Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"God's Not Like Us"

God is not like us! Too many are trying to make God like flesh and blood. That's why all the different ideas about worship to Him has come into existence because too many make God like they want Him to be. We parade ourselves into our worship, glorying in us, focusing on us and what we do all in His name. That makes God like us!
The Psalmist asked the right question: "O Lord God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You." (Psa. 89:8) Why do we seem bent to make God like us? The awesome majesty, glory and righteousness of God should draw us to Him in reverence and awe! "God is not a man, the He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" (Num. 23:19) Those were the words spoken by Balaam. God is not like us!
How do we as dust, weak and stumbling, lacking in our understanding come to know the Almighty? How can we approach Him? That's the grandeur about Jehovah God! He reveals Himself to us through His Scripture. If we would just listen and take Him in, learning how He deals with man in our unrighteousness while holding to His righteousness, it would change our lives. The Almighty brought us into a relationship with Himself in and through Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke that He explained the Father by coming into our world (John 1:18). You look at Jesus, you will see the eternal Father. And what is our God trying to do in us? Conform us into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). It is simply amazing that His Son, God in the flesh, never changes either! He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8).
God does not change. Jesus does not change. That gives us great hope, stability in our unstable world knowing that no matter what happens, we can depend on His unchanging nature and love. Learn to fellowship with God, trust His living word, stand firmly on His promises knowing He wants us with Him even in all our glorious failings. Don't make Him like you and stop letting those around us make Him like they want. Keep Him in His proper place knowing He holds your life, your destiny in the palm of His hand. Show reverence to the Lord. God is not like us!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"I AM"

As we read God's word, many have great difficulty in bringing together what happened in those Biblical times and applying what happens to us today. We look at our situations and many times do not compare with the situations we read. The miracles, the dealings with other nations, the wars and food from heaven seem so foreign and the God behind all these things seems even more isolated. The link between what we read and us is not found in these events. The link is one thing: GOD HIMSELF! The very God that dealt with them is the very same God that deals with us. He is exactly the same. The God of the Bible is the same God and has not changed one ounce!
We need to realize the greatest fundamental difference between us and God is He never changes! We change with each passing day. We age and get weaker with age. God does not age or become weaker. We lose abilities yet He remains strong with His same strength. We come into this world as a child, learning, growing and maturing while God never matures or develops. As time goes by, we gain more insight and understanding yet God does not gain wisdom or better understanding as time passes on. He simply possesses it all!
When God sent Moses to the captive people of Israel, Moses asked how he was to tell the people who sent him. God's response: "I AM WHO I AM!" (Ex. 3:14) He is self existant and is eternally changeless! The words stated by our Creator reminds us that He has life in Himself, He is what He is and is eternal! The life and character of God never changes!! His moral character, His holiness, His strength, His goodness, His great love and patience, His hostility to sin, His righteousness and His existence IS and never increases or diminishes. We have difficulty with all this because of our ever changing lives and world. We need to grasp hold of God! No, let me restate that...WE NEED TO BELIEVE GOD FOR WHO HE IS!
James reminds us: "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." (Jam. 1:17) God does not vary or waver. He simply is and continues to be the great "I AM!"
The eternal Father and God that rules from heaven still has great disdain for sin and acts toward sin the same way we read from His Scripture. The Almighty shows the only way to freedom and He sets the way and the course to enter into His Kingship and existence. God's ways never have or ever will change. Maybe the reason we have so much difficulty in our lives is because we don't believe in His eternal existence, His unchanging ways and the process in which He deals with failing and weak clumps of dust that are inconsistent, vary, change with time and needs help beyond ourselves. God does not change and always IS in power, strength, wisdom and purpose. Help us Lord!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

"The Wrath of God"

Our society has blurred the standard of God. People speak about believing in the Lord and loving the Lord but when it comes to listening and heeding, it is hard to find in many lives. The standard by many is, "I'm okay, you're okay, we're all okay!" People do not believe in the wrath of God. They teach and hold to the love of God so much, they lose sight of His holy justice and righteousness. That makes God a big, fluffy 'Santa' that will do nothing to harm and only give us good things. That is a terrible injustice for us to believe and treat God. God is love! God is just! God is merciful! God is righteous! God is slow to anger! God will not leave the guilty unpunished because of His holiness (Ex. 34:6-7)!
People speak of their love for the Lord and yet they live their lives as they please. People speak about faith in the Lord Jesus and do things according to their own way. That's not love and faith. Jesus spoke that those that love Him will follow His commandments (John 14:15). To speak of loving the Lord and not listening to His voice is not love. Faith is not our intellect telling us there is a God and Savior. Faith responds and moves in step with God's word. One can't help reading Hebrews 11 and see that in each and every case, faith responds to the word of God, trusting God without seeing the end result. Faith is not blind as many try to make it. People leap out in blind faith to accomplish something saying God will see them through. That's not faith, that's selfish desires wanting to be fulfilled using the Lord as their safety net. The Lord speaks through His word and faith grabs hold and responds.
We need to realize there is the wrath of God. God points us to His wrath and His kindness (Rom. 11:17-23). We are told that Jesus is the only One that will save us from the wrath to come (Rom. 5:9/I Thes. 1:10). Only those in Christ, under His rule and blood will be spared from the wrath of God. Those in Christ are not destined for wrath but obtaining salvation (I Thes. 5:9). Those that don't heed and respond to God at His word, His love and justice will prevail in His wrath. Both salvation and wrath speak volumes to His justice and love.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"God's Aware"

It amazes me how people who claim their faith in the Lord live like the Lord is limited. People quote Scripture and talk on religious themes but when they are faced with challenges in the day, they melt down! I realize weakness as I am beset with them but weakness needs to learn to trust. We are trying to work everything out ourselves and when it doesn't go according to our plans, it causes us grief. We begin to nervously work the situation out ourselves. Where is the Lord in that?
The people of God back in the days of Israel was doing this very thing. They worshiped, spoke of God and their love for Him but they were not trusting Him in anything. Assyria was the world power and was beating on Judah. Judah sent an envoy to "pay off" Assyria but in order to protect their back, Judah also sent an envoy to Egypt asking for their help in case Assyria breaks the "contract." Fear and distrust ran rampant among God's people. They were speaking one thing about God but their actions betrayed them. Here is God's response: "Then the Lord said, 'Because this people draws near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote." (Isa. 29:13) Traditions learned without heart and words without meaning, God is aware of the difference. The Lord then pronounced a 'woe.' Anytime you read the 'woe' to the people of God, that's not something good."Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the Lord, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, 'Who sees us?' or 'Who knows us?'"(Isa. 29:15) To think we can work everything out by our own reasoning's and power and think the Lord doesn't know the games being played brings us into a complete state of self deception.
The Lord gives His truth to be loved and followed. The Lord is the Lord of all mankind and it will be by His word that everything will be and continue to be. The only problem with many is they just don't believe Him even though they say the words. And the Lord knows the difference.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"A Matter Of Religion?"

The easiest thing to be is religious! It takes little commitment and love to be religious. I was watching a program the other night in which a young lady was participating. She said she was doing this for the Lord to His praise and glory. The announcer responded by poking a little fun at her for being a "Jesus lover." The lady was proud and laughed at the comments made about her religious beliefs.
As the event started in which she was participating, she met an obstacle that was very trying and suddenly, out of her mouth came a string of profanity. They had to bleep it on camera and after the event you can imagine what the announcer had to say about her religious stance. No wonder the world doesn't take the Lord seriously.
It is easy to be religious but religion will not save anyone. Jesus didn't come to establish religion but gain the heart of a person. Religion can look good and seem to have God involved but it can be empty and pretending. Just look at the Pharisees. Jesus called them "whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they a full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness." Jesus continues "So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Matt. 23:27-28) That's what religion does to people. It makes little impact on the heart but makes one look good in the sight of others.
Jesus wants the heart. The Roman brethren were known for their being slaves of sin but became obedient from the heart to the teaching to which they were committed. (Rom. 6:17) It was the heart involved and responding, not just a form of religion. The brethren at Colossae were known by others because their faith in the Lord Jesus was known by the way they lived and were committed to His will, reaching and striving with the truth (Col. 1:3-12). The young church at Thessalonica was influencing others around them because of their hearts turning away from idolatry, putting their faith in the truth turning them to serving God (I Thes. 1:6-10). Their lives reflected their faith! It wasn't talk or show.
Today there is more religion but it seems in the process, more ignorance of God's word. God's word is getting pushed out of our assemblies and replaced by moving events surrounding us. The word of the Lord is just used as a reference rather than a life directing word from God that taken into the heart will change your being. It was religion that ultimately destroyed the Jew's and in their religion, they killed the Son of God. Jesus knew what He was speaking when He taught: "Many are called but few are chosen."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I want to apologize for those who read daily. I have been on a recent traveling/speaking engagements from New York to Maine over the last few weeks. With these engagements behind me, I can now continue my daily writings.
I would like to encourage you, if you have any questions that you would like to have addressed, please feel free to write. I realize there are numerous blogs available and many good and better writings available. Thank you for your taking time to listen and for those who respectful at times disagree with something, I thank you. I am finding the older I get, the less I know. The more I grow, the more questions are left unanswered. The Lord provides us with everything we need for life and godliness which informs us nothing is left out. It makes me wonder what so many who profess Christianity are still looking for? Looking to the Lord, according to His ways and what He supplies gives us direction and insight. Instead of looking to the world, their principles and not according to Christ (Col. 2:8) leaves people searching and concluding things that have little to do with life and godliness.
Grow, pray and look to Christ and Him alone. May God richly bless each of you in your walk.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Eating My Flesh"

Jesus taught in John 6:51-59 about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. I have heard this too many times used as a reference to the Lord's Supper. Sometimes we aren't real careful readers which is what leads to misapplying verses.
Jesus was expressing through the whole chapter about His being a saving Messiah. He spoke of His suffering, being delivered up into the hands of His enemies, dying and being a sacrifice. If they would not receive Him they cannot have life. He explains that the manna their fathers ate in the wilderness and they died! Jesus had just fed 5000 but because of their unbelief in Him, they too would all die. Here is what is striking: Jesus didn't offer them more "bread" but offers them His flesh and blood as something they must eat and be nourished by. It was a horrid thought about eating His flesh but to add to it the drinking of His blood was over the top in their minds. The Jew's were looking for the Messiah but He was to be a living Messiah who gives them victory over their enemies while taking care of their nation. They missed Jesus completely.
Cannibalism was not a new idea among the nation of Israel from their history (Deut. 28:53-57; II Kings 6:24-29). But these were horrid reminders and not something sought. They were fighting against and refusing the true Messiah that could save them from death.
Jesus complicates their thinking by saying they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have a life giving relationship between God and themselves. It caused such hardship that many of His own disciples walked away from Him. Can you see what Jesus was doing? He was drawing a line in the sand, drawing near those who had a genuine faith in Him. Those who eat His flesh and drink His blood would have life and live forever. We know that one can eat the Lord's Supper and not live forever because it can be taken in an unworthy manner (I Cor. 11). Jesus can't be talking about the Supper. He was talking about a living and abiding relationship with Himself. Taking in Jesus as a whole, feasting on His richness and life giving Spirit. When one repents, they are eating and drinking Jesus. When we need strength for our wearied soul, being worn by the pounding of those around us, we eat and drink Jesus to fill our souls and heart. It is a complete surrender to His Lordship and Christ living in me. To some, it makes no sense but to the sincere, penitent believer, Christ is our life, our bread and our strength.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"The One's Really Beaten?"

Just a brief observation today. Last night before sleeping, I was reading Luke 10:30-37 which we know as the Good Samaritan. You recall that a man fell among robbers, was beaten and left for dead. Jesus begins to explain that a priest (Jewish) came by and passed on the other side when he saw him in such condition. Then there arrives a Levite seeing the situation and he too passes by. No words seemed to be uttered, no questions asked. They simply went on by to their religious service, or teaching of the Law to listeners or where ever it was they were headed.
That day, before Jesus describes the compassion that an outsider shows, we see three wounded men. On that Jericho Road all three men had fallen among robbers. Who was the one in the least amount of trouble? The fellow laying there beaten and left for dead! You ask, "Why?" At least he KNEW his state of being while the other two walked along, not bothered, not concerned and their eyes blinded to their true condition. It makes me wonder...what about me? Kind of frightening, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Jesus Our Sin Bearer"

Jesus is our sin bearer. "And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross..." (I Pet. 2:24) What does it mean that He "bore" our sins? The Greek word for "bore" (phero) means to "carry" or "offer." In this case with the prefix "up". It is used in I Pet. 2:5 that we are to "offer up" spiritual sacrifices. In Lev. 17, it is the technical term used for "offering"a sacrifice (used in the LXX, Greek OT).
It is interesting to note that this idea of "bearing" that is used in Num. 11:10-15 is where we find Moses complaining that he isn't able to "bear" or "carry" the burden of the people. The responsibility for the welfare of the people had been placed on his shoulders and he felt it too heavy for him to "bear." He is offered help in the form of wise and devoted leaders.
When the word is used with God as the subject it takes the idea that God "removes" or "takes away" or "bears away" sin. (Psa. 32:5/Micah 7:18 illustrate) When a transgressor doesn't have his sins "borne" for him by the priestly work in the OT, the one in guilt still "bears his own sin." That person is still held accountable before God and will "bear" whatever judgment is connected with it. (Lev. 5:1) That person will "bear" his own guilt! For one to hide their sins, not willing to confess and offer the required sacrifice before the priest so forgiveness could be brought to the guilty, there is no means of atonement and so they must "bear" the consequences of their guilt.
In the OT arrangement of the sacrifices before God, the sinful person cannot deal with the sin problem themselves. Someone else appointed by God must take care of it for him. Lev. 10:17 says the priests did it for Israel by offering sacrifices as appointed by God. I Pet. 2:24 says Jesus "bore" our sins by offering Himself.
In bearing our sins Jesus is our priest, our High Priest and takes personal responsibility to deal with our sins. There is no offering we can identify with other than Jesus Himself. God appointed Jesus who lovingly takes us and our welfare as His burden and deals with our sins for us. What Jesus is and does becomes completely ours when we by faith and from our heart identify with the sinless and righteous Jesus Christ. His holy and willing giving of Himself on our behalf provides us someone we can bring before God and says: "Here I am for them, their sin bearer in my body." We don't carry our sins anywhere but to Him and He "bears" them away from us, removing them completely.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Let's Think About Our Stance"

Let me be brief but to the point in this writing. I received an email questioning my teaching, which is fine and I take no offense. I need to expound a little, so please bear with me. In all the talk of marriage/divorce I hear today, too many are speaking for God in things God did not say or they try to twist them into something He did not mean. Some are so hard nosed and unkind in their stance they do more harm than good. I have heard just about every argument and been railed on because of the marriage/divorce issue. Here's the deal...many in the Lord's church teach that when one is divorced/remarried and contact has been made with them to hear the good news, the gospel, they refuse to see it to the end until they follow what they call the Lord's command by leaving their existing marriage and being reconciled to their former mate. In other words, some refuse baptism until this part has been dealt with. (Completely overlooking I Cor. 7:17-20.)
Under the Law, when there was a certificate of divorce, the man was not allowed by God to go back to his former wife (Deut. 24:1-4). If God demanded that under the Law, why are we demanding the opposite under Christ? When Paul speaks in I Cor. 7 about two married divorcing, they must remain single or be reconciled. Paul was addressing two people in Christ and not the world.
In the first century, Paul recognized there were three groups of people in the world and they weren't all accountable on the same level. There was: (1) Jews, under the Law. (2) Gentiles who are without law. (3) Those under the law of Christ. (See I Cor. 9:20-22). Paul reminded the Ephesian Gentile Christian that before they came into Christ, they were: (1) Separated from Christ. (2) They were strangers to the covenants of promise. (3) Had no hope. (4) Without God in this world. (Eph. 2:12) Paul wasn't putting their former lives under the commands of the Lord! They had no part of Israel's citizenship and God's relationship. There have been debates, books written, arguments established, lengthy papers and articles on all this trying to argue points. Let's just be simple and honest with Scripture. Let's keep things in context in which they are spoken, to whom is being addressed and above all not be on a head hunt toward someone. I realize there is false teaching and misapplications. I know there are things misunderstood. I know I was hard nosed and ready to debate years gone by but thankful I realized I could learn how to deal with contexts. When we are talking about making a stance to keep someone from hearing and responding to the gospel because they come from a broken marriage, we better take a step back and be careful in our application. We are dealing with eternity and their souls. We are dealing with God!! Some act like the ONLY sin that the blood of Jesus cannot cleanse is divorce so we make our demands and sometimes use silly displays of illustrations. I realize there are marriages that are wrong and some people give no regard for the teachings of the Lord but I am speaking about those who are in Christ.
Well, I've put my armor back on and as for being brief, apologizes. I just want us to think brethren...THINK! (and be honest with Scripture). Trust the Lord! Accept His word for what it says without running all over trying to make 'arguments' fit our belief. I know I don't want to go back to my earlier years when I knew everything!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Divorce Misusings"

I'm stepping out a little further today. Some might wince and others might question me but that's okay. I am not trying to create controversy. That's not me. To those who know me well and personally know how I try with the best of my ability to keep things in context and the way they were intended. Sometimes I miss something but I do try to keep it honest.
The church is being battered over the marriage/divorce issue. One says this, another that. Congregations are dividing over the issue. Preachers are being marked. Members are being withdrawn from. For something to create such a fuss that tells us there is some difficulty in it but only because some try to put every thing in a little box to fit in their pocket and if it doesn't, it is rejected. Sometimes it is rejected with hate.
Malachi 2:16 says that God hates divorce. I know that if sin was not present in our world there would be no marriages in shambles, no treachery and no divorces. Each divorce says something sinister is in the world to lead to something so devastating. But what did Malachi mean? One has to look at the book as a whole, the context in which God says this through Malachi. The nation of God's people have chosen not to honor God any longer. They are going through the motions, offering to God their daily sacrifices that are less than whole and it has made God reject the priest and the nation. Malachi is offering the last words of God before God goes silent for the next 400 years.
This text isn't dealing with a woman dealing with a decadent and perverse husband. It's not about a mate being a hard-drinker and physically and emotionally abusing them. No, that's not what Malachi is addressing. God is about to divorce His people! That is what is happening. God hates doing it but He will. Be careful and read carefully. They are approaching God in their abominations with their offerings and God has had enough! He uses the divorce to send a message of what is about to happen to them! I know that might not set well but sometimes it is hard to look at things when our minds have been set so hard another way.
The Pharisees who came to Jesus in Matthew 19 came with a specific issue in mind, with specific Scriptures to throw out in front of Him with a specific heart and mindset. They didn't want teaching on marriage/divorce. They were trying to trap Him. They wanted to know if what they were doing was lawful by putting away their wives for any cause. They weren't just asking Him to explain Deuteronomy 24:1-4! Their entire approach to Scripture was wrong and this particular group wanted to justify their teachings. What did Jesus think of that? He called their whole reasoning and using of Scripture adulterous!! Jesus was speaking to God's chosen people at that time and exposing these 'preachers' ugly hearts. Many do not keep this in mind when studying Scripture.
For us to yank Malachi 2 and Matthew 19 out of its historical and theological context and make it apply to all people around the world and under all circumstances is to dabble with that text and it blinds many to the bigger picture from God's holy word. No wonder the church can't accept I Corinthians 7 where the inspired apostle shared with them God's teaching on marriage/divorce. By the way, Paul said that the two married (two in Christ), they did have a clause if they wanted to divorce (I Cor. 7:10-11). The word 'but' tells us the Lord allows. The divorce was not the problem, it was remaining unmarried or being reconciled. I just threw that in to help us see that there are allowances under the teachings of Scriptures! Let's be careful and deal with context. Let's not 'jam' things together, trying to make them fit while leaving other Scripture just hanging around as if they have no relevance. Context is the most important issue. Now that I have written the above, I will put on my coat of armor!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Love Is Not Self Seeking"

Recently I was sent an article for someone what a leading psychologist in this country wrote. It was about how we have become a people that consumes and his reasoning was stated as such: "The problem with America is we have never learned to love ourselves and it creates within us a need to fill our lives with something. Self love is the door to loving others and the lessening of the need to want things." Over the years I have heard preachers teach basically the same thing telling others that we can't love unless we love ourselves first.
God teaches us in I Cor. 13 that love does not seek it's own! Paul warned Timothy in the church that difficult times will come because people will be lovers of self and pleasures (II Tim. 3:1-5). Jesus was never a self lover! Jesus gave up His rights for us. John expresses to us that "we know love by this, that He laid down His life for us." (I John 3:16) Love is sacrificing on behalf of another. It is not about rights, demanding rights and self seeking. Jesus showed us that. How many are being taken in by "professionals"? The reason self love seems to be the answer is because it is what we naturally do!!
In Jam. 4 we are pointed to the source of all conflicts and quarrels. What is it? Our personal pleasures! It's all about loving us. The source of all our problems is not getting what we want when we want, what makes us feel good and wanting our rights.
In Jam. 3:14-18 we are supplied with the source of our wisdom. One source is God, the other is from the world. How do you know which you are using? The wisdom of the world is about jealousy and selfish ambition. In fact, God informs us that the worlds wisdom is (1) "Earthly" meaning it measures things by mans standards. (2) "Natural" meaning it comes from mans natural nature. (3) "Demonic" meaning it proceeds from demons and they are behind it. That alone should open our eyes.
In order to love with God's love, self must go. Jesus said if anyone was going to follow Him, self was the first thing that must be denied (Matt. 16:24). Self must be the first thing to go. Self has to be buried with Jesus in order to be raised to newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4) If self doesn't, we only get more ingrained into our wants, our rights and what makes us feel good. When anything is withheld from us or we are told 'no' it makes us upset and seethe. What if Jesus ever loved us one time like that?

Monday, June 7, 2010


My posting is late today. For some reason, the blog site had maintenance to do and would not allow any writing. I guess I could wait until tomorrow, but I am already here. Let me leave you with a few encouraging words.
Too many recite Heb. 11:1 in their defining faith. That's the problem, it is just a Biblical way we define something we have a difficult time understanding but we speak as though we have it on! Upon careful reading faith, real, genuine saving faith is the foundation of trust and confidence of hope. Saving faith is being convicted God will do as He says without seeing or understanding how. Faith is not about being given the answers but lives without answers because one trusts God at His word! Let me apply this to a few verses...
Heb. 11:8 - Faith allows one to follow even when they don't know where!
Heb. 11:11 - Faith is the channel to receive power outside yourself! Faith draws off the resources of God!
Heb. 11:13 - All these died in faith without receiving the promise but by faith they saw, greeted and confessed they knew it was coming!
Heb. 11:14 - Faith allows you to live differently than others no matter what!
Heb. 11;15 - Faith keeps one from returning to what was before!
Heb. 11:17-19 - Faith allows you to see God in a greater way under stress!
Heb. 11:21 - Faith lasts to the last days and always worships God!
Heb. 11:24-26 - Faith allows one to say 'no'!
Heb. 11;28 - Faith enables you to follow God's word and find salvation in time of judgment!
True saving faith is not something stirred on emotional occasions but lives within us assured and convicted on God's word. It is saving faith that will lead one to preparing for salvation, not only for yourself but for your household (Heb. 11:7).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"I'm Not Ashamed"

I have failed and will fail again! That's just me, trying hard to be pleasing to the Lord and end up failing. Sometimes we in the church fail miserably. Some try to act so high and mighty while others take an attitude toward the church it is a failure. Let's listen carefully to Jesus: "For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Heb. 2:11) Did we hear that? He is not ashamed to call them (us) brethren. Those in Christ with all our failures, our weaknesses, our impulses, our horrible reactions from time to time, our ignorance, our childish displays, our lack of understanding, our arrogance, our selfishness, our lack of love for one another, our bad attitudes, our condescending mind set, our uncaring displays and we see the Lord's attitude toward us.
Take the church at Corinth. They were fighting over which was the best preacher. (Don't we see that in some places today.) They were a divided congregation. The were using the world's wisdom. They were arguing among each other being fleshly. They had immorality among them and tolerating it. They had law suits with each other and misapplied teaching about marriage. They were running over one another in regard to eating. They abused one another in the Lord's Supper. Their assemblies were voicing spiritual gifts, putting some down and lifting others up. What a great big mess! But if we would only pause and listen carefully to the voice of the Lord: "He is not ashamed to call them brethren." Paul heard the voice of Jesus and approached the church at Corinth: "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling..." (I Cor. 1:2) He saw the church, those baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins, as the sanctified and saints because of Jesus Christ. With all their fleshly and weak ways, they were still the sanctified! When are we going to learn? The church, the redeemed under the sanctifying work of Jesus.
Sometimes I have strayed far off and you might never know but my Lord does. There were times I was ashamed of myself that I couldn't stand me! My mind asks, "Who is this One not ashamed of me when I am ashamed of me?" He is the Holy One, the sinless in His holy righteousness. He steps forward and identifies me as one of His and is not ashamed. The Majestic One who sits enthroned above all, who commands all things and they are done and the angels bow down in worship. He calls me His brother! When people are shaking their heads at me in my weakness and failure, He pushes His way through the crowd, puts His arm around me and says we are brothers and He is not ashamed to call me such. THAT'S HIM, MY LORD!
If you only knew how bad I have failed...but I'm not ashamed to call you brother or sister!
If you only knew my repeat offenses in my weakness...but I'm not ashamed to call you brother or sister!
If you only knew how uncaring or cold my heart has been toward others sometimes...but I'm not ashamed to call you my brother or sister!
Maybe we need to taste this for a while to soften our attitudes and heart.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"It's Not About Religion"

Too many believe that possessing religion is what it is all about. "Religion is in!" and more so in our day and time. You see those postings in places that if you love the Lord, reprint this or paste this on your page. Possessing religion means little to the Lord. Paul was stressing that in Rom. 2:17-29. The Jew's were relying on their name, their heritage, their teaching of the Law and they were condemned. Condemning the world around us for their ungodly and sometimes abhorrent behavior while turning around and practicing things that go against the holy character of God is not godliness. To condemn the actions and statements of people and practice things in our own lives that are against God, where does that really put us?
It is easy to confess with the mouth that Jesus is Lord but the Lord Jesus Christ Himself insisted: "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46) Shouldn't the words of Jesus fall on our ears and enter our heart: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." ? (Matt. 7:21) There is way too much confessing and not enough following with a whole heart. Those who have been privileged to hear and come to believe the life giving gospel truths are not permitted to deny or refuse to submit to them.
It seems the popular talk today is the atonement for our sins, the free gift offered through the grace of God and that's all that is talked about. Please don't get me wrong, it is one of the most prominent teachings from heaven but to be reconciled to God through Jesus is not the end of the matter! Character, a heart in us like the heart of the Lord is what Jesus Christ is after. God's purpose is to conform us into the image of His Son, having a heart in us like His Son (Rom. 8:29). The redeeming work of Jesus was not only to forgive us but transform us in heart. We are not realigned with Him in some legal way but in a living relationship. It's not about religion!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Back To Worship"

I've said it before but maybe it is worth repeating. I heard it again while visiting an assembly of the saints. It's called 'individualism worship.' It is very much common place and making its way deeper and deeper into the heart of the assemblies. It becomes a reckless pursuit of "feeling blessed" and has taken center stage in how worship is structured and conducted. I'm not a prude or someone that is old fashioned. I love my Lord. I love His people. I love His church. I love His word. I realize that 'petrified' worship is just as destructive. What seems to be so disturbing is the idea of flexibility and the cost that comes with it.
Recently I had an email from a friend where they assembled and that some had decided that they would have their assemblies on Saturday evenings. By doing it, he felt so blessed! I am not trying to put words in his mouth but what he was telling me was "because I feel so blessed, I will keep doing it!" No regard for the Lord. No respect of His power and majesty. Just "blessed people" doing their thing no matter if it is acceptable or unacceptable. Let's forget the first day of the week as they did after the resurrected Christ. It is all about individualism.
Let's think here: worship, even bad worship (for lack of better terms) does things to the worshiper. That's what many don't see. Biblical worship is the faithful response of the people of God to God and is intended to edify and bless the worshiper BUT the worship is to and about God, not us!!! Our blessings flow as a result, not the cause. God is worshiped as God wants worship. God is praised as God wants praise. It must be acceptable to be accepted. Okay...I've said enough. May God be glorified through our worship and not us!