Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Take My Life

Romans 12:1I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

As we near the coming year, a renewing resolve for a fresh start to give glory to the Lord and a blessing to everyone that I can in 2012. I heard this Hymn of such a prayer this morning, so I thought that I’d share this familiar sonnet in hopes that it touches your heart, mind and soul as much as it has grabbed mine this morning.

I went for a lit­tle vi­sit of five days (to Are­ley House). There were ten per­sons in the house, some un­con­vert­ed and long prayed for, some con­vert­ed, but not re­joic­ing Christ­ians. He gave me the pra­yer, “Lord, give me all in this house!” And He just did. Be­fore I left the house ev­ery one had got a bless­ing. The last night of my vis­it af­ter I had re­tired, the gov­ern­ess asked me to go to the two daugh­ters. They were cry­ing, &c.; then and there both of them trust­ed and re­joiced; it was near­ly mid­night. I was too hap­py to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and re­new­al of my own con­se­cra­tion; and these lit­tle coup­lets formed them­selves, and chimed in my heart one af­ter ano­ther till they fin­ished with “Ever, On­ly, ALL for Thee!” Frances R. Havergal, Feb­ru­a­ry 1874.

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.

Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.

Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.

Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.

Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

Isaiah 64:8 “O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Knead me, mold me & form me for your loving purposes by your perfect will.
Have a blessed new year and a blessed new you. In Christ, Brian

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Savior of the World

Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon is shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.

From my family to you and yours, Merry Christmas. John 3:16 tells us: “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.” Christmas is about the arrival of this Savior of the world; God amongst us, God incarnate (God with skin on), come not to condemn, but to redeem the condemned by paying for our sins with His own innocent blood, unto total forgiveness to eternal life as Children of God in the Kingdom of Heaven, for whoever believes the gospel truth. Redemption for all mankind has arrived! Hallelujah! Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen!

Luke 2:6-14 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 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!”
In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spiritually Possess the Land

Deuteronomy 11:8-22Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD swore to give your fathers, to them and their descendants, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.”

There is much talk these days about the secularization of America, with plenty of examples of indoctrination of children for anti-biblical beliefs in the name of diversity without parental consent or opt out options, removal of Christian symbols, references and even prayer in the name of separation of church & state (a well-known mis-interpretation and not found in the U.S. Constitution), and ever-increasing efforts to remove Christ from Christmas for a “non-offensive winter celebration” of nature. I heard it said that the self-proclaimed tolerant preach that they cannot tolerate Christianity. Why single out the “Light & Savior of the World”? It has completely to with who is on the Throne of their dark heart, mind & soul. They love their darkness and desire to vanquish and eliminate the light of truth, Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.

"And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.’ Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the LORD’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you.”

Deuteronomy 11 instructs us to be God’s holy people, to seek and know the truth, teach the truth to our children, obey & display our faith freely, then spiritually possess the land by bringing the light of truth into the darkness of sin & unbelief. The lures and temptations of the adversary Satan are all around, but the child of God obeys God, not that which is contrary to the Lord’s Word, Will & Way. Abide in Christ means to forsake the lawlessness of darkness and live out our faith dedicated and devoted to Him alone, who saved us, who guides us and blesses our every steps. Don’t expect the blind to see on their own, but expect the blind to see Christ reflected in your Christian life. At Christmas, we celebrate the incarnation of God-the Son, Jesus Christ, literally “God with skin on” , Emmanuel – “God with us”, who came to seek and save the lost. May we do likewise. Spiritually possess the land, in the name of Jesus Christ.

“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. “For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do—to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him

Love, walk & hold fast,
In Christ, Brian

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Presence

Genesis 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

It has been a couple years now since we lost of our family dog. That beautiful yellow Labrador was not only our cherished companion, but became the “neighborhood” dog, as all the children of the block came over to pet her and rub her belly. She loved to lay on the raised front porch of our Bungalow home and watch the world and take long walks on the sidewalks of our big bustling city, but she wouldn’t leave her front yard on her own. The bible makes it clear that the LORD created and loves all creatures, and put the care of them into the hands of mankind … plants, water, ground, and air also. It’s hard-wired into our soul to love and care for the creation. God cares, we are made in His likeness, so we naturally care; to not care is unnatural. Studies show that a pet given to elderly people improves their life, both mentally and physically. It’s a joy of life. We’ve owned two cats and two dogs in our 35 years married, and both all through my childhood.

Genesis 8:1 Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark.

Yesterday, we brought home “Tobias”, a cute, cubby little yellow Lab, to join the family. Looking up the meaning of the name, we found that it means “God is good” in both the original Hebrew and Greek. We couldn't disagree with that, so “Toby” became the latest addition to our home and family. Our oldest son bought his brother “Rossi” at the same time, so they can visit and go on walks together. They can watch “Toby”, when we go on vacation and vise-versa. The adventure begins with this blessed Christmas presence. What are your pets, and pet memories?

Psalm 104:24 O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Dove

Psalm 40:1-4 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.

Today is three years since I lost my precious cousin Laura to Breast Cancer. I being the youngest kid of the oldest of six children and she being the youngest of the youngest child, there was a great difference in age growing up along with 2000 miles of distance between creating two separated lives, but still with a family tie and many personal similarities. When a family reunion brought us together as adults, the most incredible connection was immediate as family, in both bloodline and the blood of Christ was established. Have developed cancer prior, I only had a year plus of being blessed by this amazing woman. Our talks and correspondences were priceless and she truly touched and changed my life for the better. Her fight against cancer became her ministry to others about cancer awareness and prevention. Her Blog @ reached out to all of us in compassionate love and care, which inspired me to start my own Blog. Today, I give tribute to my cousin, who went to be with the Lord. Laura is now my dove that reminded me of the purity of God’s love. Here is one of her letters and a story that she wrote, to give you a glimpse of the loss that this world had in her passing and the gain that heaven has today.

Brian, I truly appreciate your genuineness...and I totally GET it. I am the same way. We are both Christians and it is so interesting to me that we both take it so seriously...yet another similarity between us. I do a lot with my church and have found that my faith really kept me grounded when I was diagnosed with cancer. I have ALWAYS believed this experience is about God healing me, not me dying. It gets hard at times because even among other Christians, I have found that everyone’s faith is different. Faith is a spiritual gift, of which there are many. Each of us has our own strengths and weakness when it comes to the faith is one that has always come easy to me. I try not to take for granted and always want to help others understand that I continue to feel protected and buffered by God. I continue to feel that He is protecting me.
It is so interesting because this whole experience has been surreal for some respects. What I mean is, I continue to feel privileged by my cancer at times. I have always felt very guided by God, very directed to do very specific things. I know I am loved by God and have received way too many blessings by this disease.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish I wasn’t a cancer survivor. If I could take it all back or start all over, I probably would. But, then I remember the story of Job or Noah or Jonah or Abraham. All of them went through suffering and God allowed it to happen because that is just the way life is on earth. Suffering happens. It just does. I am a better person because of all of this and my family (extended, included) are much better, closer. We care about other people more and try to take on causes outside of our world. I am attaching a short story that I have written.
Blessings, Laura

My Dove
As I was sitting in the car in a parking lot, the dove flew into my line of sight. Her beautiful white image shone bright against the grey backdrop of the dreary winter sky. She flew around my car and perched on the light pole, directly in front of me. Like a guardian angel, she was watching over me. I began to tear up, got chills all over my body. I just kept looking at her; I was humbled by her presence. She reminded me of the purity of God’s love, at the very moment I desperately needed reassurance. I was a year into my fight against advanced breast cancer when I saw my dove. I was almost through my treatments after hitting many rough patches. I was weary, but she renewed my strength to confront the disease.

I was 32 when I was diagnosed, a young wife and mother with a four-year-old daughter and an infant son. I had no family history of breast cancer. I was naïve in thinking this would protect me. I realize now that anyone can get cancer, it does not discriminate. We caught my cancer as early as possible, but I still had three small tumors. I found the initial lump in my breast, which led to a mammogram, sonogram and biopsy. Doctors confirmed it as breast cancer. There was another tumor in a lymph node and one on my liver. It was harrowing to find out all of this information, but I was grateful to know my enemy.

God gave me the strength to effectively fight this battle, the resolve to win. I went through multiple surgeries, numerous rounds of chemotherapy and two life-threatening infections to get my disease stabilized. I am now in remission and plan on keeping it this way. I live with cancer, daily. I am aware that it could come back, but I constantly seek treatments and information to mitigate this risk. I am thankful to God for being the mastermind behind my treatment and for directing my path from the beginning.

He gave me many gifts along the way. He surrounded me with an amazing support system, sharpened my survival skills through sermons at COR and bolstered my faith by reminding me that Jesus healed people through their faith in Him. But, the dove was my most precious gift, a harbinger of good things to come. Not only was she was a visible sign of God’s presence in my life, but of the wings He had given me to fly through adversity. She reminded me that God was holding me securely through that entire journey, as He still does to this day.

Laura Walsh Plunkett
May 10, 1972 – December 14, 2008

Today, I honor you Laura.
We shall meet again in heaven. Brian

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holy Gound - Part 2

Leviticus 11:44-45 “For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. For I am the LORD who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:13-16 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.”

The discussion came up in our small group Bible study last evening about how holiness means being set apart unto God; by God for God’s purposes by God’s standards & perfect will. But in that separation from sinful sensual lusts of the flesh contrary to God’s will & way found in His holy word and/or the self-centered pursuits of a God-ignorant or God-rejecting worldview God, how we, as a child of God saved by grace, are then to be actively engaged with this lost and dying world, as holy ground by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, equipped and filled by the regeneration of our heart, soul and spirit and the renewing of our consecrated mind to the character of our heavenly Father in Christ, to bring the light of truth into the darkness of sin & unbelief to reach the spiritually blind and perishing by planting seed of the gospel in their hearts by our compassionate and godly words and actions, to bring them to the foot of the cross and a “saving” knowledge of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. A holy people in covenant with the holy God must never forget who they are and the separateness, not isolation, they are called to as Ambassadors for Christ. Set apart from sin, not the world, as delegates from the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.Numbers 15:39-41 Remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.”

God is holy. God is separate from and other than all of His creation. He is righteous, He Is pure, He is holiness dwelling in unapproachable light. Habakkuk 1:12 & 13 asks: “Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness.” If this is our God, how should we as His people live and reflect His glory in a dark world that is passing away into judgment? How are we to live as holy ground, holy people, as a kingdom of priests, as image-bearers of the Almighty? We represent God by walking in obedience to His commands. The two greatest commandments are to love God and to love people. We are to love the sinner, not the sin. Repentance and Salvation is what Jesus’ atonement and redemption is about. His command is then to love the people of the world as He loved us and saved us. As we seek God through the study of His Word, we fall more and more in love with and in awe of the Lord. It is a great privilege to be a child of God. But with privilege comes responsibility. It is our responsibility to conduct ourselves in a manner that reflects God’s holiness, to live lives that are easily distinguishable from those of the secular world around us. Is our live so separate from and different than the world around us that it is like the difference between light & darkness, because we are holy ground?

Acts 5:29 Peter and the other apostles said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.
In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holy Ground - Part 1

Exodus 3:4-6 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush (burning with fire, yet not consumed) and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
As we enter this season of celebrating the visitation of God incarnate in the birth of the Savior of the world Jesus Christ, (literally “God with skin on”), may we truly make every efforts to convey the “reason for the season” to this lost & dying world that is walking in darkness of sin & unbelief. “Our “Colony” Friday evening small group Bible study is continuing in our study on “Holiness” and this last week we looked at God choosing Israel to be a holy nation, sanctified and separated from the other nations. But what does it mean to be holy? What was, and is, the standard of holiness? What makes holy ground?

Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Leviticus 20:26 And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine. Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 28:9 “The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.” Psalm 147:19 He (God) declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.

To be consecrated is to be set apart as sacred; dedicated & devoted to God. That which is sacred is that which is extremely dear to God and worthy of deep respect and reverence; holy. To sanctify is to set apart as holy. Set apart from the darkness of sin and sanctified apart for God and His purposes. Sanctity is holiness, sacredness & saintliness of character. The standard, the bounds set for His people, are His sacred word, commandments, statues and ordinances. The root word of the Hebrew word holiness means “to separate”. The idea is that of separation between what is unclean and what is pure, between what is common and what is sanctified. God is separate from all that is evil and defiled. I’ve heard it said that evil is the absence of good, as darkness is simply the absence of light. His holy character is the standard for moral perfection. Therefore holiness for us is simply conforming to the character of God. Holiness is a vital attribute of God. This same quality is to be a characteristic of His people. Holiness is the standard not only for the Israelites, but for all who claim Him as their God.

Isaiah 6:3 And one cried to another and said: “ Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” Revelation 4:8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
God is Holy. What makes “holy ground”? Next time.
In Christ, Brian

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Prayers of Nicole

Hebrews 12:12-16Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.

Over Thanksgiving, we drove out to amazing Arizona to visit my brother and his family for the long weekend. On my birthday, August 2, of this year, my niece Nicole was involved in a terrible roll-over accident on her way to start her first semester at Northern Arizona University in pursuit of her degree to become a Veterinarian. Her vehicle experienced a blown out rear tire and her boyfriend, who was driving as she slept, lost control on the highway. The SUV swerved, flipped and rolled, ejecting Nicole from the vehicle. She was Medi-Vac airlifted from the accident scene to a hospital in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she under-went multiple surgeries. Many prayers went up for Nicole, by family, friends and you Readers too. This Thanksgiving trip was my first chance to see Nicole after this horrific incident for this young lady, and the family. The four months of recovery and rehabilitation have been hard, but now I can give a first-hand report on her status.

Acts 28:25-27 So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying, ‘ Go to this people and say: “ Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.”’

I was blessed to find my precious niece in wonderful physical and emotional shape. She seems excited to show us her surgical scars and X-rays images showing the metal in her shoulder, as battle scars of victory. She spent most of our two day visit being with us, as we explored a desert ghost town, small shops and dining out was no visible sign a pain or handicap, outside of (understandably) not being able to hike rough & hilly desert terrain. It was wonderful to experience her passion and high spirits, as she spoke of her determination and efforts to return to college next semester to resume her dreams. Full of life and vision, the future is definitely “right in front of her”, the hurdle cleared and she is pressing toward the goal. The next chapter begins. I thank you all for the many intercessory prayers and the blessings for Nicole from them. They were and are cherished. Glory to God!

Romans 8:1-9There 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.”

Why did I choose these Bible verses for this message? Because, as important as it is to renew our physical vitality, is the renewing of our spiritual vitality. Let us not focus completely on the physical, but may we always see the physical through the spiritual with an eternal perspective. We must not take life for granted; this one or the next. The healing of our body is a great gift, absolutely. Of course, the greatest gift of the Great Physician was proclaimed John 9:19bOne thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” Praise be to God!

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiness – Separation between Light & Darkness - Part 2

John 1:4-5, 3:18-20, 8:12, 12:35-36 & 45-46 In Him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 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. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”

Would you & I be content to simply know our sins are forgiven, or do we want more than that? Don’t we want to know that God is with us and that we are with God? Don’t we desire to give glorify, honor & praise to our heavenly Father. Do we understand the holy character of God, recognize how seriously God takes making the distinction between holy and profane, and discern what the Lord wishes in His children? Romans 12:1-2Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Yes, separated and set apart from darkness, walking in the light of truth. 1Peter 1:14-16As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.

Luke 11:34-35 Jesus said, “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.” God’s first recorded act, after creating the heavens and the earth, was to separate light from darkness. This actual physical separation became a metaphor for a spiritual truth. Ephesians 5:6-10 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.” For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.

Light is the characteristic of Christians. We are to be separated from the darkness. 1 John 1:5-6This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” No gray areas, no shade, and no shadows. 2 Corinthians 6: 6-7 & 14By purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” We, as people who name the name of Christ must be light – bright pure light shining in the darkness so everyone will see the truth and some will even see the Father. Colossians 1:12-13Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.”

Are we living as a child of light? Is our holiness clearly visible to a dark and lost sinful world?
1 Thessalonians 5:5You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness.” Then walk in the light; live out the holiness that shows you belong to God.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiness – Separation between Light & Darkness - Part 1

1 Peter 2:5-9 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. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “the stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief Cornerstone,” and “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

The Small group home Bible Study has moved from examining the “Be” attitudes to a new lesson on “being holy”. In today’s churches, far too often, the concept of holiness seems a bit archaic, “old School”. How often do we hear the word mentioned and do we know what holiness actually is? And on the rare occasions “holy” comes up in conversation, is what comes to mind a preacher in a robe, the thought of a perfect life that we will never attain or maybe a holier-than-thou attitude member of the piety police? These are mis-guided notions, and in fact a life of true holiness is the key to true happiness. Yes, the pursuit of happiness is found in the pursuit of holiness. Not in some arbitrary standard set by the church or an unreachable goal of sinless perfection, holiness is about pleasing God, about living in such a way that’s it’s clear you belong to Him. Abiding in holiness is what makes the Believer unique and easily distinguishable from the unbeliever. The discrimination of the holy politics of God is the higher standard and mark of the Kingdom of Heaven, set apart in a lost and dying world, guiding the daily life of the Christian. It’s as clear as black and white, darkness and light, right and wrong. “Holy” is defined as (1) Regarded as inviolate for ordinary use and set apart for religious observance. My dictionary of Bible Words lists “holy” as pious, godly, sacred, to be or make clean, purify or consecrate, hallowed, and set apart for God. I’ve heard it said this way: Set apart by God, for God’s purposes, according to the Word, not the World.

Genesis 1:3-5 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. The first recorded words of God are “Let there be light.” His first act was to separate physical light from physical darkness. And spiritually speaking, He has been separating light and darkness ever since. Ezekiel 22:26 Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. What distinguishes us from the world around us?

We'll look at this, next time.
In Christ, Brian

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving & Thanksliving

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

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLIC THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine. (signed) President George Washington

I pray that America never forgets that it is Almighty God who is being thanked, and why, on Thanksgiving Day. Far too many have lost site of the “Light from above”, of God’s sovereign provision and providence in our lives today. With help from the secular humanists glorifying mankind, the meaning of true Thanksgiving Day in thanking God is being buried, hidden and forgotten. The Creator of Heaven & Earth is in control always, but let us not let the the words of the Father of our nation be hijacked and the true meaning of Thanksgiving missed.

One of our Bible Study teachers at church explained that the Greek word for “thanks” is eucharisteō, meaning gratitude. But within this Greek word is “charis”, which means “grace”; literally giving thanks out of gratitude for God’s grace to us. I’m sure that you’ve also noticed that this is the Greek word where we get the word “Eucharist” of Holy Communion from also. And this Grace is a gift ("Charisma" in Greek); an endowment from God as "favor freely given" or "gift of grace". Let us never forget that all blessings come from our Heavenly Creator Father Lord God. This Thanksgiving Day, and every day give praise, and honor and glory in thanksliving ... an abundant life of godly liberty as a child of God, saved by grace. Got charisma? Rejoice!

Ephesians 5:19-21 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This 24th day of November, in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2011.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, in Christ, Brian

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blessed are the Persecuted Because of Righteousness

Matthew 5:10-12Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

We finished up our Friday evening home small group Bible Study of the Beatitudes of the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount with the reality that there will be assailing resistance and hatred towards the people of faith in gospel of Jesus Christ because of unbelief and reject of God’s will & way: His Standards, Commandments, Decrees, Instruction, Laws, Precepts, Rules, Statues, & Teachings. The root cause of all the world’s problems is Sin, and the whole question comes down to Belief & Unbelief. This is the two world-views (metaphorically called “Light & Darkness”, appositionally called “Saved & Unsaved”, spiritually called “Regenerate & Unregenerate” in the Bible) that exists and drive the thoughts and actions of the heart of fallen mankind. John 3:16-21 explains the situation, but John 3:36 gets to the bottom-line: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”, and repeats in 1John 5:11-12.

Philippians 1:27-29Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

I remember, when I was baptized in my early twenties with my infant son, that the Pastor put his stole over my shoulders and pulled down, then lightly slapped my face to symbolize the persecution that I shall expect, at accepting God’s Son as Savior & Lord, and becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ, by the God-rejecting world. What church gives that full-truth today? Do we understand the influence of the Devil, the world in spiritual darkness and the sin nature of the flesh? Evangelist Ray Comfort says that far too often the man-centered message is deceivingly given that by accepting Jesus that our live will be improved – a dreamy prosperity gospel of blessings, without opposing revelry & hardships, which reality dashes and leads to misunderstood discontent. Mr. Comfort says that we need to be speaking in love and compassion to others about reality of our sin’s consequences when this life is over, if we do not accept God’s plan of salvation. Paul explains in Romans 13:12-14 "The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." & in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." & in Galatians 5:19-21 "When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God."

I remember when my precious goddaughter realized what the Bible was saying, on bringing the truth of the seriousness of Sin and Salvation to a lost & dying world that does not want to hear it, stating: “You are going to be hated!” But Jesus said in John 15:18-20If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” Christ came into this "already condemned by sin" world to save all who will believe, repent and accept His offer of mercy and grace to salvation by faith. Those who choose to reject the Savior and the light of truth shall persecute those who do. God does not cause the division between holy and unholy or sacred and unsacred; they are natural contradictions.

1 Peter 4:12-16 "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." Are we honoring God and pursuing righteousness in ways that mark you as being set apart for Him? We are here, in this time & place, for a reason and purpose. Glorify God and let your light of Christ shine. 1 Peter 1:6-7 "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." Our Lord Jesus suffered for us and our salvation. Shall we not suffer for him and to His glory? 1 Peter 2:21-24 "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed."

2 Timothy 3:12 "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Our endurance of persecution becomes a testimony to the reality of our faith. When we stand firm in front of our opponents and are not alarmed, that’s a sign of our salvation. You realize that you have a home in heaven. Are we being persecuted for righteousness’ sake? Do people mock us because we are Christians? If not, could it be that we are not all we ought to be for Him? Are we so like the rebellious God-rejecting world (the deceived, unsaved and luke-warm) that our life doesn’t expose their sin, therefore they feel comfortable with us? Are we stepping out of our little Christian bubble and stepping out, into the world that does not knew the Lord, to be peacemakers, to show others their need to be reconciled to God? We have no need to fear when persecution or suffering comes into our lives. Remember: God is sovereign, the Almighty is in control, God holds us in His hand and God is love. John 16:33I 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.

The Beatitudes begin and end with a promise “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. When we turn our hearts towards God, these attitudes will become apparent in our life. They are the mark of a true believer – one who posses the full favor of God, eternal life and the kingdom of heaven. What greater blessing could there be?!

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cast Out Fear

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

From: BILL
Sent: Sat, November 12,2011 Subject: Fear can sabotage the bravest heart.

They who had scorned the thought of any strength except their own to lean on learned at length, how fear can sabotage the bravest heart. And human weakness answering to the prod of terror calls, "Help us, O God." Then silence lets the silent voice be heard, bringing His message like a spoken word, "Believe, believe in me! Cast out your fear. Oh, I'm not up there beyond the sky, but here, right here in your heart. I am the strength you seek. Believe! ... And they believed!"

- From God Is My Co-Pilot 1945.
(Alan Hale as Father Mike)


Bill, The Skipper's dad is right! The knowledge that God is all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful, that the Creator of Heaven and Earth is in control, and that "believing" & "accepting" that He sent Jesus Christ to die on that Cross to pay for our Sins has given us forgiveness, eternal life, adoption as His children, citizenship in Heaven, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, regeneration of our Spirit to discern godly spiritual truth, and His shepherding of our life, casts out all fear. If we go down, we go up! And as far as the injustice today in the world, that is only for now; there is a Judgement "Come to Jesus" Day in the future for everyone, and justice will be served by the Lord. Fear not Brother! Praise God!

Luke 12:2-5 Jesus said: For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops. “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!

Of course, "the fear of the God" to the Believer, in the light & joy of their salvation, is reverence: "to never desire to let Him down", but for the Unbeliever "the fear of God" is that, by not accepting the free gift of eternal life in the atoning sacrifice of His Son, our Lord & Savior, they have the wrath of God upon them and have to pay the price for their Sins for eternity. The Believer has the "love of God that casts out all fear" because they have the Christian world-view and eternal perspective of victory in heaven, so therefore rejoices fearlessly, lives purposefully, loves passionately and cares compassionately.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts.

John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

Fear not Brothers & Sisters! God is right here with you.
Thanks for writing.
Peace in Christ, Brian

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Matthew 5:9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

I remember, when I first became a Christian and came across the Beatitudes. Reading through the list, I immediately focused upon the peacemakers and being called sons of God. Sign me up, I wanted to a peacemaker. But after the initial emotional response, you step back and ask: “What makes someone a peacemaker?” My trusty 1960 Webster’s New American Dictionary defines a Peacemaker as “Reconciler”. Now, what exactly is meant by “Peace”? It is defined as a state of tranquility; absence of war; freedom from disorderly disturbances; freedom from fears or worries. But the Lord Jesus said in John14:26-27, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” And, being one of the Fruit of the Spirit, from Galatians 5:22 (love, joy, peace, et cetera), you have to believe that the peace of God, the peace of Christ, and the peace of the Holy Spirit is much, much more.

Colossians 1:19-22 For it pleased the Father that in Jesus all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” How easily we forget that the state of mankind before we were reconciled was alienation from and hostility towards God, objects of wrath due to the fall because of sin of both commission (doing what ought not to be done in the eyes of God) and of omission (not doing what ought to be done in the eyes of God). Who is the real “Peacemaker” here? But our Creator God, the Reconciler! Romans 5:10-11For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

I have a little video gadget on the right side of my Blog homepage that visually gives the gospel message that we began with perfect communion, love and peace with God, then sin rips through the relationship connection separating us from God, but then God reconciles us by sending Jesus to pay for our sin with His atoning life, so the Cross bridges the gap and restores relationship, so we again have peace with God. We cannot have the peace of God until we have peace with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. How are we reconciled to God? John 3:16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” How do we receive this reconciliation? By believing in the finished work of Jesus Christ and accepting the free gift of salvation, justification and eternal life though His blood. What makes you a peacemaker? First, it is having peace with God.

Romans 12:1-2 & 16-18I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” 1 Thessalonians 5:13Live in peace with each other.The Greek verb used in the phrase “live in peace” suggests an ongoing condition or action. Believers are commanded to be continually living in peace with one another. The idea is to maintain peace rather than initiate it.

The blessing that the peacemaker receives is that they shall be called sons of God. According to Jewish thought, the word “son” carried the idea of one who bears the characteristics of the father. As the moon reflects the light of the Sun for all to see; the sons and daughters of God are to reflect their Father God’s characteristics; the light of truth and righteousness revealed from their Father in Heaven. Peacemakers are men and women who are at peace with God and have the peace of God in their heart. When God changes a heart and cleanses us from our selfishness, prideful, “I”-centered flesh, it is then that we are able to show the love of God to a chaotic world and be peacemakers. Our priorities have been transformed. Live at peace with those people in our lives so that we can influence them in the name of Jesus Christ. Help “the Lost”, the enemies of God see their need to be reconciled to Him though a “saving" knowledge of the Blessed Redeemer. Peace be with you. – John 20

Psalm 139:23-24Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God."

The beauty of the small group home Bible Study is that each individual brings to the discussion their personal life experiences to share and learn from, along with the Word of God and the lesson taught. The blessing of the "Body of Christ". The list of Beatitudes seems simple and appropriately religious on the surface. But as we have seen, the reality Jesus describes in the Beatitudes isn’t about outward, self-imposed religiosity. A Pastor friend of mine once preached that if you put a suit on a pig, though they clean up well, it is still a pig and wants to get back into the mud. Meaning that we need to have our heart changed, but how? The Lord’s words call us to a radical, supernatural life; a life that can be lived only through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. These are the ones who are blessed of God, but we are not to seek the blessing. We are to seek the Blessor, who transforms the heart of the Believer, and the blessings come as a natural consequence. Is being pure in heart just a matter if being a “good” person? What does the “Good Book” say?

Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:8 & Luke 18:19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is “good” but One, that is God.” Romans 3:10-12 There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” If this is the condition of mankind without Christ, what does that say about the state of the heart?

We seem to be so “hard wired” into our flesh-minded thinking that we can clean up our act of the outside and put on a suit, so to speak, and think that we are okay, but that is not what the verses just before say. We have to realize that we need a “pure heart”, but the question is. How do we get a pure heart? We’ve learned that sin has separated us from our just & holy Creator God. Jesus said: “We must be born again.” – born anew, born from above. The regeneration of the human spirit then can see and receive, with spiritual discernment, the kingdom of God and understand. 1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Salvation restoration opens the door.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. This is the “born again” transformed heart of the Believer that opens our eyes to the truth of God in His word, Will & Way for our lives. A new heart that does change the outside, but changes the inside; the way that we see, hear and think, by aligning our will and desires with His. Jeremiah 31:33 Says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. The Holy Spirit of God is given to live within our heart as a Counselor for us (John 14:15-18). But Galatians 5:17 tells “For the flesh (the desires of the fallen sin nature) lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” So, because of this battle within, that wages against our heart, having been cleansed from an evil conscience by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, how do we stay pure and not being stained all over again? Sanctification.

Galatians 5:16 & 24-25 "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" Hebrews 10:22 "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." Ephesians 5:25-26 (Love), just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word. John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to those who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 17:17 Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” To sanctify is the action of setting apart something as holy and sacred. Set apart from sin and the God-rejecting world, by God, for God’s purposes, holy and blameless. God’s Word, found in the Holy Scriptures of the Bible, is truth.

This is an on-going process for the Christian walk, as the flesh desires of the sin nature tempts and lures the mind, will and emotions by the self-centered senses, pride, pleasure and greed. Matthew 26:41 & Mark 14:38 - Jesus instructs us: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." And in 1 John 1:9, we are told, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." To confess means “to say the same thing, to speak the same word.” In other words, confessing our sins means agreeing with God that what we have done is sin. Sin is “missing the mark” and “hitting a different mark”. The emphasis is not on the missing, therefore, but on the “Mark”. The “Mark” is God’s standards; His loving commandments, laws, ordinances, statutes, teachings for our life, aligned with His perfect Will & Way, through His holy Word. Read, study, think about and live by the truth in the Bible daily. Keep your eye on the target!

Psalm 24:1-6 The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Jeremiah 29:13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. In Matthew 7:7-8 & Luke 11:9-10, Jesus said: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

Psalm 37:3-5 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. Blessed are the pure in heart.
In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blessed are the Merciful

Matthew 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy."

This Beatitude has a horizontal, people-to-people aspect to being blessed in addition to the vertical, people-to-God aspect. And don’t all of the beatitudes seem to have a conditional reward to them (if “this” way, then blessed and gets “that”). Mercy refers to an outward manifestation or showing of compassion. The concept of mercy assumes two things: first, that there is a need, and second, that you have the ability to meet that need. The question is: Who has a need, and who can meet that need?

Ephesians 2:4-7 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

The Bible says, God is love” (1John 4:8). We know that God is merciful and loving, gracious and kind, but the same Bible says that the same God is also just, holy and righteous. He must deal with sin, but God doesn’t want to punish us (the dead in trespasses and sins) because He is merciful. God, in His infinite wisdom, devised a solution; not by merit, but by His grace. God solved this problem in the atoning death of Jesus Christ in our place. We have the genuine need (salvation) and God has the ability to meet that need. Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we do not deserve.

Joel 2:13 "So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm." Since we have received God’s amazing mercy, how should we respond to those around us who are difficult to get along with? Luke 6:35b-36 "He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful."

Matthew 9:11-13 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

What role does mercy play in our life? Matthew 23:23What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things." Not outward actions, but inward attitudes … beatitudes.

Does our passion for a “right” relationship with God translate into compassion for people? When asked, in Matthew 22:36-39, “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.’ For most of us, there is a jarring difference between who we actually are and who we should be as followers of Jesus. We might say that we are merciful, but do we reach out in compassion to those who need help? Ask God to give you a passion, a hunger, a desperate thirst for righteous, and a passion for others. They don't care that you know, until they know that you care. Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

In Christ, Brian