Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Kingdom of Heaven is like …


Matthew 13:24-30 (The Parable of the Weeds) Jesus told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

(The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast) He told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

(The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl) The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

(The Parable of the Net) “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 18:23-34 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

(The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard) “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’  “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matthew 22 (The Parable of the Wedding Banquet) Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Monday, February 27, 2017


Joel 2:32 “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.”

I read a grat little Word Study on “Whosoever” today. IT said that the Bible tells us in Acts 10:34 that “God is no respecter of persons”. Yet in the above “whosoever” passage of the Old Testament, it is clear that those who “call on the name of the Lord” were the same as “the remnant whom the Lord shall call.” Those who call on the Lord have first been called by the Lord. He accepts all those who call on Him from every nation. Theologians of great intellect have wrestled with these questions for centuries. On the practical level, however, the Holy Spirit led Peter to quote this passage in his great sermon on the Day of Pentecost: Acts 2:21And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”.

Peter was still speaking only to Jews, of course, but they had assembled at Jerusalem “out of every nation under heaven”. But then Paul made it forever plain that “whosoever” applied to everyone when he also quoted Joel. “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” - Romans 10:12-13. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, on the very last page of Scripture, says: “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” – Revelation 22:17. So, whosoever will may come! One can contemplate later, with deep thanksgiving, the mysteries of the divine call, but first he must believe in Jesus and come, and if he so wills, he may! 

John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Blessings in Christ, our Savior and Lord

Sunday, February 26, 2017

When Life Hands You Lemons …

Genesis 26:19-22 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found a well of running water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, because they quarreled with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one also. So he called its name Sitnah. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

This last Sunday, Pastor Kyle continued in his Sermon series based upon the book of Genesis. He pointed out how we need to make the most out of the bad circumstances that we find ourselves in throughout life and learn to play out our time with the cards that we have been dealt. The one thing that we must remember is that the decisions of mankind do not hinder the decisions of our Lord God. One misconception is that God’s blessings and provision does not mean that everything is going to go perfect for us in life. But, God always knows what He is doing and that they are all “good” in the long run. It is us that do not have that “Big God Picture”. We need to find contentment in the fact that All-seeing, All-knowing, All-powerful Creator God has everything under control. Unfortunately, it is a part of our “fallen” human nature to trust and obey Father God as long as He doesn’t touch certain people and things in our lives. We need to be “all in”.

1 Corinthians 10:12 “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.”

Pastor Kyle gave us three ways how to deal with life’s lemons. (1) Obey God, even when it’s inconvenient. My wise Grandma used to says” “If everyone else was walking off a cliff, would you walk off also? Translation: If everyone is doing what is “wrong and sinful” in the eyes of the Lord, are you going to turn from the “straight and narrow path of righteousness” and do that “wrong and sinful” thought, word or deed also. You’ll find that it is easy to do what is “wrong”, but it takes strength and endurance to do what is “right”. And in the long run, at the end of the road, the rewards and the penalties are both eternal. (2) Admit when you’re wrong. We make the decision, so we need to live with the results and created circumstances. Do you know that most lies are out of either fear or just because we want to do “what we want, when we want”? It is always best to “come clean” and admit when we are wrong and then we can move forward towards the remedy, instead of living in the lie. (3) Make some lemonade. The old cliché “Bloom where you are planted” is true. When in a time of suffering, God can still prosper us, if we listen and move to where He wants us to be. All of us will find ourselves in places that we do not want to be sometime in our life. God can bless us 100 fold wherever we are, so make the best out of bad circumstances.  

1 Peter 3:10-12 For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”

Pastor Kyle then gave us a couple very important anecdotes about the lemons of life. First, a little peace is good for everyone, no matter what it costs. Relationships are complicated by nature … two people with different personalities and upbringing finding common ground all the time. We tell ourselves that we don’t have what we want or where we want to be. Others covet and take what you have. Nobody wants to live in a constant state of conflict. Truth be told, they want the Christian’s godly, peaceful blessing in the end. Second, don’t break mom and dad’s hearts; be Christ to them. Matthew 19:19 says, “Honor your father and mother.” Live in peace.

We definitely learn life lessons in the trials of life. We make difficult decisions because we obey Jesus Christ. Put a smile on your face because Jesus loves you; loves us enough that he took the sins of the world upon Himself for us. God hears the faith inside you and I. Make the best of life.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Obedient to Christ

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

Friday, February 24, 2017

Individual Parts / One Body

1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27 “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

Our Wednesday night small group Bible Study has entered into the third week of our improving Christian Relationships lesson series at church. We are using the “Loving Lasting Relationships” series by Gary Smalley & John Trent. After the first lesson, where our distinct God-given personalities were explained, that every individual contributes to a balanced society and culture on paths of righteousness. That no one can say that their part in God’s grand scheme of life and more or less important than the others. Each has a critical role in the accomplishment of God’s purposes in our relationships and harmony as the Lord intended.
When we realize designed need for each personality and gift within the body of Christ (the body of Believers), we understand why people act and react the way that they do, and we can respect and admire others for who they are and what they do, when aligned with the Word, Will and Way of the Lord. Instead of thinking that everyone should think and act as we do, we learn to value the individual and gain the contentment of true joy despite our circumstances, needs or company. God has designed each of us as uniquely as our fingerprints. Realize that God’s fingerprints are all over His creation and we are all one in Christ. You and I are a child of God.

Philippians 4:11-12 “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Take up Thy Cross – Part 2

Michael continues by explaining that in Luke 9, Jesus needed to separate the sheep from the goats. A true “Follower” is not one who is looking for self-aggrandizement or self-actualization. The true Followers are those who take up their cross daily and follow Jesus Christ. One man approached Jesus and said, "Lord, I'll follow you where ever you go." Jesus responded, "Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head." Jesus said to another man, "Follow me." The man replied, "First I have to go bury my father." In Luke 14, Jesus said, "If you do not hate your father and your mother, your wife and children, your sister and brother, and even your own life, you cannot be my disciple."  Jesus said that compared to loving me and putting me first in your life, whatever competes with your devotion to me, then you need to "hate" that thing in comparison to your love for me. You can't look back while plowing or you cannot plow a straight furrow. If you look back, you may fall into the ditch. As we carry out our “great commission”, as salt of the earth and as the children of light, our Lord's command is "focus steadfastly upon me." Our faith will be tested to discover what's really important. What is it that you put above your love for the Lord? God will put His hand on our family for a reason. God teaches us that He is merciful even when He doesn't give us what we think we want. 

When the doctors told one Pastor in the father's waiting room, "We're losing the baby's heartbeat," He went to God in prayer.  God said to Him, "How much control do you have over this situation?  "No matter the outcome of this trial, will you still dedicate your life to love and serve me?"  God was teaching Him that the one true thing is to dedicate your life to your Lord. The first and great commandment is "thou shalt have no other gods between your face and my face."  Not my will, but thine be done. When this same Pastor preached the first sermon to the Church on the day of Pentecost, the crowd noticed that He was not an educated man, but that he had been with Jesus. The power we have is in proximity with Lord God. In this world, all relationships end in pain and disappointment. However, with Jesus Christ, all relationships end in the hope of eternal life with our Lord. Whatever happens in this life, despite the pathologist's reports, God is merciful for all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose

In Luke chapter 9, Jesus prepared His true disciples how to be more than conquerors.  We need to kill the “casual Christian” inside of us. For I was crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me and the life that I now live I life by the faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Take up Thy Cross – Part 1

This week, Michael writes that in Luke Chapter 9, Jesus continued his training of the twelve disciples. He reminded them twice in this passage that He would go to Jerusalem to be beaten and tortured and then He would have to die. Jesus was dedicated to His mission to draw men and women unto Him, to have fellowship with Him. Ever since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, fellowship was broken between God and Man. Christ’s mission was to redeem mankind by paying the price for sins and the sin nature that we inherited from Adam and Eve. We've been redeemed by Jesus' payment for our debt of sin through the sacrifice of His innocent blood. We have been bought with a price. Because of our righteousness in Him, those “born again” of the Spirit have been reconciled to God in fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

After Adam's fall, God asked Adam, "Why were you hiding from me?" Adam said, "Because I was naked and ashamed." God said to Adam, "Who told you that you were naked?" The devil has been reminding us of our shame and our shortcomings ever since. However, the “wisdom from above” is learning to see life from God's point of view, not Satan's. Jesus came to reconcile men and women back to God ...  to restore the broken fellowship between God and mankind. In a “fallen” world, if we look around us, if we look at others, or at the person in the mirror, we'll be depressed. However, when we look to the Lord, we'll be blessed. The devil will try to get you to "eat your words."  He'll accuse us of being hypocrites when we speak the Word, because the Word is perfect, but in my flesh dwelleth no good thing. When the crisis comes, God expects his people to be the reliable ones ... ones in whom His testimony is true and faithful. When you become a Christian, the call to worship is "the Lord, your God, is one God." We shall worship Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We shall worship him with our very essence. Christ in us, the hope of glory.

Our strength and our perfection is not in our flesh, but only in His gift of Holy Spirit; the Spirit of Christ in us.  In verse 23 of Luke 9 Jesus said, "If any man desires to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me." The five thousand men in the crowd had just been fed. They were in awe of Jesus because He had performed a miracle by feeding the multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus told His twelve disciples, if you want to be my disciplined followers, you need to forsake yourselves, take up your cross, and follow me. Jesus said two things are required to follow Him.  The first is to give up the rights to yourself ... to deny yourself. The second is to take up your cross daily. The cross is the symbol of death, shame, ridicule, and mocking ... for cursed is anyone who hangs on a cross. The people understood that the cross was a symbol of a shameful death for sin, guilt and iniquity. Before we can follow Him, we must crucify our flesh. Jesus said, “For whosoever shall save his life shall loose it.  But whosoever shall loose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”

In Chronicles, the there are four prerequisites to hear from heaven: to humble yourself, to forsake your wicked ways, to pray, and to seek His face. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, they taunted Him saying, “if you're the son of God, walk off of the cross and save yourself.” He could have called 72,000 angels from heaven, but He didn't. It wasn't the nails that kept Him hanging on the cross. Rather, it was the love that He had for us ... 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.

Let's continue Michael's message on "taking up your Cross" on the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Do to Others

Matthew 7:12 “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Monday, February 20, 2017

For the Glory of God

1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Rightly Handling the Word of God

2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

I read that during the medieval times, when some church leadership did not believe that individual Christian did not have a right to read and interpret the Bible for themselves, Reformers of the time believed in the doctrine of justification by faith alone and that a closed book available only to scholarly elite and the clergy violated that right because the Word of God as the possession of all Christians. The doctrine of “sola Scriptura does not mean that Christians are to pay attention only to personal understanding of the Bible or that we can make the Scriptures mean whatever we want them to mean; the Word of God must be rightly handled. The meaning of Scripture is not so uncertain that we can all come up with our own views and never know the truth. That would be a skeptical view of divine truth that says it is wholly subjective and objectively unknowable. The Holy Spirit is no skeptic.

Ecclesiastes 8:1b “Who knows the interpretation of a thing?”

With the right of private interpretation comes the obligation to interpret Scripture correctly. We must work diligently with the text in order to rightly handle “the word of truth.”  Scripture is the only infallible authority and the Bible is the best guide for interpreting the Bible, but we also have the teaching of godly councils, individual theologians, ordained clergy and teachers as lesser authorities to help us understand God’s Word and provide a measuring stick against which we can check our personal interpretations of Scripture.

1 Corinthians 14:33 "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace."

We are not to treat Scripture like a secret code book; rather, we read the Bible as we would read any other work of literature, because our goal is to read the Scriptures according to the intent of its authors and the literary conventions of the particular style that is being used, whether poetry, narrative, proverb, epistle, sermon, et cetera. In reading the Bible literally, our goal is to get at the plain sense of the text. Scripture is divinely inspired and the content we need to know for salvation. God did not use specialized or obscure forms when He revealed Himself because He wanted us to readily understand it. God accommodated Himself to the genres that we know when He gave us His Word. God is not “a God of confusion”. The purpose of literal interpretation of Scripture is simply to read the Word of God with an eye for understanding it according to its various forms and genres (for example, we should read poetry as non-literal symbolic language), thereby rightly handling the Word of God.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Training to Trust – Part 2 – The Turnaround

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 
Michael continues his message, saying that the secret to forgiveness of sins is not to dwell on the sin, but to turn from sin to the Savior. Jesus taught His disciples that we need to walk in the world as Ambassadors of Heaven and get our feet dirty. Jesus called His disciples to the upper room before He died and washed their feet. This illustrated that He came to wash us from the contamination of this God-rejecting world system. “Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow.”

It's easy to get caught up into the distractions of this sinful world. God has called each and every one of us to repent ... to do an about face, turning away from the world by turning to Him. God did not call us for the purpose of calling fire down from heaven or to cast out the devil spirits. Jesus said, “I have not come to destroy, but to save.” He did not come to destroy the law of sin and death, but to fulfill the law. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ has made me free from the law of sin and death. Jesus did not call us to protect His reputation. His righteous standard stands on its own. He did not call us to defend the truth. The truth is its own defense. Jesus called us to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
1 Peter 3:15-16 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

He shows us the imperfections in ourselves and others so that we can know what to pray for. Jesus said, "Bless them that persecute you, bless and curse not."  Jesus' prayer was, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." Jesus has called us unto “Liberty”. Our liberty in Christ is not to be used as an excuse to sin, but rather our liberty is to serve others in love and point to the foot of the Cross, where forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation are found in Jesus Christ alone. Speaking the truth in love will turn an upside down world right-side-up. He didn't call us to condemn unbelievers to hell. The world is already condemned. Jesus came into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.

Therefore, stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled with the yoke of sin’s bondage. Following in the footsteps of our Lord as His true disciple is continuing in His Word. Jesus said "if you continue in my word, you shall be my disciplined followers.  And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

Training to Trust – Part 1 – Our Calling in Christ

This week, Michael writes that in Luke 9, Jesus sent out His twelve disciples to preach the gospel, to heal the sick, and to cast out Devils. Jesus was training His disciples to trust Him ... to learn to be men and women of faith instead of men and women of fear. He gave them the two things they needed to get the job done: power and authority. Power is the ability ... the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses unto Jesus Christ to serve Him and to bear fruit for Him that will last for eternity. In our own power we will not bear fruit that will last.  Likewise, Jesus has called each of us with His power to preach the gospel and minister from our spiritual gift. The authority and power Jesus gave His disciples over demons and illness was to authenticate the message of the gospel of the kingdom. The purpose of the gospel message was to prepare men's and women’s hearts for God's harvest ...  to "write their names in the Book of Life in heaven."

In the following chapter, Jesus sent out seventy on another faith trip to speak the gospel, to cast out demons and to heal people. He said to take nothing with them on the trip and to rely on the hospitality of those to whom they ministered. They reported back to Jesus with a joyous report of the great and mighty works that they had done in Jesus' name. However, Jesus admonished them, "Rejoice not because the devil fell from heaven like lightning, but because your names are written in heaven."

The stories in Luke 9 and 10 are about Jesus' training His disciples how to become men and women of faith. After the feeding of the 5000, Jesus met a man whose son was possessed with a demon. The disciples could not cast out the demon.  After Jesus had delivered the man's son from the demon, the disciples took Jesus aside and asked Him why they could not cast out the demon. Jesus had said to the crowd that had followed Him, "O faithless generation." The disciples had been corrupted by arguing about who was the greatest among them. They had reverted to the ways of the world and the thoughts of the flesh instead of the thoughts of the Spirit. Who is really Lord of your life?  In verse 18, Jesus had asked His disciples, "Who do men say that I am?"  The disciples answered, "Some say that you are John the Baptist or Elijah or one of the Old Testament Prophets returning from the dead." Then Jesus asked them, "But who say ye that I am?"  Peter answered, "Thou art the Christ, the son of the Living God."

One of life's greatest lessons is that God doesn't always need our help to accomplish His will and His work. Sometimes He calls us to rest in Him and to prepare for the spiritual battle. Men and women often want to be on the front lines. However, God's timing is not our timing. Our challenge is to make our will His will. Our exhortation is to die to ourselves in order to live for Him. Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.  For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

John said to Jesus, "There were men casting out Devils in your name.  We rebuked them for using your name."  However Jesus said, "Forbid him not, for whoever is not against us is for us."  In Mark 9:51 Jesus had set His face to go to Jerusalem through Samaria. However the Samaritans rejected Him. Jesus said to the Samaritans, "You do not know who's spirit you are following."  He came to deliver them from the spirit of the world, but they rejected His message. Is our society today not doing the same?  In our culture the "Samaritans" will not stand up and cheer when the word of the Lord is spoken.

Let's continue Micheal's message on our calling as a Christian on the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Revelation of God – Part 4 – Biblical Sufficiency

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2 Timothy 3:17-18 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. That the man (and woman) of God may be complete, equipped for every good word”

Continuing from the last post, this article on the revelation of God elucidates that according to the doctrine of Scripture encapsulated in the Latin tern “sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith because the Word of God is the “theopneustos” (God breathed) special revelation that we use today, then no man-made rule of faith can supersede Holy Scripture. There is no higher court to which we can appeal for faith and practice, for there is nowhere else besides Scripture where we can simply find God’s voice today. By definition, God is the highest authority possible.

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That God’s Word is inspired does not mean that He dedicated it or that He overrode the personalities, gifts, and stylistic choices for the human authors through whom the written Word of God has come to us. It does mean that God worked in and through these authors such that their words are His words. The Creator of heaven and earth, who spoke the Cosmos into existence, can do this, and did. So “sola Scriptura” leads us to the doctrine of biblical sufficiency. To say that Holy Scripture is sufficient is to say that the Bible contains all that we need for determining what we must believe and how we are to live before all-powerful, all-knowing and all-seeing God’s. Scripture must be interpreted if we are to understand what we are to believe and how we are to act, but the sufficiency of Scripture indicates that we need no other source of special revelation for faith and life in addition to the Bible.

Ephesians 2:8-10 “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourself, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared for us in advance.”

Having affirmed that God’s Word is profitable for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”, the Apostle Paul explains that Holy Scripture is enough to make us “complete, equipped for every good work.” Scripture in its totality is all that is needed so that we will be completely prepared to serve the Lord. A good work is anything that is pleasing to God, so cover from determining sound doctrine to knowing the deeds the Lord requires us as proof of our faith. Being equipped for every good work requires understanding the doctrinal foundation of God-pleasing actions and the actions themselves, as is seen in the New Testament moving from presenting doctrine that must be believed to practical applications and moral instruction. To be complete means to be one in whom there is nothing defective. To avoid being defective with respect to faith and life, we must study Holy Scripture and put its teachings into practice.

Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goes out from my moputh, it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

We are tempted to look for God’s holy Will and Way in places other than the one place He has revealed it – His Word. As we ponder the will of God for our lives, we must be careful to follow the guidance of Scripture. Scripture cannot fail to teach the truth. It is sufficient to give us the principles we need to know to please God wherever we are and whatever we are called to do.

Proverbs 30:5-6a “Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Revelation of God – Part 3

Psalm 139:1-4 “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.”

Although natural, or general, revelation manifests the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, it is insufficient to give knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation. Natural revelation leads us to the reality and knowledge of the existence of eternal sovereign Creator Father God and that we have sinned against Him and His perfect commandments. We can hide behind a façade with mankind, but such strategies never work with God. We stand utterly exposed before the Creator of heaven and earth. However, our loving Almighty God did not leave us without revelation that teaches us now we can be saved. The article explains that “Special Revelation” is that revelation from God that tells us the way to salvation and what it means to live in a manner that pleases Him.

Matthew 4:4 “But He (Jesus) answered (Satan) and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

We could give multiple examples of the different forms in which special revelation once came. The most important of these, however, is the form of the Holy Scriptures; the living Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” This is a clear way of saying that Scripture is the very speech of God. It is His Word. The Greek word translated as “breathed out” here is “theopneustos”, and Scripture is the only thing described as such by the Apostles. Thus, the Holy Scripture of the Bible has a unique character as the voice and words of the living Lord God. It uniquely serves as God’s special revelation, as His inspired and revealed will for his people. Nothing else today is “theopneustos”, so we can point to nothing but the Holy Bible as the Word of God.

John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”

 When we speak of Scripture as “theopneustos’, we are pointing to its divine inspiration. The Word of God written is identical to God’s speech. IT is exactly what He intended us to have as revelation of His will and how to please Him. God breathed out His Word, but He did so through the instrumentality of His prophets and Apostles. It is God’s Word, given by Him. Verbal inspiration means that inspiration pertains to the very words themselves, not just the meaning that the words convey. Plenary inspiration means that all words of Holy Scripture are given by God, not just some of them. No, God spoke it all, using the distinct style of each human author to give us His sacred Word for all of life.

Let’s continue this message on revelation of God in the next post.

In Christ, Brian