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no other gospel

October 2, 2017


Galatians 1:6-8 says,"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel in heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed."


There is no other gospel, the beginning of verse 7 says, "which is not another."  There is no other, so we can know that if we obey the gospel and God's plan of salvation we can and will get to heaven.  We have the Word of God!  We can know what God wants from us, how we are supposed to live, and what we must do to be saved.  We can know what God wants.


What if we didn't know what the word of God said about salvation?  We would be lost.   We may have believed in faith only, or baptism by sprinkling or pouring.  We would not know what we needed to do to be saved.  We have to hear the word of God, believe, repent, and confess that Jesus is the son of God, and be baptized by being buried/immersed in water. 

GHJr

Always Here

September 20, 2017

 

Here in Wisconsin, leaves are already beginning to change from summer green into the reds, yellows, and oranges of autumn. It is a wonderful thing to see each year and a reminder of how time continues season to season, year to year. According to scientists, leaves are green due to the chlorophyll pigment they contain. During the summer, while food production is highest, the leaves contain more chlorophyll and as fall comes they lose that chlorophyll and the pigments that remain determine the leaf’s color. These pigments are there all along, they are just overshadowed by the high amount of chlorophyll in the leaf. In a way, we fail to see the other greens because green is in the way.

Mankind’s relationship with God is the same way. We fail to “see” God because we see the things around us instead. Yet God is near us and wants us to know him. We need to stop seeing the things of the world and seek Him. I leave you with the following two passages of scripture to dwell upon. Please think of them as you enjoy the fall colors.

 

Acts 17:26-28

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

 

Romans 1:18-21

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

None of self and all of thee

September 6, 2017
Service to God has to be complete. God will not accept a part of our service. God demands that we love Him completely! The devil (Satan) will accept only a part of our service, for he knows in getting part of it, he is getting all of it. In Revelation 3:15,16 notice what God has to say to the church in Laodicea, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit (vomit) you out of My mouth." When I look at what God says to the church I find it interesting that he would rather they be cold then lukewarm. This tells me that God wants one hundred percent commitment from us and He will settle for nothing less.
We sing a song often entitled "None Of Self And All Of Thee" and I am reminded of this part of scripture from Revelation.  There are four parts to this song, and all four describe the three statuses of individuals from the scripture out of Revelation. Notice the four verses: (1) ALL OF SELF AND NONE OF THEE, (2) SOME OF SELF AND SOME OF THEE, (3) LESS OF SELF AND MORE OF THEE, AND (4) NONE OF SELF AND ALL OF THEE. Verse one describes one who is cold towards God; verses two and three describes one who is lukewarm towards God; and finally verse four describes the one who is hot towards God. You cannot have your cake and ice cream and be fully committed to God. In Matthew 6:24 notice what Christ has to say about those trying to have their cake and ice cream; "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches)."
Christ also in Luke 16:13 emphasizes this same principle again. If we are truly committed to God we must fully surrender ourselves to Him. We have to make a choice and not choices to be pleasing to Him. Christianity is not a food buffet of choices in that I can choose a little of this and I can choose a little of that. It's been said that if you don't stand for something; you stand for nothing. God wants us to stand up for Him. We should not let the things of this world take that focus away from God. Notice what I John 2:15,16 says, " Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." Let us not get diverted and get caught up in the things of this world, but let us be focused and have our eyes on the prize. How do we do this?  Paul in Colossians 3:2 tells us to, "set our minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." Jesus, in Matthew 6:19-21 says, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will be your heart also."
These scriptures tell us very plain that our focus must remain on spiritual things. Satan is the master of distraction and he keeps on trying to divert our focus away from God. Let us not think we can stand up to Satan alone. Notice I Corinthians 10:12 it says; "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." We need God's help on a daily basis. Are we looking for his help? Are we asking for his help when temptation comes our way? The very next verse (13) says; "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it." The next time you sing the song "None Of Self And All Of Thee" let it be a reminder to ask yourself; where am I in my Christian walk of life? Am I HOT, COLD, OR LUKEWARM????                                     
 
DM                                                                                                                                      

now that excites me

August 30, 2017



As I write this blog there is great excitement surrounding  the quickly approaching eclipse of the sun. Many events have been planned around this rare event in nature.
 

But – somehow this eminent event is not becoming a priority for me. Obviously, the eclipse is a reminder of the marvelous creation that is all around us. It also is a reminder of the great creative powers of God.
 

However, there is something ahead that is far more exciting for me. That “something” is the indescribable glory surrounding the throne of God. The anticipation of seeing THAT is what brings excitement to me.

You may recall the statement made by Stephen as he was dying.  In Acts chapter 7 we have the record. Stephen had been preaching Christ. The enemies of Christ began to stone him. Just before his spirit left his body, he cried with a loud voice,  “Lord Jesus receive my spirit” (v.59). But just before that statement we have this recorded in verse 55, "But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and SAW THE GLORY OF GOD, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.”



Have you ever tried to envisioned what that sight – seeing the glory of God – would have been like? 1 Timothy 6:16 will help us. Here are the words describing Almighty God: “Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto: whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”



One day in a spiritual form I will be allowed to view that glory. Now THAT is what excites me. How about you?

-JS

Pass or fail

August 8, 2017

Most are probably familiar with the idea of taking a test, but do you know that as Christians we are also taking a different kind of test? Paul commands the saints in his second letter to the Corinthians to test themselves.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NASB95) - Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

Unlike a test at school, the Christian administers it to themselves.  Also, there is not a set date for the examination.  It is actually a constant examination.  It is also not a written test but an internal, introspective analysis.

But what does it mean to be in the faith?

Jude 3 (NASB95) - Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Galatians 1:23 (NASB95) - 23 but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.”

There is but one faith.  It is the same faith that Paul once persecuted and then later preached. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ or what we call the New Testament.  So in the context Paul is telling the saints to constantly examine themselves to make sure that they are truly living the according to the gospel, i.e. like a genuine Christian.

What is the most important question in determining whether one is passing the test?  Like most tests it is about knowledge.  What knowledge must the Christian prove they possess?

2 Thessalonians 1:6–8 (NASB95) - For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

The Christian must know God and by implication know the gospel (in order to obey it). Knowing God and knowing His gospel, however, would be one and the same since we know God through His Word. 

But what does it look like?

1 John 4:7–8 (NASB95) - Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows GodThe one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

It looks like love, but we must be specific.  It is the biblical, affectionate love.  That doesn’t just mean hugs and kisses but something far greater.

John 3:16 (NKJV) - 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV) - 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her

This is the supreme love of intense devotion.  This is the love that God showed when he sent Jesus and it is the love Christ showed when we went to the cross. This is a love that knows God must also be prioritized.

Luke 14:26 (NKJV) - 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

One must love God the most.  He must be first in all ways.  When this is case, then through His Word we will know how to properly love everyone and everything else. This love is also obedient to the Gospel.

John 14:15 (NASB95) - 15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

2 Thessalonians 1:7–8 (NASB95) - …the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Just like the test this obedience is continual.  It is not a one-time thing but a daily, hourly, every minute, every second kind of thing. It’s not about just knowing the right answer, but lovingly obeying it.

James 1:22 (NASB95) - 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

Even though we don’t know the day or time this test will eventually end. 

Hebrews 9:27 (NASB95) - 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 

2 Corinthians 5:10 (NASB95) - 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

We must realize that we as Christians are taking the final exam right now, when we reach the judgment the only thing left to be done is the grading! Brethren let me encourage you to introspectively examine yourself constantly to make sure you are continually obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ so that you will pass the test.

-CS

 

Serve God

July 31, 2017

  It seems summer is finally here, not according to the calendar but when we have 90 degree temps with almost that much humidity, it sure feels like it! At this time of year, everything seems alive; the grass, flowers, trees are all green (and we don't want to forget our pollen or allergy season!) It is good to see the rain and warm weather!

  Also at this time, schools are out for the summer and many are graduating (Congratulations!). I remember that day thinking finally free, now I can get on with my life, job, being on my own- that kind of stuff. Being young, we often don't think too seriously about our career because we have a lot of time to figure that out. But, we don't want to make the mistake the prodigal son made in Luke 15:11-21. If we aren't careful these early decisions will have lifelong consequences. A few examples are Moses, Daniel, Joseph, Job, and Lot's wife. 

  Our best example is Christ, from His youth on He sought to do the Fathers will. Luke 2:41-49 Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28) and became a ransom for many. Wouldn't it be great to have it said about you, when this short life is over, that you served and sought to do God's will? Have a great summer, and remember- serve God. 
-RN

blog post

June 5, 2017

Remember what Nadab said to Abihu?                                                                                                           In Leviticus 10:1-2 we are told they offered strange fire before the Lord and fire came from the Lord and consumed them.                                                                                                                                                            1 Peter 2:13 tells us to submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake.  Obeying the speed limits and stopping at stop signs are ordinances. Does God care if we drive a few miles faster than the speed limit or roll through stop signs? I'm sure using the wrong fire seemed like an unimportant thing to Nadab and Abihu. We live under a different law than they did but the same God.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Wouldn't you hate to miss heaven for a couple of miles per hour?

-KR   

The book of psalms

May 29, 2017

 

  What makes the book of Psalms in the Bible unique is that it is not broken into chapters by man, but is a collection of individual psalms that have been collected into one location within the Bible. Each one stands alone as a complete song or hymn! There are some of praise, lament, thanksgiving, repentance, and other types. They are poetic, beautiful and unfortunately little studied by people today (Christians included). We have a vague knowledge of what they contain.

  Most people can quote all or part of Psalm 23, (often called the Shepherd Psalm) especially the phrase “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." We know that King David is credited with writing the majority of the psalms. Many people can name that Psalm 119 is the longest. If asked for David’s Psalm of Repentance, we point to Psalm 51. We use Psalm 1:1-2 as a reason to know God’s word, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” 

  All of these above are good to know, but since the Word of God is the most important thing we can know, we should always dig deeper into it. The collection of these psalms shows us the beauty and love of God in a way that should cause us to sing before Him in joy and love. Please take the time to study the Psalms and grow thereby. I leave you with the shortest, Psalm 117:

  O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For His merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” (Note: Bible translation used for above quotes is King James Version).

 

-GB

Believe and trust

May 22, 2017

     "What if" is a saying that is used a lot.  Here's an example: "What if I get tired?"  Let's say you want to stay up until midnight and you know you might get tired.  By saying "what if," you mean that you don't know for sure if you're capable of staying up until midnight. Here's another example: Let's say someone says they are going to buy you something and you say, "What if he doesn't?" You are saying that you are not completely sure if he is going to buy you that item or not.
     Here's another example: Let's say you said, "What if the Bible isn't true?" You are saying you are not completely sure.  Do we really believe that the Bible is true? Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose."  Now lets say you said, "What if all things don't work together for my good?"  Then you are not completely sure if this verse is true, or really any verse! You are not really trusting and believing in God and what His word says.  If God says something will happen, then it will. 
      In Acts 1, when Jesus told the apostles to stay in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father, the apostles didn't doubt, they stayed in Jerusalem and they received the Holy Spirit.  They believed and obeyed and what Christ promised was true. Just as Jesus told them, we need to trust and believe in the Lord.

GHJr

enjoy today

May 15, 2017

  It has been nice outside lately! One thing I enjoy is having our windows open, to take in the fresh air. I love to be woken up to the sound of the birds chirping. To listen to one of God's creation already at work in the morning is a great blessing! We have so many things to be thankful for in this life. To wake up to a new morning and enjoy another day of life is one of the greatest gifts. I wonder how often we spend time thanking God and enjoying what He has placed around us? I like the words of Psalms 118:24 which says, "This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." To see God's power of creation surrounding us is an awe inspiring feeling. I noticed how much of a difference having my windows open versus having them closed gives me a better and deeper love for our Creator. My prayer as we start out a new day today is that we take time to enjoy and thank God for what He has done and given to us.

-DM

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