Saturday, April 28, 2012

One Up

Hebrews 13:8   “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
I’ve heard it say that the only thing that doesn’t change is the fact that everything changes … except the Lord. I had lunch with the Pastor of our church this week and in the course of our conversation, he told me that, in his twenties as the Youth Director of a large congregation with a youth program totaling over 300 kids, the hardest part of the job was trying to find a way to “one up” the previous week. There was this mentality then that each gathering of the teens had to be fresh and new, a little different and more exciting and fun than the last or else. This put quite a stressful challenge on the church staff to come up with innovative, modern and original entertaining activities with exuberance and pleasure that would bring them back and bring their friends. Christ and the gospel were taught, but the progressive “one up” production in the pursuit of happiness and holiness was demanding and exhausting because boredom was not an option. Pastor said that the real challenge was developing young men and women that loved, served and found contentment in the Lord and not spoiled children that worship “fun”. Question: How many times does the word “fun” appear in the Bible?
1 Timothy 6:6-8 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
Is there a tendency today, a desire of the flesh for the latest and the greatest, the newest and most popular things in life? I remember taking a class back in Junior High School, where the teacher taught us about how capricious and covetous people in general tend to be and how the market plays on this mentality with constant change and fads. Beer comes to mind as an example. Do you remember the craze changed from the old standard brews to “Ice” beer to “Red” beer, to European beer, to Japanese beer, to Mexican beer, to “Micro-brewery” beer? What’s next? What’s new and how will they “one up” those? These beers are so 2011. We’re bored and no longer content again. And this is just one example!  We suffer from a form of “affluenza” - the prizing of endless increases fueled by existentialism that lead to feelings of dissatisfaction rather than experiences of a 'better life'. It would be funny, if it wasn’t so serious. Fix your eyes upon Jesus, who is the same (everything we need) yesterday, today and forever. Contentment is found in not other person, place or thing and no “one up” necessary! Count every day from the Lord a blessing!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Proclamation

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.
All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.    
By the President of the United States of America: Abraham Lincoln

  If his analysis was valid in 1863, how much more so does it ring true today!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Who Are You Lord?

Acts 26:13-18   I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ Who are you, lord?’ I asked. “And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. You are to tell the world what you have seen and what I will show you in the future. And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’

When I think about Jesus’ personal visit to Paul (the Apostle to the Gentiles) on the road to Damascus , I am drawn to his initial words of response. Those four words seem to be the same asked by so many today. How many in the world today know the Lord Jesus? One church in our area, and undoubtedly thousands of others, has a motto “to know Jesus and make Him known”. Like the great Apostle Paul, our Lord has commissioned and sent all of His disciples to open the eyes of the spiritually blind to the truth of the Savior and His gospel that turns the darkness of sin and unbelief into light of righteousness in faith, from the power of Satan unto death and eternal punishment to God unto forgiveness of sin to a truly full life now and life eternal in heaven, being given a place among God’s people. There is a definite discrimination here; not in a “holier than thou” attitude, but in redemption, forgiveness, salvation and adoption into the family of God because we know and understand Jesus, believe and accept the free gift of eternal life by His atoning death and resurrection, and therefore are set apart by faith in Him. In this truth, we can witness and minister with compassion to the spiritually blind and lost. 2 Peter 3:9

1 John 5:20 “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”

Jesus tells Paul, “You are to tell the world what you have seen and what I will show you in the future.” He did. Are we to do any less? Jesus gives us the very definition of a witness "tell what you have seen and know", what the Lord has done for us personally this side of heaven, and as a witness for Christ to tell of the future to come in glory, instead of hell, for the Child of God is a citizen in the kingdom of heaven. There is a world around us asking: “Who are you Lord?”. John 3:16 opens the door to John 14:1-7  - Jesus, the Savior of the world.
Let’s tell them. 
In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Refrigerator Bibles Verses

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Last week, The Lay-leader of our Wednesday night Bible Study concluded that night lesson with Romans 15:13 and then said that this is one of these Bible verses that he would like to put on his refrigerator door to look at and remember always. Everybody seems to have a favorite Bible verse or two that they love to hear because it strikes a special cord in their heart, their life and their relationship with their Lord. The Word of God has the unique quality, when studied and saturated in, pondered upon for their meaning and application, and abided for righteousness and life’s moral standards, to produce and active conscience with a clear picture of God in our decision-making.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 “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.
My favorite Bible verse is John 14:23, but as you can see from the photo, I have many second favorite Bible verses. What is your favorite Bible verse? They all are a blessing!

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sin, Righteousness & Judgment

John 16:8-11 When he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”

In a world that demands life without any conviction, that does not see themselves as sinners, we see that it is the purpose of the Holy Spirit to convict the world in regard to sin, righteousness & judgment. The greatest sin is the state of unbelief in Jesus Christ because: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. We are responsible for belief in the gospel and faith in the Lord, which subtracts sin and adds righteousness; our sins upon Jesus and Christ’s righteousness upon us. Why should God let us into His heaven? The Holy Spirit convicts us that if Jesus Christ is not our Savior and Lord, then we reject Him and heaven by our unrepentant sin of unbelief. And without receiving His righteousness through His redeeming atonement by His blood, we would be just a pardoned criminal. Having righteousness credited to us restores our “right” standing before God in justification and restored relationship. Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven was the proof of God’s acceptance of and seal of approval on Christ’s propitiation for the sins of the world.

Romans 4:20-25 “Yet he (Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

We need to realize that, in this life, we are not on trial by God the Judge. We live in a judged and condemned guilty world already. “He who believes in Him (Jesus) 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”- John 3:18 & Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” The defeat of Satan at the Cross was judgment, not just victory. God acts with justice because God is just in His essential character. Those who us who are not ashamed by their guilt revealed by the Holy Spirit in our conscious (God’s laws written upon our hearts) and the Holy Scriptures of the Bible (the inspired the Word of God) are lost sinners waiting on “death row”. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This conviction of the Holy Spirit is to drive us to the foot of the Cross for our justification and escape of judgment. We do not worship a book, but worship God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit), revealed in truth and spirit, who loves us and desires to restore us to an upright position: forgiven in justification, heaven-bound with eternal life by belief in Jesus Christ. This is the sure hope in faith and the true joy of our Salvation.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Forgiveness & Salvation - Easter

1 John 2:12I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.”

What is so good about “Good Friday”? Many do not know and I used to be one of them. Growing up in a family that believed in God, but did not read the Bible or attended any church, I knew of the Lord, but didn’t know the Lord or the “Good News” gospel of forgiveness and salvation by Jesus dying to pay the price for my sins (transgressions, inequities, trespasses, breaking the laws of God). I knew that God created everything and learned His Ten Commandments (even understood some of them). Everyone knows in their heart that murder, stealing, swearing using God’s name and lying are wrong things to do. I remember wondering: who went to heaven and who went to hell … and what determined that? Where was the line? Secondly, how was I do deal with guilt for the times that I knowingly and willful hated, stole, lied and swore; moral “wrongs” against others and sinned against laws of God that I did know, understood and broke?

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Though I did not know or understand the full scope of my “wrong” doings, I did understand on a smaller existential scale that I was doing “wrongs”, and that justice required that something be paid for them. God has “written His laws upon our hearts” (Romans 2:15), in our conscience and thoughts. How was I to deal with the feelings of conviction of guilt and grief in my mind … pretend that it didn’t matter because nobody is perfect or everybody else does it, that it wasn’t really wrong because what’s wrong for one is not wrong for someone else, or that God grade on a scale of good verses bad and lets them slide? That is not justice. There was nothing “good” about it, just cheap attempts at justifying myself and putting the guilt out of my mind. Does anyone else do this? There was no amends or forgiveness there. If I knew that “the wages of sin was death” with God, then I worked for thousands of those wages and have no possible way to earn, pay for or deserve forgiveness. But God so loved you & me, that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay those wages and thereby give the justice, forgiveness and peace in restoration to an upright position with the Lord. Peace.

Hebrews 9:28 “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

By understanding the seriousness of our countless many sins we've all committed and the price to pay for them, both today in our heart and tomorrow in eternity, we can thankfully accept God’s mercy and grace that flows out of His love and justice, by receiving Jesus as our Savior and Lord … taking our place on that Cross that “Good” Friday as our atoning ransom and then rising from the dead for our salvation, conquering sin & death on that “Resurrection” Easter Sunday for us. Oh, there is plenty things good about “Good Friday” and “Resurrection Sunday”, for our today, for our eternity, and every day in between. Praise be to our God in heaven, and our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ!

1 John 5:11-13 “And this is that testimony (that evidence): God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who possesses the Son has that life; he who does not possess the Son of God does not have that life. I write this to you who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) the name of the Son of God [in the peculiar services and blessings conferred by Him on men], so that you may know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have life, yes, eternal life.”

Happy Easter to you and yours, Brian