Sunday, June 26, 2011

Faith to Action

James 2:14-26 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. I remember, years ago, trying to understand the thought behind “Good Works”. Early on, I found the passage of Scripture in Ephesians 2:1-10, which states that by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. I guess that I grew up with the concept of earning your way into Heaven. That the idea of good deeds in life out-weighing the bad deeds that I do would be a factor. Maybe because our society works that way and we need to earn our keep, to pay the way, so we deserve to go to heaven. That is the concept behind Semi-Pelagianism, defined as a moderated form of Pelagianism, taught that man has retained the ability to seek God in and of himself apart from any movement of God's grace. But this flew in the face of Ephesians 2. It made sense to me when I finally found James 2:14-26 and saw that faith and works work together, like the spirit in the live body. A dead body that lacks life and breath can do nothing, so a dead faith, lacking action in godly desires and works from the regenerated Spirit of God, is not functioning and dead. The true faith of the regenerated heart is evidenced by the natural actions of godly deeds. I’ve heard the phase that we don’t do “good” works to get saved, but do “good” works because we are saved. But it is even deeper than that … “good” works is just what a regenerated heart does because faith and “good” works work together. Born again and anew from above though belief in Jesus Christ. Loving, trusting, obeying, seeking, growing, and fruitful in godly works prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Faith justified in actions of producing and bearing good fruit in works.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, June 19, 2011

That the World Will Know

John 1:7-10 "He (John the Baptist) came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him."

The questions, “Why am I here? What is my purpose? are basic inquiries asked by just about everyone on the planet and does not exclude Christians. We are not born with the answers and they are not all completely revealed at one time, but unfolded gradually over a lifetime of learning experiences and teachings in God’s perfect timing. Somehow, in the flesh, we lean toward the “big” & “easy” existence and, granted, that is a lot more pleasant than trials and tragedies of a life in a world fallen in sin that we do not totally understand now, but grows and matures us along our time on Earth, while driving us to lean on our Maker and His provision. Darkness and blindness go together naturally, and the same is true for the Soul (our mind, will & emotion) and spiritually when we take our eye off the light of Jesus. Isaiah 59:9 says that because of the darkness of sin “So there is no justice among us, and we know nothing about right living. We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom. We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark” (Read Isaiah 59:1-8 also).

But this is not God’s design. In John 8:12Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” Jesus (The true light, which enlightens everyone) came both to give us “light” to walk and live in this world mentally, physically and spiritually, come what may, but also to reflect the light of God in this dark and sinful world that others may see the truth and that the world may know the way to true and pure life here, as the Lord intended it for each of us. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus tells us “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” I wonder sometimes if we fear and worry so much about not offended someone, that we do not share our faith, the truth of the gospel, to a lost and dying world, that we limit our witness or keep our hands closed and our mouth shut light, when the Lord says in Matthew 28 “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey all the commands I have given you.

Not only must we trust in God, but we need to also “trust God”. Not only must we believe in Jesus, but we must “believe Jesus”. Which person willfully walking in the darkness of sin and rebellion against God is not going to be offended about going to Hell in eternal separation and torment of that "lake of fire” meant for Satan and his demons?). Those who choose to walk in darkness of sin and death of unbelief will come out “tooth and nail” against the gospel message of forgiveness and salvation because they do not want to be subject to a God and answer to their thoughts, words and deeds, let alone pay the consequences for such a life - (John 3:19). We need to expect them to be offended and keep doing what the Lord put us here to do ... to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. Knowing God and making Him known ... speaking the truth in love, that the world will know the way, the truth and the life through the only Savior of the world.

John 17:22-24I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!”

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It's a Wrap

Ecclesiastes 3:1 7 9-14 To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever.

I guess that when you are packing up a present for someone, you know that once you’ve finished putting on the decorative wrapping paper, (whether themed holiday, celebratory graduation, bright birthday or colorful artistic designs), I know that the job is done … it’s a wrap. And the term has been used for any activity these days. This is true for these days that we have been given here on Earth, because even they are numbered. The statistics are in, and there is a 100% chance of death for us all. We are moral beings and no one gets off the planet alive. So, it not who we leave behind, not the material possessions either, but what godly love and faith in Christ that we lived out daily towards our Creator God and Redeeming Savior, as a legacy of Christian character to loved ones and others that we leave behind that counts. The secular world says “life is short, so go for the gusto” (aka “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die” – Matthew 24:38 & Luke 12:16-21). This “live for today, with no care about tomorrow” attitude has a “wrap” and a consequence also. What are we doing with our life today? What purpose were we made for? “What is the path set before us by our Maker and are we, not only on it but consciously looking at this mission from God, seeking to improve, grow and mature in our pilgrimage here. Where does the path go and what are we doing on this expedition of life?

2 Timothy 4:7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
The Bible gives many illustrations of “a walk” or “a race” or a “journey”, but these all have the prospective of a destination … a finish that “wraps” up this life and steps into the next life of eternity in immorality (Mark 10:30). The question is: “what is your eternal perspective?” meaning: “where are you going when you die?” & “where will you spend eternity?” If we have this knowledge and why, then it sets the coarse that we follow and the path that we walk today in the light of truth, instead of the blindness of walking through life in darkness; not knowing where we are going and aimlessly following temporal self interests and pleasures, or the eternal destination at the end of this road, called life. When the director of life says “It’s a wrap!” where are you going?

Matthew 5;14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

As I come this week to the last of my “New Believer’s” classes at church, it is my prayer that each of the new disciples in Christ have that “eternal prospective” and are better equipped to “ask, seek and knock” (Matthew 7:7-8 & Luke 11:9-10) to continue to be taught by the Lord and grow into the likeness of their Lord and God, on this marvelous life that has been given each and every one of us today, in this specific time and place. I pray the same for you all also. Go in the peace of Christ and serve the Lord! Praise be to God! Enjoy life, shine the light of Jesus to the world, and when it’s all wrapped up, put a bow on it.

John 3:14-16 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 1 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 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.
In Christ, Brian

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Romans 1:22-25 & 28-32 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know) God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

It always seems that there is some word or phrase that is faddishly popular. We were just talking about this phenomenon at dinner with another couple last night, when Rob jokingly said that he “doesn’t roll that way”, meaning he doesn’t prefer or desire a certain thought or activity. My wife replied that “that was sick” Robbie, meaning "that was awesome". “No doubt about it”, we tend to pick up words and phases as a current trend and speak them in everyday conversations. Such is now with the word “absolutely”. Stop and take notice of how many people are saying this word in their sentences in public, on radio, television and movies and you’ll be amazed.

I remember that it was not so long ago that the secular humanist movement was stating that “there are no absolutes”; that your way may be “right” for you, but not “right” for me or others. Nobody’s desires, opinions, moral thoughts, or religions (theistic or atheistic) were any more or less valid than another’s because there were no absolutes, there were no rules, laws or standards as long as they stop short of one’s face (meaning, as long as nobody physically harms another). Basically saying that there is no God, and that we are the lord & god of our own life, and nobody or no God of the Bible is going to tell us “Right” from “Wrong”, set commandments, laws, rules or standards for morality in life, and there is no consequences or penalty for their actions, behavior, desires, or thoughts. Are they “absolutely” sure?!

Matthew 5:13-15 "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house”.

In unbelief of the one true God of the Bible, Creator & Ruler of heaven & earth, all that lives and breathes, whether in ignorance or outright rebellion, there is an endless pursuit of true happiness found only Jesus, but find only darkness in life and a blindness of the truth. The Lord has instructed “His people” to engage and confront this dark and tasteless world that does not know Him, and make a difference by bringing “salt & light” of the gospel truth. Expect to hear them say that “there are no absolutes” in life, because they either have not heard the truth before, been told that there is no truth, or reject truth of God because they love their dark and sinful life (Read John 3:13-21), but fight the “good” fight for the salvation of the lost. You may hear words like, “Mind your own business” or “Keep your faith to yourself”, but they don’t know that proclaiming our faith is our business, and the Lord has not only commanded us not to keep our faith to ourselves, but also commissioned us (as “salt & light to the unbelieving world) to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that) I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:19-20, so that “To all who did receive Him (Jesus, as Lord and Savior), who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" - John 1:12 to have today the life of true love, joy & peace in the perfect personal relationship with their Maker, Lord God that they were created for and eternal life in heaven to come. Hallelujah is a rejoicing term meaning “Praise ye the Lord”. Give the dark world of unbelief something to rejoice about. Tell them about the “good news” of Jesus Christ! You are the light of the world, so let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

1 Timothy 1:8-11 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
Is God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit the King of kings and the Lord of lords? Absolutely!

In Christ, Brian