26 April 2009

What is The True Biblical Role of the Pastor?

First! In order to be a true preacher of the word, you must be ordained by God. You must be sure that your calling to the pastoral ministry is of God, because it is a ‘high calling’. In order to preach effectively, we must be faithful to the calling that God has given us. We must preach the Gospel. references for this study (1 Tim 3; Eph 4:12; James 3:1; Col 1:25; 1 Cor 12:8-10, 28-30; Gal 1;15-16; Heb 4;12; Rom 1;16; Acts 1:8; Rom 10:14-17; Acts 2; 1 Thess 1:5-8, 4:1-7; 1Cor 1;17-31; Acts 4:31, 6;3-4; Isaiah 55:11; Ps 119; Joshua 1:7; Ezra 7:11; Acts 5:17-32; Matt 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; 2 Tim 3:16-17; 1 Peter 1;15-16; Acts 13:1-4, 14:23;Prov 4:23; John 15:8, 17;17).

1. We are to teach the Bible expositorily. Be careful to preach Christ, and not ourselves or our own agenda. We must be committed to preaching the whole counsel of God’s revelation and not just selected ‘comfortable’ passages. We must be willing to proclaim the truth of God’s Word, even when it is not popular, or in fashion to do so. The main purpose of expository preaching is to warn and teach. The church should have a passion to reach the lost, and core members can help with ways to draw new people under the sound teaching of the gospel. The preacher must have a passion for evangelism and reaching the lost. A sound faith must be a saving faith - grounded in the death and resurrection of Christ.
2. We are to avoid preaching our own agenda or our own ideas and opinions. Our sermons are to be done through the leading of the Holy Spirit, and not just by a man’s own strength and wisdom.
- How important is the Word to my own soul?
- Is my heart right with the Lord?
- Am I proclaiming God’s wonderful truth, or am I preaching my own wisdom?
- Am I considering the importance of holy living?
- Are my actions intending to display God’s Glory?
3. We are not to compromise biblical principles for the world around us. We must not just be content to preach only to the saints, but we must also have a burden to reach the outside world that is going to hell. We must be willing to serve.
- Do I meet the requirements?
- Is my heart prepared to preach?
- Do I believe that this is my calling?
- Do I desire to preach the Gospel?
- Do I have a burden for the lost souls?
4. We must preach the whole counsel of God. We must meditate on the Scriptures daily in our own personal study. We need to continue to learn all that we can about each passage. We must pray over every area that we study. We must demonstrate complete obedience to the Word of God. Without reading our Bible, we will be vulnerable to falling. Without studying the Word, it is impossible to preach God’s holy Word. Without obedience to the Bible, we are unfit to perform our pastoral duties.
- Do I believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God?
- Do I study and meditate on the Word of God? Do I pray without ceasing?
- Am I standing firm in the word of Truth?
- Am I spending time alone with God? Is the Bible my highest treasure?
5. We must ensure that we are in proper fellowship with the Lord through the leading of the Holy Spirit. We have the liberty to preach with the leading of the Holy Spirit. We must respond to, and obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. We must remember that legalism has no place in the church of Jesus Christ. We must be careful not to fall out of fellowship and succumb to the desires of the flesh. We must not manipulate our ministry or make it weak by watering down the seriousness of sin and the importance of the Gospel.
- Am I living in the Spirit?
- Do I fall to legalism?
- Do I live for the flesh or in the Spirit?
- How can I know the fruit of the Spirit in my life?
- Do I follow Biblical mandates?
- Is He Lord of my life?
6. We must live holy and acceptable lives in the eyes of the Lord. We need to ensure that we are preaching with godliness and reverence toward a Holy God. We must walk in the light. We must have a pure heart and pure motives in order to grow the flock to maturity in Christ. We must be faithful to the gospel of Christ. We must be careful not to fall to teaching false doctrines or half-truths. We cannot mislead the flock of God, and we must be diligent in our work. We must be interested in the people of God.
- Do I desire the lusts of the world?
- Do I want to fulfill self or obey God?
- Do I know what it means to ‘take up my cross’?
- What must I do to stay in the Light?
7. We must endure to the end. We must live disciplined and obedient lives. We must depend solely on the Spirit for our strength and guidance. We must be prepared to work hard because we are servants of the Lord. We must ensure we live a biblically moral life. Without prayer and study, expository preaching will become laziness. Moral breakdown will lead to pain and heartaches. We must ensure we are not wasting our time.
- Do I live an obedient life?
- Do I devote proper time for my family?
- Am I making proper use of my time?
- Do I preach with commitment to the scriptures?
8. We must make sure of the facts of the passage and the truth of God. We must always look for the main theme of the passage. Scripture is the authority over everything - we must use proper hermeneutics. We must use the scriptures to explain Jesus Christ.We must concentrate on using proper resources for research, and not waste our time on useless or inaccurate information. Without quality time, we are not guarding our sermon preparation. We must not waste our time on unfruitful pursuits.
- Am I prepared before I go to the pulpit?
- Do I bring the passage alive (historically, grammatically) to the congregation?
- Am I letting the Word of God speak through me after proper study and preparation?
9. We are to proclaim God’s wonderful truths. We must preach the dominating theme of the passage and not get ‘sidetracked’. In order to preach a message, we must rely solely on the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts in what the main theme and sub-themes are saying. We must not avoid the harder, more detailed areas of scripture, and yet we must still try not to complicate the main theme. We should limit the number of main points and sub-points in our sermon.
- Am I preaching all scripture, even the difficult areas?
- Am I being clear with my points and not getting lost in the details?
- Is my sermon focused on the main theme of the passage?
10. We should pray about our preaching and ask others to do the same for us. Prayer is vital to strengthening our preaching. The preacher should preach with a passion which comes from the conviction of the Lord. The different spiritual gifts of each preacher will have an affect on how a sermon is creatively but uncompromisingly delivered. Questions directed to the congregation can be of great help in communicating the application of Truth. We must be careful that the passion we preach with is not merely human emotion or a ‘style’ of preaching. The preacher should not allow routine and patterns of ministry to steal from the uniqueness of the message. We must be careful to speak properly and clearly even when we get passionate in our delivery. Some movements and mannerisms are distracting to the congregation and do not enhance the communication of the truth and therefore should be avoided.
- Is my own spiritual growth evident in my sermons?
- Am I communicating my points effectively?
- Is my body language and tone of voice appropriate for the subject of the sermon?
- Am I speaking loudly and clearly enough for all to hear and understand?
11. We must examine the spiritual level of our congregation and know if they have the ability to understand the message we are delivering. Spiritual understanding can only begin when there has been a spiritual birth. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to bring illumination to our congregation and reveal the truth in Christ. It is the pastor’s job to interpret the Bible for those who have been born spiritually. We must not fall to the popular trend today and concentrate our preaching on those who have not been born again. Spiritual things cannot be understood by those who have not been spiritually regenerated. We should not be just going through the routines and rituals and lacking passion in our preaching. No unregenerate person has the right to criticize or judge a believer regarding his personal faith in Christ.
- Are my messages geared to the spiritual understanding of my congregation?
- Are my messages designed to aid spiritual growth?
- Am I catering to the ‘felt needs’ of the unregenerate in my church?
12. We must be teaching doctrine in our churches to show them how to live their lives and keep the faith. We must concentrate our preaching on receiving Christ, obedience to Christ and dependence on Christ. We must ensure that people understand that Christ needs to be sovereign in their lives. We must not allow our congregation to think that they can live the Christian life in their own strength by imitating the Christ of history. The people will not be able to live the Christian life unless they understand that they must be saved from sin. We must always be aware of any who would lead astray those who are not taught the doctrines of Scripture. Some may use persuasive words, traditions of men or principles of the world to lead people away.
- Are my messages Christ centered?
- Have I communicated the importance of Christ being sovereign in life?
- Is my teaching helping the congregation to become more discerning?
- Am I protecting the flock from dangerous heresy that may be circulating?
13. We must remember to display proper motives in our ministry. We must look at the eternal implications, and not concentrate on the temporary earthly results. Any weakness we may have in ministry will be provided for through the strength of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit will give us the courage to persevere even in the difficult times of ministry. It must be the love of Christ which motivates us and compels us to keep moving forward. We must avoid getting caught up in the material motivations for ministry. If we live a life in our own fleshly energy, our work will be futile and of no eternal value. If we do not depend on the Holy Spirit to lead, our motivations are fleshly and our efforts will be rejected by God.
- Is my ministry led by the Holy Spirit or through my own desires?
- Am I allowing material benefits cloud my judgement in ministry?
- Am I relying on the Holy Spirit to give me the motivation and energy for ministry?
The preaching ministry is a sacrificial service and requires an obedient life. The preacher must present divine grace to the people through proclaiming the gospel and exhorting them to obedience. The preacher’s life must be totally dedicated to God. We must continually be renewing our minds through separation from the world and Christ-likeness. We must be careful that we do not begin to be prideful in our success in ministry. We must not allow the mundane duties of ministry to take precedence over our personal study and relationship with Christ.
- Am I living a sacrificial life?
- Am I proclaiming the gospel and exhorting the people to obedience?
- Am I living a life of separation from the world and centeredness on Christ?
- Do I neglect to spend time in personal prayer, devotion and study?

Can you say Yes or No to these questions? Won’t you please pray for your pastors!

The Awe Factor Of God


25 April 2009

We Must Pray for These People

When we think of false religions we assume Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Satanic cults. This is only the tip of the iceberg. In the grand scheme of things these groups only play a small part in the realm of religion. There is a greater force out there that has permeated the earth with its culture, values and beliefs. Its not Hinduism, Buddhism, or Judaism. This group of people has made their presence known throughout the earth: they are the Muslims.
When we say ‘Muslim’ many people automatically react in fear or anger, based on the activities of a few people in this group. This is a group that has put fear into many people. However, this is also a religion that has many similarities to our own. It is exactly these similarities that can make Muslims very difficult to reach with the gospel. The term 'Muslim' reflects more on their culture or political standing more so than their actual spiritual beliefs can be useful. There are just about as many different sects in Islam as there are in Christianity, and we should not worry about taking the initiative to witness to our Muslim friends.
Islam is a religion that does not stay the same. There is continually new revelation, and this will result in the change of their beliefs or behaviour based on the latest prophet. This is not a happy religion in that the god they serve is not a happy, loving god. They focus more on ritual and tradition than having any personal devotion or relationship. Sadly, even the most devoted followers do not have any assurance of salvation, even if they have lived an exemplary life.
As more and more people are becoming frustrated with the ‘bad’ side of Islam, they are beginning to question the value of this religion. This is an excellent opportunity for us as Christians to step in and tell of our loving Saviour. We must take the time to befriend them before they will take us seriously, and due to the ingraining of their beliefs into their very culture, it may take many years before they can understand and accept the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and yet still fully one God.
Amazingly, there are many areas of Christianity that Islam agrees with, even the books of Moses, the fact that Jesus did miracles, and even that Jesus rose from the dead and is returning some day! Many people would jump to say that we must be worshipping and serving the same god, but this is not so. If they do not believe in the Trinity, and the fact that Jesus IS God, they cannot be serving the same God a us.
The Islam religion is spreading throughout the world, as is their mandate, and even the public sector is becoming infused with some of their philosophies. We must recognize that although they may share some very basic ideas with Christianity, they are just as far from the true Saviour as the Atheist. Will you pray for the Muslim nation that the Lord opens their eyes to the true Gospel and Lord.

22 April 2009

How Are You Doing Today?

Where is your heart today? Is your Christian walk a persevering one?, or is it one full of doubt? Maybe its even unbelief because of a certain situation or circumstance going on in your life?
When you fall into trials, what do you do?
1. Do you lose your cool?
2. Do you take it out on others? (Family, friends, Co-workers
3. Do you break things, us fowl language?
4. Do you get angry with God?
5. Do you throw in the towel, give up?

Better yet do you:
1. Rejoice
2. Praise God in it?
3. Persevere through it?

We always need to remember, our Heavenly father is always with you through each and every trial, and He will always see you through, if you have genuine faith. (Luke 8:15) As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. John Piper said “When God calls you to be free from fear as you do evangelism, as you take a test, as you face an interview, as you take a stand against an unjust business practice, as you confront someone with sin in their life, when you leave a secure position and take a risk in a new venture, when you face an operation or a treatment, when you lose a spouse or a friend--when God calls you to be free from fear (to overcome this natural emotion and have peace, he does not leave the command hanging in the air. He puts pillars under it. Five of them. That's the nature of all Biblical commands. They come with divine support.
Fear not . . . God is with you;
Fear not . . . God is your God;
Fear not . . . God will strengthen you;
Fear not . . . God will help you;
Fear not . . . God will uphold you.

What do you do when you’re faced with trials? Where do you turn for wisdom and guidance? George Muller says "The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials." Scripture mentions at least 8 Purposes why the LORD allows trials in the Christians life

1. To test the strength of our faith demonstrates the strength or weakness of our faith

(Exo 16:4) Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.

2. Trials are given to humble us, to remind us not to let our trust in the Lord turn into presumption and spiritual satisfaction

(2 Cor 12:7) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (Means uplifted, or elevated up).

3. Allows us to suffer trials in order to wean us from our dependence on worldly things

(John 6:4-6) Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" He said this to test him, for He Himself knew what he would do.

4. Purpose of trials is to call us to eternal and Heavenly hope

(2 Cor 4:14) knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

(Rom 5:3-4) More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

5. Purpose of trials is to reveal what we really love

(Luke 14:26) "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

6. Trials are given to teach us to value God’s blessings

(Heb 12:2) looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

( Ps 63:3-7) Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise You with joyful lips, when I remember You upon my bed, and meditate on You in the watches of the night; for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy.

7. The Lord uses trials to develop in His saints enduring strength for a greater usefulness

(2 Cor 12:10) For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(Heb 11:33-34) who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

8. The Lord uses trails to enable Us to better help others in their trials

(Luke 22:31-32) "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."

(Heb 2:18) Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

So since trials are so productive. It is essential for Us to respond rightly to them.

1. Well how do we do that?
2. What is the proper response to trials that come into our life?

James says “we must count it all joy, when you fall into various trials”

“...count it all joy” The word “count” (means) to consider, or evaluate. Our natural response is not to rejoice in times of trials. It’s usually the opposite; James says trials are used to “test our faith” What does he mean? Various trials are meant to test a believer’s faith, by asking the question!Is it real? Is it fake?or Is your faith genuine?

“Let patience have its perfect work...”

(means) persevering endurance and continuance
Perfect work (means) does not refer to sinless perfection, but to spiritual maturity

1. Testing of faith drives believers to a deeper communion with the Lord.
2. A greater dependence and joy in our Lord.
3. Which produces a . Stable
. Godly
. Righteous Character

(1Peter 5:10) And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

We need to understand what James is saying through various tests and trials; A Christian will learn to withstand the pressure of trials. ONLY Until God removes it at His appointed time.
Charles. H. Spurgeon said "By perseverance the snail reached the ark."
So what are we to do?
1. Count it all Joy
2. Rejoice in our trials
3. Praise the Lord in our trials
4. Persevere though trials with joy

Warren Wiersbe writes “ Our values determine our evaluation. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to ‘count it all joy” If we live only for the present and forget the future, the trials will make us bitter, not better” (Rom 8:25) But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. So we must persevere with all joy in every situation!

1. Persevere with a joyful attitude
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trial (v2)
2. Persevere with an understanding mind
“Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance ( patience) (v3)
3. Persevere with a submissive will
“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking nothing (v4)
4. Persevere with a believing heart
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally... (v5). “But let him ask in faith.... (v6)
5. Persevere without doubt
“.. he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (v6)

Can you do that?

19 April 2009

Who's Behind Your Pulpit?

What exactly are churches looking for in a pastor today? I ask that question because in today's post-modern world we see biblical principles on a down slide. The Bible says “ For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things” Phil 3:18-19. Paul also warns us when he says “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” Acts 20:29-31. The more and more I read about local churches the more I find myself discouraged to see what the future holds for the local church. Just look around your community! Are the people flocking into the church to hear the message or are they flocking into the church to be entertained? People are not interested in the spiritual things; they are only interested in what they want to hear.
Pastors are not doing what God commands of them “...to preach my word in season and out of season”. As pastors, we have the responsibility to care for, nurture, and protect the children of the living God. It amazes me that I, Mike Andrews, have been given the privilege, the call, to pastor and teach the precious Word of God to the children through His divine authority. The Bible says “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” Acts 20:28. John MacArthur says a preacher must be a man who is “above reproach.... should be consistently characteristic of his life as one who assumes the stewardship of God’s ministry”. It starts with a heart for God’s children and the compassion to see the flock of Christ grow during their sanctification. However, it all begins with me, as pastor, submitting to and obeying the call that God has put before me - to learn and meditate on God’s Word. The problem is that the world is falling deeper and deeper into the abyss, and the churches of North America are falling right along with them. The solution is for men to be strong men of God in the church. We must be men who are called to proclaim Christ Jesus to a fallen and broken world and to shepherd His flock. This will only begin when pastors step to the plate and do what we've been called to do. We need to be men who are listening to the call of God to “teach My word in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:1-4) as Todd Friel says on “Wretched Radio” “MAN-UP PASTORS!” Churches must STOP and do the same. You must find men who are called by God and stop looking for the ‘business’ type and ‘amusement park’ type of preacher. The preacher has one job, and that is to shepherd and encourage the spiritual well being of the local church so that they are ready to see King Jesus! Is your church ready to see Him? Are you as an individual ready to see Him? I hope so, because there will come a day when every single one of us will have to give an account of our time and behavior. You too pastors! Remember what James said “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” James 3:1. So my question to the local church is: who is behind your pulpit? The entertainer who tickles the ears, or the smart businessman who can “woo” the people with human flattery, or the man called by God? Pray for your pastors they need it desperately.

18 April 2009

If My Words Abide in You, John Piper

Test All Things Christian

What is happening to the local & universal churches discernment today? There are increasing difficulties because we haven’t separated ourselves from the world. On the contrary, we have allowed the world to shape the church instead. We have allowed postmodernism into the church in various forms including entertainment, secular music and television. Truth has all become ‘relative’ and what is good for me, may not be good for you, but that’s okay according to today’s religious philosophies. Many church leaders believe that we must adjust to the culture if we’re going to draw people in. Many things have been replaced with ‘new’ ways, and even the teachings are changing - to false teaching, by false teachers. We have become afraid to judge false teaching against doctrinal truth in order to unite people. The Word of God is His truth given for us to live by - we the church must have more discernment a Greek word “anakrino” which means to distinguish, or separate out so as to investigate (krino) by looking throughout objects or particulars," hence signifies "to examine, scrutinize, question, to hold a preliminary judicial examination preceding the trial proper" How do we do that? By using the Bible as the authoritative standard, and leaving no room for compromise when it comes to doctrinal truth, remember the Bereans "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." Acts 17:11

Where does the Authority of Scripture come in to play in your life?

1. We must put sound doctrine above all other things. Without the understanding of the basic doctrines of the Bible, we will be standing in our own strength without the protection of Jesus’ righteousness. Doctrine is the principle that will determine a sound and solid faith. We are to be like the Bereans and test all things against scripture. False teachers do not do this, and are driven by their own desires. In order to be aware of ‘wolves’ and false teaching, we must have the discernment which can only be had through proper study of God’s Word. There is a fine line when it comes to how far an issue may be pressed before you end up breaking fellowship with a fellow believer. We need to ensure that other convictions are respected if it is not fundamentally Biblical in nature. We must understand the word of Truth in all its entirety.

2. We need to be aware of false prophets, their wrong teachings and their so-called prophetic abilities. We need to be able to discern who the false teachers are by examining their background and their doctrine. We need to be aware of this because most false prophets will give people what they want to hear, and mix a little truth with the error. These many false gospels, false jesus’, and false doctrines will only lead to hearing “depart from Me, I never knew you” (Mat 7:23). We must deny the self and self-righteousness of the false prophets, pick up our cross daily and follow Christ alone. A true man or woman of God will deflect the fame and recognition away from themselves and give all the glory to a holy God.

3. We must be aware of any false miracles that come out of this and other movements, as these are from Satan. Many people today are practicing mysticism as a substitute for true and accurate biblical spirituality. Biblical discernment will bring us closer to God (Mat 24:24) and enable us to be able to tell a genuine miracle of God from a counterfeit. The changing power of the Gospel is supernatural all on its own - we don’t need miracles today to make people believe, we only need to preach Christ crucified. Unfortunately, many miracle healers today believe we all have the power within us to be healed if we only have enough ‘faith’. If we are not healed, it is because of a lack of faith on our part. Only God can heal, in accordance with his divine nature and only if He wills it (James 5:13-16).

4. We need to be filling our mind with the word of God. Parents today have allowed the Prince of the Air (Satan) to freely enter their homes via the television. The world’s entertainment has and will continue to shape our thinking. When we watch programs that do not honor the Lord in any way, we are allowing Satan to fill our minds with garbage and gain a foothold. Instead, we must filter carefully what is being put into our minds, because it cannot be erased (Phil 4:8). We must make proper use of our time and not allow Satan to take up residence in our home. We need to be discerning about all things in our lives so our children will be shown a godly example of living and not a worldly example.

5. We live in a society that wants people to be centered on themselves. Self-esteem is a huge issue and the world claims to be able to address it through outward change with plastic surgery, excessive exercise, and dieting that will get you noticed by others. People have become obsessed with appearances and this is starting from an ever increasingly younger age. We tend to look at people’s outward appearances instead of where we should be looking - the inner person of the heart. We as Christians should know better (1 Thes 5:23). We have been created a certain way by God, who is the giver of life (Psalm 139:13-16). The world says everything needs to change in order to be successful in life, but this is not what God says in His Word (1 Cor 6:19-20). We belong to God. We must glorify God in our body by accepting the way he made us, and taking care of what we have been given, not changing it drastically. We will get old and our bodies will die someday, but our soul will live forever, either in Heaven or Hell, depending on our relationship with Christ. We must glorify God with our bodies by listening to His Word and not the world.

6. We as Christians need to stay far away and flee from all types of evil, no matter how interesting or harmless it may seem. It is very concerning that even many Christians today tend to dabble in occultic behavior. When we do these things, we are entering Satan’s domain. We are not immune to the fact that Satan can tempt us at any time. There are many forms of occultic behaviours, from blatant sorcery and mediums to astrology, horoscopes and fantasy games, even fortune cookies. These are nothing but the false teachings of cults. The occult practices are even evident in many television programs today and passed off as mere entertainment. When we allow these things into our life, we are giving Satan a foothold in our lives which will interrupt our spiritual walk. This will keep us from doing the most important things such as prayer, worshipping, and meditating on God’s Word with a pure heart. We must not entertain this kind of garbage because we serve a risen Lord and Savior and not a ‘fallen angel’ (James 4:7)

7. We must have discernment in order to determine between what is good and perfect and what is evil. Many people today, thanks to television and movie entertainment, view ghosts and spirits as harmless and entertaining. Christians, however, must be careful to realize that these are not merely harmless ghosts, but evil spirits that work all around us. Also, contrary to popular entertainment views, angels are not all ‘good’. Only the elect angels in heaven are holy, all others are part of Satan’s army. They will do anything it takes to deceive - even appearing to be helpful or ‘doing good’ in order to convince you to trust them. Evil spirits will disguise themselves as ‘angels of light’ however, they are pure evil(2 Cor 11;14).

8. We as Christians need to do what the Holy Spirit leads us to do, and not rely on acting in the flesh. We must use scripture to identify problems, and not our own opinions. Does the Bible forbid movies, television, or drinking? Not specifically, however, we can use scripture to identify where these things are not always beneficial to either our physical or spiritual lives. Christians need to decide if they are going to be conformed to the world, or if they are going to take a stand and be separate. The Bible says we have been sanctified and set apart for the beloved Christ Jesus. We need to keep this in mind and test everything we do against scripture. We must examine our behaviors and ask ourselves if we are reflecting Christ-like character and living in a way that would be pleasing to a holy and perfect God (Phil 4:8).

We need to live a life that brings glory to our heavenly Father. We are to maintain a biblical standard of integrity in everything we do, whether at home, work, church or with friends. We must reflect the standards of Christ in our lives. We must always be willing to speak the truth in love, even if it means adverse consequences in losing friendships, jobs, etc. As we see in Philippians 2:4-6, we must always be caring for the interests of others more than our own. A self-centered Christian is one who is no better than the Pharisee or Legalist of the ancient days. With constant prayer and Bible study, we will be able to exercise discernment in all things, and live a life of Christ-like integrity before a closely-watching unsaved world.

"For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." John 3:20-21.

How are the Scriptures shaping your life today? Only you can answer that question.

13 April 2009

Where do we go from here?

I found this at http://sacredsandwich.com/ I thought this would be good for a laugh, but don't laugh too hard there is a lot of truth in what this comic is saying.

12 April 2009

He Is Not Here!

Why do you seek the living among the dead? For He is RISEN! (Luke 24:1-7)

What does this mean for us (the believer) "He is Risen" 4 things we need to understand about this statement!
1. His risen body is necessary
2. His risen body is our hope of reconciliation
3. His risen body is eternal life
4. His risen body proves His Deity

1. His Risen Body was Necessary
(1Cor 15:16-22) For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile (vain, empty, worthless); you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep (death in Christ, Old Testament saints, prophets, believers before the cross, and after) in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable (miserable). But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits (the beginning of sacrifice) of those who have fallen asleep (those who died) . For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die (physical death), even so in Christ all shall be made alive (born again believers who put their faith in Him alone). If this event never happened or took place then we are still sinners without any hope. We would be forever lost to a Christ less eternity, but we know that He is Risen

2. His Risen Body is our Hope of Reconciliation
(Rom 5:8-9) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified (declared righteous) by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. His death and resurrection is our security to be spared from the wrath to come. Which is to come for those who deny Jesus as Lord. What did Jesus say to the 2 men on the road to Emmaus, the Bible says Jesus expounded the Scriptures to them (Luke 24:25-32) their hearts were vexed with a burning passion to a living hope.

3. His Risen Body is Eternal
(Dan 12:2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. The same is written in the Gospel of John in (chapter 5:28-29). A life of everlasting, eternal, forever in His glorious presence, secure forever!

4. His Risen Body Proves His Deity, and removes Doubt
(John 20:26-29) And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord (master, my authority) and my God!" (deity, position, supremely Divine) Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Put your fingers here! Feel, touch, the scares that I endured for you!Remove the doubt and believe in who I said I was the great I”AM
We need to remember the Lord Jesus Christ is alive and well, sitting on the Throne of Glory. As the Hebrew writer says "upholding all things by the word of His power" (the universe and everything is constantly sustained by the power of the Son’s words, voice. " ...He had by Himself purged (cleansed by His blood) our sins, sat down (speaks of honor, authority, rest) at the right hand off the Majesty on High" (Heb 1:3). We get our rest in Jesus Christ because He says it is finished. He is given the Name above all names "Lord" (Phil 2:9). He is King of kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16). He has won and crushed Satan, the fulfillment of what was said in the garden by our LORD (Gen 3:15) "her Seed will crush your seed"

How important are these words spoken to Mary by the messenger sent by God Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is RISEN

1. The resurrection gives evidence that the Word of God is true and reliable.
2. The resurrection means that Jesus is the Son of God.
3. The resurrection means that salvation is complete, Christ conquered Sin.
4. The resurrection establishes the church "I will build MY church" Jesus said and the "gates of Hell shall not prevail against it". (Matt 16:18)
5. The resurrection proved that death itself could not prevent Christ from establishing His church.
6. The resurrection of Christ proves that Heaven is waiting.

Jesus said (John 14:1-3) "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

This is a wonderful truth and promise for us (Christian's) who anticipate His wonderful return. Does your spirit jump for joy this morning? Knowing that He has conquered death for us and that He will return to receive us, unto Himself.

Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is alive our Savior has conquered the grave. This is what Christianity is all about. Jesus the God man came to this earth to bare our wrath from the Father, die and rise again on the third day. Why? To save sinners "of whom I am chief! As Paul said (1 Tim 1:15). What else needs to be done? It is finished! My only question is for the unbelief, the ones on the fence, the doubters, the skeptics is something I heard Paul Washer say which really struck my heart with great conviction. Here's what he said He saved me. What else needs to be done? Isn’t Salvation enough?” Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. Our life, or salvation is all and only Him. Nothing else matters! Our lives begin and end with His death and resurrection. Isn't that enough to make you believe?

Watchman Nee said "Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection."

John Piper says “The highest act of love is the giving of the best gift, and, if necessary, at the greatest cost, to the least deserving. That’s what God did. At the loss of His Son’s life to the totally undeserving, God gave the best gift – the display of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.”

He was born of a virgin
He died
He was buried
He rose again
He ascended into the heavens
He is seated on the Throne the Majesty on High
He is preparing a place for those who believe and call upon Him by faith!

He saved me. What else needs to be done? Isn’t Salvation enough?”

Lets Pray

09 April 2009

How Far Will You Go?

Persecution Among Christians
By Mike Andrews

We live in a world that is so full of sin and unrighteousness that they have become blinded to what is going on around them because of their selfishness. We are a world of people who accept all types of religions but hate Christianity and anything that deals with Christ Jesus. If you say to someone who is lost in sin or who is a worshipper of a false god, that the Jesus is the only way to attain eternal life (John 14:6), those people would look at you with hate and resentment and say "you are so narrow-minded".
If today's world could only see past their blindness and see the lives of people who stand for the Gospel of Christ. They need to know about those who die and are persecuted in so many ways each year for their faith in China and around the world in areas that are heavily populated with Muslims or other false faiths.
Its one thing to say you are a Christian, but it is a serious matter when you are willing to die or take the punishment for Christ. The world hates righteousness and will fight against it. There has been and will be persecution against Christians. For example, Jim Elliot and his co-workers, Stephen in Acts 7, James in Acts 12, Peter and Paul everywhere they went, and most of all our Lord and Savior at the cross of Calvary. All these events may be tragic, but they all happened under the control of a sovereign God. Isaiah says in the 41st chapter "Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God...." (verse 10). John Piper writes "that suffering lies at the heart of what it means to be a Christian and do missions". John is telling us that this is the heart of the Gospel; we need to be a people who’s faith sustains them through persecution (1Cor 1:27). When persecution comes our way, it usually has a way of weeding out the false believer and leaving only the true Christian, because most false believers will leave the faith when persecution sets in. The importance of trusting only God and not yourself is one thing that every true believer can learn during trying times. We must have an attitude like Christ. The Bible teaches that persecution is inevitable for every single believer. 2 Tim 3:12 tells us that we must be humble and Christ-like when being persecuted. We must stand strong as the great men and women of times past have. Persecuted believers should use the occasion to witness to people as Paul and Silas did with the Philippian Jailer while they were in prison as told in the book of Acts. The wonderful outcome of that great story of salvation affected not only the guard but his whole family.
We are Christians who were saved by grace by a holy and perfect God who saw fit to send His Son to die, not only for my sins, but also for the sins of those who persecute us. We need to always remember what Paul said in the book of Romans in the eighth chapter "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose". He died a horrible death and rose on the third day so that we could have eternal life and be spared the eternal torment we all deserve. The least we could do as believers, for our LORD, when we are faced with persecution is to "...all have the spirit of martyrdom, though we may not all die martyrs". George Whitefield. So how far are you willing to go for the Gospel of Christ? As it is written: "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE KILLED ALL DAY LONG; WE ARE ACCOUNTED AS SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER." Rom 8:36

08 April 2009

Nobody Special

I would like for us to look at 11 TRUTHS about our Lord Jesus in His Incarnate State (human form). This is something that we need to consider (meditate upon) as we come to worship Him this Easter Sunday.

1. His birth (Luke 2:11) “for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”
2. He was flesh and blood (John 1:14) “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...”
3. He wept (Luke 19:41) “now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it”. (John 11:35) “Jesus wept”
4. He needed rest (Matt 8:24) “and suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep”
5. He endured shameful things (Matt 26:67) “then they spat in His face and beat Him; and struck Him with the palms of their hands”
6. He felt anxiety (Luke 22:44) “being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground”
7. He hungered (Matt 4:2) “and when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry”
8. He was scourged (Matt 27:26) “then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified”
9. He faced a real death (John 19:34) “so when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “it is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit”
10. He had a real burial (Matt 27:59-60) “And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away”.

Jesus Christ came as a man and He was crushed and bruised for:
A. My sins
B. Your sins
C. The whole world’s sin

P.J. Forsyth says “The blood of Christ stands not simply for the sting of sin on God but the scourge of God on sin, not simply for God's sorrow over sin, but for God's wrath on sin."(John 6:38) For I have come down from Heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me. The Bible also says it “pleases Yahweh to crush Him” Isaiah 53:10. We need to understand that Jesus the God man is someone who is very special. Why? Because not only did He die for our sins, He also has defeated the grave.

11. He Rose literally from the grave (Luke 24:5-7) And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise."

Augustine says "The Jews looked upon a serpent to be freed from serpents; and we look upon the death of Christ to be delivered from death."We need to remember: 1. This Man suffered not only external abuse, but also internal grief over the lack of response from those who He came to save! 2. This Man suffered not for His own sin, since He was sinless. 3. This Man bore the eternal wrath of God the Father, something that each and every one of us deserve. 4. This Man provided complete satisfaction meaning once and for all for the sin issue, which means the Father is completely satisfied by pouring His wrath out on to the Son (Jesus the God man).

Is Jesus really somebody special? The answer to that question is YES! Jesus is unfathomably special. So I really only have 2 questions for you to think about to answer.

1. Have you come to the Cross?
2. Have you rejected the Cross?

See this not so special Jesus came to save the not so special people from their sins, so I beg you to please humble yourself to the Cross of Christ, and see how special you really are to Him "for while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" Romans 5:6, and Paul goes on to say "but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (v9). He bore our wrath so that we could be brought back to the Father "we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation"(v10- v11)

To Him Be the Glory, forever and ever

05 April 2009

Embracing Accusation

This song is worth re-posting.

Listen to the words of this song and humble yourself for what Jesus Christ (the God Man) did for you and me on the Cross of Calvary

To HIm Be the Glory