Sunday, June 25, 2017

From the Father

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

This last Sunday, Pastor Obie and his father preached a Father’s Day message to the congregation. The definition of “father/parent” is: “He that produces young. The duties of parents to their children are to maintain, protect and educate them.” Being a “father” is so much more than just being “the provider”. The Father is the priest of the home. In 1 Timothy 3:1-4 it says, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive.” The father is the leader and overseer of the household, mentally (heart), spiritually (soul) and physically (might). Fathers invest your time and pray. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

1. Be wise in your spiritual and physical health. Be a godly model to others. But, you cannot lead someone to where you are not already present. You have to know the Lord, your God, His holy Word, Will and Way, in order to lead others to Him. Ultimately, God is the Provider. Keep your body in good health because “health is wealth.” It you do not have good health, then all your wealth is useless. A workaholic is an absent husband and father. Your family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances need you and your godly guidance. Be there for them.

Hebrews 12:8-10 “But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.”

2. Be wise with your time. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “time” as: A particular portion or part of duration, whether past, present or future. One rotation of the earth is a 24 hour day in duration time. The earth rotation around the Sun is 12 months in duration time. Time is primarily equivalent to season; in its original sense, opportunity, occasion, a fall, an event, that which comes. Will our lifetime be well spent? Time is of the essence because the most important commodity in life is time. American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin said, “You may delay, but time will not.” There is wisdom in managing time. Make better use of your valuable, yet limited, time because lost time is never found again.

Luke 11:11-13 “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

3. Be wise with how you live, for it will be the legacy you leave. A graveyard tombstone only states your name, your birth day and your date of death with a dash in between to signify your life and accomplishments this side of eternity. British preacher, author, pastor and evangelist Charles Spurgeon said that a good character is the best tombstone. Your life’s legacy is curved into the hearts of your family. In John 10:10, Jesus says that the thief (the flesh, the world and the devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Life is short; the kids grow up quickly and we all age with every passing season. Don’t waste a minute.

Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

The seasonal stages of parenting a child to adulthood have been categorized as (1) loving discipline, (2) training, (3) coaching, and (4) friendship. Learn to listen; really listen. Live the abundant life in Christ to the fullest. Be there for your family and do not miss a moment. You never regain lost time. Be a good father. The “goodness” and the “godliness” is passed down generationally. The most important legacy is to lead others to Christ and God’s family. Live and teach the love of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is true wisdom from the Father.

1 John 2:14-15 “I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Way to Pray – Part Two

Let’s now read a portion of Martin Luther’s “Way to Pray” through the first of the Ten Commandments and see how to his prayer method can improve our prayer time with our Heavenly Father.

Luther writes: I take one part after another and free myself as much as possible from distractions in order to pray.

I divide each commandment into four parts, thereby fashioning a garland of four strands. That is, I think of each commandment as, first, instruction, which is really what it is intended to be, and consider what the Lord God demands of me so earnestly. Second, I turn it into a thanksgiving; third, a confession; and fourth, a prayer. I do so in thoughts or words such as these: “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.” Here I earnestly consider that God expects and teaches me to trust him sincerely in all things and that it is his most earnest purpose to be my God. I must think of him in this way at the risk of losing eternal salvation. My heart must not build upon anything else or trust in any other thing, be it wealth, prestige, wisdom, might, piety, or anything else.

Second, I give thanks for his infinite compassion by which he has come to me in such a fatherly way and, unasked, unbidden, and unmerited, has offered to be my God, to care for me, and to be my comfort, guardian, help, and strength in every time of need. We poor mortals have sought so many gods and would have to seek them still if he did not enable us to hear him openly tell us in our own language that he intends to be our God. How could we ever—in all eternity—thank him enough!

Third, I confess and acknowledge my great sin and ingratitude for having so shamefully despised such sublime teachings and such a precious gift throughout my whole life, and for having fearfully provoked his wrath by countless acts of idolatry. I repent of these and ask for his grace. 

Fourth, I pray and say: “O my God and Lord, help me by thy grace to learn and understand thy commandments more fully every day and to live by them in sincere confidence. Preserve my heart so that I shall never again become forgetful and ungrateful, that I may never seek after other gods or other consolation on earth or in any creature, but cling truly and solely to thee, my only God. Amen, dear Lord God and Father. Amen.” 

These are the Ten Commandments in their fourfold aspect, namely, as a school text, song book, penitential book, and prayer book. They are intended to help the heart come to itself and grow zealous in prayer. Take care, however, not to undertake all of this or so much that one becomes weary in spirit. Likewise, a good prayer should not be lengthy or drawn out, but frequent and ardent. It is enough to consider one section or half a section which kindles a fire in the heart. This the Spirit will grant us and continually instruct us in when, by God’s word, our hearts have been cleared and freed of outside thoughts and concerns. Nothing can be said here about the part of faith and Holy Scriptures [in prayer] because there would be no end to what could be said.  - Martin Luther

In Christ, Brian 

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Way to Pray – Part One

Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther’s barber asked him for advice on how to pray. Luther responded with a 34 page booklet showing a simple but effective way to structure a life of devotion. Thousands have used this outline to improve their prayer-life. Let’s a take peak at what the great Reformer had to taught. Luther wrote:

Dear Master Peter, I will tell you as best I can what I do personally when I pray. May our dear Lord grant to you and to everybody to do it better than I! Amen. 

First, when I feel that I have become cool and joyless in prayer because of other tasks or thoughts (for the flesh and the devil always impede and obstruct prayer), I take my little Psalter, hurry to my room, or, if it be the day and hour for it, to the church where a congregation is assembled and, as time permits, I say quietly to myself and word-forword the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and, if I have time, some words of Christ or of Paul, or some psalms, just as a child might do. 

It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day. 

It may well be that you may have some tasks which are as good or better than prayer, especially in an emergency. There is a saying ascribed to St. Jerome that everything a believer does is prayer1 and a proverb, “He who works faithfully prays twice.” This can be said because a believer fears and honors God in his work and remembers the commandment not to wrong anyone, or to try to steal, defraud, or cheat. Such thoughts and such faith undoubtedly transform his work into prayer and a sacrifice of praise.
On the other hand it is also true that the work of an unbeliever is outright cursing and so he who works faithlessly curses twice. While he does his work his thoughts are occupied with a neglect of God and violation of his law, how to take advantage of his neighbor, how to steal from him and defraud him. What else can such thoughts be but out and out curses against God and man, which makes one’s work and effort a double curse by which a man curses himself. In the end they are beggars and bunglers.

It is of such continual prayer that Christ says in Luke 11, “Pray without ceasing,”2 because one must unceasingly guard against sin and wrong-doing, something one cannot do unless one fears God and keeps his commandment in mind, as Psalm 1 [:1, 2] says, “Blessed is he who meditates upon his law day and night.” Yet we must be careful not to break the habit of true prayer and imagine other works to be necessary which, after all, are nothing of the kind. Thus at the end we become lax and lazy, cool and listless toward prayer. The devil who besets us is not lazy or careless, and our flesh is too ready and eager to sin and is disinclined to the spirit of prayer.

When your heart has been warmed by such recitation to yourself [of the Ten Commandments, the words of Christ, etc.] and is intent upon the matter, kneel or stand with your hands folded and your eyes toward heaven and speak or think as briefly as you can: “O Heavenly Father, dear God, I am a poor unworthy sinner. I do not deserve to raise my eyes or hands toward thee or to pray. But because thou hast commanded us all to pray and hast promised to hear us and through thy dear Son Jesus Christ hast taught us both how and what to pray, I come to thee in obedience to thy word, trusting in thy gracious promise.”

 I pray in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ together with all thy saints and Christians on earth as he has taught us: Our Father who art, etc., through the whole prayer, word for word. Then repeat one part or as much as you wish, perhaps the first petition.

Let’s read an portion of Martin Luther’s “Way to Pray” through the first of the Ten Commandments on the next post. I think that you shall be blessed by it.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Our Identity – Part Two

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Michael continues by reminding us that God looks at us in our sin and our brokenness and has compassion. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Though sin must be judged, He did not come to judge us and to condemn us. Rather He sent His Son Jesus Christ that the world through him might be saved.  When we accept God's offer of salvation through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ on our behalf, God sees us clothed in white robes of Christ’s righteousness.  According to 2 Corinthians 5:21,For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  Romans 8 says that there is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.

When men and women first come to Christ and the eyes of their understanding are enlightened, they "fall in love" with God, His Son Jesus Christ. They thrill at God's truth and the revelation of His Word. We must guard our heart not to "lose our first love."  Love and its associated gratitude is the motivation for our actions. We need to remind ourselves not only "who we are" but also "whose we are." If we're not connected with like-minded men and women in Christ, we'll never grow up into the mature Christian that our Heavenly Father wants us to be. We're most like those with whom we spend the most time. Sin is crouching at the door and broadcasting tempting distractions our way constantly. If we don't walk with others who walk in fellowship with the Lord, then we may take our heart’s eyes off of Jesus.  

John 1:7-9But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanse us from all sin.”

1 John 1:8-9 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The devil's job is to dim the light of the Word of God in our heart. We need men and women who will shine their light into our heart so that together we can walk in fellowship one with another.  God will restore us when we confess our sin; our broken fellowship. If a man or woman is in Christ, they will say, "for me to live is Christ and my purpose is to glorify God and my identity is the furtherance of the gospel of Christ." We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. Our purpose in life is to get others to know the Lord Christ,  the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship with our Heavenly Father through His Son Jesus Christ.  

Walking in the Word is abiding in Christ. The word “abide” is defined as: to be, or exist, to continue; to dwell, to tarry or stay, to rest, or dwell, to remain, to rest, continue permanently or in the same state; to be firm and immovable, stand firm, or be stationary for anytime indefinitely. Our exhortation is to fan the flame of our kingdom of Heaven brothers and sisters in Christ to build up the body of Christ. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which He has foreordained that we should walk therein – Ephesians 2:10. This is the purpose for which we were created, 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, June 21, 2017

Our Identity – Part One

Galatians 2:20 “I was crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

This week, Michael writes how our identity truly is in Christ. Most people's identity is in what they do and the roles that they play. Many so-called Christians go through the motions to keep try and keep the Ten Commandments. They go to church and they try not to sin. However, it's not sin that condemns us. We all are condemned already. Jesus said in John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” So rather, it's failure to accept the Savior from sin. When we confessed "Jesus is Lord" we not only received a Savior, but also a new Lord and Master. Our identity is no longer "who we are" but rather "whose we are."  

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "If any man is in Christ, he's a new creature, old things are passed away, all things are become new."  To be in Christ means that we have become a new creation in Christ. He makes all things new.  David's prayer in Psalm 51:1-2 was, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Verse 10 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

We need to remember our identity relative to Proverbs 29:18 "Where there is no vision the people run wild."  Why are we here? and Where are we going as Christians and as the people of God?  The answers to these questions will keep us on the narrow way, for Jesus Christ himself is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In the midst of the crisis and in the heat of the spiritual battle, we need to be convinced of our mission and our purpose. We need to see ourselves and others, not as we are, but spiritually as God sees us. Ephesians says that from God's perspective we are seated in heavenly places. God sees us not as we are, but as we will be at the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:14 says that the love of God compels us to action. What is the reason for your action?  Why do you do what you do? What motivates you? If the motive isn't the love of Christ then why are you here? “For the love of Christ constrains (compels) us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” – vs.15.

During a recent congressional appointment, one congressman did not approve a Christian's appointment. The congressman argued that the Christian was "intolerant" and too "exclusive."  He believed that the Christian could not relate or empathize with others outside of his faith. The Christian was rejected for the appointment simply because he identified with his Lord Jesus Christ. We're constantly being evaluated by the world if we profess to be Christians. It matters whether we're living for this life or the next life. If we compromise our Christian values found in God’s Holy Word and try to make a peace treaty with the devil (who is the god of this world), then we are not "sanctified" according to the truth of the Word of God. Sanctified starts with "discrimination.", which is the act of distinguishing; the act of making or observing a difference; distinction; as the discrimination between right and wrong. It means to be set apart ... separated to the distinction of holiness for which our Creator designed us. If we truly know our Lord Jesus Christ, we'll allow the Word of God to rebuke and correct us and to restore us to an upright position before the Lord. The purpose is so that we will walk in fellowship with our Heavenly Father. The narrow way is the only way to Heaven. 

Let’s continue Michael’s message on our godly identify in the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Bride of Christ - Part 2

Beth Moore continues stating, I don’t know who you think has a perfect marriage, but it is a big lie. They have troubles too. Where your marriage is not enough for you, based on the authority of Holy Scripture, your spouse is enough for you and God is still good. Unrealistic expectations create unrealistic marriages. Who is telling you what the definition of a “good” marriage is and is not?

1 Corinthians 7:23 “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.”

There is an old saying that we don’t know what we have until it is gone. Sometimes, when we cannot get exactly what we want, we do not appreciate what we have. At the end of the day, he loves her and she loves him, and that is a “good” thing; a beautiful thing. Women want to derive their security and identity from someone who is struggling with their own security and identity. This existential secular humanist culture around us is brutal on everyone. We want our spouse to tell us how valuable we are everyday and all the time. What if we derived our security and identity from our God-given biblical office, because we represent the bride of Christ? We are not called in Scripture: “The wife of Christ”. We are going to live all of eternity as “the bride of Christ”. It will remain.

Isaiah 62:5 “As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”

The more that we demand affirmation from our spouse, the more distance and reluctance we receive to get it. The best condition is to be secure in Jesus. Jesus can give us everything that we need. Be filled in Christ. Be secure in Christ. We need to have our identity in Christ everyday of our lives. Know that you and I are overtly loved and cherished by Jesus Christ. Belittling and condescending will not serve you or I well.

A good fight gets things that are weighing us down and clears the air in order to get down to where the tender feelings that spouses have for each other reside. A “good” fight is a fight for marriage. We don’t fight with our spouse; we fight for our spouse. Are marital issues going to matter in a year from now, five years from now, or ten years from now. Both spouses need to communicate their needs for the other to attend to them. Do not be passive about your marriage. Be godly and be active. Fight for your marriage and fight for your home. Do not give up on your marriage. Stick it out. Marriage is the most powerful visual example of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His bride (the saints – those sanctified – the child of God).

Just as every individual life is worth saving, then every marriage is worth saving. Do not give up. Stick it out. Do the work. Do marriage. When the road gets rocky, get through it and get over it. Nothing reflects Christ and his bride more. Anybody can be well. We are all hurt, have struggles and need to be healed. Be a miracle.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Bride of Christ - Part 1

Ephesians 5:21-25 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Beth Moore tells us that in God’s bigger story, we are a part of something that is beyond our comprehension. We are truly nothing except an example of God’s grace. Submission is not about inequality, but about God’s plan for a form of authority and order in the home. God holds men responsible for the thriving, flourishing and wellbeing of the united home and marriage.
Genesis 2:20b-24 But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

A man shall be united to his wife, and they become one flesh. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines that word “united” as: Joined; made to agree; cemented; mixed; attached by growth”. Beth Moore defines “united” as “adhered to’ or “glued to”. I heard Pastor Raul Ruiz describe the united in marriage union and unity as two pieces of wood glued together to where pulling them apart rips and splinter both causing great irreparable damage because the two are now one. Of all earthly representation that Father God has given us for His Son’s relationship to the body of Believers called the church, His bride in marriage is used. How could anything so fragile, so frail and imperfect as us represent anything so holy, glorious and divine?

2 Corinthians 11:2 “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”

God is the only one who can overtake our thoughts. It is God’s business; not mine or yours. God has made it the responsibility of the man to wash his wife with the Word of God. God-designed marriage is not “where we want it to be daily”; no human relationship can be. But, it is “good”, and “good” is good. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “good” as: “Having moral qualities best adapted to its design and use, or the qualities which God's law requires; virtuous; pious; religious; applied to persons, and opposed to bad, vicious, wicked, evil.” It’s not perfect, but can’t “good” be good? Does it have to be “fantastic”? 

Let's continue with my notes from the Beth Moore session of marriage, the Bride of Christ", on the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Transformation - Part 2

Romans 3:21-25a “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”

Continuing from the last post, Pastor Obie gave us five ways to consider improve and become a better person, with Jesus Christ as my example, aligned with the holy Word, Will and Way of God). Continuing with (3) Show compassion. In reality, we are all caught “red-handed” (to be caught in the act of committing a misdemeanor, with the evidence there for all to see) in sin by the Lord. In Luke 11:4, Jesus taught us, “forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” The Lord’s forgiveness of the debt of sin should produce the desire to do the same. This is the message that Jesus was communicating in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant of Matthew 18:21-35 - “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Show compassion and stick together through thick and thin to bear one another’s burdens, despite the circumstances.

(4) Demonstrate the virtue of honoring and sacrificial leadership. Show true concern to others. Keep your promises, even if it means losing something valuable to you. Selflessness is being willing to “fall on the sword’, substituting yourself in a godly manner to allow them to escape harm, grow and prosper. It was King David in 1 Chronicles 21:17b that said to God: “Lord my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people.” It is never too late to repentance and transformational change towards godliness in honor and sacrifice.

 (5) Set up a lineage for generational blessings. Jesus performed the ultimate substitutionary sacrifice by taking the sins of the world and paying for them in our place, so that those who choose to believe and receive may be saved from eternal damnation (the second death) in Hell, separated from God to abundant eternal life with the Lord in Heaven. Without our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, what is the point of life? In Luke 12, Jesus suggests that the self-centered world’s view of life is Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” This side of eternity is temporal and fleeting away, so meaningless without a future. Tell others about the good news of Jesus Christ and His salvation. Live out a godly life that leads others to the foot of the cross, like a light on a hilltop of a pitch black culture. Character flaws can be turned around. How we act and change from our ungodly ways affects our lineage. Desire and seek a lasting lineage that we can leave for our children and their children to follow, teaching outstanding character in Christ.

Take a stand against generational curses and walk in the Spirit. Ask God to break those chains that binds us and keeps us captive, robbing our joy. Transformation is the key.
In Christ, Brian

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Transformation - Part 1

This last Sunday, Pastor Obie continued our sermon series through the book of Genesis, opening with the story of Harland David Sanders, who held a number of jobs. When he was 10, Sanders began to work as a farmhand for local farmers, then steam engine stoker, and insurance salesman.  In 1930, the Shell Oil Company offered Sanders a service station in North Corbin, Kentucky, rent free, in return for paying them a percentage of sales. Sanders began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in North Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression and at the age of 62, the first KFC "Kentucky Fried Chicken" franchise opened in Utah in 1952. In September 1970 he and his wife were baptized in the Jordan River in Israel.

It is never too late to have the Lord transform your life and have you affect the lives of others. God intentionally positions all of us at this specific time and place in His story for a godly reason and purpose. Even the patriarchs had lives marked by sin and disobedience, yet were transformed by God to achieve later accomplishments for the Lord’s orchestrated events that shaped history. We need to ask ourselves: What could I have done, and what can I do, to control and manage “some part of my life” in order to improve and become a better person, with Jesus Christ as my example, aligned with the holy Word, Will and Way of God)?

Pastor Obie gave us five ways to consider: (1) Show responsibility and ownership. At the very least, we are responsible for our thoughts, words and actions … or lack thereof. Do not “pass the buck” (the act of attributing to another person or group one's own responsibility), which limits your potential growth. No, the buck stops here (make the decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions)! How can you and I make our lives better and continue to grow and mature as a Christian? Do not play “The Blame game”. Do not be afraid to fail with the cards that you have been dealt and your lot in life. Failure can be a catalyst for great growth and improvement.

(2) Show a change of heart. It starts with the sin nature emotions of envy and jealousy. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “envy” as to look with enmity. “To feel uneasiness, mortification or discontent, at the sight of superior excellence, reputation or happiness enjoyed by another; to repine at another's prosperity; to fret or grieve one's self at the real or supposed superiority of another, and accompanied with some degree of hatred or malignity, and often or usually with a desire or an effort to depreciate the person, and with pleasure in seeing him depressed. Envy springs from pride.

2 Corinthians 11:2 “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”

The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “jealousy” as “that passion of peculiar uneasiness which arises from the fear that a rival may rob us of the affection of one whom we love, or the suspicion that he has already done it; or it is the uneasiness which arises from the fear that another does or will enjoy some advantage which we desire for ourselves. In short, jealousy is awakened by whatever may exalt others, or give them pleasures and advantages which we desire for ourselves. Jealousy is nearly allied to envy, for jealousy, before a good is lost by ourselves, is converted into envy, after it is obtained by others. Jealousy is the apprehension of superiority.” Noah Webster goes on to state that “God's jealousy signifies his concern for his own character and government, with a holy indignation against those who violate his laws, and offend against his majesty.” Pastor Obie explains that the opposite of jealousy is rejoicing in another’s achievements. Instead of an ungodly “jealousy of them”, it is a godly jealousy for them. This is that godly jealousy. God tests us all on this.

Let's continue Pastor Obie's message on "Transformation" in the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Friday, June 16, 2017

Everything Created by God is Good ... Very Good

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

The word "good' is defined as: "Complete or sufficiently perfect in its kind; having the physical qualities best adapted to its design and use; opposed to bad, imperfect, corrupted, impaired. We say, good timber, good cloth, a good soil, a good color." And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

1 Timothy 4:4 “For everything created by God is good.”

Thursday, June 15, 2017

We Are the Plan and There is No Plan "B" - Part 2

Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.”
This is the spirit of rejoicing in the Lord.  It starts with denying myself, taking up my cross and following him. To walk with Christ, we must crucify the old nature to walk in the newness of Life.  “Purpose” is the aim, goal, object, or end to be attained or achieved.  What is the one thing that you cannot compromise?  What is the one thing for which you give your life?  "Sanctification" or "holiness" according to the Word is to be separated for the purpose intended by the Designer. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which he has prepared in advance that we should walk in them. The purpose is that the love of Christ compels us to die to self in order to live for Him. As King Solomon said at the end of Ecclesiastes, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear (love, reverence, and respect) God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Men and women of this secular humanistic world seek for power and selfish influence. They don't understand the biblical concept of “servant leadership”.  Jesus said, “He who is chiefest among you shall be servant of all”.  Jesus also 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 leading others to salvation through Jesus Christ. God reconciled us to himself through the supreme sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, we were reunited with God, because Jesus Christ who was without sin became the perfect sacrifice for sin on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him. Because we have been reconciled through Christ he has given us the ministry of reconciliation and has committed unto us the Word of reconciliation.

The challenges and trials of life are opportunities to prove the power of God to deliver. He is working in us and through us to will and to do of His good pleasure.  The spirit that we have been given is to serve our Lord by serving those whom He has given us to minister the word of reconciliation. Those whom God has called will receive us as God's epistles, His love letters known and read of all men.  We may not understand what God is doing in our own lives to influence others for Him. God has called us to plant and water the seed of the Word of reconciliation, even if we never see the harvest. Our purpose is to be secure in the calling wherewith he has called us.  For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which he's committed to me against that day of righteous judgment.  Our confidence is in him and the power of his gift of the Holy Spirit.  

2 Corinthians 5:20 says: “We are therefore Christ’s Ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

God will reveal to us the shortcomings of others so that we will know how to pray for them. For God's desire is that all would be saved and come unto the saving knowledge of the Truth, the Way and the Life. He has called us for this purpose: to reconcile others unto him. God didn't call us to develop a "plan of action."  Rather He called us to “be his plan”. He has given us the ministry of reconciliation and has committed unto us the Word of reconciliation. Our purpose and our plan is to "pray ye in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." Despite good news or bad news, the ultimate good news is the good news of the gospel: that Jesus Christ himself is the solution to the issues of life. So, in other words, give 'em Heaven!

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

We Are the Plan and There is No Plan "B" - Part 1

This week, Michael writes: If you want to make God laugh, tell Him what your plans are. We do not know the destinations in this life, but He does. He did not call us to reveal His plan. Rather He called us to “be” His plan. Our challenge allows God to "come help Himself to our lives."  He will continue to write each new chapter in the book of our lives. We are His epistles, written not with ink or in tables of stone, but written in our hearts. Whatever the "problem du jour" God says, "I've got this." Our challenge is to trust God for wisdom to walk according to His holy Word, Will and Way for our lives.  As men and women of God, our freedom is to choose to walk one step at a time in fellowship with Him.  Our goal is to "choke in the dust of those in hot pursuit of our Lord Jesus Christ."

2 Corinthians chapter 5 is about vision. We see thousands of men and women not as they are, but as they will be … making Jesus Christ Lord of their lives. Men and women, who make decisions in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ in full view. Men and women secure in their identities in Jesus Christ. Men and women who are free in Christ committed to free others in Christ. Men and women who are alert, focused, and prepared, standing firm in the faith. Men and women dedicated to influence their world for Jesus Christ, becoming just like Him. Men and women standing together with their band of brothers and sisters in Christ, faithful to the end to hear their Master say, "Well done my good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

We need men and women with ministries within the body of Christ.  Men and women in whom the spirit of the Lord resides for He has called apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

These verses summarize vision: We see thousands of men and women, not as they are but as they will be in Christ. Men and women, who are seeking after righteousness. Men and women hungry to grow in Christ. Men and women, who have been set free in Christ and who are dedicated to set others free. We are new creatures in Christ according to verse 17.  New Creatures are those whom God the creator has created with the newness of the spirit of life in Christ. Our calling is to be men and women, who want to become just like Jesus. This starts with the love of Christ which compels and motivates us to action to follow Him after Him. 

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Purpose of Marriage - Part 2

John 3:29a “The bride belongs to the bridegroom.”

Gary Thomas continues by stating that marriage is a spiritual enterprise for God to reveal Himself to us and to shape our souls, It is only is the scale of human history that “romance” has become the basis for marriage. Romance is not God’s reason for marriage. If romance was the expectation, the marriage would fail because that is not the true purpose. According to Neuroscience, if you are infatuated with someone, the romantic infatuation will last only 36 months at the longest … the “honeymoon period” ends. The power storm of emotion will dissipate naturally. If marriage is built on infatuation, it is doomed to failure. Holy Scripture says that we all stumble in many ways, one of which is a marriage base on infatuation. Romance’s “storm of emotion” and “heat of passion” is a trivial reason for marriage; there must be something much deeper, solid and lasting. Disappointment is based upon missed expectations and starting with “unrealistic expectations” is a recipe for disappointment. Marriage is not about “being young together”; rather it is about “growing old together”.

Ephesians 5:24-27 “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

We need to become a God-centered spouse. A spouse-centered spouse bases the marriage relationship on what the other spouse thinks and does. If we stumble in many ways, the stumbling will produce a vicious cycle without end. Don’t go there. A God-centered spouse says ‘I’m obligated to love my spouse out of my reverence for God. According to Matthew 6:33, the Lord says; “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  

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

Our spouse is a Child of God. To transform our marriages, meditate on the fact that God as your “Father-in-Law”. As a parent, you will know about the “unconditional love” of God, if you remember the love that you have for your precious son or daughter unconditionally. Child of God, your heavenly Father created the family unit and the loving relationships were designed into them. The parent loves their child. Your heavenly Father loves his children in the family of God. God is your Father and your wife’s Father, therefore, your heavenly Father-in-Law. Honor, respect and love your spouse, even though they stumble. Cherish them and make them feel safe, secure and loved. Love them first out of reverential fear of letting Father God down. Love them for who they are and who God made them to be, not as one who stumbles in many ways. What makes marriage work is a biblical gospel-centered love.

A wedding ring on an open Bible Stock Photo

1 Corinthians 7:3 “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.”

We were blinded in our sin and our expectations that were programmed by the god-rejecting world system, which looks for love and happiness in the wrong places. The love of God offers so much more. If we are loved unconditionally with the love of God, then how can we not love our spouse (His daughter or son also). The challenge is to make our homes a picture of God’s reconciling love.  Our Almighty Creator Father God gave us marriage in order to teach us how to love unconditionally. That is the purpose of marriage.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Purpose of Marriage – Part 1

Revelation 19:7-8 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

While other small group Bible studies take a break for the summer, our Wednesday night group continues year-round fellowship and topical Christian studies to broaden our knowledge of the Lord, deepen our faith and improve our earthly inter-personal relationships on this side of eternity for Christ’s sake. Last week, we began a new video series on “Marriage Relationships”. Michael Low open the session with biblical background of the God-created institution of true marriage and facilitated the discussion around the first conference Speaker Gary Thomas’ presentation.

Hebrews 13:4a Marriage should be honored by all.”

He pointed out that the images we have of ourselves are formed very early in life. And that the forced intimacy of marriage will result in spiritual challenges. Frustration in marriage results in our seeing ourselves with futility and guilt. But, that is not what God intended when He created man & woman. Yet, marriage is not to serve Jesus Christ, but to serve like Jesus Christ. God designed marriage to make us holy, even more than to make us happy.  IT teaches us how to forgive sin and to take on the nature of Jesus Christ himself. The difficult times of marriage God uses to craft our soul and to shape our spirit.   

Genesis 2:20b-24 But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

The Apostle James, half-brother of Jesus Christ, said in James 3:2 “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” We are often blinded to our own sins while pointing out the sins of our spouse. Gary Thomas says that the term “difficult marriage” is redundant. All marriages are difficult and must be continually maintained and improved upon. Know that God has a divine intention for the difficulties in marriages. It is not the “How to”, but rather the “heart to” that matters. Anyone can learn the “how to do something”, but if they do not have the “heart to” do it, then what is the purpose and where is the joy and happiness?   

Let’s continue this message on the God-created marriage relationship on the next post. In Christ, Brian

Sunday, June 11, 2017

He Shall be Like a Tree

The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly

Psalm 1:1-3 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Reconciliation Road

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”
With our Senior Pastor on Sabbatical, our Associate Pastor Obie is continuing the current sermon series based upon the book of Genesis. He warns us that at some time in our life, we are going to be “wronged” (mistreated, offended, or victimized). Before the age of 40, all will experience a tragic relationship event.

In the Bible account of Joseph in Genesis, he was hated by his half-brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused and thrown into prison for years before finally being elevated to the second highest position in all of Egypt. Joseph realized that his difficult road in life was orchestrated by God Almighty for the greater good to follow, so was able to forgive his brothers for betraying him and reconcile with them on his side before they even showed up on the scene. Know that God uses difficult circumstances to shape our character and deal with your unresolved guilt or anger, and do your part to live at peace with everyone.

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Pastor Obie gave us three four thoughts to consider: (1) Forgiveness of all is a requirement of all. We are command by God to forgive, as we have been forgiven, all those who have harmed us. Jesus is our model of how we should forgive others. We are to forgive continuously and consistently. Do not look for revenge, but look for reconciliation. Romans 12:17-19 “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (2) The Prerequisite to reconciliation is repentance. The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “repentance” as Real penitence; sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God, a violation of his holy law, and the basest ingratitude towards a Being of infinite benevolence. This is called evangelical repentance, and is accompanied and followed by amendment of life. That amendment of life is making a 180 degree turn from the “wrong” direction (walk away from God) to the “right” direction (walk in the Spirit toward God), aligned with the Lord’s holy Word, Will and Way. There has to be a change of heart based on genuine love and care.

Jeremiah 5:25 “Your iniquities have turned these things away, and your sins have withheld good from you.”

(3) Unresolved sin blinds us from blessing. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 “If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News.” Unresolved sin of the Offender leads to bitterness and anger, resulting in robbery of their joy. Know that God has “good” in store for us, but unresolved sin delays God’s “good” intended for us. Do not live in fear and guilt. (4) Confession is the first step to repentance and healing. Our conscience is notoriously weak. Recognize what went wrong. Then, in the motivation of love and in humility, own up to it and confess to God. Own it and do some “Spring Cleaning” of your soul.  1 John 1:8-9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Stand with God and be a “distributor of life” in Christ. There is a “spiritual famine” in the world today … people are starving spiritually. Spiritually healed people are a beacon of spiritual Light from God in the world in our dark society and culture. They have something that their soles need. On the Reconciliation Road, give mercy, give grace, give the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, because in doing so, you are giving the gift of reconciliation.

In Christ, Brian