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.

What Are We To Do in Times of Joy and Despair?

What Are We To Do in Times of Joy and Despair?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

 

Luke 5:16 (KJV)

16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

 

Luke 22:39–46 (KJV)

39 And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. 40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. 41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

 

 

 

In Luke 5 we find that Jesus is teaching and He is becoming wildly popular with the crowds, but in the middle of all the frenzy and fervor over Him we find an interesting scenario. Verse sixteen states that He withdrew for prayer.

Today if we are becoming popular (whether it be in ministry, work, or whatever the case may be) we tend to stay right in the thick of it, lapping it up and being changed because of the fervor and frenzy.

Now look at Luke 22:39-46. We see another scenario in which Jesus withdrew for prayer. He was physically, mentally, and spiritually tormented by what was about to happen and we find that He withdrew from everyone to seek the Father in prayer.

So what is the principle we can learn here? No matter what the issues of life, we need to withdraw sometimes and pray. We can let seemingly good situations puff us up in pride and ego and we can let bad situations destroy us, but we have a choice in both situations. If we withdraw and pray we will find that we can become better only in God’s power.

The key to life no matter what the situation is to realize that WE ARE NOTHING! Once we come to terms with this we can start our journey to become better. The problem is that far too often, unlike Christ, we don’t stop to do an inventory of our lives before God, and because of this way we tend to fall into self-deception and think we are alright, whether good time or bad, and this is a dangerous place find yourself! Where are you today? Have you done this inventory in your life? If not, start now. I guarantee God will show up and you won’t fall into the trap of pride or the trap of despair. Before you brush this off let me remind you of the nature of self-deception. The problem with being deceived is that you don’t know you’re deceived until it is revealed to you. Draw close to God now. James 4:8 promises that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.