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?

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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.”

Are You a Moses?

Are you a Moses?
By: Rev. Joseph R. Kramer

 

2 Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. 3 And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: “If only we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! 4 Why have you brought up the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? 5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.” 6 So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them.

7 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” 9 So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him.

10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.

12 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”

-Numbers 20:2–12 (NKJV)

 

Here we find a story about Moses. Moses struck the rock, though God told him to do something else. He was to take the rod, but not use it. He was told to speak to the rock not strike it. Water came from it anyway and the people received provision from God, but the punishment was that Moses would not enter the Promised Land. So what was his mistake?

Moses had previously struck a rock for the thirst of the people. Here Moses is faced with a similar situation and he had a word from God about it, but instead of drawing on previous experiences to face the new situation with a NEW word from God Moses did the same thing he had done in the past. God was displeased because God gave Moses a new command and Moses disobeyed.

Many times a church will look at similar situations and see that God wants to help them overcome, but instead of looking at the past and drawing strength and relying on the new tactic that God has given them they do the same old thing they have always done. Sometimes God has mercy and lets them overcome that particular situation anyway, but sometimes He doesn’t.

The death knell of the church is “We have never done it that way before.” When God speaks and tells you step out in faith and gives you a tactic to do so, then you need to obey. If it doesn’t work there are two possibilities. (1) You didn’t hear God and are working in your own strength and (2) You heard God and He wanted you to do it anyway. Many times the one person you reach or the experience alone molds and shapes everyone involved and that was God’s goal all along.

The question becomes, will you obey or will you do what you have always done?  It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing you have always done and expect a different result.