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 eucharisteƍ, 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