Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Source of Sadness – Part Two

James 1:14-15 “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.”

Continuing Pastor Kennedy’s message, he asks: “What does sin bring forth?” This is the source of sadness. Grief has but one primary root, and tears have but one primary source, and that root, that source, is sin.

Lucifer, the mightiest angel ever created by God, rose up in rebellion. He lusted after power and said. “I’ will be like the Most High.” In that instant, by that one thought, he was transformed into Satan and led the wicked rebellion wherein a third of the angels were cast down out of Heaven into perdition. The word “Satan” literally means “adversary, one who plots against another, to show enmity to, oppose, obstructs”. He set his in implacable opposition to that of the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth. He determined to thwart the purposes of God. No heartache was ever known until the devil, the serpent in the Garden of Eden, made conquest of the human will by deceiving Adam and Eve to doubt and disobey God.

 Romans 6:23a “For the wages of sin is death.”

Kennedy explains that until the devil is restrained, until that sin is banished, this generation of grief will not become extinct in the earth. Where there is no sin, there is no sadness or sorrow pr grief, but this word teems with sin. Sin has robbed mankind of such honor and dignity. The wages of sin against God is sorrowful death - sorrow; sadness; grief; and finally death. So it was at the beginning in the fall of man; so it has always been through sin. Sin is the great deceiver. It first blinds its victims before it binds and leads then unto destruction. Sin is a very slippery slope. When we take one step in that slope, God withdraws the restraining power of the Holy Spirit. We slide farther down. What a terrible, dangerous, deceitful, slippery thing is sin!

John 8:44 “He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The devil (Greek “diabolos”) means "accuser, slanderer." Have you believed Satan’s lie? When you were told that sin will bring you happiness, you didn’t see your life destroyed, your family ruined, your job lost, your body wracked with the results of sin. You didn’t see what the future really held. You have been told that sins are sweet. You have been enticed into impurity and you haven’t seen the terrible exactions that nature extracts from those who break the moral law. Hebrews 9:22 proclaims the truth that “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” There is a price to pay for our wicked sins. There is inevitable sadness connected with sin and it can happen to anyone. Is there no cure for this sadness, for this world of woe in which we find ourselves? One.

Let's continue Pastor Kennedy's message on the source of sadness and hear the only true cure in the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Source of Sadness – Part One

James 1:14-15 “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.”

Our Wednesday evening small group Bible Study at our church has been going through a video lesson on “Angels and Demons” by the late Pastor d. James Kennedy. This week, Pastor Kennedy explained that there are two clear issues in life. First, that happiness is one of the basic quests of the human heart. Second, that the vast majority of people fail to ever find true happiness and do not seem to know how to obtain it. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word happiness as: the agreeable sensations which spring from the enjoyment of good; that state of a being in which his desires are gratified, by the enjoyment of pleasure without pain; felicity; but happiness usually expresses less than felicity, and felicity less than bliss. Happiness is comparative. Perfect happiness, or pleasure unalloyed with pain, is not attainable in this life.

The greatest deceit Satan has ever perpetrated upon the human race, the most successful lie he has ever used is simply this: We shall find happiness and fulfillment through sin and by disregarding the commandments and precepts of Almighty God. To be clear, the word “sin” is defined as: The voluntary departure of a moral agent from a known rule of rectitude or duty, prescribed by God; any voluntary transgression of the divine law, or violation of a divine command; a wicked act; iniquity. Sin is either a positive act in which a known divine law is violated, or it is the voluntary neglect to obey a positive divine command, or a rule of duty clearly implied in such command. Sin comprehends not action only, but neglect of known duty, all evil thoughts purposes, words and desires, whatever is contrary to God's commands or law. By letting ourselves go and following our own passions, by ignoring Christ and the Word of God, Satan’s most successful lie would have us believe that joy shall be ours through sin.

Yet, the great truth of the Word of God is that at the right hand of God there is joy forevermore. There is happiness in holiness. It is through the submission and obedience to the will of Christ that people will find their true joy and fulfillment. These are two totally and completely antithetical propositions. You cannot have both. One is truth, the other a lie.

Hebrews 11:25-26 “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”

Whether it is by pursuing after sexual immorality, of following the lust for power or wealth or fame, the ultimate and bottom-line decision that every human being must make in the world involves the questions: Am I going to find my fulfillment and happiness by following Christ, or am I going to do it by following the baubles and allurements of Satan? Is it true that the chief end of mankind is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, of is it to forget Him and to enjoy the full flow of my passions in this world?

Let's continue this message on the source of sadness in the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Thursday, January 17, 2019

You’re Invited – Part 2

Michael continues: A diagnostic question for husbands and wives is, “if I could change anything about myself that would meet your needs, what would it be?” One guy said, I hate to ask my wife that question because she’ll tell me things that she’s already told me to change. Repentance is the first requirement to salvation. Repentance means to change my mind. It’s an “about face” or “u-turn” in our life. It means to turn from my own way and unto the Lord Jesus Christ. The world calls evil good and good evil. Turning to the Lord is the meaning of repentance. The word “Lord” means owner. I’m no longer my own Lord, Jesus is. Christianity is not who we are, but whose we are.

To approach our Heavenly Father, we must be clothed in the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our righteousness and our redemption. He is the perfect sacrifice for sin on our behalf that we may be the righteousness of God in Him. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. We’re forgiven not because of who we are but because of who God made us through His Son Jesus Christ when we were “born again” of God’s spirit.

The Pharisees and devout Jews were called to the King’s Son’s wedding. However, they rejected the invitation. The Gentiles were the ones in the highways and byways that were called to the wedding feast when the Jews rejected the king’s invitation. Jesus said, whosoever will may come. The bible says that all scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Those whom God has called are eager to forsake their own way and turn to God’s way when they hear the truth of the Word of God. Godly correction means to return to an upright position. Sin knocked us down; the Lord picked us up.

God is faithful to His Word. Philippians 2 says that even though we were saved by grace, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling … with awe, respect, and reverence for God. Our responsibility is our response to His ability. Our ability is the Holy Spirit … Christ in us the hope of glory that we received when we were “born again” and saved. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, when we make his delight our delight. and his will our will, then according to Philippians 2:13, it is God who works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. His good pleasure is that we should be above reproach and without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we shine as lights in a world of darkness, holding forth the Word of Life.

God asks, “Despite the troubles of this world, will you praise me anyway?” If the gospel is everything, then our assurance is that He works all things for His own good and for our own good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Our purpose is to share the gospel of Christ and to use words where necessary. We are the only bible some people will ever read. He has called us as His living epistles, His love letters known and read of all men and women. Jesus said, whosoever will may come. Our Heavenly Father has given us an engraved invitation. How we RSVP to His invitation will determine our eternal destiny.

May we ever live to the praise of the glory of His grace!
Your brother in Christ, Michael

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

You’re Invited – Part 1

This week, Michael writes: Everyone needs the message of the gospel of the good news of Jesus the Christ, the son of the living God. In Matthew 22, Jesus confronted the Pharisees and told them a parable about a wedding feast. The Pharisee’s were the religious leaders who did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. In the previous chapter Jesus had said that He was the chief cornerstone which the builders had rejected. The Pharisee’s perceived that He was talking about them when he said that they would break themselves by opposing the cornerstone. A parable is an earthly story that illustrates a spiritual truth.

In Matthew 22:2-14, Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The people of this culture were familiar with wedding feasts. The wedding celebration of a prince could last as long as a week. According to verse 3 (above), the king invited many to come to the wedding feast of his son. However those who were invited were unwilling to come. God originally called his people, the children of Israel to hear the Word of God and God’s message of salvation. In verse 4, he sent his servants to tell those who were invited. However, some of them seized the king’s slaves, arrested them, and killed them.

Today’s culture has evolved from a nation that considered itself “one nation under God” to a culture where many secular Americans think that quoting scripture is an example of “hate speech.” Many in today’s humanistic culture, many believe that eternal life is on their own terms instead of God’s terms. They reject the truth of the Word of God that salvation is by grace alone thought faith alone in Christ alone. Ezekiel 33:11 says that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. However, God sent not His Son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved. The context of John 3:16 says that even though the Son of God came into the world to show them the light of the truth, they who loved evil hated the light because they preferred the darkness rather than the light of truth.

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Plumb the Depths

Colossians 1:9 “We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”.

In a study on the letter to the Colossians, we learn that Paul’s prayers for the believers in Colossae reflect his true feelings about them and provide us with instruction. His gratitude for the Colossians’ faith implies that they received a full revelation of Christ and should not look for a “higher” religion. Paul advances the point, encouraging them to continue in what they had learned and not to pursue the false “spiritual vitality” allegedly found among the heretics.

The lesson teaches that we are ever tempted to pursue dazzling displays of “spiritual vitality” and quick growth that are supposedly available through that one insight or method heretofore overlooked. A great many books and teachers today promise speedy advancements in power and holiness, (whether it be through the exact repetition of the same prayer every day, the “name it and claim it” of the health-and-wealth gospel, or the promise of immediate victory over the Devil through a post-conversion baptism of the Spirit). Far less is actually achieved in the lives of most who embrace such teachings, as any honest survey of such things reveals. Yet emphases on secret or obscure methodologies for spiritual growth have actually been a problem in the church for ages. Back in first-century Colossae, false teachers promised quick paths to spiritual maturity through diet plans, ascetic practices, holy days, and more.

The apostle’s answer is not to deny spiritual growth and progress altogether, but to ground it in the faithful, simple pursuit of what has been presented clearly to all in the gospel. Paul’s prayer in indicates that growth comes through diligent continuance in what God has revealed to the whole church, not in chasing after the latest fad. He asks the Lord to help the Colossians walk in a fruitful manner, just as the simple gospel of Paul and Epaphras bears fruit in the whole world. Paul also prays for increasing knowledge of the Lord’s will — a deeper understanding of the truth that is accessible to all in the gospel message and that strengthens the faith of those who believe it. That Paul prays for such things — things people already had in the preaching of the truth — shows that believers are brought into the kingdom and made mature in the same way, namely, in studying and hearing the Word of God that has been revealed to all His people.

The study concludes that it is all too easy for us to think that once we know the basics of the gospel, we must then move beyond them for true spiritual growth. Yet it is not extra-biblical revelations and methods that mature us, nor is it the search for mysterious, esoteric meanings and codes in Scripture. Instead, it is the continual attempt to plumb the depths of the gospel message and its application to all of life, which is, in fact, the story of the Bible.


Monday, January 14, 2019

Out of Slavery and Into Freedom – Part 2

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Pastor Kyle continues: The (AA) Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program has twelve steps that are generally helpful in all circumstances which we find ourselves. (1) We admit that we are powerless of the issue at hand – that our lives had become unmanageable. (2) Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (3) Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him. (4) Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (5) Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (6) Be entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. (7) Humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings. (8) Make a list of all persons we had harmed and become willing to make amends to them. (9) Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (10) Continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admit it. (11) Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. (12) Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Thirdly, maintain a state of mental readiness and swift obedience to God and His holy Word. We cannot say, “I am not willing.” We need to have haste in obedience. God put options in front of us and decisions must be made. Fourthly, move in faith and move first. Standing on the promises of God and confident in blessed assurance, walk by the truth in God’s holy Word, being proactive by nature and reactive when necessary. If we are not willing to do what God says, then how can we expect others to do it?

Joshua 24:14-15 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

It boils down to this: Do you have the faith to say “yes” to true freedom?  Romans 1:17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Do we have the faith to take the steps to change from slavery into freedom in Christ?

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Out of Slavery and Into Freedom - Part 1

Exodus 12:24-32 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. The Israelites did just what  the Lord commanded  Moses and Aaron. At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”

We just crossed over into year 2019 AD. AD is short for the Latin “Anno Domini”, translated as "Year of the Lord." Every time someone speaks or writes the date, they acknowledge Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior of the world. This last Sunday, Pastor Kyle started  a new sermon series and preached a message that was applicable for starting a new year in our lives.

As we entered into a new year, it’s natural to take inventory and make an analysis of where we stand, then formulate a plan and construct appropriate changes to create corrections and meet goals for improvement, growth and maturity. Just as faith in God’s plan of salvation through the Christmas gift of the blessed Redeemer Jesus by grace set us free from the bondage of sin, we need to constantly be moving from slavery to freedom. In order to do so, we need to remember that first and foremost, freedom isn’t free. There is a cost in our freedom. Understand your personal bondage to sin. There was suffering and sacrifice in God’s promise and redemption paid by the Lord. Blood had to be spilled to pay for those sins. Our sin and associated death were passed over and we need to feel that loss and appreciate what God has done.

1 Corinthians 5:7 says, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”

Secondly, in order to move out of slavery and into freedom, we need to act accordingly and take steps to move towards greater freedom. God wants us to cast off the things that weigh us down in slavery (physically, mentally and spiritually). Fallen sinners saved need t recognize the items and issues in their lives that are not pleasing in the eyes of the Lord. Healing moment need to led to a healing process. Admit wrongs and repent because sin creates a slave mindset pattern. Church is one major healing element, so make the assembly of the sanctified a priority.

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