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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Federal Court Ruling

Follow the link below for the complete details of this ruling.

Federal court rules in favor of religious liberties
Christian Examiner staff report

Friday, January 27, 2012

Worthiness, Is It Real?

As is often the case, and maybe even more so when we're talking about man's [concept of] religion versus the truths of  God's Grace and Mercy, either too much significance is attached to a persons status in the eyes of man, and/or not enough importance is placed on that same persons position before God.  So what we often end up with is people calling themselves into His ministries, and/or refusing to answer His legitimate    call(s). A point to be made here is that [God's] Truth will always prevail!  As we work our way through the Scripture(s) below,  we'll see this promise from God proven, along with several other pertinent concepts.

'But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”  When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.  And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.  For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.  After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.  And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;  but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”  And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.'  (Acts 5:29-42    NKJV)

It is interesting here that God used a well-respected Pharisee, who was also an acknowledged teacher [of the Law] to basically prove the truth of the message being preached by Peter and some of the other apostles.  Now what we have to keep in focus is that the value of any message preached or lesson taught can only be determined by it's ability to stand up to a test of it's truth, and by the worth of the information or idea or concept to the intended audience.  If this scenario had been played out in today's time, then the test of truth would be simply to ensure that the message content was not in any way contrary to Scripture. But the Bible in it's complete form didn't exist at that time, and so Peter didn't have a Bible in his hand to present as evidence as to the truthfulness of his words.  The other end of this rope, so to speak, the end having to do with the not only the worth of the message to it's intended audience, but also just who the intended audience was, was also riddled with problems just as apparent.  I know that it's kind of hard for most people to firmly grasp the idea that during that time in history that you or I could be killed for even whispering any kind of acknowledgment of the sovereignty of the triune being of God, much less declaring God the Son as your Lord and Master openly for all to hear.  Let's flash forward to the death of the first apostle to answer the call of the Lord, to the point of death.

'When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.  But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,  and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;  and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.  And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.'  (Acts 7:54-60    NKJV)


'Now Saul was consenting to his death.  At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.'  (Acts 8:1    NKJV)

Let's make sure that we're all on the same page here, in regards as to how the death by stoning of the apostle Stephen ties into the situation that Peter and some of the other apostles found themselves in.  Saul, who later after he'd been 'blinded by the light' (quite literally!), was known as Paul [of Tarsus].  You'll find by reading through his letters, or epistles, that later were adopted into what's commonly accepted as the 'canonical' books of the Bible, that Paul spares himself not one bit when speaking of his life and attitude towards those who were choosing to follow the teachings of Christ, and then later on, those very same teachings as they were taught by the apostles and disciples, including himself.  Look again at verse fifty-eight in chapter seven and verse one of chapter eight.  This Saul that those stoning Stephen left their clothes with, who was '....consenting to his death....' was none other than the apostle Paul, who many call the greatest of the apostles.  I felt it important to make sure we all understand just how much danger Peter and the others willingly put themselves in, and this has to be weighed in when we examine the second part of our test we were looking at earlier, that of the worthiness of the message in regards to the value to the intended audience.  Simply put, as is often the case, when people are willing to put their life on the line, the value of the message preached or lesson taught appreciates significantly, especially so in the the case of Stephen, the first of the apostles to be martyred.  It would be considered ironic if weren't so heartbreaking,  the fact that the other apostles and members of the Early Church benefited greatly by Stephens death, and keep in mind that his death occurred after this situation Peter and his bunch found themselves in.  So let's flash backwards to when Gamaliel was doing his best to give his best advice to those who basically wanted Peter and his fellow apostles dead, and they probably weren't too awful concerned about how it came about or the legality, just so long as these troublemakers were dead.  Gamaliel made reference to two earlier times when two different men, Theudas and Judas of Galilee, both came with their messages, claiming to be what they were not.  In both instances, the men were killed, and then their followers just sort of melted away, and nothing ever came of it.  So the advice Gamaliel was giving was simply to not get involved, and to let nature run it's course.  The logic in his argument was that if Peter and company were truly preaching God's Message, then they most assuredly did not want to get involved, because they didn't want to get cross ways with Him. Additionally, if these upstarts were of God, and they had them killed, then the chances are good that their message would gain credibility, or worthiness. Finally, if the preachers were not ordained with God's Message, then they would be popular for just a minute, and then just fade away.  Either way, this was a win-win for the Jewish leaders.  So the Jews followed their counselors advice, thinking that they had made their point, and without doubt secretly praying and hoping that they would hear no more about Peter and his bunch.  They were satisfied with having the apostles beaten, and ordered to not teach any more in the name of Jesus, and then sent on their way.  Now, right here we come to the whole point of every word I've put to paper today, the last part of the last verses in the Scriptures we first started with.

'So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.'  (Acts 5:41-42    NKJV)

These men had been threatened with death, and came awful close to the threat being carried out.  They'd been beaten, and that in itself would've been enough for most people to never even think the name 'Christ' again, much less preach His Message in His Name.  So what was their next step to take?  It was the only logical one for anyone who is truly a son or daughter of God, they praised Him for being counted worthy, and then the preaching began!  I know that I've gone the long way around, but I'm known to do that, but here is what we have to never loose sight of, when we're facing trials and tribulations.  Our God is a God of promises kept.  That is a simple way of saying a whole lot.  Read through the Scriptures we've referrenced today, and pay close attention to both the promises made and kept in these Scriptures, and also to the times that promises were made elsewhere in the Bible, and then kept here.  Believe it or not, every bit of my rambling today has to do with worthiness.  Not only our worthiness to be redeemed by the shed blood of Christ, but also that the constancy of our worthiness is maintained by the evidence of our very lives.

'Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,  and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.'  (Matthew 3:5-9    NKJV) 

The only claim that man has to the worthiness necessary to claim the shed blood of Christ is that God loves  mankind.  His love alone, and again, that is God's love for man and has nothing whatsoever to do with how man felt about the Father, is what enables God to see us as worthy of the free gift of Grace, and this gift of Grace was evidenced in it's fulness by Christ's unselfish act of love.

'For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.'  (II Corinthians 5:21    NKJV)

Now don't go and make a common mistake in assuming that man's worthiness is a one shot deal.  God's declaration of man's worthiness is merely the starting point, and is the first step in process.  Next, man's continuing worthiness is or is not evidenced by what man does after he or she has accepted the shed blood of Christ as atonement for their sin. 

'Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;   and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.'  (Matthew 10:34-38    NKJV)

Jesus is very clear here on several points.  First, becoming a Christian puts a person dead in the middle of a battleground, and the only relief in sight is when Christ comes again to end the major conflict between Christians and satan that has been ongoing since God said, 'Let there be light....'  Second, when a lot of people are counseling with someone seeking salvation, they fail to mention a promise made by God, as spoken  by His Son.  This promise is that by becomming a child of God, we will find ourselves at odds
with any and every person who is not a member of our 'Spiritual' family, including family and friends who are still living in the 'temporal.'  Yes, our moms and dads and brothers and sisters and best friends, unless they are Christians, they have to be considered as mortal enemies.  Hey, don't take my word for it, just read your bibles!  The last thing we'll look at from our Scriptures from above, is that our own worthiness will either be proven or disproven by our own actions.  This is not to be confused with the worthiness God bestowed on us because of His great love for us.  This worthiness is the worthiness that will keep us from hearing the most dreaded words any person could ever hear on that Day of Judgment coming in the near future.

'Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  (Matthew 7:21-23    NKJV)

So there you have it.  Everything that has anything to do with man's relationship with God the Father by and through the shed blood of Christ is based on, and supported by, worthiness.  Are you worthy to claim the blood of Christ as atonement for sin?   Is Jesus Christ worthy to shed His blood for that atonement of your sins?  Now, here's the big one, have you claimed your worthiness [before God] to accept the shed blood of Christ for salvation?  Are you ready to do it right now?  Just pray this simple prayer, and do it with the knowledge that this isn't a game, or a quick fix.  This is serious business that is only for those with a truly repentent and sincer heart.  If you're ready and sincere and truly repentent, then pray this prayer, and claim your gift of Grace:

       Lord Father, I come to you now with a sincere and repentent heart,
      and I'm claiming the shed blood of Your Son as an atonement for my
      sins.  I know that without His shed blood that I'm forever under the
      the condemnation of my sins, because I am a sinner.  Accept me now
      as one of Your own, as Your child, as forgiven.     Amen

One more thing I would ask of you, and that would be to send me a note just to let me know that a decision has been made that has the angels in heaven dancing with joy.  And now, my new brother or sister in Christ, you'll remain constantly in my prayers that you may grow and prosper before the Lord, and that you'll be blessed in all that you do!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Who Goes To Heaven?

After spending some time on Twitter this morning, I had something I was already aware of driven home.  Let's start with a simple question that we each should ask ourselves, that being, "What am I in this secular world I live in?"  I think that a lot of Christians have some misconceptions about the whole idea of how 1) we should see ourselves, 2) how God sees us, and 3) how the world does, and should, see us.  The question I started with is actually a [Spiritual] no-brainer simply because whether we consider the secular environment we temporarily live in or not, we should still see ourselves as children of our Most High God.  If God doesn't see us as His own children, then we have a big problem.  Then finally, if those of the world see absolutely no difference in themselves and us, if we don't 'stand out' then we have another huge problem.  Now those of you who've read my rambling posts before know that as a rule I don't specifically point a finger at anyone.  Well, today I'm going to critique something said by one of our societies more prominent TV or Commercialized Pastors.  Joel Osteen was asked pointblank by Oprah if 'gays could go to heaven'.  After doing his very best to avoid answering her question, which while I personally don't care for the woman or her values I felt she asked in a clear concise manner, he finally tried to hide behind the old, 'well, I like everybody' dodge.  Finally, Oprah did pin him down and he said, that yes, even gay people could go to heaven so long as they had repented.  This right here is my whole purpose of today's rambling, and this ties in with the question I began with today. 

Fact: No gays, or murderers, or liars, or any kind of sinners will go to heaven.

Fact: When a sinner is truly repentant, they no longer live in the willful sin that separated them from God in the first place.

Fact: With repentance comes the 'new man', who isn't a 'former'  or 'ex' anything. 

There, that's just three Scripture-based facts to get us off on the right track.  The key things to keep in mind here are the idea of being truly repentant and the putting on of the new man.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  (II Corinthians 5:17    NKJV)

The key word here in this bit of Scripture is the word 'if'.  This small, seemingly insignificant word is what tells the story, in regards to someone being or not being truly and sincerely repentant.  'If' someone is truly repentant, then that person is a new creation in Christ.  But, 'if' someone is not truly repentant, then there is nothing new about them.  I have what could be called, by those wanting to be kind, a somewhat 'checkered' past.  When I claimed the shed blood of Christ though, I became a new creation in Him.  While I do still have, and always will have, labels attached to my name by this world we live in, God doesn't view me as an 'ex-con' or a 'former' or 'dry' or 'recovering' alcoholic, or as a thirty-one year 'clean' addict.  When any person who is truly repentant comes to the Throne of Grace, I do believe that the angels will be dancing with joy, and those same beautiful words that rang out from the heavens at a certain time past will again ring out, letting all the world know that, 'This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased!' 

I can, and will, promise you one thing.  Beside those names found in the Lambs Book of Life there will not be any memos or notations to the effect of 'ex-con' or 'murderer' or 'drug addict' or any other worldly label.  This is what triggered me today, shame on you Joel Osteen, and any other who professes to be either a Christian or a Minister of His Gospel, for re-applying these worldly labels!  Even before I was called into the ministry, I had read my Bible and understood that when I answered the call of Grace, that God no longer saw me as I had been.  Homosexuals will not go to heaven!  Murderers will not go to heaven!  Sinners, period, will not go to heaven!  Only children of God go to heaven! 

Sadly, not everyone who presents themselves as Christians are recognized by our Lord God as one of His.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"  (Matthew 7:21-23    NKJV)

This brings us right back to that little, unassuming, word that so much hinges on, that word 'if' we found to be so important there in II Corinthians 5:17 that we looked at earlier.  If  we are truly in Christ, then the things and parts of our lives that are contrary to how God would have us live will no longer be part of us.

'This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,  having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; But you have not so learned Christ,  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,  and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.'  (Ephesians 4:17-24    NKJV)


'If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,  in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.   But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.'  (Colossians 3:1-17    NKJV)

See how much is dependent on that tiny two-letter word, 'if'?  Every aspect of Christian living described in both of these epistles, or letters, penned by the apostle Paul to those Early Church members in Ephesus and Colosse is based on whether or not a person is truly in Christ.  The evidence of what is true and what is not true can be found in the everyday lives of people.  A dear friend, who is also a beloved sister in Christ, has heard me many times make the statement that we, as Christians, have got to quit identifying ourselves by the worlds labels.  Our particular conversations stemmed from the fact that she referred to herself as a 'former' or 'recovering' alcoholic.  It took a couple of years of scoldings, but we're past all of that now.  Yes, she was an alcoholic, but now she's a child of our Lord God in heaven.  This brings us to the final point I feel the need to bring up today, and that is how we see ourselves.  I'm not the slightest bit bashful about saying that we need to work towards the goal of seeing ourselves through the Father's eyes.  I've made this statement many, many times, and I will continue to hold this to be something that is a very important goal to set and work towards achieving.  Our daily growth as children of God is actually impaired by the lack of this vision of ourselves and that's because if we take God's view of us out of the equation, then all that's left is our own vision of ourselves, and that is jaundiced by this crazy world gone bad that we live in.

The choices we are called to make in regards to not only our Salvation but our relationships with God, fellow Believers, and the world are constant and ever-changing.  We each have to step up and make the right decisions and then make sure that God, our fellow Believers, and those who are stilled trapped in the condemnation of sin by the world know exactly where we stand.  Don't allow yourselves to be labeled by the world, speak out loudly and boldly and let everybody know that you're not an 'ex' or 'former' anything, that you are a child of God, period!

'In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.'  (Psalms 138:3    NKJV)

King David, who also had things  behind him that God assuredly didn't approve of, gives us a very simple, yet highly accurate, description of just how easy God has made it for us to enter in to a relationship with Him.  First, David says that he cried out.  Then, God answered. Finally, he applauds the Father who made me bold with strength [in my soul]. 

We each have the same assurances that David voiced here, this wasn't just an Old Testament thing, David wrote these words by God's direction just for you and I to read today. 

I know that I've wandered from what I started with, but if you've read my posts in the past, this doesn't surprise you in the slightest.  In quick order let's sum up a couple of things.  When we accept the Son's blood as atonement for our sins, not only our sins, but also any labels, or names, given us by any part of this world, are also washed away.  Only children of God will be found in the Lambs Book of Life, with no notes or memos to tell God what we once were.  We shouldn't accept, or answer to, any of this secular worlds descriptions or names, and we should be bold in our refusal.  Finally, we need to work daily to develop a view of ourselves as seen through God's eyes.

There we go, I'm done, for now at least.  My prayer for you is that you will find the peace and boldness that can only come from God that we each need to present our daily lives as a walking breathing testimony to Him!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What Position Do You Play?

One of the most misunderstood facts about becoming a Christian is how a person's status with satan undergoes a huge change.  I have, and I'm sure that most of you have as well, at one time or another heard people voice the thought that when a person accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior, that from that point forward He 'protects' them from satan.  It's like some kind of magical umbrella is spread out to shield them from the devils attention.  Nothing could be farther from the Scriptural truth, and it's always a very rude awakening when that myth is shattered.  Why should this surprise us, after all the devil knows Scripture frontwards and backwards, inside and out.  Keep in mind that he is the father of deceit, and he won't hesitate to try and twist God's own Word(s) around to suite his own purposes.

'Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.  For it is written:  'He shall give His angels charge over you,  to keep you,’ and,  'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”  (Luke 4:9-11    NKJV)

Being subjected to trials and temptations, especially as a new Christian, isn't an exception to the rule, it is the rule.  Never forget something about the promises God has made us in His Holy Word, and that something is that sometimes some of His promises don't seem like such a good deal.  But that is exactly the purpose He has in mind.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.  (I Corinthians 10:13    NKJV)

The fact is that when everything is going good, the bills are paid, the kids and grand kids are doing well in school, everybody is healthy, it's easy to praise God.  When there is nothing negative going on in our lives, it's easy to let our guard slip.  Here is something to think about though, why do you suppose that there are some people that never seem to have any trials and tribulations in their lives?  Just think about that for a bit while we look at another bit of God's Word.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (James 1:2-3 NKJV)

In the Book of James, which was written as an epistle, or letter, to those of the Twelve Tribes of Israel scattered throughout the Roman Empire, James addresses an issue that we all need to stay focused on in our lives today, which is everyday Christian living in a world gone bad.  I would imagine that a good many of those reading, or being read to, this letter thought that James was completely out of his mind, talking about seeing bad things in their lives as things of joy.  Let's go back to what I told you to think about for a minute, how that some people never seem to have any of these bad things going on in their lives.  Here's what it boils down to, I don't care if you're the best player on your team, maybe in the whole league, so long as you're sitting on the bench it doesnt' matter.  The coaches on your opponents team are not going to rearrange their team to try to contain you, or to keep the ball away from you, as long as you're on that bench.  But, just wait until you're back in the game, then everything will change, in a heartbeat.  The fact is that many Christians have benched themselves, or never put themselves into the game to start with.  Satan loves it when more and more people are playing the position of bench-warmer.   If we're not in the game, we're no threat to the enemy, that is the ruler of this world satan, and don't think for a split second that he is not your enemy, whether you treat him that way or not.  Why do you suppose that so many New Testament Believers keep themselves benched, and never change their position from being bench-warmers?  Satan likes us when we play that position, we're doing a major part of his work for him because we're not actively participating against him.  Take another look at our Scripture out of I Corinthians.  We have three promises in that Scripture.  First, any kind of trial or temptation that we find ourselves facing has been seen before, by someone else.  Second, that while God will allow us to be tempted, He'll not allow the temptation to be more than we can have victory over.  Third, He'll give us the means to be victorious.  Now I'm going to sort of go in a circle here, but just stay with me.  If we don't experience trials, tribulations, and temptations in our daily lives as Christians, it is probably because we're no threat to satan, we're the the bench-warmer position on the bench.  While this may be easier on you, it isn't pleasing to God.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,  (I Peter 1:6    NKJV)

The more trouble we have from the ruler of this world we have in our everyday lives is indicative of just how effective we are at keeping satan on the defensive.  This is part of  what Peter was getting at in his letters to those Jewish Christians scattered in five different areas of the Roman Empire (Pontus, Galatia, CappadociaBithynia).  He was writing to encourage these scattered Believers, and letting them know that their trials and tribulations were proof that satan recognized them as followers of Christ. 

So, what are you?  What position do you play?  Are you ready to get off the bench if that's where you've been keeping yourself?  Or are you only a part-time bench-warmer?  That could be a problem, because there is no such thing as a part-time Christian. 

Come on, let's play!

God Bless you all, Terry

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lord or Savior?

Lord, Savior?  Is there a difference?  Are we wrong to assume that not only the title, but the purpose or office, have the same literal and figurative meaning(s)? 

Let's start by getting back to basics, and by that I mean that we have to start, with the goal of answering these few, but important, questions, by developing the knowledge of just what 'a' or 'the' Lord is.  Also, with 'a' or 'the' Savior is.  The very most basic of definitions for the word 'Lord' as used in regards to mankind's belief in God would be, according to Nelsons Dictionary of  Christianity,  Jesus Christ as the center of Christian worship, devotion, and obedience. In using the same source, Nelsons Dictionary of Christianity, we find the meaning of 'Savior' to be In the New Testament, Jesus Christ, the Holy One, who saves His people from sin and destruction and is the source of salvation. 

Now lets go back to the first of these three questions we started with, that being to determine if there is a difference between Lord and Savior, with the understanding that Jesus Christ, in recognition of the long established fact(s) concerning the Triune Being of God, is in fact the person of both.  In using just this one source of information, we can safely say that Jesus Christ the, or our, Lord is actively at the very center of our worship of God.  We can further solidify this statement by going to His Holy Word, the Bible.

'Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'  (John 14:6    NKJV)

Now, by taking a closer look at our definitions, it's not hard to identify the very important purpose, or office, performed by Jesus Christ as our Savior, that being to make available to all of mankind God's gift of Salvation.  And again we'll go to Scripture to put things solidly in proper perspective.

'And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;  for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.'  (Luke 19:9-10    NKJV)

So here we have it, plain and simple, easy enough for even me to understand without having to read it over several times.  Jesus Christ, as God the Son, is the Lord of all who Believes.  And Jesus Christ, as the Son of Man, or God Incarnate, came specifically to seek and to save that which was lost. 

I know that some of you'll may get tired of my bring the Salvation theme into just about everything I write, but it's just about impossible to study anything in the Bible without it connecting in some way or another with the Will of God for each of us.  Think about it for just a minute, if we take everything to do with Salvation and the Will of God for mankind out of the Bible, what's left?  We'd only have bits and pieces of the Old Testament left, and the bits and pieces would be a disjointed mess that didn't connect up properly. 

So, to get on with it, Jesus the Messiah, or Savior, came for this specific purpose.  He came to fulfill the Will of the Father, which was for Him to seek out everyone who'd become lost, or separated from, God.  We all know how this state of affairs came to be, with Adam and Eve committing the sin of disobedience there in the garden of Eden. 

'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)

The apostle Paul perfectly stated man's status before God without Christ as God the Son, and then with Christ as the Son of Man, or God Incarnate. 

(Just a little note here on my use of the term 'God Incarnate' as I feel some may not be aware of the proper meaning of this phrase.  As is the case more often than not, words and phrases become distorted throughout the passage of time.  This happens accidentally sometimes, and sometimes it is by unfortunate design.  Then things get even more crazy when someone whose wife says doesn't play well with others attempts to use the word or phrase in a correct manner.  Incarnation basically means that Jesus Christ is the earthly manifestation of God, and that while this manifestation is ongoing, that He is fully God and fully human.  For those of you'll who didn't know what the term meant, and most people don't, you may have been just a bit surprised at how 'painless' it was to learn something you already knew but not by that exact term, right?  Okay, let's move on.)

Let's review.  Jesus Christ our, or the, Lord is understood by New Testament Believers to occupy the position of Mediator, or go-between, through whom Christians have a relationship with God the Father.  Jesus Christ our, or the, Savior came to fulfill the Will of God the Father in making available to mankind the means, or way, to reconcile ourselves to God.  Remember, the sin that was brought into the world by a simple act of disobedience separated man from God.  The shed blood of Christ, as the Son of Man, washed away that sin. 

So we have both literal and figurative meanings and applications going on here, especially when we get to Jesus Christ our Savior.  Literally He died on the cross as a perfect [human] sacrifice for our sins.  Figuratively His shed blood washed us clean from our sins, and by that action, we are each declared to be righteous by God the Father.

Be Blessed before Him in all that you are, all that you do, and in all of His perfect Will for you!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Proud Humility or Humble Pride?

While a sin is a sin, is a sin, is a sin, excluding the sin of blaspheme of the Holy Spirit, a great many people wrongly attribute the first sin committed was by Adam and Eve. Ooops!  Did I get someone with that one?  Don't worry about it, it happens to me all of the time!  (Note:  A second false belief held by many is that the sin committed by Adam and Eve was eating of the tree of knowledge [of good and evil].  While there is some truth in this, the actual sin they committed was disobedience.)  The first sin committed against the Creator was the sin of pride.  I believe that this fact is often overlooked for two reasons.  First, there are only a handful of times that this particular incident is mentioned in the Bible, and when it is mentioned, it's in a 'after the fact' fashion.  Second, we mere humans tend to assume that only man can sin against God.  I'll let everyone ponder on this for awhile while I get on with my rambling on about two very different but often interconnected traits found in most of us.  Jesus, at the very beginning of what we often refer to as His Public Ministry, specifically warned against a certain kind of behavior that actually began as one of these traits, and then that led to the second one.

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.  Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.  And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.  
Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him."
  (Matthew 6:1-8    NKJV)

Humility, or being humble, before the Lord is a very desirable trait to have.  The problem is that too many of us feel like we need to display just how humble we are for all the world to see.  This is where we get ourselves into trouble, because we begin to take pride in our humility.  The acts the Jesus pointed out in this section of the Beatitudes, doing charitable deeds and praying, are both good things.  These two things are pleasing to God, but only if these deeds are done for the right reasons.  The two examples He gave showed how not to do these things, and the point He was after here is that when we are prompted by the Holy Spirit to do something, that is between us and Him.  If we need the public recognition to feel like we're accomplishing something or fulfilling the Father's Will for us, then we need to rethink our relationship with our Lord God.  If you've followed very many of my other posts, which can be pretty disjointed and rambling sometimes, then you've noticed that I often point out that Jesus taught by example.  First He would do something, whether it was healing someone, casting out demons, or going off by Himself to pray, and only then would He tell His disciples to go and do the same.  The same is true here, nowhere will you find in Scriptures that He made a big production out of doing the Father's Work or praying.  We have another example of how to not become prideful with a pretense of humility.

“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."  (Matthew 6:16-18    NKJV)


'Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'  (Luke 18:9-14    NKJV)

Here we have a Pharisee not only publicly announcing his humbleness, but actually pointing out the tax collector's shortcomings.  It's obvious that this fellow wanted everyone to know just how pious he was, especially as compared to the other guy, who did everything wrong according to the Pharisee!

Do we see anything even close to what we've read in these Scriptures?  I'm going to throw some things out here, not with the intent to upset anyone, (right about now, my wife, if she wasn't sleeping, would be saying something like, "Yeah right!"). 

It seems like a lot of the time people are more worried about what someone else thinks about them than they are about their relationship with God.  When I was growing up, everyone wore their very best clothes to Sunday services.  In today's times, that has changed.  Now it seems like some people still try to 'out dress' everyone else, while there is another group who tries their best to prove that they can be more casually dressed than anyone else.  What we have here are two extremes that still have the same traits we read about in our earlier Scriptures.  While I really don't think God is offended if we don't all wear three piece suits, I do think that women and girls wearing shorts and halter tops while the guys are in cutoff shorts and flip flops is just a little too casual.  Both groups, those that overdress and those that under dress,  are all focusing on the wrong things.  I say that because we know from His Word that God sees the 'innermost' part of us, He doesn't see what we're wearing or not wearing.  So that only leaves the rest of the congregants to be impressed or not.  Think about this for just a second, what exactly does it prove to anyone, remember God isn't in this equation, that your Sunday clothes are more formal and cost more than anyone elses?  Be the same token, who is impressed that you came to church dressed more casually than anyone else, that you're more laid back that anyone else?  Like I said before, it can't be God you're trying to make your statement to, He doesn't really care about what is or isn't on your back, He sees what's in your heart. 

Humility is pleasing to God, unless it is self serving and/or tainted with pride.  There is that first sin against the Creator again, pride.  All throughout the history of Christianity we can read time and time again where humility either led to pride, or became stained by pride.  People today, just like people over the last six thousand years, become proud of their presented humbleness.  So where does that leave God?  Remember, He loves a repentant sinner, not a sinner who tries to disguise pride as humility.

'For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.  For each one shall bear his own load.   Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.     Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.'  (Galatians 6:3-10    NKJV)

I've often made the statement that only two people truly know if someone is an authentic child of God, that person and God Himself.  I could go through my whole life, preaching His Gospel, teaching from the Scriptures, counseling with people to guide them on their life-changing journey to the Throne of Grace.  I, or anyone else in whatever capacity God called them to, could present themselves as a Born Again Spirit Filled New Testament Believer, and it could all be a lie.  I could fool everyone, except me and God.  The two of us would always know, because He will not be mocked, and He would never let me forget that I was living a lie.  Just as the apostle Paul wrote here in his letter to the church at Galatia, " not be deceived, God is not mocked...."

So now we're at the end of my first posting for this new year of 2012, and just be assured that my prayers are for each and everyone of you who I only know as numbers on my 'stat reports.'  I pray that we all are fully aware of the dangers we face, and satan is growing more desperate every day, he knows his time is coming to an end, this is evidenced by just watching and reading not just our local news, but global news. 

Be strong, be faithful, as the Scripture says, "Fulfill your ministry."  Be humble before the Lord, be sincere and diligent in your daily walk, embrace His perfect Will for you.  Never loose sight of the fact that while we're still physically in this world, we're not Spiritually of it.  We're children, blessed children, of a living God.  Be Blessed!

P.S.  Bye the bye, the first sin, that of pride, was actually committed by Lucifer and about one-third of his fellow angels when he led an uprising against God.  It didn't turn out so well for him and his gang.  If you want a list of Scripture that mentions those events, just leave me a comment to that effect and I'll get them to you.

P.P.S.S.  Be sure to hit the International Prayer Response WebPage at '' for prayer requests, to read our online Newsletter, to find out more about this growing Ministry, or just to browse a bit.  Thanks, Terry