Friday, April 30, 2010

Of Meat and Maturity in Christ

Heb. 5:11-14    (NLT)
11 There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen.  12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.  13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.  14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
We are skimming through the book of Hebrews together. After leading into a discussion of Jesus' role as High Priest and clarifying what it means, the Writer to the Hebrews launches into a challenge to these Hebraic Christ-followers. Most would agree that he might as well be writing to the North American evangelical Christian church (as well as the world-wide apostate Christian church) of today. We must agree, we 'have been believers for so long. . .' Many church members of today who call themselves "Christian" have been formal members of local congregations for 20, 40, and 60 years. And how many of them have demonstrated lives that are clearly 'sold-out to God,' Christians who are committed to doing whatever it takes to go "to all the world and make disciples," as the Lord commanded?

Can we see the possibility of this letter coming to members of your church from the Lord, sent via the post office (because he can't get their attention any other way)? We have been believers long enough that we 'ought to be teaching others.' But we hang out in the primary class of believers, listening to the same basic salvation messages we first heard. We hear but do not perceive the intent when our pastors preach more 'solid food' to us--concepts like: holiness, surrender, submission, full commitment, aggressive faith etc. We may well still be Christian infants, having lived our first year of Christian live repeatedly over again fifty times. What has prevented us from going deeper with the Lord and in our Faith commitment? Christians in other nations are persecuted for their belief and the church is growing so fast it cannot be counted. What is blocking our maturation? Is it the lack of persecution.

Well, hold on to something, the ride is about to get violent, for the persecution may begin soon. Are you ready North American Christ-follower? The US district court has decided recently that the US can no longer have a 'national day of prayer.' ( see Jim Daly's Column in the April 21st Washington Post ) It can no longer abide a consensus that there is any supreme being at all and that the government itself is the only supreme authority. Not only did they stop and block prayer in schools, and in public events, now there cannot be prayer at all according to the district Court! We cannot teach in a public place in Christ's name without risking arrest and prosecution (read that PERsecution). Things are happening fast but the lethargic 'Christian church' just yawns and dozes off again. What will you do today? Will you pray?

Your Servant in Christ's Love
cell 818.321.5014

Thursday, April 29, 2010

God's Rest Still Stands-- for those who believe

Heb. 4:1 God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. 2 For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. 3 For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,
“In my anger I took an oath:
‘They will never enter my place of rest,’”

We are spending some days with the Writer to the Hebrews-- those first century Christ-followers who were of Jewish roots and who were struggling with religiosity and their traditions. It was a challenge for the early Christian who had was trained in Judaism to set aside all of their religious rules and regulations? You would think that would be the opposite but the truth is, with all those rules and regulations that they occasionally fastideously observed, there was P.R.I.D.E. That was saying 'Preference Required because I Did Everything.

Jesus broke through all that and made faith and forgiveness available to everyone regardless of their deeds. Nothing was beyond God's grace and forgiveness. Nothing could prevent any person from stepping into the Light that was the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing of your past or my past would prevent us from accessing God's unconditional love. But there was one thing that could block it. That one thing was the failure to let go of self and humbly accept Christ by faith alone.

So the writer to the Hebrews, here, was making it clear that there is the place of ultimate rest-- that is, God's peace and grace. This place is available to all of us 'who believe.' However, it is ONLY for those who believe. I don't think the writer was speaking restrictively here, saying God would reject such non-blieving persons. I think he was saying that their own actions would prevent them from ever attempting to enter. Deliberate non-believers will not be drawn by God's Holy Spirit. Those who respond when he draws-- and He definitely draws everyone--are all received upon their response. Curious onlookers are not. It's kind of like when the flight desk operator calls me and others to line up to board the plane. They call and call and call. Those who do not line up and enter will end up missing the flight! There is no special grace for those who ultimately miss the flight. They suffer loss on their own account.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Be Careful. . .Faithful. . .Trusting Firmly in Christ

Heb. 3:12-15a
12 "Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. 14 For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. 15 Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts. . . ."

This world is swirling around you with false claims and intimidation to get you to turn eyes away from faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord, and King of you life. It wants you to make It king but it tries to tell you that you would be making you ruler over your own life. Like political promises at election time, the world blatantly lies to you. The sad thing is, that just like those politicians whom we KNOW are lying (because they always do) we also KNOW the world is lying to us but we feel the tug and are vulnerable to its pull nevertheless.

The Writer to the first century Hebrew Christians cautioned them against that vulnerability to the evil and unbelieving world that was turning weakened believers away from faith. The same is true for us today. We must be strong in our praying, strong in our Bible reading, strong in mutually upholding other believers against this evil pressure being deceived by sin and then becoming hardened again against God. Our call is to be faithful to the end. The promise of God is that HE will provide all we need in order that we can be faithful to the end by trusting Him continuously.

The voice of God happens in ways we might miss because it may NOT grant us things we asked for in selfishness or in error. It might caution us against some of our wants and desires because God knows the harm potential those things hold for us. The bottom line for our faith to remain strong is that we must determine to trust in God regardless of what happens from day to day. We know, in the end, HE will reign and we will rule together with Him because "we will share in all that belongs to Christ."

Your Servant in Christ's Love
cell 818.321.5014

Monday, April 26, 2010

So, We Must Listen Carefully

Heb. 2:1-4 NLT
4 So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. 2 For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. 3 So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak? 4 And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose.

Yesterday I reviewed with you the truth from Hebrews 1 revealing God, speaking Himself to confirm that Christ is God-the-Son and was the creative force at work in God's creation. Continuing with that truth that began be revealing that Creator God is also Savior God and Redeemer for you and for me, we see more in Chapter two. We are cautioned against carelessness in how deeply we listen to God's Word because the consequence is to drift away. Human history, itself, testifies that fallen humanity always tends away from God rather than toward, in spite of God's Sacrifice on our behalf. There was a hint of severity of consequence for those who ignore God's great provision, mentioned previously. In Chapter two, the Hebrew writer was lead by God to make things very, very clear. In the end, there is no escape for ignoring God's great salvation.

Our faith in the message delivered by those whom God inspired to pass it down to us is the faith and trust we must show in God's provision for our salvation. It was confirmed in history and needs no further confirmation other than what the Holy Spirit does upon entering within us to establish the new creation in us. Is there anything important on your plate these days? Is it more important that eternity with God? Is there any priority in your life today that is greater than what God has prioritized for you? Why ever would anyone want to ignore God's great provision for salvation? It has to be pure insanity to do so. There seem to be lots of insane people around us but let's not get carried away with them. Hear the Lord calling you? If you have heard, help others to hear Him calling them too-- before it is too late!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The ONE radiating God's Light is Guiding YOU today.

Hebrews 1: 2-5 NLT)
2. . . . God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

Critics of Christianity among the media and the science community of the 21st century continuously repress the notion that there is just one God, and that Jesus Christ is the one and only path into a relationship with God. Every night on TV and in every sort of secular literature we are pressed toward accepting the godless notion of evolution. We are barraged with rejecting God's standards for morality and are pressured into accepting the nation's collective notions of new morality that is the old immorality. Biblical prophesy even warns us that in the last days
'they' will call what is light 'darkness.' Conversely, it warns us, what is actually darkness, they will call 'light.'

However, God's Word is abundantly clear on just who Jesus Christ was and is. He is the heir to all that God has created--creation itself including the universe. He actually radiates the glory of God-- it shines out as light from a light source. He IS light. And, as the Bible teaches from cover to cover-- Christ cleansed us from our sins because of His sacrifice. Our part in this is merely to accept, trust, believe, and submit to His lordship. He now governs from the 'place of honor at God's right hand. He is God but in human form and our example. He waits for us to receive but our peoples continue to reject Him. There is coming a day when the sad wrath of God-- long foretold-- will be poured out on unbelieving humanity. Don't buy into the teaching of the so called intelligencia or the scientific elitists of our day. They reject God and they believe a lie-- to their peril. You, however have the light and He is guiding you today. Why not follow Him completely?

Your Servant in Christ's Love
cell 818.321.5014

Thursday, April 22, 2010

That's What Christians Do Now?

Acts 2:17 ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike— and they will prophesy.

In 1973 the Supreme Court said it was OK to kill unborn babies. Since then, we have killed more than the entire population of Canada. And it continues. A woman's choice? It is called abortion. Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now.

First it was in dingy, dirty theaters. Then, convenience stores. Then, grocery stores. Then on television. Now its in the homes of millions via the Internet. It is called pornography.Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now.

They called it no-fault.Why should we blame anyone when something so tragic happens? Haven't they already suffered enough? Half of the marriages of America end this way. The children suffered. The family broke down. It is called divorce. Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now.

At one time it was a perversion. We kept it secret. We secured help and hope for those who practiced it. Now it is praised. We have parades celebrating it, and elected officials give it their blessing. Now it is endorsed with special privileges and protected by special laws. Even some Christian leaders and denominations praise it. The Bible calls it homosexuality saying it is offensive to God. Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now.

At one time it was wrong. But then the state decided to legalize it, promote it and tax it. It has ripped apart families and destroyed lives. But just look at all the money the state has raised. No longer do we have to teach our children to study and work hard. Now we teach them they can get something for nothing. We spend millions encouraging people to join the fun and excitement. Just look at the big sums people are winning. They will never have to work again! It is called gambling. Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now.

Not long ago, Christians were the good guys. But now any positive image of Christians in movies or TV is gone. We are now depicted as the bad guys--greedy, narrow-minded hypocrites. The Christian who is a teacher can't have a Bible on her desk, but could have Playboy magazine. In schools we don't have Christmas and Easter holidays--just winter and spring break. We can't pray in school, but can use foul language. It's called being tolerant. Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now.

Yes, all these things came to pass within 30 years. Where were the Christians? Why. . . they were in church, of course! All these things are for someone else to deal with. Times have changed. Involvement had been replaced with apathy. But don't blame me. I didn't do anything. I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That's what Christians do now.
(posted on the ‘wall’ in the “Some Things to Think About” room at Cyber
retrieved at url: on 4/22/2010 by dce.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Freed from Every Kind of Sin-- Cleansed

Titus 2: 11-14 NLT
11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

No one can dispute that our world grows increasingly evil-- not without sounding completely insane anyway. And the impact of evil pollutes the purity of our very environment itself. I'm not talking about the big oil spills or the problems with all the wars-- those do their share of damage. I'm talking about the pollutants coming from self-serving everyday living, going into the ground, the water supply, and into our food sources themselves causing increased human diseases and malformation. Then there is the increasing social pollution of self-serving living-- having it my way becoming a habit. This 'drug of choice' for most fallen humans prevents them from understanding that every action of theirs risks a negative impact upon another's existence. We just don't want to be bothered with this sort of thinking. However, if we allow God's Holy nature to be implanted within us through faith in Christ, then we can learn to live selflessly rather than selfishly. Then we can become free from the polluting impact of sin. Then we can become cleansed and also a cleansing source upon our world. Then we have the possibility of total commitment toward 'good deeds.' Then we will want to please God rather than ourselves. Could today be a 'then' for you?

Your Servant in Christ's Love

God will Build You as an Example to Help Others

Titus 2:7-8 NLT
7 And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. 8 Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.

God has plans for you as He builds up a new you through your faith in Christ. This passage describes the standard God expects of us. But He does more than simply impose impossible sounding standards for conduct upon us. He creates the sort of inner power within us that will make this standard very common among obedient Christ followers. When you teach the truth, truth grows within you. As you ask God to let 'everything you do' reflect His integrity, then you hold yourself accountable to him and in the eyes of others for that same integrity. It is there for your asking. How neat it can be when those who want to criticize you because of the evil in their own hearts, cannot find a single honest things to use against you. You walk in Christ's image as you permit Christ to live in and through you.

Your Servant in Christ's Love

Monday, April 19, 2010

Is Everything Pure for You? It Can Be!

Titus 1:15-16 NLT
15 Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.

The great news-- perhaps the greatest you have heard in some time-- is that right now, today, YOUR heart can be pure through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Believing brings an impact upon you-- purification. Keep in mind there is a difference in believing and merely thinking about believing. If you truly believe then your actions will reflect your belief. Your attitudes will be changed as they arise because you willingly submit them to Lordship by the Holy Spirit who now resides within you forming and growing an entirely new nature. In your old nature verse 16 describes you. You might have claimed to know God because you tend to hang around with Christians and in churches. However your actions and attitudes towards others belied your claim. You were, in fact, detestable and disobedient to the Lord, focused on your own personal preferences. But when you yielded to Him, all that changed. Purity came to you and continues in you as you continue in your surrender and obedience. What's that? You haven't submitted yet? Why not? Why not right now? Wouldn't purification of heart and mind be a refreshing change for you then? If I can be of help don't hesitate to contact me so I can pray for you (818.321.5014)
Your Servant in the Lord's Love

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ignore those who Contradict God and Live, instead, in His Light

1 Timothy 6:3-5 NLT
3 Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. 4 Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. 5 These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy.

In the first century, the Apostle Paul cautioned young preacher Timothy about those who would contradict the truth about Jesus Christ, the fallen nature of humanity, the atonement for sin, and eternal life through faith in Jesus. Today in the 21st century we are confronted with political leaders who would do the same, and who would have us believe that government should be our lord and savior. Political leaders in the US, and throughout Europe, Asia, and the Far East all teach the same sort of message-- that if they are given homage by us, they will provide all that we need. And they all lie. They all cause trouble and stir up arguments against Christ because of their own jealousy. But they are mere puppets to the enemy of our souls and cannot be blamed for their lies-- they don't know truth. We are called to teach the truth while exhibiting the unconditional love that is God's nature. Our minds need not be corrupted like the fallen for we have been redeemed and are new creations. Live in the light today, and serve God rather than self.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Did You Get it? Or, Have You Missed It?

(1Tim. 1:5-6NLT)
5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 6 But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions.

The Apostle Paul was an excellent teacher-- well prepared in his skills, his knowledge, and his resources. He would pour himself into his learners, sometimes speaking all day and night long. It is always frustrating for a teacher when learners completely miss the key understanding that was meant for them to grasp and to change their lives. Paul was teaching his young pastor protege' that some learners are missing the most important thing Christ came to bring-- a pure heart and clear conscience. When Christ wipes away all sin, then one has nothing to feel guilty about, thus she or he can have a clear conscience. And when one allows the Holy Spirit of God to reside within, yielding all priorities to Him as He leads, then one's heart has not only been washed pure by the sacrificial blood of Christ, but one's attitude can remain pure in the power of God's presence. How about you today. Do you get it, or have you missed it. If you get it, do you share it with others? If you have still missed it, do you think it is because your own priorities mean more than they should in your life's decisions?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

He Did it for YOU!

He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8NLT).

What do you think of when you hear the Gospel story at Christmas or Easter, relating how God-- the Son, took on himself human form and limitations so that he could live, serve, and die as a sacrifice to atone for for our sin condition? And what do you think when you hear the proclamation that he arose, conquering death, and sin, and ascended into Heaven? And then, does it give you a pause to consider when you hear that from there He will return for His followers one day in God's timing? Do you realize that all this was for YOU? Does it cross your mind that you are beloved by God and God wants a relationship with you so much that He went to these great lengths to create a bridge across the gulf created by your sin for you to cross over? Thinking about this right now should bring you either to a moment now of great joy or great sorrow. If the latter, then I promise you that sad moment will then be followed by great release and great joy. Yet some people wait? I can't understand why, can you?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

For Whom Did You Pray Today

1Tim. 2:1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

We have many wonderful privileges as children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. One of those is that we are invited to bring others before God and request on their behalf. Notice for whom God's inspired Scripture tells us we ought to be praying--' everyone!' The Word of God is clear that He does not hear prayers from non believers until they reach up to Him in belief. But He does hear prayers ABOUT non-believers from us-- indeed He invited us to pray for them. You have a role through prayer in the lives of others. Why not exercise that role more aggressively today?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Living by the Spirit of God

Gal. 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Every time I find myself fretting over something that has happened in my workday life, after I finally get calmed down enough to hear my loving Lord talk with me, I hear him remind me that I wanted to live His life, serve as He served, and love as He loved. I chose this because I recognized the superior way of it when it came to me with forgiveness of all my sin. Then I hear our Lord ask me if it is more important that I get my way in this matter or that the person experience Christ's love from how I respond to them. That settles the issue and I release it back into His loving hands. It is by His Spirit that I want to live and not my own. When I am living my way, then I become conceited, puffed up, concerned only with how I am treated. But God has this better way for me and wants to give me the power to live it. He has it for you as well and would like to give it to you right now. Why don't you ask him?
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