Living Differently

2 Peter 2.10 condemns those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

These people Peter was talking about were inside the church but not living the Christian life. In this section of his letter to the church, Peter warns against those who say they are Christians but fail to live the Christian life.

This is the reality in the modern church. Abortion, fornication, pornography and adultery run rampant among those in the church.

Young people who grow up in the church and claim to be Christians are as sexually promiscuous as those who claim no such allegiance to Christ. The same observation can be made among the older Christians and with the other sexual immoralities though the Word of God commands that God’s people not contain even a hint of such behavior.

What has gone wrong?

The second part of Peter’s warning is against those who despise authority. So it is we question God’s authority in the Scripture, we dismiss the Church’s authority over our behavior and we reject the rebuke of our parents and neighbors.

This unwillingness to humble ourselves before God first then one another for accountability explains why many in the church live indistinguishably from their unchurched neighbor.

This duplicitous behavior keeps seekers from finding hope, healing and restoration in Christ because they see no solution from the Church.

Yet the church is the only source for healing for only God can forgive us our sins and give us a new life through the presence of Himself in the Holy Spirit.

If we are truly God’s child we must live in the image of His First Born Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that His life can be clearly seen by all those who observe ours.

 

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Earning eternal reward

Luke 11.53 urges we provide for ourselves treasure in the heavens that does not fail.

In many ways we have lost focus and need to recalibrate or resync with Jesus and His will for our lives so that we grow in recognizing Him as our Lord and we His servants.

The Lord Jesus commands we not place our concerns upon even the basics of food and clothing but instead make His kingdom our first priority and greatest concern. We have instead become like the world which also seeks temporary things for identity such as clothes, homes and cars.

Christians walk, talk and dress the same as the world being indistinguishable from it for the most part – this is not what the Lord intended for His people. Instead He seeks those who would identify with Him and are making their best effort at bringing His kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.

Practically this means a concentrated, coordinated and committed effort to seeing people love Jesus and obey His commands.

It is a valid desire to want to win, to succeed and to be esteemed. It is not valid when we seek such from men rather than God.

We earn God’s reward as we work toward God’s objectives like the employee or team player who sacrifices and works hard so everyone can win so too God is looking and expecting His people to do the same within the Church so that He wins in the world.

God wants greater market share both in the heart and mind of His people and in the number of people worldwide who recognize and call upon Him as King, Lord and Father.

We are to work for treasures and trophies but not the kind men give but the ones God will give to those who gave the most of themselves and their possessions for His purposes on earth.

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Fulfilling our mission

Luke 11.23 observes whoever does not gather with Me scatters.

The Church’s mission is the Great Commission which is the mobilization of every Christian for the saturation of the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ until every person loves God and obeys His commands. Some will travel far from their home town to do this work but most will stay where they themselves were converted in order to make more disciples of Jesus Christ right where they now live.

The truth however is that few Christians anywhere can identify anyone that they themselves have been integral in bringing into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ or coaching them in their christian development toward obedience to all the commands of God.

This failure to gather by the church with Jesus explains why so many people are scattered from knowing God or living lives pleasing to Him.

Europe is essentially godless because the church failed to focus upon and fulfill its mission there. The United States has become increasingly more godless as the church here continues to fail at the work of making disciples of all people by teaching them to obey Jesus Christ.

The work is plentiful but the workers are few because few Christians understand they are required to work. Christians are referred to as slaves and servants of Christ in the Scriptures whose purpose is to do the will of God for God’s glory to increase upon the earth.

If America is to return to its Christian heritage then the Christians of America will lay down their lives and take up their cross and follow Jesus into seeking and saving the lost.

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Have no fear

1 Peter 3.6 commands that we not fear anything that is frightening. This verse commands the very opposite of that which is normal or of our human nature: do not fear that which is frightening.

What else is there to fear except that which is frightening?

The Scriptures would answer God. God alone is to be feared for He alone can cast man’s soul to hell. Yet we are commanded to love God.

How do we love and fear God?

We love God when we obey His commands and we fear God when we repent from our failure to obey those same commands.

We love God because He is merciful, gracious and good but we fear God because He is holy, just and righteous.

When we fear anything but God we live as though God were not in control of the world. When we love anything but God we live as though we will not be accountable to God.

While it is human nature to fear the future it is the spiritual nature to trust Him Who holds the future and so live toward the future without fear. There is much to frighten us; the economy, government, world chaos, natural disasters, human nature but God rules over all.

The church has always suffered at the hands of evil men but the saints lived through these times by faith and not fear.

Fear causes us to disobey God because we shrink back from God and obedience to His commands in order to appease men.

Love trusts in the future and overcomes fear by doing what is right today regardless of feelings. Fear keeps us from moving forward but loves drives us forward.

We are to live as lovers of God warning those who do not yet love God to repent lest they fall into the hands of His awful wrath.

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Doing Good Works

James 2.22 observes faith was completed by his works.

James, the half brother of the Lord Jesus as human relationships are considered, continues to teach the Church that faith in Jesus as the Savior should have the effect of producing works that benefit men and glorify God.

Faith in God that has no benefit to God or man is useless but true faith in God will be useful to God for expanding His kingdom upon earth leading to the salvation of men.

There are three primary good works those with faith should be engaged by their time, talent and treasure.

First is the physical and spiritual well being of fellow disciples. Brothers and sisters of the faith are to be the first consideration by those in the faith for their physical welfare. If a man does not care for the needs of his own family he is worse than an infidel.

From its inception the church has sought to meet the physical needs of their poorer brethren.

Second the Lord Jesus commanded we pray and seek to be laborers in His ripe harvest. The Son of God came to seek and to save the lost. He trained disciples to become fishers of men.

If we are not somehow engaged in the work of seeing people come to eternal life in heaven we are not truly working our faith.

Finally the goal of our salvation is our transformation into the image of Jesus. Making disciples means teaching obedience to everything Jesus has commanded us.

The work of spiritual development among fellow followers is the normal activity of Christians meeting together. This work is not supposed to be limited by vocation but is to be the normal occupation of all those who love Jesus and obey His commands.

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Doing God’s will

James 1.22 commands God’s people to be doers of the Word and not hearers only deceiving ourselves.

The church appears to be pretty much asleep in self-deception that their belief in God is sufficient for pleasing God.

Demons believe in God and cower in terror at His presence because believing is not the same as obeying. The Christian is to know the Word of God for in it God has recorded His will and ways.

However, God’s purpose for providing the Scriptures is for us to know His will that we might obey His will thus bringing Him glory upon the earth as He has in heaven among the angels.

Knowing and doing are radically different just like we know we should diet and exercise but remain overweight; we know we should reconcile broken relationships but remain apart: we know much that is right but do little.

God’s expectation is that we be doers of His will for He has supplied not only the information to know His will but the power to carry-out His will through the Holy Spirit Who is given to all those who love God and seek to please Him.

Jesus did not become the sacrifice that led to His being the Savior of the world based upon His belief in God but rather through His perfect obedience to God He was made the perfect sacrifice for God.

Now Christians are to offer themselves to God as a living sacrifice doing His work for His glory. This work is primarily the reconciliation of people to God through Jesus Christ.

If we are truly doers of God’s word then we will be active in exposing people to the truth of Jesus and helping people grow in their love and obedience to Him.

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the truth of the Bible

Luke 1.18 asks how shall I know this?

Zechariah had just received a prophetic announcement from an angel, a messenger of God, then asks him how do I know what you are telling me is true?

Zechariah heard the words but they seemed incredible to him so he wanted some kind of proof that what was spoken would indeed occur. God gave him a sign but not one he wanted, the sign he received was a closed mouth, loss of voice until the prophecy was fulfilled, in this way Zechariah was kept from spreading his doubt to others.

We call the Bible the Word of God and so it is for its pages contain the record of God’s actions, commands and desires. Few however are those who seek to understand and apply diligently the Word of God preferring instead to have others explain small pieces of it to them on an occasional basis.

Many more ask the same question as Zechariah, ‘how can we know the Bible is true?’ These people want some confirmation whether through the miraculous or through science or through archeology.

When studied by men seriously the Bible has always proved itself historically, psychologically and economically accurate but parts of it do require faith to believe such as the creation, the flood and the resurrection.

What displeased God when He lived among us as Jesus Who received the same demand from men about His words – ‘prove them’ – is the lack of acceptance that if God says it then that should settle it.

God has spoken which should be enough for those who believe and those who believe should desire above all things to hear God speak.

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Being Perfected

Hebrews 10.14 observes He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

One of the arguments against Christianity is that anyone can be forgiven by God no matter what evil they have ever done or how far out of balance a person’s bad deeds outweigh their good deeds.

This is also one of the most beautiful truths of Christianity, one that sets it apart from every other religion and truly proves that if there really is a God then certainly He exists as that One portrayed by Christianity.

Since God requires perfection (and doesn’t that make sense if God is perfect) and since people are incapable of perfection we need a God Who loves, forgives and pardons not based upon our failed performance but upon His perfection. This is exactly what God has done through Jesus Christ for all those who seek God asking for His forgiveness.

In that moment of repentance and reconciliation God declares the repentant sinner a perfect son though the visible manifestation of that declaration has yet to occur.

God is perfecting or sanctifying those whom He has declared perfect and holy.

Those who claim to be Christian are still flawed, still broken, still in need of change but they are forgiven, they have been pardoned and they have been given salvation not because of what they have done or failed to do but because of what Jesus did and transferred to those who call Him Savior.

This uniquely Christian truth causes those who understand it to truly love God and to strive with all their energy to please this good God Who has done so much for them both now and in the age to come.

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Being blessed

1 Chronicles 4.9 observes Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.

A few years ago a book become very popular that discussed receiving God’s blessing like Jabez who prayed for God to bless him. Those who tell the secrets for receiving God’s blessing and prosperity tend to have the largest churches and sell the most books but often misrepresent the true nature of God and how He lived among us as a poor carpenter in Jesus.

God is good and as the Father of all and particularly His adopted, He loves to do good to them.

Jesus taught the faithful in little will be given more so too Jabez was first an honorable or righteous man. God blessing Jabez was made easier by Jabez’s character – a character that could withstand being blessed without losing faith or becoming too arrogant so as to be of no use to God.

Few indeed are those who can handle the power, prominence and responsibility of having much unrighteous mammon and still enter the Kingdom of heaven.

The hardest people to get to heaven God warned are the rich.One man who was deeply loved by God and was also very rich was Job.

Job was chosen for his assignment not because he could handle wealth but because he could handle poverty and sickness.

The most mature is not the one has the most wealth or power but he who has learned to be content and rejoice in whatever circumstances they find themselves.

The Christian duty is to glorify God by spending all of our time, talent and treasure possible for bringing God’s Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. Life is not about us and our comfort but about God and His greatness.

Our blessings and curses are to be used to help others see and experience Jesus otherwise they are wasted.

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Doing Right

Proverbs 28.4 observes those who forsake the law praise the wicked.

Perhaps the highest form of praise is a vote for President of the United States of America.

Many who call themselves Christian voted for Barack Hussein Obama to continue as President despite his overtly anti-Biblical values, policies and deeds.

It is not arguable that he supports through funding and policy abortion and homosexuality. It is arguable though highly circumstantial at minimum, that he watched the death of Americans at Benghazi while having the power to stop it thus committing murder.

The Scripture is clear in its condemnation of murder; whether it be the innocent unborn or the vulnerable worker and soldier in a foreign land, and sexual immorality which specifically includes homosexuality.

Neither the murderer nor the sexually immoral will inherit eternal life with God in heaven or upon the new earth.

So how was it that so many supposed Christians supported the Obama presidency?

First too many are Biblically ignorant and thus not surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

People are not Christians because they believe in God, the great enemy of God the devil does that, people are Christians who have denied themselves and taken-up their cross to follow Jesus. It is the surrendered and obedient disciple of Jesus who will inherit eternal life.

Second many Christians have not given themselves to the work of discipleship which is the understanding and application of God’s will and word to our everyday life.

Entertainment rather than commitment is what people are experiencing in too many churches thus leading far too many to a shallow understanding of Jesus and what it means to truly be His disciple.

If we would do right we must purse and obey the Righteous One.

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