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The Purpose of Jesus Christ March 13, 2014

Posted by regan222 in Religion.
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Easter-HeLives-smallThe second in a series of sermons on the Person and Purpose of Jesus Christ.  This sermon was delivered at the Central Baptist Church at Legacy Point in Whitesboro, TX.\

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Our author lists three points for this section of the manuscript; the death, the resurrection, and the ascension of Christ.  While these are the seminal events in the life of Jesus, they are just singular points in the ongoing work of Christ; a work that continues today

John 6:38 – For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

We don’t know as much as we would like about the work of Christ prior to his coming to Earth.  As we learned last week, the Father is the architect and Jesus, as the pre-incarnate Word, was the executive or creative force.  The Father spoke and the Word brought creation into existence.  While supremely important to us, surely this was not all that Jesus ever did.

In hermeneutics there is  a thing called the “Full Mention Principle”.  God gives us full details on events or subjects that are vital to our understanding and does not go into detail on things that do not bear so much importance to us.  The Bible gives us little detail about the pre-incarnate or pre-human era in the life of Christ,  The only reference I could find is in…

Luke 10:18 – And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven

Being given so little information about the pre-incarnate Son, we must assume that those events are not the most important elements of Jesus’ work and may safely confine our musings to the events we are privy to.  In any case, it is understandable that our author would limit his scope.  There is just too much material, even in our limited exposure to His life, to truly cover the works of Jesus Christ.

John 21:25 – And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

The Death of Jesus Christ

It is odd to start a story at what seems like the end.  The disciples are crushed and scattered.  Christ is captive of the Roman empire.  Satan appears to be winning.  Looks are, in this case, completely deceiving.  Christ is on the verge of His ultimate victory and our great hope.  The death of Christ was about to accomplish its purpose.

Isaiah 53:5 – But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

He died in our place.  What makes Christianity unique among the religions of the Earth is the doctrine of atonement.  All men recognize the great universal truth.  There ain’t no free ride.  Buddhists practice good works in order to escape the wheel of Karma – a continual cycle of birth and death and rebirth until one’s life is good enough to merit their ascension to oneness with the Buddha.   The fundamental idea behind Islam is to appease Allah by the performance of a rigorous daily routine and so achieve paradise by one’s work.  The Hindu are focused on the four paths or yogas to reach enlightenment.  Christianity is unique in all the religions of Earth as a system of beliefs based solely on the work of another.  Christ did the work and we are allowed to benefit from it.

The death of Christ is tightly tied to the his life.  Without that perfect life, his death would have done us no good.  Jesus Christ lived a perfect and sinless life and did not deserve his fate.  He went willingly to it, however, in exchange for you and I, who did deserve it.

Sin is, apparently, a communicable disease.  It passes from one generation to the next.  It infects every descendent of Adam’s line.  We are all equally guilty under the law of God and deserve death for our sins.  The punishment for sin is always death.  The law has no room for mercy, and yet, God’s purpose for us is to exist in His presence.  .

This is the choice we face.  In order to live forever and be able to exist in God’s presence, someone had to pay the price for our sins.  The scales must balance.  We can either choose to pay that price ourselves or we must accept the sacrifice and the atonement of Jesus by faith.  Merely believing that he was is not enough.  We must purpose in our hearts to depend on his sacrifice as our only hope.  This is the nature of faith.

Romans 10:9 – That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

It is important to realize that the death of Christ was real in every respect.  He allowed himself to suffer the pain and anguish of his mortality and ultimately allowed himself to succumb to his injuries.  He allowed his soul and spirit to leave his body and follow the path of all men who die.  The flesh died, and no doubt, began the process of decay.  The soul and spirit traveled to hell where, no doubt,  Satan assumed that he would be able to gloat that Jesus had been unable to set up his kingdom.  Satan assumed that with Christ’s death, the kingdom of God was defeated.  Silly Satan.  The Bible tells us that Christ triumphed over hell and death and the grave and led the righteous souls held there to the presence of God the Father.

Colossians 2:15 – And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

I wonder sometimes, if the Devil, who is NOT all knowing, but whom is reputed to be very smart, was surprised at what happened next.  It must be assumed that he thought Christ’s triumph would come in some more direct fashion like setting up a political kingdom and overthrowing the Romans.  I cannot imagine him allowing the cross to take place if he knew what would happen next.

The Resurrection of Christ

Without the resurrection, the death of Christ is meaningless.  It has no power.  If he did not return then he was nothing but an insane and deluded man and there is not hope for humanity but to strive and eternally fail at perfection.

The Bible is careful to list many evidences of the return of Christ.  Once again we follow the hermeneutic principles.  A thing that is most often mentioned and most fully described will be a thing of importance.  The most majestic and powerful of all the verses of the Bible deals with the return of Christ and his triumph over the grave.

John 20:15 – 16 –  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

John 21:1 – After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.

Matthew 28: 1 – 10 – In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

1 Corinthians 15:5 – After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

Why is the resurrection important?  In order to pay our debt, Christ must die for our sins.  As we are now identified with Christ in his death, we, in sinful flesh, will die.  We may only rise if he does.  His triumph over death is our triumph.  The resurrection establishes Christ as God just as his death established him as man.  Now we must establish his resurrection in the eyes of humanity in order to make our witness efforts legitimate.

 

The Ascension of Christ into Heaven

 

The final act in the eternal drama is Christ’s triumphant return to the Father.  The question raised most often is “Why did Christ return to heaven at all?  Why not set up his kingdom?”  In short, because the father wanted more for us than just an Earthly existence.  He wanted fellowship with us for all time.  That can only happen in His presence.  This is what Satan missed.  God never intended for this world to be our permanent home.  He always had in mind that we should be in His presence.

As Christ, now a human forever, can stand in the presence of the Father, we, in Christ by his death for our sins, are also allowed access to the Father.

Christ’s return to the Father signified the end of his earthly works until his return as king.  But it by no means marks the end of his work.  Christ’s efforts on our part continue until his final return.

What is he doing now?  The Bible tells of two tasks that he has set for himself:

He is gone to prepare for our arrival:

John 14:2 – In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

He stands before the Father as a mediator to plead humanity’s case:

1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

He has a place prepared for each of us.  All we have to do is accept it.

 

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One in Every Crowd March 10, 2014

Posted by regan222 in General Ranting, Religion.
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sheepMatthew 18:12 – How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

How great the Father’s love for us that He would send His only son to die.  This verse gives us a hint, or as much of one as our limited minds can conceive, of how much God loves each of us individually.  Had there been only one sheep gone astray, still the Shepherd would still have come to Earth seeking to save it.  A wise man wrote, “If I had been the only reason…he still would have died for only me.”  No Christian should ever become discouraged or think that God does not care.  God is actively interested in each of His servants, individually as well as collectively.  Do not become jealous of someone who seems to be constantly involved in serving God and winning battle after battle while you feel like you are sitting on the sidelines doing nothing of value.  This is far from the truth.  Each of God’s servants, if they are doing God’s will, is exactly where the Father expects them to be and each has the Father’s complete attention.  Anytime we feel separated from God or beneath His notice, it is only a short coming on our part.  Pray without ceasing.  Stay in the Word and seek the Will of God.  Separation from God is all one-sided.  He does not withdraw from us, we withdraw from Him.  If you cry out to Him he will find you, as a shepherd seeking a single sheep.  The wise Christian, however, will stay close to the shepherd and not be the one in every crowd that wanders astray.

Opposites Attract; – Well, Yeah but not always. September 27, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, General Ranting, Religion.
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Picture if you will…You’re at the lake, floating on an inflatable raft in the cool azure blue. A light breeze tickles your wet skin as you look up to the spotless blue perfection above. As you look down you notice a tiny invader in your serenity. A small insect purposefully striding across the surface of the water toward you. How can this be? Has the insect messiah come to deliver his people to the promised land? I’m gonna say “pro’lly not”.

gerris02The picture to the left is a common Water Strider.  This little miracle operates by Physics and Chemistry rather than by supernatural support, however, they all come from the same source and were created by the same designer so it really doesn’t matter.  What’s important is how the chemistry works in the natural and how the analogy can apply to the supernatural.

Notice in the picture that the insect’s legs do NOT displace any water at all.  If you look closely at the tips of the legs in contact with the surface of the water you will see that the water surface appears to distort where the legs touch, almost as if the insect were walking on a thin film of plastic wrap.  A boat, floating on the water, would sit lower and actually displace a portion of the water.  That is, after all, the definition of floating.

An object floats only if it is buoyant in the substance in which it rests.  Buoyancy is defined as…
“the upward force on a body immersed or partly immersed in a fluid” (http://www.askdefine.com)

The object is supported by the amount of water it displaces because the water produces an upward force as the object sinks in.  If the mass of the object is less than the mass of the volume of water displaced, the object will float.  All of this is not relevant, however, because the object in question, the insect, does NOT float.

Just as on that long ago Sea of Galilee, this little insect is actually walking ON and not floating IN the water.  His mass is very small and the long legs spread the weight out over a large enough surface area that he is able to walk on the surface of the water just as on solid ground.  He does not sink in or displace any water.  He does not depend on buoyancy.  He does depend, however, on the unique chemistry and physics of the water molecule.

Water is composed of one Oxygen atom in a covalent bond with two Hydrogen atoms.  The Hydrogen atoms are composed of a single proton and a single electron.  A covalent bond is one in which the atoms SHARE the electrons.  As you may know,  electrons orbit the nuclei of atoms. The outer set of electrons, called the valence electrons, are used by the atom to bond with other atoms to form molecules.  A covalent bond occurs when the outer electrons orbiting a nucleus begin to spend time orbiting the nucleus of another nearby atom.  When that occurs, a new compound is formed and the chemical properties of the original molecules are changed.  In our case, two gasses bind together to form a liquid with some pretty amazing properties.

The Oxygen atom has many more electrons orbiting its nucleus than do the Hydrogen atoms.  The two electrons from the Hydrogen atoms begin to orbit, sharing time between the Hydrogen atoms and the Oxygen atom.  At any given time there are more electrons around the Oxygen end of the molecule than there are at the Hydrogen end.  This gives the Oxygen end a tendency towards a negative charge.  This results in the Hydrogen end (composed of basically two protons) a tendency towards a positive charge.  When a molecule has a partial positive charge at one end and a partial negative charge at the other, we say that the molecule is “polar”.  It has poles like a magnet.  This condition is the source of all of water’s peculiar properties and it is what gives our little friend the ability to duplicate what only one man has ever accomplished.  (Well actually two managed it but only one was really successful.  The other…well lets just say that he walked further on water than either you or I are ever likely to.)

The arrangement of water as a polar molecule has exactly the effect that you would suspect.  The positive and negative areas are attracted to the corresponding negative and positive regions of the water molecules surrounding it.  Water molecules act like tiny magnets.  This albeit weak, attraction between polar molecules is called Hydrogen Bonding.  It does some very strange things to water.  One of the most unusual is the property of cohesion.  Water molecules tend to stick to each other.

If you have ever waxed a car and then driven into a rain storm you have seen water “bead up” on the hood.  Water forms droplets of considerable size because the molecules are attracted to and hold onto each other with surprising tenacity.  An excellent way to see this for yourself is the following experiment…

You will need a penny, an eyedropper, a bottle of water, and a bottle of some organic solvent (acetone – nail polish remover, or alcohol (90% isopropyl, not that cheap Wal-Mart mix) will work.  Start with the water and see how many drops you can drop on the penny before the puddle you are creating breaks and runs off.  Now try the same with the NON-POLAR solvent.  Having done this experiment many times over with my students from year to year I can verify that it is possible to drop over 100 drops of water onto the surface of a penny before it runs off.  With alcohol you might get 30 or 40 and with acetone, even less.  The non-polar liquids lack cohesion.  The molecules are neutral and not attracted to each other.  In short, those liquids have no SURFACE TENSION.  If you waxed a car and then ran off into an alcohol shower you would find that the liquid would not form beads.  Also the miraculous little creature above would sink helplessly beneath the waves of a lake of acetone, never to rise again.  The liquid would not support him, not because he was too heavy but because he did not have a surface of molecules holding on to each other, to support him.  The boiling point of water, its ability to gather and hold heat, the fact that liquid water is more dense than frozen water, as well as this little guy’s ability to stand on the surface supported only by surface tension; all these unusual behaviors are properties of water’s unique chemical and physical makeup.

“Why”, you ask, “do we REALLY need a lesson in the chemistry of water?”  Perhaps not, but we MIGHT be able to draw some insight from an analogy on the way water behaves.  It is said that opposites attract and indeed, the positive and negative parts of each water molecule do attract each other, but the result is that every water molecule, and each is identical to the others, is attracted to its neighbor.  They have the same nature and so they are attracted to each other; not what you might expect.  As Christians, we have indwelling each of us, the same nature.

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16)

The nature of Jesus Christ is in each and every Christian.  Something in all Christians resonates at the same frequency and THIS force or effect is what pulls us together in His service.

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,” (Acts 2:46)

Like the early disciples, we, if we allow Christ to indwell us fully, are held together by His nature.  Because of this attraction we can be more than the sum of our parts.  Just as water boils at a much higher temperature than it should, the Christian can show incredible patience through the most trying of times.  As a thin stream of water will bend away from an oppositely charged object, so the committed Christian can overcome a temptation or obstacle that he or she would, in their own strength, be destroyed by.

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here. Sometimes, opposites repel and similar things attract.  However, in order to experience this power you must partake of the nature of the source.  Allow Christ free rein in your life and you will find an incredible source of strength.  You might even walk on water.

 

 

Whose Fault Is It??? July 7, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, General Ranting, News and politics, Religion.
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Our land is hurting.  Who is to blame?

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

A pastor spoke today on the If/Then arrangement that we have with our creator and it struck a chord within my own heart and mind.  He was making the point that the relationship of the Christian, with God, is based on actions and reactions.  In this verse God is speaking to His people and He tells them that if they will humble themselves, repent, and call upon Him that He will heal their land.  This verse is being  mentioned very often in our dark period of American history as a call to action and a sign of hope.  I think, however, that it is being misinterpreted.

We Christians blame the immoral condition of our country for the cultural and economic woes that we are experiencing, and to that extent we are correct.  However, most of the things we are upset about may be attributed to the unregenerate population in our land.  Abortion policy is the product of non-believers, for example.  The removal of every Christian symbol or statement from public display is not the product of the church member.  The mutilation of the holiday season by promoting it as a time of peace and love and understanding and at the same time attempting to deny and remove the very reason for its existence is not something that saved people implemented.  In short, the things we blame for our decline are the policies and devices of worldly people, not Christians.  Here in lies the revelation that was given to me during the sermon today.

God is deeply and personally concerned with the doings of His people.  He watches as we work and worship and while away the hours we are given.  He provides, He protects, and He occasionally paddles us when we need it.  He is actively involved in and concerned with the lives of each and every one of His servants.  God has a very different outlook concerning the lost of this world.

We are aware that God’s will is for each and every one of us here on Spaceship Earth to be saved by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  Once we receive that saving grace, we belong, body and soul, to the Lord.  We are legally and literally adopted into the family of God.

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” – Romans 8:29

We, the saved, are literally part of God’s family and Jesus is the firstborn or eldest among us and so worthy of our honor and respect and service.  However, this is not the case with the lost.

The Bible refers to the unsaved in many ways.  One of the most common is to speak of the lost as blind.

“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” Romans 11:7

According to Romans, the elect, or saved people have obtained what they seek but the rest are blinded and unable to see it.  If you are walking down a crowded street and someone wielding a white cane and dark glasses bumps into you and knocks you over, do you leap to your feet and retaliate?  Do you hold them accountable for their misdirection?

The Bible also refers to the lost as dead in sin.  The most evil and prolific of criminals, once he dies, is no longer held accountable for his crimes.  We don’t serve warrants on corpses.  The dead are not responsible for anything.

These are some of the ways that God views the lost.  How does this affect His dealing with them?

“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” – Hebrews 12:7-8

These verses hold the key to my revelation.  God chastises those whom He loves.  He paddles His own children like any good parent but He does not concern himself with the behavior of the lost children.  His attitude to them is one of mercy and forgiveness.  God is described many times over in scripture as long-suffering and patient with the sinner.  he calls to them.  The Holy Spirit appeals to them.  He does NOT chastise them for their sins any more than you would rebuke a blind man for bumping into you.  Now we get to the meat of the matter.  Lets look at our foundation verse again…

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

God is telling us that if HIS people, called by HIS name, will humble themselves and pray and repent, and turn from their wickedness, then He will come to their aid.  We blame our present darkness on the policies and propensities of the lost  but the Bible clearly states that they are not the cause of chastening from above….WE ARE.

It’s not the abortion doctor plying his evil trade that brings a curse upon America, it is the gossiping believer.  It is not the secular humanist declaring God dead that brings about wrath and woe, it is the church member who sits through sermon after sermon on Sunday and then goes to his or her workplace on Monday and does nothing to share the good news that they heard the day before.  It is not the drug dealer, the school shooter, the thief, or the prostitute that is bringing ruin upon our land, it is the complacent, uncaring, or compromising Christian that incites the ire of the Almighty.  MY PEOPLE, CALLED BY MY NAME…”  God deals with his own.  He does not chastise those who don’t belong to him.

“And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” – Luke 9:54

The disciples wanted to call down wrath upon the unbelieving of the Samaritan village because they would not receive him and Jesus forbade them.  The lost have their place in judgment and it is coming for them like a thief in the night.  Until then, the filthy will remain so unless they repent.

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” – Revelations 22:11

Should the lost man become a child of God then the relationship changes.  I would not allow some stranger to live in my house and eat at my table but neither would I involve myself in his behaviors unless they affected me directly.  Chastisement is wasted upon the lost.  Until they are saved they can not be justified outside of the law and no amount of punishment can make them obey it successfully.  It is wasted effort.

The unsaved and their machinations are not the root cause of our troubles, they are symptoms.  They are part of the punishment.  God often uses the lost to chastise His children.  Oddly enough, the children of always the better for it and the instruments of His wrath are usually destroyed by it.

What is important for us, however, is what needs to be done to heal our land and who needs to do it.  The believers must repent.  The believers must end the complacency that allowed these abominations to enter into our lives.  We, the saved, must repent of our laziness, cowardice, uncaring attitude, or anything else that keeps us from serving God to the fullest.  Only then will He heed our prayers and heal our land.  Only then will America become what she once was and can be again.  Only when Christians join together in an attitude of repentance and prayer will things be right again.  I only pray it is not too late.  God is actively interested in every aspect of the Christian life and He wants it to be blessed, but only on His terms.  As for the lost, if the abortion doctor or the humanist or the drug dealer repents and believes then that person is made a new creature and the old evil person is gone.  That is how we retake our country.  When every American believes that Jesus Christ died for their sins and accepts in their heart that they are sinners in need of a savior then there will be nobody left to run abortion clinics or institute antichristian policy in government.  If you are a believer and not living like you should then YOU are at fault.  I guess I answered my question.

What Every Christian Ought to Know about Understanding the Bible April 3, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, Religion.
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The following slides are the sermon notes that accompany my sermon of March 31, 2013. You can follow along in the slides as you listen to the sermon. Just click the link to hear my presentation of a portion of Dr. Adrian Roger’s book “What Every Christian ought to Know.” I was allowed to present the chapter entitled What every Christian ought to Know about reading the Bible. Just click the link below to listen to the sermon as you move through the slides.
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When you click the link it will open in a new tab or page. Minimize the new tab and reopen this tab to follow along in the slides.

Let a Man Examine Himself August 10, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Books, General Ranting, Religion.
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Watch the video and then watch the sermon

But Let a Man Examine Himself

1 Corinthians 11:27-29

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

Taken in context, these verses encourage anyone partaking of the Lord’s Supper to examine their own hearts and make sure they are approaching the Lord with the right motives before they sit down at His table.  It may be inferred that self examination is profitable at any time.  I made the majority of that video a reflection in a mirror for a reason.  We need to pause and reflect upon our own reflections for a moment and take stock of our growth and progress.  Hopefully what you have just watched will offer up some things to look at as you examine yourself.

I. Examine your Methods.

Right away we should be aware that God is not so nearly interested in what we do as He is in why we do it.  Each of us has been given talents and gifts to make us uniquely suited for the role God would have us play in the world.

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

We have no right to glory or boast in our abilities because God is the source of the talents and abilities we have received.  God, in His wisdom, knew that the church would need many different kinds of workers, just as the body needs many different kinds of organs.  Some He called to preach or to teach or to give, or to encourage, but we all have in common the source of our abilities and what we are to use them for.  Of ourselves, we are nothing.  If you are a great singer, a powerful speaker, a wise businessman, beware of pride.  What exactly did you get outside of God who sovereignly gives and takes away?  Look at the person who has nothing and think for a moment, there but for the grace of God go I.

As this is the case, we are held responsible for very little.  In the work of salvation, Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.  We only accept or decline.  As a witness we are called upon to spread the gospel.  We are not held accountable for its results.  I don’t hold James responsible for carrying out the trash or washing the car yet.  There is very little that we are held responsible for because we are capable of very little.  God does, however, expect at least two things from us.  We must be faithful in our service if we want to serve and we must do our best.  If we have the faith of a mustard seed we can do much, but we must have that faith.

  Numbers 19:2
This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:
  Numbers 28:3
And thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the LORD; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering.

  Numbers 28:9
And on the sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof:
  Numbers 28:11
And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD; two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot;
  Numbers 29:17
And on the second day ye shall offer twelve young bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs of the first year without spot:
  Numbers 29:26
And on the fifth day nine bullocks, two rams, and fourteen lambs of the first year without spot:

When we do give something to God, be it sacrifice or service, He only wants our best efforts.   We need to examine ourselves and see if we are truly giving our best.

II. Examine your motives

To a Christian, motives are the most important factor in their actions.  The unsaved man’s motivation comes from worldly things.  They are focused on self and what pleases self.  Even their good deeds are motivated by selfish motives.  They give to causes and charity because it makes them feel good.  All actions from the lost man are motivated by self and the world.

The early Southern Baptists held that “The scriptural doctrine of depravity is not that every man is a bad as he possibly can be, for there may be indefinite progression in guilt:–nor that one man is necessarily as wicked as another,–for there may be as many shades of depravity as there are sinners in the universe. But it teaches us that man, by nature, is destitute of all holy principles and desires; that there is nothing in his character which is pleasing in the sight of God; that being alienated in his heart from God, corrupt in the very fountain of action, in the temper and spirit of his mind, all the actions that he performs, even those which are in themselves excellent and lovely, are still the service of an alien and a rebel, and consequently an abomination in the sight of heaven.”  The lost man, even in the act of caring for his child or providing for his family, is in the service of “an alien and a rebel” and is “consequently an abomination in the sight of heaven.”

The Christian, on the other hand, is commanded to put self last on the priority list.  We are motivated by God’s will.  He asks and we act in disregard for self or worldly gain or anything else that would motivate a worldly person.  History is filled with examples of Christians who would prefer to live in poverty or die in pain rather than act out of God’s will.

Matthew 6: 1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

The lost soul does good to receive a reward.  They operate under the law.  When the Pharisee prays on the street corner and in the market place he gets his reward from the people who are impressed when they see him.  The Christian is commanded to do alms, or to give, in secret.  No one should know.  We are not motivated by worldly recognition.  We only seek God’s well done.  We need to examine ourselves and see if we are acting out of love for God or for ourselves.

III. Examine your Future

You’d think we should examine the past first rather than the future, but as you will see, the past determines the future.  For the saved church member, we stand at a critical junction.  Like Gideon’s army at the river

Judges 7:4 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.

Look around for a moment.  There are seats empty that were once filled.  The people who sat there have, for one reason or another, fallen by the way.  We have a place being prepared for us just as the Israelites of the Old Testament but not everyone who set out with us on this journey will arrive.  In order to have a future we must be faithful in the present.  They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until none of that original generation of adults was left alive because of their lack of faith.  The group future was preserved just as God promised but a lot of individual futures fell by the side of the road getting there.

Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

The church has been described as a vine.  I am not so familiar with grapes but I have an acute awareness of blackberry vines.  The best way to get more fruit from the vine is to cut away the dead wood during the winter.  The time for pruning is when the vine is not actively producing fruit.  The wise gardener knows this and when he sees the vine with no fruit he cuts away the dead wood.  In the spring, the remaining wood produces more fruit.  No vine ever died from careful pruning and in fact, they produce more fruit for the gardener.  We need to examine our future.  Don’t be part of the pruned.  Hold fast and remain faithful and receive the reward.

IV. Examine Your Past

Contrary to what you might think, the past is more important than the future in this case.  The past writes the future.  If you believe and receive the gospel in the past, then in the future, your reward is assured.  If you have no past relationship with Jesus Christ, you have no future.  You cannot sneak into heaven.  Some people have the mistaken idea that if they hang around the church long enough, attend enough services, give enough, even get baptized or become a member of the church, then they will somehow establish a relationship with Jesus by proxy or by just being around long enough.  You need to examine your past right now and see if there is a moment in time when you definitively responded to the call of the gospel and accepted Jesus Christ as savior.  Somewhere at sometime in your life you said yes to the Lord and your life was changed.  This is the only way in to heaven.

The past is past.  It’s gone.  The wonderful thing about the present is that you have a chance to change the future.  Today is your opportunity.  It’s the only chance you are absolutely guaranteed.  The future is very uncertain.  You might not have one outside of this door.  Don’t take that chance.  Examine your past and write your future here in the present and for all time.  Accept the Lord Jesus in faith.  Choose to believe the gospel that he died for you and rose again and you will rise as well.

I’m Not Lost, This is the Scenic Route August 2, 2012

Posted by regan222 in General Ranting, Religion.
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To all my loyal readers, sorry I have not posted in a couple of weeks.  Between trying to finish up a movie and get ready for school to start back up, not to mention trying to cut wood with my cousin in 110 degree heat, I have been remiss in my duties as a writer and minister.  To you who are interested, I heartily apologize.  I WOULD apologise like they do in Europe but the word press spell checker insists that it is misspelled.

To make matters worse, my family has been on vacation at the family reunion, which I did not attend, and that has me completely out of sorts.  Enough excuses, I promise to turn out some Pulitzer Prize winning material just as soon as I can copy some from a Pulitzer Prize winning author.  Meanwhile, God Bless and Keep You and Make His Face to Shine Upon You.  For those of you who were put off by my reference to the Deity, please see my entry under “Live Forever, Ask Me How” tab immediately.  You can thank me later after we have both passed away.

Wisdom vs. Knowledge July 16, 2012

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Here is my Sunday School lesson for 7/15.  We were looking at Solomon and the two harlots who each claimed the living baby.  I am just posting the outline this time…

I.  Wisdom Defined:

A.    Wisdom: 1. The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.  2. The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of such experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

Wisdom is an action trait.  It is only valuable if used.  By contrast, knowledge is merely a collection of facts and information.  It does not require action in order to justify its existence.  Wisdom must be put to work.

Solomon knew he needed God’s help in order to be a wise ruler.  Part of wisdom is experience.  Solomon was very young, and, having grown up in the palace, was likely sheltered from much of the experience that many people receive growing up.  Solomon, did, however, have the knowledge of his own limitations.  There is much wisdom in him even before the Lord blesses him.

And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.

And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.

And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.

Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

Solomon knew what he needed to rule well.  He knew the only source for that kind of wisdom was the source and font of all wisdom.  He understood that discernment was more important to a ruler than military might or riches or any other characteristic.

II. Wisdom Displayed

A. Most believers are familiar with the story of the two harlots.  Solomon knew, from a very brief exposure to these two that the child’s true mother would react as she did.  Solomon also depended on God to make sure everything went according to his plan.

B. Solomon knew that there are some basic human tenets that are constant even among the morally questionable.  Mothers love their children.  It is ingrained.  The child’s mother would much rather see him raised by some other woman than to see him killed.  The other woman really did not care, though no doubt she was heartbroken about the death of her own child.

III. Wisdom Departed

A. Unfortunately Solomon did not maintain the course of wisdom in his later years.  The condition that God placed on Solomon’s life was that if Solomon would follow in the ways of the Lord all his life then God would add days to his life.

B. Solomon allowed unequal yokemates to enter his life.  He married outside of his faith and allowed the immorality of his foreign wives to lead him from the paths of righteousness, and unfortunately, wisdom as well.  Solomon might have ruled years longer if only he had not allowed foolishness and sin to cloud his judgement.

1Kings 11:3  And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.

Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.

And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

Solomon lost the chance to establish a dynasty and had the kingdom stripped from the royal family because of his wickedness.

Gravity…What’s The Attraction?? June 11, 2012

Posted by regan222 in General Ranting, Religion, Science and Technology.
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In Physics we acknowledge four fundamental forces in the universe.  This does not mean there are not many more, it just means we can’t identify them.  These forces include Gravitational force, Electromagnetic force, Weak Nuclear Force, and Strong Nuclear Force.  Most people don’t realize the electricity and magnetism are considered to be the same type of force.  The nuclear forces are what hold atoms, and consequently, all matter, together.  Electromagnetic force is the movement of electrons through matter, and Gravity is what keeps us from leaving the planet unexpectedly.

Gravity is defined in Physics as the tendency for objects with mass to accelerate towards one another.  We will break that definition down in detail momentarily, but the important thing for right now is to know that two objects, not acted upon by any other outside force, will tend to move towards each other.  If we could empty the universe, except for two tiny molecules, given enough time, they would come together.  All physical objects have gravity.  It is a property of matter.  Gravity and mass are directly proportional.  As mass goes up, the attractive force of the object increases.   And I’ll bet you thought it was little skinny people who were attractive.

Sir Isaac Newton quantified and defined gravity for us.  The story goes that he was resting one day under an apple tree when one of the fruits of that tree’s labor fell off and clocked him on the head.  The resultant shock brought about a flash of inspiration (and likely pain) which led Sir Isaac to the conclusion that all things accelerate towards one another and that the larger an object is, the more attractive force it has, and finally, the distance between two objects affects the strength of the pull between them.  It also probably introduced him to the benefits of ice when applied to a bump on the head.

“But Preacher”, you ask, “What does this have to do with God or religion?”  To which I reply, “Everything.”  John 6:44 tells us that God has an attractive quality just like gravity or magnetism or any other fundamental force.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

We are drawn by the Father to the Son, and indeed that is the only way we can approach the Son.  The Father’s attraction, we will find, shares many of the same properties as that of gravity.  While gravity is a property of, and works only on, matter, the allegory is still valuable as a teaching tool.

Firstly, God’s attraction is constant.  Just as gravity is a fundamental property of matter than can not be removed or modified, God’s pulling power never changes.  It springs from His divine nature, and as such, is a constant as He is constant.

Malachi 3:6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Secondly, God’s attractive power is complete.  Anyone who responds will be drawn into his presence.  Of course the only path into the presence of God is through His son Jesus Christ, but the pull is the same and it is sufficient for all.

John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

Jesus Christ was lifted up at his crucifixion and now can draw any and all who wish to be drawn.  That is the only limit to the attractive power of God.

Just as importantly, God’s attractive force is dependent on distance.  In the case of gravity, the attraction is strong over a short distance but falls off the further away the two objects are.  Even so, as we move further away from God in our relationship with Him, we begin to lose His influence in our lives.  Oddly enough, even though the pull weakens as we get further from God,  it never completely fails.  Objects in space separated by relatively small distances exert a great pull on each other.  The power of the Sun to hold the entire Solar System with all its incalculable mass in orbit, even distant planets like Pluto, gives us some idea of the attractive force of gravity and the mass of the Sun.  Objects, on the other hand,  at great distances, separated by entire galaxies even, still exert some degree of pull on each other.  Compared to close objects the pull is tiny, but it is there and can be measured.  Should the objects begin to move towards once another, the pull will grow.  In the same way a Christian who has fallen away from the faith and become carnal never completely falls away from God and can be started back on to the path of reconciliation with the slightest nudge in the right direction.

Finally God’s attractive power grows over time.  An object falling under the influence of gravity does not fall at a constant rate.  Gravity, on Earth at any rate, causes a falling object to accelerate at 9.8 meters per second per second.  This means that the object, at the end of one second of falling, is traveling 9.8 meters per second.  At the end of the second second of falling the velocity has doubled.  The object falls at 19.6 meters per second. This acceleration continues and the speed increases until the object’s wind resistance equals for the force of gravity.  At this point in a fall, acceleration stops.  This condition is called Terminal Velocity and is the maximum speed at which an object can fall through air.  Without atmosphere, the acceleration of gravity is constant and continual.  In a vacuum the speed at which an object falls will continue to increase until the object strikes the ground.  In this same vein, the longer a believer stands in God’s presence with nothing to interfere, the longer that believer is under the influence of God’s attractive power, the stronger the attraction becomes.  The believer grows in faith, as it were.

Of course this allegory only applies to those who accept the pull of God’s drawing power.  In order to experience the power one must first accept the connection.  The only acceptable route to God’s presence is through Jesus Christ, the Son.

<Invitation>

Ouch! Insight into Pain… May 22, 2012

Posted by regan222 in General Ranting, Religion.
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Today has been the most PAINFUL day of my life for a long time.  I am familiar with physical pain.  An automobile accident in my college days and a fractured spine that was never surgically fixed have left me with a very keen appreciation for the words 10% disability.  When they used those words on me after the accident I had NO clue what they meant.  I was invincible.  I got well and joined the Army a few years later.  Not mentioning that incident allowed me to enlist in the paratroopers and I currently have 47 successful parachute jumps (and NO unsuccessful ones).  Each of those impacts took a bit of toll on my remaining disks and vertebra but I was STILL invincible.

I got out of the Army and took up horses as a hobby.  I broke my own colt and, on occasion, she broke me.  Several violent crashes into the middle of the well packed and grass free driveway did nothing to reduce my love for horses (but those too reduced the amount of bone I have supporting my back).

Now at age (ummm well past 45 anyhow) I find that the words 10% disability have an entirely new relevance.  The disks I so thoughtlessly tortured in my youth are now bulging around the chipped and compressed vertebra in my lumbar spine.  The nerves (especially that nasty sciatic nerve) don’t fit through the little nerve tunnels like they once did and every so often they remind me of how badly I have abused my lower back and legs.  I have had dental work, giant boils in delicate places, broken arms, legs, noses, and other bits, and pretty well otherwise have violated the warranty on myself.  Yes I am fairly familiar with physical discomfort or so I thought until today.

I developed on ear infection today.  The same sort of bacterial infection that infants and toddlers get everyday.  As the pressure of fluid built up more and more inside my ear, I very quickly went through every type of OTC pain med in my home as well as most of the non-preacher words in my vocabulary.  I finally called to see the doctor at noon.  He gave me a shot to decongest my head and hopefully, relieve the pressure in my ear as well as a prescription of antibiotics and hydorcodone.  The wait from the end of my appointment until the prescriptions were ready was an eternity in the blackest pit of pandemonium.  The pressure eventually go so bad that my eardrum explosively decompressed.  It had been so packed full that even that rather dramatic display (I looked as though I had been shot in the side of the head from all the blood on my shirt) did not provide the expected relief.  I had been pinning all my hopes on one  little move to start the drainage and ease my pain.  The move had come but the expected relief never materialized.

I tried hot and cold packs, mashing and squeezing, everything I could think of.  I held my head in every position it could reach and once again went through my pain meds and non-preacher vocabulary.  Nothing would touch it.  The hydrocodone finally arrived and I completely destroyed the packaging getting it open. Instead of waiting the recommended 6 hours (who came up with THAT silly rule?) I took my next dose in 2 hours with exactly the same effect.  Finally, after 8 more hours of contemplating performing a self myringotomy with an ice pick, enough fluid drained away to give me some peace.  (It has been 12 hours and it still hurts, I just have a better perspective on what real pain is).

I wish I could say that gained some spiritual or emotional enlightenment from my trial today.  I kept looking for a lesson that I could apply and maybe share in the form of a sermon but I got nothing.  Pain is pain.  It can be ignored for a time but it will eventually break through and demand to be acknowledged.  I know it has its uses as a signal that something is wrong in the body but why not put in a cut-off switch so that when the body’s operator is aware of the problem and is doing all he can to fix it, the pain can be turned off.  It stops performing a useful function then.

About the only insight that I got today of any use was patience.  I may have used a word or two that I didn’t mean and I was probably not the friendliest guy around but I also did NOT start boiling water to sterilize the ice pick.  (It really was close).  Patience in a time of stress does not mean moving through life as though nothing is wrong with perfect composure while you are in pain.  Patience is getting through without doing something that can’t be fixed or forgiven.  Remember that the next time you are experiencing a painful trial (be it physical or otherwise).  Patience does not demand that you completely ignore your difficulty and breeze through the day with a smile, patience just says get it done in spite of the pain.  God can give you the grace to deal with anything but the reason He gives you grace is because the pain of the situation is still there.  So don’t quit.  You can do it.  (You might want to hide the sharper kitchen utensils before it gets really intense).  Nite all.