Friday, October 30, 2015

What Every Christian Should do on October 31st!

For so many Christians October 31st (Halloween) is a wicked day. Some call it a Pagan Holiday and do all they can to disassociate themselves from it. Others embrace it as though it is nothing more than a time to give out candy to all the children in the neighborhood. Many Church try to develop and alternative event Harvest day, where they do pretty much the same thing everyone else does, just in a church environment, and call this evangelism. How this day is or is not celebrated is not the issue. What we need to know is nearly 500 years ago the actions of one man so discourage by the false teaching that he  and others like him changed the face of Christianity forever.  

What does this day actually mean for the church.  October 31st 1517 commemorates the day that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the Church door in Wittenberg Germany, Which began the severing of ties with the Roman Catholic Church and the birth of the Protestant, Lutheran, Reformed, and Anabaptist Christian Faith as we know them today.

Angry at friar Johann Tetzel for selling indulgences   (supplied by the Pope Leo X ) on behalf or Albert of Brandenburg as a way to finance the cost of buying the position  of Archbishop of Mainz. These indulgences sold by Tetzel and supplied by Pope Leo X   not only were payment for past sins to be forgiven but also for future sins to be forgiven as well. And for those that had relatives that passed away  these indulgences also allowed the buyer to get his relatives out of purgatory. And so Tetzel began selling these indulgences, using a jingle to sell them: “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”  (What is the Reformation , 2015) (Paraphrased)

Now if this wasn’t enough, for hundreds of years the Latin Vulgate has mistranslated Matthew 4:17 to read “…do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” While it should have been translated …Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and this error of translation, and the tradition that followed it, caused penance (indulgence) to become a means of buying your way into heaven. which Martin Luther despised. So on October 31st 1517 he nailed his disapproval on the Church door in Wittenberg Germany beginning the translation away from Church Tradition and birth of  the Reformation (returning to the truth  of the Word of God)

So whether you dress as ghost, or superhero this Halloween, or celebrate  October 31st as Harvest day, or even refuse to celebrate this day at all, Remember As Christians before we celebrate the worldly holidays, let us acknowledge our victory over false traditions, over false teaching, over the Christianizing the American Dream, Over the name it and claim it gospel, Let us learn from Martin Luther  and nail our own 95 theses on the door of false teaching and those who would profitize the gospel of Jesus Christ,  and proclaim
“I’ve had enough! 
This day forward I will follow the word of God and nothing else!”

Sola Scriptura

Blessed Reformation Day 


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Prodigal Son

And he said, "There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.' And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."' And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate. (Luk 15:11-24)

The selfishness of the prodigal son is seen in his words “give me.” Though this was a natural son of the father, he didn’t love his father. Now when I use the word “love” I use it in the sense that God uses it, not in the way that the world does. The world tends to call love that warm fuzzy emotional feeling that we can have for something or someone. God’s Word uses love in the sense of giving oneself to another. That’s why God doesn’t just tell us to love those who evoke that emotion from us, but to even go so far as to loving our enemies. Clearly if we are to love our enemies, love is not some emotion that happens to us but rather a willful act of putting another above ourselves.

The prodigal son saying “give me” shows that his concern was for himself above his father. We have very similar signs of selfishness in today’s Church.

In marriages that are falling apart we hear things like “I want this from my spouse” or “I want this out of my marriage,” but we rarely hear “I need to do this for my spouse” or “I need to do this for my marriage” or “in what ways can I do more to put my spouse’s interests above my own.”

In church membership we hear things like “how can this church bless me” and “what programs are in this church for me”. When what we should be hearing is “how can I bless this church” and “how can God use me here.” The Scriptures are where we get God’s idea of what a Church is supposed to be, and I don’t think He mentions programs at all. A Church is really about the communion of the saints, the preaching of the Word of God, and the administration of the sacraments.

As parents many of us have witnessed selfishness in our children. They are very bold to make selfish statements like “I want”, “give me”, and will even throw temper tantrums when they don’t get their way. Let’s not fool ourselves, adults aren’t much different – we just hide it better. It’s really only as we grow in God’s grace that we’re able to be less interested in our own desires, and more interested in the desires of God and others.

As we look at how the prodigal son was selfish and the results of that mindset, let’s take a close look at our own hearts and see where in our lives we are still like the prodigal son.

So we know this selfish mindset led the prodigal son to want things other than the Father’s love. Instead of saying to the father, “give me your love” he said, “give me my inheritance.” And because this son took the inheritance and left the father to go spend it on himself and his lusts, he also said “give me my independence.” How many times do we fall into this same pattern with our heavenly Father? How many times do we ask our Father for things so that we can spend them on our lusts? How often do we approach our glorious heavenly Father with worldly requests? Instead of being transformed by God’s presence so that we seek His holiness and piety in our lives we try to pull God down to our worldly level. In James 4 we have this warning…
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jam 4:3-4)

This prodigal son was not only selfish, but he was also rude and unkind. He didn’t say “please give me” or “may I please have”, he simply said “give me.” As a matter of fact, he told the father to give him the inheritance as if it was his right. He said, “Give me the share of property that is coming to me.” The idea behind what he’s saying here is basically, “give me what belongs to me.” As if the father had no right to the son’s inheritance before his death. Some commentators have even gone so far as to say that the son asking for the inheritance in this way is tantamount to saying that he wished his father was dead so that he could have his share in the inheritance.
This rudeness is a direct result of a selfish mindset. When we are consumed with ourselves we treat others as mere objects in our quest for self-satisfaction. We use them and think of ourselves and our own interests as being more important than theirs. This self-centeredness is evidence of a worldly mindset. The selfish are interested in what the world has to offer. They are consumed with coveting and lusting after what the world seems to offer them. The Scriptures have many things to say about this kind of self-centered, worldly mindset:

It chokes out the Word of God that’s planted in our heart:
but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Mar 4:19)

It gives the wrong idea of what our lives are all about:
And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luk 12:15)

It is the root of all kinds of other evils:
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Ti 6:9-10)

These passages are a strong warning for us against such a mindset. We’re not to be worldly minded, but spiritually minded. We’re not to put ourselves above others, but others above ourselves.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (Rom 8:5)
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Phili 2:3)

So the Scripture doesn’t leave us wondering what mindset God desires us to have, He tells us quite plainly in His Word. So the question we should ask ourselves is, “how are we conforming our lives to the Word of God in terms of our mindset?” Are we setting our minds on the things of the flesh or of the spirit? Are we putting ourselves above others or do we esteem others as more significant than ourselves?

Let me point out that the term “conceit” in Philippians 2:3 is really “empty conceit” and the term “humility” is really “humility of mind.” The only reason that I point this out is to show that whatever conceit we have is empty, there’s nothing in us that deserves to be exalted. We are just fooling ourselves when we are conceited and think of ourselves above others. And that’s why we are called to have humility of mind. If we don’t understand our true state of lowliness any humility that we acted out would be just that, an act. But when we truly understand how lowly we are, our humility is naturally manifested. This is only done through a work of God as it is only in the light of His countenance that we can be truly mindful of the nature of our own lowliness.

This empty conceit and selfishness that are seeds in the prodigal son’s character leads to a particular fruit…as all seed leads to its own kind of fruit. This kind of seed produces the fruit of suffering. We see in our passage that the prodigal son suffered in 5 things.

He suffered being destitute. He spent all that he had, he wasted his entire inheritance and had nothing to show for it. He lost his:
  • Money
  • Property
  • Talents
  • Purpose
  • Opportunities
All of these things he used to fulfill the lusts of his flesh. All of these things that should have been a blessing to him, turned into a curse because he fed his flesh and not his spirit. This son misused the gifts that his father had given to him, and it lead to utter poverty. This son rebelled against his generous father…and the gifts that the father had given him, that should have been used to bring honor to the father, were used to further sin by feeding the son’s lusts.

How many times have we used the gifts that our Heavenly Father has given us for our own lusts? How many times have we used money, property, talent, and opportunities to further our own little kingdoms instead of using them to further the great and awesome kingdom of our God? I fear that it’s too many times to even count. Do we spend our gifts on the God who gave them to us or do we spend them on ourselves? Do we walk in the Spirit in all that we do or do we walk in the flesh, which lusts against the Spirit?

One of the greatest gifts that God gives us is time. I realize this more and more as I see people who die in their prime of life. Time is a gift that we must use while we have it because every moment that we neglect is a moment that we have lost, we can’t get it back. God tells us in His Word to:
Look carefully how we walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Eph 5:15-16)

Are we making the best use of our time? Are we living the life that Christ died for us to live? A life that is patterned after Christ, not the world? Or are we living a life that looks no different from those whom Christ has not redeemed? How much time do we spend at work, watching t.v., going to sporting events, going to movies, and on and on? Compared to that, how much time do we spend in prayer, reading the Scripture, evangelizing, communing with the saints? I would encourage all of us to take a serious look at how we spend our time, that we may learn how to better use it for the glory of God.

This prodigal son clothed himself with the world. He tried to find satisfaction in the world and to be comforted by the world. Make no mistake; we can’t be clothed both by the world and by Christ. Being clothed by the world leaves us just as it did this prodigal son, alone and destitute. Being clothed with Christ leaves us always in the blessings of God because in Christ we are:
Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph 1:3)

If we truly put on Christ why do we look so much like the world and so little like Christ? Our Lord tells us to…
walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom 13:13-14)

Can any of us accomplish what God demands of us here? Can we work to make no provision for the flesh? We are helpless and completely unable to do this, but that is why we are first told to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” For though it is impossible with man, all things are possible with God (Mk 10:27). There is one thing that we are called to do in order to make no provision for the flesh…put on Christ. Some may say, “But wait…what about the armor of God? Surely that’s many things that we must put on.” Well, let’s look at that. In the armor of God we have:
  • Belt of truth – Jesus is the truth
  • Breastplate of righteousness – Jesus is our righteousness
  • Shoes of the Gospel of peace – the Gospel of peace is the work of Christ
  • Shield of faith – our faith is in Jesus
  • Helmet of salvation – salvation comes from Christ
  • Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God – Christ is the Word, and He will slay His enemies with the sword of His mouth

So you see, the armor of God is nothing less than Christ Himself!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Bruised Reed and Dimly Burning Wick

Calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Luke 7:19

Doubt is not Unbelief

Many times when we are down trodden, beaten, worn out, and confused, doubt seeps into our thoughts. Just like any other sin, we don’t want to doubt, yet we find ourselves doubting over and over again. Doubt is part of the law at work in us, waging war against the confidence and trust that we have in God, bringing us into captivity by the law of sin which is at work within us.  Romans 7:23

      Yes, we know doubt is a sin, but how do we identify this sin which seems to have full dominion over us?  From a biblical perspective we must be careful in defining doubt, Doubt is not unbelief, unbelief is a lack of faith, the mindset of someone that does not want to trust God. So unbelief is an unwillingness to trust God while doubt is a weakness in trusting God. The two are not opposites of one another but they are surely not the same as one another. I define doubt this way.

Doubt is the reaction of the natural man because of his weakness and fragilities, when circumstances, fear, and difficult times come, lack the confidence to completely trust God.
Alister McGrath, in his article “When doubt becomes Unbelief” from the Ligonier Ministry website says (the name of the article signifying the difference) says “Unbelief is the decision to live your life as if there is no God.”   But when we doubt we know there is a God, however, we are just too weak and venerable to completely trust Him. That being said we must conclude that doubt is not unbelief!

No One is Above Doubt

     Greatness, or even being used by God mightily does not exempt us from doubt. Many great leaders have in their time of weakness when they doubted. Moses (Exodus 3:11  Exodus 4:1,10-13; Exodus 5:22-23  Exodus 6:12,30; Exodus 14:10-11, Numbers 11:13-15, Numbers 11:21-22, Numbers 13:31-33) Gideon (Judges 6:15, Judges 6:17,36-40) Jeremiah (Jeremiah1:6, Jeremiah 15:10 ) Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 12:12-13, Genesis 20:2Genesis 26:7 ) John the Baptist (Luke 7:19 ) Apostle Peter (Matthew 14:31) yet when we the how God used these men in spite of their doubt we are inspired to levels of faith.   

Consider the Prophet Elijah;
      Elijah boldly accuses Ahab the King of Israel and husband of Jezebel of troubling the people of Israel by allowing the worship of false gods. Then challenges Ahab to find out which was the true God.  “Go get 450 prophets of Baal and 400 female prophets of Asherah (of the groves) and meet me on Mount Carmel. Build two alters, one for Baal and one for Yahweh. The select two oxen of your choice, one the prophet of Baal would kill and lay upon the sacrifice, but not set afire and the other Elijah would kill and lay upon the alter but not set afire.  
     Then Elijah tells the prophets of Baal to pray to Baal for the fire to light the sacrifice. They pray from morning to noon without success. Elijah ridicules their efforts. They respond by cutting themselves and adding their own blood to the sacrifice but the fire did not light.
     Elijah now orders that the altar of Yahweh be drenched with water from "four large jars" poured three times (1 Kings 18:33–34). He asks God to accept the sacrifice. Fire falls from the sky, consuming the water, the sacrifice and the stones of the altar itself as well. Elijah kills the 450 prophets of Baal. 
     Finally, Elijah prays earnestly for rain to fall again on the land. Then the rains begin, signaling the end of 3 and a half years of drought. 
     Surely Elijah believed and seen the work of God right before his eyes. Yet when Jezebel promised that she would do to him what he had done to the prophets of Baal. Elijah flees from her, send is scribe away and falls into depression, because of doubt.  1 Kings 19:1-5 
     How is it that a man like Elijah, confident in battle, great in works, who had just killed 450 prophets of Baal, would doubt that God could change the minds of the people? Or would not be able to protect him from the hand of Jezebel? Does it mean that Elijah did not believe? How could a man do what Elijah and be in unbelief? that's not possible. If fact everything Elijah did before and even after his conflict on Mt

Bruised Reed and Dimly Burning Wick

     In fact we find in the bible that individuals, nations and even generations have all found themselves in doubt. Yet God had not given them up to their own sensualities to practice every kind of impurity Ephesians 4:19 but has remained faithful of the propitiation of Jesus Christ, to their and our own salvation. 
     Yet from a very unusual place doubt in confirmation of our belief. Even in the mist of our doubt there is a dimly burning wick of our faith holding on to the truth of Christ while Satan is trying to convince us to stop trusting God.  Satan knows our weakness and his desire is to get us to curse God and die  Job 2:9  But faith the size of a mustard-seed is greater than doubt the size of a mountain.

     Who knew Jesus was Messiah better than John the Baptist? The Bible tell us that when Elizabeth hear Mary’s voice the baby (unborn John the Baptist) leaped in her womb filling Elizabeth with Holy Spirit. Luke 1:41 yet while all alone in the putrid prison Herod Antipas  weak, hungry, caring the realization that he would die in this cell, the oppression of Satan and darkness came upon him and John doubted Matthew 11:3, Luke 7:20 Jon Bloom writes in his article John the Baptist’s Doubt from the DesiringGod website
The thought of being executed for the sake of righteousness and justice he [John the Baptist] could bear. But he could not bear the thought that he might have been wrong about Jesus. His one task was to prepare the way of the Lord. If he had gotten that wrong, his ministry, his life, was in vain.    But even with his doubts, there remained in John a deep, unshakable trust in Jesus. Jesus would tell him the truth. He just needed to hear from him again. So he sent two of his closest disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”  (Bloom, 2012)
     None of us can say we have never doubted, in our time of weakness we doubt, whether it be a loss of a job, or the loss of a loved one. Sickness and the diagnosis of an incurable disease has many great saints to doubt. Let’s make no mistake if you have not already, you will experience a season of want, or successions of failures, and letdowns and you will doubt.  However scripture tells us that we have a savior that will not break a bruised reed, nor extinguish a dimly burning wick, He know our weakness and forgives our doubt, for the sin of doubt has already been paid by the blood of Christ. Isaiah 42:3
Your Brother in Christ