Proclaiming a Message of Good News and Hope to our generation!

Month: November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the midst of the many hardships of life it is wonderful to have this day set aside to express our gratitude to the Lord for His many blessings.

Rarely do our holidays go over as perfect as we would like, but they are special times just the same. We wish all of you a very happy time of Thanksgiving today where every you happen to be this year!

The New and Living Way

If you all can bear with me, I would like to share another aspect of my earlier personal experience with the Lord Jesus Christ. I do believe many will relate to what I am about to describe. My mother was deeply devoted to the Lord, and was a powerful influence in my life. It seems I always had a sense that God was real, but often had the impression that He was against things that I thought were fun, like going to the movies and listening to rock and roll, etc. I also had the impression that suffering and persecution characterized the Christian life often more than peace and joy.

At the age of 12 I felt the call to commit myself to Him and was baptized. The problem with the timing of this event was I would soon enter my teenage years and the changes that come during that period of life. The Lord would fall to the background of my mind for some time, and I rebelled against my mother as well. Around graduation time my consciousness of God began to return, but I continued to withhold the reins of my heart in many ways.

It wasn’t until age 21 that I would return to Him during a personal crisis. There was a gradual surrender at first. I began attending my mother’s church again and renewing fellowship with other believers. There came a point in time where I saw myself and my need for Him more clearly than ever before. At the same time I realized how much He really cared for me. It was not only a moment of surrendering my will but also the huge weight of guilt from my past and worry for my future! At that point I truly experienced what it meant to be a new creation in Christ!

In the past I had small glimpses in this kind of life in Christ, but this was the full reality! Very early on I began to wonder why I had missed this all along, and also why some other Christians seemed to be missing this dimension as well. In this way I had hoped to avoid falling into a formalized and dead kind of religion that lacks the vital relationship that I had recently found in my Lord and Savior Jesus.

The New Covenant……..

The great news is that the Bible has much to say about this very thing. In the four Gospels we learn of what Jesus had to say about my concerns. And the apostles Peter, Paul and John were not only examples of what an exiting, vital relationship with God was like, but they also had much to say about this prevailing problem.

The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews expended a tremendous about ink to warn his fellow Christians of the dangers of depending more upon laws and rituals than on the very person of Christ Himself. He tells us of the Old Testament prophecies from Ezekiel and Jeremiah that were fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus Christ.

To the people of God in Ezekiel’s day, He says:

“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh . And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

Jeremiah 31:31-34:
“Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was an husband unto them, says the LORD:

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

On the night of His death, Jesus declared that this New Covenant was being inaugurated with the shedding of His own blood. His also detailed to them how the Holy Spirit would come to live within them, leading them and guiding them into all truth. According to His instructions, they waited in Jerusalem until they were “endued with power from on high,” and “were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Luke 24:49, Acts 2:4).

Immediately they understood things that were before unclear, for now they possessed the same Spirit that empowered Jesus in His earthly ministry. This same experience was then offered to everyone who believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior and King, not only to the House of Israel, but to all nations as well! Do you realize what this means? Now we can possess more than the knowledge to live right and pleasing to God, but the desire and ability as well! This new heart, this new spirit He gives is the grace by which we are transformed from sinful humans and into the very children of God. Born of the Spirit! Born of God!

All of this sounds fairly simple, and yet we often struggle with all the implications involved. Most of us have realized that we are not under the Old Covenant of Moses, but the New Covenant in Christ. But it is still easy to think in terms of laws and rituals. If not the Old Covenant rituals then maybe the rituals that have been developed over the past two thousand years. If you are like me, then you might have at one time decided to abandon all commandments and rituals after discovering the reality which they represent.

The fact is that rituals, principles, traditions are not always wrong in themselves. They can and do often serve a purpose if they remind us of the things that are the most important. The most important thing is that we love, honor and trust in Christ to be our righteousness, peace and joy. To live His life through us. There is a real difference between the Old and New Covenants, but there are some things they have in common. For one thing a covenant, whether old or new is still a covenant, that is an agreement between two parties. This one is more like a traditional marriage covenant than a simple business agreement. The two parties in this covenant belong to one another.

When people embrace the Christian faith with the idea of trying it out for a while, they miss the entire point. Christ has given His all for you and to you, now you belong to Him alone. Not a bad deal, really. In fact the greatest rip off of all is to cheat yourself out of the wonder, the glory, the transcendent reality of the Lord of the whole universe by withholding part of you heart from Him.

In the first covenant the law of God was written in stone, and placed into the ark of the covenant in the tabernacle in the wilderness. In the New Covenant the Law of God is written in our hearts. Furthermore this law that originally was summed up in ten sayings, is now summed up in two.

Matthew 22:37-40:
And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” NASB

Paul put it this way:

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10). NASB

Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. He did this by love! (Matthew 5:17, John 15:13).

Please hear me! We are not saved by the keeping of commandments, but by trusting in Christ, who fulfills the law in us! “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5) And this divine love will bring forth all the fruits of the Holy Spirit which demonstrate and fulfill the true meaning of God’s holy law.

Gal 5:22-23:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

New Covenant, born-again believers are not “lawless ones” like those whom Jesus rejected. They have His “royal law,” the “perfect law of liberty” written in their hearts. Also known as the “law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus” it is ultimately the perfect love of God. (Matthew 7:23, James 2:8, Romans 8:2).

If they heed the warnings of all His apostles and New Testament writings, they can avoid the traps of man-made philosophies and religions and the temptation to depend upon their own good works. They will also receive wisdom to correctly understand How God used the original covenant and what we can learn from it. They will know how to live by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God in both the Old and New Testaments, and continue to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus our Lord. (Luke 4:4, 2 Peter 3:18).

God Himself has invested enormously in us. He gave His only Son. What kind of investment are we willing to make for a relationship with the most awesome being in the universe? We have so little to offer Him, but oh so much to win. The greatest risk is to seek an easier route, to limit our commitment to a few hours on Sunday, or a financial contribution to a church.

He has so much better things in mind for us all! A New and a Living Way!

What Time is it?

Mark 1:14-15:
Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel.

The day in which we live is one of very rapid change. The previous century began with tremendous enthusiasm for what new breakthroughs in technology might bring. Consider the advances in transportation beginning with train travel, followed by the automobile, the airplane and today’s rockets into space! The prophet Daniel could have never foreseen what was foretold to him by the angel of the Lord that in the time of the end, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4).

Consider the marvelous discoveries in the field of electricity and electronics. Edison’s light bulb paved the way for the electron tube which in turn made possible great advances in communication by radio and television. Eventually the tube was replaced by the transistor and then the microchip, which makes possible ultra portable cell phones to connect people from almost anywhere in the world.

At the same time the Twentieth Century revealed the horrifying reality of what mankind could do with technology in war. We have developed and used machines that have killed millions of our fellow human beings, and now have the capability of destroying all life on the planet.

So what time do you think it is?

Is it perhaps the time for Christ to complete what He started two thousand years ago?

Most every generation since the first generation of New Covenant Christians have prayed for and expected the Kingdom of God to come in power. Some even believed for a time that it had already come to their world.

The fact that believers have already been translated from darkness and into the kingdom of God’s dear son does not negate what He intends to do in this whole earth here in time and space, when He will ultimately put an end to the craziness that we see on the news every day!

The Christian life is a life of gratitude for what Christ has already done for us on the Cross, one of peace and contentment because of what is doing now, and one of anticipation for what He has promised to do in the future. Often we miss this point that Paul made concerning our participation in the Lord’s Supper.

1 Corinthians 11:26: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” NASB

Notice how we presently participate in the past, while looking forward to His future coming. We do not minimize the overwhelming cosmic consequences of His coming to earth two thousand years ago. Sin and death has been conquered by His crucifixion and resurrection. The world has been conquered by His ascension to the throne on high! Jesus Christ is NOW Lord of all! All true believers live in the victory of His glorious reign! Today!

He came that we might have life and that more abundantly now! If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. Old things are passed away, all things have become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17). This and many other passages indicate that we are in danger of missing out on the full experience that salvation in Christ is all about. Amidst all the struggles and sorrows that this life can bring, we have a present relationship with a present Savior by Whom we have become more than conquerors! (Romans 8:35-37).

Part of what sustains us is also the glorious promise He has given to those who love his appearing. We should encourage one another to press forward towards all that God has provided for us in Christ, for the best is yet to come! In all the confusion from the setting of dates on the calendar for when the Lord should come, I am concerned that many are being robbed of the joy of anticipating His true, actual, and ultimate coming to His people and to this earth. No one knows the day or hour, or every specific detail of what that will entail. What we do know is that we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is! (1 John 3:2).

Maybe to you it is all “spiritual,” or “metaphysical.” Maybe it does not matter to you if Jesus did actually come to live as a man, in the flesh. (John 1:14, 1 Timothy 3:16, 1 John 4:2). Maybe it does not matter to you whether or not by the Word and Presence of the Lord the nations will eventually “hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” when ” Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3).

Maybe you are not expecting to see a time when “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea . (Isaiah 11:9, Habakkuk 2:14) Maybe you are content to enter into your personal “quiet time” of meditation and learn to accept that things will always continue as they are.

For myself, I have decided to join with Paul in groaning and eager expectation for what God intends to do in and through His people – that for which all of creation waits. (Romans 8:18-25). The reign of Christ is real! His Kingdom is still coming! His will shall continue to be done in earth, as it is in heaven!

With Jesus, Paul, Peter, James Jude and others, we are praying that God’s desire will be fulfilled in more and more marriages, families, neighborhoods, cities, territories and nations! He must reign until all enemies are put under His feet, including death itself! (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).

This may sound like crazy idealism. But which is crazier? To embrace the folly, fraud, injustice, corruption, lies, conspiracy theories, and poor excuses of our generation? Or to tenaciously cling to a promise made by the only One Who is actually capable of making His promise good? You be the judge. He has never, ever, ever, failed me yet!

Are You Saved?

Have you ever pondered the meaning of that question? When Moses told the Israelites to “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord,” He was referring to their being saved from Pharoh’s armies. (Exodus 14:13). In 1 Samuel chapter 2, Hannah was saved from the taunting of her adversary Peninnah. Job trusted that God would save him from his afflictions. (Job 13:16). Countless individuals in the Old Testament sought God for deliverance from enemy armies like the Philistines and the Amorites.

Today our saviors can sometimes be doctors, firefighters, police officers and others who save us from disease, accidents and those who would do us harm. In the New Testament, however, we are confronted with a problem that is more serious than any of these. We need a savior who can save us from ourselves. That is we need someone who can save us from our sins. (Matthew 1:21)

The people of Israel in New Testament times knew of God’s promise of another existence beyond the grave, and that some would awake to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting contempt.(Daniel 12:2). Jesus was quick to remind them of the seriousness of the situation. (Matthew 5:29) He revealed the solution to the problem of both the present and the future. He proved that not one of us was on the road to eternal life, and that only He could change the direction to which we are headed.

Over the years I believe the emphasis has changed concerning the subject of salvation. On the one hand, some preaching is focused on avoiding hell. Salvation is more from hell than from the sin that sends us there. People want to know that their eternal destiny is secure, and many look for the steps to securing this security. Some may think that as long as they keep up on the premiums of their “eternal life insurance policy,” things will be good. So they attend church, read their Bibles, pray, pay their tithes and so on. Check. Check Check.

More recently we see another emphasis which presents salvation as the fulfillment of the “American Dream” of comfort, ease, material prosperity, popularity, happiness and long life. Sin is almost becoming a non issue. “I am okay. You’re okay.” We are all okay because of Jesus, and a “negative confession” that admits to any of our human weaknesses is counted as unbelief. Again we are encouraged to follow certain steps to obtain this goal. Anyone who falls short of this ideal has obviously overlooked one or more of the steps.

The best, real good news is simpler that all that. We need an encounter with Life Himself, Jesus Christ. His plan was to send those people who had experienced His power, presence and word first hand out to share that reality with others. Several have left their testimony in writings that survive to this day. The apostle John bore witness to what he saw in order that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we might have the same experience of eternal life in His name. (John 20:31).

The Spirit of God works through the witness, whether a live person, or the living testimony found in the Bible. He also moves in the hearts of the hearers, who can otherwise not comprehend a thing. All this is part of and leading up to an encounter with a Living Savior. The story of Jesus Christ, His life, death, resurrection, and the affect He has on sinful humans produces faith in the hearers. (Romans 10:17).This process is very mysterious and can be very different for each individual.

After we turn from self trust and come to the place of personal trust and confidence in Jesus to rescue us from our sins, there is so much more to understand. We must be fully established in the fact that we were never able to save ourselves, but that He so freely has offered salvation instead. Ours is to receive not only forgiveness, but justification. That is, we are declared to be righteous before God by faith in Him. Being now in relationship with Him our identification is now with his death, resurrection and righteous life. (Romans 6:4).

This is what it means to be truly saved! An immediate change has already taken place, from death to life. Nothing more can be done to justify a person before God, but to trust in the righteousness of Christ alone to save us. Sanctification is the process of taking that righteousness that has been applied to our account, and working it into our very experience. To God we are fully in Christ, but we need to be reminded at times. Ahead is a lifetime of learning what His grace has provided, and how to grow in it.

The knowledge of the Lord is more than the acquiring of information. The information we receive from Him in the Bible is life-giving understanding of His nature and ways. Every day we renew that confidence in His power, and every day we become stronger in our faith. The Holy Spirit gains greater and greater access to our thoughts, attitudes and actions. It is by the very life of Christ Who lives within us by which we are empowered to demonstrate our daily victory over temptation and sin!

That life is shared with every other believer in Him. We are not talking about merely attending church services, but a mutual love and support for every brother and sister we have in Christ. We too are the children of God by faith in Him!

The destiny that God has for you is beyond description! Are you a believer? Are you sensing the Spirit of God convicting you of your need for His forgiveness? Have you come to the point of truly believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He is Lord of your life? This is the change of mind that will lead to a new and wonderful existence for you. Simply surrender your will and trust in His. He will accept you and fill you with His Abundant and Eternal Life!

For “whosover shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved!” (Romans 10:13)

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