Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Kingdom of God

"The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of righteousness, peace and 
joy in the Holy Spirit,"      Romans 14:17

Many today are looking for an outward kingdom.  In Romans 14, the case here was they were trying to distinguish a person participating in God's kingdom by his eating or drinking.  This teaching was probably from Jewish traditions and observance of their commandments.  They were so familiar with their doing and traditions that they could not perceive that God through his son Jesus had provided a new and better way into the kingdom of God.  They were trying to shift the believers from their faith and abiding grace in God into works.  They wanted them to earn their way into heaven by eating the right foods, rather than abiding in what Christ did for us at the cross.

Jesus came to fulfill the law for us.  God tells us in Galatians 3:24 that the law was put into place to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  However, many try to earn their way into heaven by works.  They believe it is an outward doing of good rather than an inward relying of God through faith in what his son did for us at the cross.  We try in our own strength to be obedient to God honoring the law.  Sometimes we  implement rules that say do this and don't do that.  We then try to get others on the bandwagon to do the same.

The only way we can fulfill the righteous requirement of God is to go through his salvation plan.  God tells us that if we have the spirit of God living in us, then we will be obedient.  We may not be obedient in all areas of our life right away, however the work of the Holy Spirit begins to prune those things that are ungodly out of our life.  Jesus died to meet the righteous requirements of God through the shedding of his blood and to meet the righteous requirements of the law.  We are righteous because of him.  When Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord, then we receive the promise of his Spirit living in us and that is how we are able to do what Christ desires.  He gives us power through the Holy Spirit to overcome the sin in our lives and to desire to live a holy life.  We overcome because of God's greatness, power, goodness, grace and mercy.

When we abide in Christ, we arrive at our destination.  When we rest in his work and what he desires to do in his kingdom, we come into the fullness and power to fulfill our destiny.  When we realize it is God who is working to do his good will and purpose in our life, then we come to know that we are on tract with God.  So today may you walk in the kingdom of God which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Valley of the Shadow of Death, Fear No Evil

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, your rod and your staff they comfort me."  Psalm 23:4

There are many who are undergoing trials in their life.  The situation seems dark.  King David experienced this in his life.  He was given a promise of how he would be used by God.  He was anointed and appointed to be King, but before he was crowned he had to go through the valley.  He had fought and won many battles, but the one battle he was not able to win was the one with his father-in-law.  No matter how hard he tried, he was not able to be reconciled to him because of Saul's jealousy.

David's heart was to serve God and to bring blessings to Israel and Saul's kingship.  He defeated Goliath when no one else would fight the Philistines.  He also fought and won more battles than Saul.  God's favor rested on him and that caused Saul to despise David.  David was his son-in-law and ally, yet Saul was so blinded by jealousy he could not see the truth.  The only hope he had was to trust in God.  Although David did no wrong and only tried to bless him, Saul chased him for twenty years with the intent to kill him. Saul took David's wife, who was his daughter, and gave her to another.  Could you imagine how David felt?

David honored Saul because he respected God's authority.  He refused to kill Saul even when the opportunity came in the cave.  He was alone with him and was so close that he was able to cut off a piece of his garment.  He could have struck him dead, but refused to touch God's anointed one.  He knew that God would be the one to vindicate him.  In the midst of being chased and sought after, he refused to give up trusting that in the midst of this valley that he would be okay.  He knew that God was with him and he refused to be fearful.  He rested in the comfort of who his God was.  He knew that God would be his salvation and would deliver him in due season and due time.

David had to rely solely on God.  He knew from prior experiences that God had delivered him from the lion and the bear.  He took comfort in seeing how he was able to defeat Goliath through God's wisdom and might.  He knew every battle won was because of his God.  When he fled from Saul, God surrounded him with men to help in battle against the enemies.  There came a time at Ziglag, when all was taken from him and his army, he faced death.  The men who trusted and surrounded him now were angry and against him.  All the wives, children and their belongings were taken by the enemy.  David sought God asking and seeking if God would deliver them and restore what was taken.  He was in the midst of such adversity in his own camp. God delivered him and gave him back everything.  In the midst of all this, he knew that he did not have to fear evil.

So today you may be walking through the valley of the shadow of death, you don't have to fear evil.  God is there for you in the midst of your enemies.  He has a plan to deliver you from your circumstances.  Just keep pressing into him and you will find that he will bring you into that rest.  He will know that your cup runs over and that surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When You Feel Alone

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."  Matthew 28:20

Today, we may be surrounded by many people.  We may have many friends, acquaintances and co-workers, but in the midst of all that sometimes we can feel alone.  During hard times, it may seem as if there is no one there for us.  No one to talk to.  No one to comfort us.  You could be married with kids and still feel alone.

No one can fill that empty void in your heart other than God.  No matter how hard we try to rely on others in this life, there is only one who will always be with us.  That one person is God.  He promises to never leave us or forsake us.  When we trust in other things or people to fill our void, we will feel empty and alone. What we have to remember is that no matter what our circumstance is here in this life, God is with us.  His desire is for us to come to him seeking his face. He wants to have a personal intimate relationship with us. He wants to be there to comfort us  and fill the void in our life.  He wants to come into our heart and give us the peace in knowing that he is for us and not against us.  He wants to show us the most excellent way.  He wants to demonstrate that he is faithful to his word.  Our walk with God is one of faith.  We have to trust that God is with us even if we do not see him actively working on our behalf.

Apart from him, we really can do nothing.  He gives us his sure word that he is faithful to his word.  He is faithful despite our unfaithfulness.  He comes into our lives by faith and we maintain our relationship by faith in him.  He tells us that he is the author and finisher of our faith.  God is there for you only believe.  He will be with you always and will never leave you or forsake you.  May he comfort you today with knowing that you are not alone.

Monday, February 25, 2013

How Do You See Yourself?

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation."  
2 Corinthians 5:17-19

Are you feeling far from God?  Do you feel unheard?  Are you feeling unworthy because of things you have done?  Have you fallen short and sinned against God?  Have you mistreated someone and can't seem to get over it?  If this is you and Christ is your Lord and Savior, then this word is for you.  When we repent of our sins, God tells us that Jesus is our mediator and we can come to him and ask for forgiveness.  When we ask for forgiveness that Jesus  "is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)"  

God sent his son to forgive us of our sins if we repent.  He no longer remember our sins.  He did this so that we could be reconciled back to himself and that we may have fellowship with him.  He did this to show his great love, mercy, kindness and grace towards us.  He gave us a new inheritance.  We are now born of God and have become part of his family.  We are a new creation in Christ where old things have passed away.  He gave us a better promise.  He gave us part of himself, the Holy Spirit to be with us to lead us and guide us.  We are not what we were, we are born of God.  We are part of a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people called by God.  We are his ambassadors to represent him and his glory.  We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

He has entrusted us with such a wonderful inheritance in Christ.  It is one that will bring salvation to many.  We hold in our hearts the good news of hope to a dying world.  We have been reconciled back to God so that we may bring others to him.  The greatest blessing for us is found in Romans 4 where we are told "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."  We are a blessed people.  Jesus paid the price and became the curse for us.  He fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law.  He gave us a way and path to life, abundant life.  

What a great promise.  May we always see ourselves in what God has done so that we may give thanks and praise to him.  We can trust in God for we know "He who began a good work in us will complete it."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Seek First His Kingdom and His Righteousness

"Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you."  Matthew 6:33

Are you in need or in want? Are you worrying about how you are going to take care of what you have need of?  Where is God?  You have tried to seek him, but it seems as if you are unable to stop worrying.  The answer to seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness comes through love.  First of all by loving God, then loving others.  We can see when we read Mark 12:28-32 ,Jesus was being challenged by the teachers of the law.  At one point, one of the teachers asked him, of all the commandments, which is the most important?  Jesus replied to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this:  Love your neighbor as yourself."  The teacher, then responded "you are right saying that God is one and there is no other but him.  To love him with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."  Jesus noticed that he answered wisely and said to him "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

Clearly seeking his kingdom and his righteousness comes through love.  When we begin to realize that it is more important to love God first and loving others, then we will begin to walk in the perfect will of God.  God doesn't desire all of our offerings and sacrifices that we make.  He desires a personal relationship, faith in what his son has done and the righteousness comes through his son Jesus who demonstrated the ultimate form of love which was dying for us to give us the righteousness of God.  

When we begin to walk out our life in Christ, we have to walk in love.  However, sometimes it is difficult to walk in the love of God.  Unforgiveness towards others can keep us from walking in the fullness of his kingdom and his righteousness.  It is like that weight that so easily can beset us.  Unforgiveness keeps us focused on ourselves and our hurt. God desires to heal us from the hurt, but letting go of the past and its pain can be difficult. God desires to heal us.  This healing comes through seeking Jesus daily and abiding in his word.  When we begin to see that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil, then we can begin to see things as God sees them. Hurt people, hurt people.  We have God living in us which gives us power to love.  We can overcome unforgiveness by renewing our mind, trusting in God to deliver us and seeing others as Christ sees them.   When we see how much God loves us and when we begin to see ourselves as God see us, then we can come to the full knowledge in Christ.  Our minds are renewed and our confidence is shifted into God's goodness.  He begins to gently restores us with his love and imparts in us forgiveness and love for others.

He gives us spiritual eyes to see our value and worth in Christ. We begin to see that we are a blessing and a child of the most high. Even in the midst of a world that rejects us, God's accepts us.  We experience his goodness and his glory.  Although it is only in part. We have a hope which is eternal that one day we will see all the fullness of his glory and that every tear will be wiped away.  When we see how loved we are, we begin to desire to show others this love.  We begin to demonstrate God and his goodness.  His desire is that we fulfill our calling seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness, so that all things will be added unto us.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

God is Love

"God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him."   1 John 4:16b

God is love.  He showed his great love by sending his son to die for us.  But even more so, when we abide in him and his word abides in us we live in God.  The agape love of God cannot be manifested outside of being in him.   In 1 John 3:24 we read "Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them.   And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us."  There is no way that we can obey his commands without having the Holy Spirit. 

Thirteen years ago when the Jesus became Lord in my life, I knew that I had been changed.  It was a life changing experience.  Although, I received Jesus as my savior when I was child, I had no power to overcome sin because I did not want to live for Christ.  I wanted to still live apart from him.  When he spoke to me personally thirteen years ago and became Lord over my life, the power of God came in and I wanted to obey him.  This was because God loved me first that I could love God. 

When the fire of God came into my life and I was like a burning flame out of control.  I could not stop telling others of his goodness and who he was.  He had changed my life and gave me a desire to be obedient and to stop living according to the world.  Although I still faltered at times, he still kept gently showing me areas of my life that were not in his perfect will for my life.  He worked with me gently to bring truth into my life so that I would submit to his authority and trust him.  Although, I have not arrived yet I know that he lives in me.  

God in his mercy and grace began showing the greater gift, love.  He took that out of control flame that torched others and has begun to transform it into a gentle fire where others can come and warm themselves.  He is teaching me that even with the wonderful gifts of the Spirit of God, by waiting and be humble and showing love to others that will bring them to God, restore them and heal them.

God desires that all be saved and come to the full knowledge of God.  He desires to show you that God is love and that we can abide in his love.  He is desiring to show us that overcoming power that lives in us.  He is waiting ever so patiently for us.  He sees the finished work in our lives.  We just have to walk it out by faith  in Him.  May God bless you today with this!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When Persecution Comes....Great is Your Reward

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:10

Persecution is part of the Christian walk.  If you share the gospel of Jesus Christ to those around you not all will welcome or receive you.  Jesus was persecuted, so you also will be persecuted.  Jesus even tells us, if they hate me they will hate you.  He knew that the world would not receive him.  He knew that although he died for the world out of his great love for it, they would not all receive him.

He even came to his own chosen people and they did not welcome him.  As a matter of fact, the Pharisees and Sadduccees at the time were jealous and evil.  They were the ones who even killed him.  He knew that they were prideful and rebellious.  He knew that they preferred the world rather than God and his righteousness.  But even knowing all this, he still out of his great mercy left all his glory and became a humble servant.  He came into the world, the one he created to die so that we may have eternal life.  

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus became our righteousness.  He made us right with God.  He gave us access to have fellowship with the God of this universe.  He justified us.  We could come before a holy God because of what he did for us.  What a wonderful gift.  This gift would show us God's goodness and kindness.  It would also demonstrate for us his great mercy towards us.  

The greatest day came when we received the good news.  We were changed.  We became the righteousness of God.  We became part of the blessed people, a holy nation, a chosen people, a royal priesthood.  So when persecution comes your way remember that you are blessed because the kingdom of God is yours.  

Agape Love

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.  Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

The definition of love in the bible is an action and behavior.  It is not an emotion or inner feeling. When we fall in love, we tend to associate love with how we feel.  They make me feel special or that there is some special attraction or attention that we receive from this person.  The love that we have is limited.  It may start out with fireworks in the beginning, but over time it takes work.  Agape love is the highest level of love because it is unselfish and always thinking about others.  God was thinking about us before the world was even created.  He already knew the plans that he had for us.  He knew man would fail in the garden of Eden and even then he loved us.  He made a plan to send his one and only son to bruise the head of the serpent and redeem us.  

His love is the highest form of love, because Jesus was willing to lay his life down for us despite all of our sin, rebellion and pride.  Even though we rejected his son, he loved us.  He loved us by being patient and long suffering with us.  He also was kind to us.  He answers prayers and helps us even when we are undeserving. When we repent, he no longer remembers our wrongs.  He isn't seeking to force his will on ours, but gives us the ability to choose freely.  We can choose to serve him or we can choose to serve the world.  He is not easily angered at us.  Even though we deserve judgement, he is patient waiting to see if we will turn to him and seek him as our Lord and Savior.  When evil is done, he does not rejoice.  He told us that we would have trials and tribulations in this world and that he too was familiar with our sufferings.  He experienced suffering greater than we can imagine.  He was there right with us waiting to comfort us and to bring us near to him.

His love is the one who always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.  He knows that when we put our faith and trust him that we will persevere through this life coming into a greater hope, the eternal hope.  He also entrusted us with the ability to love like this as well.  He does this by giving us his son who became the ransom for us.  He gave us also the comforter, the Holy Spirit to be with during this life.  He has given us power through his Spirit and by what Jesus did for us to overcome and love others.  He has given us this agape love that flows through us because we do not love our soul life, but we are willing to lay it down just as Jesus did at the cross.

The greatest gift is love.  All the things in this world will pass away, but love never fails.  It will bring others to Christ and minister his healing power.  It is the greatest gift you can give as a disciple of Christ.   So today, may the love of God flow into your life and into the lives of others.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

There Is No Fear in Love

When we are in Jesus, we are in his love.  Jesus died so that we may be confident that we can come before the living God and be forgiven for our sins.  Fear has to do with punishment.  When we view God as one who punishes us for our sins, then we will always have fear in us.  We are waiting for God to drop the hammer on our head and bring in his wrath.  God desires to bring in his grace and mercy in our time of need.

Christ died so that we may be delivered from the fear of death and the fear of being unable to come before God to seek help.  His perfect love is understanding that it is not because of what we have done that we are righteous, but because what Jesus has done.  The only way we stand right before God is by having faith and abiding in what Jesus Christ did for us.  It is not based upon your performance, but Jesus's performance at the cross.  Sometimes I hear people say, God is doing this to teach me a lesson or God is punishing me for my mistakes.  Others punish themselves for their sin.  They can't seem to forgive themselves for what they have done.  When we received Jesus, we also have to learn to abide in his grace and mercy in our time of need.  We need to abide in what Jesus did for us at the cross.

I do believe that we can sin and not listen to God and have consequences for our own actions.  Those consequences sometimes take time to resolve.  God will be with us through the process and help us to be restored.  Also, God's grace is not a license to sin.  God lives in us and he who is in God will no longer continue to sin.  If we are on the road of sin, then repent and turn to God and ask for help.  When we repent and trust in God's perfect love we have a bold confidence in knowing that God will hear our prayers.  When we sin and repent, we have an advocate to go to to bring back restoration in our relationship with God.

Fear is opposite of faith.  Faith and fear cannot co-exist because faith brings hope and fear brings in torment.    Faith gives us assurance that we can come before God to ask for help in our time of need.  God desires to rid you of fear and replace it with faith. He wants you to have confidence in knowing that God is for you and not against you.  He wants you to be able to love him with all your heart, your soul and your mind and to love yourself and your neighbor.  He wants to give you confidence that he loves you.  He paid a hefty price with his son.  So today may you be confident in the love of God.  May his perfect love cast out fear in your life today!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

Love keeps no record of wrongs.  1 Corinthians 13:5b

True love in its purest form is the most difficult.  The one most people have a hard time with is keeping no record of wrongs.  When we received Jesus and his justification, we become blessed.  How are we blessed?  Romans 4:7 and 8 tells us "Blessed are they whosed transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.  This is true forgiveness.  When we ask for forgiveness, God no longer keeps a record of our wrongs.  This is what gives us peace in our relationship with God and allows for us to be reconciled in our relationship with him.

When we do not forgive and let go of the wrong that others have done to us, we will not be able to have relationship with them.  Or if we do have a relationship it is limited.  Limited by the walls that we put up to protect us from being hurt again.  When another betrays your trust, it is difficult.  However, when we think about how God forgave us for our betrayals how can we not be the same?

When betrayal and unfaithfulness occurs it hurts.  It is a wound that takes time to heal.  The only person who can heal is God.  The Holy Spirit is our comforter and desires to comfort us in our time of need.  However, unforgiveness towards others can keep us from walking in God's healing.  The Holy Spirit cannot comfort us and bring healing when we chose not to forgive.  Yes, what they did hurt and wrong,  I am not disregarding that you have been hurt.  Some will never say sorry, others don't even realize what they did hurt and still there are those who don't care.  I am not justifying their sin, but what I can say is that I am sorry.

God's love is the only thing that can cast out fear.  Fear of being hurt and betrayed again.  Fear of what might happen if you trust again. We can trust him because he promises us that he will heal us and bring comfort to us.  When we received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our destiny changed.  We became children of God.  We no longer were part of the darkness, but now were translated into his glorious light.  He took out the heart of stone and gave us one of flesh.  We now had a new life.  We became one set apart that would be holy as he is holy.  We are part of a peculiar people, chosen to be vessels of honor and glory for him.  He has given us power through the Holy Spirit to be set free from the power of unforgiveness. 

He wants to set us free and give us the ability to love again.  He tells us in Romans 5 that through our sufferings we can rejoice "because we know that sufferings produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character, hope.  And hope will not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."  God knows that is we will trust him in our sufferings and surrender to him those who have hurt us that the love of God will be poured into our hearts and we will have this sure hope in him.

Hurt people, hurt people.  God tells us in Ephesians 6 that "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."  People around you are hurt, some are dying from lack of knowledge, while others are in deception.  When you see people as God sees them, you will see they are like sheep without a shephard.  It is God's goodness that leads others to repentance and it takes the love of God to heal them.  God uses his vessels, you and me, to bring the love of God to them. 

I am not saying that forgiveness is easy.  Today if we could see the people who hurt us as Christ sees them, we too like Christ would be moved to love them and draw them to repentance so that their sins would be remembered no more.  We would keep no records of wrongs.  May God bless you today with the ability to love and keep no records of wrongs.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

No Greater Love

"My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."  John 15:12-13

Valentine's Day is around the corner.  It is a time when people celebrate their love relationship.  There are those who are looking for love, those who are in love and their are those who need love.  Love is the greatest gift of all.  Love is one who is willing to lay down his life for another.  Many relationships today lack this type of love.  There is only one true person who was willing to do this.  Jesus Christ was the ultimate representation of God's great love.  Because of his great love, he was willing to lay down his life for us. 

He knew that we would never be able to love God, love others or overcome sin.  We are told we are able to love because God loved us first.  He died for us when we were yet sinners.  He was willing to pay the price for our sin so that we may be reconciled back into a relationship with God.  He experienced separation from God because of our sin.  He died so that we may be risen from death and have eternal life.  He died so that we may receive the promise of the Holy Spirit of God with us.  It is a love that is beyond comprehension. 

When we look at our own life would we be willing to do this for anyone?  We may do it maybe for a family member or noble cause, but not for a bunch of people dying in their sin.  We fall short of the glory of God to be able to do this separate from God and his power.  God paid the ultimate price.  He sent his most valuable possession.  He sent his one and only son.  His son was willing to leave heaven and become poor.  He became a ransom for many.  He was willing to do this so that his Father would be glorified.  He was willing to humble himself before his own creation and die in humiliation, shame and rejection.  He was willing to suffer a horrific death because of the love that was in his heart for us.  To him we were a treasure worth dying for.  He knew that we would become sons and daughters of God.

Today, the greatest love you will ever experience is by knowing God through accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  He is the way, the truth and the life.  Know that you are loved.  John 3:16 reminds us today of God's great love:  "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." 

Friday, February 8, 2013

To the Angel of the Church In....

"To the angel of the church in....."Revelation Chapters 2 and 3

In the book of Revelation we read about the seven churches.  The seven churches are a picture and type of what is going on today across the world.  Jesus starts out by commending them on what they are doing according to his will and then he informs them on what is not according to his will.

Although we have problems in the church, it does not justify keeping us away from fellowship and gathering together.  We are accountable by discerning what is of God and what is not of God. That comes by the inward witness of the Spirit of God who lives in us and by it lining up with the word of God.  God gives us wisdom and direction.  Revelation was to address what can happen in the churches.

How do we determine if someone is truly a believer and follower of Christ Jesus?  God tells us to judge the fruit of those around you.  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  Jesus also said that those who are my disciples will obey him and will crucify the sinful nature with its passion and desires (Galatians 5:22,24).  We are also told that we cannot go on sinning since we are born of God (1 John 3:9).  God has given us power to overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony not loving our soul life (Revelations 12:11).  Although there are times where we will fall into sin, it should not be a habit or a willful act.  It should be more like you were on your way to your destination with Christ, then all of a sudden you have a car crash.

As we take a look at the seven churches, God reveals to us what is happening.  He also gave us insight that we may have tares among the wheat.  They may be people in the church who appear to be godly, but aren't. Jesus addresses the seven churches with what is going on.

The first church is Ephesus.  Ephesus left their first love.  They became so involved in doing the works for God that they no longer spent time in fellowship with God.  They were doing everything right from hating what God hated, but missing the greatest gift of all which was our personal relationship with God.  Sometimes we can forsake God but seeking the gifts and works rather than the one who gave the gifts and works.

The second church is Smyrna.  They were the church that is heavily persecuted.  They are afflicted and in poverty.  They are among the religious who are really like Satan himself.  They are under tremendous suffering.  They are called to be faithful to point of death.

The third church is Pergamum.  This church was described as the church where they were under Satan's throne.  This could probably be described as a government of imperialist worship.  The church here held to the teaching of Balaam.  Balaam led Israel astray to foreign Gods through sexual immorality.  These teaching are false, worldly with immorality.  These false teachers get believers to compromise the truth for monetary gain.

The fourth church is Thyatira.  They tolerated the Jezebel spirit, who calls herself a prophetess.  This church tolerated sin, unrighteousness and unbiblical teaching.  God desires for us to submit ourselves to him as a living sacrifice and to repent and turn from sin.  However, this spirit allows this to continue and even propagates it.

The fifth church is Sardis.  This is a dead church.  They had the appearance outwardly, but they had forgotten what God had done for them.  They were religious.  They attended church and did their service, but nothing more.  Their deeds are incomplete.  He reminded them about what they had received and heard.  He also told them to obey it, repent and wake up.

The sixth church is Philadephia.  They are the ones who trusted in God and were considered to have little strength.  They are the ones who kept his word and did not deny it.  They were the ones who God gave the key of David.  What it opens no one can shut and what he shuts no one can open.  The door before them was open to accomplish God's will.  They will be the one who will be kept from the hour of trial to come upon the whole earth.

The seventh church is Laodicea.  This church was the one who thought they had everything going for them.  But they didn't.  They would not take a side.  They were neither hot or cold, but lukewarm.  They wanted to make everyone happy.  They made everything comfortable for their followers.  They based their success with God based upon their wealth.  God made it clear that they were naked, wretched, pitiful, poor and blind.  He reminds them to put on gold refined in the fire.  He was reminding them to pick up their cross and follow Jesus and to put their faith in him and not in what they have.

The churches are challenged today as they were in the past.  Each church had those who were faithful to Christ and he encouraged those believers to hold firm until the end.  To remain faithful even among those who were unfaithful.  Revelation serves as a warning to all churches.  Christ desires repentance of all.  So today, even if you like me experienced pain from the church hold fast and firm until the end and remain faithful to Christ.  For at the end of the journey, we will one day be with our Lord and Savior and this world will no longer have a hold on us.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Time for Everything is Now

As a follower of Jesus Christ, the greatest thing that we have to hold onto is keeping the faith.  I have seen and experienced more than I desired in the body of Christ.  I am really surprised at how many people do not really read the bible or desire to live a life worthy of the Lord.  My experience in the church have not always been joyful.  I can clearly see that Jesus's word is true when he said that there would be weeds among the wheat.  We represent Christ and I cannot tell you how greatly grieved I have been by seeing what has been done in the churches.  I have seen churches bring in witchcraft.  I have seen others who talk about love, yet reject others from entering into their church circles.  I have seen the hypocrites who won't accept you until you do this or that within their church.  It has blown my mind.  I have been in deliverance ministry where I have seen demons cast out, but they became more focused on demons rather than Christ.  I experienced others who have had God's anointing and gifts become became very oppressive and critical tearing down everything I was doing. I have had others who were jealous of the gifts God gave me and it caused division.  Rather than love, I experienced the works of the flesh around me.  I have helped out the poor and needy only to have them shun me later on.  I was told that I was interfering in a marriage by giving gifts certificates for food and gas to a young mother when her husband was out of work who was mentally and physically abusive to her.  I would share the word of God with others and believers and they rejected me.  I was excluded from their groups.

What happened to the body of believers?  Where is your fire?  Don't you realize that God is coming back seeking a church without spot or wrinkle?  Do we think that we can perfect our walk with Christ in the flesh?  What has happened to our desire to share the gospel of Jesus with others?  Is love making it nice for everyone?  Don't hurt anyone's feelings?  Is that what Jesus did?  Is that what Paul did?  Did they not say to also exhort and bring correction as well?  Is not love one who pulls them out of the fire?  Do we support those who are in sin?  I don't know about others, but the bible gives clear instruction.  It has been very difficult for me to see this.  What has happened to the church?  Have we become like the Laodicians?  Are we just lukewarm preaching something that will not bring forth the power of God.  Are we perfecting the works of the flesh rather than being led by the Spirit of God? What has happened?  

Awake and arise church!!!!  God is calling you forth.  We need harvesters to send out into the fields that are ripe.  We need those to bring hope to a lost and dying generation.  We need those who hear the word to do it. We hold the good news for those who are in need which is the power of God. We have the answer that will bring life to them.  We hold the goodness of God in our hearts that leads to repentance.  We have a purpose and a calling!  We need to rise to the occasion and really desire to bring truth to those around us.  Some are perishing and they may not have tomorrow.

The fountains of living waters are in us!!  God is alive and that is what I experienced over 13 years ago.  I came into contact with a God who was living.  He is still giving out gifts and bringing truth.  He is still healing the sick, raising the dead and helping the lame walk.  He has given us his son and the power to overcome all sin.  He has given us his word, covenant and promises.  He is waiting on us to wake up!

The season is changing it says in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a time for everything.  Now is a time to die to self.  Now is the time to uproot those things in your life that are not of God.  Now is a time to heal and bring healing to others.  Now is a time to build in the Kingdom of God.  Now is a time to laugh at the enemy and his lies.  Now is a time to dance and worship the Lord.  Now is a time to gather up the harvest and prepare her for Jesus glorious return.  Now is a time to refrain from embracing the world's way.  Now is a time to give up on the old stuff in your life.  Now is the time to throw away the sin that so easily besets you.  Now is a time to speak and tell others about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Now is a time to hate the sin but love the sinner.  Now is a time to rest in the peace that Jesus came to give us.

God is looking for those who will do his will.  He is looking for the one who will preach the gospel in season and out of season and to intercede and pray for his will to be done on earth.  Today my hope is that we will arise and wake up to our calling and that God will give us strength, power and might to accomplish his Kingdom purposes.

Keeping the Faith

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."  2 Timothy 4:7

Paul was instructing Timothy before his departure.  The Christians were being persecuted and killed for their belief in Christ.  Paul knew that God had set Timothy aside as an instrument to carry on the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The apostle Paul knew he had little time left to continue to encourage Timothy to remain faithful knowing that the road ahead would be full of challenges.    Timothy was young and he knew that he would need to understand that his age was not to hinder him and that God had appointed him to carry on the work of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul instructs Timothy to preach in season and out of season, to correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.  The gospel was being watered down and the deception was coming greatly into the church.  He began to see men turning away from sound doctrine looking to their own desires.  He knew that false teachers were rising us preaching another gospel that would lead believers astray.  These had itchy  ears and no longer wanted to hear the truth but turn aside to myths.  He knew that Timothy would see this departure and delusion.  He was concerned for him remaining faithful in his walk with Christ.

He encouraged Timothy that no matter what he saw that he needed to keep his head and be sober in all situations.  He also spoke of him enduring hardship and doing the work of an evangelist.  He knew that Timothy needed to keep on doing what he was called to do.  He reminded him of what God had imparted to him and that he was anointed to do the work.  He also encouraged him by his own testimony that even though he encountered trials and tribulations and was now facing death for his beliefs that he had finished the course and kept his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He was affirming that God's word was truth and that he was ready to meet his Lord and Savior.  He was heading home now.  

He also reminded him to be careful.  Some had left the faith and turned away from the truth.  They have gone back into the world.  They have caused him great harm.  But he also encouraged him by letting him know that God would vindicate him and deal with those that have caused him pain.  He reminded Timothy how God gave him strength to withstand these people even in the midst of such great opposition.  

So today amid all of your trials, persecution and rejection of the truth, Paul's message in 2 Timothy reminds us to keep preaching the gospel in season and out of season.  It also teaches us that there will be people who will want to hear things that appeal to them and that they will not receive the truth.  People may oppose us and cause us harm, but God will give us strength to overcome this opposition and he will be the one who will deliver us.  We just have to keep the faith by believing in the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ and hold firm to the truth.  Praise be to God who is the author and finisher of our faith