Friday, April 19, 2019

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Apostle Peter's Encouragement – Part 3

1 Peter 2:12-14 “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”

Michael continues that we submit ourselves as sons and daughters of God with gentleness according to the love of God. The Spirit of Christ in us will determine the world's reaction to the Word of God that we witness with our behavior. They don't care that you know until they know that you care. 

Continuing in 1 Peter 2:18-19: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.”

Why should we be submissive to an unreasonable master?  This finds favor (to God and men who admire our character) when we for the sake of confidence toward God suffer unjustly.  They don't watch if we seek "just retribution" but they take notice when we bear up under unjust suffering.  This is the mark of Godly character.  This is an example of God's living epistle, known and read of all men.

Bearing up under suffering was the example of Jesus himself:  1 Peter 2:20-25: "For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”

According to 2 Peter 1:10, Our calling is to give all diligence (with meekness and humility) to make our calling and election sure.  We look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy (of our salvation) endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God.  Because of the price he paid on our behalf he has called us to "show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light...”

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Apostle Peter's Encouragement – Part 2

1 Peter 2:6-8 “Built up as living stones we will not be disappointed.  However unto those who don't believe the cornerstone Jesus Christ will be a stumbling stone. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: where unto also they were appointed.” As living stones we're built up to offer spiritual sacrifices holy unto God.

Michael continues that although Christians are in this world, we are not of this world. (John 15:18-19 and John 17:14-16). The wealthier the culture becomes, the more the people will worship the almighty dollar and the idol "blessings" of this world. When true Children of God preach the Word of God, the world will persecute them and ostracize them for speaking against what the God-rejecting world system considers “politically correct”. The secular world does not realize that the true blessing is to pursue the Blessor (Creator God) and not the blessing. Therefore, Peter reminds us that we are God's building, His holy temple and that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone, the firm foundation.

According to 1 Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light:” The Lord chose us before we chose Him. He chose us before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. We're a royal priesthood with direct access to our Heavenly Father. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. We, who have been born from above, are an holy nation. We're citizens of Heaven, having been born again, not of corruptible seed (of Adam) but of incorruptible (of God) by the Word of God which lives and abides forever.

Continuing in 1 Peter 2:11, Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul”. To win the spiritual battle, we must put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).  2 Corinthians 10:4 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual to the pulling down of strongholds. Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” The two offensive weapons in our spiritual arsenal are the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and prayer. We're aliens and foreigners in a sinful world of darkness. We're citizens of Heaven. 

To bear up under suffering, we must understand that this world is not our home; we're just passing through. If we hold on to the things of this world, John said, the love of the father is not in us. In a hostile world, Jesus said, "Blessed are they when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, for great is your reward in heaven."  As the Apostle Paul said, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” The love of God defeats the hatred of the adversary (Satan) and his minions.  According to Romans 12, “be not overcome with evil but overcome evil with good.”  

Let's conclude Michael's message on Peter's encouragement in the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Apostle Peter's Encouragement - Part 1

This week, Michael writes: The good news of the gospel is throughout the bible. Even the Old Testament is full of the good news of God's salvation. The messages in the four gospels are challenges for Christians to live as “unto God and not unto men”. The blessings in the beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11 fly in the face of worldly wisdom.  God's blessings are diametrically opposed to the world's definition of the "pursuit of happiness." The world's happiness is based on "happenstance."  It's a fleeting emotional high. That which is of this world is temporal ... here today and gone tomorrow.

The Apostle Paul had persecuted the Christians before he had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. He humbled himself and understood that he was the "chief of all sinners."  Paul knew according to the spirit of Christ that he was given a new nature by God's abundant grace and mercy. Paul learned to strive to keep himself under subjection to his new nature of the spirit. When we realize that we are subject to the new nature, God will break our hearts for what breaks his. Sin is the nature of the flesh for which Jesus Christ sacrificed his life as a righteous payment for sin on our behalf.

The men who wrote the New Testament were holy men of God who were moved by God's Holy Spirit. The New Testament defines the enemy as the adversary, the devil, the thief whose purpose is to steal, to kill, and to destroy. His tools are the old nature, the boastful pride of life, the over desires of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes. Jesus Christ redeemed us from our sinful nature, for He who was without sin became the perfect sacrifice for sin on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.

We were not deserving of God's saving grace. We were deserving of death; for the wages of sin is death. However, where sin abounded grace much more abounded.  Even though we were guilty before God, the righteous judge, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin. We're forgiven and loved, not because we were worthy of forgiveness and love, but because love, mercy and grace is the nature of God himself. For in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. When we realize that God's salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, then we can "thank God for his unspeakable gift."  

The apostle Peter wrote two epistles so that people of God could "make their calling and election sure."  Peter wrote to believers in "enemy territory."  1 Peter 1:13-17 says:  “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance. But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation, because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:”

Peter exhorts the believers to long for the pure milk of the unadulterated word of God. The Christians were fearful of the persecution of the believers. However, despite the trials of this world, we can "gird up the loins of our mind". We're in control of our thoughts and attitudes according to our holy calling. "Holy” means to separate our thoughts, actions, and behavior according to God's divine design. For God is no respecter of persons. He is however, a respecter of His Word. Holiness is according to God's terms and not the world's terms. Therefore, be ye doers of the Word with godly fear, reverence, and respect.

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

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Will of the Lord

Ephesians 5:15-17 “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

I read that there is no more exalted theme in the world than the will of God, nor is there a more important practical question than how to know the will of God. Of greatest significance is the recognition that it is His will—not man’s will—that is important. We are made up of body, soul and spirit; the soul being made up of our mind, will and emotions. God created us that way for a reason. It is the child of God’s goal to willingly align their will with the will of God in order to live and serve our Lord with purpose.

God desires for us to know His will—both His will in general, as revealed in Scripture, and His “specific will” in each particular decision. The latter must in every instance, of course, be fully compatible with the former, as the Holy Spirit, who leads us, will never contradict the Scriptures that He inspired. Thus, an indispensable prerequisite to finding the personal will of God is knowing His general will.

The lesson explained that the general will of God is expressed, first of all, in the fact of special creation. Then Christ became man in order to accomplish God’s will as our sin-bearing substitute on the Cross on Good Friday; by this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all - Hebrews 10:10. It is His will that this should provide salvation to all who believe. “This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life” – John 6:40. This in turn entails individual regeneration of the spirit which was dead by sin for all who receive Him; those “which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” - John 1:13.

Furthermore, His will includes absolute security in Him, our sanctification, and ultimate glorification. Thankfulness in all things and a godly and virtuous life are also God’s will. A believer who understands, believes, aligns and obeys God’s will is then prepared to know and follow it as their will in life abundant in Christ. 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

For God So loved the World – Part 2


John 3:17-21 “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. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Continuing Pastor Kyle massage on God’s love for the world, by stating that the Holy Scripture, the very Word of God, tells us that our Creator Father God condemns no one to fire, hell and damnation; we condemn ourselves by rejecting the free gift of redemption, forgiveness, restoration and salvation through Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Some believe that since God is love (that love and mercy are an attribute of God), that everyone is going to Heaven and we can continue to willful reject God and sin against Him and His creation. There is a twisted and distorted belief that nobody is going to Hell, even though the Bible says the opposite. We have to be careful to not think that we know more than God and fashion Him into our image and desires.

Hebrews 9:27 clarifies, “As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” What judgment?  Revelation 20:10-15 explains, “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 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 is accountable to sovereign God, our Maker. There is no sin in Heaven, just saved sinners, who repent and by faith accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, who atoned for the sins of the world on that Cross and paid the price for sin. We have a choice to make because we are condemned by our sin and the default is hell. Everyone needs a Savior, and there is only One.

John 3:35-36 says clearly, “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” To make this point perfectly clear, 1 John 5:12-13 tells us, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

The most important things we need to know from John 3:16 is that God created and loves us. The psalmist writes in Psalm 139:13-14 “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” The Prophet Jeremiah delivers the true Word of God in Jeremiah 29:11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Love gives and sacrifices. Saving faith is living in the “light” of God’s truth. Sure, there will be people who choose to reject God’s redemption gift for salvation and live in the darkness of sin, denial and rebellion. But God calls all of us to higher godly things in life by repenting of sin and, by faith, accepting the atoning sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, who He sent as our Savior and Lord. 2 Peter 3:9 reinforces that “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” For God so loved the world that He gave.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ requires us to live daily in obedience to God’s holy Word, Will and Way as a saved child, no longer hellbound, but a citizen of Heaven forever. 

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, April 13, 2019

For God So Loved the World - Part 1


John 3:14-17 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 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. 

This last week, Pastor Kyle continued in our Sunday sermon series through the book of John. He stated that the greatest love known in the world is only a small fraction compared to the love has towards us ... more than we’ll ever know this side of glory. It was His attribute of love that motivated our heavenly Father to “give” to a fallen world a Savior. Get a glimpse of God’s heart.

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

We continue to sin, but God doesn’t wait for us to realize our sins and change. God is unwilling to allow us, who He created and loves to perish without an opportunity for redemption. Just as parents long for connection with their children, so does our heavenly Father. God initiated the action of redemption, forgiveness, restoration and salvation. The reality is that people do not understand is that by sin, we are perishing. Romans 3:23 tells us clearly, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, yet Romans 5:8 explains that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What needs to be understood is the gospel truth of what Romans 6:23 communicates, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Our part is to repent of our sin, then as Romans 10:9-10 declares, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” 

Pastor Kyle gives us some life application because we do not always feel excited about everything going on in our life. Bad things happen in life to everyone sometime, but we can choose to love in it and through those situations with the knowledge that good times return. Storms always pass. Keep doing the things that motivate and bring about positive and pleasant living. God “gave”, so we sacrifice to make room for others to know and love the Lord, experiencing the love of God. Catch fire in your heart for the love of God towards others.

Let’s continue Pastor Kyle’s message on God’s love for the world in the next post.
In Christ, Brian