Saturday, September 27, 2014

Walking in Love, Even in the Face of Persecution.

1 Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. 2 And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 3 But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. 4 And coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. 5 For know and recognize this: no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God.

6 Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things God's wrath is coming on the disobedient. 7 Therefore, do not become their partners. 8 For you were once darkness, but now [you are] light in the Lord. Walk as children of light- 9 for the fruit of the light [results] in all goodness, righteousness, and truth- 10 discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Don't participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead, expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. 13 Everything exposed by the light is made clear, 14 for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you.

15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk-not as unwise people but as wise- 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17So don't be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 18 And don't get drunk with wine, which [leads to] reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit: 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music to the Lord in your heart, 20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. ~ Ephesians 5:1-12 (Holman Christian Standard)

The book of Ephesians was written by Paul while he was in prison about 60-62 A.D. Paul is writing to encourage the believers in Ephesus while they were under persecution to walk as fruitful followers of Christ, to continue to serve in unity and in love.

This letter from Paul is still relevant some 1952+- years later. We are still called to be imitators of Christ because we are beloved children of a loving Father. We must live in love the same as Jesus lived His life in love to the point of giving Himself for our sin, not His but our sin. We know the law, sexual immorality and any impurity and greed of any kind ought not to be anywhere near us, this is how we should be as saints of God. The same goes for foul language, indecent joking, hate speech for anyone even our enemies are not just for Christ followers, rather we need to be tendering our thanksgiving for all that the Lord gives us. Remembering and knowing that no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, no one who is an idolater has any part in the kingdom of Christ Jesus our Lord and of our Father Yahweh-Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness).

As then so it is today that we cannot allow anyone to deceive us with pointless hypothesis it is because of these things that God’s penalty is coming on these rebelliousness. Consequently do not become caught up in their madness, we were once lost in their darkness but because of Christ diligently pursuing us we are now God’s city on a hill, a light into the darkness. We know that the fruit of the light Christ shines through us is the goodness, righteousness, and truth that is Christ discerning what is pleasing to the Father. We are not to take party to Satan and his lies to this world; we are to shine light upon it, to reveal all that they do in secret. Verse 14, “Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you.” These words are so powerful and meaningful to a world living in dark. We must be the light to shine on the darkness.

We are chosen to be the light, to walk among a lost people as wise, making to most of the time we have here to overcome the evil. We cannot expect a people caught up in the distortion of truth to listen and see the light in us if we are living as they are, getting drunk, being reckless. The Good News is that we have authority from Christ to raise above all the darkness and be the living light, walking together in love and sharing that love with a lost world. It is not based on our abilities and our salvation is not based on our outcomes. Our sins and defects have been discharged, freeing us of any debt, not to once again go back into the darkness and become one of them again, but free to live a life of Christ, free to be a lighthouse to a sea of dark and blinding stormy seas. Free to call upon Yahweh-Rapha, the Lord Who Heals, to not only strengthen us but to give us the ability to be His people, walking together in love in a world lost, a world in turmoil, a world living in hatred. We my brothers and sisters are the sheep that Yahweh-Rohi, Lord Our Shepherd has chosen to be the ones to seek and find the one lost sheep.
Are we walking in love, seeking His counsel and giving thanks to the Creator? Amen. <><

Friday, September 26, 2014

Does Your Life Reflect Grace or Cheapen It?

13 Therefore, your minds must be clear and ready for action. Place your confidence completely in what God's kindness will bring you when Jesus Christ appears again. 14 Because you are children who obey God, don't live the kind of lives you once lived. Once you lived to satisfy your desires because you didn't know any better. 15 But because the God who called you is holy you must be holy in every aspect of your life. 16 Scripture says, "Be holy, because I am holy." 17 So if you call God your Father, live your time as temporary residents on earth in fear. He is the God who judges all people by what they have done, and he doesn't play favorites.18 Realize that you weren't set free from the worthless life handed down to you from your ancestors by a payment of silver or gold which can be destroyed. 19 Rather, the payment that freed you was the precious blood of Christ, the lamb with no defects or imperfections. 20 He is the lamb who was known long ago before the world existed, but for your good he became publicly known in the last period of time. 21 Through him you believe in God who brought Christ back to life and gave him glory. So your faith and confidence are in God. 22 Love each other with a warm love that comes from the heart. After all, you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth. As a result you have a sincere love for each other. 23 You have been born again, not from a seed that can be destroyed, but through God's everlasting word that can't be destroyed. That's why [Scripture says], 24"All people are like grass, and all their beauty is like a flower of the field. The grass dries up and the flower drops off, 25 but the word of the Lord lasts forever." This word is the Good News that was told to you. ~ 1 Peter 1:13-25

Does Your Life Reflect Grace or Cheapen It? This sounds like a harsh question does it? It is one that we must ask ourselves every day. Peter explains why, the way we live must reflect that we have total confidence that God will deliver what He promises. That our conviction of Christ return is unwavering. We show this not by our words but by the way we live. If we say we believe in Christ and that He will return and the way we live is the same as our neighbor who does not consider Christ then who will believe us? If Christ calls us to be holy then should we not live as a holy people? Not because it will gain us anything in Heaven, we live this way to show this world who we belong to. We are here for a brief time we should be apprehensive of what this world has to offer us, for our God is the one who will judge all people by what they have done, we know He does not show in favoritism.

The Good News is that we have been set free from the wasted life of our inheritance handed down from Adam and Eve, not by anything of value from this world but from the cherished blood of our Redeemer, Christ Jesus. The Perfect Lamb, the Son who knew no sin who became sin for our sake. The Word that nothing created would exist except for Him who is and will be publicly known throughout the entire globe at the end time. It is through Christ that we know our Father in Heaven who brought Christ from the dead and set Him as His right hand to rule is all His Glory. It is in this knowledge that we have faith and are confident that our Creator is just.

We must continue to live in faith, loving one another, not the love of this world, a love that says, “I love what you do for me,” but the love of Christ that can only come from Christ, a love from the heart, a love that comes from the purifying obedience of the truth that is Christ. A love that comes from the rebirth in the Spirit that cannot destroyed, the Word of God, the Son of God, our Lord and Redeemer which will reign forever, this is the Good News that we have heard. So I ask again, Does Your Life Reflect Grace or Cheapen It? Amen. <><

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What Will Our Lives Be Like With Christ After Death?

1 For we know that if our earthly house, a tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.2 And, in fact, we groan in this one, longing to put on our house from heaven, 3 since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4Indeed, we who are in this tent groan, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 And the One who prepared us for this very thing is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. 6 Therefore, though we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord- 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight- 8 yet we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

We all know that we have the promise of life with Christ after we die, however we cannot totally understand what that is going to look like. We just know that it is a promise from God and Christ tells us it is more beautiful, more magnificent than we could ever imagine. A paradise where there is no pain, no sorrow, no death, no evil, does that not sound glorious to you? Paul says here that we do not want to be unclothed but clothed so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. In other words we want to be perfect before God so that when we die we will live again in the resurrection. However, we are all groaning in this life because we know that we can not live according to His standards, whether we are at home or away we try our best to be pleasing to Him because we know that we are going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ to answer for our deeds, both good and evil.

This to anyone who does not know the Good News of Christ would see this as devastating news, however we who know Christ, we who have a relationship with the Savior know that He has taken our sin from us. We know that Christ gave up everything, even His throne and crown to come and live among us, to live as we live, to hunger, to feel pain and sorrow, to suffer at the hands of His creation and die a horrible death on a cross. To die and be buried in a tomb for three days, to rise again and teach us for forty days more, then to raise into Heaven and be seated at the right hand of the Father. Christ experienced all this in order to take our sin from us, Christ lived our lives so that He can intercede for us with the Father. Christ knew we could not on our own contain our sinful nature, so He sent us His Holy Spirit and as Paul says here, “as a down payment.”(v.5) A down payment for our very lives for all that have faith in Him, for all that believe this news of the Gospel, that Christ loves us and paid a high price for us. Then when our tents (bodies) here are destroyed we will have a building (new bodies), these new buildings are from God, they are not made of hands but are built for all of eternity in the Heavens, with our Loving Father and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We do not truly know what our life with Christ will be like, but my friends I know in my heart of hearts that it is going to be more than we could ever imagine. Amen. <><

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Are We Eager?

20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate. ~ Luke 15:20-24

There are so many different lessons in these four short verses however the one that jumps out at me right now is; are you eager to see a lost soul returned to God? I think most know the story of the prodigal son, the story of how a son totally rebels against his father, his family and his heritage. A son who was so selfish that he wanted his inheritance before his father had passed away. He took his share of the family fortune and wasted it on indulgent living. He found himself broke, along, starving and almost naked. He had even stooped so low that he contemplated eating the pig’s food. He however came to his senses and decided to go home, that if he begged his father he may be able to live as a servant at his father farm, after all it was better than starving.

As he draws near his father’s farm none other than his father spots him. What happens next is amazing, once his father recognizes whom it is he does something totally undignified, he gathers up his robe in his hands and runs to his son! Scripture here says that he felt compassion on him, I can only imagine seeing one of my sons walking towards me in rags, skin and bones from not eating, dirty from the hard life he has experienced. Scripture goes on to say that he ran to him and embraced him. Close your eyes and see this scene unravel before you, can you see the embrace, the long loving huge from a father to his son?

What is the first thing the son does? He said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.” I am sure the son had much more to say however the father stops him before he can continue, much like our Father in Heaven stops us when we say Father I have sinned. He knows what we have done, He knows our heart and He knows that our confession can quickly become excuses. The father here knows this also and before the son can turn his confession into an excuse he stops him and begins to celebrate the return of his lost son.

The same is true of Yahweh-Rohi; He celebrates each and every lost soul that returns to Him. Our Almighty Father sees each and every one of us a priceless and grieves when we are lost and celebrates when we are returned to Him. Do we see others as God sees us? Do we grieve when we see a lost soul or when we see a Christian do something ungodly? Do we rejoice when we see a lost soul relinquish their life to Christ? Are we eager to gather up our robes in our hands and run, no not run, sprint to embrace a lost soul and tell them they are more valuable to God than all gold and precious stones in the world? Amen. <><

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How Can We Grow In Our Faith?

3 For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, 6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, 7 godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted, and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you. 12 Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you have. 13 I consider it right, as long as I am in this tent, to wake you up with a reminder, 14 knowing that I will soon lay aside my tent, as our Lord Jesus Christ has also shown me. 15 And I will also make every effort that after my departure you may be able to recall these things at any time. ~ 2 Peter 1:3-15

Growing in our faith is something that we must do on a daily bases, if we are not growing in faith we are dyeing in spirit. Peter reminds us here that Christ power has already given us everything we need for a godly life. Through the knowledge of Christ we know that we have been called by His own glory and goodness. We have been given a glorious promise, that through Christ we may share in His divine nature avoiding the evil that is in this world because of the fleshly desires. It is because of this sharing in Christ’s promise that we must make deliberate effort to proliferate our faith with all the goodness that is Christ and continue to grow in knowledge, not just the knowledge of who Christ is be a personal knowledge of the person of Christ, do not just know about Him, know Him! We must temper our knowledge with self-control, strengthen our self-control with endurance, and sustain our endurance with godliness, while extending our godliness with brotherly devotion and grow our brotherly devotion into love, genuine love, the love that only comes from Christ. If we maintain these qualities within us and they are growing this is what keeps us from being unusable and barren in the enlightenment of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Anyone who does not possess these characteristics are impaired and mindless, they have rejected their sanctification from their past sins. We must make every attempt to authenticate our calling and appointment, if we do this we will never stumble. That is why the need for us to consistently remind one another, even though we know these things, even for those that are grounded in the truth. It is the right thing, as long as we are living in this world to keep each other awake and looking to the source, Christ Jesus. We should be the reminder to one another that even after we have gone to be with Christ people still hear our words. Our faith grows from the inside out. We first believe because He opened our eyes, we continue to believe because we keep our eyes on Him and our ears on His truth. We must remove ourselves from the equation, take away any agenda we may have and be in Him and Him in us with His truth, the truth of eternal life. Amen. <><