Posted by: A Messenger of Christ | April 2, 2012

Notice of Acquisition

This blog will no longer be updated as I have been acquired by Communicators In Action, an organization of people doing what I was attempting to do on this blog but in a more organized an professional manner. Communicating and defending the Christian faith through the love of Christ.

Can’t wait to see you there!

~A messenger of Christ

Posted by: A Messenger of Christ | September 12, 2011

Hell…It’s hot down there.

The meaning of hell seems to have changed from what it is truly intended to mean. People use words like “hell” anytime they stub their toe. Or when they drop their fork they use words like damn. Some people even use these words when good things occur. It seems that most people I’ve encountered think hell seems to be nothing more than some hot place that bad people go. That is if you think it exists in the first place.

So let me get this right, if I lie, cheat, steal, kill, and do a bunch of bad stuff I go to some hot place where I can do anything I want and no one will care?  …Um no. There a bit more to it than that.

(Mark 9:43 NIV 1984) “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.”

(Matthew 13:40-43 NIV 1984) “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.  They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

(Isaiah 66:24 NIV 1984)“And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

Better to cut off your hand than go to hell? That sends a stronger message about the horror of hell than stubbing your toe does. Now it’s plain to see that fire is a part of hell. And anyone who has ever gotten burned knows that it hurts. But in hell you’re not just burning your finger,  you’re burning. The fire never dies, the pain never dies and you never die, because your already dead. Hell is not unlike the worst thing ever. Maybe that’s because it is the worst thing ever. God is the source of all that is good, and God is not in hell, then we must conclude that there is no good in hell. Take out the good and you’re left with anger, hatred, discontentment, painful and relentless suffering, disgrace, dishonor, dissatisfaction, lostness, loneliness, helplessness, weakness and want. But that’s what you said you wanted when you said you didn’t want God. Sin offers nothing but lies. Christ offers nothing but truth. He died so that you wouldn’t have to go to such a horrible place. He is offering you a chance to be forgiven.

“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
   the way to the sea, along the Jordan,
   Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
   have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
   a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:1-2 NIV 1984)

 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

(Matthew 4:15-17 NIV 1984)

We are given a mission to preach the gospel to the lost. Let’s not forget what were fighting for. To let them know the grace of God and keep them from knowing the horror of hell.

~A messenger of Christ.

Posted by: A Messenger of Christ | August 28, 2011

Are We Hypocrites?

Alright it’s time for a post. I know I haven’t put anything on here since last time Texas got rain.

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6: 1-4 NIV 1984)

This block of verses sticks out to me. It confronts how we act when people are looking, and what are motives are when we do good. How many of us would help out if we were never given recognition or thanks. Would we give to charity if it weren’t tax deductible? Do we give to receive what is given by man? Are we selfish givers, hypocrites?

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6: 5-8 NIV 1984)

Now I haven’t seen anyone out in the streets praying lately. But maybe that because we’re more thoughtful of what other people think…and other people would think that praying in the open was really weird.  So we don’t. In other words, instead of praying in a crowd to make people think were good, we don’t pray so people don’t think were strange.  Now I’m not saying we need to start praying in crowds…but what about all the other things we don’t do because people might think were strange? Do we share our faith, stand up for what we know is right when everyone else is doing wrong? We know what good we ought to do and we do not do it. Are we hypocrites?

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6: 20-21 NIV 1984)

Is God our treasure? Does our heart treasure God and his mercy like a pirate treasures a heavy chest of gold? Like celebrities treasure fame, Scientists treasure knowledge? We say God is our all in all, but is He really or are we just hypocrites? Maybe we need to get serious about God and who he is. Maybe we should stop just acting like Christians, Christianity wasn’t meant to be just sunshine and flowers. Christ was crucified. His apostles had stones thrown at them. No Christian should be without an enemy. If we are not persecuted for what we believe then maybe that’s because we’re not doing what God intended.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.” (John 15:18-21 NIV 1984)

Be so bold for Christ that your enemy cannot help but say something. Be so adamant for Jesus that anyone and everyone will know you have the Lord’s mercy. I challenge you to share your faith with the next person you see. You know enough to believe for yourself that Jesus Christ is Lord. Then you know enough to tell someone else about it too. Why would you wait? Why would you keep silent? Pray for God’s guidance, go.

Posted by: A Messenger of Christ | July 13, 2011

Can You Lose Your Salvation?

A friend told me recently that he doesn’t believe in the theory of “once saved always saved.” Is it true? Can we lose our salvation? My friend referred me to Hebrews 10:26: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.”  Sounds like my friend might be right when he says that the once saved always saved policy is not biblical.  But I didn’t want to stop the research there. When it comes to my salvation I want to make sure I get it right. This was only one verse and it is easy often to misunderstand or misinterpret a verse when it is taken out of context. So I did a bit of reading to gather the context of Hebrews 10:26.

(Hebrews 10:1-10)

“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—  I have come to do your will, O God.’ First he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them’ (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

The law is a shadow of good things that are coming and the sacrifices made in accordance with the law are also a shadow of what was to come. As such, the sacrifice could not take away sins because it was only a shadow of the sacrifice of Christ. When Christ came and died it was once and for all. One sacrifice for all sins and all people to make us holy, to make us new. Hebrews 10:11-18 says that Christ is the new covenant that was promised by God in Jeremiah 31:31-34. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34b)

(Hebrews 10:18) “And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” Christ is the last sacrifice for sin and has forgiven us there is no longer any sacrifice necessary for sin because our sin has been forgiven. So how does this change the meaning of Hebrews 10:26?

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.” (Hebrews 10:26)

We just finished saying that because of Christ sacrifice we no longer need the blood of bulls to cover our sin because there is no sin to cover. So when Paul says that no sacrifice for sin is left he is saying that Christ has come and gone and there is no greater sacrifice that could be given than what was given by Christ. No sacrifice could remove deliberate sin than the one Christ gave.  No sacrifice is left. Only by Christ and only through Christ are the sins of all we do washed away.

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Nothing we did brought about our salvation, Christ died for us before we even knew we needed to be saved. How then if we are not the authors of our salvation can we be the authors of its removal? We did nothing to earn our salvation we can do nothing to lose it. God gave us a choice to except his gift of salvation or to reject. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) Are we somehow exempt from this list? No. Nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ!

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)

It is finished for those who wish to be saved, for those who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Posted by: Ben | July 13, 2011

What Are We Doing?

“Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.”

1 Corinthians 7:1-2

Paul covers quite a controversial topic in 1 Corinthians 7: Marriage. He has spent the last few chapters criticizing the Church of Corinth for their immoral behavior, immoral members, divisions in the church and called them to be servants of Christ; but now he is specifically addressing the questions they sent him. Some of these questions were about marriage.

Paul prescribes a balance: If you are led by the Lord to remain unwed it may very well be because, in your case, you can serve the Lord much better without a spouse and family. Some preachers or theologians who travel a lot may be hindered from obeying the Lord’s calling if they have a family. On the other hand, sometimes having a spouse and family can help you serve the Lord, or at least remain in obedience to him.

As Paul says, “I wish that all men were as I am [unmarried]. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.  Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Cor. 7:7-9) Paul does not set an immovable rules about whether or not marriage is the best choice. It all depends on which route God wants you to take and which route allows you to glorify God the most. As Paul pointed out, he wishes that all people could be unwed individuals to devote themselves solely to God’s purposes, some people are called to do different things.

After this, Paul addresses the topic of divorce. First he looks into marriages where one is a believer but the spouse is an unbeliever. (While Paul later states in 2 Corinthians 6:14 that, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” It is not at all unusual for a person to become a believer after they have been married while the other spouse is still not a believer.) Paul instructs the believer not to divorce their spouse if their spouse is willing to live with them. (1 Cor. 7:12-13) If the spouse of the believer decides to divorce the believer there is not much that the believer can do. But in all cases, divorce must be avoided.

When the Pharisees asked Jesus, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” In Matthew 19, He answered, “‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.'” (Matt. 19: 4-6) Thus, divorce is not at all what God intended. It is the duty of the believer to minister to the unbelieving spouse in order to avoid a divided house.

But there’s a problem: According to Pew Research Center, 4 in 10 Americans believe marriage is “obsolete.” Interestingly enough, more than 4 in 10 children are born to unwed mothers. Two thirds of single mothers would be almost immediately lifted out of poverty if they married the actual father of their child. Also, the idea that marriage is becoming obsolete is not just something people are saying but it is also being demonstrated. In the year 1960, 7 in 10 adults were married. In 2008, 5 in 10 adults were married.

The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) found that the percentage of teenage males who agree with the statement, “It is OK for an unmarried female to have a child,” has gone up from 50% to 64% since 2002. And the percentage of teenage females who agree with that statement is even higher, almost 71%. But what does the NSFG mean by “okay”?

A child growing up in a divorced family is four times more likely to try an illicit drug by the age of 14 than a child brought up in an intact family. The annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) shows alarming rates of abuse of alcohol and drugs among teenagers.

This is why God forbids adultery. This is why God forbids sexual immorality. This is why so many societies crumble into pieces. This is why God wants marriages to remain intact.

God doesn’t just make this stuff up. Children brought up in intact families are not only much less likely to smoke, drink or use drugs, have behavioral problems, engage promiscuity and be unwed parents themselves; but intact families also lead to less poverty, make them less likely to end up in jail and more likely to be upstanding citizens. Intact families also lead to increases high school graduation rates, grades, literacy and future marital success.

So what are we doing? Where have all the Christians gone? I thought America was supposed to be a “Christian nation”? The society is going to kill itself around you if you don’t proclaim the truth of God. Apparently living in your own little “comfortable” world and trying to obey God “for yourself” is not enough. We must proclaim the truth.

-Ben

Devotional: 1 Corinthians 7

Posted by: Ben | July 13, 2011

How to Argue Probably Well

How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion From History’s Greatest Communicator by Joe Carter and John Coleman (Crossway, 2009) is not exactly true to the name.

While the book covers many of the important logical and basic principals of advocacy, it’s not exactly what you could call “comprehensive.” Then again, you can’t really expect a “comprehensive” book to also be 157 pages. But none the less Carter and Coleman do a decent job covering the topics. They first cover the three most basic means of communication (as established by Aristotle) Pathos (emotion), Logos (logic) and Ethos (credibility.)

The book is not at all a bad book. In fact, the clear way in which they explain the concepts can be helpful even to those already familiar with them. But the way in which they handle the topics in relation to Jesus is not correct. Consider this quote from their chapter on Pathos:

“While he [Jesus] introduced dozens of radical new concepts, he always did so utilizing the language of the values shared by the Jewish people — love, hope, faith, truth, righteousness, honesty, forgiveness. He often used these established concepts to illuminate new ones that subsequently became shared values (for example, humility, self-sacrifice) and to deepen peoples understanding of the values they already shared, extending the application of those values to new arenas.” -How to Argue Like Jesus, Joe Carter and John Coleman, p. 23.

Jesus utilizing values? When you utilize emotions, most people call that manipulation. Jesus was not “the great manipulator” He was a great communicator. Part of Pathos that Carter and Coleman seem to be missing is that Pathos can easily turn into manipulation when Pathos is insincere. Sincerity is what makes Pathos real. Jesus was not an actor who intentionally manipulated Jewish people by trying to make them think He shared their values. He walked this earth to demonstrate that He understands what it’s like to be human. When Jesus cried over Lazarus, His tears were real, not some fake display for show in order to make people pay attention to what he was about to do. And that’s part of what made Jesus’ message so powerful.

Emotion (Pathos), by definition, is subjective. There is not a “standard” or other objective way to “measure” your sincerity or emotion. But people know a fake when they see one — unless you’re a really amazing actor. Insincere emotion for the purposes of “making” people think the way you do can quickly backfire. As soon as they see that your emotions aren’t real, they won’t listen to you because they think don’t think you mean it. Which is exactly what you didn’t want to happen. If you’re reasons for holding a particular belief and advocating it are emotional, then speak with sincere emotion. If your reasons are rational, practical or logical, then speak in those terms. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it. If you don’t know why, find out why. But ultimately it’s always best for there to be some kind of rational reason. Remember though,  emotions can be rational, and as a result, very powerful.

Carter and Coleman then cover Logos, going a few different forms of logic. (Syllogisms, enthymemes, syllogismus, a fortiori, reductio ad absurdum.) Giving legitimate advice to make your arguments logically sound. For example, don’t argue like this:

  1. God is love.
  2. Love is blind.
  3. Ray Charles is blind.
  4. Ray Charles is God.
    (This was stolen from p. 47)

Yeah, don’t do that.

After Logos was Ethos, a chapter on credibility (that is, if you’re audience doesn’t think you’re credible, they probably won’t listen to you.) They cover phronesis (practical skill), arete (virtue and goodness) and eunoia (goodwill toward the audience) also giving sound advice. You know, the usual stuff: When trying to advocate a new crime policy, it might not be a good idea to mention that you used to be a serial killer... Okay, it didn’t really say that, but you get the idea.

Chapter 4 they spend on narrative and imagery. These are important aspects of communication. Stories, metaphors, similes, examples, they all help build your communication skills and empower your advocacy. People, understandably, tend to remember the story that was told better than the wonderful way you so tediously strung your words together. Thus, if the application you use really fits with your general point your audience will remember what you said better.

I don’t really know why chapter 5 was in this book. It was kind of like a 17 page detour. It was on discipleship, getting a “core team” together to help you spread your beliefs. Go big! Shoot for the stars! If your following gets too big, break ’em up into smaller groups to make it personal! It wasn’t bad advice or anything, it just seemed out of place.

Then, at the end of the book, Carter and Coleman tacked on chapter 6 and 7. Chapter 6 was 20 pages of “rules of thumb.” I guess they just didn’t have a place to stick all the tid-bit advice. And chapter 7 were just some semi-interesting case studies. Some of the “thumb rules” were decent advice like, “Never speak about your speech,” but some of it was a little weird, like this:

“We all have certain friends who frustrate us by their willingness to ask for what they want. We see them as nags, but they get better jobs, better seats at football games, and better deals on cell phones. Invariably, that is because htey have the audacity to ask for they they want when they want it the way they want it, and they do not give up without a clear “No!”…You won’t get anything without asking. There are times to be subtle, but other times it pays just to ask.” How to Argue Like Jesus Joe Carter and John Coleman (p. 136)

So let me get this straight, Carter and Coleman are saying: Don’t take hints and grunts for an answer guys! Argue like Jesus, be genuinely annoying! But I thought we were called to selflessness…

How to Argue Like Jesus is not a bad book if you’re just looking for a simple primer or review on logic or (mostly) practical advice about your speeches, papers, etc. But the book doesn’t really tell you how to argue like Jesus, it just tells you: If Aristotle read these pieces Scripture here’s how he would break them down. Thus, I dub this book: How to Argue Probably Well.

-Ben

Posted by: A Messenger of Christ | June 23, 2011

Forgotten Significance: Murder, Adultery, Divorce

Murder:
I’m going to assume that none of you have ever killed anyone. Or have you? There might not be a lifeless body lying around somewhere, but we are not the final judge on such matters. Our laws do not reflect the same standard as God’s laws. God’s laws are the ones we will be judged by in the end. So what does God say about murder? You may recall that one of the ten commandments says “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13) And while certainly clear, it is not terribly descriptive of what qualifies as murder. Does the Bible say anything else about murder?

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’* is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”( Matthew 5: 21-22)
* Raca, An Aramaic term of contempt

This seems much more strict than our laws version of murder. Simple anger or contempt for someone will place you in judgement and in danger of the fire of hell. Why? Because God knows our hearts.  Who could say that they have gotten angry and not wished harm on the one at they were angry at? Or who could profess that contempt does not harbor evil. God knows when we wish someone were dead and he counts it to be the same. Because the heart is the source of all sin (Genesis 8:21) whether it is acted upon or not. I think It may be safe to assume we have all committed murder in our hearts. We need God’s grace if we are to live. The only way we can have this is to submit our lives to Him.

Adulatory:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5: 27-29)

Whatever you thought qualified as adulatory before now was most likely inaccurate. God has a extremely high standard in regards to our purity. God has not made any separation of married or unmarried in these versus, he simply states that if you look at a woman with lust you commit adultery. Those who are married are to be devoted to one another and to God. Those who are unmarried are to be devoted solely to God. And If they are ever to be married then any lust in their hart is adultery to their future wife. But surely this standard is far too high. It is what God commands of us. We need his forgiveness and his strength to carry out His word. The only way we can do this is to submit our lives to Him.

Divorce:

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5: 31-32)

Divorce is caused by adultery. You have placed something as more important than the spouse you pledged to love and cherish until death. Whether that be money, pride, selfishness, or someone else. Divorce is caused by adultery. But what’s more the verse also says anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Why? Because when a man and woman are married they are bound in “holy matrimony”  this is not simply a legal status that a court can nullify. It is an agreement between you, your spouse, and God. God still considers you married after you give a certificate of divorce. We need to keep faithfulness and love in our hearts and the only way we can do this is to submit our lives to Him.

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.  But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:10-11)

God expects us to follow all of this things to the letter. But we are unable to keep his law.(Romans 3: 23) So God sent his Son who was able to keep God’s law. In order to pay the debt that we owed because of our sin. (Romans 6: 23) And so because of Christ we may have mercy, we may be forgiven, and we may have new strength in the Lord our God. Let us submit our lives to Him who saved us.

Devotional: (Matthew 5 21-32)

A messenger of Christ

Posted by: -e | June 21, 2011

Where are You?

We were in a small pier-and-beam 1950’s home. I was standing in the classic small living room with the front windows that overlooked the porch and the lawn. It was something like military family housing as there was a large field in the distance. You could see rows of helicopters. Some parked and some moving about, taking off and landing.  My three small children were with me in the living room playing on the tough Berber carpet. The home was worn over the years but still in good shape. Clean and tidy at least with the sparse furnishing we had.

What would you do?

It was a normal day in the life, until one of the air born helicopters hit another and started a chain reaction with those taking off.  The world moved in slow motion as my mind shifted into high gear.  One detached, rotating helicopter blade was coming straight towards me and my family. I turned towards my children as destruction filled the picture window that I had just been enjoying a moment earlier.  I knew I could not save the life of all my children in time. In a split second I had to determine who was not ready to meet God and who needed to be saved.

What would you do?

I woke up from this dream realizing I had more to do as a Father.  The feeling of ominous responsibility hung in the dark room. Where do my Children stand with the Lord? What can I do next to help them to know Him better. If tomorrow was the last day we had what would God say. I turned to the evidence, not only of their profession and understanding but there response in the tests of life.

Genesis 4:4-9

The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The Lord knew where Abel was. He knew the state of Cain’s heart. Why does he ask the question? Cain had a second chance an opportunity to come towards God in repentance. But Cain chooses to lie to his Father’s face.  God could have destroyed Cain just as God could have wiped out Adam and Eve by the tree. But He didn’t.

Kicking Adam and Eve out of the garden was an act of love so that they would not eat of the tree of life and be forever fallen.  Genesis 3:22: “And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”  God questioned Adam after eating the from the tree as well. “where are you“…. Did God know where each of a thousand stars were but not Adam, the hair on his head but not his feet? God brings to Adam’s mind that it is Adam that has moved away from God.  Abel is close to God and Cain said he doesn’t know where Abel is. Perhaps he is telling the truth.

This is a training ground and mission field, an opportunity to realize our need for redemption. Do you know where you are? Do you know where you children are?  Look to the evidence. How do you spend the time? Spending time is not like spending money. You don’t get it back. You can’t borrow it. You can’t make more. You chose whether or not to invest it in the Lives God has given you or waste it. We each get 24 hours a day. What you do with this time is up to you.

Matthew 6:19-21

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

-e

(This message was written entirely with recycled electrons.)

Posted by: Ben | June 17, 2011

Do You Believe?

Paul begins 1 Corinthians 5 by calling the Church of Corinth to expel immoral members of the church. He casts the spotlight on one particular member, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?” (NIV 1 Cor. 5:1-2)

Other versions (such as the ESV) Use the word “mourn” instead of “grief” in verse two. Both terms imply an action usually demonstrated in remembrance of the dead. After all, being a believer, this man was made alive in Christ (Romans 6:11) because Christ killed sin. So when we sin as believers we are acting as though we are dead spiritually. One minister described sin as “unbelief.” Meaning that when you sin you are demonstrating an “unbelief” in God’s commands, you are acting as though you did not believe it. Which raises the question, do you really believe it? Our actions, more often than not, can say we don’t believe.

Paul then illustrates that when you allow sinning members of the church (who are widely and publicly known for their sinning as the man Paul describes was) to stay, sin will often grow in the church. “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?” (1 Cor. 5:6) Yeast works through the dough, it puffs it up and expands the bread. Sin, like yeast and cancer, will grow through a church.

“But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.” (1 Cor. 5:11) We are not to associate with sinners, we are to associate with the living. Paul tells them to expel the wicked man and to purge the church of sin as a solution. While some would obviously call “foul” because this can be considered “judgement.” Paul clarifies, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” (1 Cor. 5:12) Does not casting judgement mean ignoring sin in the church? No.

We must analyze ourselves and purge ourselves of sin (1 Cor. 5:7) so that we do not become an infection of the church. If we really believe what we say we believe, we should be striving everyday to be holy. A good way to start is by giving your body to Jesus Christ and reminding yourself everyday of your commitment. This simple challenge, by changing the way we act, can have an unequivocal domino-effect.

Jesus bought us — yes, bought us — at a price. The price of death. When we sin we betray the God who saved us. When someone saves your life, you say, “thanks” and then completely ignore him for the rest of your life, doesn’t that make you look like a jerk? We are worse when we sin because not only are we ignoring the God who saved us, but acting against Him as though he were repulsive to us.

Jesus did something much greater than we could ever do, He saved all of mankind before we were even born. We owe Him much more than our obedience, periodical attendance at church, or infrequent prayer when we get ourselves into trouble, we owe Him our life.

Yes, life.

We all have difficulty living up to this standard but can find assurance in remembering what he has done for us.

My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness seems to veil his face,
I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath his covenant and blood,
Support me in the ‘whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When the last trumpets voice shall sound,
O then I may in him be found,
Clothed in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before his throne”

My Hope is Built by Edward Mote

-Ben

Devotional: 1 Corinthians 5

Posted by: A Messenger of Christ | June 16, 2011

The Bible Says There is No God

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4: 1-4)

Does this mean it would have been okay for Jesus to turn the stones into food as long as he balanced his food pyramid? Of course not. This passage is saying that we need God as a part of our lives. I’ve often seen people quote just the first part of this passage and leave off the end “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. This habit of tailoring verses is not good because it changes the meaning of the verse. Living for our Creator is more important than food. That is what this verse means. However, we are still left with a question:  Why was it a sin for Jesus to turn the stones into bread? First, Satan recommended it, which sets off some alarms. Second, we see that Jesus was supposed to be tempted like any other man, which would not have been possible if he used his divine powers to turn the stones into bread. We can’t hold him up to give us hope of conquering temptation if he conquers it using divine powers. So encapsulated in this single temptation is all Christ stands for. To live on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

“Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’'” (Matthew 4: 5-7)

Here Satan has quoted (Psalm 91: 11-12) However, he as neglected to put the quote in context. Let’s back it up to (Psalm 91: 9-12)

If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

For those who are in the Lord, God will protect. For those who follow Gods will and obey his commands. It was not in God’s will that Jesus should throw himself off of the highest point. And Jesus replies that we are not to test God. Don’t put yourself in a position that attempts to force God to preform a miracle. But this also shows that we are not to take any part of the Bible apart from another. After all the Bible says “there is no God.”  (Psalm 14:1)  “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Wow seems kinda different when you put it in context.

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4 :8-11)

Satan was promising something that God had already to promised Jesus. The difference was Satan was offering to give it instantly. No need to die in agony to pay the price for man’s sins in order to redeem them. At least that is what he implied, but Christ knew that to worship him was a sin and if he sinned he would be a slave to sin and under the dominion of Satan from then on just as you or I are until we except the sacrifice Jesus gave. In all of Christ’s answers he used scripture and the wisdom of God. He saw when Satan was taking something our of context and put it right.  Jesus received no divine help, and in fact was in a much weaker state than most people can say they have ever been in. He hadn’t had food in over a month, and was walking around in the wilderness. He was also alone.  If Christ can win this fight against sin so can we. He died to save us we at least owe him our obedience.  It was Jesus’ knowledge of the Word of God that led him in truth. If we seek God’s word and place our lives in his hands we will see the same victories.

But remember Jesus was not only temped this one time. Satan sill used every opportunity he had to tempt Jesus. Likewise our battle with sin is never over until we meet with God. So never let down your guard. It’s a high order but it’s what God expects and for the times we fail there is grace by Christ Jesus.

Devotional: (Matthew 4: 1-11)

~A messenger of Christ.

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