Dwell on What God Has Done.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things (NKJV).” -Philippians 4:8
“Meditate on these things.”
I had devoted three months to a summer camp ministry and during the third month, I began to feel downcast because I was dwelling on the incidents which made my job at camp frustrating. Somewhere around that time, I had read an article which reported people having the tendency to remember the negative, unhappy, and adverse things they had experienced. I thought to myself this is something that I unknowingly do sometimes. As I reflected on this article, Philippians 4:8 came immediately to my mind. When I recalled this verse, I remembered the kids I had prayed with, problems I had listened to, talking to them about Jesus, playing with them, challenging them, and encouraging them. This scripture reminds me that God has given us the power over experiences that can negatively affect us. God was reminding me to meditate on what He has done; He was telling me to meditate on the noble, pure, lovely, and good things He had done at camp. As it says in Psalms 103:2, we should not forget what the Lord has done for us.

Grace and Peace,

JM

Authority Pt. 2

And it came about on one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him,
2 and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?”
3 And He answered and said to them, “I shall also ask you a question, and you tell Me:
4 “Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?”
5 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’
6 “But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.”
7 And they answered that they did not know where it came from.
8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Lk. 20:1-8 NAS)
How did the Lord, handle His authority being challenged by mere unbelieving men?
Elsewhere, in the gospels Jesus mentions to His disciples that they would be persecuted and ridiculed just as He was, but one way he told them to carry themselves during these situations, was ‘gentle as doves, wise as serpents.’ This was not a command, He was not willing to obey. Here we see that Jesus behaved in this way. When accused of working by an authority that was not Gods by the men who ran the religious scene of the time; when being questioned not sincerely but to trap him and have him arrested, Jesus did not throw a temper tantrum. Neither was his pride insulted, his identity was in God and from God, and man’s rejection did not affect Him. He reacted gently. Though, these men who questioned Him, sought to trap Jesus into an incorrect answer that would get him into trouble, Jesus flipped it all on them by asking them a question. In this way, he behaved wisely. He knew that the people believed that John the Baptist was a prophet from God that was an ally of Jesus, therefore if His authority was from God then Christ was also from God. If they said his authority came from man, they would lose favor with the people. Jesus put them in a place through His question, where the argument was over, and the evil of their heart was put on display.
In like manner our authority will be challenged. As we begin to preach Christ at our jobs, supermarkets, and amongst family we will experience the same type of questions people experienced. People will say, ‘I don’t believe in God, He never answered my prayers.’ ‘How can you say the Bible is totally correct and has no errors?’ ‘Jesus could not have been fully God and fully man that is impossible!’ These are the taunts against our faith that we have to hear when we begin to walk in our authority in Christ that He has given us. When we see these challenges, we should not be afraid or surprised, the Bible makes it clear, if Jesus authority was challenged so will ours. We are to meet these types of people in love, gentle as doves, wise as serpents.
You might be nervous to begin to act on the authority Christ has given you because of fear of man and rejection. Let me first address that we need not fear the rejection of man, because we are wholly accepted in God. If He accepts us then the rejection of man is not in alignment with Gods will, and we know that what God says triumphs over what the world says. Also, we need not fear the challenge of man because we have been given everything we need to face these challenges.
Let us break it down, ‘gentle as doves, wise as serpents’ is how we are to meet those who challenge the authority of God. Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, meaning that it is a natural by product of our walk with God. Like me, you might find yourself not being gentle at times. We are fallen human beings and are susceptible to temptation. Yet, we know we have been made new creations, new gentle creations. So, the first thing we do is address our rude or impatient actions with the truth that we as new creations bear gentleness. We begin to view ourselves and to think of ourselves as one who has undergone a new birth. The second thing we do is that we begin to immerse ourselves in the truth of the Scriptures that remind us of who the Lord is, a living word that changes us and empowers us to be more like Christ. It is the word of God, and the word of God has power for those who believe in it. The more we begin to meditate on the truths of it, the more we will find ourselves ready too obey its commands. Secondly, we immerse ourselves into a constant place of fellowship with God. When we allow the Spirit too consistently bring within us a prayer, an intercession, a hope, a verse, a truth as we meditate on the word of God we will find ourselves consistently empowered too be gentle as doves, wise as serpents. The Bible calls us to put on the mind of Christ, to do this, we must get to know the Christ that it talks about on a regular basis. When we put on His mind, as we walk in intimacy with Him, the Spirit Himself will cause us to be gentle as doves, wise as serpents. Can I put it a bit more simply, our role is to walk committed to fellowship with God and as we fellowship with Him the Spirit that empowers us to have fellowship with God will empower us to answer the enemies of the Cross in a gentle and wise way.
This text in Luke 20 finishes up by stating that these men who questioned him in the end marveled at the way he answered them and dared not to ask anymore questions because they knew it would only result in their defeat. In this same manner we can walk in our authority, because of fellowship and obedience to God in a way that shocks our generation and brings people to repentance and the saving knowledge of Christ. It is all about Gods faithfulness, being worked through our lives, may all praise go to Him.

Authority

29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. (Matt. 7:29 NAS)
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of call the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you 1always, even to the end of the age.”
(Matt. 28:18-20 NAS)
And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. (Matt. 10:1 NAS)

In the days of Christ, the Rabbis, the teachers of Yahweh relied on the authority of men to discourse the truths of God and the interpretation of Scripture. Among them, rose a teacher who was not concerned about the synagogue, as much as he was concerned as He called them, ‘the lost sheep of Israel.’ He was not concerned about racial boundaries, in fact he found himself ministering to Samaritans who were not liked then in society, by main land Israel. He was not concerned about being seen with those who had been negatively labeled by society. In fact, He touched the lepers, a societal ‘no, no’ because of the religious stipulation that they were unclean, and for basic hygienic reasons. But, our Lord not only touched them, He healed them. On that note, one of his closest followers was a tax collector. Then that really was not good, since the people of Israel saw them as traitors since they were working for the Roman Empire. If this is not enough, he also fellowshipped and shared meals with prostitutes. Though, people would want to see them stoned, He looked at them through eyes of grace and mercy. Though they sold their God given bodies, the Lord knew one day their bodies could become temples of the Holy Spirit for honorable use.
When He would stand before the people, they knew that He spoke with authority. He was not relying on others, but he did make it clear that He had an authority to interpret Scriptures and teach, heal, prophesy, etc. that was intrinsic to him as a person. Truly, it was intrinsic because we know Him to be the Son of God, Messiah, God Himself with us. The message only gets better, this authority was not only given to Him, and of Him, but it was passed on to us by Him.
We can now teach the truth, the gospel. We can heal the sick and cast out evil spirits. We can administer baptism and disciple people as they choose to follow Christ. All these things, we can do because our authority comes from God. Our confidence, boldness must be rooted in Him. When we look at the One who has given us authority, we can be assured that we can walk forward confidently. This authority that we have been given is a signature, by which we act. Every time we exercise it, we preach of the One who came before us and will come again. In like manner people will look at us and marvel and ask, ‘How come this person speaks with such authority?’ We will gladly answer, because we have been saved, and have been given power to act on the behalf of Christ that you might come to know Him.

What To Do When the Father is Captured?

By Daniel Brutsky
Today, we live in a generation where the population is growing at a particularly rapid rate. We have boys and girls getting together and producing kids at an unreasonably young age. We live in a millennium where fathers take parenting, or the upbringing of kids extremely unsubstantial and insignificant. Many fathers are rather focused on things that please themselves, and things that will make them happier. These children grow up without having any significantly positive impact from their fathers, and left to the hopelessness of this fallen planet.
When considering the text of scripture, one can see the enormous importance and impact of the father in any given family. There can be found a large number of examples of men, who were not so superb fathers. Looking in to the second book of Samuel, we find a man named Eli. Although Eli was Judge and a High Priest, Eli was not so good of a father. 1 Samuel 2:22-24, “Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24 No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good.” It can be clearly observed, that Eli was a father who was not close to his sons. He was a father who was rather distant from his family. In the next chapter it is written, “11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, [a] and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” Here, it can be noticed that Eli was a father who lacked authority in his household. He was a man who was not great at the raising of his children. The Lord said, “I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, [a] and he failed to restrain them.” Eli failed to contain, or keep his children under control, and raised them in a way which was not pleasing to the Lord.
One doesn’t have to go far from this story to find an example of another failed father figure. Samuel, the son of Elkanah, also followed the steps of his father in the way that he was raised, or to the insensitive upbringing of his children. 1 Samuel 8:1-6, “When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. [a] 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.” For whatever reasons, these children did not follow in the footsteps of their father. Samuel also failed to raise up his children to walk in the ways of the Almighty.
Considering these two examples, seeing fathers who were for whatever reasons, captured by various things. One can be captured by the ministry and overlook his children. Another might be captured by war and all that comes with it (David). Fathers can be captured by work, not putting aside time to raise their children. Others may be captured by the troubles of this world. Whether seemingly good or bad baggage, that one may be bound by, it has an effect on the children and the rest of the family.
This is a challenge to be the father that God had called all men to be. Today in this generation it may be hard. Since there are many things that may take your time, which should be spent impacting the children. The scriptures say, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” 1 Timothy says, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Proverbs speaks of, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
The Bible is very clear about the importance of fathers raising their children in a special way. It stresses that the children should be brought up in the ways of God. Being taught by their fathers rather than impacted by the teachers of secular institutions. No matter how a situation looks, a Father is supposed to pray for his child and not to give up on them. When investigating the parable of the Prodigal Son, one can see a father who was concerned for his son and was ready to help him in every way he sees fit. Children who know that their father cares and prays about them will have a deep or special sense of belonging, even though they might not show it. You might not have been such a good father to this point, but it is never too late to start. It is never too late to be someone you haven’t been for your children, no matter how old they might be, they all desire to be loved and cared for by a father.
What happens when your father is captured, and you have no one to lead you? The book of Psalms states that God is, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” In the book of Isaiah God says, ““Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” God is the Father of all those who have no father. He is Father of all those who have been rejected or forgotten by their biological father. You might not have an earthy father that cares or loves you, but it maters none. The Father who you have in heaven will give you power, He will protect you, He will provide for you. The Father who is in heaven will support you through every step of your life. The Father who is in heaven will fill the void that is in the heart, lacking a biological father. The God of this universe will put people in your life who will care for you, and help you get through the journey on this side of eternity. The Creator of this world, the One who made you, knows a way that He can love you. He knows a way He can cherish you. He knows a way that He can protect you. He knows a way He can value you. He knows a way that He can hold you in the palm of His hand, and not let you go. All you have to do it let Him. All you have to do is to receive the Fathership that He offers. The Lord says, “Leave your fatherless children; I will keep them alive;” All you must do is trust Him. The times may get tough. The battle might get painful, but know; God is willing to be your Father today.

A Word to the Abused,

You find yourself an outcast. You find yourself hurting and desperate. Your body and mind are only the jailhouse of a frustrated and tormented soul. Those around you reject you and every sneer only fuels your rage and pain. You wake up feeling like a wreck and go to sleep thinking of how horrendous you are, your night is filled with anxiety. Depression is not a good enough word to describe your current state. Eventually, your pain is so great it must be experienced by others. The only way to feel any relief is to let others feel a bit of the torment you have lived with every day. A rage takes over your mind, a beautifully tormenting sensation becomes your desire. Pain becomes satisfying, especially when seen in others.
My friend let me tell you of a close friend. His name is Jesus, lo and behold my God. I do not present you an ironman for God, instead I present you a man who lived a life full of suffering. Rejected by those He came to save, spat on by those he bled for, kissed by a betrayer, experiencing the worst experience humanity had to offer. Yet, resurrected giving all of us life, and not death. His cry being, Lord forgive them for they know not what they do.
Is this the cry of your heart? Do you hear the Savior telling you forgive the abuser for they know not what they do? Do you understand that you live in an imperfect world? Do you understand that you live in a world governed by death, evil, and pain in need of a Savior? Do you accept the Savior or the pain? Do you want freedom to live or pain to die by? Are you a part of the solution or will your actions only set you back more?
Take your pain to the Counselor, Jesus Christ-He will heal you and give you eternal life.

Oh death, where is your sting?

The Problem of Evil

Many in this world cannot comprehend that an all loving God and a world so full of evil can coexist. How can you preach to me about a God who heals, when my father just died of cancer? How can you tell me that God loves me if my son just died? These are the thoughts that sometimes run through the minds of believers and non-believers?
The idea that if evil exists, God does not exist is an idea that falls short. Before any serious explanation I would like to add that if this worldview is applied then there is no hope. If I hold to the idea that evil exists, therefore God does not, then I simply have no hope for all the evil that occurs. Adding to this, we must understand that evil cannot be attributed to God. If there is a God, then He must be Holy, Pure, and Good. We know there is a God, and for God to be God He must be perfect. Therefore, evil, darkness, and sin are made known because they stand separate of everything that God is. When God created, He took an immense risk, He created beings with a free will. He created human beings with a free will because he loved and cared for us. He wanted us to have our own personalities, ways of being, and enjoy life without being a programmed creation. But with free will came the choice to do evil. Evil was something that angels and humanity fell into by choosing to disobey God.
But why would God allow for His Creation to be tempted by evil? Because God never desired mindless followers. God has always wanted the heart of His Creation. He always wanted followers that truly loved him, so He allowed for a world that involved serious choices.
Humanity chose evil, yet being made in His image, and in His foreknowledge and plan of love and redemption, God never intended on giving up on us. The gospel story is the story of God experiencing evil at its darkest forms so that we could be brought back to life with Him. Christ came to save us from evil. Yet, if Christ came to save us from evil and ultimately redeem the world, why do we still find ourselves trapped in this world? Certainly, God must have an answer for this. The answer is simply this; God holds back His return when all evil will be ultimately dealt with because He desires that men be saved.
My friends while we are on this side of eternity, we have the answer to evil-Christ. We can choose to reject him and experience an eternity without hope, found in the family of evil, hell. Or we can accept Christ and allow Him to bring us to life in Him. As Christians our hope is found in Him and the fact that one day all our tears will be wiped away. For us, evil does not deter us or scare us because we have a heavenly ambition. We desire that the Lord be glorified, as He is the answer, that men be saved regardless of circumstance. We are the only ones that can sing oh death where is your sting. We face evil head on and call it out as weak. We proudly sing, oh death where is your sting, oh grave where is your victory?

Telling the Truth

In an American society, I think telling the truth is synonymous with being open about one’s life. A trend now-a-days is to “be real”: Don’t live as a hypocrite or be fake. I find that people become so involved with “not being fake”, “being open”, they think they have reached a moral standing because they associate “being open, not faking” with truth. One can be truthful about one’s life, but that does not make you a moral person.
As Christians, the Bible’s truth compels Christians to live Its truth both privately and publicly; however, if one has the Truth, that does not mean one uses the Truth. One may say they have the Truth, but that does not mean one speaks the Truth to others. I am not speaking about evangelism, but telling someone something they may not like to hear.
In our society, all kinds of people on all kinds of levels are open and showing they aren’t fake. Many of our friends are part of this trendy movement, however, are we as Christians telling them what they are being truthful about is harmful? Are we keeping our circle of friends accountable? In Ezekiel 33, God tells Ezekiel he must speak of the dangers that are coming to his people so that they can avoid them. God also says if Ezekiel doesn’t share the truth about the dangers, and people are harmed because they did not know about it, Ezekiel is responsible for the people. This passage can be interpreted to mean the dangers of not evangelising, but I think God is also saying that we need to share the truth about actual dangers in people’s lives. If a friend is in a bad relationship tell them the truth about the harm of it. If a friend enjoys suggestive images, both on and off the screen, tell the truth about the harms. If friends are not being wise with money, tell them the dangers of their unwise spending. If a friend purposely does not attend church, confront him with the truth about his actions.
I believe that God equates speaking the Truth with being accountable, not just evangelism. Since society thinks that being open about their actions is moral, they think this morality is a safeguard to any potential dangers. We need to tell them the truth about their perceptions they think are truths; however, as Christians we should be wisely telling the truth to people about their actions. Wisely tell the truth to people.
~JM