Saturday, January 31, 2015

What Will Tomorrow Bring?

13 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, "Today – at the latest, tomorrow - we're off to such and such a city for the year. We're going to start a business and make a lot of money." 14 You don't know the first thing about tomorrow. You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. 15 Instead, make it a habit to say, "If the Master wills it and we're still alive, we'll do this or that." 16 As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. 17 In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don't do it, that, for you, is evil. ~ James 4:13-17 (The Message)
Who does not like the feeling of being in control whether at work or at home, anywhere for that matter? When you feel in control you have a sense of peace and security, when everything appears to be in its proper place and everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing then I can be at peace. The problem is that I am not in control, not really in control; I may think I am but in all reality, I am not. I can change things in my life in a way I think they should be then life happens. Someone who I think is aligned with me who changes his or her loyalty somewhere else. A position or job that you think is going to last a long time suddenly loses is worth and is no longer part of the plan. When will we learn that it is vain to pursue a feeling of being in control? Just as youth pass into age and beauty fades, the feeling of control soon dissolves into useless wasted energy.
By feeding our pride making us think we are behind the events and happenings around us, seeking to be in control always results in controlling us. We are not the principle facilitator, we are ambassadors for Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness), and we are to be used by God to promote His outcomes. Humbleness holds out an open hand and trusts the hand of God to present the opportunities that He sees fit for us. When we have to be in control we are attempting to replace God’s wisdom with our extremely limited understanding. We the creation look upon things as a baby who selfishly attempts to hoard their positions allowing no one to interfere or help. Trying to protect our kingdom may seem wise however rest assured that El Shaddai’s (Lord God Almighty) kingdom is most definitely secure.
“12 Riches and glory come from you, you're ruler over all; You hold strength and power in the palm of your hand to build up and strengthen all.” ~ 1 Chronicles 29:12 (The Message).
Our ability to control is a dream that will never come to light however we can empower those around us. We can influence those around us with wisdom building up team members treating them as valued gifts and trying to control them as young children. If given the opportunity to choose, the right person will make the right choice. When we reassurance and encourage personal ownership of outcomes, there is a wholesome culture of trust and respect. We must love those around us and trust that Christ is in control.
When we humble ourselves to plan according to God’s will and submit to His plan a peace will be apparent because we are aligning with His plan. If we trust from the heart our focus is on the gift of today and not distracted by what may happen tomorrow, we cannot change, what has happened and can not see what has not. Jesus is loud and clear on how He wants us to live for the moment, present in the people and circumstances that are in front of us. Yet, He has filtered out the future of where His road of our lives will take us. We must make plans but not the outcome because that is in God’s hands and we must accept that He is in control and knows what is best for us.
16 God's Message yet again: "Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, The tried and true road. Then take it. Discover the right route for your souls. But they said, 'Nothing doing. We aren't going that way.' ~ Jeremiah 6:16 (the Message).
So the question is, are you going to be at peace and humble yourself to take the old road, the tried and true road that has been chosen for us by God or are you going to be stubborn and say “nothing doing, we aren't going that way and be in turmoil?
Father, Jehovah-Raah, give us the grace and faith to humble ourselves and let go of the false feeling of control and trust in Christ knowing that He and He alone is in control. Amen. <><

Friday, January 30, 2015

What or Who Saves Us?

5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or "'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." ~ Romans 10:5-13 (English Standard Version)
Apostle Paul’s explanation of those who think we are saved by keeping the law must understand that if order to be saved by the law we must keep ALL of the law ALL of the time to fulfill the laws demands and earn salvation. The problem with this is that we all have broken and violated that law a multitude of times and will do so in the future.
We violate the law everyday, every time we become angry with the driver who cut us off, or the person in the checkout in front of us taking longer than we think they should. Every time we look at anyone other than our spouse in a lustful way. Every time we break a promise or let someone, copy a music CD or movie we purchased. When we put work or play ahead of God, when we make earning money our priority ahead of God and our families. Each one of the things listed here and countless others are sins, and we break the law each time we do these things. If our salvation depends on our capability to keep God’s law, we are completely and totally lost. There is no way that we could ever redeem ourselves. Anyone who thinks, “I am a good person, I live a good life, I do good things, I am good enough to go to Heaven,” have totally fooled themselves. People who think they are good enough to get into Heaven have a defective idea of what sin is and an unrealistic view of who they are and have discounted God’s holiness.
"Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or "'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim) ~ Romans 10:6-8 (ESV)
Paul is referencing Deuteronomy 30 where Moses pleaded with the Israelites to obey God. His plea was that God was not asking them to preform some unearthly acts; God was not asking them to climb to Heaven or dig their way to Hell. Moses was telling the people of Israel that God just wants us to believe what He has disclosed to us.
Paul continues by telling us what is necessary to gain eternal life, he explains how we must become friends with God and not His enemy and points the way to salvation. “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” ~ Romans 10:9-10 (ESV) First Paul explains that we must confess out loud, with our mouths, by our speech, that “Jesus is Lord!” This seems simple enough; we can all say, “Jesus is Lord.” It is easy to say this right. Try it; the words flow effortlessly from our lips.
Listen, Paul is not telling us that all we have to do is say the word, we must confess earnestly, believing the truthfulness of words, “Jesus is Lord.” “Kurios” Greek for “Lord” is a title of respect used for the Roman Emperors and was the title given to Greek Gods. If you look up Kurios in the Septuagint (The ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures) the word used to translate the divine name of God. Saying “Jesus is Lord” inferred several things:
  1. Identifying Jesus as God in human form. Only one who can have the title “Lord” that is the title reserved for God. To call Jesus “Lord” is to acknowledge Jesus as God.
  2. Identifying Jesus as the Savior. Jesus is the only one who can transform us; it is by His death alone that atones for our sin. Jesus is “Lord” in that He is the only one who can deliver us.
  3.  Identifying that Jesus has the right and authority to be the ruler over our lives. When we, with truth, confess Jesus is “Lord” we are confessing the His commands and direction, His counsel have total authority over our lives. We are saying the Jesus is my King and my Master!
To confess Jesus is “Lord” could have gotten you killed when Paul wrote this. Christians taken to the lion’s den and commanded to declare Caesar as Lord, when they refused they would be put to death. They would refuse because their allegiance given to the only one, to Jesus. They could only respect the government as far as they could but when given the choice to choose between Caesar and Jesus they chose Jesus.
You may be living in a country today where this is still true; if you declare Jesus is “Lord,” you may be imprisoned or disavowed by your family. At the time of this writing, to those who declared Jesus is “Lord” was not some cute saying like; “What Would Jesus Do.” It was not some charmed phrase to help them get by. Jesus is “Lord” was a declaration of commitment to Jesus, saying these words meant they were taking a stand with Jesus.
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." ~ Daniel 3:16-18 (ESV)
Just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was commanded to bow before the golden image set up by King Nebuchadnezzar, that anyone who did not bow would be thrown into the fiery furnace. When the trumpets sounded and everyone bowed except these three Hebrews, they were arrested and thrown into the blazing-hot furnace. Before they could be thrown in they said that even if God did not deliver them from the fire they would not serve his false god or worship the golden image he set up.
Charles Spurgeon gave us a list to help us confess Jesus in several different ways:
  1. Attending worship.
  2. Baptism and Communion.
  3. Associating with God’s people.
  4. Setting a Godly example at home.
  5. Stand with Jesus in times of trial.
  6. Chose Jesus when we are tempted.
  7. Sharing our faith with those we know.

In these and many other ways we can declare and confess, Jesus is “Lord!”
Paul explains that we must believe in our heart not with our head as we usually think that believing done. Believing something with our heart is to believe to the very core of our being. When we say we love someone with all our heart we are saying that love is a deep love, it is a total love without reservation, this is what is ask from Jesus.
Faith in not just confessing or even agreeing that certain facts are true, faith is the act of placing your very life on the line. Faith means standing with Christ even if the whole world turns against you. Faith is deferring to Jesus even when His way is contrary to your own way; faith is putting all your confidence in Him.
Imagine you have a life threatening disease, the cure is in a bottle on a table next to your bed; you have three options. 1. Accept that the bottle is truly there. 2. Trust that the cure in the bottle is able to cure you from this disease, without it you will die. 3. You will not be cured unless you take action, trust in the cure and take it.
Paul tells us that we must believe that God raised Jesus from the dead; this is what sets Jesus apart from everyone else. Jesus body physically died then victoriously rose again from the dead. This is not the “Jesus live in my heart” resurrection; He physically was alive proving that what He says is true and that His promise of salvation is valid. His resurrection proves that He is a living Savior.
This is not a promise of salvation from the problems, trials, disease or struggles of this life but salvation from judgment. Jesus salvation saves us from the wrath of His Father and from the punishment for our sins. By trusting in Jesus we are no longer an enemy of God we are made into His children.
11 For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." ~ Romans 10:11-13 (ESV)
This is salvation for everyone who believes, which means it is for YOU if you BELIEVE, we will fall back into performance mode and look at our life and think we can be saved because we are pretty good people. There are also those who believe they cannot be saved because they are made some horrible mistakes. We must remember that Jesus offer of salvation extends to all people, yes even us sinners; after all we are all sinners. That why grace is a gift, a gift we do not deserve.
When you are ready to declare Jesus as Lord and Savior do so with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul. Take the time daily to tell God that you acknowledge His as the one who can pay for your sins, the one who can make you new and lead you in life. If you truly call on Him you WILL be saved. Amen. <><

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Whose Spirit Do You Listen Too?

15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 7 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn't see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. ~ John 14:15-18 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
John’s study of the Holy Spirit may appear peculiar when compared to other New Testament writings. Say compared to Luke’s image of the Holy Spirit as extremely active in the lives and works of people from the very start of his Gospel through the end of Acts. John proclamation that the Holy Spirit will only come once Jesus returns to Heaven relies on Jesus specifying the Holy Spirit not as The Paraclete (παράκλητος, Holy Spirit), but as Another Paraclete (παράκλητος, Holy Spirit). Christ being the first for the Spirit to be active among them while Christ was there would have been unnecessary as they each serve the same significant appointment. As the news of Christ departure from their physical presence presented as horrible news to Christ disciples actually ended up being a true blessing for both the disciples and for all Christians.
When Christ walked among us here on this earth in this realm of being He could only be in one place at one time, He could only present Himself as one person. When Christ ascended to Heaven to be with His Father, Our Creator, the disciples now received the Holy Spirit, who resides in each one of us no longer restricted by space and time as we are. No longer apprentices but full mature revealers of God’s love, this gift of the Holy Spirit not only a benefit for the first of the disciples but for all of us who would come later. A benefit that we now have of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the question is not do we have the Holy Spirit but how much of us does the Holy Spirit have, how much do we release of ourselves to the prompting and encouraging of the Holy Spirit. A benefit for those of us who did not have the opportunity to see the Jesus, Son of Mary, the Messiah who walked among men, the historical Jesus of Scripture. We today have the same advantage in comparison to the first disciples, everything they learned, their experiences are available to us today to the same degree and with equal rich texture as experienced during the life of Christ with His first chosen disciples.
The word John uses here “parakletos” extremely difficult when translated do to the many different meanings assigned to it in Greek. Parakletos” various translations into English are Comforter, Advocate, Counselor, and Helper. For emphasis, we should maybe leave parakletos in its transliterated form of Paraclete allowing the hearers attention to reflect on the remarkableness of this word as it only appears five times in scripture, four times in John chapters 14 – 16 and one time in 1 John 2:1. We should not confine parakletos – Paraclete to just one meaning, the Holy Spirit reportedly is to teach, remind (John 14:26), abide (John 14:16), and to testify about Christ (John 15:26) and as Christ dealt in truth so does the Holy Spirit. Amen. <><

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Do You Have True Love?

15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 7 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn't see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.
19 "In a little while the world will see Me no longer, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live too. 20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, you are in Me, and I am in you. 21 The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him." ~ John 14:15-17 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
If you love me, Jesus uses love verbs 57 times plus all the times he used “philos” translated “friend” then consider that the principal disciple in John is unnamed and referred to as “the beloved disciple,” we might think that the author may be pitching a single issue. Why not, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16 (HCSB)
Is not love the motivation that is foundational to the Christian faith? That which lies behind our faith, our “good works” and the hope we have solely based in our Love for Jesus. Our lives lived because it is motivated by our love for Jesus is a life magnificently lived! Do we not laugh, do we not serve and worship, do we not care and pray, do we not give and work because we love?
Love is our fundamental base to submissiveness and obedience is the by-product of love. If we love God, we will submit to God therefore Jesus command “If you love Me” (V15) becomes extremely illuminating to a loving heart. When our heart becomes connected to Christ heart, we are connected as one in His love. (Matthew 11:28-30)
This passage from the Gospel of John begins and ends with love. Christ proclaims that if His disciples (and us) truly love Him that they and us will follow His commandments. Nowhere in the Gospel of John does Jesus give us any commandments except in chapter 13: - (34 "I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." ~ John 13:3-35 (HCSB)) Jesus then emphasizes this in chapter 15: - (12 This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. ~ John 15:12-13 (HCSB)) We see the repetitive focus on love, one cannot read this text and not take up the subject of love. I love how Bill Coffin put it: “If we fail in love, we fail in all things else.”
In John’s understanding of eschatology the commandment from Jesus to “love” is that judgment and eternal life is now. As we end each day, as each moment passes during the day we need as one question: “how have I loved today, how have I not loved today?” When we ponder this judgment takes place. During the moments we did not love there is judgment, now know that this is purely identifying and not disciplinary. Jesus always asks questions of those around Him, questions to help them conclude for themselves the reasons for their lives and life choices. John 5:6 Jesus ask a sick man, “Do you want to get well?” To Martha in John 11:26 “Do you believe this?” Of course Jesus already knew the answers, He ask question so we would understand and live with a clear understanding of truth, light, glory, love, abundant that our Creator created us for.
When Christ asks you, “Do you love Me?” “Do you really love Me?” (John 21:15-19) How will you respond? The only way we can answer yes, as Peter did is if the spirit fruit of love is apparent in our lives. All the fruits of the spirit, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, patience and humility are all marks of Christ disciples imprinted with love. Love always does the hard things when it is exceptionally hard to do. Love loves those that are unlovable, love takes a good look into the life of Christ and looks to love as He loved. We are blessed to live in the love of our Loving Creator so that others will have to opportunity to experiences His love in us. Love is that which incites us to submit to His will!
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent also loves his child. 2 This is how we know that we love God's children when we love God and obey His commands. 3 For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden, 4 because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. 5 And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? ~ 1 John 5:1-5 (HCSB). Amen. <><