Friday, September 30, 2016

Power That Comes From God

Ephesians 3:14-19 “When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

We all know that we need the power to triumph over evil in this world. However, our real need lies not in the external world but in the internal combat zone where we fight our moral battles. Galatians 5:16-18 tells us, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” The Triune God of heaven and Earth is omnipotent, which breaks down to “omni” – from Latin “omnis” meaning ‘all’ and “potent” meaning ‘powerful; mighty’. Therefore, God is Almighty; possessing unlimited power; all powerful. 

Revelation 19:6b “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”

One pastor once said that none  of us will ever need to leap a tall building in a single bound or bend steel beams with our bare hands, but we do need to conquer sin in our lives, overcome the temptations that surround us daily, and bend our iron wills on obedience to God Almighty. As Christians, we have only one source for such power; the ultimate power of Jesus Christ in our hearts. Not only does Christ’s power expel the evil within us, it conquers the attacks from without. Christ calls us to triumph, but He never leaves us to fight on our own. Jesus always leads us forth in triumph, encouraging and urging us to go and conquer in His name. With Christ’s power inhabiting our souls, we can conquer evil.

Christ is the only true superhero, and He lives within us and works through us. We all need to allow Him to empower us for the challenges and temptations we face every day this side of eternity. By Christ’s power, we can conquer all evil that comes our way; the power that comes from God.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, September 29, 2016

High Anxiety

Luke 12:7And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

Did you know that “High Anxiety” was a 1977 American satirical comedy film that was a parody of classic suspense movies: Spellbound, Vertigo and The Birds, produced and directed by Mel Brooks, who also plays the lead. But in reality, anxiety is a serious issue. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines “Anxiety” as concern or solicitude respecting some event, future or uncertain, which disturbs the mind, and keeps it in a state of painful uneasiness. It expresses more than uneasiness or disturbance, and even more than trouble or solicitude. it usually springs from fear or serious apprehension of evil, and involves a suspense respecting an event, and often, a perplexity of mind, to know how to shape our conduct. Do you ever lie awake at night, worrying about this and anxious about that? If so, then you know how distressing that experience can be.

Psalm 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

But if you are a Christian, you needn’t allow worry to plague you. Instead, you can turn over your heavenly Father, casting them on the one who cares for you. Envision lifting each of your big burdens, like a large stone, and handing it to Jesus and when Christ takes hold of it, suddenly the rock shrinks to a pebble! Our worries do indeed shrink when we leave them in God’s care.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Remember how as a child, no matter how frightened you might have been, all your fears dissipated when you put your hand into the hand of a loving parent? In the same way, we have a divine and heavenly Parent on whom we can still cast our burdens, no matter how big or how small they are. Hand them to Creator God, your Father in Heaven, the Almighty Lord, who cares for you and me. Allow Him to give you the peace that comes only from trusting Him with everything that concerns you. When you have nothing left but God, you discover the God is enough.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Story of Faith, Hope, and Love – Part 2 - 3 Gifts of God

Michael continues from yesterday: First, the gift of “faith” ...  Rahab knew that she had to act on the word of Joshua's spies.  Believing faith upon the Word of God is the first step to receiving the promises of God.  She walked in faith and took a risk to commit herself to act upon the word. Her action to hide the spies was an act of faith. For by grace are ye saved by faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. This verse is about salvation.  What does it take to commit our lives to Him for salvation?  The ability to take that "leap of faith" is a gift of God. For instance, when you chose your spouse, there was a high degree of faith required. How do we know that Jesus Christ is the means by which we shall obtain eternal life? The only way to know is by making an absolute commitment to know something that we could not know by means of our own earthly minds. God made us with two natures, one with a desire for the things of the flesh, and another nature of the spirit to relinquish control of our own lives. A leap of faith requires that we relinquish control over our own lives and exhibit humility by trusting in his word.

The second gift given to Rahab was “hope”. She was a marginalized woman in a male dominated culture. She had no status within her society. Racially, socially, physically and culturally she was the lowest of the low without hope. God gives two types of grace: “common” grace and “saving” Grace. Common Grace is given to all men and women. However, you need God's saving grace in order to have hope. Rahab found hope in the promise of God's deliverance. She found hope in the God whom the spies served. Hope is the substance of things prayed for, the evidence of things not yet seen.

Rahab's third gift was the gift of “Love”. She found her rescue from spiritual darkness because of the Love of God. Our security may vary, but often we do things that make us feel loved. Unless we are loved unconditionally with the love of God, we will never know fulfillment. According to Matthew 1, Salmon, son of Nashon, had a son with Rahab.  Their son named Boaz married Ruth, who was in the line of David in the line of the coming Messiah. Rahab, a desperate harlot became a princess in the line of the King of Kings Jesus Christ. She was a woman without status, security, or worldly credentials, who sold her body to eke out a meager existence. Even though Rahab was known for reprehensible sin, the grace and mercy of God exalted her to the status of a princess.  Morning by morning new mercies we see. We want to be reminded not of our sin nature, but of the promise of the gift of God's salvation by grace. 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.  And now abideth faith, hope, and love...but the greatest of these is love.

What God did for Rahab, He did for the people in our lives:  He saved her by faith, he gave her the hope of the return of Jesus Christ, and he loved her unconditionally with the love of God.

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Story of Faith, Hope, and Love – Part 1 - Rahab of Jericho

This week, Michael writes that the story of Rahab the harlot in Joshua 2:1-14 is a story of faith, hope and love. Joshua sent two men as spies into Jericho before Israel entered into the Promised Land. The two spies lodged with Rahab the harlot, whose house was on the wall of the city. The King of Jericho heard that spies were in the land and that they had stopped at Rahab's house. The King sent his own men to Rahab's house to find the spies. The harlot Rahab secretly hid the men and told their pursuers that the spies had already left. She told them that if they hurried, they might be able to overtake the spies. When they had left, she came up to the roof of the house where she had hid the spies under a pile of flax. Rahab told the spies that the reputation of the Lord, whom they served, had preceded them. How God had stopped the waters of the Red Sea so that the children of Israel could pass safely through. Then, when the Egyptians tried to pursue them through the sea, the Red Sea came crashing down and drowned the Egyptian host of horsemen and charioteers.

Rahab lived a hard life in Jericho. She was a prostitute. In those days, harlotry was not as despised a profession as in the Puritanical setting of Hawthorne's novel "The Scarlet Letter." Hester Prynne, according Hawthorne's novel, wore the scarlet letter "A" to brand her as an adulterous. In the King James Version of the Bible, the moniker "harlot" was not to remind us of Rahab's sin, but rather to remind us of God's unconditional grace and mercy … “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. 

The story of the harlot Rahab is a story of God's redemption. This story is also an illustration of the three gracious gifts that abide:  faith, hope, and love. After the account in the story of the tower of Babylon, God had a plan to redeem mankind. His plan of redemption was to be accomplished through the line of Abraham through his son of promise Isaac. The story continues through Isaac's son Jacob, and the story of Jacob's son Joseph, who became prime minister of Egypt. Through the revelation that God provided to Joseph, the children of Israel came to Egypt to escape the famine. The twelve tribes of the house of Israel ended up in Egypt and after several generations when everyone forgot the story of Joseph, Israel became slaves of the Egyptians. After four hundred years in Egypt, God called Moses to lead Israel from captivity.  When Moses died, God called Joshua to lead the Children of Israel into the Promised Land.  God promised that Israel would defeat the inhabitants beginning with the city of Jericho.  Joshua sent two spies to the city to report back to him about the city. The spies went to the harlot Rahab's house so that they wouldn't be discovered.

Rahab helped the spies of Israel escape because the reputation of Israel's God had preceded them. She was acting on the historical record of God's deliverance of the Children of Israel through the Red Sea forty years earlier. The spies gave Rahab the harlot specific instruction on how to save herself and her family when God would destroy the city of Jericho. In their promise to spare her, the spies offered her three gifts from God: Faith, hope, and love.  She needed these gifts from the Lord because she had reached the end of her earthly resources.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Living Under Grace

ROMANS 6:15 “Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!”

I read that “justification” is defined in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary as “remission of sin and absolution from guilt and punishment; or an act of free grace by which God pardons the sinner and accepts him as righteous, on account of the atonement of Christ.” Justification is God’s legal declaration that we are righteous in His sight by the imputation of the merit of Christ to our records, establishes our heavenly citizenship and guarantees eternal life. By the blood of the Lamb of God, the wrath of God will “passover”. We are granted peace with God and are secure in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and we are confident that the Lord will preserve His justified people forever. In justification, we look only to what Jesus has done in our behalf. However, justification is not the entirety of our salvation, which also encompasses the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In other words, those who have been justified begin to serve God truly, but this service is never the basis for our right standing with our Creator. We don’t serve to get saved, but because we are saved.

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

The article stated that Theologians refer to this transformation by the Spirit as sanctification, which includes a definitive aspect and an ongoing aspect. Sanctification is defined in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary as “the act of making holy. In an evangelical sense, the act of God's grace by which the affections of men are purified or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to a supreme love to God. The act of consecrating or of setting apart for a sacred purpose; consecration.” When we first trust Christ, we are set apart as holy unto Christ once and for all.

Thus, Paul can refer to even the notoriously sinful Corinthian church as “sanctified in Christ Jesus”. However, there is also the ongoing process of sanctification by which the Spirit conforms us in practice to the holiness we enjoy in our Savior. Romans 6–8 focuses on the process of sanctification. Paul raises the question:  Does the fact that we are not under law but under grace give us license to sin? Paul’s answer is an emphatic: “By no means!” Grace not only liberates us from the law but also has a constraining power unto obedience. According to standard Jewish interpretations of the Old Testament, those who did not have the old covenant law had nothing to hold back their sin, and it is likely that some Jews accused Paul of promoting sinful libertinism by saying that in Christ we are “not under law but under grace”. The Apostle turns their interpretation of the Old Testament on its head, indicating that on the contrary, those in whom sin is excited the most are those who are under law. Grace alone, not more law, gives us the willingness to serve God.

“We are no longer under the law in the sense of being underneath the awesome, weighty burden of the law. We are no longer in the condition of being crushed under the weight of the law, no longer oppressed by its burden of guilt and judgment.” We are no longer under the law as guilty people, for we are righteous in Christ. We are living under grace.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, September 25, 2016

With all your Mind – Part Two – A Biblical Worldview

Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

dr. Mackie continues, explaining that a "worldview" is the way that people think about the world in which they live. In Romans 12:1-2  the Apostle Paul  says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” What Paul is saying is that worship that pleases God is “informed”; that is, it is offered by Christians who understand who God is, what He has given us through Jesus Christ, and what He asks of us in response. The challenge is to live the pattern of the Kingdom of God and not the pattern of this God-rejecting world system of our sinful flesh desires nature in which we live today! This is what is meant by “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” – Galatians 5:16. The tentacles of our old sin nature are still around constantly tempting our flesh desires. We are to be in the world, but not of the world and here to make a difference for Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God with a biblical worldview. We are “born again” and given a new heart desire as children of God and citizen of Heaven … this is not our home.

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

A worldview is a frame of reference for helping us determine what is going on and what is really real. Some believe that there is no “right” or “wrong”, that deny God or believe that there is no God, who defines “right” and “wrong”, believe that we live, then die and that’s it! This pattern of thinking is being indoctrinated into society today and the children of God must be engage in our culture with the “great commission” of Matthew 28:18-20. As disciples (followers and students of Jesus Christ), when we grow and mature in Christ, we have to learn and unlearn things. We all have had our minds formed by the sinful patterns of this world, so have to unravel and deprogram our worldview by the Word of God and application, as we walk together in the Holy Spirit. It is not just information; its transformation. Light is more powerful when it is focused. Read the holy Scriptures daily, meditate on them day and night,  and let the Scriptures read you.  Discover the biblical applications in your life and develop your God-given gifts to bless your life and the lives of those around you for Christ’s sake. What do you allow into your brain? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, September 24, 2016

With all your Mind – Part One – Meditate on these Things

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

Last Sunday, we were blessed to have guest Preacher Dr. Kirk Mackie, retired pastor of our sister church – Wilshire Community church. Dr.  Mackie pointed out how scientists have tried for decades to simulate our brain function. Yet, it takes 40 minutes of super computer artificial intelligence runtime to replicate one second of human brain thought. How amazing our brain is! It is the most incredible and marvelous thing in the universe. Thought, intricate data knowledge and complex information transfer cannot spontaneously generated, so there is no possible way that the brain could not have evolved by Darwinian Evolution. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and everything that lives and breathes. And God wants us be good stewards of our brain. What do you put into your brain? The brain records and remembers everything you look at, so what images are you putting into it. Are you intentionally eating and drinking the “right” nutritious foods and drinks for your mind and body? Also, are you also putting anything (any smoke, drugs, alcohol, et cetera) that harm your body and brain?   “Meditate on these things.”

Mark 12:28b-30 “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.

The Holy Scriptures say: “Whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy” ... but today, it is the radical, the nutty, the over-the-top, the malicious, and the immoral that seems to be the new normal and it is harming people, our culture and our society as these vices reprogram and rewrite our minds and associated thoughts. How do we love our God with all of our mind? Is what we think and do hindering us in our relationship with God? The whole mess that we live in today began with an idea. Original sin was the idea that God could not be trust; that our heavenly Father is holding back something really good from us. This is the essence of all temptation. That is the devil’s lie, putting doubt about God’s goodness in our mind (Genesis 3). Do you have any devil’s in your life telling you lies about God?

Let's continue my notes on Dr. Mackie's sermon on "Renewing our Minds" on the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Friday, September 23, 2016

My Father's Business – Part 2 – His Children

Michael continues from last post that Jesus' response to his mother Mary was, "Know ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"  These were the first words recorded that Jesus spoke. Mary and Joseph understood the carpentry business. However, his earthly parent's did not understand Jesus' heavenly Father's business. God has called each of His children as His sons and daughters to their Father's business. The Father's business is that we would be His epistles written not with ink but with the spirit of the living God, known and read of all men and women. We who are called of God understand His calling, one step at a time, as we walk in fellowship with Him.  To understand is to grasp the meaning of something. As we answer His call to follow in the Lord's footsteps He will open the eyes of our understanding about the function and the purpose for which we were created.

We do not segment our lives, giving some time to God, some to our business or schooling, while keeping parts to ourselves. The idea is to live all of our lives in the presence of God, under the authority of God, and for the honor and glory of God. That is what the Christian life is all about.” - R.C.Sproul 

Prior to this passage in Luke, Mary had taken the things about the birth of Jesus and "pondered them in her heart." Understanding that I must be about my father's business is both a "flash of insight" and a lifelong revelation as we meditate upon His Word, ponder these things in our hearts, and walk with him one step at a time. We must approach our Heavenly Father with a childlike meekness and humility. When confronted with the confusion of the world, what would Jesus do? Like Jesus, we must be about our father's business.  We have been called to exhort one another in love, to comfort those in need, to build up and edify one another in the household of faith.

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

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Father's Business – Part 1 – Left Behind

Michael asks; What's the worth of your life?  Often people feel that they're not worth much ... For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. However, when we feel our worst, the value God places on our lives is the worth of the priceless payment made by His Son on our behalf. For He who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice in our stead that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.

When we can't see God's plan, we can still trust his heart.  We don't know the path that he's prepared for us... but he does.  The just shall live by faith.  He is our sufficiency.  Our father has in store for us greater things than we can know in this life.  God reveals his plan for our lives one step at a time.  We need to reflect from this point in time to look back and see His hand of blessing over the days and months and years.  As David said, "I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High ...  will remember the works of the Lord:  surely I will remember the wonders of old."

Luke 2:41-52 recounts the story of Jesus at the temple at Jerusalem when he was twelve years old. Mary and Joseph took their son to Jerusalem for the celebration of the feast of the Passover. From Nazareth this would have been a three day journey. The women went before the men in the caravan to Jerusalem. When they were returning home, Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus was not in the caravan. This is like the story of Joshua who watched Moses perform his duties in the tabernacle. When Moses left the tabernacle, Joshua stayed and "tarried in the presence of the Lord." Jesus wanted to spend time in the temple in the presence of God. When Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus wasn't in their party they went back to look for him. Likewise, many people in today's culture, many have turned back to look for Jesus. Question: Does the church shape the culture, or does the culture shape the church?  When the culture shapes the church, the church will be compromised by the doctrines and teachings of the world.

Mary and Joseph finally found Jesus after three days. Jesus was sitting in the presence of the scholars of the temple. He was listening to them and asking questions. All were amazed at the deep questions Jesus asked. He was hungry for a deeper understanding of the scriptures and the things of God. When his parents finally found him, his mother said to him, "Why have you treated us like this?"  

Asking the right questions reveals the heart of a person. Especially, life’s deeper questions as; Where will you go after you die?  Who is Lord of your life?  Have you been “born again” of the Spirit of God? How do you know you'll go to heaven? Until you know that you know that you know, your life will be based on guilt and shame recovery and damage control. There is none good enough in the flesh ...  no not one. God has given us his word so that we will "know that we have eternal life", but not by our efforts … by His. The third beatitude says blessed are the meek. The meek are those who are teachable. The forth beatitude says blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. When God reveals himself, we're like little children in His presence ... all things have become new with the childlike faith of pure believing. Matthew 18:3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Let’s continue Michael’s message on being about our Heavenly Father God’s business on the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Compromised and Distracted

This week Michael writes that in the Bible, Jesus tells a parable that starts: A Sower went forth to sow. God has called us to cast seeds. Seeds are the Word of God.  According to Isaiah 55, “So shall my Word be that goeth out of my mouth. It shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in that thing whereunto I sent it.”  Jesus' disciples asked him, "what will be the signs of your second coming?"  According to Matthew 24, it will be like the times of Noah. In those days, there will be laughing and mocking, as when Noah warned the people of the coming flood. The people were so focused on mocking Noah that when the flood came, they didn't know what hit them. Today, we're battling against "cultural Christians" who are shaped more by the secular culture than by the Word of God. There is no man so deep in the dark like the man who thinks he's in the light but he's really in the dark.  When the bar is lowered so far that "surrender to the Lord" is a foreign concept, then it's as if Christians have "lost their salt."  According to Matthew 5:13, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Compromise is to combine the qualities of two different things. "Carnal Christians" have compromised. There is no longer conviction to live according to the standards of Jesus Christ, the word made flesh. Cursed is the man who calls good evil and evil good. God has called his people to holiness: set aside to the purpose intended by the designer. According to Psalm 1, "Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law doth he meditate day and night."

Meditation is the best way to remember the Word of God. Meditation means to chew it over, break it down, and then digest it: as Jeremiah said,  "thy words were found and I did eat them and they were unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." God has empowered us with his spirit and has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness. He has called us to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. To know the voice of God, we must spend time in his Word. We must walk in close proximity with our Lord.

Distraction is the devil's ploy. So many Christians are distracted by the political process. Jesus when he was urged by the crowds to lead them as a political Messiah, said, "I' have other priorities...  I must do the will of him who sent me." Jesus prophesied about those who would follow in his footsteps, "the works that I do shall they do also, and greater works shall they do because I go unto my Father." We are God's plan to change the culture. God did not call us to judge and criticize unbelievers for sinning. Our calling is not to condemn the sinners, but as Jesus said, "let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven." To avoid the distractions of the world, focus on the things of God and the things of the Spirit. How's your soul? How's your marriage? How can you pray for others? How's your walk with the Lord? Pray that God will send men and women into your life to speak into your life. The word of God is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, for instruction in righteousness. Thank God for men and women who love you enough to rebuke, reprove, and correct you.  Correction is to restore to an upright position.

Compromise and distraction turn our hearts away from God and his Word and toward the World. To defeat compromise and distraction, deliberately, intentionally, and purposefully focus on the Word of truth. God did not call us to be influenced by the world but rather to influence the world.  Therefore, set your affections on things above, not on the things of the earth. Repentance is to turn away from the things of the world and to return our hearts to the Lord. Therefore, turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face...and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Mark 1:1-3 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’”

Many lives have been blessed by the “Through the Bible” ministry of Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Though he went to be with the Lord on December 1, 1988, his radio ministry of going through the entire Bible in five years, that started in 1967, continues on that “bible bus trip” today, “putting the cookies down on the lower shelf for the children to get” by explaining the meaning and life application for us today.

For example, in his edited notes, Dr. McGee writes that the Bible passage above is not the beginning of either John or Jesus. It is the beginning of the gospel, when the Lord Jesus came to this earth and died upon a cross and rose again. That is the gospel.

He states that there are three beginnings recorded in Scripture. And he put them down in chronological order. (1) “In the beginning was the Word” – John 1:1.  This goes back to a dateless beginning, a beginning before all time. Here the human mind con only grope. It is logical rather than chronological because in our thinking, we must put our peg in somewhere in the past in order to take off. If we see an airplane in the air, we can assume there is an airport somewhere. We may not know where it ism but we know the plane took off from some place. So when we look around at the universe, we know that it took off from somewhere and that somewhere there is a God. God we don’t know anything about that beginning. God comes out of eternity to meet us. We just have to put down the peg at the point where He does meet us, back as far as we can think, and realize He was there before that.

(2) “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” – Genesis 1:1. This is where we move out of eternity into time. However, although many people have been attempting to date this universe, no man so far knows. Man’s guesses have ranged from six thousand years to three billion year. We know so little, but when we come into His presence and begin to know even as we are known, then we will realize how we saw through a glass darkly. I’m sure we will marvel at our stupidity and our ignorance. God is Almighty. He has plenty of time.

 (3) “The beginning of the gospel …” Mark 1:1 is the same as “That which was from the beginning…” in 1 John 1:1. This is dated. It goes back to Jesus Christ at the precise moment He took upon Himself human flesh. Jesus Christ is the gospel! - V. Vernon McGee

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

In Christ, Brian

Monday, September 19, 2016

God’s Holiness

2 Corinthians 7:1 “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

When we understand the character of God, when we grasp something of His holiness, then we begin to understand the radical character of our sin and hopelessness. Helpless sinners can survive only by grace. Our strength is futile in itself; we are spiritually impotent without the assistance of a merciful God. We may dislike giving our attention to God's wrath and justice, but until we incline ourselves to these aspects of God's nature, we will never appreciate what has been wrought for us by grace. Even American Theologian Jonathon Edwards's sermon on sinners in God's hands was not designed to stress the flames of hell. The resounding accent falls not on the fiery pit but on the hands of the God who holds us and rescues us from it. The hands of God are gracious hands. They alone have the power to rescue us from certain destruction.”  - R.C. Sproul.

Hebrews 12:14 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, September 18, 2016

God’s Good Plan

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Do I Trust God’s Good Plan for my life? Pastor Kyle told us last Sunday that how we answer this question affects the entire way that we live and the quality of that life. A Christian is a follower of God in the goodness of His plan because, as John 3:16 tells us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” and the playing out of God’s plan in our life is our sure hope With God’s steadfast love for us, we never have to worry about our life or our death. Jehovah-Jireh means “The Lord will provide”. God provides.
Psalm 138:8 “The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.”

Life may not go as we plan. We do not know which way life is going to turn and go along the way, but we know that we can trust God and His plans. Life’s particularities may are not be realities. Some of us trust in the plans of others. Some of us are good at seeing the good things happening in others, but not in ourselves. “Not for self” is stinkin’ thinkin’. How much better would our lives be if. by faith, we trust in the goodness of God and His plans for our lives?


Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”


One of the most comforting truth of Scripture is that it is not the strength of our faith that saves us and provides the quality of life, through the fruit of the Spirit, by way of that faith. That strength comes from the One in whom we place our faith. Christ does not demand perfect faith of us before He redeems and blesses us, rather, He is seeking true faith. Although as Christians we are called to grow in our faith and trust ever more confidently in God’s Holy Word, the Lord receives even the smallest measure of faith, saving and blessing all who believe no matter the measure of faith that they possess. God meets all of us where we are at. The power of faith is not in the faith itself but in the One whom faith trusts.

第二十八届教牧与领袖研讨会 | 3月 14 – 17 日 | The ...


Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”


Walk in the goodness of God. Father God did not send His Son to die on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins so that we could have an average life. He has a good plan for each of our lives. So, back to the question: “Do you trust in God’s good plan for your life” or are you overcome with worry, anxiety and fear? By the power of the Holy Spirit repent, change direction and walk in the Spirit with the Lord, praising God for the goodness in your life.


In Christ, Brian

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Wonderful Things to Come

1 Corinthians 2:9 As it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him.”

I read that this fantastic promise refers back to another great promise given by God to His people in Isaiah 64:4: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waits for him”.  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 Lord of Glory, crucified for our sins, the One who was also the Savior of the world – Jesus Christ. We need to live with the eternal perspective of God's promised land of the kingdom of Heaven. 

Comparison of the two prophetic promises yields three vital truths. 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, who have been speaking also “since the world began”. Secondly, those who “wait for him” in the Old Testament are synonymous with those who “love him” in the New. The apostle Paul joins both themes together when he says in 2 Timothy 4;8: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness . . . and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing”. We can get so short-sighted with the immediate times of this material world, that we lose sight of the wonderful world to come.

Finally, we cannot even begin to comprehend the glorious things God has prepared for those who love Him and wait for Him. In some measure, the Spirit later revealed them in part through John’s eyes and ears when he saw “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” and heard “a great voice out of heaven saying . . . God himself shall be with them, and be their God” in Revelation 21;2-3. Then our eyes shall fully see, and our ears hear, and our hearts understand, the fullness of God’s love in Christ. The great things of God and the incredible things of Heaven are far above and beyond our ability to comprehend that we only see dimly, with the glimpse that the Creator has revealed in His creation and creatures found in nature and visible in the universe above.

This is just a preview of the wonderful things to come.
In Christ, Brian

Friday, September 16, 2016

Grow in Holiness

Mark 4:39–41 “[Jesus] awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And [the disciples] were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”.

I read that with Darwinian Evolution effectual decline of the Christian influence on society, it is a sad fact indeed that many of the most influential thinkers in recent centuries have been unapologetic atheists. These individuals, who lived at the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century—including men such as Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Jean-Paul Sartre—attributed ultimate causation to impersonal forces and not the personal, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God revealed in the Bible. Despite their advocacy of atheism, however, one fact persistently confronted them: mankind is incurably religious. How did they explain this?

The article stated that Freud theorized that the fear of impersonal forces gave rise to belief in a supreme being. He noted that it is impossible to reason with natural forces such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. On the other hand, human beings can reason with other personal beings. We can beg personal deities for benevolence and favor, including protection from the natural forces we cannot control. Thus, Freud asserted, humanity made natural events personal in order to avoid them. We invented a god of thunder, a god of tornadoes, and so on in order to reduce our fear of being destroyed by them. By worshiping these gods, we came to expect favor from these deities, and thus our fears of nature were assuaged. In time, said Freud, this polytheism evolved into monotheism, which allows us to focus on placating one Supreme Being instead of several different gods.He had to come up with something other than "God is real", so fear fit his replacement theory.

Indeed, we fear the awesome power of nature, but men and women fear something—Someone—far more. At one point during His earthly ministry, Jesus and the disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when they ran into a horrible storm. All of the men feared the storm except Jesus, and His followers could find no reason for His willingness to sleep instead of worrying about the weather. After the disciples woke our Lord, He silenced the storm. Yet a strange thing happened. We would expect that the disciples would have been afraid no longer, but their fear intensified. They trembled before the One who had saved their lives.

The article concludes that there is nothing humanity fears more than the holiness of God. We all know that His purity calls for our destruction, but we who know Jesus understand His great mercy. By the Father’s grace, all those who trust in Christ alone can endure the holiness of God. Moreover, we can rejoice in it as we seek His face. When we trust in Jesus, we are His holy people by God’s decree, and over time, we become holy in our experience as we put sin to death and grow in likeness to Christ. In Jesus, we have a twofold hope: We can stand in the midst of God’s holiness unafraid. But we can also become holy as we obey Him in the Spirit’s power. This latter holiness does not get us into heaven; only on account of Christ’s righteousness can we be declared just before God. Still, we do grow in holiness as we follow Jesus.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Renouncing Shame – Part 2 – Holiness

Continuing Michael's message from yesterday; Jesus then quoted Leviticus 19:18 from the Old Testament:  "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."  How do you love your neighbor as yourself?  The answer is the third aspect of being an Ambassador.  According to the preceding verse in Leviticus, you love your neighbor by reproving him. If we do not reprove our neighbor when he strays from the Word of God, we ourselves commit sin. Loving your neighbor is to correct him according to the holy Word of Scripture, for the Word of God is profitable for doctrine, for reproof and correction, which is instruction in righteousness. To correct is to restore your fallen neighbor to an upright position before God.

The third part of Ambassadors can be found in 2 Corinthians 4:2 where it says, "but we have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty." The normal response to shame is to hide it. The law of the Spirit brings sin into the light of the Word of truth. The devil hides in the darkness. The truth of the Word of God exposes the shamefulness and dishonesty of sin. A little pocket of darkness gives the devil a foothold. According to John 3:18-20: “He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world and that men loved the darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hates the light, neither cometh to the light lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth, cometh to the light that his deeds may be manifest that they are wrought in God.” According to 1 John 1:17, “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all unrighteousness.”  

Holiness means to be set apart by God for the purpose for which God designed us. The purpose for which He designed us is that we should be to the praise of the glory of His grace whereby He has made us acceptable in the beloved. He has designed us to be his Ambassadors. When we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have "denounced the hidden things of dishonesty." For He who new knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice for us that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Renouncing Shame – Part 1 – God’s Ambassadors

Michael writes this week: Everything we do depends on God whether we realize it or not.  According to Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun. God has already seen everything that has happened and will ever happen.  He sees everything from the perspective of eternity. We see things as God reveals them to us one step a time. All things are and will be according to His sovereign will.

When Abraham was called by God, he was called to be God's Ambassador. He had God's authority and he represented the Kingdom of Heaven when he spoke the Word of God on behalf of God. Likewise, we are called by our sovereign Lord to be His Ambassadors. We have been called both to deliver the message and to be the message. Therefore, we pray you in Christ's stead be ye reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

As His ambassadors, our authority is based entirely on who we are in Christ. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new. Through Christ we have been made God's new creation and He has entrusted us with a new message to reconcile others to Himself through Jesus Christ. Our credentials are not in our own accomplishments, rather our credentials are the gift of the Spirit: Christ in us the hope of Glory.

We examine two aspects of Ambassadors culminating in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21: first, that God is our sufficiency and that we are totally dependent upon Him. The second aspect is that we are ministers of the law of the Spirit of God, in Christ, in us. We are ministers not of the Old Testament law of the flesh that results in death, but of the new law of the Spirit that results in eternal life. Because of the Spirit of life in Christ, God has enabled us to fulfill the "sh'ma" the Old Testament law according to Deuteronomy 6:5, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Jesus clarified this passage when he quoted it in Mark 12:30:  "And though shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength." Some have said that Jesus quoted the scripture incorrectly when He changed the ending of this verse to "with all thy mind and with all thy strength."  However, Jesus knew the Hebrew text. He also understood the meaning of the text.  The word translated "might" in Hebrew means "very" or "superlative." Jesus clarified this passage to mean, love God with your "very essence" or as Oswald Chambers said, "My Utmost" for His Highest.  

Let's continue Michael's message on the next post.
In Christ , Brian

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Providence of God

Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

When I hear the word “Providence”, the state capital of Rhode Island, at the mouth of the Providence River in Providence County, founded in 1636 comes to mind. Such a beautiful name because of the actual definition of the word. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines “Providence’ as “the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures. He that acknowledges a creation and denies a providence, involves himself in a palpable contradiction; for the same power which caused a thing to exist is necessary to continue its existence. Some persons admit a general providence, but deny a particular providence, not considering that a general providence consists of particulars. A belief in divine providence, is a source of great consolation to good men. By divine providence is often understood God himself.” The word “provide” is in providence, so it’s easy to see that providence is about God providing for us.

I read lately that Divine providence, though it was once spoken of reverently by people throughout Western culture, is today but an afterthought for the vast majority of people both inside and outside the church. Our society is dominated by godless naturalistic materialism; we are conditioned to think that we can explain everything by reference to fixed causes within a closed universe that is not subject to divine intervention. Though believers confess faith in a Creator who continues to work in His creation, we often end up living as practical atheists, failing to recognize the Lord’s continual guidance and control of everything that happens. Don’t be fooled and fall into that trap.

Scripture cautions us never to ignore God’s providential ordering of and providing for His creation. Biblically speaking, providence refers to several different activities of our Creator in this world. First, there is the “sustaining providence” of the Lord. God did not just create the universe and then walk away, leaving it to depend on itself for its own existence. Instead, the Lord continues to sustain all of creation. If our Creator were not actively sustaining that which He has created, it would simply cease to exist. God, through His Son and by His Spirit, upholds the world by “the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). That is the only reason why everything continues to exist.

That article continued that “Providence” also refers to “divine concurrence”, which is the Lord’s working in and through His creation and His creatures to bring about what He has planned. Concurrence affirms that in all of our activities, God is working at the same time we are working. We may not have the same intent, but the Lord is acting through our actions and intentions to fulfill His plan for creation. Perhaps the clearest example of this is the story of Joseph, at the end of which we read that what Joseph’s brothers meant for evil, God meant for good (Genesis. 50:20). Joseph’s brothers did not sell Joseph into slavery apart from the decree of the Lord. In fact, God’s decree established that they would sell him into slavery and that the Lord would work through this decision to save many people. God’s working in the situation was pure, for although the selling of Joseph into slavery was an evil, our Creator had a righteous intent in permitting it. Joseph’s brothers truly intended to do him harm, and God let them do that so that He could put Joseph in a place to save the world from a horrible famine. Thus, we derive great comfort from God’s providence. Because the Lord ordains whatsoever comes to pass, we can be sure that He is always working—even in the midst of evil—to bring about a marvelous good (Romans 8:28).

 Only if God ordains all things can we be confident that He is working all things together for our good. Because even evil is a part of the Lord’s plan, we know that there is a reason for every bad thing that happens to us, even if we do not learn the reason on this side of heaven. God is not the author of sin; that is, He is not morally responsible for it. But He uses sin and all other things to bring about our good and His ultimate glory. Let's think about the providence of God in everything that happens in life and everything that we do. God provides.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Will of God

Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

Reading a commentary of the Will of God, I read that Martin Luther, the driving personality of the Protestant Reformation, made several distinctions that we continue to follow today. One of these is the distinction between God hidden and God revealed. Luther’s desire was to convey a specific truth with this distinction, namely, that if we are to know the Lord, the Lord must reveal Himself to us. But in revealing Himself, God does not reveal everything there is to know about Him. He keeps part of Himself hidden, whether because we could not comprehend what He keeps hidden or because He simply chooses to exercise His sovereign freedom and not tell us certain things.

Deuteronomy 29:29 provides the essential biblical teaching that underlies this distinction. In this passage, Moses tells the Israelites that there are some things that are secret and belong only to “the Lord our God.” Certain realities are for our Creator—and only our Creator—to know. At the same time, God has condescended to mankind in order to reveal to us certain truths about His character and plan. These truths are for us to know forever. This passage indicates that the Lord has two wills—one hidden and one revealed. God’s hidden will (also known as His decretive will, will of decree, or absolute will) includes all that He has ordained. His will of decree establishes every event in history, every thought and intention of every person, everything that ever happens. This will extends even to the ordination of evil, for the Lord works out everything according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). Importantly, not everything that God ordains in His hidden will is in itself pleasing to Him. Considered in themselves, He hates the evils He ordains, but He ordains them in order to overcome evil and achieve a greater good that does please Him (Romans 8:28).

God’s revealed will is also known as His Will of precept or preceptive Will. This Will tells us what the Lord finds pleasing. Chiefly, the revealed Will of God is His moral law. When Scripture calls us to do the will of the Lord, it is this Will that is in view. We cannot know His hidden Will, except in retrospect. We can look back in history and know what was part of the Lord’s hidden, or decretive, Will up until this point because God’s decretive Will always comes to pass. Whatever happens in history manifests what He ordained in His sovereign but hidden Will. Yet we are not called to seek out this hidden Will, which we cannot know in advance anyway because God hides it from us. Instead, we are to live by what the Lord has revealed in His preceptive Will. As we obey His commandments, we please our Creator.

The distinction between God’s hidden Will and His revealed Will gives us a great deal of freedom. We do not have to worry about His hidden Will, because we cannot know it anyway. But as long as we seek to obey His revealed Will, we may freely do whatever is in accordance with this Will. If, for example, we are presented with two choices for work and both of them do not entail sin, we can choose whichever job we like better without worrying that we are displeasing the Lord. We have free Will.

In Christ, Brian