Sunday, April 29, 2018


Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall
Proverbs 16:18

What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”  Micah 6:8

Why is pride so destructive? []
– Pride blinds us to who we really are.
– Pride tells us we’re better than we really are; so there’s no need to repent or to change.
– Pride cuts us off from God, and also from others.
– Pride puts us above others, which makes us look down on others,
and cuts us off from them as a result; and we feel we don’t need God.

   Today, let's talk about the sinfulness of pride.   We are all sinners of pride, because we think too much of ourselves, we rely on ourselves too much, and we value ourselves above others.  When we truly humble ourselves, we acknowledge that we can do  nothing apart from God.  Psalm 10:4 "In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God."  
   "If self-centeredness controls our thinking, we’ll seek ways around divine commands in order to serve ourselves. When caught, we may try to justify our disobedience.  When we are willing to confront our pride actively, God will replace it with a spirit of humility that fits who we are in Christ."  []
    There are many examples of pride's destructive aftermath in the Bible to warn us from falling victim to it.  2 Chronicles 26:16 "But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall."  2 Chronicles 32:25 "But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem."  Isaiah 16:6 "We have heard of Moab’s pride— how great is her arrogance!— of her conceit, her pride and her insolence; but her boasts are empty."  In Daniel 5:20-21 regarding Nebuchadnezzar, "But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.  He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes."  In Isaiah 13:11, "I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
     Don't get dismayed, there is hope for all of us that is found in humility and repentance.  2 Chronicles 32:26  "Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah."   Proverbs 11:2 "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."
3 Common Areas of Pride and How to Rethink Them  []
Possessions. Start giving things away. We can begin by honoring God with our tithe. He promises that our nine-tenths will go farther than ten-tenths. The next step is to give to someone in need who can give nothing in return. But don't parade your generosity around; keep it as secret as you can (Matt. 6:1-4).
Position. Acknowledge that whatever you have accomplished, God has done it for you (Isa. 26:12). Then ask Him to show you an area of service that has no rank or credit. Knowing that the Lord values every kind of service, we shouldn't hesitate to request a place that is lower than we're accustomed to. Our position in this world matters only to the extent that we use it to glorify God (James 1:9-11).
Privilege. Realize that many things you may take pride in come through privilege. None of us is truly "self-made"; no matter how hard you've worked, others have made sacrifices to allow you the opportunities and freedoms you enjoy. Remember, it is actually God's grace that has blessed you with whatever knowledge you may credit yourself for having.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Error of Abusing God's Grace--Antinomianism by GuestWriter, Dale Foster

Last week we read that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, not of works, unless any of us may boast.  Ultimately there are only two religions in the world, salvation by faith, or salvation by works.  One is true and leads to Heaven.  The other is false and shall lead its followers to damnation. There is error in counting on your good works to somehow bribe God.  On the contrary, His grace is “unmerited favor”, and is our only hope of salvation. 

There is also error of the other extreme.  The perilous philosophy of living in the temporary “pleasures” of sin and abusing the grace of God while claiming the name of Christ is known as antinomianism, which simply means ‘against or contrary to law’—lawlessness.  A destructive philosophy of both ancient and modern popularity is the idea that a “Christian” need not abandon a sinful lifestyle, but instead considers the sacrifice of Christ on the cross as his license to behave as a libertine.  While considering this, be mindful of what James wrote, “The demons believe, and tremble.”  Paul addresses this dangerous idea in 1 Corinthians 3, by which passage many have supposed a special class of Christian known as “carnal Christians.”  A “Law” and “Grace” paradigm suggests that the Old Testament believers, the Jews, were under the Law, but that the world at large, as the New Testament applies to Jew and Greek, lives under grace (and not law).  In one respect, this is true.  All of mankind exists by the common grace of God; they live, they breathe, they enjoy life, no matter their sorrows.  In this life, none of us receives what all of us deserve—the wrath of God in a place of eternal torment.  We live under God’s common grace.  But in another respect, this ought not to be confused with God’s special grace, the calling of those believers who, by His grace, are walking in authentic faith (which is a gift of God {Ephesians 2:8b}).

This idea of antinomianism supposes that by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, those who “believe” in him possess a license of freedom to act as they please (it may be instructive on your own to research the etymology of the English word “believe”).  I know this philosophy very well.  Before Christ graciously saved me, my rationalization to sin was, in essence, “this is why Christ died, to pay for this sin {for which I had planned, accommodated, and used to enjoy)”.  Today even as I write these words, I am nauseated by my own corrupted justification of my sin.  Now I see antinomianism for what it is—the false convert drinks in the pleasures of sin while bathing in the blood of Christ.  The imagery is graphic, but no less is needed to illustrate the reality in which the carnal “Christian” lives.  (Remember that it was to this same church, the Corinthians, that Paul later wrote “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith, examine yourselves!” {2 Corinthians 13:5})

Is there such a thing as a false convert?  Jesus spoke of them often.  Many of His parables were warnings directed at those with a show of religion on the outside (whitewashed tombs), but on the inside were full of dead men’s bones.  Ten virgins, all similar in appearance, five prepared, five locked out.  One seed, four soils, same Gospel call.  One soil produced an amazingly robust-looking plant.  It sprung up tall, but the soil was weak, and it died out quickly.   And of course, who can ignore that ultimate pretender, Judas Iscariot.  Have you ever looked for him in the painting of The Last Supper?  He’s there.  He looks like all the others. 

Jesus called him a devil.  Judas was a false convert with a pretense of faith, but lived against the Law (he was stealing their money).

The Law of God serves many purposes.  Among other functions, it is meant to show the sinner he needs to be saved (Galatians 3:24, the law our tutor that brings us to Christ), to stop the sinner from self-justification (Romans 3:19-20), and to refresh the soul (Psalm 19).  Knowing its beautiful purposes, how could the true Christian who possesses authentic faith in Christ resist or despise the Law of God? 

Among numerous other passages, Paul gives us a glimpse of what our response to the idea of living against God’s Law ought to be in Romans 6:  “What shall we say then?  Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?  May it never be!”  (vv 1-2).   In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul argues that meat sacrificed to idols is nothing, yet eating it may damage a weaker believer’s conscience.  In fact, God through Paul takes it a step further and states that by exercising the liberty of grace and wounding the conscience of a weak brother, “you sin against Christ”  (verse 12), even when that activity is not expressly forbidden by Scripture.. 

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul states “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  Old things like our desires, affections, worldview, paradigms, love of sin, and hatred of God’s Law.   Those things pass away.  The saint isn’t transformed to sinless perfection at justification, which he will not see until glorification.  No, the saint is not sinless, he just sins less.  His desire is for purity, holiness, and truth.  His desire is for the Law of God. 

The homework for this week is to read Psalm 119, and see how the author (who might have been King David, a man after God’s own heart) felt about God’s Law.  “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.  How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.”

And remember gravely the warning of Jesus, as quoted in Matthew chapter 7, “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.’” 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

God's Grace IS Enough

Galatians 3:1-6  "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?  Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain?  So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?  So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Galatians 2:21  "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

 Galatians 3: 21-22  "Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not!  For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.  But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe."

         In today's blog, I want to scratch the surface on the subject of  'grace versus works'.  I want to begin with 2 Corinthians 12:9  " “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  I don't think this verse only applies to our daily trials, but also lays a fundamental truth that, 'We cannot save ourselves but we are saved by God's grace alone.'    Ephesians 2:8-9  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast."
        "God has rules. The problem is, none of us can or do keep them. But the point of God’s rules isn’t so that, in keeping them, we can be made right with Him. The point of His rules is to make apparent to us our glaring inadequacies and failure and sin. When we are left with no further claim to earning God’s favor through our own goodness we are finally ready to look to Jesus alone as Savior. The Bible says,  "The Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ." – Galatians 3:22 NLT  [B. Cox]
         Some people believe that without a certain 'work' being done in life that a person's belief in God as their Lord and Savior is invalidated.  Not True!  In John 3:16, it says 'whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life'.  It does not say 'whoever believes and ....[a list of works]'.  Is a death bed testimony of repentance and acceptance of Christ any less credible than any other profession of faith, according to Scripture?
         "Paul points out in verse 6 that Abraham was accepted by God not because he was circumcised, but because he trusted God’s promises and put his faith in him. (In Romans 4:10, Paul points out that God accepted Abraham as his son long before he ever got circumcised, so it would be pointless to argue from the life of Abraham that circumcision was necessary to be accepted by God!)" []
         Works are an important aspect to the Christian life, but they are a loving response to Christ's saving grace. God's grace is inexhaustible.  We can never establish ourselves as good enough, according to God's rules and standards.  We can only look to Jesus' death and resurrection for our sin atonement, not any human effort.  "There is unbelievable relief in this truth. There is freedom and liberty. There is assurance and eternal security. There is adoption into God’s family. There is the promise of life in heaven someday and an abundant, fulfilling life today."
        "It is not enough to know the truth, and to say we believe it, but we must obey it too; we must heartily submit to it, and stedfastly abide by it.  Those are spiritually bewitched who, when the truth as it is in Jesus is plainly set before them, will not thus obey it. "  [M. Henry] 
       "Keep in mind that serving God in order to earn His favor or ensure that He continues blessing you amounts to thwarting grace. You can do nothing to deserve the Lord’s kindness! He pours it upon believers freely, so the only thing you can “do” is receive it." []

        The lyrics to 'Who Am I' by Casting Crowns sums it all up pretty well...
           'Not because of who I am, but because of what You've done
            Not because of what I've done, but  because of who You are!'

Sunday, April 8, 2018

What's Keeping You Away From God?

Psalm 29
Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of his[a] holiness.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
    Sirion[b] like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
    with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
    the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks[c]
    and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.

       As a believer, I think about the times in my life when I was far from God and what influenced me off of His path.  In today's blog, I want to mention a few of these temptations to not only keep ourselves on the right track, but to help the lost with their struggle to hear God's calling.
       My Pastor said today, "Most people reject Christ, despite all the evidence, because they know it will cause them to make a change in their life."  Jesus said in Luke 9:23-25 "Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?We can sum those verses up into one word, 'Surrender.'  Surrender sounds like a defeated move, but with Christ it is your most powerful move in life.  It is choosing to follow Christ...over the world, over your sinful nature's desires, above your own will.

       What are some influences that try to sway us from accepting and following God's will?

1] Mediocrity--Acceptance of sin, without a desire for spiritual change or growth
2] Weakness-- Letting unanswered prayers make us think prayer life is not worthwhile
3] Worry-- Being consumed with daily problems and pressures turns you more to self than         God dependency.
4] Wealth-- Focusing on getting ahead materially, more so than spiritually; consumption vs        Creator
5] Pleasures-- Going outside the realm in which they were intended by God
6] Fear-- Lack of trust in God separates us from God and creates chaos in our lives.
7] Our Past-- Guilt from memories of former sins makes us feel that we are unforgivable          and unworthy to be in a relationship with God.
8] Peer Pressure-- The desire to fit in with the crowd for fear of missing out.
9] Pride-- Thinking too much of yourself and too little of God
10] Bitterness-- A hardened heart is resistant and defensive to change.

James 1:21   "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you."

Keep listening for the “still small voice” If you are weary on life’s road; The Lord will make your heart rejoice If you will let Him take your load. —Hess

Monday, April 2, 2018

Needs Met... Above and Beyond What I've Asked

Philippians 4:19  "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."
Matthew 6:7-8  "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."
Isaiah 58:11  "The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."
Job 10:12  "You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit."
Romans 15:4  "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope."
1 Corinthians 10:13  "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
1 Timothy 6:17  "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."
1 Peter 4:11  "If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

      When you look at our society, do you see more need or greed?  There is definitely both, but we have a Provider for all of our needs.  We often focus on our material needs more than our spiritual needs, but God knows and does whatever it takes to meet both of those needs.  "Many times, He allows a need to come so that He can teach you to trust Him in a greater way. No problem is too complicated or too difficult for Him to handle." []  Many of our hurts are the designated roads to what we needed to draw us closer in our relationship with Christ.
       Matthew 6:33 tells us "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."  God wants us to trust in Him before all else and obey His commands.  'THEN' is the key word, He is committed to providing for your needs and the desires of your heart, according to His will.  What you may think is a fulfilled desire, my turn into a life lesson with hurt, because you are not following His ways in your life.  "Anytime we “expect” God to move a certain way, we have missed the deeper lesson that He wants us to learn.  We should never obey Him merely to manipulate our situation. God knows our hearts. When we are surrendered to Him, He sees our devotion and goes to work on our behalf."[]
      In the verses above, each one shows the many different ways God provides for us.  He knows our needs before we do, He strengthens us physically and spiritually, He gives us hope and encouragement thru The Bible, He gives us an escape from temptation, He gives us pleasures in this world for our enjoyment..according to His will, and He gives us endurance to finish this race of life well to bring glory to His holy name.  What a list of reasons to trust Him completely with your eternal life.
     May you seek first the Kingdom of Heaven in your heart, mind and soul.  Then put your trust completely in God and His will for your life and its desires.  With obedience, He will not fail to guide and provide for all your needs...above and beyond what you've asked for in prayer.