Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gonna have to serve somebody

Dusty idea today is knowing that we're either for God or against him. A lot of people today have decided that there's a gray area where people can be judged as "good enough to keep" by God. We can be good people, not be dishonest, be faithful to our spouse, always return the tools we borrowed from our neighbors and we got a chance at being saved. Never darkened the door of a church, except that time at the blood drive. That counts doesn't it? The only blood that's gonna matter is the blood that Christ lost on the cross. If you aren't actively living for Christ, doing his will, you don't have any sacrifice for your sins.

Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)

Man has somehow decided that we can be saved without ever coming to believe that Jesus is the son of God. We've decided that our personal plan of salvation doesn't have to include baptism. We've decided that we don't really know if God is up there somewhere, but just in case I'll try to keep my nose clean here on earth so he can find me a good person and save me one day.

Hebrews 9:27-28 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (ESV)

You can see in the writing above that Jesus isn't coming back to see what he can do about getting you to follow him, or some other thing to give you another chance. He's coming back to receive those that are waiting for him, eagerly wish to see him.

So we come to the eternal question. Who are you gonna serve?

Matthew 12:30 (Jesus speaking) Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. (ESV)

No gray area here for good old boys and girls. Good old boys and girls are going to be lost if they don't get to know Jesus. Jesus is the only thing that can save us.

Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

So again, who you gonna serve?

Reasons for not serving Jesus, are any of these your reasoning?

1. Ignorance of your need for Christ

2. Too many rules I want to live my life

3. People should accept me as I am, I know whats best for me so God just needs to give up and let me be me

4. You don't believe that Jesus is the Son of God and you're only hope.

5. You don't believe in God whether you want to claim atheism or that you're an agnostic, same difference as far as receiving God's Son as your sacrifice for sin.

6. You believe all this but you're not ready to give up your lifestyle yet, I'm young and I got plenty of time.

7. You think God should conform to your way of thinking instead of the other way around.

8. You just don't care about God or Jesus and if Hell is in your future so be it.

9. Snobby people down at the church aren't any better than me.

10. I won't fit in, Christian people just won't accept me.

If any of these reason above are yours then the next two verses are for you.

Matthew 25:41, 46 Then will he say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (ESV)

The answer to the question at this point is really a no brainer. It only pays to serve God. You can have a few days of pleasure here ignoring God and getting all your pleasure from satan, or you can follow God and live forever in the heavenly realm. You can decide to just do nothing about Jesus and see what happens. Satan would like that, if you're not on Jesus' side you are automatically on his side.

This last verse always sobers me, and I'll end with this thought.

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Conforming to this world?

Dusty idea is we're not going to conform to this world or be like worldly people. This idea is trapped in concrete somewhere. Its very deep inside the dust, can't even be viewed by people anymore. If you want to be talked down to by worldly people and people professing Christianity, bring some of these points up.

We're gonna start with the writings of the apostle Paul.

Romans 12:2-Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

We've gotten the "can we conform with the world?" question out of the way. No, you can't be of the world and follow Christ. Luke 16:13 say you cannot serve two masters. John 15:19 says that if Christ chooses you, you are not of this world. You have to decide if the Bible is true or false. Strange as this may sound, if you get along with literally everyone, everywhere you go then you've probably conformed with the world in some way. Everywhere Jesus went people either flocked to him and idolized him or they wanted to stone him. There was no lukewarm good old buddy, "can't we just get along" going on.

Ads, media, music, politics, junk mail ads, your boss at work, your peers, friends and your spouse are things that satan uses to try to make us conform to this world. How many times a day do we have to tell ourselves that we are to be a choice race, a royal priesthood. How many times a day perhaps a billboard on the road will tell you how much fun you can have drinking alcohol or going to a riverboat casino? We hear radio commercials advertising the latest "R" rated movie and how it just can't be missed by one and all. Ads are everywhere telling us the latest birth control to get, to the latest and greatest beer. Fashion ads are telling us how to dress or be undressed so modesty is thrown to the wind. People just have a tendency to conform to these kinds of things if they think "everybody else" is doing them. Political ads and candidates want their opinions to be yours, and you're slow and unintelligent if you don't see it their way. Some music is promoting ideas that are completely contrary to the word of God. TV/Cable programs promote promiscuity, drinking, marital affairs, homosexuality, and the bad guy actually gets by without paying a price sometimes. God's people have to know when they are conforming to the world. They have to know when to say no to something.

We have to conduct our actions and language as if Christ himself were sitting right next to us. How many people would get in their skimpy bathing suit/bikini (male or female) and sit down next to the Lord? Most sane thinking people would say that's ridiculous, they would never do that, but they don't mind going to a public beach and doing the same thing. What about bringing that "R" rated movie home with the Lord there? Would you try to take Jesus to the casino with you? Would you try to convince Jesus that the political issues of the day have to be compromised on such as abortion and gay rights just so we can get something done? All of these are ridiculous questions. I could never name all examples of conforming, they're as vast as this world itself. Christians that spend time in the Word will recognize conforming when it rears its head. Christ himself said in Revelations chapters 2-3 when speaking to the seven churches, "I know thy works" and he knows ours.

If you allow all these things to subvert God and compromise to something between God and the prince of this world, Satan. Satan wins.

The flow of this world is with the grain.

As Christians we have to go against the grain.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Forgiving completely pt. 2

Same dusty idea as the previous blog, just too much to cover in a single post. We are going to address the human factor in dealing with forgiveness. Namely the "forgive and forget" aspect. The ability to forget an offense to the point its not even remembered. In essence, divine forgiveness, are humans capable of it? We're going to cover some of the things we can glean from what Christ left us in scripture.

Case in point Acts 15:36-41 is when Paul decided go on a second missionary journey and Barnabas wanted to take John Mark. Paul didn't want to take him again because he had withdrawn from them and didn't finish the earlier work. Paul didn't want to set himself up for that potential disappointment of John Mark leaving again. Paul and Barnabas had a discussion and they didn't agree about this. Barnabas and John Mark separated from Paul and went somewhere else. Was Paul in the right to not have him come with him? Yes. Was Barnabas right to part from Paul and take John Mark with him? Yes. Both men were correct a separation was needed, both men recognized it and went on about their way. Sometimes loving your brother may mean a separation for the better of all. If Paul practiced what he preached, he forgave John Mark for leaving him earlier. Do you think Paul forgave him? Yes. Does that mean things had to go back to the way they were? No. Paul in this case forgave, but did not forget. They needed to separate, cut down on the drama and continue on with God's work. God's work is the whole point after all.

This example from Paul and Barnabas is enough to convince me that even after someone has forgiven another they may not be able interact as before the offense.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Forgiving completely

Dusty idea today is: Lets forgive people to the point the Bible says we need to.

It's getting tougher each day to take the humanity out of humans and be able to forgive as Christ spoke of and did. Perhaps a definition of forgiving is in order. My definition would be the ability to not allow an offense or a negative action toward you or someone else to affect how you treat the offender according to Christian values. I'm only concerned with Christian values in the blog, because if you have that approach it will be superior to any other way that seem right to humanity. Another definition of forgive found in the Greek text in Jesus' sermon on the mount is to "lay aside".

Luke 17:3-4 can be a real stumbling block for the forgiver.

Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him,
and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven
time in the day, and turns to you seven times saying, "I repent",
you must forgive him. (ESV)

We might could say, "Lord, what if they keep doing the same thing to me or us over and over?"
Looks like Luke 17 is saying we have to forgive if the brother repents. In fact Luke says that even if the brother says that he repents we need to take that at face value since humans can't discern the intent of the heart. Proverbs 16:25 says there is a way that seemth right unto men, but the ends of those ways are death.

Luke 17:1 also says that it is impossible that offenses will not come. It is only our reaction to them that is going to be in question. Forgiveness to our closest family members, an uncle, aunt, mother or daddy, but especially a spouse is hard to come by. It seems to be in our culture or humanity to hold things over or against our spouse. If they're brothers or sisters in Christ they also need the same level of forgiveness we would afford anyone else. If they're not members of the Lord's church and there's no forgiveness how would that spouse ever be able to convert the other.

There's also a certain amount of judgemental thought processes that go along with this. The process of getting offended to the point of deciding you need to approach someone with a problem needs to be tempered with the amount of judging we want leveled our way. Matt 7 doesn't say people can't judge others. It says that whatever judgment we use it will be measured to us also. If you don't give Christ any help in judging others then He won't judge you.

After we've forgiven someone and put the matter squarely in God's loving hands, we run the risk of the matter not being handled as we'd like. We may have decided that God is our fire and brimstone vengeance deliverer, and he may be. He may also be what we know him to be, a loving God that wants everyone to be saved that shows great mercy. He may bless them, prosper them and save their eternal souls, rather than strike them dead with a lightening bolt. This may not satisfy our sense of what should happen. If this is the case have we really forgiven completely?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Focus at worship, He is in here.

Dusty idea today is we need to train our minds to focus on God during worship. On his worthiness to receive worship, not our worthiness to receive blessings.

I think worship is an act toward God that requires quite a bit of concentration to stay focused on. Some Christians know they're suppose to worship but don't quite know what it is. It's singing to God right? It's listening to the preacher right? It's taking of the Lord's supper right? It's thanking God for all his blessings, finite and eternal. It's all these things if the proper frame of mind is reached.

Worship defined - realizing that something or someone is greater and worth more and by consequence to be feared, obeyed and adored. Allowing a greater power to master you.

First we need to understand who and what we are worshipping. We are worshipping a spirit, God is a spirit and he is the most powerful thing that any of our senses can detect. We can't see anything more majestic or powerful than God, including anything you can see in a microscope or a telescope. We can't hear anything more intimidating than God's works. Next time a thunderstorm comes your way take time to listen, watch the lightening, hear the wind and see the rainbow.

How does our worship stack up compared to what the Bible says God is accustomed to? In Revelations 4 we have a picture of what John saw. Picture God sitting on a throne, with a rainbow with the appearance of emerald around it. Twenty-four other thrones surrounding this throne with crowned kings wearing white. From the throne there are lightning flashes, thunder and rumblings. Also before the throne seven torches of fire, and a sea of glass like crystal. God is pictured with four living creatures, one on each side of his throne that never stop saying "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!". Everytime these creatures give glory and honor and thanks to God, the twenty-four seated elders fall down and worship him giving God their alliegance by casting their crowns before God. They also say, "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."

Don't know about you but a half-hearted worship thinking about whats for lunch, about the ball game last night, about who we might ask out for a date, about that mistake the song leader may have made isn't in the least comparable to what God is accustomed to. Work, relatives and any other distractions we allow to take away from the worship of God lets us lose focus on the eternal.

During worship to God we need to know that we are giving God our full attention and are fully praising him in spirit and in truth. Is it human nature to let our minds wander? I think it is, but that is just one of the things of the flesh we will need to tame to be pleasing to God.