Christian Living

Out with the Old then In with the New

It’s that time of the year when people want make resolutions to do something new…or do they want to stop doing the old?

Doesn’t it make sense to say out with the old, then in with the new? For how can we create new habits without getting rid of the old ones? Or at least how could the new habits be of any benefit unless we quit the old ones?

This is why before … :

  • we can experience a new birth (Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. – John 3:5)
  • we can be given a new heart and mind (For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.Hebrews 8:10….see Ezekiel 36:25-27 also)
  • we can enjoy a new future (Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. – Colossians 3:2-4)

…we must repent of the old… :

  • way of living (Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.Colossians 3:5-6)
  • way of thinking (And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.Romans 12:2)
  • fate we were heading for (And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.Luke 13:2-3)

After all, if we don’t make room for the new resolutions by clearing out the old habits then how can we expect to see any difference in our life? Unless we see a difference for the better the wrong thing becomes more resolute! This is why we must clean out the old of 2015 before we bring in the new of 2016.

Happy New Year! EA

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

What’s Fueling Your Fire?

When we start to suffer from burnout in our relationship with God it’s because we’re using the wrong fuel!

Many people try to use family to keep their spiritual flame burning – it won’t work.

Many try to use tradition to keep their spiritual flame burning – it won’t work.

Many try to use reputation to keep their spiritual flame burning – it won’t work.

Many try to use intellect to keep their flame burning – it won’t work.

Many try to use a desire to prove others wrong to keep their spiritual flame burning – it won’t work.

Many try to use the physical blessings that God has given to keep their spiritual flame burning – it won’t work.

The right fuel to keep our spiritual fire burning only comes from two places. One, it comes from our personal conviction that Christ died and rose again for us and that we should live for him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Two, it comes from the word of God that teaches us this fact (Jeremiah 20:9).

To use anything else will leave a person with less than spiritual fumes to run on – it will leave the spiritual tank completely dry! EA

 “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.” (Jeremiah 20:9)

Can a person still “experience” Pentecost?

There were three yearly national feasts that Israel was commanded to celebrate. There was the Passover. It was celebrated during the first month on their calendar to remember the hasty deliverance that they were given from their bondage to Egypt (Exodus 12:11-20 & Deuteronomy 16:1-8). There was also the feast of Tabernacles. This was a feast that was meant to remind the people of the booths/huts that Israel lived in after being delivered from Egypt and the increase of goods that God had given them (Leviticus 23:38-43 & Deuteronomy 16:13-15). And finally, there was also the feast of Weeks (Pentecost). The name Pentecost comes from the Greek word Pentekoste that literally means “the 50th day.” Fifty days comes from doing the math by counting the seven weeks then adding the day after them which equals 50 individual days. The numbering of the days began after the first day of the Passover week and it was to be done in memory of their slavery in Egypt (Leviticus 23:15,16 & Deuteronomy 16:10-12). Now that the technical speak is over with let’s deal with the question above.

The word Pentecost is not used in the Bible until you get to the book of Acts. In Acts 2:1 the Bible says that Pentecost had fully come and from that point on in the chapter the Apostles are baptized in the Holy Spirit, they preach in a miraculous manner to the people (including Peter’s sermon about Jesus and His resurrection), some 3,000 people respond in a positive manner to the gospel message, become Christians and are added to the church by the Lord. This is the wonderful scene that many in modern-day religious circles abuse.

The miraculous events of Pentecost did not pertain to everyone present so the problem does not come from people who look back to remember the events of Pentecost in Acts 2 – the problem comes from people who are trying to re-live or “experience” the events that happened on the Pentecost of Acts 2 today.

In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came for a reason. He used the Apostles to fulfill the scriptures. Jesus told the Apostles, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). (more…)

Where’s Purgatory Again?

Read, “And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due to unto him” (Matthew 18:34) and some read into it the doctrine known as “purgatory.” Read purgatory into it and you’re not reading the whole lesson Jesus gave.

The man who was thrown into prison in the parable only avoided prison because his lord had compassion on him to begin with. He was facing a life sentence with no chance of parole. The debt he owed was un-payable and only his lord’s grace made forgiveness possible!

When a person sins we face a sentence that we can’t afford. The debt of sin we owe is un-payable and only forgivable by the grace of God through Jesus (Romans 6:23). Jesus either pays the whole price or he pays no price. If a person can’t work his or her way into Heaven (and they can’t – Ephesians 2:8-9) then logic teaches that they cannot work their way out of Hell.

The Bible teaches nothing about a “place” or a “state of being” between Heaven and Hell where someone “serves time while being purged of their sins” before going on to Heaven. The Bible teaches nothing about praying to Mary or other “saints” to intercede for those who have passed on. The Bible teaches nothing about paying the church for its prayers or any other benefits. The Bible teaches nothing because there is nothing to teach.

When the Bible talks about the price that was paid to keep us out of Hell it never refers to “indulgences!” It refers to the blood of Christ that purchased our salvation (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

When the Bible talks about our sins being purged so that we may be given an entrance into Heaven it never refers to a place of “purification!” It refers to the blood of Christ that purged sin from our soul (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:9-11; Ephesians 1:7).

The time of spiritual cleansing is before death – not after! Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

1 Peter 1:22 says, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart”. The apostle addressed his words to Christians who were presently cleansed – not Christians who would be cleansed at a later time! (more…)

The Awesome Power of God

I grew up in a time period when the word “awesome” meant neat, cool and great; but that is not the original meaning behind the word. The word awesome obviously comes from the root word “awe.” It means “overwhelming respect and reverence.” With that context of the word one can understand how the word “awesome” can apply to the power of God.

The first three verses of the short book of Zephaniah remind me of the word awesome and the scope it has when it is applied to God. They say, “The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. “I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land,” says the Lord; “I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, the fish of the sea, and the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land,” says the Lord.”

What a way to introduce a sermon! If a statement like that does not grab your attention and demand your respect then I don’t know what will. God’s prophet is talking about some awesome power there, a power that was going to be revealed in “the day of the Lord.” (Zephaniah 1:14,18; 2:2; 3:8)

God could easily accomplish what was written then and do it just as easily today. I sometimes think about how sensitive our world can be. America has the best agriculture system in the world, but even it is sensitive at best. Our beef supplies can be ransacked by “mad-cow disease.” Our poultry can easily become the prey of the “Asian bird-flu.” Our fruits and vegetables can become tainted with salmonella. Floods in the mid-west can show us how quickly our corn crops can be taken away. Take all of this and factor in the fact that a severe drought can effect all of the above and we quickly realize that God is still the One that blesses our nation and fills the grocery stores.

Now back to Zephaniah’s admonition. Judah knew about the awesome power that God possessed. They knew about the flood of Noah’s day. The early generations of their fathers saw first-hand the effect that God’s hand could have on a nation. They watched the “mighty” Egypt suffer in every point of its economy due to the mightier plagues that were sent by God through Moses. (more…)

Why?

There is a question for you! How many times have you asked that one? How many times have you been asked that one? How many times has an answer escaped the moment?

For many reasons and in many ways we can ask this simple question that leads to simple or complicated answers. I can scarce imagine a human language that would not include an equivalent word to the English word “why.”

Children are masters at using the word. A close second would probably be Christians. At times we ask with honest hearts of intrigue. At times we ask with hidden motives. At times we ask in rebellion. At times we ask because we do not know the answer; and at times we ask even when we do not want to know the answer! What a conundrum!

When was the last time you asked why? Why did you ask? I often have questions that go around and around in my mind like the earth around the Sun. I often find no answer –which sometimes leads to me ask…why?

I see the faith of some that grows cold and I ask, “Why?” I see the faith of some that grows bold and I ask, “Why?”

There can be a difference in asking why and in having doubt. Sometimes asking why is the fruit of doubt! Sometimes we need to lay the axe to the roots.

When the questions of life leave us with no answer, maybe we are asking the wrong questions. Maybe we are asking the wrong person. Maybe the answer is already staring us in the face but we do not like the answer. So we ask another question until we get an answer we like! Why is that???

Why ask why? Why not? What do you say? Or better yet, why do you ask? EA

And he was very sad in spirit, and said, Why is this generation looking for a sign?…” (Mark 8:12)

Related Articles:

Undefeatable

If Paul is free, he converts the world; chain him to a jailor and he converts the guard; put him in prison and he writes the Bible; if you kill him, you do him a favor as he goes to be with Jesus.  Now how do you defeat a guy like that?” — Billy Bland, Memphis School of Preaching Lectures

From Glad Tidings of Good Things – Jacksonville, AL

“…for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)

GOD problems

Look at that title…what is it saying to you…does it make any sense? Look at it one more time. There is a sentence and a lesson in that title of two words. It’s a sentence that is easy to say, but a lesson that’s hard to remember; but the lesson is a fact nonetheless. If you have figured it out great! If not, here is a hint – which one of the words is bigger? Do you see it now? “God” is bigger than the “problems.”

God is bigger than our problems! I told you it was an easy sentence to say but a hard lesson to remember. God is big, very big! The Earth is compared to His footstool (Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 5:35). God’s hands made the dry land the way we might make a sandcastle (Psalm 95:5). The Bible describes God gathering the sea together in a heap and breathing the host of the heavens into existence (Psalm 33:6,7). These are the four biggest things we can see on or from the Earth: the dry land, the oceans, the Earth itself and the heavens above. These things are huge! And yet they are all very small compared to our God; but let a problem come knocking and we soon forget all about that.

God made us and we often (not always! but often) make our own problems. I could’ve easily made the word “problems” bigger than the word “God” in the title. But who’s really bigger? The One that made us – or the problems we make? I know the answer and I hope you do too, but that question still manages to stump me from time to time.

Remember the man possessed with the legion in Mark 5? In verse nine Jesus asks the demon his name and the demon answers, “Legion.” In case you don’t know, the word legion is a military term representing a group of several thousand soldiers. Most people agree it probably meant about 6,000 around that time.

So here is Jesus facing a demon several thousand strong – He’s got a big problem on His hand’s right? Wrong! Why not? Because Jesus had more than twelve legions of angels from the Father that would’ve taken care of that problem! (Matthew 26:53) Put that number in your calculator and tell me which is bigger.

Sometimes we may wish that God would just come down and take care of all our problems in a snap, but our problems are often lessons reminding us to rely on Him (James 1:2-4). Let’s all do our best to encourage and remind each other that God really is bigger than our problems. Think about it.  EA

“…He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Jesus Will Come Again

A beautiful song with the above title reminds us about a fact that the world scoffs at, and we as Christians sometimes take for granted and forget. Here’s how the first stanza and chorus reads:

“Jesus is our loving Shepherd, And He is a faithful guide. He is coming back from Heaven for the church of Christ, His bride. He has promised all the faithful that a home to them He’ll give: And to glory will receive them. Evermore with Him to live.”

As much as it is necessary for someone to believe that Jesus was crucified for our sins, buried and defeated death (Romans 10:9), you must also believe the Bible’s teaching concerning His return. Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus returned to Heaven in front of His disciples, which were afterwards told by two “angels” that Jesus would return in the like manner that He left. (Acts 1:9-11) If you believe Jesus is who He said He is, then you must believe that His return is inevitable.

Will all be well when He returns? Will the earth be filled with peace and happiness? Not unless you consider great noises, heat and fire peaceful (2nd Peter 3:10). Will He return in secret? Not unless you think you can hide lightning! Christ said that all people would see Him return (Matthew 24:27,30). Will people, including some Christians, be unprepared to see and meet Him? Sadly, yes they will be (Matthew 24: 45-51). Will His return usher in the judgment day in which the majority of people will sadly be cast into Hell? Unfortunately, yes it will (Matthew 7:13-14; 25:31-34,41,46 & 2nd Corinthians 5:10).

His return is no fairy tale (2 Peter 3:1-13). (more…)

Jesus Is The Real Deal

Long ago God’s prophet Amos warned his listeners, “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11).

God kept His word. In an age that saw about 450 years of silence from the prophets of God before John came out of the wilderness preaching repentance and the kingdom of God, Israel managed to get their spiritual appetite back (Matthew 3:1-6). They were lacking true spiritual leadership. The religious sects of the day had abused the people with a fake outward show of righteousness and an inward moral decay (Matthew 23 & Mark 12:18, 38-40). The people were looking for someone who was truthful, understanding and passionate. They were looking for someone who was real. The prophet who broke Israel’s “spiritual fast” with his words from God declared Jesus to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29-35). The real deal had come.

Jesus was the real Man. He taught the people of Israel how to truly show their love for God and their neighbor (Luke 10:27, Matthew 6:33 & Philippians 2:5-8). It’s easy to be a “man” when you have a crowd behind you, but Jesus stood up against wrong even when the crowd and public opinion was against Him (Matthew 21:12,13 & John 8). He showed what a real man was by treating women with respect, love and mercy (John 4:6-15; 8:3-11); and without a doubt, this man loved His mother (John 19:25-27). He showed the world what the definition of a man was.

Jesus was the real Friend. Jesus made friends before His public ministry began (Mark 3:21). He had a bad reputation with the religious leadership of the day for being a friend to “tax collectors and sinners” but He had a good reputation with the common people (Luke 7:34 & Mark 12:37). (more…)