Author: Christopher
•4:56 PM

"Being free to bless, God gave all."


A wall of SIN used to exist between God and man.

"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. "

The strength of that SIN was the Law, and it was almost impossible to remove. Man, who had built it, could not tear it down. As the wall went up, man's heart was cut off from the Life that was on the other side. He died. His heart grew cold.

The wall remained.

God also could not remove the wall. "The soul that sinneth it shall die." God had spoken it; He could not un-speak it. He couldn't maintain his own righteousness, and casually dismiss the SIN at the same time. He couldn't just 'brush it under a rug'; the eyes of devils and angels were watching, after all.

Man could not remove it. God could not remove it. But God-as-Man could! And "when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law to redeem them that were under the law!"

Immanuel, God with us! Born under the Law, behind the barrier of SIN, but untouched by it!

A perfect Life. A Sacrifice. A Sin-Bearer! And He who knew no SIN became SIN for us!


"It is finished!"

And now, men stand in a very peculiar position. Most still hide from God behind a one-sided wall of SIN; I say 'one-sided' because the wall does not exist from God's side, only from man's side - Reconciliation has been made! "The LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." These are still lost, still "dead in trespasses and sins." But it is only a lie that keeps them there. And, this lie will send them to Hell.

But some have heard the Truth, and received Him. And to "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God"!

Sons of God. Sanctified. Perfect. More than Forgiven, these are made the Righteousness of God in Christ! They are Partakers of the Divine Nature! New Creatures! Spotless! Unreproveable!

With the the Saviour accepted, and the SIN removed, God has been freed to pour out upon us His limitless Love. Imagine the blessings that an infinite God can pour out upon a redeemed man! God, who is LOVE, has infinite DESIRE to pour out upon man his infinite blessings! God, who is LOVE - totally self-less and needing nothing - HOLDS NOTHING BACK! He forgives! He cleanses! He heals! He makes whole! He seals! He completes!

He calls us by His own name!

"And whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." God being free to bless, gave all. He has "blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ."

What does "ALL" mean to an infinite God who desires by infinite love to bless with infinite blessings?
If through love He emptied Himself of His deity, and then emptied Himself of His humanity, don't you know that it was so that He could give them both to you?

Consider for a moment "the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

We are partakers of "the glory that shall be revealed"! (1 Peter 5:1)

We have been called unto "his glory"! (1 Thes 2:12)

The very God of heaven has "called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus"! (1 Peter 5:10)

Whose glory?

His!!!

Crucified in Christ. Risen in Christ. Ascended to heavenly places in Christ.

Glorified
in Christ.



Think about it.












Author: Christopher
•11:10 AM

"Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet."

What is the purpose of the Law? What is its purpose in the life of a believer?

The Law "was" (past tense, Galatians 3:24) our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. It revealed our failures and sins, and therefore our need for a Saviour.

"But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." (Gal. 3:25)


So, what do we do with this old 'friend'? Do we keep him around as a wise counselor? Does he have any advice to give us that will help us in our new life? No, our Counselor is Christ.

But can't the Law help me to see clearly the difference between good and evil, so that I can cling to the one and avoid the other? No, to the believer "all things are lawful" (I Cor. 6:12, 10:23).

The Law is no longer our teacher. It was NOT made for the righteous man (I Tim. 1:9). It was "added because of transgressions" (Gal. 3). But isn't it good? Yes, "the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;" but it was NOT made for believers; it was made "for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane," etc. Now, Grace is to be our teacher. (Titus 2:11-12)

As for the Law:

If God has "abolished" it, why should we keep it? (Ephesians 2:15)
If God has "blotted" it out, why should we observe it? (Colossians 2:14)
If God has "disanulled" it, why should we affirm it? (Hebrews 7:18)

The Law has ONLY one purpose, and that is to reveal sin. Have you ever written a message with invisible ink? It's not visible until you hold it up to the heat of a light bulb.

Well, Paul says that there is invisible "sin" that is in every believer. (Romans 7:20) That "sin" lies dormant, quiet UNTIL it is brought into the presence of the Law. And then it is revealed. The "sin" manifests itself in the presence of the Law. The "sin" is given "strength" by the presence of the Law. (I Cor 15:56).

Do you want to live a holy life before the Lord? Then let the leftover "sin" remain dormant. Don't stir it up by bringing it into the presence of the Law.


It is better that some invisible messages remain unread.
Author: Christopher
•9:46 PM

God did not call me to be Pilate to my friend and judge him, nor to be a Roman centurion and punish him. He called me to be Simon of Cyrene, and help him carry his cross.


The entire message at church spoke to me about what's been going on with my friend who just entered a drug detox facility.

When others are saying to judge him, call the police, or some other unmerciful thing, the Spirit of God spoke to me and said, "You didn't ask for this, but I am picking you out of the crowd. Yes, YOU! I want you to carry this man's cross. You will walk beside him, hear his moans, see the tears run down his face. You will share his burden."

When Jesus said, "I have chosen you," this is what he was talking about. "I have chosen you to love. To share in the condemnation and jeers that others will aim at this man. I have chosen you to befriend sinners. To love them."

Isn't that what differentiates New Testament Christianity from the stone-throwing judgmental-ism of the Old Testament?
Author: Christopher
•9:45 PM
I love Jesus. Jesus is kind, loving, merciful, generous, and inspiring. But I hate religion.

This morning found me sitting in a drug rehab center waiting room. I was with a friend who had been clean for 2 1/2 days. He felt terrible. I was tired from staying at a hotel with him the night before. Around the room were a young alcoholic and his mom, a couple in their 60's, and a young lady about 30-years old named Christine who was trying to kick a 30 Percocet/day habit.

I've never been in a place like that before. Nobody spoke; each person was too caught up in private pain. Hopelessness was in their eyes.

Jesus-in-me was loving all of them. Next thing you know, I started talking to the young teenage fella (who looked like Adam Lambert a little bit). I introduced myself to his mom, Cathy. I'm not sure what I said, but "Adam" asked if I was a preacher or something, and the conversation turned to God.

Christine heard us talking. She told me that she'd been to church a couple of times, but she didn't like religion. I responded, "I hate religion." She looked at me. "But I love Jesus," I continued.

We discussed her experiences of going to church. She was a drug addict. She wasn't understood, or welcomed. She couldn't fit into the cliques. So she left. Nobody loved her. Nobody showed Jesus to her. Then she said, "I could never submit to God. I don't do submission."

I told her that it's not like that. I asked her if she had ever walked out into the warm sunshine, and just stopped and let the sun shine on her face. Of course, she had. "That's what submission to God is like," I told her. "He just wants to shine on you, to warm you, to help you."

Christine had never met a Christ-follower before. She had been to churches, and she'd heard the rules and requirements. She'd even tried reading the Bible -- "I just can't live like that" --but she'd never experienced love.

As I sat and talked to her about Jesus and his love for her, every soul in the waiting room listened. I spoke to each of them, drawing them in to the conversation. And they listened.

When I had to finish abruptly because my friend was called back to be assessed, an old man named Mike stopped me -- "Thank you, that was very relaxing." And Christine told me, "If you were a pastor, I'd come to your church. I like the way you talk. You're kind."

That's why I hate religion. I hate the judgmental, Pharisaical words and attitudes that look down on people just because their lives are a mess.

These dear people - frightened people, sad people - heard the word of God gladly when no one was yelling at them. They were open. They'd been to church before, met plenty of Christians, but they'd never seen Jesus.

That's why I hate religion.







Author: Christopher
•12:14 AM

One of the best encouragements I ever had in studying the Old Testament was the realization that God uses different words to refer to the same thing. For example, the Battle of Armageddon is also referred to as the Battle of Megiddo, or Bozrah, or the wine vat. After I understood this, I only had one battle to learn about not four or five!

The same with Jacob, aka Israel, aka Jeshurun, aka the wife of Jehovah. It's all the same nation!

This simplifies things tremendously. It's almost like the Lord purposefully complicated things, so that the lazy wouldn't get it. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God." But once you start to study, He gives you a key here, or a key there, and everything gets easy once again.

Now, let's take this principle of Bible study and apply it to a subject in the New Testament.

In the Upper Room, the Lord Jesus tells his disciples, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (John 13:34) The Lord Jesus knows that the Law of Moses is about to be fulfilled, the handwriting of ordinances is about to be blotted out; the Law will no longer apply after that night. (The rending of the veil of the Temple at the death of Christ was God's divine declaration that the Old Covenant was over!)

Love one another. Is this new commandment a replacement law? A law to take the place of the Old Testament's 613 precepts and commandments?

No, this is not a replacement for the Law but rather, it is the introduction of a new mode of living. Paul will later refer to it as 'walking in the Spirit.' In his first epistle, John writes, "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." That is, if we love one another, we will be living in God, and God will be living in us.

Love is the opposite of self-living. It is the opposite of pride, ego and lust.

Walk in the Spirit. Paul wrote to the Galatians, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." Walking in the Spirit is walking in love; it's not some super-spiritual, mystical thing - it's love. The opposite of loving others is serving self; the Spirit opposes the flesh. The flesh opposes the Spirit.

"If we live in the Spirit, let us walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25) Since you are saved, live like it. Since the Spirit does dwell in you, then walk in him. Paul re-states this again as 'putting on the new man.'

Put on the New Man. In Galatians 3:27, Paul informs us, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." That's past tense! That is, if you are saved, you have put on Christ. Again, if you are saved, "ye live in the Spirit", NOW therefore, he urges, ". . . put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." (Romans 13:14)

You are saved, act like it. You are in the Spirit, therefore walk in the Spirit. You dwell in Love, therefore live in love. You have put on Christ, therefore put on Christ!

Be Ye Perfect. "And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness." (Colossians 3:14) Charity is love. Love is perfect. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)

And again, "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded:" Let those among us who are perfect BE perfect. Past tense! "as many as be perfect"!

We don't strive to be perfect; we are perfect. And because we are perfect, we are urged to be perfect. That is, bear fruit which is the overflow of abiding in Christ (John 15).

Abide in Me. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:4-5)



Are you beginning to see it? Abide in Me, love one another, put on the new man, be ye perfect, walk in the Spirit - it's all the SAME thing! It's our new mode of living under the New Covenant!

So, the question is: Is the Upper Room commandment to "Love one another" a restatement of Matthew 22:34-40? Is this "Love one another" a retelling of the same old Law but in a condensed version?

Absolutely not! The Law was given so that the Flesh had something to attempt and fail at. The Law was given to reveal the sinfulness of Self, and the insufficiency of the Flesh.

This new commandment to "Love one another" is given to the spirit, and is not a working but a resting. It is not a striving but an abiding. It is an overflow of faith. It is not meant to reveal our insufficiency; it is meant to reveal HIS sufficiency.

God is Love. Love one another.





Author: Christopher
•11:29 PM

The question is a crucial one - What pleases God?

  1. Does daily prayer please God?
  2. Does giving regularly to your church please God?
  3. Does fasting please God?
  4. Does helping the poor please God?
  5. Does reading and studying the Bible please God?
  6. Does going to church please God?
  7. Does telling others about Jesus please God?

If you answered, Yes, to any of the above questions, I'd like for you to consider something.

The Pharisees fasted twice a week, gave of their money to the Temple, and had large sections of the Scriptures memorized. They would even "compass land and sea" to make one disciple.

But Jesus wasn't pleased with them; He called them hypocrites and vipers.

If doing the right things doesn't please God, then what does? Some would say, "Faith," after all Hebrews 11:6 says,"But without faith it is impossible to please him:" But that verse does not say that FAITH pleases God; it merely says that without faith it is impossible to please him.

Now what happens when we exercise faith? Do we accomplish something in the flesh, or in the Spirit? Obviously, in the Spirit. And if we are doing something in the Spirit, are we doing it, or is Christ doing it through us? Obviously, Christ is doing it through us.

John 8:29 tells us that Jesus always pleases the Father. ". . . I do always those things that please him."

Do you see now that the very question we started with, 'What pleases the Father?' dooms us to failure? The proper question should be, "Who pleases the Father?" It is Jesus who pleases the Father.

We fail to please the Father because we seek to please him apart from Christ's LIFE. We want to please the Father by doing actions similar to those of Jesus (WWJD?), but the Father is not interested in the actions, he is looking at the LIFE. He is looking for WHO does the action.

Is there LIFE in the action? Is Jesus doing it? Then it pleases the Father.
Is there DEATH in the action? Am I doing it? Then it does not please the Father.

I didn't say that 'I' don't please the Father. I always please the Father. I am accepted in the Beloved. But that which I 'do' does not please the Father. The moment that 'I' do something that pleases the Father, it is Jesus who is doing it. The action has been mixed with faith.

Again, if I do something in faith, it is no longer I that do it, but Christ who does it through me. Whatever Christ does pleases the Father.

If Jesus is the one giving, going, praying, fasting, and loving, then it pleases the Father.

Otherwise, it's just a religious list, and you might as well join the rank of hypocrites and vipers.


Furthermore, Galatians 5:6 tells us "faith which worketh by love." Faith works by love. Love is the power behind faith. But what is love? "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16)

As we walk by faith in love, we walk in God. That is, Christ dwells in us and lives through us.

Do you understand these verses now?:

"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

Only that which is done in love pleases God. Faith works by love. God is love.

Who pleases God?

Jesus does.
Author: Christopher
•7:46 PM

In Numbers 21, the people of Israel had begun once again to murmur and complain against the Lord. "And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died."

How absolutely TERRIFYING! that must have been! Sure, they were complaining against God, but doesn't everybody? A little murmur here, and a little there. . . it's just being human, right?

And then the snakes came! Poisonous snakes! Imagine one of the plagues of Egypt when you read this sentence: "And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people." Snakes in their tents, in their clothes, in their food baskets! Snakes everywhere!

The snakes represented their sin. It was prevalent and so were the snakes!

People were being bitten, and many died. Little children died. Old men died. Healthy adults died. The wrath of God was slithering through their camp, and there was no protection from it.

The people cried out to Moses for mercy, and Moses cried out to God. "And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. "

So Moses made a serpent of brass ("Why is he taking so long?" they must have cried. "Hurry up, Moses! Hurry!"). And then he placed it on a very tall pole, a pole that reached high so that even those who were far off could see it. And the people began to look. The burning of the poison cooled. The swelling began to go down. They sat up. And, they lived.

Look and live. A simple illustration of salvation by faith alone. The Lord Jesus even refers to it John 3:14, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: "

Then what? The people had a party perhaps? A celebration of God's mercy? Doubtless, they rejoiced and held each other, weeping tears of relief.

And then they buried their dead. And they cried, and mourned. And they held each other again.

But what of the brazen serpent? This metal 'savior' of theirs? Did they melt it down? Did they keep it? Whatever became of this blessing?

It became part of a tradition. At first, surely, people would look at it and just remember that wonderful day that they had been saved from the plague of poisonous snakes. But as surely as men make idols, it began to take on a different place in their hearts.

Until one day, some well-meaning worshiper did something that had never been done before. He burnt incense to the brass serpent. Nobody gasped. Nobody shouted, "No!" Somebody smiled.

And then he did it again. And again. And some friends joined in, or a family member.

Have you ever thrown a dog a treat, and the dog doesn't see you throw it? You point toward the treat and say, "There it is." And what does the dog do? It comes and sniffs your finger. It doesn't follow your pointing finger and go to the treat; it sniffs your finger. It doesn't make the connection between the two.

The children of Israel were a lot like that. They thought that somehow a piece of hard metal was responsible for their rescue. Of course, it was God, but he used that brass serpent, so it must be special somehow. Rather than worship the LIVING God, their true Redeemer, they worshiped a method, a tool that he had used to redeem them.

And what had been a blessing became a tradition, and eventually a corruption.

And it stayed that way for EIGHT HUNDRED YEARS!

Nobody did anything about it. It wasn't done in private, this false worship. It was done in public! By the BEST people! With ceremony!

It was unquestioned.

For EIGHT HUNDRED YEARS!

What could the righteous do? Destroy the thing? But Moses made it . . .with his own hands! Their ancestors had been rescued by the thing, for crying out loud! So what if some incense is offered to it now and then?

"You can't get rid of it. Grandpa offered incense there. So does Dad. And Mom. And my Uncle, and my Aunt. All my sisters and brothers. It's not as bad as you think it is."

But then, ". . . Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. " This 25-year old king saw things a little differently. His dad had been one of the wicked kings of Israel, and he had seen what wickedness was like.

He made up his mind early, and he "did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.

He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan."

He saw that the serpent could not be reformed. He couldn't ever get the people to see that God was the true Blessing, and that the serpent was just a tool. The people were too far gone.

So he broke it in pieces!

"How dare you!" they cried.

"Moses gave us that serpent!"

"Do you think that you are better than Moses?"

"You think you know God, but you don't. If you did, you wouldn't do such things!"

But he just continued on, breaking it to pieces.

Sometimes, that which was a blessing is no longer a blessing. Some things stay around too long, and they hinder rather than help. Traditions become corruptions. It's the sad story of mankind's relationship with the Father.

Raise up some Hezekiahs, Lord.

I smell incense.



p.s. Nehushtan means "a thing of brass." Hezekiah called it what it was, "It's just brass people. It's just brass."


Author: Christopher
•2:36 PM

This post was originally written as a response to a letter from a friend. He had many questions about the relationship between faith and works. I thought it might help someone else, so here ya go:



"Wow, there are many different topics that you've addressed, and it would take a huge amount of space to answer each one adequately, but let me give it try. :)

First, the fruit question. Faith saves alone, but faith that saves is not alone. That is, it will be accompanied by some change (what we call 'repentance'). However, pineapple trees take 3 years or so to bear fruit from the time the seed is planted -- what I mean is that oftentimes, a person might not bear fruit for a long time but still be saved. As Jesus often said, "Judge righteous judgment," that is, not with your EYES alone.

A friend of mine is a good example. She was saved at age 4, and witnessed to people even at such a young age. She had a lot of rough stuff happen growing up, and she suppressed (I won't say backslid) the voice of the Holy Spirit within her. She got involved with drinking, and eventually moved in with her boyfriend (whom she later married). Several years ago, in her 30's, she turned back to God. She said, "I was always aware of the fact that I was saved. I never doubted it one time. He was always trying to get me back." But her actions didn't show it at all. Now? She reads her Bible, and loves Jesus.

For her, salvation was having Jesus inside, but she never surrendered to him as her Lord. No surrender equals no fruit.

Second, Abraham and Rahab. This is obviously a reference to the book of James. James does not contradict Paul, who insisted that we are saved 'not of works' (Ephesians 2:9). James merely clarifies for us the kind of faith that saves. We are saved by grace through faith, not by works; but saving faith will have works that accompany it.

When Paul speaks of justification by faith alone, he means that we ourselves are justified in the eyes of GOD simply by faith in Christ. James is speaking of being justified in the eyes of MEN; our works prove our faith is the right faith. This is clearly seen in the context of James 2 where he talks about meeting the physical needs of people.

Third, can a saved person still give in to the struggle with sin? Oh yeah. If we define sin as 'gossip' then we see believers doing it every day. If we define sin as 'not going into all the world' then we see believers doing it every day. We will all have areas of compromise until we are totally redeemed on that day.

4th, I think I touched on this already, but believers are believers, and nonbelievers are nonbelievers. A nonbeliever may ACT like a believer, but it won't make him a believer; it won't change his NATURE. Similarly, a believer may ACT like a nonbeliever, but it won't make him a nonbeliever; he can't change his new NATURE back to what his old nature was. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are PASSED AWAY (dead), behold, all things are become NEW." And they cannot be made old again.

So, with that said, a believer cannot 'backslide' into an unsaved position. Impossible. How can he cause God to remember sins that have been washed away? How can he un-join himself with Christ? How can he uncircumcise his own spirit? Impossible. (Backsliding is a term used in the Old Testament to refer to the nation of Israel walking in ways that didn't please God. Guess what? God never did fully cast out Israel!)

John declares that if a professing 'believer', through threat of persecution, turns his back on Christ, he was "no doubt" never one of us in the first place. This is the not the case of a believer backsliding, but the case of a wolf in sheep's clothing having his true colors revealed. (I John 2:19)

Jesus touched on this same thing in his Parable of the Soils. "They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. " (Lk 8:13) This is NOT saving belief. They believed but it was similar to the faith of devils "who also believe and tremble" (James 2). They believe in a God, but not in his Son. Convicting faith but without saving faith. Just enough faith to realize they're lost, but not enough to accept the life preserver offered by God.

5th, how are we saved? "To as many as received him..." (John 1:12). Receive is a good word because it shows that we don't DO anything for salvation. This is not 'receive' in the sense of 'reaching out and taking a gift.' THAT implies some action on my part. It is rather like when a lump of hot wax 'receives' the imprint of a seal. The wax just lays there. In this sense, receive is more like "allow."

God wants to save us. He is pressing upon each of us, trying to save us, trying to woo us, convict us, draw us to himself. And we rebuff his advances. We hold up our hand and say, No.

Salvation is simply lowering your hand, and saying, "Yes, Lord, save me. Set your seal upon me. I will not fight you off any more."

Repentance is turning from our Self. It is turning from my own strength, and letting God be my saving strength. Confession is the announcement that Christ is in charge ("Lord", Romans 10:9-10). It is again a recognition that there is a new King in town. It is allowing the new King to have his way with me. Salvation is of the Lord.

6th, you are correct. We follow Jesus out of love. But it is not a duty. It is not the obedience of a slave to a new master, but the obedience of a dear little child to his loving Father. When we accept Christ, we accept his death as our death, and his life as our life. We are crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live, yet not us, but Christ liveth in us. So, obedience, and every good action, is not US living the Christian life; it is CHRIST living his own life through us. Not duty on our part, but resting. Fruit simply being borne by the Spirit within us.

7th, Can you walk away from God? "There is a sin unto death" (I John 5). No, you cannot walk away from God, if by this you mean 'lose your salvation.' When a believer disobeys God for a long time, God will just call him home -- "and for this cause many sleep" (I Cor 12). You can disobey God unto death, but "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. " (2 Tim 2:13). He cannot deny himself, and we are part of him, "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." (Eph. 5:30).

8th, suicide is not an unforgivable sin. It is the sad response of a life that feels trapped and feels like it has no other way out. Does it show a lack of faith and trust in God? Sure, but no more so than any other sin. It's just that this sin is so permanent. We unfortunately judge others by what we SEE with our eyes, and so this one is huge-- dead bodies are hard to ignore. But spiritually, the person is still alive, still in the presence of God. And, yes, this sin was also laid on Jesus and forgiven at the time of salvation.

The sad part about suicide is that it robs God of an influence in this world, besides all the heartache for those left behind.



If this doesn't have enough verses, let me know. There are tons of the them and I can rewrite this. This is just off the top of my head while I'm watching 'iCarly.' LOL

Chris"
Author: Christopher
•9:00 AM
If good is good and evil is equally good to the enlightened, then a realm of life is entered where we rejoice always, in everything give thanks, and in all things are more than conquerors. - Norman Grubb

As we mature in our faith, we become more and more childlike. We learn to trust our Father's unseen hand, and things that were meant for evil are seen to be for good.

Here are a few lessons that I've learned along the way that help me to see that evil is good:


1) God has to remove the old before He can give something new.

For example, I wrote awhile back about the time our dryer caught on fire. I got so excited; I had a grin from ear to ear! Why? Because God was gonna give us a new dryer! I didn't fret over the removal of the old one, because, by faith, I saw that my heavenly Father was simply making room for a new one. The removal of the old one was not evil, it was good!


2) If an evil is going to happen to us anyway, God allows it to happen at a good time.

For example, I was driving in downtown Kent when the in-line fuel filter sprung a leak. I smelled gas, and could literally watch the fuel gauge drop to 'Empty.' All the gasoline, about a quarter of a tank, was on the road! I managed to get the car to a mechanics shop, a mere two blocks away, and they fixed it for me.

Was this an evil thing? An attack of Satan? No! I was leaving in 3 days on a trip through the mountains of Tennessee; can you see how that would have been a terrible place for this to happen? The Lord had me break down
  1. when I was only a couple blocks from a garage,
  2. when I had the money to get the repair done,
  3. when I wasn't in the mountains.
I was praising God the whole time!


3) It's not a blessing robbed, it's a need provided for.

My brother pointed this one out to me. God says that he answers before we even call on him. This often results in him looking like a thief, and not the generous God who always provides for his children.

For example, you get $2,000 back from the IRS at income tax time. Then the car breaks down. You curse and moan and complain. "Why does God let this happen? We can never get ahead. Just when we get some money, Satan comes and steals it away. Why won't God protect us?"

What has really happened is that the Lord saw a need coming up in your near future, and provided for it ahead of time. What a wonderful Father you have!!

People often asked, "Why does the Lord wait until the last minute to meet our needs?" He doesn't always, but when he does, he is doing it so that
we can more clearly see his hand and give him the glory.

God is good, all the time. Therefore, I will trust Him. Trust is faith. And faith brings joy.



Author: Christopher
•4:57 AM

I love bacon. It's a wonderful, almost heavenly food. The smell of bacon in the morning? Awesome! The sound of it sizzling in the pan? Awesome! And, the taste? Awesome!

In Leviticus 11:7, the Old Testament Hebrew was forbidden to eat bacon. It was a very sad day for them as a nation.

But, then Jesus came!! Through His death, burial, and resurrection, He opened the way for us to eat bacon again! "Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." Of course, He was talking about bacon.

The full revelation of our freedom to eat bacon was given to Peter. Listen to what he wrote:

"I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air."

"And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. "

Bacon!

Peter was skeptical at first; his heart both hopeful and cautious. "But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth."

And then came the words of freedom!! "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."

Peter's heart wrestled with the joy that was blossoming within him. Could it be true? Could he really eat bacon? But the strongholds of tradition, ingrained through many years of observance to the dietary laws of Leviticus, fought back.

As ever, the Lord was patient with Peter. He gave him this revelation "three times."

You see, the Lord really wanted Peter to enjoy bacon!

And finally, Peter got it! What joy there was in the New Covenant! How delicious was this newly purchased liberty! "O, taste and see that the LORD is good!"

Later, as he stood before the first church council, Peter testified of his love for bacon, and the liberty that the Lord Jesus had given him from the old testament laws. He was a Jew, and he was free to eat bacon, so why should they command the Gentile believers to abstain from it?

James, also a bacon lover, added, "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God . . . "

Let them eat bacon!

The council agreed, and a letter was sent forth by the hand of messengers:

"The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls" (obviously referring to those who wouldn't let them eat bacon) "It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well."

And, thus, the early church found REST from the Old Covenant.

And we can enjoy our bacon!!

Praise God!








Author: Christopher
•8:48 AM
"God's love is the kind of love that cares enough to discipline you, not to pay you back, but to bring you back."

Perhaps one of most difficult concepts for young believers is that God does NOT punish his children. All of our punishment was laid on Jesus at the Cross. If this were not so, if there were the slightest sin remaining to be punished, then God's infinite justice would require an infinite punishment -- "eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord."

But while there remains no punishment for the believer, God does chasten his children. He does discipline them.

What is the difference? Punishment looks toward the past. Chastening looks toward the future. Punishment deals with an action. Chastening works on our character.


My favorite illustration of chastening or discipline is the tree stake. A young tree that is slightly bent, if not corrected, will continue to grow crookedly all of its life. The wise arborist will pull on the young tree, forcing it to straighten out, and then tie it to a very strong, very straight stake. Constant pressure is ensured so that a strong, straight mature tree will result.

Imagine this from the young tree's point view!

"Ouch! My whole life hurts!!"
"Why doesn't God give me a break?"
"Why do things always seem to go wrong?"
"I'm just trying to live my life; why won't God help me?"
"If he really loved me, he'd let up a little bit!!

But he won't let up. He's the one who is straightening you, conforming you to the image of his own Son. One day, when you're older and wiser, you'll look back and say, 'Thank you!'

But today, when it hurts so much, talk to your Father about it. Talking and listening will speed up the process. And drink lots of the water of the word; water will keep you pliable, and it helps to take the sting out.

And remember this, above all else, your heavenly Father loves you.


Author: Christopher
•10:15 AM
For your reading pleasure:

“When the Comforter Came”

by A.B. Simpson

“He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Matthew 3:11

The mightiest physical force we know is fire. Hence from the earliest ages, even in false religions, it has been recognized as a symbol of the supernatural and even worshipped and deified. It is one of the oldest divine emblems of the Holy Ghost. We see it in the flaming sword at the gates of Eden, the burning lamps that appeared to Abraham in connection with his sacrifice, the burning bush in which God appeared to Moses in the land of Midian, the pillar of cloud and fire which led the Israelites, the consuming fire that enshrouded Mount Sinai, the Shekinah glory in the Holy of Holies, the fire that answered Elijah’s prayer and settled the test of the false and true God of Israel and many other illustrations closing with the Pentecostal flame which marked the advent of the Holy Ghost.

We should first notice that the baptism of fire is not different from the baptism with the Holy Ghost. It is simply an expletive phrase qualifying and completing the thought expressed in the first phrase. The Holy Ghost is Himself a Divine Fire, and when He takes possession of a soul His operations are similar to the effect of fire in the natural world. The baptism with fire, however, suggests a stronger and more searching operation of the Spirit than that which is expressed by the other figure of water which John employs. Even in the Old Testament types and ceremonials we find God making a distinction between water and fire, especially in one striking passage where it was commanded that everything must be purified either by water or fire, and that if it could not stand fire it was to be purified by water. Does this imply that God deals differently with different souls according to their spiritual capacity and the completeness of their surrender to him? Is it because you are not able or willing to stand the fire that you have not received and God has had to deal with you in a less thorough and searching way?

We have a reference to the purifying effects of fire in Malachi 3:2 “…He is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap, and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver and shall purify the sons of Levi.” Malachi is speaking of the work of the jeweler as he sits before his crucible watching the fierce flame as it eliminates the dross and leaves the silver so perfectly refined that at length He can see his face in the glowing metal. So the Holy Spirit sits down in His slow and patient work in a surrendered heart, revealing and removing selfishness and sin until at last the image of Christ shines from all our inner being.

We have a very solemn picture of the testing fire in 1 Corinthians 3:13 “The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” While this undoubtedly refers to the testing fires of the final day, yet the language of John the Baptist distinctly implies that every one of us must pass through one of two fires. We must either have the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit now or that later flame of which he says, “He shall burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

“Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29), is not wholly an angry threat. Rather it is a revelation of God in His sanctifying grace and power. It is “Our God” who is a “consuming fire.” There are things in all of us that we are not able to eliminate ourselves, and we would give any price to have consumed. It is such a privilege to have a fire on which we can lay them through our great Sin Offering and to have them burn to ashes without the camp. Beloved, have you experienced the blessedness of having God’s fire burn out your inmost being? Do you know what it is to lay over everything of the flesh and self and sin on the Lamb of God as your Sin Offering, and then see Him consumed with your sin outside the camp while your soul is cleansed and emancipated and you joyfully sing, —

Oh fire of God, burn on, burn on,
Till all my dross is burned away;
Oh, fire of God, burn on, burn on,
Prepare me for the testing day.

The Holy Ghost kindles in the soul the fires of love, the flame that melts our selfishness and pours out our being in tenderness, sacrifice and service. And the same fire of love is the fusing, uniting flame, which makes Christians one, even as the volcanic tide that rolls down the mountain fuses into one current everything in its course.

Above all things fire is the mightiest of forces. It drives our engines and propels our commerce. It is the only thing that can move the heart of man and the Church of God. Oh, for the dynamite of the Holy Ghost;

“Oh, for a passionate passion for souls,
Oh, for the pity that yearns!
Oh, for the love that loves unto death,

Oh, for the fire that burns!”


Author: Christopher
•8:56 AM
I like to write down the witty sayings of preachers. Hope they're a blessing:

-"That the Lamb may receive a full reward for His suffering." ~ Moravian missionary motto
-You're never a stranger among God's people, but there are some strangers among God's people.
-Preach yieldedness and surrender!
-Get off my back; and get on my side!
-It's time to begin your mid-life conquest, not a mid-life crisis.
-Do you know where you'll got when you die? Do you know why?
-Many false doctrines arise from misapplying the covenants of the Bible.
-We are only 3 steps from innocence to sin: Saw, Desired, Took
-It's not just about being in God's house on Sundays; it's about being God's house during the week.
-Psalm 19 shows the progression of sin: secret sins --> presumptuous sins --> the great transgression
-Whatever greed is hungry for, it always ends up wanting more
-Ezra comes before Nehemiah. The Temple is built then the wall. Salvation before sanctification. The wall protects our worship and walk with God.
-The walls of the city had gate. Separation but not isolation. Restricted access.
-If there's not Temple, then why have walls? It's not separation for separation's sake. The separation protects our walk, our chief joy, and our source of power.
-God presses his ear against our lips and waits for us to pray.
-A man shows who he is by what he does with what he has.
-God is a satisfying God.
-God leads into impossible situations.
-Those who are filled with the Spirit will manifest a servant's heart and actions.
-Don't pray. Talk with God.
-Don't love the lesson; love those who listen.
-When all of life seems bad, God is still good.
-The Bible is not just a book; it is a bag of seed to be sown into your heart.
-I need Jesus TODAY.
-Prayer-stalking :)
-Dead-icate
-I am NOT a slave to sin. I am a slave to Jesus.
-When it's done, it's not done. Stay the course.
-God doesn't save us to save us, he saves to spend us.
-Be a visionary, not a victim
-Nineveh was 40 days to judgment and Lazarus was 3 days dead; it's NOT too late!
-We are all difficult people to somebody.
-If it has no cost, it has no value.
-When we get in the place where God can bless us, He puts his Super on our natural.
-Cheer up! You'll soon be dead!
-Jesus was born in a born. This must be why he left the door to heaven open. ("What are you leaving the door open for? Were you born in a barn?"
-Seek influence, not affluence.
-'Thy will be done' is not a sign but a song! ~ Frances Havergal
-Love is the motive for working. Joy is the strength for working. ~ Andrew Bonar
-We only have one lap to live...run!! run!! run!!
-"I don't know why these things happen. Twenty or thirty years ago I would have known, but I don't any more."
-True forgiveness is when I remember and it doesn't hurt any more.
-Christianity is spelled D-O-N-E
-The middle of integrity is GRIT
-Anyone can carry the gospel to the world. Anyone can carry a stick of dynamite. The power is not in the person, it's in the dynamite!
-Like any good kitchen sponge, Jesus had an abrasive side.
-A child puts your face in his hands and turns your face toward his. Just so, seek the face of God!
-God doesn't bless you just to bless you. He blesses you so that you can be a blessing. (Gen 12:1-3)
-You never met a person that Christ didn't die for.
-Sin is chocolate covered vomit ~ Andy Sieberhagen
-My flesh is the last veil holding back the presence of God.
-We will all spend more time on THAT side of the grave than on THIS side of the grave.
-God is a small group.
-God often uses the enemy to let us know that we are in the center of his will.
-Our gene pool doesn't have a deep end!
-Jesus didn't come to take sides; he came to take over.
-You can give without loving, but you can't love without giving.
-The Father finished the Creation. The Holy Ghost finished the Revelation. The Son finished Salvation.
-Surrender is not measured by what we give, but by what we keep back.
-You wouldn't have gotten those you got, if you hadn't gone after those you didn't get.
-Don't leave the road that's been plowed with the blood of martyrs.
-I can never not please God. (accepted in the Beloved!)
-You're only gonna live as long as God does!


To be continued...
Author: Christopher
•1:24 AM

Have you ever placed one mirror in front of another mirror so that they reflect each other reflecting each other, reflecting each other, reflecting each other? And the images of both disappear into infinity.

I have always heard that I reflect the Son. 'Be the moon, reflect the Sun' and all that. But, I am not a cold, lifeless moon. I am full of life. Christ's life. Certainly, I am dead. But, just as certainly, I am risen in Christ, and I now sit at the Father's right hand.

On earth, Christ is in me. In heaven, I am in Christ. And though mine is a borrowed purity, I am pure. And though mine is a borrowed glory, I am glorious.

So, Christ and I are like mirrors. Both reflecting, both glorious. I reflect him, and He reflects me.

The reflections go on reflecting and reflecting, glory shared becomes glory imparted, glory imparted glorifies. And the images go on into eternity where at last they almost become one.
Author: Christopher
•2:55 PM

You've probably seen those little Japanese trees that are amazing miniatures of naturally growing trees. They're fascinating!

Well, today, for some odd reason, I started thinking about what it would be like to BE a bonsai tree. I'd look exactly like a normal tree, except smaller. As a matter of fact, I'd probably look better than a normal tree! Every branch would have been given just the right twist, and every leaf clipped just so. People would see me and know that I was different!

I'd be wrapped up in hard, unyielding wire. That's how I'm forced to maintain my pleasant appearance. It's not the way that I'd look if I were left to grow naturally, freely; it's an external force that takes away my choice,. . . but it's okay -- bonsai are supposed by different. And you get used to the constriction after awhile; it's not as bad as it looks.

I'd also never grow to my fullest potential. Any time I'd start to push out a fresh new limb, it would be clipped. I'd have just the 'right' number of branches, just the 'right' shape to my foliage. But I'd never know the great heights of a natural tree.

But people would know that I was different, even if they couldn't sit in my shade!

I'd also have to be watered every day. Naturally growing trees can go for days without water, or so it seems; their roots actually reach deep into the earth tapping an almost limitless supply of water. But not me. My roots are kept shallow and short. I'm not allowed to go deep. And I dry out really fast if the gardener doesn't water me every day.

Oh yeah, the gardener. That's the guy who wraps me with wire, clips my leaves and limbs, and keeps me in a pot. He loves me, and cares for me with such dedication, and I don't know what I'd do without him! I'm amazed at his knowledge of trees and growing things! His vision has made me to look just like a real tree! (I know that I already am a real tree, but he has really helped me to reach my true potential as a tree!)

I'd also live in a pot. Bonsai means "tree in a pot." It's what defines me. It has its downside - sometimes I do wish that I were growing free in a forest of naturally growing trees - but the upside is really worth it. At least, the gardener thinks so, and he's in charge, right? Sure, I find it hard to connect with other trees (we all have separate pots so our roots are never allowed to intermingle, and our branches never really touch),but I am so PROUD to be bonsai!

Oh, and one other thing, I'd be a really poor fruit bearer. Most bonsai are kept so small that no matter how old they get, they never really bear fruit like mature, natural trees do. Others have their fruit clipped as soon as its produced. Who wants to have a large piece of fruit hanging from such a tiny tree anyway? It would be too much for it -- Thank God that, again, the gardener often keeps us from bearing so much fruit that it would hurt us.


Anyway, I was just thinking about being a bonsai tree. I really don't think I'd like it. I think I'll just keep the freedom, and wildness, that the Creator has given me. Sure, I might not look as pretty, but my roots go deep, and I can bear fruit all the time.

And I'm here outside with the other wild trees, reaching up toward the Son!