Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tongue-Tied - Part 2

James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.”

Pastor Kyle says that God tells us in His Holy Word, what He expects, where He wants us go and where He wants us to end up. Men and women put thoughts into words, express themselves through their words, and by them we can communicate and understand. The average person speaks approximately 30,000 words per day and God records them all. The late Dr. J. Vernon McGee states that our tongue is the index of our life. Our words identify us and reveal our character. Our tongue tells where you are from, whether you are ignorant or educated, cultured or crude, vulgar or refined, a Believer or a Blasphemer. The tongue can change the course of our lives. How many lives have been ruined by gossip? In many ways, we all stumble. No fallen human being this side of eternity can tame the tongue, but Pastor Kyle suggests that we should “give it a shot” and try. We all need to bridle our tongue.

Psalm 39:1 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.”

God will not leave us sitting where we shouldn’t be. There are times when we have the thought of “Let it go”, but we must know in our hearts that God thinks about us, forgives us, cleans us up and guides us because He loves  and cares for us always and forever. We can progress, improve and mature in holiness and righteousness before the Lord. In John 8:10-11 it says about the woman caught in the act of adultery, When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more. We will always get a Devine response of “Go and sin no more”, because God expects progress. Our tongue is no exception.

Proverbs 6:16-17These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue

Every Spring has a source. What sources are supplying your unhealthy Spring? What comes out of our mouth expresses what is in our heart. Addressing the symptom (our external behavior) does not address the root problem. What distracts us from our God? What do we have to get out of our heart? Are we willing to go down the straight and narrow path, where the Lord would have us go by bridling our tongue and walking in the Spirit?  

In Christ, Brian

Friday, February 27, 2015

Tongue-Tied Part 1

James 3:1-12 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.”

Pastor Kyle takes up again in his study through the book of James, telling us that Father God trains all of His children to tame their tongues, notes and emails. Original sin and its associated sinful flesh desires is real and held in check by walking in the Spirit – Galatians 5. Generational sin is real also, but can be overcame and reversed … and the Lord will help. Sometimes, you open up the Bible and it slaps you in the face with just what you need to hear. We all have moments when we wonder if God is watching and listening, then He reveals himself to us. Promises are great, but actions are greater. What we do with us lives counts and results from action.

Matthew 15:16-18 So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”

Our tongue problem is really a heart problem. We need to work on the parts of our faith that are not where God would want them to be. No human being can tame the tongue (vs.8). Honor is great, when it comes from God; not man. This is a counter-intuitive, up-side-down principle in our day and age. Teachers are important to unpack the Scriptures. Words are powerful and affect people, but once you say something, you can never unsay it. The tongue can be the great destroyer of lives. It directs our destination like a little steering wheel that controls the whole car’s travel and quality of the journey. The direction of our journey that we are headed, ultimately determines our destination. 

We'll see what Pastor Kyle has to say about taming the tongue tomorrow.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Grace Unto the Humble

Humility is “not to think of myself above others”. It is having a spirit of submission and deference and to honor others above myself. Humility is to think of myself as a servant of others, to know and understand Jesus' message that "in that ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me" – Matthew 25:40. This is the attitude of Jesus Christ himself, who made himself of no reputation and was made in the likeness of men. He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even unto the death of the cross – Philippians 2:8. Paul saw himself not as a leader of men, but as a slave, and a servant of those whom God had called him to minister. As a “bond slave” of Jesus Christ, our greatest blessing is serving our Master from “the bond of love”.  Jesus said, he that is chiefest among you must be servant and slave of all – Mark 10:44.  A slave does nothing except that which his master commands.  His heart's desire is to do his master's will... thy wish is my command.

In Luke 4, after Jesus had been in the desert fasting for forty days, he was tempted by the devil. The adversary confronts men of God at their weakest point.  Humility to God is the key to resisting the devil.  According to E.M. Bounds, humility retreats from public gaze and never exalts itself in the eyes of others...  there is no self praise in humility, but humility prefers to praise others...  humility is characterized by a modest heart, a heart that lives to serve others and in so doing, to serve his Lord and Master...  Blessed are they who humble themselves.  According to Matthew 5:3, Blessed are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The Lord opposes the proud but gives grace unto the humble – Proverbs 3:34. Why is God opposed to the sin of pride and those who boastfully idolize themselves?  A proud heart is the motivation that caused Satan himself to fall, having been lifted up with pride. This was how the adversary deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden ... His lie to her appealed to her pride: "Ye shall be as God, knowing good from evil. – Genesis 3:5"

In God's presence, Isaiah saw his own shortcomings and was humbled when confronted with the holiness of God.  He said I am a man of unclean lips... Isaiah 6:3. Humility is the prerequisite to entering into the presence of God. In Luke 18, the Pharisee thought that God would hear him for his boasting and his eloquence of speech. However, God resisteth the proud and gives grace to the humble. The Pharisee prayed, "God I'm thankful that I'm better than those sinners over there."  However, The tax gather, hated by the world, prayed "Lord have  mercy on me a sinner."  Whose prayer did God hear?  Humility is the requirement before God can hear my prayer. Therefore, Lord, humble my heart under the mighty hand of God... Not my will, but thine be done.

Humility is required before repentance. I must first turn from myself in order to turn toward God. The wisdom of the Word is the opposite of the wisdom of this world. The goal of life is not self-aggrandizement (making yourself look greater) ... it is not the profit motive to enrich myself at the expense of living for Him in whom I live and move and have my being. Competition and winning in the eyes of the world is the exact opposite of victory in the eyes of God. Victory is only in Christ ... to be not overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good – Romans 12:21. Victory is to glory in Him and not in my own vain glory. The essence of love is to “think no evil” ...  to rejoice, not in iniquity, but to rejoice in the truth.

To change a culture, we as children of God must humble our hearts and submit ourselves under the mighty hand of God.  As a band of brothers and sister, we must walk hand in hand with our Lord  and Savior Jesus Christ, whose hand was pierced by the nails of my sin and iniquity, wherefore God has exalted Him … He having paid the price for your sin and mine. He who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice for us, that we who were dead in trespasses and sins may be made the righteousness of God in him – 2 Corinthians 5:21. Humility is to humble myself. The sacrifice unto the Lord is a broken and a contrite spirit. O Lord, Thou art the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after  thy will, while I am broken, yielded and still.

May God richly bless you,
Your brother in Christ,

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Search Me / Try Me / Know Me / Lead Me

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

When we get to the point, like king David, where we surrender our self-center will, and ask the Lord to look at our heart desires, test our faith and know the root reasons behind our thoughts because we want them to be truly and honest aligned with the blessed word, will and way of God, then we are “getting“ what life is about. The “fall of man” into sin, the egocentric sinful flesh desires, existential humanistic God-rejecting world-system and the satanic realm that distracts and fogs the views is all around, tempting and luring, but focusing on the Almighty and His power of see us for who are, then show us both that which is in our lives that are not pleasing in His eyes and to lead us on the purpose-filled path of that which is … the Way, the Truth and the Life everlasting. Born to live; Live for Christ. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fluent in the Bible

Proverbs 3:1-14 My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the  Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold."

Last week, our “all-church” small groups Bible Study working through the books of Exodus and Leviticus in the national “Bible Fluency” course was lead by one of our great Lay-Leaders Michael, who explained in his opening remarks that the term “gets understanding” from the above passage of Holy Scripture has the meaning of the “flowing together of the two streams of wisdom and knowledge”. Bible Fluency involves the application of getting understanding by way of these two streams. To be fluent is to be well versed in the language. The Bible is about God’s “redemption plan” of man, from death to life and Jesus Christ is the meaning of life – the Word of God in the flesh, God incarnate; God manifest. Believing is the action of accepting God at His Word and stepping out in faith. The essence of believing is that the Lord is in charge and we are not.

Our lesson taught that despite our confidence, we never get where we are trying to go and make a mess of things trying on our own. God is completely holy and we (fallen humanity) are lost, and in reality, are really in a mess because of sin. Independence from God and rebellion against God stem from the failure to trust God. Idolatry is our instinctive inclination, our inherent tendency and natural behavior since the fall, which is ultimately revealed in our not treating God as holy.

Galatians 3:10-13 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”

Is the answer to “do the right thing” and obey the Laws of God. No, because, in our “fallen” state, we cannot perfectly follow God’s Law. Break one and you are guilty of breaking “The Law” and behind bars ... and we all break many. The Law of God is good, but we just ate unable to keep it. God is putting out 2 sign posts (1) Redemption – to be purchased and brought out of bondage, which ultimately point s to Jesus Christ. (2) Atonement – taking the punishment that was deserved, where our death sentence was transfer to the sacrifice. The passing over of death by the blood propitiation. Relationship is not about what we do or do not do. You can keep sin down, but it keeps wiggling. To be “right” with God is not doing the “right stuff”, but accepting the “right” Savior and what Jesus did on the Cross in our place. May the Scriptures lead you to the Way, the Truth and the Life.

In Christ, Brian 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Thank, Love,Praise & Trust God

Mark 12:30-32 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Psalm 146:1-2 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!  I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Psalm 107:1Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Not Too Good to Be True – Part 2

Mark 8:34-36 When He (Jesus) had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

Dr. Robert Strimple suggests that in this natural material world, not only is the Bible’s message good news, it is miraculous, seemingly beyond-our-imagination good news! John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.Ephesians 2:4-8 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”  Such “supernatural” salvation news is harder to believe than ordinary, everyday relations that we experience with our senses and mind. The gospel can seem to be almost too good to believe. But we must believe, because God is true and God’s Word is truth. Faith alone in Christ alone.

Romans 1:15-17 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

In the opening passage yesterday, Jesus makes an assertion unthinkable by anyone but God Himself: “I am the resurrection and the Life” (v.25), then the One who is Himself the great final saving act of God asks Martha: “Do you believe this?” May the Holy Spirit enable each of us to answer as Martha did: “Yes, Lord; I believe.” Resurrection, the gift of life, is available now in Jesus, for He is the Christ, the Son of God, God incarnate,  the promised Savior of the world. Existentialist atheist Albert Camus wrote: “Salvation is much too big a word for me. I don’t aim so high.” But it is not too high or too wonderful for Jesus! The good news of forgiveness and eternal resurrection life in Jesus is not too good to be true.

Romans 16:24-27 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith — to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Not Too Good to Be True - Part 1

John 11:20-27 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

I read a spiritually thought-provoking article today by Dr. Robert Strimple on the subject of real true faith. He wrote that as we survey the American Christian scene today, many of the mainline churches, rather than returning to and sticking with the biblical faith and embracing the gospel, have tried to attract new members and subsequently have seen their membership shrink. The term “evangelical” (from evangelium - to announce the gospel … the “good news of Jesus Christ. To live according to the gospel; consonant to the doctrines and precepts of the gospel), now seems to have lost all meaning. The newly “emergent” churches continue to call themselves evangelical, but have adopted a “cultural relevance” theology that that shares more in common with old liberalism than holiness. Dr. Strimple states most evangelical churches still claim to hold to the biblical gospel, but rather than preaching the gospel with joy in its full riches and the power of the Holy Spirit, assume their hearers’ acceptance of the gospel and preach sermons on more “practical” matters such as personal relationships and how to be a better person, friend, spouse, parent, et cetera for love, happiness and peace in life – fruitfulness from self efforts. And the sad irony is that without a firm foundation in the fundamentals of our Christian faith, the hearers of such sermons are not achieving even these practical goals.

Romans 10:14-15 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

If our churches are to be truly joyful and God glorifying, growing in both faith and numbers, the gospel of Jesus Christ must not be assumed, it must be preached and believed. The most recent polls said that those professing themselves to be Christians numbered 75% of those who reached adulthood in the 50’s and before. 35% of the next generation and 15% of the one following. How are they to be reached and retained? The Lord’s living gospel must be preached and the Word of God taught to them in the power of the Holy Spirit. But what is the underlying problem and why is it that so-called “practical” sermon topics have replaced the gospel?

Let’s see what Dr. Strimple has to say about when Jesus says to us, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  on tomorrow’s post.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, February 20, 2015

God's Valentine - Part 2

Proverbs 4:23Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” 

Michael continues: As in the days before Nazi Germany, the Church today is sleepwalking toward a precipice of falling into the abyss of the darkness of the political correctness of the humanistic secular world's culture. Developing a craving for the enticing junk food of the existential world’s distractions is an acquired taste. It does not overtake us in one fell swoop. Living life near (metaphoric) Sodom causes the values of Sodom to gradually influence our tastes and thinking. Our conscience is seared with a hot iron, one thought at a time until we have an insatiable craving for the things of the godless world. A "range of acceptable behavior" today used to be considered "wicked and wacko" in yesterday's culture. When the culture and values of Sodom become the values of political correctness, Sodomanity becomes a virtue and not a vice. The devil's redefinition of truth calls evil good and good evil. The new morality is nothing but the old immorality. 

Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

If you look at others who are lost in sin, you will loose hope. If you look in the mirror, you'll be depressed, because we are all sinners. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he not being a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed – James 1:25.  For we all with open face beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed from the glory of the flesh to the glory of the Spirit, even by the Spirit of the Lord – 2 Corinthians 3:18.  And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God – Romans 12:2. In this world there is no peace without God. True peace is only available through the Prince of Peace – Jesus Christ. According to Romans 5:1-5, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also.  Knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.”

Sometimes God pulls the props of this sin-sick world out from under us. This is so that we can stand by faith in Him alone. As God said to Paul after he had prayed three times for God to remove the thorn from his flesh "my strength is made perfect in thy weakness...  my grace is sufficient for thee" – 2 Corinthians 12:9. As John the Baptist said to his followers when he introduced them to Jesus, “I'm not the bride groom, I'm just the man who introduces the Bridegroom to his Bride.  I must decrease that he may increase” – John 3:29-30. For God has extended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:8),  that we may be made the righteousness of God in him. Won’t you be God’s Valentine.

May God richly bless you! 
Your brother in Christ, Michael

Thursday, February 19, 2015

God's Valentine - Part 1

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

We were gone over the 3-day weekend that Valentine's Day fell, but found this wonderful Valentine's bible message from Michael when we returned home. Here is what he wrote: Jesus Christ was God's valentine gift of love to fallen humanity. He was given to those in bondage to release them from the prison of sin and iniquity. The devil's purpose is diametrically opposed to the gift of God. The purpose of the God-rejecting world-system and of the devil is to keep man in the bondage of sin, which separates mankind from God...  to keep men and women relegated to a position of dishonor, disrespect, and insignificance. The accuser will remind you of your sin nature, of your having fallen far from the righteousness of God. However, no pit is so deep that God is not deeper still and will pull us out. No matter the darkness, there is always be hope in “the Light of the world”, our Savior Jesus Christ. The darker the night, the brighter the light shines.

If we look at the darkness and depravity of the world around us, we will be distressed. If we look into the darkness of the carnal nature of our own souls, we will be discouraged.  However, repentance is turning from darkness to light. Bowing our hearts before the light of the Lord in prayer is the key to defeating the darkness of sin. As the great hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his wondrous grace.” The 1963 song by Bill Gaither, recorded by Elvis Presley in 1972 titled “He Touched Me” has the lyrics: “
Shackled by a heavy burden, 'neath a load of guilt and shame, then the hand of Jesus touched me, and now I am no longer the same.”  Let us pray: Lord, create in me a new heart; to make of me the child of God that thou hast created me to be. Teach me, O Lord, that my hope is not in the things of the world ...  not in my family, my strength, my intellect, my job, my accomplishments, my wealth, my trophies and praise of other people. Break my heart, O Lord, that I may be a vessel broken for you so that you can mend me and reconcile me back to you ... a vessel fit for your use, holy and acceptable unto you.

People of this world experience post traumatic stress through the battles and shattering of the trials and tribulations of this world. The root cause of despair is the sin that has broken our relationship with our heavenly Father. Even when we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly – Romans 5:8. He who knew no sin, became the sin sacrifice on our behalf, that we may be made the righteousness of God in him – 2 Corinthians 5:21.

When the rich young ruler saluted Jesus as "good master" in Mark 10:18, Jesus replied, "why callest thou me good?  There is none good (in himself)."  Good only comes from God.  There is none good in the carnality of their own sinful flesh.  Goodness is only in the spiritual nature of God himself. In my flesh dwelleth no good thing – Romans 7:18.  Jesus Christ came to rescue us from our carnal sin nature ... to deliver us from the sin of self-centeredness ...  from confusion, the lust of the world, the pride of life and the lust of the eyes – 1 John 2:16.  

We'll continue Michael great message for us tomorrow.
In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ready for Heaven? – Part 2

John 14:1-3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 

Pastor Herk continuing his Sermon on Heaven explains that the distractions of this life keeps our focus on bigger, better and more stuff. But Heaven is a place prepared by Jesus, perfect in holiness to meet and be with the Lord. The battle with sin will be over. Heaven is a place of rest, but not idleness with no burdens, tears, pain or death. Revelation 14:13 says, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” The children of God enjoy the love joy and hospitality of God. It is difficult to describe Heaven because attempts portray using earthly language cannot begin to express the Kingdom of God. We take symbolic language in an effort to illustrate and explain heaven literally. We will experience indescribable joy, in indescribable beauty, never again be separated from God for eternity. We shall once again be back in the garden.  

John 14:4-6 You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The Bible is a record from God of our restoration and return to relationship and eternal life. No one can earn, purchase or merit their way to heaven by their own efforts, except accepting and receiving Jesus Christ (God incarnate) by faith. Ephesians 2:8-9a For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works.” Jesus came to conquered sin and death through His substitutionary sacrifice for us on the cross. John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But, not everyone will believe and go to heaven. All roads do not lead to heaven and not everyone goes to heaven. The Bible does not teach that everyone is going to heaven. Jesus clarifies this in: Matthew 7:13-14 saying, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.There is a “right” way (by God mercy and grace though the narrow gate - Jesus Christ alone) and “wrong” ways (any and all other ways). We cannot have it both ways; the choice is ours. It is easy to talk about our “stuff” in the here and now, but it is difficult to comprehend that which will not come to pass. Free Will stops us from God saving us against our will. If we do not come to the decision and proclaim “My God, Thy will be done” and Jesus pays for our sins, then God will say to us “Thy will be done” and we shall pay for our sins and perish. 

Everybody wants salvation and to go to heaven, but not all will choose Heaven as their eternal home. Look beyond today to tomorrow. What are our desires and plans for the endless age of eternity? Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Respond to Jesus as Lord of your heart now, and Lord of your life forever. Heaven’s promise allows imperfect people (like you and I) into God’s kingdom heavenly reward and realm by way of a gift freely given, the narrow gate of our Redeemer Jesus.

In Christ, Brian 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ready for Heaven? – Part 1

Revelation 21:1-4 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Over the three day holiday weekend, our family drove up to Bass Lake, California to introduce my dad to his great grand-daughter Scarlett Ann. Whenever we visit the lake, we be sure to join dad at his church “The Little Church in the Pines for Sunday Worship Services. Pastor Rolff  is going through a Sermon series titled “The Good News” and this Sunday, he  was preaching on the subject of “the Good News of Heaven”. Pastor Rolff stated that despite how amazingly  wonderful Heaven is, we don’t spend much time thinking beyond this world that we live in to the world to come. Putting almost all of our time, talents and treasures into the “stuff” of today’s here and now shows that we put too much importance in the things of this world. We buy bigger houses to hold it all and sometimes our house is part of our stuff also.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Look at your checkbook register or monthly bank statement for your credit and debit cards and see where your heart is.

2 Corinthians 5:1 explainsFor we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.We know that this life is only temporary, yet, how much do we think about this eternal house in heaven?  There are no U-haul trailers being pulled behind the Hurst to the cemetery. You cannot take it with you when you go. The one with the most stuff at the end leaves it all behind. It's not just about "what on earth am I here for", but then what? Where then?

Ecclesiastes 5:15 Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands.”

1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”

Job 1:21 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Let’s continue Pastor Herk’s Sermon on Heaven tomorrow.

In Christ, Brian 

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Lord is Close to the Brokenhearted

Psalm 34:14-18 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Stay in the Word and walk in the Spirit. Seek the Lord and listen for His loving guidance. Depend upon God providence, protection and power in your life. Stand upon the promises and boldly approach the throne of your Heavenly Father in prayer. In a fallen world, life happens, but stand firm in faith and the knowledge of your salvation and purpose in Christ. Righteous simply means having a "right" relationship with Creator Father God ... a relationship that overwhelms our circumstances with love, joy and peace. 

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mercy Triumphs over Judgment - Part 2

Matthew 7:1-6 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Continuing Pastor Kyle’s Sermon on judgment and mercy, he says that there is a fine line between being judgmental and making a good judgment for a healthy Christian life. In the Bible passage above, the word “judge” (Greek “κρίνω” (krinō) is in the continuous tense, so doesn’t mean to never judge, but to not be continually judgmental in spirit. This is clear when you read the entire passage, where Matthew tells us not to give dogs what is sacred, nor throw pearls to pigs. How do you determine a dog or pig without judging? Godly wisdom is disagreeing with thoughts, words and actions contrary to the Word, Will and Way of God. Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. We cannot see the heart, but God can. We are not to condemn the soul. James advice: Speak and act as those who are going to be judged under the law of “Liberty”. Truly, we are the ones who are more greatly forgiven. Don’t misjudge.
James 2:8-13 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Drawing lines are easy; loving others is difficult. Everyone here are dead in their sins and needs mercy, forgiveness and salvation. Give what Jesus modeled. Give love and dignity.  Give mercy as we have been given mercy. Mercy is not receiving what we deserve from God for our sin. Give the grace of God. Grace is receiving what we do not deserve from God. We know that nothing on earth (in this fallen world) is free of a judgmental structure, but do not point a finger; give them your hand. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

In Christ, Brian