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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Believe With My ?

I'm sure that we all know about the peculiar type of 'believing' that has to be present in order for us to accept the Blood of Christ as [our] atonement for sin.  Or am I assuming too much?  I've been known to do that, usually in matters to do with my wife, Faith, and we all know how that turns out!  Let's start with the basics, and work our way forward, that way we won't have any assumptions that will later on bite us.

'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  (John 3:16    NKJV)

Okay, just for the sake of covering all of the bases, we've got the words of Christ here, in plain language, telling us pointblank that we have to believe in Him to receive everlasting life.  Now let's back up just a bit here and establish not only the difference between the spirit and the flesh, but the importance of that difference to those who believe or those who are seeking.

'Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I way to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born or the Spirit is spirit.'  (John 3:5-6    NKJV)

It's pretty obvious here that according to Jesus, there is a huge difference between things of the flesh and things of the Spirit, and if anyone would know from first-hand experience, He would!  I mean, just think about it for a minute, He endured every trial, every tribulation, every type of pain.  He had victory over all of it, and never questioned His Father, until the one instance in which He couldn't feel the [Spiritual] presence of God in Him.

'And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”'  (Matthew 27:46    NKJV)

For just that split second, when Jesus bore all the sins of you and I, God took His [Spiritual] gaze off of His Son.  Why did He do this? 

'For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.'  (I Peter 3:12    NKJV)

Now don't go thinking that I'm saying that Jesus was seen by God as being evil, or doing evil.  What I'm pointing out is that Jesus conquered not only death, which is usually the focus of His death, burial, and resurrection, but also that He conquered sin.  One couldn't have happened without the other. 

'For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.'  (Romans 3:23    NKJV)
The presence of sin by man's disobedience brought with it the wages, or payment, for that sin, which is [Spiritual] death.  From the point of mans disobedience there in the garden of Eden, Biblical history has as one of it's primary focuses the sin-death relationship.  I know that I've gone the long way around to get back to where Jesus was very much aware that His Father had turned His [Spiritual] eyes away from Him for just an instant.  God had made it clear that He would not look at sin, in whatever form it took, He simply refused to gaze upon it.  This wasn't something new, we find evidence of His position on sin scattered throughout the Old Testament.

'Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, hat it cannot save;  nor His ear heavy,  that it cannot hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God;  and your sins have hidden His face from you,  so that He will not hear.'  (Isaiah 59:1-2    NKJV) 

'And there is no one who calls on Your name,  who stirs himself up to take hold of You;  for You have hidden Your face from us,  and have consumed us because of our iniquities.' (Isaiah 64:7    NKJV)

The one thing that has, and will continue to, separate man from God is man's sin, and the prophet Isaiah nailed it in the Scripture we've just looked at.  So when Jesus was there on the cross, and He knew His time as God the Son became Flesh was drawing to an end, He had to have known that He would be 'loaded down with' or 'covered' by the sin of mankind.  But even knowing in advance what was happening still couldn't prepare Him for what had to have been an immediate and awful sense of abandonment and helplessness when the moment of separation [from God] actually happened.  Just spend a moment and try to imagine a situation in which everything you knew and was, everything of importance and value, was in a flash simply....gone!  Just like that, everything that made you who and what you are was no longer there or had any value.  Now, take that same situation and imagine that you could see it coming, and knowing that there was nothing you could do to stop it.  To me, since I've lived most of my adult life in the snow country, it would be if I was out of control on icy road, sliding towards a drop-off, or even worse, towards a crown of people.  They couldn't move, for whatever reason, and I had no control over the vehicle.  Just imagine the helpless gut-wrenching feeling.  As bad as this sounds, what Christ experienced was much worse.  When He spoke those words, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Now we've gone full circle again, but maybe now 'how' we believe can be seen to be as important as it is that we believe at all. 

'For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”(that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.'  (Romans 10:5-10  NKJV)

We have to believe not with our heads, with reasoning and intelligence, but with our hearts.  This is completely at odds with what the world would insist on, and it makes no sense at all to those of the world, it isn't supposed to.

'Forsake foolishness and live, And go in the way of understanding.'  (Proverbs 9:6    NKJV)


'For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.'  (I Corinthians 1:18    NKJV)


'But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.'  (I Corinthians 2:14    NKJV)


'For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”;'  (I Corinthians 3:19    NKJV)

This concept, that the foolishness of the world is contrary to God and His Ways, and that the ways of the world are considered foolish by God and His Believers, isn't something found just in the New Testament, as most things with God aren't.  Remember Abraham?  Formerly Abram, married to his half-sister, lived in a town full of pagan [god] worshippers.  God told him to pack up and get out of town, that He would make Abraham a 'father of many nations' and give him and his descendants land.  This was probably about the most foolish thing ever heard of, but Abraham packed up and left.  I wonder what his neighbors and friends thought when they saw all of the commotion.  I would imagine that someone would've asked where he was going.  I'll bet it through them for a loop when he [rightfully] said he didn't know, just that God told him to go, so he went.  How about Noah?  Can you imagine what had to have been going through peoples minds when they watched this old man build this big boat.  What was going through his mind, what with hearing this deep, booming voice, telling him to build this big boat, but he did it. 

These two examples of men's obedience, and there are plenty more, are also examples of believing with the heart.  It couldn't be any other way than with the heart, that little voice of conviction, that gut feeling, intuition.  Call it what you choose, it's still believing with your heart.  Is it any different when we read in His Word 'to believe with the heart and confess with mouth.....and thou shall be saved'? 

I've been reading through a compilation of works entitled 'The Fundamentals' and in particular the arguments of a group called the 'higher critics.'  As you can imagine, there are many groups who dedicate their whole lives arguing that the Bible is just a big myth.  And the whole idea of believing anything with any part of the body except the brain is completely ridiculous, beyond laughable!  I think that the reason I've been going round and round with this subject today has to do with my reading of the past several days, and the silliness in some of these 'higher critics' arguments.  If it wasn't so sad, some of the things people will say in trying to deny God, His Ways, and His Life, it would be almost comic.  I was warned once, a long time ago, to not read anything of this sort, because all satan needed was a tiny toehold to separate my from God.  I cannot be separated from God, and the reason is because I believe with my heart!  No academics, no intellectual reasoning, nothing that can be influenced by [worldly] evidence or argument. 

How about you?  Do you believe with your heart? 

This is my last posting for this year, and my prayer for each and every one who may read this is that you'll either become a Christian, or you'll continue to grow in Him and His Ways.  Either way, don't feel like you have to justify your belief in Him to anybody, Christ already justified all of us with every drop of blood He shed on that fateful day of the Cross.  All we have to do, and this has to be by our own choice, is to keep on believing with our hearts.

Be Blessed in the years to come, and fulfill the works He's called you to!
Terry, praising His name in Montana.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

He Knows!

I do my best stay calm, cool, and collected in regards to my habit of reading the news online every morning.  But, when I read a story this morning about how the financial worth of the common person and that of our elected representatives is growing farther and farther apart, it was hard to stay calm.  Then I started thinking about the One elected by the Father to represent me, and started comparing how His 'style' of representation varied from that of our politicians here on earth.  A point to be made here is that the representation of the Messiah wasn't a one time thing, it never has reached a point in time that it was over and done with.  His term [of office] never expired, nor will it so long as we're still on this earth. 

'without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.'  (Hebrews 7:3    NKJV)

This fact, the unending of our relationship with God the Father through Jesus the Son, is most often given the proper Scriptural description of 'eternity' with never a thought of how much of a change this was to the status of man before God.  It doesn't take much time studying the days of the public ministry of Christ to realize that He had at least as much resistance from the Jews themselves, who'd been waiting for the Messianic prophecy to be fulfilled for almost four thousand years, as He did from the Gentiles.  A lot of the Jewish 'establishments' resistance was over this very issue, the changes to how God was worshipped and how man worshipped.  The whole concept of not having a new bunch of priests every ten or twenty or thirty years wasn't welcomed.  The priests, and their supporters, didn't want to give up their positions, and when the time came to step down, they already knew who would be taking their seat, which most of the time would be a blood relative.  This is the same situation we have going on today in our political systems, with the same abuse and corruption, and with the same resistance to any type of change.  Also, just as happened in the land of Israel and beyond back in what we call Biblical times, every time there was someone new in the limelight, they came with promises of how things were going to be better than before.  Things will be changing though, but not in any way that those of the world will like.  When we have people, who are supposed to be our elected representatives, who have no idea what the shrinking middle-class, or growing lower-class (however you want to say it), lives with on a daily basis telling us what we need, we have major problems.

I remember several years ago when the 'Big Four' oil producers were in front of some committee in Washington D.C. and one of the politicians asked one of them what they should tell the American people about the cost of gasoline.  The guy from the oil company started his answer with the assurance that he knew exactly what the American consumer felt like every time they pulled into the fuel pumps.  The politician interrupted with the remark that anybody who makes tens of millions of dollar a year in salary has no idea what the average American felt like.

The moral of my little story here is that when our newly elected Representative [before God] accepted the position, and let's never forget that He had that choice to make, before He said a word, or undertook an action, He lived the life that those He represents lived.  He was cold and hungry.  He felt thirst and pain.  He suffered emotional anguish and frustration.  Let's not make an all too common mistake and say, "If He were here, He would do this or that..."  Let's get it right and say, "Because He is here...." 

'by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.  Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.   For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;  who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered Himself.'  (Hebrews 7:22-27    NKJV)

What it all boils down to is that Christ, as each and every ones of ours  Representative before God, eliminated the space, or gap, between us and God.  When He stood before man, He did so by choice, which is another things we loose sight of sometimes.  When we come to Him in prayer, needing to be counseled and comforted, and we need someone to understand what we're going through, He does.  He lived our lives, He felt our hunger and pain, and that's the only way He could stand before God as our Representative.  We know that the ways of the world are contrary to the ways of God.  While a lot of our worldly politicians talk about getting out and meeting the people, name me one who got out and bled and died for the people. 

We are always hearing someone say that "We [I] know just how you feel" when there is no way they possibly could.  So who do you choose to rely on, someone who only says they know how your life is, or Someone who really does know? 



Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day, 2011.  While I'm not particularly fond of all of the commercialism that grows more prominent every year that's associated with this time of year, I do celebrate this day.  Just what is it that I celebrate?  The Birthday of the One  who is as important to me as life itself is, and I mean this quite literally.  Now before any of you who dig deep looking for just about anything to find some kind of fault with, yes, I know that there has been considerable arguments put forth contesting whether or not December 25th was the actual day that Jesus was born.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  (Galatians 5:19-21    NKJV)

There are three important issues we'll take from this Scripture for our purpose today.  First, we have a whole list of what we can label as bad habits, character flaws, personality traits, or any one of what could be an infinite list.  Or, we can call it like it is, and call the things on this partial list what they are, sin.  It's important in a situation like this one in which we have a list that we keep in mind that the order has nothing to do with the value, or severity.  Fornication isn't a worse sin than adultery, or the other way around.  Excluding the sin of blaspheme of the Holy Spirit, sin is sin is sin...... Notice that dissension is listed right there in the middle of things, and keep that in mind while we take a look at a couple of other issues.   Next, we're told outright and point blank that all of these things are works of the flesh.  For those of you out there that like to argue every little point, just go on and grab onto this one!  There is no doubt that the apostle Paul knew exactly what he was trying to get across, and in my mind, he did a fine job of getting his point across.  Lastly, if anyone decides to persist in doing any, or all, of these things, these sins, then they will not inherit the kingdom of God.  How much plainer does it have to be? 

Now let's tie our understanding of these three verses into the purpose of my sitting here at this desk today.  So if someday somebody can prove without a doubt that Jesus was born on December the 24th or maybe the 26th, what changes?  What if evidence is presented that He was born on November 25th, or January 25?  Again, what changes?  Is your salvation any less permanent or meaningful?  Would this mean that Christ suffered any less, or shed fewer drops of blood? 

I guess that my whole theme today is that each of us needs to keep our [Spiritual] focus on target.  It's so easy to get sidetracked, and once it happens, it's never easy to get straightened out again.   We need to start out by being sure that we understand the basics, like who Jesus is.  What was His purpose?  Why did He make the choice(s) that He did?  How does our relationship with the Father change with salvation?    These few questions are not conclusive, not by any means, they just barely scratch the surface.  It's kind of sad that these questions, along with many others, even need to be asked.  What makes it worse is that a great many Christians cannot answer these basic questions, much less the many more that are more difficult. 

How about you?  Can you answer these basic questions?  Hey, don't let it get you all down and depressed if you can't.  Instead, why don't you do something about it, like find the answers.  Leave me a comment with contact info, and I'll help you find the answers. 

Be Blessed, and have a very merry Christmas!!!

Terry & Faith and the family.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Whose Authority?

Turn your television on at just about any time of the day on just about any day of the week and you'll be able to find some preaching going on.  Now this, in my opinion, is a good thing, or is it?  If you've spent much time in your Bible the longer you listen to some, not all but some, of the preaching on the television the more disturbed you will get.  Notice that I didn't say the more disturbed you might get, but the more disturbed you will get.  For any  new readers out there, something you'll come to learn about me the longer we know each other, is that I don't play word games, or mind games.  If I say something a certain way, there is a reason for it.  There are very few tv preachers I'll waste my time with. The main reason for that is because after my disgust reaches a certain point, then the frustration kicks in. I get frustrated over two different issues. First, how any man who identifies himself as a man of GOD could preach what is exactly opposite of what Scripture teaches. Second, I get frustrated to the point of wanting to jump right into the tv right into all the people sitting home listening to this guy and tell them, "Read you Bible!" Here is the point I'm headed for today, nowhere in the Bible have I ever found that GOD promises that any thing we ask for He'll automatically give us.  One thing you'll not be told is that prayers being answered is based on a couple of things.  One, that you've reconciled any differences between you and anybody else.

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses."  (Mark 11:25    NKJV)

Next, are what you're petitioning the Lord for something that you would honestly expect to be in His Will for you?

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.  (James 4:3    NKJV)

I was asked to leave a church one time, and it was because I asked a simple question.  This wasn't even Sunday morning services, so it wasn't like I interrupted or anything.  This was on a Wednesday night adult Bible study, and I had been told when I was invited to come by the pastor himself, that it was an open forum, and that if I had any questions at all, to just go ahead and speak up.  So when the pastor began to teach the class, from a denominational magazine, and he began by telling us that GOD wanted us all to be good (he named the denomination here)'s.  He paused for a breath, and me, not having a bashful bone in my body I just jumped right in there and asked (and yes, I was polite) just where that was in the Scriptures, that we all were supposed to be good ------'s.  The pastor got a little red, and then asked if he could have a word with me in private, so we stepped out of the room and he asked me to leave.  So I left. 

Believe it or not, my little story here, which is true, illustrates two important things about the point of today's ramblings.  One, a lot of teaching and preaching is presented as being supported by Scripture, and two, if it's tested by the truths found only in the Scriptures it'll fail every time.  It says nowhere in the Bible that GOD wants us each to prosper and be wealthy, healthy, and wise here on earth.  Jesus taught that it was literally impossible for a rich man (by worldly standards) to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

"And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  (Matthew 19:24    NKJV)    See also Mark 10:25 and Luke 18:25

Another thing He taught was that we should lay up our treasures where it counts, in heaven.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."  (Matthew 6:19-20    NKJV)

And yet another bit of knowledge that our Lord God felt we needed to know concerns a problem the apostle Paul identified in the [Early] Church there in Colosse.

"For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Now this I say lest anyone deceive you with persuasive words.  For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.    As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.  Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."  (Colossians 2:1-8    NKJV)

Colosse to beware of a couple of things.  This tells us that should we encounter any of these things, that we too should beware, in a big way.  The things the apostle told the congregation to watch for started with persuasive words, and if persuasive words come from someone, then there will be deceit intended.  Let's look at that for a minute, just how will we know when we come face to face with 'persuasive words.'  We actually have it easier than those early Believers because we have the Bible to check things against.  I call this the test of the Scriptures, and I've always advocated testing everything by the Scriptures.  When I'm teaching I want everyone there to have a Bible in their hands, and as I go from passage to passage I slow down and make sure everyone is able to keep up.  I do this not because I'm some kind of 'super' teacher or 'one of a kind' preacher.  I do it because when I was called into ministry I made a vow to GOD, and I take my vows to GOD very seriously, that I would never teach anything without making sure that Scripture supported it, and I want people to check me against the Scriptures.  The early Believers didn't have the Bible to do a test of the Scriptures, so Paul told them to stick to what they'd been taught.  Look back at verse six again;

"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him."

What Paul was telling the people was that the message of the cross doesn't change, that what they had been taught when they were saved was still so.  God is consistent, He doesn't  change His expectations from us, nor His promises to us. 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.  For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.  (Hebrews 13:8-9    NKJV)    See also Hebrews 1:12.

Any time we hear people making statements about having some kind of  a 'new' message from God, or a 'new' understanding of any certain Scripture, watch out.  I'm not saying to just turn the channel or leave the church.  I am saying to test every word you hear by the Scripture.  For those who've studied the history of the Christian church, you'll remember that it really hasn't been all that long ago that the established churches actually forbade their congregants to even own a Bible, much less read one and seek their own understanding.  If you're in any kind of a study group and something doesn't sound right, ask for clarification, say, "Hey, where in the Bible is that?"  Don't be bashful.  Tell them that I, Terry Keiner,  said it was okay for you to ask where that was in the Bible. 

The bottom line is this, God has made a number of promises to us, and sealed those by the blood of His Son.  When you get a package all ready to send off to someone for Christmas, or a birthday maybe, after you've sealed it up and sent it off, you can't add anything else to what is already sealed up.  So with that in mind, ask yourself, just whose authority are some of these folks who preach stuff that isn't in the Scriptures doing this by?  It isn't by the authority of God, His package was sealed up and posted two thousand years ago.  While it does happen that we'll sometimes forget something we intended to put in our package or letter, I'll promise you that God didn't forget anything.  Another thing I'll promise you is that He doesn't need any one of us to take up His slack.

By the way, whose authority do you claim your promises by?  Under whose authority do you live your life? 

Be Blessed my Brothers and Sisters before the Lord!
I pray you'll have many Spiritual Blessings with those close to you over these holiday times, and that His love will continue to grow in you!

Terry Keiner, being Blessed in Montana!

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Time!

When we read about the formation of what we call the 'Early Church' in our bibles, we see repeated over and over again that those first Christians had a sense of urgency about them.  In reading the apostle Paul's epistles, or letters, to the different churches and groups of Believers, we can almost feel the importance he attaches to getting the Word spread as quickly as possible.  In both the Old and the New Testament books, we can find references to 'end times' or the 'Day of the LORD.' 

Just a quick point to be noted here is that the writing of the New Testament books, which were mainly letters, journals, and diaries, didn't even begin until between thirty and sixty years after the Ascension of CHRIST.  The reason for this was because a great many of those early Christians, including some of the original apostles, thought that the next coming of Christ was going to happen just any day.  With that thought in mind, the Believers didn't feel that there was any reason to create a written record of the days of CHRIST, because there wasn't going to be any future generations of Christians to read it.

Another term we can find throughout both Testaments is 'the Day of the LORD.'   Often, and wrongly so, this term is used with the connotation of the next coming of CHRIST.

What I'm working towards here is that NOW is the Day of the LORD, and mankind has been right in the middle of the end times since  CHRIST walked on this earth as GOD in the flesh.  So many people keep putting off any kind of a commitment with GOD, figuring that they'll wait until it's a better time, or maybe until it's closer to HIS next coming.  I've got news for those people, NOW is the time.  It's time right now to get straightened up with GOD, not some distant point in time that is constantly pushed back as it gets closer and closer.  Right now is the time.  Look around you, look at all of the weird weather going on all over the world.  Look at what's happening with the global economy and politics.  Look at the worlds leaders who came promising change for the better, and instead have delivered more misery and poverty to the people who elected them.  After you've looked at all of this, then sit down and do what I've always told people to do; READ YOUR BIBLE!  If you've been waiting until just the right time to begin your life with CHRIST, that time is today.

Don't wait any longer, it's time!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Which Day Is Thanks Giving Day?

Just so we get off on the right track here, I'm all for Thanksgiving Day.  I've traveled to other lands and have a better idea than most of just how much every American has to be thankful for.  A lot of citizens of the United States of America take this great country for granted.  A good many people enjoy every benefit this country offers, then turn right around and ridicule and publicly advocate against the U.S. for giving everyone the same right(s) they use to speak out against our country. Go figure!

My point to be made today sort of goes along with, yet is separate from, the issue(s) I mentioned in the first part of this post.  Just like on Sunday mornings, people all across this country of ours will sit down today [it's already Thanksgiving Day in some parts of the country!] and give thanks to our LORD GOD for the bounty before them.  Most people will thank HIM for this great country we live in, and make mention that there are a lot of other countries in which people don't have the [legal] right to offer thanks to GOD, or to live freely.  This Thanksgiving Day I'm confident that quite a few prayers will be offered up for the Ministers of the Gospel in China and Iran who were told the only way they could avoid execution for the crime of being a Christian was to recant.  I agree with everybody doing every single thing I've mentioned here, and that leads right up to my point of today's ramblings.  Before I get going and forget, there's something I haven't mentioned in quite a while that I need to get out in the open here.... Yeah, I'm a Believer! 

Is this day the only day of the year, excepting every Sunday, that should be a day of thanks for those of us who claim the Blood of CHRIST as atonement for sins?  Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm as guilty as anybody, so don't think for a minute that I'm putting myself up on some kind of pedestal.  I'll tell you what my excuse that doesn't work anymore used to be [funny how that works when GOD gets involved, isn't it?] Something along the lines of, "Just because I don't say 'Thanks' everyday doesn't mean that I'm not thankful."  Or, "It's in my heart, and GOD knows what's in our hearts, right?"  I could go on and on with the excuses, but I think you probably know where I'm going with this, don't you?  Yes, the FATHER knows what's in our hearts, and yes, HE knows when we're thankful even if we don't come right out and say it.  The thing to remember here though is that HE didn't just 'think' about sending HIS Son to die on the cross.  HIS Son didn't have it in His heart to obey the FATHER's will just on that life changing [did I say 'changing' or 'giving?'] day on that hill overlooking Jerusalem, now did HE?  When we get ourselves into some kind of a bind, GOD doesn't just think about giving us a hand our of our trouble and forgiving us for whatever bone-headed stunt we've pulled this time only on a certain day of the week or year, now does HE?  Neither is HE only available for us to come to on Sundays and the last Thursday of every November.  When we do come to HIM, whenever that is and for whatever reason, HE's always there, any time of the day or night, every single day of the year. 

The more I think about it, the sillier it seems.  It's like you have a perfectly good car in the driveway.  But five days out of the week, you walk right by it on you way down the drive when you're setting out on your eight or ten mile walk to work.  Then maybe on Saturday you pass it by on your way to the grocery store, I'll bet you really hate your grocery [shopping] day, don't you?  When Sunday comes, it's time to save the old shoe leather and fire the old heap up and off to church you go!  I know this sounds a little silly, but is it?  What has more meaning to you, GOD or your car?  Has your car ever not started or had a flat?  Especially with the price of gas, does it seem as if you're always pulling into either the gas station or the mechanics shop?  How about my wife's pet peeve, having to scrape ice and snow off the windshields? [It doesn't help when I explain that it only happens in the winter.]  Now, take a [long] minute and compare that to GOD.  HE's always there and HE's always ready.  We never get a busy signal or a voice mail.  HE never puts us on hold.  Never any 'low fuel'  or 'check engine' lights.  But a good many Christians only have any time for HIM on Sundays and Turkey Day. 

Every day is HIS day, or it should be.  Every day is a day of thanksgiving, or it should be.  I was talking with someone, and I probably shouldn't admit that I can't remember who it was, about marriage and I made the statement that when someone tells me that their marriage is a fifty-fifty deal, with each of them contributing fifty percent to the marriage, then my response is that the marriage is already in trouble.  I mean BIG TROUBLE!  Now I want you to think about this, if people are willing to contribute fifty percent of themselves to their marriage, but only thirteen days a year, and those days aren't usually the whole twenty-four hour days, to GOD then something is seriously wrong, with both that person's  marriage and their relationship with GOD! 

My prayers are for you all to have Happy Thanksgivings, and that you have three hundred and sixty-five of them a year!

Faithful in HIS service,
Terry & Faith
Absarokee MT

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why Wait?

There comes a  certain point in time for everyone, even Christians, when we all ask ourselves if we've made the right decisions.  Sometimes this certain point in time is at the end of our lives. I've seen in dying peoples eyes, who were not Christians, the fear of death overshadowed only by the terrifying certainty that what they've denied GOD their whole lives HE now might deny them.  In so many ways, the fear of imminent death is the great equalizer.  When someone knows that their time is short, all the posturing and worldly based arguments against either the existence of and/or the need for GOD are discarded.  It's sad to say that this doesn't happen all of the time, there are people who are so deeply saturated with satan's poisons that even the certainty of death doesn't faze them.  Then there are the times that death comes in an instant, like in a car wreck or some other kind of accident or when someone is killed by another person.  Of all of these situations in which [physical] death is the end result, it's when a non-Christian dies instantly or without a last chance to come to the Throne of Grace that bothers me the most.  I'll give you a good example of why I feel so frustrated and helpless during these times.  A couple of years ago, a good friend of ours learned that a friend of hers who had been sick for several years had passed.  I knew the fellow, and he was a real piece of work to say the least.  Because of the kind of man he was, this friend of ours asked me to pray for him after he'd passed.  It surprised her when I refused, but I believe it also shocked her into reality when I explained that if he didn't make the decision for Christ before he died, no amount of prayers would do him any good at all.  If you'll remember, Jesus told one of His disciples to 'let the dead bury the dead.'  His point was that we serve a living GOD, and we are a living people.  The frustration and helplessness I mentioned earlier is because GOD has made it so easy for us to come to Him through His Son, who even died in our place.  The 'new and better Covenant'  undid all of the restrictions and biases held by the Old Testament Worshipper so that all can equally come to the Throne [of Grace].

'Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.'  (Acts 4:12    NKJV)

For such a relatively short verse, this piece of Scripture is loaded with information, literally life-saving information.  First we read about the exclusiveness of Christ as Savior.  Then we have the equally good news concerning the inclusiveness of His life-giving act.  Like I stated earlier, all of the restrictions and biases established by Old Testament Scripture and traditions of man were washed away by the same blood that washes away the stain and condemnation of sin from the New Testament Believer.

So, I'll wrap this up with a question, and I'm the first to admit that it's the same question that's been asked for the last two thousand years.

Why would anyone not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?  I've heard so many people justify their denial of Him with every excuse from they don't believe He exists to they'll check Him out when they're ready to settle down.  So many never have that chance to 'check Him out' because their life will end suddenly.  I'll leave you with this one last thought, and that is it isn't a safe bet to put off turning your life over to Christ until the last minute for at least two reasons I can think of.  First, you may not have a last minute.  Second, would someone coming to Christ at the end of their life still come to Him if they weren't facing death?  This is a question that could very well determine, for GOD, whether that person was sincere, or just trying to 'pad their bet'.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Motivation Counts!

I know that I've already talked about motivation in a previous post (Why We Do What We Do - June 11, 2011), but please go on and read this post because I've a different point to make today. 

'17Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a temple for the name of the LORD GOD of Israel.  18But the LORD said to my father David, "Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for MY name, you did well that it was in your heart."'    (I Kings 8:17-18    NKJV)

What we have here is Solomon, the second son of King David and Bathsheba, with what is basically a sermon dedicating the new temple to GOD.  This was the temple that his father, King David, had desired to build years earlier, but had been told by GOD through the priest Nathan that this was something not meant for him to do.  The point here is that GOD was blessed by the fact that David had this desire, or need, in his heart to build a temple to house the ark of GOD.  GOD didn't need to see the temple built by David to be blessed by it.  It wasn't the temple itself, a stone and wood structure, that would be a blessing, or pleasing, to the LORD.  Now here is our lesson for Christians in today's world.  GOD has made it clear that temporal things, like stone and wood structures, and nice cars and trucks, how often we're in church or how much money we put in the offering, these things do not bless GOD.  While places of worship should be respected places, I can't find Scripturally that the more elegant or prestigious a building we worship HIM in, the more HE'll be blessed.  Neither can I find that the more chic or fashionable our clothes are the more HE'll be pleased.  Yes, we should show HIM reverence and awe by wanting to  look respectful  in a respectful-looking place of worship, if that is our motivation.  I read some time ago that one of the better known 'TV Preachers' in what we're calling 'Megachurches' now was given a $10,000 a month clothing allowance.  (This was in a taped interview, so I'm going to assume that if the dollar amount was inaccurate it would've been corrected before the piece was aired).  I'll tell you folks something, I don't know that I could except that kind of money from our ministry for any kind of allowance.  My first thought was something along the lines of how much we could do for how many people with ten grand a month.  This brings us back to motivation.  Just who is this TV Preacher trying to look good for?  It can't be for GOD, HE only sees our 'innermost' selves.  Is it for the members of the church he pastors at?  Now we need to look at their motivation for even being in church if something as useless [to GOD] as how their pastor dresses is that important to them, and it must be or the congregants would put a stop to that kind of money being spent on clothes.  In my first post on the issue of motivation, I made the point that what we desire to do for GOD brings HIM just as much blessings as what we actually accomplish.  Aren't we really trying to look good for ourselves?  Is this how we measure our success?  But whose standards are we measuring our success by?  This is where we can get into trouble real easy, even if we are careful.  Think about it for a minute, what 's the first thing people will respond with when they're invited to church, especially the women?  It'll be something like, "Well, I'll have to see if I have anything to wear."  The connotation is that church is the only place they wear clothes, they're running around naked the rest of the time.  Should we go to church in cut-off jeans and flip flops?  I'll not answer that one, except to say take it to the LORD in prayer, then dress however you're comfortable.  Just make sure that you're being led by HIM while you're laying out you clothes for Sunday morning.  Don't worry about what anyone will say, what do they know anyway?

Brothers and Sisters [before the LORD], make sure that your reasons for doing whatever you do are the right reasons, and yes, this does extend to every single part of your lives.  No, I'm not taking this 'motivation' thing too far, the only way that could be true would be if you felt that JESUS took HIS 'dying on the cross' thing too far.  Well, did HE?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Are You Grown Up?

Why do we tend to listen to those who tell us what we want to hear, even when we each know that what we're being told may be contrary to HIS Word? 

We all do it, I know that I have to really watch myself in this area.  I'll give  you a good example.  One of the goals Faith and I have set for ourselves, and we don't believe that this is a goal that is contrary to HIS will for our family, is that we would be able, through HIS Grace, to buy a home.  Now we're the kind of people that landlords love to move into their rentals, because we do a lot to personalize the house we live in, all with the owner's permission of course.  I jokingly told Faith one time that I wouldn't be surprised if landlords started paying us to move into their properties so that in a couple of years time they would get a total makeover.  After I was injured, which led to disability, almost four years ago, and then almost died exactly three years ago today, the desire for a home of our own became more that just a desire, it became a need.  That need is based on one of my biggest fears, that the LORD will call me home, and my wife and kids wouldn't be able to afford the high rents we're only able to pay by HIS Mercies.  I don't need anyone to counsel me about giving it all to GOD and not worrying over it, that's exactly what I've told many people myself.  But, you know what they say about advice, easy to give and hard to follow.  I know that my family is far more precious to our LORD than the birds of the air, and HE knows that I know that.  So, how not to worry is the question we all face.  What advice can I give myself that I'll be able to follow? 

'Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;  but as HE who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." '  (I Peter 1:13-16    NKJV)

There it is, straight from His Good News, the Scriptures.  So many times when we're in need of a miracle, which in reality is simply GOD keeping HIS promises, we will give everything to HIM but then never finish our work before HIM.  What I'm saying is that when we take something to the LORD in prayer, what we're actually doing is entering into covenant with HIM.  HIS part of the agreement is that HE is available to hear our petition, and then to answer it based on several things, including what HIS Will holds for us in relation to what we've asked for and whether or not we leave in HIS capable hands what we've placed there by our prayer.  The hardest part of giving something to GOD in prayer is to leave it with HIM, and to not take it back. That's exactly what we do when we continue to bring it up to HIM every time we think about it.  Then we have the biggy, thanking HIM.  And yes, we should begin thanking HIM and praising HIM for answered prayer immediately after we ask from HIM whatever it is we've asked for.  If we take the position that we shouldn't thank HIM until after we decide if HE's responded the way we feel HE should, then we're setting conditions for HIM too follow, and that is dangerous ground to tread on. 

The big thing in this scenario, which is all too real so much of the time, is that worry is a sin.  The Scripture we looked at just a moment ago tells us to 'be holy.'  The two different issues here, committing [a] sin that we're fully aware of and following HIS instruction to 'be holy' doesn't go hand in hand with each other by any stretch of the imagination.

I'm humbled by my wife.  I asked her to put together a bio for me for one of my seminary classes, and when I read what she'd put together, I got a clear picture of how she saw me.  It blew my mind, and a lot of it was because I'd never thought much on how she put me and holiness together.  I also had never realized that she looked up to me, and that humbled me even more simply because I'm not always a real nice person.  I can make excuses like, "Well, I was having a really bad day."  That boat would float for most people since the doctors told her three years ago today that I wouldn't live through the night.  Then about two and a half years ago the specialists told us that I'ld never walk again without 'assistive' devices.  The point I'm making here is yes, I do have days that things get really bad, and try as I may, sometimes I know that I'm not easy to be around.  Yet Faith still sees me as holy and spiritual, that's humbling.  That is the answer to just about all of our conflicts with GOD, that we refuse to totally humble ourselves before HIM.  We always try to hold on to some small piece of ourselves, just so we can feel like we're still in control.  It's not that GOD insists on us groveling at HIS feet for stale bread, it's that HE wants us to know that it's okay to need HIM.  It's okay for us to tell HIM, "Lord, I can't do this, or any other thing, without You."  The thing is that HE already knows that, even before we grow up enough to be humble enough to admit it. 

How about it, are you grown up enough?

Be Blessed in all that HE is too you!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Believe or Worship?

What do we do?  Does believing lead to worship? Is believing in itself worship? Or, is worship by itself evidence of [a] belief?  Then we have  what I think of as the 'next layer' of questions.  Is a belief something we only hold to be true, with or without any type of worship occurring?  Does worship of a person, place, or thing have to be preceded by some type of stated belief in something relative to that person, place, or thing?  Or, does believing in something cause that 'something' to evolve into a belief?  And does that whole operation only take us back to our original questions involving believing and worship?

I think we need to get the experts involved here, and who better to go to than the esteemed James Hastings for widely accepted and very much accredited definitions of the two words behind all of this confusion. 

Worship, both as subst. and verb, was formerly used of reverence or honour done to men as well as to God, and so occurs in Lk 14:10.....  (A Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 4 )

Hastings goes on to make the point that New Testament worship of GOD grew out of the Jewish Synagogue Worship concept, and that the worship of the members of the Early Church closely resembled what took place in Jewish Synagogues. 

When we go on to our other key word, belief, we're left to determine an adequate definition from Scripture(s) referred to by Hastings.

Belief occurs in AV (Authorized Version) only 2 Thessalonians 2:13 'b. of the truth'; to which RV (Revised Version) adds Romans 10:17 'b. cometh of hearing'....   (A Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 1) 

The meaning of the word belief coming from the Scriptures referrenced by Hastings coincides in large part with what we find in Nelson's Dictionary of Christianity.

Belief  Trust and assurance in a  person, thing, or idea which is held to be true; emotional and intellectual assent to a set of values and ideas; conviction about the reality of the object of a religious faith.  (Nelson's Dictionary of Christianity, Pg. 80)

To go just a bit farther, we'll also develop a Biblical definition for one who holds certain belief's to be true.

Believer Synonym for Chrisian, especially one who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  (Nelson's Dictionary of Christianity, Pg. 80)

To fully appreciate the significant differences in our key words, belief and worship, we really have to take a close look at the Scripture referred to by Hastings in his definition of the word worship.

'But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.'  (Luke 14:10    AV [Authorized Version, which is how the King James Version was originally referred to])

Remember that the word 'worship' connotates not only reverence and honor for GOD, but also reverence and honor given to, and recieved by, other men as well.  In this Scripture from the book of Luke, JESUS was giving instruction on how not to seek out worship, or reverence and honor, from man.  The point HE was making here was to remain humble, regardless of who had invited you to wherever you were.  The lesson we should take from this seemingly innocent lesson on seating arrangements is that although we've been invited to the most majestic mansion to partake of the grandest wedding feast man cannot even begin to imagine by our most Holy HOST, we shouldn't let the fact that each of us were singled out by HIM to receive a personal invitation to the wedding banquet ever come between us and being humble not only before the LORD, but also before man as well.

Our look at a Biblical definition of the word 'worship' leaves us with the understanding that the reverence and honor given and received by man isn't necessarily restricted to matters related to the FATHER, the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT.  But, what we find in the meaning of the word 'belief' combined with what a 'believer' is commonly construed to be is that even among non-Believers it's understood that a Believer  is someone who holds the truths about the FATHER, the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT to be the basis for a firmly focused belief in GOD.

So with the meanings of our keywords established, I'm going to do something a bit different than is my norm.  I'm going to leave it up to you to go back to our original questions, and answer them based on your understanding and guidance, not of anything I've presented today, but by HIS Holy Spirit. 

Be Blessed!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

One Extreme To The Other

The way we see ourselves has a lot to do with even beginning to understand what Salvation is, much less being able to fully receive the gift of Grace.  I'm not just talking  about before we approach the Throne of Grace, or only about looking back from a Redeemed position before GOD.  Before we claim the SAVIOR's blood as atonement for our sin, and are declared Righteous in the FATHER's eyes, we have to realize just how bad our position was.  This has to go way beyond simply mouthing the words of what some call 'The Sinner's Prayer' in which a person acknowledges that they are lost in sin and under the condemnation of that same sin, of which the sentence, or punishment, is [Spiritual] death.  I'm not saying that the facts in this prayer aren't correct, but I am saying that they're only effectual if they are spoken from the 'innermost' parts of a person.  How many of us realized just how filthy and disgusting we were in GOD's eyes while we were clothed in the garments of sin?  In one of my earlier posts, I made reference to the fact that JESUS HIMSELF made the decision to accept the FATHER's Will, and by making that choice, HE effectively separated HIMSELF from the FATHER for just a moment.  That was the moment HE, for the first time in HIS life, felt the absence of HIS FATHER's eyes on HIM, and HE cried out.

'And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”'  (Mark 15:34    NKJV)

The point I'm after here is that GOD, who had and still has, a deep abiding love for HIS SON, turned HIS eyes from HIM for the moment in time that CHRIST was covered with the stench and slime of mankind's sin.  That is what we have to understand about our status before the blood of CHRIST washes us clean, just how dirty we were.  If we don't have an appreciation for just how repulsive our sin was to GOD, then we can't appreciate just how much HE loves us.  These two issues have got to be viewed as so important to one another that one cannot exist without the other.  GOD's love and man's sin are both necessary for the shed blood of CHRIST to have any meaning or value at all.  They are polar opposites of each other, and only when Grace has been given and received do they reflect the extremes man has started from and then ended up at. 

All of this brings us full circle, back to the point of us having to be fully aware the revulsion man's sin holds for GOD.  Note that I've made clear that it's man's sin that is unbearable for GOD.  It was man's sin that caused the FATHER to turn HIS eyes from HIS beloved SON.  It was, and is, man's sin that separates man from GOD.  It's man's sin that is the opposite of GOD's love.

'But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.' (Isaiah 59:2 NKJV)

To emphasise just how extreme GOD's position is towards sin, let's look again at the first Scripture we referenced, then at the documented words of one of the handpicked followers of GOD's SON.  Here we have the words of  GOD, who couldn't bear to look at HIS SON while HE was covered in [mankinds] sin, voicing the fact that JESUS was HIS beloved SON, and that HE was well pleased with HIS SON.  We have to reconcile that one of the reasons that GOD was well pleased had to have been because CHRIST had accepted, and was fulfilling, the FATHER's Will.  The other part of GOD being pleased that HIS SON was following HIS Will involved the FATHER knowing that a very important part of HIS Will would include being covered with mankinds slimy and disgusting sin, if only for a moment. 

'And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is MY Beloved SON, in whom I am well pleased." '   (Matthew 3:17    NKJV)


'While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is MY beloved SON, in whom I am well pleased.  Hear HIM!"'  (Matthew 17:5   NKJV)

The first of these two instances in which GOD declared JESUS to be HIS SON, 'in whom I [HE] am [is] well pleased'  was at the baptism of CHRIST by John the Baptist.  Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler among the Jews, came to HIM, and acknowledged that only a person sent from GOD could do the things HE'd already done.

'2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”   3Jesus answered and said to him, “Most ssuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."'  (John 3:2-6    NKJV)

In order for this discourse to Nicodemus to have the meaning it should have, we have to keep in mind that this conversation took place after CHRIST had been baptized by John the Baptist.  Also, remember that it was after JESUS came up from the baptismal waters that the Spirit descended like a dove and alighted on HIM.  Where we're at here is that JESUS taught by example, first HE did something, then told us that we're to do the same thing.  HE proved to us that it could be done before requiring us to do it, and have no doubt, we are required to follow HIS examples.

The second instance we've already looked at was when JESUS was transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John [the brother of James] up on a high mountain.  Some key things here is the location up on a high mountain.  In my mind, this is setting the stage for things to come, which is what a lot of the teachings and parables of CHRIST did.  A key point here, to tie this setting in with Old Testament history is that more often than not, when GOD spoke to Moses and other prophets, HE did so in a similar setting, that being up on a mountain someplace.  This gives the connotation that HE is to be reverred in a position much higher than we can attain for now, and that while HE has done the heavy lifting, so to speak, we do have to come to HIM.  To take this just a little bit farther, to illustrate this scenario, we need to take a quick look at the admonishments of the apostle Paul to those members of the church there in Rome.

'1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.'  (Romans 12:2    NKJV)

A key word here, renewed, ties this instruction of Pauls to the whole concept of how man separated himself from GOD by the sin of disobedience.  Before man, in specific Adam and Eve, sinned by an act of disobedience, man was not separated from GOD.  Man had a daily walk and conversation with HIM.  Paul is very clear here that we shouldn't be conformed to the ways and wiles of this world, and that everything about our everyday lives should be in service to the FATHER, and that in itself is not an unreasonable thing. 

We've established that GOD's love and man's sin are extremes on what called be called, quite correctly, the scale of life. We've also made it clear that GOD, whose love cannot be questioned, loves us so much more than HE hates sin that HE wasn't only willing to, but in fact did call upon HIS SON to separate HIMSELF from HIS FATHER as a part of keeping HIS FATHER's Will.  I don't know about you, but in my eyes, the love my heavenly FATHER has for me is a love far beyond anything I've ever even imagined.  It all comes down to whether or not we can see ourselves through the FATHER's eyes.  If you've ever been a parent, and had a child do something that upset you so much that you didn't even want to be in that child's presence right then, then you've taken a tiny tiny step in HIS shoes.  Very tiny though, and very far from seeing your child as HE sees HIS.  But in spite of how upset you were with your child, to the point of having to walk away from them for just a moment, you still loved them with all your heart.  Now you've taken another tiny tiny step in HIS shoes.  Then, when the realization came that even though you will always love your children, regardless of how bad they may act at times, there are times that you don't like them very much, you've taken a third tiny tiny step in your FATHER's shoes.   I sometimes wonder how GOD can love me at all, considering all that I've done that only HE knows about, and that right there is why I believe that we'll never be able to see ourselves through HIS eyes as completely as HE does.  We couldn't handle it, we can't even begin to conceive of both HIS complete enmity of sin and HIS unconditional love of us, but we need to be constant in our strivings to develop an understanding of both.  I promise you that with each new bit of understanding will come greater peace in HIM and a deeper humility before HIM. 

HE went from one extreme to the other for each one of us, have you?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Says Who?

Here's what GOD doesn't want; HE doesn't now, and has never, wanted a bunch of mindless zombies wandering around falling to their knees at certain time chanting 'Praise GOD Praise GOD Praise GOD' all in unison.  Another thing HE doesn't want is anyone doing anything in HIS name because it's what they believe is expected of them, and that includes going to church.  Now let's make sure we understand something here, we don't want anybody reading this and going rogue or something.  When I just said that HE doesn't want people doing things just because they believe that what they're doing is what Christians do, that's exactly what I meant. GOD don't want people ending up like the folks Paul was talking about there in Rome who had a 'zeal' for GOD, but it wasn't based on knowledge of GOD, or HIS righteousness.

'For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for GOD, but not according to knowledge.  For they being ignorant of GOD's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of GOD.'  (Romans 10:2-3    NKJV)

Lots of times we'll have people who only go through the motions, and they've convinced themselves that it really doesn't matter what's in their heart, so long as they are in church every Sunday and try to squeeze in a couple of Wednesday night services a month.  Then we have those who are, as Paul said in this Scripture above, 'seeking to establish their own righteousness.'  With these folks, there really is no telling what we'll see or hear, and that's why I find it so important to test everything by the Scriptures. 

I started out by talking about what GOD doesn't want, now let's make sure we all understand what HE does want.  First of all, let's get rid of that notion that everybody is automatically a Christian. I was in conversation with a lady the other day, and the subject of what we each should do to spread HIS Word came up.  She felt like her work was done, because she was a [basically] good person, and cared about others.  When I brought up the question as to whether everybody she knew was a Christian, because if not then she still had a ministry to fulfill, she told me that everybody was a Christian from their moment of birth.  So where does that leave the confessing and professing?  Do we just throw all that JESUS bled for right out the window?  This is where we end up with 'baptizing' infants.  I probably shouldn't say this, but like my wife says, sometimes I don't play well with others (or maybe that was all the time).  The Bible, HIS Holy Word, says absolutely nothing about baptizing infants.  Scripture does talk about dedicating babies to the LORD, that is what Joseph and Mary were doing with JESUS when Simeon was led by the Spirit into the temple to see the MESSIAH.

'Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought HIM to Jerusalem to present HIM to the LORD.'  Luke 2:22    NKJV)

What we have to keep in mind here, in this particular instance of JESUS as an infant being 'presented to the LORD' is that Joseph and Mary were doing this in accordance with the Mosaic Law, which was still in effect.  I used this example of infant dedication on purpose, just to settle any questions about whether we should dedicate or baptize our babies.  Think about it, JESUS was the fulfilled prophecy for the children of Israel of the MESSIAH.  Until HE began HIS public ministry, which by the way started much earlier than the guestimated age of thirty years old since HE was teaching in the temple at a much younger age, it was crucial that HE was raised up the proper Jewish boy by HIS parents.  It stands to reason that if it was required by the Law that infant boys be baptized, then HE would've been baptized. 

Later, when CHRIST was well into HIS public ministry, HE made it quite clear just how precious children were to not only HIM, but to the kingdom of GOD as well.

'Then they brought little children to HIM, that HE might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.  But when JESUS saw it, HE was greatly displeased and said to them, 'Let the little children come to ME, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of GOD. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of GOD as a little child will by no means enter it.'  And HE took them up in HIS arms, laid HIS hands on then, and blessed them.'  (Mark 10:13-16    NKJV)

While this Scripture is used traditionally to teach us just how important it is to have the proper mindset, in regards to complete trust and obedience, to be received into the kingdom of GOD, let's look at the last part of verse 16. HE picked the children up, and '[HE] blessed them.'  HE didn't take them down to the river and baptize them, HE didn't sprinkle water or oil on them and pronounce them saved, and HE didn't issue any additional instructions that either of these things should be done.  HE 'blessed them' and that was what we should do with our children, bless them by being good parents to them, raising them in a household dedicated to the LORD, teach them HIS Word, and then praise GOD when they each make their decision to seek salvation by the blood of CHRIST and the grace of GOD.  I know that I've really rambled on about this infant baptism thing, but this is important.  If a child is raised up from their earliest awareness and has been taught that they were saved by an infant baptism, and never seek the salvation of CHRIST, where will they be on that Great Judgment Day?  See how just one tiny little 'extra' that somebody decided to add to HIS Word can escalate into someone going to hell? 

Since we're already on the subject of  adding man's traditions to GOD's commandments, we may as well continue on.

'Then the Pharisees and scribes asked HIM, "Why do YOUR disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?"  HE answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophecy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors ME with their lips, but their heart is far from ME.  And in vain they worship ME, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' " ' (Mark 7:5-7    NKJV)

This is where we find ourselves if we're not careful about being misled, and it happens more than people know.  GOD doesn't want us to be misled by anybody, that's why HE gave us, each and every one of us, HIS Word.  HE wants us to learn more about HIM and HIS Ways by reading and studying the Scriptures.  HE promises us that every word in our Bibles was inspired by HIM to be written, and it's all for our sakes.  If we would focus half as much time and energy learning more about our LORD GOD as we devote to learning sacraments, or ritualistic prayers to this saint or that saint, we would learn in short order that none of these things are even in the Bible.  Don't take my word for it, do what I've said many times before, READ YOUR BIBLES!    Go to church, hear the sermon, then test everything by the Scriptures.  I get real nervous when a pastor delivers a sermon out of a denominational circular or newsletter, with no reference to Scripture at all. 

Here is the bottom line, it's like I said at the beginning, GOD never wanted a bunch of stooges running around like idiots praising HIM all the day.  HE wants us each to make our own individual choice to seek HIM.  HE doesn't want us to be led and influenced by things that somebody started out doing for whatever reason years before that has no basis in Scripture.  We each have a responsibility to HIM to make sure that everything we believe ourselves and teach others is Scriptural.  If you are told something that is contrary to what you've read in your Bible, question it, say something like, "Hey, show me that in the Bible, because I don't know where that is."  If it isn't in the Bible, it's because GOD didn't want it there, and that was for a reason. 

In the meantime Brothers and Sisters before the LORD, be Blessed, and be vigilant.  The devil can creep in at any time, and he will every chance he gets!


Friday, September 23, 2011

What Are We Waiting For?

When I do my morning routine, which includes a devotional, reading in the Old Testament (I read in the New Testament in the evenings), checking my E-mails, checking my WebSite and Blog stats and comments, then checking out Twitter, I end up by reading new posts by UCN (Urban Christian News).  It's very rare that I don't find in UCN a new post about how the aclu or freedom from religion or naacp or some other group is protesting a gathering of Christians or a prayer meeting or the fact that some kid in the second grade bowed their head and silently saying grace for their lunch.  I've noticed a very disturbing trend here, and that lead to me doing a little research that led to something even more disturbing.  Did you know that in the last ten years or so that quite a few GOD centered public events, annual events for churches that had been going on every year for a long time, have been cancelled?  It's not that they were cancelled that bothers me, it's the reason why the events are no longer held.  Would it bother you to find out that they were taken off of the agenda because the church leaders were worried about offending someone and getting reported to one of these groups that deny GOD?  Would it bother you to hear that trying to stay in compliance with all of the newer laws and statutes prohibiting Christianity is deemed to be too much of a problem by a lot of church administrations?  But, this isn't the heart of the matter for me, the trend I had noticed that bothered me.  The main issue here is that it seems like as soon as someone even begins to think about holding some kind of Christian event, these groupies of satan are all over it.  They are sending letters to everyone except GOD ordering them to cease and desist.  It's okay for schools to teach the things that satan worshippers hold dear, like that homosexuality and sex (use protection and it's okay) outside of marriage are okay, that stuff is covered under the freedom of speech deal.  So then, here's the big question, "Why do we stand around, just waiting for the devils minions to order us to cancel holding church altogether?"  Don't think that the day won't come that it happens.  Hey, don't believe me, READ YOUR BIBLES!  In the meantime, while it's still legal to hold church services, why do we just wait for the next foot to fall?  Is this Scriptural?  Was JESUS spending all of HIS time cowering in fear of the devil?  I don't read my Bible that way.  It seems to me that HE spent all of HIS time on the offensive.  HE met those in league with satan more than halfway, HE took the battle to them.  Now I want to clarify something here, and that is my frequent references to those who I identify as being followers of satan, and in league with satan.  I just want there to be no mistake about who I'm talking about here.  Give me just a minute here, I want to word this as simply as I can so that there is no misunderstandings about who I feel is following satan and doing his work............. Okay, I've got it.  Anybody who is not a follower of Our LORD JESUS CHRIST is a follower of satan.  If a person is not working for CHRIST against satan then you are working for satan against GOD, and that makes you a follower of satan.  I know that some will say something [inspired by the devil] like, "But it's just not that simple."  Sure it is, it is just that simple, JESUS said it, just that simply.

'No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve GOD and mammon.'  (Luke 16:13    NKJV)

How much simpler does it have to be said?  Contrary to what some may think, I'm not out to vilify anyone, except those who serve satan.  That is what JESUS did, HE didn't pull any punches.  HE didn't go around trying to dodge situations in which HE knew people would get upset, and that led to anger, and that led to murder.  HE bled HIS blood so that we can stand up and say, "Hey, I'm a Christian, and I have not only the right, but the obligation as well, to stand up anywhere at any time and worship my LORD!"  I know what's coming next, and that is the argument that we should 'obey every ordinance of man.'  No argument on that point.  But let's also keep in mind just who we belong to, who we were bought by and for at a price.

'They said to HIM, "Cesar's."  And HE said to them, "Render therefore to Cesar the things that are Cesar's, and to GOD the things that are GOD's."'

Cesar, and we have to understand that Cesar is figuratively representative of the world, including politicians and leaders, didn't die for my sins.  He didn't shed a single drop of blood in my behalf.  Everything about me belongs to GOD, including my responsibilities to '...go forth and evangelize the world.'

So, what are we waiting for?  Let's get some extreme proactivity going on here. Let's remember that old [secular] saying about there being three kinds of people in this world.  First, you have people who make things happen, then you have people who watch things happen, and finally, you have people who wonder what just happened. CHRIST made things happen, HE didn't sit and watch, and HE never wondered about what had happened.  What kind of CHRISTIAN are you? Do you sit on the sidelines watching?  Do you sit on the back row, wondering what was happening?  Or, are you right out front, in the midst of the action, taking the battle right to satan and his followers?  Are you the 'right in your face satan' kind of Christian?  Don't get me wrong, it's a lot easier, and safer, to just sit quietly in a corner.  Where does that put you with the LORD though?  Are you going to be one of those that HE tells, "I never knew you" on that fateful day? 

What are you afraid of, being killed for serving GOD and going to heaven?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

That's The Difference!

It's not hard to sin.  It's easy, anybody can do it without putting a lot of effort into it.  In fact, it easier to sin than it is not to sin.  It takes a whole lot more effort and fortitude to not sin than to just go ahead and get it over with.  I've heard people who were professed Christians make the statement that, "I'm not perfect, just forgiven."  Both ends of that little saying are absolutely true, but their individual value is reduced to nothing whenever they're put together like this.  In fact, when I hear someone use this line, it makes me sick!  When people use terms like this one, it's usually to justify their actions.  I don't know, maybe in their own minds it makes it okay to just keep on doing whatever it is they're doing.  If they weren't feeling some conviction in the first place, I wonder if they would feel the need to justify what they've done.  Here's a word for people like that, JESUS already did all the justifying that any of us will ever need.  HE doesn't need yours, mine, or anybody elses help in the field of Justification.  I don't know about you, but I am more than satisfied with HIS handiwork in regards to Justification, I know that I couldn't do half as good as HE did.  So, where does that put us, those of us who fight sin every step of the way, and then still sin.  Yes, it's true that our bodies betray us, that our minds will lead us astray every chance it gets.  Our own emotions will make a mockery of what we know to be true.  What do we do when we've transgressed, and know that any promise we make that it'll never happen again would be words wasted in futility?  Are we really any different than those who deny CHRIST?  What is it, if anything does, that gives us the right to continue to reach out our LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, time after time, for forgiveness?  Isn't it true that HIS Word tells us that HE desires that all men would come to repentance?  If that's true, then isn't it also true that CHRIST died even for those that deny HIM the most? 

It's true, the SON died even for those who deny HIM.  It's also very true that the Will of the FATHER is that all would choose to come to HIM in repentance. What gives us, as New Testament, Born Again, Raised in the Spirit Christians, the right to continually seek the LORD, whether it be for forgiveness yet again, or for strength, or for discernment? We know that everything that the FATHER has done for us is based on HIS great unconditional love for us.  Nothing we've done or could ever do has pre-qualified us, or made us worthy, or gave us more of a right than someone else has, for any part of GOD's gift of Grace.  HE places this gift of HIS right in front of each one of us.  Some receive the gift, other's walk away from it.  That is the difference, that when those of us pick up that precious gift of life-giving Grace, we chose HIM!  That's it.  No life-long search through the mysteries surrounding the unknowable things of GOD.  No spending your whole life locked away in self-imposed isolation, striving to earn an eternity in glory by denying yourself any creature comforts at all.  We just chose HIM to love.  We chose HIM to live for.  We chose HIM to praise.  We chose HIM to reach out to.  We chose HIM to have to cling to.  That's the big mystery that makes the difference, that we chose HIM. 

Do you have that difference in your life? Do you have HIM to love, to live for, to praise, to reach out to, to cling to?  Hey, it's easy, just choose HIM!

Lord Father, just as YOU chose each of us since 'before the foundations of the earth', I pray that you would convict the world, that every person would choose YOU and know the difference.   Amen

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Separated by Sin

Most of us know that GOD doesn't like sin, but this simple statement doesn't even begin to tell the whole story.  It isn't just that HE doesn't like sin, HE is repulsed by sin.  Sin is something our Eternal FATHER abhors with every part of HIS being.  Sin isn't something that HE makes a case by case decision on as to whether to tolerate being around.  Now that we understand just where GOD stands on sin, and don't think for a moment that I've even began to scratch the surface with my few inadequate sentences, let's throw another issue into the mix that GOD has a very distinct position on.  Let's talk about love for a bit, and mix it up with HIS intolerance of sin.  If we let it, this can get just a bit confusing, so we just won't let it, okay?  When we talk about the devil and GOD, we easily fall into the cadence that GOD is good and the devil is bad, that GOD is positive and satan is negative, that GOD is heaven and the devil is hell.  This particular area of what we call religion is probably just about the only one in which most people agree, even though some are making noise about there being no hell.  In regards to that, I believe that if we give people enough time, someone will be trying to convince everyone else that there is no sun in the sky, that what appears to be the sun is actually something else.  Anyways, back to the issue at hand.  Getting back to the cadence thing, the point I was after there was that most of us, even those who do not profess CHRIST, see GOD and satan as opposites, and it's only natural that attributes identified with GOD and satan preserve the same status of being opposites.  So, is it a reach to see love and sin as opposites?  Yes, I know that we commonly view love and hate as opposites, but let's take a different tack on things for a moment.  We know that GOD has nothing for sin but hate.  Yes, our LORD GOD does hate sin. Do you suppose that HE could ever feel the opposite emotion [of hate] for sin?  Isn't the question really do you suppose that HE could ever love sin?  I know what my reaction is to that one, my gut tightens up, and I feel that everyone would answer that with a very loud and far reaching, "NO!"  So now where does that leave us, as Christians?  GOD hates sin, and there is no chance that HE'll ever feel any differently about it.  We all know not only from reading HIS Word but also from living in our fleshly natural bodies that sin is as much a part of us as is breathing and our heart beating.  But we also know that because of love, our LORD sent HIS only SON to the cross.  With GOD hating sin so much, how could HE have basically buried HIS SON in sin?  Don't even think that I'm going overboard with this, that is exactly what did happen.  Read your Bible!  Don't take my word, or the word of any other Minister of the Gospel, take the FATHER's Word.

'And about the ninth hour JESUS cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My GOD, My GOD, why have YOU forsaken ME?" '  (Matthew 27:46    NKJV)

What we have here is the reaction of JESUS CHRIST when HE experienced something for the first time in HIS life.  Just as our kids draw strength from us when they know we're watching their first ballgame, or their first band concert, CHRIST had always felt the presence of HIS FATHER's eyes on HIM, and had drawn strength from that.  But then, at the precise moment of HIS [physical] death, two things happened.  First, all of mankind's sins were [figuratively] piled onto HIS body.  And second, because GOD hates sin so much that HE cannot and will not, even for the sake of HIS SON, gaze on it, HE turned HIS eyes from it.  HE wasn't turning HIS eyes from HIS SON, HE was taking HIS gaze off of the sin HIS SON was buried in.  I've taken us into the death of CHRIST in order to illustrate just how much GOD hates sin.  Now don't go trying to get your minister to explain away this scene of death and momentary abandonment as being something other than exactly what it was.  Let's bring a question we looked at earlier back into play, "Where does this leave Christians?"  It leaves us in just about the same position JESUS was in there on the cross, but with a distinct advantage HE didn't have.  When CHRIST died, and 'yielded up HIS spirit'  (Matthew 27:50  NKJV), HE spent three days 'amongst the dead' before arising.  What we have to remember here is that HE arose.  That's what is important, not how many days HE spent 'amongst the dead.'  I believe that HE arose on the day HE did, the first day of the week, so that we would use that day as a day of celebration.  Isn't that what our worship should be, a celebration of life?  The day HE arose as victorious over death, which is the opposite of life, shouldn't that day be celebrated by our worship as the day our lives began?  This is where we as Christians stand in regards to GOD'sHE'll always love us.  That is, and will always be the reason HE 'forsook'  HIS only begotten SON.  And just like we'll sometimes separate ourselves from HIM by sin as CHRIST separated HIMSELF from HIS FATHER by sin, when we have victory over sin, which represents death, as CHRIST did, HE'll be waiting with outstretched arms.  A point to be made here, and that is that CHRIST did make the decision to separate HIMSELF from GOD by sin.  When HE made the decision to accept the will of the FATHER, HE knew what was in store for HIM.  This is what gives such value to HIS obedience in contrast to the disobedience of Adam. 

'For as by one  man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one MAN's obedience many will be made righteous.'  (Romans 5:19  NKJV)

This is also the position the 'one MAN's obedience' puts us in before GOD, as righteous, not on our own accord, but by the obedience of the ONE who made the conscious decision to separate, by sin, HIMSELF from GOD.

So, has your decision been made? To 'unseparate' yourself from GOD?