Monday, November 26, 2012

Verse of the Week

It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him:
If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him:
If we deny Him, He also will deny us:
If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.
- 2 Timothy 2:11-13

Thursday, November 22, 2012

With Thankful Heart

Thanksgiving is celebrated all over America, and has been for hundreds of years, because of the profound faith and courage of a group of Christian believers, called Pilgrims. These Pilgrims believed that God was calling them to a new land, where they could worship God more freely.

But their decision wasn't easy. Staying in Holland meant greater safety in a civilized land, going to America probably guaranteed religious liberty but the physical risks were enormous and the financial cost of voyage would be very high. They believed God would grant them success. Before departing from Holland the church spent a day in fasting and prayer for the journey ahead. 

William Bradford wrote, "They had a great hope and inward zeal of laying a good foundation for the propagating and advancing of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world. Yea, that they should be even as stepping stones unto others."

They are our stepping stones.

In September of 1620 a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of the religious separatists mentioned above, seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith, and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. It was a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted far longer than any had imagined. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New World spring.
In 1621, the surviving colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. They gave thanks to God for three days. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. But it wasn't until 1863, (in the midst of the Civil War) that President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving Day or not, I hope you have a blessed day of giving thanks to the Lord.
God bless,
 Psalm 107:8, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Allow Me To Clarify. . .

This post is written somewhat (completely) because I looked back at my previous post called "Saved" and became more aware of the fact that I didn't convey the message I had intended to. Or at least not very well.

I probably don't often spend as much time as I ought to when writing out these posts. I apologize, and hope to be more careful with my words.

I re-read the aforementioned post and realized that, because it is titled "Saved", it would be easy for one of you lovely readers (yes, lovely) to think I was associating works with salvation. I wasn't. I do not believe any good can come from our own accord before we know God. Nor do I think that once saved any good can come from us. All good is from God. Period. Check out Mark 10:18. Or Romans 7:19, or James 2:10 or loads of other passages that I encourage you to look up if you still think good can come from any of your own actions. We can do "good" because we are made in His image, but good that stems from us is tainted by us, only good that comes from the Spirit is perfect.

Those who believe their faith demands actions, or works as they are called in the Bible, will always lack certainty in their standing before God. If salvation requires even the smallest amount of works of righteousness than no man can be saved but a perfectly righteous man. Salvation is completely the gift of God to undeserving sinners.

Salvation is not something to work toward. Salvation is not the end result of works, works is the end result of salvation. A Christian has no need to strive for a salvation that is assuredly attained through belief. Believe is the condition. Read Romans 4-5.

Working for salvation disqualifies the worker from attaining salvation. "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." ~Romans 4:5 [emphasis added]

Works come after salvation. Not because it is mandatory, but because it is natural. Once one is a part of the Vine can he help but bear fruit? (Matthew 7:16-18)

We love God because He first loves us, we try to please Him and find that, in doing so, is the greatest pleasure. (Psalm 34:8)

What was I saying about all the judgement coming for believers, you may ask.

We can grieve the Spirit. "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." ~Ephesians 4:30

We can limit God. "Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel." ~Psalm 78:41

God is all powerful. He can do what ever He wills. Yet in His sovereignty He gave us free will. He gives us choice.

I was saying this, we should choose to do good. "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." ~James 4:17

But that doesn't mean putting on a facade of goodness and obedience. Righteousness doesn't start on the outside and work inward. It is first a hidden inward thing of the heart that grows until it is manifested in outward actions.

"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" ~1 John 5:3

Friday, November 9, 2012

You Better Believe It!

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." ~ 1 John 4:1
I really appreciate the way my mom does that. When she visits a church, hears a teaching, and things of that sort she tests it against the Word. She doesn't pick apart every little thing that was said to argue it, but I can see the way she personally tries the spirit of it even when it seems to many to be a good sermon filled with good arguments to back up their point.

When a person teaches, they will -in general- emphasize the Scripture that supports their own view and try to discredit the verses that support the opposing view.

To often we go to church and accept all the preacher says without question. We are trusting our eternal soul's destiny to them.

One's personal opinion, or a particular tradition one inherits is of no importance when searching the Scripture. When one accepts a view largely in blindness adhering to it without there own investigation of the Scripture they are likely to be deceived. We must be careful. It is very easy to fall into such a snare when we make added teachings or respected men a final authority. As I said, this happens largely out of blindness on our part, but when we allow someone else to interpret God's Word for us we are making them our final authority and trusting them with our eternal soul's destiny.

Commentaries can be helpful, strong Christian friends can bless one's growth, preachers are needed, but we must, out of a whole-hearted love for the Lord and thankfulness of the pureness of His Word, search all Scripture before accepting any belief.

No mere man can know the mind of God. We all must be open to correction.

Say you had the opportunity of speaking with Paul the apostle. That's right, the man once known as Saul who heard the Lord's voice -spoke with Him!- and through whom God wrought special miracles, so that his handkerchiefs were brought unto the sick and the sick were healed.

Indeed, you had one or two hours to hear Paul preach. You would want to take notes, record every word, right? This guy was one of the major authors of the Bible after all! I think most of us Christians would receive his every word.

Well, Paul taught some in a synagogue in Berea, and they received his words, but they didn't accept them without question. They daily searched the Scripture to see whether or not what he taught was truth. Acts 17:11 calls them "more noble" for readily receiving the word and searching the Scripture.

When I feel presses with a question (or questions) about the Word of God, I want to find a respected teacher's writing on the subject, or ask my parents. All of that can be fine as long as we long as we remember preachers, teachers, brothers and sisters in Christ, they are only people maybe close to God, but they do not have God's omniscient, divine, boundless knowledge. God has given us His words. May we never despise them by accepting another person's. The first and last source we look to should be the Lord. 

Romans 14:5,6 says, "One man esteemet one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks." [emphasis added]

Brothers and sisters in Christ will have different beliefs sometimes, but we should each understand why we believe what we believe. Not have are argument with excellency of speech, "not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God"! (1 Cor. 2:4-5)

Beloved in Christ, God will bless the students who diligently search of His Word. How often are we told to seek for truth in the Bible?

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and abraideth not; and it shall be given him."
~James 1:5