Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"Honor Your Father and Mother"

  God has been rejected as the supreme moral authority over man. Man is quickly rejecting God and inserting our own ideas of morality. Parents are not teaching their children. Teachers are being strapped so they cannot establish right and wrong values. The government steps in and tries to ensure that every person gets full "human rights" by inserting legislation. This is not a political article, but the point is once the authority of God is rejected it opens up avenues that goes horribly wrong and kills the souls.
  Many lives are in shambles. Homes are in disarray. People can't figure out why such a vast majority of the younger wander seemingly lost. Homes continue to fall apart at an alarming rate, even among those who profess Christ as their Lord. What is happening?
  God took His people from Egyptian bondage. They did nothing on their own, but listen and obeyed His voice. God did all the work to release them. That nation of slaves walked out of the shackles of an Egyptian empire who abused them and took all they had only to give them more than they ever thought possible. They walked out of bondage with arm loads of necessary items for them to live life. They were brought to the mountain where God instructed them how to make it in life whole and pure. One of those instructions or commandments was stated clearly:  "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you." (Exodus 20:12) There it was placed before their eyes. God released them from bondage and gave them a land they didn't earn. "Honor your father and your mother" said Jehovah. 
  We fast forward today. Under the authority of Christ Jesus rings these words: "Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may lives long on the earth."  (Ephesians 6:2-3) From this we can see why so many problems are arising in our day and time. A complete rejection of God and His moral instruction. When we start building our houses on sand, it cannot stand. When a nation is built on dirt it's going to collapse. No matter how educated we think we are, how rich and acclaimed we've become, to ignore the calling of God brings disasters to any people. There is a promise attached to this authority: "So that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth." It's not well with many. The pattern for the young is to despise their aging parents.
  God shouted to the ears of Israel over and over about despising or dishonoring their parents. You can see this in Exodus 21:15,17 and Deuteronomy 27:16 as a couple of examples. There were dire consequences to dishonoring parents.
  What does it mean to honor? It means to esteem or value your parents. We need to view them as people of substance and weight. Leviticus 19:3 calls the child to "reverence" their father and mother. That term is used of God Himself many times. But what if my parents aren't honorable? Maybe they are a drunkard or thief. Keep in mind your sins that were forgiven by the Lord Jesus. Take His word upon your heart to keep them honored as the Lord calls you to honor them. It's not about their "honorability", but a loving relationship with the Lord. 
  Honor your mother and father because you have learned more than you have discovered. Honor your mother and father because they have clothed you and brought you into this world. Honor your father and mother because they introduced you to the Bible, the Church, and humanity. Honor your mother and father because only they lived with your mood swings, your changes, your selfishness ,and outbursts. Honor your mother and father because God calls us to do that. It won't be long and they won't be around for you to honor.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"If The Light In You Is Darkness"

  Over the past few years there have been dramatic changes in our nation. The political world has set fire many of the attitudes and desires of this nation. Politics has become a hot bed for insulting and hating. All sides are slinging the mud to the other, daily, and many professed Christian's are in the middle of the arena. Many have lost sight that Jesus is STILL King of kings and Lord of lords!
  Just as all of the political has impacted the mindset and attitudes of many we find the same happening in the church. I cannot believe some of the things that have taken place and are presently taking place. Here are some of the ideas and changes I've seen. The preacher gets up, tells a couple of jokes and using the name of Jesus he then plays a four minute segment of Frozen to make a point. The rest of the sermon rallies around this movie segment.
    The family minister is a drama major and he puts together a drama team and they dress out in full costumes to bring a play about the suffering of Christ and His apostles during worship. The audience sits with drinks in hand as if at a theater production.
    Once a year a congregation has a baby blessing day. Parents bring their babies up where the elders and preacher or preachers, lay their hand on the babies and family to bless them. It's one of the largest attended assemblies at that place each year.
    Clips from the Andy Griffith show are played and the preacher makes present day applications for his sermon. Women are being brought forth to serve and pray in the worship assembly. More and more are "joining" up with religions that do not hold to "the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." (Jude 3)  
  I am not trying to bash people. I'm trying to get us to take a sincere look at the direction many of the Lord's people have taken upon themselves and continue to follow. What's missing? Jesus states it plainly: "But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matthew 6:23) God is light. All spiritual light comes from Him alone. There is no other place that gives availability for light. When we abandon the Lord and His word, reducing it to something that appeals to mankind, it's no longer light but darkness. Even those who are sincere, kind, and loving can take on spiritual darkness in their heart and become blinded by that darkness. Anytime we seek union with the world's take, the world's advice, and the world's thinking, it will separate one from God. Paul warned the Corinthians of this very thing          (I Corinthians 1:18-25). To put into the hearts of God's people these warm "fuzzies" and draw attention to man a separation from God will occur. When the authority of God's word and His Son loses prominence in our faith, we will begin a union with spiritual darkness. Jesus Christ is the head of His church and God the Father gave Him that position. The church is quickly dividing into sections that people can choose their flavor. Name calling is prevalent. This group is a legalist. That group is liberal. They are contemporary. Sounds political doesn't it?
 When the church of our Lord begins to try to make everything appealing to all religions something must be given up and it begins with the inspired word of God. We are finding, because of our abandoning the Holy Scripture as all authoritative, that few are lost anymore. There is no need to concern ourselves with the truth of the faith, because many believe it divides. Truth is the only thing that will last and the only foundation for salvation. Jesus wasn't all inclusive among the Jews. He spoke plainly what He heard from His Father and when Jesus sent the Spirit back, the Spirit only spoke what the Father told Him. When we abandon the Lord's teachings we become darkness in a world of darkness and there is no longer any distinguishing light for people to be saved.
  The church isn't the church because we have a sign out front. The church is the church of Jesus Christ because it adheres to His word, His truth, and worship is about Him, not man. There can be good moral movies made, not many but some, but they are not a substitute for God's word. A reference to God's word or a dramatization of God is not the same as the authority of God's word. Preaching and teaching from the Holy Scripture is God's way to communicate His desire. Picking and choosing what to communicate because of our day and time will lead us into darkness. "But if your eye is bad, you whole body will be full of darkness." Are we really seeing clearly?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"Go To Church"

  The statement was something like this, "I know that I need to get back to church." Have you ever heard someone say that? You learn a lot about people when you hear such statements. Getting "back to church," for them is evidence they are in right standing with the Lord. It is like a merit badge or a proclamation of worth. The Pharisee prayed, "God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get." (Luke 18:11-12) In his eyes, he was the center and all revolved around him and his righteous works. That's how many see their worship or going to church.
  In order to understand worship we must realize our salvation. Salvation is a gift of God through Jesus Christ. It is not something you earn because you go to church. To go church is not getting you into fellowship with God. Fellowship with God is maintained through Jesus Christ. To worship in spirit and truth does not get you into fellowship with God either. We can debate all we want. We can puff out our chests and proclaim our relationship with the Lord is because we do this or that, but it is of no use. Salvation is not about us or what we do. Salvation is about what our Father did. When you stand before the Lord, the only thing that will matter will be does Jesus recognize you? You won't be asked anything. God will be looking to Jesus and His acceptance of you. "But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God..." (Galatians 4:9) To be known by God is what we need. One can say they believe in the Lord but to live in faith, in relationship to Him is recognizing what a great salvation we possess, because of Him.
  Worship is not like punching a clock at work. "I'm there every time the door is open." Punch my card, as I've earned my place. Those who need to get back to church speak they need their card punched again and all will be well. People can go to church and never worship. They can be dead inside. No heart, no sincerity of faith, just simply acts of worship. True worship is much more and much greater. To worship the Lord in faith comes from a heart of gratitude and thankfulness. The saved worship. They don't "go to church". They worship with the saints from a heart of gratitude. They offer of themselves, from their heart of gratitude and honor. The saved worship. The unsaved don't worship. They "go to church." and think going to church is their solution. Getting back to Jesus is their only solution and once they come to Jesus, with all their heart, worship will take place. No coercing or prodding. 
  The 10 lepers (Luke 17) were cleansed by following the word of the Lord, but one man realized the source of His blessings, the great gift Jesus had done for him and he returned to Jesus "and fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him." (Luke 17:16) There was nothing required to come before the Lord. We see a heart moved in gratitude and wanting to give thanks. That's worship! Worship is not earning anything from God, but recognizing what the Lord has done for you from your heart. 
  Worship is not about us, focused on us, but on God and His great gift of salvation. True worship is offering a heart of gratitude and faith. It's not about bragging by bringing attention to all the talents of individuals. It's about the gift of God and saving us from our sins, from us. Worship magnifies God, not man. Worship is where the saved offer a heart of gratitude and it takes on great meaning. Why do you "go to church?"

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"Dealing With the Church"

  Do you really believe you will be with God eternally? That's a rather strange question to ask those who say they believe the Lord and His word. But when we examine it a little closer, it needs to be given serious thought and honesty.
  One thing the Lord calls us to is realize that the church is the temple of God and His Spirit dwells in His church (I Corinthians 3:16). The Spirit also indwells His saints (I Corinthians 6) but here we are speaking of the church, Christ's body. Something was terribly amiss at Corinth. They claimed the relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ, but they were divided and severed. If we could go back and ask each one in Christ that was part of the church at Corinth if they would be in heaven, I'm sure they would say, "yes, of course." But it wasn't true. Paul went on to remind them that if anyone, if anyone destroys God's holy temple, the church, God in turn would destroy that individual.
(I Corinthians 3:17) Let those words resound in your heart. To destroy means to corrupt or defile. It carries the idea of damage. How many people corrupt the church or damage the church by their personal actions and attitudes? Verbal attacks, complaining, and just out of line with others. Some are liked while others are detested. NOTICE: The church doesn't belong to you! It belongs to Jesus. The church is Jesus' body. The church is Jesus' bride. If someone came along and hurt your bride or defiled her, how would you respond to that? If someone came along and attacked your body, how would you respond? You wouldn't sit idly and let it happen. What about the Lord and His bride, His body?
  The church is God's holy temple and there are people that do damage. Thinking they are fine with the Lord, but watch out. Watch what happens in the lives of people that defile, damage, or corrupt God's holy temple. It might not be suddenly but there are things that start cropping up in the lives of those who do such. It's these very ones who do harm while believing they will end up with God eternally. They are blinded by their sins. That's what sin does. It brings a darkness over the heart. They don't see the connection between Jesus and His bride. They believe their connection with God is still intact while treating the bride of Christ any way they feel. This body, this bride, is also God's temple where God's Spirit resides. Those who corrupt, defile, and damage God's holy temple the way they wish and say what they wish, are walking on dangerous turf. God is patient. Time is given for them to repent. Time goes along and no repentance for the damage they personally did. It starts showing in their physical lives. They don't recognize it, but others do. God would rather they repent and take on a heart of humility, compassion, and mercy. Jesus encourages us to love, fellowship of the Spirit by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit and intent on one purpose (Philippians 2:1-2). 
  The question had to be asked by Paul, "Do you not know?" If people knew they wouldn't defile or damage anyone in Christ intentionally. God's temple is holy. Christ's bride is holy. The church is cleansed and glorified by Jesus. To defile her in anyway will bring judgment. It carries as far as taking the Lord's Supper while defilement is on your hands and it is spiritually killing those who corrupt the body (I Corinthians 11). Some at the church at Corinth were about to lose and lose big. Paul appeals. God appeals. Christ appeals. Do you believe you will be with God eternally? How you deal with each and every one in God's temple is a matter of life and death! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

"Walking As He Walked" - Pt. 2

  To walk in the steps of Jesus one has to know they are saved. I know that scares some. Some think it is arrogance, but it's not. It is simply embracing by faith the salvation given. Paul knew he saved (II Timothy 4:8).

  What are we to do with our salvation? Grow in it. Grow in respect to salvation (I Peter 2:2). We must grow to walk as He walked. We must become conformed to the image of Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:29). How do we do such? It begins with the mercies of God and offering yourself back to God, as a living and holy sacrifice (Romans 12:1). You must make a presentation of you back to God. This leads us to transformation and transformation results in renewing your mind and to stop conforming to the world around you. What you were in the world, you stop! How you think and approach life?  You change by renewal (Romans 12:2).

  How do we renew our mind? Obviously one may say to read scripture and that's true. But it is more than reading. It's about what you dwell on. There are 8 key elements we must dwell on and practice if we are going to be transformed into the image of Jesus. We find these in Philippians 4:8.

(1) True - Our minds need to dwell on true things. To renew our minds on true things is to stop thinking about rumors and false ideas. We need to think on reality. Stay away from "what if's." When faced with a situation some immediately think, "What if this happens or that happens?" That's not reality. "What if's" create doubts and fears. We hear on the news of some disease and immediately people think they have it or could get it. Fear. That's not the mind being renewed to think on true things. Jesus always dealt in reality, despite what others around said.

(2) Honorable - We need to dwell on things that are dignified rather than degrading and cheap things. Judas is a great illustration. He was concerned of the money Mary spent on costly perfume for Jesus when it could have been given to the poor (John 12:3-5). Honorable things were not his mind-set. He wanted to steal the money (John 12:6). It's easy to speak honorable or say honorable things and the mind is going another direction. How honorable is it to think of how to take advantage of someone? How honorable is it to think about how you were mistreated? These thought processes never lead to helping a situation and walking as Jesus walked.

(3) Right - We need to have our minds set on doing the right thing when faced with situations and do it with the right attitude. Too many never think in terms of right and their transformation stops. Jesus did things rightly and we need to dwell on the same in our minds in difficult situations.

(4) Pure - To dwell on things that are pure is keeping from mixing things together. You can't mix the things of God with the things of the world. That is no longer pure. Too many mix psychology of man with the word of God. That's not pure. Our minds need to be fixed on purity and not allow other distractions to enter our thinking. If we are to gain the wisdom of God, the first thing His wisdom is based on is being pure. (James 3:17) That should tell us something.

(5) Lovely - This mindset carries the idea of what is pleasing and agreeable. When you are hurt by another, what do you dwell on? The hurt? That is what leads many into bitterness and wrong reactions. Is this pleasing? To think on the lovely you must think on what is beneficial for others and pleasing to God. Do you ever wonder why people can't let a wrong or hurt go? It's a mindset! They aren't willing and there is no help from God, no transforming.

(6) Good Repute - Words and comments that help situations. When people get into arguments, how helpful is slinging stinging comments at one another. This is the opposite of good repute. Look careful at Ephesians 4:29 and let your mind dwell on this good repute.

(7) Excellence - Let's tie this with the last mind-set.

(8) Worthy of Praise - How many times do you focus on your failure or weaknesses? Is there anything of excellence in that? Is that leading you into anything worthy of  praise? It becomes all about you. What if we think and focus on Jesus and His offering of Himself for us? Is that something excellent and praise worthy? People talk about how terrible of a childhood they had, an abusive parent or someone else. They state they want you to understand what they came out of. What is excellent about that? What about being "born anew" in Christ with a new Father?  Is that worthy of your praise?

  Our mind-set is vital to growth and our walk with Jesus. Dwell on these thing by renewing your mind and your walk will begin your transformation into the image of Jesus.