Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Heart of Worship

The first mention of the word worship in Scripture is found in Genesis 22:5, “And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you." Abraham makes this statement of faith concerning his son Isaac whom God has asked him to sacrifice as a burnt offering (Hebrews 11:17-19). Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son was an act of worship before the Lord and a testing his allegiance and the breadth of commitment to God (Genesis 22:1-19).

The commandments given to the people of Israel discussed worship, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:2-6) From this commandment it is clear that the Lord alone is to be worshipped and the He alone is worthy of worship. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship (literally pay homage) to a golden image set up by king Nebuchadnezzar having accepted their fate of the fiery furnace. (Daniel 3) The Apostle John was told twice to worship God alone when he fell before an angel in worship having received the Revelation (Revelation 19:10,22:9)

The most common word used for worship in the Old Testament literally means “to bow down,” which suggests allegiance and humble subjection. As the Lord passed by Moses, he “made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.” (Exodus 34:6-8) David wrote in the Psalms, “Worship the Lord with reverence, And rejoice with trembling…Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker…Worship the Lord in holy attire; Tremble before Him, all the earth.” (Psalm 2:11, 95:6, 96:9) These Scriptures acknowledge a physical posture of submission before the Lord, but more importantly an attitude of submission and awful reverence to the Lordship of Almighty God.

Another word used for worship in Scripture carries the idea of work or service. Deuteronomy 6:13 says, “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him, and swear by His name.” A believer who serves the Lord is actually worshiping the Lord in that service. As such, worship and service are closely intertwined.

The first mention of worship in the New Testament is shown toward the Christ, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him…And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh." (Matthew 2:2,11) The magi from the east came to pay reverence to the King of the Jews. Their act of worship was coming from afar to acknowledge Christ as the Promised King. The Scriptures do not tell us what the magi were wearing or whether or not they raised their hands or shouted upon seeing the Child. These details were not important because the focus and object of their worship was Jesus and nothing else mattered.

Jesus spoke of worship to a Samaritan woman after she said, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:20-24) Worship is not concerned with the place but rather the Person. We must worship the Father in spirit and truth through the power of the Holy Spirit and the name of the Way, the Truth and the Life, Jesus Christ.

Finally, the Apostle Paul writes of worship in Romans 12:1, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Our worship is our service, willingly giving up our life in service to God. In presenting our bodies to God, this is an acceptable form of spiritual worship and is at the heart of the type of worship Jesus was talking about to the Samaritan woman. While singing praises to the Lord is an important part of worship, a life of worship through service in the power of the Holy Spirit is our key form of worship and praise toward God that is most pleasing to Him. Believers “worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3) As long as God is at center and heart of our worship, it matters not whether we stand or sit, remain silent or shout, raise our hands or bow the knee. Worship toward God is more about an inward attitude than an outward appearance.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who Sits on the Throne of Heaven?

The Scriptures clearly describe heaven itself as the throne of God of the Father. The Lord speaks through the prophet Isaiah saying, “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?” (Isaiah 66:1) Jesus told His disciples, “And he who swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.” (Matthew 23:22) From this passage, it appears that Jesus is referring to His Father as the one who sits upon the throne of God in heaven. Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus told the council of elders in Luke 22:69, “But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." The triune God, (Father - Ephesians 1:20, Son - John 10:18 and Spirit - Romans 1:4) raised Jesus from the dead and “seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.” Countless other places describe Jesus being presently at the right hand of God the Father. (Mark 16:19, Luke 20:42, Acts 2:33-34, Acts 5:31, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 8:1, 1 Peter 3:22) Jesus says in Revelation 3:21, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” This passage suggests that there are two thrones, the throne of God and the throne of Christ. The passage also suggests that Jesus sat down with His Father on His throne following His death and resurrection. As such, God the Father currently sits upon the throne of heaven with Jesus sharing His throne and sitting at His right hand.

The Psalmist David spoke the relationship between God the Father and the Son, his Lord, “The Lord says to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet." (Psalm 110:1) At a time designated and known only by God the Father (Matthew 24:36), Jesus will return to earth to establish His millennial kingdom and assume the throne of his father David as the King of the Jews (Revelation 20) taking final authority over Satan and his throne on earth (John 14:30, 16:11, Ephesians 2:2, Revelation 2:13). This was foretold by the Lord through Nathan the prophet and confirmed by the angel Gabriel at the time of Jesus’ birth, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end." (Luke 1:30-33, 2 Samuel 7:11-16) Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 19:28, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

During His millennial reign, Jesus will be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and all of creation will bow the knee to Christ and be accountable to Him (Romans 14:11-12). He will put all things on earth in subjection to His Father, including Himself. Paul wrote concerning this in his letter to the Corinthians, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-28) What a beautiful picture of the workings of the Father and Son to abolish all enemies including death! We also clearly see that Jesus is always submissive and subjective to the will of His Father just as He was during His initial earthly ministry (Philippians 2:5-11).

The book of Revelation describes the throne of God in 35 different passages! (1:4, 2:13, 3:21, 4:2-6,9-10, 5:1,6-7,11,13, 6:16, 7:9-11,15,17, 8:3, 12:5, 13:2, 14:3, 16:10,17, 19:4-5, 20:11-12, 21:3,5, 22:1,3) Revelation 20:11-12 speaks of the great white throne judgment of humanity. Revelation 21:1-8 discusses the new heavens and new earth and includes a statement from “He who sits on the throne…"Behold, I am making all things new."” Revelation 22:1-4 includes the final mention of the throne of God, “And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.” This passage suggests that this throne belongs to both God the Father and the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Also included is the Spirit, “And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Revelation 22:17) As such, seated upon the throne of God in the new heavens and new earth is the triune God! Amen.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beware of False Teachers

The Scriptures are full of warnings against false teaching. False teachers are exposed most often through listening to their message. Christians are clearly instructed to beware of false teachers who disguise themselves as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Peter wrote concerning false teachers in 2 Peter 2:1-3 saying, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” Peter warns of the certainty of false teachers infiltrating the church and distorting the truth of Christ for their own gain while exploiting and denying Jesus Christ. Believers must test teachings against the Word of God, the standard of truth concerning God. What does the teacher communicate concerning Jesus Christ, salvation and the Bible? Does his ministry appear to give glory to God alone or does he seek for his own glory and fame? Does he personally take the credit for winning lost souls to Christ? Salvation is the work of God through the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). Humanity is at best a messenger of God sent out to clearly present the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ -- that He died on the cross for the sins of all humanity, rose again on the third day, and offers eternal life to all who simply believe in Him (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, John 3:16). No credit or glory belongs to man because as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:7, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” Jesus saves souls, not a preacher.

To determine the truth, believers must know the truth. Knowing the truth is knowing the Scriptures and rightly dividing them to know truth from falsehood (2 Timothy 2:15). The Apostle John also wrote of false teachers in 1 John 4:1-3, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” John exhorts believers to test the spirits and listen closely to their message concerning Jesus Christ.

Finally, Jesus provided clear teaching on false teachers in Matthew 7:15-20, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” The fruit is the message and a message that does not align with Scripture and glorify Jesus Christ will reveal to the hearer that the messenger is false and suggest that the messenger is a false teacher either intentionally or out of ignorance of the truth.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Suicide - The Unforgivable Sin?

a. Is the sin of suicide unforgivable?
The only “unforgivable” sin mentioned in the Bible is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Jesus says in Matthew 12:31-32, “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.” Jesus says that any sin, including taking your own life, is forgivable. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for all sin of all people for all time – past, present and future sins. The Bible instructs us in 1 John 1:9 to confess our sins, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” However, failing to confess sins does not mean we are not forgiven. Those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior from sin, trusting His death and resurrection as the payment for our sins, are given eternal life freely. No sin, in type or quantity, will negate the fact that we are justified by the substitutionary death of Christ. Suicide, while a very serious offense, will not keep the believer in Christ from their heavenly home because eternal life is a gift from God received by faith and not dependent upon our deeds whether good or bad. 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 speaks of our status upon death , "Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord--for we walk by faith, not by sight--we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." Remember too that all humanity will be held accountable for their deeds and all will be judged by Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). However, this judgment is not to determine entrance into heaven or hell, but rather a reckoning to all persons by their Creator.

b. How can you say you are sorry when you are dead from suicide?
Obviously you cannot say you are sorry after committing the sin of suicide. However, saying you are sorry for sin is not what John 1:9 asks of us. Rather confession, that is, telling on ourselves, brings forgiveness. In other words, we admit to God that we sinned and fell short of the mark. Those who commit suicide will give an account before Christ for this sin, just as all persons will give an account of their lives before Christ. An example of a believer in Messiah who committed suicide is King Saul who intentionally fell on his own sword to end his life (1 Chronicles 10:4). Another example is Judas (Matthew 27:3-5), although it is difficult to determine whether or not he became a believer in Christ because he repented of his betrayal of Christ prior to having hung himself in guilt.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Understanding Grace

Grace is very hard to grasp because there is really nothing else like it in the world today. Everything seems to have a catch and require the person to contribute something in some way to get the “free” thing. You get this great free gift if you just spend $19.95. But there is no “if” with the grace of God. The grace of God is one of the primary ways God demonstrates the depths of His love for humanity. Unfortunately, even most of the universal church has a hard time grasping the grace of God. Grace by its definition is unmerited favor and a gift from one party to another without condition. It is clear that all humanity is guilty of sin and all deserve eternal separation from God (Romans 3:23). All persons have things in their past and present that often produce guilt and shame. However, these feelings, when not dealt with timely, often produce selfishness and paralyze a person from freedom in Christ. The grace of God is humbling and takes us to a place where we are uncomfortable and spiritually naked before God. We must realize that we have nothing to offer God and are completely unworthy and dependent upon Him. Only at this point can we realize and appreciate the freeness of the grace of God. He loves and sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins to take away the shame, reproach and guilt that our sin bought us. Jesus bore our guilt, shame, inadequacy, etc. in His body on the cross and offers us unconditional forgiveness (1 Peter 2:24). We are to accept this salvation and forgiveness of sins by faith in Him. Jesus takes us as we are and all can receive salvation through Him regardless of our past. Paul wrote in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” As such, those who have been forgiven must no longer dwell in a pit of self condemnation, but rather willingly present our bodies to God for His bidding and service (Romans 12:1-2).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cheap Grace?

Is grace cheap?

First, I see grace as cheap to us – in fact it is free so that’s pretty cheap! However, it was not cheap for God though, ultimately costing Him the blood of the Son of God! The greatest sacrifice of all time done in love for the world. As such, we should not take the free grace of God lightly.

Hebrews 10:26-31 (written to Hebrew believers) warns of this,
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God
.” There was not a sacrifice for willful sins under the law, but rather an expectation of judgment. That’s what made David’s sin with Bathsheba so bad – it could not even be covered by a sacrifice because it was premeditated! Was David afraid of losing his salvation or having never been saved in the first place? Of course not. Now the church is under grace, a far superior system. Do we think we can escape the judgment of God under grace for a willful sin? Of course not. We are at His mercy and should expect judgment. While we are forgiven, we must still face the consequences of our sin. The author of Hebrews is not talking about hell here but rather judgment due to God’s people for their open rebellion (“The Lord will judge His people.”) (v30)

Let me also say that my position on free grace does not promote license. After five chapters of Romans with the conclusion that justification is by faith and not by works, the next logical question is this in Romans 6:1-2,
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Paul knew that since justification was by faith and not works, they next logical question would be, “Does it matter how we live then?” While lifestyle has no bearing on justification as justification is a gift, God sent Jesus to redeem us from sin! Why would we continue to live in sin when that is the very thing that God sent Jesus to eradicate? Justification is salvation from the penalty of sin. Sanctification is salvation from the power of sin. Glorification is salvation from the presence of sin. Paul clearly leaves no room for license after justification using here the strongest Greek idiom to indicate repudiation and outraged indignation (“May it never be!”). Thus, while a believer could take the gift of eternal life (the non-fire assurance) and continue to live in the flesh (or else why would Paul even raise the question in the first place), he will most certainly be living contrary to his new birth nature, be in rebellion against God’s will, face the discipline God, continue to suffer the consequences of sin and living in the flesh, and ultimately reap what he has sown at the judgment seat of Christ. He will get to heaven as we all do, by the grace of God through faith in Jesus, but will be ashamed before His Savior for a live wasted.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 lays out the framework,
“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.” Some believers will have the foundation of Christ, but will build a whole house comprised mostly of wood, hay and straw (i.e. the deeds of the flesh). Notice that our deeds are tested by fire and the deeds of the flesh will be consumed while the deeds of the Spirit will be refined and remain as a reward, but ultimately the man “shall be saved, yet so as through fire.

Assurance of Salvation

Can someone have assurance of salvation if they never have any change in their life?

If we look to our life change as a determination for whether or not we are truly saved, could anyone honestly ever say that they were saved? Despite the fact that I am born again, I am riddled with sin and in need of confession of sin and the cleansing by the blood of Christ on a daily basis. By that definition, I’m guilty of being a habitual sinner. I am just as guilty as anyone else of impure thoughts, jealousy, outbursts of anger, idolatry, etc. The point of contention for me is where do we draw the line for a changed life? What’s the standard for proof of salvation? A little change such as regular church attendance, reading one’s Bible frequently, occasional prayer, etc or more drastic changes. Can one say, “Well based on my track record so far, I guess I must be saved.”? Then what if someone really blew it and committed adultery or murder (i.e. David)? Did that make David unsaved after all? Of course not. David was saved by faith in the coming Messiah, but his sinful works (fruits) surely did not support that reality.

Looking to our works for evidence of salvation will never truly bring assurance of salvation because unfortunately the saved still sin and are capable of any sin while living in the flesh as opposed to living in the Spirit. True assurance is found in looking to the One we trusted to save us in the first place – Jesus Christ. If we aren’t saved by works then why would we look to works for assurance of salvation? Inward looking can lead to selfishness, pride and defecting the glory from where it is supremely due – our Savior Jesus Christ. God wants His children to know they are saved. He wants us to serve Him in love, as a response to our salvation as opposed to serving Him in fear or out of obligation to prove or maintain salvation.

Here is a good 1 John verse for assurance of salvation.

1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.

So to know if you have eternal life, you must ask yourself, “Have you believed in Jesus Christ for eternal life?” If you have the Son, you have life. Scripture declares that you receive the Son when you believe in Him (John 3:16, 5:24).

Here is another good passage for assurance of salvation.

John 10:27-29 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

This passage tells me that Jesus gives eternal life to His sheep and they will never perish or be taken out of His hand. In other words, rather than me holding on to Him, He is holding on to me and nothing (not even me) can remove me from His hand. That is a strong hand grasp!

Believers do, however, need to look to their works/deeds to determine whether or not they are living in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote in Galatians 5:16-23, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall 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.”

Paul also exhorted the Corinthians to look to their own experience as evidence of whether or not they were experiencing the abundant life in Christ with its blessings (such as answered prayer, spiritual blessings, fruitfulness). 2 Corinthians 13:5-6, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-- unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test.” Paul himself also examined his works and enslaved the flesh as he states in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”
The same Greek word for “disqualified” used by Paul is used for the Corinthians in “fail the test.”

In summary assurance of salvation comes from believing the words of our Savior and knowing that He is our security not us. Looking to works for assurance of regeneration will only cause doubt in the heart of a believer as we all are ultimately guilty of the grossest of sins even after salvation having the capacity to still live in the flesh. In addition, looking to Jesus alone for assurance of regeneration cannot result in any boasting of our own in regards to salvation and compel us to lovingly serve our Savior. Examining one’s works is essential to determine whether or not the believer is living in the power of the Holy Spirit and within the will of God.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln from his first inaugural address on March 4, 1861

By the frame of the government under which we live, this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years.”

  • We have given a government designed to have “little power for mischief” with nearly unlimited power for mischief.
  • We the people must be of virtue while remaining vigilant to prevent those in our government from causing serious injury to our nation within a four year span.
  • This is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue, but rather an American issue.
  • It is the responsibility of every American citizen to hold their elected officials accountable for their service to our Nation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Love Not the World

James 4:4 - You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
  • you adulteresses – James doesn’t beat around the bush here, does he? he associates these believers with those who cheat on God, we are so often unfaithful to our Christ, while He continually remains faithful to us
  • friendship with the world is hostility toward God – when we love the world more than God we commit adultery, we cheat on God, we mock His Son who laid down His life to save us from sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit within us

-Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Odds are we all know of friends and families that have been destroyed by sexual immorality, maybe even within our own family. We all know the pain and hurt this causes. God can sympathize with us and comfort us because He feels that pain too when we cheat on Him. He loves us so much that it grieves Him when we chose to trust the world over Him, when we seek the things of this world that are fleeting and will pass away.

So I ask you...Are you comfortable with this world? Do you love what the world has to offer you? If you do and answered “yes” then you are not alone, but you are at odds with God.

-1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.

-Matthew 6:20-21 "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

We can choose to lay up treasures here on earth through expanding our influence, power, money, possessions, popularity which we can’t take with us when we die or we can lay up treasures in heaven though sowing spiritual seeds in this life that will reap a harvest for all eternity. Where is your heart? Who has your heart, the world or God?

-Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

While we are in this world, we must not be of this world. We must not be conformed to this world, that is letting it mold and shape our behavior. The world is the current dwelling of Satan. Our citizenship is in heaven. The philosophies and goals of the world are contrary to the philosophies and goals of God. You can not do both, having one foot in the world and one with God.

Jesus said in Luke 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and riches."

the world says - people are good, do your own thing, look out for yourself, get even, grab all you can because you just live once

the Bible says - people are sinful, seek God’s will for our life, look out for the interest of other, vengeance belongs to God, don’t love the world, we are accountable to God and there is a judgment for how we lived our life

  • friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God – While believers in Christ are no longer enemies of God based upon the righteousness of Christ freely given, when we as believers live our life as a friend of the world, we create conflict in our relationship with God and are in direct opposition with Him. Living in the flesh is inconsistent with who He has made us. He has made us alive in Christ and crucified our flesh. When we choose to sin we are living contrary to the new creature we are in Christ.

-Galatians 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Paul declared of himself in Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.

What say you?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Suffering in the Flesh

I read this passage this morning and it just floored me.

1 Peter 4:1-2 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

To model the example of Christ we must suffer in the flesh. That means denying what our flesh tells us that we need. That means resisting temptations to gratify the flesh when it calls for gratification. That means that when the flesh pulls us to sin, we have to say "no way." That's hard! Jesus never gave in to temptations within His flesh. We give in so easily don't we. We are called to never give in - that is SUFFERING IN THE FLESH. That is long-suffering for Jesus. God and His Spirit within us is the only strength we have to achieve this victory. Only as we abide in the vine of Christ can we bear fruit and do anything.

John 15:4-5 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing."

Here are some other verses that speak to victory in the Christian life.
1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.
  • Abstinence from gratifying fleshly lusts within us is a key to victory.
  • We must fill the abstinence from sin with indulgence in the things of God.
Galatians 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
  • You cannot walk in the Spirit and the flesh at the same time.
  • Walk in the Spirit and you are not walking in the flesh.

Galatians 6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.
  • Sowing to the Spirit results in an eternal quality of life with Jesus.
  • Sowing to the flesh results in corruption within our hearts and dissipation.
Romans 8:6-8 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
  • Setting our mind on the Spirit, things above results in experiencing a life in Christ.
  • Living in the flesh produces hostility toward God.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Let Us Pray

"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We must pray. We must acknowledge God's presence with us at all times. Rejoice in the Lord always, talk to God all the time and be thankful for all things. God has clearly made His will known. Let's get on our knees and talk with our loving Creator.