Saturday, October 31, 2015

All Hallow Eve - What Does it Mean? - Part 2

Deuteronomy 18:9-11 “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.”

The second stream that flows into the modern celebration of Halloween comes from Central Europe, when the Christian church made its attack upon the pagan bastions, destroying the temples of the various heathen gods and goddesses. But it was never able to completely eradicate the pagan worship which reappeared in the “Dark Ages” in the form of witchcraft. One of the important aspects of witchcraft are a number of celebrations each year, which are called “Witch’s Sabbaths”. One of the highest witch’s Sabbaths, the “Black Sabbath” of witches, occurred on October 31. This was a night of feasting and revelry, and imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, black cats, bats, mythical monsters and other related Halloween paraphernalia. The source of much of our Halloween folklore today stems from the high witch’s Black Sabbath of October 31 celebrated in Central Europe in the Middle Ages.

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.

The third stream that completes the modern concept of Halloween comes from the Roman Catholic Church. The church was engaged had been engaged in appointing certain days to honor and reverence certain Saints that the church had appointed or declared. There had become so many of these days that it became impossible to have a specific day for each Saint, so they decided to have one day in which they would remember all of the Saints, called “All Saints Day”. In the 700’s A.D., Pope Gregory III changed the date if “All Saints Day” to November 1, and in the year 834 A.D., Pope Gregory IV extended this celebration to the entire Roman Catholic Church. There was a celebration associated with this, on the evening before called “All-Hallows-Mas” or “All-Hallows-Even” on October 31 and it is from these two words that we have the contraction “Halloween”.

Here you see the three-fold origin of the celebration of Halloween. Are you still excited to celebrate it? Well, unrelated, on October 31, 1517 @ noon in Wittenberg, Germany, a young professor of Theology by the name of Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the University door that sprung into existence the Protestant Reformation and churches. So October 31 is the birthday of Protestantism and the Evangelical faith. Saved by grace alone, saved by Christ alone, and saved by faith alone. Now that’s no trick, but the greatest treat of all.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, October 30, 2015

All Hallow Eve - What does it mean? Part 1

Matthew 15:3 Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?

In a day or two, we celebrate Halloween. Dressing up in costumes, going to parties, playing games and “trick or treating” for the little kids. But when I ask people what is the significance of the day and what exactly are we celebrating on this “second most popular” holiday in the United States of America?, the answer always seems to be the same: “I don’t know.”

I’ve listened to a couple Pastors this week explain that there is a confluence of three streams that flow together to form this modern celebration. The first goes back to the Druids, who were the pagan inhabitants of pre-Christian Ireland & Scotland. The Druid or Celtic year began on November 1, which was called “Samhain”. This was their New Year’s day, and consequently, October 31 was “New Year’s Eve”. It was also a combination of a “Harvest Festival” and thought of as a “Festival of the Dead”, for it was said that it was this night that the Earth came to its closest contact with the unseen and spiritual world. Consequently, ghosts, goblins and witches terrified the populous, supposedly destroying crops, killing babies, stealing farm animals, upsetting garbage cans and reeking all sorts of havoc on the people. Bonfires were set upon the hills, either to keep the ghosts away, or perhaps to guide the spirits of the dead back to their homes, where it was believed that the spirits of the deceased on the eve of Samhain find warmth and good cheer in the home of their kinfolk before the onslaught of winter. Therefore, we see a lot of the folk custom of Halloween has come from this Druid celebration.

Another one of them is the custom of “Trick or Treat”. It originated when the people of Ireland went around to homes asking for various treats for the celebration which was to follow later in the evening. Then, when the belief in the reality of goblins and ghosts began to decline, and it was no longer believed that they were really doing these mischievous things, the children decided to help out. So they dressed up in various costumes and put on masks, then went house to house asking for treats, but adding a little something extra … threatening also tricks if they failed to be generous. And so, there were garbage cans upset, gate posts found in trees, and all sorts of pandemonium that took place on that night, supposedly attributed to the ghosts and goblins, but, of course, wrought by the dressed up children.

Let's continue this great history of Halloween tomorrow.
In Christ, Brian

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Needful Things – Part 2: Our Most Valuable Possession

Michael continues with this question: What endures in this life? If you attach your identity to things that are here today and gone tomorrow, life will be an exercise in frustration. Where are your going in life?  If you have no destination, you're never lost. Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life, no man cometh to the father but by me" – John 14:6  As the Apostle Paul said, "I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" – Philippians 3:14.

After Jesus spoke to his followers in John 6, and many of His followers left Him, Jesus said to His disciples, "are you all-in?"  Many said, "I'd rather follow the world and my own comfort than give up everything to follow you." The hard questions expose the idols in life. Are we really willing to trust in God by following our Lord Jesus Christ? Are we willing to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ? In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, "lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust corrupts, but rather lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, for where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also" -  Matthew 6:19.

Is anything in your life too precious to give up to follow Christ? The first of the Ten Commandments says, "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me" – Exodus 20:3. Literally, this verse means that God said "you shall have no other gods between your face and my face." Do your children, your wife, your job or your possessions come between you and God? Jesus said, whosoever loses his life for my sake shall find it. The most penetrating question is "Would you worship and praise Me no matter the consequences in this life?" In order to worship God, we must put our most valuable possession upon the altar. Lordship means that all I have is Thine. To confess that Jesus is Lord means that I am his and he is mine. My times are in Thy hands. Life is much easier when you give up and give it away. Despite the trials and tribulations of this world, take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee.  Needful things: are you all in? As John the Baptist said, "I must decrease that he may increase." You can have this entire world, just give me Jesus.  All I need is thee.

May God richly bless you,
Your brother in Christ,

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Needful Things – Part 1: The flag Under Which You Serve

This week Michael writes that we live in a finite world where there are many losses in a lifetime. The older we get the more losses we experience. We lose loved ones, friends, possessions, and jobs. While there are many things that cause us to suffer in this life, “all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28. We can either look back on our lives with regret or with thankfulness for the lessons we have learned. And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also, knowing that tribulation works patience, and patience experience, and experience hope because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the holy spirit which is given to us – Romans 5:3-5.  Sometimes the times of greatest loss are the times of the greatest deliverance. In Matthew 10:39 Jesus said, "He that loses his live for my sake shall find it."

In John Chapter 6 the question is, "is Christ sufficient?"  If we're needy, what is it that we really need? Needful things. The context of John 6 changes the upbeat mood of the story from those who followed Jesus as the "rock star" of his day, to a more somber mood that Jesus' true purpose was to be crucified and for God to raise him from the dead to pay for our sins. Your attitude about life will determine the flag under which you serve. What is the cost of following Jesus and what will life be like as a follower of Christ? Many of His followers forsook Him when Jesus told them about His suffering and death. Jesus warned about the impending crises that His followers would face. In Matthew 24:9 when His disciples asked Jesus about the signs of the times, He answered that they would have to pay a heavy price ... that they would be persecuted and martyred for being His disciples and hated by all nations because of Christ. There is always a spiritual battle behind the earthly battle. The flame of the spirit of the church of God has been fueled by the blood of Christian martyrs throughout the history of His Church. What's important is that the “gospel of deliverance” is spread. However, in the last times, many shall fall away from the faith and false prophets shall deceive many – Matthew 24:11. The one who stands firm to the end shall be saved – Matthew 24:13. He who endures shall be delivered. Jesus set the bar so high that no one could follow ... that salvation would not be through our own futile efforts, but only by His grace alone, by faith alone, through Christ alone. The key to deliverance is that even though there is suffering in this life, Jesus Christ who knew no sin sacrificed His life on our behalf so that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him. For I have been crucified with Christ nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me – Galatians 20:12 ...  therefore, my life is hid with Christ in God.

Let's continue this message on "Needy Things" by Michael tomorrow.
In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dispensational Antinomianism

I remember being taught a gospel presentation through a small group model years ago. Our life was represented by a circle and inside that circle was a chair, which represented the throne of our heart. In the first drawing, which represented the natural unregenerate man or woman, there was a letter “S”, which symbolized “self”, on the seat of the chair and a letter “C”, which signified “Christ”, on the outside of the circle, meaning that we were on the throne of our life and Christ was outside of our life.

Dispensationalism is a belief that that God has related to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants in a series of “dispensations," (dispensings or distributions) or periods in history. What God required in the past is not what He requires today. Antinomianism comes from the Greek meaning lawless. In Christian theology it is a negative term for the teaching that Christians are under no obligation to obey God’s Law, the laws of ethics or morality. I heard that in dispensationalism, that same circle that represented our life, still has the chair which denotes the throne of our heart with the same letter “S” corresponding of “self” on the chair, but the letter “C” that stands for Christ moves inside the circle, meaning that we can have the indwelling Holy Spirit and be saved from our sin without any change in our life. That we receive God’s grace, are justified by Christ and are given a regenerated spirit, but have absolutely no godly fruit because nothing has changed. This is “Easy Believism”. It isn’t that they don’t have a profession of faith; they have no faith.

What is so serious about “Dispensational Antinomianism” is that it invites a false sense of security for people believing that they are saving, when they are not. They may have raised a hand at an “Alter Call”, walked the church aisle when called to come forward, said a prayer or signed a card, but have no evidence of the Holy Spirit fruit of salvation in their lives. Believing that the Old Testament Law doesn’t have any bearing on their life, that the moral law of God set forth through the entire Bible is no longer binding at all and has no relevance whatsoever on their Christian life comes with an Eschatology (the theology concerning death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul), where the kingdom of God, in no sense, is realized. There is no response to Christ or the Cross, so the gospel is lost. Christianity is not a “get out of jail free” card, which allows you to do whatever you want, whenever you want. “Self” is still on the throne of their heart, saying: “Not Thy will, but my will be done.

Matthew 13:3-9 Then he (Jesus) told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

True regeneration involves a foundational change in the disposition of the human heart because the “fallen” person, prior to being reborn of the Spirit, has no inclination to the things of God and no love for Jesus. And once that heart has been transformed through the immediate transcendence of God and the Holy Spirit in regeneration, now that person has Christ in their life and Christ on the throne of their heart as Lord of their life. They are not perfected or fully sanctified, but the process of sanctification has begun. Jesus is on the throne of their heart as Lord.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, October 26, 2015

Love One Another

John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Romans 12:10, 13:8 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.

1 Peter 1:18-23 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

1 John 3:10-11 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

1 John 3:23-24 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11-13 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.

2 John 5 I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Unstoppable Faith

Acts 21:10-15 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” After this, we started on our way up to Jerusalem.

A little over a week ago, we attended our church’s Baptismic Denomination annual conference locally and the title of this year’s symposium was ”Unstoppable”. But, Pastor Kyle explains in last week’s Sunday Sermon, continuing through the book of Acts, that we seem to live in a world that appears to be very stoppable. We have our comfortable customs and traditions, but how fragile they are. There is also nothing wrong with trying to follow God’s law, because they are good and right. The apostle Paul explains in Romans 7:7 asking, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.” It’s perfectly okay to observe God’s law, but don’t expect to be saved by doing so. Following God’s law doesn’t make you right with God; being right with God makes you follow God’s law. People around us are watching and want to know what is different about true Christians. The one foundational thing that all Christians have in common is stated by the Lord in Matthew 16:15-18, where Jesus asking of the Apostles, But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” The head of the Christian church is Christ. Being a disciple (Learner/Follower) of Jesus is to live for the Lord and Savior of the world. They are “ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 

Acts 21:17-20 “And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord.” 

Pastor Kyle gives some good ways how to handle questions about our faith. (1) Like Paul, relate one by one the things that God has done in and around your life. Recounting and sharing the amazing stories of God’s workings and God working in our life is a great witness. Oh, it is easy to characterize people, for sure. The biggest questions often come from those who have never been in the mission field. Salvation, forgiveness, restoration and spiritual healing are foreign concepts to those who have not experienced them. Misconceptions can run wild with the imagination. Not everyone is going to Heaven and once a person becomes a Christian, it’s a beginning, not an end. It’s not a “get out of jail free card” and we don’t have to do anything. Repenting, learning and following are “doing” actions. (2) Take your time and pay on your dime to answer their questions, within reason. Do it, do it well and for the right reasons. It’s not about a “pecking order” and legalism is a disconnection from the good works of God in bring the world to Him. We never have to prove that we are “better” sinners. Instead, be focusing on the world-wide work of the Lord.

John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

(3) Figure out if they are a critic or are they struggling to articulate how they care? There was a story of a wife of a pastor, whose father went to be with the Lord and she was grieving. Many people at church came by saying “At least he’s in a better place” or “At least he’s no longer in pain” and similar things to comfort her, but they didn’t help. When they got home, their little daughter seeing her mother sad decided to pick some flowers for her, She picked and gathered some dandelions, some crabgrass, some dead twigs together and handing this ugly bouquet to her said, “This is for you mommy. I don’t want you to hurt anymore.” Great ministry! She was saying “I love you and I care about you” and so where all those people at church. They all were trying to hand her a “ugly bouquet” to genuinely show their love and care. Recognize it and acknowledge it.
(4) Change the tone from negative questioning to a positive conversation about how to transform the world for Jesus. God wants His children go from superficial to a deeper love for people around us. It’s not just about talking to each other, but learn to be a good listener too. With an unstoppable faith, enlarge your heart with the heart of Jesus.

 We do not know if people are open to hear unless we try. But we have to try. Be on the “same page’ for the Lord or we will not be able to reach the world. And remember that this is a corporate Christian mission of the church to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy SpiritMatthew 28:19. We need brothers and sisters in Christ around us.

From my edited notes of Pastor Kyle’s sermon.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Dread Disease

Habakkuk 1:13 You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness.”

Today, we seem to have forgotten just how terrible is sin; maybe even have forgotten the definition of “sin” altogether. Webster’s Dictionary defines “Sin” as the voluntary departure of a moral agent from a known rule of rectitude or duty, prescribed by God; any voluntary transgression of the divine law, or violation of a divine command; a wicked act; iniquity. Sin is either a positive act in which a known divine law is violated, or it is the voluntary neglect to obey a positive divine command, or a rule of duty clearly implied in such command. Sin comprehends not action only, but neglect of known duty, all evil thoughts, purposes, words and desires, whatever is contrary to God's commands or law. I remember reading Blaise Pascal’s evaluation that we really don’t know or understand the depths of the “fall of man” by original sin. We cannot grasp the true epic concept of sin entering the world and haven’t got a clue of the actual tragic plummet from eternal communion and fellowship with God to the immediate spiritual death of the spirit within us and the eventual physical death introduced, however, we live in this dread disease (a disease with a significant impact on lifestyle, longevity, which incurs high costs) called sin. The wages of sin is death.

Ephesians 2:1-6 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

I had read that only those who understand the perfect world of heaven would have the foggiest notion of how horrific sin really is. The contrast is shocking. But when we look at this One (Jesus) who came from true Paradise of the kingdom of Heaven to die for us and heal us of this dread disease, we begin to get a view of just how terrible a thing sin in actual fact is. We need to come to grips with what Christ endured – that this terrible thing called “Sin” might be taken away because sin inevitably draws upon itself the wrath of Just and Holy God. May we never forget that even if we become complacent in the face of sin, even if we accept it broadly as a people; God is a God who is infinitely holy and has an infinite hatred for sin.

John 3:35-36 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

He, whose eyes are too pure even to look upon iniquity, has promised that He will visit our transgressions with the rod, and that His wrath will inevitably fall upon our sins. So we stand in His presence, amazed that the Creator could want us fallen creatures and that God found a way to make us cleaned, radiant, and free from sin; washed in the blood of Jesus – the cure for the ultimate dread disease.

In Christ, Brian 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Shout for Joy

Psalm 100 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

This week, Michael writes that when you wake up in the middle of the night, either the devil is tormenting you or God has something to say to you. This side of heaven, we're living behind enemy lines. The devil will push back when you're willing to advance in response to God's calling. Allow God to work in you, and within you, to will and to do of His good pleasure. When God calls us into His presence and into the presence of His people, our prayer is that God will give us a Pentecostal "gift of hearing."

The Journey Group Program has a section about living in God's presence.  According to John 5, Jesus healed the lame man at the pool of Bethesda. The sick, blind, lame and paralyzed lay by the pool waiting for the moving of the waters so that they could be healed. Jesus said to the lame man, "Do you want to be healed?" Today, Jesus asks each of us the same question every day. The lame man answered, "I don't have anyone to put me into the pool when the waters are troubled." The man was full of complaints and excuses, but he did not answer Jesus' question. He resigned himself to being a victim. Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your bed, and walk." Jesus disregarded the man's excuses and went straight to the issue: take action on the Word of the Lord. The point is that the man obeyed God's call to action. When we are paralyzed spiritually, what is the antidote to the victim mentality?  Do you want to be healed?  If our answer is "yes," we must act according to the power with which Christ has empowered us.  "Yes" means to act in love to love the unlovable. There are no excuses. God needs mighty men and women who will act upon the Word of God according to His empowerment by the Holy Spirit. Regardless of the excuses in life, God commands his children: "Pick up your bed and walk."

When the authorities questioned the lame man about how he who had been lame could now walk, he said, "a man healed me." Jesus had slipped away and the man didn't even know who he was. Jesus is always the one who pursues us to deliver us. His mission was not to be recognized and worshipped, but to set the captives free and to preach deliverance to those held captive by the adversary against their wills. Our collective problem is that we need to get over ourselves, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” – Philippians 2:13. Allow God to work within you; allow him to speak in you and through you.  Not my will, but thy will be done. Jesus' mission when He walked the earth was to set the captives free, to deliver those who are bound, to open the eyes of the blind, and to preach the acceptable day of the LordIsaiah 42:7.  Today, God has committed unto us his Word and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. He has called us, commissioned us, and empowered us to deliver a peace treaty from the Prince of Peace. Our empowerment is the Holy Spirit. Therefore, quench not the Spirit. You are the children of light – 1 Thessalonians 5:19. He has called us to set ourselves on fire in our hearts for the Lord. Shout for joy! God will draw His people from miles around to watch us burn!

May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ,

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dead to Sin - Alive to God

Galatians 2:19-20 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

I read a great little devotional the other day how that one of the greatest doctrinal truths of the Bible is that the Christian life is one of victory over sin. The law of God has condemned us as lawbreakers (Sin is simply the breaking of God’s Law, so, actually, it is God who we sin against), but Christ died for our sins, and “you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ” – Romans 7:4. The law of God is not bad; on the contrary, it is good. It’s just that nobody (except Jesus Christ) can actually live by then without breaking some of them. They allow us to know what sin is and that we are sinners in need of a Savior to redeem and forgive our sins. Christ did that at the cross when we believed, repented and received the gift of God.

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

We should live in victory over sin, but somehow we still stumble. The remedy for such lapses is at hand, of course. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” - 1 John 1:9. Nevertheless, if Christ is really living in us by His Spirit, if we have really been “born again” (born of the Spirit, reborn from above), then we cannot continue to live in sin. “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” – Romans 6:2. The new nature is not the old nature. “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin” - Romans 6:6-7. Christians have died and were raised to new life with Christ in baptism of the Holy Spirit with a regenerated heart, mind and soul. Set free by the finished work of Jesus Christ.

The devotion concludes that the secret to making this doctrine practical reality in our lives is simply the motivation of gratitude. In the words of our text, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” We already have the necessary resources: forgiveness, freedom from guilt, eternal life, and the indwelling Spirit of Christ. We must simply avail ourselves of His power, because He loved us and saved us. “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” – Romans 6:11.

That’s what it means to be dead to sin – alive to God / alive in Christ.
Praise be to God!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

No Worries

Genesis 39:23 The warden had no worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.”

I cannot help but notice when the latest trendy “catch-word” or “catch-phrase” comes “down the pike”. There was “no doubt about it”, how ya doin’?”, “amazing”, and “absolutely” in the last few years or so. They seem to come and go, like the most recent fads. I watch some of the old “Hawaii Five-0” re-runs and get back right into those “groovy” days of the Sixties. Today, the new hottest “buzz-phrase” seems to be “no worries”. I hear it everywhere. Where did that come from? You may be familiar with the popular song from the Disney animated movie or the Broadway show “The Lion King”, titled "Hakuna matata". This is a Swahili phrase; translated, it roughly means "No worries". It is formed by the words hakuna (there is not here) and matata (plural form of problem). I’m sure that the term did not stem from the old Alfred E. Newman quote: “What, me Worry?” Pastor Kyle says that he thought that the term “no worries” came from Jamaica and he uses it regularly today. But, what is it based on? Why shouldn’t I worry, when there is so much to worry about? We are not putting our heads in the sand and pretending that nothing is going wrong in this world.

The terms “no problem” and “no worries” are right in line with the biblical term “fear not”, which appears 63 times in the King James Version of the Bible, and in reading them, I understand the comforting peace of God’s promises, providence and protection that leads us to say: “no worries”, despite the world.

Deuteronomy 31:6,8 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”

1 Samuel 12:20-22 And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 43:5Fear not: for I am with thee.”

Joel 2:21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.”

Luke 2:10-11 And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

No worries in Christ,