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.

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.

Which Side Are You on?

Which Side Are You on?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

There is a problem in Christendom! Christians/Churches are (generally speaking) split right down the middle of emotionalism and intellectualism. What do I mean by this? Some are interested in what they can learn, others are interested in what they can feel, but both are just going through the motions.

 

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
-2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
– John 4:24 (NKJV)

In our first scripture we are told to be diligent in the study of God’s Word. Yes we should! We definitely need to study God’s Word and apply it! I am not saying we shouldn’t. I am saying that there are entire churches so devoted to Bible Study that is all most of them will do; they won’t witness, they won’t minister, they won’t show up for anything at the church except for Bible study.

When music is being played in service you have to ask them to stand. They won’t worship God through music. They constantly use the excuse that the Bible is our authority, SOLO SCRIPTURA is their mantra (Solo Scriptura basically means that the authority of the Bible trumps all other authority)! They are right about the Bible and its authority, but they neglect the other parts of Christianity. They have become similar to the Pharisees! They study the Word so diligently but neglect Justice and Love. As Christ said to the Pharisees, I say to them, “You should do one and not neglect the other.”

What these people need is a little dose of the Holy Ghost (to borrow a cliché). They need to remember what it was like to have a passion for the indwelling presence of God in their lives! They need to let go and let God (to borrow yet another church cliché)! They need to be brought to their knees under the presence of God that makes them remember that God is powerful, loving, and personal. These people talk a talk about a personal God and remember fondly the presence of God from years gone by, but they need a fresh anointing (anointing, meaning the power and presence of God, it is a churchy word)! They need a fresh touch from God.

Now let us turn our attention to the churches that are all about feeling. These churches are exciting! There is a lot of feeling and passion in them. These people love Jesus and they are going to whoop and holler and let you know it! Their favorite verse tends to be our second verse. They say they are going to worship Him in SPIRIT! Yet they forget about the second part, TRUTH. One of the major problems with these churches is that they don’t want to hear about the history of the church, how we got the Bible, how theology is formed or any other thing. All they want to know is how God is going to bless THEM. These Christians also won’t show up for anything other than what they are going to feel. They aren’t against Bible study so much as they are really into experiencing God.

These people’s Christianity is often marked by drama and, to a lesser degree, selfishness. What these Christians need is more Bible and less emotions, less about them and more about Jesus! They need to learn what scripture tells them to do. They need to be about the Lord’s ministry and helping others.

So what is the result that both of these groups have in common? They both are weak on witnessing! They both believe they are doing things God’s way. The problem is that they are, for the most part, ineffective! You can tell by how many of these Christians/Churches are committed to telling other people about the good news of Jesus Christ! If Jesus is soooo good, why aren’t they sharing Him with others? The whooping and hollering crowd will point to their numbers, but those aren’t new Christians they are people from other churches. A lot of the time this crowd is just stealing sheep (another cliché, I know). The other crowd will point to their intellect and point to how many people they have taught, but how many are new converts (This is generally speaking, not every church ignores witnessing)?

Our God is a God of balance. Both of these types of Christians/Churches need to meet in the middle. We need both to truly serve God.  We need to remember the following passage of scripture. Some churches are so descent and in order, they order God out of the service and others are so wild, God wouldn’t join in anyway (yet another churchy cliché, I am on a role today)!

(26) How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. (27) If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.( 28) But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. (29) Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. (30) But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. (31) For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. (32) And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. (33) For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
-1 Corinthians 14:26–33 (NKJV)

How about you today? Are you on one extreme or the other? Are you just going through the motions of either group, not being effective in your witness? Maybe you need to make it a matter of prayer. Maybe God wants you to be stable and well balanced. What do you think? I think this is one of those times when you need to sit down and do a true inventory of your spiritual life and make the changes that need to be made. The Choice is yours.

You Might Look Good, But You May Be Fake!

You Might Look Good, But You May Be Fake!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Are you cursed! Maybe you are, maybe you look like a Christian but Jesus has nothing to do with you. Too many Christians are nothing but a bunch of fakes.

18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”

21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
-Matthew 21:18-22

Our society is all about being a fake. We have makeup, plastic surgery, liposuction, and all the things, that if you have enough money, you can look awesome! However, it is all an act of fakery. Our Churches are just as plastic, filled with fake Christians. So why are we looking at the cure of the fig tree? Let’s find out.

In verses eighteen and nineteen we find that Jesus had a need, he was hungry. We find the same problem in our churches today. People come into our churches and are spiritually hungry, but when they try to take a bite as to what that Church is offering they find nothing there! I am not talking about the Gospel message here; we tend to be good at that message. What I am talking about is substance beyond the message, people who profess loving behavior but fall short. Many churches when you walk through the door don’t even greet you! How sad is that! That is usually just the tip of the iceberg. In a church like that it is usually eaten up with gossip, misplaced anger, and religiosity where the leadership picks there favorites and no one else is allowed in, or if they are it is so they can get something out of them and then when the individual has nothing left, toss them aside. So what happens to these people that aren’t the “right” kind of people? Usually they never darken the door of a church again! You think God is happy with this behavior? NO!

So what is Jesus’ response? Eventually He curses that ministry/church. Does that mean that the doors shut? Not necessarily. A lot of churches go on life support and become great social clubs, and if Jesus were to walk in the front doors? Nothing, these people would toss Him out too.

Now in verse twenty, the disciples see the tree (which was probably the next morning) and it was withered! Amazing! This happens to a lot of people’s churches and personal spirituality. They start out looking like they are going to bear fruit and then they don’t and end up withering away. The question is what do you do about it? Do you let it happen? Or do you get on your knees and ask God for change in your life and your churches?

Look at verses twenty-one and twenty-two, they show that faith can do a lot of things. If YOU (yes you reading this article) get down on your knees and pray, then you can have your church and your spirituality restored, but this takes true faith through humility before God, confessing that you have messed up your life. Will you pray to God to restore you? Or will you just wither away spiritually? Maybe you are in one of these country club churches, will you pray for a true heart of restoration, or will you just let it happen all around you, until one day you aren’t welcome anymore because you hold up the cross of Christ unwaveringly? The choice is yours today, what will you chose?

You Sure are a Hypocrite!

You Sure are a Hypocrite!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Today we are talking about those that say they are Christian, and may even hope to be one, but are not. Are you one of these? Read this article and find out!

 

 (8) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
-1 John 1:8–10 (KJV)

 

Verse eight talks about making sin personal. You have sinned, you are not alright. All of humanity is born into sinfulness. I love these people in Christendom today who say that they don’t sin. This is not the case. We all sin every day and in many ways. But what is sin? Sin is simply missing the mark of God’s perfection. “Wait a minute,” some of you are saying, “you mean God wants perfection?” That is right! God’s standard is perfection and we can’t meet that standard. That is why Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

We need to start a relationship with Jesus by asking Him to come into our lives. But is this the end? No! This should be the beginning of a great life in Christ, but like everything in this world it isn’t going to be any easy life, but a rewarding one nonetheless. The problem with Christianity today is easy believism (not an official word, I know). You see we have made Christianity so palatable to people we have skipped over the whole part where a person is supposed to count the cost in their lives for following Christ! Too many times we tell people to come to the altar and pray to receive Christ and all will be sunshine and lollipops, but you know what? This isn’t the case! A lot of the time life gets worse (usually in the short-run) before it starts to get better. You know what? Christianity is supposed to be about a deep change brought on by the Holy Spirit and continued throughout our actions. Our actions should be an outpouring of the inward change that happens by the Holy Spirit. Let me just say that if you think you are a Christian and there has been no change in your life, then you aren’t one. You have been deceived by someone, or possibly self-deception.

Verse nine says that if we confess our sins God will forgive us! But Joe you just said you don’t believe in prayer as a way to salvation. No, you missed the point. I said that in the churches today we don’t talk enough about truly surrendering all of our life to Christ and His teaching and just teach that we can say some prayer and continue on our way in self-deception. Listen, you need to make confessing your sins to God (right after you realized you have sinned) a high priority. People want to walk with God, but don’t realize that making your relationship right with God is important. You wouldn’t get into a fight with your wife and have all that tension and then try to have a “date” with her and not discuss it and make it right! Or maybe you would…. But how healthy does that make your marriage? Well, that is a discussion for another article…

When we come to verse ten we must remember that verse eight is talking about sin in the general sense between you and God. Verse ten is referring to specific (definite) sins. A good example of this is a man cheats on his wife, according to God’s Word this is wrong. However, this particular man says that it wasn’t wrong because his wife doesn’t “fulfill his needs anymore.” You know what I say to something like that? IT IS SIN! PERIOD!  I know this seems like a “duh” example but I have seen this happen before. A pastor once divorced his wife and married another woman and said God told him to do it! How terrible this was! Especially since it goes against God’s Word!

What about you? Where have you said that you haven’t sinned? Speeding? Telling a white lie? Exaggerating what someone said to you? Gossip? Being a hypocrite? Well guess what? It is time for you to do a little praying before God! Do you want to be just another one of these hypocritical people that give Christianity a bad name, or will you get down on your knees and actually poor your heart out to God! Your Choice.


Most Christians Are in Essence an Atheist

Most Christians Are in Essence an Atheist

By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Many people run from place to place, and job-to-job going through the motions of life without having a purpose or a will to guide them. Christians are supposed to be fortunate enough to not worry about that. But this is not the case. Too many people that call themselves Christians don’t know enough about the Bible to apply any of its principles. This is a sad state of affairs! How defeating it is to say that you believe in God, but don’t know anything about God! This kind of individual is in essence an atheist (at least in their actions)! Why would I say that? Because they have no idea what they believe and have no idea how to make choices biblically, so their choices are dependent on the world’s ideas.

 

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
-James 4:6-10

 

Let us break this down. Verse six says God resists the proud but gives grace to the Humble. Those walking in humility are those who willingly submit to God in a pure heart, one who understands they are nothing without God. The proud are those that insist on doing things the way that seems best to them, those that don’t care about what God’s principles are about, much less try to make choices by them.

Verse seven is a command to submit to God. If we are doing things our own way we can’t hope to stand against the Devil’s ways, which lead to death (remember sin is fun for a season but it always ends in destruction). We are either doing nothing, or doing what the devil wants. Either way the devil is happy. Satan became proud and wanted to do things his own way. He made a choice to ignore what God had said, and you know what? This is exactly what you are doing when you ignore God’s Word and don’t know anything about it! To make right choices we need to know what God’s Word actually says.

Now in verse eight we are told that we should have fellowship with God through Scripture reading, study, application and prayer. This is the only way we can know what the principles in God’s Word are. The problem is that when most Christians do learn some principles they tend to not apply them because it would require CHANGES! Most so-called Christians don’t want change, even though it will improve their lives in the long run, because it might hurt, they may have to give something up! But James pulls no punches, he says to basically stop living contrary, make the changes, deal with the fallout, and be blessed by God in the long run!

Notice also in verse eight he calls Christians that won’t make the changes double-minded. The scripture says that a double minded man is unstable in all of his ways and should not think that he receives anything from God. A person who does not have their thoughts and motives pure will not receive what they ask for because they will do something selfish with what they have gotten and will mess their lives up even worse.

Verses nine and ten show us that we tend to become so busy about life that we forget, as did those whom James was writing to, to examine ourselves, how we think, act, and live, before God. Later in this book it is talked about the man who looked in the mirror and who saw what he looked like and went away and forgot what he saw, never fixing the problems that he saw. This is a sad individual for sure; someone who will look into God’s Word and not make the necessary changes. He lives just as the world does. He has no effect for Christianity and sits in a pew and makes no changes in his life. This person is an affront to God! Perhaps he shouldn’t come to church? Wow!! Why would I say that? Because these people are one of the ones giving Christianity a bad name, or worse no name.

The Bible speaks over and over about judging ourselves so that no one would have a need to judge us. In Hebrews 12:5-6 (NKJV) “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” If we do not correct our lives confess our sins, then what are you hear for? Why aren’t you doing what God asked you? The Bible says that if we don’t judge ourselves as Christians, God will judge us. When He does, it is tremendously much harder than it would have been had we repented and sought Him to change us, that is if we are truly Christians.

How about you? Will you make the Choices it takes to be who you say you are? Or will you just continue in your fake Christianity where you are out only for yourself and don’t truly care about anyone else. Where you give Christianity a bad name and turn people away from God instead of toward God. The Choice is yours, which will you make?

God Doesn’t Care About YOU!

God Doesn’t Care About YOU!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

 

This is a provocative title to say the least, but follow me in this thought.  When I use the word “YOU” I mean the “I” syndrome, where everything is about YOU. God doesn’t care about YOUR ego, YOUR pride, YOUR perception in front of others. All God wants is for you to be honest before Him, yourself, and others. The subject of honesty is one that we seem to talk about a lot as Christians but can fall short. Honesty is very important to God, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to matter much today. While there are a lot of passages that talk about this, I want to highlight just a few of them in this article.

Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one.
– 2 Corinthians 7:2 (NKJV)

 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume.
– Leviticus 19:35 (NKJV)

Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. -Hebrews 13:18 (NKJV)

Honesty in Our Words

The first scripture is Paul writing to the people at Corinth, he says that he has “wronged no one,” hasn’t corrupted anyone and has cheated no one. This is a bold statement in today’s Christianity. Too many Christians are not acting in accordance with the morality of the Bible. They tell half-truths, lie, and cheat people, but they won’t go and rob a bank. No, they act more subtly than that.

I have an example from my own life. Do you know how many ministers will go into a business (barber, mechanic etc.) and demand a discount? Or say something like, “What is the Pastor Price on that?” When I was in seminary I used to see these “seasoned” ministers do this all the time, and not to other Christian business men they knew, to people who wouldn’t darken a door of a church. You know what? The business owners would usually say, out of earshot of the minister, “That is exactly why I won’t go to church, they are all money grubbing.”

This is an example from my personal experience, but what about you? Take a minute and ask yourself, “Where in my life is my morality just a little off?” Now ask God to forgive you and guide you into honest living. This brings us to honesty in our deeds (actions).


Honesty in Our Deeds

The second scripture we are looking into talks about honesty in business and how a person should not cheat someone. What first comes to our minds is “big business” but every day we have different things that goes on in our lives that can be considered “deals” and we think nothing of trying to extort an unfair price. What I find interesting is that there are a lot of “Christians” out there who will cheat someone in business! This individual would say that stealing is wrong, but will deal dishonestly with others.

Here is a question that should make you stop and think a minute. How many times have you told someone a “white-lie?” There is no such thing as a “white-lie.” A lie is a lie, nothing more and nothing less. We must deal honestly with each other, not as the immoral deal with people; we must deal with people in honesty and fairness.


Conclusion

Our last scripture comes from Hebrews and starts out by saying “Pray for us.” Why pray? Well the writer states that they have a good conscience and that they desire to continue the trend of being open and honest with people. The writer is asking for prayer so that they don’t fall into the traps of pride, ego, and perception. They don’t want everything to be about themselves! This unfortunately is where too many “Christians” find themselves!

Do you know what people desire more than anything else? I mean they desire this one thing more than Biblically accurate sermons/teaching. They desire it more than great praise and worship! The desire it more than flash and a good feeling running up their legs! HONESTY! They want true openness and honesty from Christians in churches today. They want people to be genuine and they want people to genuinely care about them! The sad thing is that there are so many in churches today that don’t care about others; they just care about what they can get out of the church. This ugly situation can be changed, and starts with just one individual. So the question for you is where are you? Are you self-absorbed? Or are you walking in Honesty in your words and your deeds? Maybe, if you find yourself in this situation, you should ask God to forgive you and ask God to give you a true heart that isn’t self-absorbed, but is more concerned with others. The choice is yours. What is the Holy Spirit putting in your heart?

If, however, you find yourself in the situation where you say to yourself that you aren’t being dishonest, I would ask you to pray to God to show you where you might be faltering in your honesty. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you and I know He will show you. A lot of the time people won’t truly seek God and just go on. This attitude is a detriment to Christianity. It keeps the same old rut going. We need change in our churches and the only way we will get it is by being honest! Will you join me in asking God to show you where you are being less than truthful? The choice is yours.

I AM a Christian! I AM Just as Selfish as the Next Person!

I AM a Christian! I AM Just as Selfish as the Next Person!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.
– (1Ki 11:1-8 ESV)

Solomon was the wisest king that ever reigned in Israel’s history. However, he married foreign wives which were forbidden by God. Does this make God a racist? Absolutely not! It was God’s decree so that idolatry (the worship of false objects) wouldn’t take over people’s lives and turn their hearts from God. You see Israel was never to bow down to anything other than God. Because Solomon allowed worship of false gods in the kingdom, Israel from this time forward was caught in the grip of worshiping of false idols. Some people will probably ask, “What is wrong with that?” Have you ever seen what some of these religions require of their followers? Take a look at just one of these idols.

Milcom/Molech was a god that Israel loved to worship. This god is throughout the Old Testament and is considered one of the most evil of them all. You see this false god required that you sacrifice your children on an altar. But not just any blood sacrifice, no this ‘worship’ entailed heating a bronze statue to tremendous temperatures. When the pre-heating was complete, it was up to the parents to place their little ones in the idols loving hands and watch as their child writhed in pain and was literally cooked to death, slowly. The thought amongst these people was that if they sacrificed to these kinds gods they would get what they wanted.

Today many people would say that they would never do these detestable things! Really? You know you are probably right. We just sacrifice at the altar of our jobs, volunteer hours, and other things, while our children are being raised by television and music. No, we are more civilized we sacrifice our time with our families and allow our marriages to fall apart which only hurts the family unit more. Because of this God’s will is not being done in our lives, and worse, our children’s lives.

But why have we done this? It all boils down to selfishness. We have become selfish, self-centered and self-deceived. People will do anything they can to get ahead of the rest of the pack, putting their wants first and everyone/everything else last. Today our “Christianity” is paralyzed in the face of one simple question, “Why would I want to be a Christian when you do all that I do, except I don’t have the drama?” This is a sad state of affairs for Christianity. Christians are walking in selfishness and self-centeredness. We may not kill people anymore physically but we cause just as much damage by derailing them from God and destroying each other spiritually and mentally because of our idols (anything we put before God). Yes even today, because of putting things before God, we can travel a road which takes us down the wrong path and do things we never thought we would do. Do you think the Secretary to a church starts out by saying they are going to embezzle funds? No! Do you think the pastor, deacon, board member etc. starts out looking to cheat on their spouse? No! But little by little as they begin to put things in their lives ahead of their relationship with God, they travel down a road which leads to destruction.

The sad part is that when a person first comes to Christ they are genuinely loving and genuine toward other people, but as Christians begin to put idols up in their lives they become selfish, self-centered and self-deceived! Do you know what the problem is with being self-deceived? It is that you don’t recognize you are in self-deception until someone points it out, and then you don’t believe them! Only the Holy Spirit can truly point this out to anyone. Will you ask Him to point it out to you? Or does that just make you too uncomfortable? Perhaps you won’t, because you like your lack of true conviction and the true power of the cross in your life.

If you are a Christian today then perhaps you need to ask God to show you that you are setting up Idols in your life and ask Him to show you where you are walking in self-deception. Only when Christians begin to ask God to reveal to them these problem areas can “Christianity” become the Christianity of the Bible again and not just some political group of organizations that are self-serving and self-seeking. No, we need Christians to be Christians again. To have a heart that hurts when people hurt and seek to help people when they need help. Christians need to be a people after God’s own heart, a people that are not always on the lookout to get what is best for them. Will you be that person? Will you draw near to God and let Him truly show you your idols? Will you love the unlovable again? The choice is yours, which will you make?

I Quit! Why Should I Go On?

I Quit! Why Should I Go On?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

You know I hear this sentiment a lot from people who under pressure. Yesterday we looked at where we should draw comfort while under pressures from life. Today we will be looking at what God commands us to do when we feel like quitting on Him and life in general.

 

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
– 1 Peter 1:13-21

 

When we come to verse thirteen, Peter starts this out by using the word “therefore.” Therefore what? This means that we are to look at the words that were penned in the previous scripture up to this point (Which we looked at yesterday). Because of what he wrote up to this point, he can say put your mind into action. This means Peter is about to show us what we must do.

The King James Version of the Bible uses some interesting wording here, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind.” I like this because in the Old Testament when someone was about to do action they would take there robes and tuck between their legs and into their belts, making their robes kind of like pants so that they may do some strenuous activity. Peter is telling us to get prepared because he needs us to get ready for some kind of action!

The rest of this verse and into verse fourteen tells us how to be prepared for what lies ahead of us. He tells us to be sober (awake and alert). We must calm down and put our hope fully in Jesus, knowing He will work all things out in their time, knowing we can trust Him to do what is right. In this He requires us to be obedient to Him, to not be ruled by our sinful nature and passions, knowing that the end of sin is death and He doesn’t want the purpose of each of our lives to not be fulfilled because we are ruled by sin. He says that we were walking in sin out of ignorance, but no more should we walk in this way, because we have seen and tasted the good fruit of God. He says to be Holy for God is Holy.

Which brings us to our concept of holiness, our concept of holiness is not the concept that is presented in the Bible. When we think of Holy we think of someone who is a monk and has no impure thoughts, chanting all day. This is wrong! The word “Holy” (or one of its derivatives) is found over six hundred times in the Bible, therefore it is important we understand the Bible’s concept of Holiness.  The subject of holiness is one that has had whole books written about it, which we don’t have time for here, so let us get to the basic concept. The term used here for “holy” simply means to separate ourselves from things (sins of omission and commission) that can pull us out of a close relationship with God. It is because of the cross of Christ that we can have a close relationship to begin with and we shouldn’t allow anything to turn our focus off of God and onto other things, not even trials in this life. So long as we keep our gaze on Jesus we won’t drown in the sea of trials. We will stand with our minds empowered by God, to go through things that at the present moment seem very difficult.

Peter again reminds his readers in verses seventeen through twenty-one that this life is but temporary and that we must do all that we do in reverence before a loving God, remembering what He has done for us. Verse seventeen, depending upon translation, can be confusing.  Peter is trying to remind us that we will be judged before God for our actions (This is not about salvation because that was settled at the cross. This is about our rewards in heaven which are based upon our motives and actions here on earth). We will be judged on how well we reflect Jesus in our lives, so we must remember to fear God. The word “fear” here simply means to hold God with reverence (i.e. with esteem as higher than you are, Holy and Powerful).  Verses eighteen through twenty-one remind us where our hope and faith is placed, namely in the shed blood of Jesus Christ on Cavalry. Our victory is in Christ and His completed work on the cross. No we have not obtained it yet but we have received the down-payment of that promise, the Holy Spirit. Any time we are under pressure or trials we must remember this awesome truth from God’s Word.

God! I Can’t Take It Anymore!

God! I Can’t Take It Anymore!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

A lot of us feel pain and hurt, sadness and disappointment but one thing we can remember is that there is still a loving God who wants to see us succeed. When no one else cares, and no one else will lift you up we can take comfort in the following scripture that there is a loving mighty God who does care about us. Are you feeling down? Is it because of a job, relationship, or something else? Then take comfort in God.

 

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:9Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. 10Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.  12Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. -1 Peter 1:3-12 (KJV)

 

Peter promises comfort in verses three through five. He blesses God because of the hope that He has given us through Jesus Christ. This hope comes because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  There are those today who would deny the resurrection and still call themselves a Christian, but to deny the resurrection denies part of what is fundamental to Christianity. Yes it may seem impossible, but without the resurrection of the dead, Christianity falls apart. There is no hope, if there is no resurrection. Because of the resurrection, Christians have a great promise. This promise is incorruptible and will not be taken away from those that are kept by God’s power, because they have placed their faith in Jesus Christ and walk in that faith. Our walk with God starts in salvation by faith and should continue in faith.

Now in verse six, Peter goes on to say that though these Christians have endured great trials they should rejoice in what he is trying to explain to them, because the testing of their faith will produce much more than any kind of riches here on earth. Knowing that their faith will bring honor to God. Knowing that they have not fully received what God has promised to them here on earth, they should rejoice because they will receive the fullness of the promise in heaven. Christians must remember that the Holy Spirit that comes into you at salvation is a deposit of what will be given on the day they get to heaven. We have not fully obtained the promise, but we will.

Verses ten through twelve (in most Bibles) give a wonderful word picture, but simply means that the prophets in the Old Testament gave too many prophecies for a mere man to fulfill them all, only Jesus could fulfill them, and He did fulfill them while here on earth.  Peter says that they didn’t minister to themselves but to those who would come after Jesus arrived on earth. Peter reminds his readers that Jesus did indeed fulfill the prophecies and mysteries found in the Old Testament.

Now Peter makes a statement which seems odd and out of place. He says that the angels desire to look into these things. The first thing we need to have is some background on the matter. You see, In the original language (Greek) this literally depicts the angels looking over from high up somewhere to see this. This is like you looking over a balcony to see what is going on down in the street below. This may include both good angels and bad angels (demons) looking for the coming of Christ and His love toward man. Now why would demons seem to care? Simply put, they hate mankind; God has placed us over all angels (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:3). The coming of Christ, his death, and subsequent resurrection would make it a very important moment to God, man, and all angels. So yes, the demons and the angels alike would be looking for this moment. Peter was reminding his readers how very important we are to God, and that He is aware of our circumstances and trials, and that we should take comfort in that fact and trust that God will work all things out for our benefit. Whether we see the benefit now or not is of no consequence because we can trust that God will work all things out toward our good.

If we keep these things in our minds we know that God will give strength to handle any problem or any situation. Trust me I know it doesn’t feel that way right now, but I also know that when you look back you will find that God worked it all out. Have faith in a loving God, and remember at least you aren’t being put to death because of your faith, like the first-century Christians were.