Friday, December 30, 2011

What is God’s Will for You This New Year?
Romans 11:33-36
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!  For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?  Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?  For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Romans 12:1-2
 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.   And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The New Year is approaching quickly and many are reminiscing over this past year with all of it’s joys and pleasures as well as some disappointments.  Some are anticipating what great things God will do in their lives in this coming year and others are fearful and apprehensive about the will of God for them. In order for Christians to know and do the Lord’s will, may I suggest reading the above Scripture connecting the two chapters. Before Paul admonishes us to submit ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, he first invites us to bring praise and honor to our Lord as true worshippers of Him.
We cannot explain God’s ways (v. 33) they are unsearchable and beyond our comprehension. We must live by faith without manipulating or scheming and trust that He will take care of everything. We as believers cannot change God’s mind (v. 34) or bargain with Him (v. 35). We cannot steal God’s glory (v. 36) or we may lose the opportunity to receive all God wants to give to us. Isaiah 42:8 says, I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
In Romans 12:2, God asks us to prove, test, or discern what the will of God is for us. We must carefully evaluate Scripture, examine ourselves and trust the inner working of the Holy Spirit of God for direction. God’s Word is an excellent guide in the everyday decisions of life. There are specific examples of the will of God given in Scripture such as, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: and 1 Peter 2:15 states, For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. It is important for us to be cautious about the decision we make because they can cause severe consequences in our lives. God can and does work in matters that seem unimportant at the time, but this is where we must trust God at His Word and walk daily in the light of Scripture. 
There is a difference between making a mistake and deliberately rebelling against God and His will. When God is not permitted to rule and reign in the life of a believer, sin is disciplined which seems extremely painful at the time. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised there by (Hebrews 12:11).
Thought: As you contemplate what the will of God is for your life this year, begin by praising and worshipping Jesus Christ for who He is and for what He has done for you. May this year be the very best year of your life as you obey and trust God in His unsearchable wisdom and knowledge to prove what is His perfect will for you in 2012.
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Born a King
Luke 1:26-33
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,  To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.  And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.  Matthew 1:16
As we sing the wondrous songs of Christmas, the carols declare that the baby born in a manger has come to be King of Kings. The song "Joy to the World"  says "The Lord is come, let earth receive her King."  In the song, "It came upon a Midnight Clear," we sing, "Heavens all gracious King."  "Angels We Have Heard on High" says, "Christ the Lord, the newborn King."  "Hark the Herald, Angels Sing" says, "Glory to the newborn King."  The carol, "What Child is This" says, "This is Christ the King." 
All of these songs emphasize the great reality of the birth of Christ, that He is in fact born a King.  The wise men stopped in Jerusalem which were seeking for Him  and asked, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" John, in the book of Revelation says He is King over all kings and Lord over all lords.  He is the greatest, the most supreme of all kings. 
The royal line that comes through to Christ is fascinating. Matthew gives us His lineage through His father, Joseph.  Luke gives us His lineage through His mother, Mary.  It is interesting to note that Mary also was a descendant from David.  She came through David's son Nathan who never reigned, but nonetheless was royal blood–––not to be confused with the prophet Nathan. It is through Mary that Jesus is the real son of David for Mary was His mother. He was born of a virgin and Joseph had no part in His birth.  Joseph planted no seed in Mary's body.  It was planted by the Holy Spirit of God.  Mary alone was the source of His human birth.  Therefore it was essential that she also be out of the line of David or He would have carried no royal blood.
Joseph's line, on the other hand is the line of the legal right to the throne which always comes through the father.  Jesus had to have a father who also was a son of David and not only a son of David but a son of David through David's son Solomon. It was through Solomon that the reigning line came. Jesus received His royal blood through Mary and the legal right to the throne from Joseph.  Even though Joseph had no part in His birth because He was born to Joseph's wife, Mary, Jesus was the son of Joseph legally and therefore bore the right to reign as King. Matthew’s genealogy comes down through Joseph because that is where the legal right to the throne comes from, the father.  Luke brings it through Mary so that we know He has not only a legal right but a real right because He bears the blood of David.
Thought: Every detail has been worked out for the world to see that Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His birth was supernatural and his linage astounding. The angelic host that announced His glorious entrance into this world was spectacular and the wise men that traveled from the East to see the Christ Child brought gifts suitable for a king. May the wonder of His birth never pale in its miraculous splendor as the excitement of the Christmas season approaches. Let us remember as well as honor the Person for whom Christmas is commemorated with great exultation and rejoicing.
“Glory to the New Born King”

Friday, December 16, 2011

Is There a Dark Side to Christmas?
Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.  But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Most people when they think of this time of year think only of the beauty of it, surrounded by the  lovely trees with bright lights and decorations, colorful ornaments, beautiful candles, wreaths, snow scenes, warm fire places and a heart filled with joy. Some dream of a “White Christmas” and sing the songs that convey these feelings of joy and wonder. Christmas is the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” but we must look at Christmas and it’s true meaning: "You shall call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sin" (Matthew 1:21). The real beauty of Christmas is to understand the ugliness that it cures. 
First John 3:5 says, "And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin."  First John 4:14, "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." Look at 1 Timothy 1:15 where Paul says, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”  Do you think that there can be a dark side of Christmas? The true heart of Christmas is this, Christ came into the world to save sinners. 
Remember the night Jesus was born. Can you picture the stable, the smells, the sounds coming from the animals? See Joseph clear a small place in the hay to lay poor Mary down to give birth to the Christ Child. What a humble place of birth and yet, chosen by God as the birth place of JESUS. The sky explodes with angels singing of His birth but to whom were they singing? Humble shepherds heard their voices proclaiming this wondrous sight and came to see the new born King, lying in a manger. We could talk about a horrible man named Herod who because he feared the loss of his control and power massacred all the baby boys 2 years and younger in that region. Christmas does have some dark aspects that are not thought about during this time of the year but they are still there.
The Bible says Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from sin. That's the reason for His coming. Sin is the dark side of Christmas. Every shattered marriage, broken friendship, argument, disagreement, evil thought, evil word, evil deed, every good deed undone, good thought unthought, good word unsaid can be attributed to sin. That is why in Joshua 7:13 it is called the accursed thing.  It is compared in Scripture to the venom of snakes, the working of witchcraft, and the stench of a grave. So, you cannot look at Christmas and celebrate only the beauty of it, you must understand that the heart of it is the repulsiveness of sin. 
Thought: Why say all of this? Why make Christmas dark? Because the ugliness of Christmas brings us to the point of its real beauty. You see, the beauty of Christmas is that Christ came into the world to...what? sinners. That is what makes Christmas so beautiful. Who can understand the beauty of Christmas without the ugliness?  It isn't the cards and the trees and the lights and the presents and the sleigh rides and the snow scenes and the warm fires, the beauty of Christmas is that Christ came to cure the ugliness of sin through Jesus’ birth and His death on the cross. None of the things mentioned above are wrong, and we should enjoy every aspect of Christmas but remembering the reason why the Christ Child came brings to light the joy of the unspeakable gift He so freely gave.

  Merry Christmas  

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Whole Armor of God
Ephesians 6:10-17
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the
whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Since we are fighting in the spiritual world, we need special equipment to fight with both  offensively and defensively. God, through His matchless wisdom, has provided for us the “whole armor of God” and we would be foolish if we were to omit any part of it. If Satan sees any area that is not guarded by this great armor, he can gain a foot hold or finds “place” in our lives. Neither give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). In other words, don’t give the devil an opportunity to wreak havoc in your life.
The Shield of Faith ~ protects the entire body and is the faith we call, Trust in God. The continual trusting in God’s Word and promises in addition to the protection He gives from every temptation and sin, is the “shield of faith.” This is not saving faith but a living faith, a trust in the mighty power of God and the covenant God has made with us. Satan will no doubt shoot his “fiery darts” at our hearts to try to cause, hateful thoughts, wrong feelings about ourselves and others, doubts and burning desires for sin. We must by faith, quench the “fiery darts” of Satan or they will begin a burning desire to sin in disobedience to God. Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him (Proverbs 30:5).
The Helmet of Salvation ~ the helmet protects the head, a major target in true combat. Satan wants to attack the mind of a person and defeat them there first, just like he did Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan defeated Eve in her mind with a lie first and then she disobeyed and ate of the fruit that was forbidden her. The helmet is the protection God gives to every believer, a mind controlled by God. When God controls the mind, the devil cannot lead the believer astray. The mind that is protected by the Word of God and the studying of the Word of God will not be lead amiss so easily.
The Sword of the Spirit ~ a soldiers only offensive weapon. The Word of God is the only weapon that is needed to defeat Satan and is infinitely more powerful than any thing Satan can use against us. The Word of God is used offensively and defensively to resist and defend oneself against Satan’s attacks. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). A physical sword becomes dull after much use, but the Word of God is only made sharper in our lives the more we use it. The Sword of the Spirit is living and powerful. The better you know and experience the power of the Word of God, the more equipped you’ll become to detect the lies of Satan.
Thought: In these last two weeks, we have talked about putting on the “whole armor of God,”  a picture of Jesus Christ. We received the full armor of God when we trusted Christ as our Savior. We know that He is “Truth” according to (John 14:6), and He is our righteousness in (2 Corinthians 5:21), and of course, He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). The first three pieces of armor is our position in Christ that we put on at salvation. We must daily appropriate the other parts of the armor and use them as a powerful advantage against the cunning devices of our enemy. We are never without the “fiery darts” of Satan and we should never be without the “whole armor of God” to oppose and resist him with.
~ Realize Who God Is...Recognize the Enemy...Rely on God’s Provision ~

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Do You Know Your Enemy?
Revelation 12:7-11
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Sooner or later every Christian realizes that their life, as a believer, is a battlefield.  As a Christian, we face three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. By Christ’s death and resurrection, He overcame the world, the flesh and the devil and we as believer’s fight our enemy from Christ’s victory over death. Christ has already won the battle and we can walk in victory by understanding and applying the truths from the Word of God.
Knowing who our enemy is and recognizing his intentions, is essential.  He is a liar, a murderer, and appears as an angel of light. This enemy has many names: the Devil, Satan, the Dragon and the Serpent. He roams around like a lion, seeking whom he may devour and is called, the god of this world. He is the accuser of the brethren, because he accuses God’s people day and night before the throne of God. His helpers are principalities, powers, rulers, spiritual wickedness in high places and powers of darkness in this world. A spiritual battle is going on in this world and you and I are apart of this battle. When we know this, the important thing to remember is that our battle is not with human beings, but with the Devil. We are waisting our time if we are fighting with people, when we ought to be fighting against Satan.
Satan, our enemy, is strong and we need the power of God to be able to stand against him. No human being is talented enough, knowledgeable enough or powerful enough to withstand the cunning devices of Satan. His plan is to use the world, our external enemy and the flesh, our internal enemy to defeat us. We are fighting this battle in the spiritual realm and need special equipment to fight with. Knowing Christ has already conquered Satan, we have spiritual weapons God has provided us with and by faith we can fight the enemy. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).
The first three pieces of armor given in Ephesians 6:14-15, are positional pieces of armor, meaning: they are worn continuously on the battlefield. Since the world is a battlefield, we must put them on permanently. These pieces of armor are a picture of our salvation in Christ. The “Belt of Truth” is what holds us together in truth, a sincere commitment to fight the enemy without hypocrisy. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Romans 13:14). To stand firm against the enemy without hesitating or falling is the goal. Since Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one will come to the Father without first coming through Him (John 14:6)...there is no other way.
The “Breastplate of Righteousness” is a distinct attribute or characteristic of God and the chief protection against Satan and his wiles. As we live our lives in faithful obedience to the Lord, it is His righteousness that produces in us an effective daily righteousness which becomes the breastplate of protection. (His righteousness, not ours.) A lack of righteousness/holiness will leave a person vulnerable to the enemy, the greatest enemy of the soul.
To be “Shod with the Gospel of Peace” means: the good news, that, through Christ we as believers are at peace with God. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1). A glorious place to be is at peace with God and  knowing He is on our side, He is our confidence and support which enables us to stand firm in the battle against the enemy.
Thought: What peace and joy comes in knowing our Lord has already provided us with armor, positional armor, that is only found in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are trying to fight the battle in your own strength, you will fail. It is only through the power of God that we are able to fight against our greatest enemy, the Devil. Next week we will talk about the last three pieces of armor our Lord has given to us. Until then, walk in Truth, Holiness and in Peace with God.