformation) is destitute of faith with no saving knowledge or interest in Christ. We were aliens of Christ’s church, with on in the Mediator of the covenant and partake in none of the promises. We had no hope beyond this life, no hope in God, no hope of spiritual and eternal blessings. We were in a state of distance and estrangement from God, without any due regard for Him, nor any acknowledged dependence on Him. We were far off from Christ, from his promises, from the Christian hope, and from God himself; and therefore from all good. Unconverted sinners remove themselves at a distance from God, and God puts them at a distance. This is the state of the unregenerate “fallen” mankind.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. In the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus our sins are paid, our relationship with God reconciled & restored, our spirit is “born anew”, eternal life through Him is given, the ceremonial laws were abolished, uniting God’s chosen people (the Jews) with the Gentiles under one Savior and Messiah and establishing peace in the through Himself. No longer foreigners, but fellow citizens of the household of God in the kingdom of Heaven. Fitted together perfectly by God’s design to work together to grow into a holy temple in the Lord; a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. It is no small privilege to be placed in the church of Christ, and to share with the members of it, near to God. (Matthew Henry) There is unity in the body of Christ; in the Believers and disciples of Jesus. Are we living it out today? Remember!

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Three-Fold Nature of Mankind

1 Thessalonians 5:23 "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

At our Wednesday night Man’s Bible Study, the discussion came up about the difference between the Believer and the Unbeliever, the regenerate person and the unregenerate person and the apostate; the saved and the unsaved. In our study of Ephesians 2: 1-3, it was brought up that mankind is a tripartite creature; created by God from the earth with a three-fold nature of body, soul and spirit. What died when Adam & Eve sinned was the "Spirit" nature of man. Genesis 2:15-17: Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

The late Dr. J. Vernon McGee of “Thru the Bible Radio” ( explains: The first nature is the physical, the Body with natural senses and biological functions and processes to function and preserve that need and desire to be cared for and maintained. Food & hunger, water & thirst, air & breath, tired & sleep, et cetera. When this life is over, that 15 element body returns to the earth – dust to dust. Genesis 2:7 “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
The second nature in mankind is the Soul, our Psuche (where we get our word psychology). The soul is the psychological nature (mind, will & emotion), which directs us in our approach to the physical universe today. The soul is self-conscious and carnally sensual in behaviorism that uses the mind, will & emotion to fulfill desires for physical and psychological needs (actual & perceived), as well as desires for beauty, music, entertainment, including the immoral sin nature (adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like - Galatians 5) of the natural man, lacking the Spirit and walking after the flesh. The natural man (in body & soul nature only) is a sinful nature because it controls the body & soul. Those of the flesh think and seek after the physical and sensual desires, which is carnality and death, because living in the “lower” nature (without the spiritual nature) has no relationship with God. The carnal-minded man can not be reformed because the psychological nature cannot be brought into obedience to God. Fellowship is broken. 1 Corinthians 15:42-49 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

Romans 7:24 to 8:1-14 “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons (and daughters) of God.”

The third nature in mankind is the Spirit, the Pneuma (where we get our word pneumatic), God’s breath of life. The spiritually-minded nature that longs for God, that seeks the Lord, thinks after the Spirit of God, and desires to worship. In the “Fall of Man” in the Garden of Eden, Sin caused the spirit nature of Adam to die. Because of “original sin”, we walk around physically alive, but spiritually dead. You are in the spirit when the Spirit of God dwells within you. At conversion, while spiritually dead in trespasses & sins, we hear the gospel of Jesus, by the grace of God the Spirit of God applies the gospel to our heart and we trust & believe in Christ. Being “born again”, born of the Spirit, our Spiritual nature is reborn, regenerated, quickened, given life by the Holy Spirit and we have a capacity for God. There is no power in the new nature, but the Holy Spirit now dwells within the Believer, to help us, teach us, mature us in sanctification, and interpret the Word of God for us. There will be conflicts and struggles between the spirit (fruits of the Spirit) and the soul (the desires & works of the flesh), this side of Heaven. The flesh pulls man down and the spirit pulls man up. But if we walk in the Spirit we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Jude 1:17-21 "But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rightly Dividing - Part 2

2 Timothy 2:9b-17a “The Word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer.”

Just last week at my Men's Bible Study, an 18 year old asks "Can you believe in God & Heaven, but not believe in Satan and Hell?' Why doesn’t he know? A college aged young lady, that was raised in the church, asks me, "Since Jesus died for the sins of the world, isn't everyone going to Heaven, whether they believe in & follow Him or not?" Why is this not known? A famous Talk Show host says: "I am a Christian who does not believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven", when in John 14:6 Jesus clearly says “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” It's tough when everyone is now being indoctrinated with a flawed "all roads lead to Heaven" Theology, and have totally wrong views and perceptions of Christianity, Christ, and God. I love Theology - the study of God, and feel that it is a natural affect of sanctification (growing, maturing, learning and applying faith)."

Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 (NKJ) says: I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I've never taking a "Comparative Religion" college course, but have heard from many that it has changed from examining the "truth claims" of the world religions, to now “embracing” the truth claims of all religions and “accepting” them on the same level us your own. All roads lead to Heaven? Sounds like "Universalism" and a globalist world view by secular humanism. A "There is not us and them, there is only us" One-world type thinking that rejects the God of the Bible. As the popular phase goes "we have a God-shaped hole in our heart." But trying to put anything beside Jesus Christ in to fill our heart desires, because the Lord is the "uncommon" denominator – the only way in God’s Plan of Salvation for us. This is the message of eternal life that God has put in each and every heart, that the unknowing world does not see and the unbelieving world does not want to hear.

We need to recognize that though God wishes none to perish, many make the personal choice not to accept the free gift of salvation by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for their sins, and some are even hostile toward God & Christianity. But we also need to realize that there are many in this lost & dying, prepared by the Holy Spirit of God, that are just waiting to hear about the Lord’s salvation from us … and that begins in our own families. Pastor Gregg states that Christianity contains very specific beliefs or doctrine, feelings and emotions that are to be utilized for God’s glory and the good of others, and a pattern or lifestyle of living. Walking in the Spirit, Living for Christ, Seeking the Lord, Looking at the world through the Biblical Christian world-view, Staying devoted in the Holy Word, Praying continuously, Loving God & love others are specific out-pouring from the regenerated heart. But isn't the transformed heart by the Holy Spirit by way of redemption through the blood of Christ, that leads to a restored relationship with Father God though the finished word of the Lord Jesus, the root goal?

Lord Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJ) “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." I want people that are blindly going down the wrong road to see that the wide road of unbelief and other gods leads to “their” destruction (meaning that they are on it and not going to heaven), to repent of their sins, reject the sinful world system, get off that broad road and separate themselves from all that which does not please God. To seek, find and follow Jesus, the Savior of the world, through the narrow gate of salvation by grace through faith, and thereby find the true love, joy and peace in their heart, spirit and soul that they've been missing and looking for in all the wrong places; a restored relationship with their heavenly Father God and eternal life. To stop living egocentric lies that leads to death and start living the abundant life in the TRUTH. Jesus Christ came to give His life, to be “life giving”. Popular or not, it is the gospel truth, the way and the life … and must be told to all. Not just for this side of Heaven, but for eternal happiness.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rightly Dividing - Part 1

Jude 1:1-4 “To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Reading a Blog post from fellow ministry writer and friend Pastor Gregg Metcalf on the subject of Religion @, it came to mind how biblical terms have been hijacked by the world system that is contrary to God’s sovereign rule and order, to twist and bend the meaning of words (like religion, spirituality, and Christian) to distort and deceive; to state that what is wrong in the eyes of the Lord is right, and vice versa, in an attempt to psychologically escape the consequence of unbelief. Not only does such practices affect the things that we do, but also, the way that we think, our relationship with our Lord God, and harms others. Pastor Gregg is right in saying that we need to seek, learn, & know the holy scriptures that we may rightly divide the word of truth and live out these biblical terms daily, as intended by the Lord; not being deceived, but standing firm in the true faith of God’s truth. The term Religion, for example, in the public square has taken on a humanistic definition today that attempts to find common ground between all World Religions, where the Word of God tells "Followers of Christ" to be holy, meaning "set apart" from sin & unbelief . The unregenerate soul, whose Spirit is dead in sin, is spiritually blind and does not understand the gospel. Christians are “In the world, but not of the world”, as a disciple of Christ, A child of God, a citizen of Heaven, Ambassadors from the Kingdom of God to minister in this lost and dying world. To be a light on the hill for all to see in the darkness of unbelief and ignorance of the truth, pointing the way to the only Savior of the world, Jesus Christ in love and compassion. Christianity is 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 - Romans 3:21-24. The entire world, all of mankind, has sinned and continues to sin against the “just & righteous” Creator God of the Universe. But God’s love found a way to settle the debt, forgive the sin and redeem us.

John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

In Christ, Brian