Pentecost… Christianity On Steroids…

Acts 1:1–5 

My Dear Theophilus, I have already given you an account of all the things that Jesus began to do and to teach, right up to the day when he was taken up to heaven, after he had, through the Holy Spirit, given his instructions to the apostles whom he had chosen. In the days that followed his sufferings, he also showed himself living to them by many proofs, for he was seen by them on various occasions throughout a period of forty days; and he spoke to them about the kingdom of God. While he was staying with them, he told them not to go away from Jerusalem but to wait for the Father’s promise, ‘which’, he said, ‘I told you about; for I told you that John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit before many days have passed’. 

Without Pentecost the Christian Church could not have become the foundation of the hopes and promises of God spoken to us by His son Jesus Christ. Pentecost is important to Christians because it is at the very heart of of the God given gift that sustains and strengthens the faith and leads us to our salvation. Pentecost comes from a Jewish harvest festival called Shavuot. The festival of Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem. In the Christian tradition, this event represents the birth of the early church. 

Pentecost represented the beginning of a new age where the Holy Spirit made salvation available to the Gentiles. Those Jews that had accepted the resurrection as that of the Son of God, Jesus Christ but still held that conforming to Jewish Law was still necessary. Pentecost changed that. It was the beginning of a new age where the Holy Spirit made salvation available to the Gentiles. The symbols of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost are Flames, wind, the breath of God and a Dove. There are seven other things that are associated with the coming of the Holy Spirit. They are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit’s function is vital in both resisting the temptation to sin and also the conviction of sin, once it has been committed.

 It is Christian teaching that Christ physically departed from Earth by rising into Heaven, in the presence of eleven of his apostles. According to the New Testament narrative, the Ascension occurred forty days after the resurrection. It was thenTen days from the Ascension to Pentecost. During those forty days prior to His ascension Jesus appeared to the Apostles and shared the”Good News” that He died on the Cross and as promised risen, all to save us from sin. 

Acts which many consider to be the second chapter of his book Luke one of the four gospels, which told the story of Jesus’ early life now writes in Acts the second volume of a story without and end. In book of Acts and the day of Pentecost we are assured that the immortality and power of Jesus goes on in his church… It is through those events on that day of Pentecost when the Church was empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the tasks Jesus commanded us to do, that Christianity has endured and has been infused with the brave heart of faith. The Comforter that they waited on has given the disciples and those in that room the courage and strength needed…‘And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20). Keep the FaithPentecost … The beginning that has no end.

Life is Good

jk

Resurrection……The Sweet Mystery

I like William Barclay’s thoughts and while they do help me to understand more, I still love the Sweet Mystery of the Resurrection. As Holy Week begins our minds go back to Jerusalem and the triumphed entry of our Lord into the City. Now begins to unfold a series of events that will eventually led to his crucifixion, and resurrection; the sweet mystery of all believers. If we take away the resurrection, the thought and belief that there is a life to come, somehow this life loses its value. If we believe that this is the only world, then things of this world will be all that matter. 

 1st Corinthians 15: 35-49, is my favorite scripture about our resurrection. Jesus the son of the living God rose from the dead…” ascended into Heaven to sit on the right hand of God the Father Almighty” Jesus told his disciples if you believe in me and you will have eternal life. When Paul wrote these verses there were those who said “Granted that there is a resurrection of the body, with what kind of a body do people rise again?” Paul’s answer has three basic principles:

(1)He takes the analogy of a seed. The seed is put in the ground and dies, but in due course it rises again; and does so with a very different kind of body from that with which it was sown.Our body changed by death, back to dust, changed by resurrection, risen to life but it is still we who exist.

 (2)In the world, even as we know it, there are different kinds of bodies; each differes in their creation body. God gives to each those things it will need in this life.  If that is so, it is only reasonable to expect that he will give us a body fitted for the resurrection life.

(3) This next principle is in my mind the foundation of all that is to come to those who accept Jesus and seek forgiveness of their sins. It is the promise on which our hope is anchored. In Genesis 2: 7, Adam, the first man is made by God from the dust of the earth. God had a plan and Jesus was in every way the incarnation of the very Spirit of God. We learn from the scriptures that we are one with Adam. We also will share his sin, return to dust when we die because we have his body in this life. Those who follow the new life, the good way, are one with Christ shall share his life and his being. Yes, we will have a physical body to begin with. But on that glorious day we shall have a spiritual body.

Paul shares four contrasts about our future state. 

(1)The present body is corruptible, it will perish and decay; the future body will be incorruptible, it will not perish. 

(2)The present body is in dishonour; the future body will be in glory. 

(3)The present body is in weakness; the future body will be in power. 

(4)The present body is a natural body; the future body will be a spiritual body.

In the life to come, we will be such that the Spirit can truly fill us, as can never happen here, and theSpirit can truly use us, as is never possible now. Then we will be able to present the perfect worship, the perfect service, the perfect love that now can only be a vision and a dream.

Life is Good

jk

It’s Personal….

I have for a while now wanted to step out of the Pew for just a few paragraphs. It is the goal of this blog to find ways to share God’s commandments and the covenants God has made with his people and the scriptures that brings them to us and to do so from a layman’s point of view. 

This year has brought massive changes to the world we live in, the entire globe, whatever part of the world you live in has not been spared the massive burden of this virus. This virus does not respect life as to where you live, race, ethnicity, age or social status.To clear up what might be confusing to some, race is a reference to observable characteristics  as well as skin color. Ethnicity encompasses cultural factors such as nationality, tribal affiliation, religion, language and traditions of a particular group. The things that we have worked so hard to learn to respect change daily with the winds of social and cultural agendas. The word of God remains the same as to its intent and the commandment given by Jesus to all Christians, we are to love each other as He has loved us., remains as pertianit to day as then. Things have slowed down a bit and for many of us and it was not a choice we made. I cannot speak for others but for me it has provided a time of reflection, not all of it good. 

This pause has given me time to evaluate the state of my faith.My faith is a personal thing”…How many times have you heard or said that very thing? Is it ok to simply say my faith is a personal thing? Christians aren’t perfect by any means and their behavior often influences how non-believers see us and the Church. It may well be a personal thing but people are watching us to determine if our actions point to our faith. Another way to say that is do we walk the walk?  Two words, what would be their core meaning? Personal and the other word faith. First 

Personal…

 : of, relating to, or affecting a particular person : private, individual personal …

Definition of Faith  :allegiance to duty or a person :fidelity to one’s promises  :sincerity of intentions acted in good faith :belief and trust in and loyalty to God . (Both definitions  Merriam-Webster)

The Greeks loved to debate, not to discuss or reason but to seek justification for a principal or stated belief. Justification is another whole blog. For now I will rely on scripture to point me to what is the truth of God’s word.

Hebrews 11
1  Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. We have a list of people who relied on their faith in God and were blessed for it.

John 20: 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Faith is very important to me, biblically and personally and yes I do make a distinction between the two. I believe that a biblical  based faith can endure even the hardest of times through God’s grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes relying on our own faith, most often one of convenience,  we can lose the power of the covenant between us and our Lord.  Some things make no sense but do rest on my mind or as the old folks used to say… give me cause to ponder. This virus has prevented me from shaking another man’s hand. With all that’s going on in the world, how could I find room in my day to be concerned about such a thing! But…

“For centuries the handshake has been a traditional social custom signifying mutual respect in business and social settings between both men and women. … But overall, the handshake has always held its place as the signal that you mean business, you promise what you say is true and you respect the other person’s presence.)Mar 4, 2018

(wcfcourier.com) 

There are people that judge the measure of a man by his handshake…ponder on that for a while. I will have to go on record as believing a handshake beats the fist pump. 

I abhor  the common practice of deception in order to advance an agenda, simply put, lying. Some would like to say, well it is not so much a Lie but more like an innocent deception. Deception refers to the act—big or small, cruel or kind—of  encouraging people to believe information that is not true. Lying is a common form of deception—stating something known to be untrue with the intent to deceive.”  

I could go on and on but to what end would that take me. This time in our lives is one that requires us to hold fast to our God, family and faith. Yes, I consider these things to be personal. I will wrap this up with a well intentioned piece of advice.

Philippians 4  

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

Hope to see you back in the Pew next week.

Life is Good

Jk 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have for a while now wanted to step out of the Pew for just a few paragraphs. It is the goal of this blog to find ways to share God’s commandments and the covenants he has made with his people through the holy scriptures that brings them to us and to do so from a layman’s point of view. 

This past year has brought massive changes to the world we live in, the entire globe, whatever part of the world you live in has not been spared the massive burden of this virus. This virus does not respect life as to where you live, race, ethnicity, age or social status.To clear up what might be confusing to some, race is a reference to observable characteristics  as well as skin color. Ethnicity encompasses cultural factors such as nationality, tribal affiliation, religion, language and traditions of a particular group. The things that we have worked so hard to learn to respect have always been the commandment given by Jesus to all Christians from the very start of his ministry here on this earth and I believe will be put before us on the Lords Day. We are to love each other as He has loved us. That one still leaves a lot of work to be done by all of us. Things have slowed down a bit and for many of us and it was not a choice we made. I cannot speak for others but for me it has provided a time of reflection, not all of it good. 

This pause has given me time to evaluate the state of my faith.My faith is a personal thing”…How many times have you heard or said that very thing? Is it ok to simply say my faith is a personal thing? Christians aren’t perfect by any means and their behavior often influences how non-believers see us and the Church. It may well be a personal thing but people are watching us to determine if our actions point to our faith. Another way to say that is do we walk the walk?  Two words, what would be their core meaning? Personal and the other word faith. First 

Personal…

 : of, relating to, or affecting a particular person : private, individual personal …

Definition of Faith  :allegiance to duty or a person :fidelity to one’s promises  :sincerity of intentions acted in good faith :belief and trust in and loyalty to God . (Both definitions  Merriam-Webster)

The Greeks loved to debate, not to discuss or reason but to seek justification for a principal or stated belief. Justification is another whole blog. For now I will rely on scripture to point me to what is the truth of God’s word.

Hebrews 11
1  Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. We have a list of people who relied on their faith in God and were blessed for it.

John 20: 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Faith is very important to me, biblically and personally and yes I do make a distinction between the two. I believe that a biblical  based faith can endure even the hardest of times through God’s grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes relying on our own faith, most often one of convenience,  we can lose the power of the covenant between us and our Lord.  Some things make no sense but do rest on my mind or as the old folks used to say… give me cause to ponder. This covid thing has prevented me from shaking another mans hand. With all that’s  going on in the world I find room in my day to be concerned about such a thing! But…

“For centuries the handshake has been a traditional social custom signifying mutual respect in business and social settings between both men and women. … But overall, the handshake has always held its place as the signal that you mean business, you promise what you say is true and you respect the other person’s presence.)Mar 4, 2018

(wcfcourier.com) 

There are people that judge the measure of a man by his handshake…ponder on that for a while. I will have to go on record as believing a handshake beats the fist pump. 

I abhor  the common practice of deception in order to advance an agenda, simply put, lying. Some would like to say, well it is not so much a Lie, but more like an innocent deception. Deception refers to the act—big or small, cruel or kind—of  encouraging people to believe information that is not true. Lying is a common form of deception—stating something known to be untrue with the intent to deceive.”  

I could go on and on but to what end would that take me. This time in our lives is one that requires us to hold fast to our God, family and faith. Yes, I consider these things to be personal. I will wrap this up with a well intentioned piece of advice.

Philippians 4  

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

Hope to see you back in the Pew next week.

Life is Good

Jk 

Malachi…The Announcement, Rebuke, God’s Love Malachi 3

The first words of this chapter answer the scoffers and the unbelievers. The prophecy of the soon to be coming John the Baptist. The man who will bring the announcement of the coming of Christ, the Baptist preparing the way before him and calling for the repentance of the people. This is the Messiah, he who the people have been calling for and now he is coming! The Messiah, the messenger of the covenant and those who seek comfort and peace shall find it in Him. He will prepare men’s hearts to be his temple by His words and convictions of His spirit during which He becomes the Messenger of peace and consolation. What does he bring to the world at this time? No lies, predetermined forms of acceptable behavior will be unable to endure His doctrine or  stand before His justice. Christ will distinguish between the actions of men and separate them between precious and the vile.  He will be a refiner, this Christ, by His gospel, he shall purify and reform his church, and by his Spirit working with it, shall regenerate and cleanse souls. He will take away the worthless things found in them. The corruptions, which render their faculties worthless and useless will be taken away but it is noted that the believer need not fear a fiery trial of afflictions and temptations.There is an interesting note here. The trial will last no longer than needed and Christ will intercede on behalf of the wicked but it is understood that where there is no fear of God is not a good place to be. God will not reside where evil and sin prevail and pursues sinners. God is unchangeable and we should be aware that while judgement of evil works may not come quickly, it will come because God is ever the enemy to sin. We all have to deal with evil and sometimes get caught up in it. While God does not change there is compassion for those who fear the Lord and seek to change.

The Rebuke… verses 7-12

While the people of that generation have turned away from God, not kept His ordinances, still God gives them a gracious call. They ask “how shall we return”? They fail to see that they must with all their hearts call out to the Lord, seek His presence and word. But they chose to be obstinate, to use their afflictions as an excuse for their sins ignoring an earnest call to reform. They put the interests of their bodies before that of their souls, forgetting that God must be served first. God has blessings ready for us and sometimes because of our weakness of faith and narrow-minded way of putting our desires first, they pass us by.We will lose nothing of worth by honoring the Lord first.

God’s Love… verses 13-18

There were those that continued to sin tempting God with their arrogant ways and refusing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate. The day will come when these proud sinners will regret their ways. Yet there are those who spoke kindly, preserving a mutual love for one another even among the sin that they encountered each day. They spoke to each other in a way that those who believed in the Lord would understand, constantly keeping Him among them and in their hearts. Communication among people is a powerful thing. When we speak evil we corrupt good minds and actions, so it is only reasonable to think that good thoughts and words encourage good actions. God remembers our actions and those that believed will not perish with those that didn’t. Those that believed in the Lord will be filled with mercy and honor and the unbelievers will be filled with only their own wrath and dishonor. God loves us and he will not let His children be raised up to be careless in their duties to Him. They must serve and do so with a love and trust which is much like that of a child. 

All of us at one time or another will need that love and sparing mercy of God…for all will sin and fall short. The inescapable truth is that some will go to heaven, some to hell. We may deceive each other as to our character but at our judgement before Christ, on that Lord’s Day, everyone’s character will be known.We should be concerned as to our place in the judgement, but we also must leave that judgement of others to God. We who trusted God will in the end be considered to be happy and wise…we who served the Lord shall rise up on that day.

We will close out this series on Malachi with the forth and finial chapter of this book. 

Judgement of The Wicked…Happiness of The Righteous

4: 1-3

For those who call upon His name and have dressed themselves in the righteous armor of faith in our Lord and savior, He will be their shield and protector. They have been justified and sanctified and shall receive the graces and comfort and joy of Jesus Christ. The light has come to their world and they will increase in knowledge and spiritual strength. The day is fixed, the references here can be taken to mean both the first and second comings of Christ. There are definite signs that on the day of the Lord there will be judgement rendered on those proud, arrogant and sinful people. That day will be a day of great joy to those who have served the Lord, a day of sunshine and glory. But woe to the wicked, for in the light of this Holy “Son shine” they will burn as if in an oven. The victory will be God’s doing, not what we have done…for He has given us a savior, His son Jesus Christ. We will rejoice greatly as believers who have been brought from darkness into the light…Praise to the Lord evermore!

The Law…John the Baptist…The Messiah

4: 4-6

To conclude this prophecy and also the Old Testament we shall allow our conscience to remind us to remember the law. But may the future shall see us blessed with our bibles, also an increase in awareness of the importance of communion with our God. While others will boast of their proud reasoning, crediting it with their enlightenment, let’s keep close the sacred word of God and through His son Jesus Christ our souls will be filled with faith, hope and joy. We must keep believing the wondrous expectation of Christ, looking forward for the very beginning of it. John the Baptist preached repentance just as Elijah had done. We must turn our hearts to God and embrace our duty and service to Him in preparation for that great and dreadful day of salvation and judgement. The Baptist will preach a doctrine that will change the peoples hearts and work a change in them, so shall the way to the kingdom of heaven be prepared. The Jewish Nation had turned from God and ruin was at their very doorstep but God sent John the Baptist to preach repentance to them. Those who will believe will wait patiently and cheerfully expect that great day when Christ shall come that second time to complete our salvation. A warning here to those who will not turn and repent. None can escape who have broken God’s law and they will be denied the joy of being God’s chosen and redeemed people unless their hearts are turned from the sins of this world…to Christ and holiness.

Here ends the lesson, so to speak. I hope you have enjoyed this series and will be back in the Pew next week.

Life is Good

jk   

Malachi…A Careless Faith 1: 6-14

The charges made here toward the Priests could well apply to us this very day. Our relationship with God requires strongly that we fear and honor Him in all aspects of our life. In these next verses God makes known through Malachi his displeasure with these Priests and the people in general. They were scornful of this rebuke and gave it no notice or respect even to the point where they seemed perplexed or bewildered by this message, even turning aside an attentive ear to what was being said. In this particular instance we are referring to the Holy ordinances which they attend to without reverence or concern. They leave such celebrations without concern for their future, their faith lacking action. Specifically speaking, their offerings are polluted and there is no reverence or fear of God, even from the Priests. These sacrifices offered make the altar contemptible and God is greatly displeased. Through Malachi Israel is commanded to call on God by praying for His grace and earnestly seeking His favor. Only God can lead them from this failure to worship Him properly and cease presenting polluted sacrifices and offerings. Even the Gentiles make acceptable offerings to God, but His own people profane His name. How so they ask? Sick stolen and lame sacrifices none of which meet the Holy Ordinances are offered in a way to deceive and demean the worship. Malachi brings to an end this chapter by plainly stating that such deceivers will be cursed. Malachi reminds the Priests and the people that God is a great King…one to be loved, honored and feared. His name is to be feared by all nations.

As we move on to chapter two we might ask ourselves if our worship is grounded in a faith that acknowledges the greatness of our God and is fed by, humility, love and our desire to honor Him in a way that others may see Him in us.

(Malachi 2:1-9) The priests reproved for neglecting their covenant.

These verses at the very beginning of this passage stress that this covenant of Priesthood is a true covenant of grace made with all believers, as spiritual priests. It is one of life and peace and assures all believers of happiness in this world and the one to come. Believers should consider it an honor to be God’s servants serving as His messengers. A priest should not keep knowledge from the people but keep it for them; not withholding but sharing. The people need to know the will of the Lord. Note, we are instructed to not only read and consult the word but we are to seek instruction and advice from those messengers of God for the maintance health of our souls. Ministers are called to work earnestly for the conversion of sinners; even among those who call themselves Israelites, for there are many of those  to be saved also. This only can be done by those ministers who preach a sound doctrine and live holy lives according to the scripture. There has been a falling away from this and people have been misled. The message here is very plain…those who walk with God in peace and righteousness and bring back those who have fallen away, such people honor God and will be honored by Him. Those who do not and despise Him shall not receive honor.

(Malachi 2:10-17) The people reproved for their evil practices.

These next verses speak to the sanctity of marriage and God’s intent for a man and a women. The messenger tells of God’s displeasure with the corruption of the marriage covenant, which He instituted. The wife is to be looked upon as a companion not as a servant. This oath of God between them is no to be trifled with. Why one women and one man? They are to come together, produce a Godly seed that will serve the Lord and live in righteousness and peace all of their days. They should strengthen their faith and spirit that they may be kept from the sins of the day. Men will rue the day they deceive themselves through sin, selfishness, disregarding the needs and welfare of others, when those needs conflict with their own passions and fancies. God does not abide in sinful behavior and these people deceive themselves. They ask where is the God of judgement? 

The Day of The Lord Will Come!

Life is Good

jk

  

 Malachi…The Last Book

Malachi was the last of the prophets, and is supposed to have prophesied B.C. 420. He reproves the priests and the people for the evil practices into which they had fallen, and invites them to repentance and reformation, with promises of the blessings to be bestowed at the coming of the Messiah. And now that prophecy was too cease, he speaks clearly of the Messiah, as nigh at hand, and directs the people of God to keep in remembrance the law of Moses, while they were in expectation of the gospel of Christ. (Matthew Henry)

This week we turn to another of those books of the Bible that don’t always get a lot reading time, this one in the Old Testament, Malachi. This book contains four chapters and a staggering total of fifty-five verses, 1781 words packed into four chapters. Malachi is the final book in the collection of the Twelve Prophets. There is a dynamic dialog between the people, the priests and the oracle contained in this book. For the purpose of simplicity an oracle is biblically speaking a message from God. Malachi is the messenger. What does the name Malachi mean? The name Malachi is a boy’s name of Hebrew origin meaning “my messenger”. He was the last of the twelve Hebrew prophets, who foretold the coming of Christ. There is the question of, is Malachi a personal name or a title? For our purposes we will view it as a person named Malachi who is the messenger of divine prophecies from God. Verse one is a superscription outside the discourse of the book itself. One last point about the name Malachi. Early Christian writings (5 Esdras) ends with “Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, who is also called a “messenger of the Lord.”

As a layman there are different mountains to climb when our interests take us into an area rich in theological reasoning. Such is the case for me and this Book of Malachi. We should all be thankful for this digital age of information and the wisdom of those scholars whose writings carry us over these mountains. Most of the information I share with you today is based on my reading of The New Interpreter’s Bible, volume 7. There are six units of discourse the first being chapter 1: 2-5.

We are greeted with the words “I have Loved you” in verse 1. This is not so much a statement of the past as it is a reassurance that whatever happens, be it accusation, judgement or promise, this divine statement of love will apply. We see the establishing of the pattern of statement, question and then response that is repeated as the book goes forth, with some slight modifications. In this first unit there is no accusation or charge of wrongdoing against the people. The writer in NIB points out that Malachi is much harsher than the Genesis version of God having chosen Jacob and not Esau. The language “but I have hated Esau” is attributed to God speaking here in Malachi. There are difficult questions asked, such as, “How have you loved us?” Difficult questions are answered in this book of Malachi.  The advantages or spiritual gifts are the result of the love freely given us by God. It is clear that all those who sin, only fear being held accountable for their sins. What hope and comforts they receive are from the mercy of the Lord, this mercy they did not merit, it was given freely. God chose his people that they may be Holy, like Him and if we love him it is because He loved us first. It is remarkable that we all are prone to undervalue the mercies of God, choosing to excuse our own offenses.

I hope you join me in the Pew next week as we have a look at some who should have known better but didn’t act so.

Life is Good

jk

The Burden of Belief… John 15: 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Another time back when..I shared one of my favorite church signs with you Tried Christianity…Try Jesus. One author that I have read over the years is Beth Moore and the other day while doing some research for a study lesson I revisited a book written in 2004 I believe. The title of the book is Believing God and I opened the book to chapter one. Well, that is all it took because it fitted in somehow with a subject I was wanting to confront.  

It is God’s intention for all believers lives to be fruitful, if we are to succeed. That alone just by itself leads us to ask, are we living a successful Christian Life?  Theology, the study of the nature of God and our religious beliefs differ to such a degree that we (the church)  leave ourselves open to ridicule. Many church going Christians work hard to lift the church up, to support the ministry…working selfishly for something that is hardly working. To be even more blunt, our own personal belief system isn’t working. Those of us who acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Savior are blessed and have assurance of our salvation. Perhaps we would be more understanding of that salvation if we accepted the fact it is our duty while here on earth to do all we can for Christianity to succeed, here and now. My feelings, perhaps a bit hard, are that both ourselves and the church are taking a defensive stance. We are not going forth with the greatest story ever told, we have become content with just getting by. Getting by is not our Christian destiny. We are meant to be effective tools of the faith, taking the word to all people. Are we satisfied being complacent with our present efforts, or does the God we serve deserve much more? Do we live our faith or just rest comfortably in a world of indifference?

The Church has become a victim of a world content with the  status-quo mind set. Overwhelmed by the societal demands for change, driven by cultural change and political agendas. We as individuals find our faith challenged in the very basics of life itself and a Church struggling to remain relevant. It has allowed the myth of kingdom power to lull it into a false sense of beliefs while in reality it has become powerless and given up its seat at the table of public opinion. In many parts of the world the Church and Christians are held in contempt and ridicule. We who are the Church have perverted the scripture to fit agendas of the day, no longer valuing biblical theology. We want to be the best and in reality we are far from God’s best. God has made many promises to his people that allows us to be productive while living our lives here on earth.Throughout the Bible there are writings of these promises shared by the prophets and writings of the apostles. But we wander in this wilderness of uncertainty and the burden of belief  becomes heavier through our wavering faith. When we allow God’s promises to become a living motivator and reality, we have at our disposal the awesome power of God to be productive and live a life of peace and joy. When God gave the Israelites the promised land…they had to go and take it, to make it theirs. 

There are those who would take away these promises if we continue to remain complacent. We must live a life “standing on the promises”… They are our strength and hope…Matthew 11:30  “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Come out of the wilderness, “Stand on The Promises” Live a Christ like life, filled with the peace and joy of that which is promised to all who carry the burden and keep the faith.

Life is Good

jk

The Power of Endurance…

Image result for pictures of biblical enduranceThe power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way along with the fact that you can read story after story of people in the Bible who faced difficult times and still chose to go forward in the faith, not knowing what the outcome would be, leads us to this week’s Blog. Endurance could also be expressed by any of the following:

bearing; tolerance; sufferance;  fortitude; tenacity; patience;  acceptance;  resignation;  stoicism; stamina; staying power;  perseverance;  persistence; determination……

As you can see endurance covers a wide range of emotions but what about endurance from a Biblical point of view?…

Romans 15:4 ‘Endurance Leads To Hope’  As Christians we must endure in the faith because it strengthens our faith and seeing this it gives hope to those struggling to find the faith and those who want to believe, to have hope.

Galatians 6: 9, 10

 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

If we allow the lower side of us to prevail, so to speak, we can expect to harvest nothing but trouble. If we instead take the good way and do what’s right, God will repay, the harvest will be plentiful. We cannot expect there to be no consequences for our sins but God can and does forgive us of our sins. 

Romans 5: 3,4

 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

The word Paul uses for fortitude in these verses means more than just endurance.  It makes a stronger statement that indicates a spirit that does not passively endure  but seeks to overcome the trials and tribulations of life. Paul makes a strong statement to close out these verses, Christian hope is not an illusion. Hope such as this is the result of the believers love of God, it is real and sustaining. Hope such as this is the result of a loving God, with an everlasting love backed by an everlasting power. There is no end to Biblical justification supporting the Power of Endurance…

1 Corinthians 10: 13

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 

I have always believed that life is what it is….Our faith and the God we serve provides us with the means to meet the challenges that we will face in this life. Paul knew life was a chancy business and temptation would surely come our way. The Greek word translated to temptation has a meaning pointing to more of a test and is meant to not make us fall but to test us. With God’s help we will emerge from it stronger than ever. Temptation is not unique for any individual, it comes to all of us from time to time but we must remember others have endured it and come through it. Keep in mind as we are going through it so have others and through the grace of God they have endured and conquered. For the Christian there is no temptation that God cannot provide a way out of. It is not the way of surrender or retreat. It is the way of conquest in the power and grace of God.

Revelation 3: 10

10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

We find here in Revelations an old Jewish belief. The Jews divided time into two ages. The present age, which was totally bad and the age to come which was totally good. In-between those two would be a time of destruction and the wrath and judgement of God would come upon this world we now live in. John referred to that terrible time but we as those of the faith can be assured that when this world as we know it comes to an end, those who are faithful to Christ will still be safe in his keeping. 

The link below will give you a number of scriptures that refer to endurance in Bible readings.

https://www.openbible.info/topics/endurance

Keep the Faith, Endure…

Life is Good

jk

  

 

In His Image… Imago Dei

Christianity and Judaism and some Sufism sects of Islam, view The Image of God as being of a concept and theological doctrine. Hebrew scholars like Gaon and Philo believe the phase to be a type of  figurative language and that God has bestowed a special honor on mankind which he did not confer on the rest of creation.

In the Hebrew Bible the phrase “image of God” is found in three passages, all in the Book of Genesis. 1: 26-28; 5: 1-3; 9: 6.                 

Consciousness, the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world, add to that the ability to speak, both make mankind different from animals. We are able to think and reason, also not all of our actions are just instinctual. Man as an image of God Lost some of its luster with the fall of man in The Garden of Eden and it is  because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that man will once again be redeemed in the Creator’s eyes. All Christian writers agree that each person has value not to be limited by class, race, gender or disability. There are many interpretations as to the exact meaning of this phrase but it can be argued to be a concept that is the foundational doctrine of Christianity and Judaism. From the Christian standpoint we must be aware that we, being a part of the creation, are intended to be part of His plans and purposes for His creation. Imago Dei has within it the fact that if humans are to love God, then they must love other humans that God has created. All of creation is an expression of God.

John 13:35

35 ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’

God is the maker not the made. He made us in such a way that we long for Him and His presence in our lives. 

Acts 17:28

28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being…….’ 

There is a need to live as a person in the state of Imago Dei,one who understands and strives to emulate Christ’s life and teachings, to live in his image. Image and likeness are two different words that simply reinforce each others meaning. So much has been written about this Image of God…and from so many different perspectives that as a layman I can sometimes become lost in a mass of words generated by the theological and scholarly world, that I revert back to simpler times and the comfort of what I have been taught in church. So here is what I believe to be true. We know that Jesus Christ is The Image of God. What does it mean to be conformed to the image of God?

The thoughts, words, and actions that Jesus displayed in His life and ministry serve as a model for how we glorify God in our lives. … This is what it means to be conformed to His image.

-We show God’s mercy and grace to all people at all times

-Our love for all creation is unconditional

-God wants His people to expect only the best for others and in our actions present to the world good exceptions of things to come

-Take to the world God’s will for justice

The Image of God is one of mercy, love, hope and the salvation of us all through His son Jesus Christ. I guess we could best sum this up by understanding that the image and likeness of God we seek will be found in the life of Christ…As we wrote earlier image and likeness while different words are the same but I would refer to likeness as a spiritual attribute of the moral qualities Of God. It is worth repeating…The Imago Dei can be found in the life of Christ. May we all strive to live a Christ like life,

Life is Good 

jk

 

 

Comfort….2 Corinthians

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father who is ever compassionate and the God who sends all comfort, he who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we are able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction’….  (2 Corinthians 1: 2-4)

When Paul wrote this he was writing as someone who knew trouble and if anyone knew trouble it would be Paul. His life up to this point had been a series of challenges, many placing him square in the eye of trouble. Now he shares that experience of God given endurance with those who find themselves in trouble.  Those who sought to become Christians in Paul’s day, chose to face trouble. It would not be uncommon that they found themselves abandoned by family, friends or their pagan neighbors, even at times experience persecution from official powers. Sound falmilar….Could easily be applied to some people today and Churches…most any Christian out reach program. William Barclay notes “It is always costly to be a real Christian, for Christianity is not true Christianity without the cross.” One of the key points of comfort is that we are able to endure. The Greek word does not signify a grim, bleak acceptance of trouble but one that leads to triumph. Christians are able to endure because the Spirit enables us to just not accept suffering but to triumph over it. Difficulties strengthen our faith and in most instances we emerge much stronger and better disciplined in the faith.

In 2Corinthians 1: 3-7  the word comfort as a noun or verb appears nine times. Its root lies in the Latin fortis which means brave. Christian comfort brings with it the courage to cope with all the things life can do to us. It was Paul’s belief that God surely would never seek to comfort us without enabling us with the strength and courage needed to receive and accept such a gift. We must remember that to suffer for Christ is a privilege. The big takeaway from all this is that our comfort from the bad things of life, enables us to comfort others who are suffering. 

Hebrews 2: 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.  

Comfort is God given and the Comfort  we receive during our suffering and sorrow will help us to comfort others in theirs.

Life is Good

jk