Friday, July 19, 2024

Blessed Are the Persecuted – Part 2

Michael continues: When Jesus confronted the Pharisees, He said, you want to call fire down from heaven to consume those you consider to be beneath you, the poor souls who are burdened by sin, the helpless, homeless, hungry, thirsty, tired and downtrodden. However, God so loved the world that He sent His Son Jesus Christ, not to condemn the world, (because it was already condemned by sin) but heal the world through Him by His substitutionary; sacrifice on the Cross that they might be saved.

How do you overcome the evil of this world and evil people who follow after the perverted doctrines of spiritual darkness and the devil? Paul said, be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good ... for hatred stirs up strife, but love covers a multitude of sins. (Proverbs 10:12)

Those who are rebellious of God think they are right, and judge others who do not follow their perverted sense of so-called righteous indignation (calling good evil and evil good). They say, because we stand for self-righteous judgement, we have the right to destroy what we perceive as evil people who don’t think like they think. Those who oppose God’s salvation by grace alone, thorough faith alone in Christ alone, will think that if they stop and silence you, they are doing God a favor. But be careful how you judge others. Jesus said, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you. The love of God starts with humility; with the attitude that says, there but for the grace of God go I. 

1 John 3:13 tells us, “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” The unbelieving world will seek to eliminate the Light of God, His Christ and His saved born-again Believers. It is not a matter of if, but when it is going to happen. The righteous before God will be persecuted, ridiculed, bullied, and afflicted for speaking the truth of the Word of God and Jesus said, this is a blessing. All God requires is sure faith and extreme obedience ,with no questioning or complaining on our part and no explanation on His, knowing that the Lord is in complete control. This is the definition of Lordship. Lordship means to die to self in order to live for the Lord. Jesus said, he who loses his life for my sake, shall find it ... life to the full and eternal.

 

In John 15:18-19 Jesus explains, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Then in John 16:33 reassures us, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 

 

The Apostle Paul concludes in Romans 5:1-5, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” God’s proven character within us. And experience works hope, ultimately the hope of the return of Jesus Christ. The hope of the Second Coming of our Lord makes us not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. 

To overcome the evil of sin, persecution, and the hatred of this God-rejecting world, love your enemies, and bless them that persecute you. Proverbs 25:21-22 instructs us, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” In loving God above all and our neighbor as ourselves, be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good, because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world; that we may ever live to the praise of the glory of Thy grace!

 

Your brother in Christ, Michael




Thursday, July 18, 2024

Blessed Are the Persecuted – Part 1

 

Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


This week Michael writes: World views are important. Looking at the world from the biblical perspective of the Kingdom of Heaven reveals that the world is upside-down. Christian Noah Webster defined the word persecution in his 1828 Dictionary as: The act or practice of persecuting; the infliction of pain, punishment or death upon others unjustly, particularly for adhering to a religious creed or mode of worship, either by way of penalty or for compelling them to renounce their principles. 

 

The secular world’s definition of persecution is suffering, affliction, and humiliation for what you believe. To endure irritation, frustration, and exasperation inflicted by those who oppose you. However, Jesus said that persecution is a blessing. Why is it a blessing to be persecuted by the world? 

 

According to Isaiah 58, the fast is not just to abstain from eating. Similar to the Christian season of Lent leading up to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday which begins just after “Fat Tuesday” and the festival of “Carnival” (Latin – Carne meaning flesh and Val meaning away with) meaning away with the sinful lust desires of the fallen flesh. Is fasting and Lent not abstinence to turn away from wickedness; to release the bands of sin on those held captive, to bring the poor into your Lord’s house and to clothe and feed them with righteousness? Is this not the fast of the Sabbath also? Leviticus 23:3 “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.”

 

Jesus Christ lifted up the oppressed and persecuted. He restored them according to the Law of God’s Love. As disciples of Christ, we confess that our heart’s desire is to serve the Lord from a heart of pure love. How do we serve the Lord? Jesus said, in that you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me. According to 1 John 3, This is the message we have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 


The spiritual battle rages on. Israel turned away from God in their apostasy and persecuted the Old Testament Prophets of God. The murderers of Jesus persecuted Jesus’ disciples for following Him. The conflict between good and evil will always be with us. There will always be wars and rumors of war. The dark evil will try to extinguish the light of the truth of the Word of God. “For he that does evil hates the light. Neither comes to the light lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that does truth comes into the light that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought of God – John 3:20-21.

The battle of good and evil plays out in history and in current events. The devil hides in darkness. He rarely shows his true colors. To accomplish his purposes he acts through worldly rulers to punish those who do not succumb to his perverted purposes. Those who are influenced by the secular world’s doctrine, persecute the righteous according to their twisted and perverted morality of so-called “tolerance.” They can tolerate anything except the truth of God’s righteous standard … the Word of God made manifest.

 

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

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

They Missed

Psalm 91:5-7 “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.”

 

On July 9, 1755, George Washington (colonel of the Virginia militia) while marching through a wooded ravine, they walked right into an ambush; the French and Indians opened fire on them from both sides. At the end of the battle, George Washington was the only officer who had not been shot down off his horse — he was the only officer left on horseback. After the battle was over, he had taken off his jacket and had found four bullet holes through it, yet not a single bullet had touched him. They missed. 

 

Washington wrote a letter to his family: “By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence

[In theology, the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures. By divine providence is often understood God himself], I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation.” Washington openly acknowledged that God’s hand was upon him, that God had protected him and kept him through that battle. 

 

Fifteen years later, in 1770, An old Indian chief, a leader in that battle told Washington: I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle….I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.

 

Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every  tongue which

rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.

 

On Saturday, July 13, 2024 demonic evil and hate attempted to assassinate our former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally for the November presidential election this year, but they missed. Mr. Trump told US media he felt that he had been saved "by luck or by God". 

“The most incredible thing was that I happened to not only turn my head, but to turn at the exact right time and in just the right amount," he said, adding that the bullet that grazed his ear could have easily killed him. "I’m supposed to be dead, I’m not supposed to be here. It is a chance to bring the country together.” Once again, by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, he was protected beyond all human probability or expectation.

 

Revelation 22:17 “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

 

There is one life or death invitation that you do not want to miss. God has opened wide the door to salvation and He does not desire that sinners die but that they repent, accept God’s free gift of redemption by His grace through our faith and live. But one day the door will shut. And whatever conclusion a person has come to about the work and person of Jesus Christ will be their final decision. Come the death of our mortal bodies or the Lord’s glorious return for His Church, any person who has not yet accepted God’s salvation in Christ, at that point will run out of time. Many will miss out. The option is closed and there is no other way. If we procrastinate until the opportunity is gone, it will be all our fault.  

 

2 Corinthians 6:2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

 

Yes, heaven is restricted to those people who accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The sun is setting. Don’t miss your opportunity. Your eternal life depends upon it. Reach out and take the water. 


In Christ, Brian            

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Spiritual and Physical

 

1 Corinthians 1:18  “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 

 

I was watching a broadcast of last Sunday’s Coral Ridge Hour and Pastor Pacienza made a statement that the unseen spiritual life and visible physical life both exist, but many people don’t see the evidence, believe, accept or experience spiritual, so they suppress it. In Romans 1:18-20 the Apostle Paul explains, ”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.”

 

The origins of the proverb "There are none so blind as those that will not see" can be traced back to the Middle Ages. It was initially documented in a book authored by John Heywood, an English writer and collector of proverbs, which was published in 1546. Heywood's version of the proverb goes as follows: "Who is so deaf, or so blind, as is he that willfully will neither hear nor see." The essence of this proverb lies in the notion that blindness extends beyond the physical realm. It encompasses a willful ignorance or a deliberate refusal to acknowledge the truth. The fingerprints on our Almighty, yet invisible in the spiritual realm, Creator God are everywhere in His physical creation. Check the “Is Genesis History” series, the Institute for Creation Research’s book or video “Carved in Stone”, and there are many more proofs in nature revealed by Creation Scientists.


1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

 

English writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley, author of “Brave New World” stated in his book Ends and Means, “I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning - the Christian meaning, they insisted - of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.” That "erotic revolt" is rebellion against God.

 

The separation of the spiritual and the physical is the mentally throwing out the spiritual leaving only the physical. To the secular humanist, no sovereign God means no heavenly authority for morality over self and life, so he and many more sinfully do as they want to do, as many lustful pleasures as possible, wild debauchery, addictive materialism in absolute lawlessness. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins, so they say that God and adopt a philosophy of meaninglessness, believing that the spiritual doesn’t exist in order to liberate themselves from their reality and consequence of their sinful lifestyle; from God’s standards of morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. But, God created all mankind with a physical body, soul (mind, will and emotions), and spirit (a spiritual connection with God with spiritual discernment). 


When man sinned in the Garden, the physical lived, the soul lived, but the spirit of man died. The term “born again” refers to the regeneration of the spirit of man in the repentant sinner that accepts the free gift of the Savior of the world (Jesus Christ) given solely by the love, mercy and grace of our Father God in Heaven for the propitiation, payment, forgiveness and remission of our many sins by the sacrificial death of the Son of God in your, my and everyone’s place, that we may escape the just wrath of God against sin in Hell, become adopted sons and daughters of God and have eternal life as a citizen of Heaven forever in glory. The spiritual and the physical are not separate; they were never designed and meant to be apart. It is not a matter “either/or”, but both in unity. 

 

In Christ, Brian

Friday, July 12, 2024

The Church

 

In Matthew 16:15-18 Jesus  said to His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

 

The Greek word for “church” in this passage is “ekklÄ“sia”, meaning the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth, but can also mean an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary confirms the definition of the word “church” as: 1. The collective body of Christians, or of those who profess to believe in Christ, and acknowledge Him to be the Savior of mankind. In this sense, the church is called the Universal Church. 2. The disciples of Christ assembled for worship in a particular place, as in a public house of worship or a private house. And adds 3. A house consecrated to the worship of God, among Christians; the Lords house. The Greek, to call out or call together, denotes an assembly or collection.  

 

Our Wednesday evening Small Group Bible Study started a new video series titled “Letters to the Church” by Pastor Frances Chan, which begins by asking “what would you understand church to be if the Bible was your only source of information?” Immediately the definition of “the body of born-again Believer and worshippers, saved by grace through faith, and disciples of Jesus as Savior and Lord, with Christ as the head. Obedient to do what God teaches and commands, and willing to do whatever God asks.

 

Pastor Chan states, But worship is not about our feelings; it is all about God. He is the object of our worship, and His thoughts should be our sole concern when Christians come together to worship. God gave us holy Scripture to guide us in our pursuit of Him, and we need to heed what He says. Pastor Chan asks: If we show up to Sunday services, serve in a ministry or two, and give money to our church, but do little else for the Church the rest of the week, what does that really say about how we view God?  Note: church with a lower case “c” denotes the disciples of Christ assembled for worship in a particular place [the local church], but Church with a capital “C” denotes the collective body of Christians worldwide, professing to believe in Christ, and acknowledge Him to be the Savior of mankind [the Universal Church].      

 

We take comfort in the fact that ultimately God is in control, has a vision for His Church and He will empower us for the Kingdom work required to achieve that vision. We need to take ownership of and be devoted to stewarding His Church well, but we can find rest in knowing that we are simply joining in what He is already doing in His overarching plan. 

 

Revelation 22:20-21 says, He [Jesus] who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Pastor Chan concludes that God’s people need to live in the light of the eternity that is coming very soon. This means to live with hope and vision for what the Church here on earth can be. But, it also means living with a sense of urgency. The Church needs to be willing to lay aside anything that hinders us or any sin that could entangle us in our pursuit of holiness and righteousness before the Supreme Being, Almighty God, our heavenly Father.

In Christ, Brian                   



Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Legacy

 

This week Michael writes: the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”


Paul was personally ordained of God with the ministry of an Apostle. As he approached the end of his life, Paul said to his “son in the faith” Timothy, “be strong in the Lord and the power of his might. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

When we are distracted to divert our eyes from following Jesus Christ, we will be caught up in the affairs of this pagan world. Paul continued in 2 Timothy 1:8-9 “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. Then in 2 Timothy 1:13-14 “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.


Paul knew that he was approaching the end of his earthly life and ministry. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul passed the torch of “the light of truth” to his protege and son in the faith. As Timothy’s mentor and coach, Paul trained him up in God’s truth to grow up into the man of God for the purpose God intended. Holding fast to the sound word that we have heard and witnessed in others, is secured in believing faith, and activated by the love of Christ in us.

Paul continued his letter in 2 Timothy chapter 2 with four illustrations. A Man of God is a teacher of truth, a soldier in the spiritual battle, an athlete in a spiritual completion, and a farmer in the fields of life; one who sows the seed of the word, waters and tends the crop and, reaps good fruit at harvest time. 2 Timothy 2:2 says, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”


How do you teach others? How do you commit that which you’ve learned to the next generations? The church, body of Christ, grows exponentially, raised to power of four Generations to come (o yourself, your children, and your children’s children, and to your great-grandchildren children). Jesus rarely spoke to the multitudes. He had twelve disciples and an inner circle of three men. The question is, who are your twelve and who are your three? The. Core four, discipling each other in the love of God and the power of God raised to the exponential power of 4. How do you teach those with whom you associate? You teach by your actions. As the old poem says, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day. I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.” The Apostle James said, you say you have faith? Your faith is demonstrated by your actions.

Paul continued his letter to 2 Timothy 2:3-4 “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” Then in 2 Timothy 2:5, Paul likens the calling of a child of God to training for an athletic competition,: “And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”  An athlete must compete according to the rules of the game or he will be disqualified. As spiritual athletes, we must compete, striving according to the righteous standard of God’s Spirit ... the Spirit of truth. If we fail to keep the rules and stumble and fall, then we fall into the net of God’s grace. “For if we sin, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

In 2 Timothy 2:6-7, Paul compares the child of God to a farmer: “The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.” Paul had said before, I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. When the seed of the Word of God you sow falls on the good ground of a receptive heart, it will bear much fruit. There is no glory in the one who sows, plants and waters…. the glory is in God who gives the increase.

 

2 Timothy 2:8 “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel.” If life on earth is a race, the winning is not in finishing first place, but in finishing well. Paul’s legacy was that whatever he did, he did all for the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul’s benediction is in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 states: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. May this also be our own benediction and legacy, that we may live not for our own glory, but to the praise of the glory of His grace!


Your brother in Christ, Michael

Monday, July 8, 2024

End Goal

 

Jonah 3:10-4:11 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” 

Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city. And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”

 

During my holiday week, I visit my other family church at Bass Lake, California and attended their Sunday worship service. Pastor Herk finished the sermon series by summing up that God wants us to be a witness of the Gospel to our enemies for their repentance and salvation. We tend to be just like the Prophet Jonah desiring mercy for ourselves but wanting justice for everyone else. But, what does God want? What is His “end goal”? 

 

Our heavenly Father will equip you in your life to accomplish His will for your life. Yet, in our mortal mind, we can have the right Christian doctrine and the right biblical Theology, but be wrong with God. The Supreme Being of heaven and earth wants our heart, not just your head. When we are wronged by others, we tend to look for a defense and revenge. This causes us to failure to forgive based upon our personal view of justice, mercy, grace and repentance. But God’s desired goal is to “win people over” by His love, which leads to repentance and salvation. He provides a way for sinners to draw closer to Him and find forgiveness by His mercy and grace. 

 

Pastor Herk says that if you want to love others like God loves you, then you must love others as God loves you. We find our identity in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. John 3:16-17 “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.” We need to read the Gospel daily. Born again Believers are all sinners saved by the grace of God through the substitutionary sacrificial death of our Savior Jesus Christ on the Cross for our sins. So, we should be “mercy-givers” and “prayer warriors” for others. We must be willing to be uncomfortable and flexible in order to seek and save the lost, as we are commissioned by the Lord to do. The question is: Is our heart truly in it? And ultimately, are we obedient to the Lord? The “end goal” is saving lives.

 

So, what is important in life? Who is our Nineveh today that God want us to witness to? It take “face-to-face” gospel outreach to our family, friends and neighbors because the Nineveh today is all around us. Life is not about me, not about I, not about number one. Life is about living a life pleasing in the eyes of the Lord, obeying God and following Jesus. Love God and love others. 

 

In Christ, Brian