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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!