Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Renewing of Your Mind

Romans 12:1-2I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” KJV

Today there is a crisis of the mind. This culture preaches to its followers the creed of “living by emotion”, when the true way to the transformed heart is through the renewing of the mind. The world says, “if it feels good, do it”. But the Bible tells us to sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you (3Peter 3:15). I heard today that the heart that responds to something which it has no intelligible understanding is pure emotionalism. A true heart-felt passion only happens through understanding. We seek and serve the Lord that we may grow in grace and mature in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. We can not have it in the heart until we first have it in our mind, and how can we tell other that which we do not know? We can not love what we know nothing about. It is not about how we feel, but what we think and understand.

1Peter 1:13-16 tells us, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” It is about the ethic of God, not the ethics of this sinful, God-rejecting world. Morality is the study of how people act in a given culture. Ethics is the study of how people should act. God is concerned about what we are doing, not what everybody else (the sons of disobedience) is doing. The world would not have us think in terms of ethics, but in terms of morality because morality is defined in the indicative, where ethics are defined in the imperative. We are to gird our minds and guard our hearts against the patterns of this world by discerning the difference between these patterns and the patterns which we are called as Christians; not mindlessly, but mindfully. To be growing daily by the continuous act of sanctification, being changed through the rebirth transformation of our minds by the Holy Spirit. Remember who we belong to, and what it means to be a Christian. Be holy as our Father in Heaven is holy – pure and set apart from sin, as an obedient Child of God. God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) is Lord; not this world.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, March 27, 2010

In the Hand of God

Isaiah 42:5-6aThis is what God the LORD says— he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.

The world seems so big, and the problems of this world (i.e. war, terrorism, socialism, politics, radical extremist groups, stock market, financial, & economic down-turns, health-care, social break down in morality, violence, natural disasters, etc.) on top of the demands on our time (fast paced busyness of appointments, obligations, errands, chores, work, entertainment, personal health & fitness, budget, bills, family, friends, home, church, etc.) can feel overwhelming, bringing us to our wits end, and affect our spiritual fruit of joy, peace, patience, gentleness and self-control.

I’m not even going to mention traffic jams or getting cut-off on the roadway by another vehicle. But what I am going to mention is that we really need to step back, when our problems appear so big, and think about how big God the Lord is, because He is bigger than any and all problems in the world, and we can trust Him and His promises. As the passage tells us, He created the heavens, the earth, and all that come out of it. He gives breath to its people and life to those who walk on it. God not only created everything, but orders, rules and maintains everything with love and care in righteousness. And he has called each and every one of us to righteous living by His perfect Word, Will and Way, that the fruit of the Spirit may fill our hearts and overflow from us towards others. We, His beloved children, know that we can take our problems to Him daily because the passage goes on to speak about our close personal relationship with our creator Father. He is so big that He created everything, yet comes to each one of us to, individually, take hold of our hand.

In John chapter 15, our Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, gives a vivid picture of our safe and secure position as Children of God, verses 27-30, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." We hear of the patience of Job, who, though he, literally lost everything, did not sin in his great loss and was able to say with a faithful and grateful heart, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (JOB 1:21). Despite any problems in this life, our God the Lord is bigger than any problem, and we are always and forever in His loving and secure hand. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

In His hand, Brian

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Away With the Flesh

Romans 8:1-9 “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.”

The season of Lent in Christian tradition, is the period of the liturgical year leading up to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, penitence. almsgiving and self-denial — for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. During the 40 day season of Lent, one of my peers gives up eating any meat on Fridays. This tradition of self-denial comes from the past festival of "Carnival"; a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent, which mark an overturning of daily life for the Lord. The festival usually builds up to a crescendo in the week before lent, ending on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) – the last day before they have to give up something for Jesus, who gave His life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, so fatten up as much as you can today. The word “carnival” comes from the Latin expression carne vale, which means away with the meat (where the meatless Fridays comes from). But the true translation depicts carne vale as "a farewell to the flesh", meaning away with the sinful desires of the human flesh, explained in the Romans verses above, and live according to the Spirit. “Away with the flesh; live by the Spirit!” Doesn’t this make a whole lot of sense? It’s the message of the Bible. Prepare the way for Christ in your heart.

Romans 8:12-17 “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 of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Abiding in Jesus Christ

John 15:9-11As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” NKJ

For another season I am coaching Little League baseball and enjoying the time spent with our future generation, working on their skills and knowledge of baseball, but also developing and improving their sense of self-worth and confidence, while teaching them the virtues of self-motivation, teamwork and the valuing & caring about others. Dedication, devotion and desire are not terms we hear much these days in the process of becoming the best that we can be. But in this way, these kids discover that the standards that they were taught produce expectations, responsibility and confidence in their ability to succeed in a competitive culture where they can stand firm with faith, abiding in their life-lessons learned and a process that allows them to continue to grow and mature, naturally, as a way of life, filled with joy. Now was I talking about Little League baseball players or all of us?

We are not all gifted athletes, but Christians are all gifted children of God (1Corinthians 12). Our salvation and forgiveness was bought with a price; that redeeming death on the Cross in Calvary, in our place, by our Savior Jesus Christ, who conquered sin and death in the resurrection from the dead, and ascension into Heaven to the right hand of God. He will come again to take us to heaven and be with Him (John 14:1-6). The day that we accepted the free gift of eternal life in Jesus and believed, we were given a new heart that sees, understands and loves the truth, plus the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of truth) to guide us today into paths of righteousness in that light of truth as adopted sons and daughters in the family of God (brothers and sisters in Christ). Jesus Christ loves us and is Lord of our lives, on our joyful and purposeful walk with Him daily, in line and in step with the Spirit. We have been given the living Word of God, in the Holy Scriptures of the Bible to grow and mature as disciples (followers and students) of the Lord, connected to and abiding in the life-giving source, like the branches of a grape plant to the vine’s trunk, providing the water and nutrients from the Earth to grow and produce good fruit in abundance (John 15:1-8). To abide means to dwell, inhabit, live, reside and sojourn in a constant and enduring manner. On this side of eternity, we are to use the resources that God has provided us, to seek, learn and live by the Lord’s loving and perfect commandments, with dedication, devotion and all of our desire, to align our hearts, minds and souls with His teachings, statutes, and decrees, that we may please our Lord, live in the confidence of our citizenship in the Kingdom of God, experience the joy of Christ remaining in us and our joy may be full. Trust and live for Christ.

John 14:23-24Jesus answered, If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him. Anyone who does not [really] love Me does not observe and obey My teaching. And the teaching which you hear and heed is not Mine, but [comes] from the Father Who sent Me.” AB

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Whole Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-17Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

I believe that Satan (the father of lies) tries to use doubt and negative feelings in Believer’s to trip up our faith, produce fear and put the children of God on the defensive. But with our citizenship in heaven, I recall 2 Timothy 1:7-8For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but He has given us a spirit of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. Do not blush or be ashamed then, to testify to and for our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake, but with me take your share of the suffering to which the preaching of the Gospel may expose you, and do it in the power of God.”(AB) And with this spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind, discipline and self-control that the Lord has given, we can be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Have you ever heard the phase, “I read the end of the book and we win!”? That book being the Revelation in the Bible – the word of God. Fear not.

Ephesians 6:11-17Put 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.”

Note that the Christian is neither to attack nor advance, but stand firm against the devil’s assaults in battle on the spiritual level, trusting in the armor truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith and salvation. To stand facing the adversary because (I’ve heard that) the armor was heavy and open on the backside, so to turn and run would expose the unarmed body to the ferocious attacks of Satan. Note also that the full armor of God consists of five defensive pieces (the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation) to protect, and one offensive item (the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God). With these, we are not only well armed to confront the devil’s schemes, but fully armored and secure. Live in the truth of the Kingdom of Creator God, in the right relationship with God Almighty, in the Good news of the Price of Peace, in the grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ and our salvation in no other, and the living Word of God found in the scriptures for in the holy Bible alone. This is the whole armor of God. Put it all on daily and stand firm, for we do it all for our Lord & Savior Jesus.

John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

In Christ, Brian

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-18Be 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.”

This awesome passage of scripture is loved and has provided so much strength to many Christian brothers and sisters that I know. It was obvious, early in my walk of discipleship and serving the Lord that the vision and goal was working in the fields that Jesus said that the harvest was plentiful, but the workers are few (Luke 10:2). But the Lord equips the saints because, though the road is not smooth and evil lurks along the sides, reaching those who do not know the love of God in Christ is the harvest. We are not sent defenseless, nor without the power of the Spirit of God behind our pilgrimage here. The armor is real, yet spiritual, to stand firm in the attacks that will and do come to extinguish (not some, but) all the flaming arrows of the evil one. I will go into greater later, but wanted to let you know that our home personal computer was infected by a massive attack of virus’, but will not stop this blog for the Lord and His worker. It was a blessing that we received this laptop lately, and this ministry shall stand firm. It’s time that we take a good look at the full armor of God and use each part for the glory of God. I shall continue this message soon.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Speak the Truth in Love

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

The late Pastor Adrian Rogers said: “We are living on the defensive instead of the offensive. Focus on the light and not the darkness. Shining God’s light in a dark world is a full time job. We need to move beyond the defensive line of Christianity and move on to the offense – advancing the Kingdom, fulfilling the Great Commission, and telling others about Jesus. Our Shepherd will never lead us where His strength cannot keep us. He will never lead us down a path that He hasn’t first walked down Himself. Satan knows that if you start to feel negatively about God, then he can have his way with you in other areas. Take courage. Be strong. Jesus has won the victory for you!”

The single most important issue in life is Salvation. Without forgiveness of sin by our just and holy Creator, the end of this life’s road and eternity is Hell, so the ultimate question to each and every one of us from God is “What will you do with My Son Jesus Christ?” There are so many that have never heard, do not know or understand the “Good News” of salvation. Those who have rejected the free gift of eternal life deny and oppose the Bible and God. Living in enmity with their Maker and without a future, existentialism is their entire focus to distract their attention and mind from their destiny with perdition. Without a living and personal God that orders yesterday, today and tomorrow, all that matters is now, today, this moment, then it is gone. Secular humanism, materialism, hedonism, naturalism, reflects the narcissism that loves sin and rejects God. They actively attempt to put believers on the defensive and not tell others about the Savior, while they indoctrinate society with atheism and agnosticism rejecting a Deity with supernatural power that holds judgment over them and their self-absorbed sinful desires and live-style. This is why Jesus commissioned all who He saved and follow to take the gospel to the unknowing and deceived. Salvation is the goal. Is it true love to allow this lost and hell-bound world to go without telling them about the Savior? Would we want one person in the eternal torment of that “lake of fire” to say that “nobody told me about Jesus”, the Redeemer, who died for my sins?

I saw this prayer in an email sent to me from a California ministry: “So many are overwhelmed by the snares of sin; that is not able to see, know, or live God’s truth. Pray for those whom you know are causing suffering through sexual promiscuity, unfaithfulness, and rebellion, and for those who are clothed in the grief of divorce, abortion, and disobedience. Pray that we, Christians, would wrap ourselves in a spirit of compassion. Pray that we would indeed be known by our love for each other – and for the seeking and saving of the lost and hurting around us. God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. Pray, too, that our culture would find a relationship with Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for the cleansing and regeneration of fallen humanity.” Let’s pray and more. Let’s also tell them about the love of God and salvation in Jesus, that they may walk from the darkness into the light of life. A life with a future; a life worth living in love.

1John4:7-19Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”

In Christ, Brian