God Made It Simple

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a middle aged man who was in the midst of a very stressful situation.  He spoke of his past Christian experience and was confused about the future.   Our interaction reminded me, that as biblically born again believers, when we wake up in the morning, there are only TWO things the Lord requires of us:

  • To Love Him
  • To Love Our Neighbor as Ourselves

The Lord Jesus said:

“…AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH. The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’   Mark 12:30-31

and then He adds this statement:

“There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:31

The Lord Jesus says there is nothing greater than loving the biblical God and our fellow man.

The word “love” is the Greek agapao. This “speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it. It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object. It is a love of esteem and praise.” (Wuest) It is the same word the Apostle John used in John 3:16 to describe how God feels about lost mankind, whom He sent Jesus to redeem. He considers each person precious. That is why He paid such a high price to redeem lost sinners, like you and me.

Therefore, when I wake in the morning, this is all that God requires of me.  I am to consider my fellow man, lost or saved, as precious to God and, therefore, to me.

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, He gives me the desire and willingness to do this. (Philippians 2:13).

If I love God like Jesus said:

  • I will have no other gods before Him
  • I will not have idols in my life
  • I will not take His name in vain
  • I will treat Him as Holy

And if I love my neighbor as myself:

  • I will not murder him
  • I will not commit adultery with his wife
  •  I will not steal from him
  •  I will not lie to him or against him
  • I will not covet his possessions.

When a person is biblically born again by the Holy Spirit, God begins to change that person from a “hater” to a “lover”.  A “hater”, as I am using it, is someone who sins against God and his fellow man. A synonym of “sinner”.

Take for example the apostle John.

The Lord Jesus nicknamed John and his brother James, the Sons of Thunder. They evidently had a short temper. Luke 9: 54 says that they wanted to call down fire from heaven to kill some Samaritans who did not receive Jesus into their village. Jesus rebuked them saying “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” After years had passed, we see in the Book of Acts, John with Peter returning to the Samaritans to minster to them (a manifestation of love) with Philip, the deacon. Through what John learned from Jesus as a disciple and what God did in his heart when he was born again, he was changed from a “hater” to a “lover” of the Samaritans.

Later in his life, he wrote what we know as I John. In chapter 4: 7-12 his changed heart is manifested in these words:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is PERFECTED in us.   (emphasis added)

Everything God has done for us through Christ is to help us PERFECT His love in us:

  • We identify with the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection, therefore, we can overcome Satan and our sinful nature and walk in love toward others.
  • When we are born again, the Holy Spirit spreads the love of God in our hearts so we can properly love Him and our fellow man.
  • The Holy Spirit is given to us to comfort, teach, and encourage us as we fight the good fight of faith in learning and persevering to walk in love toward others
  • The Bible is given to us to teach us how to love through the example and instruction of others who had to learn to walk in love.
  • The Bible gives us levees for our love so it is channeled in the right direction and does not overflow into unrighteous.
  • The Body of Christ, the Church, is a place to exercise our love gifts, share love and perfect our love.
  • When Christ returns and we stand in His Presence, we will not turn away in shame because we have conducted ourselves like He conducted himself.

The ultimate goal of the Christian life is to be PERFECTED in love.  To cause us to do what the scripture said in the beginning of this blog. To stop being a “hater” and change into a “lover” of people and God.

Conducting ourselves in love toward others, assures us that we are saved, “God abides in us“.  John said “We love, because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19)

The devil will use religion to heap expectations and distractions on us that will choke the true spiritual life out of you if you let it. If that is where you are, take a time out and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any traditions of men or church that are clouding your understanding of God and what he expects of you. Then ask Him to PERFECT His love in you.

In closing, listen to Paul’s personal priorities as expressed in I Corinthians 13 and 14:

” If I speak with the tongue of men and angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love ,I am nothing. 

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

“But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

“Pursue love…” (emphasis and underlining added)

In Paul’s personal life he was pursuing love. He was another disciple that was changed from a literal “killer” of Christians to a “lover”. May we yield to the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit Who is trying to make us “lovers”, freeing us from being “haters”.

Thank you for your time.  May we be enriched in all knowledge and understanding by His Holy Spirit who was sent to lead you and I into all truth.

Carl

Desperate People

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16

God’s good news is powerful to save men’s souls from destruction. I recently ran across this very short story of hungry souls desperate for truth. The author was speaking with acquaintances in Spain about how they came to Christ. The following is their story:

“One man heard the gospel in a cemetery, where they went on holy days to pray to the saints and their ancestors. Knowing this pagan custom, a small group of despised evangelicals had come there to give out literature. Another young man learned the gospel from a tract which a friend had torn up in anger and thrown to the ground. So starved was this religious person for truth that he laboriously pieced the tract back together, read it, and was saved.”

This man was so desperate for Truth, that he took the time to gather up the pieces of torn paper and, like a puzzle, fit them all together. Just so he could see what the tract said. Maybe he saw something in the “despised evangelicals” who gave out the tract, that made him believe they knew God in a different way than he knew Him. The result was he did find the biblical Jesus and he was born again by God’s grace through faith. Jesus welcomed him and began to quench his thirst for Truth.

Every day, though we don’t recognize it, we interact with desperate people that need to meet the true, biblical Jesus. As we have shared, there are many different Jesus’s in the world. Many people are deceived and are hungry for the Truth which satisfies.

You personally know the Truth (John 14:6), if you are biblically born again. Take the time to share a Christian tract with them or share a short testimony of what God has done in your life. You never know when you will save a soul from eternal destruction or sow a seed that will grow into eternal life.

May the Holy Spirit fill you with His boldness to be a daily witness!

Carl

An Atheist Finds God in A Stove

“…you shall be My witnesses…”     Jesus   Book of Acts 1:8

I recently read Grace and Then Freedom by a World War II Russian paratrooper officer named Nikolai Alexandrenko. It is his story of being born and raised in communist Russia and as a young man fighting the Nazis in WWII.  After being wounded and captured by the German army in southern Russia, he spent four years in post-war Germany as a displaced person.  One day while trying to start a fire in a wood burning stove, he, an atheist, found two pieces of a gospel tract in Russian that someone had torn up and thrown in the stove.

Following is his testimony of what happened to him when he read these two scraps of the gospel tract.  It shows the power of the gospel when it falls into the hands of one whom the Holy Spirit has prepared to receive the good news of Jesus Christ.  He starts by sharing what he found:

 “So these two little leaflets in my native language caught my eye, and I began to read.

One was Revelation 3:20, in which Jesus Christ says “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and him with me.”

Then there was Matthew 11:28, in which Jesus says, ” Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Following these two verses there was an explanation about the verses that were quoted from the Bible. And I remember particularly this question, saying, “Jesus Christ, the son of God, is standing now at your heart and is knocking. Did you knock to God in your sorrows?”

Those words from the scripture and that question struck me like a sledgehammer. I just stopped and forgot about everything else in the world, and I said to myself, “God—does God exist?”

“After that question an answer came —-yes, there is God. And then a second question —-then why am I so miserable in my life? And a second answer —because I never knocked to God in my sorrow.

Though I was alone in that big cold room I suddenly felt that someone, though invisible, was standing before me and knocking on my heart.  He was talking to me personally.  And I felt an urge to say something to that invisible somebody. So for the first time in  my life, not really being a Christian, I offered my first prayer. I said “God, for 27 years of my life I have been in darkness.” I said “God, if you really are, if you really exist, lift me out of this condition, and explain all things about yourself. If you really are, do you want me to spend the rest of my life in the darkness?”

When I said those words in my prayer, I felt the tears begin to roll down my cheeks and words of repentance about my sins began to come out of my mouth.”

He goes on to explain that, through all the hurt in his life, he had never cried, even when his mother died as a boy. God would later open a door for him to come to the U.S. and eventually was a professor at a Christian college in my hometown.  I met Dr. Nik in 1980 while working in the yard one Saturday and he was visiting the neighborhood to invite people to the church he was attending.  Later he would interpret some letters for me that we had received from Russians we had met while planting churches in Russia after the Iron Curtain came down. He was a very interesting brother in the Lord.

I encourage you to be a witness in your daily life. Tracts are cheap and easy to hand out to people you encounter in your daily business.  Don’t let the devil put the fear of being rejected on you.  If they reject you, they are really rejecting the One who sent you. And remember, there are more Dr. Nik’s out there who the Holy Spirit has prepared to receive the seed of His Word.

Be a witness.

Carl

 

 

 

The Narrow Way

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“Enter by the NARROW gate; for the gate is WIDE, and the way is BROAD that leads to destruction and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is SMALL and the way is NARROW that leads to life and few are those who find it.” Jesus Matthew 8: 13-14. (Emphasis added)

Notice that Jesus said a narrow gate.  Jesus further described this narrow gate when He said to the disciples:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

The biblical Jesus is the narrow gate, the small gate. And I stress it is the “biblical” Jesus. He is the only way to God.  This is why everyone needs to read the Bible. Salvation is not through a denomination or a specific church.  It is only through Jesus Christ who died for our sins.

There are other Jesus’s in the world. Paul warned about them:

“But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your mind should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches ANOTHER JESUS whom we have not preached, or you receive a DIFFERENT SPIRIT which you have not received, or a DIFFERENT GOSPEL which you have not accepted….”. Apostle Paul II Corinthians 11: 3-4 (emphasis added)

The Mormons have their Jesus, who they declare is Satan’s brother. Islam has a Jesus which is just a great prophet and not the Son of God. New Agers have a Jesus that is their spirit guide and just one of many gods. Occultists have a Jesus that approves of their occultic practices and is not the Jesus of the Bible who condemned their practices.  There is the Jesus of Roman Catholicism that is mean and unapproachable therefore you need to go to his mother Mary and ask her to intercede for you. There is the Jesus of the immoral who, despite their lifestyle of fornication, adultery, homosexuality or lesbianism, they erroneously believe He is pleased with them.   Jehovah Witnesses have a Jesus who they believe was God’s first creation instead of the eternal existing Son of God. And their are many more.

I tell you there is only one Jesus and He is revealed in the Bible and all others are deceptions of the evil one who has deceived the whole world. Much deception is cloaked in religion, intellectualism, rituals and things that are highly prized by mankind.

Make sure you are entering by the narrow gate and not the wide gate that leads to destruction. For

“Many will say to Me on that day. ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ ” JESUS Matthew 8: 22-23.

Carl

Soul -Making

“This is a necessary step in soul-making. Temptation is sent to unveil the evils that lie deep within us, to reveal them to us and confront us with the truth of Nathan’s terrible words to [King] David: “You are the man!” (I Samuel 12:7 italics added). Yet this revelation is just the beginning of all the good God intends to do for us, for before we can be greatly used by God, we must see the monstrous evil in our own souls.”

“Jesus put it this way: “From within, out of man’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly…” (Mark 7:21-22) All the wickedness in the world lurks in us, undiscovered or disregarded, out of sight and out of mind.”

“God allows temptation and sin to show us who we are; they are the means by which He makes us aware of all the unholy tendencies, motives, and appetites that reside within us. To know and despair of ourselves is to know our need for God, the necessary prerequisite for handing ourselves over to Him for His healing.”

The Upside of Sin in The God Who Walks Beside Us – David Roper

Today, if you are struggling with some sin, temptation or are in a trial, I pray this word will encourage you. All that you are going through is not in vain. God is working in His children to do of His good pleasure. Go to Him in prayer because

“… we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are yet with sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in the time of need.”

Carl

Payday for the Proud

“GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”    James 4:6

I don’t know about you, but I definitely need the grace of God daily.  I don’t need Him to oppose me or resist me because of pride in my life. I need Him to enable me to walk in the Spirit and be a blessing to others, not a stumbling block to others.

Here is scripture I found in Isaiah that speaks of a day of reckoning. It is a good reminder of what happens to the proud and those who reject God’s Word. May it be food for your spirit man.

“For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty, and against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be abased.”

“And the pride of man will be humbled, and the loftiness of men will be abased, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

“But the idols will completely vanish. And men will go into caves of the rocks, and into holes of the ground BEFORE THE TERROR OF THE LORD, AND BEFORE THE SPLENDOR OF HIS MAJESTY, WHEN HE ARISES TO MAKE THE EARTH TREMBLE.”

“In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, in order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, BEFORE THE TERROR OF THE LORD AND THE SPLENDOR OF HIS MAJESTY, WHEN HE ARISES TO MAKE THE EARTH TREMBLE.”

Isaiah 2: 12, 17-21 NASB (emphasis added)

In Isaiah, God is about to bring judgement on the “house of Jacob” who has forsaken Him, for idols. Terrible judgement is coming on them. The proud will be humbled.

In Revelation 6: 14-17 we see the same futile “hiding” by the proud in the future. They still have their idols and have rejected the gospel of the Lord.

“And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains;

and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “FALL ON US AND HIDE US FROM THE PRESENCE OF HIM WHO SITS ON THE THRONE, AND FROM THE WRATH OF THE LAMB;

FOR THE GREAT DAY OF THEIR WRATH HAS COME; AND WHO IS ABLE TO STAND?”

(emphasis added)

He describes these people and their idolatry in Revelation 9:20:

“And the rest of mankind, who where not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of sliver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”

Thanks be to God, our Father, because He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins. We will not be on the receiving end of “the wrath of the Lamb”.  Let us walk humbly before our God and greatly rejoice in His love, grace and mercy.

May His peace be upon you! Keep yourself from idols!

Carl

Confessing, Instead of Hiding

“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.

I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.”

“Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they shall not reach him.”

David – Psalm 32: 3-6

“We find many ways to get around admitting our sin. We rationalize our sins away. We try to drown out the guilt with all types of distractions that keep us bustling from one activity to another. Over time, our sins deplete our will to even approach God in prayer. David was intimately familiar with all the ways one can try to hide sin.  He had exhausted himself covering up his own sins. But every thing changed when David finally refused to keep running away from his sin: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you.””

“Like David, we can find our prayer life renewed when we freely confess our sins to God. Does your prayer life seem lifeless and ineffective? Examine your heart and confess your sin.  And let God restore your prayer life to what it can and should be.”

(NASB app daily devotional.)

I hope you enjoyed this.  I did. Confession of our sins renews fellowship with our Holy Father in Heaven.  A place of life, joy and strength.

God bless you. May we tell Him all that we need to tell Him.  He loves us and beckons us to His throne of grace daily.

Carl