Don’t be MEAN!

Don’t be MEAN!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Christians are supposed to kind hearted and tender toward one another. When someone has done wrong to us we are not supposed to repay them in kind. No, we are supposed to be above that kind of behavior. The Apostle Peter in our passage reminds us of how we are to treat one another, not as the world treats people but as God would have you to treat each other. How? Seeking forgiveness when we are wrong and pursuing peace amongst ourselves (believers).

 

(8) Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;[a] 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. (10) For

“He who would love life

And see good days,

Let him refrain his tongue from evil,

And his lips from speaking deceit.

(11) Let him turn away from evil and do good;

Let him seek peace and pursue it.

(12) For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,

And His ears are open to their prayers;

But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
-1 Peter 3:8-12 (NKJV)

 

In verse eight Peter is tying up everything he has said before (see previous) about submitting to authority. He is bringing his thoughts to a close on the subject of submission so he starts by saying ‘finally’ (depending on your translation, some say ‘in conclusion’ or ‘to sum up’).

He is addressing the whole Christian community. He gives them some commands on how they should behave toward one another. He tells them to be of one mind. This does not mean that they will not disagree on certain things that are not central to the Christian faith (i.e. peripheral issues). That will happen, but how should we treat one another? He says to have compassion and love toward one another and be tenderhearted toward each other. Too often when people disagree they tend to be evil toward one another, God tells us to not behave that way and to act the opposite way.

In verse nine Peter continues this sentiment with reminding them that while they are suffering persecution they should not repay evil with evil, but endure it as Christ endured suffering on our behalf. We are told that Christians are called to behave differently than the world behaves. Even in the midst of trials Christians must continue to behave as Jesus did, in love. We know that at the end of this present time that there is inheritance that awaits us in Christ, in heaven.

Verses ten through twelve is actually a quote from Psalm thirty-four. In this quotation there are three specific behaviors we are told to practice. (1) We must keep ourselves from speaking any kind of evil, which includes lying and gossiping. (2) We must run away from practicing and being a part of anything evil. (3) We must be peacemakers, in Christ. This does not mean peace at any cost, we cannot compromise our Christian faith and witness; but it means to keep ourselves from pointless and fruitless actions and activities that will only enrage and inflame passions that need not be stirred.  Also in these verses there are three reasons as to why a believer should keep the previous three commands. (1) The Lord takes a notice of our actions and is pleased when we honor Him. (2) The Lord hears the Christian and is intimately interested in us. (3) The Lord is against those who are wicked and is our protector.  Just remember that the last three things are conditional on the first three things. Keep in mind that chapter two verse twenty says that is not commendable to receive punishment for some evil that we have committed (been a part of), but only if we are punished unjustly. Therefore, the promises of the last three only apply to those who are practicing the first three.

How are you today? Have you repaid someone who has been evil to you, with evil? Have you not been living out of a pure heart and tenderness toward those whom you call brothers and sisters? Then you should repent and attempt to make things right. I know I can hear it now, “But Brother Joe you don’t know what they did to me!” Listen I have been around church people for over twenty five years and have been in the ministry, in some kind of way, for ten years. I know how “Christians” can be. I know the church is the only army that shoots its’ wounded (pardon the old analogy that has been in churches for years).  You know what I also know? That God has called us to act and react better. He has called us to make amends where we can and forgive in our hearts. Won’t you do that today? Won’t you do the three things that Peter says and receive the three blessings that God gives? Remember that bitterness can grow and it will turn into a cancer that will harm your soul! The Choice is yours today. Let God work in you anew.

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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.

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 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.

Is the Church Really Necessary?

Is the Church Really Necessary?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Not only is this a good question, but one that at this juncture must be asked! The church (universally speaking) has a ton of faults and failures. We must ask, is the church what God really wants? You may say the church has a lot of excesses. I will concede that point (see previous articles which talk about some of the problems with the church)! That being said, is it really necessary to God’s plans? Find out in today’s article.

4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,

“Behold, I lay in Zion

A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,

And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”

7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,

“The stone which the builders rejected

Has become the chief cornerstone,”

8 and

“A stone of stumbling

And a rock of offense.”

They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
1 Peter 2:4–10 (NKJV)

 

 

This section of scripture is all about being a living building. The mindset of the Jew was on the temple where they would worship God, but God was done with temple in Jerusalem. God was and is building something new. He is building a people who will be the temple. Not only are we (individually) His temple, but the group of people (the Church) is the place of His dwelling. The place where is presence and glory dwells. No longer is it in buildings built by men, but men have become the place where His glory will now dwell.

In verse four it states that Jesus, the chief cornerstone, has been rejected by man. Indeed He was rejected by man, primarily the Jews at this time and subsequently by many today.  The Jews continued to reject Jesus and hardened their hearts toward God. The continued rejection of Jesus today causes spiritual blindness amongst those that are rejecting Him. The rejection today is not just among Jews, but among many people from many nationalities.

Peter then makes the contrast between those that have rejected Jesus and the people he is writing. He is writing to Christians and states that they have not rejected Christ and therefore their hearts are open to God and are a part of the Spiritual temple that is being built.

Now in verse five Peter talks about this spiritual house that is being built.  He is talking about the Church. The Bible uses many metaphors to describe the church. Among them are a body, a family, and a city. Continuing his metaphor of a temple, Peter relates the church to each of us by saying that we are a holy priesthood, solely dedicated to God.  The job of a priest is to stand between God and needy individuals. This is what a priesthood was designed by God to do in the Old Testament. While it is true that we have no need for someone to go to God for us, this metaphor was not used for this meaning. This metaphor means that Christians are supposed to stand between God and the unsaved in the world and bring them to God. That is the intent of the metaphor as it is used in this passage.

Now in verse six there is a quote from Isaiah chapter twenty-eight verse sixteen. Notice that Jesus is called a cornerstone. Without going into too much detail, a cornerstone is the primary stone of a building. This stone must be laid as perfect as possible so that as things are built on top of it the building stays sturdy and does not collapse. Jesus is our perfect and Holy Cornerstone. This verse also says that the individual who believes in Christ will not be put to shame. Notice that this is an open invitation to everyone, not to the Jews only but to everyone.

In verses seven and eight it says that to the Christians (those that have accepted Him) He is precious to them, but to the ones who rejected Him he has become a stumbling block to their faith. This was undoubtedly a reference to the Jews of Peter’s day because of what they had done to Jesus. To come to Christ they had to admit that their action is what lead to His crucifixion and because of that many continued to reject Him. At the end of verse eight Peter writes that they, the Jews, were disobedient to the Word, but they were also appointed to the word. What does this mean? It means that the Jews were given the promise of the Messiah (Christ) and were to be the ones that He was coming to bless, but having the Holy Word (Old Testament Scriptures) they still rejected Him! How ironic that the ones that were the keepers of the Word of God, would end up rejecting Him!

With verses nine and ten Peter ties his thoughts together. In verse nine, Peter is moving on from those that rejected Christ and he does this with one phrase, “but you.” He says that Christians are chosen people. They are called to do ministry and are called to be the informers of God’s Word and proclaim the good news of Christ.  In verse ten we find that Christians were not always God’s people, but they are now His people through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus has taken many people from all nations who had no affiliation with each other and builds a spiritual church on the earth to proclaim who He is and what He has done for the world. These people will be His witnesses throughout the world. It is because of this marvelous transcendent organization that people will be brought to salvation and cleansing so that they can be put right with a Holy God.

So in this text we have seen that the church is not only necessary but the primary way in which God has decided that the world should come to know about His marvelous plan, even with all if its’ faults and failures. So the question is what are you doing right now in your church? Are you one who is causing some of these failures? Or are you one who is going to co-labor with Christ to try to spread the good news of what God has done for us? The choice is yours.

Church, One of the Most Prejudice Places Ever!

Church, One of the Most Prejudice Places Ever!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

There are a lot of churches out there that are doing God’s work and not playing games. That being said, there are even more who destroy people and run them out of the church!

10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
-Matthew 9:10–13 (NKJV)

15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
1 Timothy 1:15 (NKJV)

31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31–32 (NKJV)

 

I have received a comment that I tend to write too harshly. Why? Because the truth needs to be heard! People need to understand that as Christians we have problems and we must address our problems in our own lives and personalities if we want to see the church (by church I mean no specific church) advance instead of flounder, like it has been doing for years, we need to get right with God! Now that I have said that, let us move on.

What did Jesus intend for Christians to do and churches to be? To be a place for the broken hearted to be healed (seen in our first scripture)! Unfortunately too many churches shoot their own! This is a sad state of affairs! So what has church become? The Pharisees! The church has become a place of Pharisees saying, “How dare you hang out with that sinner!” This is a shameful practice folks and needs to be changed! Remember Jesus desires mercy and not sacrifice, desires righteousness not self-righteousness, he desires sinners to repentance! Including the sinners that are already in the church! Who are they? Christians! We need to have more mercy, respect, and love for each other than what we have! No, too many Christians are full of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and gossip! It has been said that the church is the only hospital in the world that shoots its own wounded! How despicable!

The people who do these things often hide behind Paul’s words on dealing with those who are in sin in the church, and they need to deal with it! But they forget what their attitudes and motives need to be! They forget what Paul said in First Timothy! He says that Christ came to save sinners, of which he is the chief of all of them! If Christians would stop gossiping and beating each other up and realize what they truly were, sinners. Perhaps they would show mercy and grace, instead of hatred and bitterness toward those that need mercy and grace. If our pastors (me included) would remember this, then perhaps our churches would be packed to over flowing! Do you know what these kinds of people often say? They say, “I am here to please God and not man.” But they are doing neither when they don’t remember restoration and mercy in their rebuking and correction! No these people tend to make churches that are social clubs, full of self-righteous people who must not who any descent; because if they do, they are kicked to the curb! God forbid this in our lives!

So what should a Christian/Church do when they find themselves going down this path? Well that brings us to our third and final scripture. We need to put away all that bitterness, anger, gossip, slander, politics, manipulation etc. and be kind hearted toward one another, showing each other grace and mercy! We need to be honest with ourselves and ask God to show us where these things exist in our lives and attitudes!

How about you today? Will you be brave enough to ask God to show you where these things exist in your life and attitudes? Or will you go on being who you are and continuing to allow the churches in America to flounder because of their own selfishness, self-righteousness, and pride? You may be asking, “How am I doing that?” What are you doing in prayer about it? Are you letting those around you do it, and not stopping them? If so, then you are contributing to it! Will you turn around and ask God to show you so that you can confess it to Him and stop doing it in your life? The Choice is yours!

Too many Christians are Too Busy Being Judgmental

Too many Christians are Too Busy Being Judgmental
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Here we are looking at Paul at the end of his life. He is coming to the end of his race of faith. Unfortunately not many Christians can say what Paul said, at least not with a clear conscience. No they are side-tracked and being judgmental toward each other.

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6–8 (NKJV)

 

In verse six Paul says he is being poured out as a drink offering (He also makes reference to this in Philippians 2:17). Now to the Jewish mind this would have seemed a normal part of the offertory system, before Christ. A drink offering was often found to be done with the offerings of meat (Numbers 15:5). A drink offering was to be done in the “holy place” (Numbers 28:7). So what is Paul trying to tell us here? Well I tend to depart from most of the commentators here. The drink offering was considered to be a lesser offering in the minds of the Jews. The greater offering was the meat or grain offerings. So why was Paul calling himself a drink offering? He is trying to say that Jesus is the major offering for us and the church and he is telling us that he is being poured out as an offering for the people and the church as well, but he is a lesser offering! He is telling us that his sacrifice is nowhere near as important as Christ’s.

Now in verse seven Paul says some things that I don’t think there are many Christians today who can say what he says. He says that he has fought the good fight; he has finished the race, all the while keeping the faith. Most Christians today are too busy fighting the good fight amongst themselves! They take sides in all matter of things that have no eternal value! They want to divide the churches and continue the lifelong battles between denominations.

Too many Christians today continue to look at the temporal and not the spiritual. If they would just realize that God loves them and continue to look to God, He will take care of temporal (food, money, clothing, shelter)! These same Christians who are so concerned about the temporal things in life are the same ones (to borrow a song lyric) who pick and choose who should come! How ridiculous it is for Christians to fight amongst themselves and shun the hurting! When Christians get their eyes off of things that have eternal value (i.e. helping the broken hearted) they end up hurting people and themselves. They end up playing too much politics and not spending enough time bandaging the hurting, spiritually speaking.

Now look at verse eight. Verse eight talks about his reward in heaven being a crown of righteousness. This crown will be bestowed on him when he gets to heaven. You know what, when many of these carnal Christians, who are wrapped in self-righteousness, when the get to heaven what will they hear God say to them? Well, the Bible talks about those that will make it in as by fire; by the skin of their teeth. You know what they may hear? “Well, you made it.” Not, “well done my good and faithful servant,” that is for sure!

So the question I have for you today, can you say like Paul that you are running the race? That you aren’t sidetracked in temporary matters? That you aren’t looking around at man and the splinter in their eyes, and not the 2×4 in your own? Choice is yours! Will you repent? Or just keep on pretending everything is alright and God is blessing your messes?