Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Fighting Chance – Part 2

Michael continues: When the Lord arrives, the devil and his minions must leave. Even the devils believe and tremble. They know who has the greater power ... Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. Jesus Christ said, "I am the resurrection and the life.  He that believeth in me, though he were (spiritually) dead, yet shall he live." Without the spirit of God, the unsaved man is spiritually dead.  He cannot put on the spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6:10-17. He is not equipped to stand against the schemes of the devil, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. God's Salvation is only through accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ according to the power of the Resurrection.

There are four categories of people after hearing the spiritual life-giving gospel of salvation. The first is those who reject the message outright. The second category is those who vainly attempt to receive salvation, but there is still something missing and they know it. The third is those who think they are saved, but they're not. They remain lost, blinded by the sinfulness of their own pride. As the scripture says in Matthew 7:22-23Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you:  depart from me, ye that work iniquity. The fourth category is those who after receiving the message unto salvation, know whom they have believed and are persuaded that He is able to keep that (spiritual life) which He's committed to them against the day of judgment. For those in the fourth category Jesus prayed to His Father, "those that thou hast given me...  protect them from the evil one." The power of the darkness of this world constantly surrounds us. If we think that we can avoid the fight, then the battle is already lost. “Casual Christians” are casualties of the spiritual battle. My prayer is not that God is on my side, rather, my prayer is that I am on God's side.

What is our responsibility?  Our responsibility is our response to His ability.  Men and women of God have been called to fight the good fight, to over come the world through the spiritual life-giving power of the Resurrection. Overcomers having received spiritual life will stand victoriously in His presence in the day of God's righteous judgment. Therefore be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord -1 Corinthians 15:58. Put yourself in the game. Give yourself a fighting chance. On God's team the odds are in God's favor. The victory will be in this life or the next ... Now thanks be unto God who always giveth us the victory in Christ Jesus and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place - 2 Corinthians 2:14.

O Victory in Jesus, my savior forever;  He sought me and bought me, with His redeeming blood; He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him; He plunged me to victory; Beneath the cleansing flood.

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Fighting Chance - Part 1

Michael writes this week on spiritual battles that we all face in life. He writes: As people of God, sometimes we wonder if the battle will ever end ... if we will ever win. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3, "I count myself not to have attained, but this one thing I do, I press toward the mark of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus." The challenges in life are what give us the ultimate victory in Christ. Oswald Chambers wrote a book called "A Fighting Chance."  Either we are victims of things that happen, or we take the initiative though the power of God and we make things happen. In God's economy, there are consumers and there are producers, there are takers and there are givers, there are spectators and there are participants. Christianity is not a spectator sport. You've got to play to win. The greater the battle, the greater the victory. You have to put yourself in the game of life. Only then can God give you a fighting chance.

Romans 8:35-39 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall famine or nakedness or peril or sword?  As it is written, for these things we are killed all the day long.  We are counted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor death, nor any other creature shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The fight is against apathy and the way of the world. In our own strength we cannot fight against the powers of darkness. From the inspired words of the great hymn by Martin Luther: A Mighty Fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing ...  Did we in our own strength confide, our battle would be losing, 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.

Chambers said that little boys during the French Revolution carried banners with the words, "Tremble tyrants, we are growing." God said to Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones, "Can these bones live?  They are without life, without sinew, muscle and flesh."  Ezekiel said to God.  "If you say so, they can live."  God said to prophesy my word over these dry bones and they shall live.  So Ezekiel prophesied and there was a great rattling as bone connected to bone. Then sinew and muscle formed and joined bone to bone and then skin came upon the flesh. Then Ezekiel said, "but Lord, they have no breath in them."  So then the Lord breathed upon the dry bones and the bones began to move according to the power of God ... Only the word of God and the spiritual breath of God gives life.

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Word of Faith

Romans 10:5-8 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach).

I’ve always been fascinated by the difference between the law of works and the law of faith. I recently read an interesting article on the subject, where the author pointed out that the first-century Jews pursued the law by works, not by faith. Not knowing the “righteousness of God,” they sought to establish their own righteousness. They believed that they could use the Mosaic law in a way God never intended, namely, as a means for sinful people to attain the holy righteousness necessary to stand before Him. However, the law’s purpose in justification is not as a tool for sinners to make themselves righteous; it is the means to reveal their sin and drive them to the righteousness that is in Christ for all who believe; the righteousness found in Christ by faith.

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”

The article explains that the law curses those who so not obey all of it. Try to justify yourself by the law, and you forfeit righteousness the first time you mess up. God did not intend for sinners to justify themselves by keeping the law. Paul quotes Deuteronomy: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”, and “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” to describe the righteousness found in Christ by faith. The lord came to them and saved them even while they were unrighteous.

Galatians 3:23-24 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Justification by faith alone recognizes these things. It tells us that our righteousness and final salvation are not due to our being better than anyone else or that, therefore, we cannot merit redemption. This righteousness knows that God – in Christ – does the work to establish His saving relationship with us. We do not earn it in any sense of the word. The gospel is not something we have to wonder about. It has been revealed clearly. The word of faith; believe it and get in here.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, April 27, 2015

Christ Has Won

2 Timothy 1:8-10 “Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

1 Corinthians 15:22-26 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Revelation 1:17-18 And when I saw him (Jesus), I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Christ has won!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pentecost Power – Part 2

Acts 2:36-39 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Believe, repent and be baptized. A third key is Christians committed to lifelong repentance. No continual repentance in the Christians life leaves out the sweetness. When repentance is missing from life: we want to like it, everything looks rights, but the closer you get, we see that the inside is full of bitterness. We know when we are in the wrong. True conviction leads to change. What shall we do? When we are cut-to-the-heart, knowing that we are in the wrong, repent right there and now. “Forgiven” leads to a healthy transformed life. Be willing to do whatever it takes to get the sin out of your life. Commit to God and repentance as a life-long daily practice because temptation to sin is also a life-long desire of the flesh this side of Heaven.    

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The closer our walk with the Lord, the easier to repent and forgive. When these key elements are present in a Believer’s life, or in the church body, the Holy Spirit shows up.  When it comes to the great working of God in your life, is one of the key ingredients missing? Others may not know it, but you and God know. Place your faith in Jesus Christ and follow Him. Are you missing out on the full power of God in your life? You have access to Pentecost Power, to rise above the unfulfilled life, to life abundant in the name of Jesus. Ask for it. You have access to everything that God has for you. Receive Pentecost Power and unleash it.

Acts 2:40-41 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pentecost Power – Part 1

Acts 2:1-5 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

Continuing in our Sunday sermon series through the book of Acts, Pastor Kyle used the example of when our parents and grandparents created handmade dinners and deserts made “from scratch” or “by taste”, they were really working from a recipe that they knew by heart. Today, we might wonder what it would take to have what great spiritual leader have, but they also practice their faith from what they know in their heart also. You have probably heard the old saying that “For many it is the difference between Heaven and Hell is eighteen inches.” There is a great difference between head-knowledge and heart-knowledge. There are key ingredients to the great works of God Jesus is in the heart of everyone who calls Him Lord.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Pentecost was a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, celebrated in Israel 50 days after Passover. When the Holy Spirit was given, Pentecost was the birth of the church. One of the key ingredients to the great works of God found on that first Pentecost was that Christians gathered in prayer. Prayer is like the dimmer-switch of God in that the more prayer we exercise the more spiritual light we have in our life, and the less prayer we experience in our life, the less light we have in our life. There is tremendous power when the people of God pray together. It is the wind and the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

1 Corinthians 15:13-14 “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.”

Another key is Christians from all walks of life, who stand on the power of the resurrection. There is a secular humanistic moral of not wanting to hurt people’s feelings, but being in hell because no one told then about the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will eternally hurt their feelings. The power of the resurrection is the secret of life and life eternal. If Christ didn’t die for our sins, rose from the dead (defeating sin and death) and ascended to the right hand of the Father, then our faith is in useless. But, it is true and Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus’ resurrection was prophesied, predicted and really happened. Heaven is diverse/ all need salvation and sanctification in Christ.

We'll continue Pastor Kyle great message tomorrow.
In Christ, Brian

Friday, April 24, 2015

You are Mine

Hosea 2:19-20, 23 “I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord. I will show love to those I called ‘Not loved.’ And to those I called ‘Not my people,’ I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Repentance: Turning from Darkness to Light – Part 2

The story of the Prodigal Son is the story of repentance. When like the prodigal son, in the “pig pen of this world” shakes us from the delusion of self ... when we "come to ourself" and realize that in my soul dwelleth no good thing (Romans 7:18), when we reach the bottom and there is no where to go but up, this is the point of changing direction. Repentance is forsaking the pig pen of this world and turning our eyes upon Jesus. Repentance is to do an about-face ... it is the inflection point when we turn from the selfishness of sin and unto the righteousness of God in Christ.

There are three + one questions that lead to repentance: 
1. Are you willing to turn away from all your sin and willfully pursue the righteousness of Christ instead?
2.  Are you willing to give up the right to run your own life and submit to the authority of Jesus Christ?
3.  Are you willing to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to become His follower forever?

If the answer to these three questions is "yes," the final question is:  When you heard these three questions, did they sound like a burden or did they sound like being set free from the bondage of sin?  When the student is ready for the answers, the teacher will come. When the time is ready, true repentance turns from sin and towards the Lord, begging for forgiveness from sin against a just and holy God. The moment of conviction is that point of inflection.  It only takes one moment in time to turn a life around ...  turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face.  And the things of earth become strangely dim, in the light of his glorious grace.

Romans 2:4 says that It is the righteousness, kindness and goodness of God that leads a person to repentance. If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Godly repentance brings us to the righteousness of God through the finished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

What shall wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh blessed is the flow, That makes me white as snow, No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus...

May God richly bless you.
Your brother in Christ,

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Repentance: Turning from Darkness to Light – Part 1

This week Micheal, one of the Lay-Teachers from our Wednesday Night Bible Study group, writes on the changed life in Christ through "repentance. He writes: The old man of the flesh raises his ugly head at times we least expect him to attack us. Even Jonathan Edwards, often hailed as America's greatest preacher, after having delivered an inspired message calling thousands back to God, had to battle his own ego by lying prostrate on the floor. Sanctification is setting our heart before God according to His purpose, not ours, and to allow God to work within us to will and to do of His good pleasure when we delight ourselves in Him. To set ourselves apart from this world, we must remind ourselves that, without Him, we are empty jars of clay...  we are earthen vessels molded by the Master to allow His light to shine in us and through us and around us. 

People are divided into four categories after having heard the gospel of God.  The first category is those who reject of the message. The second category is those who come forward, but lack assurance. The third is those who think they are saved but they are not. The fourth category is those who know whom they have believed and are persuaded that He is able to keep that which He's committed unto them against the Day of Judgment. Repentance is the key to entering into the fourth category. Repentance is to turn from myself and unto God.  In the book: "The Narrow Way", William Nichols says that when Paul spoke to the Greeks on Mars Hill, he warned them, "unless you repent, you will perish according to the judgment of the righteous judge."  Repentance begins with seeing and understanding the significance of “the fork in the road” of life.  It is the personal recognition of the wickedness of the “fallen” nature of our own heart.  Repentance means to turn around 180 degrees from walking away from the Lord and change direction towards God ...  to change our mind from our own will to see, to seek, and to follow His will, not ours. The voice that convicts us is the "hound of heaven" who relentlessly pursues us and will never leave us or forsake us. Isaiah 55:7 says, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."  Repentance is to change priority from the life of my flesh to His life in the Spirit. To repent is to right the wrongs that we have done, our cleansing is forgiveness according to the payment of our debt of sin by our Savior Jesus Christ. When we repented and confessed unto salvation, He who was without sin became the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we 
may be made the righteousness of God in Him – 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Michael finishes his message on the repented life in tomorrow's post.
In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?

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

The title of this post is a common question asked in our secular culture, but is really a misconception. The late pastor J. Vernon McGee, in presenting an answer to this question, that people don’t go to hell because God sends them; it’s the only place for those who have sinned against God, rejected Jesus Christ and have no capacity for Lord God Almighty whatsoever.

John 3:17-18 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned,  but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Dr. McGee goes on to say that when you say that He’s a loving God, you’ve only described one part of God. God is also righteous and just and holy. And if you think that you can violate all the different attributes of God and then depend on His love to save you, you’re entirely wrong. He’s told us in the Bible that we’re sinners and cannot come into His presence, that we‘re alienated from Him (Habakkuk 1:13, Isaiah 59:1-2). All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  

Romans 3:22-24 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

McGee explains that God had to give His Son to die on the cross for our sins, and if you’re going to reject the only way He could work out for your salvation then you must understand that hell is the place for you. Don’t say that a loving God sends people to hell. Say that there is a holy God, and when you do not meet His standard you cannot go into His heaven where He is. The thing that’s going to send you to hell is that you’re a sinner and you don’t want to admit it. As sinners, we are already condemned to hell … hell is the default. That’s the problem with the human family. It’s a desire to want to go their way. God doesn’t send anyone to hell; we send ourself by sin. Yet, God has provided a way, and any time you want to make the turn, a loving God will save you.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Where are you going to go when you die? How are you getting there?
In Christ, Brian

Monday, April 20, 2015

Follow Christ

Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.”

Defined in Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the word “Christ” literally translates “the Anointed One”, an appellation given to the Savior of the World, and synonymous with the Messiah. The word “Savior” means: One that saves or preserves; but properly applied only to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, who has opened the way to everlasting salvation by His obedience and death, and who is therefore called the Savior, by way of distinction, the Savior of mankind, the Savior of the world. A “Follower” is defined as: One who comes, goes or moves after another, in the same course. One that takes another as his guide in doctrines, opinions or example; one who receives the opinions, and imitates the example of another; an imitator. One who obeys, worships and honors. An adherent; a disciple; one who embraces the same system; the Word, the Will and the Way of God, the Christ, the Savior.

Follow Christ,

Sunday, April 19, 2015

True Wisdom

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Our all-church study on “Bible Fluency” took a look this week at the books of “wisdom’ in the Word of God. What is true wisdom? The original Webster’s 1828 dictionary states that true wisdom is the right use or exercise of knowledge; the choice of laudable ends, and of the best means to accomplish them. This is wisdom in act, effect, or practice. If wisdom is to be considered as a faculty of the mind, it is the faculty of discerning or judging what is most just, proper and useful, and if it is to be considered as an acquirement, it is the knowledge and use of what is best, most just, most proper, most conducive to prosperity or happiness. Wisdom in the first sense, or practical wisdom, is nearly synonymous with discretion. It differs somewhat from prudence, in this respect; prudence is the exercise of sound judgment in avoiding evils; wisdom is the exercise of sound judgment either in avoiding evils or attempting good. Prudence then is a species, of which wisdom is the genus. Wisdom gained by experience, is of inestimable value. In Scripture theology, wisdom is true religion; godliness; piety; the knowledge and fear of God, and sincere and uniform obedience to his commands. This is the wisdom which is from above. The wisdom of this world, mere human erudition; or the carnal policy of men, their craft and artifices in promoting their temporal interests is called “fleshly wisdom”.

Job 38:36 Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart?

Our Study explains that wisdom includes practical lessons learned by observing the world, borrowed freely from wherever helpful wisdom could be found in the world, as long as it does not contradict our belief in the one true God. The fear of the Lord is worshipping submission. The book of Proverbs teaches that although there is practical wisdom available throughout all the cultures of the world, true and lasting wisdom starts with worshipping and reverent submission to the Lord. Seek wisdom as God commands. Get true wisdom at all cost. Do not expect God to tell you exactly what to do when you have to make a decision. Pray about decisions and seek God’s specific guidance.

Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part. You will make me to know wisdom.”

Most of what people pursue as “wise” is actually empty and futile. The book of Ecclesiastes asks which parts of life are without significance and a waste of time (vanity, temporal, meaningless, like a vapor which is here then quickly gone, or like chasing aster the wind … everything this side of heaven is passing away. So, we are wasting out time if we are pursuing the things of this world as the goal of our life. Laughter, fun, partying, recreational alcohol and drug use, greed for money, real estate, seeking immorality, greatness, even wisdom apart from God and doing good with no ultimate purpose are meaningless in the end. The one with the most at the end is dead, just like the rest. Constructive criticism is “skeptical wisdom” in light of the big picture of fearing and obeying God. Maybe, we’ll start pursuing the things that are really important, once we realize how empty most of our pursuits on our own really are. Solomon sums it up in
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” But, the beginning (or fountain) of all true wisdom is submissive and reverent worship (fear) of the Lord. Everything begins and ends there.

1 Corinthians 1:19-25 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Pride Ride

Proverbs 16:18Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.

I read an article by the late J. Vernon McGee from his “Thru the Bible” monthly newsletter, where he explains that pride destroys the testimony of many Christians and makes them ineffective for God. What is pride? Webster’s dictionary defines pride, in light of the Scripture verse above, as an inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one's own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others. McGee adds that pride of heart is the attitude of a life that declares its ability to live without God; having a false sense of security, severing all relationship with God, seceding from the government of God, revolting in rebellion against Him.

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.”

McGee goes on to ask: How many people today are attempting to run their lives as if they were God? They feel that they don’t need God, and they live without Him. God did not make us with neither a steering wheel or automatic pilot to our life because He wants to guide our lives. He wants us to come to Him for salvation first, and then He wants to take charge of our lives aligned with His perfect Word, Will and Way for His purposes.

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.”

McGee states that when you and I run our lives, we are in the place of God. We are in the driver’s seat. That is pride, and anyone who reaches that position, if they continue in it as a way of life, is committing a sin which is fatal because it is a fall into destruction for eternity. This is not the will of God for anyone. James 4:5-7 Do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, April 17, 2015

Prayerful, Careful Decisions

 Acts 1:12-14 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

As Pastor Kyle continued in our new Sunday Sermon series on the book of Acts, we see from the passage above that they did have cars in biblical times, since we read that the Apostles continued with one “Accord”. But seriously, there is a great message on the subject of prayerful, careful decision-making in this week’s lesson. Sometimes, we make real bonehead decisions. Sometimes, we so all the “right” things and then wonder if we really did the right thing in our decision. Sometimes, we need to just learn from our mistakes and move on.

Acts 1:15-20 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples  (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, “Men and  brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’

When making decisions, we like to see all the facts, which form the conditions of our decision. Sometimes, we do not get all the facts and figures for God’s will on our decisions. Make sure that the plan of God gets out there. The couple facts behind the decision to replace Judas with Matthias were: (1) the decision came after an extensive amount of prayer. (2) they established a good criteria of a few essentials for the decision. Time will tell if our decisions are right, but always know that God’s plan will prevail. A sure-fire way to idiot-proof our decisions are: (1) Pray and ask others to pray. Prayer is one of the most uniting things out there. When we do not know what to do; Pray. Don’t keep it inside. Big decisions are frustrating, even when going well. (2) Seek wise counsel before making big decisions, not after. When you come to someone for advice after the fact, then you are just seeking affirmation of your lone decision. Have a godly circle of people in our lives to accomplish God’s will, family and friends, to help make big decisions. (3) Avoid making decisions during particularly emotional times. Emotional times are not good times for making big decisions. Inopportune times happen in life and Christ will speak through them, and the Holy Spirit will guide us through those occasions. We need to avoid times of distractions, times of grieving, times of emotionally-charged arguments, times of job stress, and those times when it feels like the weight of the whole world is on our shoulders.

Acts 1:21-25 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.”

Are you the type that of person that “second-guesses” yourself on your decisions? Rest in the fact that we cannot change our decisions in the past. As I said earlier, sometimes, we need to just learn from our mistakes and move on. Lastly, Be aware and beware. If Satan cannot get you to make a bad decision, then he will try to get you to doubt a good decision. Always remember: God is in charge. Keep making prayerful, careful decisions.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ablaze with Passion for Jesus Christ – Part 2

Michael continues writing, Jesus said unless you have the meekness of a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven – Matthew 18:3.  When the rich young ruler said, "What must I do to be saved?"  Jesus said, "You're still lacking something, even though you keep the law of the law of the Ten Commandments ..., you must sell all your goods, give the proceeds to the poor, and come and follow me" – Mark 10:21. You cannot serve two masters. Jesus understood that the rich young ruler lived for his riches and his possessions. He had “another god” than the one true God.  The first and great commandment is "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

Every moment is a moment of decision. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other so that ye cannot do the things that ye would – Galatians 5:17. Every moment is a "come to Jesus" moment. Disappointment is the result of missing our Divine appointment to walk in fellowship with Him.

Ye are slaves to whom ye obey – Romans 6:16. There is a difference between a regular slave and a bond-slave. A regular slave is bound by the law to serve his master by obligation. However, a bond-slave serves his master by the bond of love. Why do you do what you do? Is it because of the law of obligation ... is it because you fear the consequences? If this is the motivation then you are a slave to the flesh and the spirit of fear. However, there is no fear in love for perfect love casteth out fear, for fear has torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love – 1 John 4:18. To serve the Lord from a heart of love, we must take up our cross and follow him. Love is not a fleeting feeling. Love requires deliberate, intentional, and purposeful action. Do you say that you believe the first and great commandment to love God above all? Jesus said, in that ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me – Matthew 25:40.  Therefore, be ye kindly affectionate one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you – Ephesians 4:32. God has set us within the body of Christ as members in particular, harmoniously fitted together to serve one another to the building up of the body in love. Jesus said, a new commandment have I given you, that ye love one another – John 13:34.

God commands us to delight ourselves in the Lord. When our delight is His delight, only then He will give us the desires of our heart. When our passion and good pleasure is aligned with God's, then it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure – Philippians 2:13. Therefore, according to First Thessalonians 5, Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you. Quench not the spirit ... set yourself ablaze with the power of the holy spirit ... let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven – Matthew 5:16.

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ablaze with Passion for Jesus Christ – Part 1

If the resurrection is true, then the Bible, the Word of God, is truth. If the Word of God is truth, my challenge is to align the purpose of my life according to the Word of truth.  People often think that they can stop trying because one is satisfied with one's past achievements and “rest in their laurels”. However, our life is not our own ... that which endures is that which counts, not for this moment in time and history, but for eternity. Only Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25) ...  without Him there is no life. God doesn't want your promise and your praise ... He wants your heart and your life, demonstrated by obedience to His Word. In the midst of the crisis, God expects His children to rise to the occasion. Mr. E.M. Bounds in "A Fiery Church" says that God expects us to be on fire, white hot with zeal about our God-given faith. According to John Wesley, If you set yourself ablaze for Jesus Christ, people will gather from miles around to watch you burn with passion.  In Revelation 3, the Laodiceans were neither hot nor cold. They were tepid, lukewarm and ineffective ... a double minded person is unstable in all his ways – James 1:8.  However, the effectual, fervent, white hot and passionate prayer of a righteous man availeth much – James 5:16.  A fiery soul is the soul who conquers in the day of the spiritual battle and besieges the strongholds of evil with unshaken zeal.

What is your mission statement?  What's your goal in other people's lives?  For what are you passionate?  Love is kindled in the flame and passion for our Lord.  Therefore quench not the Holy Spirit. For we have this treasure of the Holy Spirit in an earthen vessel that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. To fan the flame of the Spirit of God, in Christ, in us, we must link with like-minded brothers and sisters who walk in the light as He is the light – 1 John 1:7. You are most like those with whom you associate. Who are your three, and who are your twelve?  With whom are you your best. I'm here because you make me want to be a better man.  For our fellowship is with our Father, His son Christ Jesus, and one with another in the household of faith. We associate with our Band of Brothers and Sisters, so that we can run the race and choke in the dust of those in hot pursuit of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Passion is the soul of prayer. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh – Luke 6:45.  Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law doth he meditate day and night – Psalm 1:2. Prayer is energized by the Holy Spirit as we set our affections on things above. Our culture says that mankind is basically good. However, according to Romans 3, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. In my flesh dwelleth no good thing – Romans 7:18. Righteousness can only be evaluated according to God's righteous standard of his Word – the Holy Bible. Jesus Christ is the Word of God revealed. Our righteousness is not in our flesh, but only in Him. Without Christ, we are men and women of unclean lips. Jesus Christ who was without sin became the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf, that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.  In him we live and move and have our being – Acts 17:28.  

We'll conclude Michael's message on "passion for Christ" on tomorrow's post.
In Christ, Brian