Thursday, May 10, 2018

Was the Fruit a Test?

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Considering the weight and cost of my sin today as I do when I pray daily leading to my repentance even though I am forgiven. I repent daily. I am very thankful that Christ saved me from my sin and an eternity separated from Him. I am thankful for forgiveness through Jesus. Many folks, however, believe that Satan was the one that brought sin into this world. Or that God created sin because He created forgiveness through His Son.

Romans 5:12a: "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned" This truth will enlighten us to understand the TRUE author of sin.....MAN! Adam, to be specific. Dr. Tony Evans writes, "The presence of this tree was a test of Adam and Eve's obedience, and a reminder of the Creator/creature distinction..."

Every time we are faced with a choice, it is a test of obedience to God, a test of faith in Him. It's when we turn to ourselves, we turn to pride and selfishness, that we reflect the character of Adam. It's when we live by faith and when we walk by faith that we are obeying God. This includes following His commands.

There are always choices to make. In the garden of Eden, there was one tree that was forbidden but many others to enjoy. In following Christ, in faith and obedience, there is always the right choice, the right road to walk. Sin leads us down the wrong path. Everyday, we face this. Everyday, the evil one tries to sway us to the forbidden tree to enjoy the taste of sin instead of living by faith in Christ.

Hopefully, you may know this...but how are you doing with the application of this?
Blessings, Pastor Brian

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

REPENTANCE...what do we do with that word?

Luke 24:45-47 "45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, "This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

Repentance is defined by many biblical scholars as a "change of mind", not a turning from sin.  It is understood that a changing of your mind also brings a turn away from the love of sin.  The Hebrew word in the Old Testament is nacham, which means "relent, repent or be sorry, change the mind."

Dr. John MacArthur writes, "Repentance is no more a meritorious work than its counterpart, faith. It is an inward response. Genuine repentance pleads with the Lord to forgive and deliver from the burden of sin and the fear of judgment and hell. It is the attitude of the publican who, fearful of even looking toward heaven, smote his breast and cried, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" (Luke 18:13). Repentance is not merely behavior reform. But because true repentance involves a change of heart and purpose, it inevitably results in a change of behavior."

Jesus says in Luke 24:47 that "repentance for the forgiveness of sin will be preached in his name." Repentance is truly the first word of the Gospel.  Being convicted of sin and changing your mind about your love of sin, to asking forgiveness of sin in your life.  Henry Blackaby states in the foreward of Richard Owen Roberts book Repentance (which I highly recommend that every believer read) that "Repentance by God's people is our only hope for any future generation."

Here is the challenge today:  1.  What is your view of sin?  the seriousness of sin?  Your sin? 2.  What is your view of Scripture and truth talking about sin, repentance and forgiveness?  This will have a direct effect of your view of sin.  3.  Is your pastor, preacher, Bible Study teacher preaching or teaching on this?  The disciples are told to here in Luke 24, so should we obey.

Blessings, Pastor Brian

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rome is the world capital of paganism.  The same thing was happening there in this world capital, but spreading throughout lands that Rome occupied.  Heavy influence was coming from Athens, Corinth and Ephesus.  Hmm.  Paul, do you have word for start up churches in these areas to encourage believers?  So, Commitment to pagan religions were not as deep as a follower of Christ.  For example, an idea coming from Rome – Christianity was cannibalistic due to misunderstanding of the Lords Supper in eating the Body of Christ.   Paul is eager to get there and to share the gospel knowing already there would be opposition and criticism.  Verse 1 -15 talks his commitment to the gospel.  He shares a bold statement of “I am not ashamed” of the gospel.

The gospel exposes man’s sin.  The gospel breaks down every inch of our pride.  The gospel shows that we are lost and in need of a Savior.  The gospel shows our need for forgiveness.  The gospel is based on two historical facts:  Christ’s death and resurrection.  Salvation.  A way for us to be freed from our penalty of sin.  And it’s GOOD NEWS – the meaning of the word gospel.     

READ ROMANS 1:16-17:  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
Dunamis – dynamite – God’s power alone is sufficient enough to save men from sin and give them eternal life.  A changed life from sinfulness to righteousness. 
A CHANGED LIFE - We are always looking for an outside change.  It's too hard to change the inside on our own.  We cannot be spiritually changed by our works, by a religion or ritual or by anything else.  We can’t be changed from following God’s law to the letter.  The law wasn’t given to save men, by the way.  1 Cor. 1:18, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Soteria – salvation – 19 times in Romans – deliverance and rescue – the power of God in salvation rescues people from the penalty of sin which is spiritual death that leads to eternal separation from God.  It’s God reaching out to mankind through His Son, Jesus to rescue us.  There is no greater picture.  Aren’t people always looking for salvation of some sorts?  Bills – making more money will solve all our problems, Socially – relationships we desire to get out of, even some we feel that are mistakes.  The desire of the heart away from Christ is all about self-improvement with “be who you want to be” as our cultural slogan. 

His salvation brings deliverance from the spiritual infection of “this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40) from lostness (Matt. 18:11), from sin, (Matt. 1:21) and from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9).  He saves us from our spiritual ignorance and from our desires to sin and the darkness that we live in.  The deliverance comes to those who believe.   

Pisteuo – believes – trusting in, relying on and having faith in.  Continuous form “is believing”.  In other words, daily living is filled with acts of faith.  It’s not an ordinary faith, it’s a supernatural faith produced by God!  Eph. 2:8 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;”  Salvation is believing in Christ.  Salvation is giving up being good for our own sake, the works we do that we think will get us to heaven, the smarts or wisdom we have and trusting in the amazing and perfect work of Christ. 
Paul inserts who salvation is for:  “to the Jew first and also the Greek.”  There is no racial lines or ethnic lines drawn.  It is for everyone who believes.   The Jews can’t hog God because they are the chosen nation.  The Greek was so pagan, the Jews would say there is no way that God is interested in them!  All who believe may be saved. 

Faith activates the power of salvation, and in that the righteousness of God is revealed.  Once we believe in Him, His righteousness is given to us. 
Phil. 3:8-9:  "
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,"

God’s plan is by salvation by His grace through faith.  Habakkuk 2:4 God works through our faith “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”  Abraham didn’t work for God’s righteousness.  It was reckoned to him through his faith in God.  Faith is a way of life and God’s righteousness made in us will help us to persevere to the end of our lives on earth waiting on the day when we are called to eternal life. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Battle Plan: PLAN

Luke 13:1-9:  A crowd voices concern over the Galileans.  Pilate mixed their blood with sacrifices, Massacres were taking place and the Jews were concerned they would be murdered and the same would happen to them.  They wanted Jesus to make a political statement about Pilate and the Roman Government.  The Jews were looking for deliverance and justice.  Jesus, here, is more concerned about the eternal than the temporal especially with the statement of “repent or you will perish”.  

I (YOU) HAVE “ARRIVED” - Belief and Faith – What we believe drives what we do!!!  It's a “We Could Commit to” and “What we will commit to” kinda world!  Our relationship with God through Jesus begins with Confession and Repentance.  This is a quality of who we are as believers in Christ.  Biblical Community starts with the same – believers share a relationship with God by confession and repentance and we are to practice that with each other.  Grace and Forgiveness lives here!!! – as well as confession and repentance.  This is where the eternal supercedes the physical temporal part of our life.  We are concerned with the here and now.  John the Baptist preached the coming of kingdom and repentance for the forgiveness of sin before Jesus came.  Jesus taught of the kingdom of God, not focusing on any kingdom on earth ushered in by any earthly king.  That's why He responds to the crowd twice saying, "repent or you will will perish."  

CAN I SKIP THIS? Every piece of this biblical knowledge is important.  It’s like the Bible.  You can’t just like the things you want to and throw away the other stuff.  We do the same with our relationship with God.  We skip faith, we skip grace, we skip forgiveness and in most cases, we skip confession and prayer.  What about SIN – we can’t skip DEALING WITH SIN.  Jesus is not placing emphasis on the safety of the individual here as the crowd of Jews are.  I mean, they are worried for their life here.  They are also concerned what was to happen to their bodies after they die – what the Romans would do.  Jesus' mission was not a political one, it was a spiritual one - atoning for sin and to fulfill the promises of God.  Here is where we are so short-sighted.  We want Jesus to be who we want Him to be in our life which leads to no belief, obedience or submission to Him on our part.       
We believe that our ways are better than God’s ways and that the things of this earth will be more satisfying to us than God Himself.   
THE WANDERERS:  The vineyard owner is ready to eat of the fruit from the fig tree.  He has the right to inspect it and reap what has been sown.  The Jews heard the message from John the Baptist about “repent for the kingdom of heaven is near” and know Jesus was there for years preaching and teaching about kingdom living for those who would believe.  

If he planted and cared for this fig tree and see that in year 5, 6, and 7 there is no fruit, there needs to be a decision about what to do with the tree.  Inspection of no fruit cause him to contemplate cutting it down because something new could be planted, cared for and reaping of the fruit will come.  
This is the case with Israel. God had suffered long with them and the nation had grown cold, legalistic, and self-centered . Israel was not bearing the fruit of God's truth.  That's the question we should ask, "if we have believed and repented, are we bearing fruit?"  "Are we furthering the kingdom of God?"  
“Christ is Better” vs Disbelief....Live a better story because Christ is in it.  Cory Pytlarz says:  "The world is a busy place, and it’s full of smart and talented people doing many good things. But as Richard Foster puts it, “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”  This deepness arises not out of our doing, but from our being.  And our being arises out of knowing Christ."  Salvation in Christ from belief – confession and repentance as pillars of this belief.  This is an awareness of our ultimate purpose in life, which is to be increasingly formed in the image of Christ.  What's your plan?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Anonymous Quote:  Prayerlessness is declaring our independence from God.
It’s not about urgency, it’s not about priority, Prayer is about DESIRE!

What is the desire of your heart?  If it is the Lord, first, then how are your desires matching up with what God wants in your life?  This is real.  A BATTLE PLAN is needed.  We are in the battle for truth.  The battle for justice.  The battle for life – unborn to on the death bed.  The battle for time.  The battle for faith in the Lord.  Luke 18:1-8

I.   THE POWER IN PRAYER:  A believer in Christ is dependent on prayer.  A Battle Plan of Prayer is very necessary for daily living.  Opportunities for practicing faith in God and opportunities for answered prayer.  Direction.  Strength in the midst of suffering.    In the Gospels, Jesus withdrew daily to spend time in prayer.  He then taught his disciples in Matthew the Lord’s Prayer.  Paul was led on his missionary journey by the Holy Spirit.  There is no way he could have known where to go without prayer.

The problem in this passage is the injustice given by the judge to the widow.  It’s important to note that Jesus taught that this judge did not fear God nor did he respect man.  Therefore, he could care less about the welfare of anyone much less this widow.  In the book of Acts and James, we are told as believers to care for orphans and widows as well as other places.  

II.  THE PERSISTENCE IN PRAYER:  How many times have you heard a basketball coach said that “free throws win games!”  So it takes a player to shoot 25-30 a day to make sure they are persistent in a game.   Jesus is teaching to be “persistent in prayer” in this parable:  Verse 1 “all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” And Verse 7 “His elect who cry out to Him day and night”. 

1 Thess. 5:17 – “pray without ceasing” - Romans 12:12 – “Be persistent in prayer”
By being persistent, you are demonstrating faith.  Persistence is simply another word for faith.  If you don’t have faith, you’d never persist.  The widow in this parable was persistent in her requests.  She petitions the judge over and over and it is because of this the judge grants the request.  Focus on the persistence in prayer and leave the results in the Lord.     
III.  THE PATIENCE IN PRAYER:  Sometimes we are like the judge.  No respect for man and for God when it comes to prayer.  Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him (Psalms 37:7). Have you prayed and prayed and waited and waited? Do you feel like there are times where you see nothing move? Sometimes you just want to give up.  Sometimes we wait and we get angry with the Lord. 

Patience in Prayer tackles our worry.  With taking out our worry, we don't let our emotions sway our faith.  In our sadness, we tend to lock out the world and the Lord.  He knows your need better than you do, and His purpose in waiting is to bring more glory out of it all.  If we are praying and waiting patiently, it takes works from our hands.  We are told to "believe" (John 6:29), and when you believe, you may then know that all is well.  Our desires and our wants are the Lord's, not ours.  Jesus finishes the parable by saying that when the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth.    

Pastor H.B. Charles tells the following story about a woman he knew who showed up at church and prayed the same simple prayer. "O Lord, thank you Jesus," she prayed week after week. The kids at church would start laughing every time she opened her mouth because they knew it would be the same prayer—"O Lord, thank you Jesus."  Finally somebody asked her, "Why do you pray the same little prayer?" She said, "Well, I'm just combining the two prayers that I know. We live in a bad neighborhood and some nights there are bullets flying and I have to grab my daughter and hide on the floor, and in that desperate state all I know how to cry out is, 'O Lord.' But when I wake up in the morning and see that we're okay I say, 'Thank you Jesus.' When I got to take my baby to the bus stop and she gets on that bus and I don't know what's going to happen to her while she's away, I cry, 'O Lord.' And then when 3:00 P.M. comes and that bus arrives and my baby is safe, I say, 'Thank you Jesus.'"
She said, "Those are the only two prayers I know and when I get to church God has been so good I just put my two prayers together, "O Lord, thank you Jesus."

Monday, January 2, 2017

BATTLE PLAN: The Battle for Truth

Seems like 2016 was the battle for many truths.  There were many defining moments from organizations and government entities to declare their definition of truth.  Gender identity, sexual orientation, what constitutes a family and many churches declaring that certain sins are acceptable to practice because of their view and interpretation of God's Word.  My intention is not to cram my opinions of social ills down your throat.  It is to share a word from the Bible with you:
2 John.  13 short and impacting verses.  It begins with the TRUTH.  God's Truth revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ.  The writer loves all who know the truth.  A common fellowship with truth seekers of the Lord.  Matter of fact, he says that this truth will last forever.  Amen!  Truth is so gray these days.  We don't know really what's right because we allow other influences to cloud our judgement instead of standing on the Word of God.  

Second, there is WALKING IN THE TRUTH - The writer points attention to walk in the truth by obeying the commandments of the Lord.  It is an obvious honesty and uprightness that are displayed by this woman's children as they are living according to the Lord's truth esp. the loving one another and the love for God's commands.  The writer notices this walk and points out that it is very obvious.  Can that be said of us?  Would someone see the way we live and respond in this manner?

Third, there is ABIDING IN THE TRUTH - Someone that is abiding in the truth is living within it.  It sticks in our lives and never wavers.  We don't sway from influence from the world or from others.  We are warned to beware of deception.  We are told to watch ourselves and don't even invite these into our house.  By their evil deeds they are known.  We should take great care in sticking to Word of God.  There are so many distractions today.  So much time and energy are given to ungodly things.  

The Result is JOY - "may your joy be full".  The writer would prefer to see for himself (face to face, no ink and paper) that the truth is being handled correctly and thriving in our lives.  We live as sufferers many times allowing the current conditions in our life and the consequences of our poor choices to overwhelm us instead of embracing the greater truth of salvation in Christ Jesus.  Living according to God's love, grace and mercy.  Experiencing the peace that only God gives through His Son.  May you find JOY in salvation through the Savior this year!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Valley of the Shadow of Death.....Balance

BALANCE....Psalm 23:4a: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,fear no evil, for You are with me;"

Bro. Derek did such a great job sharing God's Word on this verse.  Here are some notes:
1.  Focus on the word DEATH - there is a fear of death.  Sheep are afraid of anything.  It is the shepherd that can lead them to where they need to go SAFELY.  It was appropriate that we are solemnly recognizing 9/11 in our nation and the fear our nation went through.  The acts of terror that has a hold on us.  Salmawet is the Hebrew word for "shadow of death" literally meaning darkness.  We can be led through this darkness without fear, as long as the Good Shepherd leads us.  

There is REAL fear and there is IMAGINED fear.  Our culture is driven by fear.  We can fear this world, but with the Good Shepherd we have something better.  Jesus is with us!  When we neglect Jesus in our life, we invite fear.  We invite imagined fear in our life.  The real fear comes as a result of all of us wanting to lead ourselves.  There should a real fear of not having God in our life.  We can imagine it, but eventually it's real.

2.  We forget the line after this, "for You are with me".  2 Tim. 1:7 we are to be bold in our living for Jesus.  We are to be bold with the gospel.  It is a fear in life versus a trusting in the Lord.  If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit is with you.  God is leading you through the Holy Spirit.  He is directing your paths.  He is taking you where you should be according to His will.  

The question you have to ask yourself is:  Are you afraid?  Are you trusting?  Jesus told His disciples to "be My witnesses" in Acts 1:8.  This takes a life of boldness, not a life of fear for the culture.  Look, you cannot go through life without Christ.  You won't have a Shepherd that will lead you, a Shepherd that will empower you, a Shepherd that is with you when you face evil.  Trusting in Him brings you a peace to go on.  To walk through whatever comes.  

God Bless, Sleepy Disciple