Christians Say They are Free, but Most Are Not

Christians Say They are Free, but Most Are Not
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

What is true freedom and does someone who calls themselves a Christian achieve this so-called wonderful life? Find out today how Christians should overcome habitual sin. Will you do the hard work, or just remain a Christian in word only?

Charles Spurgeon said, “If God does not save a man by truth he certainly will not save them by lies, and if the old gospel is not competent to work a revival, then we will do without the revival; In our churches, there are three kinds of people. There are spectators, anticipators and participators. The spectator is just there to observe; the anticipator is expecting real blessings but not doing anything about it; and the participator is busy singing, praying, ushering, planning and doing the work. The participators are the minority, the sacred few who are doing more than others.” Many times when a message is about breaking free of bad habits people think of someone else that needs that message. Today this message isn’t for anyone else but you. Some people are a slave to work, some people are slave to jealousy, some people are slaves to gossip, and some are slaves to anger, pornography, various drugs, and many other vices that hold us in bondage. So today I want us to take an inventory of the Controlling NEGITIVE HABITS we allow in our lives, that needs to be broken.

Many notable Biblical scholars now agree that Paul traveled in southern Galatia during his first missionary journey during which he visited Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe (Acts 13:1-14:28).  It is believed that Paul went through northern Galatia on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:36-18:22) after passing through southern Galatia.  On his third missionary journey Paul visited the disciples in northern Galatia that had been converted on his second journey (Acts 18:23).  It is noteworthy that in the book of Acts Luke uses the word disciples rather than the word churches in connection with this visit.  The implication is that the Galatian churches were in southern Galatia and that there were only scattered disciples in northern Galatia.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
-Galatians 5:1-2 (KJV)

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
– 2 Peter 2:19 (KJV)

If we are going to overcome habitual sin then we must identify a controlling habit, find out why it is so powerful, and follow the principals of breaking free. There are Three areas that we are going to hit quickly and move along.

 

Identifying a Controlling Habit

A controlling habit is something you find yourself doing even though it is destructive ether physical, mentally, emotionally, relationally or spiritually. Or you consistently do something you wish you wouldn’t do, but you find yourself doing it any way. The apostle Paul fully understood his dilemma even though he had good intentions. He called himself a wretched man. You must understand many good people are bound by bad controlling habits. Denial is not the way to deal with the problem. Be honest, look at your life and like Paul, evaluate the things you find yourself doing that you hate. Realize the importance of the identification process and then submit your own inabilities to make the necessary changes to God. I ask you to take a moment sometime today or tonight and write down the habits in your life that you want to see absolute victory over.

 

Understand Why These Habits are so Controlling

They slowly bind you like a chain around your neck that slowly and painfully chokes the life out of you. Life controlling habits are formed at a pace almost unnoticeable. Usually the person doesn’t even know they have formed a habit in their life. And if someone asks they say, “I can quit at any time. This isn’t a problem.” Yeah, right and I can go to the moon anytime, it isn’t a problem!

Habits are like a cable. Each day we do something in a pattern, we intertwine one thread with another. As the threads are woven together a cable is formed. On any day, the threads we added were too small to be noticed. But, after many threads have been woven together, we find that together they have become an unbreakable cable. This describes a habit, daily practices over time become habits that are unbreakable.

The person who smokes isn’t addicted on the first pack of cigarettes. It takes time after time, smoke after smoke before the body becomes dependent upon nicotine. Habits are formed through willful behavior. The person has given in so many times to this thing that they are now addicted. This is the reason a habits is so powerful, because it begins so subtle.

Habits will break your strength, your will. Once you have allowed a habit to control you the Bible says, “That habit is your master.” That habit breaks you down to the point where you don’t even try to resist because you feel like you can’t break free. Your attitude becomes on of not trying to break free again. A sinful habit will break your will to fight.

Have you ever been to a circus and seen a giant elephant with a small rope around its ankle? Physically speaking, there is no way that small little rope can hold back that giant elephant! Here’s how it works. When trainers begin taming a baby elephant, they place a heavy chain around its ankle and stake the chain into the ground. Day after day, hour after hour, the baby elephant struggles to escape. But his efforts are in vain. He simply cannot break free from the grips of that powerful chain. Eventually he surrenders. He resolves in his mind that there is no possible way he can escape that chain. So he relinquishes forever the struggle to be free. Then when he has given up trying, his masters replace that giant chain with the small little rope. If the elephant ever opened his eyes to the truth, he could break free at any moment. All it would take is one try, but since the elephant doesn’t know that, he doesn’t take a step in the right direction of freedom. And so it happens that ten, twenty, thirty years later, the giant elephant remains held in bondage by something that really has no power to control him, except the power he chooses to give it.

Is this true with you as well? The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1 ”It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Some of you are sitting here right now feeling like you don’t even have the will to fight, because the habit has broken your will. Once a habit has broken your will to fight you wallow in hopelessness. At this point the habit itself owns you because you have allowed it to own you. Maybe some of you feel like you have lost the will to fight because your will has been broken. That is the power of a sinful habit.

Why else are habits so powerful, they destroy your life? Sinful controlling habits will destroy you and others along with you. They destroy you in many different ways: Physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and relationally.

 

How to Start Breaking Free

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
-1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV)

To break free from the grip of a sinful habit from the least to the greatest, God lets us know that in every situation with every temptation he provides victory.

Steps to Freedom

Admit you have a problem.

Everything starts with confession and accepting the responsibility that you have a problem. They say in the Twelve Steps program, that you cannot win until you know you have a problem.

1Jn.1:9 “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” True healing starts with confession. Many people give in to a state of denial, they never admit they have a problem therefore they never break free. Alcoholics who never admit they are alcoholics won’t find freedom. People filled with anger, gossip, or any other sinful habit who won’t admit they have a problem won’t get freedom. The first step is recognizing you are bound and you have a problem.

Depend on God’s Power

Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all thing through Christ which strengths me.” When it comes to being set free from habits that bind, Jesus can do more in a moment than doctors can do in a lifetime. God must become your primary source of strength. Start your day off with God, and He will help you through the day to overcome and show you a way out. The more you allow God to be part of your life the more you will see Him working in you. You have to stop trying to do this by yourself. In James 4:7 God didn’t say do the best you can, “but draw near to me.”

 

Sinful Habits Must be Replaced with New ones

God told Moses that before the Israelites settled in the promise land, they should drive out the wicked inhabitants and destroy their idols. In Colossians 3 Paul encourages us to live as Christians in the same way: throwing away our old way of living and moving ahead into our new life of obedience to God and faith in Jesus Christ. We can destroy the wickedness in our life, or we can settle down and wallow in it. To have new life we must drive out the sinful thoughts and practices that are in our lives in order to replace them with good and Godly thoughts. The battle is either won in the mind or lost in the mind.

Remember you can’t do it alone. In the Garden of Eden God said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. Nor is it good for you when you are struggling with something, not matter what that may be. You need to find an accountability partner; someone who will ask you the tough questions to keep you accountable to God and yourself; to that end in James 5:16 we are told to confess our sins to one another for the sake of healing.

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Victory very often doesn’t come all-of-a-sudden but through hard work while trusting Christ to work in you. We are co-laborers with Christ. In Matthew 6:11 it says to give us this day our daily bread. Take it one day at a time.

How about you? Want freedom, then today can be your day to head in that direction. The choice is yours.

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A Bunch of Christians Have Spiritual Cancer

A Bunch of Christians Have Spiritual Cancer
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

“Do not keep company with those who have not faith: for what is there in common between righteousness and evil, or between light and dark?  (15)  And what agreement is there between Christ and the Evil One? or what part has one who has faith with one who has not?  (16)  And what agreement has the house of God with images? for we are a house of the living God; even as God has said, I will be living among them, and walking with them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.  (17)  For which cause, Come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, and let no unclean thing come near you; and I will take you for myself,”

– 2Co 6:14-17 (BBE)

                There is a cancer in our churches today. It is called Syncretism. Syncretism, in the Christian sense, is when an individual or groups of individuals try to take Christian Theology, behavior, and thinking and mix it with the World’s ways (secular ways). The problem with doing this is if we compromise on what God has told us then we no longer are living in God’s perfect will and thus are no longer subject to His blessings and power in our lives.

So what do you do with a “Christian Culture” that is looking more and more like the world? If you are not a Christian, you dismiss Christianity as hypocrisy and “do your own thing.” If you are a Christian then your walk with Christ becomes weak and you keep compromising until one day there is no difference between you and the average person stuck in sin. Why you may ask? Because you are both now in bondage to sin! How can you proclaim freedom from sin, when you are in bondage to it! You can’t! You have effectively turned your life into nothing!

To illustrate what I am talking about, there is a band named Since October. They proclaimed God’s music lyrically. Let’s look at some of the lyrics from 2006 from a song titled “Live to Die”.

I would sacrifice all my dreams and my loves
for eternal life
God I swear that’s enough
i live to
i live to die

i know that’s all i need
remember that you promised me
as the story reads
when perfect sorrow bleeds
and pours all over me
so much that i can’t see

Now let’s look at a song from 2010 after they had “made it big” titled “The Way You Move”

 

You walk in the room
Every eye on you
It’s and attraction for every view
For every step you prove
I watch the victims rise up just to fall for you

I’m so caught up in the wayyy you move

I know that I’ve already been here before
And I know that I promised my self no more
But there something about you girl
Something about
The way you move making me want to belive.
Maybe you maybe me we can try it and see
You got me thinking that your everything prefect for me
Cause there something about you girl
Something about the way you move
That’s making me want to believe
Just something about the way you move

Cuoristy has got the best of me
I can’t ignore that you and your mystry
It’s all or nothing now are you my destany
I preyed forever that’s the only possibility

I’m so caught up in the way you move

I know that I’ve already been here before
And I know that I promised my self no more
But there something about you girl
Something about
The way you move making me want to belive.
Maybe you maybe me we can try it and see
You got me thinking that your everything prefect for me
Cause there something about you girl
Something about the way you move
That’s making me want to believe
Just something about the way you move

There something about you

I I will always remember the day
That you came a moving my way
And every piece of me want to run away
But your worth the chance to take
A prefect love that I know can’t be wrong
A prefect love is why I sing this song
Together you and me will always beat the odds
Come with meeeeee

( soft voice )
I know that I’ve already been here before

I know that I’ve already been here before
And I know that I promised my self no more
But there something about you girl
Something about
The way you move making me want to belive.
Maybe you maybe me we can try it and see
You got me thinking that your everything prefect for me
Cause there something about you girl
Something about the way you move
That’s making me want to believe
Just something about the way you move

Now you tell me? How is that last song any different then what the rest of the world is offering? It isn’t and this is indicative of how the church is operating today! This is only an example I am not singling out any group or anything else. I will tell right now of a new band that just signed a contract with a Christian label, and to celebrate one of their members decided to “spend the night with his girlfriend.” Wow! That is all I can say.

How about you today? Are you compromising your walk in any way? If so, REPENT and pray for others. If not then get on your hands and knees and ask God to bring repentance on us all, the entire “Christian Community.”

Christians Today Tend to be Inconsistent in Their Lives

Christians Today Tend to be Inconsistent in Their Lives
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

You know Christians today are too busy with things that don’t matter. They are too busy in-fighting and living out of selfishness to worry about how to live. Today Peter addresses Christian behavior with the world that they are sojourning on their way to heaven.

 

(13) Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, (14) or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. (15) For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—( 16) as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. (17) Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
-1 Peter 2:13-17

 

In verses thirteen and fourteen, depending on your translation, it starts by saying “therefore.” Therefore means that we need to keep in mind what we just read. Peter is saying because you are not a permanent resident of this world, therefore do the following.

Peter tells us to submit to the worldly authorities; those that have authority within the land we sojourn. We should obey every law of the land so long as it does not directly go against scripture. Peter says that we should do this for “the Lord’s sake.” We need to remember that in all we do, we do it for Jesus Christ, not for any other reason (c.f. 1 Corinthians 10:31). This would have been a hard pill to swallow for these people reading this letter in the first century. They were being persecuted by the government, but Peter calls them to a higher level; he tells them to submit. Why?  Because it is in times of persecution and hardship in Christian’s lives that their faith is truly shown to others. It is during these times that Christians give their strongest witness for Christ or their strongest statement of hypocrisy. So it is up to Christians to decide, by every action they take during these times, as to how they will represent Christ. Peter admonishes them to chose Christ and come under the authority of the leaders of the land.

At the end of verse fourteen it states that governments have a divine right to punish evildoers and honor those who are good. Which governments do to the honor of God, unless they are evil and corrupt themselves. In that case they need to honor what is not in direct contrast to God’s Word.

In verse fifteen, it says that this is the will of God so that when Christians do good things it will silence the ignorant and foolish. The word silence has with it the idea of a muzzle! You literally muzzle people’s bad mouthing of you and Christianity, if as Christians you do good things. When Peter talks about these people being foolish he is referring to their mental state of laziness. Rather than try to find out what Christianity is really (supposed to be) about, they just bad mouth it because they could care less about trying to understand something. Christians are not immune to being lazy minded either. There are a lot of people professing to be Christians who do the same thing. So this thought of people being foolish is also used in Ephesians 5:17 to describe believers. As Christians we should study to show ourselves approved to God to rightly understand His Word (2 Timothy 2:15).

Peter says in verse sixteen that we need to act as free individuals. We should not use this freedom to promote sin and vice but liberty in the Spirit of Christ. There are a lot of people out there that use this freedom as a justification for sin, Peter tells us here that this is wrong and we should not practice sin and evil. We are supposed to be servants of Christ, living sacrificially and helping others come to a saving relationship with Jesus. Far too often though Christians will use this freedom to give a perception of self-righteousness and this turns people away from a relationship with Jesus. We need to be mindful of this and do our best, in prayer, to not be a reproach to the cause of Christ.

Now Peter brings this line of thinking to a close in verse seventeen with a series of four commands that he gives us. (1) Honor everyone, (2) Love other believers, (3) Fear God, and (4) Honor the government.

The first command was to honor everyone. In the context of the scripture Peter is saying that we must remember that all people are created in God’s image. Because all people are made in God’s image we need to live in such a way that will attract non-believers to Jesus Christ that they may become believers.

The second command is to Love other believers. In-fighting amongst believers is not only shameful, but despicable and gives Christianity a black eye. This should not be happening in Christianity. Peter is trying to bring back to our remembrance that love is what defines us as Christians. You have probably heard it said that God is love. How awful it is for Christians to not even show the nature that they claim to have inside them.  Only through dealing with people out of love for others will people come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

The Third command is to fear God. This is not talking about a fearfulness that you are completely terrified of God, but it is talking about showing God reverence. If we are showing God reverence and respect then this command becomes the glue that holds the other three together.

The fourth and final command is honor the government. Remember that the government has great power and we must obey the laws of the land of which we are sojourning on our way to heaven. We must remember to not violate the law of the land unless they are in direct contrast to the Word of God.

Remember that this passage of scripture is all about how we should live, especially while we are being persecuted. Why? Because these are the times that show who Christ really is and what He is about. If we can remember the four commands above then we can win the world to Christ and bring unity to Christians in spreading the Gospel to a world that needs Jesus.

How about you today? How is your interaction with the world around you? Are you honoring Christ in Your actions? If not, you need to ask God for forgiveness and start acting properly in your witness for Christ. The Choice is yours.

Christians Just Don’t Belong in This World!

Christians Just Don’t Belong in This World!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Christians, with all of their faults, just don’t belong here! Why? Find out today!

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
-1 Peter 2:11-12

 

Peter in verse eleven tells us that, depending on your translation, we are sojourner or aliens in a foreign land, after we have become Christians. As aliens in any land we have limited rights because this is not our home; no, our home is with God in the kingdom of God, in heaven. Peter gives us this to frame our minds for what he is about to say. You see he is about to address something that is very important; something Christians need to keep in mind, which is still important today.

Peter tells them to abstain from the lusts of the flesh. He has reminded us that we don’t belong here and as such we should not revel in debaucheries like those who belong in this world, but need to remember how we are to behave as those belonging to another kingdom. Why? Because these things go against an individual’s soul that has been regenerated (created anew) by the Holy Spirit. Now in our current culture when we talk about the lusts of the flesh we equate that with sex. But this is not the case. There are others lusts, like the lust for power, the lust for money etc. Peter is reminding us to not get caught up in the things of this world, as they are temporary. We must remember that while the body isn’t evil, it is a battle ground for satanic and self-centered lust. We are always being influenced by something, either influenced by Scripture or by the World. We have to decide which we will be influenced. How? By every choice we make. As Christians Peter warns us that we must not yield to these lusts, because doing  so will not feed our spiritual natures but the carnal parts of our beings.

In verse twelve Peter talks about how we behave amongst the Gentiles. Is he talking about the Gentile Christians? No. He uses this word to mean those that are without God. Notice he says that those in the world will speak evil of you. Not if, but when. You see the kingdom principles are pretty much the opposite of the world’s principles. We see this in our world today, and this was especially true in the first century, where Christians were belittled and killed due to their stances. They refused to bow to idols; refused to bow to Caesar (Caesar worship was common amongst the people. They had to bow to Caesar and declare Caesar as Lord.), and were called cannibals because of the Communion terminology that Jesus laid down for all Christians. If we are to be Christians then we need to remember that this is no longer our world, we are just passing through.

Now Peter also says that by Christians good works the unbelievers may glorify God. If we don’t compromise our faith then the way we live will be a great witness to the unbelievers. How can one proclaim Jesus but not even live the way He wants you to live? Unfortunately today too many Christians have compromised their beliefs. Christianity is not just an intellectual exercise but a way of life.

So, with these two verses Peter sets up what our mindset should be I our daily living. We must always keep in mind that this world is temporary and we are just passing through it on our way to heaven. Our job is to take as many people as will go with us on our way. The way we do that is by living our faith out in front of others. We should ask ourselves with every action/thought, “Does this have any eternal value?”

If you are a Christian what do your actions say about you? Are they honoring to Christ? Or will people look at you and say, “You act LIKE I DO! Why would I want to add more drama to my life?” Unfortunately a lot of Christian’s attitudes and the way they live are less than honoring to Christ. Folks if this is you, you need to repent! What will you do today? The Choice is yours.

I Need Your Help!

Well friends I pulled our records today and for the past three weeks we have averaged 147 visits a week which comes out to 21 visits a day (on average). Some days were much, much higher.

That being said, I believe God has blessed us in this teaching and exhorting ministry. I am asking a question. Should we (you included in this decision) get our own domain name?

 

Should You Go To Church Today?

Should You Go To Church Today?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

A lot of people this morning are asking this question this morning. Perhaps today I can give you (if you are searching for a church) some guidelines to finding one that God may bless you at. This is just some small food for thought, not a teaching or article today. May God bless you on this Sunday.

Jesus said to her,Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
-John 4:21-24

Now earlier this week we talked about the church being necessary (Please see the article from earlier this week). For those of you that are readers who attend church. I exhort you, no matter what the problem are, to go with a heart of worship and a heart of preparation before God today. For those of you that don’t go to church I am implore you to attend somewhere. While the new media can deliver to you the sermons and the worship services, it is no alternative for corporate worship.

That being said, if you attend a church (if you don’t have one) and something seems a bit off, like God is an afterthought of what is going on there, then find yourself a church where you can at least sense God’s presence and blessing on the services. Before you join this church please take time to find out as much as you can about their policies, procedures, and beliefs. Why? Because some churches are good at putting their best foot forward but beneath the surface may be something seething. You need to know about this before you chose a church that may hurt you in the end. Bear in mind all churches have some issues or problems, but some HAVE A TON OF ISSUES AND PROBLEMS (i.e. self-righteousness, clicks, and social issues). If you are a regular reader then you know this to be the case.

Remember that while churches have problems, God has chosen the church to do His work. I know that the way a lot of churches behave isn’t right, but maybe you can help that church to make a difference. But nothing ever changes unless you do something about it. May God bless you as you search.