Tag Archives: faith

Judas

I was the treasurer of this little band of men

I need to find a way to fill the kitty up again.

 

I had been with Jesus for many weeks and days

I was in charge of the money that we spent in many ways.

 

I had observed Jesus action when the Pharisees attack.

He would ask a question, but the answers they would lack.

 

He said he would build a kingdom down here on this earth.

And if you know the scriptures, He was born of virgin birth.

 

The money’s running low now; we gave so much to the poor.

He is to build a kingdom but we couldn’t even buy a door!

 

The high priests wanted Jesus and I knew where he would be.

If I showed them where to go, thirty shekels they’d give me

 

With this money in the kitty we could really help the poor.

But if we’re to build a kingdom we will still need to have some more.

 

Before, when men attack him He would always get away.

So I assumed that’s what would happen on that fateful day.

 

They gave to me the money, so the plan would work that day.

But when I kissed the Savior, He didn’t get away.

 

Peter tried to protect him and cut off the servant ear.

But Jesus then rebuked him: “The scripture’s fulfilled here.”

 

What on earth has happened to my carefully, thought out plan?

Those servants just arrested Him like any common man.

 

Those servants took the master as off to court they go.

Were they really going to kill Him? I really didn’t know.

 

It was then that I realized that my plans had really failed.

They took away the Master and to a tree they nailed.

 

What can I do with this money? Can I deal with all this strife?

I will return the money and then I’ll take my life.

 

So many times we have a plan and then to prayer we go.

We ask that He will bless it, no faith in Him we show.

 

Are you like this man named Judas, as your future you will plan?

Do you trust the Savior? Or do you trust in man?

 

Does the presidential candidate have to be a Christian?

I am amazed at the lack of faith among Christians today. We approach the Presidential election as though God’s hands will be tied if we have a non-Christian president. In our own eyes we cannot see what will happen to this great country that we love. In other words, we believe that if we cannot see it, then God cannot make it happen.

When was the last time you read the book of Hosea? God tells Hosea in Hosea 1:2 to “Go marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” God puts people into power that He wants to use to discipline His people.

How many times in the Old Testament, did God put ungodly leaders into power? Did God forsake His people when the leader was an ungodly leader? God’s power is not limited by who is President. If your god is limited by man’s power, it is time for you to get a different God.

The truth is, as a Christian we want to have “easy sailing”. Even Jesus’s followers wanted ‘easy sailing’. Jesus told them in Matthew 10:34(NIV):  “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Heaven was not designed for whips. Heaven is for the faithful who have trusted in Christ as their Savior.

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-39(NIV)

God wants us to put our faith in Him and not in our government. God did not assign us to judge the spiritual convictions of our presidential candidates. What God did assign us is to vote for the candidate that God wants in power. For you to understand who God wants in power, you must have a relationship with God and be filled with the Holy Spirit so you know who to vote for. When we vote for the person God wants as president, God will do the rest.

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17(NIV)

 

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog were downloaded from: www.biblegateway.com

Ways to becoming a true Christian

How many ways can we become a ‘true’ Christian?

  • Being born into a Christian family? – NO
  • Saying a certain prayer as long as you know the date, time, and place? – NO
  • Going to a certain church or denomination? – NO
  • Being tolerant of other people? – NO
  • Taking care of sick and elderly? – NO
  • Be a good person? – NO
  • Try real hard to live a good life? – NO
  • Have a lot of Christian friends? – NO

We become a ‘true’ Christian only by having the faith to believe that Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus paid the penalty for death and no one else can pay that price.

When we believe in Christ, we are once again united with God in the same way Adam and Eve were with God in the garden. By faith in Christ, we are adopted into God’s family. We are true followers of Christ—we are Christians.

Acts 16:30-31(NIV)

 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

 They replied, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

John 3:16-21(NIV) tells us the same thing when it says:

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:16-21(NIV)

People have the right to believe whatever they want to believe but there is only one way to heaven. People can believe whatever they want to believe that will make them feel better about themselves, or feel that they have accomplished something but it still will not get them into heaven.

Salvation is a gift from God, made available through Jesus death and resurrection. There is nothing that we can do to deserve it. God is not going to force it on us or have us jump through all kinds of hoops to get to it. We either accept it or reject it.

Salvation is not dependent on Karma, a certain Horoscope readings, our tolerance of others, nor energy therapy. It is about believing that Christ died on the cross and rose again for you. The gift of salvation is brought about by our faith in an eternal God. There is no other way.

However, when we accept God’s gift of salvation, we also receive a bonus. We receive an advocate to help us and to be with us for eternity. We will never be lonely again.

“If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:15-21(NIV)

Salvation does not require a certain prayer be prayed or that certain words are used in a prayer, it is simply communicating with God that you accept His gift of salvation that was made available through Christ’s died and resurrection. You can do it right now, right where you are. God loves you.

 

NOTE: Scriptures used in this blog was downloaded from: www.biblegateway.com.

Are You Competing with God?

Why do people have jobs?

There are several reason why people have jobs. They want to pay the bills; they want to support themselves; they want new ‘toys’; they want health insurance; or they may want to establish their identity. The truth is that God supplies our needs, not our job. Our needs are supplied by God. Our job is the mission field in which God placed us.

The money we receive from our job is provided by God. When we begin to feel like we found the job or that we work at the job to earn money, our faith in God is not necessary. If these are your feelings and you lose your job, you will feel like the whole world has fallen in on you.

On the other hand, if you believe that God provided all your needs, you will be more concerned about telling others about God. You will go to work to demonstrate God’s love and to show others what God has done for you. When you are laid off, you will continue to trust God for you needs. Your faith will grow as God changes your mission field. If you sustain medical bills, God will provide for those bills if you let Him.

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19(NIV) God’s promise to us is to supply all our needs according to HIS riches. Please notice that the writer does not exclude our financial needs, our material needs, our social needs, or our physical needs. Meeting every possible need is what Jesus promised to those who are true disciples of God; those who have faith in God.

Disciples of God are people who are following Christ. Please note, not everyone who follows Christ is one of His disciples. For example, Judas Iscariot followed Jesus yet betrayed him. The Pharisees followed Jesus so they could “trap him”. Even though the Pharisees knew all the Laws God gave to his children, they were out to kill Jesus, the very Messiah whom they were supposed to be teaching the people about.

You see there were two types of followers. There were the followers who wanted to learn more about Jesus. The ones who want their faith in Him to grow. Then there were the followers who want to get Jesus out of the picture. These are the ones who claim they do not need Jesus; they are the ones who think they are ‘macho’ and do not need anyone to help them. These people believe they can have what Jesus has to offer and still keep all of their sinful desires.

True followers of Jesus are the ones who were willing to crucify themselves and their sinful desires. They are the ones whose faith in God grows stronger every day, because they have learned to trust God. They read their Bibles to learn more about God and His promises. They are the ones who put their faith in God, not themselves.

On the other hand, if you are trying to protect yourselves and your desires, you are following Jesus for the wrong reason. If you are expecting God to make YOU something great, you are following him for the wrong reason. You are trying to trust yourself, not God. When you do these things, you are in competition with God. You are reading passages of scripture that support your position and ignoring the scripture that opposes your position. You would rather follow the ideas of man than to stand up for God.

Jesus tells about a rich ruler in Luke 18 that knew all the right things to do. In fact he had done them since he was just a child. He knew the scripture and the commandments, but he was not willing to give up is natural desires. He was not willing to trust Jesus with everything.

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ ”

21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:19-22(NIV)

 If you are tired of competing with God, throw up the white flag! Surrender yourself and your desires to God. Experience a freedom that you have never known before. Let God supply all your needs according to His riches. Celebrate your newfound independence!

 

NOTE: Scripture used in the blog was downloaded from http://Biblegateway.com

What Size is Your Sin?

Many plants begin with just a small seed. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds. When the seed is planted and nurtured, it will become a large tree.

One time the disciples were trying to drive a demon out of a boy, but were unsuccessful. However, later, Jesus was able to cast out the demon that possessed the boy. When the disciples were alone with Jesus, they asked why they could not drive out the demon. Jesus replied that they had too little faith.

 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:19-21(NIV)

In other words, it takes very little faith to move mountains. We make our faith grow by nurturing it. Every time God tests us, our faith will grow if we allow it to. When we read His word and see the examples of what people have done by faith, our faith grows.

Did you know that sin grows the same way faith grows? When we commit a very small sin, we say it will not hurt this one time. However, when we nurture it and rehearse in our mind, it gets easier and easier to commit the sin. That sin will gain control of our bodies and minds.

Just looking can be seed for sin. “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 7:28(NIV)

Even in the Garden of Eden, Satan planted a seed that made Eve look at the tree:  

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:4(NIV)

If it takes faith the size of a mustard seed, to move mountains, how big does a sin need to be before it is controlling our behavior? How big does it need to be before it displeases God? How big does a sin need to be to keep someone from becoming a Christian?

On a recent Hour of Power program, Bobby Schuller talked about words, and how words can change a person’s life for either good or bad. In his message, he also referred to the fact that a person’s brain remembers every word that has ever been spoken to the person. We may not be able to recall them, but they are still in our brain.

The seed of sin may even be just a word spoken to another person. Genesis 11:1 tells about people being able to all speak the same language. Because they spoke the same language, it was causing them to sin by building a tower to heavens. God knew what was happening and caused them to speak different languages.

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11:1-9(NIV)

The Bible also says this about the tongue and how we use it.

 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 1 Peter 3:9-11(NIV)

The Bible also tells about how small the tongue is and how great the destruction it can do if it is not controlled.

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water” James 3:3-12(NIV)

You see, just as faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains, a look or a word can result in great destruction.

“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. Matthew 15:16-18(NIV)

With your words, you can change a person’s life. Are you going to say positive things that can change a life for good, and bring that person closer to Christ? Or are you going to say negative things that move that person away from Christ? What you say does affect other people.

There is a song that we used to sing as children titled “O be careful little eyes what you see”. The words of that song are very critical to the life of a Christian. The first and third verses of the song are:

 

O be careful little eyes what you see,

O be careful little eyes what you see

For the Father up above

He’s looking down in love,

So, be careful little eyes what you see.

 

O be careful, little tongue what you say

O be careful, little tongue what you say

For the Father up above

He’s looking down in love

So, be careful little tongue what you say.

 The words of this song are not just for children. These words are appropriate for each and every Christian, regardless of their age or maturity.

Our pray should be like that of the Psalmist in Psalm 19:14: May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

 NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was downloaded from http://biblegateway.com Jun 15, 2015

Same Sex Marriages: What Christians Need to Know

In the beginning of John chapter 8, Jesus is presented with a situation that was intended to get him into trouble. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. John 8:2-8(NIV)

At the time of this event, teachers of the law and the Pharisees were responsible for caring for the widows. This was a very important task. The women of this day were responsible for being their husband’s wife. They were not permitted to become secretaries, clerks, waiter, etc. There was no place for women to earn money. Consequently, if a woman lost her husband, she also lost all of her financial support. These widows had two choices: they could starve or they could become a prostitute. To prevent people from being put into this position, the leaders of the Law and Pharisees were responsible for caring for these women. When Jesus said that the person who had not sinned could throw the first stone, he knew that this group of people would feel the guilt for their actions. They fully understood what Jesus was telling them. They were negligent in caring for widows. Today, we have a very similar situation that is taking place in our society. There are Christians who are to failing to teach their children what the Bible says and what it does not say. Older women and older men are instructed to teach the young men and young women what is right and what is wrong. Our failure to teach the young men and women right from wrong has caused people to reject Jesus. Most of what is written in the Bible was written for Christians – people who have accepted Jesus Christ as the sacrificial lamb that died to our sins. When we read about how Christians should behave, we automatically apply it to people who are not Christians. We also make the mistake of telling non-Christians that they cannot go to heaven if they take part in certain behaviors. First, it is not up to Christians to determine who does, or does not go to heaven. It is God’s gift of grace, accepted by faith that will get us into heaven. We cannot earn our way to heaven by doing or not doing certain activities.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10(NIV)

There is nothing that we can do that will take that gift away from us or that will make it bigger or smaller. This gift is a gift that is given to those who believe in Jesus Christ. The gift is the same for all people regardless of their past. God will not force his gift on anyone, but he has made it available for everyone, regardless of his or her sexual orientation. Faith and grace are not the same! If we fail to do what God wants us to do, we do not lose our free gift of grace. We receive grace when God receives us just as we are. He knows that we cannot live sinless lives by ourselves. Our faith, on the other hand is something that grows as we learn to follow Jesus. Likewise, it diminishes (or dies) as we fail to follow Jesus. Included in our free gift of grace, is the Holy Spirit who dwells in our lives. The Holy Spirit guides the Christians actions. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to live. It even teaches us who we should choose for a marriage partner. God’s plan for marriage has not, nor will it ever change. Only the secular definition of marriage changes according to the wishes of the people. Faith does not force us to behave in a given manner. But rather, our actions are an indications of our faith. If a person does not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in his/her life they are incapable of living by the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, your only choice is to follow your fleshly nature

 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:12-13(NIV)

Christians should not expect the non-Christians to behave like Christians. In fact, we are to love them ‘as Christ loved us’. Changing how people behave is the work of the Holy Spirit, not Christians, or anybody else. People are born in sin. Every one of us started with a fleshly nature. Included in that fleshly nature, is the potential of becoming a gay or lesbian person.

 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:21-32(NIV)

In this passage of scripture, the writer is telling about the behavior of people who have not accepted God’s gift of grace. The writer never says, however that these people can never accept God’s gift of grace. Our behavior is the result of who we are following. When we follow our fleshly desires, we do those things that help us feel better at the time. We do the things that our flesh desires to do. However, if we crucify our fleshly desires, and are led by the Holy Spirit as Christians are instructed to do, we do things like love our neighbor, live in peace, joy, and happiness.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:16-26(NIV)

A person’s behavior is determined by who they are following. As a Christian, it is our responsibility to demonstrate God’s love to those who are not following the Holy Spirit. It is our responsibility to love other people. Love never forces itself on anyone.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:6-16(NIV)

Are we like the Pharisees and teachers of the law mention at the beginning of this blog? Do we want to throw the first stone? Why would someone want to be a Christian if we fail to live like Christ? If you are a Christian, go love someone who is in need of God’s love. Do not condemn them because they are behaving the way God said they would behave. God gave them over to their fleshly desires. God, not man, let them have their own way. Note: All scripture used in this article were downloaded from: http:// biblegateway.com

Is Jesus Your Savior or Your Lord?

A savior is someone who saves us or delivers us from evil and destruction.

In the Old Testament, the people were looking for a savior. God was their savior. He was their refuge during times of trouble. The Children of Israel would make sacrifices for their sin. In the book of Leviticus you will find the instructions for these offering.

A spotless lamb was frequently brought to be offered as a sin offering. The price for sin was the shedding of blood.  When the lamb was slayed, it was paying the price for the sin committed by the person bringing the offering.

When Jesus left his heavenly home to come to earth in human form, He was the lamb that would be slayed for our sins. He was the spotless lamb whose blood would be sacrificed for the sins of the world. He blood paid the price for our sin. This offering was for everyone who believed that Jesus was who he claimed to be.

Because of God’s grace, everyone can have salvation. They can be delivered from their sin.  This deliverance is a gift that people can receive or reject. When people accepts this gift of salvation, they are considered Christians. They have accepted Jesus as their Savior.  If they reject this gift, they will remain in their sinful condition. They will continue to be headed toward destruction regardless of what Satan tells them.

Near the end of Jesus ministry on earth, he told his disciples that he was going to send an advocate. This advocate would work on our behalf to keep us free from sin. He was like having Jesus with us full time. This Advocate is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third part of the trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the part of the Trinity that communicates with our inner spirit. This communication takes place in the spirit realm. In other words, the Holy Spirit hears our utterings and interprets them into the “spirit language” which he then presents to God on our behalf.

When we accept this gift, we receive forgiveness of sins and an advocate with the Heavenly Father. This means we have accepted Jesus as our Savior.

The communication we have with our Heavenly Father is a two-way communication. The Holy Spirit not only takes our requests to God, but he also brings God’s word to us in a way that we can understand what God the Father wants us to do. He has given us the Bible. The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us understand what God is telling us in the Bible. Since the Holy Spirit is communicating on a spiritual level, He takes the words of the Bible and interprets them to the spirit language that enables our spirit to understand the message from God and to do what he is telling us to do.

Since the Holy Spirit is interpreting the Bible for us, it does not matter what translation or language we have because the Holy Spirit is telling us what God the Father wants us to hear.

What we do with the information the Holy Spirit gives us determines who has Lordship of our lives. In other words, our response to the Holy Spirit determines our Lordship. If we respond favorable to the Holy Spirit, we are allowing God to have lordship over our lives. On the other hand if we continue to do what our inner spirit wants us to do, we ourselves have the lordship of our life. Frequently these people tend to allow Satan with his lies to control their lives because they lack God’s protection. Their lordship belongs to Satan.

In Ephesians 5, Paul tells us:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.(Ephesians 5:12-20(NIV)

In our human spirit, we see things that we think will bring us happiness and peace. Frequently they do bring happiness and peace for a very short time. Satan, who also works as a spirit, is trying to get our spirit to see only the pleasure, and not the consequence of our sin. He leads us further and further from God by giving us very short times of happiness that frequently led us into more loneliness and dissatisfaction. He leads us to a place where we fail to see any hope for the future.

However, If we listen to the Holy Spirit, we will experience a lasting joy, a lasting peace, and a constant companion. It is as if Jesus were walking right beside us as a friend, keeping us from sin.  It is like He is holding us accountable for our actions.

In Galatians 4, Paul tells us we must crucify our flesh with its passions and desires.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26(NIV)

If Jesus is our Lord, we have crucified your fleshly desire. But until we have crucified our flesh with its passion and desires, we are unable to have Jesus as our Lord. Christians are to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. By keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, we have accepts Jesus as our Lord. This is what Jesus wanted all of his followers to do. This is what Jesus did while on the earth. Jesus did the Father’s will and not his own will.

What is your answer?  “Is Jesus your Savior, or is he your Lord?”

Having Jesus as your Lord does not mean you are sinless. You will still be prone to sin. However, having Jesus as your Lord will cause you to walk away from sin rather than toward it. Jesus as Lord will give you joy and peace.

NOTE:  All scripture in this blog were downloaded from biblegateway.com

Salvation: Faith or Works

For a believer in Christ, Salvation means that a person is redeemed, justified, and will live eternally with the Lord.

  • Redemption: From the beginning of time, God has required the shedding of blood for the cleansing (forgiveness) of our sin. When a person sinned, they were required to offer a blood sacrifice for the ‘redemption’ of their sin. When Jesus became the blood sacrifice for our sin, He redeemed us. He paid the price for our sin.
  • Justification: when the offering was accepted by God, He justified the person. In other words, God’s eyes the person had not sinned. Because Jesus paid the price for our sin, in God’s eyes we become sinless.
  • Grace: when Christians sin, God overlooks our sin. We remain justified. In other words our behavior does not affect our salvation.
  • Eternal life: was made possible when God caused Jesus to be victorious over death. Because of this victory, Christians will also share that victory and spend eternity with God

Salvation is accepted by faith. Faith is believing that God has, or will cause something to happen even though it has never happened before. The Message Bible says it this way:

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. Hebrews 11:1-2(MSG)

Salvation is not dependent on what we do or not do, it is dependent on our faith in God. It is possible that a Christian could commits a sin and not lose his/her salvation. That sin may even be murder, lust, improper sexual activity, etc. but the truth is that they have not lost their salvation because of those acts, even though many Christians wish it were otherwise…which by the way, is also sin.

Works refers to the activities that we do in our lives whether good or bad. You may ask: “What is the importance of works?”

The works that a Christian does determines the rewards they will receive when they get to heaven.  In fact, the Bible tells of two books used in determining rewards.

The one book is list of the names of the people who, by faith accepted the gift of salvation. The second book is the list of things that Christians have done. Because of God’s grace, only the good things a Christian has done are recorded in this book.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second deathAnyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15(NIV)

The second book is used to determine the rewards that a Christian will receive when he/she gets to heaven. This is what the writer of Hebrews telling about when he tells about faith in Hebrews 11.

 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6(NIV)

A person can do every good deed conceivable and never receive a reward because they do not have faith in God.  In other words, not everyone that does good deeds will receive a reward in heaven unless their name is recorded in the Lambs book of life.  However, they have already received their reward on earth.

Matthew 6 gives several examples of people who have already received their rewards. Some of these people are people who are:

  • practicing your righteous acts so you can be seen by others (v.1)
  • giving to the needy to get attention for themselves. (v.2)
  • praying to impress others. (v.5)
  • make a big issue out of fasting, so other people will see them. (v.16)

People who do good deeds for the purpose of bring attention to themselves, have already received their rewards, albeit temporary. Those who do good deeds so God is glorified, will receive an eternal reward.

Doing good deeds does not make one a Christian but being a Christian will cause one to do good deeds.

 

NOTE: All scripture in this blog were downloaded from Biblegateway.com

IS YOUR CHURCH COMFORTING OR IS IT ENCOURAGING?

 Comfort

Comfort – a state or situation in which you are relaxed and do not have any physically unpleasant feelings caused by pain, heat, cold, etc. http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/comfort downloaded 12/22/14

Praying Hypocrites Matthew 6. The comfort the hypocrites received was being seen by others. In other words, if someone saw them, they were comforted.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full…” Matthew 6:5(NIV)

2.  Disciples on stormy lake, Luke 8. When the disciples were in the storm, Jesus rebuked the storm and the disciples were comforted.

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. Luke 8:22-24(NIV)

3. Children of Israel before reaching the Promised Land, Exodus 16 (looking back at tradition). The Children of Israel were upset by the food God was giving them and they wanted to go back to Egypt were they could be content. To comfort them, God gave them manna and quail from heaven.

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” Exodus 16:1-5(NIV)

Comfort is meant to relieve that pain or discomfort in a person’s present condition. When someone loses a loved one, we will frequently talk about things of the past in an effort to get the grieving person comfortable with the situation so they can keep going..

Comfort implies looking back or helping a person function at the level they are on.

Using the illustration of the glass half full (or half empty) we can see that comfort is looking at the water in the bottom of the glass so we can see from where we have come, we can see the success that have had to get ‘half full’.

Encourage

Encouragement on the other hand, is looking forward. It is: heartening, urging, stimulating, and fostering one to continue filling the glass.  It is the idea of moving from our current position in the glass to the filled position in the glass.

1a :  to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope :  hearten <she was encouraged to continue by her early success>

b :  to attempt to persuade :  urge <they encouraged him to go back to school>

2 :  to spur on :  stimulate <warm weather encourages plant growth>

3:  to give help or patronage to :  foster <government grants designed to encourage conservation>

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/encourage downloaded 12/22/14

1.  Praying Christian, Matthew 6.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.Matthew 6:9-13(NIV)

Jesus was encouraging his disciples to focus forward to what God was going to do rather than backward to what they had already done. Their reward was in the future and not the present as in the case of the Hypocrite mentioned earlier.

2.  Disciples on stormy lake, Luke 8 When the disciples were in the storm, God comforted them by calming the storm, but he encouraged them to have faith in God for the future.

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”  Luke 8:24-25(NIV)

3.  Children of Israel before reaching the Promised Land, Exodus 16 After God comforted the Children of Israel in the wilderness by giving the manna and quail, He encouraged them to look forward and preserve the manna for generations to come. By doing this, God was causing the Children of Israel to look forward to generations to come. God wanted them to be ‘filled glasses’ not just ‘half-filled glasses’.

33 So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.”

34 As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preservedExodus 16:33-34(NIV)

God wanted the Children of Israel to know that God was the one who was feeding them and they could trust God to provide for them in the future.

Why is it important to know the difference between comfort and encourage?

I believe the church should provide both comfort and encouragement for believers, but if the church concentrates on one and disregards the other, we have a lot of Christians that are only half full, they will never know the fullness of God’s gift to them.

In earlier translations of the Bible, like the Authorized King James Version the word comforted is sometimes used because at the time of the translation it was the best word to use. However, like many of the English words that have evolved or changed over time, comfort used in the earlier translations may now be better translated encourage.

For example, in many of Paul’s letters to the early churches, Paul was trying to encourage the churches to grow in Christ. He wanted them to mature.. He wanted them to effectively spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was not just comforting them so they would remain the same forever, as the earlier translation would tend to indicate. Paul was encouraging the believers and in fact he was teaching them to encourage one another.

In I Thessalonians 4:18 and  1 Thessalonians 5:11,  Paul makes the statement that the believers were to encourage one another because of what God was going to do. The modern translation of the Greek word used here means to encourage

You will notice In the first part of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, Paul was comforting them. He is attempting to get them to realize who they are and what they came from. Then in 1 Thessalonians chapters 4 and 5, Paul has moved past the comforting position and moved into the encouraging position.  There is a place for both positions in the lives of Christians. If Paul had stopped by just comforting them, their ‘glass would remain only be half full’. They would not mature as believers but would remain dormant.

Jesus frequently began with comfort and ended with encouragement.

 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. (Comfort)You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (Encouragement) John 14:1-3(NIV)

In our society today, we have churches that are great at comforting. They frequently talk about what happened years ago, but they have a tendency not to move forward because of traditions or fear of upsetting the church members who have already passed from this life. But they frequently fail to encourage spiritual growth for those who remain. They believe that anything new is ‘sin’. They tend to be controlled by tradition rather than the Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, we have churches that provide great encouragement, but they tend to just ignore comfort of those who need comforting. They encourage people by talking about going to heaven or about God providing them good things. But they fail to comfort them by talking about sin, the cause of their discomfort. They throw out traditions altogether. They sing a lot of new songs but ignore the comfort that the traditional hymns provide. They disregard the theology taught by the traditional hymns and do what people want them to do. They become more like the local coffee shop than a church. They are controlled by the false idea that everything our parents did in church was wrong, and needs to be changed to something more acceptable to society.

The Bible teaches that Christians are to comfort those who need comforting and to encourage  those who need encouragement. The Bible teaches that we are to encourage one another to mature, and become more like Christ.

Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18(NIV)

 

NOTE: All scripture in this blog was downloaded from Biblegateway.com

Faith or Bullying?

In our desire to have everyone believe like we do, we frequently us a bullying tactic to get them to convert to our beliefs. We attempt to change their beliefs without first listening to what they believe. We want people to have our beliefs regardless of what they think.  We are trying to bring glory to ourselves. We lack faith in God.

You can tell people about your faith without forcing them to believe like you.  In fact, that is what the Bible tells you to do. It also tells us to do this in love. The reality of the situation is that the Holy Spirit convicts people of their need to change. Our job is to love them!

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6(NIV)

When we attempt to convert people by using a bullying tactic, we are demonstrating a lack of faith.  We cannot wait for the Holy Spirit to convict, we want to convict them in our timing, using our own strength.

In Matthew 17:14-21 the writer is writing about faith.

A man brings his son to the disciples wanting them to heal his demon possessed son but they weren’t able to heal him. Why? Because they were relying on their own power to heal the boy. The man was relying on the power of the disciples and the disciples were trying to use their power to heal the boy. The disciples didn’t want to bother God with their problem…They wanted to resolve it by themselves…without faith. They were concerned about their reputation; they wanted the glory.

When the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t heal the boy, Jesus said they had “so little faith.” You see, they were trusting in themselves to heal the boy.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20(NIV)

In Mark’s account found in Mark 9:14-29, he adds another phrase that I believe is very important. The phrase is found in v. 29 when Jesus said: “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

The faith that Jesus is talking about is not believing that you can physically move mountains in your own power; It is about trusting God with your mountain. Jesus is talking about faith on the spiritual plane. That is why it takes prayer. Prayer is at the spiritual plane!

Many of the problems that we face in our society today will only be resolved by trusting God at the spiritual plane! The problems are situations that God puts in our paths to show us His power and glory, but we are trying to do them on a physical plane so that we can get the glory. We are trying to bullying God into doing what we want.

This does not mean that we don’t do anything on the physical plane.  The Holy Spirit will be the one to give us the instructions that God wants us to execute. In other words, when we ask God for something like moving a mountain,  He may have us use a shovel in the process of moving the mountain, but it is God that is ultimately moving the mountain. God is the one orchestrating the removal.

There are many discouraging events happening in the United States today. We have concerns about government control, economy, our freedom, family structure, etc. As people, we have a tendency to get other people to join our band wagon as we fight for or against various issues. We argue and fight about the issues among ourselves; we try bullying others to get on our band wagon. We are just like the disciples; we are trying to make these changes in our own strength, so we can show God how hard we are trying.  Some things happen only by prayer, not by bullying or gathering opinions to support your ideas.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12(NIV)

Next time you are tempted to gather a group for your ‘moving the mountain’ band wagon, why not talk to God on your knees and let Him ‘move the mountain’. Put your faith in God, not in man.

 

NOTE: Scripture verses in this article were downloaded from www.Biblegateway.com.