Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Where's Your Treasure?

This week, Michael writes that the Holy Bible says in Matthew 6, "Lay up for yourself treasures in heaven... for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." To deal with the temporary trials of this world, we must focus on our fellowship with our Lord.  When we walk with our Lord as men and women of God, we don't need to worry about the finish line. We focus our minds on the next step. Life is a journey and pilgrimage with the gates of Heaven at the of our earthly life’s trail. We are sojourners on earth; the kingdom of heaven is our home. According to the New Testament, a "Sabbath day's journey" is the distance we walk in a day. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “journey” as: Passage from one place to another (like from earth to heaven). The journey is a moment by moment, a step by step walk with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 25:7-8 says that the veil that separates us from God is death. In the Garden of Eden, God said to Adam and Eve, "the day that you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt surely die." Death started the concept of time. Without death, there is eternity. Death is the result of sin. Sin and its associated death separates us from God. When Adam sinned, this sin resulted in corruption, decay and death. Jesus Christ came to redeem us from sin and restore our unity with God.

Without death, we would step into the presence of God without a veil. No one can stand before God, who is a consuming and everlasting fire. Those who step into his presence without holiness will be consumed. Combustible materials:  wood, hay, and stubble are consumed. Righteous materials:  gold, silver and precious stones are  refined and purified by the fire. To “confess” means to "agree with reality." It. means to "speak the same word." To speak the truth of the word, we must understand the truth of “The Word”. We must know and confess our Lord Jesus Christ for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The word doesn't say, "Get treasures in heaven."  Instead it says, "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Acquire now that which God says is important. Set your affections on the Lord Jesus Christ and everything else in this life will be covered.  

In Luke 9, Jesus said that whoever puts his hand to the plow and turns back is not fit for the kingdom of God. What is your priority? Like Lot's wife who looked back longingly at Sodom and Gomorrah, we will be destroyed if we cherish the things of this world above the things of heaven.  Where is your treasure?

We mourn when we lose a dear brother or sister in Christ who has passed away. But we grieve not as others who have no hope. According to Hebrews, there is a rest for those who have finished the race. 1 Corinthians 15 says that we believe in the resurrection. In order to live in eternity, we first must die. Death is the entrance into eternity. Death is God's mechanism whereby believers enter into His presence. Death, where is thy sting, O grave, where is thy victory? At the resurrection, death will be swallowed up in victory. This is the hope of life everlasting: to leave the sin that doth so easily entangle us. Therefore, let us run with patience the race that is set before us.  Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross and is set down upon the right hand of the throne of God.  

As the song says, Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of his glory and grace.

May God richly bless you!

Your brother in Christ, Michael

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sign of the Times

Matthew 16:2-3 “He (Jesus) answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times?”

My dad, a US Navy veteran of WWII & the Korean War, used to say: “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.” Obviously, mariners have know this discerning the sky fact on the oceans and seas of the world since biblical times. But, in the passage above Jesus was using this well-known observation to drive home a point and this sharp rebuke by the Lord Jesus was well deserved, for His critics were challenging Him to prove His right to be heard by performing a miracle. But they had already been confronted with a tremendous body of evidence, both in their Scriptures and in the very life and teachings of Jesus (as well as in the miracles already wrought by Him) that identified him as their Messiah. They paid great attention to weather forecasting and other mundane matters (like total eclipses), while ignoring or rejecting the evidence that God Himself, in Christ, was in their midst.

 One commentator that I read claims that today we are more occupied with daily weather and seven day forecasts even than they were, with all sorts of forecasting devices (i.e. satellites and Doppler radar in operation. There is also a growing army of doomsday forecasters, loudly concerned about a predicted nuclear winter, overpopulation, pollution, global-warming, increase in hurricanes and tornados, plus a host of other foreboding secular “signs of the times.” Our coverage of the “great American total solar eclipse” had the total attention of the nation. What is with this fascination of distractions that people love?  I remember that our church’s youth director read a study that “end-times prophesy” (Eschatology) books of the Bible (Daniel, Ezekiel & Revelation) were College and High School age kids favorite studies. Movies about a life-ending meteor hitting the earth, a giant solar flare of radiation or a super-nova of our sun seem to produce great box office returns at the theaters.

Romans 1:17-23 “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,  because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”

We focus our attention on “Cosmos Chaos”, yet they ignore the overwhelming evidences, both in science and Scripture, that our great Creator/Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is always in control and is coming again soon to fulfill His great purposes in creation and redemption. A mere listing of the many real signs of God’s times would take many pages. One such sign, of course, is this very proliferation of science and technology. At “the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” – Daniel 12:4. Studies have shown that “knowledge” is doubling every 12 months.  Another is the great following achieved by these false teachers, as multitudes “turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” - 2 Timothy 4:4. In America, Darwinian Theory of Macro-Evolution is the only allow explanation for the origin of life and the diversity therein, even though the physical evidence does not support it and the facts have always pointed to creation by intelligent design, just as the Bible states. We should be looking around at the order and beauty of creation and see the fingerprints of God everywhere.

“Hypocrites,” Jesus said, are concerned with secular trends, but spiritual discerners can recognize the true signs. They are posted everywhere, on everything: “Made in Heaven by God”. Praise be to God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth!

Blessings in Christ.

Monday, August 21, 2017


Genesis 6:14 “Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.”

 I find literary devices fascinating, where one thing represents another.  A symbol is defined as something that stands for or represents another. That is why, when I read that it may be surprising to learn that God’s instructions to Noah concerning the Ark’s design contain the first reference in the Bible to the great doctrine of atonement, I immediately wanted to know more. The Hebrew word used here for pitch (kaphar) is the same word translated “atonement” in many other places in the Old Testament. But, what exactly is atonement?

The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “atonement” as: 1. Agreement; concord; reconciliation, after enmity or controversy. 2. Expiation; satisfaction or reparation made by giving an equivalent for an injury, or by doing or suffering that which is received in satisfaction for an offense or injury; with for. 3. In theology, the expiation of sin made by the obedience and personal sufferings of Christ. Jesus paid for our sins.

I read that while the New Testament word “atonement” implies reconciliation, the Old Testament “atonement” was merely a covering (with many applications). As the pitch was to make the Ark watertight, keeping the judgment waters of “the Flood” from reaching those inside, so, on the sacrificial altar, “it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” – Leviticus 17:11, keeping the fires of God’s wrath away from the sinner for whom the sacrifice was substituted and slain. The pitch was a covering for the Ark, and the blood was a covering for the soul, the first assuring physical deliverance, the second spiritual salvation. However, not even the shed blood on the altar could really produce salvation. It could assure it through faith in God’s promises on the part of the sinner who offered it, but “the blood of bulls and of goats” could never “take away sinsHebrews 10:4.

The article explained that both the covering pitch and animal blood were mere symbols of the substituting death of Jesus Christ, “whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (an acceptable substitute and sacrifice) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” - Romans 3:25. Through faith in Christ, our sins are “covered” under the blood, forgiven by God, and replaced by His own perfect righteousness, by all of which we become finally and fully reconciled to God. By faith, we find salvation in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ alone and eternal life in His resurrection. It is finished! Atonement is the gospel truth of the cross.
Romans 5:10 “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

Blessings in Christ

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Spiritual Shape

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you.”

This last Sunday, Pastor Obie continued in our church’s sermon series “Make Your Mark in the Kingdom of God”. From Conception, Creator God shaped us with intention and purpose, uniquely designed and formed for specific tasks in the kingdom ministry of the Lord for each of us to put into practice daily and accomplish for His glory. This is what is meant in Ephesians 2:10  says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” But, do we know our God-given shape?

Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

There is a common misunderstanding that “ministry” is for pastors and priests, but may the true be known that you and I were made for ministry (the ecclesiastical function through the agency or service of a minister of the gospel). The original Greek word is “diakonia”, meaning: service, ministry. The church is not the clergy or the “brick and mortar” but the body of Christ, and every member (every child of God) is in the business of serving the Lord in ministry, led by the Holy Spirit and delivering the gospel of Jesus Christ. We were all here for ministry. We are here by no cosmic accident and did not evolved from complex molecules or chemicals of some primordial soup, but were designed and formed by the Creator God of heaven and earth.  

1 Corinthians 12:11 “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”

Pastor Obie explained that God has given us a unique S.H.A.P.E. (five things to discover that, when understood, will help us in ministry. (S) = unique Specific Spiritual Gifts to employ, (H) = a unique Heart for care and compassion, (A) = unique Abilities to excel, (P) = a unique Personality to reach others, and (E) unique Experiences to gain knowledge, to grow, and to mature for kingdom ministry work. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.” The Almighty, out of His mercy and grace, gives the four gifts of forgiveness, eternal life, the indwelling Holy Spirit and Spiritual gifts for ministering to others.

Romans 12:4-5 “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”

Why is it important to know and use your spiritual gifts? (1) Because God designed us to serve and make an impact in His kingdom. Sports teams invest great amounts of time and money to gain the optimum efficiency of their athletes. Exercise your God-given gifts and talents. (2) Because it is good for our fellow man. Everyone is needed and necessary. Fulfill your calling by blessing others. (3) Because it is good for you. Using your spiritual gifts in ministry affects your whole being; creating greater self-esteem, lower depression and better heath all around. You cannot steer a parked car, so get involved with the Lord’s ministry and use them, fulfilling your role as a child of God and citizen of Heaven.

John 15:8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

What did God shape you to do and what shape are you in? What are you going to do with your life? Are you living the life that God intended, designed and shaped you for? Focus your life on the greater way. The gifts that God gives us are for the purpose in which they were given to us. Impact your world for Christ and make your mark in the kingdom.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Wonderful and Marvelous

Psalm 139:14 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”

Have a blessed day! Brian

Friday, August 18, 2017

Redeemed Encouragement

1 Samuel 30:4-6 “Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” 

The late Dr. J. Vernon McGee has had a Christian radio outreach program that began 50 years ago, titled “Thru the Bible” and has grown worldwide. This month I received a newsletter message that resonates positively with everyone, but rarely thought about when life has it’s negative moments and seasons. McGee writes that most folks think of King David as a shepherd boy who slew Goliath. They also remember the dark side of his life, the great sin that he committed with Bathsheba. What they don’t realize is that David was very much a human being like the rest of us. He made many blunders just like we do.

In the Bible passage above, David was “between a rock and a hard place” (meaning that he was in a bad place). He lost his loved ones. His own followers, under this great emotional stress of having lost their loved ones, want to stone him. But the passage ends: “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” 

McGee explains that there are times in our lives when the circumstances will not produce any joy or happiness. These are times when we find ourselves in dark places, like David. We look about, and the situation looks hopeless. What should we do? Be discouraged? Give up? Say we are through?

Friend, if we are children of God, we will encourage ourselves in the Lord. We will turn to Him at times like this. Sometimes, the Lord puts us in such a spot so that we will turn to Him. He wants to make Himself real to us. It was during times like these that David wrote some of his most helpful psalms (a sacred song or hymn composed on a divine subject and in praise of God). When troubles come your way, you can thumb your way through the Psalms and find where David is encouraging himself in the Lord and thereby encourage yourself in the Lord.
Several times he says, “The Lord is good … let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”

Blessings in the Lord.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Eternal Fire Protection – Part 2 – God’s Righteousness

Isaiah 25:7-8 “And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.”

COntinuing Michael's message: Two things shall be swallowed up. The first is the Vail that separates us from God. This is the shroud that covers up God's glory. “For who can endure the "everlasting glory of God's consuming fire?"  Psalm 24 says, the one that shall live and endure in the presence of God is "he that is righteous and walks in the way of the righteous."  The Vail that separates mankind is the grace and the mercy of God. Without the Vail all men would be consumed by the fire of God's glory.

Death is the second thing that will be swallowed up. Death and destruction is the result of sin. It causes "corruption" in this world. Without the covering of death, we would face the fire of God's glory without a "Vail." We can either be prepared or unprepared for the fire. We need to change our works from (figurative) combustible material: wood, hay, and stubble, to incombustible material:  gold, silver, and precious stones. Therefore, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, our robe of righteousness. Clothed in His righteousness we are protected from the consuming fire of God's glory. Death to the old nature of sin, and death gives us the opportunity to be clothed in the robes of the righteousness of Christ.  

The decision to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior will allow us into God's eternity. For the old nature of sin and death was crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live (in the Spirit,) yet not I but Christ liveth in me and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the one who loved me and gave himself for me – Galatians 2:20The conclusion of Hebrews 12 says, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”

The lyric to a great hymn says, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand ... Clothed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne!" Praise the Lord!

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Eternal Fire Protection – Part 1 – God’s Rest

Luke 9:59-60 says, And he said unto another, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.” Jesus said unto him, “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.”

This week, Michael writes that the question is, "What's the cost of following Jesus?"  Most have not counted the cost, therefore they either have no idea or have the wrong idea. These people are represented by the rocky soil in the Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8 parable, where the seed is the word of God and the rocky soil is those who receive the word but they have no depth of fertile ground.  Because they had no depth of soil, the seed sprouted but the sprout quickly withered when the sun came up.  When the roots are heated and cannot dig deep into the soil for coolness and rest from the sun, then the plant will be scorched and die.

In Hebrews, the only way to walk and enter into God's rest is by faith, and not by sight.  If we're walking by sight, we will never rest. True rest is only in the Lord God Almighty. Therefore according to Jeremiah, judge “righteously”, not according to what our eyes see and our ears hear. For that which is seen is “temporary”, but that which is unseen is “eternal”. To rest in God sometimes means that we will not be comfortable in the things of this material-focused world. Our comfort is in “the rest of the Holy Spirit” and not in the comfort of the flesh. God warned Israel in Deuteronomy, that when you enter the “Promised Land” and gain wealth, don't think that by your own strength you've been blessed. Remember that God has given it to you. Israel was driven from the land of promise because they never allowed the land to rest according to the Sabbath rest law that God designed. When Israel was led through the desert by the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, God sustained them.  God prepared the way before them. When Israel strayed from God's protection, they were outside of God's mercy, grace, and rest. This principle is true for us today. 

Jesus reminded his followers to count the cost and think of the consequences of their thoughts, words and actions before they actual happen. Look before you leap, so to speak. Following Him must be the priority in life ... live for Christ in your loving heart. Everything else we must "hate" in comparison to loving Jesus and following Him. Then our joy will be in the Lord and not on the things of this earth. No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God – Luke 9:62. Like Lot's wife who looked back longingly at Sodom and Gomorrah, those who are not committed to seek first God and his Kingdom will suffer destruction and loss.  

Let’s continue Michael’s message God’s Protection in the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Higher Ways

Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

It is obvious that God’s thoughts and ways are by no means equivalent to man’s. We cannot possibly fathom all that there is to know in the physical cosmos and in Heaven beyond time and space. God is infinite, eternal and spirit. How, then, can we hope to understand those things that He has communicated to us in His Word? One theologian states, to be sure, God has not told us all He knows, but what He has provided is sufficient for our faith, and He has also revealed clues as to the nature of many things we can only fully know in eternity. We know enough now to trust Him for the things we can’t comprehend or verify.

Isaiah 40:26 “Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; Not one is missing.”

The writer asks, “What are some of God’s favorite object lessons?” Certainly His creation is one. Almighty God, who can speak something into existence that didn’t exist before is all-powerful. But, the final great guarantee that He will work on our behalf is the fact of the resurrection.

Ephesians 1:19-21 “What is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”

The article concludes with: Make no mistake! God is capable of solving any problem we have. And what’s more, He wants us to know it! Amen to that!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Heart Culture - Part 2

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Chrizle points out that if genuine love is not quite in the heart, then start with the mind. See yourself as God sees you … sweet and wonderful in Christ. God’s heart for His church is like a groom for his bride. Share in the glory of Christ’s wedding to His bride  … the church body of Believers. Our Christian act of worship is directed by our heart culture. When we criticize, the Creator is offended. When we look at a painting, a sculpture or design, our remarks do not reflect upon the art, but the artist that created it. Think about it: God created everything. 

In 1 Timothy 6:13-15 the Apostle Paul says, “I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” Jesus Christ is the “King” and we are the “kings”. Jesus Christ is the “Lord” and we are the “lords”. We serve God because he is our King and our Lord. He is the King of our hearts.

Revelation 19:7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!

Our worship is direct by our heart culture. Worship is defined as: Chiefly and eminently, the act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being; or the reverence and homage paid to him in religious exercises, consisting in adoration, confession, prayer, thanksgiving and the like. If we want to discern the “Will of God”, we have to think like Him … aligned and in agreement. God seeks and speaks into our heart. Love God with all your heart, fully with all that you have ... loving Him back.   

Psalm 139:14 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”

Abundant life is found in relationships; not worldly things(possessions, power, prestige, pomp, or position in life). In God house there are many mansions. Jesus Christ has prepared a place for us with Him in Heaven. We are fearfully and wonderfully made by God; our Maker and Sustainer. Get to know God’s heart because we are in it always. John 3:16-17 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Know the love of God,  stand firm upon what He did for us on the Cross, live in abundance and rejoice in our future. 

Revelation 21:1-4 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Wholeheartedly, make your mark on the kingdom of God.
In Christ, Brian

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Heart Culture - Part 1

Psalm 57:7 “My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.”

This last Sunday, Pastor Chrizle preached on the heart of the matter in Christianity today. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “heart” as: the seat of the affections and passions, as of love, joy, grief, enmity, courage, pleasure, et cetera. We read of an honest and good heart, and an evil heart of unbelief, a willing heart, a heavy heart, sorrow of heart, a hard heart, a proud heart, a pure heart. The heart faints in adversity, or under discouragement, that is, courage fails; the heart is deceived, enlarged, reproved, lifted up, fixed, established, and moved. It is the seat of the understanding; as an understanding heart. It is the seat of the will; hence, secret purposes, intentions or designs. There are many devices in a man's heart. The Lord tries and searches the heart.

John 10:10 “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Chrizle noted how music calms the heart and music prepares soldiers for war. We are in a spiritual battle today for the hearts of men and women made in the image of God. But, God is doing something big in His church today also. The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Christ’s church prepares and equips the saints for battle with the “full armor of God”. Ephesians 6:11 tells us; “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Prepare the heart is part of what your local community church does in their worship and praise music. Make no mistake, worship is not the words and music, but the meaning of the words and taking them to heart in living for the Lord with praise and adoration. Worship includes living out our faith, using our spiritual gifts. Worship is a matter of the heart.

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

Understand what God is doing in your life. Know and recognize God’s nature. Do not fail to see it. Every tool is available for us to develop our gifts towards our calling by God. But, also, when we begin to see people the way God sees people (through His holy Word), we get to know a piece of God’s heart. We have to see the greatness in others and learn to recognize the people that God has put in our lives to help us, and us them. The Lord God Almighty puts longings for His purposes on our hearts and produces Divine appointments for those around us, within our “sphere of influence” of our daily lives, to show us who we are in Christ, assist us to follow Him and live out our faith. It takes commitment to stand and work together with patience because we are all unique individuals. It’s easy to see and point out things that are missing or out of place and ignore the things that are there and belong ... we are trained that way. See the greatness! This not only speaks to the other person, but speaks of our knowing God’s nature and speaks about ourselves.

Let’s continue Pastor Chrizle’s message on the heart in the next post.

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Our Father – Part 2 - Abba

John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Big Faith Idea #2 – You do not have to be afraid of thinking about God as father. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we were born spiritually to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Now, taking on the nature and identity as a son or daughter of a perfect Heavenly Father, Sustainer and Master of the entire universe. 1 John 3:1-2a “Behold 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.”

Big Faith Idea #3 – We can either reinforce what’s been broken in our lives or we can be part of reversing the curse and leaning into what can be. We have a choice in this. Where we have significant relationship issues with our parents, it creates deficits in our lives. There may be “cover ups” or a “song and dance” to disguise, but there are things not working right on the inside. We tend to gravitate and lean to the negative story and cast blame, repeating it over and over again. But, Jesus came to reverse the curse in our life. We became grafted into a new story with a whole new story of glory, with new possibilities and a new future as children of Almighty God. So, when we look at our deficit now, we have two choices. We can either reinforce the negative story or reverse the curse by leaning into God’s story and the positive possibilities.   

Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord."

Big Faith Idea #4 – The power of the gospel is that we can be the reflection of the love of God to our parents, even if they are not the reflection of the love of God. We have a new identity in Christ, we have a perfect Father, we have power to reinforce or reverse the story of our life, and we have the incredible opportunity to show the world that the gospel of Jesus Christ is bigger than broken relationships. The gospel is the power to reconcile and restore things that are broken. The word of God commands us to obey our parents in the Lord. If the order is not in alignment with God Holy Word, Will, and Way then it is not to be obeyed as God sets the standards by which we live.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.”

But, gospel faith in Jesus Christ can put back together again that which could not humanly be put back together. If God can take a fractured, formative relationship and, through us, begin to reflect freedom in that relationship, people are going to wonder: “How did you do that!” They may not know what it is that you have receive, who do you have to trust in, or how to put your faith in Him, but they will want to know Jesus. They will think: “Whatever is making reconciliation and restoring relationships happen, I need that in my life because I am not able to relate right now.” They need to see the gospel working in someone’s life that is real. Pastor Giglio concluded with six truths about when Father God looks at us: (1) He sees someone He loves, (2) He sees someone that He is thankful for, (3) He sees someone who is rare and a beautiful treasure, (4) He sees someone He forgives, (5) He sees someone who is here for a special purpose, and (6) He sees someone that He holds to His high standards. Why? Because we are born of God.

In Christ, Brian  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Our Father – Part 1 - Dad

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” 

This week, we continued in our church’s Wednesday evening small group video study series by Pastor Louie Giglio titled “Relat(able)”. Pastor Giglio explained that the relationships with our mothers and our fathers are the formative relationships in our lives. Our parents are responsible for bringing us onto this planet and our ability to relate in the world – the kind of spouse you’re going to be, the kind of son or daughter you are today, the kind of friend you are, and your interpersonal relationships - are wrapped up in our relationships with them.

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

Fathers are supposed to be empowering, encouraging, examples, protective and supportive, saying: “You can do it!?” and “You can count on me!”. When they are not, we struggle with who we are and what is our place in the world. There are “absentee dads” (both physically and emotionally). There are abusive dads that damage and hurt, rather than help. We carry the weight of these types of imperfect dads through life. A lot of people, when they think about an earthly “father”, they imagine a broken, absent, abusive, performance-based person that they don’t even really know or have been fighting against all their lives. The enemy (the devil) knows that God is a perfect Father. If he can fracture relationships with our earthly fathers, he will have distracted us from fully understanding who God is, how we relate to Him, what He thinks about us, and how to live in an amazing relationship with Him.

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

All of us have a natural gravitational pull for the acceptance of our father. Heavenly Father God is not a “reflection” of our earthly father; God is the “perfection” of our earthly father. Our Creator Father God is not a bigger version of our earthly father, but the version of the dad that we all long for deep in our heart. Know that the “good news of the gospel is powerful enough to reconcile us to God, to reconcile us to ourselves as God sees us, and to bring healing and impact into our relationships – no matter how messed up they are).

Hebrews 12:9 “Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?”

Pastor Giglio give us four “Big Faith” ideas to improve our relationships. Big Faith Idea #1 – When you come to know Jesus Christ, you receive a new identity. That new identity isn’t that you’re a church member or that you believe something, but that you become something : a Christians … not what you think or do, but what and who you are. Born again by faith into a new relationship with God as we become a son or daughter; birth all over again from above, from sin’s death to salvation’s transformation live in Christ. Almighty God becomes our Father, when we are born into a new relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  

Let's continue Louie Giglio's message on "Fathers" in our next post.
In Christ, Brian

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rooted and Built Up

 Colossians 2:6-7 “ As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Share the Faith - Rescue Mission

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

This week, Michael writes that Christianity is a rescue mission for desperate people. Love is the motivation for rescuing. Pastors are sheep like the rest of the flock. Pastors are called to be under-shepherds of the flock as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” The true Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is different from us because He did not inherit the sin nature that we inherited from Adam. When the sheep are together, they have strength in numbers. Therefore, forget not the assembly of yourselves together as the manner of some is. Our encouragement is to stay with the shepherd's flock in congregation for comfort exhortation, and edification.  

The Lord's exhortation for missionary pastors is "don't spoil the fruit that I've raised up."  The pastor's calling is to feed the flock of God which is among them. The calling is to meet their needs according to the flock's own calling and their own culture. They first need the Lord’s salvation before their lives can be changed to God's honor and glory. Therefore we must pay much closer attention to the Word of God that is spoken, lest we drift away from it. How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? Christians do not deliberately turn their backs on the truth that has been revealed to them. They gradually fall away by neglect. Our walk with the Lord must be intentional, deliberate, and purposeful according to his purpose.

Salvation is only through confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and believing that God has raised him from the dead. We are “born again” not because we never sin, but because we have accepted the Savior from sin. If we reject Jesus Christ, Romans 11 says that, If God will not spare Israel, the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Christians have been grafted into the natural branch of Israel to whom was given the original covenant of Abraham. When we have been saved by faith, our awareness of our eternal life in Christ will bring us through the suffering of this present world.  

Hebrews 4:1-2 says: “Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.  For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed."

Our ability to endure suffering is according to what we see at the end of this earthly life ... eternal life in Heaven with the Lord. This physical life is but for a moment in time.  Everything that we see in this world is temporary. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says that the things which are seen are temporal but the things which are unseen are eternal. What is it that you value most?  What is it that you treasure?  When we see beyond the things of this material earth to the spiritual things of eternity, of walking in fellowship with Him, of living for His glory and not our own, then nothing we endure can affect our communion with Him. For we have this treasure (this spiritual life) in an earthly vessel that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of ourselves

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

May God richly bless you!

Your brother in Christ, Michael

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Fear of Fire

Jude 21-23 “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”

 Tailgating onto Pastor Herk’s sermon based on James chapter 3, I came across this devotional that makes reference to the same passage and topic. I’d like to share it with you today ... with a few comments. This exhortation from Jude refers both to attempting to “save” unbelievers by warning them of hell and to warning believers against the influence of apostates. The ultimate hell (the Greek word “gehenna”) is not the same as the present hell (the  Greek word “hades”), although eventually all those lost souls now in the latter will eventually be “cast into the lake of fire” – Revelation 20:15. Both are fearsome places of real fire. The rich man mentioned by Jesus was in Hades and yet was being “tormented in this flame” – Luke 16:23-24.

Where are you going to go when you die? This is a common question because it’s obvious that there more than this life. King Solomon wrote in 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.” We know, deep down, that all this life did not come from non-life and be in the perfect conditions to exist and there is a godly purpose and eternal life beyond the grave. The question is “flames of hell or glory in heaven?”  Pyrophobia is an irrational fear of fire, beyond what is considered normal. But, there is a normal and healthy fear of hellfire and damnation, whether hades or gehenna; nobody wants to end up there. Both “hells” have literal fires, but it is hard to understand how material fires could torment non-material souls. There is a clue in James 3:6, which calls an unbridled human tongue “a fire, a world of iniquity: set on fire of hell.” Since the tongue is not literally on fire, but can be extremely destructive in human relationships, the implication is that hell itself is a “world of iniquity” (sin/ depravity).

John 3:17-19 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

This aspect of hell makes it even more fearsome than literal fires could ever be. The existence there of billions of unredeemed souls, eternally separated from the holiness and love of God, where all who are “unjust” and “deny Christ” (love darkness) will perish in eternal torment and in the constant presence also of the devil and his angels, is unspeakably appalling. Revelation 20:14-15 tells us, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Everyone in the pool! Yet that was their choice when they rejected or ignored the God offer of salvation and the infinite love of Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:13-15 talks about the upcoming “come to Jesus” Judgment day where “each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” Here you see that some believers will receive their reward for a life well lived for God (gold, silver, costly stones) while other believers will enter into heaven with little reward and their clothes smelling like smoke (got that line from the late, great pastor J. Vernon McGee). 

No wonder that Jude urges us to warn them of such awful fire and seek to save them with a healthy fear of fire if they won’t respond to the compassionate love of Christ. Don't get burned. Speak the truth in love. Tell someone about the gospel’s fireproof “Good News” today.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Power of Words – The Tongue- Part 2

James 1:19-22 “You know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”

We hear: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me”, but we all know that it is not true. Words can hurt us deeply. Words can break our hearts and words can break our spirits. Broken bones heal with time, but broken hearts and spirits, caused by words do not repair quickly, if at all. How many people have you and I impacted (positively or negatively) by our words? How many lives have been changed, for the better or the worse, with our words? Many people are going through psychological counseling for hurts, habits and hang-ups caused by malicious or carelessly cruel words. The Apostle James points out that from the same Christian mouth comes blessings towards God and cursing towards their fellow man. Are we too quick to criticize?  Do we need to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger? Are our words creating lasting affects by building people up or gossiping and tearing people down? There is an ungodly culture in society today that delights in intentionally tearing people down, saying: “Making you mad, makes me happy”.

Psalm 15:1-3 “ O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend.”

We cannot be complimenting and cursing, or blessing and blasting others out of the same mouth at the same time. It is impossible as Believers to have a tongue that brings forth both righteousness and rumors. We need to be consistently in holiness. What comes out of our mouth is a reflection of what is in our heart. If you have an angry heart, than you are going to have angry words. Psalm 37:30 says, “The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just.” What can we do to tame our tongue? (1) Make a commitment to be in God’s Holy Word. Pastor Herk suggests reading one of the 31 chapters of Proverbs every day, along with one chapter of the Book of James. You cannot help but pick up something good about a righteous mouth.

Proverbs 15:4 “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.”
(2) Think before you speak. Are your words flames or flowers to others? There are five questions using the acronym for the word “THINK” that we need to ask ourselves before we speak. “T” = Is it True? - Are your words the truth?; “H” = Is it Helpful? - Will your words assist in bringing about a solution and resolution to the problem?; “I” = Is it Inspiring? - Do your words build up people?; “N” = Is it Necessary? – Does it need to be said and what is the benefit?; “K” = is it Kind? – Does your heart care for this person and what they feel? (3) Talk less. Most times “silence is golden”, so let’s all get rich on it. The old saying goes: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” We have two ears and only one mouth, so listen twice as much. Be a good listener because people just want and need to “vent” (express and “unpack and unload” what’s on their heart and mind – they just want to be heard). You may not need to comment or speak or comment at all. Proverbs 10:19 says that: “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (4) Say it tactfully. You are never persuasive when you are abrasive. (5) Say it lovingly. Never use truth as a club to beat someone. Ephesians 4:15 “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.” (5) Say it Gently. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” Being gentle means lowering your voice and showing humility. Hear your words in your mind before anyone else hears them … you may choose not to use them. (6) Build up others. Encourage others with your words.

Do you find yourself speaking “words of life” or “words of death”? Be “right with God and transform lives for Christ’s sake. Choose life/speak life. If you find yourself speaking poison words, then change. Be a dispenser in life with true, fair, goodwill-building and beneficial words. .

Proverbs 16:21 “The wise in heart will be called understanding, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.”

In Christ, Brian