Thursday, June 30, 2016

To Desire the Lord - Part 2 - Loving the Lord/Obeying Christ

Michael continues that Jesus said to the crowds that followed him, if you want to be my disciples, you will need to "eat my flesh and drink my blood" – John 6:53. They didn't understand that He was talking about the communion ceremony that would memorialize His death and resurrection to redeem them from their sin nature. They did not follow Jesus around because they wanted to be His disciplined followers. They just wanted to be entertained by witnessing a miracle. At that point the crowds scattered because they didn't understand the depth of the commitment required to follow Christ.

“L” stands for "loving Him more deeply."  If you profess to love Christ, but don't do his will, do you really love Him?  Do we desire to love Him the way He asks us to love Him? Jesus said that anyone who loves his father or mother more than me does not deserve me, he is not worthy of me ( Savior and Lord). The example of love is that Jesus Christ, even while we were yet sinners, laid down his life for us – Ephesians 2:5. To lie down means to appoint or to position ourselves to serve our Lord by serving one another.  Jesus Christ said, in this shall they know that you are my disciples in that you love one another – John 13:35 

“O” stands for "obeying Christ more completely." In our politically correct culture, the word "obey" is a dirty word. But if anyone obeys His word, truly his love is made complete. Chose you this day whom you will serve and obey, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord – Joshua 24:15Philippians 2:8 says, "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."  His obedience resulted in your salvation and mine. Therefore, trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.

Remember the acronym KFLO:  to know Him more intimately, to follow Him more closely, to love Him more deeply and to obey Him more completely. The prayer of a child of God is, "Oh for a closer walk with thee... But what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God" – Micah 6:8.

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

To Desire the Lord - Part 1 - Know God/Follow Christ

This week Michael writes:
We're always looking for men and women to talk to them about the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, the one person we should be looking for is “the person in the mirror”. What is it that a man or woman of God should desire most?  God said through the Psalmist, "delight thyself also in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Ps. 37:4). In order to desire the things of God, we must actively, deliberately, and purposefully delight ourselves in the Lord. Then, when our delight is His delight, and our desire His desire, God will work in us and through us to will and to do of His good pleasure.  

To desire the Lord and to set our affection on things above, remember the acronym KFLO. The first and highest desire is represented by the letter “K” : to "Know God deeply and abidingly"... to know His character and His nature. The Bible says repeatedly, rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. Know Him intimately. According to Philippians 3, Paul said, "I consider all things but loss except for the knowledge of God." Everything else is worthless, detestable, and repugnant except for knowing the Lord. The Lord, through the Apostle Paul, says in Ephesians 1:17, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercy may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of himThe eyes of your understanding being enlightened that you may know the hope of your calling and the riches of the glory of your inheritance in the Saints. This passage refers to the precise and correct knowledge of our Father. We must know correctly who God is according to His rightly divided Word. Prayer cannot come from a depth of fear, rather prayer must come from a confident and faith-based trust in the sovereign Lord. Unless the Lord builds the house, it is built in vain. Jesus said in Matthew 22:29, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." An intimate knowledge of God is required to appropriate the power of God.

“F” stands for "following Christ more closely." In any situation the best course of action is to closely watch Jesus. Our heart's desire must be to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and "choke in the Master's dust." Jesus said, "if you continue in my word, then shall you be my disciples (disciplined followers) indeed (John 8:31). When we follow Him closely, there is no distance between myself and my Lord. Follow Him in lockstep (marching in a very close single file in such a way that the leg of each person in the file moves in the same way). He knows the destination and the way. Jesus said, "If anyone comes after me he must deny himself, pick up his cross daily and follow me" – Luke 9:23

We'll continue Michael's message on desire the Lord tomorrow.
In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

True Strength

Zechariah 4:6Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” Says the Lord of hosts.

In this fitness craze that we are experiencing in this country, some have made the local gym their second home. You read and see on advertisements everywhere how people go to fanatical lengths to get their bodies into shape and keep them cut. But, which person is better able to help other people in need; the strong or the weak? Pastor Kennedy admits that perhaps the answer is not all that clear. But, it is hard to argue that meek Mother Teresa of Calcutta, India was not as or more capable of helping people as the strongest man in the world. The effect she has had in the lives of the sick and the poorest of the poor is immeasurable.

"Give me the strength to be ever the light of their lives, so that I may lead them at last to you." – Prayer by Mother Teresa

I remember a quote by Jock Ewing from the old (1978-1991) TV series show Dallas that bothered me enough to stick with me: “If I did give you power then you've got nothing. Nobody gives you power. Real power is something you take.” Thank God, in reality, many of the world’s greatest individuals have been those who have not been physically strong, muscular, or healthy. Nor have they had great wealth or power.

Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

The Bible tells us in Psalm 37:11the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Keep in mind that meek doesn’t mean weak; it means “power under control.” Giving into sin, gratifying and going the way of the flesh, the God-rejecting world system and the devil is the true weak and easy way on the wide path to destruction. It actually takes more inner-strength to not give into the sin nature of the fleshly desires; consciously and deliberately walking in the Spirit, obeying God’s holy Word, Will and Way. The greatest individuals have often been those who have had to deal and struggle with monumental problems, like Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”

The Apostle Paul makes a similar point here, and in 2 Corinthians 12:10, where he states: “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Why is this? When we feel that we are strong and feel like we are able to handle everything, then we get the credit and the glory for what we do. However, I’ve heard it said that when we hit rock-bottom, the only way to go is up, because now God can work with us, instead of fighting us every step of the way ... because when we are meek, weak and helpless, then God can work through us, and it will be His work done though us, done for His glory. That is true strength.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, June 27, 2016

Made in His Image

Genesis 1:26a Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.

We are going through a new video series by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) the complex and intelligent design of only four of the complicated and intricate components of the human body for our life and living on planet Earth. In this week’s session of “Made in His Image”, titled Beauty in Motion, they point out that globally, people are fascinated with athletes. No matter where you go around the world, athletes are admired by fans. When the human body’s systems  integrate together to allow them to perform extraordinary physical feats of ability, accuracy, speed and strength, one really understands the glorious beauty and tremendous God-given capabilities and skills of the human body. The human body is the ultimate example of the marriage of function and design. It exhibits all the features we recognize as principles of conscious, intentional design. By appreciation, the exquisite complexity of the human body, we bring praise to the Designer who created us in His image.

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Everywhere we look, up into the vast and awesome grandeur of the universe or down into the incredible beauty of the inner-workings of our bodies, we see design and purpose. The human body is the great work of the Creator. You and I possess the most efficient, the most complex, the most wonderful work that an omnipotent and omniscient Designer could make. And then to top it off, He created a mind and soul that could become friends with Him! – (John 15:15). Praise be to God! You and I are truly fearfully and wonderfully made – (Psalm 139:14).

God has graced us with an incredibly made body. The question is: “What will you do with yours?” Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Institute for Creation Research

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Presence of God


Matthew 28:20 “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Believers in Christ all need to learn the joy of practicing the presence of God. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Living in a material world, the Lord God is the “unseen” that created and controls the “seen” scene, which is difficult wrap our minds around in a physical based world and must be taken on faith, His loving holy Word and the fingerprint evidence. How do we practice the presence of God? In Prayer anywhere, in worship, in devotional reading and mediating on Holy Scripture, in Bible Study or Sunday School, in Christian documentaries, stories and teachings in CD’s, DVD’s, books and electronic devices … spending time with God. Then, like a needle on a compass, our mind is free to return to return our thoughts to the Lord and the comforting contentment of His holy Word, Will and Way with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We see the flesh, but we experience the Spirit. Galatians 5:16 speaks to and explains about “walking in the Spirit”, and the key is to remind ourselves of His Presence.

John 14:15-21 “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Articles state, but we can see daily, that we live in a very busy, hectic and stressful era. However, stress is not due to what is outside of you. Technically speaking, physiological or biological stress is an organism's response to a “stressor”.  It is not caused by the things that happen to us. It is not your schedule. It is in our mind’s perspective. It is how we react to situations, and nothing reduces stress like practicing the presence of God. Knowing that God created it all, it all is in His almighty hands, that we are His children/people and where we are going when this earthly life comes to an end, produces a peaceful eternal outlook on life and living in the Christian heart, mind and soul. Stressors become like water on a duck. We know, believe and trust that God has it handled and He is with us always. What do you see in those around you who don’t?

John 14:26-27 “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

I read that a 17th Century French monk, Brother Lawrence, learned about “practicing the presence of God” in his life and wrote a magnificent book with that title. It was just another way of talking about seeking the peace of God. He found that perfect peace and tranquility on focusing upon the Lord God in every experience and during hectic times experienced that peace through practicing the presence of God. Brother Lawrence wrote: “The world appears very little to a soul that contemplates the greatness of God. My business is to remain in the presence of God.” 

So, today, no matter how hectic it may get, remember to recognize the presence of the Lord with you. We are not left alone; Jesus is with us always. Live like it! We need to practice His presence at all times, every day, in every situation, everywhere. Love, peace and joy are there.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Things Which God has Prepared

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

I ran upon this fact today that this fantastic promise refers back to another great promise given by God to His people: For since the beginning of the world, Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him” - Isaiah 64:4.


Secularism is a social or philosophical movement toward modernization, and away from traditional religious values. Existentialism, which is a humanism, is that existence precedes essence; live for today. Christianity is live for the Lord today, with anticipation of God provision tomorrow and eternity on the horizon. The Old Testament promise applied primarily to the nation of Israel, but its New Testament extension incorporates it in a global promise to all who love the “crucified” Lord of glory, the One who was also the Savior of the world.

One commentary states that comparison of the two prophetic promises yields three vital truths:

First, these things that God has prepared for His loved ones have been in view “since the beginning of the world,” and have been revealed in part by the prophets. Secondly, those who “wait for Him” in the Old Testament are synonymous with those who “love him” in the New.

Thirdly, we cannot even begin to comprehend the glorious things God has prepared for those who love Him and wait for Him. When the Lord appears again in glory, then our eyes shall fully see, and our ears hear, and our hearts understand, "the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” and the fullness of God’s love in Christ. 

In Christ, Brian

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Eternal Word of God

Psalm 119:89 Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.”


In our physical world, we can see the nothing lives forever, and our mortality is easy to grasp. Immortality, the quality of never ceasing to live or exist; exemption from death and annihilation; life destined to endure without end; as the immortality of the human soul, is the great hope. 


I read that this passage of Scripture above is the central verse in the longest chapter in the longest book in the Bible, and it is surely one of the greatest verses in the Bible. It conveys the amazing news that the Word of God has existed from eternity past and will continue to exist forever in the future. It was eternally settled in the mind of God before the world was created, then gradually through the commitment to writing of truths revealed by God to inspired men), “who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1).

Other verses in this psalm likewise stress the eternal validity of God’s words being eternal: “The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting. . . . Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them forever. . . . Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endures forever”. The Word of God is not temporal, but eternal and we can stand firm on that fact. In the book of Isaiah appears a magnificent claim: “The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand forever” – Isaiah 40:8. This contrast is expanded by the apostle Peter: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever” – 1 Peter 1:23.

To guarantee this great truth beyond any further question, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself made the following tremendous claim: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” – Matthew 24:35. “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” – Matthew 5:18The entire physical universe is (literally) “passing away,” heading inescapably downhill toward ultimate death—with one exception! The words of our Bible (the eternal Word of God) and its glorious promises are timeless, everlasting and immutable. Glory be to God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

We can relate to the feeling of being physically sweaty, dirty and smelly. Just those words are probably leading your thoughts to a nice shower, bath or dip in the nearest body of water to get clean. It is amplified when others around us notice it too. Nobody enjoys being filthy from head to toe. The same issue pertains to dirty dishes. Who wants to eat off a unwashed used plate with a piece of old food on it, using a unclean utensil or drinking from a cup with lipstick on the rim or a grimy old glass? Now think about some dishwasher merely running the soapy sponge over the back of the plate, just the handle of the utensil or only the outside of the glass and sending them back out to the customer. 

I’m not trying to turn anyone’s stomach, but these images from the Matthew verse above is an emotional word picture, which states that the emphasis is on the internal heart. The biblical principle is very clear. If our hearts are not right, our lives will not be righteous because the 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines “righteous’ as being “Just”; accordant to the divine law. Applied to persons, it denotes one who is holy in heart, and observant of the divine commands in practice. If what is “inside” is not clean, the “outside” will never be clean.

In 1 Samuel 16:7, the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

One devotional gave a list of the more obvious Bible references to help refocus our commitment.

• “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”(Proverbs 4:23)

• “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” (Matthew 12;34-35)

• “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” (Romans 2:28-29)

• “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)

May our “cup and platter” be as clean as God’s holiness is able to make it and “let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:4)

1 John 1:6-7 “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Love Versus a Critical Spirit – Part 2

Ephesians 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

Michael continues, God has revealed His truth to everyone through the glory of the handiwork of His creation.  Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."  Even the Demons believe and tremble.  However, the devil is the deceiver and the accuser. His critical spirit deceives us to question God and His motives. He distracts from the glory of our Sovereign God by telling us that the purpose of our life is to be "self actualized" with the emphasis on “self”. The original sin is when Eve believed the devil's lie that "ye shall be as God ... she doubted God and believed Satan when he said,  “God's not God, you are."

Although my heart says it's hard to surrender, the spiritual love of God says that surrendering to His will is my only option.  As Peter said, "to whom else shall we go Lord?  Only thou hast the words of eternal life."  In Matthew 11 Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  The ultimate freedom is the ultimate captivity ... for ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. From the heart of Christ in us, our first priority is "make me a captive Lord, and then I shall be free." 

Therefore, delight thyself also in the Lord and he will give thee the desires of thy heart.  When we "set our affections on things above" and deliberately make his delight our delight, then God will work in us and through us to will and to do of His good pleasure. Prayer is aligning our heart with His heart ...  aligning our good pleasure with his good pleasure. Our joy is in the next step in the journey of life:  I can't wait to see what God has in store for me. The joy is to live by faith, and to let go and let God work His miracles in our lives. A heart of love and gratitude will defeat the critical spirit in everything we say and do. God calls us to surrender under the shadow of His mighty hand ... this is the doorway to the more than abundant life. As the prophet Micah said, but what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.  Living under God's grace, forgiveness, and loving kindness is living in the joy of the Lord.  

The two kinds of Christians are "carnal" Christians, who walk according to the flesh and spiritual Christians, who walk according to the Love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation. Jesus said, "In this shall they know that ye are my disciples, that they love one another."  The love of God suffers long and is kind.  It gives unconditionally and forgives the unforgivable.  To know the love of God and the joy of the Lord, I forgave and set the prisoner free only to find that the prisoner was me.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Love Versus a Critical Spirit – Part 1

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

This week, Michael writes that in any church assembly there are two kinds of people:  Christians who know Jesus and non-Christians who don't. Among the Christians there are also two kinds of people: those who have received salvation and follow Christ casually and those who are committed to follow Christ from a heart of unconditional love. Casual Christians who still think as a child have not grown up into the heart of the love of God. These "baby" Christians love conditionally and have not committed themselves to become like their Lord. Only those committed to the truth will we be set free. Only those committed to follow Christ from a heart of unconditional love will experience the fullness of the joy of the Lord.

If we're on a performance based system, we will never enter into the love of God. There is nothing that we can do to deserve God's love. The love of God is unconditional ... it is not contingent on our performance. The world's love is conditional on whether the other person performs ... on whether one party hurts the other party. This type of love is doomed to failure. It is here today and gone tomorrow. Conditional love, even in a marriage relationship will fail. However, the love of God keeps no record of wrongs done. The love of God will overcome all obstacles. This type of love requires that we surrender our hearts to our Lord Jesus Christ. To love others unconditionally we must meet each other at the foot of the cross. Love endures only when we love unconditionally with the love of Christ in us. Unconditional love requires that I give up my own "human" rights in order to surrender to the righteousness of God in Him.  

A critical spirit will break up any relationship. It blinds our eyes to everything that is attractive in the other person. "Falling out of love" is a deliberate intentional act of the will to turn against the other party. However the love of God thinks no evil of others. It keeps no record of wrongs done.  It has the capacity to persist even when there is no reciprocal response from the other person. A critical spirit must be fed ... focusing on how the other person has "violated my human rights" will result in contempt and resentment. In contrast, the love of God gives gladly and its reward is in the pure loving act of giving. The love of God says "forgive her even though she's done nothing to deserve forgiveness." God says that the marriage relationship according to his Word is the picture of Christ and the Church. Jesus Christ loved unconditionally those whom God would call and he endured the cross because of the joy set before him ... His joy was your redemption and mine.

Let’s continue Michael’s message on “Love” tomorrow. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Last Enemy

2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

Bible passages like John 8:44, Mark 4:15, Revelation 12:9 and the passage above show that Satan has kept the whole world on bondage throughout its history. How? Pastor Kennedy contends that it is through the fear of death. He states that you need but look at the pagan cultures of the world and you can see that there has been a desperate fear of the black unknown beyond the grave. The question: “Where will you go when you die?” is in the back of everyone on earth who is going to die one day. The latest study shows the rate of mortality at 100% and steady. Surely, death is rightly called the “king of terrors.” Today that fear is repressed and it is taboo to talk about death.

Hebrews 9:26b-28 “Now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Men and women have been disobeying, breaking, ignoring and defying the laws of God, and now they are afraid to face that great appointment, which is their’s. We all have our appointment with the Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, in Heaven on the day that we die. Like it or not, it is an appointment that we cannot postpone indefinitely. It is unavoidable as death itself. Kennedy asks; Did you ever have an appointment that you dreaded so much that you tried any way you could to get out of it? Nobody gets out of this life alive, yet that is the way many seem to face death. “Just ignore it and it will go away?” … no.

1 Corinthians 15:26 “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

The truth is that the grace of God transforms death into the very portal to paradice, as the only way to Heaven. Jesus Christ said in John 3:36 “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”, and later in John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” What a glorious promise that is! Isaiah 25:8a tells us: “He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces.” Death is swallowed up in victory. Praise be to God!

1 Corinthians 15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

The last enemy, death, is destroyed.  In Christ, Brian

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Christian Fellowship

1 John 1:6-7 “If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

I’ve heard and agree that the lack of mutual sharing of values, emotions, and the deepest purposes of our lives can cause all sorts of problems. The lack of abiding fellowship is the reason for much anxiety, turmoil, and lack of security in our society. Jesus Christ’s “great commission” to go and make disciples of all nations never meant to take the biblical virtues and values of the holy Scriptures and hide them behind the doors of your house, your church or under a bushel basket, but to shine the light of truth into our dark, lost and dying in sin society in order to transform it in reassuring bliss, order, peace, and safety of walking together in the Spirit.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “fellowship” as: Companionship; society; consort; mutual association of persons on equal and friendly terms; familiar intercourse (association, communication and interaction); Communion; intimate familiarity as brothers and sisters in Christ. Men are made for society and mutual fellowship within the boundary limits of a right relationship with God, not fellowship with sinfulness. The Bible is clear:

Ephesians 5:8-13 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.”

Have you heard that when the Spirit of God and the love and forgiveness of God fill our hearts, all of the barriers sin has erected are broken down. Then by the grace of God we are reunited and reconciled one to another. We become one in Christ. Sin always divides and separates people from God. Habakkuk 1:13 says: “Your eyes are too pure to look at sin. You cannot look on wrong.” God cannot let sin go unpunished or else He would not be pure, just or holy. Sin also often divides and separates people from each other. Sin misses the mark and hit something else every time. The ultimate goal of the devil is to separate people from God through sin, but in the forgiveness of sin through the redeeming atonement of Christ on the cross for the payment of our sin, we are joined together. Romans 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In Him, mankind is united with God and then His people are united with each other in true fellowship.

John 1:9-14 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

The Apostle is telling us that Christ is creating a family in the deepest, most spiritual, noblest, and holiest sense of the word. The relationship and deep fellowship that Believers have with each other is so intimate that it is described as “one body”. We are parts of the body of Christ. It reflects the perfect unity Heaven holds. Christian fellowship goes far beyond friendship (as the 1828 Webster’s definition indicates). In an alienated and lonely politically correct world of materialistic secular humanism where “self” is the “end all” focus, the worldwide church (the body of Christ) has a great privilege, opportunity and responsibility to show that world what true loving fellowship is all about. Spread the good news. Speak the truth in love.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Alive Again

Ezekiel 37:1-4 “The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!

Pastor Kyle preached a sermon last Sunday building and leaving a legacy for others in the name of Jesus Christ. When you read the Bible, you find that dead Prophets still bring life in their recorded thoughts, words and deeds within the Word of God’s Holy Scriptures. Even in death, a godly person can continue, based upon the legacy of their life. We see that hope lives just outside despair and sorrows front door because problems in our life are transformed to new life from grief to hope. Many prophets left a life of wealth and comfort to follow a calling to God’s purposes; to bless and encourage others, even after we are gone.    

Kyle gave us three ways to leave a legacy for future generations. (1) Focus on leaving a heritage rather than on your own personal happiness. Living a “good” life is not the same as living out God’s purposes. Matthew 6:32-33 “These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (2) Die doing what you love. Know that following the Lord will not inoculate us from getting sick or dying. (3) Fulfill your godly purpose for your generation. The “good” life is when you fulfill your godly purpose here, then you go home to be with the Lord. James 4:14 “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” We want to do our very best to make our life account for something. We cannot control what tomorrow brings or how and when we go, but we can control our legacy.

Ezekiel 37:5-7 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”  So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.”

Kyle gave us two keys to leaving a God-sized legacy that raises dead bones. (1) Choose God’s calling and kingdom over our own comfort and happiness every day, Busyness and distractions fill our time so much that we do not have time for the Lord’s purposes. Count the cost and follow the Lord because comforts have their own priorities. You cannot say: “Lord, Lord, me first in the same sentence. We spend far too much time looking for a reason not to do what God is calling us to do. (2) Remember: Someday we won’t be here and all that will remain is that which is eternal. God wants us to live a “good” life, but wants even more for us to live  out His calling in obedience.

If not for great men and women of God as examples in our lives, then God gives us the tools and ability to be that person to others, which we did not have. Read the Bible to them, pray for them, talk to them about our Savior and His gospel of forgiveness and salvation. Dead bones can come to life by the power of Jesus Christ. We are alive again in the blessed Redeemer.

Love, joy and peace in Christ, Brian

Friday, June 17, 2016

Light for Everyone

John 1:9The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”

I was just talking to my brother in Arizona this last weekend about how the Bible clearly teaches that faith in the person and saving work of Jesus Christ is essential for salvation. Jesus Himself said in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The Apostle Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit said in Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. This means that there is no salvation whatsoever in other religions, and certainly not in evolutionary secular humanism - or anything other than faith in Christ! A bold claim in this politically correct generation and society.

One devotional asks: But what about the millions over the ages who have lived and died without ever hearing about Christ? Paul answers: “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” - Romans 10:18. That is, they have heard! Our text reminds us that Jesus Christ is the true Light that has been sent to every man and woman in the world. Paul was referring to the familiar 19th Psalm.

Psalm 19:1-4 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

It's about light and darkness. Paul also stressed in Romans 1:20, that even God’s “eternal power and Godhead” are “clearly seen” “from the creation of the world,” so that those who don’t see are “without excuse”. Thus, as Peter said in Acts 10:34-35: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” Although Christ has provided light for “every man,” the tragedy is that “men loved darkness rather than light” - John 3:19. But for those like Cornelius (to whom Peter was sent with the gospel in Acts 10, who act on whatever light they have (in nature or conscience or any possible remnants of truth in their native religion), God will send more light. There is light for everyone.

John 3:21 “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Crown Him Lord of All

Romans 10:11-13 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

A thought-provoking article asked the question: Have you ever been in a rational discussion with a rational person, until the subject turns to Christianity, and suddenly they sputter off all sorts of nonsense in their rejection of Christ? This is common, leading us to ask: Why is Jesus rejected by so many? Arguments against Christ seem to fly out of the human heart widespread today. Many of the objections against Christ, His life, His resurrection, and the Bible are often so absurd that they seem ridiculous. The fallen human mind is capable of producing an enormous number of arguments to counter the truth of Christ ignoring very clear evidence. This is reminiscent of when He was at trial and no rational accusation against Him, no matter how false, came forth.

Matthew 26:59-60 “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.”

Most objections do not come from intellectual causes but from moral reasons. The rejection of Christ is caused not by unconvinced intellectuals, but by uncontrolled appetites. Most people would prefer to pass themselves off as skeptics rather than sinners; as agnostics rather than reprobates; as doubters rather than debauchers or immoral. The best defense is a good offense, so they go on the offensive. No Lord equals no authority to be subject to, but that simply is not the case when it comes to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not rational arguments that fuel the rejection of Christ; it is sin!

Acts 4:11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’

That article concluded that our attitude should rather be like that of the aging Queen Victoria. During a performance of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” as the choir got to the part “King of kings and Lord of lords.” She painfully rose to her feet. She explained that she could not sit before the King of kings and Lord of lords. And neither should we.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Love Wins - Part 4b – It’s All About Him

Michael continues his message from yesterday. Jesus did not call us to church, rather he called us unto Himself. Jesus said "seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these other things shall be added unto you."  The apostle Paul said, "we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ and him crucified." It's not about us and our own righteousness, it's about Him. Jesus exhorted and encouraged his disciples to be "narrow minded." He said: I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man cometh unto the father but by me. There is a narrow way through the narrow gate. Jesus Christ himself is the narrow way.

Oswald Chambers said that the greatest hindrance to God is the "servants" of God. These "servants" are consumed by their "busyness", trying to approach the throne of grace.  However, Jesus said, nothing you do is good enough. God is not concerned about your "performance."  He is however, concerned about your heart. For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. Jesus Christ came and redeemed us so that we may receive His righteousness. For he who knew no sin became the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in him. Jesus called us to love unconditionally according to the love of God in Christ in us. Our prayer is that we should "hunger and thirst for righteousness."  We need to cultivate an appetite to serve God from a heart of love. 

According to the prayer of St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life

John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Do you say, "I love you Lord?"  The key to loving God is to love God's people.  Jesus Christ said, "in that you have done it unto the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me."

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