Christians Today Tend to be Inconsistent in Their Lives

Christians Today Tend to be Inconsistent in Their Lives
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

You know Christians today are too busy with things that don’t matter. They are too busy in-fighting and living out of selfishness to worry about how to live. Today Peter addresses Christian behavior with the world that they are sojourning on their way to heaven.

 

(13) Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, (14) or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. (15) For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—( 16) as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. (17) Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
-1 Peter 2:13-17

 

In verses thirteen and fourteen, depending on your translation, it starts by saying “therefore.” Therefore means that we need to keep in mind what we just read. Peter is saying because you are not a permanent resident of this world, therefore do the following.

Peter tells us to submit to the worldly authorities; those that have authority within the land we sojourn. We should obey every law of the land so long as it does not directly go against scripture. Peter says that we should do this for “the Lord’s sake.” We need to remember that in all we do, we do it for Jesus Christ, not for any other reason (c.f. 1 Corinthians 10:31). This would have been a hard pill to swallow for these people reading this letter in the first century. They were being persecuted by the government, but Peter calls them to a higher level; he tells them to submit. Why?  Because it is in times of persecution and hardship in Christian’s lives that their faith is truly shown to others. It is during these times that Christians give their strongest witness for Christ or their strongest statement of hypocrisy. So it is up to Christians to decide, by every action they take during these times, as to how they will represent Christ. Peter admonishes them to chose Christ and come under the authority of the leaders of the land.

At the end of verse fourteen it states that governments have a divine right to punish evildoers and honor those who are good. Which governments do to the honor of God, unless they are evil and corrupt themselves. In that case they need to honor what is not in direct contrast to God’s Word.

In verse fifteen, it says that this is the will of God so that when Christians do good things it will silence the ignorant and foolish. The word silence has with it the idea of a muzzle! You literally muzzle people’s bad mouthing of you and Christianity, if as Christians you do good things. When Peter talks about these people being foolish he is referring to their mental state of laziness. Rather than try to find out what Christianity is really (supposed to be) about, they just bad mouth it because they could care less about trying to understand something. Christians are not immune to being lazy minded either. There are a lot of people professing to be Christians who do the same thing. So this thought of people being foolish is also used in Ephesians 5:17 to describe believers. As Christians we should study to show ourselves approved to God to rightly understand His Word (2 Timothy 2:15).

Peter says in verse sixteen that we need to act as free individuals. We should not use this freedom to promote sin and vice but liberty in the Spirit of Christ. There are a lot of people out there that use this freedom as a justification for sin, Peter tells us here that this is wrong and we should not practice sin and evil. We are supposed to be servants of Christ, living sacrificially and helping others come to a saving relationship with Jesus. Far too often though Christians will use this freedom to give a perception of self-righteousness and this turns people away from a relationship with Jesus. We need to be mindful of this and do our best, in prayer, to not be a reproach to the cause of Christ.

Now Peter brings this line of thinking to a close in verse seventeen with a series of four commands that he gives us. (1) Honor everyone, (2) Love other believers, (3) Fear God, and (4) Honor the government.

The first command was to honor everyone. In the context of the scripture Peter is saying that we must remember that all people are created in God’s image. Because all people are made in God’s image we need to live in such a way that will attract non-believers to Jesus Christ that they may become believers.

The second command is to Love other believers. In-fighting amongst believers is not only shameful, but despicable and gives Christianity a black eye. This should not be happening in Christianity. Peter is trying to bring back to our remembrance that love is what defines us as Christians. You have probably heard it said that God is love. How awful it is for Christians to not even show the nature that they claim to have inside them.  Only through dealing with people out of love for others will people come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

The Third command is to fear God. This is not talking about a fearfulness that you are completely terrified of God, but it is talking about showing God reverence. If we are showing God reverence and respect then this command becomes the glue that holds the other three together.

The fourth and final command is honor the government. Remember that the government has great power and we must obey the laws of the land of which we are sojourning on our way to heaven. We must remember to not violate the law of the land unless they are in direct contrast to the Word of God.

Remember that this passage of scripture is all about how we should live, especially while we are being persecuted. Why? Because these are the times that show who Christ really is and what He is about. If we can remember the four commands above then we can win the world to Christ and bring unity to Christians in spreading the Gospel to a world that needs Jesus.

How about you today? How is your interaction with the world around you? Are you honoring Christ in Your actions? If not, you need to ask God for forgiveness and start acting properly in your witness for Christ. The Choice is yours.

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Too many Christians are Too Busy Being Judgmental

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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! 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.

Religion is Dead! Long Live Jesus!

Religion is Dead! Long Live Jesus!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

 

17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
– Matthew 5:17-20 (KJV)

 

“I want the presence of God Himself, or I don’t want anything at all to do with religion. You would never get me interested in the old maids’ social club with a little bit of Christianity thrown in to give it respectability. I want all that God has, or I don’t want any.”
— A.W. Tozer from The Counselor

 

First let us start out this article by answering a question. Who are the Pharisees? The Pharisees were a group of people who had dedicated themselves to Jewish law. They were so meticulous in their carrying out this law they forgot about the purpose of the law, which is to draw them to a relationship with God.

Martin Luther (the guy who started the protestant movement, i.e. non-catholics) reminds me of these Pharisees! Yes I said Martin Luther, only he was born in the middle ages after Christ. You see he was a monk, and was so worried about being seen as acceptable before a Holy God that he would literally whip himself with a whip that had nine leather strands on it (also known as the Cat of Nine Tails), and he worked so hard that he put the other monks to shame! But you know what? He found that the more he did, the less Holy he found himself. Unlike the Pharisees, he realized he was still unclean. Until one day he was reading scripture and realized that no one can earn their way to heaven. Only by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross can we come to a Holy God, by believing and trusting in the shed blood on the cross.

So with this background how does this relate to today? It is simple there are many people in churches across the world who have made church a religion and not a relationship. There are too many people that will claim to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior every Sunday and do works that are contrary to their “so-called beliefs.” These individuals make their lives rotate around a building or a group of people. The church was never called to be a social club but a force of change to the world. So what has happened? Christians have lost their first love! This first love is supposed to be Jesus Christ and the Bible.

So where does the problem begin in our churches? It begins with YOU! Christian are you one of these people that say you know Jesus, go to church, work for the church, and are involved in the church? You know what the key word was in that question? CHURCH! Get out of the mindset of THE CHURCH and into the mindset of MY GOD AND MY SAVIOR! All I want and all I need are in Jesus! Give me relationship with Jesus, not with a church!

So, does this give us an excuse to not go to church if there are so many not living out their faith in love? Lord Forbid! With all of its flaws and problems, there are churches out there that are trying to live in a close relationship with God. Your task, if not a church-goer, is to find one and join them in their mission, to come as close to God as possible, be changed in his presence and live in the Love of God that is supposed to be spread abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

May I take a moment and encourage you to pray with all that is inside of you to ask God to restore a true and living faith in your life. While head knowledge about the Bible is important, it is more important to have a living and true relationship with God

I say this, Give me Jesus and what He thinks about me, not man. I don’t want man’s accolades and I don’t care about man’s condemnation of me. I just want to know that Jesus approves of me. So that I can truly say with every part of my beings, shouting from the roof tops, “JESUS I NEED YOU AND I LOVE YOU!” This is the heart that A.W. Tozer was trying to get across to people in his book. May I suggest another book to read that he wrote? It is called “The Pursuit of God.”

Lost Your Faith in Things, Religion or God?

Many people have lost their faith! I know this is a bold comment and is one that will make some people uncomfortable, but they have! But did they lose it in God?  Or did they lose in other things, perhaps in their fellow man? One thing is for sure. We can draw comfort from God’s Word. In the following article I have attempted to explain this scripture in such a way that we can realize that our reliance is not on any man, object or desire but on God.

 

Introduction

The books of 1 & 2 Peter are often glossed over by readers. People tend to just read through them without stopping to understand the implications of what they are reading. Many people will just say to themselves “well that was good” and not stop to think how to apply what they just read to their lives.

As with all scripture we must remember that there are layers to what we read (like an onion). We must begin to peel back the layers. Think of this book as a way to pull back the first layer of these wonderful letters that Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote to Christians. Think of this article as the beginning of a foundation. As Jesus said in Luke 6:46-49 in the parable of the man who built is house upon a rock. That man had to dig down to the rock. Consider this book a part of the beginning of building upon the rock, the digging portion of the construction.

Luke 6:46-49 (KJV)
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

1 Peter

1 Peter 1:1-2(KJV)

1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

 2Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

Peter opens this book by telling his readers who he is. These first words “Peter an Apostle of Jesus Christ” are filled with meaning to the people who first read this letter, just as it is to us today. This statement shows his authority and what he has been called to do for God. He writes as one having authority. He is someone who transcends an expert, but one who has been touched of God to deliver and important message to God’s people. It is as if he saying LISTEN UP! God has something to tell you! We know that because of this authority, in these words we will find the literal keys of life, if they are applied through prayer and practice in humility before a Glorious God.

Now Peter moves on to whom the letter is addressed. These are known as the churches of Asia Minor. What one must remember is that the early Christians were made up of converted Jews. Jesus was the Jewish savior (Messiah).

Peter uses phrases that would be familiar to them and reminds them of their standing before God. He calls them the elect of God because God foreknew them. This simply means that he looked down the hallway of time (being that God is outside time and space) and knew who would receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. He is writing to them, God’s people (Christians).

In his introduction he uses a term that we will address. He says these people are being sanctified by the Spirit while being obedient to Christ. Sanctification is a large word that we sometimes use in churches that can confuse people. Sanctification is a process in which the Christian, through the power of the Holy Spirit, continually walks in obedience to scripture. The Christian is to continually clean their lives up before a Holy God. We are not left alone in this task, we are given the Holy Spirit and that is why Peter talks about the Spirit here.

He also makes a reference to having our hearts sprinkled by the blood of Christ. This would have been a familiar reference for his audience. They were used to animal sacrifices, in which the animal’s blood was sprinkled on the altar for the remission of sins. This is in reference to what Christ did for us on the cross by making us right with God. The animal sacrifices had to happen continually because they did not get rid of sin, but rather, only covered the sin. Unlike the animal sacrifices Christ did it once for all. What He did never needs to be done again. It was a one-time event. The only thing we are required to do is surrender ourselves to God. There is no longer any need for animal sacrifice because of what Jesus did for us.

For readers going through persecution the first two verses would have brought great hope and comfort to them, knowing that God loves them and has gone through the cross just to bring them closer to Him. We should also find hope and comfort in these first two verses. No matter what we are facing we can face it in the power of Jesus Christ aided by the Holy Spirit. The key is not to put or faith in the wrong things. Our Faith needs to be in God not anything else. Where is/was your faith when you lost it? Was it in God or something else?

In Christ Jesus,
Joe Kramer