Archive for October, 2013

(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ – and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. – 2 Corinthians 5:18

The ministry we’ve all been called to as Christians – is reconciliation (lead verse).  Reconciliation is eliminating enmity – a state of being actively opposed to something or someone.  All sin is enmity – at all times with God.  We are separated from Him at birth by sin – alienated from heaven (Ephesians 2:12, Colossians 1:21).  Spiritual reconciliation means being brought back into agreement and alignment with the Almighty’s ways.

As believers, we’ve been reconciled back to God by the death of His only Son (Romans 5:10).  The enmity of sin between us and heaven was slain at Calvary by Christ (Ephesians 2:16).  We’ve been brought back into agreement and alignment with God through belief in Jesus.  We now have redemption by the blood of Christ ( Ephesians 1:7).  God has regained possession of us in exchange for a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).

We’ve been saved from the grave by the grace of God – through the death of His Son (Romans 5:10, Hebrews 2:9-15).  This is our Father’s desire for all men – not willing that any should perish, but for all to be reconciled back to Him through repentance and remission of sin (2 Peter 3:9, 2 Corinthians 5:20). God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies – but for all to turn from sin and live (Ezekiel 18:32).

God has committed the word of reconciliation to us, because of what Christ accomplished for us through redemption (Romans 3:24, 2 Corinthians 5:19-20). This should be the message of every ministry. But, the seeds of recurring confusion and evil works are planted if we are ever striving, envying, contending, or comparing our Christianity with each other (James 3:16, Proverbs 13:10, 2 Corinthians 10:14-15). This makes it hard to have any ministry of reconciliation, doesn’t it?

We are no different as Christians, than those who are lost and unbelieving (Romans 6:23) – except we have been reconciled back to God.  This was done by His grace – which put Christ on the Cross in place of our sin – while we were yet still sinners (Romans 5:8).  If we are ever unable to resolve and reconcile temporary differences between us as believers (Matthew 5:23-24), how are we ever going to present a message of eternal reconciliation to those who are still lost?

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Saying “Father, if thou be willing – remove this cup. Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” – Luke 22:42

Jesus is praying here in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before being betrayed and arrested.  However, the Son of man is still asking for God‘s will to be done – as it had been all along during his time on earth (John 5:30, John 6:38).  It is the same for us every day – every time we pray (Luke 11:2).

Whatever happens in this whole wide world – or our own little ones each and every day, is going precisely and perfectly according to His plan.  To fulfill His purpose, for His pleasure alone – all declared by Him from the very beginning (Isaiah 46:10, Titus 1:2, Revelation 4:11).

There is never anything new to God under His sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). What has been is now – what is to be, has already been (Ecclesiastes 3:15). Our waking up each morning is according to His will – because of His judgement and His mercies (Zephaniah 3:5, Lamentations 3:22-23). If the Lord is willing each day, we live (James 4:15).

However, what He does is always perfect, right, and truthful – without any iniquity (Deuteronomy 32:4). It has to be – or what would qualify Him to judge us each day – or this world when the time comes (Romans 3:4-6)?  Would we want a Maker who made mistakes and missed things to determine our eternal destinies?

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– Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  And what communion hath light with darkness? – 2 Corinthians 6:14

When God speaks to us through Scripture about not being unequally yoked, believers with unbelievers, it doesn’t mean we are to avoid them altogether.  The lost are still perishing – and God does not wish for anyone to do so (2 Peter 3:9); nor should we.  The gospel is still hidden to them – and the preaching of the Cross is still foolishness (2 Corinthians 4:3, 1 Corinthians 1:18).

How will they hear about the hope we have as Christians without a preacher (Romans 10:14)? Remember, the Pharisees did not like it when Jesus sat down to eat and drink with the publicans and sinners (Matthew 9:10-11).  But – how were they going to hear God’s truths if Christ wasn’t teaching such to them?

Not being unequally yoked with unbelievers means we don’t go everywhere and do everything they do. Like two oxen hitched together, who “have” to go in each other’s direction – who don’t have the ability or choice to detach themselves.  We do.  We can choose to go after their worldly ways of the lost, because it might mean lots of mutual fun or favor at times (Joshua 24:15).

Or, we can guide them towards the Cross and the ways of God, who broke our yoke of bondage to death and this world when Christ overcame it (Hebrews 2:9-15, John 16:33).  A world we are to no longer be entangled in the pollution of (2 Peter 2:20). However, isn’t that easy to do if we should hitch our wagons to ways of the world – instead of tying them to the truth of the Word?

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– If I justify myself, my own mouth will condemn me. If I say “I am perfect” – it shall also prove me perverse. – Job 9:20

– Then the wrath of Elihu was kindled against Job – because he justified himself rather than God. – Job 32:2

Christ did not hang on the Cross for us to justify our own actions, words, and behavior as believers.  As if we’ve done “just enough” to repent of our own liking – but not God’s.  It is the Lord who proves us all – whether we love Him with all our heart, mind, and soul – not ourselves (Mark 12:30, Deuteronomy 13:3).  We can claim such as Christians – but only be loving Him with our lips – while our hearts are still going after things like covetousness, still far away from where He wants us to be (Isaiah 29:13, Ezekiel 33:31, Matthew 15:8, Galatians 5:22-23).

Who among us will ever be able to say “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin (Proverbs 20:9)?”.  We can’t stop sinning just because we’re Christians.  The best we can hope for is to put our sins into remission through repentance.  Just like cancer, they can always come back – sometimes more destructive than the first time.  Although most men will proclaim every one their own goodness (Proverbs 20:6), there is not a man on earth who does not sin (1 Kings 8:46, Ecclesiastes 7:20).  As it is written, there is none righteous – no, not no one (Romans 3:10).

Scripture has concluded all are under sin (Galatians 3:22).  We are under the sentence of death from day one because of it (2 Corinthians 1:9).  We can’t justify ourselves as being just in His eyes – just because we don’t seem to sin as much as others appear to.  We can’t justify ourselves worthy of God’s grace – because grace is unmerited favor; it gives us something we shouldn’t deserve.  The only perfect and worthy offering for all sin was the Lamb without blemish, who was slain at Calvary (Revelation 5:12, 1 Peter 1:19).

Job didn’t covet, didn’t envy, or serve graven idols.  Yet, he lost nearly everything he had short of his life – in one day (Job 1:13-19),  His worst fears were realized (Job 3:25).  Why?  He had developed a huge “I” problem (Job 29:14-25, John 7:18).  He justified everything he did as being right in his own eyes; whether they were in God’s or not (Deuteronomy 13:18).  He idolized himself.  He had perverted the Word of God by essentially declaring himself perfect. This was his sin – and he didn’t see it until God answered and humbled him out of the whirlwind (Job 38:1-42:6).

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.  Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. – Matthew 26:56

They needed you – and you were there for them. Day and night for over three years – you cared for them and taught them; providing for and guiding them.  They were loved and they knew it.  Yet, at the time you needed them the most – they fled; nowhere to be found in your darkest hour.

They left you hanging.  In today’s world, there might be many who wouldn’t want anything more to do with people like this.  By God‘s Word, He still wants everything to do with us (2 Corinthians 11:2) – despite the most loyal disciples leaving His only Son to hang on the Cross; seemingly having high-tailed it out of town.

In our lives, we never know what tomorrow will bring (James 4:14).  We don’t even know what any single 24-hour period will ever bring forth (Proverbs 27:1). God does – declaring the end of all things from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).  How would you like to enter a relationship with full knowledge you would be betrayed or denied three, five, 20 years down the road – especially at a time you needed them most?

Christ did – to fulfill Scripture (lead verse).  Peter had to deny Jesus three times (Mark 14:29-30, Luke 22:54-62) – and Judas had to betray the Son of man (Matthew 26:17, 47:49).  Despite this – knowing well ahead of time he would be crucified, and all the disciples would flee, Christ still went around with gentleness, peace and love to all, even when others mocked and scoffed and questioned.

For Jesus was doing God’s will – of a heavenly agenda, not an earthly one (John 5:30).  Though being the Son of God, Christ esteemed all others better than himself at all times – regardless of knowing the future.  We are to have this same mind as Christians – even when others depart, deny, or deceive us (Philippians 2:3-7).  Otherwise, are we not lightly esteeming our Savior (Deuteronomy 32:15)?

God can never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) – but we must never be so presumptuous to think we cannot deny, depart or forsake Him as believers (1 Chronicles 28:9).  Solomon found out the hard way what that is like (1 Kings 11:6-25).  Job forsook God in favor of himself (Job 29: 14-25).  Peter thought he favored Jesus – and was ready to follow the Lord to prison – even to death (Luke 22:33).

After Jesus said, “all of you shall be offended because of Me this night,” – Peter said “not me – I won’t be offended.”  All the disciples said likewise (Mark 14:27-31).  How could they depart now?  They may have never thought they could leave the Lord like this, after all He had done for them.  Despite saying they wouldn’t be offended – they all took off (lead verse).

We choose each day whom we will serve as Christians (Joshua 24:15).  If we ever declare we will follow Jesus until the day we die like Peter did – we deceive ourselves.  It’s nothing more than being presumptuous and self-willed (2 Peter 2:10).  Judas may have thought he would stay unto the end with Christ, but Satan entered him – so Judas could betray Jesus for money (Luke 22:3-5).

Just like the apostle Paul, the devil will always be a thorn in our side to buffet us as believers (2 Corinthians 12:7).  Satan would love to separate us again from God and sift us like wheat – like he had the desire to do with Peter (Luke 22:31).  To give us the desire to depart from Christ – and go after the world again – just like Demas did (Philippians 1:23, 2 Timothy 4:10).

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation – not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world works death. – 2 Corinthians 7:10

– “Oh, this glorious sadness, that brings me to my knees.” – “Angel” written and sung by Sarah McLachlan, copyright 1997

Have you ever experienced a period of sadness in your life – and you didn’t know why?  Nobody had died, you really weren’t crying over anything, and yet your soul seemed stuck in a state of sorrow.  It may have been such an overwhelming feeling of sadness – it felt like it had become a large part of your every day being.  Perhaps it’s how you feel today.  Perhaps you’re wondering if it will ever end.

Being sad, though – is not always a bad thing – depending on if it’s coming from above or below (lead verse).  If you’re still lost and unbelieving, and not yet born again of the Holy Spirit – sadness can be a very strong indicator God has finally convicted you of your sinful nature with His sorrow – so He can baptize you with His gift of the Holy Ghost.  So you will finally remit sin and repent unto salvation – and no longer be sorry about sin for just a season (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).

Being sad as a believer can be a good thing.  It could be a strong indicator we still experience guilt and remorse when we disobey God and displease Him – because we have not remitted and repented of certain sins yet.  We haven’t become so smug and secure with our eventual salvation –  we can no longer blush (Jeremiah 6:15) about transgressions.  How can we be sad if we ever believe we don’t have any more sin in us – or any capacity to sin again (1 John 1:8-10)?

Our hearts can be made better by the sadness of our countenance as Christians (Ecclesiastes 7:3).  Happiness comes when God corrects and chastises us for our sins (Job 5:17).  As many as He loves, He rebukes (Revelation 3:19).  If we are ever unable to be sad and sorrowful over sin anymore as believers, how can we become happy?  How can we ever give Him glory in all things (Romans 11:36)  … including while we’re being disciplined (Hebrews 12:6-11)?

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– For the customs of the people are vain. – Jeremiah 10:3

– Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy, and vain deceit – after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world – and not after Christ. – Colossians 2:8

Customs are widely accepted ways and beliefs of doing things – specific to particular places or people.  Tradition is transmitting such customs down through the years – so they are carried on after we’re gone.  In Scripture, the Pharisees didn’t seem pleased when the disciples wouldn’t wash their hands – like their elders did – before eating bread. It was customary and traditional to do so – and they didn’t.

When they asked Jesus about it, the Son of man said  “Why do you also transgress the commandments of God by your traditions?  Isaiah has prophesied well of you, saying,’ These people draw nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips – but their hearts are far from Me.’  But they worship Me in vain – teaching for doctrine the commandments of men (Matthew 15:1-3, 7-9). ”

Just because we’re accustomed to customs – doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to God.  We could just be trapped in tradition – still trying to find His truth.  Our tongues can be talking about one thing – but our hearts could be harboring something else.  The Pharisees were really good at appearing religiously good outwardly – perhaps as tradition had taught them to be – but Jesus knew they were hypocrites inside, full of ravening and wickedness (Luke 11:37-44).

Saul of Tarsus – who would become the apostle Paul – was a Jew brought up according to the perfect manner of Moses’ law (Acts 22:3). As Paul, he would later declare that during his days as Saul – he thought to do things contrary to Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 26:9). Christianity was considered a sect at his time – of which he would later be accused as being the ringleader of – and a threat to the traditional Jewish way of doing things (Acts 22:3, Acts 24:5, Acts 28:22).

Customs and tradition can easily birth factions and sects within any religion – where everyone may believe they’re doing the right thing in their own eyes (1 Chronicles 13:4) – but wrong in God’s eyes.  When Saul of Tarsus went around – rounding up these new Christians for punishment and imprisonment – he believed he was doing the right thing, being zealous towards God in this manner (Acts 22:3-5).  He wasn’t  – he was persecuting Christ (Acts 22:6-8).

Upsetting long-standing ways of doing things in life – can be very upsetting.  It usually happens when we’re born again of the Holy Spirit – and we start learning the ways of God’s Word, and unlearning our worldly ways.  When St. Stephen – the first Christian martyr – went around speaking God’s wisdom from the Holy Spirit inside him, false witnesses were set up against up him.  He was accused of speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God (Acts 6:8-11).

They claimed Stephen had said Jesus was going to destroy their holy places – and change the customs Moses has delivered unto them (Acts 6:13-15).  Although they are vain (lead verse), Christ didn’t come to change or destroy our customs   Jesus told the disciples to observe whatever the Pharisees bid them to observe. But, not to follow their works.  They would say and not do – unless they had an audience (Matthew 23:1-5, Galatians 6:4).

We observe days, months, times, and years – but God has not suffered us to do so (Deuteronomy 18:14, Galatians 4:10).  Our Father does not operate according to our concept of time (Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8).  Our observances are not obedience.  They are tied to a calendar.  We celebrate certain customs and traditions at regularly scheduled times throughout the months – repeating them year after year.

We can’t obey God just by specific dates on a calendar created by man, but by our daily repentance and remission of sins – through the regeneration of our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit and our Creator (2 Corinthians 4:16, Titus 3:5.).  So we don’t keep repeating the same sins year after year.  Putting on external shows of religion according to custom and tradition – is not the same as our internal spiritual growth – through a truthful relationship with Christ.

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