Thursday, July 29, 2010

Put On Christ

Romans 13:10-14 “Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desire and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."

In Matthew 22:36-39, to the question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.” The Apostle Paul explains that love fulfills God’s Law when you love your neighbor as yourself, as you treat others as you treat yourself, which is well. The famous “Golden Rule of Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” is saying the same thing, because we all want others to treat us well. Think of the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses in from Exodus 20:13-17 – murder, hatred, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting and envy would cease. Think of the seven things that God detests from King Solomon’s Proverbs 6:16-20 – pride, shed of innocent blood, wickedness, evil and dark deeds, lies, slander and seditious trouble-making would come to an end. The heart attitude of God’s love is to do no wrong to others because such actions and behavior would cause them harm and sadness. Our Spirit led heart, mind and soul would ask: “Why would I do that?” because love, joy and peace are the purposes and emotions of the child of God, who is love. The Laws, Commands, statues, desires and purposes of the Lord would be the natural wishes of our heart. They are loving guidelines to keep; not pervert or break. What kind of world would we have, if everyone loved their fellow man, woman and child like this? Godly and Good.

Wake up! Salvation is near. Eternity is just up ahead. Remove the dirty clothes of the godless flesh, the lawless world system and darkness of Satan’s schemes that lead to death and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Want people to see Jesus and not us. Then the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control would over-flow out of our hearts towards others, that together we may bring glory, honor and praise to the Lord; the good Shepherd that gave His life for His people, that we may not just survive, but to live; to have life and have it to the full. Put on Christ.

For Jesus,

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

John 1:1-5 & 9-14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Talking to a young lady in College, she asked “Since Jesus died for the sins of the world, doesn’t that mean that the penalty for sin was paid by Christ and everybody is going to heaven now?” I saw where she was going, because so many of her friends, family members, and classmates did not receive or believe in Jesus, nor live by biblical morals and standards from God, and she didn’t want any of them going to hell, yet didn’t want to offend them with the gospel message either. Isn’t it strange how it is acceptable to offend God, but not acceptable to offend people. I explained that a gift is not a gift, unless the recipient accepts and receives the gift. The gift giver can offer the free gift, but if the intended receiver refuses it, then it is not truly a gift. I gave the example of the doctor that examined a patient, and then met with them to say that they had an illness that was poisoning their body and they would surely die, but then puts a bottle of medicine on the table and says that this is a cure that would save their life. The doctor says “Here, I give it to you free, as a gift to save you.” If the patient refuses to receive that antidote, though it would save them, they die. But people want to refuse the medicine, and live. Spiritually speaking, they want to willfully live in sin against God and still go to heaven. But you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t have it both ways – yours and God’s.

The problem is that many people want to be the ruler/god of their own life and live contrary to God’s moral and ethical standards and commands, yet not pay the consequences (punishment) for their disobedience and rejection. The pride of life is self-serving for self-gratification. This is the “world” – the human system that opposes God’s purpose. It’s not the love of God, but truly the love of self – the commitment is to no one else. Who is on the throne and who is serving who? In John 12:25-26 Jesus said, “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

Apologist Blasé Pascal writes, “The world is a stage for the exercise of mercy and judgment. It is not as if mankind were created by the hands of God, but as if they were God’s enemies, granted by His grace enough light of truth to return if they wish to seek and follow Him. Yet they also have enough light to receive punishment if they refuse to seek or follow Him. Jesus came to blind those who have clear vision and to give sight to the spiritually blind (Read John 9:38-41). He came to call sinners to repentance and justify them, and yet to lead the righteous to their sins. But he came “for a sanctuary and a stone of stumbling” as Isaiah 8:14 says. We all seek satisfaction, and only differ according to the object in which we locate it.” James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God”

Last Sunday, I was visiting my dad and his church invited a guest pastor to give the sermon message. Pastor Jon Venema of Grace Community Church of Visalia exhorted us to quit being a disciple of the world and commit ourselves to being disciples of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Quit letting other secular people determine how we are going to live and behave; our habits and our attitudes. It is God that meets our heart needs, not the world, so let’s not look to others, outside of the Lord, for true love’s source. Love your neighbor as yourself, do to others as you would have them do to you, love like Jesus loved, but follow the Lord and let Him flow through you and direct your walk along the path of life. Receive God’s love. John 15:19 Jesus tells us, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

John 14:23-24 “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”

Believe & receive, trust in and live for Christ. Piece of cake!
In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Two Cents Worth

1 Peter 3:13-15 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened."But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Last Sunday, I was spending a long weekend with my dad at Bass Lake, California. On top of the time in the beauty of the Pine covered Sierra Nevada Mountains with my dad, I got the opportunity to attend his church’s Men’s breakfast and give the devotional message on Saturday morning. I gave my father’s Pastor a Civil War U.S. two cent piece (the first American coin to bear the National motto) to remember the message that it is “In God We Trust” daily and to always give our “two cents” worth as Christians to a world that needs Jesus. Here’s the history (from Coin Community family) on this unique coin that was only minted for ten years … The motto and the coin itself were both direct results of the Civil War.

By the end of 1862, with the war in its 21st month, virtually all U.S. government coinage had vanished from circulation; hoarders and speculators, joined by millions of just plain frightened Americans, had set aside every coin they could get their hands on. On Dec. 8, 1863, Mint Director James Pollock wrote to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase recommending the issuance of a two-cent piece. Up to then, U.S. coinage had carried no reference to a supreme being. But that was about to change, thanks largely to the strong religious fervor born of the Civil War. In 1861, a Baptist minister, the Rev. Mark R. Watkinson of Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, had written a letter to Secretary Chase urging that provision be made for "the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins." Said Watkinson: "This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed." Clearly, Chase had taken this appeal to heart: On November 20, 1861, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Portland Chase wrote to the Direct of the mint in Philadelphia: "Dear Sir, No nation can be strong except in the strength of God or safe except in His defense. the trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins. You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition."

Watkinson didn't come up with the words IN GOD WE TRUST. On the first trial striking of the two-cent piece, the motto that appeared was GOD OUR TRUST. Numismatic scholar Walter Breen theorized that the final form was influenced by the motto of Chase's alma mater, Brown University: IN DEO SPERAMUS, a Latin phrase meaning "In God we hope." However it happened, IN GOD WE TRUST was the version picked in the end.

Congress didn't stipulate the motto in the legislation authorizing the two-cent piece, which won passage on April 22, 1864. That law simply gave Treasury officials discretionary authority concerning inscriptions on the nation's minor coins. On March 3, 1865, this authority was extended to gold and silver coins and, for the first time, IN GOD WE TRUST was specifically mentioned. Use of the motto wasn't mandated, however, until 1908; and even then, the order applied only to gold and silver coins. Not until 1955 did Congress enact legislation requiring the inscription on all U.S. coins.

I pick up these God inspired coins, wherever I can, and hand them out as ministry tools. As I tell those who receive these two cent pieces about the coin that first bore the words “In God We Trust”, I encourage them all to tell others about the God who loves them so much that He sent His Son to pay for our sins, the God that they trust, and to always give their “two cents” worth to this world, giving the reason for the hope that you have. Now I give the same encouragement to you … give the world your “two cents”, because it is “In God We Trust”!

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln overheard someone remark that he hoped "the Lord was on the Union's side." Lincoln gave a straightforward reply: " I am not at all concerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side."

In Christ, Brian

Friday, July 16, 2010

Child of God

John1:12-13 "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

To receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our life and believe in His name is to receive salvation from sin & death and receive eternal life in heaven. Accepted as sons and daughters of Father God is to receive citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, our home. But we are here on Earth, as Ambassador's for Christ, bringing the customs, habits, moral & ethical standards of our King's domain to a world that does not know that Lord. To be holy means to be set apart from the desires of the world system whose desires are contrary to the standards and purposes of God. Peer pressure to join secular world views can be tremendous. Make no mistake, these worldly desires tempt our flesh's sin nature with appealing offers, but we must walk in line with the Spirit that dwells within our heart, and walk obedient to God's Word found in the Bible . The issue is obedience or compromise, liberty or slavery, pleasing God or pleasing men. Do not be influenced by their distractions and products of unbelief, but influence them for Christ. For their soul.

We must be ready in season and out of season to fight the good fight for faith. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all patience and teaching (2 Tim. 4:2). This means that we can not sit on the sidelines, but must be in the game; active, continually growing, equipping ourselves by putting on the full armor of God, serving the Lord in reaching the lost. With what light that we have been given by God, give the gospel truth that everyone that is brought into our lives that present golden opportunities to come to a "saving" knowledge of Jesus Christ, develop and keep a rock-solid foundation in the Lord for their life and shine the light of truth in their world. Child of God, we need to boldly demonstrate the love of God in action; showing this world our faith in thought, word and deed, the work that God ordained for His children; not to get saved, but because we are saved and the passionate desire for others to be saved also. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? NKJV (Mark 16:15 -16)

For such a time as this, we all have a race to run with all the battles and obstacles along the way. We must be faithful to finish the race set before us, for righteousness' sake, knowing that Christ is along side us ever stride that we take. Trust in God, Love the Lord and tell others.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fight, Finish, Faith

2 Timothy 3:16-4:7 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

The church, “ecclesia”, is a body of “living stones” 1 Peter 2:4-5 “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” The body of Believers called to a person, Jesus Christ, and elected to salvation in Him, but also elected to a mission. A good Christian friend of mine, involved in street ministry, came by this week and asked me why, when we first accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are not taken up to Heaven immediately, unless God has ministry work planned for us (the children of God, born of the Spirit) still here in this world (the world system that is hostile to God)? 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 Christian church has many purposes, but evangelism is the first priority. We are commissioned by the Lord (Matt. 28:18-20) to engage our world, bringing the light of salvation to people waiting to hear the gospel. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Do the work of an evangelist.” Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The advancing of the kingdom of God is, essentially, the saving of souls. Every decision for Christ is one more soul in Heaven and one less in Hell. What else in life matters if there is no salvation?

Lately, the church has became known for what we are “against”, and there a many godly and holy issues that the body of Christ stands firmly against, like that which the Word of God declares “sinful”. The Bible is the authority and Christians must be faithful to what it teaches because it is the standard that truth & righteousness is measured by, but the church needs to also proclaim what we are “for”. The focus of the church’s message is Jesus. Sharing your faith is “sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ the Savior of the world", and the power is in the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12-13 “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Ephesians 6:17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” And this is the gospel message: Recognize that you are a sinner and deserve God’s wrath. But realize that by His love, grace and mercy, Jesus was sent by God to pay the price for the sins of the world and to save us, if we repent (regret & turn from our sin) and receive Christ as our Lord and Savior.

This side of Heaven, the battle for souls is priority one in the "good fight" of this race called life for the child of God, where we are not to sit on the sidelines but get into the game and run with all we have to the finish, always faithful to our Lord. Fight, finish, & faith.

Blessings, in Christ

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

John 14:15-22 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”

I had heard that the fourteenth chapter of the book of John is considered the favorite passage of scripture in the Bible by many, and (though I love it all) that includes me. Outside of three lines, every sentence is the Lord Jesus speaking, and on spiritual issues for our lives today and eternally with blessed assurance. One of the greatest issues is the giving and indwelling of the Holy Spirit to all Believers to live within their heart forever. This Helper, the third person of the Trinity, the Spirit of Truth, opens the eyes of the children of God to spiritual truth with godly understanding that the disciple of Christ may have guidance to discern and know the light of truth in a lost & dying world of darkness that is seeking love and happiness in people, places and things that do not satisfy or fulfill the desires of the soul which are in bondage to sin. This is what John 3:3 is saying: Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John14:23-27Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The unbelieving world, rejecting God’s plan of salvation by the remission of sin through the death & resurrection of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, cannot receive the Holy Spirit and therefore remain in spiritual blindness. And for what reason except to believe the lies of Satan that we can be the god of our empty life, seeking happiness, meaning and contentment in the distractions of temporary pleasures of the sinful flesh, which can not satisfy the soul, never experiencing the true loving relationship with God, and leads to eternal damnation in hell. John 9:39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” This reality is not intended to scare, but to bring the unbeliever to see the truth that the Son of God is the only Savior of the world and to the “saving” knowledge of Jesus Christ. The Lord provides exactly what the world is looking for in this life and that is "life". It is the Holy Spirit in the heart of the Believer that produces the God given fruit of true love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control by being led by & walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25). Possessions, position, power, prestige, parties, fame, fortune, looks, & luxury are nothing but distractions to the godless, hellbound soul. May reality set in. Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Those who have not accepted the free gift of eternal life through atonement death of Jesus Christ have been cheated out of the abundant life today, including the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and cheated out of future in the life to come, in the kingdom of Heaven with their Lord & Savior. Those who might read this, that do not know the Lord, don’t be cheated out of life. Those who know this truth, tell everyone you know that they are missing out on the “best” life and greatest gifts ... one being the gift of the Holy Spirit in their heart.

Psalm 51:10-12Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”

In Christ, Brian