Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Lake of Fire


Revelation 20:12-15 “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books,  according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

I read an enlightening and interesting article on the places called Heaven and Hell. Some people may not believe in hell, but God makes it clear that all “the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, drug abusers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” in Revelation 21:8. Actually, Jesus Christ said more about hell than anyone else in the Bible. To the unsaved, He will say: “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” in Matthew 25:41.

The lake of fire is not here on the earth. The beast and the false prophet are to be cast into the lake of fire before the binding of Satan for a thousand years; then the present earth itself is to be removed, and finally Satan will be “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever” in Revelation 20:10. Thus the lake of fire is in existence both before and after the removal of the present earth, and will continue to exist forever.

Many argue that the lake of fire is symbolic and should not be taken literally. If so, the reality must be so indescribable that it can only be symbolized by an eternal lake of fire. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 states that those “who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” are to be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord”. Rather than questioning the reality of hell, which is the just destiny of all who reject or ignore the free gift of salvation provided by the infinite love and sacrificial suffering of God Himself in Christ on their behalf, men and women should come to Christ in faith and “be saved from wrath through him” - Romans 5:9.

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

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem marked the public declaration of Christ’s status the promised Messiah, but it soon became clear that His kingdom would not come through ordinary, earthly means. His entrance into Jerusalem ultimately led to the cross, where He atoned for the sins of His people. His kingdom came through His death and resurrection. Either Jesus Christ pays for our sins or we do, and that determined our eternal destination. It’s our choice and it’s a life or death decision. Worth thinking about because it's great to know what we have been saved from, so that we can rejoice knowing what we have been saved to.




Wednesday, May 24, 2017

No Longer a Slave to Fear - Part 2


Michael continues by asking: Are our minds set on the things of the flesh and of the world or are our minds set on the things of the Spirit of God, in Christ, in us?  God works behind the scenes and we don't see or understand what He's working in us and through us. In this life we are unaware of the things that God is orchestrating behind the scenes. We are being carried along according to His grace and mercy. He carries us as we put our faith and trust in Him. He will not let us sink if He says "come walk on the water with me." He will lift us up and sustain us as long as our eyes and our focus are on Him in the midst of the storms of life. God is still faithful to His word. He said "I will never leave you nor forsake you.” These are the lessons that we learn through the storms of life.

The options are to be men and women of fear or men and women of faith. The choice is ours. The battle rages on for the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. God has given us the “spiritual armor” to protect through the “spiritual battle”. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness from on high. We are on His mission; not our own. Our challenge is to make His mission, our mission. We will fail some of the tests in this life. However, there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ JesusWho is he that condemns?  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

God allows the unsaved to rebuke us when we are not walking in fellowship with our Lord God Almighty. Through the trials of this life, God says, "I've got this." He will carry us through the storms of life and through the fiery trials and tribulations. Our purpose in this life is the true good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul said, whether I live or die, my purpose is "the furtherance of the Gospel." May our lives be a true witness and a testimony of the grace and mercy of our living Lord. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

May God richly bless you!

Your brother in Christ, Michael

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No Longer a Slave to Fear - Part 1


This week, Michael writes that Romans 8 reminds us what's really important through the trials of life this side of heaven. Our greatest fight is to get to the point that we are convinced that "I'm no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God." Either you're fearful or faithful. The enemy will give you innumerable reasons to be filled with fear. However, thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusts in thee. God always makes his Sovereign decisions with the best interest of His children in mind. He has prepared the way before us ... for we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which he as foreordained that we should walk in it

Ministry is a choice. We get to change our attitude according to His will, not according to circumstances and situation. Our responsibility is to choose an attitude of awe of God and gratitude to God. It's not about us, it's about Him ... for His glory and not ours. God continues to bless us despite the trails and through the storms of life. When Jehoshaphat went into the battle in 1 Kings, he put the praise and worship band on the front lines. The praise of God will go before us and will surround us when the battle belongs to the Lord.  


The end of Romans 7 concludes with Paul's lament ..."What I want to do, I don't do, but what I don't want to do, I do. O wretched man that I am who shall deliver me from this dead body?" How shall we respond to this question?  When the crisis comes and courage is required God expects His men and women to have such confidence in Him, that we will be the reliable ones. God shakes us to get rid of the extraneous things of life. What remains is that which is true and faithful. The decisions that we make through the crises of life build our character and our faithfulness. 

The answer to Paul's lament in Romans 7 is the theme of Romans 8:1-11. "There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus....  For the (New Testament) law of the spirit of life in Christ has made me free from the (Old Testament) law of sin and death.  For what the old law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin condemned sin in the flesh that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Let's continue Michael's message on being a "Slave to Fear" on the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Monday, May 22, 2017

Doctrines of Devils


1 Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 

I read a thought-proving short study on the fourth chapter of 1 Timothy. It pointed out that in chapter one of his first epistle to Timothy, Paul warned about false teachers and heresies in the church of his day, evidently particularly implicating the agnostics and their false skepticism and low moral standards. Throughout chapter four, he warns of false teachers “in the latter times,” i.e., in our day and in our churches.

1 Timothy 4:2-5 “ speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

THe study states that Paul had received an explicit and “express” teaching from the Holy Spirit. There was nothing vague about it. The false teachers would, among other things, be “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats”, with other false teachings implied throughout the chapter. These “doctrines” will cause some to “depart from the faith.” Evidently, some who consider themselves Christians and yet have incomplete discernment will fall into the trap of “seducing spirits,” espousing the “doctrines of devils.” The Greek word translated “depart” is apostesontai, which means “to fall away” from an original position, in this case, “the faith.” The teachers will typically be hypocrites, “speaking lies,” having “their conscience seared”.

Galatians 1:9 “As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”


In this time of great apostasy, we desperately need to know the biblical doctrine concerning devils (or Satan and his demonic henchmen), for their influence has nearly captured American education and culture. But we must be on guard against, and teach others to be on guard against, “doctrines of devils.” 

1 Timothy 4:6-16 “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the “good doctrine” which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This  is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. These things command and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

It is one thing to think about how I shall live this side of eternity in light of our Savior Jesus dying on the Cross for me to change my destiny that side of eternity - saved by grace through faith. It is another thing to think how I shall live in light of the Lord Jesus Christ and Creator Father God the Holy Word of God's teachings, statues and commandments to align my thoughts, words and actions with their sacred and righteous Word, Will and Way. In light of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, how shall we live? Which doctrine shall we follow?

Blessings

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lovers of Self


2 Timothy 3:2-4 “For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.” 

I just read how one of the dangerous teachings of the “New Age” movement which has spilled over into modern evangelicalism is the notion of “self-love.” Many psychologists - even Christian professional counselors - are attributing society’s ills, especially among young people, to the “supposed” lack of a “positive self-image” or “self-esteem” on the part of those exhibiting antisocial behavior. What they need, we are mistakenly told, is to learn to love themselves more, to appreciate their own self-worth. The problem with this idea is that it is both unscriptural and unrealistic. People do not hate themselves. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:29 that “no man ever yet hated his own flesh”.

 Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31 “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” He didn’t mention loving yourself because that was a given … everyone loves themselves. Instead of learning to esteem ourselves, the Scripture commands us each to “esteem other better than themselves” – Philippians 2:3. What do you see in society today?

The article pointed out that we are told by some Christian leaders that the measure of our great value in the sight of God is the fact that Christ paid such a high price - His own death —to redeem us. The fact is, however, that His death is not the measure of our great value, but of our terrible sinfulness. “Christ died for the ungodly” – Romans 5:6. In fact, as in our text, the rise of this self-love idea is itself a sign of the last days, when men shall be “lovers of their own selves.” The Age of Grace is winding down and there is no better to reach a lost and dying world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Being “lovers of their own selves.” is the main characteristic of “New Age” secular humanism, which is based squarely upon evolutionary pantheism.

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.”


 Christ died for our sins because He loved us, not because He needed us. We should live for Him in thanksgiving for the “amazing grace, that saved a wretch like me!”

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Power of Compassion


Matthew 9:36 “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.”

Pastor Kyle continued his sermon series based upon the book of Genesis by stating that tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone, so godly embrace today and make the most of your time in a holy manner. Deal with life in a positive manner, “play with the cards that you are dealt”, and be a person of compassion. Remember that when things are at their worst possible moment, God is still in control.  

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Pastor Kyle gave us five ways how to unlock the power of compassion in our life. (1) Start with care. In Genesis 40:6 “When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected.” Get to know people and know how they are doing. Notice when they are hurting and be able to stop whatever you are doing to meet their needs and pain. Care is never a compromise. So, have a mindset of compassion for others, because Jesus modeled and exemplified a life of compassion and care. (2) Understand it may require risk. In dealing with interpersonal relationships, compassion may not be the easy way, but is the “right” thing to do. Do not feel too busy to help others. (3) Ask questions. Ask open-ended questions and discovery questions that allow others to open up and completely explain their feelings. Listen and allow people to complete their insights of the situation at hand for them. “Active listening” allows others to verbalize the issues, to open to God, and sometimes, came up with answers themselves. (4) Tell the truth. It is not compassion to sugarcoat problem. We should never tell others things to make them feel better falsely. (5) Know that compassion has a “dark side”. Know that you might feel forgotten in the care process. Compassion is a sacrificial attribute. Remember that God orders our steps, as well as our stops. Caring may not pay off for us beyond the act of caring for others.

Psalm 103:8 “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.”

Pastor Kyle left us with the four instructions of the “Compassion Challenge”. (1) Show some compassion to yourself. Have kindness towards yourself and give yourself encouragement. (2) Show some compassion to someone you are not getting along with. Put aside yourself; just be present and listen. (3) Show most compassion to someone you love. Compassion is not only about healing hurts, but also about developing and improving relationship. Be fully present. (4) Show some compassion to family. God gave us our family members and they impacted our lives. They deserve our love and care. Jesus Christ modeled how we are to live by the Spirit and the strength of God. Use the power of compassion.


In Christ, Brian

Friday, May 19, 2017

Worship


Psalm 95:6 “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
I read a word study on the term “worship”. The article stated that God created us to worship Him, which is His prerogative as Creator God. Humans are at their best when they are worshipping the triune God of heaven and earth, just as they are at their worse when they are worshipping anything or anyone else (which is idolatry). I remember that fact being one of the major objections by an atheist acquaintance that I was talking to about Christianity.    

The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “worship” as: Excellence of character; dignity; worth; worthiness. 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. Prayer is a chief part of religious worship.

In English, “worship” derives from the old English word “weorthscipe, which means acknowledgement of worth. God has “worth ship” because God is worthy of or worship. Worship of God involves the whole person  - soul (mind, will and emotion), body (head to toe), and spirit (heart and connection to God). We apply our minds to His excellences, our thoughts to His attributes, such as His holiness, mercy and love. Our will submits to His majesty, and our hearts embrace His goodness to enter into communion with Him.

Isaiah 29:13 “Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.”

The study continued that the heart of the worshipper is an essential component of “true” worship with contrition and humility. We all have been created by Almighty God, and as His creatures, we are to worship our Creator God. But as sinful creatures, we are unable to fulfill this obligation apart from Jesus Christ. Sin has perverted our worship and caused us to pursue the created rather than the Creator. Redemption in Christ regenerates our spirit and restores our relationship with our heavenly Father God. Christ bridges the gap between God’s holiness and our sin, establishing a covenant relationship between us.

Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”


In Christ, Brian

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Amen


Psalm 89:52 “Blessed be the Lord forevermore! Amen and Amen.”

And all God’s people said …”Amen”. The word :amen” has had an important place in the life of the Judeo/Christian church throughout the ages. But, I’ve read that it is rare to find such importance among the various ecclesiastical persuasions today. Yet, the function of the word “amen” far transcends both denominational and non-denominational uses in the modern era.
It is well documented that the term amen was used in the corporate worship of ancient Israel in two different ways. (1) It served as a response to praise given to God and (2) as a response to prayer. Those same usages of the term are still in fashion among Christians. The  1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “Amen”: (1) as a verb, it signifies to confirm, establish, verify; to trust, or give confidence; (2) as a noun, truth, firmness, trust, confidence; (3) as an adjective, firm, stable.

Philippians 4:20 “Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

One article states that the term itself is rooted in a Semitic word that means “truth”, and the utterance of “amen’ is an acknowledgement that the word that has been heard, whether a word of praise, a word of prayer, or a sermonic exhortation, is valid, that is, sure and binding. Even in antiquity, the word “amen” was used in order to express a pledge to fulfill the terms of the vow. So, this little word is one that is centered on the idea of the truth of God.


Romans 11:36 “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

The article goes on to explain that the truth of God is such a remarkable element of Christian faith that it cannot be overlooked. The Lord Jesus Christ said in John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” There are those who think that “truth” is negotiable or, even worse, divisive. But, if we are not concerned about truth, then we have no reason to have Holy Bibles in our homes. The Bible is the Word of God, and God’s Word is true. It is not just true but is truth itself. Amen.


In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Spirit of Life of Christ


This week Michael writes: In the long distance race of life, when we fall, our Father will pick us up and helps us to cross the finish line. According to Romans 8, the whole world is suffering. In Romans 7 Paul ends with a question, "the things I want to do, I don't do and the things that I don't want to do, I do.  O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver us from this dead body?" This leads to the answer in Romans 8,There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

The moment we were born, we were in sin ... and sin leads to death. Sin was built into the nature of the flesh. We inherited it from the original sin of doubt and disobedience that Adam committed in the Garden of Eden. The Old Testament Law is the law of sin and death. However, the moment we were “born again” of the New Testament law of the spirit of life in Christ, we began to live. Our new life is the result of our righteousness in Him alone. Jesus Christ redeemed us from the sin nature that we inherited from Adam. For He was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him. We live in a fallen world of failure, sin, and unrighteousness ...of missing the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  However, the law of the spirit of life in Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death. In our flesh dwells no good thing. The Old Testament law proves that we fall short of God's righteousness. However, we have been saved by grace through faith.  We did not deserve it. We were saved not because of our own merit, but because of the great love wherewith He loved us. It is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. God has called us to the body of Christ so that we can lift one another up .... so that we can carry each other according to His plan. We who have received salvation are no longer ruled by the sin nature. We now live in the righteousness of the spirit of life of Christ in us.  

Every culture has had its own method of capital punishment. In bible times, one of the worst forms of capital punishment was to strap a dead body to the one to be executed.  The criminal would die a slow and agonizing death, rotting with the dead body strapped to his back. As Paul said, "who shall deliver me from this dead body?" God condemned sin in the flesh by the completed work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. He has delivered me from "the body of this death." He will rescue us from certain (second) death. In the midst of trials and tribulations, our response is "I knew you'd come." His purpose was to lay down his life as a sacrifice for sin and death on our behalf to free us from the law of sin and death.  

We need to choose to focus on the blessings of God. For the spirit of life in Christ has made us free from the law of sin and death. Some things life-threatening illness cannot do:  It cannot cancel the love of God. It cannot silence courage. It cannot suppress friendship. It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection. It cannot separate us from the love of God and the glory that shall be revealed in us. A life-threatening illness is an opportunity to glory, not in our own flesh, but rather in the glory of God. The righteousness of the Spirit of God in Christ in us has delivered us from this dead body, the law of flesh. As God said to Paul, my strength is made perfect in thy weakness, my grace is sufficient for thee.

Our exhortation is to live for the gospel: this present suffering is so that we may find our identity, not in the suffering of this world but rather in the glory of God. As Paul said at the end or Romans 8, our declaration is:  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation or persecution or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

May God richly bless you!

Your brother in Christ, Michael

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Who Do You Serve?


Judges 10:6 Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served - (other gods); and they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him.

I read an article by the late Pastor J. Vernon McGee today, where he stated that you would think that after all their experiences for 40 years in the wilderness, the Israelites would learn that when they turned to idolatry, trouble came upon them. Human nature is “fallen” nature. The prophet Jeremiah has said: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:9. You and I certainly do not know the heart. It is easy for us to point our fingers back to these people who lived a thousand years ago before Christ and say, “You did wrong”, than it is for us to see what we are doing wrong.

Pastor McGee says, “May I say that there is a frightful apostasy today in the church.” Human nature is like that, and we are in a nation that is in trouble spiritually and morally. We have tried every method and none of them has worked. What is wrong? We have gone to the wrong place for help. Only a turning to God will get us on the right path. I know that sounds out of date, but it sounded that way one thousand years before Christ also. The Israelites turned to other gods, and look at what happened: Because of their idolatry, they went into slavery again. Sin places everyone into the chains of slavery to sin. God can afford to remove His instrument when that instrument fails Him.


A great many people think that God has to have the church. Pastor McGee warns, “May I say to you that God does not have to have any of us. He is not dependent upon us at all. We are, however, dependent upon Almighty Creator God and His providence. Who do you serve? Something to think about.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Go


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

The Lord Jesus said: "Go".
Today, Pastor Obie (former lead guitar for "Christ Safari") discussed a vision and possibilities for "evangelism outreach" programs and training for our church. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Life of Integrity - Part 2


Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” 

Pastor Obie continues his message by stating that in living a life of integrity, we need to make clear goals and set clear boundaries. Different sin require different boundaries. Practicing integrity with a understandable goal to be faithful to the Lord keeps us focused to the commitment. Bit, guard your inner being. Resist the God-rejecting world system, the sinful flesh desires and the devil. Avoid being alone with a temptation; run away if necessary. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Having to live with the sinful nature of the flesh desires on this side of eternity, without support and isolation, we are not as strong. Ecclesiastes 4:12 explains that “though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” We are stronger and better equipped together with other Christians. Do not get trapped. If you do get cornered, God shall provide an escape route, but we will have to make the dramatic decision to flee.

Genesis 39:2-4 ”The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.”

Living a life of integrity is living a life of blessing. God was with Joseph in whatever we did. We are blessed because God is with us, when we are people of integrity. God care more about our character than our circumstances. Know that God is preparing us for where He wants us to be in the future. Life is a pathway which is made and laid by the Lord Almighty for our journey to eternity in Heaven. Knowing this fact, lift up others by being directly helpful; not tearing down. Look for “good’ and encourage others; never seek to be hurtful. Sing the praises of your fellow man and be the godly person that others say that we need more of today in the world. Live a life of integrity.


 In Christ, Brian

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Life of Integrity - Part 1


Genesis 39:9b “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

This last Sunday, Pastor Obie continued in the Sermon series based upon the book of Genesis. He made the statement that there is something to say about authenticity. Then asked; “Is the person on the inside, the same person on the outside?” We are the “real deal?” The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “Integrity” as; The entire, unimpaired state of any thing, particularly of the mind; moral soundness or purity; incorruptness; uprightness; honesty. Integrity comprehends the whole moral character, but has a special reference to uprightness in mutual dealings. Is what we think, say and do, in line with God’s code of conduct, living out His Holy Word as people of honor? God directs our steps when we trust and obey Him in all that we do.

Obie pointed out that living a life of integrity will advance our position in our relationship with Almighty god. So, bloom where you are planted. Embrace your circumstances, knowing that advancement may not happen fast. The longer the development time, the greater the outcome. Know that God is working to advance us to exactly where He wants us. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for man. Put God before anyone else and work for God. You have to do what is honest and right in the eyes of the Lord. Character matters …Integrity is the Christian life.

Living a life of integrity will save you from destruction. Know that there is an enemy out there and the devil wants to steal, kill and destroy us and our relationship with God. There are numerous temptations and opportunities for sin around us daily. Know that sin always negatively affects our relationship with God and others in our life. So, prepare yourself for battle by putting on the full armor of God. Anything outside of God is to be avoided. Think as Joseph said; How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Let’s continue Pastor Obie message on “Integrity” on the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, May 12, 2017

While We Were Still Sinners


Romans 5:5-11 “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.


The bible tells us that the human condition is that we all are spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. Original sin is death. Jesus Christ came into the physical world, in the fullness of historical time, to bring salvation. I learned that the death of Christ was not a tragic event in time, or a grave injustice of an innocent man, but the moment in time of God’s love and mercy, in due time, of the atoning sacrifice to pay the just penalty for all sinners who belong to Jesus, believe and accept His redemptive salvation.

When sovereign God decrees and appoints dates and actions, it is going to happen by the purpose and reason of Divine Providence; despite the circumstances around it, it will come to pass. Christ’s atoning death is sufficient for all, but efficient for Believers by saving faith through the grace of God. More than making salvation available, Jesus saves his helpless in sin flock. God’s “love of benevolence” is His “good will” towards man. God’s love of “beneficence” is His “kind acts” towards mankind.

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

Love is a natural attribute of God, but God does not love unconditionally. God does not love sin. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “Sin” as: The voluntary departure of a moral agent from a known rule of rectitude or duty, prescribed by God; any voluntary transgression of the divine law, or violation of a divine command; a wicked act; iniquity. Sin is either a positive act in which a known divine law is violated, or it is the voluntary neglect to obey a positive divine command, or a rule of duty clearly implied in such command. Sin comprehends not action only, but neglect of known duty, all evil thoughts purposes, words and desires, whatever is contrary to God's commands or law. Sinners neither enjoy the pleasures of nor the peace of piety. Among divines, sin is original or actual. Actual sin, above defined, is the act of a moral agent in violating a known rule of duty. Original sin, as generally understood, is native depravity of heart to the divine will, that corruption of nature of deterioration of the moral character of man, which is supposed to be the effect of Adam's apostasy; and which manifests itself in moral agents by positive act of disobedience to the divine will, or by the voluntary neglect to comply with the express commands of God, which require that we should love God with all the heart and soul and strength and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves. This native depravity or alienation of affections from God and his law, is supposed to be what the apostle calls the carnal mind or mindedness, which is enmity against God, and is therefore denominated sin or sinfulness. 

Sin is, by definition, against God. God’s “love of complacency” is the love that our Heavenly Father has for His Son and those who belong to Christ. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for usAll have sinned and Jesus died for sinners, but all are not “saved” or going to Heaven. Many choose to remain in their sin. God sent His Son to die for us, receiving God’s righteous and just wrath for Sinners. Believers are rescued from God’s wrath by the atoning salvation of Jesus Christ. While neither “righteous” or “good”, God sent His Son Jesus – the Christ to die for us, that we may live.


In Christ, Brian




Thursday, May 11, 2017

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.”

I read that 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 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “Glory” as; Praise ascribed in adoration; honor.Indeed, the very “heavens declare the glory of God” - Psalm 19:1. Not only do the heavens declare His glory, but “the glory of the Lord shall endure forever” – Psalm 104:31. In Heaven the mighty hosts of angels “give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name” Psalm 29:2.  It is thus singularly inappropriate for God’s servants 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.

The article pointed out that this Old Testament exhortation is echoed in the New.

1 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.”


As our opening bible verse reminds us, 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 and for thy truth”. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Prepare to Meet Thy God


Amos 4:12 “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you,
Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

 There is only one thing that everyone can know for sure. Not even death and taxes are certain, for some will never die. But “every one of us shall give account of himself to God” Romans 14:12 says, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Even those who don’t believe in God, those who ridicule His Word, those who disobey His laws, those who worship false gods—everyone must someday meet God. There is no better advice than: “Prepare to meet thy God!”

I read that if anyone should ask what God, the answer is the true Almighty God, the Creator. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Not the false gods of pagan pantheism, not the natural systems and processes of evolutionism, not the mystical power or force of the Cosmos or nature, but the One and only God of creation. John 1:3 “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” He is the one who knows the thoughts of man and “makes the morning darkness” (Amos 4:13) for all who reject or ignore Him. The word here for “darkness” is used only one other time in Scripture and is synonymous with hell—“a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness” – Job 10:22. Darkness is the absence of Light. 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.” Darkness is the absence of God. Deeds of darkness are sins of ungodly thoughts, words or actions, while the light of life is righteousness in faithful and godly obedience through love.


 Revelation 20:11-15 “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Amos-4_12.jpg

In the coming “Great White Throne Judgment, “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” – Psalm 8:17. The message of Amos needs to be heard in every generation: “Prepare to meet thy God!” For “the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment” – Psalm 1:5, and the judgment is sure: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment,” and for those who die unprepared, “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” – Hebrews 8:27; 10:31). John 3:36 tells us, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Romans 6:23 explains, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In Matthew 10:28 Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”


 The only way to come into His presence prepared, of course, is through Jesus Christ, who is Himself the Lord of all the hosts of Heaven. Prepare to meet thy God.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Little Help from our "Friends"


God often brings us to His throne by challenging us to become more childlike in our faith. He will remind us that we are powerless in our own power. These trials and tribulations are our "friends." Jesus said, In this world we will have tribulation, however be not afraid for I have overcome the world. In Philippians 1:12 the Apostle Paul said,  "Whether I live or die, everything is working out for the furtherance of the Gospel." The Gospel is our testimony ... it is how we respond through the trials of life. According to James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

Jesus and James remind us that when we are patient through trials we will be perfected through the trial. Oswald Chambers said, "Ministry is about creating an environment where the Holy Spirit can come and help himself to our lives." A servant with his own agenda is of no good to God. However, What if God said, "I'll give your wife breast cancer, then a brain tumor, then a cancerous spot in her lung and you won't know where the spot originated?" The journey of life is a journey of unknowns. We don't know the future and we don't know the prognosis and treatments for the problems in our life.  

According to the word, God will teach us what it means to be committed to God and to believe according to His purpose and His provision. Which decision requires the greatest amount of faith?  The things of this world are confusing and contradictory.  When God helps himself to our lives, it's like the quote from the Chronicles of Narnia:  "Aslan the Lion (representing Jesus Christ) is good, but he is not safe." Harm, risk, loss, and danger are part of the reality of life in this earthen vessel. However, Jesus is Lord of our life. It's our Lord's agenda, not ours. God asks, "Can I trust you to look to me to glorify me and to respond as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane: 'not my will but Thine be done?" The world is merciless and will do anything to "have its way with us." The thief cometh not but for to steal, to kill and to destroy.  However Jesus Christ is come that we may have life and have it more abundantly.  The more abundant life is defined by God's terms as we delight ourselves in the Lord. 

God reminds us that all things work together for good, for the furtherance of the gospel, to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose. The bigger picture through the trials of life is for His purpose: the furtherance of the gospel. The gospel is our testimony and our witness for Him. Through the trials and the fellowship of His suffering is how we get to know Him intimately. These trials are so that we can get to the end of ourselves, so that we can acknowledge Him and lean not unto our own understanding. God needs to shake us, like he did the apostle Paul, in order to bring us to the next level of fellowship with Him. When God gets us to the point that we have nothing to lose, then God can work within us. At that point we have no selfish motives.  Our safety is not in the security of our own comfort ... the safety is in the midst of the battle leaning on His everlasting arms.  

It does not yet appear what we shall be. The nature of the spiritual life is not the uncertainty of the situation, but rather the certainty that He is leading us ... that He will open and close the doors in front of us ... that He will open the windows of blessing so that the blessings of His glory will flow. This can either be the worst thing that ever happened to us or the greatest moment of our lives. The trials of life do not show how "safe" God is. Rather trials show how loving, great, and glorious our God is.

Romans 8:38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

Monday, May 8, 2017

Resting in Justification


Romans 4:25 “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”  
We rejoice greatly in Christ’s resurrection, knowing that He has promised that “because I live, you shall live also”John 14:19. But it is also very important to realize and remember that if He had not been raised from the dead, we would still be lost sinners, separated eternally from God. He was raised, Paul reminds us, “for our justification.”

It was pointed out to me in one article that, the immensity of the load of sin which Christ bore with Him on the cross is beyond comprehension. He had to “taste death for every man” – Hebrews 2:9, for He was the offering “for the sins of the whole world” – 1 John 2:2. Since “the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23, were it not for the infinite power, as well as the infinite love, of both the Father and the Son, such an infinite weight of sin would seem impossible to overcome, so Christ would die forever, and we would be lost forever. How could we ever know that we had been forgiven and that He had paid the awful price that would suffice for our salvation? How could we ever be acquitted and declared righteous before God?

The article writer declares: That is exactly what the resurrection of Christ assures! “By the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of lifeRomans 5:18. His infinite righteousness has more than balanced the terrible weight of “the sin of the world,” and He was able to take it away.

Romans 5:16 “And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.”

... Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith (Philippians 3:9

The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines “justification” 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. This gift of total and eternal justification is free because of His love, but even a free gift must be accepted before it can be possessed. 

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.