Saturday, August 31, 2013

Giving God our best!

Time is money, does this phrase sound familiar? If it is true, as so many think it to be, then why isn't our time seen as a commodity that should be shared with God?

Malachi 1:6-8
6 “A son honors his father,
And a servant his master.
If then I am the Father,
Where is My honor?
And if I am a Master,
Where is My reverence?
Says the Lord of hosts
To you priests who despise My name.
Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’

7 “You offer defiled food on My altar,
But say,
‘In what way have we defiled You?’
By saying,
‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’
8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
Is it not evil?
And when you offer the lame and sick,
Is it not evil?
Offer it then to your governor!
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favorably?”
Says the Lord of hosts.

Most people when they read this passage of scripture, think of tithes, offerings, and the sacrifices brought to the temples. I think it applies to so much more than just our material offerings to God. I see it as God wanting our best our first fruits, not just our leftovers. When we show up late, unprepared or only set aside time to pray, when we have time available, we are dishonoring God with our time.

Revelation 2:1-7
1“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,
‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

You see we have become the loveless church that is spoken of in Revelation. We have fallen away from our first love, which Jesus spoke of, the love of serving.

It makes me think of Jesus last night, when he girded Himself and washed the feet of those who were gathered with Him. In reading that passage it seemed symbolic at first, but in actuality, I believe Jesus was showing us how we should serve Him, without thought of the task, without worrying how others may think of us, serving Him by giving our best at whatever we do in His name.

Colossians 3:22-24
22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

How do you represent?

With the top news stories involving sports figures, politicians, and even ordinary people, not being good role models, it made me think, are we good representatives for Christ?

John 15: 1-17
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

I have referenced the above scripture, This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you, to me this is the only commandment, after Christ paid the price for our sins. 

I know most of you who work for a company, or represent an organization, have either signed, or been directed to a code of conduct. If you are a confessed, born again Christian, you have made the same promise to God. The difference is there are no physical demands for you to uphold your end with God, only spiritual. If you don't show love and kindness, will God condemn you? If you stumble and fall, will you be lost for eternity? Personally I believe we are led by the Spirit that lives within us to do God's will, but I don't believe we are condemned, as we have been forgiven of our past and future sins, but why wouldn't you want to follow such a simple yet awesome command.

We all interact with people everyday, in our jobs, at restaurants, and through mundane everyday activities. Do people look forward to seeing you? Even when you need to be tough, do you show the compassion of Christ and truly care how your actions affect people's lives?

This week as you interact with people ask yourself, "How am I representing"? If I were Christ would I want me on my team, wearing the team colors?

Remember, I am no theologian, I just read the bible with the direction of the Holy Spirit to guide and speak to me.  I urge everyone to take the time to read for themselves.

You have been found not guilty!

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

What does it mean to be found not guilty in the court of law?

In the world today being found not guilty will get you freedom from the charges that were brought against you, but the world will continue to bring up the crime that you were accused of. We are much the same way, we were found not guilty according to God but our flesh continues to live in the past, constantly bringing up who we were before Christ came into our lives.

Romans 6: 5-11
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If we are God's children reconciled by Christ death on the cross, and empowered by the Holy Spirit that lives within us, why do we continue to call ourselves unworthy and act as though we are still on trial?

Don't look back on your past failures, or those things that held you down in the past, renew your mind, and start living in God's love and grace.

This week the headline of the paper reads found not guilty never to be tried again, now we must go out and live your lives life the heirs that we are in Christ.

Through Christ our sins are forgiven, through God's grace our sins are forgotten!

Monday, August 12, 2013

What does your faith mean to you?

Over the past few weeks I have been reading through the book of Acts. I have been reading Acts as the ministry needed a burst of renewed energy, and what better place to find God sent inspiration, than the beginning of the Church itself.

While reading through Acts, it struck me how the early Christians suffered persecution, beatings, and even being banished by their own families, for their beliefs. It got me thinking about my faith and what it means to me. I have to say I hope and pray, that if put in their position, I would be able to stand firm, and I pray the Holy Spirits strength takes over, as I am unsure of my flesh, but I am reassured of my born again spirit. 

None of us can answer as Christians in America as we have never had to worry about our religious freedom, but in countries all around the world Christians are being persecuted as they were in the beginning of the church.

But what if a decree was filed, and effective immediately, speaking the name of Jesus Christ was a punishable offense, or anyone caught with a bible would be subject to persecution? Would you be at church on Sunday? Would you still carry your bible where ever you go, or do you now?

So what does your faith mean to you? Is it something you take for granted? Is it something you would suffer for? If it meant being imprisoned would you still proclaim the name of Jesus Christ, or do you now?

Tough questions aren't they, but ones worth thinking about. This week ask these tough questions, and don't be judgmental on yourself, as even Peter himself denied Christ before being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 4:13-21
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Through Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven, through God's grace, our sins are forgotten!

Today on the way into work I stopped to pray before starting my day. The phrase that came to mind was this, "Through Christ our sins are forgiven, Through God's grace our sins are forgotten".

I have been studying the books of Acts and Romans as they to me, are the beginning of what we know as the Church. I have been studying these books as we are going through a transition at our church, moving from a building that is financially keeping us from ministering to people, as we are strapped to the note. In this transition it has been made real to me how much we need to emphasize what Christ has done for us, and how God sees us, more than anything else!

Jesus died on the cross, paying the sin debt God knew we could never pay. What that has done for us, most people don't even realize. You see most people in the world today, when you ask what Jesus death on the cross represents, will tell you that  it saves us from eternal damnation. This is true, but it is only part of the story. Jesus death not only paid the price for our sin, but it opened us up to the relationship God intended when he made mankind.

Up til that time, when God looked at man, he saw the sin and corruption that we were born into, because of Adam's transgression. After Jesus' death, God gave us a way to Him through his Son Jesus Christ, that whosoever call on the name of Jesus shall be saved.

But what does that mean? What were we saved from? What were we saved for? That is where Christ sacrifice, in my opinion gets diluted. Many people have been taught once we are saved we are just waiting for Christ to return. That is not entirely true, even though we are all looking forward to His return, we have been given much more than a promised return. We are seen as Christ through God's eyes, our spirits have been reborn, no longer slaves to the things of our past, we are renewed!

Not born of the sin that our flesh was made part of, but a spiritual rebirth into God's holy kingdom as children of the most high God. We are seen as Righteous, Holy,  and Beloved, through the price Jesus paid for our sins.

Through Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven, through God's grace, our sins are forgotten!