I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
This month let’s think about Job. The Bible tells us Job was a righteous man yet God allowed things to happen in his life that seemed very unfair. My background scripture for this month is Job 19:1-7 & 19:23-29 and my key verse is printed above, Job 19:25.
Within our justice system is the concept of presumption of innocence (also known as innocent until proven guilty), this isn’t something invented by America, it goes back many centuries. In the simplest form it means burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Yes this practice allows from time to time a guilty person to walk free but it is one of the best safeguards to keep innocent people from being unjustly convicted.
Job believed in this type of justice. There was one problem, as far as Job could tell his friends were not extending the benefit of the doubt to him. After seeing Job his friends seemed to presume him guilty until proven innocent.
We may remember going through times like these when it seemed we were being punished for no reason. Through this frustration we pour out our hearts to God and nothing seems to change. People close to us may think we deserve what we are getting. Family and friends become desensitized to our situation. Never give up, hold on to the hope God will do something about the problem. This is where we find Job.
The story of Job is a lengthy one, if you haven’t read it I suggest you take time and do so, you will receive many blessings from his testimony. From his story we learn that over time Job developed a complaint, how long will this continue? Job was counseled by three friends who gave some very bad counsel. They were convinced Job’s troubles were of his own making, actually they accused him of sin and told him God was punishing him.
There is a twofold lesson here. First be careful who you seek counsel from make sure they are capable of giving sound godly advice, free from their personal opinion. Second, you may be ask at some point to give counsel, if that happens prayerfully take time to understand and be sensitive to the one asking you for help. If you cannot approach the person with an innocent until proven guilty attitude then you better refer them elsewhere. Then pray for them and yourself as they seek answers.
So how does Job 19:25 fit into all of this. Job was resilient in reaching for hope when there seemed to be no hope. He knew God as a kinsman redeemer, someone Job needed in his life and that redeemer would be standing when everyone and everything else was gone. Is God your redeemer today? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If not I want to encourage you to do so, you know He is calling you to salvation, why continue to reject Him. I have talked with many folks who have walked away from church because of circumstances like Job went through. Let me encourage you to be resilient, get back in church, look to your redeemer and place your hope in Him.
The testimony of Jobs faith gives us reason to hope! When it seems as though our world is falling apart, we can draw strength from the fact we have Jesus and His promise to never leave us or forsake us, His promise of a resurrection. If Job could find faith in his day and in his situation then we should be able to do the same. We can learn from Jobs testimony how to deal with others during difficult times and how to lean on God daily with faith and resilience. What about the other people, the friends of Job? Let God deal with them, Job did and everything turned out fine. Until next month God Bless you is my prayer.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; (4) Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
If we step back and take a look at the world we live in it will horrify us; especially if we allow only what we see to shape our viewpoint. After all there is anger, violence, terrorism, corruption, greed and selfishness among the behaviors of mankind. However if we allow the Word of God, our Bible, to provide our viewpoint we still see all the bad stuff but we also receive comfort. The reality of Gods comfort is what I want to give you this month. As the Lord led Paul to pen this letter to the Corinthian church, he began with a prayer. Paul began his prayer with a deeply focused description of God. Paul reminds us that God should be blessed; that is God is to be given praise and honor by all. We are not reading about any god, we are reading about “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” the Son of God and God the Son, mankind’s only redeemer and salvation from sin. Jesus came to live and die among us and His death was not any normal experience of human suffering. The death of Jesus upon Calvary’s Cross is the means God uses to make forgiveness available to stubborn, rebellious humans. This makes the God of our Bible “the Father of mercies” the source of compassionate forgiveness. God could have stopped there and it would have been more than any of us would have deserved, but He didn’t, Gods concern goes beyond His forgiving mercy. He is “the God of all comfort.” God in heaven knows that His people experience physical, emotional, and even spiritual discouragement, suffering and setbacks. We know from experience that God does not deal with the issues of life as we would, often God deals with the issues of life among His people by giving us the encouragement and sustaining strength we need to endure them. Remember, whatever problem you are facing or will face, in the long run God’s comfort is greater. Do you realize the word comfort or a form of that word is used in our passage five times? Gods comfort is a central theme of Paul’s prayer for the people of Corinth and likewise should be for the church as we minister today. Notice the God of comfort ministers to His people during every “tribulation” (trouble) large or small they are met with heavenly sustenance. Romans 8:32 reminds the born again Christian that God will not abandon His people during times of trouble. We who have received Gods comfort have also became agents to provide that comfort to others. Later in 2 Corinthians Paul reminds us how the presence of other Christians encouraged him as he endured life’s tribulations. Today; many times Gods comfort comes to the world we live in through the Church; those who belong to God through Christ. I hope you can see that we as the Church have the ability and responsibility to share with others during their time of need; for example our experience, encouragement, assurance and resources. Being the hands of Jesus creates a connection that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and provides empathy, encouragement and reassurance that God’s love and comfort are made real and tangible as His people become vessels that carry to others what God has already given to us. Until next month may, God Bless you is my prayer.
Beginning with this issue I will begin a series of expository articles which explore the “Sermon on the Mount”. The Sermon on the Mount is found twice in our New Testament, Matthew details it in chapters 5, 6, & 7 of his gospel, and Luke records it in chapter 6:17-42 with a smaller but none the less important record of Jesus’ words. If there were a one word theme we could use to describe the Sermon on the Mount I believe it would be “righteousness”. Likewise if there were one verse I would use to introduce this theme it would be Matthew 5:20 where the Lord tells us “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The only potential for interruption I foresee in this series will be holidays and possibly special events. So let’s settle into God’s word, let it speak to our hearts while understanding it will not return to Him void.
By way of introduction we need to understand a little about the circumstances preceding the Sermon on the Mount; both Matthew and Luke (Matt.4:23-25; Luke 5:15-16) tell us during this time the Lord experienced great popularity among the people, we know multitudes were following Him, and we know Jesus appointed His twelve apostles. Luke gives us some indication of the distance the multitude was traveling to see and hear Jesus; from Judea and Jerusalem as well as the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon. Jesus message had been substantiated through the many miracles He had performed. Now; the multitudes were curious and wanted to see and hear Jesus for themselves, many had come to no conviction regarding the person of Christ and the message He proclaimed. The Lord saw the multitude as outside His kingdom and offered them access (Matt. 7:13-23). Jesus warned them against trusting the righteousness of religion being taught by the Pharisees. Christ’s teaching resulted in the nation being faced with two different concepts of righteousness. One was organized religion (Judaism), which taught that man was righteous if he attended feasts, observed rituals, and followed the traditions of the Pharisees. But Christ preached a righteousness which came as a result of faith in Him. Christ’s Righteousness could not be earned by works but had to be received as a gift from God. We know a conflict arose between Christ and the Pharisees concerning righteousness. The multitudes who came knew very well that righteousness was necessary to enter the kingdom of God, they were looking for the truth about righteousness and how it applied to their lives. To provide truth and clarity regarding righteousness the Lord gives us what we know as His Sermon on the Mount.
The Sermon on the Mount begins with what is commonly called the beatitudes. The late Dwight Pentecost says “The Beatitudes give us the characteristics of a righteous person and also describe the basis for blessing in one’s life, God alone is the blessed One.”. We will notice the word “blessed” repeated in the beatitudes. Blessed can be simply translated “happy” with the understanding that God alone is worthy to be called blessed because of His character (holiness), and God does bestow blessings upon people. Likewise those who receive God’s blessings are a happy (blessed) people. As the Lord spoke of happiness, He related it to holiness. Holiness and happiness cannot be separated in His kingdom.
The first characteristic of righteousness which Christ spoke of is that of being “poor in spirit” (Matt. 3:5). Poor is the same word translated beggar in the story of the rich man and Lazarus from Luke 16:19-22. It means to cower or cringe. Those who are poor in spirit are people who realize they have no righteousness and they cannot stand before Holy God. Because of their lack of merit or standing they cannot offer God anything for entrance into His kingdom. The poor in spirit are characterized by utter dependence on God. The contrast between true righteousness and the righteousness of the Pharisee’s is this; the Pharisees offer to God prideful self-righteousness, truly righteous people realize God as the only supply for their need. Christ promised the person having true righteousness acceptance into His kingdom.
The second characteristic of righteousness which Christ spoke of is that they mourn (Matt. 5:4). Scripture reveals that mourning is often associated with confession of sin; for example David in Psalm 51 and Daniel in Daniel 9:3-5. Those who mourn acknowledge their lack of righteousness and confess their sin to God. The Lord promised to those who acknowledged their sin they would be comforted, this was David’s experience as he testified in Psalm 32:1-2. The Pharisees would wrongly teach their followers their righteousness had no sin to acknowledge; while Christ demands His followers acknowledge the presence of sin in their individual lives, by confessing this sin we obtain forgiveness and we receive true righteousness applied to a redeemed heart.
In Closing it is necessary that we realize righteousness can only be obtained through Jesus Christ; only He can provide it. An honest inspection of our heart and life will reveal we have no righteousness within ourselves! This will cause mourning; likewise this mourning will seek comfort. Comfort comes only through the confession of sin and true repentance. Until we meet again may God Bless you is my Prayer!
Last month we began our study of the “Sermon on the Mount” with our introduction and the first two Beatitudes paving the way lets continue our journey through God’s word. Let’s begin October with Matthew 5:5 where we read: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Many of us who have been in or around church for some time remember cute phrases like; meekness isn’t weakness. Well there is a lot of truth in that little phrase. However, I am concerned that many in the church today have no real idea of what meekness is. I could follow others and give you a definition then move on, but to truly understand meekness you should be exposed to the meaning, not just a definition. Two men from scripture who characterize meekness were Moses and Paul. These men were not just leaders or preachers, they were men who made themselves available to God to accomplish His work, regardless of circumstance or situation. God’s message through these men went out to multitudes, many of them occupying high offices with influence over life itself.
Allow me to begin with a description of what meekness is not. It is not adopting a low view of oneself or discrediting the position, responsibility or authority God has given to an individual. Meekness recognizes all the attributes God has blessed one with; as the individual submits themselves to every manifestation of those attributes. In other words Meekness and obedience go hand in hand. It can be summarized by the character of unquestioned submission. The Lord Jesus Christ promised to those who subject themselves to His authority the unquestioned acceptance into His kingdom. Of course the beginning of this subjection is accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, we often refer to being born again. I am consistently amazed with men and women I meet who are convinced heaven is reserved for the good and hell for the bad. If you think this is true please, please understand this! Eternal life (heaven) is reserved for the elect, those who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It will be the elect who will have the ability to put meekness into practice in their lives. It will be the meek who will inherit the earth. The unsaved, unrighteous, unredeemed are characterized by a self-assertive pride that will lead them to refuse to submit to the authority of Christ. Likewise those who have and continue to follow the life of a Pharisees will never be part of Messiah’s kingdom and unless they repent, they have only hell to look forward to.
With meekness covered in verse 5 let’s move on to verse 6 where we read: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Those who truly experience the redemption of God have an appetite for the righteousness of God. Examples of those who had this appetite were; Moses, David, Paul, Daniel and even Peter. This appetite should characterize every believer (1 Peter 2:2). In this beatitude we are told specifically by the Lord those who have this appetite will be satisfied. There is a difference between being hungry and having an appetite. The hungry can be filled with anything, but those who have an appetite can only be satisfied with certain dishes. Again just like meekness only the redeemed can possess this appetite. The religious, a.k.a. Pharisees, are so satisfied with who they are there is no desire to satisfy God or be satisfied by Him. An important point to realize here is the religious are not necessarily redeemed. Those who are acceptable to God will always have an appetite for His righteousness and from that righteousness a heart of service to Him regardless of the circumstances or situations.
I think we may have space for one more beatitude this month. Let’s take a look at verse 7 where the Lord tells us: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Many times we hear Grace rightfully explained; Gods Riches At Christ Expense. If that is true about Grace and it is, how would we describe Mercy? How about this; mercy is God’s loving response to the needs of those who are the objects of His affection. By nature we are all selfish and because of this we are not naturally merciful; but God is merciful. True righteousness produces loving care and compassion for the spiritual and physical needs of others, including the needs of those who are lost. Look at the promise the Lord makes, those who show mercy shall (without question) receive mercy.
Mercy isn’t ignoring or justifying sin. It is understanding the sinner is in need of Christ’s mercy and to have that brought into their life requires the testimony of a witness (the Christian). The only way we can fill the role of a witness with a godly testimony is to have mercy in our heart. Mercy opens the door for Gods righteousness. Mercy only comes through Jesus Christ and it is there to be shown to everyone without exception.
The Pharisee had no desire for true righteousness, they felt no responsibility to the sinner, poor, sick, infirm or lonely; those experiencing these situations were considered under divine judgment. Christ taught us that true righteousness will produce a loving response to the needs of others, those we agree with and those we don’t.
I better stop here, for the months of November and December I will write about Thanksgiving and Christmas while planning to pick up our study of the “Sermon on the Mount” again in the New Year. So be sure to meet me here next month as we continue to look into Gods Inspiring Word. Until then God Bless you is my prayer!
As we find ourselves looking forward to Thanksgiving most of us know the history but what do you know about the Pilgrims and their faith?
History tells us the Mayflower Pilgrims arrived in 1620 in hopes of making a better life for themselves and their children along with being able to worship freely and in peace. Undoubtedly the most famous colonists in world history, their faith and fortitude are legendary. Their perseverance laid the cornerstone of a new Nation. The Pilgrims' courage, faith in God, and love for one another still inspire people today. The story of Plymouth Colony, with its first winter, treaty with the Wampanoag People and the celebrated First Thanksgiving often seems forgotten today. Regardless of anything that came before or after, Plymouth is the story of the United States -- the symbolic, if not literal, birthplace of our Nation.
This passage from Bradford's manuscript Of Plymouth Plantation makes reference to Hebrews 11:13-16. From the Geneva Bible (1560), the translation preferred by most Pilgrims, this reads: (13) All these dyed in faith, and received not the promises, but sawe them a farre of, and beleved them, and received them thankefully, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgremes on the earth. (14) For they that say suche things, declare plainely that they seke a countrey. (15) And if they had bene mindeful of that countrey, from whence they came out, they had leasure to have returned. (16) But now they desire a better, that is an heavenlie: wherefore God is not ashamed of them to be called their God; for he hathe prepared for them a citie.
If we really want to understand the Pilgrims, we must look beyond the legends and see them as they saw themselves. They were English people who sought to escape the religious and economic problems of their time.
Many of the Pilgrims were members of a Puritan sect known as the Separatists. They believed the Church of England violated the biblical standards of Christianity, they intended to break away and form independent congregations that more strictly met biblical requirements. Second Corinthians 6:16-18 gave a theme to their actions.
At that time their act was treasonous and the Separatists had to flee England. The Pilgrims also shared a vital secular culture, both academic and traditional. They lived in a time that accepted fairies and witches, astrological influences, seasonal festivals and folklore as real parts of their lives. They viewed the world they lived in not as we do today - as quantum physics and psychology - but through the folklore and traditions that stretched back to antiquity. They were both Protestants of the Reformation and inheritors of a medieval worldview that blended the imaginations of William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson.
The Separatists' faith was part of the larger Reformation of the 16th century. This Separatists sought to cleanse the Church of England of its corrupt doctrine and practices; the people in the movement were known as “Puritans.” Separatists were Puritans who no longer accepted the Church of England as a true church, while refusing to work within the structure to affect changes, they “separated” themselves to form a church based solely on Biblical precedent. Puritans rejected Christmas, Easter and the various Saint's Days because they had no scriptural justification, and in their worship services, they also rejected hymns, recitations of the Lord's Prayer and creeds for the same reason.
The Separatists believed that worship of God must progress from the individual directly to God, and form, like the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer, interfered with worship by directing one's thoughts to the prayer book and to one's self. The only exceptions were the Psalms and the Lord's Supper, both of which had scriptural basis. As Pastor Robinson expressed it, even two or three “gathered in the name of Christ by a covenant [and] made to walk in all the ways of God known unto them is a church.”
Services were held twice on Sunday; in addition, sermons were often given on Thursdays, and as occasion required, Days of Thanksgiving or Fasting and Humiliation were proclaimed. These were movable weekday holidays called in response to God's Providence. Both were observed in a manner similar to the weekly Services, with morning and afternoon meetings. The approximate times were from 9:00 AM to noon and from to 2:00 to 5:00 PM.
Once they reached the meetinghouse, the men and boys sixteen and older sat on one side; the women and children sat on the other side.
Prayer was completely extemporaneous. The Lord's Prayer was considered a model to be followed, but not copied. Prayer was given by the Pastor or Teaching Elder. At this point in the service, the congregation rose. The speaker removed his hat, raised his eyes and lifted up his arms toward Heaven, and spoke. At the end, all joined in saying, "Amen." Scripture in the 16th century was often interpreted in a metaphorical sense; scholars searched for hidden meaning. Separatists concentrated on a literal and historical interpretation, generally ignoring the metaphorical interpretations. During this part of the service, a passage of scripture was read and expounded upon in this literal manner by the Pastor or Teaching Elder.
Finally, Psalms were the only music allowed in the service. Hymns were rejected because they had no scriptural basis. The versions of the Psalms used in Plymouth Colony came from Henry Ainsworth's Psalter, in which he had "Englished" the Psalms in prose and metre, and set them to livelier music than had been heard before. These were sung, without musical accompaniment, by the whole congregation. Years later, in the 1670s, when the first generation of settlers--many of whom had musical training--had died, the colonists had difficulty with the music of the psalms. At this point, the practice of "lining" psalms began. In lining, each line of the psalm is first sung by the Pastor, then repeated by the congregation.
Happy Thanksgiving and until next month God bless you is my prayer!
As we find ourselves once again looking at Christmas; Christians find themselves face to face with the conflict of worldly fantasy and spiritual reality!
As we celebrate Christmas let’s think about the incarnation. In John’s gospel chapter 1 and verse14 we read. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
The birth of Jesus was unique to say the least. The birth of any other child is the creation of a new personality. New life is created, a life that never existed before. The birth of Jesus was not the creation of a new personality, it was the coming of a person who had existed from eternity. Is there any wonder the angels awoke the slumbering echoes of the Judean hills with their praise.
John describes the incarnation using four words that contrast with the 2,500 words used by Luke. John tells us Jesus “dwelt among us.” The Greek word eskenosen gives us the meaning of pitching a tent. Said another way Jesus tabernacled among us. This word is significant in John’s gospel when describing the incarnation. Some scholars believe Jesus was actually born on the first day of the joyous annual Jewish feast of tabernacles (15th of Tisri or on our calendar September 29 in the year 4 BC). If this is the case, Jesus circumcision which took place on the eighth day would have taken place on “the great day of the feast” mentioned by John in 7:37. Regardless of where you stand on this thought it is an interesting study.
When we hear the word tabernacle it reminds us of the rich typology of the Old Testament tabernacle and its hidden glory. Have you ever thought about the tabernacle, it has no outward beauty? The furniture of the otuer court was made of brass (copper). The curtains were linen bleached white by the sun. The only color was the entrance gate which gave access to the brazen altar. Looking on from the outside there was nothing glorious about the tabernacle. It appeared to be just another tent placed among the tents of the common people, only the tabernacle was larger. When the tabernacle was moved from place to place the gold furniture was carefully covered from the eyes of the curious.
The glory of the Lord was a hidden glory. When Jesus came to pitch His tent, He did not lay aside His deity, He simply veiled His glory. The Apostle John tells us “we beheld his glory,” “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” These remarks should direct our minds to the Shekinah glory that filled the tabernacle. The Lord Jesus had an inner glory that permanently resided within Him. John realized this inner glory, he saw God in Christ, “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John was referencing the days he had spent in the company of the Lord Jesus. When John tells us “we beheld his glory” John is describing the glory that an only begotten Son receives from a Father. Also John tells us they saw one “full of grace and truth” this is a Hebraism for the sum total of diving revelation; grace is a reference to the revelation of God as love and truth is a reference to the revelation of God as light.
As we celebrate Christmas let’s look upon it as more than a baby in the manger. Let’s look upon it as a celebration of the Incarnation of God who tabernacled among us and still resides in the hearts of everyone who calls Him Savior today.
October was the last time we looked at our study of the beatitudes. We took a break to discuss Thanksgiving and Christmas and I hope you and your family were deeply moved by the Holy Spirit as we gave thanks and celebrated the birth of Jesus our Savior. Now we find ourselves in 2015, looking ahead to the Lords work and will for our lives in this New Year. I want to encourage you to allow the Lord to work through your life and in doing so I know He will use the BRCN and hopefully this article as an instrument of guidance and direction for His work. For January we are going to look at Matthew 5:8 where we read “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” When reading this our hearts are directed to purity! The Lord is telling us purity is a characteristic of righteousness. If you remember the introduction of this series you will remember we discussed how the beatitudes were directions regarding a righteous people. We cannot obtain righteousness on our own, we cannot earn it, we cannot buy it, there is nothing you and I can do to obtain righteousness. With that said we must also realize righteousness like the other attributes God has for His children can be imparted or passed along. Righteousness can be passed to us through Jesus Christ. How does this happen, well I am glad you ask! By accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and savior several things are imparted to us, for this article I want discuss two. First; Jesus imparts to the born again eternal life. Through the gift of salvation Jesus comes to live in our heart and because of that He brings with Him the second item, the one I want to discuss. Righteousness, we cannot obtain it but the Lord Jesus Christ can and will bring it with Him to us. His righteousness will change our life. In verse 8 we see it will bring purity. Christ tells us specifically that in order to see God we must be pure in heart. Purity is not measured by the practice of people, but by the character of God lived out through the lives of people.
As God determines righteousness, He measures it by His own unchangeable, unalterable, absolute holiness and this is found only in those who have truly accepted Jesus as Lord and savior. When the Lord tells us we will know a tree by the fruit it bears, we should immediately realize He is talking about our life. That fruit will be righteousness and in this case purity. The one who has received righteousness from God is constituted as pure in heart and acceptable to Him; and Christ promised that those who have a purity that conforms to Gods holiness will see God.
Sadly many today follow in the footsteps of the Pharisees who measured purity by the standard of conforming to man-made traditions. This was and still is a human standard, not in any way divine. The Lord in contrast demanded conformity to the holiness of God as a basis of entering into Gods kingdom. I am not interested in the denomination you worship under because all of them have to some degree or another certain man-made traditions. I want you to realize the name on the sign has nothing to do with the condition of your heart. Your righteousness is based on your personal relationship with Jesus. Your purity is based on that relationship as well. A pure heart will always seek the satisfaction of the Lord, not of man. So, as we begin a new year I would recommend we take a very long, deep and sincere look at where we stand with God. Many if not most reading this paper and article will claim a relationship with Jesus Christ and I sincerely hope you have that relationship. Let’s take a moment in January 2015 to look at our hearts, our purity and make sure it reflects and is directed by the one who provided it for us. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let’s make sure the desires of our heart come from His heart, let’s make sure we have true purity as only the Lord can provide and give it. Let’s begin 2015 with a pure heart and seek true obedience to the Lord in order to maintain it throughout the year. If you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior and you want to know more about being born again please contact me using the information provided. Until next month may God Bless you is my prayer.
I have just finished reading an article in the "Biblical Recorder" for those of you not familiar with it, this is the N.C. Southern Baptist newsletter/paper. This particular article focused on discipleship and really put into perspective matters that have been on my heart for some time. Let me share with you a question that developed from this article. What defines a successful church? Is it the bank account? Is it the building size? Is it the congregation size? It is none of these because all of these are material and God does not look upon material success of man. A successful church is one comprised of disciple's and disciple makers. Needless to say successful churches are few and far between. As a pastor my vision is to see the church I lead become or develop itself in discipleship. Discipleship is the foundation of missions and evangelism which we all know is the Great Commission. True, sincere, heart felt discipleship is where the church needs to begin. So are you successful as a Christian? How about your church is it successful? Until next time...
Today love is a buzz word that is used to justify any behavior. Simply put, accuse those who disagree with you of hating instead of loving and you seem to have won your battle. Not so fast! I hate to be the one who rains on your parade but just because the Bible disagrees with you and I or anyone else stand on the word of God as authoritative does not mean we hate. As a matter of fact I can make the point that we love you enough to tell you what Gods word says about the situation you are in. I do not agree with or support aggressive or mean spirited attacks on anyone or their behavior. Likewise I will not be silenced by those wanting to wrongly apply the Bible to defend any behavior God calls sin. Jesus loved us enough to die for us and redeem us. If you choose to reject that redemption be truthful enough to stand up and just say no thank you and quit trying negioate terms of salvation with the one who established them in the first place. Myself and many more love you enough to tell you about Jesus Christ and His atonement for your sin. We love you enough to help you find Jesus. We love you enough to be the arms of Christ extended to you. Now what will you do? Until next time...
Greetings once again and welcome back to our study of the Sermon on the Mount. Let’s continue with a look at Matthew 5:9 where we read; “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Last month we looked at purity and its relationship with righteousness. The progress and sequence of thought from purity of heart to being a peacemaker is a natural one. When we consider the causes of conflict one of the most frequent is intrigue. Likewise we find openness and sincerity as essential for all true reconciliation.
According to Matthew 5:9 every Christian is meant to be a peacemaker and this should be realized first in the church then carried into the community. Some may argue Matthew 10:34-36 where Jesus specifically speaks of conflict in the immediate family of those who follow Him. The conflict Jesus refers to is a result of accepting Him as Lord and Savior, it is not brought on by those who accept Him, but by those who have rejected Him and those who follow Him. In Matthew 10:34-36 the Christian isn’t creating conflict, the Christian is experiencing conflict. Jesus teaching is very clear, the Christian should never seek conflict or be responsible for it. The Christian is called to peace, we should actively pursue peace, we should strive for peace with all men and as far as it depends on us we are to live peaceably with everyone (1Cor.7:15; 1Pet.3:11; Heb.12:14; Rom.12:18).
Understanding this we must conclude that peacemaking is a divine work. Peace means reconciliation, and God is the creator of peace and reconciliation. Do you realize the very same verb (peace/peacemaker) which is used in Matthew 5:9 is also applied by the Apostle Paul when describing what God has done through Christ. Through Christ God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things …making peace by the blood of His cross. Christ’s purpose was to create in Himself one new man in place of two (Jew and Gentile), making peace (Col.1:29; Eph.2:15). Why then should we be surprised that the particular blessing which attaches itself to peacemakers is that ‘they shall be called sons of God.’ The Christian should be following Christ’s example of loving people through His love. It is always the devil who is the troublemaker, and those who allow him the opportunity to work through them. It is God who loves reconciliation; by the Christian, through His only begotten Son Jesus, as God’s path of making peace.
It is necessary for us to realize the word ‘peace’ and the word ‘appeasement’ are not synonyms. Peace that comes from God is not peace at a negotiated price. Peace with God was made at an immense cost, the life-blood of His only Son. Likewise, we too (though in our lesser ways) will find peacemaking a costly effort. Dietrich Bonhoeffer has revealed to us the concept of ‘cheap grace’; likewise we must realize there is ‘cheap peace.’ If for any reason we proclaim ‘Peace, rather ‘Peace’ when there is no ‘peace’ we assume the work of a false prophet, not a Christian witness. Just as obvious are the examples of peace through pain. For instance when we are involved in a quarrel there will be either the pain of apologizing to the person we have injured or the pain of rebuking the person who has injured us. True peace is always accompanied with true forgiveness and both are costly treasures. Peace that comes through salvation comes only through forgiveness and that forgiveness only through repentance. So forgiveness is directly associated with peace and peace directly associated with repentance. Here is what Jesus said in Luke 17:3 “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him”.
Other examples of peacemaking are the work of reunion and evangelism. On the one hand we should seek to unite not divide churches and on the other we should desire the role of being God’s hand in bringing sinners to Christ. The true visible unity of the church is a proper Christian work, but only if it does not come through the pain of sacrificed doctrine. The church is never directed to seek unity without purity, purity of both doctrine and conduct. We cannot have cheap reunion.
Neither can we have cheap evangelism, which is the proclamation of the gospel without discipleship, the demand for faith without repentance. It has been truthfully said these are forbidden shortcuts. To attempt them is to turn the evangelist into a fraud, it cheapens the gospel and damages the cause of Christ. Christian, seek the role of a peacemaker, but always seek it on the Lords terms. Until we meet again may God richly bless you is my prayer.
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