Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ambassadors and Embassies – Part 1

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 “Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words.”

This week Michael writes: As the old Alison Krauss and Keith Whitley song says, you say it best when you say nothing at all. God has called us not only to deliver the message, but also to be the message: According to 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 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 of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

God has called us to be Ambassadors for Christ.  An Ambassador is the highest ranking government official sent from his homeland to a foreign nation to represent his homeland.  As Ambassadors, our homes should be embassies: outposts for God's kingdom of heaven in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation among whom we shine as lights in the world. Because of the credentials given us by our Sovereign Lord, 2 Corinthians 5, says that we are Ambassadors for Christ. He has given us the Word of reconciliation and has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation. To reconcile is to put back together that which has been separated. But, we are not called to convince unbelievers about the Truth of the word of God with the right answers.  So, as Ambassadors, how do we communicate the message of Jesus Christ on his behalf?   2 Corinthians 5:20 says, "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God." Our message is to declare against the adversary and the powers of darkness what God has declared us to be:  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 Him. – 2 Corinthians 5:21 

The message of the gospel goes far beyond the self-fulfillment of the "prosperity gospel". A prideful heart cannot approach God. To come before the throne of grace requires that we approach him with a heart of humility and meekness. As Christ's ambassadors we are ministers, not of the letter, but of the spirit which gives life. We shall tear down every argument that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We shall walk by faith and not by sight. We shall love our neighbors as ourselves and we shall love others not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Let’s continue Michael’s message on being Ambassadors  for Christ.

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Ransom Price

Matthew 20:28Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

As you may know, my central statement of reaching people for Christ is that “you have to know that you are lost before your can be found”. I remember seeing an evangelism team interview people in the street randomly and hearing how many average people stating that they are not lost in sin or going to hell, so do not need a Savior. I was there before, thinking that I was a pretty good guy and surely going to heaven based on my good life. I was blind to the truth about what sin was, the seriousness of sin and the consequences of sin from the perspective to the One who defines and decides  what is right and what is wrong in the world that He made. My ignorance of that truth led me (and many) to a sense of false assurance. So, it’s not hard for me to see how the thought that the death of Jesus and His shed blood were somehow the ransom price paid to redeem lost sinners from an eternal prison in hell has been a stumbling block to many of those very sinners. Yet that is the teaching of Scripture, whether it appeals to their reasoning or not. We all are in bondage to sin and need redemption? But what does it mean to redeem.

1 Peter 1:18-19 “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

In general the word “redeem’ means to purchase back; to ransom; to liberate or rescue from captivity or bondage, or from any obligation or liability to suffer or to be forfeited, by paying an equivalent. In theology, “redeem” means to rescue and deliver from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God's violated law, by obedience and suffering in the place of the sinner, or by doing and suffering that which is accepted in lieu of the sinner's obedience. In the Old Testament economy, ransoms were paid for various reasons, such as freeing slaves. The last use of “ransom” in the Old Testament, however, seems to foreshadow the New Testament concept.

Hosea 13:14 “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death

But, what we may not think of is to whom was the ransom of Christ to be paid? Not to the devil, of course, or to any human king. It can only have been paid to God Himself, for He had set “the wages of sin” to be “death” - Romans 6:23. For a time, these wages had been paid in part “by the blood of goats and calves” offered on the altar as a temporary covering for sins. But that was only until the true ransom could be paid. The High Priest had to first sacrifice for his own sin before he could make sacrifice for the people. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who . . . offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” - Hebrews 9:14. Jesus was the Lamb of God, who did not have to sacrifice for His own sin, because He was sinless. He alone was the acceptable sacrifice that paid the ransom price once and for all. Such a sacrifice was not foolishness as the scoffer claims, but “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” - 1 Corinthians 1:24.

That is why 1 Timothy 2:5-6 says: For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time”.

Praise God—the ransom has been paid and we have been redeemed! 

In Christ, Brian

Monday, August 29, 2016

Harvest Time

Matthew 9:37-38 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Last night was the final evening of the Southern California Harvest with Pastor Greg Laurie at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. One of the greatest elements of the Lord’s purposes in building His church is not the hearer of the gospel message of forgiveness and salvation, but the message not being presented in a world ripe and ready to hear it. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t ask sometime in their life: I was put on this earth for a reason. But for what reason? What is the meaning of life? What happens when you die? Or maybe, why am I so empty inside? We all have questions. In our own thinking, we tend to equate our meaning and purpose to such things as our career, our family, our position and our possessions in a material world and link our happiness to these things, so we seek them. And where does God come into all of this? Have they heard of the Savior and the gospel of peace? Does Jesus cross our minds?

Romans 10:13-15 “For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”

That is what the Harvest Crusades are here for. We know that we have done wrong in our life; how can we get right with God? How many could say that if they were to die today, while reading this blog post, would have the assurance of going to God’s heaven? Four things each of us must do to have this assurance are: (1) Realize you are a sinner. The Bible says, “Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” – Romans 3:23, (2) recognize Jesus died on the Cross for you. The Bible tells us that “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” - Romans 5:8, (3) Repent and turn away from sin. The Bible tells us to “repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” – Acts 3:19, (4) Receive Jesus Christ into your life. The Bible tells us in Romans 10:13 that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Matthew 28:19-20 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.”

If you have not submitted your life to Jesus Christ yet, why not take a moment right now and make that commitment? For “As many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” - John 1:12-13.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, August 28, 2016

In A Pickle

James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

This last Sunday, our church had the privilege of having the CEO of our denomination Willie Nolte preach the Sunday Sermon. It helps that he happens to be one of the Elders at our church. Pastor Willie reminded us that we are a part of a bigger mission within a larger Kingdom mandate of the Christian church in the world, to seek and reach the lost sinners, to lead them to the foot of the Cross for forgiveness, salvation and life eternal in Christ. This does not mean that we will have a trouble-free live along the bumpy, hilly and curvy road to heaven. Trials and trouble are inevitable, but has always been a part of God’s redemptive story-line being played out in history.

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

Ever find yourself in a pickle? Ever find yourself up a tree? Ever find yourself in a fix? Ever find yourself up a creek without a paddle? Ever find yourself in a jam? How about ever finding yourself between a rock and a hard place? Yeah, ever find yourself in a tight spot? Well, God delivering His people throughout history is the Bible narrative and Theological example of God’s mercy and grace by the figurative and literal blood of the Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. This is the lesson of the “older” Testament, which contains the common thread of the “Gospel” throughout. For example: The Exodus from Egypt and the journey to the Promised land is God’s Redemption story. God allows or guides us into predicaments in order to accomplish His purposes in our life, in the lives of others, or in the world. This is the theme. Make no mistake; God was leading and protecting them and God is leading and protecting us today.
Did the Israelites see or know God’s plans, understand what was going on or what God was doing? No and neither do we know what coming down the turnpike next, but we have the promises of God today and the Promised Land of Heaven on the horizon. Though unseen, God reveals that He is Lord of all with power and clarity. Sometimes, we are not ready yet to handle the alternatives of know the plan, but God want His people to know and trust Him; to believe in God and have a great reverence for Him. Redemptive history changes our “was” to an “is” in what the Christian church is doing today, and yes, God is still leading and protecting His people. This side of glory, God is never done working with us, through us and for us.   

God doesn’t lead His people to destruction. When you find yourself in a pickle, the best response is (1) Don’t fear, (2) Stand firm, (3) Watch, (4) Let God act. Know that God will work things out. He will never leave us or forsake us. God’s Holy Word is consistent throughout. Predicaments and hardships are His way to change things or make them come to pass. It takes Remember who is the higher power. It takes a dilemma to break us free from habits and destructive patterns of life. We have a tendency to look back and go back to where we came from or look around to put the blame on others. When hemmed in on all sides, the best place to look is up. The Lord is fighting for us. If God is going to get the glory, He must do the fighting. Figuratively, “Red Seas” open and close at God’s command and in His timing. God is sovereign over everything and never wavers. Know that God has our “best’ interest in mind as He accomplishes His purposes in our life. But, there is an essential element in order to receive: a personal relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ.

Have a blessed Sunday, Brian

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Given to Us Eternal Life

1 John 5:11-13 “And this is the record: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

The bible passage contains truths which provide great power and comfort for Christians.  Continuing in a “word” study within the text gives us a better knowledge and understanding for application in our daily lives. 

I read that the word “record” needs amplification. In noun form, “μαρτυρα” martyria means “the evidence given,” and in verb form it means “testify,” or “witness.” The apostle John used it nine times in verses 7 through 11. Study of our text and its context shows that the record mentioned is none other than the great truth that Christ Jesus was God’s only Son, and that He died as a perfect and fully sufficient sacrifice to provide us life eternal.

In this passage, we see that this work of bestowing eternal life is God’s work. It is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” – Titus 3:5. This eternal life is our present possession, for He has “given” it to us (past tense). This gift is to individuals—to “us”—not to a nation or even the church, but to those who have believed. Furthermore, this “eternal life” is eternal! It will last for eternity and cannot be taken away. It is inconceivable for an omnipotent God to give “eternal life” temporarily. We are alive in Him, having been “born again” into His family. This is a permanent situation.

1 John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”

The tense shifts to the present in the above Bible verse. Our life finds its vitality in living union with the Son. His death and resurrection made salvation and eternal life possible, and now His present life is ours. His Spirit, resident within us, provides this vitality, and since the Spirit of God is eternal, our life is eternal. God has given to us eternal life. Praise be to God!

In Christ, Brian 

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Title "Christian"

Peter 4:16 “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”

I read a little history on the title “Christian”. Surprisingly, the word “Christian” occurs only three times in Scripture and seems to have changed in its meaning from first to last. In the first instance, “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” in Acts 11:26. The name merely identified them as followers of Christ with no criticism intended. The second usage was some years later, by which time the term was evidently well known, even among unbelievers. After Paul had witnessed to him, King Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28). A more literal translation which renders the sentence “Do you try in such a short time to make a Christian of me?” indicates an air of superiority or incredulity in Agrippa’s voice. It would take more than a short testimony to make a Christian of him. But, then again, he didn’t know what the Holy Spirit could do to the heart in an instant.

The article states that as the years went by, the church began to be plagued by persecution. Our text indicates that even the name “Christian” was by then regarded with contempt and reproach. But Peter tells us that there is no shame involved in the name “Christian” or in following Christ. Peter, no doubt, recalled the shame he felt for denying the name of Christ, but he also recalled with thankfulness how that even though the Jewish council had “beaten them and commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus” in Acts 5:40-41, he and the other apostles departed “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name”.


Furthermore, we can “glorify God on this behalf” or “in this name.” This implies more than just praising the name. We can glorify God in what we do—in how we live in that name. Do we? We can certainly also bring dishonor to the title “Christian” by our actions. A solemn responsibility is then ours to bring honor and glory to God through our lives. Christian, Are people brought closer to the Lord Jesus Christ through your and my thoughts, words and actions? Follow Jesus

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Greatest Weapon

This week Michael writes how God doesn't expect us to just receive His truth and revelation ... He expects us to obey it. The word of God is to be lived "in shoe leather." However, God does not ask for "blind obedience."  We must examine our heart for the motive behind the action.  According to Ephesians 6, we are in the midst of a spiritual battle. What is the greatest weapon in the battle? Love. This concept is foreign to our sinful nature of the flesh and our personal sense of "justice." Often we have difficulty finding where sin ends and love begins. The enemy hides in the darkness. He camouflages himself as an "Angel of light." To target the enemy we must identify the enemy.  The adversary's goal is to turn our hearts to the "dark side." If our motivation to fight the enemy is vengeance, retaliation, and retribution, we have joined the "dark side" in the spiritual battle.  Romans 12 says, "be not overcome with evil but overcome evil with good."  These are the "rules of engagement" in the spiritual battle.

According to John 1:4-5, "In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." The light is come into the world but the darkness resisted it because the heart of darkness was evil. The light Jesus Christ, shined in darkness and the darkness did not understand, perceive, or recognize him. Jesus' own disciples didn't even understand him. They deserted him in his darkest hour. He said to Peter, "before the rooster crows twice you shall deny me three times."  Jesus didn't condemn Peter...He loved Peter with unconditional love, for Jesus understood Peter's fallen nature. Jesus had many harsh words for his disciples...he said that anyone who does not forsake his mother and his father and leave everything to follow me, he cannot be my true disciple. Jesus said that you should not only go one mile, but that you should go beyond the call of duty and go the second mile. 

The adversary wants us to compromise ... to settle for second best. However, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Where's your heart? Why do you do what you do? What's the motive behind your actions? To answer these tough questions God orchestrates situations where we must forsake our shame and our comfort zone in order to follow Him. As Jesus said to Peter, "Do you love me more than these?" Do you love me more than your fishing business, your fishing buddies, your money, your property, your family, and your worldly reputation? God has called us a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people. He called us to reflect his mercy, grace and love. The greatest weapon in the spiritual arsenal is love.  Righteous thoughts and righteous actions motivated by a heart of love are the things that matter to our Commander in Chief. God doesn't want your stuff or your money, rather he wants your heart. You cannot win the spiritual battle apart from the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, apart from me you can do nothing. To wield the sword of the spirit and to be a prayer warrior, our hearts must be transformed by connecting our hearts with His heart. He is the vine and we are the branches.  

The sinful flesh of man cannot be "converted." Conversion starts with the best weapon that convicts men's heart. John 14-16 gave Christ's disciples a new commandment:  Love one another. Jesus' standard of love is "even as I have loved you." How did he love them? He didn't love them because they were good. He didn't love them because they deserved love. The new commandment meant that we are to love one another like he loved: unconditionally. Love others even though they are sinners like we are. Love them even though they violated my "human rights." Love them even though they were unlovable and unforgivable. Our flesh may be angered. We may be overcome with so-called righteous indignation. However, be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good.

When you wrong someone, ask forgiveness and make restitution. Love one another as Christ loved us. You'll never tap into the power of God by reading and meditating. The power of God is manifest only by action according to His word.  Believing works by love. Love energizes believing that appropriates the blessings of God. Don't get discouraged when the rooster crows. Don't be surprised when you fall short of the glory of God. Discouragement is losing heart. However, from the heart of Christ in you, God will work in you and within you to will and to do of His good pleasure. When we walk in love we align our hearts with God's heart. Jesus Christ came so that we may have peace with God. According to John 14:27 Jesus said, "peace I leave with you my peace I give unto you not as the world give the give unto you, let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid."  Because we have peace with God, we can love one another as Christ has loved us.  Love is the secret weapon ...  Love wins.

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Peace like a River

Philippians 4:7 “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Years ago, I heard the story of this beloved hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford, “It Is Well with My Soul”, which has been a source of much comfort to many. The hymn was written in memory of the author’s four precious daughters who had just perished in a shipwreck and his wife barely rescued. This hymn was written after traumatic events in Spafford's life. The first was the death of his son at the age of 2 and the 1871 Great Chicago Fire, which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer and had invested significantly in property in the area of Chicago that was extensively damaged by the great fire). His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sea vessel, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone …". Through it all, the couple maintained faith in their sovereign God and could say through their tears: “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

 Matthew 28:20 “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

We know from God’s Holy Word that our Lord has not promised us a life of ease, free from heartache and tragedy, but He has promised to be with us. Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” God’s promise of provision to Israel applies, in principle, to us. We stand upon the promises of God.

Isaiah 43:1-3 “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place.”

The prerequisite for the “peace of God, which passes all understanding” promised in our opening verse is that we be anxious “for nothing; but in ever thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” - Philippians 4:6. We must all of our trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding. Peace with God and the peace of God are blessings that never stop giving back.

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Isaiah 43:7 “Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” 

Our Wednesday night topical Bible Study is examining the Creation verses Evolution debate. Reading through a great Creation “Word Study” today and thoughtthat I’d share this interesting and informative learning. There are three main verbs used to describe God’s work of creation in Genesis. These are “create” (Hebrew, bara), “make” (asah), and “form” (yatsar). The three words are similar in meaning but each with a slightly different emphasis. None of them, of course, can mean anything at all like “evolve,” or “change,” on their own accord. The theory of Macro-Evolution is a godless fairy tale. All three are used in Genesis with reference to man. “And God said, Let us make man in our image . . . . So God created man in his own image . . . . And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground” (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7).

Genesis 1:1 “ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Although the subject of creation is commonly associated with Genesis, it is mentioned even more frequently by the great prophet Isaiah. The words bara and yatsar are used twice as often in Isaiah as in any other Old Testament book and are applied uniquely to works of God. All three verbs are used together in Isaiah 45:18 in order to describe, adequately, God’s purposeful work in preparing the earth for man: “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am 
the LORD; and there is none else.” The earth is anthropomorphic.

Genesis 1:31 “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”

God created, formed, made, and established the earth, that it might be the home of men and women. But what was God’s purpose for the people who would inhabit it? Our opening text answers this most fundamental of questions, and once again, all three key verbs are used: “I have created him  . . . I have formed him,  . . . I have made him . . . for my glory.” Glory be to God!  This biblical perspective alone provides the greatest of all possible incentives to live a godly and useful life. The reason we were created is to glorify God! 

In Christ, Brian

Monday, August 22, 2016

Origin and Destiny

Hebrews 2:6 But someone has testified somewhere, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them?”

Our view of humanity greatly impacts how we treat people. Survival of the fittest mentality, naturally leads to thoughts of natural selection weeding out the inferior, as evidenced in the last hundred years of history, which has led Christian ministers to ask, “What does the fact that humans haves killed more of their own in the twentieth century (including recently in the middle-east and terror attacks around the world) than in any of the previous centuries tell us about ourselves?” This is what happens when people no longer believe that humans are created in the image of God. Instead, macro-evolution (life spontaneously coming into existence by natural causes (life from innate material) and one species evolving into another over long periods of time by natural mutation processes) teaches us the philosophy that there is no origin, no purpose and no destiny beyond the grave, so anything goes and life means nothing that generates prejudges of others.

1 Timothy 6:20 “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.”

Our mid-week Bible Study has been examining the issues and facts of God’s Creation and seeing the false science of macro-evolution, compared to the undeniable irreducible complexity within nature that defies evolution and points directly to intelligent design by an Almighty Creator God. By which, in contrast, Christians have a natural high philosophical view of humankind. The Bible teaches that we came from the heart and mind of the omnipotent (all-powerful) and omniscient (all-knowing) God who made us in His image. That tell us that we are the child of God, a prince/princess in the kingdom of God, and we have an origin (a past), a purpose here (a present) and a destiny (a future), so we can love, serve and glorify Father God and love our neighbor as ourselves as we enjoy Him forever.

1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

Therefore, Christians should live according to the commandments He has given us in His Holy Word; commandments designed for our good, our maturity, our advancement and our improvement as citizens of heaven. Ultimately, we are going to Paradise far beyond our comprehension. We have a divine origin and, though we cannot see it now, we have a sure hope for the future. We are to treat those around us as the divinely created mortal beings they are. Remember, each one (including you and I) are created in God’s own image.

In Christ, Brian 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Pass the Salt

Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Last Sunday, Pastor Kyle in continuing his sermon series on “What America Really Needs”, said that there is a lot of Christians today thinking that their spiritual breath stinks. That they are out in the world, lacking a sense of urgency to spread the gospel message using their unique gifts and God-given skills, therefore sending the wrong message. What America really needs is the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s plan to reach the world is us. Do we get excited about telling others about Jesus Christ and what he has done in our life? DO we influence others or do others influence us? The Bible passage says that we are the salt of the earth. Being salt is difficult, but really reaches others; substitutes do nothing. The corporate church (the believers that make up the body of Jesus Christ) is to be a spectacle of grace always. In the old world, salt was hard to get and precious. Salt heals, salt preserves, and salt adds flavor, but too much salt makes things worse.

John 1:4-5,9 “In Him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.”

Jesus illuminates our steps, but we are the ones who light the path to Jesus for others. The light of grace from Jesus’ mercy stands out, draws people and transforms them, shining through you and I. The reality is that God’s plan to reach friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, co-workers and the world is you and I. 1 Samuel 8:7 and John 15:18 both state that if they reject our gospel message, they are rejecting the God of the universe and Savior of the world, but good friends, family members, and neighbors tell them the truth and Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 commissions and commands us to do so. In John 1:40-42, Andrew goes and finds his brother Simon (Peter) and brings him to Jesus. Peter became a great leader in the Christian church. You never know what “Peter” is waiting for you and I to bring them to Jesus. Rough exteriors are often trampolines for the great work of Christ in the world. What if Andrew had never told Peter? What if he said “Let someone else tell him”? What if he said, “I don’t want to offend him” or “I don’t think that I am worthy of sharing my faith”? We truly have no excuse for not speaking and telling the truth in love.

John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Do we really believe in Jesus? Then, lead others to the Lord Jesus, no matter what personality we or they have. Tell others the good news. Time is short and going by quickly. The gospel is only “good news” if it gets there in time – Carl F.H. Henry. What America needs is a spiritual awakening. No one really has one foot in Heaven (light) and one foot in the God-rejecting world system (darkness). In Christianity there is no acting or pretending, only transformation and being. Do we believe that the gospel applies to my friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, and co-workers?

Philippians 2:9-11 “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

There are times when being a witness for Christ and the gospel message of repentance of sin is uncomfortable. In Heaven, every knee shall bow to Jesus regardless. But, this side of eternity, we have one only shot to bow our knee to Jesus. Step over the line and go “all in”. The world needs the Lord. May we take this seriously. In the name of Jesus Chris, may the lost be found and all the glory be to God. Pass the salt please.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, August 20, 2016

No Strings Attached

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Have you ever given someone a gift with no strings attached, no expectation of thanks, no anticipation of reciprocation? If so, you have a small taste of Christ’s joy in giving salvation. Yet, we find it so hard to accept this gift of God at face value.

I read a story of a master craftsman who spent months constructing a beautiful coffee table out of the finest wood available for his friend. He carefully hand-planed, meticulous sanded, and scrupulously carved all manner of intricate designs around the sides and applied seventeen coats of varnish to the surface until it glistened like a mirror. The craftsman brought the table wrapped in a soft cloth to his friend and unveiled it. The table was a thing of consummate beauty. But the craftsman’s friend said, Oh, I think it is just magnificent, but I couldn’t simply accept it as a gift. You have done all the work. Surely I must do my part.” With that the friend picks up a piece of sandpaper to sand the table. The master craftsman grabbed his friend’s wrist and said, “Stop that! You’ll ruin it all. It is finished.”

Hebrews 9:26-28 “But 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.”

So too is the great redemption of Jesus Christ has brought to this world. Christ bore our sin in His body on the cross. In John 19:30, just before He gave up His spirit, Christ said, “It is finished!” This is an interesting word in the original text. It is “Tetelestai”, a commercial word which means, It is paid; the debt is paid in full.” Now He offers heaven – eternal life – to you and me as a gift. We can add nothing; indeed. Christ’s sacrifice is perfect. Christ suffered infinitely upon the cross and paid an infinite price.

Hebrews 10:10 “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

The only “sacrifice” we can give to the Lord is a sacrifice of praise for what He has done. We’ll never be able to repay Him for our salvation. Stop trying to earn it. Just receive this “no strings attached” gift of God from Christ by faith with a heart full of gratitude. "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.”

In Christ, Brian

Friday, August 19, 2016

To God Be the Glory

Psalm 115:1 “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.” 

One of the great words of the Bible is the word “glory,” and it should be evident that glory belongs to God, not man. The trusty 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “glory” as Praise ascribed in adoration; honor. To exult with joy; to rejoice. Indeed, the very “heavens declare the glory of God” – Psalm 19:1. One commentary that I read points out how Scripture states that not only do the heavens declare His glory, but “the glory of the Lord shall endure forever” (104:31). It is thus singularly inappropriate for God’s children on Earth to seek glory for themselves. 

Jeremiah 9:23-24 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

 This Old Testament exhortation is echoed in the New. “

Corinthians 1:27-31 “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. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption —  that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Glory Glory Hallelujah Lyrics Wall Art at The Music Stand

God manifests His glory to us today in both mercy and truth, mercifully saving us in Christ, who is Himself God’s truth. Thus, in Christ mercy and truth are met together, and we shall praise thy name for thy loving kindness [same word as ‘mercy’] and for thy truth”. In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the Sea, with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me; As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, while God is marching on. Glory, glory! Hallelujah! Glory, glory! Hallelujah! Glory, glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on.

Glory to God in the highest,
in Christ, Brian

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Spirit & Truth

The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines “worship” as chiefly and eminently, the act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being; or the reverence and homage paid to him in religious exercises, consisting in adoration, confession, prayer, thanksgiving and the like. The worship of God is an eminent part of religion and prayer is a chief part of religious worship.

The word “spirit” is defined as the soul of man; the intelligent, immaterial and immortal part of human beings. 

The truth of God, is His veracity and faithfulness. Truth for mankind is defined as fidelity and constancy, honesty and virtue, exactness and conformity to rule. Sincerity. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Let Love Win

This week, Michael writes to us:  Submit yourself ...  Relinquish yourself to the power of the love of God.  This is not a message, but rather a life. The weapon that Jesus Christ used to fight the darkness of this fallen world is “Love”. The world cannot comprehend unconditional love; thinking that there has got to be a catch. Men and women of this world can only understand reciprocal love. Oswald Chambers said that people would make promises that they couldn't keep. Therefore never expect people to be your friend, but always be their friend. Never expect others to respect your time, but always respect theirs. The question is always, what would Jesus think and what would Jesus do? We need to unleash the love of God on a culture that is divided, angry and frustrated. If love wins, we have to allow the love of God to win, not our own selfish pride. 

A child of God is not a person who never sins, rather they are an individual who asks forgiveness when they stumble and fall. Humility is to pray that God will send others into our life to correct us ... to restore us to an upright position when we fall. According to Hebrews 12, whom the lord loves, he "chastises." The 1828 Webster’s dictionary define chastise as: To correct by punishing; to punish; to inflict pain by stripes, or in other manner, for the purpose of punishing an offender and recalling him to his duty. To reduce to order or obedience; to restrain; to awe; to repress. To chastise is to train with instruction in righteousness. 

Chastisement counteracts superficiality. We must confront our deep seated issues that turn our hearts away from the love of God. The "easy-believing" superficiality of "church-inanity" is counter to the pruning of our sinful natures that God requires of His children. When Jesus asked Peter if he would desert him, Peter said "even if I have to die with you, I will never desert you." Jesus didn't say to Peter that he was an unfaithful man. However He knew Peter's weakness, and said to Peter, "before the rooster crows twice you shall deny me three times."

The problem with the church at Ephesus in the book of Revelation is that they had "left their first love." What was the first love of the church at Ephesus? According to Ephesians 3:17-19 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  Although they had good intentions the Ephesians' priority was no longer in the right place. They had lost the intimate, abiding, and deep rooted experiential knowledge of the love of Christ. Jesus said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches."  They had lost their desire to keep in close proximity with Jesus Christ and be joined to the vine.

To walk in close proximity with our Lord, we must give up our right to "get even." Human Rights are often spiritual wrongs. Jesus asked Peter three times "Do you love me unconditionally with the love of God?"  Peter responded, "I'm your friend, I'm fond of you."  The third time Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me like a brother?"  Peter said, I love you with brotherly love."  Until the day of Pentecost, Peter was not able to die to his own pride and to love Jesus unconditionally. How about us? To walk in fellowship with Christ, we cannot make excuses. It's easy to blame others. However, we need to find our identity not in ourselves, but only in Him. If our heart's desire is to spend the rest of our lives journeying to become just like Him, this is a prayer that God yearns to answer.  Everything else will not matter, it will come to naught. If the whole world hates you, will you still follow Him? The one who endures to the end will be saved. If you're willing to compromise with the world, you cannot be a faithful servant of Christ. Unless a person is willing to forsake their earthly lifestyle, they cannot be a true follower of Christ.  

On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the first message to the Christian church in Acts chapter 2. What changed Peter? Peter had changed lords. He was no longer lord of his own life.  He had been born again of the spirit of the living God. He had received power from on high and had been baptized within the power of the Holy Spirit.  

The point of decision is to let love win.  According to Colossians 3:14, above all things put on charity, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation, for this is the bond of perfection.

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Choices & Decisions

Joshua 24:15But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Monday, August 15, 2016


Proverbs 12:22 “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.”

I read a story about a little boy who was once asked in his church Sunday school class to define the noun “lie”. In response, the boy said, “A lie is an abomination to the Lord and a very present help in time of trouble.” We may laugh at this child’s perspective, and yet doesn’t it hit a little close to home? Do we find ourselves justifying a lie (little or big) here or there? I do not know anyone who hasn’t, but we need to avoid compromising the truth.

The old 1828, Webster’s Dictionary defines “truth” as: Veracity; purity from falsehood; practice of speaking truth; habitual disposition to speak truth. Fidelity; constancy. Honesty; virtue. To be truthfulness is a life full of truth and doing truth. To do truth, is to practice what God commands. 

Proverbs 12:19 “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”

We need to celebrate truthfulness in our lives for several reasons. Charles Hodges states that truthfulness is the very substratum of deity. By that definition, a being who would lie couldn’t be God. Truthfulness is the very essence of God’s character. One thing that God cannot do is lie. If God lied , we could have no confidence in Him whatsoever. Secondly, truthfulness is essential to God’s purpose for humankind. We can never reach God’s full potential for us if we lie. The Scriptures tell us that our goal is to mature and grow into the likeness of our Father God and Lord Jesus Christ; that is sanctification. Therefore, we must become like Him who cannot lie under any circumstance. Who is the father of lies? Jesus said in John 8:44You 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.”

Matthew 5:37 “ But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

Third, lying destroys the fabric of society. Society harmony depends on a certain amount of trust based on truthfulness. How can there be any trust among us when we justify telling lies? Can we truthfully say that honesty and integrity are qualities in our lives? We need to remember that we will all stand before God and be held accountable for every idle word. Let’s pray that our truthfulness as Christians (Followers of Jesus Christ), children of Almighty God, and witnesses of the gospel will shine like a lighthouse beacon on a hilltop in a world steeped in darkness and lies.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” 

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Undeniably Work of God

Acts 2:22-24 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Pastor Kyle continued in his Sunday sermon series : “What America Really Needs” and asked, “How do you reach a world that doesn’t believe that they need salvation? One of the biggest problems that Rescuers run into is a person who does not know that they are in dire need of help. They will actually fight the person attempting to save them. Likewise, a person who does not know that they are “lost”, does not believe that they need to be “found”. The gospel truth is that all have sinned, are lost in that sin, cannot save themselves, and destined for eternal damnation in Hell, unless they are redeemed and saved by Jesus Christ. Nothing is more serious. So, how do Christians reach lost people, who don’t see a need for a Savior? “Live and let die” is a James Bond movie; not an option. We must continue the Lord’s mission work and that’s a rescue mission.

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Christian present the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unbelieving world, build up the faith of existing Believers and defend the faith by “Apologetics” (from Greek word ἀπολογία, meaning "speaking in defense"), which is presenting and giving the Christian argument from the truth of God's holy Word, found in the book of Scripture and the book of nature. What does that look like? 1 Peter 3:15 “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

But, how do we get to the place where unbelieving “Seekers”, prepared in advance by the Holy Spirit, say: “I cannot deny what is going on and happening here with this Christian and their church?” The Lord is at work in the world, bringing people unto Himself for transformation daily, but there are ingredients that can be easily missed, behind every great work of God. (1) Praying together. Prayer is the first step, because it is the environment in which take place and where the whole power comes from, for and with you, then spreads like wildfire. (2) Maintain a personal commitment to truth and transforming conversion. Just say “yes” to Jesus! (3) God uses normal, common people. Those Apostles were intelligent and wise, but had no formal education, yet they were used to reach the world for Christ. They were as ordinary as it gets; and so are we. (4) Be recognized as “having been with Jesus” and continuing to be with the Lord, that others may say; “I don’t know what’s going on, but that Christian has something (a disposition) I don’t have in their life … and I want it too.” It’s not what you do; it’s who you are in Christ as you walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-25 “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”

(5) Model everyday boldness in being a child of God and be as effective as possible. Acts 5:29 “We must obey God rather than men.” This may put us out of our comfort zone, but eternity is more important than today. Are your friends, family, acquaintances and co-workers more drawn to Jesus by what you say, write and do? Do not ruin your witness for Christ. The gospel is already controversial, but it is the truth that everyone needs to hear and we are the best messenger. The next-door neighbor’s house is on fire, they are asleep inside and do not know it … and we have a fire truck in our driveway. Are we going to let them perish without trying to bring them to safety? Show kindness without an agenda and invite them to church with you to come and see for their selves the love of Christ. Love; the undeniable work of God which you model daily.

In Christ, Brian