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!

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.

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.

Man, You Are Ugly!

Man, You Are Ugly!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

In our lives as Christians we make lots of judgments about people, whether we know it or not. We should stop this behavior. Today we are exploring what the Bible says about Favoritism.

(2:1) My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. (2) For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, (3) and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” (4) have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

(5) Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? (6) But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? (7) Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

(8) If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; (9) but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (10) For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.
–James 2:1–10 (NKJV)

Today is all about clicks. It is about favoritism.  Favoritism seems to be a part of life and you see it wherever you go. The “haves” and the “have nots.” In business and in life we have come to expect it and have even come to accept the attitude. Unfortunately in our churches this shouldn’t be the case. Too many people in churches tend to play favorites.

James rails against this in our passage today. He says that this should NOT be the case. James uses two different people that couldn’t be more apart. He uses a rich man who dressed wonderfully in fine clothes (surely he will bring us a lot of money) and a beggar walks in as well. Now, the one with the better clothes (money) is given preferential treatment and the beggar is tolerated. James says in verse four that these Christians have become judges with evil thoughts! How to the point James is when he calls them out on this!

The interesting thing is that in verses five through seven James brings to their attention that the poor often live by faith more than the rich (they tend to trust in their money, not all rich folks but perhaps a majority?). He says they have dishonored the poor man!  Now during that time only the rich really dragged people into court. This still happens today, but more than likely the rich (i.e. money, popularity, clout) drag people before the court of public opinion. They can ruin your reputation in a heartbeat. I have seen this happen many times in our Christian circles and it shouldn’t be that way.

In verses eight through ten, James reiterates that if we show partiality to people we commit sin before God, because we aren’t showing love.

But most of you are saying that this doesn’t happen today. Really, are you sure? I would disagree. If someone walks into a traditional church without a suit or tie, then they get upset at that person! I have seen people talked bad about because they don’t have money, or because they used to be a drug addict or whatever the case may be. The argument usually goes, “I don’t want to be near _________ because _____ and they used to do ________. I know they say they are a Christians, but you know…” This is still the sin of showing favoritism folks. They aren’t a part of the click. Haven’t you ever heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover?”

How about you today? Is there a Christian brother or sister that you have judged? Then you need to do two things. (1) Apologize to God and (2) start getting to know that brother or sister. Maybe all they need is love and they will grow out of your mentoring them in Christ?  Maybe you just need to get rid of that pride and love of money/power/clout in your heart and start loving God and the people around you? What do you think?

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

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.