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!

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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?