Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Blind Guides

Matthew 23:16 “Woe unto you, ye blind guides!

I read lately that the 23rd chapter of Matthew contains some harsh criticisms and reproofs as Jesus delivers the eight “woes.” Even the Greek word is a bit eerie. Can you imagine this series of stern admonitions delivered to the faces of these self-righteous manipulators of truth? Woe (“οὐαί” in Greek) you Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees, hypocrites! The blindness that Jesus was condemning has both a practical and spiritual impact. Worship God; not the brick and mortar of the church, not the music, not the pastor, not the fellowship/relationships, not the programs, events and groups; worship God alone. Obviously, if one does not understand simple truth, the result is going to be either embarrassing or painful. I heard an illustration once about a person who loved a certain other person who was gone on a long journey, but had a photo of this beloved other person that they looked at constantly, hugged and kissed regularly, and talked to lovingly daily. Then one day the beloved other person returned home and when the homeward person saw them, they picked up the photo of them and started hugging and kissed it again. The point is, who or what was this person loving? The person or the image?

Matthew 15:14 They are blind leaders of the blind,” Jesus said. “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

The great Creator of the universe knows best how to guide His creation. If we, the stewards, do not know or understand the Creator’s instructions, we are bound to get into trouble. That “truth blindness” often results in “blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” – Matthew 23:24. There is an old saying, "There's none so blind as those who will not see."

Psalm 146:5-8 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them - he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.
But the article points out that the greater blindness is spiritual. Peter listed attributes on how to grow in faith and gain blessed assurance. Then he advised in 2 Peter 1:9, Whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” In His messages to the seven churches, Jesus warned Laodicea, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” - Revelation 3:17. His counsel: I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” - Revelation 3:18Come to Jesus, who says, "Buy from me." He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. 

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Wages or a Gift

Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I read a great article on one of my favorite bible verses. It read that this wonderful verse has been used by the Holy Spirit countless times to bring a person to the point of salvation, and rightly so. Seldom did the author of Scripture pack so much into so few words, and seldom is the gospel of salvation more clearly and succinctly presented. Perhaps the key to this verse and its teaching is the little word “but”, for marvelous contrasts hinge on it. In fact, pointing out the parallel but contrasting statements has proven to be an effective witnessing tool. Let us consider these individual contrasts.

First, “wages” versus “gift”: Wages are something that must be earned, while a gift cannot be earned; it is free. The wages of employment follow directly from having done the work, just as the wages of sin follow directly from having done the sin. Similarly, the gift of God follows directly from God’s own character. He is a loving, gracious God, who freely showers His gifts on those who will accept them. Dr. D. James Kennedy gave this excellent illustration: Supposed your best friend were to surprise you with an expensive gift, and let’s suppose that your response would be to immediately dig in your purse or wallet for a couple bills to help pay for the gift. If you pay even a penny, it is no longer a gift. You must accept gifts freely. And that is a second point about a gift that Evangelist Ray Comfort illustrates in this example: You are not feeling well, so you go into the doctor. After running some tests the physician asks you to sit down, then proceeds to tell you that you have a fatal disease and have only a week to live, but then explains that he has a medicine that he wants to give you free of charge that will curse this disease complete. He reaches into his medicine cabinet and puts a bottle of the cure in front of you. But, if you never accept his offer, receive the free gift, and take the medicine, you will not live. It is the same with eternal life. A Christian friend once told me that a gift with strings or terms attached is not really free. But, then again a gift is not a gift if not accept by the recipient, so by definition there is a sting attached. Believe and accept the gift.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Second, “sin” versus “God”, or sin versus the sinless One: We might even define sin as the opposite of godliness. Sin is the deed which merits the wages, while God is the Being who gives the gift. Sin is a wrong action, attitude, or thought, while God is a person, active and loving. Sin takes; God gives. Sin kills; God saves. Third, “death eternal” versus “life eternal”l: AKA, Conscious existence in separation from God versus conscious existence in communion with God. Sin brings death, surely and permanently; God gives life and eternal life. This gift of eternal life is not given capriciously or whimsically, however; it is based on the work of Jesus Christ, the One who Himself collected the wages of our sin and paid our debt, our penalty on the Cross in our place. The sinner who realizes this truth and accepts God’s gift, through Jesus Christ, can hardly fail to recognize Him as Lord.

Romans 3:23-24 “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.

Eternal life in heaven with the Lord is not something that you earn, or deserve, or work for, but, according to the Scriptures, heaven – eternal life – is absolutely free gift. It’s unearned, undeserved, and unmerited. It’s free. 

In Christ, Brian

Monday, September 28, 2015

Admire God's Creation

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
This last Saturday, I attended the premiere of the third in the “Design of Life” feature-length , “Creation-based”, “Intelligent Design” demonstrating nature documentary series, titled “Livings Waters” – subtitled “Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth” by the outstanding filmmaker “Illustra Media” -  The complexity of life, the irreducible complexity of the intricate organs and complicated functional systems that allow normal creatures to perform extraordinary and otherwise impossible feats which defies the Darwinian Macro-Evolution theory, and by their unmistakable design, naturally point directly to a Creator - God. I pray that this movie is viewed by all and spread across this nation, our schools and the Scientific community. God created everything. Admire God's Creation.

Isaiah 42:5-6 Thus says God the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it" : “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep you."

Isaiah 45:11-13 Thus says the Lord,I have made the earth, and created man on it. I - My hands - stretched out the heavens, and all their host I have commanded." 

John 1:2-4 He (Christ)was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Romans 1:19-21 “What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.”

Colossians 1:15-17 He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

From Good to Great

Acts 18:18-23 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, but took leave of them, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus. And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch. After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

Pastor Kyle, continuing in our Sunday Sermon series through the book of Acts, tells us that there are “Be” aspects of being in Christ and there are “Do” aspects of being in Christ. The Lord God loved us enough to save us from our sin, but also loves us enough to not keep us in our sin. We assume the “Be” in Christ aspect of being a Christian, but Ephesians 2:1-9 is followed by Ephesians 2:10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Kyle emphasized five simple keys to transform our everyday life from good to great: (1) The first person that we need to please is God, so learn to say “No” to people nicely. Discern your personal boundaries and stick to them. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop - Proverbs 16:27, but “Busyness is not just from the Devil, it is the Devil - Carl Gustav Jung. We need to sometimes say “no” to even some “good” things in order to allow us to do some “God” things. (2) We need to realize and accept that our communication always needs improvement. Even the best gifts need refinement. When we seriously take an honest look, we realize just how shallow our relationship with the Lord truly is. Accept that, this side of eternity, our communication skill needs improving and maturing. (3) We need to embrace Positivity. Negativity is a battle in our mind, but we choose what comes out in word and deed or lack thereof when appropriate.

Philippians 4:8 “Brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Your words have power. Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Bring every conversation back to the goodness of the Lord. (4) We need to know and love the Holy Scriptures. We do not need to be a Bible Scholar or Theologian, but we all can express to others how the Word of God is making a difference in our lives. 1 Peter 3:15 “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and reverential fear. Tell of your hope and God’s help in your story. (5) We need to stay teachable. God knows the big picture, but only gives us pieces for our time in His story. We never really stop learning. Life changes, evolves with the times, stages and ages, but God’s Word  and His promises do not. The deeper our humility becomes, the more you want to hear the truth. Greatness is not a destination; it’s what you do every day.

IT boils down to one question: Would we rather fall attempting everyday greatness or succeed in achieving everyday mediocrity. Spend time with God and His Word today. Don’t settle for “good enough”, but shoot for “great” for God every day through the hope of glory through Jesus Christ.

Have a blessed Sunday, Brian

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Behind Enemy Lines – Part 2 – Reach the World

Michael continues that America idealizes independence and values the worldly ideal of the Enemy's aspiration of the "self made person." However, the message of God's grace is that apart from me, you can do nothing – John 15:5.  We're on a mission and a pilgrimage:  Ephesians 2:19 says that you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens of heaven with the saints and of the household of God. According to 2 Corinthians 5, you are ambassadors for Christ. As ambassadors, we are called as the highest ranking officials sent from our homeland to represent heaven, our home country, in the midst of a wicked and perverse nation. In Romans 12 it states that since we are not of this world, God exhorts us, "don't be squeezed into the world's mold, but be transformed by the upward renewing of your mind.”

We are in the world, but are not of the world (meaning the God-rejecting fallen world system). Therefore, according to John 17, our joy is not in the things of this world. Our joy is not contingent on circumstances and situations. Rather, our joy is in Him ... it is a joy that cannot be taken away ... it is the joy found in the presence of God and the promises of God that He will never leave us or forsake us. Our joy is in the things above (from God in heaven) and not in the things of the flesh and of this earth. Our joy is in the truth of the Word of God that defines who we are and whose we are. Therefore, covet not the things of this world, for a man's life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesses.  Rather, covet earnestly the best gifts. For though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation, I am nothing – 1 Corinthians 13:1. God has not called us to an easy “escapism”.  Rather, He has called us to love the unlovable. God has not called us to rejoice in the comforts of the flesh. He said “blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, for great is your reward in heaven – Matthew 5:11. Our joy is not of this world ... rather our joy is in our heavenly homeland, where Christ dwells on the right hand of God.

John 17:24-26  “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

Behind enemy lines, the adversary is lurking to steal, kill, and destroy us physically, mentally, and spiritually. He is the accuser of the brethren. Behind enemy lines we will be  accused falsely. The adversary makes us despised as the dregs of the world. However, this world is not my home ... I'm just a-passing through on mission. God has called us to His front lines in the charge of the light brigade (the light of Christ). He has also called us to rest and retreat in Him behind enemy lines. He has called us to be strengthened and refreshed ... God's recreation (re-creation) on the new day. We are called as a peculiar people to be distinctively different ( holy, set apart for His purposes) ... to be outliers from this lost in sin world of darkness. Christians have enjoyed the applause of Americans for about 250 years. These days are fading fast. Christians are now persecuted for being "politically incorrect" in an increasingly secular society. However, we must realize that to be “politically correct” according to our heavenly homeland is to be “politically incorrect” in a world of darkness. Until we reach heaven, we are behind enemy lines. When the crisis comes, God has called us to have such confidence in Him that we will be the dependable ones to wield the light of the Word of God in the midst of the darkness of a fallen world. A light on a hills for all to see.  

Before we can reach the world for Christ, we must reach our own hearts for Christ. For He who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him2 Corinthians 5:21. Our refuge and our rest is only in Him. He is our mighty fortress to whom we must retreat. After being equipped, our charge is to stand firm in the spiritual battle and to be His ambassadors and reach the world ... we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. God has called his people for such a time as this.

May God richly bless you.
Your brother in Christ,

Friday, September 25, 2015

Behind Enemy Lines – Part 1 – God’s Call

This week, Michael proclaims us that God calls his people to stand firm in order to advance in the midst of the spiritual battle – Ephesians 6:14. The Lord says that apart from me you can do nothing – John 15:5.  According to Psalm 46:1, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. In John 17 is the account of our Lord's high priestly prayer. This prayer reveals the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ as our high priest. The High Priest is the one who is ordained to speak directly to God on behalf of God's people. Jesus' high priestly prayer is His prayer of intercession on behalf of those whom God elected in His foreknowledge to be “Disciples of Christ”.

John 17:1-23 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.  And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

God sent his only begotten son, so that God's elect could witness the truth of the word of God made flesh. He came as the rose of heaven, trampled underfoot.  He came into the devil's enemy territory to show the world that “He who knew no sin” may be made the sacrifice for sinful man. He came to show that in our flesh dwells no good thingRomans 7:18.  We know what it means to declare our independence from God's will for our lives. There is none good, no not oneRomans 3:10-12. Jesus came behind enemy lines to substitute His life for our sins ... to deliver us from the power of the Evil One - Satan. Jesus was resolute in this mission and was not to be dissuaded. He chose twelve ordinary men and called them to a mysterious mission to be “fishers of men”. They followed Him because of His calling. They were not the “cream of the crop”. He chose them not because they were accomplished, but because of what He could accomplish in them and through them. He called them not to deliver the mission, but to be the mission. God calls the world's rejects to become the righteousness of God in Him. 

Let's continue this excellent message "Behind Enemy Lines" by Michael tomorrow.
In Christ, Brian

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Law of Liberty

James 2:12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.

The world “liberty” in the bible verse above is “ἐλευθερία” or “ eleutheria” in the Greek and translates to “freedom”. Webster’s original dictionary defines “liberty” as “Freedom from restraint, in a general sense, and applicable to the body, or to the will or mind. The body is at liberty, when not confined; the will or mind is at liberty, when not checked or controlled. A man enjoys liberty, when no physical force operates to restrain his actions or volitions. Natural liberty, consists in the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It is a state of exemption from the control of others, and from positive laws and the institutions of social life. Liberty, in metaphysics, as opposed to necessity, is the power of an agent to do or forbear any particular action, according to the determination or thought of the mind, by which either is preferred to the other. Freedom of the will is exemption from compulsion or restraint in willing or volition.”

James 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

In America, the word “Liberty” is on very coin minted, yet do we notice and think about its meaning or why it is on there? Americans should give thanks to “the Author of liberty”, that we have been privileged to live in this “sweet land of liberty,” where we can worship God freely, in accord with His Word – “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all”. I’ve both read and heard that liberty is not license, however, and the essence of the American system is liberty under law. And since the birth of this nation, fundamentally, that law is “the law of nature and of nature’s God” (Declaration of Independence) - the natural laws of God’s world and the revealed laws of God’s Word. Within that framework we do have liberty—but not liberty to defy either the physical law of gravity or the spiritual “law of liberty.” The latter is formulated in Scripture and has been applied over the centuries, in the English common law and later in our system of constitutional law, both of which are based on Scripture.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

I read that some people today, seeking license rather than liberty, might recoil at the very idea of “the law of liberty,” calling it an oxymoron, or contradiction in terms. But Jesus said that only “the truth shall make you free!” - John 8:32. “Sin is the transgression of God’s Law” - 1 John 3:4, and “sin, when it is finished, brings forth death” - James 1:15, not freedom! No one can be saved by the law, but those who are saved by grace through faith in Christ will love God’s law, for it is “holy, and just, and good” - Romans 7:12. We should say with the psalmist: “So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts” - Psalm 119:44-45. There is, indeed, a law of liberty, and whoever will walk in “real liberty” will find it only in God’s law of life, through His revealed Word. Never lose sight of the law of liberty.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Slippery Slope of Deception

John 8:43-45 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.

The term “slippery slope” is defied by Webster’s Dictionary as a course of action that seems to lead inevitably from one action or result to another with unintended consequences. Wikipedia explains that the slippery slope argument states that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant effect, much like an object given a small push over the edge of a slope sliding all the way to the bottom. The strength of such an argument depends on the warrant.

When I was little and watching those old movies, like Tarzan, I developed a great fear of “quicksand”. Those poor unsuspecting people would be walking or running through a seemingly safe path through the jungle and the next thing you know, they had fallen into this sticky situation of being stuck and sinking slowly to their death. I read an article lately about another related situation at Stone Mountain in Decatur, Georgia, where there is a warning railing that keeps sightseers from getting anywhere near the edge of that great rock. So gradually does it slope downward that if one were to get within 75 to 100 feet of the edge, they would find themselves slipping towards the precipice and would be unable to recover themselves. With no way to stop, they would continue to slide downward until they plunge over the edge to their death hundreds of feet below.

James 1:16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.

The Hebrew word “Satan” (שָּׂטָן) means "adversary" & “Satanas” meaning accuser. The word “devil” means “tempter” of humankind. He first blinds his victims of dangers and consequences before he binds them unto destruction. Sin, like the slippery slope of Stone mountain or jungle quicksand, pulls us down into things that we never expected we would do. But, there is hope in Jesus Christ, the blessed redeemer of mankind. Almighty God reversed our path and provided a way to salvation. 

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Be the Blessing

Genesis 12:2-3 "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name gret, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." 

Zechariah 8:13  "So I will save you, and you shall be a blessing." 

Matthew 5:7-9  "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Without the assistance of that Divine Being ... I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. – President Abraham Lincoln
Be the blessing - Brian

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Unknown God - Part 2

Acts 17:24-31 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

Pastor Rick explains that affirming the things that we can agree on serves as a point of connection; with the main point being that we agree on is that there is an unknown God that they do not know, so let’s tell them all about Him. It’s easy to look at the “idols”, as Psalm 115:4-6 says, “Idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell”, idols that had to be served and sacrificed to, but do we have our own little idols in life; others gods?  Anything takes or time and talents, our hearts and minds, our focus and attention, mind, will, emotion, spirit, or actions off of the one true Almighty Creator Father God is an idol because “‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”  Nothing supplants God and the Lord shares the stage or His throne with nobody. We cannot serve two Gods.

Church is like family; it’s for us. The church, body of Christ, with the fellowship of Believers, corporate worship and praise of the living God, tithes and offerings, Study and teaching, internal and external ministry outreach, evangelism and missions, service and sanctuary are for you and I; not God. We need the church. God can accomplish his work with or without us, but we are called to be God’s workers in this world towards His purposes and advance the kingdom of Jesus Christ. As Ephesians 2:10 tells us, For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The church equips and prepares the saints (meaning “those who have been sanctified”) with the guidance and fruit of the Holy Spirit. Be obedient to what God calls us to do. We must invest our day with the grounded foundation of His work in the work and point our energy in pointing to Christ the Savior and His gospel in everything that we do; not just bringing the message, but being the message lived out relationally in the public marketplace of ideas daily, on mission for Him.

Nailing our sins to the cross of Jesus Christ, trust God with the new life results. The Lord is mighty and powerful to save and transform hearts and lives. He is going to do a Masterpiece work that we cannot do in our lives, a godly work that satisfies our soul. Let us be about knowing Christ and making the unknown God known.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Unknown God

Acts 17:16-34 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.”

This last Sunday, Pastor Rick preached from the above passage as we are in the middle of a sermon series through the book of Acts. He starts out by asking, “What provokes or greatly distresses us in our city, nation and world?” Idols set up everywhere, but completely missing Jesus. Are we emotionally stirred up when we see godlessness in people around you, pursuing things that will never satisfy their soul, and Creator God is relegated “to an unknown God?” Does it brother you to the point of engaging the situation? Unless we are completely broken for the lost around us, we cannot truly move forward with the gospel message and fulfilling God’s mission which He has called us to in the day to day struggles of life.

Like Paul, we need to be moved (mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically) from a religious place to the marketplace. One day in church, where we worship and bring Him glory, lifting up our praise to God, but then six days in the world marketplace of ideas for Jesus Christ and Him risen, taking our faith into this culture and society that so desperately needs the light on truth to shine in the darkness of sin and unbelief because people are desiring to hear something new and find meaning in this great hope in God for their unsatisfied life in a world that is always needing something new for their happiness. Reason and share with those who will listen and build bridges through relationships through points of connection in place of agreement that lead to invitation day by day. Like when you’ve eaten a meal and are filled, then you are satisfied and do not need or desire any more food because you are content. But, if life is about continually experiencing something new in “meaning for the moment”, then you are never filled, never satisfied and never content because they have not found ultimate truth; the truth beyond what they know and have experienced that produces lasting joy here on earth. Satisfaction is something so much greater than trying something new.

Let’s pick this eye-opening message from Pastor Rick up on tomorrow’s Post.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Thy Will Be Done

Matthew 26:42  He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”

I had read that in Jesus’ agonized prayer in the Garden Of Gethsemane, where in Luke 22:44 we are told that “being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground”, we see the total submission of Christ to the Father. We see the struggle between life and death in God’s Plan of Salvation, a cosmic struggle with every soul on earth in the balance. The victory was in submission with four little words.  This short little prayer: “Thy will be done” has been called “the prayer that never fails.” God always and answers this prayer. Throughout our life, we need to pray it continually as we daily give control of our live to God.

Luke 11:2 And he said unto them, “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”

We should pray: “Lord, use me today for Your great purposes and for Your glory.” There are always all kinds of opportunities to serve His plan. I had heard before that this prayer: “Not my will, but thine, be done”, demonstrates the difference between a Christian prayer and a pagan prayer. When a non-Believer prays, they try to harness the spiritual powers of God’s creation and cosmos to do their bidding and proclaim: “As I will, so it must be”; worshipping the creature as a part of creation, without the Creator, creating their own divine rules to plant their flag, make their stand and live or die by; a phantom phantasy in their mind. Creator God creates the rules and defines destinies. When one says in thought, word or deed: “My will is to not obey God, nor believe in the Savior Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life”, then Almighty Creator God says: “Not My will, but thy will be done” and they are lost in their unforgiven sin. And if Jesus, sent by our heavenly Father out of His pure love and mercy, does not pay for their sin, then they must pay for their sin eternally. That is why we need to have compassion on the “lost” and bring them the “good news” of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who paid the price of sin in full for all those who believe. Salvation and forgiveness, freedom and life are found in no other.

Luke 22:42 “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

In Christ, Brian