Friday, January 20, 2023

"Treasures in heaven"

 What is meant by the words of Christ, "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal"? Shall we lay up gold there when the streets are said to have been paved with gold? Shall we equate the currency of heaven with earthly treasures? How then shall heaven be of greater value than earth? What is more valuable than the blood of Christ? What greater treasures are there than God Himself and all that He is and has? What did the priceless blood of Christ purchase? What treasure ought we to lay up? 

Souls and the good works which flow from a heart sanctified by the grace of God NO DOUBT!  

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Do we love what God loves? If so, do we love what God loves the way that He loved through Christ who is the brightness of such love and the perfect expression of it? Is our value system one with Christ's? Is there any opposition or distance between our value system and God's in thought or application? 

The thoughts and ways of God are higher than ours, as the heavens are higher above the Earth. However, the thought, mind, Word or Logos of God descended years ago to seed us earthen vessels that we may yield the fruit which is in accord with His holy will. This Seed is the promised Seed: Christ.

The love of God requires faith. Without faith, such love will appear unsound, unjust, unfair, unreasonable, overbearing, heavy and hard. For it is through faith that we receive this love in all of its inner workings and that the branches of its understanding outwardly flourishes and prospers through our lives. For to love those who love us is common to all; but to love those who do not only not return love, but instead return our love with hatred is quite another: to turn the other cheek until death ensues, to forsake the vain pleasures of this life to afford to help as many as possible whether grateful or ungrateful for our sacrifices, to be faithful to your spouse regardless of their choices, to be hated unjustly for simply living the teachings of Christ as Jesus and His apostles lived them is scary to many, yet this is the ONLY RATIONAL CONCLUSION TO THE NEW CREATURE WHO HAS THE MIND OF CHRIST. 

For the first few centuries of Christianity, the love of God in the early church seemed scary. For it was, as it were, multitudes possessed of a strange spirit as soon as they believed. Pagans were instantly converted and transformed by the power of God through faith. Their reasoning, perspective, habits, pursuits, vision, hopes, dreams, goals, desires were all transformed in little time. Whether rich or poor, all used what they had to provide for other believers and even unbelievers. Many parted with all of their wealth and gave it to others to distribute. Racists experienced a love without borders. They went from a manifold purpose of life to a singular; they only lived for and devoted themselves to WHAT WAS WRITTEN UPON THEIR HEARTS! Unity was not as difficult to attain; for they experienced a common salvation through a common faith in their common Head and were stitched together with the thread of the cross!

 "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Is your heart one with God's? Is your heart where God's heart is? Does your treasure on earth witness against your Christian confession? What does it testify of those who lay up for themselves SOME treasure in heaven but not all? A little here and a little there; a little hot and a little cold; to ignorantly do this is one thing, but to voluntarily prefer the vanity of this life to the blessedness of the Promise cannot be reconciled with the mind of Christ. 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Why does evil exist?

Evil exists because God created a world where love is possible. A world where love is possible could not exist if evil was impossible because both love and evil cannot exist without the ability to choose. To exclude the possibility of evil from the world is to exclude the possibility of love also. 

Apparently, our Creator believes that a world where evil is possible is still better than a world where love, meaningful relationships, and the ability to choose are impossible; that a meaningful existence is better than a mechanical or robotic existence.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

The Love of Jesus

Perhaps from the bloody cross, Jesus taught the apostle, "Love endures all things".


Perhaps it was the bloody cross that entered into the apostle's mind when Jesus told him, "It is more blessed to give than to receive".


Love is a Fountain. Love is a Giver. Love gives to those who do not deserve it, or earn it, and to those who would never desire to return it. 


Except for one place, everywhere Jesus went He was a Giver, even from the Cross. 


From His mother's womb, He caused His cousin John (the Baptist) to leap and baptized His aunt Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit. 


From His birth, He brought angels to sing from heaven announcing tidings of peace and goodwill. 


From His childhood, He gave thought-provoking questions which confounded the elders.


Throughout His life, He gave His virtue to the thankful and unthankful, to the good and the evil. 


At His betrayal, He gave His enemy a kiss of peace and called him "friend", for Jesus was certainly a Friend to him. When His disciple defended Him using a sword, cutting off an officer's ear, Jesus stooped down, grabbed the ear, and miraculously restored the officer's ear. 


Before his trial, He prayed that the faith of His beloved disciple would not fail after he would deny Him before His enemies during the trial. 


At His trial, instead of speaking from hurt, rejection, or anger, He gave silence. His silent acceptance of the cross was our salvation.


From the cross, He gave forgiveness to those who crucified Him. From the cross, He announced salvation to one repentant soul who moments before had railed on Him. From the cross, He gave His disciple to His mother and His mother to His disciple. Even then, He sought to comfort others, rather than seeking to be comforted; to understand, rather than to be understood. His selfless love endured all things. He gave until He had nothing more to give. Perhaps the only way for JESUS to bear the pain of those who hurt Him was to bear the cross and to die upon it for them. The pain of others rejecting eternal life was greater than the pain of His own rejection. From the cross, we learn that when love is in pain, it gives and when love is perfected, it can suffer cheerfully. 


It is indeed more blessed to give than to receive. In His immense poverty, Jesus endlessly gave. His giving endured all things. He died not with His arms folded but stretched out, willing to embrace all who would look to receive His Gift.


His love defied every natural impulse to retain what was best for those who rejected and injured Him. His love did not fail to give what others needed even when others were purposing only to use Him for His gifts. His giving endured all things, even death itself. He gave what was best for others even when it would be worse for Himself. 


The pain others caused Him did not quench His love but rather inflamed it. For it was in suffering that He was "touched with the feeling of our infirmities". He learned what rejection felt like by those who rejected Him and He gave Himself for them. He learned what being hated felt like and He gave Himself for those who hated Him. His love endured all things. 


Perhaps the only way that JESUS could be COMFORTED in His humiliation and grief was to be crucified for those who hurt Him? For the greatest comfort amidst His sufferings was our salvation. Unlike with myself, and with what is common among men, the more pain His loving heart endured, the more that love compelled Him to give. His love endured all things. It was more of a blessing for Him to give than to receive. 


All of the agonies which He bravely endured He conquered as a Man, through that Spirit by which He was begotten. 


The greatest pain He felt was not the rending of His back, not the iron nails in His hands and feet, nor the crown of thorns, but it was the hatred of those whom He loved. Only one time do you hear Him crying out from His personal grief, "I thirst". Yet, He was not thirsting for water or wine. He was thirsting for you and for me. He was thirsting to become our thirst. He drank in all of "Earth's Tears" through the once and for all sacrifice of Himself on the cross to reconcile us to God: the eternal Life and True Love. 


There is only one place where Jesus didn't give. It was the place where He received. He dwelled in the secret place of the Most High. There, He received all that He needed. Jesus said, "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me" (John 6:57). 


Dear friends: The ONLY way to truly have the same love as Jesus and for that same love of Jesus to truly possess us is to feed on Him. He is the Living Bread Who gave Himself for the life of the world. 


Those who are overwhelmed by His love are not overcome by the evil in the world or in the church. What is overwhelming you? The love of Jesus or the cruelty of others? Do offenses weaken your ability to give or do they teach you compassion? It was likely more difficult for Jesus to not love those who did not love Him but what is your testimony? Is it difficult for you to give to those who have disappointed you time and again? Have you any love for those who are unloving to you? Do you truly have Jesus living inside of you? Through his redemptive work Jesus became a life-giving Spirit. Is His life really inside of you? Are you a fruit-abiding branch on the Vine? Does your giving endure all things? If not, then you are not feeding on Jesus. Those who feed on Him will have His life and become fruitful branches of His cross.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

I am poor and needy!

I often find myself "poor and needy" as I consider how to use the time that God has given to me. I don't want to labor for something that I don't have time for. There are so many practical and spiritual needs in the church and in the world. 

I want to preach the gospel, write Christian literature and make edifying documentaries. 

I want Christ to be formed within myself and within others that I fellowship with. 

I want to buy more land, lot it out, build homes for brothers and sisters, orphans and widows. 

I want to drill water wells for the poor who often only have filthy water to drink. I want to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. 

By the grace of God I am involved in these things and have begun and have established some of these works. 

There are many needy souls that I am engaged with daily. There are so many good causes. There are so many worthy causes. But what I need is for the Spirit of God to lead me! 

I am poor and needy Lord! 

I feel that "time is too short" and that there aren't enough brothers and sisters united in Christ: that they are stitched together by religious politics rather than with the thread of the cross of Christ; that they are cut off from each other with the sword of variance rather than by the WORD OF GOD, and because there are so many unnecessary divisions I feel that we cannot "redeem" enough time in these evil days to bring forth the fruit God desires. 

My heart within me is often torn and weeping. I am often crying and moved within my bowels. 

I believe it is high time to focus on the weightier matters: Those things which are weighing heavily upon the heart of God from day to day. 

God help me and all Your people, You know who they are, to be what you want us to be, where you want us to be, when you want us to be. We are Your people Lord! Forgive our complacency! Forgive our indifference! Forgive our pride! Forgive our independence! Forgive the grief we have caused You and others. Forgive our sins against You and against others! Humble us by Your grace and as we humble ourselves give us grace! Help us to guard our frail hearts of flesh from offenses and to be tenderhearted! Fill our hearts with grace and truth, the faith and love of JESUS! Help us to labor together, striving together, for the faith of the Gospel and to somehow "redeem the time" in these evil days (Ephesians 5). Give us the grace of devotion to You through the experience of Your presence and power at work in our inner part, so that we will not be distracted by the entertainments, amusements, and vain pleasures of this lifeless world! So that we will always live for what is eternal and for what is truly important in Your sight!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Examine yourself, whether you be in the faith.

Do you believe in the One who was pierced for your sins but have yet to be personally pierced by Him?

Do you know what it means to be "compelled by the love of Christ"? 

Do you personally know why Paul said, "To live is Christ: to die is gain"? 

Have you been satiated with "the unsearchable riches of Christ"?

Has Christ become to your soul the "Indescribable Gift"? 

Does your walk contradict your talk?

Does your life agree with your lips?

Does your "hallelujah" proceed from your heart?

Do you thank Jesus for His drops of blood but have little desire to give Him a drop of your time?

Have you grown up singing hymns but still don't know Him? 

Are you more in love with the world than with Christ? Do you have more of a passion for programs than for His presence? 

Are you hidden in the wounds of Christ and found refuge in His side?

What is your fascination? 

What captivates you?

What do you enjoy the most? 

Do you rejoice in suffering? 

Have you any love for those who do not love you?

Are you governed more by fear than by love? 

Are you afraid to die? 

Does your heart find any encouragement when humiliated? 

Do you find obedience to Jesus a burden or a blessing?

Do you find the call to bear the cross a cost or a comfort? 

Are you easily offended? Is it easy for others to correct you? 

Do you hide behind smiles? Do you express passion to conceal your fears? Are you bold yet double-minded? Are you confident yet confused?

Does the Spirit of the living God really live in you? 

Can you truly say with the apostle, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). 

Do you have the "Witness" inside of you (1 John 5:10)? 

Has the Spirit of God testified to your heart that you are a child of God (Romans 8:14-16)? Does this sound evangelical to you? Are you able to see this in Scripture? Have you experienced this? Do these questions frighten you? 

Jesus said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38).

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Fruit is born, not worn.

Some people have learned how to preach, learned how to pray, learned how to fast, learned how to study the bible and to rightly divide doctrine, but they still haven't learned how to love! Ultimately, they haven't learned anything, gained anything, or become anything but vanity.

So many judge others according to their abilities to preach, pray, go without food, study and teach doctrine; they are impressed with such and judge such as lovers of truth, lovers of God, and devout. However, the apostle would simply say that they are, by their efforts, simply a louder sounding brass than others. That they are still, in fact, devoted to SELF, not to Christ. 

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). 

Even worse, many are so devoted to SELF and educated in the Christian life that they wear fruit as if they were truly an abiding fruit producing branch. They could provide ten definitions for each fruit of the Spirit and even imitate the meaning of the definitions but such efforts are merely like actors in a play. They know how to "play" the Christian part, they know the Christian "lines" and verbage to speak, the clothing to wear, when to express passion and when to be silent. 

Yet, little to none of these efforts are natural to them. Rather than the power of God's love, they are compelled by their pride to perform the definitions of the fruit. They hide their grumblings, anger, frustrations, evil imaginations, resentment, and diligently wear their religious garb. 

As Christians, we ought to naturally care for the affairs of our brothers, sisters, strangers, and even all men. 

We ought to be moved with compassion to relieve the afflicted, be a servant to those around us, share the Gospel, receive rebuke with joy, turn the other cheek, and to bless those who have offended us.

It ought to be natural for us to give rather than to receive, to understand rather than to be understood, to comfort rather than to seek to be comforted. 

This is the common faith, the common salvation that the apostle John described, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that does not love does not know God; for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8).

Friday, December 2, 2022

What's right may seem wrong

 What is right seems wrong to those who do not perceive the wisdom of the cross. In fact, what is right seems like down right foolishness at times. Even as "there is a way that seems right unto a man but the end thereof is death" so there is also a way that seems wrong unto man but the end thereof is life. 

Think of it: Jesus told His disciples to love their enemies, to turn the other cheek, to give to those who cannot repay and to love those who do not love them. 

This is the Wisdom of God. This is the Word of God. This is the mind of God. 

Do you marvel at His wisdom or do you think that taking such words seriously is foolishness? 

Jesus said, "Wisdom is justified of all her children". The foolishness of God is wiser than men and the fruit of the foolishness of God is the salvation of man. 

Guard your heart from worldly reasoning. Do not be conformed to this world's way of thinking and of doing things but be transformed by the renewing of your minds. We are not called to be "mere men" (1 Corinthians 3). We are called to follow Christ and to have His image formed inside of us.

The most important thing for us in every conflict in all of our relationships is to have a tender heart.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

True Love and Resentment

 Jesus taught His disciples to love those who do not love them. The secret to not growing weary in loving those who do not love you is to remember that Jesus both taught and did it Himself. 

Our love for Him who "first loved us" is the refreshment we drink in when our good is returned with evil or when those whom we love are oblivious to how unloving they are towards us. 

Ultimately, everything we do or do not do is between us and Jesus, not us and anyone else. 

When we withhold love from others who do not love us, because we feel rejected by them, taken advantage of, or used, then we are failing to put Jesus first. We are failing to abide in Him. 

When we fail to love those by whom we feel unloved, we are making a choice to stop following Jesus. 

When we choose to give our time, favors, service, and resources only to those who return it then we are closing our ears to the voice of Jesus. For Jesus said, "Give to those who cannot repay you" and, "If you love only those who love you then what are you doing more than sinners"?

Guard your hearts against resentment. You may pour yourself out on behalf of others who take your sacrifices for granted, who may not even remember your favors, who cannot cheerfully reciprocate the love you show to them, who grudgingly lend you a hand when in need: but who are you serving? Yourself or Jesus? We begin to serve Jesus when we seek nothing but Him. We begin to follow Jesus when we seek nothing but His fellowship in return. 

What is resentment? Resentment is the door to bitterness. It is the silent rehearsal of your sacrifices, your favors, your labors for others who do not acknowledge them, who do not return them, whom you receive nothing but heartache and disappointment from. 

Resentment is the heaviness you experience when your feelings blind you to Jesus, who was despised and rejected of men. 

Resentment is carrying with you what you didn't receive from others when you feel they should have given it to you. 

Resentment is the result of serving others while expecting similar recompenses for your service and not getting it. 

When you feel resentment in your heart you must repent for being selfish. Again, resentment is the door to bitterness. 

You may reply, "Well I have done this, and that, and countless other things for those ungrateful wretches, why should I repent"? 

Because Jesus called you to serve Him, not them! He called you to follow Him, not after rewards or recompense. Because Jesus, your Master and Friend, gave you an example that you should even follow in His steps. Why should you repent? Because you have been called to be like Jesus, not like the sinful world who only loves those who loves them and who gives to those from whom they hope to receive again. 

The cure to all resentment is Jesus and His cross.

Beware of imaginations that feed resentment. Beware of nursing the pain you feel when others do not reciprocate your sacrifices, favors, and service by rehearsing them in your mind. 

Jesus warned, "And because iniquity shall increase the love of many shall grow cold". The world's love is already cold! He was warning the church! Perhaps nothing cools the love of God in man more than rehearsing injuries.

We shouldn't rehearse injuries we receive and we shouldn't rehearse our sacrifices for others or our lack of sacrifices. What we ought to rehearse is the sacrifice of the precious Lamb of God who constantly, consistently, from the heart, gave Himself completely in love to His disciples, to all who would believe in Him through their word, and even for His enemies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Worldly shame and beauty in God's eyes

Men and women: You do not need to get breast, buttock, lip or any kind of implants or face lifts for God to love you, to enter into the kingdom of God, to please God or to have any kind of impact on His kingdom. 

In fact, it grieves God that you are killing yourself with the shame, pride and competition that this vain, corrupt and debased world and false church has placed upon you. 

Furthermore, God would have you use your health, time, and resources towards causes that He supports. He doesn't judge your beauty based upon outward appearance. He judges your beauty based upon meekness, kindness, gentleness, charity, humility, faithfulness, self control, peacefulness, patience and upon anything that resembles Christ. 

If you stretch forth your hands to help the orphans, widows, the lost, the hungry, thirsty, naked, lonely, and to others who are afflicted, instead of reaching for your credit card to pay for plastic surgery, implants, and other destructive and selfish inventions that harm you and defraud the helpless poor, then you will be blessed by God and will be worshipping Him in the beauty of His holiness. 

Let go of the world's shame, self glorification and vanities to lay hold of Christ.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The cross is always ready

 There is no holier way than the royal way of the cross. 


The cross isn't given to justify self but to glorify God.


The cross kills self, not others around it.

 

The cross is not something that randomly happens to you. The cross is something that Jesus gives to those who are truly devoted to Him. 


The cross doesn't deal with the individuals who injure you. It deals with what is inside of you that would cause you to retaliate when injured. 


The cross isn't about what evils others have done to you but about what God is able to do through you, in them, as you patiently endure those evils. 


Sometimes, the greatest difficulty in bearing the cross is not the pain it causes you, but the pain it causes others. Truth hurts.


In the cross is intimacy with Jesus. In the cross is fullness of joy. In the cross is victory over sin, the world, and death.


The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1). 


Jesus said, "If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me".


When others have slandered you, betrayed you, rejected you, cursed you, and hurt you again and again, but then reach out to you in their need how do you feel? What is your first inclination? Is it to "cut them off" to "shun them" to "give them a piece of your mind disguised as a loving rebuke"? Do you seek to devise a way for them to experience the pain and grief that they have caused you? Do you feel inclined to treat them the way that they treated you? As they have hurt you do you desire to hurt them? 


That is the way of the world. Those are the thoughts and feelings of those who do not know God. For the apostle said, "The world through its wisdom did not know God" (1 Corinthians 1) but Jesus said, "Father the world has not known you but I have known you and these have known that you sent Me" (John 17). Jesus embraced the cross, however foolish the world may judge it. He knew and has proven throughout the ages by the cross, that the foolishness of God is wiser than men. 


Jesus is the Wisdom and Power of God (1 Corinthians 1). What if Jesus replied to you the way He did to others in Scripture:


(You) That man over there grabbed my stuff and ran off with it all . . .


(Jesus) “Do not ask for him to return it”. (Luke 6:30)


(You) Master, speak to my brother that he divides the inheritance with me.


(Jesus) Man, who hath appointed me judge, or divider, over you? Take heed and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things which he possesses (Luke 12:14-15).


(You) Lord, how often shall my brother do something to offend me, and I forgive him? till seven times?


(Jesus) I say not to you, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:22).


(You) My wife left me. Shall file for divorce and find another wife?


(Jesus) Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committs adultery against her. And if the wife shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committs adultery. Remain alone or wait to be reconciled. (Mark 10:11-12; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 7:11).


(You) That man over there spit in my face and punched me. What should I do if he does it again?


(Jesus) Resist not evil…If someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him also the other (Matthew 5:38-39). 


(You) I just labored night and day for these people and they are taking advantage of me and filing an unjust lawsuit. 


(Jesus) If any man will sue you through the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloke also.


(You) Those men bombed some of our stations and buildings! What shall we do?


(Jesus) Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…For if you love them which love you, what reward do you have (Matthew 5:44, 46, Luke 6)?


(You) Those who belong to the religion of that country and the atheists in the other country are oppressing those who don’t agree with them. Shall we go to war to correct them?


(Jesus) Nay, but go teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you (Matthew 28:20; 1 Timothy 6:1).


After reading this counsel from Jesus’ words does the Wisdom of God seem foolish to you? Think of it--you sought Jesus for "justice" and He gave you a cross. Jesus is the Wisdom of God. Does it seem unfair, unjust, unrighteous? He is the righteousness of God. There is a way that seems right to a man but it ends in death, and seeking justice “eye for eye & tooth for tooth” is "right" in that it comes out equal, but that is not the righteousness of Christ, nor the Wisdom of God. That provides no cure for evil, it only aggravates or at best, bridles the evil. The only cure for evil is overcoming evil with good, and instructing others on how to accomplish that by the foolishness of living and preaching the Gospel (the above counsel).