Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Spiritual Dilemma

Then said Jesus
to those Jews which believed on him,

if you continue in my word,
then are you my disciples indeed;

and you shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free.
John 8:32


FREEDOM: THE PROMISE IN THE VERSE ABOVE … How can I follow Christ and still do all of the things I want to do?
Well if you become transformed by a renewed mind: your values, desires, feeling, priorities, friends, and goals and plans will surely change.
This is the dilemma we are faced with when we decide to follow Christ as our Lord and Savior.

I wanted to pause here in the middle my previous post on Core Values … lest some might be concerned that I am in danger of falling into legalism. Whenever we work at becoming disciplined, we are in danger of becoming legalistic.

So what is the better way … hypocrisy? That is the path often taken by many professing Christians.

Being transformed is being faithful to the one who died on the cross for me. I choose neither legalism or hypocrisy …

I chose Christ … eternally; just as he chose me. It is finished.

And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
2 Corinthians 5:15

This is not a new dilemma as Paul clarifies here:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Romans 6:1-2

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15

Don't be confused here. Salvation and discipleship are two different questions. One is about being born again, and the other is about growing in the Spirit. Although many try, no man has ever been good enough to be saved on his own. Our eternal justification comes as a result of Christ's death on the cross for us, not on the basis of our works or good deeds. But we are born again to do good works. This is why Christ came to earth. This salvation is by His grace, it is a free gift ... there is nothing we can do to increase or improve it ... and we can never lose it.

Jesus said "it is finished" on the cross, and He meant it. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
His sacrifice for us is the anchor of our soul. We are heirs to his promise and it is impossible for Him to lie.
Our sins past, present, and future were forgiven the day we received Him as our eternal Savior.

The freedom Jesus promises above ... comes to those who believe on Him, and those who continue in His Word. These are conditions. Then, you are His disciples and then you have His freedom. What freedom, you ask ... the freedom to know the eternal Truth. And to be His Ambassador and minister of reconciliation. What could possibly be more valuable than that. The Creator of all things has given each of us a mission. Teaching or living otherwise is hypocrisy. And I am afraid this hypocrisy includes many of today’s most widely followed religions and Christian leaders.

Are millions of committed believers worldwide following false or heretical teachers? You tell me.
Many would say; "we are not to question our church." The Truth is to the contrary.
We are encouraged to be Bereans and to test our teachers by the Truth.
Have you carefully considered the doctrines being taught in your church?

I have visited supposedly the biggest and most successful churches in the world.
Are they really leading their followers in the way of Christ, or in the ways of men?
Every Christian and every church should be asking this question continually.

Would Christ praise your church? Then you should be on your knees with thanksgiving daily.
If not, then you should be on your knees praying for direction from the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.
We should be both challenging and encouraging our leaders.

Okay now, back to Core Values. How do we become transformed by the renewing of our minds without becoming legalistic? First, Jesus teaches us we must all be born again. I realize this sounds elementary to some, but it is the first step. I'll never forget the woman named Terry who had been faithfully attending her church for over thirty years who asked me; "why hasn't my church ever explained this to me?" as I read the Words of Jesus where He explains to Nicodemus that we must be born again.

Next, please note ... all those with other beliefs, religions, philosophies, and corruptions of Christianity are lost for eternity without Christ … condemned to hell.

We cannot mix these other beliefs with Christianity without being a hypocrite and promoting false religion.
Men's ideas have no bearing on the eternal Truth. We can understand it, but we can never alter it.

This is Truth ... stop twisting the truth. Does this bother you?

Why do you think Americans are so confused ... lies and manipulations have become commonplace.
Men's opinions are accepted in place of God's Word and guide one's life.
Here is an example: recently a Christian told me;
"I don't know how you can be a Christian without believing the teachings of environmentalism."

And our politicians seldom seem to stop to utter the truth. They just make it up.

Oops … I know some of you will say (including some who are Christians) that I am being legalistic and judgmental, that I lack tolerance.

Well, can you please explain these words of Christ to me.

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said to him, truly, truly, I say to you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to him, how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, truly, truly, I say to you, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said to you; you must be born again.” John 3:1-7

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18

Now Jesus was speaking here to a religious leader of His chosen people, and he is telling him that he knows nothing about spiritual things. He is lost. The blind leading the blind. Where does that leave those who are not Jews, and those following other gods? How can Christians stand on this Truth, and then in the next moment reject it? Now, do you still think my statement is judgmental? Well no ... you might say? Jesus says; “we must be born again, and that he that believes not is condemned already” and therefore ... I am not being judgmental … right?

Then why is this not being taught in many churches? I could give you ten pathetic examples of world renowned Christians trying to blend in with the teachings of the world and be tolerant. This Truth was the first thing Jesus told the first religious leader that came to Him for counsel. Well these words are not politically correct. We need to be tolerant, you say? But I ask you; “is it “loving our neighbor” to not tell him the truth ... to smile and say nothing, as he accepts teachings that lead to hell? Is it “loving our neighbor” to not question another’s false religion? Is it "loving our neighbors" to give a man food or medical care without explaining the gospel because we don't want to make waves? Is it “loving our neighbor” to not confront heresy or false teachings ... and to sit quietly in church and allow others to be led astray, by Christian pastors?

Is it loving our neighbors to remain silent as a million babies a year are legally murdered in America?
Why don't Christians have as much compassion for unborn babies as PETA has for chickens or pigs?

How can one become free if he is a slave to the teachings of the Bible you might ask? Isn't this a form of bondage? A slave to a life of sin is never free. True freedom is a victory over one’s pride and lusts … the ability to Abide Above here and now provides victory over all things through Christ who gives us strength.

Those who accept Christ and then go on about their lives ignoring God’s revealed Truth are hypocrites, and a disgrace the cause of Christ.
Merely attending a church on Sunday will not change this reality.

Responsibleness is a key to freedom. Legalism is trying to hold others accountable to your beliefs. Legalism is strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than the Spirit. God's way of love is different than legalism.

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law. For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8-10

When we are eternally in heaven with Christ, there will be no evil, no sin, and no lies … there will only be life, truth, goodness, peace, joy, and love. We also are told that for the remainder of our life here on earth that the love of Christ is to control us; we are new; that the old ways have passed away, and new ways have come; we are to be ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation; “He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.

That’s too hard for me you say? No problem, Jesus has an answer for that challenge too.

If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. John 15:15-17

You are free to choose … who will be the god of your life; you or Christ?
True freedom is a victory over one’s pride and lusts … the ability to Abide Above here and now. He provides the victory ---
I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Abide Above

Peace and Joy to you my friends, Bob

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Core Values

Then said Jesus
to those Jews which believed on him,

If you continue in my word,
then are you my disciples indeed;

And you shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free.
John 8:31-32

What are your Core Values?

Who are you at your core?

Yesterday, I read an article describing President Obama as: “a man of peerless eloquence … who if re-elected, will be recapitalized; and what he has already done will become entrenched and made irreversible.”

Although I think much of that is absurd, I guess what the writer is saying is that Obama’s political capital would be reconfirmed, and that he then would have a mandate to do whatever he decides is best for all of us; regardless of the truth, regardless of the constitution, and regardless of that which is actually best for us all. Now the little of that which is true … is truly frightening.

The ignorant majority vote on the basis of false promises, and all suffer the consequences of their foolishness.

“He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20

When President Obama was elected three years ago, many people had an excuse … they really didn’t know who he was or what he stood for.
Hope and change sounded good but actually this catchy slogan could mean just about anything. But they can’t claim that once again.

Now ... we all know what Obama stands for. His appointments and his actions have made that perfectly clear.

We must consider his actions rather than his words. For example, does Obama care about putting Americans back to work? His rejection of the Canadian pipeline clearly says: NO. He cares much more about the views of the environmentalists and the donations of his union supporters.

Actions speak louder than words.

President Obama’s core values are apparent to all. His decisions are filtered through the doctrines of union leaders, environmentalism, Marxism, socialism, and many other views that are contrary to the teachings of God’s Word.

Unless we take a stand ...
these opposing views will become our children's and grand-children's core values ...
and will to a large degree … rule their lives.

If those in power were to have their way; I am convinced that in the near future,
it will be against the law if one does not follow their doctrines of tolerance and political correctness.
To use an incandescent light-bulb; or to own an unregistered gun will be a crime.
The future will most likely regulate eating, parental, and birth control rights.

This is why it is so important to understand what a leader believes. Extreme views bring extreme results.
The fact that someone claims to be a Christian could mean many things … many of which are the opposite of what the Bible teaches.
God wants us now more than ever, to look into his word for guidance. Our leaders are lost … we cannot look to them.

The idea of the liberal view of religious tolerance is a perfect example. Liberals would somehow define religious tolerance as a rule to give validation to all religious beliefs; rather than simply having tolerance for everyone’s right to believe or practice whatever religion or philosophy they choose.

On the one hand, I can have tolerance for a religion that rejects Jesus Christ and believes otherwise; but at the same time, I have no tolerance for those calling clearly anti-Christian beliefs: Christianity. Liberals of course have no tolerance whatsoever for those of us that reject their definition of tolerance as babble and hypocrisy.

In response to this liberal foolishness I ask ...
Should Jews be tolerant to Muslims calling themselves Jews or visa verse?
Should Christians be tolerant of Atheists calling themselves Christians?
I know this sounds crazy but some are now calling themselves Christian atheists.
We should be true to our beliefs.
We cannot say we are a Christian and believe in evolution without being a hypocrite.

What are your Core Values?

So let’s get to the point.
What should a true Christian’s Core Values be?
What values should we use to measure first ourselves ...
and then those who teach our children,
and lead our churches, as well as our political leaders?

Our options in the coming presidential election are clearly lacking.
But in any event, we should all be considering each persons core values as we search for the one most qualified.

Question: As a true Christian, what should your Core Values be?

Answer: Only God’s Word can truly answer this question. God’s Truth is true regardless of our beliefs, feelings, or religious training. We are all qualified to look into God’s Word and listen to the Holy Spirit. And we are all free to our opinions, but our feelings and personal opinions are of minimal importance when compared to God’s eternal Word.

The Truths listed below are meant to be a list of key verses that all true Christians should know and stand upon. Though clearly not complete, this list can be used as a chain reference to explain what you believe, and why you believe it. In the coming months, I will use these verses one by one as topics for future individual blog posts. Here are the Core Values that the Holy Spirit and God’s Word have led me to present to you:
1. We have the Truth! Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth. John 17:17 God’s Word is used to sanctify us, to purify us, to consecrate us. God’s Word is Holy. We are to be sanctified or set us apart for sacred use. As Christians, His Word is our basis that everything we believe and our beliefs must be measured up against the eternal truth. God’s eternal Truth is our source of all knowledge, wisdom and understanding. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
2. God is all, God created all! In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. John 1:1-4
3. The Evil one is clever and present! Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Genesis 3:1
4. Lust and Pride! And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat.
5. The fall and the Curse! To the woman God said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you. And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; Genesis 3:16-17
6. The Covenant! And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be you perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. Neither shall your name any more be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made you. I will make you exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come out of you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you, and to your seed after you.
7. The Law! And God spoke all these words, saying, I am the LORD your God … You shall have no other gods before me … You shall not make to you any graven image … You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; … Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy …Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long … You shall not kill … You shall not commit adultery … You shall not steal … You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor … You shall not covet any thing that is your neighbor's.
8. Visions, Dreams, Angels! Yes, while I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give you skill and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show you; for you are greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Daniel 9:21-23
9. The Coming King! Yet have I set my king on my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to me, You are my Son; this day have I begotten you. Ask of me, and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession.
Psalms 2: 6-8
10. The Prince of Peace! For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it has lighted on Israel.
11. The Miracle Birth! behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:20-23
12. The Living Truth! And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
13. We Must Be Born Again! Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3.
14. His Sacrifice for Men! And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:14-17
15. Only One Way To Heaven! He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18
16. Miraculous Healings! And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years … Jesus said to him, Rise, take up your bed, and walk. John 5:5-8. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. John 6:2
17. Jesus and God Are One! Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:18
18. The Promise Of Christ! Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life. John 5:24
19. Eternal Life! Truly, truly, I say to you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. John 5:25
20. Hypocrites Condemned! Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And you will not come to me, that you might have life. I receive not honor from men. But I know you, that you have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father's name, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive. John 5:39-43

These coming months are going to be fun for me.
There are clearly thousands of verses that could be added. I am listing verses that focus on important Bible teachings that explain God’s plan for our lives here and in eternity. This list is to be used as a reference. Many more could be included. I am now only at the beginning of the New Testament and part 2 of this core values list will follow. Don’t hesitate to email me your favorites for addition to the list.

God bless you my friends, Bob

Friday, January 6, 2012

Be An Encourager

If you then be risen with Christ,
seek those things which are above,
where Christ sits on the right hand of God.

Set your affection on things above,
not on things on the earth.

For you are dead,
and your life is hid with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

Are you feeling down? Then you only need to think up!

I must admit … this past month has been most discouraging for me. My answer to these feelings was to study the things of Heaven, God’s Word, and the miracles of Christ. He lifted me up. This is the only way that we can defeat the devil’s plan of discouragement.

Abide Above.

Praise God ... my encouragement has been restored.

Most will agree that these are discouraging times. There is so much going on all around us that will bring us down, if we allow it.
The news coming in from all directions is one big downer.

But is that really true? No, No, NO! That is the lie that our enemy wants us to us focus on. That’s it: keep us focused on the news of the day … this is always his strategy to bring us down. His plan is to rob us of our peace, our joy, and our encouragement. But, to the contrary, there is also good news … that never ends!!!

So, what are we Americans to do, if we are to win against our enemy?

Think about it.
How do others react to a person who is an encourager in times of discouragement?

Well that’s easy; don’t you think?
People are naturally drawn to those who lift them up when they are down.

When their mind is focused on their problems which appear to be hopeless, they are brought down further, and they become negative.

On the other hand, everyone wants to see the light in the darkness.

Everyone wants to be encouraged.

People are drawn to encouraging words like a magnet.

That is the news for our politicians who are looking for the way to rally the people around them.

When you are an encourager, you give others hope, you give others courage to stand against the problems of the day.

The people want to rally around the good, the clean, the pure, the powerful, and the positive message of an encouraging leader.

But they don’t want false promises from a phony politician.

So, why can’t these politicians seem to capture the minds of the people, the way Churchill did; or Reagan did; or Obama did, three years ago? Why can’t people today unite and stand behind one person and move forward to victory for America? There is a big difference between false hopes (hope and change) and the eternal truth. And the people are wary of lies and political rhetoric.

When a leader puts a positive spin on a message that lacks substance ... to support his words, this will not work the second time around, with intelligent people … not after three years of lies and manipulations. The people want substance.

So the question today is: what are we Christians to do if we are to win against our enemies and be the encouragers God wants us to be?

Abide Above!

So … how do we Abide Above?

First we must seek those things which are Above, and set our affection on those things that are Above … not on the things of the earth.

This can only be found in God’s Word and accomplished through the leading of the Holy Spirit.

This is confusing because most of us don’t have any idea regarding those things which are above, from a human perspective.
And our natural tendency is to approach everything from a natural or human perspective rather than spiritual.

So as a result, what are we most likely to do?
We focus on the things of the earth. We are likely to turn on the TV; or go surfing on Facebook.

This past month, I have been reading a book about heaven. I have learned much that I never knew about the things of heaven.

This is how we seek those things which are above. We read about what God’s Word says about them, we meditate on these things, we pray about them, and we set our affection on those things; rather than the things of the world.

The world would convince us of the opposite; that we need to buy things we cannot afford, with money we do not have. Then, we will have something to get stressed out over, and to worry about.

Where is your mind focused, most of the time?
Would you like to be encouraged?
Would you like to be an encourager to everyone that you come into contact with?

That’s easy … change your focus.

Let your mind dwell on these things:
whatever is true …
whatever is honorable …
whatever is right …
whatever is pure …
whatever is lovely …
whatever is of good repute …
if there is any excellence …
and if anything worthy of praise …
dwell on these things …
the things you have learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me …
practice these things …
and the God of peace will be with you.

This is it my friends: Abide Above!

All of these the things are from above.

When you meditate on these things or let your mind dwell or focus on these things … you will be encouraged, and then you will be an encourager, and a source of encouragement to everyone you come into contact with.

Others will be drawn to you like a magnet. Why?
God’s Grace, Hope, Peace and Joy are what everyone wants and needs.

Christ and His Word and the things above are one and the same. If we want to seek those things which are above, we must meditate, focus, and set our affections on Christ and His Word, not on the things or problems of this world.

For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
This is where we find hope and change and encouragement.
Meditate on the good news of Christ.

 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle [spirit] be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

Everything else is dissipation.

God bless you my friends, Bob
Recommended reading: Heaven by Randy Alcorn