Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What Shall I Do?

Mark 10:17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

With the arrival of Pastor JJ’s son this week, his stepfather – Phil Smith, Chaplin of the County of San Bernardino Sheriff’s Adelanto, California Correctional facility bailed out our preacher. Continuing in our Study of the gospel of Mark, He told us that all accounts of this young man that ran to Jesus and fell on his knees before Him, say that he was wealthy and had great possessions. But this rich young Ruler came to the Lord not looking for material goods or healing; he came for spiritual advice, because he knew that he lacked what it took to get into heaven. Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” No more significant or appropriate question could be asked of Jesus than this one that this man asked. This is one of the most important questions of theology: the most important question to an ultimate reality. “Where am I going to go when I die?”, “I want to go to Heaven, but how do I get there?” and the “end all” question:  “What shall I do that I may have eternal life?”

Mark 10:21-23  Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Jesus looked at his heart, identified and exposed the problems. Great possessions and wealth can be a great distraction in life; a diversion that draws our mind in different directions than God and godliness.  Distractions are whatever takes our attention off of where it should be.

(1) Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (wealth & riches).This was the rich young ruler’s situation and many of ours also. The inherent dilemma with wealth is that we dwell on getting it, keeping it, protecting it and who is going to inherit it, mastering our mind. In Ecclesiastes 5:11-13, King Solomon explains that when goods increase, they increase who eat them; so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes? The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep. There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: Riches kept for their owner to his hurt. Wealth and all it brings to us can become an idol.

(2) Man’s pursuit through time has been self acceptance through material achievement and social success. People may believe that “the one who dies with the most toys wins”, but “keeping up with the Jones” has a high cost and it may be an eternal loss in the end. Coveting (the envious desire of that which belongs to another) made the “Big Ten” list of Commandments of God. Seeking earthly material possessions and existential social success/status as our goal is playing the greedy and lustful “Rat Race” game. Where is our focus and love?  

(3) Who are we depending upon to provide for our needs? Deuteronomy 8:10-14, 17-18 tells us: When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” There is no room for self-centered pride. By our lives, do we say: “I need you Lord Jesus!” or “I don’t need you Lord Jesus!” Psalm 37:16A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked.”

What this Ruler needed was the sweet surrender of this material life that ruled him. It was not that he had many possessions; rather, the possessions had him. He was enslaved to what should have been his servant. The price was too great and his love for the world’s goods prevailed. He rejected the love of the only one who alone can impart true riches. How about us? 1 Timothy 6:7-9 says, “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. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”  

“Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” “Come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Where are we today? Distracted by possessions, position status, or busyness in the pursuit of wealth and pleasures? Today could be a good day to know who we are distracted from and what we are attracted to, then make the change to trust the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Why? Because all things are possible with God.

Mark 10:21-27 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again,  “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Battle for Your Mind

Proverbs 4:23Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

In our Small group lesson this week in the study on “Spiritual Warfare and Overcoming the Enemy”, we found that Satan’s primary objective is to get us into sin by persuading us to trust in ourselves, in our own reasoning and power, to walk independently of God. The devil’s primary tactic is to target our minds, because our thoughts determine our actions. The mind is the primary battlefield in spiritual warfare. The King James Version of Proverbs 4:23 says: “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” The “Keep” is the fortified central tower within the castles during the Middle Ages. To “keep thy heart with all diligence” was to steadfastly place our soul (mind, will and emotions) in the fortified central tower of our heart, centered on Christ as we walk in the Spirit, in a righteous relationship with God, for safe keeping, because thoughts are the seeds for words and deeds.

Proverbs 15:28The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
Matthew 15:18-19Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies.

Sometimes, we forget that, this side of heaven, we walk in the flesh. As the mind goes, the body followers, so Satan targets the mind (heart) to accomplish his purposes. What purpose is that? John 10:10 tells us: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” The Apostle Paul states in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” Earlier in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Paul explains: “Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 gives the battle plan and godly tactics against spiritual warfare, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”  

Our defense begins with trusting in God alone as our “Keep” and dwelling there. Amen. Equipped by the truth of God in His holy Word, we clean the temple and become our own “thought police”, mighty though His teachings and commands: to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. To dwell on untrue thoughts instead of focusing on the truth of Christ are the deceptions and distractions of sin that bind and poison the carnal mind from the inside in slavery. There is no freedom in sin. This is what Jesus meant when He proclaimed in John 8:31-32 “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The sinful flesh, the God-rejecting world, and Satan will leave us disappointed in the end, because “disappointment” is a result of missing God’s Divine “appointment” for us.

Philippians 4:8-9Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

To meditate on these things is to take into account everything, view the world through Christ, deliberately weighing everything against the just Word of God, which is the balance of life in the scales of justice, rich in faith and the Spirit of God. We put on the full armor of God to stand against the attacks of Satan in the battle for our mind and “keep” our eyes and heart  (mind) on Jesus, as the godly things which you learned and received and heard and saw, these do. Profess and practice these things as a practitioner of the Word of God. Take captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, which includes our thought life influenced by conversations, books, movies, the Internet, televisions, music, and friendships. Don’t compromise. Thoughts lead to actions, and ungodly thoughts unchecked become a “stronghold” base of oppression for the enemy. These strongholds of “wrong” thinking need to be dwelt with, torn down and mortified. We are not to allow these thoughts to continue. If we do, Satan will achieve a victory in our lives. Our strategy for winning that battle for our mind is clear: take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This is not simply a one-time action; it is a continual process. Moment by moment, we must evaluate our thoughts and bring our minds under control. It is spiritual warfare and a battle for your mind. Resist the devil. The God of peace is with you.

Philippians 4:7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

Soli Deo Gloria
In Christ, Brian

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Large and in Charge

1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Though the mid-week Bible Study groups traditionally take a break during the summer months, as this is when school is out and most people take a nice vacation while the weather is so good. Our church has put together an alternative “all church” Wednesday night interactive bible study during this time, which includes an outstanding video presentation, a topical study of the Scriptures on the video subject and group discussion, paired with either a potluck dinner or desert fellowship. My particular home Bible study group asked if we could continue to meet together during the summer, in addition to the church “Family Summer Nights’ series, so every other week we meet here to continue our small group studies. We are just over half way through our study on “Spiritual Warfare and Overcoming the Enemy”.  Many misconceptions about Satan are revealed and brought to light, as some of our preconceived ideas about the devil are driven by fear of the unknown, so learning and knowing the truth dismisses those fears and worries. This last week’s study asked the question: “Have you ever wondered of Satan is free to carry out his plans and attacks on whomever, wherever and whenever he wants? We seem to live in a world that believes that the devil and God have an equal balance of power. But take a closer examination, past the distractions and deceptive lies that fog our view, to the truth see clearly that this fallen angel with limited power and ability is subject to and accountable to his Almighty Creator.

Job 1:9-10 So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.

How would Satan know that there was a hedge of protection from God around Job unless he attempted to attack him before? But shows that the devil is powerless to do anything against God people when sheltered by the omnipotent Lord. I remember Bruce Wilkinson said, in the book “The Prayer of Jabez”, that we should just give a prayer of gratitude for the hand of God in security that we see, but also for the bad things in life that never made it to our doorstep because of the Lord’s hedge of physical and spiritual protection which we do not see. Satan truly knows who is truly living for God, and he targets those individuals as a threat to his kingdom of darkness. But God, too, is quite aware of what’s happening on earth and the devil cannot get to anyone without God’s permission. It is our Father God who is large and in charge. How comforting that ought to be to us. His power is limited by God. We have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, so when tempted by the evil one stand firm. Remember, “the Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). I remember this old church Hymn that goes: “Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle see His banners go! At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee; on then, Christian soldiers, on to victory! Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise; brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise. Like a mighty army moves the church of God; brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod. We are not divided, all one body we, one in hope and doctrine, one in charity. Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.”

Fear not, in Christ, Brian

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Serving God

Mark 9:37 “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”

Pastor JJ’s wife is due to deliver their second child … today, so to be safe he asked Mike (from our small group Bible Study) to give the Sunday Sermon on the next installment of our series in the book of Mark. Mike explained how the each of the gospel writers focused on a different attribute of Jesus and that one of Mark’s main focuses was on “Christ the servant”, that His followers may read, see and understand by example that serving others is our ministry here. In the previous chapter, Jesus asks: “Who do you say I am?” and how that question is answered determines your eternal destiny, because He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. There is spiritual truth behind the actions of Believers manifest to the glory of God because in our walk with the Spirit and our conversation with God in prayer, there is the aligning our will with His will in faithful service. God is not our servant; He is not subject to us. As Jesus said in Luke 22:42: “Not My will, but Yours, be done.” God’s delight is our delight, and that which is wrong in the eyes of the Lord is wrong for all. It doesn't matter what my opinion is, but what God’s opinion is. His word is truth. When Jesus told us in Matthew 25:40, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me,”, He was giving us the essence of serving.

May we petition God to let His Will be done in us, as we live to a higher calling. Serving in the name of the Lord is a selfless act, expecting nothing in return, in unconditional giving. Serving is a “love language” in recognition of God and others. God is our sole provider and our soul provider in His terms of endearment towards us. In this relationship with Christ, we minister to each other; servants of all, bound by love, being Christ to others. Colossians 3:14 says, “above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” In serving others, we serve Christ, as we seek the Blessor, not the blessing. And may we all someday hear those beautiful words of our Savior and Lord, from Matthew 25:23, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

Thanks be to God.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Advance the Kingdom

John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

With the changing demographics of our community and culture, our church is looking at the focus and goals of this congregation in this colony area of central city, originally settled by German immigrants, that we cal home. This church family, like all churches, must seek to provide for the mind, body and soul needs of the members and seeking attendees through the window of Christ. Meeting spiritual needs by seeking truth through worship, prayer and Bible study to grow in the knowledge and image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – the head of the church, which is His body of Believers. At the same time, being a light of hope and righteousness to a lost and dark society, who may not see that they have sinned against a “just & holy” God and may not know the Savior sent by that God to pay for those sins to forgive and restore their relationship with Him – Advancing the kingdom of Heaven.

John 3:3-5 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

America, being founded by primarily Christians with the purpose and goal of advancing the kingdom of Jesus Christ in the presence of God, created a Christian nation with religious freedom and liberty based upon the Word of God. The Pilgrims signed what has come to be known as the Mayflower Compact, which reads: 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 advancement 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 of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together in a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid .. Text of the Mayflower Compact - Anno Domini 1620

2 Peter 1:2-11 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We support an organization called “Open Doors”, whose motto is: “Advancing the Kingdom Where Faith Costs the Most”, that comes to the aid and defends suffering brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, staying on the offensive against the dark forces allied against them. But we all have to also recognize and realize that the darkness of unbelief with atheistic secular humanism is in the neighborhoods of our own community and the light of Christ needs to stand firm and shine in that darkness, like a light on a hill or lighthouse in the dark storms of life. For decades, I know of Christ, but I didn't know Christ. Who will go out with the light of truth and reach the lost, that they may come to a “saving” knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. 

Which church will say: “Having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith, and Honor of our Lord Jesus and the kingdom of Heaven, a pilgrimage to know Christ and make Him known in this community and culture.”?

Advance the kingdom.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Who Do You Say I Am?

Mark 8:27-29a Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked.  “Who do you say I am?”

Is Jesus (the Way, the Truth and the Life) enough?” Do we see the fullness of His glory as Lord and Savior? Who do we say Jesus is?

Continuing with Pastor JJ’s Sunday Sermon on the Gospel according to Mark. Who do people say Jesus is … man or God? Many people give a positive response about Jesus, saying that he was a “good” man. C.S. Lewis wrote in His book, “Mere Christianity” that even those who are not persuaded by Christianity often have great respect for Jesus. Among those who reject the idea that Jesus was God incarnate, there are many who are nevertheless followers of Him to some degree. “Jesus was a great moral teacher”, some say, but he wasn’t God”. According to this view, Jesus is to be followed as a great human being, but not as a divine one. Jesus made the most astonishing claims, not only about God, society and ethics, but also about himself. If Jesus set out to systematically deceive people about who he was and how their sins were to be dealt with, then he was among the worst teachers that have ever walked the earth. If Jesus believed that his claims about himself were true, and they weren’t, then he was a delusional egomaniac. If an ordinary person believes himself to be God incarnate, then that person is, put quite simply, insane. If Jesus taught that this is who he was and was mistaken, then he was as bad a teacher as there ever was. But if Jesus believed that his claims were true and they were, then Jesus was not only a great human being, but was also God on Earth.

Mark 8:29 Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ [Messiah].”

Matthew Henry's Commentary says Though they came short of the truth, yet they were convinced by his miracles that he was an extraordinary person, sent from the invisible world with a divine commission. It is probable that they would have acknowledged him to be the Messiah, if they had not been possessed by their teachers with a notion that the Messiah must be a temporal Prince, appearing in external pomp and power, which the figure Christ made, would not comport with; yet. To be a Christian indeed, is, sincerely to believe that Jesus is the Christ, and to act accordingly.

Pastor JJ encouraged us to see and experience Jesus the “Christ” as Lord – God the Son. The One sent by God to save the world from sin and restore our relationship with God the Father. It’s not what the world says about who Jesus is, but what you say. Jesus wants you and I to answer that question today, and then show us the way to true life and life abundant. Jesus will be there to rescue us when we put our hearts in a position where He can reach and teach us. Who do you say I am? Is He the Christ? … our Christ and personal Savior? What is our response to Him? Liar, Lunatic or Lord? If Lord, then repent of sin and believe. Have the courage to take the next step of faith and obedience in our lives. Respond to His leading by His teachings and commands in the Word of God to conform our way to His ways. May our eyes be opened to see Him more clearly, to devotedly follow Him and dedicated to live out our faith faithfully.

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Show Me a Sign

Mark 8:11-13The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

Pastor JJ continued his Sunday Sermon series on the gospel of Mark this week with chapter that challenged us to look and see if we are doing the very same thing. We all come to a place where we ask the question: “Why?” Why are we here? Why did God put me in this place at this time in history? Why don’t I see miracles happening today? Why don’t we see signs from God? One thing we know is, that the answer is not: “That’s just the way it is.” We know that God is faithful, but we do not always see what the Lord is up to in this world. But the Pharisees both heard of Jesus’ miracles, healings, teachings and lives changed, and even saw some in person, but now ask for a “sign from heaven” on demand.

Jesus shows us what God means by the Law, because the Lord knew that miracles were not enough for people who doubt and harden their heart to believe. Jesus wasn’t here to perform, but to obey Father God. Have you ever heard anyone say: “If God would just do ___________ (fill in the blank) for me, then I’ll believe.”? Maybe, said it ourselves before? Are our eyes blinded to who Christ really was and is? When a heart gets hardened towards the things of God, what will break through?  

Mark 8:14-18 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?

Yeast permeates throughout dough corrupting the mixture and causing it to “puff up”. Jesus warns us to beware of the symbolic yeast that “puffs us up” with arrogance and pride of self. We need to humble ourselves and pray: “Heavenly Father, I don’t have this life figured out, but I put my trust in you and will be faithful to follow you, no matter what”. Instead, many say: “Show me a sign” and not getting it. The questions really are: “Is Jesus (the Way, the Truth and the Life) enough?” Do we see the fullness of His glory as Lord and Savior? Who do we say Jesus is?

More on this next time, as we reach verse 27.

Blessings, in Christ, Brian

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Vow of Purity

Hebrews 13:4Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge."

We have been taking summer vacation trips to visit the parents in late June and early July, enjoying the loving family connections, the homey familiar places and longed for local activities. This year we spent the long July fourth holiday weekend at beautiful Bass Lake, California and attend dad’s local church Sunday worship Service @ “The Little Church in the Pines” to hear the preaching and teaching of Pastor Tracy on “Purity”, and this visit to witness a “Vow of Purity” ceremony of teenagers from the congregation. Pastor Tracy, not afraid to tackle any sin issue, pointed out that in the Hebrews 13:4 verse above, it can be missed that the issue of marriage (before, during & after) is addressed to “all” on the matter of sex: the God-given ability to create life in intimacy of husband and wife.

1 Timothy 4:12Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

Purity and immorality before, during and after marriage is defined by God, not man. Fornication is sexual immorality prior to and outside the context of marriage in thought, word or deed. Adultery is sexual immorality after marriage in thought, word or deed. The only difference between the two sinful acts is the two words: “I DO”. Everyone is either single or married, therefore, this message of honoring the institution of marriage, before and after, pertains to “all”. Singles need to act like singles before marriage as God intended from the beginning. Married people must behave as married couples after marriage as God intended. No matter what the dark and lawless sinful world says, the children of God obey the holy Word of God.

Romans 12:2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Pastor Tracy stated that when the church of Jesus Christ, not only allows the sinful messages and lies of the God-rejecting world system to be the only message given, but also gives consent to the sinful world’s messages by providing no opposition from the Word of God, then the secular humanist root message that we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, with no consequences for our wicked and rebelliously immoral thoughts, words and actions prevails as the culture turns its back on its Creator to worship self in the nominalization and normalization of sin (mentally, spiritually and physically). But in the end, the powers of hell shall not prevail (Matthew 16:18), there is God’s judgment at the end of our days. Transformation is needed.

1 Corinthians 6:13-20 Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Question: Is their life worth any less than ours? What does the Word of God say?
2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Hebrews 9:27-28 It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. 
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, 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, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

God instituted marriage from the beginning (Genesis 2:24 and confirmed by Jesus in Matthews 19:7 and Mark 10:7). It is an image of our intimate marriage relationship to our Savior and Lord. Know that the wedding of the Lamb of God to His bride (the church) is coming and be at and a part of the marriage party and celebration dinner reception party. There is forgiveness offered for everyone who has done wrongful sin and fallen, and that is everyone. The Lord is not the God of second chances either, but the God of as many chances as we need to repent and come to a “saving” knowledge of Jesus Christ.  

2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

Accept and receive the “free” gift of salvation in the finished work of Jesus on the Cross for our sins (John 3:16), follow the Lord (Luke 9:23) and commit to transforming our life in purity by walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Take a vow of purity today. Look forward and walk with the Lord. Share it and get involved.

Matthew 5:8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, July 11, 2013


1 John 1:5-7 This 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. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

This week marks our church’s third session of the “Family Summer Nights” mid-week “all church” bible study and fellowship. Every individual group are coming together each Wednesday evening for a video series titled “That The World May Know” with Holy Land expert and teacher Ray Vander Laan as he brings the history of Israel alive before our eyes with “faith lesions on the life and ministry of the Messiah” standing at the very place that they happened. This week’s lesson was from Qumran of the Essenes (the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls). Persevered in clay jars for 1900 years, the Essenes kept for us now the conformation of the accuracy and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures as they separated themselves from the Hellenistic culture glorifying secular humanity in their day. They removed and isolated themselves from the darkness of a pagan world-view and creating communities in which they could worship and honor Yahweh, while preparing the way for the coming Messiah.

2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.”  “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

These Essenes came out into the wilderness because they saw their world as being evil, but in so doing said that the truth is also out there with them and if you want to be a part of it, here it is, join us. There is a tendency in Christianity today to think the same way. But Vander Laan points out that Christianity’s passionate belief is that we have something that God has given us that needs to be brought, that needs to be carried, that needs to be made a part of the experience of others. The Essenes saw the stark contrast between good and evil, and their awareness that one could not be both, so isolated itself to focus on its own Theology and its own holiness at the expense of having any impact on the sons of darkness that they hoped to affect.

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Is it possible for us to live holy lives in the midst of a spiritually dark God-rejecting world system? The gospel of Christ is about repentance unto salvation  and what the Great commission of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 is about. Whereas the Essenes separated from their culture, God has called Christians to carry His truths into the secular world. Without compromising our holy calling, we are to interact  with the people who live in spiritual darkness and to confront evil in the world around us, as “cultural transformers”. We are to exhibit God’s light to a watching and hurting world. Instead of abandoning the secular culture as the Essenes did, God calls us to take His light of truth to the people. The Lord is working through us to prepare God’s way. Be light-givers!

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Two Kingdoms

Colossians 1:13-14For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Our Small Group Home Bible Study decided to keep meeting during the summer, just every other week now due to the church’s “Family Summer Nights” every Wednesday night bible study from June to September, so we continued on our topical study on “Spiritual Warfare” and “Overcoming the Enemy”. This last lesson focused on the reality that there is an ongoing spiritual battle. Two kingdoms are at war, and that we belong to one of them. The question is, whose side are we on?

Acts 26:17-18 Jesus said: “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

Believers in Jesus as Savior and Lord have been rescued by God from the kingdom of darkness and have been transferred into the kingdom of His beloved Son. Because of original sin, all were once ruled by the evil one who has sinned from the beginning. But now the children of God are ruled by the One who offers forgiveness of sin.

1 John 3:7-10Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child.”

Unbelievers live in the kingdom of darkness and are ruled by the devil. Therefore, sin is their practice, their way of life – Ephesians 2:1-3. But believers are no longer in bondage as slaves to sin and Satan. We have forgiveness of sin through the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ, which means the devil’s grip on us has been broken – Ephesians 2:4-10. In freedom, we now serve a new king and the habit of our lives will be to walk in righteousness. Be light-givers and cultural transformers.

1 John 5:11-12 & 19 “This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

Do not be deceived! It is obvious by one’s life which kingdom one belongs to. We need to examine ourselves to be sure of which King we are serving. There are two kingdoms. Which one do you and I belong to?

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Faith & Repentance

2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Wittenberg, Germany is the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation, when an Augustinian Catholic monk named Martin Luther (Father of the Reformation) nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church. Reformation was required to get back to the original intent of “the church” (which is the body of Believers with Jesus as its head), due to current secular abuses in the papacy at the time. Do we need any reformation and revival in all our churches today? Martin Luther addresses one of the root problems of sin as his first theses reads: “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ said ‘Repent’, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” I read lately that our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ’s teaching is that repentance not simply a one-time action, but is that which is to characterize the entirety of a believer’s life. The unholy trinity of our natural man’s sinful flesh desires, the God-rejecting world system and the influential lies and deceptions of the devil tempt us all to turn our attention inwardly to self-gratification, instead of outward God glorification. In Galatians 5:16-25, Paul explains the battle that each believer has this side of eternity and the need to crucify the flesh daily in faith and repentance and walk in the Spirit.  It makes sense that faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin – that we cannot express true faith without genuine repentance. We tend to remember faith side and forget the repentance side(how great the fall by sin, how horrific the consequences of sin against God, fellow man and nature, how high a price and sacrifice paid by our Creator Father in heaven that rescued us when we didn't deserve or earn.

Luke 9:23 “Then He (Jesus) said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must take up his cross daily and follow me.

Pastor Parsons brought to light that repentance takes place not only when the sinner is converted to Christ but every day of a believer’s life. In this, the Christian differs from the God-rejecting world system around us that entices the sinful nature of our fleshly desires. Christians are not perfect, just forgiven and that makes all the difference in the world (for today and eternity), so we are called to live accordingly in both faith and repentance by the Word of God.  We cannot trust Christ without turning away from our trust in ourselves. Who is on the throne of our heart, directing our thoughts, words and actions? In this egocentric world of sensual hedonistic materialism, who is truly Lord of our life? Worldly pride always proclaims: “Glory be to me!” We who have been justify from sin on account of God’s grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone (Mark 1:4) have been forgiven fully and finally, and this forgiveness humbly leads  to a Christ-centered life of asking forgiveness in repentance, forgiving others (Luke 11:4), and trusting and following Jesus alone as His devoted disciple and children of God. By faith and repentance, we proclaim: “Glory be to God!”

Luke 3:8 “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”

In Christ, Brian      

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Special Prayer For Our Country

Isaiah 25:9  In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God;  we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
From my small “Book of Common Prayer”, titled simply: “Campaign Prayer Book” published in 1897 and distributed to American Servicemen of the Armed Forced, deployed for Duty on the battlefield of this world, this “Independence Day 2013”, I take and post this “Special Prayer For Our Country”:

Almighty God, who in the former time didst lead our fathers forth to form this godly nation; Give Thy grace, we humbly beseech thee, to us their children, that we may always approve ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.  

Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning and pure manners. Defend our liberties; preserve our unity. Save us from lawlessness and violence; from arrogancy, and from every evil way.

Fashion into one godly people the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the trust in thy Name with the authority of governance, to the end that there may be good government at home and peace with all the world.

In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness; and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fall. All which we ask, we ask for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

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.

Happy Independence Day and God Bless America!

In Christ, Brian