Monday, May 31, 2010
When Jesus gave us an example of how to pray, one of the things He said was:
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
To truly be heavenly minded would be having this request made with your every breath, thought, action, purpose - It is to live in the world but not of the world, consumed with kingdom work (bringing the Gospel to this lost and dying world). Really, the problem within modern Christianity is that we are not heavenly minded enough - and for this we seem to be of no earthly value. If we desire to impact this world for Christ, the only way is to be in His will, with His message. This is the only way we can be any earthly good.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness...
Saturday, May 29, 2010
1 Corinthians 15:14-19
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
In this passage of Scripture we can see that everything we hold true about Jesus and salvation - the Gospel itself - would all be false if the resurrection is false. So first, there is the challenge to anyone who asserts that Christianity is wrong; prove it, if there is any proof Jesus did not rise from the dead, you are right and Christians are wrong. Not only that, but we are of all men most miserable.
However, this same event proves Christianity is true. If Christ is risen; our preaching and faith is not in vain, we are not in our sins, we have hope beyond this life, and it is all men without Him that are most miserable.
Because Jesus Christ died for our sins (paying our fine for breaking God's law) and rose from the dead - we can put all our trust in Him and look forward to the resurrection when He will raise us up into eternal life.
I don't think it is just coincidence that our life as believer's is also called our walk. I can imagine how often God has also done much of the same for us as we have grown. He holds us up, guides us, we fall, He picks us up. And the goal is a little different in that we learn instead to be more dependent on Him, rather than on ourselves - but I would like to look at two important aspects of our walk.
2 Corinthians 5:7
For we walk by faith, not by sight
In this verse we see the obvious connection to our eyes, and the truth that we press forward either without seeing what may be ahead, or we do see; but what may try to discourage us does not hinder us. But with the idea of walking, let us think on the fact that our foundation is faith.
And also:Ephesians 6:15
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
As we walk by faith, we walk with the purpose of the Gospel. One foot in front of the other - we learn to walk.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
But in the New Testament, we are given the truth that when we come to Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us. We are given an exponentially greater witness than the children of Israel - we have God living in us. Yet, how often do we complain, mourn, doubt, question? How often does our faith lack? It seems to me the greater mystery is found with us.
Monday, May 24, 2010
"Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy." -- Leviticus 19:2
Anytime man disobeys God’s law (the 10 Commandments - lying, stealing, lusting, hating, etc.), he deviates from God's holiness, he violates God's standard; and this is called "sin" - which creates a problem for us:
"For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." Ecclesiastes (Qohelet) 7:20 (see also Psalm 53:3-4)
Since God is holy and just, He cannot allow sin in His presence.
"Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity". -- Habakkuk 1:13
Because sin is a violation of His standard and character, God must judge man's sin and reject it.
This is why sin causes and results in separation from God.
"But everyone shall die for his own iniquity (sin)."-- Jeremiah 31:30
"Your iniquities have ever made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have caused Him to hide His face from you." -- Isaiah 59:2
As long as sin separates us from God, we are unrighteous and condemned – But; can't man solve the problem by living properly, by prayer, repentance and good deeds? No, man cannot remove the sin barrier by his own effort.
"And enter not into judgment with thy servant; for no living man can be regarded righteous before thee." -- Psalm 143:2 (see also Ezekiel 33:13)
Human effort is not adequate because "We are all as an unclean thing and all our righteousness (good deeds) are as a filthy garment." Isaiah 64:5 - Human effort is not adequate because man cannot do enough to solve the problem. "No one can in any wise redeem his brother, not can he give to God redemption for himself; for the ransom of their soul is too costly." Psalm 49:8-9
But, then how can this problem of spiritual death, separation from God, condemnation be solved?
ONLY GOD CAN PROVIDE THE SOLUTION.
"But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave." Psalm 49:16
How? God's Word (faith) and by having the blood of the atonement.
Abraham was an example of how the sin barrier can be removed.
"And he believed in the Lord; and He (God) counted it to him for righteousness." Genesis 15:6
And we must follow the same pattern.
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever." Isaiah 26:3-4 (see also Habakkuk 2:4)
Moses said that one more thing is essential - the blood of the atonement.
"For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul."-Leviticus 17:11 (see also Leviticus 10:17;4:35)
But why would God want man to go through the awful procedure of killing an animal? When the offerer saw the sacrifice suffering and bleeding for the sins which he had committed, he was impressed with the awfulness of sin and the penalty of death (Ezekiel 18:4, 20) the sinner deserved.
THE SACRIFICE SHOWED HIM GOD'S:
* HOLINESS because of His hatred of all evil,
* JUSTICE because He does not leave sin unpunished,
* MERCY because of His readiness to pardon the truly repentant and believing by providing
a substitute for him.
THE ANIMAL SACRIFICE THUS PROVIDED THE BLOOD OF
ATONEMENT AND WAS AN ACT OF FAITH ACCEPTABLE TO GOD.
Today there is no priesthood and no temple, and no sacrifices. However; God has provided the blood of the atonement.
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him." Isaiah 53.6
"For he was cut out of the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people was he stricken." Isaiah 53:8
"And he took off the sin of many." Isaiah 53:12
Here it is important to address . In the prologue (Isaiah 52:13-15) the author identifies the “He” of these passages. He is described as God's servant who will be exalted. In other parts of his work, Isaiah equates this with Messiah. (e.g. Isaiah 42:1).
God's provision of the blood of atonement through the Messiah follows the same principles God set up in the sacrifice system.
atonement for a man by means of a sacrifice.
atonement for a family by means of a sacrifice.
atonement for a nation by means of a sacrifice.
atonement for all by means of a sacrifice.
Under the sacrifice system personal faith was necessary along with the blood of atonement. So also faith is necessary with the sacrifice of Messiah. He should be the object of our faith today.
But how can we know The Messiah is Jesus? God made sure we could recognize Him by certain specific identifying marks described by the prophets of Israel.
His ancestry was from the family of David (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
The city of his birth was Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).
He had a supernatural nature (Jeremiah 23:5-6; Micah 5:1; Isaiah 9:5-6).
The manner of his execution was crucifixion (Psalm -17).
He rose from the dead (Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 53:10).
The time of his coming was before the destruction of Herod's Temple in 70 CE (Daniel 9:26)
HISTORY TELLS US THAT JESUS OF NAZARETH
FULFILLED THESE AND MANY OTHER PROPHECIES.
During his lifetime many people called Him Messiah ("Christ" is the Greek translation) and believed in him. Many people since that time, both Jews and Gentiles, have had their sins forgiven and have gained a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through Messiah Jesus. Through him one becomes righteous (not because of their own righteousness which is nothing, but because of His)
Since the blood of atonement has been provided through Messiah Jesus, there is only one thing left for you to do.
You must by faith receive Messiah Jesus into your life in order to have a personal relationship with God.
Receiving Messiah Jesus involves a moral decision to turn to God's way and from your own, to trust Messiah Jesus to forgive your sins and bring you into a right relationship with God. When you receive Messiah Jesus by faith (trusting what he has done for you), He comes into your life and is made real to you, so that you know Him.
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens
the door, I will come into him and fellowship with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20
Don't let anything hold you back- invite Messiah Jesus to give you a right relationship with God. YOU can receive Messiah Jesus by faith right now through prayer.
adapted from John Fischer's booklet "L'Chaim"
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
I think that sometimes we forget how powerful our influence is on our kids. My son's will watch me shave in the morning, sometimes they will even pretend that they are shaving with me. I would ask my oldest son when he was a little younger what he wanted to be when he grew up, and his simple little response was "a dad".
To our children (especially us fathers) we are their superheroes; as time passes they will see us differently and more age appropriately, but our influence as their parents will always be immeasurable in the shaping of their lives.
So, to really reflect on the importance of this, I thought I would post this video:
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Recently, I took a phrase from the most famous verse in the Bible - John 3:16. Here is the verse:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The three words I searched were "God so loved". To my surprise, there is only one other verse in the entire Bible that contains these words in this order - 1 John 4:11. Here is that verse:
1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
So in thinking about these two verse together; I look at 1 John 4:11 and it starts with if God so loved us... and the first question becomes did God so love us?; according to John 3:16 we can say that absolutely, without a doubt, in all certainty YES God did, and so then our response should be as follows - we ought also to love one another.
But in what way do we love one another in response to our accepting John 3:16? Looking back at John 3:16 we see that the way in which God so loved us was in providing salvation in & through Jesus (Him and His work on the cross) and if we are to also love one another - the way in which we must do this is sharing that same Gospel message.
Yes God so loved you; but He also so loved the world. As much as we can stand in awe that God cared enough about us individually to send His only begotten Son - we are ordered to stop standing and care enough about the world to go and declare that same truth to everyone else.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
There it is. Simple enough? Well it is simple to understand, but it leaves the world in a predicament. You see the Bible also says "...sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). God's law (the 10 Commandments) says do not lie, it says do not steal, it says do not use the Lord's name in vain, it says do not commit adultery (Jesus said lust is adultery - Matt 5:27,28), it says do not murder (and the Bible says hatred is murder - 1 John 3:15) - and these are only 5 of the 10. The Bible also says "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10) And "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).
Just as Ecclesiastes stated, it is repeated in Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment"
And at the judgment, what we earn because of our sin is death (the second death) "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23a) And "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Rev 21:8)
This leaves us pretty much hopeless - except that God made a provision for us "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) and in doing so "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23b)
What should you do?
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
One flaw in man's thinking is that we so easily assume that our logic will determine truth. And while there are countless truths that can be explained logically, there is still many truths from and about God that are beyond our comprehension. These truths are no less true; and more so, it does not make them confusing because we cannot fathom them.
The verse I started with is one used many times by Jehovah's Witnesses to argue against the Trinity. They will say that the very idea of three separate persons who are all one God is confusing - and that as such it cannot come from God (who is not the author of confusion). But, it is enough for the Bible to make a claim (which is truth on the fact alone that the Bible states it).
Let me give an example; I (nor do I believe anyone) will ever, while living on earth, understand how dirt can be breathed into - and in that breath - change from dirt into flesh. To be eyes, lungs, the digestive system, a brain - in less than a moment. To ponder how and then understand that how, is beyond intellectual grasp. However, because it is said so in Scripture, I am not the least bit confused about it. It is just merely above my understanding.
And so knowing this; our very foundation of what we stand on as truth should be based from the Word of the Author of truth, God - who is the Truth. Somethings will be mysteries, and maybe in eternity (a mystery in itself) all will be understood; maybe not.
I imagine that a line cannot fathom a sphere. And we being within the line of time, have no idea what complexity (or simplicity) there is in the realm of eternity. God sees all, knows all, is in control of all; yet He works in the present, He even allows the future to be shaped by our decisions and actions. Should this limit our faith, when we don't understand something? I say it should cause us all the more to give all our faith to Him; who is God, Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 3:16
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh...
Saturday, May 15, 2010
But when we look to how Scripture defines religion, it says:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
So I have a few thoughts on the issue.
First is that religion is a very good thing (and who can disagree if you define it as the Bible does). And in the sense of seeking to help and love orphans and widows, more people need to be religious.
I also think that yes people are right in seeing the evils done in the name of "religion" and in the hypocrisy within it - but that is no error of what religion is and should be - the error is us. If people are to see religion as it should be, see it correctly; than it is our responsibility to demonstrate it as such. Evils have been done in the name of religion; but religion has never permitted it - it is what people have decided as their excuse to do these evils.
I also think that if one was to pull out a dictionary the definition would probably be more close to the traditions of a specific faith, rather than definition from James 1:27 - but should we give up God's words because of this? Should we let those who disagree with us decide what terms mean what - and then we distance ourselves from such terms? Should we keep distance from rainbows (a sign from God of His promise to never flood and kill all living again) because homosexuals have decided to use it?
Lastly, I do agree on at least one point - Christianity is more than just religion, and religion without the relationship with Jesus is empty and almost of no value. It isn't about religion, it's about life in Christ, and through Christ, and because of Christ, given by Christ.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Then we can rest in knowing that God is the one who draws, and He is the one who causes the seed to grow, it is His word that does not return void. We can sleep knowing we were obedient and that salvation is of the Lord - it is His work.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Their basic answer is: they are brave!
This flag is symbolic of the men who used to march into battle with an actual flag. So steady and strong that the flag would blow behind them. On the arms of our soldiers, the flag faces as if being carried into battle, blowing behind them.
And so as I was looking and thinking about this, I thought about the first verse to the Casting Crowns song "What if His People Prayed":
What if the armies of the Lord
Picked up and dusted off their swords
Vowed to set the captive free
And not let satan have one more
What if the Church, for heaven's sake
Finally stepped up to the plate
Took a stand upon God's promise
And stormed hell's rusty gates
Shouldn't this be our attitude and action? Well, which direction does your flag face? May we all carry our banner for the Lord high, proud, and brave - into battle!
And I say also unto thee, ...I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
If you are born once - you will die twice
If you are born twice - you will die once
Although I would like to just leave this post having only said that; I think it is good to give the Scriptural references. So here they are:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
When it comes to the Great Commission, God could have also said "Stay and Radiate". He could have only required that we live a "good" Christian life and as people viewed us they would be convicted of their need for Jesus.
But, God did not command that - He said "Go", we are to be intentional about going to the lost world (not just hoping they come to us). And He said "Preach", speak verbally the Gospel to those we go to (not just hoping they will believe through "lifestyle evangelism")
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Friday, May 7, 2010
In the Bible, Jesus gave a parable on witnessing that we are familiar with as the sower and the seed. And when Jesus defined that seed, He said it is the Word of God. In addition to this, God said His Word does not return void. Is this true? Of course it is. So yes everyone's "worldview" may make a difference in each individual's conversation - but, our message must be grounded in the Bible. Regardless of what our logic tells us.
1 Corinthians 3:7
So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
First lets look to what Scripture says:
And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Jesus commanded us to follow Him; and in doing so, He said He would make us fishers of men. This is encouraging because in it we see that the responsibility is; our response in following, rested on His ability to make us.
But it is also one truth without conditions or exceptions - Jesus didn't say I may, or I will possibly; He said if we follow Him, He will make us fishers of men. We know Jesus never lied, and His promises are true and sure. So the challenge is in looking at Jesus' words in reverse - if we are not fishers of men, we are not following Him.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I have always thought I would like to own a Christian bookstore (but I don't think God has this plan for me). Sometimes I find myself thinking about what would be some of the choices that I would make if I did. For me, the first thing would be "which books would/should I carry?" - I wouldn't want to sell books that have a message that is in contradiction to sound doctrine (and many "Christian books" are). Then I think, truly the one book that Christians should be reading - is the Bible. And I kinda chuckle at the thought of customers entering a "Christian bookstore" only to find shelves full of nothing but Bibles :)
Well, in the same thought; my mind has taken a small step to another area - how much of my study comes from books about the Bible rather than the source itself? I look at my bookshelf and I have many many good books. Books I am grateful to have read, and have touched me, and helped me with understanding, and have helped me grow in my Christian walk (one of my favorites is Way of The Master by Ray Comfort). Even so, all this should at most be secondary. Yes I have the Bible on my shelf (actually I have several) - but the question we should ask is "How sufficient is it?"
So my thought today is what does your Christian bookshelf look like, and should it look like this:
Now I want to clear up that I am not against Christian books (as I have said I have many - and many have been used in my life). I am just trying to say that we need to not just "consider the source" - we need to rely on the source.
2 Timothy 3:16
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
And for many Christians, I think what comes to mind is almost the same - we tend to think of a sermon meant toward non-Christians. Regardless of the detail or brevity of the message; we tend to kind of close our ears and say "this isn't meant for me".
Well I ask; if you know the severity of hell - the torment, the anguish, the pain, the "fire and brimstone" - the eternity of it etc. Would you condemn anyone to that? Is there anyone that you would actually wish to go there? I imagine none of us desire anyone to go there - but for those who are headed to hell, if we don't warn them - are we not condemning them to that fate?
Hellfire preaching should not be limited to non-Christians. We need to be reminded of every detail of it's awfulness. And we should have our compassion cultivated so much by it, that it compels us to do all that we can to keep souls from going there.