Sunday, November 25, 2018

Intentionally Different

Intentionally Different
November 26, 2018
2 Timothy 3:12  "Yes, and all who desire to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."

Being a Christian is not popular, nor is it socially acceptable, if lived out correctly. In this day and age, no one is going to outright criticize you for a belief system that is only slightly different than their own. As long as you look the same, smell the same, and do the same things, then they will accept you as their own. Being a Christian, however, a true Christian, is not going to make you look or act the same. Following the Scriptural instructions for daily living, you will naturally look different than the rest of the world. You are going to dress more modestly in comparison, you are going to speak differently in comparison, and you are going to maintain different habits in comparison.

If you are living out your Christianity, you are going to be fully noticeable by any one who is not a Christian. Many people are socially polite and respectful, and this is a given if you are a Christian. But you are going to be far more different. You are going to be wearing forgiveness, compassion, gentleness, and self control. These elements are going to set you apart and you will be respected for them. However, if you obey the Scriptures to the fullest degree you are going to take a stance on gender bias marriages and the sanctity of life before birth. You are also going to take a stance on physical relationships outside of marriage and avoid many worldly vices. You'll stick out like a sore thumb, unable to hide the fact that you are a Christian. This is what the Lord desires, but it will also make you unpopular. This will actually invite criticism against you and make you slightly offensive to many. The Bible says that if they despised Him, meaning Jesus, they will despise you.

Being a true Christian, living it out, will actually invite persecution. If you live in a country free from religious persecution, you will not escape notice for your polarizing beliefs. You will be discriminated against because of your views, and you won't be able to hide them.  People will not invite you to be their friend, once they find out your true Christian stance. If you disagree with this statement, finding full acceptance of your Christianity, then you may need to evaluate your actions and beliefs. If your beliefs look too similar to the world's than you are possibly compromising more than the Lord would desire. 

Scripture is very clear that light can have no fellowship with darkness, yet most of us find a way to compromise what we believe and tolerate to be in the presence of darkness. We tend to accept the world, those who live in darkness, and actually have fellowship with it. There is a difference between being in the presence of darkness attempting to shine the light and having fellowship with the darkness. Somehow the church has bought in to mercy and compassion as if it means being tolerant of sin and having fellowship with that. Being a true Christian, however, means darkness will not invite the fellowship of the light. If you find yourself being invited into the fellowship of the darkness, then you may not be living our your Christianity correctly. Your belief system will be offensive and so will your lifestyle. You will be different, noticeably different, and this should be intentional. If you don't find yourself being persecuted, maybe you are doing it wrong?

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Matt 5:11-12, Matt 24:9, 2 Thess 1:4, 2 Tim 3:11-12

Monday, November 19, 2018

Fool's Gold

Fool's Gold 
November 19, 2018
Rev 21:21  ". . . The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass." 

Gold is a naturally occurring element, and in its purest form can stand alone without any other chemical element added to it.  Gold is considered extremely valuable; pure gold is rare.  It has been used since the history of mankind as a form of currency, which also adds to its intrinsic value.  It is extremely malleable, conducts electricity very well, yet resists corrosion and maintains its luster.  It currently has a market price of $1,200 USD per ounce (it's very heavy, so that's about the same volume equivalent as two teaspoons (10ml) of water).  The gold used in making jewelry usually has a mixture of nickel, zinc, and other metals, bringing the cost down and adding strength.  Gold is not a good construction material for buildings because it is one of the softer metals.  It dents easily, and you certainly wouldn't want to be touching gold if it was struck by lightning. 

The Bible declares that the walls and streets of Heaven are made of gold.  Well, sort of.  The Bible states that the walls and streets of Heaven are like gold.  If you want to translate the Bible literally, then you can read that the streets of Heaven would be made of a pure substance as we understand it on our periodic table of elements (Au).  But I would argue for a moment that the depiction of Heaven with streets of gold is a metaphor for the vast richness and glory in comparison to earth.  The passage in Revelation depicts one of the most valuable substances on earth as common and even something that is tread upon.  Back when the Bible was written, the construction material for walls and roads was brick (usually made of dirt and clay).  In writing the Bible, God wasn't trying to convince us of the building materials that are used in Heaven, He was trying to convince us that Heaven is a place we should want to someday live because of its richness.  He also made clear that something we value here on earth is not so important in Heaven, especially if we can walk on it like dirt.

There is another substance on earth that is nicknamed "fool's gold".  At first appearance it looks like gold, but in reality it is far from being a close cousin to it.  "Fool's gold" is iron pyrite, made of iron and sulfur.  Many people looking for gold think they have found it, but end up with iron pyrite, which has hardly the same value and properties of gold.  Depending on its form, iron pyrite is worth less than $1 USD per ounce, sometimes even less than a few pennies. You can imagine the disappointment if a person thinks he has found a few ounces of gold and it turns out to be iron pyrite.  This is why it is nicknamed "fool's gold".

The Bible says that you and I are easily fooled into believing what is truly valuable on this earth.  You and I like to place value on what we have in comparison to others: possessions, status, activities, etc.  Nothing we have on this earth has any value in Heaven, though.  The only things of worth in Heaven are what we do on this earth that give glory to the Lord.  The Apostle Peter writes it this way, ". . . the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."  In other words, Peter was saying how you respond to situations in life and what you do for the Lord are the only things that matter on this earth.  This is hard to swallow, as we like to have nice things sometimes, we like feeling good about ourselves, and we like being respected and important.  The Lord would say that this is a fool's pursuit, trying to attain things in life that are worthless in the Kingdom of Heaven.

It takes a mature Christian to find real value in life, the value in all that is done in the name of the Lord.  Everything else is worthless, even an ounce of gold.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Prov 8:11, Acts 14:15, Rom 8:18, Phil 3:8, Col 1:10, 2 Thess 1:11, James 1:26, 1 Peter 1:6-8, 1 Peter 3:4, Rev 21 

Sunday, November 11, 2018


November 12, 2018
Acts 10:42  "He commanded us to preach to t he people and to testify that it is he who has ordained by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead."

Ordination suggests a preacher or a pastor has been given authority by an official church organization to lead in church related matters of that office. While this is certainly the case, this limits those ordained to be a select few. It is healthy to have publicly recognized leaders of the church as long as they are functioning according to the law of Scripture. It does, however, limit those in service to the King to a small, almost elite, class of Christians. The more we make it official with ceremonies and certificates and recognition, the further we make it from its intended role. Being ordained, as per Biblical meaning, was more along the lines of a charge of service, official marching orders, if you will. But the marching orders always came from the Lord. 

The Lord instituted ordination. He ordained Aaron, the first priest. He also discusses in great length that Jesus was ordained to be the savior. But it goes further than that. Jesus ordained the disciples. They were given official charge, direct marching orders by Jesus to be ministers of the gospel. While it sounds official, with Jesus installing the disciples, it does not stop there. Paul writes that we are all ordained as ministers of the gospel. If we all are ministers of the gospel, it can take away from the apparent special nature of the office, but that is how the Lord meant it. If being in charge of ministering the gospel was only relegated to a select few then the church would be in a poor state, completely ineffective.

But somehow, we have all come to the conclusion that if we aren't directly in the employ of a church, then we are exempt from having marching orders. Marching orders are only given to those officially tasked. Most of us wait for someone to officially task us with work approved by the Lord. But the Lord would say to you today that you have marching orders from Him. Those duties, that which the Lord asked of you, requires no official certificate of validation from man, only deeply rooted motivation in your heart to act on behalf of the King. You are a minister of the gospel, either right where you stand or in the place the Lord is asking you to find.  If you lack marching orders, then you might be lacking in your relationship to the King. If you aren't sure of what your marching orders are, then maybe you haven't asked Him to be specific.

The Lord calls all of us to be ministers of the gospel, officially recognized by Him, to be called a Christian, and to carry on the work of the gospel, as ordained ministers. The Bible says all the days ordained for your life were written before one of them came to be in existence. Agree with it or not, but your life is ordained and you are ordained on behalf of the King, with marching orders. You are ordained by God.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Num 3:2, 2 Kings 19:25, Ps 81:5, Ps 139:16, Mk 3:14, 1 Cor 2:17, 2 Cor 3:1-6

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sin Vs Holiness

Sin Vs Holiness
November 5, 2018
Psalm 51:10  "Create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me."

There is a battle in your life and it is a battle over sin. You are likely aware of all the sin in your life. You notice it when you commit a sin and feel the regret, the remorse for your actions that you know were wrong. You resolve to do better, putting steel in your veins to win out over your sin. Next time, the intestinal fortitude will keep you from your sin, your grit and determination, sheer will power will reveal you as the victor. But somehow sin wins again and again and again. There is advice in the Bible on how to combat the sin, however, and it is not with resolve or any amount of determination. The Bible says the antidote for sin is holiness.

At first this seems difficult when contemplating it. Since holiness is the antithesis of sin, of course if you aren't sinning then you are categorically "holy." This is certainly the elementary understanding of it, but not revelatory in how to achieve it. Most of us are not trying to be the holiest, just win out over the sinful actions we wish to eliminate, for starters. In attempting to combat your sin with resolve, what you are really trying to do is combat your sinful actions using the resolve of a human being who is innately sinful. Sin in your life is what causes the sinful actions. Most of the time people are trying to simply rid their lives of the sinful actions, but do not realize they are born out of a sinful heart. You can be the perfect person in your actions, possibly for a day, but it does not mean your did not think or feel the sin in your heart, just that you overcame the action of the sin that day. Winning out over your sinful actions, successfully, requires winning out over the sin in your heart.

Your sinful actions are a result of your internal sin. A sinful heart will never be able to stop a sinful action, no matter how mentally and emotionally strong your are. Sinful actions are born out of sin, but holy actions are born out of holiness. In order to combat the sinful actions in your life, you have to replace them with holy actions. The only way to achieve holy actions is the through holiness in your heart. A sinful heart produces sinful actions, but a holy heart produces holy action. Peter writes, we are to be holy because Christ was holy. What he was saying is that you should commit holy actions because Christ committed holy actions. The heart of Jesus was innately holy, not sinful. You and I, we try to commit holy actions with a sinful heart and that will never work. If you want to rid your life of your sinful actions, it requires a heart change. You may think your heart is right, but clearly sinful actions are born of a sinful heart. So how do you get holiness in your heart, then?

That part is no so easily accomplished because it isn't just a one-time deal. It is a daily, on-going effort to die to self. It takes hiding the Lord's Word in your heart, it takes getting on your knees daily in prayer. It takes acknowledging your sin before the Lord and repenting. We don't really want to repent, we want to be sorry for that one, isolated, sinful action. We don't want to repent of the internal sin that caused the sinful action, repentance takes true remorse and a heart change. Most of us don't really want the Lord to change our hearts, just our outward actions. The Lord cares more about the repentance inside your heart than the sinful act you committed. The outward actions are just a symptom of what is going on inside. If you want to change your sinful actions, you have to be willing for the Lord to change your heart. Wanting Him to change your heart is different than seeking and asking Him to change your heart. It is time for a heart change, maybe even a heart transplant. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Lev 11:44-45, Lev 19:2, Ps 19:14, Matt 5:8, Matt 12:35, Heb 10:22, 1 Peter 1:13-25