To Whom Are You Showing Love Today?
June 21, 2017, 3:57 pm
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2 John 1 “The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth.” The term elder is from a Greek word that can either refer to a church office or someone of advanced age. Sometimes it is used for some church leader who is older. In the case of 2 John, John, who never mentions Himself by name in his writings is referring to himself, both a church leader and an older man. I love that he starts this passage telling the elect lady (which could be an actually lady or as some think “lady” is a metaphor for a church) that he loves her and her children. How consistent is John? He has written the first epistle talking about love and now he shows it into practice. This in my challenge for today- put loving others into practice. Not just by words, but by my deeds. Others know we are Christ’s because we love!

Who is in Charge?
June 19, 2017, 3:16 pm
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1st John 5:13-21. “Things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. and we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
John comes to the end of his first letter to the early church. In this letter, the Holy Spirit used John as He stressed the importance of love and truth in the midst of our journey of faith. Personally, this letter gives me evidence of my relationship to Jesus Christ that I can see in my own life. This is not a letter to critique others about their salvation but a guide to understand that being saved always results in a transformed life which is evident by our pursuit of truth and unconditional love for others. In simple words, John wants those of us who are saved to know and live like we are.
When we are pursuing God and following Him as both Savior and Lord, John teaches that prayers are answered because we are pursuing what God wants. So since we pray for what He wants, He is answering our prayers. John teaches us that pray can be spoken with a bold assurance that God is listening because we are in tune with His will.
Notice that God directs John to a specific example in which our bold praying can be see: praying for other Christians who are struggling with sin in their lives. Sin in the life of a Christian is a real danger. So John describes how God wants us to handle another’s sin, pray for our brother or sister.
In the midst of this passage there is a dilemma: there is a sin that ultimately leads to eternal separation from God. I think in this passage it has to do with accepting and following false teaching while rejecting Jesus Christ and God’s truth. The prayer for that is not the prayer in which we pray for a fellow believer. This person has never been saved because they have rejected Jesus.
A second difficult passage begins at verse 18. “we know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not”. Does that mean, anyone who is a Christian never sins? If so, I am not a Christian because I sin. Most likely you aren’t a Christian because you sin. So is anyone capable of not sinning? I think a little study reveals that this is referring to “practicing as a way of life, sin”. A Christian is not one who habitually as a pattern of life consistently sins willfully against God and His standards. This describes a person whose life is characterized by sin. There is not a change and there is no conviction for sin. I need to remind you that this passage is not a way of critiquing others, but a way of us seeing the evidences in our lives of a changed life. So if at this point, I am thinking about another person, I may have the problem myself. Is my life consumed about me doing enough for God to accept or approve of me? Do I live in a way that consistently involves me deceiving others? Am I know as a man of character or a character? Am I a grumpy old man, or a man of love and compassion? I guess we could use Paul’s two lists to determine the type of lifestyle I live. Is my life consistent with the works of my flesh or an example of the fruit of the Spirit. Maybe now is the time of a little self-evaluation, repentance and prayer. John describes our situation, we are godly people living in an ungodly world. John is such a bottom line person- if I am God’s He protects me from making sin a way of life. If I am not a Christian, then I am in the grip of the evil one, Satan. Each of us who are saved have the indwelling Holy Spirit, who reveals to us when we sin. His conviction is meant to bring us back to God. God please help me listen to You. We who know Christ are able to know that we are living in the truth, loving those who are of the truth, because we live in the Truth and in True Love.
John ends with what seems to be a warning to stay away from worshiping idols. But before you relax because you don’t have a little buddha in your room, think about our idols today. The biggest idol of today is us. We are the center of our universe and in some case, we extend that to the know universe. Just take a minute and watch how you drive. Is everybody else crazy because they make your driving experience more difficult? Do fast food places drive you crazy because you have to wait? Is everybody else at work lazy, stupid, favored, or promoted over you? Take a look at what your time, energy, money, emotions, and talk is about. Let’s make it simple: go look at your last 10 posts on social media. What were they about? What has your last 10 conversations been about? What were the last 10 purchases about? What about the top ten standards or values of life? Can you find them in the Bible and give the book, chapter, and verse and have studied it within the context of the passage? Found what you are worshiping yet? The idol we most need to keep away from is us. John reminds us to throw ourselves into the pursuit of God. All we need will be taken care of by Him. Seek first God.

What Love Looks Like
May 28, 2017, 5:18 pm
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“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10. Love’s definition and example is found in God sending His Son to become the atoning sacrifice for all our sins.

The Value of Grace!
May 22, 2017, 5:32 pm
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In the final verse of Colossians 4, Paul writes “The salutation by the hand of me, Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.” To Paul, grace was a serious issue, not to be ignored by Christians. As a former Pharisee, Paul knew what a life built on a graceless foundation looked like. His judgmental attitude led to a crusade on Christians. His pharisaical worldview didn’t contain the word “grace” and so he interpreted the acts of grace as signs of weakness, rebellion, and denial of the truth of God’s Word. Paul, in his desire to do the right thing for God, ordered Christians imprisoned or put to death because it was what the Pharisee version of justice demanded.
As we begin to read verse 7 to verse 18, names of individuals and groups of believers at specific cities and regions are mentioned. Each has a special story and a unique journey to and in the Lord. But I want to focus on two. Although vastly different in many ways, these two men shared a common bond; they both had failed. First is Onesimus, a slave returning home after running away. From what we learn, Onesimus was a slave belonging to a wealthy Christian named Philemon. Some think Onesimus may have stolen from Philemon, but one thing is certain: Onesimus ran away to Rome. While in Rome, he was placed into the same prison as Paul and evidently when hearing the Gospel, Onesimus became a changed man. He changed from a worthless slave to a man of whom Paul praised for his value.
The second man is Marcus, or John Mark. Known more today for the second gospel, Mark had originally been introduced as a member of Pau’s first missionary trip. Likely Mark had been included more as a favor to Barnabas on the first trip than for the value he added to the missionary team. Something went wrong, and Mark quit during the trip. While no reason is given for Mark’s departure, Paul’s reaction when Barnabas suggested Mark for the second journey indicates that Paul though Mark was a quitter who had abandoned them. So, whereas Onesimus was a lost slave who was transformed by salvation, most likely John Mark was a believer who failed.
Yet we read both names here included along the list of Paul’s choice helpers. While we know that God transformed the two failures, we also see how God had changed Paul. So many times, when others fail, we’re done with them! No second chance, not an ounce of grace can be found. This is especially true if we have been affected by the failure.
But look at what was true. Paul rejoiced to see the change that had occurred in Onesimus as well as what had happened to Mark. But maybe the biggest celebration was over the change that had occurred in Paul’s heart.
The penalty for a runaway slave was death, let when we read Philemon, we see Paul putting himself as the “spiritual dad” of Philemon. He even took the responsibility for the money owed by Onesimus to Philemon. Let you never read of a lecture Paul gave to Onesimus and a list of what would happen if he blew this.
Mark was not limited by restrictions on how he could serve God. Paul isn’t in judgmental court, passing sentences on Mark. He welcomed Mark as a servant of God and used him.
That’s because of GRACE. Believers are being in Christ and because of that, the failures had been removed as far as the east is from the west- an act of grace. John Mark and Onesimus were involved in serving God in ministry- an act of grace. There is therefore NOW NO CONDEMNATION to them that are in Christ Jesus- an act of grace. So, Paul could forgive Mark- an act of grace, and then have the freedom to ask Philemon to forgive Onesimus- an act of grace. Philemon is thought to have hosted the Colossian church, so the entire body of believers knew of Onesimus’ failure, and yet Paul was sending him back and seeking the church to forgive and forget- an act of grace. Remember how Paul ends this letter? “Grace be with you. Amen”
Is grace with you? Doesn’t it make sense that if it is, then grace is shown? The showing of grace to those who honestly don’t deserve it is exactly what grace is. If it is deserved, then it is not grace. Showing grace is one way to love others. Today, what one person in your life is the most undeserving of forgiveness? – is grace with you? Show that person grace, God’s grace. Remember the Lord’s discussion with the woman at the well. Jesus has the conversation with her at the sixth hour, or about noon. The woman would have to descend about 100 feet in the well to get water and then carry it back up, with the large jug balancing on her head. Why was she there, in a hot part of the day, alone? Many think she an outcast, rejected by the women of the city because of her relationships with five men or husbands. No wonder she is startled that a Jewish “religious” person would talk to her. Yet Jesus shows grace! He wasn’t assuming what she was or what was true,

We is So Much Better Than Me
October 21, 2016, 12:36 am
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“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” (I John 1:1-4)
In reading the first four verses, I notice that John uses “we”, “us”, and “our”. I know that John the Apostle is thought to be the writer of the epistle. In his gospel, he never refers to himself as John, but as a variation of “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. Not referring to himself by name makes me think that he must have been humble and attempted to guard against bragging about his closeness to Jesus. In this epistle, he wants the reader to know the truth about Jesus the Christ and shares his personal experience as the basis of the information. Another guess on my part is that since his identity was in Christ, with whom he constantly walked, he was lost in his “oneless” with Christ. Maybe he now could only see himself as a “we”. Christ talked in John 17 about wanting His disciples to be one with Him, so maybe John is so in tune with Jesus, that he only saw the unity with Christ. I also notice that he is driven to share this message with others, that they might also be one, in unity with each other.
Give this some thought, “how would you describe your relationship with Christ?” Are you so connected, you are One with Him?
Our culture is divided and needs to be restored to unity. Maybe if we develop the heart of John, surrendered to God and controlled by the Holy Spirit, we will present the message of Christ that is so powerful that it breaks down walls and barriers to produce unity. Let us prayer for Him to work! Now!

Who Are You Living For?
August 3, 2016, 6:22 pm
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jesus sends you

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” is a statement recorded in Philippians 1:21.  This verse is a statement of Paul’s philosophy of life.  From a murderer to a missionary, the life of Paul is not the story of a super Christian and what he achieved because of his love and discipline.  Rather it is the story of God, doing amazing things through ordinary people who may best be described as “messy misfits”.  Paul believed God and trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the complete payment for sin.  By redeeming us, God fixed us in a way we couldn’t.

But redemption also involves Christ starting a process of transformation within us.  Remember, we are to come to Jesus and then follow after Him.  Along the way, we will deny ourselves, and ready ourselves to die for the cause of Christ.  While some may give their physical lives for Christ, we all can daily become the living sacrifices that yield all of us to the complete control of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

For to me to live is Christ is giving my best because Christ did.  For to me to live is Christ is making important in my life that which is important to Christ.  For to me to live is Christ is to be obedient to God’s commands, especially to love God with my all and to love others as myself.  As Christians we should be guided by this philosophy.  We want to commit our all to do everything for the glory of Christ.  For to me to live is Christ is allowing God to point others to Christ with my life of devotion and love for my Savior.  For to me to live is Christ brings me into unity with my brothers and sisters who are also following Christ.  Though different in many ways, “for to me to live is Christ” unites us.  Let’s give our all to let Christ live through us so that others will see Christ and not me.  “For to me to live is Christ” is life lived the way God intends.

For to me to live is Christ will involve me giving my best in reading the Word, and then putting it into action.  It will involve me memorizing and treasuring God’s Word  in my heart.  It will involve putting into actions my love for others as well as my love for God in all that I do.  “For to me to live is Christ” is letting Christ be glorified in all I do at all the time; and at the same time making the decision to all the time to glorify Christ in all I do.

What Do People Hear About You?
January 16, 2016, 1:56 am
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“Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,” is the beginning of a really long sentence in Ephesians 1. Starting with verse 15, the sentence ends at verse 23 in the King James Bible. The Apostle Paul gets personal with the believers in Ephesus by talking about their reputation. I understand that reputation is what others say about you and that we shouldn’t worry about what others say, but in this case Paul makes a big deal about what he has heard about them. Notice what it is. I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus. This tells me that they have a faith in the finished work of Christ that is a faith that others notice. That type of faith is more than just words or a past event that we use as a ticket to heaven. It is a faith that changes us and makes us “noticeable” for the difference it has made in our lives. That makes sense because to come to Christ means we have to repent or turn from something to turn to Jesus, Who transforms us into someone so unique from what we were that it is like we have been set apart. We are walking against the current and that is noticeable. But so many who are Christians think that being different is something that we do for ourselves so we focus on what we don’t do to define our uniqueness from the world. Yet Paul mentions the way the Holy Spirit makes us different with the words “love unto all the saints”. The thing that identifies us as a follower of Jesus Christ is our love for others, which in this case are identified as “saints” or other believers. This love isn’t an expression which comes out of our mouths but never goes beyond that. Rather it is an expression that comes not just from within us, but from the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. This love is unconditional, sacrificial, and impacts others because it is so abnormal in our world. Reaching out to others with no thought of getting paid back in return, with no attempt at manipulation but only on helping others is first on a list of the Fruit of the Spirit. Jesus told His followers that they would be easy to identify because they loved others. Throughout the New Testament this message is repeated and as we know, when God repeats something, He is showing us that this is very important. I also notice that it is to “all” the saints. If love is selective, then it is not love that comes from the Holy Spirit. If love is limited, then it is not love that comes from the Holy Spirit. If love is conditional, the it is not love that comes from the Holy Spirit. Often we love those with whom we agree, we like, or with whom we approve. Those who are different, who think differently, or look differently, or whose worship is different, are often considered unworthy of our love but in reality never unworthy of God’s love. Disagreements should be expressed in love, with a desire to restore, correct, rebuke so that the other person lives in the right relationship with God. However, I must always be aware that God may bring that person into my life so that my faith is stretched and my love is expanded. Now, here is the question. What do others hear about you?
what do people hear about you