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4/27/16 - Is your religion a philosophy or a religion?

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8

Is your Christianity a philosophy on how to live a Christian life, or is it your personal relationship with the God of the Universe? There is a significant difference between these two ways of living that every Christian should know. Obviously, as Christians, the Bible encourages us to make changes in our lives that will cause us to be more Christ-like in our actions and attitudes. In other words, the more you get to know Jesus Christ, the more you will live like Him. At the same time, it is so easy to live a life with a worldly philosophy that has become a part of you as you grew into adulthood. As a matter of fact, we all develop our own personal philosophy on how we will conduct our life in this world. There is a major problem and danger to replace your personal relationship with Christ with your own philosophy of living that you learned from the world.

4/20/16 – Godliness with contentment is great gain

But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 1 Timothy 6:6-7

These verses speak of something that I continue to seek every day of my life: contentment.  Some days are better than others.  I know to reach a state of contentment, as these verses describe, I must start with God.  I must think of Him as my Creator and Sustainer.  He is my Provider and my Protector.  He is my Peace and my Love.  Contentment is not attainable without putting these God thoughts into my mind.

4/13/16 - Why should I fear?

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:17-18

A child who is abused would have a difficult time learning, even as an adult, what love is.  Fear can damage a child for a lifetime.  Fear can affect every future relationship for a child.  Fear will probably have a negative impact on their relationship with their spouse and children.  It will damage relationships with other relatives and friends.  Fear causes significant damage to the mental health of a child.  It is not impossible, but it is made more difficult for an abused child to show love to others when they are adults.  

4/6/16 – Words of encouragement from a father to a son

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.  1 Chronicles 28:9

The speaker of the words above is David talking to his son Solomon.  Solomon will become king when David dies.  He will also build the temple for the Lord.  God had given David all of the plans for the temple buildings through the Holy Spirit.  But, God would not allow David to build the temple, because David was considered as a warrior king with blood on his hands.  The actual building of the temple was to be Solomon’s responsibility using David’s plans.

4/29/15 – Stop waiting on the slop!

Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.  I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’  So he got up and went back to his father.   Luke 15:17-20  

This is a popular story commonly referred to as the “Prodigal Son”.  I want to make some clear and distinct applications to Believers.  Christianity and the Church is in a quandary about how to live up to the commands of Christ in a humanistic and secularized culture.  I hope this challenges you, as it has me, about how our lives should reflect the love of Christ.

Briefly, the story of the “Prodigal Son” is about a younger son who decides that he cannot wait on his inheritance.  Being totally impatient, he asks for and receives his inheritance from his father.  Like most young people, there is a strong drive to want to do what you want to do with no one telling you how to live.  The son spent the money in “wild living”, and became poor.  The only gainful employment he could get was to feed pigs (this would be extremely repugnant to any Jew.)  The son was so hungry, he wanted to eat the slop meant for the pigs.  As the verse says above, he eventually came “to his senses”.  This is the purpose of this article.  What parts of your life are you living in pigpens, and do you need to come to your senses?

4/22/15 – All Christians should be wimps!

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

Before you react to my association of the word “wimps” with Christians, let me explain.  “Wimps” in this situation is meant to describe the strength, knowledge, self-determination, and every other word that would describe a Christian as having something of their own that is of power or value.   In other words, to live the Christian life, Believers should possess nothing of their own.  Everything they have that is of any value or of any power or of any righteousness comes from God and Christ.  Now, let’s move on in discussing these verses.

4/15/15 - God thinks a lot about you!

“…you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:3b-4

I love these words!  God spends more time thinking about you than you do thinking about Him.  I think He would like it the other way around.  However, we become so easily distracted (guilty!) that we could go for days or weeks and never spend time with God.  Shame on all of us for doing this to a loving Lord!  Read the Bible verses again. 

This Bible passage says that God is a very personal God. He is not a God who is somewhere out in space with no concern for this world. God did not set everything up in this world, press a button, and stand back to watch what would happen.  This world and you are not an experiment of God’s.  How do I know?  He became flesh Himself and died on a cross for our sins.  He became an integral part in the history of humanity. He is not a bystander looking on this world with indifference. God is involved in your life on a daily basis!

4/8/15 – Your life should please God

Finally, brothers, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God—and as you are conducting yourselves—you do so even more.  For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 4:1-2

A major part of a Believer’s life is spent reflecting on being Christ-like in all of their affairs.  The way we conduct our lives, as reflections of the spiritual realm may be the only testimony many people will receive about God.  Only by daily study of God’s Word can one know what are the actions of Christ that should be a part of their lives.  For example, Jesus told a group that if someone asked them to walk a mile, they should walk two miles.  At the time of Christ, a Roman soldier could force a Jew to carry something for a mile.  Obviously, this was not well received by the Jews.  Jesus went further with obedience to the Roman solider by saying that you should walk two miles.  One mile was expected while two miles would have made an impression on the Roman solider. 

4/1/15 – It is hard to enter the Kingdom of God

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.  Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”  The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  Mark 10:21-24

This is one of the many difficult sayings of Jesus Christ.  A man had approached him and asked how he could enter the kingdom of God.  Jesus told him those of the 10 commandments that concerned human relationships.  The man said he had obeyed them.  But there was something else lurking in the heart of the man and Jesus knew it.  Jesus asked him to sacrifice the one thing that he loved – his wealth.  The man went away sadly because he was very wealthy.  Jesus goes on to tell his disciples how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  Jesus does not stop with the wealthy, because he added that for everyone, “how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God.”

God: Expects you to become a holy witness for Him

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-25

These are some of the most uplifting verses you can find in the Bible.  There are three commands given to every Believer: Rejoice, Pray, and Give Thanks.  There is a time component assigned to each of these: Always, Continually, and In All Circumstances.  These commands actually consist of three verses.  It would be prudent if you could memorize these three very short verses.  There is no way you can say these verses to yourself without experiencing a personal change of attitude.  You could be lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut, but saying and doing these three things will make a dramatic difference in your life.  “Rejoice always” does not leave any room for pity parties or “woe is me.”  There’s no room for going over all of your illnesses for the last six years or 20 years or ever how long.  There’s no need to rehash the jobs you have had not had, interviewed for.  God expects you to REJOICE always!  (Side Note: there’s that word “expects” that keeps cropping up as a possible theme for a new book…let me know what you think, please! The book title will be something like this, “Expectations management”).

God’s People: Practical Living in Today’s World

Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.  Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.  ”  2 Timothy 2:14-18

The content of the Bible passage above is very practical.  The Bible passage applies to all of our lives if we will stop and take a moment to focus on some key words: keep reminding; warn; quarreling; a worker approved; not ashamed; correctly handles the word of truth; avoid godless chatter; departed from the truth; and, destroy the faith of another. You could have picked different words or phrases, but I believe these nine words/phrases provide a reasonable description of a modern day Christian like you or me.

Resurrection: Christ and You

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.   More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.  1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Many of you will read this passage and mumble to yourself, “ so what.”  Or, you may have said through repetitive repeatings that the statements are all true, and we do not need a lot of time to read them and discuss them  However, we all need to be reminded on a daily basis of the significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Contained in this short passage is the heart and work of Jesus Christ on this earth.

God: You, Sin and Grace

PART 4 – God has given you all the grace you need!

Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Luke 23:34

Last week, I identified whom Jesus was asking forgiveness for.  I said it was the Roman soldiers who killed him; the Jewish leaders who had manipulated the sentencing of crucifixion; and, all of the people in the crowd screaming, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” But there is one more person that Jesus was asking God to forgive and that’s YOU!  This is the most critical part of salvation, and that is “do you believe what Jesus said.”

God: Forgives all sin

PART 3 – Jesus pronounced the forgiveness of all sins

Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Luke 23:34

This is the third part of a four-part discussion on two Biblical passages.  The first two passages came from Romans 6:1-5.  This third discussion will begin to pull all four discussions together in a way that you have probably never heard or thought of before.  The major theme of these verses is God’s Grace and whether there is sufficient grace for you to forgive others and to forgive yourself based on the forgiveness that God has given you through His unending and complete grace.