Friday, September 21, 2018

Is Jesus King or Pawn? – Part 2

Acts 2:22-24 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”

Continuing Pastor Giglio's message on is Jesus King, he points back that in yesterday's post Isaiah 46:11 speaks of God calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Daniel 1:1 tells us that in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. In Daniel 2:2-3 tells of Nebuchadnezzar’s troubling dream. In Daniel 2:27, 31-35, Daniel interprets that dream as a Rock hewed out by Almighty God’s hand – a chief cornerstone, a tried and tested stone for a sure foundation, for that Rock shall break every kingdom that there is. In Daniel 2:47, Daniel declares: “there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets.” After the “fiery furnace” rescue of Rack, Shack and Ben, Nebuchadnezzar writes in Daniel 4:1-3 of the Most High God, “How great are His signs, and how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.” The dream of Nebuchadnezzar’s was interpreted by Daniel (the bird of prey from the east) in 603 B.C. and in 539 B.C. Babylon was conquered and fell.

There are people today that think that they are a king or queen, and need to see Who really is King of kings and Lord of lords.  But, if you feel like a pawn today and concerned about your tomorrow, then be reminded that we have been connected to Jesus. Christ is the true King of kings and Lord of lords, and you are never a pawn in life, if you belong to the King. Your times are in the hands of the King of kings. Jesus is in the fire, delivering us in the furnace before He gets us out of the furnace, showing His superior strength in our lives. In the difficulties before He gets us out of the difficulties. We are always looking for the “eject” button, while Jesus is looking for the “insert” button, where He can come into the equation, the difficulty, the challenge, the pressure or the stress and show Himself enough for us in the fire.

Pastor Giglio says that the key point is: You are not a pawn, if you belong to the King. The king's domain is his kingdom, in which the Believer is a citizen. Even under pressure, you are not a pawn, if you belong to the King. Inside and outside power do not have “final say” over you, if you belong to the King. The King is the king, and He has final say in what happens to you. A committee may decide, the Board may vote, your boss may a decision, people may make choices, the diagnosis may come on the radar and all kinds of pressure may happen, but if you are connected to the King then you are never a pawn. Nobody is wreaking God’s plan. If you have submitted to Him, then this is a “game-changer” and a distinctive in this world.

The way we honor the Lord, influences how we honor people. But, let’s make sure that we never worship anyone but God. That we make our focus to worship the One True God at all cost, any cost and every cost. In the process, we will honor everyone we can, as long as we can, wherever we can. Focus on being faithful and God will focus on making you fruitful. Focus on making sure your heart is “right” and God will sure that the arc of your life was great. The Lord Jesus Christ is King!

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Is Jesus King or Pawn? - Part 1

Our Wednesday evening small group Bible Study is going through a video series on who is Jesus by Pastor Louie Giglio. In this last lesson, Pastor Giglio states that no matter where you live, how much money you have, what your job is or what you are in control of, there is always something else that can sweep right into your world and shut it down. But, just because we cannot be in control of everything and everyone, doesn’t mean that we need to feel insecure. It doesn’t mean that we have to go through life worrying how things are going to turn out. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Today, we can trust and rest in the One who stands above it all.

A Grand Master Chess Player can vision 15-20 moves ahead and what the board will look like at that point. If only we could allow God to help us to think today beyond the nest move! There is going to be peace and hope come into our lives, because we are “next move” people. A situation comes into our world out of left field, a tragic phone call comes, news that we were not expecting appears, or somebody moves in a way that we did not imagine; what is our next move? We are a generation of “next move” people and God is a God of all the moves. So, for us to align our lives with Him, roots us in hope and peace.

Isaiah 46:5-11 “To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me, that we should be alike? They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith, and he makes it a god; they prostrate themselves, yes, they worship. They bear it on the shoulder, they carry it and set it in its place, and it stands; from its place it shall not move. Though one cries out to it, yet it cannot answer nor save him out of his trouble. Remember this, and show yourselves men; recall to mind, O you transgressors. Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet
done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ Calling a bird of prey
from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken
it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.”

Pastor Giglio points out that in life, there is a “big picture” going on and the question is not who is moving the pieces within the chessboard of life, but Who is moving the pieces of history today? God, through all ages, has raised up people of power to accomplish His purposes in time and eternity. Jesus, standing before the “outside” power of Roman Authority caused them to ask: “Are you a king?” or “Are you a pawn?” The promised Messiah was going to be a great and mighty Ruler, the One to bring the Kingdom of God, the One that they all were waiting for … the Promised One. But, Jesus looked like He was just a pawn in the hands of power. As Jesus affirms that He is a King, at the end of the day, the “inside” (Jewish) power has it’s way with the “outside” (Roman) power and take Christ away to crucified Him.

The answer to was Jesus a King or a Pawn is clear. Jesus was not the pawn on that day, but everyone else there (both inside and outside powers) were the pawns on that day. In fact, Jesus was the King on that day and everyone else was a role player in the purpose and plan of Almighty God. The Roman Empire was conquered and fell in 476 A.D. and here we are worshiping Jesus, the living Savior of the world, today. Jesus Christ is King!

Let's continue this eye-opening study's message in the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Pursuit of Righteousness – Part 2

Michael continues that in the old game show, "To Tell the Truth," the question was, "Will the real you please stand up." When God sees us he sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ himself. Who is the real you?  The real you is the person who God created us in Christ Jesus when we were born again of God's spirit.  According to Colossians 1:26-27, the riches of the glory of the mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

God has called us to be godly so that we don't need to be afraid of judgment today and come Judgment Day. We are sons and daughters of God by new birth in Christ. He has created in us a new life in the spirit of Christ in us. We have been saved by grace through faith. As Galatians says, the just shall live by faith. Faith produces knowledge of the cause and purpose of our lives. Faith produces fidelity ... to stand strong to the end.

As a man or woman of God, we do things because of whose we are. We were made the righteousness of God because of Jesus' payment for sin on our behalf. For he who was without sin became the perfect sin sacrifice for us that we may be made the righteousness of God in him. The real you is "Christ in you". It's His feet behind my feet, His hands behind my hands, His eyes behind my eyes, and His heart behind my heart. Faithfulness is not because of what we do, but because of who we are and whose we are. Devoted means that we have dedicated ourselves to His purposes and cause because of our righteousness in Him.

Each moment in time can be "our finest hour." Each moment is an opportunity to fulfill our "divine appointment" to walk in fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Our acceptance by our Heavenly Father is through His son, for there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.  

The sin nature will pursue the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. However, you are slaves to whom you obey. We have the power of the Holy Spirit to flee from these things and instead to pursue the righteousness of God in Christ in us. For there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ has made me free from the law of sin and death. Therefore we can approach our father as sons of God. We can live for our Father's glory, for it is God who works in you to will and to do of his good pleasure.

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Pursuit of Righteousness – Part 1

This week, Michael writes that as the people of God, we need to keep our eyes on eternity.  Even though we live in the here and now, our eyes are on the hereafter.

In the books of Timothy, natural men and women of this world are opposed to the things of righteousness. Many harmful desires of the flesh plunge us into destruction and depravity. The battle between light of righteousness and the darkness of sin rages on. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness from on high.” Charles Spurgeon said that we are the result of a siege that God waged against the fortress of our worldly hearts. He has broken down the walls of the Believer and led captivity captive.

Per the poem written by English poet Francis Thompson, Jesus Christ is the "hound of heaven", who continuously pursues us. "The name is strange. It startles one at first. It is so bold, so new, so fearless. It does not attract, rather the reverse. But when one reads the poem this strangeness disappears. The meaning is understood. As the hound follows the hare, never ceasing in its running, ever drawing nearer in the chase, with unhurrying and imperturbed pace, so does God follow the fleeing soul by His Divine grace. And though in sin or in human love, away from God it seeks to hide itself, Divine grace follows after, unwearyingly follows ever after, till the soul feels its pressure forcing it to turn to Him alone in that never ending pursuit." 

In 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul knew that he was approaching the end of his ministry and this life. He reminded Timothy of the sins of our fallen nature that we inherited from Adam. To turn from sin, Paul exhorts his converts to turn instead to righteousness.  Because we have been created a new man or woman in Christ Jesus. Paul said to flee from sin and to pursue righteousness. According to 2 Timothy 3: 1-5 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Paul didn't say to convert these evil men.  Rather he said turn away from them.  To flee from them, instead pursue six things:  In verse 11, as a child of God, he says to pursue godliness: “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” Godliness is defined as: A pious life; a careful observance of the laws of God and performance of religious duties, proceeding from love and reverence for the divine character and commands; Christian obedience. Godliness is defined as living life according to righteousness in the presence of Almighty God. Righteousness is purity of heart and rectitude of life; conformity of heart and life to the divine law. It is nearly equivalent to holiness, comprehending holy principles and affections of heart, and conformity of life to the divine law. It includes all we call justice, honesty and virtue, with holy affections; in short, it is true religion.

The love of God keeps no record of wrongs done. God doesn't build up a resentment bank. To approach our loving Heavenly Father, we must approach Him with a heart of love and grace. Let’s pause and continue Michael’s message on the pursuit of righteousness in the next post. 

In Christ, Brian

Monday, September 17, 2018

Life is for Togetherness – Part 2

Ecclesiastes 4:4 “Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man's envy of his 
neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.”

Continuing Pastor Kyle's message, he stated that the voice of isolation creeps in and skews our perspective. A perspective is a lense by which we view the world. We filter our worldview through a perspective that is shaped by all kinds of things in our lives. Through this bias lense, we see people not as God sees them nor how others see us. These filters skew reality to communicate messages a certain way, but God can see through every filter, seeing us for who we really are and for who He created us to be. We are not often good at recognizing the lense by which we view reality. Isolation puts a filter on our view of reality that we are not even aware of, but process all of life through. Whether we say, “I’m better than the rest”, “I am not as good as the rest”, or comparing and judging everyone to ourselves for better or worse, it is not reality. People many times set out to do great things for the wrong reasons. The only way to fix the lense of isolation is to choose togetherness.

Togetherness with the wrong people is arguably the only thing more dangerous than isolation. Being wired for togetherness, we are all terrified at heart to be alone, and in our search for companionship, fellowship and belonging, we often form the wrong kinds of connections, finding ourselves not where we want to be with no way out. A 3-fold cord can be either positive or negative. Once you twine and weave those strands, they are strong and hard to get undone. Wrong relationships drag you down rather than pull you up; messy and causing chaos in your life. We seek a cathartic (purifying and therapeutic) relationship in our life. But, we find ourselves normalizing what we are trying to overcome; things that the devil wants us to normalize, but God wants us to overcome. Crawl out of that hole.

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.”

Togetherness with the “right” people makes you a better you. There are things that magnify the wrong qualities and things that magnify the right qualities in our life. Togetherness with the right people magnifies the qualities that God wants to grow and enrich in us. Know that God has great friendships in store for you, but you must walk in them. Good works includes good relationships for the Christian. Good works lead to great relationships. God pouts people into our lives, but great relationships and friendships only happen when we walk in them. God may have new friendships in store for you for this season of your life, to bless you or to be a blessing in someone’s life today. Walk in it, not fight it. 

Some friends are forever. Some are for a season and that’s okay. It is natural that most people have only five or less “inner-circle”, close friends in their life. Not every relationship we have is supposed to be an amazing, “best friends forever” scenario. That is not genuine. We can put an unrealistic amount of pressure on relationships. Do current friendships meet a need for this season of your life? Then, it is a win for the kingdom of God and a win for you! There are relationships in your life that God uses to make you into a better you; to grow into the likeness of Jesus. 

Know that the fruit grows at the end. We really want a 3-fold cord relationship. The reward in Christian relationships is in our worries and cares losing their scale and impact in our perspective to become manageable for us together in the end. Life is for togetherness. Do not walk alone.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Life is for Togetherness – Part 1


Ecclesiastes 4:6-12 “Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Last Sunday, Pastor Kyle gave a special sermon on the anniversary of the founding of City Church of Anaheim, California. He stated that the one lie which we are all tempted to believe in our lives is that we are to bear our burdens alone. There is actually great power in togetherness. The age-old truth, and the purpose of the Christian church is that life is for togetherness. Genesis 2:18a tells us the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” God created us with a sense of family within community for a shared human experience in the bond of being connected to one another. Father God longs for us to belong in His family and in His church – together in ministry. The goal is not the meaningless pursuit of the things in life that will not produce lasting joy or cause us to feel isolated and empty, but happiness and fulfillment in communal love. 

Galatians 5:16-26 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now
the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy,
drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that
those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;
against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

There are ties in the human struggle that it feels like life is pointless. But, God gives us a choice each day to either live in isolation or togetherness in spirit and in relationships. It is easy to get to the point where we say, “I do not want to burden anyone else, so I shall do this myself.” But, this is really shutting people out who love and care for us. Saying, “I can do this myself” or “I am the only one who can do this” is narcissistic at the root and removes our opportunity to receive from others. It may sound noble to say such things, but it is not. Isolation masquerades as wisdom. If you want to make lasting changes, you need to get out of isolated rows and choose to get into circles where the power of togetherness kicks into high gear and life-changing experiences take place. 

Let's continue Pastor Kyle message of togetherness in the next post.
In Christ, Brian

Saturday, September 15, 2018

You Shall Not Steal

Deuteronomy 5:19 “You shall not steal.”

I read an interesting article on the Ten Commandments that focus on the Eighth Commandment. It pointed out how people may deny the existence of objective truth with their mouths, but try to steal from them and you will soon see how furious they become that you do not believe theft is objectively wrong. All human beings have an instinctive awareness of God’s law because they are made in His image, but some statutes are reflected more in human societies than others. The eighth commandment of God’s Ten Commandments, which prohibits theft, is one of these commandments. We can find countless societies throughout the world that violate the command against idols, but we would be hard-pressed to find a culture that approves of outright theft. There are several types of theft, including the violent seizure of goods by a recognized thief. Yet, human beings rob one another in other ways as well. A second kind of theft consists in malicious deceit, when goods and possessions are carried off through fraud.

Proverbs 11:1 “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.”

Another lies in a more concealed craftiness, when a man’s goods are snatched from him by seemingly “legal means”. Few of us are likely to burglarize others’ homes or rob someone at gunpoint. However, we are tempted to steal in other ways. The eighth commandment from God also prohibits us from taking our neighbor’s goods and possessions “by means that appear legitimate”. Fraudulent merchandising and inaccurate weights and measures are two such means. Unjust weights and measures are forbidden throughout Scripture. There are several ways that a seller can alter measurements to fool buyers into thinking they are getting more than they are actually receiving. This is equivalent to theft because it takes more from a buyer than he should be paying. It falls under the thief category of "getting something for nothing”. Christians must never use false measurements or lie about what they are buying and selling. Do we really think that God doesn't see it?

Exodus 20:15 “You shall not steal.”

The article pointed out that some of the most sophisticated means of theft are codified in law by our lawmakers. Politicians routinely promise to raise taxes on one group of people to pay for services for another group of people. This creates tax rates that demand a higher percentage of income from some people than others. This falls under the thief category of “steal from the rich to pay the poor”. Christians are to follow the laws in place and pay their taxes (Romans 13:6–7), but, as they are able, they must not perpetuate legalized theft. Voting a tax rate on others that we do not vote on ourselves is the same as stealing from our neighbor. You don’t rob Peter to pay Paul. It is still theft in the eyes of God.