Nov

13

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Categories: God's Word

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What is Meditation?

meditationThe period of European history known as the Dark Ages were just that—dark. Mortality rates were exceptionally high. Medical advances could not keep up with the spread of disease. Poverty and illiteracy were pervasive. And on top of all that, the light of God’s Word was monopolized and distorted by the Roman Catholic Church. Only the religious elite had access to Scripture, and most of them manipulated and perverted its message beyond recognition.

That darkness gave way to the Reformation. The Protestant Reformers recovered the gospel and made Scripture accessible to the common man. They rejected the idea of a pope who presumed to speak for God on earth. God spoke through Scripture and the Reformers devoted themselves tirelessly to the labor of making it readily available in the language of the people.

Today, people all over the world can own and study the Bible in their own languages. That great blessing for Christians brings the responsibility to study God’s Word. And from that study, believers have the joy and duty of representing the Creator and proclaiming His message.

Those fundamentals, when incorporated into your study of Scripture, will progressively grow your knowledge of God and yourself, and cultivate a well-rounded biblical worldview. It is in His Word that God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in an intimate and saving way. He owns us, knows us, and holds us responsible to know, understand, and proclaim Him on His terms and not our own.

Scripture is sacred and we should treat it as such by carefully handling its truth. Paul exhorted Timothy to study Scripture as a workman “accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The tradesmen of Paul’s time needed to carry out their work with precision and great care. Paul was saying that the same sort of approach is needed when studying Scripture.

God instructed Israel concerning that very issue:

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:6–7)

In other words, you ought to have God’s Word running around in your mind all the time. If you’re reading a portion of the New Testament thirty times in a row, as previously suggested, it will penetrate and shape your thinking. It should lead to meditation, which takes all the dimensions of study we’ve discussed and molds them into a unified understanding of biblical truth.

The word meditate can evoke thoughts of empty minds and eastern religions. But it is more likely that Hindus and Buddhists borrowed the term from the Bible and twisted its meaning to conform with their false religions. From the time of Joshua’s military conquest of Canaan, we hear the Lord instructing His people to meditate on God’s Word (Joshua 1:8). So what does meditate mean? Biblically, it means to focus your mind on one subject.

In Deuteronomy, God tells His people that they should bind His words, “as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals to your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:8–9). God says He wants His Word everywhere.

David highlighted the role meditation plays in our sanctification when he wrote the first Psalm. The blessed man is one who meditates both day and night on God’s law rather than seeking counsel in the fellowship of unbelievers (Psalm 1:1–3). It is the key to his perseverance and fruitfulness as a child of God.

Meditation is no less needed today. We live in a culture that continually assaults us with distractions through billboards, television, the Internet, and more. God says that we should keep His Word perpetually in front of our eyes, filling our minds and conversations wherever we go.

Paul clarified what our minds should feed on:

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Ultimately, our ongoing relationship with God hinges on sound biblical study. He places monumental importance on knowing, proclaiming, and worshipping Him rightly. And Scripture is the engine driving all of those things. The Dark Ages may have ended, but those who neglect to study and meditate on Scripture shun the light of God’s Word and continue to walk in willful darkness.

 

 

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Dec

26

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Categories: Holidays

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Victory!

Christmas-Begins-with-ChristThere are many Lions fans that would love to be able to shout that word, “Victory!” today.

Who doesn’t like being on a victorious team? Victory is something we all want to experience. In fact, I have never met anyone who would choose defeat over victory. Human nature strives for victory. The late Paul “Bear” Bryant, award-winning coach at the University of Alabama, said, “The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.”

Are we willing to endure the training and the vigor’s that will lead us to victory?

What is the greatest and most costly battle ever to take place? Who was the victor, and what was the reward?

The greatest battle ever fought was between good and evil. This great battle took place at Golgotha—also known as Mount Calvary—a rugged hill outside the walled city of Jerusalem.

Jesus Christ was Victor, paying the cost with His blood. The reward was the salvation of human souls.

Jesus had spent three years with 12 chosen men—His disciples. He had walked with them across the plains and through the valleys. He had sailed with them upon the waters. He’d sat with them on the mountains and taught them many things, including this: “The Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again” (Matthew 20:18-19).

This was the very purpose of Jesus’ birth into our world. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. This is why the word Christmas starts with the word Christ.

Jesus gave his disciples a glimpse of what was to happen, but they did not comprehend that the Man they believed to be their King could ever fall into the brutal hands of mere men. They were focused on the Friend they called Master—the One who preached salvation and a coming kingdom, the One whom they believed to be the promised Messiah.

Jesus willingly died on the cross to identify with all those searching for truth. Are you among them? Have you heard what Jesus has said to you from the cross? You were there. I was there. Oh, it’s true that we hadn’t been born yet, but our sins were present that day. It wasn’t just the soldiers, thieves, religious leaders, and passersby who took part in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Our sins also nailed Him to the tree.

When Jesus hung on the cross, a great unseen cosmic battle raged in the heavens. And in the end Christ triumphed over all the forces of evil and death and hell, giving us the greatest of all hope—eternal forgiveness.

Though the cross repels, it also attracts. It possesses a magnetic quality. Once you have been to the cross, you will never be the same. The greatest vision of sin is at the cross, where we also see the greatest vision of love.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

This is what Christmas is all about.

If you hear Him speaking to you today, ask Him to forgive you.

Ask Him to come into your life and make you a brand new person.

The one He created you to be when He brought you into this world.

He will do it. He’s just waiting for you. Ask Him now…

Brian Gosur

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Jan

17

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Categories: Grace, Love, Love Notes

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Remember You Don’t Walk Alone

love noteWe all go through life hitting some bumps in the road. Sometimes we get a flat tire, sometimes the weather is stormy and dark, but Jesus told us, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

The italics are mine.

In Christ Jesus our Lord we will find peace and rest for our souls. The world and the devil will throw you around and try to get you off the path.

In the world we will have tribulation, but take heart, or be of good cheer, Jesus has already won. The victory is already ours. Satan my be pointing a gun at your head and threatening to pull the trigger, but the gun has no bullets. It’s empty just like Satan’s threats are empty. Ha can’t do anything to you.

We don’t operate toward the victory, we operate from the point of victory.

My friend, that makes all the difference in the world.

Live your life in the victory that Jesus Christ has already secured for you on the cross. You are a winner, and Jesus is now your new Master, and He wants to give you peace and rest.

Listen to this short video from Dr. Tony Evans. I pray it will comfort you, no matter what your situation is.

 

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30

Are you weary and heavy with burdens?

Go to Jesus. Take some time away from everything and everyone, and spend some time alone with Him. He’s waiting for you. He wants to lift those burdens from off your shoulder, and He wants to give you His peace. he wants you to lean on Him and rest in His ever lasting arms.

May God help you to do that today.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others, and please leave a comment below.

Visit our website and sign up for your free “Love Notes From God“.

 

 

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Jan

2

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Categories: Encouragement, Grace

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Having Peace in Every Circumstance, Part 3

stormsBelievers often find themselves living in contradiction to the world, and we should. The runaway anxiety and constant fear that grips so much of the world does not have the same hold on us—or at least, it shouldn’t. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at anxiety from a biblical perspective, and examining God’s care and provision for His people, and how that should free us from worry.

Today we’re bringing our Attacking Anxiety series to a close with part three of our discussion on Paul’s prayer that we would know and rest in God’s lasting peace and grace. The apostle wrote, “May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18).

A final characteristic of God’s peace is that it is not subject to circumstances. Paul’s prayer was that we might continually enjoy it “in every circumstance” (v. 16). This peace is not subject to anything that happens in the worldly realm. It is not built on any human relationship, and it’s not dependent on human feelings, decisions, or situations.

Rather, God’s peace is built on a divine plan and promise from an unfailing God who will secure you in Himself, and who will do everything for your good. This peace is a product of an unchanging divine relationship, and it is unbreakable, unassailable, and transcendent.

As we noted earlier, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). He was saying, “There’s nothing to fear or be anxious about because I’m giving you a divine, lasting peace that cannot be fractured or damaged by the world.” We demonstrate that Jesus keeps His promises when, in the midst of worldly upheavals that would normally tear us up and trouble our lives, we remain calm.

Paul’s great desire was that we enjoy that kind of well-being, which is why he prayed toward that end. His parting wish was this: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:18). He wanted every man and woman who would ever put his or her faith in Christ to experience the abiding presence of God’s grace.

Grace is God’s goodness or benevolence given to those who don’t deserve it. “Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). It was in the person of God’s Son that “the grace of God has appeared,” making salvation available to all (Titus 2:11). Once we embrace this saving grace through faith in Christ, we are blessed with God’s grace, enabling us to withstand any difficulty that would tend to make us anxious. Paul described this grace while confessing to a difficulty that brought him great anxiety:

There was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. . . . Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians12:7-10)

As believers, we also are blessed with the grace that equips us for divine service. Paul expressed his appreciation for this grace in saying, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy . . . the grace of our Lord was more than abundant” (1 Timothy 1:12-14).

Grace is what enables us to grow spiritually in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). In the material realm, Paul appealed to God’s grace in encouraging the Corinthian church to be generous in giving to the Lord’s work: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

God’s grace saves us, helps us cope with our anxieties, equips us for service, and enables us to grow spiritually and to be rich in God. Like God’s peace, it is always available, and there is no limit to it. And again, like God’s peace, the conditions for receiving it are trusting God, forsaking sin, enduring the refining process, doing good, and living by the Word. As we are what we ought to be, God infuses us with His peace and grace. And that has a wonderful way of crowding out anxiety.

I want to close this series on a personal note. Just a few days after preaching a sermon on the peace and grace God bestows on His people, I had an unprecedented opportunity to apply it to my own life: I was notified that my wife and youngest daughter were in a serious auto accident, and that my wife, Patricia, would probably die. Everything seemed like a blur to me, the details frustratingly sketchy—I was afraid she was already dead. During my hour-long drive to the hospital, I had a lot of time to reflect on the severity of the situation. Yet I experienced a deep and steeled peace simply because I knew God had not failed me—His grace was in complete control.

I am happy to report that God spared both their lives, and that Patricia recovered beautifully. If you too rely on God’s grace, He will see you through the most difficult trials.

MyLoveNotesFromGod

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Dec

23

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Categories: Holidays

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You Are The Greatest Gift for Christmas

I just love Christmas and all the trimmings. The lights, smell of good food, and the presents under the tree. It’s the season of joy, family and friends gathering together and just enjoying each other. That’s what I love about this holiday season. It’s a time of the year that you see things happen, that only happen around Christmastime.

But it’s hard to think that there are a lot of people who don’t have this kind of Christmas. I know that there are thousands of great organizations out there that are all about helping and giving to people like these, but I think that we have a tendency to really not see nor feel what this really means. It’s one thing, to reach into my pocket, and throw in a couple of dollars into the kettle of the person, who’s standing outside the store ringing that bell, but it’s an entirely different thing when it means me having to get out of my comfort zone, and step into the world of one who is lacking or just all alone.

You see, that is really giving when I have to give of myself, and my time, for the sake of someone else’s needs. Putting myself, my wants, my needs, and my desires all aside, for the opportunity to help lighten the load that someone else is carrying.

It’s always easy to talk about doing this, but when it comes right down to really doing it, I mean getting down into someone else’s world and feeling what they feel, and experiencing what they are experiencing, getting dirty and doing whatever I can to help them with that heavy load that they’re carrying…well that’s not always an easy jump to make.

You see I don’t want to break out of my routine for the holidays. My family and I have always done things in a certain way each year, and I feel that I would be rocking the cart of our family tradition, if I invited them to our Christmas celebration. I mean they aren’t really the kind of people that we hang around with, and what would my family think if I invited them over to our Christmas dinner?

I know that they don’t have that much, and they are in a tough place financially right now, but it’s kind of their own fault. I mean he hasn’t always been good with his money and I think she might have some issues as well.

I am speaking fictitiously, but have you ever caught yourself thinking like that? I know that I have at times, and it’s always just been an excuse that I use when I feel God prompting me to help someone out, or to step outside of my comfort area, and take care of a need that I know I can help out in.

Isn’t that what Jesus did?

He stepped way out of His comfort area, and came down into this muck and dirty planet will call earth, and lived right here with us. He took on the kind of life that we live, except He was without sin.

1John 3:5  “You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”
The dirt that we live in everyday had no effect on Him. At anytime He could have said, “I’m out of here, I don’t want to do this anymore,” but He didn’t. He stayed… as a matter of fact He stayed all the way to the end, and when it came time for the bill to be paid, He paid it. You and I couldn’t pay it, so He took the payment that we all had, and He paid it completely. He paid it with His own life, that’s how much He loves you and me.

John 15:13 “No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life  for his friends.  You are my friends”…

I was having breakfast with four business associates of mine, the other day, and when the bill came around, one of the guys took the bill and paid for everyone’s meal. That was a very nice think to do, and we all thanked him for that, but I could have paid for my own bill. I had the money, but in the case of my sins, I can’t pay the price for that because I don’t have what it takes. No one has the means to do that…the price is way to high.

Romans 6:23  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God came into our world so that He could pay your way to come into His. That’s His gift to you and me, and to all of humankind. He’s just waiting for you to come and open the present that He has laid out for you today. Open it by asking Him to forgive you, and when you do that, he will not only have your free ticket to come and live with Him for all eternity, but He will also come and live inside of you right now, and start getting you ready to be with Him.

To learn more of God’s incredible gift to you and me, click on “My Christmas Gift From God”

Perhaps you might know someone or you just might happen to maybe see the same person everyday as you commute back and forth to work. They might be in a situation that is not very good, but if God is telling you to stop and talk to them, or maybe go beyond that point that is going to put you out of your comfort area, remember what God did for you. Listen to what God is asking you to do, and help someone out.

Did you know that there are certain chemicals that are released in our bodies whenever we give or do acts of kindness towards others? Try it out for yourself. Help someone out with anything, it doesn’t have to be something big, and see if you don’t feel better after you’re done. You have to have the right attitude, that you are doing this only because you can, and you are getting nothing in return…don’t even tell anyone else about what you’ve done, because that means you would be getting the accolades from everyone you tell.  God sees and He knows what you did.

Maybe you can only help them carry that heavy burden for just a short while, and maybe you can’t really take it off of them or out-of-the-way, that’s OK. Do what you can. Jesus said…

Matthew 11:28-30  “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

You are never really a fully emotionally mature person, until you can give of yourself and of your time, and put yourself in the back burner of life, so that you can help someone else out, without ever asking or receiving anything in return…when you can do this, you have really done something.

Matthew 25:38-40 “When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? When  did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the king will answer them,  ‘I tell you the truth,  just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.”

My prayer for you this Christmas is that you will open God’s gift to you, and then go out and help someone else open theirs.

I wish you and your families a very blessed and Merry Christmas.

May God bless you all.

 

 

 

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Dec

12

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Categories: Faith, Grace

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Although You Are in the Battle – You Never Walk Alone

We finished our last post with Romans 7:24; “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” That was Paul’s cry out from the frustration he was feeling. In his heart and in his mind he wanted to follow after God, but in his flesh he keep listening to beckoning and calling of the sin that was still present.

You’ve come to Jesus Christ and have asked Him to forgive you and cleanse you from the sin that so easily dominates your thinking and your living. You want to follow after Him with your whole heart, mind, and soul, but there is still that ugly old boss that thinks he can still order us around. You hate him and you don’t want to live under his domain any longer.

Chapter six of Romans talks about us being free from the penalty of our sin. We have been set free, not only from the penalty of our sin, but also over the dominance of sin. It has no more authority over us. We have been redeemed, we have been bought back from sin’s domain and we now belong to Christ. We have been adopted into His family by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We can now say yes to God and no to sin.

“So you too consider yourselves  dead to sin, but  alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11

Now for the first time in our lives we can say no to sin and yes to God! The door has been open and we can freely walk into a relationship with the God who created you and me and this entire universe…but sins influence is still there. The battle lines have been drawn. Who are we going to listen too and who are we going to obey?

That’s the battle that we see in Romans chapter seven. Read and re-read it. See if you don’t see the same battle and the same struggle, going on in your own heart and mind, that Paul is describing in chapter seven.

Then we come to the first verse of Romans chapter eight…“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

No condemnation means no judgement. You and I will never be judged for our sin, that penalty was paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He did it once for all of humanity, and if you have become a member of His family, by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, you are set free from the penalty and judgement of your sin. That’s been established and will never change.

But there is a war going on, and the old man still wants to boss you and I around.

Romans 6:4…”just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.”       

How do we overcome this struggle and how do we live the victorious Christian life? By the power of the dynamite power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

"The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." Eph. 6:17

Take a look at the apostles. They lived with Jesus, they were taught by Jesus, and they even performed great works for God, while Jesus was still on earth, but that was not enough. Jesus told them that it was important that He go away, and that the Father will send them another comforter.

The Holy Spirit means, one sent alongside to help. Despite the teachings and the things that the apostles had learned, they were not going to be able to do anything until the Holy Spirit would come, and make His dwelling inside each and everyone of them.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.” Acts 1:8

The word power used in this verse, is the same Greek word used in Romans 1:4. It’s the word dynamis, which we get our English word, dynamite. The dynamite power of the Holy Spirit, would come upon the apostles and enable them to spread the gospel, or good news of God, throughout all the world. In the book of Acts, Christ’s church was born and it still is alive and spreading the truth of God throughout all the world, by the same power that raised Jesus back to life again.

It’s by this same power of the Holy Spirit, in your life and mine, that we can live the new life that God wants us to live. You and I can’t live the Christian life, only God can live His life in and through you and me today.

“I have been crucified with Christ,  and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God,  who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

How to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit
1) INVITE: Make sure that you have personally invited Christ to be your Savior. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).
2) CONFESS: Confess sin to God and ask for His cleansing.“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1John (1John 1:9).
3. YIELD: Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you (empower, control).“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, “be continuously filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18 – literal translation). “Holy Spirit, I invite you to take control of my life. I ask you
to be the dominating influence in me. Produce your fruit in me. I can’t do it on my own.” “Holy Spirit, I ask you to empower me to accomplish what is beyond me. Show yourself strong in my life, so that I may bear fruit for God.” “Holy Spirit, teach me how to pray right now. Intercede
through me, Spirit, for you alone know the mind and will of God in this matter.”  “Holy Spirit, I need you to help me put to the death the deeds
of the body. I can’t overcome this on my own. Give me the  victory today.”  “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is  outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own  body” (1Corinthians 6:18).

Only a life lived by the influence, motivation, and power of the Holy Spirit, are we ever going to be walking the victorious Christian life. Which voice are you going to obey? You have a new master and He loves you with a love that no man can understand nor explain. His desire is to live in you and conform you into the image of His son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

1Peter 2:2  “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow by it.”

John 15:3  “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

“For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but  the Spirit is your life because of righteousness.  Moreover if the Spirit of the one  who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ  from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you.

“So then,brothers and sisters,we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (for if you live according to the flesh, you will  die),  but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are  the sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear,but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom  we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children. And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:5-17




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Dec

3

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Categories: Encouragement, Faith, Grace

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Freedom at Last! But Are You Really Free?

If you walk around and take a survey of how many people claim to be Christians in our society today,  you will get the majority of people claiming that they are Christians. 76% of American adults claim to be Christians today. That is down from 87% who made that claim back in 1990. The decline of people who are involved in organized religions is increasing every year, not just Christianity, but in any kind of organized religion. Times are changing in the world, both economically and in our views about God. When you hit people in the pocket-book, that definitely will get their attention.

After all, the only reason we ever stay in anything is to attain a certain level of change, when or if, that change never happens, we are looking for the first exit we can find. Patience and long-suffering are not character traits that you see very often anymore today.

Many people get involved with God or a church for a specific reason. They are going through a tough time in their lives, a loved one has died, or they are just experiencing some type of loss that they want an answer for and relief from.

All of us view God, and who we think He is, from the influences we had as a kid. Our parents, economic situation, and total environment, all shaped what we think of God today.

I have talked with many atheists and people from other religious back grounds, and the one common thread that flows through them all is their desire for the truth. Nobody wants to be mislead or bamboozled…we want the truth. If that is you, then what I’m about to say is for you.

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

This promise was given to those who believed in Jesus. Jesus said to these believers and followers, that if they abide, or continue with him, that would mean that they are truly His disciples. If they are truly the disciples of Christ and they continue on with Him, they will discover what truth is all about, and this discovery will set them free. You want to know truth, then you might want to check out who Jesus Christ is?

Further down Jesus said in John 8:32, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Freedom at last! But are you really free? Many of us find freedom from addictions, a nagging spouse, a job that is dragging us down, but real freedom comes when you know the truth.

For the Christian, Romans chapters, six, seven, and eight, are the hinges of the door that opens to what the gospel and salvation really mean.

Chapter six, we are free from the penalty of sin.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Romans chapter eight, we are free from the presence of sin. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

But in Romans chapter seven we find a battle going on inside of every single one of us. Paul expressed this battle that wages in us, “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,  but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:22-24

Ever experience something like that in your Christian life?  “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. ” Romans 7:15-20

Sound familiar? If you are a child of God, by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, then you definitely can relate to what Paul is talking about here. This is the battle of truth that goes on daily in our lives. It’s a constant power struggle over who we are going to believe and follow. Do we follow the sin that has so easily dominated most of our lives, or are we going to yield to the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God, that lives inside us, and follow the new person He is creating in us?

What if you had a terrible boss, that no one liked. He was rude and critical and always was yelling at you and ordering you around like you were some incompetent child? He was your boss and you had to do what he said.

Sin has no more authority over you anymore than that old boss you used to have.

One day he gets fired. The office is totally relieved to know that never again will you have to take his orders or do anything that he ever has to say. He’s finished controlling you.

Say you and your spouse are out for a nice dinner. You are really enjoying this nice quiet evening, when in walks your old boss. Just seeing him again makes the hairs on your back stand up. You cower in hopes that he doesn’t see you, but here he comes and he’s walking right over to you.

He walks over to you and he tells you to go over and get him a cup of coffee, and automatically you get up and run to the coffee machine…but wait a minute…he’s not your boss anymore and you don’t have to do anything that he says, remember? He has no more authority or control over you. You can tell him…No! I’m not doing what you tell me to do!

That’s the way it is with sin in our lives. We are the battle ground and Satan and the Holy Spirit are vying for our allegiance. We play a part in all this. Who are you going to go after?

We have been set free, but there is an old master that is not going away. He wants to constantly influence you and me to continue to live life the way we always have, by obeying our sinful cravings and desires.

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24

That will be coming in the next article.

 

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Nov

16

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Categories: Love

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Do You Love Me?


The word love has been so tossed around in our world today, that its lost its true meaning. Much like the word, “Christian,” which everyone claims to be, it just doesn’t hold, nor have the same effect on a person when you say, “I love you”. Do you love me?

If we get our meaning of love from Hollywood, you will definitely have the wrong meaning of what love is. People from the movie and cinema world, fall in and out of love so many times, they wouldn’t know love if it hit them in the face like a wet squirrel. To them love is sleeping with the next leading lady of the next movie that I’m in.

Before we discover what love really is, let’s first see what love is not.

Love is not just a feeling that passes over us for a moment and then its gone. Now I’m not saying that love doesn’t have it’s feelings, because it most certainly does. Who doesn’t know and get excited when you experience those warm fuzzy love feelings. It’s all part of falling in love.

Those feelings are never more real and present then when you first meet that very special person. There is something different about this person that you’ve never felt from anyone else before. You not only see them as the most beautiful person in the world, but you do feel that chemical reaction taking place deep down inside.

Notice how many times I said the word felt and feel, because at this very early stage in the love game there are a lot of feelings and emotions that are going on. Now it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re truly in love, nor that this is the right person for you, because all of these kinds of encounters start the same way. It’s what you do in the next few steps that will determine if you have a future with this person or not.

Now what the world and Hollywood teach you do at this point, is jump into bed with this person and have sex. This will determine as to whether you will be happy with them, and if they are the right fit for you. Sex is the means of measure that they take to see if they are really in love. If it’s good sex than they are right for me and, let’s get married. How many marriages, using this philosophy, last in Hollywood today.

Sex and the physical part of a love relationship should never be the determining factor, nor the measuring stick, to see if you’re in love. It should always be LAST thing on the list. Sex is not love.

Once you’ve met someone who you find attractive, sit down with them and talk. Yes, I said talk and listen. Discover who they are, what they like and, what they don’t like. Learn about who this very attractive and intriguing person really is. This is the stage where love’s foundation really starts to form. If you sit and talk for three or four hours and it feels like you’ve only been there for about thirty minutes, you just might be onto something good.

When you find and start to connect with a person on this level, friendship is formed, and that is the solid foundation that love is built on. Do you enjoy being with them? Do you enjoy talking and listening to them? Do you share many of the same things? Now this doesn’t mean that you are going to agree on everything , but you agree on lots more than you disagree on.

The physical part comes in stages. You have to earn the permission of the other person to advance into these physical stages, if you don’t, than you could derail the whole process.

You start by earning the right to even look into the person’s eyes. Think about the level of intensity that this means. There is something physically alluring and intimate when you look deep into someones eyes. If you were to go to the mall and stare at a total stranger, see what kind of results that will bring you. (I don’t advise you to do this)

Next stage is holding hands. After that it’s putting your arm around a person’s waist, and then a very strong bear hold, these are all a part of the physical process that will give you and your partner the strong solid foundation that real love is built on. The kind of love and respect that real love needs to germinate and grow into a strong solid tree, that will last a lifetime for you and the rest of your whole family, that you and your partner will be making together, this is the whole process of falling in love.

If any of these steps are skipped or passed over, there will be consequences to pay. Now don’t fret if you’ve already messed up during this process, who hasn’t? Remember its a process. We all make mistakes and do the wrong thing, but isn’t it wonderful that we have a savior that’s full of mercy and compassion, His love for all of us is new every morning, great is His faithfulness.

I wanted to set these very important steps for all of you to see, whether you are just starting this process or maybe you’ve been in it for quite sometime now. It’s never to late to make corrections and changes that will enhance your relationship.

Love is not just a feeling, it’s a commitment. Once you’ve gone through this process and you’ve married that very special someone, this process doesn’t stop or end. It’s up to you to continue to fan the flames of the passion and the feelings that you started out with.

This is where so many people fail, and why so many marriages end in divorce. We just quit at this point and the other person starts to feel unloved and unwanted. The connection disappears and the long talks that used to last for hours don’t last but one or two minutes, and it’s usually just a set of instructions for something that you want them to do for you.

Have you ever felt unloved? Have you ever lost that person that you so enjoyed being a part of, and now their gone? You’re not alone my friend, because God has felt that very same thing. He knows what you’re going through.

During one of the worst times that Jesus was going through, all of his friends that loved him and had sworn their alligence to him, all ran away and left Him alone. Peter, who was one of His closest friends, even denied that he knew Him. But something took place that would affect Peter and his relationship with Jesus.

Right after Peter denies knowing Jesus, for the third time, Jesus and Peter’s eyes find each other. Remember what I was saying about the intimacy of looking into someones eyes means…listen to what God says about this encounter with Peter.

“And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crows, thou shalt deny me three times.  And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.” Luke 22:61-62

The word, looked upon, means to “fix your gaze upon”. Jesus locked His eyes with Peter and He looked right deep down inside Peter, with His eyes. He knew what was in Peters heart and He knew what Peter’s real intentions were. As you can see, looking into someone’s eyes has a very deep intimate meaning to Jesus.

It affected Peter so much, that he went out and wept bitterly. The word bitterly means violently. In other words Peter went out and he cried uncontrollably and violently.

Even though everyone ran away and left Jesus all alone, to go through this terrible time… alone, He never stopped loving His disciples. He loved them right to the end.

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end“. John 13:1

Jesus, who is the true measure and meaning of what real love is, loved His disciples and He loves you and me right up to the end, that means always and forever. His love never stops.

Now, after all this, Jesus meets up with Peter and the disciples, on the shore, after He was resurrected back from the dead, and He asked Peter a very pointed question. Peter, do you love me?

“This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:14-17

Everyone wants to be loved. It’s the one thing that we as humans, need and have to have, is love. We can’t survive without it. You know what… God wants it too. God wants your love and devotion also. Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” If you do Peter than feed My lambs.

Love is not only a commitment but it also is an action word. It will always bring you into action. Just like when you fell in love with your spouse and you talked to them, you spent time with them, and you couldn’t stop thinking about them, because that’s what love drives you to do…take action. It should never stop!

Feelings will come and go, feelings will rise and fall, but real love will never fail…real love will continue to grow and it will last forever. God is real love and He loves us with His real love, but we have left Him, and He feels unloved like He did with Peter.

Did Peter love Jesus, yes he did and Jesus knew that, but there was a teaching period that was going on between Jesus and Peter.

How about you? Do you know what real love is? Has your relationship with your spouse been based on the principles and foundation of the truth of love and the author and creator, who is love…Jesus Christ Himself?

My prayer is that you do. Remember that it’s never to late. Read 1 Corinthians 13 to get the total view of what real love is all about.

May God bless you in your endeavor to find and build on the true foundation of love.

 

 

 

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Oct

17

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Categories: Holidays, Spreading The Good News

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If You Still Think That Your Enemy Wears a Red Suit and Has Horns…You Are Deceived

In our society today Halloween is one of the most celebrated holidays in America. We get dressed up in different costumes and walk around to houses and ask for, and receive candy from people.

There is a history to Halloween, that I won’t get into in this post but to say that, Halloween goes back to the eve of All Saints Day, observed with traditional games and customs. The word comes from medieval England’s All Hallows’ Eve. However, many of these customs predate Christianity, going back instead to Celtic practices associated with November 1st, the beginning of winter and the Celtic New Year. Witches and other evil spirits were believed to roam the earth on this evening, playing tricks on human beings to mark the season of diminishing sunlight. Bonfires were lit, offerings were made of foods and sweets, and people would disguise themselves as one of the roaming spirits, to avoid demonic persecution. Survivals of these early practices can be found in countries of Celtic influence today, such as the United States.

Now every Halloween we will see at least one person who will be dressed up as the devil. They will have the normal devil costume with the red suit, tail, horns, and pitch fork. I’ve often wondered, where we get that image from? How many of us really believe that the devil, the enemy of God and anything that is righteous, really looks like that? Do You? You would be surprised at the answers people will give you on this.

We just have to go to the truth, God’s Word, to see what and who the devil really is.

His first entrance onto the pages of scripture is in Genesis 3:1-5. Right from the beginning, and the book of Genesis is the book of beginnings, we see that Satan is questioning God and the truth of what He says. He puts doubt into the heart of Eve, that God can’t really be trusted, that He really doesn’t have your best interest in mind when He tells you something. He puts that doubt into Eve that God is holding back from you what is good and beneficial, and therefore He can’t be trusted. Listen and read this to yourself over a couple of times and see the subtlety that the devil uses and still uses on us today.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5

“you will be like God,” is literally, “you will become a god or become a god unto yourself.

Also notice the word crafty, because that’s the word that God uses to describe the character of the devil, crafty. It means cunning in a very subtle way, deceitful in a very deceptive way, that is the devil…that is Satan. Do you really think that he would dress up like a guy in a red suit with horns and a pitch fork? Do you really think that he would want to stand out and be easily identified by you or me? No, he is full of cunning and deception, and his objective is to fill you with doubt and deception as to who God really is, and to pull you and me as far away from the truth of God and His word as he can.

Listen to how Jesus described the devil as He was having a discussion with the religious rulers of Israel. These were men who prided themselves on their study and knowledge of God from the old testament.

“They answered him, “Abraham is our father!” Jesus replied, “If you are Abraham’s children, you would be doing the deeds of Abraham.  But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth I heard from God. Abraham did not do this! You people are doing the deeds of your father.”

Then they said to Jesus, “We were not born as a result of immorality! We have only one Father, God himself.”  Jesus replied, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come from God and am now here. I have not come on my own initiative, but he sent me.  Why don’t you understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot accept my teaching. You people are from your father the devil, and you want to do what your father desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I am telling you the truth, you do not believe me. Who among you can prove me guilty of any sin? If I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? The one who belongs to God listens and responds to God’s words. You don’t listen and respond, because you don’t belong to God.” John 8:39-47

Jesus was asking them, why don’t you believe me when I am telling you the truth, and the reason was because their real father was the devil himself and they would naturally do the things of their father,  it’s who they are. Jesus told them that you are just portraying the character and nature of your father, the devil, and he has always been a liar, in fact he can’t ever tell the truth because the truth is not in him.

Listen to what Paul said; “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1Corinthians 2:14

It’s only natural that we will follow the character and nature of our parents. Look at your own kids, one will have your patience while the other will have your spouse’s eye for artistic beauty. They will just naturally follow the genes they received from their parents, and so will you and so will I. That’s why Jesus said to another religious leader, Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. That literally means born from above. A second birth must take place. read the rest of chapter three of the gospel of John

There are only two kinds of people in the world today, children of the devil and children of God. You are either on one side or the other. There is no in between, and Jesus defined this to the religious rulers.

A better costume to wear if you want to be dress up as the devil for Halloween this year is to dress as an angel. Yes, I said an angel…“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.   And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2Corinthians 11:13-15.

Dress as an angel of light, not just an angel, because that’s what Satan can look like. He’s not parading around as a guy in a red suit, he’s in your church, he’s in your schools, he’s in your government, and he may even be in your family as well. He is a liar and he is cunning and deceptive in everything he does. He wants to keep you from the truth and he wants to keep you from the knowledge of God, and he will do anything he can to accomplish this.

If you’ve never been born from above, if you’ve never asked God to forgive you and come into your life and make you a brand new person, all you have to do is ask Him, and He will do it. His word says so and that is the truth. Click here for the full story.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18.

 

 


 

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Apr

23

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Categories: Love, Spreading The Good News

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Do You Love Me? – You Do Love Me!

Love is the greatest power in the universe, and it can also be the most powerful tool, when withheld from someone. Nothing can do more harm and cause more devastation then the power of love.

Loved? Loved. is my 2 word story. For those of you who don’t know what I mean by a 2 word story, I will explain.

Loved? Loved.

On April 16, 2011, the EACH program was set into gear, with the Prayer Walk that was held in downtown Detroit Michigan. 25,000 people from about 500 churches, of all denominations, met in solidarity to pray for the city and pledge one million hours of community service to help those in need and  proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

EACH stands for Everyone a Chance to Hear. Hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, and part of this program is to come up with your story in just two words. You wear your two words on a t-shirt, button, or a hat, and pray as God will open the doors for people to ask you what those two words means on your shirt, and then you have the invitation to tell them your story  of how you met Jesus Christ.

This is my story

Loved? I was not, as a boy growing up. I was small and not very big, very shy and not assertive at all. I grew up in a home of verbal abuse. I was always told that I couldn’t do anything and that I would just grow up to be a garbage man. If I ever did want to try something, I was told I couldn’t do it because I was to small, or I would break it, or some other reason that my parents had in their arsenal  of negative statements.

Words can kill, and I never was involved in any physical abuse, so I don’t know what that’s all about, but I do know that words can hurt and the scares can linger for a life time.

My view of God was some big guy in the heavens just waiting for me to slip up, and he couldn’t wait to bring the hammer down on top of my head. He loved punishment and judgment, and since I couldn’t do anything right, He was having a fun time with me.

Well, needless to say, these things all turned me into other avenues to find validation and love, and they were all the wrong ones. Drugs, alcohol, and women got me in a whole lot of trouble, and there were times, when I look back today, that I should have been dead. I used everyone and I hurt a lot of people.

When I was ten yeas old, I gave my life over to Jesus Christ, while watching a Billy Graham crusade on TV. My mother would always watch him and so we did as well. Something that he said just resonated with me and I got down on my knees before I went to bed, and asked God to come into my life and change me. I meant it with all my heart.

They sent me a copy of the gospel of John and I remember going through it but I don’t think I read it all the way . I never told anyone what I did, and because we were catholic, I never had anyone to talk to about it.

Years later after I was married and my wife was expecting our first son, something happened.

I was working the night shift at one of the big three, and one of my party buddies, was going to day shift. He was my best friend and after being on the day shift for one year, he got bumped back to nights. Well I couldn’t wait for me and him to get back to our party ways.

While he was gone , we used to go all the way up the stairs, to the top of the roof of the building, (a staircase that was only used by the skilled trade guys), to get high. But someone, we didn’t know who, had put a picture of Jesus up there, and we used to use that picture as our code word. When we wanted to get high, we would go up to a guy and say, ” Do you want to go and see the Lord at lunch time?” He would know exactly what we meant.

Well when I say my friend  after a year, I took him up to see the Lord. I figured we would start our reunion in the right way. Well, he had other plans.

He told me that he had become a follower of Jesus Christ and that he had put the picture of Jesus up because that’s where him and his other Christians friends, from day shift, would go and have their bible study every day.

He told me all about Jesus dying on a cross to save me from my sins and that He  really loved me, and would come into my life and change me.

I got down on my knees again and asked God to come into my life. My friend gave me a bible and I still have that bible sitting in my office.

I think God used my friend to complete what He used Billy Graham to start years before.

I learned that God wasn’t waiting for me to mess up so He could punish me. He punished His son so that I could live. He loved me that much to pay that kind of price, just so I could be free. Nobody has ever loved me like that, and nobody ever can. Only God can do that.

Loved? was the word that I carried around my neck for some twenty years of my life. Now I have replaced it with a new word. Loved. He really does love me and loves me like no one else ever can. Circumstances can change, people can change, and events can change, but His love for me and you will never change.

At His last meal with twelve of His closet friends, right before He went to the cross, He said this to them;

“No one has greater love than this — that one lays down his life for his friends.   You are my friends” John 15: 13-14

What’s your 2 word story? Do you have a 2 word story?

 

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Mar

26

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Categories: Grace, Missions, Spreading The Good News

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E.A.C.H – Everyone a Chance to Hear

What if you were visiting Niagara Falls, and you saw a canoe with three or four of your family members, and they were just floating down the river, having a great time. Unfortunately the river emptied into the huge drop of the Falls, and if they continued on this route, it would surely end in their deaths, and they had no clue where they were headed… what would you do?

That may not be happening literally, but it is happening spiritually all around us.

Everyday we encounter hundreds and maybe even thousands of lives, people we see at the store, our place of work, our neighborhoods, and our friends. Thousands of people who don’t know Jesus Christ. Thousands of people who our in the canoe of life, and heading for the falls, and don’t realize anything is wrong.

Do you care? Our you remotely interested that others are on their way to death and total separation from God for the rest of eternity?

If you are a child of God, you should care and you should be interested because that’s why Jesus Christ came to this world over two thousand years ago.

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10

God is on a search and rescue mission. He has lost something and He wants it back, and He has chosen you and me as His ministers of this mission.

God was the first missionary Himself. Go back to the book of beginnings, the book of Genesis, after Satan, through his craftiness and lies, stole the bride of Christ away, and you find Him walking and looking for His bride.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the orchard.
But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9

God was the first missionary, and He has been on a search and rescue mission ever since. He has been looking for His lost sheep and calling them back home. This is the theme all through the bible and if you don’t get this down, you will struggle understanding the rest of God’s word.

There is an incredible program going on in Detroit Michigan, called  E.A.C.H. – everyone a chance to here. To here what? To here the good news of the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and this program is growing rapidly. I would not be surprised if this spreads to our entire nation.

There are almost 500 hundred churches involved, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, and non-denominational churches, all with the same desire and effort…to get out God’s good news to mankind.

Ladies and gentleman, there is only One church, and that’s the church of Jesus Christ, the Bride of Jesus Christ, that God the Father made for His son. Satan stole her away, and God wants her back. He paid the price for her redemption…the door is open and God is calling an army of witnesses to get the word out. The only reason there are divisions in His Church, is because of you and me, not God.

“I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:18

There is a time line that EACH is following and it starts with Easter. A prayer walk in downtown Detroit, and there is expected to be around 30,000 people there, maybe even more, and then the army of God is going to go out into the world and spread the good news by doing good.

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.

My friend is a missionary to Africa, and most of the people in his area are Muslim. He is a carpenter by trade and is building a school in Ghana. One of the Muslim villagers is working with him, and my friend and him decided to fix all the fences in the village.

While they were doing that, one of the Muslim Imam’s was watching them. He watched as they fixed the fences without being asked and without asking for nothing in return.

The Muslim Imam approached him and asked him, “are you a Christian?” He replied, “yes I am.” The Imam declared, “you are different from the others.”

You see, they have seen other people who have called themselves Christians, and they lied and cheated and have brought the name of Christ down.

It’s not by what you say, but by what you do that others will know you belong to Christ. Demonstrating His love and compassion to the world, through the actions we take, will demonstrate who we really belong too, and it’s the best way to spread the good news.

“So then, you will recognize them by their fruit. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’24 will enter into the kingdom of heaven — only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
” Matthew 7:20-21

That’s what EACH is all about. Demonstrating with your life and then give an answer of the hope that is within you, when someone asks.

What are you doing? Who will be in heaven because of what they saw in you or what you demonstrated in your life, or by what you said.

This is God’s program and we are just His tools. What kind of tool are you.

Visit the EACH program right here.

Bekele Shanko gave his testimony, and it’s his story that inspired the E.A.C.H. movement. Click on his name to listen to this incredible story.

 

 

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Mar

16

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Categories: The Cross

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We All Must Choose

Through the years since the life of Jesus Christ on this earth, the gospel, or good news of God, has changed and evolved into different guides and peramiters that we have put it in.

Simply believe on Jesus and His shed blood on the cross, and you’re saved. Nothing more. It’s nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all true, but A man’s professed faith may be nothing more than mental assent to a well-known fact. Such intellectual agreement involves no commitment of the person, and does not produce a transformed life. It is not enough to believe in the existence of God. True, this is essential, but it is not sufficient. Even the demons believe in the existence of God and they shudder at the thought of their eventual punishment by Him. (James 2:19)

The word believe carries with it much more than just an intellectual accent to this existence of God. I think our human nature is always willing to give just what I have to to get by and no more.

Look at all the failed marriages in America today. People that believed and vowed their alligence to one person, until death due they part, but when life starts to crash against us, and spill it’s waves inside our boats, we look for the first way out. Where is our love and commitment when these storms arise?

There was the rich young ruler who asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told him to keep the commandments, and he replied that he wholeheartedly has kept all of them. He had kept the law, the rules and regulations that the law required, he had done just enough, but what was Jesus reply?

“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was extremely wealthy.” Luke 18:22-23

Jesus told him that he still lacked something, and that was a real commitment from the heart, and he couldn’t do that because his money was filling that empty spot in his heart. Jesus said get rid of that money and I will fill that empty place  in your heart with Me.

Jesus knew what he was thinking and told him, ” don’t worry because you will have treasure in heaven.” Sadly the rich young ruler couldn’t make a real commitment. He turned and walked away.

I’ll bet that rich young ruler looked real good in church on Sunday. Probably was the head of a men’s bible study, maybe even an elder in his church, and even helped people out with his money, but where was his heart really?

There is the story of the lawyer in Luke 10:25-37, who asks the same question of Jesus and this time Jesus goes further with His answer with a story of His own, about the good Samaritan. It is more then just doing what you have to do to get by, if you aren’t willing to live it, then you haven’t made a real commitment.

Peter also made such a commitment to Jesus. After Jesus told them of His death and how they would all scatter and leave Him alone., Peter turned to Jesus and vowed that even if everyone else ran off,  he would never leave, as a matter of fact, he would even give his life for Jesus.

Peter meant what he said and Jesus knew that, and Peter’s life proved it, but he had it all wrong, it was Jesus who would lay His life down for him. Peter’s heart was in the right place, but Jesus knew that he was still going to have to go through more training. Remember what Jesus told him;

Luke 22:31  “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:” Satan wanted to get at Peter because he was a leader and his heart was 100% sold out to Jesus.

Jesus never taught easy believism. Whether He was telling the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and follow Him or telling a crowd of people, who were only looking for the next miracle, that to do the work of God was to believe on Him, (John 6:28-29), He called for people to abandon their own agenda and trust Him radically. Radical trust calls for both believing and acting upon that belief.

Love is believing and committing, and always followed with action. Any other way is not real.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matt. 16:24-25

 

 

 

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Dec

20

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Categories: Holidays, Love

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Christmas is Spelled With a Capital C

Ah, the Christmas season. I love this time of year. My favorite time of year. I don’t know what it is but have you noticed that this time of year always invokes different modes and feelings in people. It always seems to bring out the best in people, even if it’s only one time of the year. They’re more charitable, giving and helpful. More people are willing to open up the pocketbook and help out in things that they normally wouldn’t do any other time of the year. I guess that’s one reason why I love Christmas so much.

But why are people so bright cheerful, and giving at this time of year? Why right now? Our economy is not doing well. and people are struggling to make ends meet. It’s just a tough time to be in the giving mood.

I saw a Christmas special the other night, and it was a special rebroadcast of “The Walton’s”. Remember that program? They had all the cast members, much older of course, and they were talking about making and doing the scenes from that special.

The time was during World War ll, and the Walton’s had kind of adopted these two young British kids, who had been separated from their parents during the bombing by the Germans. They were staying with them for awhile, and it showed all the adjusting and making do with what they had, while they were there. The one thing that really grabbed me, was how they didn’t hardly have anything, but they always had something to give to someone else, who had none. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Giving and sharing with those that don’t have anything?

I don’t know if your grand-parents or aunts and uncles, who lived during the great depression, are still around, but you might find it very interesting to ask them to recall some of those times. Maybe share some of their stories with you at this Christmas time.

Those people really struggled financially. Many of them had to move in with other family members and everybody did their part. My wife and I had one of our children and their kids, move in with us for awhile. It was not easy and their big adjustments that had to be taken by all, but we did it to help each other out. Many people are having to do that today.

You see, when times get tough, the tough get going. Something magical happens. You can either go one of two ways. You either sink or swim, but everybody has to be on the same page. Coming together is the only way anyone will make it, and it is a time when you will learn a lot about yourself. All the talk won’t be worth a hill of beans, it’s the actions that will show what your really made of.

It wasn’t just about meeting the physical needs of everyone, there were also feelings and emotions that were riding very high. Imagine having ten to twelve people living in a three bedroom house. Tight quarters and no place to go where you could be by yourself. Everyone had to carry around a lot more patience, understanding, and compassion. You had to learn that your needs were not always going to be first. Could we learn some of that today, and you know, we maybe heading for that again.

It’s easy to be benevolent when I just have to do it for three or four weeks out of the year, but lets see how I do for the next three or four years. We just may be heading for that, and some people are already there now.

Maybe we can learn something more this Christmas then just having a little bit more Christmas cheer. I mean do I really need five TV’s in my house? Is it really all that important for me to get the new IPad, when I already have two computers? There are people living on the street that don’t know where their next meal will come from. Their children are cold and hungry. These are not drunks or drug addicts, they are people with college educations, that had very good jobs and made a very good living. It’s all gone now. Can I give up something so I can help them?

There is a reason that Christmas is spelled with a capital C. It stands for Christ. His name is part of the word Christmas. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for you and for me. He had nothing. No job, no home, no gold and silver, no IPad’s that He could sell and give, all He had was a perfect sinless life to offer for your ransom and mine.

You see, the reason you and I will taste death, is because of our sin. The penalty for that sin, is death. All of humanity was plunged into Satan’s prison, because of the disobedience of our parents, Adam and Eve, that’s why only a perfect unblemished life could be offered as a payment for our ransom.

One thing that Satan never thought would happen, is that God Himself, would come down to this murky sin filled planet, and pay that ransom, and win our freedom back from Satan.

God came down to this earth in the form of a man, and that man’s name was Jesus Christ, who’s birth we celebrate on Christmas. Maybe that’s why people do good around Christmas because God initiated it by the giving of Himself for you and me.

I don’t care what religion you are, how or even if you celebrate Christmas, weather you say, “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas”, it doesn’t change the facts of the real story of Christmas. It’s not about a little baby in a manger, but a risen savior, who opened the way to God for you and me. All we have to do…is walk in it.

That’s why Christmas is spelled with a capital C.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever should believe in Him, would not perish, but have ever-lasting life.” John 3:16

Brian Gosur

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Sep

23

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Categories: Truth For Today

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Knowing about God is simply not enough

“He has book sense, but he doesn’t have common sense.” How many of you have heard that said before?  I’ve had people say that about me before, and to my shame, sometimes that has been true. This refers to people whose expertise may appear to be vast and impressive, but it’s not really useful. They are well informed in theory, but they are fools in practice.

There are many people in our churches today who are book smart when it comes to the Bible, but no application when it comes to practice. They know the truth of God’s word but their is no root or transformation in their lives. They can give you all the right answers but that truth has never penetrated their hearts or brought about real faith and repentance.

That does not mean that the truth of God’s word is ineffective . It doesn’t mean that the truth of God’s Word always will secure a sanctifying  and positive result. When Moses was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt back in the book of Exodus, Pharaoh was continually confronted with the truth of God and he continually hardened his heart toward that truth. The same sun that melts the wax also hardens the clay.

In James chapters one and two talk about “faith without works is dead.” You don’t have to reject the truth to be become hardened to it. To those who hear God’s Word and don’t do it, actually become desensitized and hardened by hearing it rather than renewed and edified.

Many people have met Jesus Christ, but not many know Jesus Christ. No amount of theology or study of God’s Word can take the place of real repentance and living faith. These are the vital marks of a right relationship with God.

Many of the worlds Bible scholars see the Bible as only as an ancient piece of literature. They have a tremendous knowledge of the Bible but their hearts remain cold and unmoved by the truth.

Every Sunday churches are filled with people who have this same view. Many of them grew up in the church. They are very familiar with the truth and the Bible stories.  they may not be completely cold to biblical truth, but they haven’t fully obeyed it yet either.

Many of them lead bible studies and write about it, but to them, the Bible is no more than a hobby, and they never really submit to it’s authority. Others only think about the bible on Sundays. Most of the time it sits on the corner or on a shelf, and the only time it is ever opened is in a special time of need, and then put back to collect more dust.

Knowing about God is simply not enough. Taking in all the facts apart from a true faith and repentance is no better than what James 2:19 describes about the demons. They believe and know that God exists, but they’re not going to heaven or have any kind of relationship with God at all.

To know about God is still a very important part of knowing Him. There are those who through their upbringing or bits and pieces of the bible, have put together a god of their own making. Their concept of God is just a figment of their own imagination. Many of these people are very active members of our churches today.

Some will chose a more favorable attribute of God and camp on it to the exclusion of everything else He has revealed about Himself in His Word. For example, “God is love”. If your theology starts and stops right there, you are worshiping a false god. There is so much more that you need to know about who God is; His nature and character. You just can’t cherry pick the truth.

Bottom line is, what you know about God and what you do with that knowledge touches every facet of your life.

“So Jesus said to those who believed in him, “If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples;  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

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Sep

18

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“The Truth Will Set You Free”

You don’t see much of that around anymore; truth. We live in a world where truth is relative. What is true for you may not be true for me? The man that I quoted the title of this article from lived a very long time ago. He had, as I believe and many people believe, a lot to say about truth and He had the qualifications to speak about the subject of truth also. But not many listened to him.

It used to be where a person could close a contract with another person and all they had to do was shake hands and give their word on it. That was all that was needed to seal the terms and close the contract. Bam! It was law. Wow, have we come a long way from there.

What is a person’s word today? It is based on the character and the quality of the individual giving it. Think about all the times we give our word to someone and never follow through with it or never have any intention of following through on it. But yet we smile and say;” you can count on me”,” I won’t let you down.” ” I’ll be right there, just call me.” ” I promise next week we will go for sure.” Sound familiar.

The number of students who cheat on exams is increasing, and when asked if they think it is wrong to cheat on an exam, many say no, “Because everyone is doing it.” People lie and cheat on resumes to get the job they want. People lie at the alter before they take their wedding vows, and some have cheated on their fiancé’ before they even get to the alter. Anybody remember Enron? Is it any wonder that we have no trust in our society or government today?

With truth comes trust. Yes trust. That too is in short demand in our world. No one trusts anybody anymore. We don’t trust our government nor the people, who swore an oath, and we elected to run that government. We don’t trust our neighbors, our spouses, our kids, our clergy, teachers, and police officers. My mom always told me that if I ever got lost, I was to find the nearest policeman, and he could be trusted to get me back home.

The list could go on and on. Now I’m not saying that we can’t trust our police or government officials or any of these, all I am saying is that we have come, to what I believe, is a crossroads in this country for truth and justice and doing what is right, no matter what the cost, and this, and only this, will build trust in our hearts for each other. You see, it has to start from within. You can’t fake it.

What will build back the trust that we so desperately need?…Truth…… We are right back where we started……truth….. How? How do we get the truth? How does everyone start telling the truth all of a sudden? Like I said before, truth comes from within. It starts in the heart.

The man that I quoted the title of this article, who lived a long time ago. His name is Jesus Christ. Here is the full quote of what He had to say.

“While he was saying these things, many people believed in him.
Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:30-32

Jesus standing before Pilot at His trial, and Pilot looked right at Jesus and asked Him, “What is truth?” He didn’t know that the author of truth was standing right in front of him. That same scene is played out over and over today.

Is the truth standing before today? Ask Him to come in and make Himself at home in your heart. He will, and He will start to clean up the place.

“You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”

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Aug

30

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Categories: Encouragement, Love

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It’s Only Words

For some of you, these are very memorable words from a song that was released, by the BeeGees, back in 1968. They may bring back memories of romance, or of a love that didn’t happen. Words have that affect on us. Words are very powerful. They can conjure up memories, weather good or bad. They can also be very destructive.

Words are a way of communication. I think a thought or an in idea in my mind. I sit down, like I am doing right now, and put into words the thoughts or ideas that I want to communicate to you into these words. You read them and you now know a little bit more about whom I am and what I’m thinking, by the words that I just expressed. Words are one way of expressing to others who we are.

Words are not the only way of expressing ourselves to others. Art is another way. Acting, on a stage or through a motion picture, is another form of expression. The art of Mime is another way of expressing me.Through a series of actions; the mime paints a picture through a story to his viewers. All these are different ways for us to convey our feelings and thoughts to others.

But when you come down to the bare nuts and bolts of it, its through the vehicle of words that we are trying to say something.

How do the blind communicate when they have never seen? How do the deaf communicate when they have never heard a sound in their life? How do people, who can’t speak your language, communicate with you? Without words, it becomes very difficult to speak my thoughts to you.

Even the Creator Himself, could not communicate with us, until He became a man and had to enter our world, before we would ever begin to understand the message He was trying to convey to us. We can see His creative hand in the beauty of nature, the sun, moon and the stars, but we can never really truly understand someone until we here the words that they speak.

In the gospel according to John, chapter one and verse one, it says. “In the beginning was the word” The meaning of “word” is; to collect, to put words side by side, to speak. God spoke this world into existence. God’s words were powerful, but we did not understand Him. So He came into our world to talk to us. John 1:14 says; “The word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The living word of God was made flesh. He came into our world as a man, and that man’s name was Jesus Christ. “Dwelt among us”; means to pitch His tent. For all you campers out there, God pitched a tent down here on this earth for a short time and for a specific purpose; “He dwelt among us”

The point of all this is to show how important our words are. If God put so much emphasis on getting His word out to us, how much should we put into practicing the right words that we speak to each other.

Our words can speak truth and life into people or they can speak destruction and death. What is worse, physical or verbal abuse? They are both extremely bad and equally harmful.

The other side of speaking and communicating with our words is to express no words and shut down all communication. That is very bad also. This is something that I still struggle with to this day. It was something that I saw practiced in my home, when I was growing up, all the time. If I didn’t like what I saw or didn’t get what I wanted, I would go into the silent mode. No communication until you come on my terms. This is also very destructive.

There can be so much said about this topic, and I could go on and on, but lets bring this in for a landing.

Communication is a lost art today. We travel at such break neck speeds, we don’t have the time to sit down and share our thoughts and ideas, with others. Unless it’s for business or getting something that I want. Our thoughts and ideas are what makes us unique. It’s who you are.

Share your self through your words with that special person in your life. Your wife, husband, children, aunt, uncle, or very dear friend. Let them also share their words with you. That means you have to shut everything else down and go into listen mode. Not an easy thing to do today.

Better yet, find a person who doesn’t have anyone else to share their words with. Sit down and let them share. I know, it might not be easy. They may talk about things that you don’t really find interesting, but don’t forget….they will also listen to you as well.

After all; it’s only words….. And words are all I have….to take your heart away.

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Aug

7

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Categories: Who Do Men Say That I am?

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Who Do Men Say That I Am?

In the gospel according to Matthew, chapter 16 and verse thirteen, Jesus asked His disciples; ” Who do men say that I am?”

We all have a belief system. All of us believe in something. We may have gotten a little bit from here or a little bit from that friend, but what ever it is we have a system of things we believe in and they shape all the decisions that we make. It doesn’t matter what it is, it shapes who you are and what you do.

What do you believe?

Do you believe in God or you don’t believe in God? What kind of God do you believe in? Is He a big God? What can He do and what can He not do? Your view of God and what kind of God you see or don’t see will shape who you are and what kind of life you live. That view of God was probably influenced by your parents, how you were raised, and what kind of home you were raised in.

I was raised in a home were we went to church every week. My mom and dad lived every other day of the week the way they wanted to, but when Sunday came around, we were ready to get our “Sunday go to meeting clothes” on, and off to praise and worship the Lord. I learned at an early age, that God wanted us on Sunday, and the rest of the week was ours.

I thought God was a big guy up in the heavens some where and He was ready to bring the hammer down on me whenever I stepped out of bounds. That was my view of God and my life showed it in a very big way.

What’s Your View of God?

Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” He had been teaching them for awhile. People had been hearing what He was saying. They saw the healing’s that He had performed. The blind were given sight. The lame were walking. People with demon spirits were being set free. The dead were given life again. His teaching was different then anyone else that they heard. It was time to ask the question.

Who Do Men Say That I am?

Jesus had given a full account of who He was and what He mission on earth was all about. He did it by what He taught and what He said, and He proved it by the miracles and even the winds and the waves obeyed His voice.  Some said He was Elijah and some said He was one of the prophets, that has come back to life. Now He asked the question to His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, who was the spokesperson for the group said, “You are the Christ, (or messiah) son of the Living God.” Peter basically said, you are the one we have been waiting for. Our Messiah given, to save us from our sin. Given to us from the “Living” God. God is not dead.

Whatever has shaped your view of who God, or what you think of Him, or maybe you don’t believe He even exists. That question Jesus asked His disciples thousands of years ago, He asks you today.

Who do you say that I am? Your answer to this question will shape the rest of your life. It will definitely alter your belief system, no matter what it is.

Don’t be molded into what everybody else says or what they believe. Check it out for yourself. Read God’s autobiography, the Bible. Find out what He says about Himself and then you decide. It’s the only way you will ever really know.

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Jul

28

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Categories: Encouragement

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Who Do You Trust?

I remember when my boys were small, and I would stand in the pool and hold my arms out, while they were standing on the side, and I would say, “jump”. They would reluctantly look at me, and hesitate….think for awhile and move closer to the edge. I often thought, “what was really going on in those little minds? Did they really think that their Father would let them fall in the water and drown? Don’t they trust me?”

I’ve often thought about that when I face a new challenge or crisis in my own life. What must my heavenly Father think about me? He knows what I’m really thinking about. He knows if I truly trust Him all the way or if I am a little hesitant. Do I step a little closer to Him and than turn back and go my own way?

I think of the verse in the book of Job. After Job had been through some real rough times, Job said of God, ” He knows the way that I take, after He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) God knows where you are today my friend. He knows what you are going through and He is right there at your side as you go through it. “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5) Remember, He will not permit you to go through more than you can handle. (1Cor. 10:13)

Who do you trust? How is trust built? I remember J. Vernon McGee telling the story of a bridge that was being built in the small town where he lived. After the bridge was completed, the engineers drove huge trucks and heavy equipment across the bridge, and someone asked why they did that? Did they think it might collapse? They said absolutely not. They were proving that it wouldn’t.

Jesus asked His disciples, ” Who do men say that I am? They answered, some say you are Elijah and some say John the baptist. He asked them, Who do you say that I am, and Peter stood and answered, You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” (Mark 8:27-29)

It was from the experience of knowing and living and walking with Jesus, that Peter could say, ” You are the Christ the son of the living God.” They could not say that at the beginning.

You and I must also walk and live and commune with the living God on a daily basis. Learning and knowing more and more through the experiences we face with Him, will enable us to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is the Christ, the son of the living God.

He takes us through trials and testings so that we might know, not believe, but know that He is there and that He loves us and will always take us through. We learn this from our trials and difficulties in this life.

Read (Colossians 1:9-12). The word that is used for knowledge in verse 9 means to know something from experience. Knowledge that comes from a deep intimate relationship. When you and I can gain that kind of a trust and bond with our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, we will learn trust and faith in Him because we’ve tested the bridge, and it holds us up.

How about today? God is holding out His arms to you, and He’s saying, ” come on and jump. I’ll catch you. I won’t let nothing happen to you.” Where are you? Are you standing around the edge deciding if you should go or are you going the other way? Do you trust Him? Do you really believe what He says?

Peter said at the end of his life, ” But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. (2Peter 3:18) Peter could say this from experience. He knew.

May God bless you.

Brian Gosur

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Jun

9

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THE LOST FORTUNE

For years the rock served as a doorstop on John Reed’s North Carolina farm. The old Hessian farmer’s son Conrad found the seventeen pound rock in the creek bed but no one thought much of it. It wasn’t until 1802 that a Fayetteville jeweler examined it and then offered $3.50 to the farmer for the stone. John sold it for that price but in the days that followed it was revealed that the yellowish rock was seventeen pounds of solid gold. Adjusted for inflation that means that $300,000.00 of gold in our day was sold for the equivalent in today’s dollars for a little over 50 bucks ($50.00). Like the old German farmer John Reed, many have come to think of eternal life –something with great value –to be something ordinary.

In a materialistic culture as we have in America, we can think of the gift of eternal life to be something ordinary and of little value here and now. We must learn that the prize of eternal life has great value while we are on earth. Eternal life itself isn’t just limited in impact to the future. An American minister named Reverend Ike preached a prosperity gospel. Ike used to speak mockingly of evangelical Christianity as offering only “pie in the sky in the sweet bye and bye.” That isn’t true. The Scriptures reveal that eternal life isn’t simply about the future. I am going to tell you a secret that is more precious than gold and it can liberate you from spiritual bondage.

When we hear the expression “eternal life” we are inclined to think about existence after death. In addition, we are prone to think of eternal life as referring to time and duration – things that will last forever. However, according to John 17:3 this isn’t the main idea behind the concept of eternal life. You may have heard it before and you may have heard it many times but eternal life isn’t just about the future, it is about a relationship. Our relationship to God. Read Jesus’ words carefully, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3.) The word know is speaking of a personal or firsthand knowledge of God. The first time this word for “know” appears in the New Testament is in Matthew in reference to the physical union between Mary and Joseph. Matthew 2:25 tells us that Joseph, “…did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.” Although this is a different kind of relationship, it still helps us to recognize that the word “know” is used of a firsthand, personal knowledge of another individual.

Let me clarify my point. You must be clear in your thinking and distinguish between “knowing God” and “knowing about God.” We know God by seeking Him by studying the Bible, by meditating upon His Word, through times of prayer, through times of worship and by purposefully obeying His commands. A person needs to seek a supernatural understanding of God’s Word, and he cannot be content with an intellectual understanding of the Bible and God alone. Two of the greatest evangelical voices in the 20th century warned against failing to distinguish between knowing God and only knowing about God. The first voice is, J. I. Packer, who admonishes us about making knowing God just an intellectual endeavor when he writes:

“If the decisive factor was notional correctness, then obviously the most learned biblical scholars would know God better than anyone else. But it is not; you can have all the right notions in your head without ever tasting in your heart the realities to which they refer; and a simple Bible reader and sermon-hearer who is full of the Holy Ghost will develop a far deeper acquaintance with his God and saviour than more learned men who are content with being theologically correct. The reason is that the former will deal with God regarding the practical application of truth to his life, whereas the latter will not.” (J. I. Packer, Knowing God.)

It is possible to know about God without experiencing Him. It is possible to have only an intellectual understanding of who God is It is possible to fail to experience God as the Psalmist invites us: “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8.)

The second voice is A. W. Tozer, who gave a similar warning. In his book The Divine Conquest he spoke of those who seek God in books alone. He then contrasted the person who has only a second hand knowledge of God with one who knows Him firsthand. Tozer says the person who knows God on a personal level will consider an approach on an intellectual basis alone to be a perversion. He wrote that the man who knows God firsthand will be repulsed by such an idea and will say:

“‘I have heard Him and observed Him. What have I to do any more with idols?’ For he cannot love a God who is no more than a deduction from a text. He will crave to know God with a vital awareness that goes beyond words and to live in the intimacy of personal communion. “To seek our divinity merely in books and writings is to seek the living among the dead; we do but in vain many times seek God in these, where His truth too often is not so much enshrined as entombed.” (A. W. Tozer The Divine Conquest.)

This is the point of Jesus’ words in John. He is saying that eternal life is more than grasping the theological truths. It is about knowing God as a friend and companion. Eternal life is about knowing God personally, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3.) When we come to Christ He may merely be a stranger, but we must seek a closer relationship with Him if we are to be healthy spiritually.

Consider three key benefits of a deep and personal knowledge of God. First, some come to Christ and are born again and find instant release from sinful behaviors. Others come to Christ and over the years find themselves mired in some sinful habit. No matter how long you’ve walked with the Lord or no matter how deep the pit in which you find yourself, the gift of eternal life can still bring release from spiritual bondage. The gift and benefit of knowing God is powerful in setting us free. According 2 Peter 2:20 the writer indicates that we escape the pollution of the world through a knowledge of God, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ….” Certainly this verse refers in part to the release that we have from sin’s penalty when we trust Christ but there is something more here. This verse speaks of the pollution that surrounds sin. It isn’t merely release from the penalty of sin that comes through a knowledge of God; but the knowledge of God overcomes sin’s polluting and corrupting influence . The more we press in and learn to walk more closely with the Lord the less the grip sin and any kind of spiritual pollution will have on our lives.

Second, according to Daniel 11:32 our energy level and interest in spiritual things is goverened by our knowledge of God. “Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (Daniel 11:32) Daniel’s prophecy was speaking of the people of Israel and that their knowledge of God will cause them to be courageous. In our culture and our day we must be careful to not allow the things of this world to interfere and take God’s place in our lives. It should be obvious that the more distant our walk, the more fearful we will become. Like the apostle, many follow the Lord “afar off” and are then paralyzed by fear. (Mark 14:54.) A fearful Christian will find it comfortable to stick with what he knows even if it is robbing him. A Christian who has only a technical or second hand knowledge of God will be timid and find it difficult to tell others about Christ.

Finally, according to Ephesians 1:17-18 a person will increase in wisdom and understanding through a knowledge of God. In Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17 the apostle prayed, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” Knowledge of God will expand our understanding of our world and wisdom will illumine our way. Wisdom is: the ability to anticipate the results of one’s decisions and it is the predisposition to do what is right (follow the way of righteousness). On the one hand by walking close with the Lord, a believer’s ability to see pitfalls and hidden dangers will be heightened. While we have the promise for wisdom in James’ epistle, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5.) In keeping with this verse wisdom is found by spending time with the Lord. The quest for wisdom through prayer will bring us into God’s presence, and wisdom will be granted to us as we walk with Him.

On the other hand, knowing God as a friend and companion will impact our ability to see things more clearly. It gives the believer the capacity to better appreciate the resources and lavish inheritance that is our’s in Christ. Notice this is the message of the next verse, Ephesians 1:18. Our capacity to understand our inheritance in Christ is expanded through our knowledge of Him, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18.) Our ability to see our eternal inheritance is overshadowed by the things of this world but knowing God breaks through the darkness. As a result, we need supernatural understanding to better grasp the blessings and benefits that have been poured out upon us.

Knowing God as a friend in your daily walk will help you face the struggle that you are having with sin. The more closely you know the Lord, the better your understanding of His devotion to you. The better you understand your destiny in Christ, the stronger you will be to face and reject paths that lead to self-destruction. The more confident you are about the Lord’s commitment to you, the easier it becomes to choose the path that will make you stronger.

There is a Rock by the doorway to your life and eternity and it is the Lord Himself. This Rock is more precious than gold, and there is no reason to be afraid since He can give you light for the darkness. This Rock is waiting for you to call. He loves you and He is listening.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.(Psalm 18:2-3.)

Check out our web site: http://www.servantoflight.com

(Permission is granted to use the material as long as the URL and source information are given. Copyright, Keith Churilla, 2010.)

Copyright :: All Rights Reserved
Registered :: Fri Apr 30 07:34:28 UTC 2010
Title :: THE LOST FORTUNE
Category :: Blog
MCN :: EXY13-XGUFY-XRCKR

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Jun

8

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Categories: Forgiveness

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Want To Be Like God? Forgive Someone.

Never are we acting more like God, then when we forgive someone. Forgiveness is the closet action to God that we will ever undertake.

In today’s society, forgiving someone is almost looked down upon. Vengeance and getting even is what is portrayed as the true test of ones strength. Forgiveness is an act of a cowering weak wimpy person. Is it? Lets look a little bit closer at the importance of forgiveness.

What’s the definition of forgiveness? Forgiveness is a promise. Forgiveness is a pledge. Forgiveness is a statement of undeserved and unearned love that says, no matter what you’ve done, there is no anger, no hatred, no desire for vengeance, and there will never be no retaliation. I do not hold you guilty, and I do not blame you. I hold no self pity for myself because I have been offended. I pass by this transgression completely, and extend my love to you fully. That is biblical forgiveness.

We see this character trait of God in Exodus chapter 34 and verse 6.God is talking to Moses here.

“And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD, a God full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”

I know a women who years ago was just a working class girl. Single. Enjoyed the party life. One day after her bowling night with her friends, she was leaving to go home. She had a few beers to drink. Nothing out of the ordinary. She wasn’t stoned drunk, but while she was pulling out she didn’t see the man on the motorcycle. What she thought was a slight bump to the motorcycle, turned out to be much more. She went to see if he was alright, but she could see by the twisted body, that he was not alright. He was dead!

The police came. She was arrested, and tried for manslaughter. Punishable by a long term in prison. But to her amazement, while the trial was coming to a close, the dead mans family chose not to prosecute the girl. In an emotional plea, they decided to forgive her and let her go.

Today that girl and the dead man’s family are good friends. They are all Christians and go to the same church, The girl goes around to schools and preaches to kids the dangers of drinking.

The press went wild with the story of the great act of forgiveness that this family showed this girl. There were stories in all the major newspapers, and they were even on the “Good Morning America” show.

The extension of forgiveness changed, not only the girl’s life forever, but the families involved, and who knows how many countless individuals who came to hear or read about this incredible act of forgiveness.

Jesus Christ taught many parables or stories while He was alive, and one of the most familiar stories was a story of a fathers great love for his son, and forgiveness of a wrong that was totally undeserved.

It is found in the Gospel according to Luke, chapter fifteen. The son said to his father that he wanted his part of the inheritance. He didn’t want to stay with the family. He was tired of living under his roof and under his rules. He was going to go out and do what he wanted to do. ( Kinda sounds almost like the kids of today.) You have to understand, that this was a huge insult to the father, and normally the son would be considered dead to the family and no longer accepted into the house ever again.

Now while this lad is out and spends all his money and times start to get bad. He has no where to go and no food to eat. he finds a part time job tending to a farmers pigs.( How is that. A Jewish kid tending to pigs?) He is so hungry, that he starts eating the slop that the pigs eat.

He decides to go back to his father, and admit that he was wrong and ask his forgiveness. He won’t ask for anything but to be treated like one of his fathers servants. He knows that it would be wrong to ask to be let back into the family circle.

Well while he is walking down the road that leads to his fathers house, rehearsing what he is going to say, his father sees him from the living room window, and runs out the door to meet his son. In Luke’s account of this story on the power of forgiveness, it says that not only did the father run out to meet his son, but his heart did also. Luke 15:20; “his heart went out to him.”

They meet each other and before the son could get a word out of his mouth, the father grabs him and hugs him so tight. The father is elated that his son is back. No guilt! No big speech of how he let him down! No anger! No hatred. The father just pours out his love on his son. The father puts the finest robe on him and a ring on his finger, and they have a huge feast and celebration. The father says, ” my son was dead, and now he is alive again.” ( Luke 15:24) Maybe our government should learn this, and instead of forgiving huge corporations for squandering the stockholders money, they should forgive honest hard working people their financial woes, and start listening with your heart.

This is a story of God’s great love for you and me. The salvation He provides. We have all turned to our own way. ( Isaiah 53:6 ) We, like the son, have said, I don’t need you God. I want to live my life my way. I don’t like your rules. But like the father in the story, God is waiting and looking to see if you are tired of going your own way. He is looking out the window, down the road to see if you decided that you had enough of getting beat up from the world. Come on home. He is waiting to forgive you. He has already done it. While He was hanging on the cross, He said, ” Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ( Luke 23:34)

You are never more like God, then when you forgive. He has certainly left us with the greatest example of forgiveness. His son, Jesus Christ

Brian Gosur

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