Christians, Holy?

sad lady
“When was the last time you felt you were holy, set apart and faithful?”

 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:”
~Ephesians 1:1 NKJV~

In verse one we find that Paul (formerly Saul) is laying out his testimony to the Ephesians. He is reminding them who he is and how he was called by God. This establishes his authority as an Apostle (Find out more in Acts 9).

He tells us he was called not by man or by anyone else other than the will of God. It is not by our will that we become ministers of God. God is the one who calls and prepares His people to do the work of ministry, whether that is vocational ministry or lay ministry (ministry coming from christians who are not called by God to vocational ministry).

Paul then uses the word that we translate as “saints.” There is much misunderstanding about what saints are in our culture today. Saints are not the people the Catholic Church calls saints. The word in Greek means the Holy ones, those set apart to God. That means all Christians. But some would say that they don’t feel holy or set apart. To make matters worse Paul also describes them as faithful. When was the last time you felt you were holy, set apart and faithful? If you are honest your answer should be in the negative category. But the key to this verse comes with the words “in Christ Jesus”.

Jesus is God made flesh. It is only in his taking of our sins upon himself (imputation) at the cross that we can be seen as holy (Penal Substitutionary Work).He paid your debt to that He did not owe, so that you may be seen as holy, set apart and faithful. A saint before God. Only in/through Jesus and his work are you seen this way. You can’t work to gain or keep your salvation. It is by Christ alone, in faith alone.

Through Jesus we can rejoice that we are His separated ones. This verse should not be taken negative, but joyous! We are saved and set free from sin and alive, set apart, holy and faithful due to the work of Jesus at the cross!

Get Rid of the “Churchy” Gimmicks and Get a Revelation of God
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

(8) The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

slow to anger, abounding in love.

(9) He will not always accuse,

nor will he harbor his anger forever;

(10) He does not treat us as our sins deserve

or repay us according to our iniquities.

(11) For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his love for those who fear him;

(12) as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

(13) As a father has compassion on his children,

so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
-Psalm 103:8-13 (NIV)

(21) So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. (22) For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; (23) but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. (24) What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (25) Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
-Romans 7:21-25 (NIV)

If we get a revelation of how much we have been forgiven then we can say with our whole being as Paul did, “Oh wretched man that I am.” But this revelation does not come to us on our own, but must be revealed by the Holy Spirit. This Christian life makes no sense to the unbeliever. This concept makes no sense until it is experienced by the individual. When a Christian draws closer, and closer to God and sees just how wretched they are, then they will lament as Paul did, “Oh Wretched man that I am!”

 

Christianity is not meant to be some set of rules and regulations, but a revelation that is lived out in our lives by the power of God. How do we manifest the life that has been deposited by God in our beings? We must draw close to God. (“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:8 – NIV). Drawing close to God is about a relationship (Again, this is a concept that unbelievers cannot understand until they experience it.). We draw near to Him by spending time with Him, through His word and prayer. For the person who has a relationship with God these are not static experiences, but experiences that the believer is changed. Through these experiences there is a sense of peace and drawing near to a Holy and loving God (Yet another thing that an unbeliever will not experience until they become a believer and indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.) In our culture we just want to jump from one “mountain top experience” to another. These are great, but they do not produce change. Only through Study and prayer is one drawing near to God, and be changed thereby. Study and prayer is the only way to become like Him.

 

Through drawing near to God we begin to manifest His attributes in our lives, albeit dimly at first and then more brightly. We are like the moon reflecting the sun, we manifest God’s attributes, even at our best, very dimly. This is not done by sheer will, but by a relationship with a Holy, loving and powerful God.

 

Christianity is the only religion that does not depend on pure will to reach some kind of reward in the hereafter. This is the only religion in the world that says, “Come as you are and Let God do the changing of your life. He will forgive and cleanse you; not because of your will, but because He loves you.”

 

Now some people won’t even initially come to God because of the so-called “hypocrites in the church.” I like to say that just because the messenger is a mess, doesn’t mean the message is any less valid. The message is important. Now the messenger may have to do some “drawing near to God” to get their life cleaned up a bit, but the message is still valid.

 

When the church (universally speaking) gets a true sense of what God has done and draws near to Him and sees how wretched they are, only then will people come to Christ in droves. This simple message, amongst all the “Christian gimmicks,” has been lost in modern day Christianity. When we get back to just drawing near to God, then people’s lives (believers and unbelievers alike) will be changed forever.

How about you today Christian? When was the last time you drew near to God and began to reflect His “Resplendent Glory”? If it has been a while then take this time to get on your knees (spiritually, showing humility) and ask God to forgive you and cleanse you so that you can reflect His light to a lost and dying world. The Choice is yours.

What Does a Wise Person Look Like?

What Does a Wise Person Look Like?

By: Rev. Joseph R. Kramer

15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

-James 3:15ff (NIV)

19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

-1 Corinthians 1:19ff (NIV)

The scriptures are replete with words of wisdom and talking about wisdom. However, I just want to focus on these two passages. First lets us get a definition of wisdom.

What does wisdom look like in action?wise 1

  1. having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgement.
  2.  (wise to) informal aware of, especially so as to know how to act.

■ verb (wise up) informal become alert or aware.[1]

When we think of a wise man what is the first image that comes to your mind? For most people it is an image of some old monk with a long white beard sitting in a lotus position giving out words of wisdom that will change people’s lives. This image is WRONG.

We must remember that there are really two kinds of wisdom that the Bible speaks about. The first is “Worldly Wisdom” (i.e. wisdom not given by God) and the second is “Godly Wisdom.”

Worldly Wisdom

We do have to recognize that worldly wisdom is of some value. Time and experience is a teacher. However, we must recognize that worldly wisdom is often wrong. Why? Because God has set into motion principles in His word that run contrary to worldly wisdom. The New Bible Dictionary says, “Worldly wisdom is based on intuition and experience without revelation, and thus has severe limitations.[2]” Proverbs 14:12(NIV84) puts it this way; “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

Godly Wisdom

What is Godly Wisdom? James gives us a definition of “Godly Wisdom” in James3:17 (NIV84) “17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

James gives us some characteristics of what wisdom in action looks like. He says it is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, has good fruit, impartial and sincere. Notice that all of the actions listed are not aggressive. But they show love and mercy.

Warren Wiersbe puts wisdom like this.

The wise person uses gentleness and persuasion with patience; he or she does not threaten or accuse. “Easy to be intreated” (v. 17) suggests a willingness to yield, or to be reasonable. Wise people are full of mercy, not quick to judge or condemn; their lives are full of good fruits. There is no wavering (“partiality,” 1:6 and 2:4); though they are willing to yield, they are not willing to compromise with the truth. Finally, true wisdom will not allow for hypocrisy; the truth is spoken and is backed with a true motive.[3]Conclusion

With this in mind we must remember how we respond to situations and circumstances is up to us. Will we respond out of God’s wisdom or out of worldly wisdom? When you are about to respond to a situation do you do it with the characteristics that James shows us here?

When responding to any situation or circumstance we know that we can seek God and He will give us wisdom. How does He do this? He does this through the Bible. If we don’t study the scripture, bathed in prayer, how in the world do we think we will respond properly? How about you today? Are you purposefully seeking God about situations and circumstances or are you trying to handle problems in your own strength. The choice is yours.

 

 

[1] Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (2004). Concise Oxford English dictionary (11th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[2] Hubbard, D. A. (1996). Wisdom. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer & D. J. Wiseman, Ed.) (3rd ed.) (1244). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (729). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Are You Bitter and Angry?

Are You Bitter and Angry?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

You know there are a whole lot of people out there that are bitter and angry. Can a person like this truly be a Christian? I submit that Peter tells us that if a person is this way then they may not be a Christian! A bold statement I know, but stick with me on these thoughts.

 (1:22) Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, (23) having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, (24) because

          “All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
(25)But the word of the LORD endures forever.”
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

(2:1)Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, (2) as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
-1 Peter 1:22–2:3 (NKJV)

In verse twenty-two through twenty-five Peter doesn’t just stop at what we call the Gospel message, but goes on to write about how we should respond in the Christian life. Too often we forget the Gospel is about an individual, Jesus, what He did and what our response should be in order to walk the Christian life. Peter starts out by saying that Christians should be obedient to the message that saved them (That message being the good news of the Gospel. i.e. the giving your heart and life over to Jesus by inviting Him into your heart). Now they are to carry that obedience over into life. They are supposed to allow God to help them clean their lives, and walk according to the truth. Far too often this doesn’t happen.

In this passage Peter admonishes us to purify our hearts. How does one go about doing this? Is it something we must work toward? No. You were not saved by works but out of an outpouring of God’s Spirit. We are to reflect the image of God in our actions. If we try to clean our lives up, we fail. We cannot clean our lives up any more than we can fly without the aid of technology. It is about as useless as flapping our wings and hoping that we will someday fly. So how do we reflect God’s image? We do this by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our actions and motives. This sounds easy, but isn’t. It requires the daily reading of God’s Word, attempting to apply it life and praying until something happens (P.U.S.H). I am not talking about “warm fuzzies” that run up and down your spine. I am talking about the evidence that your life is changing because you are displaying love to others, out of a pure heart. This is the only way we can reflect Jesus accurately in our lives.

Peter reminds us in verse twenty-five that this is the message that has been preached and we should yield to the Holy Spirit to have our lives changed. He does this by reminding us of how quickly we fade away. We are born, live, and die; just like the grass of the field.

Now in Chapter two verse one, Peter starts this with the word we translate “therefore” meaning that what he is about to say references all that came before the following statement. Peter is about to say something that is important. Peter says that we should lay some things aside. This phrase “lay aside” carries the idea of taking off clothing. Peter is saying we should lay aside deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking. He says that if we are a Christian, like a newborn baby, we should desire the good milk of God’s Word and grow from it in our spirituality and conduct. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who won’t. They want to hold on to those things because they revel in them. The problem is, are these kinds of people truly Christians? Peter questions them. He says if you have tasted the grace of God, should you be acting like this? In other words, if you are acting like this then are you truly a Christian? This is a question that each one of us must answer as we move along in life.

So what must we do today? First we need to do a true spiritual inventory. We must sit and examine our lives to make sure we are growing and reflecting the image of God. How do we do this? We need to first get away from all distractions and ask God to show us two things (1) Are we truly a Christian because of the evidences in our lives? If not we need to surrender to God (2) Are we truly walking in love, getting rid of all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking. If these things are present then you seriously need to ask yourself if you are a Christian. A bitter person has these things on their lips and in their mouth. If any one of these rules your life to the point that you are bitter, you need to seriously ask yourself if you are a Christian. How about you today? Will you surrender to God and get these things out? Or will you just do the same things you have always done, getting the same results. The choice is up to you.

Most Christians are Illogical & Irrational

Most Christians are Illogical & Irrational
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Yup, that is another provocative title. Why would I make such a statement? What do I mean by this? Well first I make this statement because people in our western society have forgotten (or never knew) how to think logically. Do you realize basic logic is taught very briefly in today’s schools? Some schools don’t even teach it anymore. Because of this Christians have no idea how to think about what they believe in a systematized way. People can now accept two competing arguments as true. For example I know of several “Christians” who will tell you the Word of God is inerrant (no errors) but will say that abortion and homosexuality is alright. This is a travesty! How did we get here? The answer is something called Post-Modernism. Most people don’t know what this is and most people aren’t looking for some talking head to explain it to them. So today, albeit briefly, we will explore what it is, why it is bad, and what our response should look like. As the terminator said, “Come with me if you want to live.” Let us embark on a spiritual journey together.

 

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth”
-2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)

 

A lot of people will say that they don’t need to know this stuff. Those people are dead wrong. Our scripture says to study to present ourselves to God as one approved by God in order to combat error. So let us do that today.

 

What is Post-Modernism?

We are not looking for just another definition here; we are looking for a working understanding of what post-modernism is about. In order for there to be a “post” there must be something that came before it, which is “Modernism.” Modernism was a prevalent school of thought in the late 19th to early 20th century (some people may disagree with me on this time-frame but I think it is the best time frame seeing as how it was in full swing). Modernism was a time when people looked at the world through the telescope of the scientific method. If it could not be categorized and explained then it did not exist.

Post-modernism is a way of looking at the world without the scientific method and saying that there must be more to this life than what we are able put into the arch of science. So what is wrong with that? Well post-moderns have rejected Christianity as viable. They look to other religions and ways of thinking.

 

What is wrong with Post-Modernism?

Post-modernism has come to the point that the western culture no longer cares about two competing ideas that cannot exist together. No, they have decided that both are right. Why? Because they have adopted the following statement, “All truth is relative.” In other words if it works for you, go for it! The problem with that statement is that it is an absolute truth statement. All truth is relative is an absolute stamen? Yes! It says “all.” Therefore that statement falls apart because it is giving an absolute statement saying that truth is relative. Ridiculous! Folks, there is an absolute right and an absolute wrong.

Today when you talk to people they will agree with you that Jesus is the only way of salvation and then they will agree with the Buddhist who says that Jesus is not the way. So which is right? To the post-modern both are right. Remember they can accept two completely differing world-views under the statement that truth is relative. This is dangerous! This is a warped way of thinking and should be addressed in our churches. The churches need to stand up and do something.

 

What should our Response be?

So what should the churches do? Listen, it is the responsibility of the church to pick up the slack. Teach people how to think for themselves applying logic and reason to the Scripture. (Unfortunately some churches won’t do that, they want to keep the masses oppressed. But that is a topic we aren’t going to explore here.)Without that, what are we doing? We are just spinning our wheels. What can you do personally? You should study in order to understand what you believe and why you believe it. Have a logical and well thought out response when people ask you why you believe. Our faith is not a blind faith. It is built on evidence.  Learn about that evidence. This is called the study of Apologetics. It isn’t hard to read articles and learn about your faith, just start doing it. One great resource is CARM.org.  There are many other resources out there as well. Another great Apologist is Ravi Zacharias, his site RZIM.org. If you want more, e-mail me. The point is that you don’t sit around not doing anything. DO SOMETHING! LEARN!

So what are you going to do today? Will you just sit there and do nothing, or will you do what God has called us to do? Have an answer when people ask you why you believe something, now that you know a little bit of what you are up against. The Choice is yours.

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.

The Roles of Husbands and Wives

The Roles of Husbands and Wives
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

The feminist movement has done some good things, but some bad things as well. They have marred what the roles of husbands and wives should be in relation to each other. Find out what God has to say!

(1) Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, (2) when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. (3) Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— (4) rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (5) For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, (6) as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. (7) Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
1 Peter 3:1-7 (NKJV)

This portion of scripture has come under attack by many in the world and has been misused by men for many years. We must remember that interpretation of scripture must be done in its’ context. If we do this then we are less likely to come up with errors. This is especially important with such a controversial passage.

Notice how Peter starts out verse one, he says “likewise” (or “in the same way,” depending on your translation) this points back to the previous section; the one about slaves and their conduct in whatever situation they find themselves. In other words “be of the same spirit;” a spirit of humility and trusting God.

In the same verse Peter uses the word “submit” or “be submissive.” This word today makes people’s hair stand up on the back of their necks, but it shouldn’t! Why? Because if we understand the concept properly then we would see that this is a symbiotic loving submission toward the husband and likewise the husband loves the wife. This term submit here used by Peter is actually a military phrase; meaning to bring you under an authority. Just as Jesus was brought under authority of His earthly parents and to The Father, so Peter is telling women to submit to their husbands out of love and endearment.

Why would Peter tell them this? Remember God has a purpose involved in everything. It is one word, EVANGELISM. During this time more women had joined the Christian faith that had unbelieving husbands, so Peter is telling them to submit to them as unto God so that without a single word the men may be won over to the Gospel. I have seen many men personally come to Christ due to the change that they saw in their wives. Is this always the case? No, but a lot of the time it is.

Now in verses two and three Peter starts to give some practical commands to believing women. He says to not let the way a woman looks to be the only thing that people see. Women should focus on conduct and the inward person. Peter says that a woman should not be crude/harsh but gentle and of a quiet spirit. The way a woman dresses and behaves should be one of bringing Glory to God for the purpose of EVANGELISM. It is your life that can win people to Christ or can push them away from Christ.

Peter, in verses five and six, cites some Biblical authority for what he is talking about. He talks about the women of the Old Testament, how they behaved. He shows how Sarah submitted to Abraham and how God blessed her for it. He is telling them to use the Old Testament women as examples to follow and to take those principles and put them into practice.

Men, you aren’t off the hook, verse seven is all about men. A man should not lord his authority over a woman! The men’s section here may be shorter but men have a lot to of responsibilities that must be fulfilled. The part here that calls women the “weaker vessel” is not mentally or spiritually it means physically. I know that there are some muscular women who could bench press me, but for the most part women are physically weaker than men. Husbands, because of this you need to protect your wives and care for them.

Peter also states that we should show them honor, because they are our equals in Christ. We are partners in this life and men must remember that. A man who doesn’t listen/dialog with his wife is a fool! Women have insight into situations and people that, frankly, men just don’t have most of the time. When my wife says I need to stop and listen, buddy you better believe that I stop and listen because what she is about to say is very important.

Now in this part is we are told to do this so that our prayers may not be hindered before God! WOW! You mean to tell me that if I do not protect, cherishing, and treat my wife right God won’t hear my prayers? YES!! That is exactly what I am telling you! Marriage is a partnership not a dictatorship. As a matter of fact in Ephesians chapter five (KJV) Paul echoes what is written here by saying, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”

Ladies and Gents are you doing what God has called you to do in your marriages? Women are submitting to your husbands as you would the Lord? Men are you willing to give your life for her? If there is a problem here maybe you need to seek Christ and let Him work in you to change your relationships. Maybe you need to repent, and if need be, get good Christian Counseling. The Choice is yours.

Don’t Let Your Past Dictate Your Future!

Don’t Let Your Past Dictate Your Future!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Far too often people don’t own up to their own actions about a given situation. Far too often they let people and happenings from their past dictate their future! Will you be one of those? Or will you move on with YOUR LIFE.

 

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
– 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NKJV)

You know Christians often complain about the circumstances they find themselves in and we have all been guilty of it at some point. The problem is that with this culture we forget that it is not the circumstances that brought us here but how we respond in them as to how we will be judged by God.

Too often Christians want to be liked so much (by their peers/other Christians) that they compromise and play the political games of their circle of influence. A lot of them end up being puppets for whoever the “alpha-dog” is in the group. They are too scared to stand up for what they know is right, honest, and true, even though the Bible tells them to focus on those things. Why are they scared? Because they are afraid they will lose what little influence they currently have within the group (Note: By group I mean any group or click. It could even be where you work, if they claim to be a Christian place of employment)! The sad part is that this is the mentality and actions of the unbeliever, the un-churched! This is transplanted in a place where love should reign supreme, Christianity.

Now there is a catch with this! Some people think they are standing for truth when they aren’t. They don’t follow scripture, because they don’t know scripture! A Christian should stand for what is explicitly written as right and wrong in the Word of God, not fringe/peripheral issues. A Christian should call a spade a spade from God’s Word. If there is no repentance and the politics get played, let the chips fall where they may. Remember to stand up means that a lot of times you are going to get bitten by the “alpha-dog.” When that happens you are supposed to trust in God and no one else.

Look at Elijah. He did wonderful acts for God and called down fire from heaven! But where did he end up? He found himself in a cave all by himself. Why? Because he was running for his life, and when God protected him did he thank God? No! He whined and complained about being in that cave and that he was the only one left in Israel who truly worships God! So God reminds him of all that He has brought Elijah through and tells him there are seven thousand people in Israel who have not abandoned God. Far too often Christians who have been wronged by God’s “people” end up blaming God, even though they stood up for what is right. You know what? God has not forgotten you Christian He is right there and if you listen He will tell you that you need to get busy serving Him no matter what situation you find yourself. Remember God is bigger than you circumstances.

God knows where you have been and where you are going. Just let Him work all things out for you. Also remember to take responsibility for your own actions in any given situation, because more than likely you have some blame in the situation as well. God cares more about how you act than about how you were acted against.

How about you today? Are you blaming someone else entirely for some kind of situation in your life? Then stop and REPENT! Are you looking up and whining about a situation to God? Then stop and REPENT! It is time to move on in God and get your hands to the plow and start working for Him again! Will you be dragged down and turned bitter against someone? Or will you REPENT of your actions before a loving God and let Him deal with the past, while you move on with what God has for you? The Choice is yours.

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.

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.