Tuesday, March 31, 2015

God is Already There

Psalm 139:7-14Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The People of the Cross

1 Corinthians 13:13  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” 

Last week, I was graciously invited to attend the annual conference of the Family Research Council by our generous friends and table hosts, the Bowers, and able to invite Pastor Rick also to join. FRC President Tony Perkins (a former Pastor) was the opening speaker for the event and here are my notes on his powerful Christian message, plus some of my thoughts.

A term used for Christians used today is “People of the Cross”, and it truly is a badge of praise because we know the true value of the Cross of Calvary for salvation and eternal life through the atoning death and resurrection of our Redeemer, Savior and Lord Jesus Christ on that cross. We owe our life to the work on that cross and it is our hope of heaven. There is, and has always been, persecution against Christians by those who do not know the Lord. The Lord Jesus himself warned us in John 15:17-19 to expect these assaults in this fallen world. With today’s anti-Christian attitudes and actions, the days ahead could be challenging. But, challenges bring opportunities. Faith, hope and love identify the Christian. New persecutions arise, and though they are shocking, they are not a shock. Jesus explains the reason for us in John 3:18-20. But, holding on to the great hope of the preceding words of Christ in John 3:16-17, we know that the cross is enough.

Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Tony Perkins detailed the inhuman execution by the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya on a beach in front of Tripoli by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as an example of the persecution today. He gave a description of the personal life of many of these decent, working class family men who were targeted, kidnapped, dressed in orange prison attire, then marched along the beach to be martyred for the so-called crime of faith in Jesus Christ alone.

James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

It brings to mind that the Lord Jesus was also treated like a criminal and unjustly executed, crucified between two true criminals. I hope that we remember this, this Holy Week of Easter. Those 21 Egyptian Christians lived “according to the Book”, the holy Word of God; living and dying for their faith. Could you or I do this? Could you or I forgive those terrorists as Jesus did in Luke 23:34, where Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Matthew 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

We have to know that both Western culture and ISIS worship the “culture of death”. Jesus said, people love darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil (absent of the living true Creator God)”. All that dissension is less than human, because they are trying to destroy the only force that can truly love, support, change and save.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

This does not mean that there needs to be silence on religious persecution at home and abroad. Like Pastor Rick says, “We affirm what the Bible affirms, and we condemn what the Word of God condemns” in love, based upon the Great Commission of our Lord to be salt and light in the darkness of this day and age, for the advancement of the kingdom of Jesus Christ and to restore honor, praise and glory to God. Silence will only encourage the opposition. Fear not.

John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

John 6:47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.”

Then, how shall we live in these times? Prayerfully, speak the truth in love and restore honor to the Lord. Jesus has promised in Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” The just shall live by faith. May we, “the People of the Cross”, never grow weary in “well doing” for the Lord and our neighbor.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Farmer’s Faith & Patience - Part 2

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

(4) Spiritual Fruit often looks a lot like a changed perspective. That fruit in our lives shows more in the active work in us. God decides what He wants in us and out of us. We need to look at the things that are unseen and not the seen things.
2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight. We must work out by faith, what He works in us.

Isaiah 55:6-9 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Never before has there been more access to the Word of God via books, magazines, radio, television, CD’s, DVD’s, movies, computers, pods, pads or phones, yet never has it been more difficult for churches in America to see fruit due to distractions. People are choosing to spend less time with God and churches are declining. People have allowed themselves to believe about church, the Bible, and the living God (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), whatever they want to believe and how important they are to them. But church and Christian-living is not about us; it is about Jesus Christ and His kingdom work “which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”. Church is about what you have in Christ that equips us to speak to others about the gospel truth. Not about what the church has to give to us or what it can do for us, but what we have to give to the Lord and what we can do for His church, which He is the head. Is it really a priority to reach others for Christ and bring the gospel of salvation to a lost and dying world? God is doing His part, but are we doing ours. We don’t save people; that is the work of the Holy Spirit, but we share the good news of the gospel and bring the light and love of Christ into the darkness of sin and unbelief, pointing them to the One who does. Forgiveness and Salvation are found in no other, so why are we not inviting everyone know to church with us?

Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

The farmer waits patently for the harvest by faithfully working their butts off on the farm until it comes … and they take it seriously. We represent Christ and God gave us good works to do in advancing the kingdom of heaven, while decreasing the future population of hell. We are responsible for our family, friends and those in our sphere of influence who do not know the Lord. The Great Commission of Christ was a commandment, not a suggestion. Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” All of us here today want to see fruit in our lives. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes to see what God wants us to see, open our ears to hear what God wants us to hear, and open our hearts that we may respond and become the disciples that Jesus wants us to be.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Farmer’s Faith & Patience - Part 1

James 5:7-8Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Pastor Kyle continued his Sermon series through the book of James stating that our spiritual lives are compared by James to a diligent farmer working the land faithfully, day after day, all year long to get to the harvest. We are sometimes tempted to glamorize the life of faith to make it look like some flashy, shiny thing. The Bible doesn’t do that, but simply depicts life as it is. All of us here today want to see fruit in our lives and God’s purposes come about. There are four truths about spiritual fruit: (1) Not all types of spiritual fruit can be quantified. Physical numbers are helpful, but do not tell the whole story of what God is doing in our life or the life of the church. Nobody goes to church to be a number on some spreadsheet ledger, but to grow and improve in faith … you want to count in God’s world, not be counted in man’s. How do you account for decisions for Christ, to obey God in everything, and changed lives from sin to producing fruitful living and spiritual fruit? We never stop growing and God has something in you right now that He is working on. (2) Spiritual fruit should come in seasons. God is going to bring the life-giving rain and we can count on it in our faith. We are sure on the One we are waiting on, but thinking that we’ll have year-round fruit is unreasonable. Spiritual fruit should come in seasons.   

1 Timothy 6:6-8 But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”

The flesh desires more and more. We should celebrate the fruit in our lives that comes in those seasons and harvest that good fruit, but we need to also be content in the “Off-Seasons”. Whatever season of our life that we are in, we need to trust God in that day and moment. God is good; Life is good. And the Lord prepares us supernaturally, with us, every step of the way. Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Sure there will be times of drought, but we need to relinquish our perceived right to question God, being patience and content. (3) Spiritual Fruit requires active patience, not passive. Farmers work the soil, plowing to turn it over, fertilizing and planting seed in preparing the land for the next year’s crop. It’s a year-round business for a short time of harvest. They are actively and diligently working, while patiently waiting to receive the fruit of their labor. The spiritual fruit of our faith works in the same way. We didn't do anything on the cross for our “salvation”; Jesus did that work. But there is kingdom work for us to do.

I'll post my notes on the second half of Pastor Kyle's Sermon on Spiritual Fruit tomorrow.
In Christ, Brian

Friday, March 27, 2015



Proverbs 4:1-2 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law.
While on vacation last summer at the Iowa Great Lakes, we stopped into a shop and I snap a shot of these sign that really stated a serious problem in our culture today. Being around for decades, there is an advantage of remembering how things used to be compared to today. It has been well researched and documented that the family unit in society has been in decline for a long time and as a result “friends” and “busyness” have filled the gaps and voids left when the natural order of family relations, loving family relationships and interaction was vacated. Christian organizations like the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and many others have been voicing their concerns on this subject for a long time. People are starving for true, godly “family relations”. This sign is the radical counter-culture rejection and mocking of “the family” that result from the neglect of the family order people are hard-wired to need. You see this being acted out on television and in our movies also. The consequential results of the lack of social lines are being reaped by our society today and it is not “progress” or “improvement”. Where is honor, respect and manners these days? I remember the days when if me or anyone else crossed those lines, a family member (my grandparents, my parents, my uncles or aunts, my siblings or cousins), would straighten me out immediately. Friends are good, but not family. People need boundaries of godly life order and a family to maintain them for comfort, contentment and security, without which is chaotic, looking for family love and care in all the wrong places, while becoming a dog-eat-dogs, survival- of-the-fittest culture. Look at the fowl language being used today as swear words that used to get your mouth washed-out with a bar of soap by mom in the past, are now sadly common.
Ephesians 3:14-16  “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.”
The old saying goes: “Blood is thicker than water”, meaning that family ties are always more important than the ties you make among friends. A family is not just a group of individuals living under the same physical roof. God ordained and created the family as the central unit of human kinship, a household under the head of parents in fellowship with a common lineage of descendants on a branch of a genealogy tree of ancestors. It’s us that mess up and pervert that original design and intent of God. If families are not doing their job, per the job description written by our heavenly Father, then someone else will and it will be wrong. God, Himself is called, “our Father”. Leaving God and the God designed family out of the equation is never right. Many families have maintained God design and they are strong.

1 John 3:1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

I see a healthy rejection of the counter-culture manifesto, and surprising by the younger generation that has been cheated and deprived by the hijacking of the God-designed family with all its natural benefits in life, and returning to their roots of the family model. It’s encouraging, but those days of calling out the disrespect, dishonoring behavior and the demanding the standards of good manners and social decency need to return. Repent means that when we find ourself on the wrong road of lawless unrighteousness, to literally make a U-turn and go back to the right road to godly righteousness, back to God and His design for our life … back to the family by God and back to the family of God.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Part 2 - This is Unfailing Love

Continuing Michael’s message: Humility is the prerequisite for love. We must come to God with a broken and a contrite spirit, so that He can reconcile us back to Him. Humility is the key to receiving the love of God. We as children of God must be humbled. Only then can we love our enemies, bless them that persecute us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, knowing that our reward is not of this world, but great is our reward in heaven – Matthew 5:44.

1 John 4:7-11 “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”

In the immortal words of the poem "The Love of God" penned in the year of our Lord  1050 by Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai:
Could we with ink the oceans fill, and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade,
To write the Love of God above, would drain the oceans dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky

Sproul writes that without the sovereign love and grace of God reaching out to a lost and rebellious world, not a single person would be able to love — much less the Creator Himself. Because of our creaturely limitations, we are tempted to think of love only in terms of time and space. Almost by default, we frame God’s love in the context of creation. Yet we forget that love was not created. God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it. It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His beloved Son.

Beloved of God, May God richly bless you,
Your brother in Christ,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Part 1 - This is Amazing Grace

The love of God surpasses understanding.  It's better to be loving than to be right.  When we meditate on the love of God, we understand that there is no fear in love...  Perfect love casteth out fear for fear has torment...  he that feareth is not made perfect in love.

The love of this world is a conditional love. It is reciprocal and requires love in return.  Real love is unconditional. This is the love that God had for us ... in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly – Romans 5:6. The twelve Apostles were called to witness up close and personally the greatest life ever lived. Jesus' disciples were "disciplined followers", trained to follow in their Master's footsteps.  As their role model, Jesus gave them a new commandment that ushered in a new way of life. The new commandment Jesus gave them was this: "love one another even as I have loved you." John 13:34

Religion honors God with its lips, but not with its heart. In Matthew 15:17, Jesus said, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me."  Religion is devoid of the love of God.  However, Love is full of grace, it begets love unconditionally ...  Love is patient, love is kind. It is never envious, never boastful or proud, never promotes itself, is never haughty or rude. It never demands its own way. It is never unreasonable or touchy and sensitive about what others say. Love is the opposite of pride. Love has no pride ... it seeks only to live for the object of love. It never notices when others go wrong. Love thinks no evil ... it only thinks the best of others. “Love forgives and sets the prisoner free ... only to find that the prisoner was me” - Lewis B. Smedes.

According to 2 Timothy 3, those who are lovers of their own selves rather than lovers of God will accuse you falsely so that they look right to others while making you look wrong. They are traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God...  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof...  ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth...  from such turn away.

If you're only friendly to your friends, you're no different from the rest of the world. Even evil men are good to them who treat them well.  However, true followers of Christ love when others treat them unjustly and despitefully use them. Love does not recompense evil for evil, but recompenses evil with good.

Therefore let this mind be in you which was also in Christ...  who humbled himself and took upon himself the form of a servant and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross – Philippians 2:5. This is the ultimate act of love. Even though Christ's love is unconditional, our initial response to his love is reciprocal ... We love him because he first loved us. To learn to follow Jesus Christ unconditionally, we must acknowledge that our righteous justification is not in our own flesh, but in His strength alone. For He who knew no sin, became the perfect sinless sacrifice for sin on our behalf, that we who were dead in trespasses and sin, may become the righteousness of God in Him – 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Beloved of God, May God richly bless you,
Your brother in Christ,

Monday, March 23, 2015

That You May Live

Romans 14:8-9 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

God in any Language is God

James 4:13-17 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

This term: “If the Lord wills” or “God willing” has been around for a long time. Pastor Kyle used the Sermon illustration a week ago that his Middle Eastern Arab Christian friends use the Arabic word “inshallah”. Looking up the phrase on the internet, I read that In šāʾ Allāh (Arabic: إن شاء الله‎, often romanized as Insha'Allah or Inshallah, is Arabic for "God willing". The term is used in the Islamic world, but it is also common in Christian groups in the Middle East, in parts of Africa and among Portuguese and Spanish-speaking peoples. In sha'Allah is said when speaking about plans and events expected to occur in the future. The phrase also acknowledges submission to God, with the speaker putting him or herself into God's hands.

Pastor Kyle explained to me this week that the Arabic word goes back to pre-Islamic Arabia and is the common name for the God of Abraham in the Bible for Arabic language. Islamic traditions consider Abraham’s son Ishmael to be the ancestor of Arab people. But, Allah was common parlance even before the birth of Islam in the sixth century. Arabs used the word ‘Allah’ for the supreme being before the time of Muhammad. Inscriptions with ‘Allah’ have been discovered in Northern and Southern Arabia from as early as the fifth century B.C. (Before Christ). Muhammad’s father was named Abd Allah, translated ‘God’s servant,’ many years before his son was born or the religion of Islam was founded!”

Researching further, I found that "Zayd Ibn Amr" was another Pre-Islamic figure, claiming it was the original belief of Arabs father Ishmael. Jewish Historian Josephus, considered Ishmael the ancestor of the Arabs also. Plenty of academic evidence suggests that Allah has also been used by Christians and Jews in Arabia for generations. They have been calling God ‘Allah’ in their Bibles, hymns, poems, writings, and worship for over 19 centuries. “And what about the 10 [million] to 12 million Arab Christians today?

Exodus 3:14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

For more than five hundred years before Muhammad, the vast majority of Jews and Christians in Arabia called God by the name Allah. How, then, can we say that Allah is an invalid name for God? And what about the 10 to 12 million Arab Christians today? They have been calling God ‘Allah’ in their Bibles, hymns, poems, writings, and worship for over nineteen centuries. Of course, the word “God” does not actually appear in the original Hebrew or Greek manuscripts of the Bible, accepted as Holy by both Christians and Muslims. “God” is an old English word which developed from an Indo-European word, meaning “that which is invoked”.

Not every American is a Christian and not every Arab is Islamic. But Creator God is God in any language. In God we trust.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Making your Mist Count? – Part 2

James 5:1-6 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.”

Continuing Pastor Kyle’s message from yesterday, he said that when people are gone, you cannot make amends, so live a life that quickly forgives. Romans 12:18If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Letting go doesn’t mean that we let ourselves get walked all over. Peace is not always possible, but putting forgiveness into practice leaves room in your plans for God’s plan. So the next way to make your mist count is (4) make sure that our prayers and our plans are synonymous … one and the same. This involves making God’s plans and desires, our plans and desires. When we align our will with the will of God, we walk in righteousness (a right relationship with God). There is no sin in planning our out life, but it is a sin to leave God out of our planning and plans; when we push and leave God out of our time. Why are we so surprised when He doesn’t show up?  We know how to make plans alright! We’re pretty good at it. But do our plans for our life line up with God’s will and plans for our life? We should ask ourselves, “God, am I doing this because this is truly what you want and is your plan?

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

We can make plans on our own that feel so right, but lead us down empty paths and into a truckload of disaster. They feel right, but they are deadly wrong. In big decision in the face of adversity, insecurity or uncertainty, who will we trust: us, others or God - being obedient to God’s plan – God willing. If God’s Holy Word says something about it, then we need to listen to it, abide by it and conform with it. Which leads us to (5) make decisions about eternity more than fiancés. We may think that our mighty investment scheme is security, but where our earthly treasures are, our hearts will follow. Our investment pool will not save us. We all need to trust God with our life instead of chasing after myths. The Golden Rule is not “them that have the gold make the rules”; it’s “do to others as you would have them do to youMatthew 7:12 / Luke 6:31. Be fair. We want our lives to make a difference and count for something here and for the kingdom of heaven. What matters is what we do with the mist that we have been given. How many want their life to amount to nothing? If we want our mist to count, we have to do life God’s way. Make your life make a difference by humbly and simply serving the Lord and letting others know it. We’re here for just a little while, then we are gone. When we live by the words of the Bible, we cannot help but have a life that matters, because it is truly His kingdom here, not ours. When we give our lives to Jesus, He makes our significance in His plan for our life. Run to God, not away from God, and make your mist count.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, March 20, 2015

Making your Mist Count? - Part 1

James 4:11-17 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

Pastor Kyle continued his Sermon series on the Book of James, asking: What is your life? Where did you come from? What are the place that you have been? The things that you have accomplished? What do you hope to leave behind after you are long gone? We rarely, if at all, think about the day that our life will come to an end., yet it is the direction that everyone of us is headed. We do not like to think about the day that we will die or the legacy that we will leave. Our legacy is determined by the things that we do today. Our life is the sum of our choices today. Significance from a human perspective is highly subjective. Significance from God’s perspective is not subjective; it is objective, tangible, very clear, and measurable. How do you go about choosing who is important and significant? We all have a very different perspective of whom and what is important. 

Matthew 15:16-18 So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? 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.

Five ways to make your mist count, not as an accomplishment, but as a way of life: (1) Be mindful of our words towards others. To speak kindly, encouraging and positively towards one another is difficult and one of the first things to go. Yet, when we are gone, all we leave for others to remember us ate our words. We don’t have to say much to influence others. What do want to be known by? (2) Be mindful of your thoughts towards others because it’s not just what we say, but contemplation, deliberation and consideration that counts and matters from God’s perspective. We might fool others into thinking that we care about them, but we do not fool God. Right words with wrong thoughts … we are judging. (3) Keep short accounts of wrongs against us. Who are we to judge our neighbor? Because to judge is to hold something against them.  Training our behavior and learning to control our thoughts, words and deeds allows us to speak to our heart. Guide your thought process to train your heart to let things go. Hanging onto everything is defining everything about you. There are things in our life that are difficult to move past, but we need to learn to keep short accounts and let things go quickly.

We will read the conclusion of Pastor Kyle’s message on our lives tomorrow.

In Christ, Brian 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Set our Affections on Things Above

God is in the business of changing people's lives. Change is wrapped up in the spiritual truths of salvation, repentance, and transformation. For it is God that worketh in you to will and to do of his good pleasure – Philippians 2:13. When we accepted salvation in Christ, God created within us a new creation ... his gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, behold old things are passed away, all things are become new – 2 Corinthians 5:17. When God changes us, it doesn't look like the changes that the world inflicts upon us .... the world puts us through mental, emotional and physical changes, (for you Linda Ronstadt “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me” fans) sort of like a Waring blender. However, transformation in Christ means to put off the old man of the sinful flesh and put on the new man of the spirit – Colossians 3:9-10 & Ephesians 4:22-25. Jesus said, any man that follows me must take up his cross and follow me – Luke 9:23 & Matthew 16:24 ... for my yoke is easy and my burden is light Matthew 11:30.  As we turn to Him and away from the God-rejecting world-system, and as we turn from sin and unto the righteousness in Christ, 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 – 2 Corinthians 3:18.

In Romans 7, Paul laments, "in the flesh...  I do I don't do what I want to do, but what I don't want to do, that I do...  O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver from this dead body?"   However, in the very next chapter, Romans 8:1-4, the scripture says we're doing better than we deserve: “There is therefore no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. For the spirit of life in Christ hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.”  

Ambition is from the word "ambivalence."  It means to be torn between conflicting desires: to walk according to the flesh or according to the spirit. James 1:8 says, "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." Therefore turn your eyes upon Jesus and the things of the world will become strangely dim in the light of his glorious grace. Galatians 6:8 says, He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he who soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.   Walking in the Spirit of God in Christ strikes a fine balance between living in both reason and passion according to the Spirit.  When we set our affections on things above, when we delight ourselves in the Lord, when make His desire our desire, when we align our heart with His heart, only then will He give us the desires of our heart. 

God uses the path of death to lead us to the fork in the road. He uses addiction, self centeredness, strife, contention, bitterness, envy, discouragement, and disappointment to get us to the point that we need to take the alternate path. This is the definition of “repentance”.  Repentance means to turn from the pride of self, to surrender the Right to myself and my carnal desires, and to turn my eyes upon Jesus. The point of repentance is the inflection point: to change direction. To turn away from the wretched man that I am and toward the One who is faithful and just to forgive our sins. For God sent not his son to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved – John 3:17. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow – Isaiah 1:18. Did we in our own strength confide our battle would be loosing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God's own Choosing.  Doth ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus it is he, and He must win the battle – “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” by Martin Luther. The "come to Jesus" moments in life are precious moments where we turn from darkness unto the light.  

Every moment of this life is a moment of decision. We have been given the ability to choose our direction, moment by moment.  God always gives us the choice to choose either life or death ... life is only through Christ. Each moment is a "come to Jesus moment." Therefore, let’s set our affections on things above and come to Jesus ...  and live!

May God richly bless you!

Your brother in Christ, Michael