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