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Wednesday
Aug272014

His Possessions

 14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.  15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability  -Matthew 25

I love the parables Jesus told, because they are so packed with meaning. This passage of course is the parable of the talents, a story of investment. However, I wanted to just focus on the idea that the master of the household gave to his servants, his property, or as another version put it, "his possessions."  All of what the man had in this world he entrusted to his servants to manage, and that takes a lot of trust. 

So, why did Jesus tell such a story, what was His point in doing so?  Salvation is a free gift, and once we believe in Christ, there isn't much of a need for anything else. Besides, this story sounds to me like a works oriented parable, not one of grace. Does God expect that we do something with the free gift of salvation? Much like the servants who were given the free gift of managing the master's possessions, the master expected that his servants would invest his assets to gain more. The master knew the ability of his servants, so he did not invest foolishly knowing the gifts and talents of each of his staff. Everyone is not created equal with the kind of talents and gifts that are necessary to lead people. For example, some people get advanced degrees, and do nothing with the education they received.  Others meanwhile, inherit large sums of money, only to go broke within a few short years. Some people are given leadership positions, but they aren't equipped to lead. Some just do not have the ability to lead, change the course of direction, or challenge the status quo of our current culture. The master in this story did not cast pearls before swine, he was wise in how he distributed his wealth to be managed. 

Later in the story, the master calls for accountability, and the day of reckoning takes place.  How have you lived with what you have been given?  Did you invest HIS treasure, and if so, what do you have to show Him? 

You see, Jesus is concerned about His investment into each person who comes to faith. His possessions is His Word, and God invests in us, according to the ability found in each person. It is by their ability that they are given much, or given little, but all are required to invest what they have, so that more people can come to Christ.  Isn't that what Jesus intended?  He went away, but entrusted His possession of God Word to the church, with the expectation that they would invest wisely in others so that His treasure of people would grow. 

So, our ability, and God's trust are the keys in how we invest what He has given to us. Do we invest what God has given to us wisely, and proficiently?  The greatest reward God gives to us, is the reward of being acknowledged by Him for being good and faithful, with what He has entrusted to us. The ability to be faithful is one of the greatest gifts we could possess, especially when everything around us is trying to get us to be unfaithful to everyone who has importance to us. Faithfulness to God should be a high priority in our lives, it is the only thing that is worth a great price in God's economy. 

Keeping it honest and truthful....K

 

Tuesday
Aug262014

The Tragedy Of Skin Color

I know there is racism, we all know it exists.  I heard someone say the other day that they were so feed up with all the talk about how African American boys are singled out by police. Now, we all know there is profiling going on too, but in this day and age, you can't be naive enough not to profile. When I went to Israel a few years ago, the Israeli passport officers all profiled, they have to, it is a matter of life and death. I believe it is the same for a police officer as well. If Michael Brown from Ferguson Missouri was white, would there even be a discussion?  If a white Michael Brown, strong armed a robbery, and confronted a police officer like the Black Michael Brown did, and was shot, it would have been a nightly news report, and that would be it.  But because Michael Brown was black, and not white, it changes everything. Race was not created by man, it was created by God, it was God's idea to make brown, red, yellow, and white skin, and it was God who that it was good. So, who is behind all the hatred between the races?  Of course, the Father of lies, and the hater of the brethren. Satan loves to bring people into a state of mind that wants to rob steal and destroy the races, by perpetually hating the differences found in distinctive cultures. The slave issue will never go away, it will always plague this country, and no matter the amount of success in the African American community, the problem of race will always surface and represent itself as a major area of division. I am convinced that certain people do not want racism to be eliminated from the American culture. There are too many race hustlers that want to keep the race fires stoked, so that there will always be a crisis just a around the corner. Those crisis moments will create a political awareness, that more must be done for race relations, and the government is the instrument to get it done.  That is why there is usually a voter registration always tied to a race crisis, and Ferguson Missouri is no exception.

Personally, I think there will always be a race issue in America, but there is no way Americans have the wherewithal to heal and forgive without God.  He is the only one who can bring us a new understanding of race, and it will take the healing of God to bring us into a forgiveness that overcomes a generational curse. 

I believe it is a curse, because we can't seem to even agree on what is lawful and what is racism. Here is an example of what I mean from Bill O'Reilly. 

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/index.html#/v/3741094028001

Bill makes some good points, and they are hard to refute. Race is no excuse for lawlessness, and disrespect for law enforcement.  There are all kinds of laws I disagree with, but I don't confront the police about those laws, their job to to enforce the laws written by our legislative bodies. Michael Brown was clearly in the wrong, and it was tragic that his life was snuffed out much to early, but his behavior got him in a position where there the police officer had no other choice but to shot him.  This was clearly the result of a poor choice by Michael Brown, a careless risk that went so badly on his behalf. 

 Proverbs 10:12

 12 Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses.

Romans 13:1-2

 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

I am sure we will be hearing much more from Ferguson Missouri, as some have been saying today, "we can't let a good crisis go to waste."  This shooting will be the reason for the race hustlers to encourage people to vote for the party that will stand against police brutality, and bring about change in how we see African American boys in America. They are pushing to label all African Americans as victims of a hateful society, so voting for the right party will ensure that we never give racism a chance ever again to take another Michael Brown from us. 

Keeping it honest and truthful.....K

Friday
Aug222014

Bows and Ribbons

When I was in Belgium years ago, I remember my host family at the time telling me that in Belgium, it's all about the presentation.  So, I decided to test this out by going to a small shop and buying some Belgian chocolate.  I bought one piece, thinking they would drop it in a bag and that would be it.  No, they put it in a small box, wrapped in foil, and the attendants actually took the time to hand make a bow and ribbon for the final presentation.  The preparation for this one piece of chocolate took twice as long as the initial sale. They made the presentation look good for the simple reason of what was inside. 

Now my point in bringing this up is too fold.  

1. I like the idea of making the outside look good, and making the presentation speak of what is inside.

2. In many presentations however in our world, we make things look good on the outside, but the inside has nothing to offer.  

Jesus saw this in his response to the Pharisees. 

Matthew 23:25-26

 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

This is the problem with religion. It gives people a false presentation, a sense of false security that may make one feel good about how God feels about them, but their religion doesn't change much on the inside. Over the years, it was easy as an evangelical to pass judgment upon denominations who seem too carnal and had little to no knowledge of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Yet, I have found that people who ascribe to an evangelical point of view, are often themselves empty inside.  They make a good presentation on the outside, almost to a fault that they are followers of Christ.  Then, you learn the truth about their real lives, that they use pornography on a regular basis, they have affairs,  they misuse alcohol, and worse yet, they are dishonest in their dealing with others. 

I know for some of you this may be hard to understand, but when you uncover the nice package you see, and find a box full of self indulgence and self worship, it is disheartening, and discouraging for the Church. Narcissism is rampant in the church, and it's because we only take the outside of the package as our only witness for true discipleship.  That's what religion does, it puts a nice ribbon and bow on the outside to give the appearance that all is well. Priests molest children and Protestant ministers have affairs, no denomination is beyond this problem of an empty heart, void of the the Spirit of God. 

A messianic friend of mine likes to say, "Jesus didn't come to start a new religion."  He came to transform the heart, the character of man, to become like Him. Our religions have become our idols and our gods, whether it's the form of doctrine we ascribe to, or the form of worship we engage, all means nothing if the heart is not transforming into the likeness of Christ. 

I was talking with a friend last night about the teaching of restitution, a strong point in the moral law.  We have forgotten that restitution is the best witness for a changed heart and life. If you have wronged someone, anyone, for any reason, restitution becomes the best way to tell the person, or persons that you are sorry for what you have done, and that Christ compels you to make it right. This will go much farther than some empty words about you being a Christian, if you are a Christian, your heart is changes, and restitution is a no brainer for those who truly follow Christ. 

Hard words, but that's where ministry is going today. We can no longer just present the nice presentation of bows and ribbons. The last days are here, and God is winding this world down, and the signs are all around us. Difficult and terrible times require a stronger, more powerful message from the church to counteract the measures of evil now being spilled out upon the earth.  Bows and ribbons will no longer be much of a counter measure to what evil has in store for those of us now living on earth.  The Bible tells us prophetically that the days get darker and darker.  So what's the recourse for you and the church at large? Make sure there is the fire and power of the Holy Spirit in you, to convict you, to educate you, and to guide you to repentance, making your life right before God and man.  Only then, with His power, His help, and His counsel will you be able to be effective for Him in a day of evil times. 

Stop making excuses, repent, rebuild your life with God, and make your mark on society for eternity, it's no longer a day of bows, and ribbons Christianity. 

Keeping it honest and truthful....K

Wednesday
Aug202014

Are We The Witnesses Of The Great Commission?

What keeps the America church stagnant when it comes to reaching an immigrant population?  I have pondered that questions for years, and the only conclusion I can come up with is, fear.  It is much like witnessing in general, people just don’t feel comfortable talking to others about their faith.  A friend of mine recently asked a very large mega church for volunteers to be trained to work at a religious booth at the Minnesota State Fair.  It would mean they would talk to virtually strangers about the Lord, and witness to them.  Now he only got 8 volunteers from among thousands that attend that church.  Those that came forward were women of all ages, and one 70 year old man.  Again, most Christians are not comfortable with sharing their faith, anywhere, and especially not at the state fair.  Okay, so let’s analyze this for a moment, because going cross cultural with our witnessing gets even harder than just trying to reach our own culture with the gospel.  I am convinced that we are not concerned about other people, as much as we are about ourselves.  If salvation was designed by God to be self- oriented, He would have never given the Church the great commission.

 

Matthew 28.

18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

You see, sitting in your church, listening to Christian radio, belonging to a small group and being self-absorbed with the message of the gospel, is not the gospel Jesus instituted by this command.  It is my belief, that God requires that we do something with the salvation He has given to us, we need to invest it in others. The very nature of Christianity is that we bring it to other cultures, other people groups, and many times those other groups will be strangers and speak foreign languages. This may sound harsh, but without a spirit of sharing as the overarching trait of Christians, I have to wonder if the practice of Christianity in

America really is based upon John 3:16. Remember what Jesus told us in the parable of the talents. Witnessing to others is like investing, we either invest or we don’t.

 

7Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.  28So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  30And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

So how do we get the church to be concerned about where other people spend eternity? We have to go back to the basic Biblical teaching of an everlasting punishment of hell. Christianity, in recent decades has moved away from this thinking, and in some cases have dismissed hell all together.  If there is no judgment of God, no hell to fear, then, you can see how believers see less and less of a need to do any witnessing. However, we know that the Bible is clear, there will be a Great White Throne judgment where people will face a righteous God and give an account for why their name is not written in the Lambs book of life. From Revelation 20 we read:

 

14Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  15And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, was thrown into the lake of fire.

 

Our shores have been inundated with people from all over the world. This is not a coincidence, it is the mercy of God.  It is the same kind of mercy that came to you when someone brought to you for the first time the good news of Jesus Christ.  Check out our website for ways you can actively pursue a heart for those who have never heard.

Keeping it honest and truthful...K

Sunday
Aug172014

Something We Forgot When We Talk About The Jews

I have posted many times before that God is behind the Middle East wars, and turmoil. He is bringing the Islamic nations together, against Israel, and allowing even the rhetoric about eliminating the Jews into the main stream press around the world.  What I think we also forget, is that God was behind the hatred of the Jews around the world, and He is responsible for the anti-Semitism.

Here's why: 

In 2 Kings 21 you read about the King Massasseh, and he seduced Israel to do things she was not familiar in doing, but she went along with her king. Here in verse eight of that chapter it states Massasseh's sin. 

 And I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander anymore out of the land that I gave to their fathers, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the Law that my servant Moses commanded them.”  9But they did not listen, and Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.

But earlier in the chapter it says that Massasseh did the following. 

1. He rebuilt the high places of worship, where you worshipped the gods of the culture in the land.

2. He built altars in the House of the Lord, worshipping other gods. 

3. He sacrificed his son in the fire

4. He used mediums, and wizards 

Many of Israel's leaders lead the people away from God, but King Massasseh was the worst.  Jeremiah the prophet wrote what God said about the results of Massasseh leadership.

3I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, declares the LORD: the sword to kill, the dogs to tear, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy.  And I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem.

In Jeremiah 29 we discover that God was not only behind the scattering of His people, He also was behind their reproach, among all the nations. 

17 ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, behold, I am sending on them sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like vile figs that are so rotten they cannot be eaten.  18 I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them,  19because they did not pay attention to my words, declares the LORD, that I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, declares the LORD.’

As you can see, it was God who cursed the Jews to be hated and mistreated by all the nations on the earth.  It all was because of their disobedience and rejection of God. Now, when we talk anti-Semitism, we are talking about this verse in Jeremiah where God tells us He will allow the nations to consider the Jews a reproach. I believe we saw a decline in anti-Semitism from the end of World War II to the late nineties.  But for the past ten or more years, we are seeing a rise in the hatred of the Jews.  In the last days you will see more and more hatred for the Jews, because the Devil will try to destroy Israel, so there is no physical place for the Messiah/Savior to return, discounting all the prophecies that He would come back to Jerusalem.

God is in control of the Jews, their persecution, their being hated by all nations, and He is also their protector. God is allowing the reproach against the Jews, to set up for His return to Jerusalem as King of the Jews, and King over all the earth.  This world is being set up for God's final plan to take place, where Israel will be abandoned by all, and invaded by her enemies.  It is at that point that Jesus will return to defend His land and His people, the Jews. 

The answers to our future are found in the Bible, and all we need to do is look for them.

Keeping it honest and truthful...K

 

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