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Thursday
May212015

The Personal Wealth In God's Kingdom

When I listen to many of the conservative talk show hosts, I find many of them defending against the idea of a leftist agenda of socialism.  Big government control is what they say the left leaning people want and that can be defined as socialism. I have Christians picking up on that theme and suggesting that God's Kingdom is a picture of socialism where everything will be equal, where no one has less than someone else.  A reality check on this kind of thinking finds that in the Kingdom of God, rewards will be multiplied or denied based upon what was done for Jesus in this life. 

The parable of the ten talents is an example. 

Matthew 25:20

 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’

Luke 19:15-19

 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business.  16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’  17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’  18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’  19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’

This is an example that the Kingdom is not going to split God's rewards equally among the believers, earned rewards will be the benefit for any believer who sacrificially gave their life to Christ now in this life. There is no correlation to a socialistic state in the Kingdom of God. God created us to be individuals, to be productive, and manage our lives according to His rule and laws.  God's idea of prosperity is to be to be able to use the resources given to us in order to be pro-actively engaged in helping others come to know Him. Many who have surrendered their thinking to the "prosperity gospel"  say that God wants us to be rich, and riches demonstrate the success one gets from serving God. I can't think of any doctrine that is more irrelevant to scripture than this one.  I won't go as far as to say that those who preach this kind of a message are not Christians, but they are bordering on a line of thinking that will disqualify them from any post life rewards. 

Matthew 6:1-2

 1“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

There was a TV evangelist/pastor recently who was raising 65 million dollars to by a new jet. He already had a private jet to get him to his meetings, but it wasn't the latest and greatest.  What was his excuse for wanting such an elaborate mode of transportation?  He could reach more people if he could get to places faster and not be hindered by time and travel. He already has several homes each valued well over one million dollars. The lifestyle of some of these men and women who live out this "prosperity gospel" lifestyle is antithetical to the purpose and model of Jesus. The scripture says that Jesus didn't have his own house, or his own ministry compound to operate his ministry from, but as an itinerate evangelist, He went doing good and preaching the gospel without a large ministry budget.  It just seems to me that tying monetary resources to the gospel distracts from the power of the gospel to work miracles without the money trail of security.  All I can say to those who use the gospel to preach this non-sense: "you have your reward."

Now, it does take money to do ministry today, and I am not discounting that, but when money because a central configuration to accomplishing what God has called you to do, then I think we have a problem. 

If God calls you to do a ministry, then He will supply the resources to accomplish what He has called you to do.  If not, several options are available to you. 

1. God did not call me to do this ministry, or am I premature in going this direction?

2. God is testing my faithfulness to Him, seeing if I will endure the hardships of leading a ministry?

3. God is helping me to define my motives for this ministry, to flesh out the perimeters of what God is calling me to do. (for example: are we too diverse, to scattered, using the wrong methods, and do we need to focus more)

There may be many questions like this that may need to be addressed as you shape the next stage of a ministry that is under funded.  

Ultimately, I believe that prosperity comes as a result of surrendering to God, obeying Him, and keeping Him as a priority in all that you do.  You may not be rich, but you will be satisfied with your life. God enriches those with His ways, who keeps Him as number one. 

Keeping it honest and truthful...K


 

 

Wednesday
May202015

The Sealed Package

 

Ephesians 1:13

 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

Ephesians 4:30

 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

In recent days I had a leak in a flat roof portion on my house, in which I spent the last two days working with a contractor to take the old roof off, and replacing it with a rubber membrane. It was quite a process, but at the end of the day, the roof has a nice rubber seal that will keep all that sneaky water from getting inside.  Water has a way of finding any open crack to get inside, and often it may enter and travel a distance before it starts to show up as drips on your ceiling. It reminded me of how as believers we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, to keep the harmful things out, and preserves us for the day of redemption. The Devil, like water is always looking for some crack in our armour that he can make his presence known. 

This rubber membrane can be punctured by sharp objects dropped upon it, but it has to be fairly intentional for it to make a hole. Once, it is punctured, a patch kit is available to fill over the hole and all is secure again.  I often wonder when we talk about being sealed by the Holy Spirit if we ever take the time to see if our spiritual membrane has been damaged in any way? I think the sealing of the Holy Spirit in our lives makes our salvation permanent, but can it ever get holes in it that can begin to leak the world into what God has rescued?  This is what I think the Apostle Paul was trying to say when he wrote about grieving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has come to seal our lives, like the rubber membrane seals my roof, but can be grieved when we deliberately try to puncture that membrane by ungodly behavior. Over the many years of watching people come and go in my life, some to do great things for God, and prosper in ministry and in the word. While others have a short life span of living for God, and then blend into the tapestry of the world.  They lose their passion and heart to serve God in ways they once did, and their passion now is for their own success and advancement. The Christian life is one of perseverance, and that perseverance will be tested by seasons in life where nothing makes sense, and God becomes silent and absent in everyday life. But like the rubber membrane that protects my roof, it is only needed when it rains or snows.  In nice weather, it just sits there, all rubber like, but serves little purpose until it rains. God's spirit is like that too. He has come to seal us and protect us against the evil in this world that only wants to rob, steal, and destroy our relationship with God.  Often when we think God is nowhere to be found, there He is, protecting us in ways we may never know. 

I am thankful for my new rubber membrane roof, it should serve me well in all my days of rain and snow. I am also thankful for the Holy Spirit that has also been sent to seal those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. He will serve us all the days of our lives, in good seasons, and in bad seasons, because He has one objective, to bring us without spot or wrinkle to the day our redemption. So be of good cheer today, God is watching over you. 

Keeping it honest and truthful....K

 

 

Friday
May152015

Freedom Is Knowing The Truth

John 8:32  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 

I think Americans love the word freedom; it is in the DNA of our country and in the foundation of our government’s inception.  Many write today about how our freedoms have been eroding over the past few decades, and soon it will be a lost word in our vocabulary.  It is a shame that each generation that comes into the workforce following a lengthy run in education, are more often than not, ignorant of what freedom brings. They may know the affects of freedom, but they don’t know what preserves it. 

I think the same is true of what Jesus said about truth, that knowing the truth would set you free.  Many Christians today will say they follow Christ, and have a concept of the freedom that comes from being a believer, but I wonder if they really live in the freedom Christ referred to in John 8?

Let me illustrate it this way.  One of my friends many years ago was a runner, he told me many times in the course of a week how much he loves to run. Then we traveled to a seminar together, we had decided to start our day by running.  After about two miles he stopped, pulled out a pack of cigarettes, and proceeded to smoke. I was shocked and speechless.  He noticed my surprise and said, “well, just think how bad smoking would be for you if I didn’t run?”

Well, too often that is the way it is with our spiritual lives too. When Jesus said we shall know the truth and the truth would set us free, what exactly did He mean? 

Most of the time, we interpret this freedom as an escape from deception, which is true, but is that what freedom means?  I think there is more to this freedom.

It doesn’t take long to realize just because a person comes to faith in Christ that all your problems vanish, in fact sometimes our problems increase.  Coming to know the truth in Christ and in His Word is an invitation to go beyond the casual understanding of Christ, to a deeper reality of freedom from our fears. Do you have fears that seem to nag you; keeping you feeling like God doesn’t listen or care about you?  Many Christians do feel this way.  Many are mad at God because He isn’t responding to their requests, or concerns.  Wouldn’t it be great to be free from those fears and anxieties that keep us from experiencing the freedom of Christ?  How about the freedom from self-interest, the narcissism that plagues so many people today?  Wouldn’t it be liberating to never have to promote yourself, or be first in line, or have the last word?  Freedom is not only being released from the worries of life, but it is also being free from what the Bible calls pride, the human cancer of the soul. 

Proverbs 11:2 

 2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom. 

 1 John 2:16 

 16For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 

This pride element has always been a problem in the heart of mankind, it was one of the ingredients of the first temptation of Eve in the garden, and it is the foundation of the Devils personality, purpose and power.  The truth of God’s Word is a reminder that God gives more grace to the humble, but resists the proud.  It is the proud look and attitude that God will bring down to a humble state. On judgment day, it will be pride that will be on trial, and how it affected the sinful behavior of the lost. Yet pride still remains a consistent element of concern among the believers. It is often seen in the high places of leadership within the church, but gets masked as a trait of a strong leader. However, at the end of the day it can be defined as a leader with a large ego of pride. Narcissism is the psychological term for pride, but it is the practice of self-importance. In fact we could actually go as far as saying it is the practice of self-worship.  Who is affected by narcissism?  We all are, it is a part of the sin nature of mankind.  No one is exempt from various forms of it, but wouldn’t it be great to be free from it? 

Go back to John 8:32 for a moment:  “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free,” can we insert narcissism, pride, and self-importance at the end of this verse?  Can the truth set us free from these self-destructive sources?

Well, I think that is what Jesus meant, when He talked about knowing the truth, and by knowing Him it will set you free from all sin, and all pride. That is true freedom. 

Keeping it honest and truthful…..K

Wednesday
May132015

Two Perspectives

Most Americans live between two perspectives, let's just call it the gray area.  Some of course are extremely left, and other extremely right, but the majority of people live, work, and believe somewhere between the two extremes.  We are influenced by the extremists, and we often parrot their diatribes to our friends and family. It is this gray area where most of us live that has me concerned.  When I think of the 400,000 churches in America representing 80 to 90 million Christians, we shouldn't have a problem with any immoral government policies, we should clearly be a moral nation based upon a Judeo-Christian model of laws and principles.  But, it is because most of those 400,000 churches live in the gray area, that we are immobilized and impotent to affecting change in our culture.  That's right, we are unable to affect change in our culture, because we have sold out to living in the gray area. We are taught to stay neutral, keep your thoughts to yourself, and you will get along just fine with everyone. 

The Apostle James disagreed:

James 5:12

But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

In other words, don't let the gray area keep you trapped in being neutral. One of the traits of the last days will be to force people out of living neutral into a radical view of denying God.  It will try to move people out of the gray area and into a group that opposes the other.  We have seen that happen with the gay movement in America, people who are not gay have been moved from not having an option about the gay agenda, to now supporting it. The small percentage of gay people in America could never have been as successful has they have been without the help from people moving out of the gray area to their side. This is what will continue to happen, the gray matter will begin to shift, and that is what was discovered by a recent Pew research report. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/13/upshot/the-rise-of-young-americans-who-dont-believe-in-god.html?WT.mc_id=2015-MAY-AOL-UPSHOT_AUD_DEV-0501-0531&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=MAYAUDDEV&icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl37|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D685810487&_r=0&abt=0002&abg=0

The church is losing ground to the culture, and it's because so many churches have decided to take a neutral stand on cultural issues, giving no one any direction from a Biblical world view. The masses of young people who may have been living part time in their parents world of church life, and part time in the cultural world that surrounds them, are slowly moving out of the gray area to the side that opposes Christian beliefs and values. 

There is only two perspectives with Christ. You are either for Him or against Him, there is no middle ground, no gray area when you are following Him. I am convinced when death comes knocking at your door, the minute you pass on from this life, you will come face to face with God. Why? Because death is the great equalizer and all things will be defined as they are, according to God's perspective. Even if in this life you never believed there was a God, in death you will know there is a God when you stand before Him.  But for now, we do have His perspective, it's called the Bible. It is a choice we make that refuses to accept it as a rule of order and the foundation for living.

Let me summarize: there are two perspectives, and only two. 

1. The world view of the world

2. The world view of God's word

One is the temporary flow of ideas and concepts that consistently change, while the other never changes. People may think me too simplistic, but all issues have a right and a wrong side to them, and depending on the world view you subscribe to is how you will live your life. 

As I look at most of the church today, I see most Christians living between these two perspectives.  As earlier stated, and that has made the church less inspiring and less relevant in the world we live. We don't train people to defend their Biblical convictions, and therefore most of us just go with the flow of culture. We may not agree with culture, but we certainly don't push back against it. 

We can curse the darkness all we want, and it won't help, darkness just smiles. The only way darkness is affected is when we turn on the light. 

John 3:19-21

 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.  20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.”

John 8:12

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Two perspectives, ours and His, you choose which one has more truth.

Keeping it honest and truthful.....K

 


 

 

Thursday
May072015

Race, Government, and Lawlessness

The Baltimore race riots raised lots of questions about race in America. When you listen to the police force in Baltimore,you still can hear the anger when they tell the story of how their superiors told them to stand down and allow the rioters to loot and burn down the businesses. When President Obama talks about the need to create more opportunity in our African American communities, he failed to realize that the government already has employed a large part of the minority community. 

Though 10 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force, African-Americans are 18 percent of U.S. government workers. They are 25 percent of the employees at Treasury and Veterans Affairs, 31 percent of the State Department, 37 percent of Department of Education employees and 38 percent of Housing and Urban Development. They are 42 percent of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., 55 percent of the employees at the Government Printing Office and 82 percent at the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency.

So, I don't think it's about employment, or opportunity. In Baltimore, 63.3% of residents are African American, and 34.6% of the businesses are owned by African Americans. The city has a Black mayor, and nine of the city council members are minorities. I am having a hard time seeing where this city has a problem with race. However, it gives us a better picture of why the Mayor last week told the police officers to stand down, and let the rioters have space to loot and riot. In the city of Baltimore, 28 percent of the city population is white, while 46 percent of the police officers working in the city are white, according to Census data. Did the Black leadership of the city give in to race and allow these riots to happen because of the race of the rioters? 

But regardless of their reasons, it comes down to the lawlessness of the people. The young man's death that sparked this unrest creates as many questions for the city officials as it does for those six arrested police officers. Those six police officers who were charged with Freddie Gray's death, three were black and 3 were white.  I can't believe race placed a part in his tragic death.  Something more is going on here, because Baltimore is an American American city, where they have the majority control over city government. As mentioned earlier, 46% of the Baltimore police department is white, so can we assume that minorities make up the balance of remaining 54%?  

Race was not the core of this riot, the basis for this unrest is the spirit of our age demonstrating what the last days will produce. 

When Jesus talked about the deception of the Pharisees He illustrated that appearance may not be the real issue.  Notice this statement: 

 

Matthew 23:28

 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

You appear to have a cause, but inwardly you are only about serving yourself. These rioters may be using the excuse of racism, but inwardly it was just about rioting, looting, and getting away with being lawless.

The Apostle John had some insight on lawlessness.

1 John 3:4

 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

 

That is the reason these young people rioted, it was their normal way of living, the riots just put it on display for the media to see. Lawlessness is a trait of the last days, and it will become the norm. No community will be exempt from it's affect, all people groups will experience it.  The minimization of law, spiritual truth, and ignoring the influence of principles and values, will usher in this spirit of the last days.  

What are we to do? Be diligent in fulfilling Matthew 28:19

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only defense against the lawlessness of our age.  We have to put God back into the game, if we ever want to see change in our society, and eliminate the race debate. That would make a great slogan wouldn't it?  "Put God back in the game," I think it would catch on.  

Keeping it honest and truthful....K

 

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