Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Making Melody in Your Heart to the Lord

Ephesians 5:15-20See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As we came to the end of this Bible Study series, there was no lack of gems dug up in our small group on this passage. I even like these big “fifty cent” words, because they cause me to dive into my old dictionary, as in walk “circumspectly”, meaning watchfully on all sides, cautiously and prudently, because in this fallen world it is wise to not be ignorant and naive, but to be prepared. The genuine Christian walks the talk, and has dealt with the old self and put on the new self, therefore no longer walks in darkness because they are a Child of Light and walks as such, making the most of the time we have.

The admonition (a mild reproof to correct and right) to not get drunk on wine, for that is “dissipation” (wasteful excess) or intemperance (lacking self-resistance for overindulgence) is warning counsel not be filled with spirits. Alcohol comes from the Arabic "al-kuhl" which was the name of a body-eating spirit. In fact, the English "ghoul" comes from the same word. When Arab alchemists' ingested alcohol their senses deadened and they named the substance according to its "body-taking" qualities. Knowing this, European speakers who understood its etymology coined the use of the term "spirits" for alcohol. Our Pastor, Jason, explains that the question really is, “why is life so miserable that one feels the need to escape with a cover-up that does not solve the issues and always requires more. Instead of dealing with life, people substitute a “false” life for the “real” life. God didn’t create us for orgiastic dissipation and intemperance by some mind altering chemical and addiction. True meaning and purpose is found in the Lord God, the Savior Son and the Holy Spirit. So this verse is saying, “Be filled to capacity by the Spirit, not by spirits.” To be filled, habitually and continuously. We seek filling and He fills. Does that make sense? 

Making melody with your heart, in harmony with the Lord is the rightful desire. Being in tune with the Lord means that we symphonize in syncrasy with God’s frequency to make a joyful noise. Tune my heart to sing thy praise. Including, being in tune with His Word – the standard that is the mark we shoot for and walk by as the child of God. Always giving thanks for all the gifts and for all things received, “to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Proverbs 22:28Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.”

A week ago Friday, our small group finished up on our Study of the book of Ephesians (which I still need to write up the notes on to post). We decided that, when one study series ends and before the next one begins, we should have a Christian movie night as a “change of pace”. I’m kind of a Christian movie junkie and have quite a collection, so it was no problem to come up with a “Flick” to enjoy together as a group. Before Christmas, I received a discount coupon from the American Family association for $10 off a DVD purchase so I picked up two recent Films that were at the movie theaters that I missed. So this Friday, we watched “Monumental” by Kirk Cameron. In these chaotic times, this powerful and inspiring documentary seeks to discover America’s true “national treasure” - the people, places and principles that made America the free nation it is, by following the tiny band of religious outcasts who founded this nation, called the Pilgrims, and hit upon a formula for success and established a nation that has become the best example of civil, economic and religious liberty the world has ever known. More importantly, how can we apply these same foundational truths today?

2 Timothy 1:2-3Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.”

I won’t give the plot away, but in Plymouth, Massachusetts he discovers “The National Monument to the Forefathers”, which stands on the summit of Monument Hill. Formerly known as the “Pilgrim Monument, it commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrims. Have you ever heard of this statue? Why is that? Dedicated on August 1, 1889, it honors their ideals as later generally embraced by the United States. It is thought to be the world's largest solid granite monument, and is the third-tallest statue in the United States. The heroic figure of Faith pointing to heaven, her foot on Plymouth Rock, surmounts a massive granite pedestal. Below are seated Liberty with Peace flourishing under her protection and Tyranny overthrown by her power. Law is attended by Justice and Mercy. Education has Wisdom on one side and Youth led by Experience on the other. Morality, between a Prophet and an Evangelist, holds the Commandments in her left hand and the scroll of Revelation in her right. Below the seated figures, four marble alto-reliefs recall significant episodes in Pilgrim History: the Departure from Holland, the Signing of the Compact, the Landing at Plymouth and the Treaty with Massasoit. This statue is truly “Monumental” and its message essential for this country today. I hope that you and I get a chance to go see this “monument of faith” and this excellent movie in person someday and bring its message of “LIBERTY” to a world that needs God and the Bible.

The Mayflower Compact begins: In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc. Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic.”

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Five Conditions for Spiritual Intimacy with a Personal God

Proverbs 2:1-5My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.”

Our church started a Sunday Sermon series in preparation for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. In this special Worship Service with Communion, we visited prayer stations within the Sanctuary as Praise music played. I wanted to share one of the messages that was given at that service with you today.

Condition #1: A Commitment to Obedience
If you will receive my words... (Prov. 2:1, NAS)
Put simply, that means you don't ignore and cast away the commands of God. With the intention to obey Him fully, you set your heart to say yes. Deliberate disobedience quenches the Holy Spirit. Remember, He is the only One who can reveal Jesus to you. If He is quenched and grieved, you'll not receive His revelation of our dear Lord Jesus. You can't offend the Holy Spirit and drive Him away, and still expect Him to make Jesus known to your heart in a greater way.
Most of us are immature spiritually, but that is not at all the same as being rebellious. Nor is it the same as raising your fist toward heaven, saying "No! I'm not obeying in this area. I want to do my will, and I don't care if it's wrong. I'm doing it anyway!" You can ask for Spirit-revelation of God all you want to, but if you're deliberately disobedient, prayer will get you nowhere. Prayer is no substitute for the intention to obey. If you want to know Jesus intimately, you must receive the sayings of the Lord in your heart without purposefully resisting the Holy Spirit.
Are there areas of deliberate disobedience in your life? Make a consistent resolution to confess and resist sinful areas. Realize that God looks more at the sincerity of your motives to obey than at your actual attainment of spiritual maturity. Remember: One deliberate sin persisted in is fatal to the spiritual growth of the soul. Deliberate sin blocks spiritual progress and hinders your walk with the Lord. There's no substitute for a life of obedience.

Condition #2: A Life of Meditation on the Word of God
If you will...treasure my commandments within you... (Prov. 2:1, NAS)
Notice that it's the treasuring of God's commandments, not the accumulation of knowledge. Knowledge, even Bible knowledge, is not neutral. If you and I are not longing to be pleasing to the Lord, if we're driven by pride and our goal is simply to gain more knowledge of the Scriptures through a little intellectual exercise, we run the risk of coming out calloused and hardened like the Pharisees. Treasuring God's commandments means conversing and interacting with the Person of Jesus who is the Author of those words. We do that through meditating on the Scriptures. It's difficult to grow in intimacy with Jesus without a commitment to regular meditation on the Scripture. I can't tell you how discouraged I am sometimes as I talk with people and discover how few ever meditate even one hour on the Scriptures in the course of a week's time. They say, "I'm just so busy, Brother." Being too busy to meditate at length on the Scriptures is okay during an unusual week with a crisis, but we must not let it become the habit of our lives. We will not be adequately equipped to grow in the deep things of God if we do not have the Word of God treasured in our hearts. The Word and the Spirit go together.
We need to see the value of meditating on the Word so we regularly schedule time for it. Without this aspect of God's grace, we will never grow substantially--not in 10 weeks or 10 years. My use of time is as serious to me as anything in my life. When others ask me to do something else during the time I've blocked out for prayer and meditation, I usually say, "No, I have an appointment. I'm busy." I consider time with God as being a real appointment, and I don't want to neglect Him or keep Him waiting. I realize God is more patient with me than others with whom I have appointments, and I know He will forgive me for skipping our appointed time together. But I value our times of intimate communion, and I don't want to miss them. He is more important to me than any other person I meet with.
A gentle word of warning is in order here. Weak meditation on the Scriptures eventually leads to both weak courage and weak obedience. Can you and I really afford a life of weak meditation that bears the bitter fruit of weak courage and weak obedience? No. No. No. This is an hour when God's people must be strong in courage and equally strong in careful obedience. A life with a strong priority on meditation in the Scriptures is absolutely vital.

Condition #3: A Teachable Spirit
Incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding... (Prov. 2:2, NKJV)
An inclined, attentive ear and an applied heart speak of a teachable spirit. Obedience and meditation are important if we want to experience intimacy with the Lord, but a teachable spirit is also essential. I've met a number of very earnest people who had stubborn spirits and were not teachable before God or man. That's deadly because the absence of a teachable spirit will hinder us in terms of growing in the intimate knowledge of God. An unteachable, "know-it-all" spirit will quench the Holy Spirit, and eventually our spiritual hunger will wane and die out.
We are to be teachable, to have the patient hearts of learners. Being teachable is actually a greater challenge for some Christians than being obedient or scheduling time to meditate. Isaiah 66:2 says, "...To this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My Word" (NAS). The Lord is looking for the heart of a learner. If we have teachable spirits, the Lord can bring us into any truth we are lacking.

Condition #4: A Revelation of the Knowledge of God
Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding... (Prov. 2:3, NKJV)
Crying out in this way means actually praying to receive more wisdom and insight into the splendor of God's personhood. We are exhorted many times in the Scriptures to cry out for a deeper revelation of the knowledge of God's personality. Paul's first prayer in the great Ephesian epistle was for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God to fill the believers in Ephesus (Eph. 1:17). If it is something we really desire, we will not rest or stop crying out until we receive it. If you go without asking for it, you will end up living without it.

Condition #5: An Abandoned Heart Searching for Divine Treasures
If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures... (Prov. 2:4, NKJV)
What if someone guaranteed you that a million dollar check was rolled up tightly and hidden somewhere inside an old, abandoned house, and it would be all yours if you found it? Am I right in supposing you wouldn't leave a board or a brick unturned until you found it, no matter how long it took? You would be there searching before and after your regular day's work. You would rearrange your social calendar. You would reset priorities and make all sorts of sacrifices until you found that hidden treasure because you'd made up your mind you were not going to live without it.
That same principle applies in your walk with God: Whatever you can live without in God, you may often go without. Whatever truth you decide you cannot live without, you will eventually obtain (see Matt. 7:7,8). If there is truth in God you absolutely refuse to live without, something you are willing to apply all your heart and mind to obtain, you will have it in due time, whether it's in one year or 20.
Many people have attended college and graduate school for eight or ten years or more, laboring for degrees that are the prize possessions in their professions. Their dedication and perseverance were considered normal. If an individual with that degree of determination in God ever becomes insatiably hungry for Jesus, he or she will sacrifice everything to gain deeper knowledge of the Pearl of great price.
It's very valid to pray for spiritual passion, for consuming zeal, for a release of insatiable hunger in your heart, for holy thoughts and godly desires. It's valid to pray that you might see and feel what the Father sees and feels when He beholds His dear Son. It's valid to cry out for intimacy with the Person who feeds you from His own hand, the Person who guards your soul, the Person who gives you wisdom and revelation, the Person from whose mouth comes knowledge and understanding. 

The Apostle Paul called Jesus Christ "the wisdom of God...in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (1 Cor. 1:24; Col. 2:3)." Once again we're brought full circle: We receive more discernment and understanding of Jesus by pursuing and cultivating intimacy with Jesus.

Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. (Prov. 2:5, NAS)
In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Walk in Love

Ephesians 5:1-2Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

In this study of Ephesians that our Friday night Bible Study group is examining, I have never really paid attention to how may times the word “walk” actually appears in these lines of Holy Scripture, and easily see how we get that term: “walk the talk”. We are to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God. Now we are to walk according to the truth that is in Jesus Christ. The study talks about someone who claims to be a Christian and yet lives in a way that is contrary to the commandments of God. Those who are sure that they would go to heaven when they died because they made a profession of faith, yet live just like the world lives. Can a person walk one foot in darkness when they claim to belong to the Light of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ? How are Believers to walk … and not walk?

Ephesians 5:3-6 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse joking, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

The word “saints” in the Greek is γιος – hagios and means holy (set apart from ungodliness, by God, for God’s sacred purposes) and could also be translated as “holy ones”. Saints comes from the same Greek root as the word “sanctified”, being γιάζω – hagiazō, so saints are all those who have been sanctified, consecrated Believers, genuine regenerated Christians, walking in love, following and imitating the Lord with an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. But why the warnings: the “must not’s”, “the there must be no’s”, the let no one deceive you with empty words? The word “empty” is the Greek word “κενός – kenos, which means vain, useless, void of truth and void of reality. It indicates the hollowness of something or somebody. Could it be that ones trying to deceive the saints are proclaiming that a person can walk though life with one foot in the darkness of what God calls Sin, when they claim to a Christian belonging to the Light of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ? Does this happen today? This is what verses 3-6 explains clearly. As with any transgression of the Laws on earth, there are consequences for Sin also, and they are eternal separation from God. But our Creator Father in heaven, out of His love and mercy sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay that price and penalty for the world, so that who-so-ever repents of those sins (turns away from the darkness of sin and unbelief, and walks towards the Light of their Lord God in holiness and righteousness, in believing faith), accepts the free gift of atoning grace in Jesus on the Cross, will be justified in His sacrificial death in our place, by His blood, and shall receive salvation, become a child of God by His grafting adoption into the kingdom family and a permanent Holy Spirit sealed citizenship in heaven. Do not be deceived that the Child of God can walk in sin any longer. Those in rebellion against their all-knowing, ever-existing sovereign Maker God, who is sovereign over everything past, present and future, will attempt to justify their sin with argument, temptations and peer shame against all opposition. Those set apart from God will try to lead us away from the true Savior by separating the godly from God also, by sin. Which leads us right back to Ephesians 5:1-2Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, February 16, 2013

One Foot in the World

Romans 12:1-3I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

The one thing about doctrinal biblical truth, it is the principles or dogma of Christian world-view knowledge and the basis of a grounded belief and the model of our faith. Not just believing “in Christ”, but believing “into Christ” – from the outside to the inside, so that we are in Christ Jesus and Christ is in us, in spiritual union. What happens when one moves to the Light of Christ from the darkness of unbelief and everywhere in between (one foot in the secular world and one foot in the kingdom of God, trying to live a duel-life with one foot in both worlds, with two masters, with opposing standards)? You put both feet in the kingdom. Right?

2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

There has always been battles over the truth if God and sound doctrine. And, I've heard that when doctrine goes, so goes the church. I heard it said that ,today, there is a great secularization of worship in our country. Many churches have focused on a “church experience” that leads many to become converted to the institution of the congregation and misses a genuine conversion to Christ. In doing so, we've turned the church into an “Entertainment Center”, (i.e. a coffee house feel in the Pews, exclusive contemporary Christian rock music, and maybe exciting live texting from smart phones to enhance the worship experience, and the like). We’re trying to do God’s work in “the world’s way” – one foot in the world. People become excitedly involved and very active, then later repudiate the Christian faith; figuratively “tubing it” (it’s down the tubs”). A church can make Christianity so appealing that we can have people join our congregations and embrace this faith, without even dealing with their sins and without really dealing with Christ as Savior and Lord. The church can be so sensitive to people’s needs, so inviting and so appealing that people come for a season. This is the point of the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. The only seed that lasts is the seed that is sown in the “good” soil, and the “good” soil is the transformed soul that has been regenerated by God the Holy Spirit. People fall away from their original “profession of faith” and become an apostate because they had no true “possession of faith”. They are enlightened, but how far? They hear the gospel, hear the reading of the Holy Scriptures and literally taste the Sacraments, but to what degree? Are we creating people within the visible covenant community that substitute a sensual spiritual experience in a worldly manner for reverence and adoration, worship and praise of God, and never really experience a genuine conversion? True meaning and purpose are found in Christ. Don’t keep one foot in the world by making "the experience" the god. Praise the Lord, your God!

Ephesians 4:20-24But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lovers of God

Luke 10:27 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.”

I was listening to a Christian radio talk show on the drive home today, where listeners called in and talked about “Valentine’s Day” or less common name “the Feast of Saint Valentine”. There were many calls about the commercialization of this holiday, where the National Retail Federation said the average person celebrating Valentine’s Day spends $126.03, 4.1 billion spent on jewelry, 42 million Valentine Cards are bought and given, 3.5 billion spent on romantic evenings, 198 million roses sold, and $650 million in candy sold. Then there was callers that brought up the point that this day that focuses on the romantic love of couples, creates a discouraging depression upon so many of those who are single (due to not dating, break ups, divorce or death) by the pressure.

John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

A single grandmother called in and made a declaration that all of us love someone and are loved by someone, so we need to focus on our loved ones and not on the negative because we can choose to be pulled down by the painful thoughts and memories or be blessed by the loving ones that we have and are making.

John 15:11-13 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
The last caller was a single man, who proclaimed that no matter what our current state and situation, we always have the love of God. That if we, Lovers of God,  focus our attention this Valentine’s Day on His love for us and our love for Him, then we will be fulled with the love, joy and peace of the Holy Spirit. We always have the joy of our Salvation. Amen.

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!
In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Ephesians 4:17-24So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being  darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the  ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old  self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

I think that one of the biggest issues in just about anything is to clearly see and understand problems (why something is “wrong”, based upon what is “right”) and the consequences of those problems. To know what is different and why? Then the goals have value and meaning that creates the desire and drive to “buy in” intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. As the Lord Jesus said in John 8:32 - “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 1 Peter 3:15 instructs us, “in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  We have multiple positive goals and numerous potential benefits within small group ministry of fruitfully learning more about the Lord, maturing in faith and strengthening each other in true loving interaction, to name a few. Justification unto salvation is the beginning, but sanctification (growing as a Christian and becoming more Christ-like) is the life-long process in our improving walk, one day closer to heaven.

As we saw in verse 16, growth comes when every member of the body of Believers, Christ’s church, operates as he or she should. 1 Corinthians 12:27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” To do this, we need to speak the truth. “Speaking” the truth could be translated as “holing to” or “walking in” the truth of God’s Word. John 17:17 “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. And this is to be done “in love.” - Speaking the truth in love. This is why we have these studies – so we can discover truth for ourselves and thus walk and talk accordingly. Genuine Christianity (following and obeying Jesus) sets us “free”, affects our morals and our interpersonal relationships, in the confessing and processing child of God. The very words confess and profess are the Greek word “ὁμολογέω”, “homologeō”, which translates to acknowledge, to assent, to declare, or to agree with – literally “to speak the same word” (homos = same & logos = word), aligning our thoughts, words and actions with the God’s and conveys the thought of “confessing” allegiance to Christ as one’s Master and Lord, and acknowledgement of the faithful one being His worshiper and servant, His loyal follower, leaving behind godless sensuality of the corrupt old self, and putting on the new self, with a regenerated spirit, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Our identification is in Christ, at the time of our salvation. Now we are to live and walk, breathe and talk, in the light of this change – as a new creation in Christ Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17 professes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Transformed - μεταμορφόω, metamorphoō – a metamorphosis of our soul.
Romans 12:2Do 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.”

Speak the truth in love as you walk the talk in Christlikeness.
In Christ, Brian

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Walk That Fits the Talk

Ephesians 4:1 & 4-6 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.” 

The good thing about small group studies is that the setting and size is conducive for the sharing of backgrounds, personalities, prospectives and experiences from the gifted members that make of the body of the Believers. We learn the doctrinal principles and position of the Christian faith as communicated from the Bible’s Holy Scriptures and the application for the godly performance of our duties in our daily walk as a “fitly framed” body of valuable components, called the church, working together in harmony to function as God intended in the purposes of the Lord as “Light” in their life and to the world, for Christ is the head of the body. Our Friday night home Bible Study continued to explore the questions of “How are those who have been saved by grace to life?” and “How critical is it that our walk matches our talk if we bear the name “Christian?” A life pleasing to God.

Ephesians 4:11-13And He gave some as apostles, and  some as  prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ;  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Saints is γιος hagios, means “holy ones”, those set apart from the sins of the flesh, the God-rejecting world system and the lies of the devil. Set apart because they now belong to God through salvation from their sins – a salvation that came through believing that Jesus Christ died for their sins as their substitute and rose from the dead three days latter as the Scriptures foretold. Set apart for a purpose, a particular reason and function fit for the walk which they was designed. Equipping is the translation of the Greek word καταρτισμός katartismos, used in New Testament times for mending nets, setting a bone, and realizing a purpose. It means “perfecting”, making fit or to “put right”. Ask yourself: “How you are measuring up to this description of maturity?” When all the parts of the body of Christ, all true Believers, are working together as a body, attaining the unity of the faith, and being ministered to by gifted men who are equipping them, then the body is going to grow and we will see the church building itself up in love. Then we will see a walk that fits the talk.

In Christ, Brian 
This is my 400th Blog Post.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ignorance Breeds Confusion

Jeremiah 5:4They are ignorant. They don’t know the ways of the Lord. They don’t understand God’s laws.”

I remember when our sons were tiny toddlers, they would come to me and ask questions. When I gave them the answer, they would immediately ask “why?”. They wanted to know and understand things. I have to admit that I want to know and understand the logic and reasoning behind what happens and “why” also, because I too find myself ignorant in the ways of this world and the ways of God. Basic living principles for the Christian for meaningful substance are found through the awareness of God’s instruction. Ignorance is not bliss. Knowing the truth of God produces relevance and a world looking for relevance. I remember a Pastor telling me that we live in a society that doesn't see, know or understand that they are “lost”, so naturally don’t seek to be saved.

2 Corinthians 10:12 “We wouldn't dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!”

Some don’t believe in God at all and willfully try to ignore their Creator or explain Him away. Others believe in God, but don’t believe in a “final judgment”, so lack any conviction of wrath within their Lord in heaven. There is a popular notion that God is so full of unconditional love that there is no room in His character for judgment, so wrath is not even capable. Saved from what? Ultimately, in their mind, they do not need Jesus to die for them. But they are ignorant of the truth and therefore confused about sin. That God is holy and just; the righteous judge of all the earth and will never negotiate His holiness. We all must understand that it is not a matter of us making “bad” choices, but of making “sinful” choices. To know that sin is not just an insult that impugns the honor of God, but is even more serious. Sin is a legal term. Sin is a crime – a transgression of the Law of God against our Almighty, righteous living Maker himself. Sin is both a personal and judicial offense against God. We choose to sin and are responsible for the thoughts, words and deeds of it, and Divine justice demands judgment. An earthly Judge who does not rule justly is a “bad” Judge, but God is just and righteous, so must punish sin on the day of God’s wrath – Judgment Day. God’s Word is clear: The wages of sin is death - Romans 6:23. Without shedding of blood is no remission of sin – Hebrews 9:22. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (willfully missed God’s Mark and hit their own) – Romans 3:23. All need salvation.

Romans 2:5 Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”
Salvation is ultimately “to be rescued from God”; rescued from the judgment of a holy and righteous God. That’s what it means to be “saved” – to be spared “by God”, from the wrath that is to come “from God”. It is God’s idea and God’s plan of Salvation. God is going to pour out His wrath in the last Judgment Day on those who are not covered by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ alone, who provides what every fallen creature needs for salvation from the wrath of God, forgiveness, reconciliation and ever-lasting life. Justice satisfied, paid in full, by the atonement. This is why the universal symbol of the Christian faith is the Cross. The atonement was necessary. Jesus died for the sins of the world, that who-so-ever believes shall not perish, but will be saved.

 Hebrews 9:11-15But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

To diminish sin, diminishes the image and authority of our sovereign Creator Lord God and the atoning redemptive work of Christ on the Cross, which dealt with sin. It is practical to talk about that which without, you will spend eternity in Hell. The problem is inside us and the solution is outside of us. We receive salvation by the love, mercy and grace of God. Let us not be ignorant of the truth, but rejoice in this truth. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord, sent by our Heavenly Father to rescue you and I.

1 Corinthians 14:33God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Riches of His Grace

Ephesians 1:3-8Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption  through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”

Our Friday night small group Bible Study is going through the first portion of the book of Ephesians in a topical study of “walking the walk that we talk” as Christians. God meets us “where we are at”, but when we accept the free gift of the redemption rescue from sin and death through the atoning sacrifice of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, the Lord does not “leave us where we are”. Being washed clean of our sin by the blood of Christ, we are now “holy and blameless” in His sight, we are “in the world”, but no longer “of the world”; we are of the kingdom of God, a truly loved child of God through Jesus, “blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ” and follow our Lord. And all this by the riches of His grace. Knowing this, we joyfully proclaim: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Rejoice as you talk of it and walk in it!

This weeks lessons teaches that the Greek word of grace is χάρις or charis, which means “favor”. When we talk of the grace of God and summarize the way God uses it in His word in reference to our salvation, grace is often defined as “unmerited favor” – that which cannot be purchased at any price on our own, and cannot be earned in any way for any reason. Grace is truly receiving something that we do not deserve – a Divine free gift. I’ve heard it explained this way: Suppose my best friend (parent, grandparent, etc.) were to surprise me with an expensive gift and let's suppose my response would be that of immediately digging into my pocket for a couple of dollars to help pay for the gift.  What an insult that would be!  Gifts must be accepted freely.  If even a dollar is paid, it is no longer a gift. Grace is something God freely, lavishly bestows upon sinners, who believe in His Son, the Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. But looking at dictionary of Bible words, this word grace also has the implication of the “benefit given” in this free gift and the “gratitude” and “thankfulness” of the unmerited receiver of God’s grace. Do we realize the just how precious, dear and costly God’s gift was and its eternal benefit to us? This is the greatness of the love which God has for us. And we don’t want to miss what He has for those who believe Him and who live (aka walk) accordingly.

Ephesians 1:13-14And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

When Paul says that the Holy Spirit “is given as a pledge of our inheritance,” he means that the indwelling Holy Spirit is a guarantee that upon physical death we’ll be taken to heaven and someday receive a brand-new immortal, incorruptible body. I guess that you could call that a “lifetime guarantee”, signed and sealed on Salvation by the riches of His grace.

In Christ, Brian  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Whoever Believes in Him

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I’m really enjoying this Sunday Sermon series on John 3:16, where Pastor JJ is breaking down this life-transforming Bible verse into its profound components of doctrinal Gospel truth, to put together this ultimate message of the love of God. Here are the notes I took. One of the greatest strengths of the Christian church is its essential element of “relationship”; the community of faith bonding and coming together to accomplish the mission of the church that God has given us, by doing the Lord’s work in the world today. Many say that they are “spiritual”, but don’t believe in “organized religion”, but God does. The church speaks the truth in love, seeking to know Christ and make Him known, because Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the life that sets us free.

John 11:25-26Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

There are times in our lives that rattle us and shack us up. Times that we contemplate our life to see if it adds up to something that is worth of what we call “life”. Thank God that our lives aren’t dependant upon the people, places and things in this world that have been, are now and are going to be in our life and living, but dependant upon God, who inserts faith, hope and love with a “Whoever” policy. Some people thought that they could make God their own by creating a god in their own image. We all like to think of God as being on our side; that God is on our team. But this is losing sight of God’s policy. Why would we have problems with God’s “Whoever” policy and say that God does not apply to everyone? Maybe because it is hard to believe that God’s policy would include “us”. Surely, all of us are sinners and have fallen short of God’s standards and missed His mark for our lives. God exports His grace worldwide, so when we construct walls by instituting “club requirements” upon the Lord’s plan of Salvation invitation, we exclude God’s desires and wishes of the “Whoever” policy. We should use the same policy as God in welcoming others to enter the kingdom of Heaven and the community of faith. We as people, who know the truth, need to change our policy to align with the Lord’s “Whoever” policy.

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.”

If we were to die today and God were to ask us: “Why should I let you into My heaven? What would we say? What does it take to get accepted into His Kingdom?  What is required out of us? We have to believe in Jesus! Trust in Christ, believe in who He is and that His atoning sacrifice on that Cross in our place paid for our sins and we will be rescued and saved from death to life. John 3:14-15Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.Believe our Heavenly Father, who is both “just” and our “Justifier”. When our hearts are transformed, our lives change. Believe that Jesus saves. By God’s power, we are saved instantly. This is Salvation!

Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Jesus does not show the way to eternal life in Heaven; Jesus is the Way. Look to Jesus and no other place because in no other place is salvation found. Remember that Jesus (God the Son) is an equal opportunity Blessor for whoever believes in Him, but also an equal opportunity Rejecter of those who chose to oppose Him. So simple and yet we tend to make this truth so complicated. Turn your eyes from the things of this world and fix your heart, your mind, your soul … your life upon Jesus. He is where you will find life today and life eternal. This is the gospel for “Whoever” believes in Him.

John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

In Christ, Brian