Friday, August 30, 2013

How Do We Strengthen Our Homes?

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

What can we do to strengthen our homes?  Does the Bible have an answer for us? Keep in mind continually what God calls us to do, He enables and equips us to do. What is most important in our families that causes relationships to be sustained for the long haul? The answer: FORGIVENESS. Some families are filled with bitterness, filled with anger, filled with hate, filled with vengeance towards each other. They believe that retaliation somehow is a virtue, that getting back is somehow right and healthy. These attitudes are not only approved in our culture  but encouraged by counselors and psychologists who tell us we need to vent our anger and our hatred. 

Unforgiveness imprisons people in their past. As long as you are unwilling to forgive offenders  and their offenses, you are shackled to them both. As long as you are unwilling to forgive the offender and the offense, you keep it alive and the pain is there, like an open sore. When you won't forgive you are sentencing yourself to go through life feeling as bad now as you did in the past when the offense was committed. You choose to love hate and cultivate it through your life. Unforgiveness imprisons you in the pain of your past.

Forgiveness is an openly declared and personally granted promise. It is an undeserved and an unearned love that affirms to an offender that there is no anger, no hatred, no desire for vengeance, no retaliation necessary. The guilt has been removed and the blame is gone. This is the exact attitude of God towards sinners. God grants to us in Scripture a verbally declared, personally given promise of undeserved and unearned love. He is no longer angry and desires no retaliation, or condemnation. The guilt and shame have been removed and what you see is God’s attitude towards those who have put their faith in Him. It's hard to destroy a relationship, if you continually forgive every offense. Colossians 3:13 Paul says, Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. It is godlike to forgive.

The one who does not forgive will not enjoy the love of other Christians. If they will not forgive another, then the Lord is going to turn them over to the tormentors. This is the chastening of the Lord which might be stress, hardship, illness, difficulty. James 2:13 says the same thing. "Judgment will be merciless to the one who shows no mercy." "Blessed are the merciful," Matthew 5:7, "for they shall obtain mercy." If they don't have the mercy of forgiveness, God's going to turn them over to the tormentors.

Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.”  Here God exhorts you to continually give yourself to God. The enemy that you are dealing with is Satan, always, trying to obscure and pervert the truth and keep you from forgiving your offender. Matthew 6:14,15 says, For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. This is a powerful statement If you forgive, you'll be forgiven. What happens to you as a believer when you choose to sin and when you get involved in prolonged sin? You begin to be chastened and you forfeit blessing. Your eternal forgiveness is taken care of, but the here and now temporal forgiveness that withholds chastening and pours out blessing is not going to be yours.

I've seen people with emptiness in their lives, people with a lack of joy, a lack of power, a lack of meaningful relationships in their families due to the fact that there is no forgiveness of sin in their hearts towards a person in their family. When they will not forgive, God continues to chasten and life is miserable and blessing isn't there.

Thought: Forgiveness brings heaven to earth. Forgiveness puts heaven's peace into the sinful heart of man because, forgiveness is the image of God. Forgiveness is the advancement of Christ's Kingdom and the furtherance of the Gospel. Forgiveness is what makes a relationship last. How do you strengthen your home? FORGIVE...

The most miserable prison in the world is the prison we make for ourselves when we refuse to show mercy. Our thoughts become shackled, our emotions are chained, the will is almost paralyzed. But when we show mercy, all of these bonds are broken, and we enter into a joyful liberty that frees us to share God’s love with others. - Warren W. Wiersbe

Friday, August 23, 2013

I've Sinned, What Now?

I’ve Sinned, What Now?

Psalm 51:1-4
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

When David was confronted with his sin and realized that his sin was against God, he prayed a prayer of repentance taking full responsibility for what he had done. David became conscious of the fact that he was fully accountable for his behavior and could not blame someone else for the things that had gone wrong in his life. There has been a philosophy going around in our modern culture that people should not be held responsible for their misbehavior because they are just mentally sick, not they have sinned.

When you assume full responsibility for your sin, you find that you are now in a position to receive God’s mercy and power. Victory over sin and Satan is a possibility for the Christian that believes God has already provided a way of escape (I Corinthians 10:13).  If you are struggling in your sin and truly believe that you can’t do what you should, then you need help from the people of God. You need someone to hold you up in your weakness, to help you walk a straight path, to comfort you, to love you, strengthen you and pray for you.

Some Christians have often conceded to the enemy by assuming that some sins cannot be forgiven or you are too far gone to be helped. Such unbelief breeds disobedience and despair. We as Christians need to remember that the teaching of the New Testament is all things are possible with God to him who believes (Luke 1:37). If we know the truth, the truth will make us free (John 8:32). Paul wrote that God will give you the resources to cope and fight all temptation. A faithful God does not expect you to do what you cannot; He supplies the needed strength. Philippians 4:13 ~ I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Paul, in essence was saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Read Isaiah 40:29-31.

Before you can take steps toward positive change, you need to first believe that God is good because if you don’t, you become spiritually paralyzed in your Christian growth. Satan will urge you to focus on one issue, one sin, or unwanted restriction in your life. He will try to convince you that God’s way is not best for you and he can offer you something better. If you doubt God’s goodness, you will not only resist change but you will also fear change when it comes. When you doubt God’s goodness, you hold on to your sin tightly and become afraid that God will rob you of your desires, your pleasures, or your happiness. John 10:10 ~The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Unresolved guilt causes feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness and a nagging feeling that “you have blown it.” The guilty person feels since their past cannot be reclaimed, there is little use in trying to live right again.  A person who feels impure will struggle with trusting God and needs to know that God’s will is that they be free from all forms of guilt. God is a merciful and loving God and is never taken by surprise. He offers you freedom from that guilt and from a nagging conscience. As much as possible, try to heal all personal relationships. The severest guilt feelings usually attack when you have wronged others. It is easier to accept your own hurt than that of your family or friends.

Thought: Believe that God is good and has your best interests in mind. Find examples in the Bible where God worked in the lives of other people for their good and His glory. Take full responsibility for your sin and don’t blame others for your situation or your sin. Realize deliverance is possible to those who believe, Luke 1:37 ~  For with God nothing shall be impossible.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Our Just Rewards

Our Just Rewards
Matthew 16:27
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

There is a misconception going around that we're going to stand before Jesus Christ and all of our sins are going be blown up on a big screen. Some have even decided that everything happens at one big moment, the judgment seat of Christ happening together with the great white throne. This a misunderstanding of what the term means when it talks about the judgment seat of Christ.

There are some major judgments in Scripture and God is very specific with each one having its own time and its own place recorded for us.

The judgment of sin is recorded in all four gospels. The payment for sin happened on Calvary's cross. It was there that He who knew no sin became sin for us. God judged sin completely in the death of Jesus Christ.

The judgment of self in I Corinthians 11:31, Paul said this: "If we judge ourselves we shall not, be judged.” What did Paul mean by that statement?  If we are careful to judge ourselves here on earth, we will not be chastened by God but, if we do sin and are not careful to bring our lives under the control of the Holy Spirit of God, He will discipline us. 

The judgment of believer's works will take place after the rapture, in heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:10 ~ For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Every believer is going to give account of himself to God. A man once asked Daniel Webster what was the greatest thought he had in his life and he said, "The greatest thought I ever had was my personal accountability to God." God knows that we need to be accountable to somebody. Our highest goal in pleasing God is that we as believer’s realize we are accountable to God for our life. Some deeds we have done in our bodies will bring eternal reward and other deeds, will be burned up because they are of no eternal value. This does not include our sins, they have been paid for already on the cross and Christ remembers them no more (Hebrews 8:12). We as Christians should not be afraid of the judgment seat of Christ. Paul wrote, And then shall every man have praise of God (I Corinthians 4:5). There are no losers in Christianity. We will all receive praise of God. The Bema is a place of honor, reward, dignity and prominence. 

Most of our time should be spent on things which bring eternal rewards. I Corinthians 3:8-14 ~  Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. (The word bad does not mean sin but worthless. God sorts the good or valuable from the bad or the worthless.)

The judgment of the earth, at the end of the tribulation, is very clear according to, (Peter 3:10-13). The judgment of the Gentiles is explained in Matthew 25:31-46, where the Lord comes and separates the believing Gentiles from the unbelieving Gentiles. The unbelieving ones are cast into hell. The believing ones go into the kingdom. The place is earth and the time is the end of the tribulation.

The judgment of Satan and his demons in Jude 6 says, And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. God has planned a special judgment for Satan and his angels. It is at the end of the thousand- year kingdom. Satan is loosed for a little season at the end of the millennial kingdom, and then God takes him and the Bible says,  And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:10). 

The judgment of the unsaved recorded in Revelation 20:11-15, is called the great white throne judgment. Right after the thousand-year reign of Christ, there is a resurrection. All of the ungodly are brought before the throne and Christ judges them out of the books that are written. They cannot make it on the bases of their own good deeds and are thrown into the Lake of Fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Thought: Some people say that the judgment seat of Christ is the judgment in which God is going to punish believers for all the sins they did after they were saved. They teach that when you got saved that took care of the sins up to your salvation, but when you get up there to the judgment seat all the sins you did since you've been saved are going to be flashed up on the screen. If one thought about that long enough, no one would want to go to heaven under those conditions. This makes the cross a travesty, a false representation of what Christ did for us, and that God can only handle our sins up to a certain point. 

When Jesus died on the cross, it was for past, present and future sins. All sins have been forgiven to the one who has repented of their sins and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Just one sin unforgiven would send them to hell. According to Romans 6 through 8 we are not under law, we are under grace. There is no way that any sin in the life of a Christian is unforgiven but, it does cost the believer in loss of fellowship with the One who died to pay for their sins.

The payment for sin is complete but, we can be ashamed at His coming. 1 John 2:28 ~ And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. Our lives should be characterized by our walk, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Why Do Some Fall Away?

Why Do Some Fall Away?
Hebrews 6:4-8

There is a dramatic warning to the person who is in the church, who has heard the truth, knows the truth and has rejected the Savior. This is the severest of all dangers because if you fall away, you cannot be renewed to repentance. Salvation is a gift from God and always requires God’s working in the hearts of men. The problem is, people have become dull of hearing and lack discernment (Hebrews 5:11-14).  The word “dull” here is a slow, slothful, response to gospel teaching and passive in spiritual growth. Rejection of the teaching of God’s Word results in a process of harding of the heart. A person that is truly born again cannot lose his or her salvation. But, a person who has become dull of hearing and not embracing the truths of the Bible, starts to lose the desire for that truth no longer wanting to know about the things of God. Some hear the truth but reject the truth holding tightly to their sin. 

This Scripture in Hebrews is talking about somebody who has been in church a long enough time so that they have been exposed to enough truth that they could be teaching it. There will be tares that settle in with the wheat in the church and they'll be around long enough that they ought to be teaching what they themselves don't really believe. But, instead of teaching, they have need again of someone to teach them the elementary principles of the Word of God. 
The author of the book of Hebrews shows how far a person may go in their religious life and after all they have learned, seen, and experienced, will fall away and perish for ever. They have been enlightened the Bible says, which is not a term used for salvation, but for common knowledge of things in the Word of God. They may have tasted of the heavenly gift, seen the Holy Spirit of God working in the lives of other people and viewed extraordinary and miraculous things, but have no true saving grace. They may have tasted of the good word of God; heard the Word of God preached with pleasure, spoken well of the Bible and yet, have never been converted.
People who come to a church where the Word of God is faithfully being taught and are initially interested but eventually become dull of hearing, unable to understand the basics of righteousness are in severe danger. They've listened, they’ve heard the gospel and they maybe believed it but never truly embraced Christ. The sin of apostasy is so great the Bible speaks of them–––crucifying the Son of God afresh and putting him to open shame. This is extremely hazardous being impossible to renew an apostate again unto repentance. When one has gone so far and fallen away in rebellion and disobedience to the gospel, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance. This is a strong warning!
Why is it impossible? Because there is no more revelation. All has been given and all has been said. These people have rejected the full revelation of Christ and have put Him to open shame. The act of walking away from Christ is their own personal crucifixion of Him. They are affirming that Jesus was not the Savior, and are openly declaring that Jesus was guilty as charged, deserving death. Serious warning, if (you) they don't come to Christ and (you) they fall away, (you're) they’re forever damned. 
Thought: May the Lord reveal the true condition of your heart today as you examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith. I know there are people reading this who have heard the gospel and are in danger of falling away to be lost for ever. Father, I pray that You would be gracious to them, draw them to Yourself that they may truly believe. Amen!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Am I Spiritually Stable?

Am I Spiritually Stable?
Have you recently thought of giving in, giving up or just quitting on God? Does life seem too hard and your problems keep mounting never going away? Have you contemplated leaving your church because there are just too many hypocrites there and you don’t want to be like them? Do you feel like a ship tossed to and fro in a storm with your mind confused and a little foggy at times? Is the word “peace,” foreign to you and the joy of the Lord nowhere to be found? There is hope and there is help for you in the Word of God. Before you give way to the lies of Satan, please read and consider a charge given to all Christians from the Apostle Paul in the book of Philippians. 

Read Philippians 4:1-9

Paul is writing to the people he calls, “dearly beloved and, my joy and crown,” revealing his deep affection for the Philippian believers. Note: He didn’t receive his joy from the obvious circumstances he was placed in (imprisoned); but from his fellow believers in the city of Philippi. His desire was to encourage them to stand firm, stand fast, in the Lord not wavering in their faith. This is a military term which commands the soldier to: stand his ground in battle, be sure footed and alert to the wiles of the enemy. Paul gives insight for living out the Christian life with strength and endurance.

Paul urges two women in the church at Philippi, who are at odds with each other, to live in harmony one towards the other. Harmony and humility promote spiritual steadfastness and spiritual stability. We are to be companions in Christ; partners with other believers ––– having a spiritual oneness for the continuance of the gospel. Paul is giving us the key in knowing how we are to continue to stand firm in the Lord. Humility coupled with harmony begins the journey towards spiritual stability and oneness in the church. Gracious humility is having mercy towards others in their faults and patiences with someone who mistreats you.

Paul further encourages the Philippian believers to, Rejoice in the Lord. This is not a conclusion to spiritual soundness, but it is a theme given throughout the book of Philippians. The joy of the Lord is not related to any circumstance of life, but pertains to an unchanging relationship with the sovereign God of this universe. 

Paul continues his course or pathway to spiritual wellbeing in saying; Be anxious for nothing,.  Worry, fretting, being anxious indicates a lack of trust in God’s divine wisdom, power and sovereignty. In all difficulties, we are to pray with thankfulness, giving our requests to God and then the peace of God is promised to those who pray with a grateful heart. This peace surpasses all comprehension and goes beyond all human intellect and insight. 

Finally, Paul says, the peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus and now you need to meditate or think on these things: what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good report, and if there be any virtue (excellence), and if there be any praise (anything worthy of praise), think on these things. Practice these things and the peace of God will be with you making you spiritually sound. The Philippians were encouraged to follow the truths given by Paul and in doing so, they would know the God of peace, who gives perfect peace in all trouble, and be able to make peace with other sinners through Christ.

Thought: What is spiritual stability to you? Is it peace with God, peace with others and peace within yourself? Can you be at odds with other believers and be spiritually balanced? Is spiritual stability being one body in the church unified with Christ for the furtherance of the gospel? What about your prayer life? Are you praying with thankfulness in your heart trusting God to bring to pass His will for your life without worrying? 

In conclusion, we are to practice all of the above and then think on the things that will bring the right kind of reflective response. Meditating on the Truth of the Word of God and observing His purity and His love will comfort the soul. Hearing and speaking those things that are honorable, of good report and worthy of all praise, brings spiritual stability and the peace which passeth all understanding. Because we are one in Christ, He guards us with His peace to keep us from anxiety, doubt, and fear. What a mighty God we serve. Amen and Amen!