Archive for November, 2011

Who Chose Whom?

November 29, 2011

When I was in grade school, the thing was to always show that you were the decision maker. It surfaced on the playground in team selecting. The envied person was the one who had an opportunity to choose his/her team members. It also surfaced in albeit premature relationships between boys and girls. There were multitudes of arguments about who quit whom first. The girl nor the boy wanted to be the person who got “quit”. Let’s face it, we want to be in control and in charge.

We carry this same mentality over to the spiritual realm despite how impure its motives and theologically incorrect it is. I am getting ready to make some folks mad in answering the question Who Chose Whom. In its simplest sense, it is the quest to determine who really is in control and in charge.

Do you recall Colossians 1:21 tells us that 21 ”Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. Enemies don’t readily chose to love one another. To remind you of what Jesus said in John 3:3-8, I point you to what He told Nicodemus: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” No man, woman, or child will ever choose God unless God changes his/her sin-heardened heart. Without Christ, do you remember that we are slaves to sin. In sin, man is powerless or helpless. Man is dead in his sins. As Pastor Benson often says, dead men don’t do anything. If a man is dead, he does not have the power within himself to choose God. Romans 8:6-8  6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. Consequently, man does not have or want God until he is free from sin which is to be born again. Remember being born again is not something that a person can do him/herself.

Let’s let Jesus settle the matter of Who Chose Whom? You did not choose to be born or born again. As much as my wife and I attempted to conceive, we could not until God made it possible. Likewise in a spiritual sense, you did not choose God; He chose you. John 15:16 says, 16″ You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” God has and God will make those choices as to who will be born again. In the quest to determine Who Chose Whom, I hope that you see that you, who were dead, could not have chosen Him who was, is and will be alive. God chooses His team members. I hope that you are really sure of your choosing. Remember, Judas looked like a team member until it was time to play. Did he faltered under pressure or was ever truly a team player?

Sin’s Reign

November 28, 2011

I have not forgotten to get back to The Irrevocable Call of God. I just have to get a little more study in. Today, I will be brief.

In 2 Chronicles 6:36, God was telling the people about themselves. You know how we are. We think that we are more than what we really are. We are not honest about who we are. Hear what God told the Israelites.

36 “When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to a land far off or near,

It was a prophecy against them for their sin. Again, sin carries a consequence. When we sin, we sin first against God. It is God whom we need to be concerned with. James 3:2 puts it this way “2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” Once more, 1 John 1:8-10 says, ” 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

It’s clear that sin has an impact on us. This brings us back to What’s Your Problem Man?. Our problem is sin. Colossians 1:21-22 tells us that 21 ”Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—”We intend on doing right, but we fail to meet God’s perfect standard. Consequently, that puts us at odds against God. Again, our problem is sin, and What’s the Solution? to our sin problem. Our solution is Christ. The question is whether we will overcome sin or not. We can only overcome sin through Christ.

What is the sin that you have struggled the most with over the last week? Trust the Lord Jesus, through the Spirit, to give you the power and will to overcome that sin this week.

Another Call: Give me all you have

November 26, 2011

I did not have the opportunity to expand on the The Irrevocable Call of God, but I will get back to it; however, today, I know the Lord has given me another example of His call. While the former has everything to do with God, God includes us in on this situation. As I was just going through facebook, I saw some pictures from a high school classmate, Phyllis Kimball Smith. Her pictures were from  Zion National Park, Utah. They were absolutely beautiful. When I saw one shot of a river/stream and mountains in the backdrop, I simply told the Lord that He was awesome and did great things. I continued to view her pictures until I saw the photo below.

God's provision

I was stunned at the photo. Immediately, the Spirit of God reminded me of God’s call to Abraham in Genesis 22. God said, ““Abraham!” …“Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” God reminded me that sometimes I will call you to do awfully hard things, but I will never call you to do something I that I have not done myself.

Genesis 22 is the infamous passage where God called Abraham to sacrifice his promised son, the one whom he had waited on for years to be brought forth as a reckoning and sacrifice just as He had shown when He confirmed His promise to give Abraham a son in Genesis 15. It is important to realize that Abraham had another son, but in terms of the promise God told him, Isaac was the only son to whom the promise belonged. You see, God is calling all of us in conjunction with a promise in His Word. The question is whether we will respond. For some, God is calling you to give your life to Him, to serve Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. There are some whom He is calling to give up something they are holding on to despite saying they would live for Him. Furthermore, there are some whom He is calling to give more of yourself. You have demonstrated your surrender to Him, but He wants more of you. Check this out, so you can have more of Him. Abraham, Isaac too, is the example for us of how to respond to God’s call as he is an example of Christ. He did not hold tightly to what God called him to give up. He responded without the need to call a conference or to have a consensus of family or friends affirm the call. Abraham did not yield even when the one whom the call impacted the most questioned it. Listen to this beautiful exchange which I believe is symbolic of the agreement between God the Father and God the Son from Genesis 22.

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

God called Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. He was seeking to be obedient. Whether Abraham believed God would provide a true lamb (ram) or raise Isaac from the is still debated today. We do know what Abraham said in verse 5: “5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” It seems from the text that Abraham knew and believed anything was possible, but it was impossible that God would break His promise. David Guzik said, “He knew God was not a liar. He had no precedent (no one in the Bible had yet been raised from the dead), but Abraham knew God was able. God could do it!” What we do know is that Abraham moved ahead to respond obediently to the call God told him. Note that it was on the third day that the sacrifice was to take place. It was only after Abraham’s obedience did God provide.  Again, let’s hear the Word of God

11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”

When we are ‘on the mountain of the Lord’, God will provide. When we trust Him, blessings will bestowed upon us and those whom God will bless through us. I don’t mean material blessings primarily. I mean intimacy with God which yields peace and joy.

For further thought about Isaac being a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, consider this:

Isaac’s picture of Jesus becomes even clearer:

  • Both were loved by their father.
  • Both offered themselves willingly.
  • Both carried wood up the hill of their sacrifice.
  • Both were sacrificed on the same hill.
  • Both were delivered from death on the third day.  from Guzik.

The Irrevocable Call of God

November 25, 2011

Romans 11:29 “28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable”

Irrevocable – not to be revoked or recalled; unable to be repealed or annulled; unalterable: an irrevocable decree.

The phrase “without repentance” in the Greek is ametamelētos (ä-me-tä-me’-lā-tos) which means 1) not repentant of, unregretted

In spiritual terms, what does this mean? Noted writer Matthew Henry wrote, “For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Repentance is sometimes taken for a change of mind, and so God never repents, for he is in one mind and who can turn him? Sometimes for a change of way, and that is here understood, intimating the constancy and unchangeableness of that love of God which is founded in election. Those gifts and callings are immutable; whom he so loves, he loves to the end. We find God repenting that he had given man a being (Gen. 6:6, It repented the Lord that he had made man), and repenting that he had given a man honour and power (1 Sa. 15:11, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king); but we never find God repenting that he had given a man grace, or effectually called him; those gifts and callings are without repentance.”

Furthermore, Henry goes on to say that God’s gracious intentions concerning Israel were made the matter of a covenant, which the God, who cannot lie, could not but be true and faithful to. They were the children of the covenant, Acts 3:25. Now from all this he infers that certainly God had great mercy in store for that people, and he proves his inference (v. 29) by this truth.

The significance of this verse is beyond the scope of this blog; however, we learn from this verse that the call of God is irrevocable that is it cannot be undone. Those who continue in their salvation should take great joy in this fact. Once God calls you, you are His for all time and after time. The joy that surfaces from the concrete fact that God maintains our salvation is foundational to our confidence of what Philippians 2:13 “13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Hallelujah. I am sorry that this has come so late. It has been nearly a four hour challenge to get this posted. I am having all kinds of problems, but I am delighted to have spent time with the Lord who has conveyed to me the certainty of my calling. jgjwgjksfknfksf

You are either a child of God or the devil

November 23, 2011

When a child is seen with his mother or father, people look invariably for the resemblance in physical features. For my kids, people often say that look like their mother because of the hue of their complexion. As a child people told me that I looked like my mom, but when they saw my biological father, they changed their minds. In the physical sense, we all are the children of our parents taking on some, if not all, of their physical and personal attributes. Likewise in the spiritual sense, we are Either a child of God or the devil.

This is an unpopular thing to say. Almost everyone likes to think that they are a child of God. It makes their existence outside the will of God more palatable, but it is far from the truth. John 1:11-13 makes that clear to us. God says, “11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Children of God are those who have received the gift of Christ. If one has not surrendered his/her life to Christ as Lord and Savior, he/she are not a child of God. This is not my opinion. This is what God himself states in his holy inerrant infallible Word.

Who are you? Are you a child of God or are you a child of the devil? Once more lets look at the Word. 1 John 3:7-10

7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

When John writes “he who does what is righteous..”, John is referencing the person who has committed his/her life to follow Christ where the person surrenders to following God. This does not mean the person is perfect, but confesses his/her sin in repentance seeking to avoid that same sin again. Again, the main distinction is the affinity, association and union with Christ. For in being united with Christ, we are declared righteous in the eyes of God. Those not united are unrighteous and of the devil.
Again, I ask are you a child of God or of the devil? Now you know how to discern what you are.  What will you do? Choose God.
I am traveling today. I hope that I will be able to write via my wife’s iPad, but I may not be able to get access as we are going deep in the woods. The signals are very weak. If not, I will pick up with you regarding Romans 11:29 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

Entrapped and Enslaved

November 22, 2011

I was watching a documentary about slavery. I saw the depiction of how slaves were gathered. Some how, the colonizing nations would garner the support of some Africans that would set traps for others. Once entrapped, the colonizing nations would gather the those ensnared and lead them to their holding places.  Those captured would be processed, shipped, and sold into a new land and a new life of servitude. They could run, but they did not have anywhere to hide. Their skin color gave them away. No one with dark pigmentation should be wondering around free, so if they escaped their original master, there was another waiting to seize them for another undefined term of service.

This same dynamic exists in the spiritual realm. Either you are a slave or free. Others are used to entrap you. If you break one set of chains, another vice ensnares you. For those who know Christ as Savior and Lord, this is another reason for us to rejoice. We have been set free:

John 8:31 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:34-3634 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Romans 6:1818 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Romans 6:22 – 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
Romans 8:1-21 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Galatians 5:11 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Hebrews 9:15 – 15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

Sin entraps and enslaves. Jesus is the only one who is able to set you free. If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you are still trapped and serve as a slave to sin. You may not agree with me, but the Word of God declares this is your condition or state. On the contrary, you are set free from the traps and slavery to sin if Jesus is your Lord and Savior. There is a song playing in the background that is saying “Thank you Jesus for blessing me”. I echo that. I used to be enslaved to anger, profanity, sexual immorality among other issues. Now, I have the power to say no to sin. Titus 2:11-13 11 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,”
Now you know why Pastor Benson gave three points to the message Thanksgiving: The Christian’s DNA: 1. Always Joyful, 2. Always Prayerful 3. Always Thankful.  I am thankful that I am not Entrapped and Enslaved. Hallelujah, Praise the Lord.

Thanksgiving: The Christian’s DNA

November 21, 2011

In This You Greatly Rejoice I wrote ” The problem is when you don’t feel like being or doing what God has called and commanded you to do. I gave a couple of examples above: rejoicing and relating. The Word of God is the answer to all our wrong feelings. Feelings are misleading and deceptive. The Word of God tells us to “live by faith and not by sight” We should not go on our feelings.

I know that dealing with rejoicing, relating and thanksgiving is an issue that I must address. Why? Because God spoke to me in the morning all alone which is why I wrote In This You Greatly Rejoice. Lord knows I had no clue as to the specifics of the message at church yesterday; however, God, as usual, was on point. The title of the post today was the title of Pastor Benson’s message. I am not even going to attempt to recount it to you. I would do an injustice to what God told him to share. I have included the link, so you can listen on your own. The passage was 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Here are Pastor Benson’s three points: 1. Always Joyful, 2. Always Prayerful 3. Always Thankful.  Here is the link to listen to the message Thanksgiving: The Christian’s DNA

Again, my focus, whether I write about it or not, will center on joyfulness, prayerfulness and thankfulness. God deserves it. For example, one irritant in the communication process with my wife has been me finding the warranty deed, settlement statement or security deed for that home we are trying to rent. I couldn’t get the water turned on without any one of those. Don’t ask me why, but the water company refused. I have been trying for weeks. I looked for it nearly an hour yesterday morning before I posted. My wife brought it up after church stating that we could go downtown to get that paperwork. I haven’t had time to do that in weeks nor did I want to on Wednesday amid trying to leave the city. While uploading some video this morning, it slowed my connection, so I could not write this. I went back in my office to look once more. In the spirit of prayerfulness as Pastor Benson mentioned in his sermon, I simply asked the Lord to let me find it.  Lo and behold, I found two of any of the three documents the water company requested before turning on the water. I trust now that I can get the water turned on, so the people cleaning and painting can do their jobs which may allow this home to finally be rented. I am rejoicing.

In This You Greatly Rejoice

November 20, 2011

When in college, there were several guys on the football team whose name was some form of Darron, Darren, etc. Another player got tired of all us answering, so he gave all of us names to distinguish us. Most of the players around at that time liked it. To this day, people from college still call me that name – Frankie. My wife, whom I met there, calls me Frank. She says that’s who I am – very frank. Okay, I am going to say something that may surprise you, and I am not proud of this position. On many occasions, I find it hard to rejoice. On some occasions, I don’t want to go to church. I know, I know. I am supposed to be in love with the Lord. I am supposed to be this person who has followed the Lord for the past 27 years. These feelings are reflective of the fallen state of man, of when I fail to walk in the power that the Lord has given me. Again, I have posted about What’s Your Problem Man? and have given answer in What’s the Solution?.

Today, I wanted to share the problem and solution in a different way. The problem is when you don’t feel like being or doing what God has called and commanded you to do. I gave a couple of examples above: rejoicing and relating. The Word of God is the answer to all our wrong feelings. Feelings are misleading and deceptive. The Word of God tells us to “live by faith and not by sight” We should not go on our feelings. In almost all cases, it leads to a bad decision resulting in consequences we’d prefer not to deal with.

In 1 Peter 1:3-5, the solution or answer is given. It is also the foundation for the title of the post today. Actually, those words came from the verse that follows our reference today (v6). Hear the Word of the Lord:

“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (NASB)

Those verses are not very lengthy; however, a great deal is stated in there. I could not do justice to what’s contained in those verses with the remain characters left for which you would read. It would be much too long. Maybe, you will over the next day or so. Despite that, there is my motivation and impetus to rejoice and go to church. This is where feeling is good. It is prompted out of proper thinking. God the Father has caused us to be born again. That is if you are born again. Now, this is the reason for the rejoicing. As a consequence of being born again, I have a living hope. This is another way to say that my hope is not based on wishing but in what God has already demonstrated in Christ. I have a proof-based hope versus a wishing-based hope. That is the type of hope when the police officer pulls you over, and you are wishing that he/she will give you a warning. It’s totally at the discretion of the person. You have no influence in the matter. For the one who has been born again, there is assurance in his/her hoping. The assurance is that Christ has been resurrected from the dead. This same power has saved you and protects you to prepare you for eternity with God.

I can’t go any further. Listen, this is what caused me to say yes to God almost 30 years ago. I wanted assurance, peace and hope. In Christ, I have all of them which gives cause to the admonition “in this you greatly rejoice.” If you are having a hard time rejoicing, think about that. Read those few verses in 1 Peter 1. If you don’t rejoice, then give your life to Jesus which will lead you to that place. Hallelujah.

Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That, Condemned is the man who does not believe in Jesus’ Act

November 19, 2011

As a boy, I loved watching Bat Man and Robin. While the show presents the epic conflict of good versus evil, I must admit that I loved the Joker’s riddles. Corny now, beloved then. On many accounts, Jesus was presented riddles. Some were genuine inquiries while others were intend traps. In John 3, Nicodemus asked Jesus to give him the answer to what seemed like a true riddle. Let’s see what the Word says.

3 In reply Jesus declared,“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

As a Pharisee, I am sure that Nicodemus was well acquainted with God’s Word in what we call the Old Testament. For them, it was the Word of God. Remember Isaiah 64:6

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Nicodemus was challenged by Jesus’ claims and the miracles that accompanied His claims about man being one with God. As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was well-informed, but he could not refute the evidence of what Jesus was doing. In fact, he conveys that to Jesus as he first approaches Him. Nicodemus knew that he had to make a choice. Did he stand on what he had been trained? Did he stand on what Jesus was proclaiming and substantiating by His power manifested in miracles?

In reality, we all have the same choice. Do we believe what we conjure up or do we believe in God based on His Word and His Son both which testify of God. What riddles are you facing in your life? What seems to be a contradiction? What thoughts or teachings are opposing the truth of God’s Word? Remember that the Joker’s entire position was to oppose Batman who represented good.  You must make a choice as to what you will believe because Jesus makes it clear on how He will determine whom He approves or condemns. John 3:18 18 ”Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Life or Death is the choice. There is no riddle to that. You can have eternal life now through Christ. Eternal life is the present actual possession of the believer because of his relationship with Christ, John 5:24; 1John 3:14. On the contrary, you can continue to be riddled by lies leading to death. John 3:19 tells us 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

Are You Saying No to Ungodliness and Worldly Passions?

November 18, 2011

Just in case you were wondering, the question posed in the title of this post is rhetorical. I already know the answer to that question. Some of you may say yes, but I submit that none of us are saying no enough. That’s as far as I will go in drawing conclusions about you. This post is about what God is saying to me. Unfortunately, at every turn, I am faced with the same question: What’s Your Problem Man? We know that man’s problem is sin. We also know What’s the Solution? That would be Jesus.

In Stop Looking Over Your Shoulder, Titus 2:11-14 surfaced. It is the source of the title of the post today. Titus 2:11-14 says, 11 ”For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Ungodliness is from the Greek word asebeia which means want (lack) of reverence towards God, impiety. Where is it in our lives that we demonstrate a lack of respect towards God? Any where there is disobedience. Where we fail to follow the way of God to pursue what we think is a better option. Thinking and doing contrary to the way of God is ungodliness. Well, we know that spans many a things in our lives. The Word is clear about worldly passions. They are things like prominent and preeminent desires to be rich, foolish and harmful desires, taking advantage of weaker people, impulsivity, various lusts, malice, envy, hate, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life

Without a doubt, I am susceptible to any of those things. For me anger, money and the lust of my eyes are my biggest struggles. Countless of times on a daily basis I am faced with the choice of Are You Saying No to Ungodliness and Worldly Passions. Since I know Christ, I have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to say no to sin.  Romans 8:11 tells us 11 “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Remember (Titus 2:12), grace teaches us to say no to sin. Let’s work on saying No to Ungodliness and Worldly Passions. For our great God, He wants all of us.