Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guilty As Sin – Part 1

Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Pastor Kyle finished up his “Let Go” sermon series this last Sunday with a message on letting go of guilt in our lives. Let’s face it, it’s easier to conceal than to feel, so we get hurt and then shut people out rather than deal with the pain. We make the choice that we will not and thinking that we cannot let go, therefore live we the guilt; maybe buried deep, but its still there. We may be “guilty as sin” and know in our heart that Jesus Christ paid for it all on that cross and set the captive free, but we continue to hang ourselves on that cross by not letting go of guilt. We won’t let go, so we carry the guilt. We don’t have to carry this load of guilt around with us, because the child of God is forgiven. The Apostle Paul explains to us in Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” But Bible Scripture knowledge can be merely head-knowledge that needs to move to the heart to be cherished and lived out every day. We do need to read and know the Word of God; not be ignorant of teaching of Holy Scriptures, but the head is only half the equation. Yet, the longest journey a man must take is the 18 inches between his head and his heart. If the heart is not “in it” and doesn’t desire to “do it”, then the heart will redirect the mind and won’t. The Lord let’s us out of jail, but we remain in prison in our mind, will and emotions by choice.

Psalm 51:1-2 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving-kindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."

My trusty 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “Guilt” as Criminality; that state of a moral agent which results from his actual commission of a crime or offense, knowing it to be a crime, or violation of law. To constitute guilt there must be a moral agent enjoying freedom of will, and capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, and a willful or intentional violation of a known law, or rule of duty. The guilt of a person exists, as soon as the crime is committed; but to evince it to others, it must be proved by confession, or conviction in due course of law. Guilt renders a person a debtor to the law, as it binds him to pay a penalty in money or suffering. Guilt therefore implies both criminality and liableness to punishment. Guilt may proceed either from a positive act or breach of law, or from voluntary neglect of known duty.

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

We’ll hear what Pastor Kyle has to say about “Letting Go of Guilt” in the next post. Blessings, in Christ, Brian

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Doing our Duty

Ecclesiastes 12:13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.”

I read an article the other week by Dr. Gene Veith on the duty of Christians. In today society, duty carries a negative connotation, but this was not the interpretation in the near past. I remember being in the Boy Scouts and memorizing and reciting the Boy Scout Oath: On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. Looking up the definition of the word “Duty” in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, duty is defined as forbearance of that which is forbid by morality, law, justice or propriety. It is our duty to refrain from lewdness, intemperance, profaneness and injustice. That which a person owes to another; that which a person is bound, by any natural, moral or legal obligation, to pay, do or perform. Obedience to princes, magistrates and the laws is the duty of every citizen and subject; obedience, respect and kindness to parents are duties of children; fidelity to friends is a duty; reverence, obedience and prayer to God are indispensable duties; the government and religious instruction of children are duties of parents which they cannot neglect without guilt.

Luke 9:23-24 Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Dr. Veith explains that in Christian terms, duties are the responsibilities that come from a person’s vocations; that people carry out their callings – holy orders for living out the Christian faith. Duty has a spiritual significance. Looming behind these duties is the gospel of Jesus Christ Those in Christ’s church (with Jesus as the head) deny themselves on accepting Christ’s sacrifice. The cross refers not just to suffering but to sacrifice , denial, even crucifixion of the self for someone’s else’s sake. That this cross-bearing is to take place “daily” means that our Lord is not referring to some glorious martyrdom, but to the ordinary, day-to-day tasks of life – our vocation.

Luke 17:10 “In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’”

We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and by the works of His sacrifice, not by our own works or sacrifices. This is the gift of God.  But Christ then calls each and every one of us (as Children of God) to arenas of service in ordinary life, simply doing our duty.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, July 27, 2014

From Death to Life

Genesis 2:16-17, 3:4 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.”

Last week’s Friday Small Group Bible lesson was on the “fear of death” and the biblical lack thereof, because not everyone is vulnerable to this threat nor eventual reality. The only things guaranteed this side of heaven is death and taxes, but either exists in heaven. Death entered this through sin (doubting unbelief, believing Satan’s lie and disobeying God). Romans 5:12, 6:22-23 says, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Our lesson asked: “What gave Christians the strength and courage to fearlessly die in faith and never deny Jesus Christ and His precepts (principles) of life? It starts with the Origin of Life: Genesis 2:7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Secondly, by how God sent Jesus to redeem us, pay for our sins, rescuing us and restoring our broken relationship in righteousness with our Creator Father God: Hebrews 2:9, 14-15Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 2 Corinthians 5:21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” And this is a gift from God to those who believe and repent; it is not earn, deserved nor can be bought on our own. This is God’s plan of Salvation.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 1 John 5:11-12And this is the testimony, that God gave 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.”

It is not surprising that our Creator Father God made His Son the only way to salvation; it is surprising that God made any way at all, because He did not have to forgive sin, but chose to our of His pure love and mercy by the atoning death of Jesus Christ. The lesson asks: “If we are true believers in Jesus Christ, if we adore and reverently fear God (never wanting to displease you Father in heaven), what kind of kind of life do we have? Eternal life and we will never be separated from God and Jesus. Philippians 1:21 says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Why? Because if we go down, then we go up!; meaning, that when we die, Believers go to heaven to live eternally with the Lord. This is the “eternal perspective”. 2 Corinthians 5:7-8 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” The reverential “fear of the Lord” is demonstrated by acknowledging the truth of God and living accordingly, aligned with His holy Word, Will and Way. How would this truth affect the way that you and I live and die? So, Child of God, how does it affect our life, our ministry of loving God and loving our neighbor, our gospel message and faithful witness to others for Christ the Savior of the world?   

Revelation 1:17-18 When I saw Him (Jesus in heaven), I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,  and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Revelation 2:11  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’ Revelation 20:14-15 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 21:3-5, 7 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.  And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new. He that overcomes shall inherit these things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 

The one who “overcomes” is a person who is born again, born of God, born anew – who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, Lord and Savior. Their faith is a victory that overcomes the sinful God-rejecting world system, whose eternal fate is described in Revelation 21:8,But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” My old Mentor Bill Stiles always said that you have to know what you have been saved “from”, before you can know and understand what you have been saved “to” in Jesus Christ. This is it! The gospel literally means “good news” – we are saved by faith through grace! Does it bring comfort and confidence to know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord? For Believers who live in the venerable “fear of the Lord”, embracing His holy Word of the Bible, trusting Him completely, and reverencing Him for who He is, the answer is a “yes” in the joy of their salvation. God is life; rejoice and live for Christ.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sin Forgiven – Part 2

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

Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” I read someone’s response to a discussion on “Sin”, which said; “We are no longer justified by trying to keep the law of “Don’ts”, which is impossible to keep anyway, but are compelled by God’s love to fulfill an even greater law, which is to love God with all our heart and mind and soul and to love our neighbor as ourself. Since this is also quite a task and impossible to fulfill, we rely on God’s grace and forgiveness through Jesus to see us through and we love and forgive others knowing that we ourselves are sinners also. So yes, we do miss the mark quite a bit on a daily bases, if we are honest with ourselves, but it keeps us humble and dependent on Him and His righteousness and not our own which Isaiah says is filthy rags. So we are sinning saints saved by blood of the Lamb.” Is “missing God’s mark acceptable?

In Matthew 22:36-39 a Pharisee, an expert in the law asked: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If we loved God with all our heart, soul and mind, would we have other gods? Would we make for ourselves idols, then bow and worship them them? Would we vainly misuse the name of the Lord our God? Would we ignore His church and its work in the world? If we loved our fellow man as we loved ourself and did to others as we would want others to do to us, would we dishonor or neglect our father and mother that the Lord gave us and who sacrificially raised us. Would we get angry at or want to hurt or kill them? Would we be unfaithful to our spouse sexually in thought or physically? Would we take something from somebody that didn’t belong to us and we didn’t pay for properly? Would we lie to get what we want or shift rightful blame away from us? Would we be envious and desire what belongs to someone else? Could you imagine the social balance and harmony, if everybody loved God and loved others? Well, unfortunately, sin is in the world, so God’s Laws are necessary. Laws are made for those who break laws. If nobody broke any laws because in their nature lived out daily it never crossed their mind to sin, then the laws would be unnecessary. Jesus was sinless and that’s what we are working towards in the sanctification process.

We are to have God’s laws written upon our heart, pleasing God in our thoughts, words and actions, and growing into the likeness of Christ daily. But, remember that this side of heaven, we are still in the sinful flesh with its desires and temptations that are contrary to the Spirit of God (Gal. 5:16-25), so we need to conscientiously and deliberately walk in the Spirit as a child of God towards our Father in heaven, to not gratify the desires of the flesh walking away from God. It’s not automatic; it takes work on our part, but the indwelling Holy Spirit is our Helper (John 14:15-18). We are dependant upon God. Sin weighs us down, but when true disciples confesses their sins, they agree with God that what they did was wrong; that we have sinned against our just and holy Creator Father God, repent and ask Jesus to cleanse away our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our unrighteousness, because Christ paid for them with His blood on the Cross. We are saved by God’s mercy and grace though faith. We are not to take sin against God and our fellow man lightly (1) because Romans 5:8 tells us: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for usand (2) the Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:30 “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” We were bought at a price, redeemed by our Savior and we are not our own (1 Cor. 6:19-20). God is love. God is life. Jesus Christ is Lord. Walk in the Spirit of God sins forgiven and live for Jesus. Dead to sin; Alive in Christ. Rejoice!

Romans 6:6 “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him (Jesus Christ), that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sin Forgiven – Part 1

Sin, as defined by the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, is the voluntary departure of a moral agent from a known rule of rectitude or duty, prescribed by God; any voluntary transgression of the divine law, or violation of a divine command; a wicked act; iniquity. Sin is either a positive act in which a known divine law is violated, or it is the voluntary neglect to obey a positive divine command, or a rule of duty clearly implied in such command. Sin comprehends not action only, but neglect of known duty, all evil thoughts purposes, words and desires, whatever is contrary to God's commands or law. 1 John 3. Matt. 15. James 4.

Sinners neither enjoy the pleasures of nor the peace of piety. Among divines, sin is original or actual. Actual sin, above defined, is the act of a moral agent in violating a known rule of duty. Original sin, as generally understood, is native depravity of heart to the divine will, that corruption of nature of deterioration of the moral character of man, which is supposed to be the effect of Adam's apostasy; and which manifests itself in moral agents by positive act of disobedience to the divine will, or by the voluntary neglect to comply with the express commands of God, which require that we should love God with all the heart and soul and strength and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves. This native depravity or alienation of affections from God and his law, is supposed to be what the apostle calls the carnal mind or mindedness, which is enmity against God, and is therefore denominated sin or sinfulness. What a great dictionary definition of what sin really is!

You’ve probably heard that the word “Sin” is an old archery term that translated means “to miss the Mark” or target, where the “Mark” is God’s standards, commands, laws and statutes. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 3:23-24 “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Hamartia or hamartano is the Greek term for missing the mark. Pastor Dave Rader used to say that when we “miss the mark”, we hit something else. The emphesis is on “the mark” because it is the target and goal. That mark is to glorify God. Sin is derived from the Middle English word sinne, or synne and the Old High German word sunta, which means “true”. It seems to be derived from the phrase “to be truly the one who is guilty”. ãwen – was the Hebrew word we translate as sin, it means “iniquity” – the particular deviation from rectitude; a sin or crime; wickedness; any act of injustice.  Sin differs from crime, not in nature, but in application. That which is a crime against society, is sin against God.

A popular notion among secular humanists is: “If I live my life according to my standards and do not inflict hurt and pain on others, I have been a good person.”  You see immediately that this person has mentally taken God off the throne in their life and placed themselves there, where they make the standards and define what is “good” or “bad”; “right” or “wrong”; they are as god (Gen. 3:5). There are those who say that we are no longer under God’s law, so can do whatever they want, whenever they want?” Has sin lost it’s definition? 

The Apostle Paul explains in Romans 7:4-15So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death  For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.” 

We'll continue this message on the next post.
Blessings, in Christ, Brian

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Righteousness will Rise

Malachi 4:2 "You who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves."

We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow. Glory to Jesus - our Lord, our Savior - the Great Physician! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

To the Glory of God

Psalm 86:12 “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”

There was a second important point in the article that I read by Pastor Jon Payne, which is that the ultimate aim of preaching must be the glory and praise of God. Strictly speaking, the preaching of the Word of God is not primarily for the salvation of sinners. Instead, preaching is first and foremost for the glory of God, magnifying our Lord’s awe-inspiring character and awesome works. Shouldn’t the content of preaching communicate this glorious reality? The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asked: “What is the chief end of man? To which the answer is: “Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” This is the root purpose and focus for life, which all else sprouts to fruitful living.

Psalm 96:3-4 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.”

But Pastor Payne reminds us that preaching must be carried out in utter dependence upon God, not our talents, intellect or personality. Indeed, apart from the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts, minds and souls of those to whom the Word of God is presented, the Law of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ will fall upon deaf ears and stone hearts. My “Evangelism Explosion” small group always prayed before we went out witnessing to others, that the Holy Spirit would prepare, in advance, the hearts of those who we presented the gospel message to that evening. There is no place for pride or self-reliance. Apart from Christ and the life-giving Holy Spirit, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Psalm 106:47-48 Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord!

Preaching is the primary means of grace appointed by God to regenerate, sanctify, nourish and comfort others.  That same Westminster Shorter Catechism states that preaching is an effective means of enlightenment, and humbling sinners’ of driving them out of themselves, and drawing them unto Christ’ of conforming them unto His image; and subduing them to His will; of strengthening them against temptations and corruptions; of building them up in grace’ and establishing their hearts in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation. No task is of greater importance for the minister or the church body than the faithful proclamation of the whole counsel of God.

Romans 15:5-6 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ministry is busy, but we all need to faithfully preach the Word. Let us trust God’s promise to employ the foolishness of preaching for the advancement of His kingdom (1 Cor. 1:21). Pray that our preaching would be chiefly about God, to the glory of God and praise of God, and in prayerful dependence upon Him.

Romans 11:36 “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Preaching the Word

2 Corinthians 4:5-6 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  

Looking up the word “preaching” in the reliable 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, I found the word defined as “To preach Christ or Christ crucified, to announce Christ as the only Savior, and his atonement as the only ground of acceptance with God. To discourse on the gospel way of salvation and exhort to repentance; to discourse on evangelical truths and exhort to a belief of them and acceptance of the terms of salvation. This was the extemporaneous manner of preaching pursued by Christ and his apostles.”  Martin Luther, the Father of the Reformation, wrote: “When you are to preach, speak with God and say, ‘Dear Lord God, I wish to preach in Thine honor. I wish to speak about Thee, glorify Thee, and praise Thy name. Although I can’t do this well of myself, I pray that Thou mayest make it good.’” I read an article by Pastor Jon Payne, where he explained that faithful preaching must be about God, for the glory of God, and in utter dependence upon God. That the content of the preaching that we hear in church every week must be centered on the nature and works of our triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

Psalm 19:14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
But Pastor Payne points out that Evangelical preaching today can often be shallow, therapeutic, and man-centered. It commonly lacks theological substance and gravitas (seriousness or sobriety). Entertaining popular music redefines worship, and personal stories, comical jokes and amusing anecdotes crowd sermons, leaving God as an after-thought. When worshipping “worshipping”, instead of God (as Pastor Tracy titles this style of church Service), as some sort of show is the focus, we lose sight of the main thing. The gospel, the grand theme of Scripture, is vague at best. We always need to make and keep “The Main Thing” (aka God), the main thing. Biblical preaching, however, is ways and unmistakably makes the triune God and His marvelous works of creation, providence, and redemption the main subject matter. God is the main subject of the Bible, and thus should be the central focus of preaching and teaching. We worship God for who He is.

Psalm 16:5-11 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.  I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol (the abode of the dead), or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Pastor Payne points out that the Apostle Peter’s Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:14-41) boldly and skillfully directed the people’s attention to almighty God, His Holy Word, and the fulfillment of His redemptive purposes in Christ. That, in light of God’s mighty acts of judgment and salvation, Sinners need to turn from their rebellious ways and receive Jesus Christ (the Savior of the world) for the forgiveness of sins. Nothing will stir the heart of the church unto faith and obedience like the view of God in the preaching of His life-transforming Word.

2 Timothy 4:1-2I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

The pursuit of happiness truly is the pursuit of holiness.  

Glory and praise to God. In Christ, Brian

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Open the Door and let Him in

Revelation 3:20Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

The door to our heart can be closed to the Lord by self-centered sin that separates us from the Love of God and true life in Jesus Christ. The enemy (the unholy trinity of the God-rejecting world-system, the sinful desires of the flesh, and Satan - the prince of death) close the door and turn their backs on the Savior of the world, who offers love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Gal. 5:22-23). Jesus is the "Good Shepard", who says in 
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Open the door and let Him in.
In Christ, Brian

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bitterness – Party of One

Proverbs 14:10 “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.”
Pastor Kyle is preaching a series on letting go of the body, spirit and soul hindrances that keep us from being all that God wants us to be within the abundant life in Christ. And one of the main things that we need to let go of is the “root of bitterness”. Bitterness is a work of the sinful flesh that takes our mind, will and emotions captive by the bondage of sin and almost always appears due to a loss, perceived, threatened or real, where we blame God. But, in the work of the Lord, there is to be joy in the house, the church and the city with what God is doing in the hearts and lives of those who believe and baptized in the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:15-16a) is to abound and overflow in the abundant life to the full in Christ (John 10:10). As a child of God, we are called to be an “Open Door” for others to enter and find the Lord. In accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit as a free gift along with salvation, forgiveness, adoption and eternal life. We cannot buy the Spirit. We cannot pay our way; it is by God’s grace through faith. Bitterness robs us of the power of the Holy Spirit, but the Lord restores us to a “right” relationship when we let go. It is immediately available.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Many may say: “Someone pray for this to happen to me”, but this is a personal relationship with “our Father who art in heaven”, and we each must decide and choose to do it for ourself. Nobody can do it for us. It is you and I who hold onto bitterness, and nobody can let go of that bitterness rooted inside for us. Here are four signs that you are holding on: (1) If you have mental arguments with people where you always win and they always loss, you may be bitter. (2) If you get irritated randomly where angry memories come to the surface, you may be bitter. (3) If you stay away from church, you may be bitter, and (4) If people walk on eggshells around you, you may be bitter. In every case, it’s bitter, party of one. Pastor Kyle gave us two declarations about bitterness: (1) It costs me more to hold onto bitterness than anyone else. I’m mad, replaying injustices and injuries in my mind, and they are metaphorically at Disneyland (not knowing and having a good time). (2) Bitterness does not make a better day. Two components of resentment are anger and shame, which this bitterness causes us to feel bad and inhibits us from moving forward. Laughter, on the other-hand, causes anger and resentment from bitterness to decrease. It takes 17 muscles in the face to smile and 43 to frown. Laughter lifts your spirit and it is the work of the Holy Spirit when we can laugh at what used to tie us up, when bitterness robs our joy and costs us mentally, spiritually and physically.  

Hebrews 12:14-15 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness  without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.

Forgiveness is the secret key. Forgive others and forgive yourself as God forgave you and I. Forgiveness is the remedy. Ask for forgiveness and forgive others, and receive the Lord’s forgiveness. Don’t struggle and don’t run away; let go! We need God’s touch and we need to touch others with God’s love and grace. It doesn’t mean pretending that nothing happened and everything is solved because we swept it all under the rug and forgot it. It doesn’t mean keeping it quiet and buried deep within us, but quite the opposite. Talk about what you are bitter about, so that you can let it go and get to a place where you are okay, even if others are not. Give it to God. Let it go and start living.

In Christ, Brian