Just asking the question.

Success is one of those things that many in this day and age aspire to. And yet success is not one of the things that God holds up there as something that we should aspire to. In fact, quite the opposite.

We’ve been conditioned, you and I, to put our best foot forward. I mean … after all, you need to get ahead. You need to be noticed. You need to be promoted, right? And if you don’t put your best foot forward, none of those are going to happen.

And the lie that the devil’s dropped on our heads is that if you’re being successful, then clearly God’s blessing you. And if you’re not, He’s not. Think about it. That’s what most of us believe most of the time. Put your best foot forward. Onwards and upwards. Promotions. Recognition. Success.

Oh, God’s obviously blessing that guy! Look how successful he is!

And yet the Bible doesn’t talk too much about success, but more about boasting in our weaknesses, our limitations, our failures.

When was the last time you boasted in your own weaknesses, your own limitations? And who’s getting the glory in all your boasting? You … or God? Just asking the question.

To discover the traits of an effective church

You can’t judge a book by its cover, that’s a phrase we’ve all heard before.
It simply means you can’t evaluate people by externals, clothes, appearance, or size.
What’s true of people is also true of churches, you can’t tell the effectiveness of a church by its building. The small church building on the corner with the peeling paint and cardboard taped over broken windows may house a group of vibrant Christians who are making a real difference in their community. And down the street could be a large, ornate church that feels like a mortuary inside.
To discover the traits of an effective church, we have to examine what’s on the inside. Fortunately, Jesus Himself shows us what to look for.


To be a church that makes a difference takes commitment to orthodoxy, fearless faith in the face of opposition, advancing into the cutting edge of a lost world, passion and vision for the future, and faithfulness to go through the doors that Jesus opens.


Jesus doesn’t look at the size or location of a church. He looks at the mind and the heart.

So if you think your church is to small to make a difference, think again.

Right Attitude

We often just do not have the right attitude toward adversity. We think it is from God when it is not. We think it’s from the Devil when it’s not; we resist it when we need to accept it; we accept it when we need to resist it. Sometimes we blame others when it’s the consequence of our own choices. We need to take more responsibility for the consequences of our choices instead of playing a victim role and feeling persecuted.

Rather than being times that seem to threaten our faith, or reveal our lack of faith, shouldn’t we look at these times of adversity as the very times that most invite us to deepen our faith in God? And to endure in faith with much profit to ourselves and others? Shouldn’t we learn to let adversity drive us into the loving arms of our strong Father to depend upon Him and His goodness?

We all face adversity

We all have adversity in our lives. Besides natural disasters, there are many other ways that we experience adversity. Marital breakdowns, parents facing teenage rebellion, financial hardship, crime, sickness, disease, accidents, problems with neighbors, friends, bosses, coworkers, city governments, and on and on. Sometimes the world seems like it spawns an endless amount of adversity. On top of that, being a Christian believer in an unbelieving world only increases the level of adversity that we experience. As it is written, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Tim. 3:12).


When it comes to dealing with a adversity, we all tend to have a default way to deal with it, get angry, get shut down and depressed, feel overwhelmed, etc. But to deal effectively with adversity we need to have a range of responses depending upon the source and nature of the adversity . When we are under spiritual attack, for example, the appropriate response is to become aggressive in prayer and to take authority over the spiritual wickedness sent against us. When we are dealing with the kind of adversity that results from our choices and commitments, then we learn to take it in stride and not become reactive at all. We just accept it as the predictable effect of our choices.


Adversity is a state of hardship or affliction, misfortune. Hardship is privation or a lack of the basic necessities of life. Much of what we in more prosperous countries run into is hardly worthy to be called adversity.
Inconveniences, problems, and predicaments all represent temptations. Temptation is not sin, but it is an invitation to sin. It is also an invitation to have faith. Adversity tempts us to doubt God’s provision and protection, and presents us with an opportunity to sin. It therefore serves us by letting us see what is in our hearts. To tempt is literally to pierce. So in a sense to be tempted is to be cut open so that what is inside is revealed. Sometimes we do not know how strong we are until we are tested. Other times we fail the test and wimp out. In either case, adversity helps us to see what we are made of, and when we do not like what we see, to have the opportunity to shore up our faith and character so that we will not break there again. It is said that the place where metal is welded together after a break is stronger than the original metal. If it breaks again, it will not be on the weld.


God is like a plumber who will test pipe joints by gradually raising the water pressure and seeing where the leaks are before turning the pressure on all the way. God works that way with us as well, to bring us along in the faith so we can handle more and more responsibility and spiritual pressure

Remember Always Trust in God

Trust is also essential in our lives as we walk with the Lord. Without it, we’d be like a car without wheels going nowhere in life. If God gives us a command, He assumes the responsibility for providing the means for us to do it. If we always insist on having all our questions answered before we move forward, we never will. We can count on the Lord to provide whatever we need to accomplish His will. Whether it’s resources, finances, or specific directions about what to do next, all we need to do is ask God and wait for Him to provide in His time.

To live a godly life, we must listen to God by reading His Word and trusting what He says. Then we step out in obedience, knowing that He has all knowledge and all power in every circumstance in life. Nothing is beyond Him. Furthermore, blessings follow obedience. Because Noah listened, trusted, and obeyed God, one family was saved from the flood, and a new civilization was started.

What obstacles cause you to waver in your trust in God? Is it the opinions of others? Are you afraid circumstances won’t work out as you desire?

Changing Times

The world is changing so fast, we don’t even realize it.

Our culture has a way of convincing us that we won’t be happy unless we have the latest gadget, experience, relationship or even our next new car. Always bigger and better, right?

But as believers, our happiness is not dependent on what is happening, it’s dependent on our relationship with God. The Bible says, Happy are the people whose God is the Lord. Psalm 144:15.      

Isn’t true? Happiness is a byproduct of holiness.

Not only does God give us abundant reasons to be happy, but He actually commands us to rejoice in the Lord always.                                                                                                                                                     (Philippians 4:4).

Can you think of someone who could use help in experiencing the happiness that the Bible offers?

Trust In God

Sometimes we hear but we don’t see. Have you ever done that. Or how is this, we only see what we what to see and hear what we what to hear.

We’re living in a crazy world. And in some ways, it’s a hopeless world. There’s a sense of hopelessness pervading many young people today. In fact, I’ve read that suicide is up among ten to fourteen-year-old children. They give hopelessness as the reason, and it’s all around us.

The Bible tells a story about two men who were at the end of their ropes. They felt that Jesus let them down. They felt, honestly, that Jesus failed in His mission. Even though Jesus constantly spoke about the fact that he would die on a cross, it still came as a shock to them. He didn’t come to wear a crown of gold; He came to wear a crown of thorns. He didn’t come to sit on a regal throne; He came to die on a wooden cross.

Jesus talked about it. He said it again and again. But somehow they collectively missed the memo.

They didn’t want to think about the horrible events that happened, so they decided to get out of town. And who joined them on the road? It was none other than Jesus himself. Then He took them on a personally guided tour of the Old Testament, showing them all the passages pointing to the coming Messiah.

Sometimes we hear but we don’t see. Have you ever done that. Or how is this, we only see what we what to see and hear what we what to hear.

Maybe you’ve lost hope today. Maybe you’ve had a tragedy come your way that has rocked your world in some way. Jesus can restore your hope. Time to put your trust in what He can do instead of what you can do. God is always with us, but it’s us that is not always with God.

Being disconnected from Christ

Many times when we listen to someone’s preaching, we cannot sense the flavor of Christ in him. This is because he is disconnected from Christ, and in his living there is a barrier between him and Christ. He has not yet dealt with certain matters before God, and his spirit has lost contact with Christ. Thus, he speaks using merely his mind, memory, and thoughts. We sense his eloquence, but we cannot sense the Lord’s presence with him, neither can we touch spiritual reality. He has lost his fellowship with Christ, and his preaching is merely doctrinal, without the Spirit. This kind of preaching is not spiritual because it is void of Christ. Whatever we do in our service should have Christ and should be Christ.

In Christ

Only when we are in union with Christ will what we do be something that Christ does through us, and only this has spiritual value to God. All that we do out of ourselves, with ourselves, and by ourselves can gain the praises of man but not the acceptance of God. God accepts only Christ. If you and I are not in Christ, we will not be acceptable to God. Not only will our sins be unacceptable to God, but even the good things we do by ourselves will not be accepted by Him. God accepts only that which is of Christ and has Christ as its basic element and content. Only these things have spiritual value and are counted by God.

However, there is a spiritual question here.

Please bear in mind that there is an absolute difference between spiritual service and secular work. We do not need to touch Christ to engage in secular matters, but we must contact Him for the service of the church. We need to contact Christ when we clean the windows. We need to contact Christ when we minister the word. We need to contact Christ when we pray. In whatever we do, we need to contact Christ within. All that we do, pray, and speak should come out of our inward union and contact with Christ. Then when people contact us, they will sense that we are filled with Christ. In this way Christ will pass through us and come out of us. Then when we go to visit the believers, preach the gospel, or lead people to salvation, Christ as the electricity will flow out from us into them.

Who was He

We Christians are notorious for answering the wrong questions,  questions no one is asking. And when we do answer the right questions, we often do it in a way that doesn’t connect. We either fail to identify with people’s struggles or fail to answer in terms they understand. Christians need to take time to answer a few of the more significant biblical questions people have. And many of those questions have to do with the identity of Jesus. Who is He? Why did He come? What did He teach? How can I connect with Him? I’m sure these are the same questions asked centuries ago by people who lived when Jesus did.

Many people in today times still have the same question. Who is this Jesus? If you look at Matthew’s account of the triumphal entry the Bible gives answers to this most crucial question.

Jesus is a courageous Man. It took inner strength to enter the hostile city, to stand alone, and to clean up the temple.
Jesus is a humble King. He didn’t demand royal treatment, and He took time to meet people’s needs for healing.

Jesus is a patient Lord. He willingly waited for His crown and accepted the insults and misunderstandings of the chief priests and scribes.
Jesus is the sinner’s Savior.
Even though many of the bystanders didn’t know the fullness of Jesus’s identity, they cried out, “Hosanna!” which means, “Save us.

What questions do you have? Don’t let the time pass you by. Leave us a comment and we do our very best to give you the answers you need.

Self pity is bottomless pit.


Once you fall in, you tend to go deeper and deeper into the mire. As you slide down those slippery walls, you are well on your way to depression, and the darkness is profound. Your only hope is to look up and see the Light of the Lord’s Presence shining down on you.

Though the Light looks dim from your perspective, deep in the pit, those rays of hope can reach you at any depth. While you focus on the Lord in trust, you rise ever so slowly out of the abyss of despair. Finally, you can reach up and grasp his hand. He will pull you out into the Light again. He will gently cleanse you, washing off the clinging mire. He will cover you with His righteousness and walk with you down the path of Life.

What Christians Should Know

Why is it important to know the truth about heaven? With all the contradicting theories and theologies, you can imagine that some Christians would prefer to live in blithe ignorance about what awaits beyond the grave. But knowing the truth about heaven is not just about being right for the sake of being right.
God’s people need to know the truth about heaven because it fixes our eyes on God, His kingdom, and the work He has called us to accomplish in the meantime. But knowing the truth also equips us to defend against the wide array of false teaching about heaven and eternal life.

We’ll begin with the lie that undergirds the false doctrine of purgatory: that believers need to attain more merit to achieve justification. none of this is taught in Scripture. The sufferings of Christ were fully sufficient to atone for our sins. Our own sufferings can add nothing to the merit of Christ. As the writer of Hebrews says, there is no efficacious sacrifice for sin other than what Christ has provided. If Christs sacrifice is not sufficient, or if we willfully turn away from it, “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26–27).
For all believers, because we are fully justified, there can be no condemnation. No postmortem suffering is necessary to atone for remaining sin; all our sins are covered by the blood of Christ. No merit is lacking that must be made

God’s Eyes Not Ours

We must remember to look at every obstacle through the lens of God’s unlimited strength and resources. Anything that appears to block His plans is an opportunity for Him to demonstrate His sovereign power. Just because we don’t see anything happening, that doesn’t mean He’s inactive. God is at work on the other side of our obstacles, arranging the details and bringing His plans to fruition.

For the Christian, great obstacles need not be reasons for discouragement. Although much of the Lord’s activity is silent and invisible, we can be sure He is dynamically working out His will for our life. When the pieces of His plan are in place, He will move us on to victory.

Train of Life

At birth, we boarded the train of life and met our parents, and we believed that they would always travel by our side. However, at some station, our parents would step down from the train, leaving us on life’s journey alone.

As time goes by, some significant people will board the train: siblings, other children, friends, and even the love of our life.

Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum.  Others will go so unnoticed that we won’t realize that they vacated their seats! This train ride has been a mixture of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells.

A successful journey consists of having a good relationship with all passengers, requiring that we give the best of ourselves. The mystery that prevails is that we do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. Thus, we must try to travel along the track of life in the best possible way — loving, forgiving, giving, and sharing.

When the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty — we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who continue to travel on the train of life.

 

Let’s remember to thank our Creator for giving us life to participate in this journey.

I close by thanking you for being one of the passengers on my train!

Tithing

When your churches offering plate is passed, do you enthusiastically support God’s work.

For many believers the tithe has been seen as the standard for giving. This goes back all the way in the old testament. Tithing which was God’s requirement for his people, it was almost like the country tax. In fact, the nation had 3 tithes, one for support of the ministers, another for the temple feast and one given every couple years for the poor. Today this would be equivalent to our offerings the pay the pastors and staff. Even for the maintenance of the church and help others in financial need. What’s significant is the giving is voluntary, modeled after Jesus himself. This is all motivated by a desire to give and base on what one has.

As you give yourself fully to the Lord, generosity will overflow.

What is Evil

What is Evil

I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.

The Bible clearly tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing.  It’s true that every human heart is inclined toward sin, and that includes evil. We all miss God’s mark of moral perfection. However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so.  These things are not true of the evil heart.

Here are a few indicators that you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart. If so, it requires a radically different treatment approach.

Evil hearts are experts at creating confusion and contention.

They twist the facts, mislead, lie, avoid taking responsibility, deny reality, make up stories, and withhold information.

Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words. But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

Evil hearts crave demand and control, and their highest authority is their own self-reverence.

They reject feedback, real accountability, and make up their own rules to live by. They use Scripture to their own advantage but ignore and reject passages that might require self-correction and repentance. 

Evil hearts play on the sympathies of good-willed people, often trumping the grace card. They demand mercy but give none themselves. They demand warmth, forgiveness, and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy for the pain they have caused and no real intention of making amends or working hard to rebuild broken trust. (1 Peter 2:16; Jude 1:4).

 Evil hearts have no conscience, no remorse.

They do not struggle against sin or evil they delight in it all the while masquerading as someone of noble character. 

Do you know someone like this?

They want you to believe that:

Their horrible actions should have no serious or painful consequences.

They believe grace means they are immediately granted immunity from the relational fallout of their serious sin. They believe forgiveness entitles them to full reconciliation and will pressure you and their victim to comply. The Bible warns us saying, when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord.

The Bible tells us that talking doesn’t wake up evil people, but painful consequences might. Jesus didn’t wake up the Pharisee’s with his talk nor did God’s counsel impact Cain (Genesis 4). In addition, the Bible shows us that when someone is truly sorry for the pain they have caused, he or she is eager to make amends to those they have harmed by their sin.

The evil person will also try to get you to believe.

 That if I talk like a gospel-believing Christian I am one, even if my actions don’t line up with my talk.

Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). He knows more true doctrine than you or I will ever know, but his heart is wicked. Why? Because although he knows the truth, he does not believe it or live it. The Bible has some strong words for those whose actions do not match their talk (1 John 3:17,18). John the Baptist said it best when he admonished the religious leaders, prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God (Luke 3:8). If week after week you hear the talk but there is no change in the walk, you have every reason to question someone’s relationship with God.

Can an evil person really change?

Part of our maturity as spiritual leaders is that we have been trained to discern between good and evil. Why is that so important? It’s important because evil usually pretends to be good, and without discernment we can be easily fooled (Hebrews 5:14).

When you confront evil, chances are good that the evil heart will stop having around with you because the darkness hates the light (John 3:20) and the foolish and evil heart reject correction (Proverbs 9:7,8). But that outcome is far better than allowing the evil heart to believe you are on his or her side, or that “he’s not that bad” or “that he’s really sorry” or “that he’s changing” when, in fact, he is not.

 Daniel says, the wicked will continue to be wicked.  (Daniel 12:10) 

Which begs the question, do you think an evil person can really change?

Remember this!

  1. Recognize your true value. There is a difference between a big ego and understanding how much God values you.
  2. Put a stop to harmful thought patterns.
  3. Identify positive people in your life and spend more time with them.
  4. Begin new thought patterns. Replace each negative thought by reminding yourself how much God cares about you.
  5. Study and memorize God’s Word. Remember what Christ did for you out of His love.

How to lose your Blessing

Today I had the pleasure of listening to an excellent worship service at our church.

Pastor Chet Thomas does a wonderful job all the time but this one I know made many think outside the box just a little.

The sermon was on how to lose your blessing.

First point was: Always trying to fit in with the crowd.

How many of us do this most of the time?  Afraid people will look at us different, or even think we are the weird one. When it comes to receiving blessings from God, our actions matter.  Our salvation depends solely on God’s grace, but if we desire to see his blessings in our lives, our actions do make a difference. This is true on two levels.  One is that if we want to find true blessing, we need to do things God’s way and not our own. So many people struggle in their other relationships because instead of doing things God’s way, they do things their own or follow the crowd. Second, when we insist on a life of sin, God will refuse to associate himself with us, and in so doing, he takes his hand of blessing off of us God is holy, and he will not associate with or bless people who willfully and unrepentantly holds on to sin in their lives.

So trying to fit in with the crowd just because it popular is not the answer, make sure the crowd is heading in the right direction.

Second point was: Doing what is easy instead of what is right…

What’s lost in our culture is character. Few have it and fewer than that have it in the offices of those who run our nations. Character means you’re going to do what’s right even if it goes against what’s popular. You’ll do what’s right even if it doesn’t bring you the money you want or the fame you crave or the stuff that you think will make you happy.

Be persistent in your decisions, unflinching in their direction, always pointing them in the direction of what’s right and what’s good even if that righteousness won’t be felt in the short term. We too often opt for the easy route today. We see the ends, what we want in the future, the money, the popularity, the stuff, and we do whatever it takes to get that stuff, compromising our character all along the way until we wake up and we have no stance, we honor nothing, we are weak beyond repair and our value is worthless to those who once depended on us. Martin Luther King said, ‘On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, Is it safe? Expediency asks the question, Is it politic? And Vanity comes along and asks the question, Is it popular? But Conscience asks the question, is it right?

In today’s New Testament, Paul writes to the Thessalonians, Never tire of doing what is right (2 Thessalonians 3:13). Jesus did not go for the easy or popular solution, but he always did the right thing. This is an important principle that runs throughout the entire Bible.

Lord, give me wisdom so that I may always do the right thing. Direct my heart by your love and Christ’s perseverance. May the Lord of peace give me peace at all times. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all

Last point: Allowing what is good to get in the way of God.

Our pastor pointed out how commercial Christmas has gotten. This was a great example. It’s not even Halloween and the Christmas decorations are already out in the stores to remind us about it sooner. To take the birth of Christ (to completely work around that, and sell it as a fun time buying gifts and Christmas decorations more important. It’s getting to the point that many charge their Christmas so they can buy everyone a gift (this makes them feel good about themselves) and pay on it till next Christmas and start all over again. What are we forgetting here?  Oh, the birth of Christ.

What we consider good for us might not fall into Gods plan for us. We get into trouble when we think we know what’s best, but our good intentions are no good if they get in the way of God’s plans. Instead, we must strive to know God’s best. When we spend time with Him, seeking to know Him and his ways, we can truly follow Him in faith, trusting He knows exactly when and how to act.

Remember, While our intentions are often good, we may be unknowingly hindering God’s work.

Did you know?

The Bible explicitly states that the suffering of the apostles was exceptional, but explicitly states that the power of the apostles was universal. Although we may also suffer for the gospel, the apostles endured a degree of suffering that was exceptional. On the other hand, the apostles enjoyed a degree of power that was universal. In fact, some Christians who were not apostles enjoyed at least equal if not greater miraculous powers and experiences than the apostles. Philip and Stephen were two examples (Acts 8:39, 7:55-56).

How can the Lord be good if He lets some people spend eternity in hell?

God is love (1 John 4:8), and He doesn’t want anyone to live without Him (1 Timothy 2:4). According to His plan, every person can turn from sin and receive the Savior, enjoying His presence both now and throughout eternity. Some, however, reject Jesus Christ and live apart from Him all their days. Unless they change that tragic decision, their separation from divine love will continue eternally.

Salvation

Salvation is simple enough for a child to understand, but it’s also so profound that we can’t totally understand its depths. One thing we can know for certain is that it’s a work of God, whereby He regenerates a spiritually dead sinner into a new creation filled with the life of Christ.
As God’s own children, we never have to fear the loss of our salvation, because our almighty Father keeps us in Christ. And we also have the guarantee of a future bodily resurrection when Jesus returns.
In trying or painful times, we need a hope that reaches beyond our circumstances—which is exactly what we have in Jesus Christ. From beginning to end, in life and death, we are held safely by God.

Christian's Commentary

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