Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Thanks Giving – Part 2

Malachi 3:6-15 “For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’  “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.  “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” says the Lord of hosts;  “And all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts. “Your words have been harsh against Me,” says the Lord, “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the Lord of hosts? So now we call the proud blessed, for those who do wickedness are raised up; They even tempt God and go free.’”

God does not change. Return to Him and He’ll return to you. If you want the Lord to pay attention and listen to you, then start living the way that you were designed to, in obedience to God. This includes our finances. 100% of what we earn and have this side of eternity belongs to God … He made everything and retains ownership. The word “tithe” literally means “tenth”, and God graciously gives us 90% to live on, with a mere 10% for His kingdom. Yet, so many treat God’s tithe like some tip for good service instead to cheerfully giving back to the Lord what He first gave us. Do we truly believe God’s Word? Do we trust God? Why would we trust Jesus with our eternal salvation and soul, but not with our finances? We are to honor God with our first-fruits thanks giving, not our left-overs. 90% is a great amount. Can’t we spare a dime?
Malachi 3:15-18 Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name. “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

Decide to live within your means. We live in a materialistic mentality that spends more than it earns, runs credit cards to the max, buys houses and cars that they cannot afford, purchases all the latest gadgets, electronics and toys, dines out constantly, wears all the latest fashions, sees all the latest movies, and parties until the cows come home. Seriously? Why? All of us have a step that God is calling us to take. If God is truly good on His Word, then you can trust Him on it.
Happy Thanks Giving.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy Thanks Giving – Part 1

Malachi 3:1-5 “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord
an offering in righteousness. “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the Lord, as in the days of old, as in former years. And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien— because they do not fear Me,” says the Lord of hosts.

In a day and age when we take a day to thank God for all the good things in our life, then wake up in the wee-hours of the very next day to brave the elements, long lines and crazed shoppers trampling each other to get even more, we have to seriously take a step to the side of this rat race and evaluate our interests and priorities. Pastor Kyle’s examination of the Book of Malachi this last Sunday diverted our focus from the temptations of this world that distract our prideful hearts attention and back onto our priceless Lord and we serve a loving Provider of all that truly matters in life. Sometimes, people mix things up in all the commotion and lose sight of this and serve ourselves or worse, envision a genie-like God that’s purpose is to serve them. The message of the egocentric world is: “I want it all, I want it now, and I want it delivered!”  But, God does not serve us; we serve God – Creator of Heaven and Earth. Where is the “fear of the Lord” today? Have we forgotten who He is, what He did, and what He is going to do? He send Prophets as messengers who foretold the truth, He sent His Son, the Truth, to provide an answer to sin and its judgment to come. Don’t wait until its too late before you clean up the junk in your life.

Malachi 3:6-7 “For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts.

Let’s read the finale of Pastor Kyle’s challenging Sermon tomorrow.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, November 28, 2014

We Give Thanks

1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.”

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Not Just Thanksgiving, But Thanksliving

Back in 2009, when I start this blog, I posted this first Thanksgiving message. Revisiting the origins and original intent of the blessed holiday though the Proclamations that established this traditional celebration is as important today for understanding  because focus of this attitude of gratitude is the same, just as the reason to that the Proclamations were made in the first place. Let's look at it again.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

The origins of America’s Thanksgiving Day.

Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings. --William Bradford, Ye Governor of Ye (Plymouth) Colony, November 29, 1623
WHEREAS, It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor;
WHEREAS, Both the houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted' for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. --George Washington - October 3, 1789
********************************************************************************************* The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.  - President Abraham Lincoln - Oct. 3, 1863
Psalm 100 – "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."

I included the original three proclamations by Bradford, Washington & Lincoln to remember the original intent of this holiday that we set aside in America. We live today in a very egocentric and materialistic world, society and culture (and maybe it has always been that way in varying degrees due to human nature). Americans have freedoms and blessings in abundance that most other nations and peoples never know.

To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come." Do we take our lives for granted and neglect the freedoms and liberty that we enjoy, our families and loved ones, the bounties of our possessions, and the source of them all (Almighty God)? We need an “attitude of gratitude” towards God, not only for the things that happen in our lives but also for the things that did not happen by His providence. We need to give thanks in the “good” times and the “bad” times, in all places and in all things despite our current circumstances because of who He is, what He does, how He loves us, what He did for us in Jesus Christ, our adoption into the family of God and our eternal home in Heaven to come.

Do we thank God for our faith, for the gift of Heaven and eternal life? Is it not Jesus Christ who loves us, seeks us, guides us and protects us as the “good shepherd? Despite our faults and failures, God still loves us, still accepts us; we are still his child, and still His desire. We can come to Him with our dreams and our problems without fear because of our relationship, our standing and our position with God. Our decision to salvation through Jesus Christ brings hope, forgiveness, prayer, peace, blessings, holiness, and an eternal prospective of the world to come in Heaven.

Are our lives in conformity with His will? Do we desire and strive to live a life pleasing to Almighty God? Do we claim to be a “Child of God”, and give no thanks? The sin of ingratitude displeases our Holy Father in Heaven. Where our heart is at, this is where our treasure is. Where is our treasure? Where are our hearts? We need to begin each day with thankful gratitude, end each day with gratitude and fill in the middle with thanksgiving. We are not lucky, but blessed and need to thankfully rejoice as Christians! What do we have that we didn’t receive from God? May the gracious name of God have all the praise! This is Thanksgiving Day, but every day should be Thanksliving Day!

Psalm 136:1-3 & 26 "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever."

I wish you and your families a blessed and happy Thanksgiving Day.
In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful Gratitude

Here is a Thanksgiving message from our dear brother in Christ, Michael. He writes: 
If you reach a man you reach a family, a culture, a community and a nation.  Christianity in Africa and an outreach called ‘Rock of Africa’ is exploding as men of God stand as lights shining in the world of darkness.  African Tribal leaders and a hundreds of men walk from miles around to attend their meetings.  These ‘men of God’ are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.  They are honored to call each other "Brother in Christ" and they're proud to be pronounced "guilty by association."  In contrast, Christianity in America has been eroding gradually for the last 70 years.  Our culture is deteriorating as Americans have succumbed to the influence of the powers of sin and unbelief.  Most Americans have been deceived by the schemes and snares of the devil and do not realize that they are walking in darkness.  However, even in the midst of encroaching darkness, we Americans still celebrate Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday.  Thanksgiving is the one remaining vestige of the American culture where Americans continue to turn their hearts to the Lord to thank Him for his Divine providence.  This is a time when the nation reminds itself of the bounty with which America been blessed. 

The true purpose of Thanksgiving is to lead our hearts to the one for whom we are most thankful...  our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the means by which God has shown us his love, mercy, and grace.  It's not what's in your pocket that makes you grateful, it's what's in your heart.  As Christians, our hearts are filled with gratitude for the great love wherewith he loved us.  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ – Philippians 2:5.  He who does not keep a thankful heart will never know the depth of grace, joy, mercy, and peace.  A thankful heart rests in the knowledge of righteousness in Christ. Peace is not contingent on the circumstances of our lives, rather it is contingent on our fellowship with the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ.  He has reconciled us unto himself and to God through his sacrifice as the sin offering on our behalf, thereby making peace between God and those of us who believe.

Virtuous character always starts with a heart of gratitude.  A grateful heart produces thanks giving by thanks living.  Grace is the root of thanks giving.  Lord, thank you for mercy and grace...  for giving me what I don't deserve and not giving me what I do deserve. An ungrateful heart belittles God as if he were not able, as if he were not our provider and the source of our sufficiency.  However, our fore fathers knew the meaning of divine providence.  They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor on firm reliance upon the Providence of almighty God.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works which he hath foreordained (by his Divine Providence) that we should walk.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18  contains the secret to a thankful heart:  Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Keeping a Godly perspective is the key to keeping a heart of thanks.  As men of God, we must keep our ear close to the mouth of The Lord.  Jesus said, "my sheep hear my voice and they know me and they follow me."  To pray without ceasing is to keep in constant communication with The Lord, to align my heart with his heart and my will with his will.  Keeping our heart aligned with his heart allows us to rejoice in the Lord always.  It allows God to work within us to will and to do as his good pleasure and in everything to give thanks unto him and bless his name...  for The Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth forever.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for your bountiful goodness and for allowing us to humble our hearts in gratitude for your divine providence...  for preparing the path before us and for allowing us to walk in fellowship with you! May we continue in a spirit of thanksgiving by thanks-living to will and to do of your good pleasure. In the name of Jesus Christ who gave us access to your throne of grace both now and forever.  Amen.

Your brother in Christ,

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Give thanks to the God of heaven

Psalm 136  Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights—His faithful love endures forever. The sun to rule the day, His faithful love endures forever. And the moon and stars to rule the night, His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who killed the firstborn of Egypt. His faithful love endures forever. He brought Israel out of Egypt. His faithful love endures forever. He acted with a strong hand and powerful arm. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who parted the Red Sea. His faithful love endures forever. He led Israel safely through, His faithful love endures forever. But he hurled Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who led his people through the wilderness. His faithful love endures forever.  Give thanks to him who struck down mighty kings. His faithful love endures forever. He killed powerful kings—His faithful love endures forever. Sihon king of the Amorites, His faithful love endures forever.  His faithful love endures forever. God gave the land of these kings as an inheritance—His faithful love endures forever. a special possession to his servant Israel. His faithful love endures forever. He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever. He saved us from our enemies. His faithful love endures forever. He gives food to every living thing. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.

In everything give thanks to God.
In Christ, Brian

Monday, November 24, 2014

Open Windows – Part 2

James 2:14-26 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!  But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Pastor Kyle explains that over time, we learn to discern the “harder” voice of God when it comes from the Lord. Three messages that are crystal-clear are (1) We have salvation through faith in Christ alone, (2) We are called to grow and walk in obedience to the Lord in all that we do - in every aspect of our life we are to be honest, open, and transparent. (3) We are to reach our family and friends for Christ. We are God’s Plan ‘A’ and there is no Plan ‘B’. It’s unrealistic to expect God to bless us when we don’t do what we know is crystal-clear from the Lord. Do not be distracted by this world lost in individualism, hedonism, materialism and existentialism, but focus on God’s crystal-clear word. That sin door closes and His window opens. Past messes on our life, God has grace for and He can use them for His glory, but purposefully live life “right” in the eyes of the Lord from now on. That in our life which is not pleasing in the eyes of the Lord, leave them at the foot of the cross.

Ephesians 5:1-11 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.

Pastor Kyle reminds us to know that the only one that we can really change is ourself, so we must address that which is in us which we wish to ignore. If you and I are not working on our relationship with our Heavenly Father, then we are working against it – the window is closed and the air is getting stale and fowl. If you get off track with your relationship with God, then open the window and go back to what you did in the beginning, saying: “I love you Lord and want to follow You whole-heartedly.” Your loving Father in Heaven specializes in raising the dead in resurrected relationship. Catch and breath of fresh air at God’s window, get unstuck and go passionately forward.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Open Windows – Part 1

Malachi 2:10-17 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers? Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, for Judah has profaned the Lord’s holy institution which He loves: he has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob the man who does this, being awake and aware, yet who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts! And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” You have wearied the Lord with your words; Yet you say, “In what way have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,” Or, “Where is the God of justice?”

Last Sunday, Pastor Kyle continued his Sermon series through the book of Malachi, focusing on the passage above and relating the biblical application of life today. The passage above spoke to three main points: (1) marrying unbelievers, (2) improper offerings, and (3) neglecting and disregarding of wives that leads to God not hearing us.

He pointed out that we live in a culture today that when the going gets hard, you go elsewhere ... that when the person that we are with stops fulfilling us, we have the right to go find someone else ... that when the feelings go, we’re gone. But, the challenge is to choose a different path and do what we did in the beginning to keep the window of God’s blessing open in our lives. When a window is open, air moves in and out (in both directions), but when a window is closed for a period of time, the inside air gets stale and fowl. 

Similarly, spiritual passion without action is a waste of time; publically proclaiming faith, but doing nothing about it. Think about this in these terms: Do you passionately want people to come to a “saving” knowledge of Jesus Christ? Then, when was the last time that you invited and brought someone to church with you? When is the last time that you told someone who does not know the gospel of salvation about living a life in accordance with the holy Word of God? We need to make sure that our passion for God matches our actions toward God and others. Does our walk match our talk, our heart and our Lord's desire?

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

We’ll finish Pastor Kyle’s godly message for our lives tomorrow.
In Christ, Brian

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Deuteronomy 30:10-18 If you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.

I ran into this Old Testament passage of Moses and it reminded me that everything starts with Lord God and His Holy Word. He alone and His Word alone set the standards that blesses us, to be a blessing for others, bringing the light of the kingdom of God and His salvation in Jesus Christ into a world that chases other gods in darkness. We have choices today. Follow God, live for Christ, walk in the light of truth and righteousness, know that you are loved and bless others ... today.

1 John 1:6-7 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.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, November 21, 2014

As Christ Forgave You

Colossians 3:12-15  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

Our Friday night Small Group Bible Study have been examining the biblical virtue of “Forgiveness” for the past month and have been blessed in the process of our lessons and open discussion. It’s easy to say the words; “I forgive you.”, but how can you know when you have truly forgiven from the heart?  There is “going through the motions”, doing what you are supposed to be doing and there is the real deal naturally, so how can you tell the difference? By the peace that you experience. In Colossians 3:15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” is not a command; rather it is an indicator. A lack of peace indicates that God’s Word has been disobeyed. In the opening verse, the word “rule” is an athletic term, which actually means “umpire”. If there are differences among believers, the peace of God will umpire our hearts. When relationships are broken between believers, it is because one or both are out of fellowship with God.

Ephesians 4:31-5:2 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

The lesson asks: Can you see that the more you comprehend the greatness of God’s forgiveness of you, the more you will love? And the more you love, the easier it will be to forgive? Remember, forgiveness is a matter of your will – the choice to obey God regardless of your emotions. As you choose to walk according to God’s Word, you will soon see your emotions come into live as well. Being like-minded to the Word and Will of God, aligned to the same standards. God’s standard is our standard, written upon our hearts, confessing and professing the same word.

True forgiveness of others will create a love that replaces hatred. When we speak of love, we aren’t talking about some warm fuzzy feeling, but about ‘action’, as imitators of God. Loving someone you’ve forgiven may be hard, but true forgiveness will make the sacrifice. Forgiveness and love are like conjoined twins sharing a single heart. Jesus longs to have fellowship with you and I. He forgives us and our forgiveness is to be like His. Hearts are healed, relationships restored, and bonds renewed and strengthened. Only the power of forgiveness unleashed can be about this kind of restoration and healing. Forgive as Christ forgave you.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Whose We Are

1 Peter 2:9  “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Here is this Thursday message from brother Michael. He writes:
God has called his Remnant as his chosen generation by his own grace, mercy and love.  In the Old Testament, God called Israel, not because they were great, but because they were loved. Chosen is the antidote to elitism.  He chose them not because they were choice people but because they were un-merited.  He chose them by his own will.  Only by God's grace was Israel chosen. They were not elite in themselves, but because of his having chosen them by his mercy and grace.  It's not a matter of deservedness...  If God had given them their "just deserts" they would be dead...  for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.

A priest is the one who has access to God. Without God, we're on the outside looking in. We're included by his grace as a royal priesthood. The priest is chosen of God, having access through the tabernacle to God to represent the people in God's presence. Only the High Priest could enter into the holy of holies once a year, into the inner chamber that represented the presence of God on the High Holy Day of Atonement once a year. Society talks about ‘belonging’ and our need to be inclusive and included, to be on the inside, looking out. However, only God allows his people into his Holy presence.  There is a ‘narrow gate’ to the narrow way to the heart of God.  Only through our Lord Jesus Christ can we enter into the Holy of Holies, into God's presence.  Jesus said: “I am the way the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the father but by me.” Having access to God through Jesus Christ, we now have fellowship with God.  Fellowship means communion, (i.e. co-union with God).  For truly our fellowship is with God and his Son Jesus Christ, and one with another in the household of faith.

‘Holy’ means sanctified or set apart for the purpose intended by the designer. It means to live without pretense according to that for which we have been designed, according to his divine purpose for our lives. An Ethnic group is a group of people held together by a common culture.  A sub-culture holds individuals together with a common language, a common experience and a common relationship. Friendships develop within each sub-culture.  Orange County, California is a diverse region with many different sub-cultures. The melting pot of the general culture encompasses many different sub-cultures.  Sub-cultures are exclusive and screened. However, a collective culture is not exclusive. The Christian culture must be inclusive and forgiving of the sub-cultures. Christianity must be free to encompass all facets of our lives and cross over to those who are different from us ethnically and sub-culturally.

We are God's possession.  It's not ‘who we are’, it's ‘whose we are’.  We are not only God's possession, we are his prize possession. For by grace we are saved, not of works lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, his most prized possession, his poema, his poem, his masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which he hath foreordained that we should walk in it – Ephesians 2:8-10). God's providence, his allotment, his provision is in his chosen people.  As his chosen ones, our allotment, our blessing, our portion is in Him.  ‘I in thee’ and ‘thee in me’.  Be thou my vision O Lord of my Heart, naught be all else to me save that thou art. It's none of me and all of thee. That I should boast not in myself, but only in the Grace of God. May God richly bless you.

Your Brother in Christ, Michael

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The World According to Pastor – Part 2

John 17:14-16 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

A further explanation for this alienation between the world and the child of God is introduced by the concluding [hoti] (“because”) clause. The world does not understand the child of God because it did not understand Him. Opinions vary as to the antecedent of this pronoun. Suggestions include (1) God the Father, (2) Jesus Christ, or (3) God in Christ. Looking back, the near antecedent is the Father. It would be easy to see a reference to Christ, however, and the reception he received at his first coming. At the same time, the hostile attitude of the world toward both the Father and the Son cannot be overlooked. In either case in light of the world’s natural depravity and opposition to God, the child of God should anticipate rejection and hatred. Such rejection by the world attests to the reality that the rejected are indeed children of God. Christ warned his disciples (including John) of the world’s natural animosity toward his followers (John 15:18–16:4), and now the apostle communicates that same word of warning and encouragement to his audience. To be one of his is to be treated as he was treated, but to be treated in such a manner is to have assurance that we are his children.
     Akin, Daniel L. Vol. 38, 1, 2, 3 John. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001.

3)Also check out the following blog post regarding "in and not of" from John 17 @

4)My thoughts: 
I like Akin's words from the New American Commentary, in this verse “world” (kosmos) refers to the evil humanistic system that dominates the society around us, a hostile order that stands in opposition to God.  We should look and be like Christ; to such a degree that we are going into and through the world on mission.  While doing this we live with such a kingdom mentality that is counter intuitive to the ways of the world. If we are being winsome and gracious we can be confident that the rejection we experience is ultimately a rejection of Jesus and His way.  If we are being self-righteous then we can be sure the world is rejecting us for our own sake and not Christ.  Nonetheless, we should never be surprised when we experience persecution.  If our 'sins yell crucify' then a sinful world will likely yell the same to us.

Let me know if you want more on the ‘word study’ side. “World” (kosmos) is the most common usage and then it is modified by the context of the verse. It appears 186 times in 151 verses in the ESV.
Hope this helps! Blessings.

In Christ, Pastor Rick