WRITE THEM!

History is a story written by the finger of God.

C.S. Lewis

Recently I turned a year older and with that more mature age also comes more opportunities to become more forgetful or absentminded. One of the things we can learn to do to help overcome being forgetful, is to write things down. Even throughout the Bible God has commanded people to write things down, so they would not forget. Can you imagine what kind of a mess the Bible might be today if man did not obey God and write it down, and it had been spoken by mouth only all of these years, there would be quite a bit forgotten and left out.

King Solomon, the wisest human king in all of the Bible even taught his children (as God did us by having the Holy Spirit inspire certain men to write down His Word) by writing it for their generations to know. They did not yet have the whole complete story of God as we do today, and we should be thankful and grateful to God that we do!

Writing things down is only the beginning. We must also meditate upon (meaning giving much thought) what we have read and many times it is more valuable and profitable to read smaller portions of scriptures that to overindulge, especially if we are not writing it down. Writing it down also gives us references points to look back to. Maybe it was a sin that God gave victory over, maybe it was spiritual growth, maybe a word of comfort or encouragement that got us through some rough times. But again… WRITE IT DOWN!

Proverbs 3:1-3 – My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.

If we read, meditate, think about God writing this to us, when we take our time, it is a powerful Word and promise. Where there are commas, we should take as much time as needed to let God speak to us. So for example, verse 1- My son, (pause). If we have read our Bibles much, studied, prayed, meditated much could be written about these two words alone. For me, I hear God telling me, His adopted child, these exact words of wisdom that He gave Solomon to his children. My son shows that He possesses me as His! I now have a relationship where I can trust Him who has called me His own, and the greatest promise that comes to mind quickly is Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” NEVER, let ne be more clear on that N-E-V-E-R EVER will He leave or forsake those who are His! MAN what a promise!

Next part of the verse he tells his child what to do. One thing that just came to mind (thank you Father) and most of us probably do not even think about is actions or lack there of. We who have children, and have asked them to clean their rooms or some other chore, what usually happens? Okay, in a minute, or I’ll do it later, okay. Then they forget! When we are to do something there is always an outcome, good or bad. Ever experienced someone’s wrath when you were supposed to get milk on the way home and no one had any for breakfast the next morning? Yeah, me neither 😉 But the author (which by the way is ALWAYS the Holy Spirit) says “do not forget my teaching,” (pause again).

If we were to speak this out, would you think any one part be more important than the other? Like DO NOT, forget… or do not FORGET… For stubborn people like myself, this is what I see… DO NOT FORGET MY TEACHING. Oh dear reader, how much do we forget and for so many reasons! I have spoken with my wife numerous times and challenged us both to how much time do we spend with God, individually and collectively? Have you seriously asked yourself that question? I can tell you from YEARS of personal experience, that you will NOT learn from or enjoy God if you DO NOT SPEND TIME WITH HIM! (emphasis added). We are the ones who have forgotten, we are the ones who forsake, not only His commandments, but Him! We treat God like He is some modern convenience that we can pickup and put down whenever we need Him, but for many Christians it is only when they are in trouble, or “God, do this for me and I promise…”, or maybe to finally win that multi-million lottery. If the Word of God does not satisfy you, nothing meaningful and long term ever will either. For the things of this world come and go, moth and rust destroy, and grow strangely dim. Yet, God… everything about Him is as the day when He first created, for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

As if all of this is not enough in the first sentence, God uses a conjunction (not sure what He calls them, but that is what our English teachers taught us 😉 God says, BUT (which means to pay attention as I am joining it to something of importance) let your heart keep my commandments. Again, depends on where you might need to place some emphasis on the word(s) to drive the point home. Again we can see the importance of an intimate relationship when the writer uses words like heart and keep, and what are we to keep? His commandments! Now stay with me a little longer as we are just about done. I just want to stress the importance of the heart metaphorically. In Hebrews 8:10 it is written – For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. You might be thinking “Well that’s all well and good, but that is a promise for the house of Israel.” Not so fast… It very well be a promise for Israel, but we must not “forget” the other promise, “never will I leave you or forsake you.” God repeats this same promise again in Hebrews 10:16, but let us look at the entire context starting at verse 9 and ending at 17. Hebrews 10:9-17

Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Now we do not have time to unpack all of this together, and have showed you some basic tools on getting to the meat of what God is telling and showing us, but we have to be a part of the relationship, and must be our first priority! If not, our other relationships will fail as well, and that should not be too hard to notice, nor where the problem lies… with us. Let us repent of our sins on how we have treated God, seek His forgiveness, and make it the TOP priority of having Him in our lives in ALL things. Why? Go back to the top of our opening scriptures and look at some more of His promises to His children 😉

#ToGodBeTheGlory

CHRISTIANS ACTING OUT – PART 2

If men's religion prevails not to conquer and cure the wickedness of their hearts, it shall not always serve for a cloak. The day is coming when hypocrites will be stripped of their fig-leaves.

Mathew Henry

The first part of this is taken directly verbatim from the Merriam-Webster Website

The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” The Greek word itself is a compound noun: it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.” That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.

The Greek word took on an extended meaning to refer to any person who was wearing a figurative mask and pretending to be someone or something they were not. This sense was taken into medieval French and then into English, where it showed up with its earlier spelling, ypocrite, in 13th-century religious texts to refer to someone who pretends to be morally good or pious in order to deceive others.

Many people who falsely profess to be Christians knowingly and intentionally carry around and play the part of a hypocrite, and sadly for many of years has carried over into the church. Many have become infectious with this great sin because we do not spend time with God! We do not pray as we should, we do not study as we should, we do not examine ourselves and confess the sins the Holy Spirit shows us and God’s Word tells us about ourselves, and that my friends is the worst of all the hypocrites! In all honesty, we all have hypocrisy in us in some way, shape, fashion, or form. Now that does not make it right, and I believe God allows some to help keep us humble, kind of like the Apostle Paul and the thorn in his flesh. However, we should not be wearing this as a badge of honor, we like Paul should be begging, crying out to God, to have our flesh crucified and our spirits buffeted by the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 12:4-6 –
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It’s part of the deal of being a Christian under the conforming and transforming power of God and His grace and mercy, it is part of the deal I am afraid, and we should lovingly praise and thank God that He is so merciful to us in that He could kill us instantly for such a sin if He wanted to. I mean if God killed both Ananias and Sapphira for grieving the Holy Spirit by lying about the sale of their land and keeping part of the money, how much more does the hypocrite deserve death a thousand times over!

The point is, let us become humble, loving, graceful, merciful as God has been to us. We are not judge and jury over others, and if we are about our own responsibilities, we will find that we do not have any time to worry about others sins as much as we do. Remember from Part 1, do not be a log inspector of your neighbors eye and be more of a speck inspector of your own.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

CHRISTIANS ACTING OUT – PART 1

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? - Mathew 7:2-4

Jesus Christ

Oh my oh my!!! Which thread to being unraveling this morning! One of the most sorrowful things I have ever heard this side of heaven as a Christian is people will not come to church because it is full of hypocrites! OH HOW SAD AND TRUE THIS IS AND SHOULD NOT BE! I promise if you were to think about and examine ourselves daily as we are commanded to do, and were honest with ourselves, it would not take long to smell the stench of hyprocrisy on our pristine worldly “Christian” image. Oh how we love to me speck inspectors instead of log lookers! Do you think I am kidding? Look at the following and see if any of this describes you? Again, examine your life, your actions, your attitude, and especially think about how you show yourself to others. Sure, the world is going to accuse us and condemn us, but what about our Christian brothers and sisters, the ones we will be with for eternity? The world should not be our primary concern, for the world hates us (the Christian) and loves its own.

Romans 2:19-24 – And if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

As if this is not enough to start to make us feel ashamed (and I pray it does Christian, because many of us need to be broken and thrown down off our high horses!) This is from my study time this morning and oh what conviction it brings we we ask God to show and reveal our many sins to us. Ask and ye shall receive!

1 Peter 2:1 – So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

One simple yet so powerful, so convicting sentence that consists of only 15 words!

The beginning of the sentence we are commanded (actioned with a verb) to do something, we are to put away, but not only that, in other areas of scripture, we are to continually strive against and to crucify our flesh and sins, and the only way is by the power of the Holy Spirit, anything less will not do and is more than likely hypocrisy. Look at the Apostle Paul’s words asking a the question…you who…do you? I promise you Christian brother or Christian sister, we sadly DO DO THIS! How do I know, well, based upon statistically data alone, by people who willing participated in Christian survey’s and said how much time they spent in the Word of God or praying, or worshiping God, it is a pretty good indicator to make an assumptive guess. However, I have also seen it with my own eyes, because I have seen and I know me! I also know that I have been the speck inspector and not looking at my own log.

But but but…. Yeah, truth hurts, doesn’t it.

Hate looking at and loathing your own sins, don’t you? You hate not being able to maintain your own little perfect life that you “think” you have control over but don’t. You find it easier, maybe even take great joy in pointing out the faults in others all the time because you don’t want to deal with you! But God… He does!

Let me give you a small, but crucial piece of advice if I may. If this is you, REPENT and fully submit your life to Christ whom you profess now, and be NOT like the world, but whom God is trying to make you to be, and that is molded in HIS IMAGE!

In the verse in 1 Peter 2:1 the Holy Spirit makes God point VERY clear as He inspired the Apostle Peter to repeat the word all three times and then conjoining each point with the word and four times. However, even before this verse, back in Chapter 1 of 1 Peter verses 15:16 he says “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Holiness this side of heaven is NOT perfection and is not possible this world, but we still strive in the Spirit of God by submission to Him, to desire to be holy, to be obedient, and that the world will know that we are Christians not by our words or even by our actions, but how we carry ourselves in our conduct overall. So many Christians today miss these crucial points because we are too busy being like the world! We slander other Christians because we are the perfect Christian, but they are not. They are the ones that envy, we do not, and they are definitely the slanders, because such words would never leave our holy lips. HOGWASH!! And this is what the world sees when it comes into the church, people acting just like they already act, so therefore they automatically think they are a Christian because we are all the same!

Does this not concern you? Does it not make you sad or mad that you and I act this way at times? Dear Christian, I do not say these things lightly or to condemn, rather to encourage us to run to the cross, run to those whom we have offended and to confess our sins one to another, so that we might be healed and the body as a whole strengthened! That is my hope and prayer, that we would repent of our worldliness, we would correct one another in grace and love, that we would be accountable, that we would sharpen with the Word, that we would burn with a passionate fire of the Holy Spirit within and say no to sin and foolish decisions and that God would grant great revival in the church for His glory. That droves would go out into the world and preach the Gospel, and thousands would be saved by Him, and that the number of Gentiles that only He has Sovereignly appointed to be saved would be so that Christ would return for His bride! God’s will be done, but we in the mean time, we too are commanded in many things to be about the Father’s business.

Are you?

#ToGodBeTheGlory

DEBT AND INDEBTED

“A man in debt is so far a slave.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

To many people (myself included) live in debt because we are not happy with what we have or the way things are. We think by having the next greatest thing will make us happier. So we do whatever we can to obtain it, and are happy for a brief moment, then begin to feel the guilt and burden when that first bill comes due.

Even now or nation is going further and further in debt at an alarming rate trying to keep the economy afloat by borrowing money they cannot afford to borrow, and more than likely, create a debt so great, that it cannot be paid back and much, if not all will have to be forgiven. That scares me on how many generations these poor decisions all over debt our future generations will be heavily burdened by.

But even more importantly as we focus on our day to day world around us, I often wonder how often I and others think about the greatest debt of all, the debt of sin, and this debt is so bad, that it’s wages are death.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death.

This morning it reminds me of that Christian song “He paid a debt He did not owe” and look at the first few verses.

He paid the debt he did not own, I own the debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away
And now I sing a brand new song, “Amazing grace”
Christ Jesus paid the debt I could never pay.

But let us look at this great debt that we owed in the form of the parable from the Bible in Matthew 18:23-27 –
Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

Now this parable speaks of a large volume of debt owed to a king, a debt so ridiculously large to drive home the point. But I also want to expand on it to modern day age, as like all debts, interests accrue. So back in the time when Jesus walked the earth he spoke of a man who owed 10,000 talents to the king, and back then it was a lot of money, but even more so today! That 10,000 talents today is an estimated $4,567,000,000! Yes, 4.5 BILLION dollars! And the debt in the parable is representing our sin, both individually, and collectively, and yet very few think of this, the greatest debt of all time and for all eternity!

This debt is so great that the second half of Romans 6:23 says this “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Now let us not be like the second half of the parable where after this person was forgiven much debt and was released, found one who owed him little in comparison and has harsh with that person. When we become saved, we become indebted servants, and older version of the Bible use the term slave, unto Christ. Many hate those words and terms, but that is what it was like living in those days, and they are still words we can relate to. But being in service to Christ is not to repay a debt for a gift, for then it would not be a gift, and not only that, remember how heavy the debt was and the burdens it had upon us. No, we are to do good works, and part of those good works is telling others about the debt of their sins against a Holy and Righteous God, which is evangelism.

God does not save us so we can just sit around and wait to die! No God saves us that we might live! Live for His glory, live for the sake of our call, live for loving our neighbors as ourselves, and so much more! I pray that those reading today would take some time to seriously think about how much we sin daily, then compound that by the weeks, the months, the years, and then how old you are, and see how close you come to that 4.5 Billion sin debt, how much you contributed to it, and then think, are you truly thankful of being forgiven for so much Then think about, how do you reflect that forgiveness towards others. Remember I said in one of my others posts recently, forgiveness is hard! And yet, God willingly gave His only begotten not made Son, the glory of heaven, to come to earth to redeem sinful man! He paid a debt He did not owe, I owe the debt I could not pay.

There is a day of judgment coming, where all the debts owed to God will be called to reconciliation, one way, or another, and that debt is paid in full. That debt is either paid by you apart from Christ and your works and efforts will be judged and not good enough, and will be told “depart from me you workers of inequity”, or by Christs’ work on the cross of Calvary and God sees His Son’s precious blood covering us and we hear “Well done good and faithful servant”, because of Christ. Apart from God, apart from Christ, apart from the Holy Spirit, we have nothing good to offer God, yet, because of God, because of Christ, because of the Holy Spirit, we have ALL things good!

That is the reason we should be living like we are worth the price HE paid! For He is worthy to be praised, honored, and glorified in all things! The good times, and the bad! For he is worthy!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

IT’S NOT JUST THAT EASY

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. - Matthew 7:13-14

The image above (minus my handy dandy “not” art work) was on a t-shirt by a famous Christian t-shirt company years ago, and sadly I used to own that shirt back when I was the “hip” Christian. Now I am all for using t-shirts or other means for the Gospel and get people to ask questions, but make sure it 100% focuses on making God the main thing, and not you. I also remember churches that put on their marquee signs “Christianity, so easy a caveman can do it (puke!)” These things greatly diminish who God is and makes His grace cheap. And if being saved is so easy, then why kill your only Son with such a horrible death!

Sadly this has been going on week in and week out for years in many of our churches!

Man (gender neutral) by nature, have the innate tendency to fully depend on and trust themselves once they get to a certain age. Out ability is to grow in self-confidence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency so that we can have self-worth. MAN, that sure is a lot of self pride!

One of the biggest, most silent, devious, diabolical, wicked, evil and very little contested things in the church as a whole today, is Easy Believism. Easy believism means up have the ability to decide to become saved, that God’s grace is made cheap by you bypassing His will and whom He has elected (chose) to reveal His will to, all because you heard about how bad hell is, or how great He will make your life more meaningful, or some other reason. Easy believism is also man manipulating man, to get him / her to do something in response. If you have been in church for some time or many years, you may have experienced the whole show of “With heads bowed and eyes closed, if there is any one here who does not know Christ, raise your hand. Walk the isle, say a prayer, sign a card.” You know the routine, right? Just because your name is on a card and some membership roll of a church DOES NOT make you a Christian in any way, shape, fashion, or form; Christianity is NOT that easy!

I have been listening to a wonderful series by my previous Pastor when I lived in TN, Pastor Jim McClarty of Grace Christian Assembly on the Christian life, and this message here, “Be the Christian” (nice shameless plug, huh 😉 which EVERY Christian needs to hear! One of the heavy hitting parts of the sermon is when Pastor Jim reminds the hearer that Jesus Himself says to His disciples in Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. He wants me to do what! Yup, give up your life! Get over yourself, your pride, your self-sufficiency, your self-glory, your self-righteous, and follow me (Christ). Can you even begin to imagine what this nation would be like if Christians actually…. well, lived like Christians.

There are many other heavy words in the Bible for the Christian to do, for example; strive, struggle, sacrifice, be salt, be light, be a witness and a testimony for Him, walk in the Spirit, take up your cross and follow Him. Those certainly are not words of easy! God wants up to give up the things of this world, and trust Him in all things and give our lives (His really) back to Him in adoration, love, prayer, trust, faith, communion, service, and relationship.

I am one of the blessed ones that God revealed Himself over time. For in my earlier formation years, I too went through churches that their main theology was man centered, grace cheapening, theology lacking, and the like. Even though I was a member, I do not know how many times I went to the “alter calls” to be prayed over, but was not discipled for many years (and honestly still really have not), but by His true grace, removed me from such false gospel teachings!

Christianity is anything but easy and is very very narrow minded to the world! Remember in the opening, Jesus Himself said that the gate is narrow and the way to life (that is eternal) is hard. We in the western culture have had it far too easy (well most of us) for far too long and have come to expect much gain with little to no effort, and that is the same we expect from God. And times right now are beginning to get more difficult and fearful, and could possibly get much worse, and worry is setting in for many. If we who are professing Christians would read our Bibles, we would know that life has never been easy, and that trusting God in faith is key to dying to self and believing Him. In doing so, we become less fearful of this world and look more to the promised eternity to come. But the question you need to ask yourself and be completely honest, as your eternity does depend on it!

Has God called you, rasied you up from the dead sinful flesh, crucified on the cross of Calvary, and given you a heart to follow, honor, and glorify Him in ALL things? Or are you doing it all on your own? Again…

Hebrews 9:27 – And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

MENDING FENCES

Good fences make good neighbors.

Robert Frost

The quote above is most famously given credit to Robert Frost, but it actually comes from an old 17th century proverb. And what is the purpose of a proverb, to teach wisdom!

This weekend I watched my human daddy go it alone wrestling with my new kennel and trying to get it finished. The weekend before he got frustrated, angry, hurried and started pulling and tugging to unroll the chain link fence to my kennel and ended up damaging it and needed to repair it to keep it functioning it properly. Fences have many functions and purposes; some are low, and some are high, some are metal and some are wood, some are decorative and some keep things in or out. And when I think about fences in the Christian life, two things come to mind.

1) Those who are Christs’, He is their protection, their fence if you will, we are His sheep and He is our great shepherd. However, there is also a great enemy lurking about, looking to snatch away the weak sheep from the flock that they may be devoured, and unfortunately it happens from time to time. It is not because the shepherd did not protect the sheep, but the sheep did not eat or like to eat sheep food. Instead it settled for the things of the world which made the weak sheep lazy and lethargic, thereby making them easy pray.

2) These fences remind me of times when neighbors although separated for whatever reason, maybe like back in the days of the Old Testament, kept the property properly divided and the animals separate one flock from another, they served a purpose. Unfortunately, over time, these fences became too divisive, and the enemy has used them to make man greedy or even more secluded from his other neighbors, so again, they are easy pickings for the enemy. This is why fences need mending.

So why is this important, and how does it pertain to the Christians life? Well, first we need to define the word mend.

To mend something, means to be free from faults or defects, such as to improve in manners or morals, to be reformed. To be corrected or set right, to be put into good shape or working order, to improve or strengthened, to restore health, to be atoned for. Do these words not describe exactly the reason why Christ came to earth, to be an atonement for man, to make right and mend the broken relationship that sin caused between God the Father and Man. That Christ came to heal and cure the sickness and sin in those who repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in him.

This is the point of what James is trying to say in his epistle. Confess your sins one to another, pray for one another that you may be healed (mended). Like we discussed yesterday, when prayer is fervent, it is effectual, when prayer is meaningful, sincere, in love for God and for His truth, done in obedience and in the Holy Spirit, it avails much, and more than we know.

For to be truly healed, truly reconciled, man does not have the power to do so for himself and needs God.

We needed God to send His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to do His Father’s will, and that was to reconcile sinful man to His His Holiness and Righteousness. Christ blood shed atoned for the sinners sins, in that He was the propitiation, the perfect sacrifice acceptable by God for man to be not only reconciled, but Christs’ Righteousness imputed to us through being adopted into the Kingdom. Let us not also forget the Holy Spirit, the one who renewed us by removing the hardness and hatred towards God, the vile enmity the separated us. He who removed the heart of stone and gave us a heart of flesh, being renewed, invigorated, new eyes to see and ears to hear, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that call that tells all who are weary, to come, and He will give us rest. That reconciliation, that mending, is the best thing that could ever happen to a sinner, and that is why we too need to be fence menders. To show grace, mercy, and love to those who we have wronged and sinned against. To forgive and learn how to forgive, and in doing so, we will love our neighbors as ourselves.

So you have some fences that need mending? Do you harbor hate towards another, a grudge you have been holding on to for far too long. Is pride keeping you from being mended by God and mended to your neighbor? If so, confess these things, let them go, give them to God, for life is too short to continue heavily in these sins. Let us truly be reconciled one to another, for if we truly are is, we will be spending an eternity together in His glory, so we might was well get used to enjoying the blessing now.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHODUNIT PART 2

If I cast up a confessed, repented, and forsaken sin against another, and allow my remembrance of that sin to colour my thinking and feed my suspicions, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

Amy Carmichael

Last week in Whodunit Part 1 we spoke of the importance and the difficulty of confessing our sins, because it admits guilt to the greatest crimes of all, and that is sin against a Holy, Righteous, Judging God. I wish I could say it might get easier this week, and for some it is, because we have a right focus on the Cross of Calvary, and that of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In doing so, a lot of people miss out on the importance and the spiritual blessings of these verses!

When we think about and understand the purpose of confession, what are some of the things that come to mind. Well, we already determined in part one the admission of guilt, and depending on the sin, we might even feel dirty, or shameful, we may feel weak, worthless, unworthy, broken, and that’s okay, because that is where God works His best, a repentant heart!

Although the translation I used for the devotional is from the ESV, I prefer the latter have of verse 16 from the KJV, for it says this “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Breaking this down, the first word, effectual, means producing or able to produce a desired effect. Our prayers are fervent, which means exhibiting or marked by a great intensity or of feeling zealous. However, these prayers are from a righteous man avails much.

But here is where we run into a bit of a problem. For Romans 3:10-18 says this:

as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

There are none who are righteous, no on understands, and no one seeks for God. That is, unless he or she is born again, spiritually, filled with the Holy Spirit who cleanses the unclean spirit in the person. Who by the effectual working of the blood of Christ on the Cross of Calvary, is the sinner, the unrighteous, the unholy person forgiven. For even Christ says of His accusers and executioners, “Father, forgive them, for the know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

But here comes the best part, remember our main word from Part 1, confession, well, it is also used in a positive context, which helps make our verse even more powerful. Let’s look at Romans 10:8-10: But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

The Word, the spirit of God, that is in a man’s (gender neutral) mouth and heart, is able to confess Christ as His Lord and Savior, thereby who has the righteousness of God, who He (the sinner) is confessing his sins to, and by confessing Christ as Savior, he also has an Intercessor, and Great High Priest, who takes these prayers before the throne of God. How much more do we need to be convinced of these promises of scriptures? Either we believe and act as adopted children of God, or we don’t. The fastest way to kill prayers is pride, doubt, and lack of faith.

We also tend to pray for things of this world instead of the things above, and we should not be worried of things here, including our health. The healing can be referred to a physical, but more importantly, a spiritual healing, one that is in the trust and care of Jesus Christ. Matthew 6:32-34 –

For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Hopefully we all now have a better understanding on the basic importance of confessing Christ as Lord and Savior and how it relates to Salvation as well as the importance of expanding on that and confessing our sins not only to Him, but to our neighbors as well. There is so much more that could be written, but I pray that has stirred the embers of the Holy Spirit in your heart to go and seek Him in confession and prayer and that He would humble us and lift us up in Christ and Christ alone.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHODUNIT PART 1

A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins, everything remains in the clear, but in the presence of a brother, the sin has to be brought into the light.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

My wife and I have started back to reading together before bed and I cannot tell you what a blessing it is before laying down and let the stress of the day fully release. We are currently reading the wonderful book by Jerry Bridges called The Pursuit of Holiness and I have included a link to it on Amazon should you be interested. I for one highly recommend it!

If you read yesterday’s blog post, we spoke about the wonderful gift of discernment that God gives His children insight beyond basic knowing right from wrong, but more importantly to see sin and He sees it, and the things He hates and finds as an abomination.  (what, you have not… well here’s the link – (Do You See What I see )

Today we are going to look at another great ability that we as Christians do such a great disservice to each other, and more importantly sin against God. But before we get into that, we must continually be understanding how Holy God is and how sinful we not only are, but are capable of being. Now I know that sin is not a very popular topic among the modern day church today, and many think that it is just not all that serious, can be swept under the rug or in the corner, or worse, ignore it and it will just go away (BIG mistake!).

When we look at today’s teaching from the book of James, we are going to be talking about (and hopefully learning AND applying this to our lives daily, starting today if we are not already) on confessing. This is probably one of the things that Christian do not like to do, and is also probably one of our greatest sins and do not even realize it! Secondly, this is also probably one of the biggest bonds of chains of slavery to that sin that Satan has bound us with! Why? Well 1 John 1:9-10 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Two things here. 1) No confession, no forgiveness, no cleansing from unrighteousness! 2) If we deny that we are NOT sinners, we make Christ to be a liar, and it shows others that the truth (the Word of God) is not in us.

So when we look at James 5:16 it starts with the word Therefore. My old Pastor in TN always pointed that out when reading texts and would tell the listeners that it was a BIG cue to make it obvious that it was marking the importance of what was about to be said, or as it he put it, why is the therefore there for (or something like that). Now if you do not already do this (and I highly suggest we all do), we need to study the Word of God, with intensity, diligence, prayer, and great care. Although it is written in our language, we should go back to the language it was written in to get the deeper meaning and context. I use the great free online resource at BibleHub

For example, when we look up the first word, Therefore, we get the following.

oún (a conjunction) – therefore, now then, accordingly so. 3767 (oún) occurs 526 times in the NT and is typically translated “therefore” which means, “By extension, here’s how the dots connect.”

Look! You may have also learned your first Greek word! So 526 times in the New Testament alone, God is trying to tell us “Therefore” and how to connect the dots!

Now here comes two words we normally avoid at all costs and cause us to sin (not confessing). What’s worse than confessing our sins to God, confessing them to one another! We don’t like to admit fault, we are too perfect to (yeah right!) We are flawless, self-righteous, too proud, haughty (remember that from yesterday and how much God hates it!) arrogant, slanderous, and the like. Wait a minute! You mean to tell me these things are sinful? I just thought things like adultery, murder, stealing, you know BIG sins (which of course I do not commit thank you very much) were the sins we were to confess, and since I do not do those things, I confess nothing to no one. Well, you may not commit those sins, but we all do commit many others that we probably do not even think about. Things like embellishing stories (lying), talking about the opposite sex in a lustful manner (Yup, Jesus says it is still adultery!), maybe something even as simple as not showing appreciation for a waiter or waitress for a job well job serving us and we have the means to bless them with a nice tip! Still have not even touched the tip of the sin iceberg. There is actually over 600 sins listed in the Bible, and just don’t have time to list them all here, the point is, WE ALL SIN!

So know that is out of the way, what are we going to do about it? Well, start by connecting the dots. We just learned what therefore means, but what does confessing truly mean and entail? Well, this is why it is very important to understand the meaning of words used in the Bible and the context therein. Confess can (and is) used in two different contexts in the Bible, we see here one in James 5:16, but what about Romans 10:9 “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Now the two ways are similar in that they mean “to acknowledge”, but in the Greek have two different words and meanings. To put it simply, the usage in Romans 10:9 is confessing, acknowledging Jesus in a covenant manner and believing who the Bible says He is and why He came as God in the flesh, leads to Salvation.

The confess in James means that we are admitting guilt, wrong doing, but let us see as God see, we S-I-N! Learn to say it, embrace your sinfulness, let it drive us as a hard taskmaster (at first, because we will go kicking and screaming) to the cross of Calvary. Learning to properly do this though brings many benefits! It helps to make us humble, to quit focusing on others sins and faults (NO ONE is more or less of a sinner in God’s eyes apart from being covered by the precious blood of Christ). We become more compassionate, kind, loving, caring, less cynical, and most of all, honor God in what He commands us to do!

It has been a little longer read than usual today, and I do hope you were encouraged and whetted your appetite, given you some new tools, and encouraged you to find ways to get into God’s Word more deeply and passionately. Thank you for reading, and hope you will come back for part two tomorrow as we finish this great lesson in the ability to confess.

Until then…

#ToGodBeTheGlory

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE

Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands
As darkness pulls the strings

From the song Slow Fade by Casting Crowns

I am going to warn you ahead of time, there is going to be an attempt at A LOT of terminology this morning to hopefully giving us a greater insight as well as learning about one of the greatest gifts, yet least used gifts, giving to His children. Probably too early for this, and not enough coffee, but here we go!

Let us first define clearly some of the words we are going to use as their definition can at times be wide, but this time will be narrow and fine pointed.

Hate – To express or feel extreme enmity or active hostility; to hate someone with great intensity.

Sin – An offense against religious or moral law. An often serious shortcoming; transgression of the law of God; to commit an offense or fault.

Practical – Of, relating to, or manifested in practice or action : not theoretical or ideal; being such in practice or effect. Capable of being put to use or account.

Discern – To detect with the eyes; to detect with senses other than vision. To recognize or identify as separate and distinct. To come to know or recognize mentally. To see or understand the difference.

So why these words for our foundation? Well, today, we want to learn (or learn more deeply) to see things as God sees them, and we can begin to do so if we use the greatest gift outside of salvation in Christ, and yet so few Christians do or pray for, and that is the gift of discernment. Now all people, in general (unless there is some major mental capacity of not being able to understand) were created to know the basics of right from wrong, and more importantly (hopefully) reinforced those values. For example, studies have been done in villages and tribes who did not know God or His Word, yet knew it was wrong to kill or steal, and their laws were much more strict and immediately enforced compared to western culture!

So today, we want to not only see with our eyes, but feel within our Spirit, what sin is against a Holy and Righteous God, and why it should matter. This is also one of the proof positives of the true Christian, and the fruits that are shown to others that they are God’s (You shall know them by their fruit).

Now in the Book of Proverbs, chapter 6, my heading says in about the middle, “Practical Warnings”. Remember from our definitions above, practical, and warnings should be pretty self explanatory. What we are about to get into is some of the harshest language in all of the Bible, must of which is clear to understand to the eye, but we want to discern with a heart like God’s!

Proverbs 6:12-19 –

A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,
13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger,
14 with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;
15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

The emphasis will be on verses 16-19, but I included 12-15 because it shows us who does such things and to stay away from them. You know ” Do not be deceived, Bad company corrupts good morals” 1 Corinthians 15:33

So it starts 6 things God hates, and all seven are an abomination to Him! Now if God hates, that cannot be good, and is a hatred that many of us cannot even begin to fathom because we do not have a proper view of His attributes of Holiness, Righteousness, Justice, and Judgment. Many think of God as love first, that He just sweeps sin away like some mystical maid cleaning up something like spilled milk. A true Christian could not possibly see sin in such an arrogant an dim manner! We should hate sin, our sin as He does! Yet, we hate others sins more than our own and pass judgment on them more than ourselves, and this should NOT be!

So what does this abomination mean? Something regarded with extreme disgust and hatred; loathing. Basically beyond just mere hatred.

So God inspires the writer of this proverb to go right for the jugular (metaphorically of course) to show us the reader one of the top things God hates; haughtiness – pride. The definition of haughty is – Blatantly and disdainfully proud : having or showing an attitude of superiority and contempt for people or things perceived to be inferior. Yet the author uses eyes right behind haughty, telling us when we not only look down in disdain, pride, and arrogance, we are judging others. Don’t we Christians do a lot of that? People might not be as spiritually superior as us so we do not associate with them? 

The others are pretty self-explanatory, but still deeply think and meditate on them, praying that God will give us deeper discernment on these matters of our hearts, for they hinder us greatly from loving and ministering to others!

The last one says “One who sows discord among brothers”. What does discord mean?

Discord – A lack of agreement or harmony; active quarreling or conflict resulting from discord among persons or factions. Some synonyms include; disharmony, division, schism, strife, disunity.

Now this is where discernment (great wisdom from above) is greatly needed in the church. Why? Because people assume when others come into the church, that automatically qualifies them to be called brethren (a brother or sister in Christ). The Apostle Paul even gives warning in Galatians 5:14-15 – For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

May this give us ALL something to think about and pray about, that God would again give us wisdom from above, to use the discernment He wants His children to use, and let us honor Him by using this great gift in our lives to see ALL sins, not just these 7 (although they are very serious) to be honest with ourselves and ask for the Holy Spirits help to rid ourselves of anything that is impure and give them up for God’s glory. And in return, may He gives us a happier life in Him and less of this world!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

LIVING WITHOUT GOD

LIVING WITHOUT GOD

Wicked people will not seek after God, that is, will not call upon him. They live without prayer, and that is living without God. They have many thoughts, many objects and devices, but think not of the Lord in any of them; they have no submission to his will, nor aim for his glory.

Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on Psalm 10:1-10

Psalm 10:4 – In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.

Have you ever imagine what your life would not be like had you not ever known God, that there was such a person, creator, sustainer of all life? Well, many do daily without even realizing it, and not just people who do not believe their is a God, but so called Christians! Look at the opening quote by Matthew Henry and think of how many times it can be proven true that we live a life without God! We have thoughts, objects and devices that have none of the Lord in them! Does this truth hurt you? I am crushed and gives me much to reflect upon and cry out to be changed from my sinful ways!

But let’s go back to something simple for a moment. Let’s talk about true unbelievers in God. People who say He does not exist, or He did not create, or He does not sustain. Let’s think for a moment if God was not immutable (meaning He could change) and decided to say “You know, creation just isn’t worth it anymore. I am tired of trying, things aren’t working out they way I anticipated”, you know, negative stuff like we do all the time. So slowly God started to withdrawal His common grace. One day healthy people could no longer get out of bed, because God no longer sustained. Shortly after that, God turned out the sun, and all we had was our own fires burning to keep warm and give little light. Lastly, God turned off His air, that’s right, HIS! People would be dropping like flies in mere seconds! That’s just a small taste of what life would be like without God. Not only do we cheapen His saving grace, but we take for granted every day His common grace. We do not give thanks as we should that He does care about us, sustains, and especially loves us.

If you and I read 1 Timothy 6:8, can this be said of us? But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

What about Matthew 6:25 – Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Again, look back at the quote to show us again how more true these words are today than the day the were penned! “They have MANY thoughts, MANY objects and devices, but THINK NOT in the Lord in any of them; THEY HAVE NO SUBMISSION TO HIS WILL, NOR AIM FOR HIS GLORY!” 

Dear reader, if this does not speak to our flesh and show us even the minutest of our sins against God and prove we too are like the gentiles, the heathens, the God haters and deniers, are dare say one would be stone cold dead spiritually!

However, glory be to God! In that He IS IMMUTEABLE, He DOES NOT give up on His creation, He IS VERY gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and holds back the wrath we so deserve. Yet, there will come a day, and possibly sooner than we think or expect, and the God haters who lived like their was no God, they were their own gods, followed their own will, beat their own drum, and will no longer be anything more. Is that person you?

When you daily go our into the world, try perceiving in yourself what the world sees. Think before you speak or react, make sure you are being kind, patient, compassionate, loving, encouraging, or are you like one of the lights above in our picture? Unchanged, have not been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus, tired of doing things your way, juggling everything day to day, filled with fear, worry, doubt, etc. Then may I encourage you to go to Him in prayer, go confess your sins and shortcomings that your burdens may be lifted. Confess with your mouth that you have been on the wide road to destruction for far too long, been a prodigal, need to be cleaned up again. He already knows! Go back while their is still grace and mercy, and this time cling! Cling like there is nothing better this world has to offer. Cling as your life (your eternity does) depends on it. Ask God to teach you to love Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and how to love your neighbor as yourself. These things bring glory to God, and please Him when we are utterly and fully dependent on Him in ALL things.

If you are still having doubts that you have not sinned in this manner, let me leave you with this one more dire warning in the scriptures.

Walking in the light
1 John 1:5-10

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Do you live with God, for the glory of God alone? Or do you live without God and for your own glory? Better fully determine that now while His grace still shines upon thee!

#ToGodBeTheGlory