Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Foolish Church

Living between hot and cold is repulsive to Jesus.


Revelation 3:15-21 "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth! 17 You say, 'I am rich. I have everything I want. I don't need a thing!' And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

18 So I advise you to buy gold from Me--gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from Me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. 19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.

20 "Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 21 Those who are victorious will sit with Me on My throne, just as I was victorious and sat with My Father on His throne.

It is easy to be so well blessed that you forget where the blessings come from and you start to depend on the blessings instead of the one who blesses. The church at Laodicea didn't think that they were lacking anything but that is because they were using their physical eyes instead of their spiritual.

"You are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked."


They thought that their gold and their fine garments and the ointment that their city was famous for were signs that God was pleased with them. But Jesus offers us so much more than the riches and pleasures of this world. Just like the Samaritan women at the well who was offered the Living Water, just like the crowd that was offered the Bread of life, Jesus is offering a better gold, better garments and better ointment for their eyes. The things that the world has to offer are never as good as the things that Jesus has for us. (Revelation 3:18)

This church thought that they were doing a good job, they were busy building themselves up, they thought that they were rich but Jesus says that they are poor. This stands in contrast to the church at Smyrna that thought it was poor and Jesus said that they are rich. (Revelation 2:9-10)

This church reminds me of God's children in the Old Testament, most of the time they were proud of the fact that they were not too radical, they thought that they could please God while they embraced the ways of the people around them.
1 Kings 18:21 Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, "How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!" But the people were completely silent.
It seems a lot like the church today in America. We don't like to be offensive but the gospel is offensive. We don't like to be different from the rest of the world but that is exactly the way God's children are called to be. Instead of being offensive we have allowed historic beliefs of the church that have been part of our creeds and part of Biblical teaching to be watered down and contradicted.

So be diligent and turn from your indifference.


Our everyday lives lack passion for the Lord, the message to Laodicea is also to us, get hot for Jesus, be radical instead of ordinary. A zeal for the things of God will cause us to cheerfully work for him and our love for him will help us stand for truth because when we love something strongly then we will hate all that is against it.

Jesus is waiting for us to let him into our church, it sounds a little bit strange, the church has to be willing to have him for him to come in. Jesus has gone to extreme measures to get to the door but he will not open the door and force his way into our congregation. We often use these verses to lead lost people to Christ, but the basic application here is to the church.
The inscription on the cathedral in Lubeck, Germany:

"Ye call Me Master and obey me not,
Ye call Me Light and see Me not,
Ye call Me Way and walk not,
Ye call Me Life and desire Me not,
Ye call Me wise and follow Me not,
Ye call Me fair and love Me not,
Ye call Me rich and ask Me not,
Ye call Me eternal and seek Me not,
Ye call Me gracious and trust Me not,
Ye call Me noble and serve Me not,
Ye call Me mighty and honor Me not,
Ye call Me just and fear Me not,
If I condemn you, blame me not".
We have a tendency to stay in the lukewarm zone, very few people like to be overly hot or cold, it is natural for us to seek a comfortable temperature. As a follower of Jesus we don't get to stay comfortable if we want to please God.

I think there are few churches today that have a zealous desire for Jesus, not very many are wanting to experience the red hot church of the Book of Acts, most of us want just enough Jesus to keep us out of Hell.

It is very difficult for us to see ourselves as God sees us and view our sins as being as offensive as he does. If I agree with God about my condition, if I agree with him that I am a wretched man without him, if I view my sins as being offensive to him then I will not try to live in between hot and cold.

We should learn from the church of Laodicea:

  • Seek our riches from God and reject the counterfeit riches of the world. 
  • Hold onto sound doctrine despite the views of the world.
  • Serve God with passion and reject halfhearted devotion to him. 
  • Be sure that Jesus is welcome inside our church so we can fellowship with him.
SCRIPTURE ON ZEAL
Psalm 69:9/ John 2:17/ Romans 12:11/ 2 Corinthians 7:11/ Galatians 4:18/ Titus 2:14
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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Faithful Church

The faithful don't need to be strong.


Revelation 3:7-13 "Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the One who is holy and true, the One who has the key of David. What He opens, no one can close; and what He closes, no one can open:

8 "I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed My word and did not deny Me. 9 Look, I will force those who belong to Satan's synagogue--those liars who say they are Jews but are not--to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love.

10 "Because you have obeyed My command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. 12 All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of My God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of My God, and they will be citizens in the city of My God--the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from My God. And I will also write on them My new name.

13 "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches."

The church in Philadelphia receives a message from the One True God that is in control of everything. Philadelphia was found faithful to the one that is called "Holy and True" and they would receive commendation from Jesus without any discipline. (Revelation 6:10)

Thankfully God is not just Holy without being True! We would never be good enough if we were required to match his holiness on our own, but thankfully we don't have to because he is also True to all of his predictions and promises that he has made.
2 Corinthians 12:10 That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The church in Philadelphia had little strength (Revelation 3:8) but it didn't matter because they never denied Jesus, they were true to him, they knew the source of their strength. It came from Jesus and he would protect them because they have been faithful and obedient. (Revelation 3:10)

Jesus shows his strength to the church to encourage them:

  • Jesus has opened a door that no one can close.
  • Jesus closes a door then no one can open.
  • Jesus will force Satan's people to bow and acknowledge that God's children are loved.
  • Jesus will protect us from the Great Tribulation.
  • Jesus will come back for his church to give them their reward.
  • Jesus will make us citizens in the city of God.
In these verses of Revelation Jesus made a lot of promises to the church that was faithful. The faithful church has the greatest hope because it has the ultimate source of strength and because of that it has the brightest future. We should be the most joyful people because God is on our side.

The church in the United States has more freedoms than any other church has ever had and we also have the greatest amount of financial resources but sadly we are doing very little. We need to be found faithful in using the opportunities that we have been blessed with so that the gospel message will be declared to the nations.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2018

The Feeble Church

Do your actions please God?


Revelation 3:1-6 "Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the One who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: "I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive--but you are dead.

2 Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of My God. 3 Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to Me again. If you don't wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.

4 "Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before My Father and His angels that they are Mine. 6 "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches.

Busy people hate to know that all of the stuff they were doing doesn't matter to anyone, that is the ultimate letdown for a follower of Jesus, the worst thing that can happen is to find out that your work and sacrifice isn't pleasing God.

What a sobering thought to know that it is possible to think that we are working for God and doing things that we think that he wants us to do and then get a message from him letting you know that you are wrong.

"I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of My God."


The church of Sardis was a busy church with a great reputation with the community but it didn't receive the same praise from God. Physically they were very alive but spiritually they didn't have much life left in them. The community didn't have any reason to oppose these people because even though they were busy they were powerless.

Dead people don't accomplish very much so there isn't any reason to oppose them, the same is true of a spiritually dead church, their busyness doesn't concern Satan. The church didn't have any spiritual attacks against them because they were not effective for the Kingdom of God.

Don't try to impress the community with your programs that are built on your own strength, these will produce little for the Kingdom without God's approval, the plans must be his and the heart of the people doing his plans must also be his and must be right with him.

If we mess up either of those conditions then we will eventually receive the news that we need to make some changes, God will deal with us when we least expect it, like a thief in the night.

“Wake up! Be watchful! Repent! Remember the Word you have received and obey it!” 


The church is Sardis had a little bit of life left in them, God could have just sat by and let that spark die out but he desires better for us and gives us a warning that our actions do not please him.

God knows our weakness and our inability to totally follow his ways one hundred percent. The cure for this nearly dead church was to remember the way that they had first responded to the truth of God and to repent.

Thankfully he is a gracious and merciful father that gives his children a chance to change their ways.

RELATED ARTICLES
Autopsy Of A Dead Church (thomrainer.com)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Corrupted Church

The world doesn't need a tolerant and compromising church.


Revelation 2:18-29 "Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira. This is the message from the Son of God, whose eyes are like flames of fire, whose feet are like polished bronze: 19 "I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.

20 "But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman--that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet--to lead My servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality.

22 "Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the One who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.

24 "But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching ('deeper truths,' as they call them--depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you 25 except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come.

26 To all who are victorious, who obey Me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations. 27 They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. 28 They will have the same authority I received from My Father, and I will also give them the morning star! 29 "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches.

This church was doing some really great things, Jesus said that he knows "ALL the things you do" and he was pleased with their love, faith, service, and patient endurance. Not only were they doing all of those things they were also getting better at doing all of those things. They must have had a great discipleship program in their church.

Even though they were constantly improving in so many areas, we all know that there isn't a perfect church, it is easy for any church to emphasize certain qualities and as a result they tend to neglect something else. After Jesus commendation he let's them know where they needed to focus their attention.

This church would have been very popular in today's culture where tolerance is expected of everybody and absolute truth and values are not allowed. What God has said is wrong in His Word, many, even in the religious community, are now calling normal and holy. That is what was happening in the church at Thyatira as well.
It is interesting to contrast the churches at Ephesus and Thyatira. The Ephesian church was weakening in its love, yet faithful to judge false teachers; while the people in the assembly at Thyatira were growing in their love, but too tolerant of false doctrine. Both extremes must be avoided in the church.
-Warren Weirsbe
Jesus tolerated people that he didn't agree with without being mean to them, he tolerated people that were using him to get something from him and he tolerated physical abuse. In many ways Jesus was the most tolerant but in the essentials Jesus was very intolerant and narrow in his teaching.

The culture that Jesus lived in here on earth was very tolerant of things that he could not accept. Jesus never tolerated the sin and false teaching was all around him. Jesus hates the sin but he loves the sinner and wants to give him eternal life in his presence.
All of us have to decide how far we will go in accepting the cultural standards that our world embraces. Where do we draw the line in being friends with the culture around us without falling into compromise? Where are the boundaries?

We are citizens of another kingdom that we long to be in but for now we are trapped in a world that is ruled by sin and hostile to God's standards. This battle between the two worlds should create tension in us so that this world shouldn't feel like home to us. (Colossians 1:13)

Jesus words to the church in Thyatira to hold on tight are just as good for us today, he never says that it is going to be easier to live in this world, in fact he told us that we will have trouble but my love for Jesus should make it easier. Because I love him I am motivated to love what he loves and hate the sinful deeds of this world that caused him to suffer on the cross.
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The Sin Of Tolerance (billygraham.org)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Simeon: A Song Of Hope

Jesus gives me hope for this life and for eternity.

 
Luke 2:25-32  At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 "Sovereign Lord, now let Your servant die in peace, as You have promised. 30 I have seen Your salvation, 31 which You have prepared for all people. 32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of Your people Israel!"

The first two songs that are associated with the story begins with Mary's song of trust after she received the news of her pregnancy, her song is followed by the Angel's song declaring peace to the people that God is pleased with, the third song is a song of hope that is sung by Simeon.

We do not know very much about Simeon but what the Bible shares with us is enough. We know about the character and honor of this man, we know that God made a promise to him, and most importantly he believed the promise and God came through for him.

The Man's Character


He was a devout man that was right with God, from what we know of the other men of Jerusalem, he might have been the only one. Simeon was eagerly waiting, there was an expectation, for the arrival of the Messiah. I think that maybe he was like a kid that is waiting for Christmas morning.

We can see from these verses that Simeon's faith is mature, the fact that the Holy Spirit was upon him was an unusual occurrence at this time, this isn't said of many people before the Holy Spirit came to the early church after Jesus' resurrection.

Simeon endeavored to have a right relationship with God. He didn't go after God so that he would get something from God, he pursued God first before the promises came along, Simeon knew that he should seek the giver, not the gifts that he can provide.

The Promise Comes


Simeon is still living with the power of the Holy Spirit when Jesus is brought to the temple. Can you imagine the commotion that he must have made as he rushed to see Jesus? What did Jesus' parents think about this old guy rushing up to hold their son?

What did the people around them think about the prophecy that Simeon made about Jesus? It seems that nobody else in the temple that day had any idea what was happening. They must have been cold spiritually to ignore the excitement and the prophecy of this old man. The light of the world, the glory of God's people was here and yet there wasn't any response from anybody else.
My Source Of Hope
Romans 15:13  I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Since I have been made right with God, I also have the same hope that Simeon had, this is the state of mind that all of God's children have. The righteousness of Jesus has been transferred onto me so that I am right with God and I have the hope of seeing the Messiah some day.

The hope that comes from God will give you peace and joy that will get you through the difficult times that you experience in this world. This hope will also give you peace and joy when you realize that the end of your life on earth is near, there will not be any reason to fret or worry about dying, this hope is good for today and will stay with you for eternity.
1 Peter 1:3  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
The resurrection of Jesus is proof that I will also rise. Praise God for such an awesome Christmas gift! I will rejoice despite the waiting for my hope to be realized. I will continue to live for Jesus each day out of gratitude for the hope that I could never deserve.

RELATED ARTICLE:

How Advent Teaches Us To Wait Well (crossway.org)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Angels: A Song Of Peace

Is there really peace on earth? Can you have peace despite your circumstances?

 
Luke 2:8-16  And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them,

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

The shepherds in the field watching their flock during the night were not very likely candidates to have such an amazing announcement made to them. God's Son has just made his entrance into the world that he created and the event is announced to some dirty, unlikable working class guys on the night shift.

The angels tell them that they don't need to be afraid, they are here with the best news that there has ever been, they announce that Jesus is born and tell the shepherds how to find him and then they break out into praise and worship.

How do you define peace? 


Most of us would say that it is a lack of trouble and the state of being where nobody is bothering us. That is a good idea but there is a deeper meaning that the Bible talks about.

In the praise and worship that the angels did in front of the shepherds they made it clear that peace comes to the people that please God. The world will try to help you have peace, it is usually a denial of your circumstances or a plan to get rid of the trouble around you, they might even tell you that you need just one more thing that money can buy.
God's Peace
Jeremiah 33:8-9 I will cleanse them of their sins against Me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring Me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for My people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.
God's children had a lot of people telling them how to have peace. Just like it is today, they had a lot of people telling them what it takes to have peace, but not all of these people knew what they were talking about.

A good relationship with God is the key. A sign of a false prophet in the Old Testament was their message of peace that came without any repentance. The real prophets message told the people that peace could never be achieved without righteousness and justice.


Even with great trials we can still be at peace. Consider the fact that Jesus told his disciples that he was giving them the gift of real peace just hours before he would calmly go on trial and be crucified. (John 14:27) And then there is Paul, a man that had plenty of sorrow and hardships, he told many of the churches that he started that followers of Jesus have peace with God despite the persecution. (Romans 5:1-3, Philippians 4:6-7)

Yes, there is peace on earth, you just have to look beyond the cheap peace of this world. You just have to know the Prince of Peace.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mary: A Song Of Trust

Trusting God when I lack understanding and I don't have all of the answers.

 

Luke 1:38 Mary responded, "I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true." And then the angel left her.

Luke 1:46-55 Mary responded, "Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. 47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! 48 For He took notice of His lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed.

49 For the Mighty One is holy, and He has done great things for me. 50 He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear Him. 51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. 52 He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.

54 He has helped His servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. 55 For He made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever."

There are not very many people that can say that God has spoken so vividly as he did to Mary, I have not heard of anyone that has knowingly had a conversation with an angel from God, I have to wonder how you or I would respond.

Mary already knew what happens to unwed mothers and now through no fault of her own she is in that predicament.  This is a huge change in her life, Mary would never be the same, people would treat her differently, would they ever believe that she didn't do anything wrong? Would she ever have a husband, would Joseph go through with the wedding? Would all of the men shun her? Would she be allowed to live or would she have to run away from home to save her life?

The biggest question was how could she raise the Son of God? There are a lot of books on raising boys these days but they didn't have them in her day and this boy wasn't just any boy. The gospels say almost nothing about Jesus for thirty years of his life. We don't know anything about Mary's parenting skills or what happened to Joseph.

Mary's response to the angel was amazing, she must have still had plenty of questions and reasons to hold back her trust in God but she told the angel that she was willing to allow everything that he said to happen to her.

Mary's song has three sections:

✔  God Always Uses An Ordinary Person (Luke 1:46-49)


Mary's blessing was not something that she earned, just like you and I, she was unworthy and had no special goodness. God chose to favor her by his design, God has never been one to show respect for anyone because nobody has ever deserved it.

If Mary could come back to earth and tell us anything it would probably be to "call me blessed but don't go any further!" She doesn't have an super powers or special status with God, Mary is just another frail, imperfect human being just like all of us.

Mary’s song of praise reflects her total submission and deep gratitude to God for what he was doing through her despite her shortcomings and sin nature. Mary's song was similar to the song of Hannah whose son also came about under special circumstances and whose son would serve the people as a priest. (1 Samuel 2:1-10)

✔  God doesn't use the rich and powerful (Luke 1:50-53)


Mary expands her praise from God's goodness to her to his goodness and power in general to all mankind and especially for his people. Mary shows greater humility in the fact that she didn't dwell on herself but she went beyond herself to include all of us.

God's blessings are for everybody and we should celebrate everyday but especially at Christmas. Have you ever thought about the fact that God uses anybody, no matter what status that we put on people that doesn't make any difference, God will use anyone who trust him.
Video:  Mary Did You Know - Pentatonix

✔  God was being faithful to the promises he gave to Israel (Luke 1:54-56)


Israel didn't trust God to come through with his promises, if you were in their shoes and you had heard the promises from previous generations and you didn't see any evidence that they were about to come true during your lifetime then you wouldn't be any different. (Genesis 22:17-18)

Our human nature makes it difficult to let go and trust God despite the evidence, Noah, Abraham and so many others had to look beyond their own reasoning and believe the promise.

Trust is difficult but to trust with all of my heart is a new level of difficult, my own wisdom and understanding gets in the way, I start to analyze the situation and even though I want to trust with all of my heart my understanding makes me fearful and it gives me really good reasons to stop trusting.

My security and my God given reasoning abilities can work against me so that I hold back but I need to remember the next verse tells me that I better not be impressed with my own wisdom. God may ask you to do the unreasonable, my wisdom may clash with his plans to redeem the world and display his glory, his plans may not include me living a safe life to a ripe old age. Mary's plans for her life were so much easier that God's plans!

God has announced great news and promises to me, I need to respond with complete trust despite what my head may think, I need to follow with all of my heart. God's blessings to me are mind blowing. I know that I will inherit a glorious home in heaven someday so I need to trust him and not be focused on having the best life now.

What is your response? Are you blessed or entitled? Can you truly trust God with all of your heart?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thank God!

Thank you Lord for supplying for my every need.


Psalms 65:1-13 For the choir director: A song. A psalm of David. What mighty praise, O God, belongs to You in Zion. We will fulfill our vows to You, 2 for You answer our prayers. All of us must come to You. 3 Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, You forgive them all. 4 What joy for those You choose to bring near, those who live in Your holy courts. What festivities await us inside Your holy Temple.

5 You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. 6 You formed the mountains by Your power and armed Yourself with mighty strength. 7 You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations. 8 Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, You inspire shouts of joy.

9 You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for You have ordered it so. 10 You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. 11 You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. 12 The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. 13 The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy!

Thank God! I mean really do it. We say a lot of things that we don't really mean in our culture, our words are not used very accurately, it is "amazing" how much we use the word "amazing." We use the short sentence "thank God" a lot without much concern for really being sincere.

Thankfulness is the only proper response for all of our blessings, followers of Jesus should be the most thankful people on the planet, as children of the king we have been given everything for doing so little. The child of God has the assurance that all things work together for our good so how can we not be thankful for all things? (Romans 8:28)

Thank God For:

God's Grace - The Savior of Sinners


Praise God he has a people that are chosen to live eternally with him. God has given me the privilege of being a priest with direct access to him, he answers my prayer and forgives my sin without any interaction with anybody else. (1 Peter 2:9-10, Revelation 1:5-6)
Romans 5:2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory.
God's grace proves him to be compassionate and generous to sinful rebellious beings, shielding us from his wrath, forgiving them, and giving on us his righteousness.

God's Government - The Ruler of All Nations


He is “El Shaddai” the Almighty God who rules all of creation, he is sovereign over every kingdom and government, and his sovereignty will never end. Things look out of control but God's rule and final authority will bring everything to a peaceful conclusion when the temporary ruler of this world is dethroned.

God chose a people to rule so that the nations around Israel would have a witness to the power and blessings of the rule of God over a nation. God's children were a light to the Gentile nations around them and now as followers of Jesus we are the light and the testimony to the goodness of God and his rule in our lives.

God's Goodness - The Provider Of All We Need


The Lord will provide, Jehovah Jireh, the creator of every good and perfect gift. God supplies everything that is needed for everything that he has created, he sustains everything but he gives special care to his own people.
Philippians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
In a land full of opportunity and such amazing resources it is easy to rely on ourselves, pride laziness and indifference. It is easy to make idols out of the blessings and worship the things instead of the giver of the gifts. We are easily tempted to forget, to take for granted, and to ignore God who takes care of our every need, especially our spiritual needs.

Thank you Lord for supplying for my every need. You gave me grace, love and mercy and you have gone way beyond that and blessed me beyond measure.
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Giving Thanks In Everything (billygraham.org)

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Compromising Church

A difficult environment never justifies compromise.


Revelation 2:12-17 "Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the One with the sharp two-edged sword: 13 "I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to Me. You refused to deny Me even when Antipas, My faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan's city.

14 "But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. 15 In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching.

Everyone worships someone or something, Satan knows about this God given desire and he has limitless options to help you direct your worship where it doesn't belong, religious beliefs is a wide open category where you can pick and choose.

The church has always been in a battle to keep everything that isn't truth away from their beliefs. It is so important that most churches have a page on their website to tell you what their essential core beliefs are.

Compromised beliefs have been around from the beginning of time when mankind decided to turn away from God's rule. From that day on world history has been filled with substitutes for the truth that we find in God's Word.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
Jesus was pleased with the church in Pergamos for their stand for the truth in spite of severe persecution but they were not faultless. False teaching from the pagan culture that they lived in was being tolerated.

They didn't get any extra credit because they lived where Satan had so much influence. Judgment will come upon every church that accommodates the culture and seeks acceptance from man.

The world doesn't need a compromised church, they need to know that we have something that is worth living and dying for, the message of the gospel is too important. Jesus doesn't tolerate compromise, Jesus didn't look at their good side and ignore the bad and he didn't make excuses for them because of their difficult environment. The church must be a pure bride without blemish if it is going to attend the marriage supper of the Lamb.

The world doesn't need a judgmental and unloving church either, they need to hear the truth that will save them from eternal punishment but they also need to know that the church people are sinners that haven't forgotten their condition before the Gospel.
Let’s not compromise by seeing how close we can get to right; let’s stand on God’s promise to walk so close to Him that almost right becomes evil in our sight.
-Franklin Graham
God doesn't want any compromise at all but most of us look for the minimum amount of good that we need to do to please him. We go so far as to judge others that look less good to us but we don't know their circumstances. It is easier to look Christ like in some situations more than it is in others, we don't know what they have been called to stand against, they may have resisted far more than I have ever encountered.

Instead of just good enough we need to be seeking to become more like Jesus and stand for truth when it destroys our popularity. There isn't any room for this faulty logic when you realize our mandate is to be holy just as our God is holy. If we are new creations then we shouldn't look so much like our old self. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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The Danger Of Compromise (oneplace.com)
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Monday, November 06, 2017

The Suffering Church

Their suffering increased their riches in Jesus' eyes.


Revelation 2:8-11 "Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the One who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive: 9 "I know about your suffering and your poverty--but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan.

10 Don't be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life. 11 "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death.

It is easy for the cool and comfortable church to draw big crowds and be successful in the ways that man measures success but that isn't the kind of church that Jesus is pleased with. The church that did not get any reprimand from Jesus was the church that was the least cool and comfortable.

The church at Smyrna was doing church right, all of the potential trouble makers are already long gone from this congregation, if church isn't going to be cool and comfortable then the hypocrites are not going to stick around. The casual attenders that rarely come except at Christmas and Easter are not going to attend this church.
Eighty and six years have I served Him and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me? You threaten me with the fire that burns for a time and is quickly quenched, for you do not know the fire which awaits the wicked in the judgment to come and in everlasting punishment. Why are you waiting? Come do what you will.
The members of the congregation were persecuted by the Romans and the Jews. They were persecuted by one group for refusing to say, “Caesar is Lord” and the other group persecuted them for saying "Jesus is Lord." The Romans would take away absolutely every material possession for not bowing to Caesar and the Jews would throw them out of the synagogue for their belief in Jesus. Historians tell us that Smyrna was the location of mass executions of Christians who refused to bow their knee to Caesar.
2 Corinthians 6:10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
Just as the church is Ephesus appeared to be an awesome church through the eyes of man the church in Smyrna seemed to be poor from a human perspective but Jesus saw them differently. God's ways are always opposite from our ways, in God's economy the poor are rich, the lost are found and the dead are alive and the circumcised are the uncircumcised. (Romans 2:27-29, John 8:44)

Their stand for Jesus caused them to lose everything but in reality their suffering only increased their riches. This church was serious about storing up riches that the world cannot take away. (Matthew 6:19-21, James 1:12)
“To everyone wanting a safe, untroubled, comfortable life free from danger, stay away from Jesus. The danger in our lives will always increase in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ. Maybe this is why we sit back and settle for a casual relationship with Christ and routine religion in the church. It is safe there, and the world likes us there. The world likes us when we are pursuing everything they are pursuing, even if we do put a Christian label on it. As long as Christianity looks like the American dream, we will have few problems in this world.”
-International Mission Board President David Platt
The prized American dream can get in the way of our dreams of working for our eternal kingdom. We have our roots dug down so deep that it doesn't look like we are planning to leave. If we really believe our Bibles then we should live like we are leaving and we should be sending our treasures ahead of time instead of being so attached to the world's treasures.

The church in America should use it's freedoms to serve more and make disciples more zealously both in our country and abroad. If your church is a cool place to be where life is easy and safe and the biggest persecution that you have is from another church attender that doesn't affirm your worship preferences then your church is due for a makeover.