Is Truth Important To You?

I just wish we could all agree and that all preachers in all churches taught the same thing. You know just preach the truth. This was a direct prayer to the Father by Jesus as recorded by the apostle John in chapter 17. Yet, we do not see this in our nation, but instead we see the opposite. We see a departure from the teaching of God. Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). It is a little later in 1 Timothy 4 that I want to direct your attention to what Paul stated with obvious emotion: Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Paul commanded Timothy to “keep a close watch on the teaching” and doing so it could save those who heard him, but if Timothy did not stick to the teaching it is implied that other teachings could not save. Then to close out the letter Paul again warns Timothy in chapter 6: Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.

There are so many more verses one could include that warn readers to beware of false teaching and following “cleverly crafted, fine sounding arguments, or some translations use, with persuasive speech. In every New Testament letter there was a direct warning to be on the guard concerning false teaching and to watch out for someone trying to distort the truth. We should have this same caution today if not with even more urgency. It is very safe to say that a corruption of doctrine was one of the biggest threats to the church and still is to this very day.

The Bible doesn’t say much about Satan and it really doesn’t need to. When God tells us that our adversary is the “father of lies” there really isn’t too much more to say along with the fact that he despises human beings with passion and would devour us instantly without God’s authority preventing him. A brilliant plan of Satan would be to raise up powers that would influence the minds of humans, make them believe there are many ways to heaven and that saying there is one is divisive and not Christ-like.

Hmm. Fine sounding indeed????

People are so programmed to respond negatively to anyone bringing something to their attention or simply challenging the thoughts that they believe and have set their hope in.

Proverbs 23:9- Speak not in the ears of a fool for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.

But how dangerous this is to not “test all things”. We need to listen and be open to correction and learning. What if you have been praying every single night for God to show you the truth of His word. Then a person comes along and points you to the truth but you end up thinking that person is arrogant and thinks he knows it all?

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)

The Bible says to “test all things and hold fast to that which is good“. I can’t test something in which I ignore and refuse to even study the possibility of being true. We should be looking for opportunities to test our faith and make sure we are “In the Faith”.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith… (2 Corinthians 13:5a)

Matthew 7:21-23 teaches us something that is important. That there will be people who are actually out working for God doing things in his name, and in their minds to His glory. But Jesus said “I never knew you; depart from me you workers of lawlessness”.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

These verses alone highlight the error of the idea that simple acknowledgment of Jesus as savior will save you. This happens when a person takes a single verse and tries to make a doctrine. Yes, the Bible says if a person believes in Jesus he will be saved, but it also says “Unless ye repent you will all likewise perish.” It is taught in churches that belief alone would save but this verse indicates if a person doesn’t repent they wont be saved and there are other verses as well that indicates other things that God wants us to do.

He says, “If you confess me before men, I will confess you before my father in heaven” Well you have to BELIEVE that you have to repent as well. You have to confess Jesus as Lord. Jesus also said, “If you wish to be my disciple you must pick up your cross and follow me”. Do you BELIEVE? Then my friends and future bothers and sisters in Christ then you will obey these things.

Unfortunately there is not a single example in the entire Bible of someone that was ever saved by saying a prayer. Most are aware of the man-made idea or doctrine that says, “Please everyone come up front and repeat these words after me…” Also another idea some teach is “asking Jesus into your heart” but you cannot find an example in the entire Bible of someone doing such a thing for salvation. So, why do we blindly accept these teachings? Good question, possibly gullibility, too much trust in someone else’s knowledge, not enough time to study ourselves , or not knowing where to start. The parable of the sower can lend to the understanding of why a person might hear the truth but later reject it but that is an entire study in itself. (See: ‘what’s eating your fruit’ coming soon)

If any of these above are your issues and you think you may be a victim of false teaching, then these are some of the issue I have in my heart to help people with. I am a flawed person and not by any stretch better than anyone. I hold no position over anyone and I do not speak from my own ideas but those I have discovered true from God’s word to mankind from which I am obligated to share with others.

This writing is beginning to need to be turned into an audiobook so let me let you off the hook here. I will leave you with this hint about the part two, or follow up lesson to this…. “JESUS SAID, “He that believes and is baptized will be saved…” Mark 16:16.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death…(Romans 6:3).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places... (Ephesians 1:3)

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27).

So much more…. Next Post… “How does someone get “in Christ” ” where all spiritual blessing are, where salvation is. Baptism is the death, burial, and resurrection of our bodies. Under water we can’t breath and we are washed in the blood of Christ, then when we are raised out of the water we come into a new life and take our first breath…

Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer? Or aren’t you aware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Please, do not let liars say it is a work, how silly… it is actually the one thing we don’t do, someone else does, it is full submission, the person could leave you under there.

You hear: Something you do.

You Believe: Something you do.

You Repent: Something you do.

You Confess: Something you do.

You ARE baptized. Different. You ARE baptized….. not a work at all it is called obedience to God’s will for how He chooses to save mankind. Of course the devil wants this act distorted most.

See you next time. They will get shorter. 🙂

We are like Sheep

ashepherd

Jesus the Good Shepherd                   

            In the lesson of Jesus feeding the “five thousand” Jesus had just been reunited with his disciples after sending them out to work. By this time, Jesus was drawing large crowds of people. Mark writes about Jesus seeing a crowd of people and having compassion on them as a group of sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:34).

Sheep are vulnerable animals, they wander aimlessly, and they need someone to defend them against predators. These are some of the reasons that make it important for sheep to have a shepherd that would guide them and protect them. Jesus uses this analogy many times to help us understand that we are like sheep in a dangerous world.

Because we live in a physical world and are blind to the spiritual threats around us, we too, walk aimlessly through life as sheep do. As a shepherd trains his sheep, Jesus also trains us through His word, the Bible. Within the Bible’s pages we can learn of the dangers that Satan presents to us and the dangers of not being in Christ.

To have Jesus as our shepherd means that He is our guide and we follow Him. To follow Jesus means to obey His every command and have a trust in Him that everything He does is for our best interest. The Bible says that we should deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him. This means we are willing to lay down our lives for Jesus. It may be hard for us to be willing give up our lives for someone else but not so much when we consider that Jesus first gave His life for us. This is what makes Jesus the “good shepherd!”

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11).

Work Together or Fall Apart

If We Do Not Work Together We Will Fall Apart

Having been a basketball coach for over a decade, one of my roles as a coach is to get my team on the same page and to have the same goal in mind. In most sports, the goal is to end up as champions at the end of the season. In order to achieve such a goal a team will need to play unselfishly to have a chance of winning a championship. As coach, I am responsible to make my players believe this goal is achievable. Each player will have to use their own skills in a way that will benefit the team. If one player is trying to serve their own agenda, the team has a better chance of failure when they are put to the test.

In the letter to the  Philippian church, Paul is exhorting the church to work together. As a Christian, when we mold ourselves after the attitude and example of Christ then we will be more capable to operate as a single unit for the purpose at hand. In sports the goal is a championship. In our ministry the goal is to save souls. This is only achieved when each member of the body (the church) is willing to set their desires and attitudes aside for the purpose of achieving this unity.

There were some in the church who were arguing with one another. Think about it. Arguments most often are the result of a disagreement between two. However, when a person is putting others before themselves then this type of argument is easily avoidable. Paul wants the church to share Christ’s attitude of serving others. Christ was the ultimate authority, but He was willing to become the ultimate servant.

Paul knew the need to be unified in thought and purpose. He knew that in order to be successful each member needed to examine the attitude that Christ displayed and apply it to their own lives. In achieving this type of unity, less time would be wasted on disputes and more time on reaching out to lost and hurting people. Let us strive to have the attitude of Christ and work together for the common goal. For if we do not work together, we will just fall apart.

Set Your Mind On Things Above

Set Your Minds On Things Above

 The prophet Samuel was told to go to Jesse the Bethlehemite’s house to anoint one of his son’s as the king of Israel. So Samuel did as the Lord said, and he went to Jesse’s house. When Samuel arrived he saw Eliab, who was Jesse’s firstborn son. Samuel immediately thought, surely the Lord would choose such a fine young man. The Lord told Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height if his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, 8).

They continued looking at Jesse’s sons until they came to the youngest and least expected. When they brought in Jesse’s youngest son, David, the Lord told Samuel, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him as the Lord commanded.

God is concerned with our hearts and not our outer appearance. So why then do Americans spend so much money on products that attempt to enhance their outer appearance? According to an article by Margaret Neale, of the Huffington Post, Americans spent over 200 billion dollars, in one year, on products like, toiletries, hair and skin care, make-up, and fragrance. It should be mentioned that these stats were accumulated during the great recession in 2008.

We do not know how accurate these statistics are, but it does not take an accumulation of statistics to confirm that we are overly concerned with way we look on the outside. As Christians we should give more attention to our hearts. The Bible records God as saying that King David was a man after His [God’s] own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22b).

Outside appearance is important to some people. However, a person after God’s heart is more concerned with helping others. The characteristics that matter most in God’s eyes are inner qualities such as: kindness, humility, and love. Outer appearance is passing away along with the things of this world. Christians must try to save people from the emptiness of this world by sharing the gospel with them and teaching them to focus on things above.

 

Set your minds on things above not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2).

You Are Better Than Me!

 

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Philippians 2:1-11

In Paul’s letter to the Philippian church he is urging them to be of one mind (v. 2), united in love (v. 2) and humility (v. 3), and looking out for the interests of others (v. 4). Humility is a necessary characteristic for those of us who are Christians to have. We should model ourselves after Jesus Christ because He had the attitude of humility.

Although Jesus was equal to God, He chose to become a human being. Christ not only became human; He became a servant to others. Yes, the creator of heaven and earth took the form of the created. Christ allowed Himself to me humiliated. He allowed Himself to suffer and die at the hands of evil people. He submitted Himself to the will of the Father and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross (2:8).

In this letter Paul is urging the Philippians to take on this same attitude. While we cannot die for others in the same way. We can lead people to be free from the deadly nature of sin. Are we willing to serve others? Are we willing to face humiliation for Christ? Let us pray that our attitude can be the same as Jesus, and let us consider others better than ourselves.

The majority of problems in this world come from selfishness. We do not like to be offended or told what to do. When we are filled with humility these things wont matter. When we focus on the spiritual things in life, then the earthy things become less important. We wont argue over who got there first, or who should have first choice. When we consider others better than ourselves then we will share the attitude that our Savior wants us to have.

The Lion is Loose!

 

BE PREPARED TO RESIST SATAN BY KNOWING GOD’S WORD

We have all witnessed animal television shows, such as Animal Kingdom or something similar. Many of us are intrigued by the way animals hunt, particularly lions. Lions tend to hunt at night or at dawn. They seek an opportunity when their prey is most vulnerable.

Lions are very good at hiding, and they are incredibly patient. They like to lie in tall grass or shrubs along a path close to a river or pond. Lions will wait for their prey as they pass by on their way to get a drink and then, attack when the animal is least expecting. Lions will also watch a herd of animals in order to seek out a wounded or vulnerable animal in the group which will make an easy target.

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” In the beginning of this text, Peter’s instructions are two-fold.

First, “be sober-minded” indicates a warning against excess passion, rashness, and confusion. Peter tells us to keep a clear mind, being thoughtful of the dangers of Satan’s schemes.

Next, Peter instructs us to “be watchful,” which would suggest an alertness, awareness, or a constant readiness. If we are not clear-minded and alert, we too will be a target of Satan’s tricks and temptations. Satan also seeks us out when we are most vulnerable as the lion does to its prey.

What then does it take for us to be sober-minded and watchful? We need to be rooted in God’s word. It is quite evident that Satan uses deceit and half-truths. When Jesus resisted Satan, He did so by knowing the word. When we know God’s word Satan cannot fool us with half-truths; we will not be fooled if we stay rooted in God’s word on a daily basis.

A spiritual mind is a sober-mind. By understanding the will of God we will able to discern between right and wrong, truth and error. By being alert to Satan’s schemes we can be better prepared to resist him.

 

The Rise and Fall of King Saul

The Rise and the Fall of King Saul.

“We want a king, we want a king,” the people of Israel cried out to Samuel. This upset the prophet, so he prayed to the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them…” Samuel warned them as the Lord commanded, and Saul was chosen to be their king (1 Samuel 8:7).

In the beginning, Saul showed some humility, as he did not immediately embrace his position, but this would not last for long. As Saul’s fame and reputation grew, he started to depend on himself rather than on God. King Saul began to disobey God’s commands. The king took it upon himself to perform a sacrifice that was only authorized for the priests to perform (1 Samuel 13:9). Another time, king Saul was ordered to totally wipe out the Amalekites and “devote destruction to all they have” (1 Samuel 15:3). King Saul spared the king, and only destroyed the animals and items that had no value. This caused God to regret making Saul king. Samuel, in his old age, ended up being the one to follow through with God’s command and he killed king Agag himself (1 Samuel 16:33).

King Saul became conceited, he made excuses, he thought he knew better than God. Saul was doing fine when the Spirit of the Lord was with him. During this time, he had success in defeating the Ammonites, and he defeated several tribes of the Philistines. As the king continued to disobey God, the Lord eventually withdrew the Spirit from the king (1 Samuel 16:14).

In life we often make excuses instead of doing what God’s requires of us. Maybe when we have an opportunity to share a lesson with our neighbor, we make up excuses that stops us. When we do speak to others, are we speaking according what God’s word says? Do we add our own twist or opinion?  If so, this can get us in trouble. We should never think that our way is better that the Lord’s. Every day we should devote ourselves to reading the Bible. We should follow the pattern and lessons from scripture. If we do this on a regular basis you can be sure to remain in God’s favor.

Forget About Your “Self”

dying-to-selfWhen becoming a true follower of Christ, we are obligated to keep our own desires in check, and to be subject to the will of God. When Jesus was teaching about those who would enter kingdom of heaven He said, “…but the one that does the will of My Father in heaven [will enter]” (Matthew 7:21b). The works of the flesh are in opposition to the will of God. We must learn to crucify our flesh daily. It is a good idea from the moment we wake up, to say a prayer for strength. We must remember throughout the day, to resist the desires of self.

Jesus also said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). When we are baptized into Christ our sins are forgiven (Acts 2:28), but this does not mean our habits go away. It takes prayer, discipline, desire, and love for Christ to overcome our flesh. Crucifying the flesh is putting God’s desires ahead of our own and resisting temptation. Resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7b).

We are not alone. We have the Holy Spirit and God’s word for guidance. When we read the Bible it feeds our spirit. The more we read and understand what we are reading, the closer we grow to God. The closer were grow to God, the more we keep our old self buried. When one understands baptism correctly they will understand this is the beginning point of their “new self.”

Let us look at another verse before we close. Romans 6:3-4 says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Baptism is your beginning point and from this point on you will have trials and suffering but we are able to get through because we fix our eyes on Jesus, crucify the flesh, and find comfort in our promise of eternity with our creator.