Friday, March 31, 2017

Get on Board – Part 2 – Fellowship


Ephesians 4:11-15 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Michael continues: A real man and woman are not mature until they "run to the King (Jesus) and bow down to authority." It may be difficult to "grow-up" and give in, but this is what is required to come before the throne of grace with a heart of humility and meekness. "Transparency" means to be able to divulge ourselves to those who need to be helped. In order to deal with sin, we must first identify the problem so that we can concentrate on the solution.  According to 1 John, if we claim that we are in the light while we are in the darkness, then we deceive ourselves. Satan's name means "deceiver." If we deceive ourselves, we're playing in the Satan's ballpark. However, if we confess our sin (our missing God’s mark, our shortcomings and failures), He is faithful and just to forgive us of all unrighteousness. To come to Jesus, we must crucify our selfish flesh nature in order to come to Him with a humble and a contrite heart.

Psalm 51:15-17 “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise.”

When we're right with God in fellowship with Him, our prayer for others must be the prayer that Jesus prayed while hanging on the cross: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." As Romans 12 exhorts us, "Be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good." We cannot have Christian fellowship until we are walking in the light as He is in the light. When we walk together in the light then truly our fellowship is with our Heavenly Father, His Son Christ Jesus, and one with another in the household of faith. 

Hebrews 12:14 “ Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy;without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

The exhortation to fellowship is for fellows to get into the boat and row together with our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the captain of our salvation. When we're in the vessel together then we can be "harmoniously fitted together." There is tremendous energy released in a "fusion reaction" that unites many into one. We have been called, collectively, as the "body of Christ" so that others can witness "holiness."  Holiness means to be set apart according to the purpose intended by the Designer. Holiness means to "Give 'em heaven!"  Ephesians 4:13 is a picture of fellowship and a fitting benediction:  “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

2 Corinthians 13:14 “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Get on Board – Part 1 - Fellowship


This week, Micheal writes that Fellowship = Fellows in the Ship. 1 John chapter 1 is about what we call "fellowship" in Christian circles.  Fellowship with Jesus Christ requires "transparency" before our loving Heavenly Father.  How do we portray ourselves?  Do we see ourselves in light of his glorious gospel of truth or according to the darkness of this fallen world?  God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.  According to the gospel of John, light is anything that makes manifest; it is anything that reveals and illuminates so that we can clearly see.  The light of God enlightens so that we can perceive reality from a spiritual perspective.  Light reveals what already exists.  If there is sin and iniquity in our lives, then these dark places in our lives try to hide from the glorious light of the gospel of truth.  

1 John 1;1-10 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

Fellowship and light go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Our primary goal needs to be to walk in the light as He is in the light. What some Christians think is fellowship, others who attend church often think is "food and entertainment."  However biblical terms need to be defined in terms of their biblical definitions. The Greek word "koinonia" means to "share fully." It means that we need to share fully with our Savior Jesus Christ everything that He is. Fellowship denotes an intimate, participating, and sharing relationship of community and communion. As members of the body of Christ we must share the fellowship of the Holy Spirit: the righteousness of God in Christ in us.

In marriage God commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  Men often have a facade of toughness on the outside because they are overly sensitive on the inside. However, as David was “a man after God's own heart," David's prayer was "break my sinful heart and create within me a new heart." Women are often soft on the outside but tough on the inside. They are the stable ones who endure hardness and abusive relationships for the sake of the marriage commitment. Men can learn a lot from their wives in terms of biblical virtues of forgiveness, patience, long suffering and kindness.

Let’s continue Michael’s message on “Fellowship” on the next Post.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Washed


1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Matthew Henry states that all true Christians are a chosen generation; they make one family, a people distinct from the world: of another spirit, principle, and practice; which they could never be, if they were not chosen in Christ to be such, and sanctified by his Spirit. Their first state is a state of gross darkness, but they are called out of darkness into a state of joy, pleasure, and prosperity; that they should show forth the praises of the Lord by their profession of his truth, and their good conduct. How vast their obligations to Him who has made them his people, and has shown mercy to them! To be without this mercy is a woeful state, though a man have all worldly enjoyments. And there is nothing that so kindly works repentance, as right thoughts of the mercy and love of God. Let us not dare to abuse and affront the free grace of God, if we mean to be saved by it; but let all who would be found among those who obtain mercy, walk as his people. Christians are a kingdom of priests. The Holy Spirit lives within you.

Titus 3:4-7 “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”


How encouraging to discover God’s Word flowing from the Old to the New Testament to describe such essential details of the believer. Have you been bathed in the cleansing blood? Are you aware you’re wearing a robe (the righteousness of Christ)? White as snow.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thanks Be to God


1 Corinthians 15:48-57 As was the man of dust (Adam), so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man (Jesus), so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:1-6 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

1 Chronicles 29:11 “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all.”

Thanks be to God,
In Christ, Brian

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Happy Ending – Part 2 – The Best is Yet to Come


Ruth 4:13-17 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a kinsman redeemer; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Continuing Pastor Herk’s Message: Truth (3) We must know our identity in Christ. Those who, by faith, accept the free gift of salvation offered by the grace of God in the atoning and redemptive sacrificial death of His Son Jesus Christ  (our kinsman redeemer) are destined  for “good godly works” here now and Heaven to come. Once saved, forgive yourself of your past sins because God has already done it. Do not allow yourself to be known as a utter failure. The children of God do not wear that name tag because it is a false identity that takes away our potential to serve our just and holy loving Lord God.

Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

(4) It’s all about Jesus. We cannot be dragged down by negativity. If God is for us, who can be against us in this negative sin-sick world. The best is yet to come! Even though the God-rejecting world system is growing more negative, we are saved and being heaven-bound is our eternal perspective. It’s easier to endure difficult times in this “fallen” world, if we identify ourselves as a child of God and the citizen of heaven with a eternally glorious future.

1 Corinthians 2:9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Christians that look back negatively on their past and punishingly rerun old wrongs forgiven that are now long gone, cannot serve and minister today effectively. Spiritual revival asks; “How do we reach unsaved people with the gospel?” Answer: With a message of God’s grace that forgives the past and says: “The best is yet to come!” Philippians 3:13-14 tells us, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” A person who rides looking backwards knows where they have been, but does not know where they are going. So forget the bad things behind us and look forward to what’s coming, whether in view or over the next rise; its victory. Know that the best is yet to come and, in the end, we live happily ever after with the Lord in Heaven. Now, that’s a happy ending!

Philippians 2:12-13 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;  for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.


In Christ, Brian

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Happy Ending – Part 1 – And They Lived happily Ever After


Ruth 4:9-12 And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day.” And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the Lord will give you from this young woman.”

Last weekend, I was visiting my dad at Bass Lake, California and went to church with him, so I’d like to share the notes from pastor Herk’s Sunday Sermon. The fourth chapter of the book of Ruth has a happy ending, and God can do the same for us. We all want to hear the words: “and they lived happily ever after.” The Bible tells us of Job, Daniel and Joseph, who knew and loved the Lord their God, yet met with great adversity in life (beyond our imagination) and these “pillars of faith” patriarch’s stories all had a “happy ending”. We have to get to the absolute end of ourselves in order to find the beginning of God.

Revelation 22:20-21 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

We must remember that Jesus Christ is the ultimate happy ending. When change the way that we look at life, we change the way that we live. Pastor Herk gave us four truths that lead to a happy life and a happy ending. (1) Don’t think of yourself as a failure. Sure, Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. We all have failed miserably in the past, but we are not remembered by our failures. God refuses to identify His redeemed people as a bitter failure, so neither should we. God can see our heart, so be a man or woman after God’s heart.

2 Peter 1:3-4 “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
(2) God has a way of working things out. How we identify ourselves determines our path in life. See yourself as holy people; righteous, blessed, sons and daughters of God through faith, out of the darkness of sin and into the godly light now and forever more. We are sinners saved by grace, however, grace says that we were once identified  as “lost sinner”, but now ‘saved saints”.

Let’s continue my notes on  Pastor Herk’s message on “A Happy Ending” on the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Science Fiction Defined



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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Slow to Wrath


James 1:19-20 “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

A Greek-speaking Stoic philosopher named Epictetus (AD 50 – 135) once stated: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Wise words indeed! We cannot take back hurtful words spoken in anger. Many times we find that things said in hast ends up being a case of open mouth and insert foot.

I heard a story about a pastor who once counseled a church member with anger management issues and told him that every day he felt like arguing to remove himself from the situation by stopping immediately and take a five miles walk to cool down. The pastor told him to call him back in a week and told him how he was doing. A week later, the pastor receives a phone call from the man. When the pastor asked how he was doing with his anger issue, the man told him that he hadn’t gotten into one argument or fight the whole week, but was 35 miles from home and what to know if he could give him a ride back.

Proverbs 15:1-2 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”

Change the “short-fuse” in for a long one. Replace your “thin skin” with “thick skin”. If feeling hot-tempered, take a “chill pill”. Don’t lose your cool; find Jesus Christ, for our wrath does not produce the righteousness of God. In a heated moment, take a step back and slow it down, say a quick prayer for the wisdom and guidance of the Lord. Think about the gospel message of salvation. Listen twice as much as you speak and be the reflection of the Prince of Peace, our savior and Lord Jesus.


In Christ, Brian

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Truth and Tears – Part 2 - Authentic and Pure


Michael reminds us that teaching is not just data, rather, it points to the majesty of God. The exhortation is to not forget the teaching of God. The knowledge of God needs to be constantly in our mind as when Moses gave this final charge to the children of Israel before they entered into the Promised Land:  "When you enter into the promised land and your flocks and your houses multiply, do not forget the Lord thy God." What we truly desire we will never forget. If we forget the Lord, then he will no longer have supremacy in our life.

The Proverbs speak of the ways that the laws of God normally function. These precepts of truth are the way God designed His blessings to flow. Do not let kindness and truth leave you. Bind them upon thy neck write them upon the tables of thine heart. Kindness and truth go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other to reflect the character of God in your life. You will be loved and blessed when you walk with the Lord. Fellowship with the Lord reflects the nature of God Himself and as you walk with Him, God will bless you with those who need to be loved.  
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart. This implies total abandonment. Don't lean unto thine own understanding. The question is, "why not?"  The reason is because we are not worthy to build our own lives. We're not in control ...  He is. Our best understanding of the future is no more than a vague hunch. We cannot know value apart from what God says is valuable.  We need to come to this conclusion: "Apart from the Word of God, I don't know."  The human race is in an identity crisis without any frame of reference for truth. The older you get and the more thoughtful you get, the more you realize that the truth is the Word of God and that Jesus Christ is the meaning of the Word. He is the way, the truth, and the life and He alone is our moral compass.

Only God can make your path straight and bring you to your appointed goal. We often wonder, what will it take to get us there? Through the pressures and the tribulations of life, has God left the building? There is a story in the gospels about a storm raging while the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee. Jesus appeared to them walking on the water. Jesus said, "fear not." The answer to the trials and tribulations of this life is "fear not for the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go." Why do we experience these struggles in life?  It's because God wants to make you a person of joy, yet easily touched by compassion. He wants to make you a man or woman of passion and yet authentic and pure. In order for God to form you into the man or woman of character He wants you to be, He needs to mold you and make you after His will. He wants us to experience the truth of the Word of God to prove the power of God. Through the trial God says, "Give me your weakness, and I will give you my strength."

He continues to teach us through truth and tears. Great is thy faithfulness, O God my father. There is no shadow of turning with thee. Thou changest to not, thy compassions they fail not. Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.

May God richly bless you!

Your brother in Christ, Michael

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Truth and Tears – Part 1 - Compassion


This week Michael writes that in the gospel of John, toward the end of Jesus' ministry, Jesus and the twelve disciples were headed toward Bethany. They were on their way to his friend Lazarus' house because Lazarus' sisters Mary and Martha had sent word to Jesus several days before that their brother was sick and near unto death. Jesus said to His disciples that Lazarus had fallen asleep. He then told them that Lazarus had died, and that He was going to prove the power of God. Martha rushed out to meet them and said to Jesus, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died."  Jesus said, "Your brother will rise again."  Martha said, "I understand that he will rise again at the resurrection."  

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.  Believest thou this?  She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”

When they came to Bethany and Jesus saw the mourners and Lazarus' sister Mary, the scripture says, "Jesus wept."  He was overcome with grief and compassion for His friends. When you look at this story of Mary and Martha, Jesus gave Martha the truth, "I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me shall never die." To Mary, he gave tears. Jesus wept.  Sometimes, you say it best when you say nothing at all.  Jesus' life of ministry was a combination of truth and tears.

A pastor often travels to Nepal in trekking expeditions and to get away and meditate. On his first trip ten years ago, he picked up the luggage at the airport for the trekking team.  While passing through a slum area in Bombay to take the train to Nepal, he noticed the filth and squalor of the slum. He broke down and cried for the people in that area and at the utter depravity of their living conditions. Other times he went to Nepal, he was no longer moved by the sight of the slums. According to Lamentations 3:22-23, “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” His compassions never come to an end because morning by morning new mercies I see. Our compassion needs to be fresh and new every morning as though it were the first time. Jesus always feels the pain and compassion for God's people each new day.

The heart of a man and woman of God is truth. Jesus said, "Sanctify them with thy word; thy word is truth." A child of God is also a person of tears and compassion.  Keeping our heart close to the heart of our Lord means that we must share both truth and tears. According to Proverbs, the wisdom literature of the bible, wisdom is the application of the knowledge of the truth.  Proverbs 3:3 and following says:  "My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:  For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.  Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Let’s continue Michael’s message on “Truth and Tears” on the next post.

In Christ, Brian






Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Alpha and the Omega


Revelation 1:8 I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Living in a material world, we tend to think of things in a physical manner, and forget that our Creator God is Spirit and exists forever outside of the dimension of time and matter. Therefore, this ever-present, all-Powerful Creator God is all-knowing because He can see the end from the beginning. An infinite Maker of heaven and earth is beyond our finite comprehension, let alone being omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, but He reveals Himself to us all in His Holy Word and in His Creation. We are never out of His vision and care.

Psalm 139:7-10 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”

The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word "omnipresent" as ‘”Present in all places at the same time; ubiquitary; as the omnipresent Jehovah.” It is amazing to think about the fact that everything that has been made, was made by Almighty God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and even more amazing to think that we will be with Him in Heaven for eternity.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

In God We Trust is more than our national motto; it is our foundational statement of truth. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:31: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” God is the beginning and the end, so what do we have to fear? Rest assured, everything is in the hands of our heavenly Father God. Rejoice!

Isaiah 46:9-10 “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’”


In Christ, Brian

Monday, March 20, 2017

Worth the Wait – Part Two - Delayed Gratification


Psalm 52:2-7 “You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor. You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. You love every harmful word, you deceitful tongue! Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying, “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold.”

Pastor Kyle continues that (4) Ultimately, we reap what we sow. Payback is a hard pill to swallow. When we believe in God and His redemptive Plan of Salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, our spirit is regenerated, we are given a new heart bent towards righteousness and our eternal consequences change. This side of Heaven, if you want good things in life along your walk, then sow good things in other people’s lives along the way.

James 1:13-18 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Next, Pastor Kyle gave us three suggestions how to effectively deal with temptation. (1) Find better and healthier distractions. What is your coping mechanism? Sometimes, sure willpower may not always work. Situational circumstances do affect us, so find something that builds your soul – spiritually, physically and emotionally. (2) When resisting is not working, run! This side of glory, stress is here and unavoidable. Kid yourself not, life in the jungle is no bowl full of cherries. Plans have patterns, so choose your battles and learn to bail sometimes. (3) Get some accountability. Hunter S. Thompson once stated that “He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master." We’re all accountable to God, but accountability by other experienced and godly individuals is essential to helping our vision, purpose and attaining goals. Somebody around us has already gone through what we are currently going through. We do not have to reinvent the wheel. Treasure the experience and wisdom of your grandparents and parents, and those with more years behind them than there are miles in front of their cart and tap into their expertise. They have seen a lot of water go under the bridge of their life, so can honestly hear our concerns and help us not take the wrong path.

Psalm 24:1-6 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.

A quick recap on delayed gratification is (1) We can get one marshmallows now, or two marshmallows later. (2) We have more to lose by giving in than we ever stand to gain. Remind yourself often of everything you have to lose. There is a brighter future and a better plan when we align our motives with God’s perfect motives for our life. This side of glory, we will never be satisfied and will keep coming up empty when we try to fill the bottomless Christ-shaped hole in our life with thoughts, words and actions that are based in selfish pride and ungodly ambition. Remember that we cannot have whatever we want, whenever we want. Some things are worth waiting for.


In Christ, Brian

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Worth the Wait – Part One - Deception


Genesis 29:16b-20 Now Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance. Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.” And Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me.” So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.”

This last week, Pastor Kyle continued through his Sunday Sermon series based upon the book of Genesis. He told us of a marshmallow experiment performed at Stanford University where children were offered two choices. (1) A marshmallow was laid on the table before them and they were told that they could eat the tasty treat now or (2) they could wait a specified amount of time and they could have two marshmallows. The point of the experiment was that in life, there are times when you have a choice for a small reward now or a larger reward later ... that some things are worth waiting for; this is termed “delayed gratification”. The Israelite Patriarch Jacob was willing to work for and wait for Rachel as his wife.

Luke 6:31 “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”

This portion of Scripture, after Jacobs conversion at the stairway to Heaven, the ex-deceiver gets deceived by a cunning conman Uncle Laban. Pastor Kyle gave us four things to think about when we are wrapped up in deception. (1) We almost always have reasons for our actions. In Genesis 29:21-23, Laban pulled the big “bait and switch” on Jacob, changing his older daughter Leah for Rachel. We can also be deceptive in that the original reason for doing something is not “The Reason” for doing it because there is an ulterior motive going on behind the scenes ... what we are doing what we are doing. But, the over-lying reason for a Christian is whether our motive lines up with God’s motives. Pastor Kyle says that our Christian walk is like a “dimmer Switch” in that the more we follow God’s holy Word, Will and Way, the more we hear from Him along the path on this side of eternity.

2 Timothy 2:22 “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”


(2) We feel the need to act quickly. Laban never told anyone about his evil plan and purpose until after the trap was sprung. A general rule for us today is that the “rushed” voice is not usually the voice of God telling us of what He was going to do. (3) We think that we are doing the “right” thing. We can get so wrapped up in a deception that we actually rationalize the hidden agenda thoughts and deceptive actions, thinking that we are manipulating the course and proceedings towards a greater “good”. 

Let's continue Pastor's Kyle message on the next post,
In Christ Brian

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Truth about Sin


 1 John 3:1-10Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God

In John 1:10:13, the Apostle John confirms the Apostle Paul by stating the truth of the Believer’s adoption that as a child of God though faith in the gospel of His Son Jesus Christ. They both also confirm that by the sin nature, the (God-rejecting) world system does not recognize or know Him or His children. It’s bitter to think that we either belongs to the devil’s lawless system or belong to God’s system (because He makes the law, commandments, statutes, but it one or the other and that darkness or light difference equates to sinful or righteous, unforgiven and forgiven, unredeemed or redeemed, lost or saved, unreconciled or reconciled, wrath on your for your sins or wrath on Jesus (in your place) for your sins and ultimately separated in the damnation Hell or in glory with the Lord in Heaven for eternity. Do we take sin and salvation seriously or for granted?

Romans 3:22-25a “The righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement , through faith in His blood..

I was once told by a teenage girl in our church Youth Group that it was so difficult for her to think that some of her family and friends were not going to be with her in Heaven, just for not knowing and believing in Jesus, but the truth (as hard as it is to accept) is that all have sinned against our Maker Father God and deserve the just penalty for that willful sin. Jesus tells us in John 3:18 that because of our sin, we all stand condemned already. It is the love and mercy of our sovereign Creator God that flows the grace (that unmerited favor of God) to produce His plan of Salvation of sending His sinless Son to the world as an atoning sacrifice for redemption “salvation” through our accepting faith and live there. That is the reason that Jesus came. Those who do not accept the free gift of forgiveness, adoption into the family of God, citizenship in Heaven and eternal life have made the choice to remain in their sin and go to Hell. God doesn’t send them to Hell. God wishes nobody to perish, to come to a rebirth into life through saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The truth about sin is that we send ourselves to Hell; God offers forgiveness and salvation.

Romans 6:22-23 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


In Christ, Brian

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day 2017


When it comes to Saint Patrick, the true story is even more exciting than the legend and the myth. The facts are far better than the fable. This day that belongs to St. Patrick has become about leprechauns, shamrocks, pots of gold, and green—green everywhere.

Patrick was born in 385 in Roman Britannia in the modern-day town of Dumbarton, Scotland. Patrick opens his autobiographical St. Patrick’s Confession with these opening lines: “My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers...”
St. Patrick’s “Lorica” points beyond himself and his adventurous life. It points to Christ, the one he proclaimed to the people who had taken him captive:

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, March 16, 2017

What Do You Value? – Part 2 - Consider the Value


Michael continues from yesterday, explaining that if you reject your eternal inheritance, you'll miss the physical inheritance. How do you allocate the wealth with which God has blessed you?  It is He who has given us the ability to get wealth. All I have needed thy hand hath provided. Jesus said, "He who is faithful in that which is least shall be also faithful in much." The point of the parable of the alleged unjust steward is that "he that is trustworthy in the material things, the physical treasures of this world, will be entrusted with the eternal things of the spirit of the living God." The question is not "How good are you at managing your funds, but rather how are you managing the things of God?"

What are true riches and the currency of heaven? Ye were bought with a price.  The true riches are those whom God has called to be a living sacrifice.  I beseech ye therefore brethren by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

What is highly valued among men and women is detestable to God. The root of all kinds of evil is the love of money. Ye cannot serve both God and mammon.  Money is not evil in itself, rather it's when we love and worship money and the things that money can buy as the source of our provision. At that point the true God is no longer our Provider ...  He no longer has preeminence in our hearts.  The motto of the United States is "In God We Trust."  It is ironic that "In God We Trust" is printed on US Currency, for money itself is the "God" that many Americans trust. The scripture says, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for a man's life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesses." God says to give of our material riches so that He can bless us in return. The blessing is in “seeking him as the source of our sufficiency” and not our money.  Therefore, give and it shall be given unto you. For with the measure that you give it shall be given back to you pressed down, shaken together, and running over.

The most valuable things in this life and the next are the things that money can't buy. It's not about the cost, rather, it' s about the value. Like the credit card commercial says, "What is the value of taking your daughter to a baseball game?" Two tickets behind home plate:  $150.00.  Two hot dogs with peanuts and drinks:  $30.00.  One baseball cap:  $25.00.  One souvenir bat and ball:  $50.00.  One precious evening spending time with your daughter:  Priceless.”

How valuable is our relationship with God our Heavenly Father as His sons and daughters? Our fellowship with Him is priceless. For His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, was made the perfect sacrifice for sin on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus paid our debt of sin on the cross because we could not afford it. What does God value most?  God values our fellowship with Him, His son Jesus Christ, and one with another in the household of faith. We are in this journey together: for what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What Do You Value? – Part 1 - Consider the Value

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This week Michael asks: What's your value system?  Jesus said, "Where your treasure, there will your heart be also." There is a parable in Luke 16 about an alleged "unjust steward." To understand this parable, we need to understand God's value system.  There was a rich master who had a steward, a manager, who was accused of wasting his master's resources. The master ordered an audit of the steward's management of the master's affairs. The steward called each of his master's debtors and discounted each debtor's debt. When the debtors had paid less than the amount they originally owed, the master commended the steward for his actions. One interpretation of this parable is that the steward himself made up the difference between the original debts and the amount paid. The question is, "What is valuable to you?" The world considers the most valuable possessions to be the ones that last the longest. Diamonds and houses are valuable because they are lasting in this world. However,  2 Corinthians 4:18 says that which is seen (material possessions) are temporal, but that which is unseen is eternal. The reason the steward was commended was because he used his own wealth to gain lasting friendships and relationships. The steward valued the precious and valuable relationship with his master's customers even more than his own money. You may think that you're giving it away, however, you can never exhaust God's resources. The most important business relationships are personal. If you gain material things, they are temporal ... here today and gone tomorrow. According to one Pastor, he is not a fool who gives away what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.  Don't consider the cost, rather consider the value.

How does God see our prayer when we ask for a miracle of healing?  What is the value of our physical bodies in the eyes of God? Are we seeking to feel good, or are we asking for God's desire?  From the eternal perspective, our prayer is not my will be done, but rather, Thy will be done. The Word of God says, "Beloved, above all things I desire that thou may prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers." Our ultimate healing will be realized at the return of Jesus Christ, when this physical, mortal, and corruptible body shall have put on incorruption in a new resurrected spiritual body. Through the trials of this life, God values our fellowship with Him above the physical well being of our earthen vessel. According to Psalm 119, "Let me not enter into presumptuous sin." Presumptuous sin is to seek the blessing instead of the Blessor. Often the miracle in the gospels is not physical healing, but rather salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead. However, Jesus said, "the works that I do shall they do and greater works shall they do because I go unto my Father." The greater works is the miracle of the “new birth”. Salvation through Jesus' finished work on the cross and by His resurrection from the dead is the greatest miracle of all. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?
      
      Let’s continue Michael’s message on “value” on the next post. 
      In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

To Truly Follow Jesus


Mark 10:42-45 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Although believers are gifted by the grace of God salvation in Christ and promised glory in the kingdom of Heaven, in the here and now we are often called to suffer for the Lord.

Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Moreover, the life of a disciple is a life of service, of finding true greatness by humbling ourselves and putting the needs of others before our own.

1 Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”


That we would all seek to better follow our Savior by serving one another.


2 Corinthians 4:5 “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”

Monday, March 13, 2017

God's Plan for us


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.”

This passage is a “life verse” for many people. Erin, from my old east Anaheim was one of those people who took this bible verse to speak to her life … and what a great declaration from the Lord God it is! He is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful Creator of the Cosmos (literally, everything) and is outside of the dimension of time and space. God is truly beyond our comprehension, yet has a plan for each and every one of us.

Isaiah 46:10 “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.'"

God is love and merciful, so His plans are not to harm us, but to prosper us. While we were yet Sinners, He planned and sent His only begotten Son to pay the price for those sins, to regenerate our spirit and reconcile our relationship with Him. He took our misery and doom and exchanged it through Christ for hope and a future in the kingdom of heaven. When we by faith accept the free gift of eternal life through the atoning blood of Jesus, we have a right to the Tree of Life and may go through the gates of heaven, which was His plan for us all along. 

Revelation 22:12-14 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”


In Christ, Brian

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Stairway to Heaven – Part 2


Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” 

Willie Nolte points out that the Lord God stands above the stairway to Heaven and tells us all how He never gives up on us; He will never leave us or forsake us. It may make sense that by justice we are getting what we deserve for the sins that we commit, but God’s mercy is “not getting what we deserve” and God’s grace is “getting what we do not deserve” in salvation and reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Willie gave us three truths that we can trust in God’s promises. (1) God is with us. It’s not conditional; not waiting to see if we clean up our act. The chickens always come home to roost, meaning “our sins will always find us. This side of eternity, we are in the fallen flesh. Jesus died for our sins, the Holy Spirit guides us in paths of righteousness and we need to walk in the Spirit and follow Jesus the Blessed Redeemer. (2) God loves to intervene. God shows up to our rescue. (3) God is actively involved. Those Angels were ascending the stairway to Heaven to report to God and Angels are descending to take care of God’s business here on earth.    

Willie points out further that God always fulfills His plan both generally and specifically. Our heavenly Father God is and has been working out his original design throughout history. We need to be involved in God’s greater plan. God’s blessing cannot be fathomed; have a Bible relationship with God. Jacob’s decision is our decision. As Led Zeppelin’s song says: ‘Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on.” It is time that we do not hear about God, but to know God. We cannot live on someone else’s faith. God offer is always on the table, inviting us to join His family. It is our decision and commitment. That decision is (1) The Lord will be my God. People that encounter God do not make deals with God. We need to reorient our life around God’s holy Word, Will and Way. (2) I will love and worship God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. (3) I will commit everything to God. Everything ultimately belongs to God 

John 1:51 He [Jesus] then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open,and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

Jesus Christ is the Stairway to Heaven. The Son of man is our connection to the kingdom of Heaven. John 1:12-13 “To all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. Our restored relationship with God is established by Christ. John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Understand: Sins forgiven, fully adopted into God’s family, given the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us, citizenship in the Kingdom of God and eternal life with Jesus. “And if you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last. When all are one and one is all, yeah, to be a rock and not to roll.” Listen to God, read and know His Word, and stand firm on the foundation of Jesus Christ, because nobody is buying a stairway to heaven.

1 Timothy 2:5For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”


In Christ, Brian