Too Many Christians are Out-of-Order

Too Many Christians are Out-of-Order
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Today we go around being so busy that we tend to compartmentalize everything. We allot so much time to watch TV, so much time to work, so much time for dinner and so much time for God. Did you ever think that maybe God doesn’t want to be put into some kind of allotment of time? Perhaps God wants more than that from you!

11 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
-Deuteronomy 8:11-14 (NKJV)

Today Christians have become guilty of this very thing. We are told to beware in verse eleven to not forget God. It means by not living out what we say we believe. How does this happen? We find that in verses twelve and thirteen we find that this happens because people begin to get blessings and are doing well and they feel as though they don’t need Him. So when that happens, in verse fourteen, people become prideful and forget God, who gave them all that they have.

To put this into perspective, in America we have wonderful churches! They are beautiful and clean with power, water, electricity, and (in most cases) computers with internet access. Now go overseas. Most of the churches in Africa, for example, don’t have all these amenities. They are lucky to have buildings with some kind of water. People walk for miles to come to church. If people in America today had to walk for miles, they just wouldn’t go! What does that say about you and I? Perhaps we need to thank God for what we have and give Him a priority in our lives.

Israel became guilty of this time and again. You know what happened? God allowed hardships to come upon them so that they would recognize Him. Do you think that this could not happen in our country today? In our state? In our personal lives? Yes, while God won’t purposely send evil to you, He may just remove His hand of protection to get your attention. If you get rid of God’s hand you can find yourself in a world of hurt!

Now let us turn our attention to something Jesus said.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’
– Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)

We tend to not only forget God when we are doing well, but we forget that everything we have came from Him and it is temporal, meaning He can allow it to be taken away it is not permanent. We should be like the Apostle Paul. He stated that he had learned in all things to be content. We need to remember that the most important thing in our lives today is not what we have. It is not even what we have in our churches! It is what we have in our Bibles. God’s Word is the only thing that brings true and truly satisfying life to our lives. We must remember to keep Him first, and in so doing we will stop things from being out of order in our lives. What is the proper order for life? (1) Our Personal relationship with God is first. (2) Our relationship to our families is second. (3) Our relationship to our daily work is last. This includes “your ministry.” If you keep this in mind you will find God’s blessing in your life.

How about you today? Have you forgotten God? I can hear it now! People yelling at me, “NO!” Really? Remember that actions speak louder than words! What do your actions say? Perhaps you have forgotten where all good things come from? Perhaps because of your attitudes today your life is out of order. If this is the case then you need to repent! If this is you, ask God for forgiveness today. The choice is yours.

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Church, One of the Most Prejudice Places Ever!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Praying Never Helps! Really?

Praying Never Helps! Really?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

A lot of people have some misconceptions about prayer; about what it is, how to do it, and when to do it. Some people feel silly praying! But what does the Bible say about it? We will hit a few points in this article. The reason for this is that many volumes have been written about prayer and we just don’t have the time to discuss it in its depths today.

 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
-Hebrews 10:22 (NKJV)

Prayer must be a communication between you and God, a conversation. It can be done out loud or mental.  Easton’s Bible Dictionary says that prayer can be:

A “beseeching the Lord” (Ex. 32:11); “pouring out the soul before the Lord” (1 Sam. 1:15); “praying and crying to heaven” (2 Chr. 32:20); “seeking unto God and making supplication” (Job 8:5); “drawing near to God” (Ps. 73:28); “bowing the knees” (Eph. 3:14).

But what should our inner being be like when come to prayer? In Hebrews 10:22 it says that we should draw near to God with a true heart. Stop there for a moment. This means that prayer must be with a true heart and not something that is memorized or insincere. How many Christians do you know that can say a great, theologically correct prayer but have absolutely no feeling or honesty? Me, I know quite a few of them! Perhaps you yourself are guilty of this at times? Let’s move on.

This verse also says that we must have full assurance of faith. First, what is faith? Well to give a quick answer we must say that faith is an assurance. Faith is a sincere trusting. For example, I trust that when I sit in my recliner that it will hold me up. I have faith in my recliner. Now I know that my faith will wane in my recliner as it gets older. With God however, because he is the self-existent one who exists only within himself and as such is a perfect being, I can trust Him no matter what happens. Just because I don’t understand everything in my life doesn’t mean I can’t trust Him fully for my life (I know this is somewhat of a simplified answer, but it is effective and accurate nonetheless).  When we draw near to God, based on His Word and our experience with God’s goodness, we need to be fully assured that He hears us. A lot of times when I look at this verse I think of myself as the man who cried out to Jesus saying, “I have faith, Lord help my faith!”

Now the rest of this verse can seem very hard to understand, but then most of us reading this are probably not Jewish. Remember this book was written to those of Jewish descent so they would have understood the imagery better than we do in our culture.  The part about having our hearts sprinkled would have appealed to those converted Jews who understood the temple sacrificial system. The altar was sprinkled with the blood of animals to cover over their sin. The part about being washed is symbolic of purity.

So when we look at this verse in its entirety what is the author of Hebrews trying to convey to us? We no longer need any mediator between us and God. No temple sacrifice, no bringing of goats, bulls etc. Just you and Jesus, he is our mediator. Because of what He did on the cross we can come to Him for this cleansing and approach the throne of God Himself!  If we come with a true heart and full assurance of our faith then we know that God has made us worthy to ask Him directly what we need in our times of joy and times of sorrow.

So how is your prayer life? When is the last time you cried out to God and saw Him move in your life? Have you come to Him in the full assurance of faith out of a true heart? Perhaps you are the one today crying out to God, “I have faith, Lord help my faith!” I know I cry out quite often in this manner! If you haven’t seen God move in your life lately could it be because you haven’t been sincere and placed your faith in Him? Do it today and let the miraculous work of God change you! 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?

Did Jesus Descend into Hell?

Did Jesus Descend into Hell?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

This question came in via e-mail and is a very common and appropriate question to ask.

This is a question that has haunted theologians throughout New Testament History. I have heard many people teach/preach on this subject (based on 1 Peter 3:19). Some see it as allegorical, others literal, and still others a combination of the two. So I will attempt to answer this question from a comprehensive stand point looking at the Jewish concept of Hades.

The Jewish mindset

I had a Professor once explain it the following way, which is one of the oldest explanations. This is also the way the M.R. DeHaan (a prominent theologian) has explained it in his book “Studies on Revelation” One thing to remember is that the early Christians were all Jews and their mindset was used when writing and speaking of Hades. You see what the KJV translates as hell in 1 Peter 3:19 is Hades, Which to the Jew was the place of abode for the dead. In this place there is Paradise and the placed of the damned (what we refer to as Hell).

Paradise and Hell
Paradise and Hell occupy, for lack of better accuracy in wording, a side of Hades. Paradise would be on one side and Hell on the other side (See the parable of Lazarus and the rich man).

Paradise only existed during the time before Christ. Here you will find where all the Old Testament Saints are kept. Jesus (Ephesians 4:8) leads them to heaven after his crucifixion.

Now when we look at Hell (the other side of Hades) the folks that are in the “holding chamber” (what we refer to as hell) are still waiting for the Great White Throne of Judgment, where once they are judged will be cast into the lake of fire where they will burn for all eternity. This is known as the “final Hell” or “second death”

The “final Hell” (second death as the Bible refers to it) will be the resting place of the damned for all eternity. We don’t know when it was created, only that it was created.

Conclusion

So where did Jesus go during those three days? He descended into Hades, specifically into Paradise. He said to the thief that he would be in paradise on that day of death on the cross (Luke 23:43). Then Jesus leads all that were in paradise to heaven (Ephesians 4:7-10).

 

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

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?

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.