Big or Little?

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http://serhanvardarli.deviantart.com/art/father-and-daughter-136495150

I can remember one of our children asking me, “Dad, am I big or little?” Well of course it was adorable coming from a three-year old, but it’s a good question to ask of ourselves even as “big” people. The implication here from my daughter at the time, was that she wanted to grow up. It’s funny how when you are little you want to be “big”, but as you grow older you don’t want to be little, but you’d like to be younger.

This morning I’ve been thinking about moral littleness and the role this plays in the life of a Christian. In this scope our desire should be littleness, and not bigness, if that makes any sense. Let’s look at the words of the Apostle Paul and see if this sheds any light on the topic.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3

Paul speaking to the saints at Ephesus and speaking to the saints today is imploring us to walk worthy of our calling. The big question in this brief statement is “have you been called?” What does it mean to be called? The first three chapters of Ephesians tell us what it means, but let’s look quickly at Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus.

It’s really important to note that it’s by the will of God.   Would anybody doubt that Paul was called to be an apostle by Jesus Christ Himself? It’s pretty obvious, that this is the case. Paul will go on to tell us that all saints have also been called out by the will of God, and here is where it’s more difficult for the sinful human heart to accept. We really don’t care much for the Sovereignty of God in Divine election. It just doesn’t feel good and therefore we would rather reject it.

This letter was written to the church in Ephesus, but we can see it was also written to the faithful in Christ Jesus. The faithful (pistos) those that believe in Christ, those that exhibit a life change by their belief, not just a mental ascent or a verbal affirmation.

If you are one of these, then you have been called and if you’ve been called you have a responsibility. You must now walk worthy of the calling and this all begins with an understanding of your moral littleness; a desire to be small.

David understood this.

…And cleanse me from my sin…

For I acknowledge my transgressions…

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity…

Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities…

Create in me a clean heart, O God…

Restore me to the joy of Your salvation…

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God…

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise. – Psalm 51

Our calling must begin with an understanding of our relationship to God before salvation; an understanding of our wretchedness, our inability to please God in ourselves and our need for Christ. This is the whole point of Jesus coming to this earth.

I need Jesus.

You need Jesus.

Why…because we are little. We have nothing to offer Him accept our wretched selves.

“God resists the proud,

                But gives grace to the

                     humble.” – Proverbs 3:34

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. – 2 Peter 5:6-7

Evidence of your calling is a view of your moral littleness and a desire to resist sin. You will then walk worthy of this calling by living and desiring to live a holy life that is pleasing to God. This shows the world that you are a new creation, a new birth has occurred.

It will be a radical change that causes people to take notice. Most of them won’t like the change. If you begin to walk worthy it will mean exposing darkness and calling others to repentance. It will upset apple carts and destroy worldviews that were so dominant in our lives before. Yet there is no greater purpose than to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with a pure heart, to bring Him glory, to proclaim His name, to submit to His Lordship, this is a walk that is worthy and there is no greater joy.

 

Kevin

He is Alive!

Hes Alive

And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.  Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them.  “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen!  Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”  And they remembered His words. – Luke 24:4-8

This past weekend I had a business trip and had the opportunity to have dinner with some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while.  It was a very enjoyable time, and the food was great.  One of my friends was interested in our recent trip to Israel.  So I spent some time going through a few pictures and talking about the trip.

He asked an excellent question to begin the conversation, wondering if this had deepened my faith.  One of the things about walking where Jesus walked is just that.  If you “believe”, and I mean really believe it can’t help but deepen your faith.

I told my friend that “belief” and faith are a gift of God, and I can attempt to prove things to people but without the gift it’s an intellectual belief and not an awakening of the heart belief that distinguishes the true believer from the false believer.  As James writes, even the demons believe…  (James 2:19)  So if we see that the demons believe, we must realize there is a different kind of belief.

This is the difference between life altering beliefs, and just “oh yes, of course I believe in god”.  The gift of God that comes through understanding His revealed will to mankind through His word.  Living and desiring obedience in all areas of your life.

I’ve been continually reminded, especially recently, of the way the human heart can deceive.  There is such a razor thin line between what most people will believe as obedience, and what God looks on as obedience.  This is the thin line between eternity in heaven or hell.  God is deadly serious about our obedience, not that it can save you, but it is the proof of your salvation.

As our conversation progressed through the evening my friend asked me an almost startling question.  It surprised me because I hadn’t even considered it.  He said to me, “where do you think Jesus’ bones are today?”  And then he told me about a National Geographic program that they thought they had discovered the bones of Christ.

Uhhh….  Wow, I really hadn’t considered that.

I told my friend that my worldview, doesn’t allow for that.   If I believe the Bible, which I do, the Bible tells us Christ is alive, and He is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He was crucified, and raised from the dead.  If we don’t have this, then we don’t have Christianity.  It’s just another dead faith like Buddhism, Islam or hundreds of other false religions.  They have no hope in anything other than their own righteous acts.

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.  After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.  Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. 

This is crystal clear!  We have eyes witness accounts that saw Christ crucified, Old Testament Scripture prophesied that He would die, prophesied that He would rise again and then we have over five hundred eye witness accounts of Him alive.   I have no opportunity in my life to believe anything other than this.  This is the truth and the cutting of God’s word.

If I disbelieve anything in the Bible, I disbelieve it all.  I can’t have it any other way.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

I hope in the substance of God’s word, and there is evidence of things that I personally have not seen, but it’s not a blind and ridiculous faith.  It’s not a faith that requires me to do things to obtain favor with God and earn my salvation.  It’s faith that by God’s good pleasure, He chose to save me, yet I must believe and I’m responsible not to suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).

All around us today are people that have some sort of an intellectual understanding and a surface level belief in a god, yet don’t know the One True God of the Bible in an intimate way.  This God must be believed to inherit eternal life, or the price of disobedience and disbelief will be eternal separation from Him and anything good.  A place of torment, where the God that poured out His wrath on His Son to pay for sin, will in turn be poured out on those in disbelief.

That’s what the Bible teaches and we can choose to ignore, disbelieve or whatever form of denial we might want to employ, but it doesn’t change that reality.  Why?

Because He is Alive!

Romans 8:34 Who is he who condemns?  It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 

If this is news to you please consider what the Bible has to teach us about God, if you are a believer He is there with the Father making intercession for you and me.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Kevin

Holy Land Day 2 – The Gospel

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth and spent the majority of His ministry based out of Capernaum.  This is hard to visually understand, because we’ve all heard these names but don’t really understand the relationship and what it would have been like to travel in those days.  We just hop in a car and go.

As we took a boat ride today on the Sea of Galilee it came much more into focus for me.  Capernaum was home base for Jesus and His disciples, and was a busy town of approximately 2000 people at the time of Christ.

image

It was here that Jesus performed many of His miracles and changed the course of world history.

Matthew 4:13-17 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and upon those who sat in the regioin and shadow of death light has dawned.”  From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Isaiah had prophesied this was the place the Lord would dwell and as we walked this area I was struck by what it must have been like in those days.  These were not major metropolitan areas as we know today, just rural fishing villages, but yet all who lived there had busy lives interacting with each other, and Capernaum was a place of commerce and darkness as the scripture tells us.

Ancient Synagogue

Can you imagine how the arrival of the Christ turned their world upside down?  Especially those He called to be His disciples.  Ordinary, common fishermen would learn from Him and then go into the world to spread Christianity across the planet.

How amazing!  What kind of a plan was this?  Just like Paul would have never considered how God would use him, neither could those fishermen imagine they would become fisher’s of men.

Kevin

Don’t judge me…

dont-judge-me

Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

As a Believer and witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ how am I to understand this verse?  If you, like me, have ever discussed or had a confrontation with someone about their eternal destiny there is a pretty decent chance they’ve used this verse in retaliation.  “Don’t judge me… only ‘god’ can judge…” is what they will say.

Now what?  It seems that they’ve got you just where they want you.  “Oh okay, I guess that’s the end of this discussion, right?”

Of course not, because to rightly divide the word of truth we must have an answer to this sort of a common retort.  Scripture in the hands of those that want to twist and manipulate is a dangerous thing.  Satan used scripture when he was tempting the Lord in the wilderness and as we consider the Lord Jesus Christ’s response we can see the way in which we must handle these very common uses of or misuses of the word of God.

Jesus was tempted by Satan three different times while in the wilderness and he used scripture to make his case.  In each instance Jesus countered Satan’s use of scripture with scripture.

So why would we use any other approach than to imitate Christ?

So what did Jesus mean when He said Judge not, are Believers to judge?

The first thing we need to consider is that nobody has the ability to judge unto sentencing.  In other words I have no authority or power to condemn someone.  Only God has that ability but the sinfulness of man should be judged and for someone to say they don’t judge would be hypocritical.  We all make judgments constantly throughout the day.

What most people are saying in these situations is they don’t appreciate any accountability to their sinful lifestyle and they certainly don’t want to hear what the Bible says about it.

Let’s look at what Jesus goes on to say.  Matthew 7:2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

To understand this in its context is the key to understanding what Jesus meant.  Jesus is not condemning making judgments, He’s condemning hypocrisy.  If I attempt to call someone to repentance for their sin, I had better not be entangled in that same sin myself.  How can I call someone on their sin of adultery if I’m engaged in the same thing myself?  I can’t without being a hypocrite.

But what if I’m not an adulterer; can I then tell someone they are breaking God’s law?  Jesus certainly said I should.

Matthew 18:15-17 “Moreover if your brother sin against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone, If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.   And if he refuses to hear them, tell it even to the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

So why should Believers judge?  This keeps purity in the church.

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!

How did Paul know this?  Somebody judged this to be a sinful action and reported it to Paul correct?

1 Corinthians 5:3-5 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

So for the purity and sanctification of the Church of Christ, which He purchased with His own blood, we must judge those in the church.

1 Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside?  Do you not judge those who are inside?  But those who are outside God judges.  Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

So now I know you are thinking, “Okay I’m not to judge those outside?”  Well, again we can’t judge them unto condemnation, but we must warn them that the sin they are engaged in will lead them to hell if they don’t repent and turn from their sin.

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in the past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

How can we truly care for people’s souls if we don’t tell them these things? This is not judging them but loving them.  We risk being persecuted, reviled, despised and falsely accused of being judgmental so they can see their separation from a Holy God.  Can we do this in a loving and gentle way rather than a harsh and finger wagging fashion?  Of course and we must, but if you don’t warn them, if you don’t proclaim the remedy to their problem how will they ever know?

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Be gentle today and tell someone Christ died so they could be free from their bondage to sin.

Kevin

Twist not scripture lest you be like Satan – Paul Washer

Peace with God?

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In 2012 1.5 million people made professions for Christ according to a recent news bulletin I heard recently on WDLM.  This is according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and it was stated that their new website peace with God.net has convinced this many people to pray a prayer of salvation.

This is a staggering number of people that have been saved.  I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s true.

What I mean is I’m sure the statistics are true, that 1.5 million people actually made this profession but the bottom line is will these 1.5 million people now spend eternity in heaven?  This is what I really wonder.

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

I don’t want to be misunderstood.  If this is true it’s incredible, amazing, and God glorifying news but Jesus teaches us it’s just not that easy.

How many of these will count the cost?  Luke 14:28

How many of these will deny themselves and pick up their cross daily? Luke 9:23

How many of these understood their sin was an offense to God and He poured out His wrath on the Son to pay their penalty?  Matthew 26:42

How many of these understood they need to repent of their sin or that wrath will be poured out on them?  Matthew 4:17

How many of these understood they will suffer persecution for Christ’s sake and they will rejoice in that?  Matthew 5:11-12

How many of these understood they might be separated from their families because of Christ?  Matthew 10:34-39

How many of these understood they WILL lose their life as they know it?  Matthew 10:39

How many of these understand they will be called Satan?  Matthew 10:25

How many of these understand they must be willing to forsake all they have?  Luke 14:33

How many of these understand they must be willing to give away all their worldly possessions?  Luke 18:22

And I just started to talk about what it means to be a true follower of Jesus Christ.  If they desire Christ to make their life easier, or to scratch some itch they have, they’ve come to the wrong place.  I hope I’m wrong about all these people, but experience and more importantly God’s Word tells me I’m not.  Following Christ will cost you everything and those that are truly redeemed willingly and joyfully do so.

Believer I urge you to pray for those today that think they’ve come to know Christ.  I urge you to pray that the Billy Graham Association declares to them the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).  God requires His church is pure.  God requires His church is without spot or wrinkle.  God requires that His church is washed through the sanctifying word of truth.  Ephesians 5:25-27

Kevin

I encourage you to watch this short video by Brother Paul Washer as he shares with us the truth of God’s redeeming work.