Saturday, August 19, 2017

THE PEACE OF GOD KEEPING OUR HEARTS AND MINDS

The peace of God keeping our hearts and minds

Did you ever have someone a little more spiritual than you say, "Stay strong in the Lord?" Paul did but he also urged them once again to be unified in Jesus Christ. That second point has come up many times in the book of Philippians. Today if you will notice many Christians pride themselves in being divided from their brothers and sisters but this misses the point completely. I want to quote nine verses straight because these are some of the most popular verses in the Bible.
 
(1) "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. (2) I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. (3) And I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlaborers, whose names are in the book of life. (4) Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. (5) Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. (6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (9) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." Philippians 4:1-9.
 
Paul starts out by using the word steadfast and we are to be strong in our Christian profession. In the previous article I wrote about our conversation being holy as we look for the return of the Lord all the while occupying until He comes with the right motive in serving Him.
 
Two times in verse one Paul expresses love for them (1) Dearly beloved (2) My dearly beloved. There is something about true authentic love that people sense and can not argue against but blind individuals may fight against Godly affection. Paul is exhorting them in the form of encouragement. The love of Paul involved longing, rejoicing and glorying in them because he had a huge heart with them in spirit. Paul talked about living in Christ but to do that we have to stand fast in the Lord. To do this we have to rely on His strength through the grace and peace of the Holy Spirit but the one thing we do not want to do is depend on our own strength. If you find yourself falling into this trap just talk to the Lord about the whole issue. God is not going to withhold wisdom from a sincere child.
 
Paul mentions two individuals because they either differed with each other or had their own opinions regarding church policy. The longing of Paul was for them to walk in peace, live in love and in general be of the same mind with the rest of the church. We have to remember the Philippian church was by and large a good sincere body of believers. I have seen many church splits in my lifetime and many broken hearts become shattered and some Christians take years to get over the pain. Others hold the hurt inside of them and take it out on other Christians. Wise Christians will give their burden to God and just be there for their brothers and sisters. Paul did not desire division for this fellowship.
 
Paul then calls out the "Yoke fellow" to help the ladies who helped him. The reason why he singled this person out is because he was the one person that had both a Godly bond with Paul and the women. He was the perfect middle man for this job. It is a privilege to receive an assignment from God. These ladies helped so now it was their turn to receive assistance. If we truly do something for the Lord in one way or another this will come back to us in a good way. 
 
In verse four Paul says to rejoice in the Lord two times. Our joy does end in Jesus Christ but to get there our thoughts must be holy. Actually we are suppose to rejoice in God through every one of our circumstances. We may say that is a lot to ask but this is what the Bible teaches.
 
In verse five Paul talks about letting our moderation be known to all men. This is another way of saying be gentle and controlled to your brothers and sisters in Christ. This is something that I don't see as much as I thought I would observe in Christian fellowships but it is just something to think about regarding our relationship with other Christians. Sometimes when dealing with each other we are not very charitably or don't want to give the benefit of the doubt but if we are not generous in spirit don't you think something is missing? The Philippian church seemed to be very patient for the most part in their fellowship with each other so when Paul says ..."The Lord is at hand" the inference could mean that if they have any enemies because of their goodness in the Lord, God will take vengeance on them but I will leave that open for interpretation.
 
At this point Paul really wants the believers in Jesus Christ to be in constant prayer. In verse six Paul is saying that we should pray about everything. Remember we can not hid anything from God so we need to pray about the sensitive private aspects of our life or maybe I should say especially those areas because that is where we stumble. This is how it works --- our spirit gets burdened but our minds get put at ease through prayer. The Bible in other passages uses verbs like perplexed and distressed (2 Corinthians 4:8) but that just proves we need direction and support.
 
Paul then urges us to throw in thanksgiving with our supplications. In essence when we pray about the bad in our life we are seeking a supply of good; however, God is also saying our part is not only to intercede but have a grateful heart. Once again we see our responsibility but with the promise of God to deliver us in His way and His timing. Prayer is us offering up but our desires become known on the other side (the answer). We are to let our requests be known to God with a sincere heart then we will feel the effect of the peace of God keeping our hearts.
 
This is a true story about my grandmother. She used to go to church every Sunday. She did not know the Lord. At the time my grandmother had no concept of what true salvation in Jesus Christ meant but my Mom decided to bring a very Godly man to tell her the true message of salvation through Jesus Christ. I was there in the other room and I heard him explain that the true gospel is about a relationship with Jesus Christ. There was some resistance but after a while she inquired about the subject of peace. He directed her to Philippians chapter four and she read this passage every night before sleeping. My grandmother read those verses so many times that the truth of the reality of the peace of God became real to her and as a result she got saved through Jesus Christ right before passing away in this case to be with the Lord. Remember the Bible says, "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." 2 Corinthians 4:4. Jesus Christ revealed His glorious light to my grandmother in her blindness through this very popular passage in the Bible.
 
Perhaps you feel that your mind has been blinded to the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ and desire to come to know the Lord. When anyone accepts Jesus Christ into their hearts as Savior and Lord by repenting of all sins the Son of the Living God comes into the life of that person. If you just made that decision read the rest of this article because Paul has some very positive truths for us to pursue for our good.
 
This peace of God which passeth all understanding will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. If we are having problems with a particular sin the peace of God will be strong enough to abstain because the power of the Holy Spirit is working through our hearts; therefore, it would only be wise to pursue this biblical truth.
 
In verse eight Paul says to seek after things that are true and honest because he wants us to have a good name in Jesus Christ. Believing truth and our behavior go hand in hand because if it is just, pure, lovely and of good report with no additives of sin then people will see God in our life. If we see virtue or praise then chime in because we will be glorifying God. In verse nine Paul says, "Those things which you have learned, and received, and heard and seen in me, do." He knew they would remember this and as a result recall seeing Jesus Christ work through Paul so he threw that in at the end just to give them encouragement through example.
 
God Bless you,
Bob D.
 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

REACHING AND PRESSING WITH HOPE !

                 REACHING AND _PRESSING WITH HOPE !
If you are a Christian did you know that you have a high calling of God? These two verses are one of the most quoted in the Bible. (13) "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." 3:13-14. 
Paul was far more interested in the present and future than the past. Our background often times symbolizes defeat so we are supposed to repent and forsake our sins to ..."Reaching forth unto those things which are before." Not only was Paul "Reaching" but he was "Pressing" ..."Toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Even though we got saved through Jesus Christ we still have to be fit for heaven. Someone may ask, "Isn't salvation in Jesus Christ enough to be fit for heaven?" That is the first step but if you will notice Paul was "Reaching" and "Pressing." That is what people do when they are running a race and by the way contrary to popular belief we are running a marathon not a one hundred yard dash. Passé yourself and allow a little margin for error.
Many Christians around me say it would be great if Jesus returned today and I say perhaps today but if I am not finished my work for the Kingdom of God then what would be the point of going home to heaven. If I was a college student and said three years is enough but everybody knows that it takes four years to get a degree. Trust me God will let His children know when He is finished with us. The rapture or passing away to be with the Lord is very obvious when it happens. God has the final say when He takes us up to heaven.
There is just one more point I would like to make and that is my education probably is not complete if I am still here on this earth in this age of grace. Sincere Christians talk about laboring for the Lord but what about learning more regarding our Savior Jesus Christ and His resurrection power? Some say, "I can learn more in heaven" but is that a one size fits all law? Maybe in some cases I can learn more on earth in trials and hardships.
Heaven is our prize of the high calling. In everything we do our "Reaching" and "Pressing" is supposed to be our aim. Our reward is Jesus Christ Himself and the promise of heaven because ..."The high calling of God in Christ Jesus." is our aim. I like the way Paul phrased this because we are to expect the promise from God but it is through the hand of Jesus Christ that we receive our inheritance.
(15) "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (16) Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." 3:15-16.
In simple terms we allow Jesus Christ to be first in our lives but our hearts should be on heaven. These verses talk about unity in Jesus Christ so if there is a small issue that you differ with your brother or sister have a forbearing spirit and realize that you agree in the main truth which is Jesus Christ died for our sins, rose from the dead on the third day and is coming again. Always rise to the higher ground when disagreeing with a brother or sister because then you will be able to solve the problem through Jesus Christ. We don't want to judge anybody because we never walked a mile in their shoes so just be content with Jesus Christ in that role as judge.
We are going to spend eternity together so if we differ pray that God gives us a greater understanding but the most important thing is to join together in the ways of Jesus Christ because the Holy Spirit will give us the answer in the small issues if we specifically pray for that request.
(17) "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example. (18) For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. (19) Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. (20) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself." Philippians 3:17-21. 
In this set of verses Paul warns them against false teachers. They were enemies of the cross and apparently their walk did not match their profession. There is a saying that often goes around Christian churches that says, "You can talk the talk but not walk the walk." It sometimes comes across as a cliché because some of the people saying this do not really walk the walk along with their talk. Paul did confess that he was repeating himself but this time with weeping. Whoever these teachers were they must have been really bad for Paul to cry but he did say it with love.
The Apostle explains who these people were very specifically. (1) Whose God is their belly. These were people who had their primary focus on their sensual appetites. Righteous people give their void inside of themselves to God and He fills them but these leaders were going in the other direction.
(2) This may be the worst because they were glorying in their shame. It should be the opposite because we should be confessing our shame. To place value in ourselves for what is reproachable is once again just the opposite of what we are to be doing for God and serving other people. There is no value in our sins and blemishes unless we confess it and use that failure to help others because of our mistakes. When Peter denied Jesus three times he repented and used that weakness to help other people. These leaders were just taking glory in their shame.
(3) Their mind was on earthly things. When you hear people at work constantly quote sports scores take it with a grain of salt. Paul was saying their minds are contrary to the cross of Jesus Christ.  
(4) This point is the hardest to go over because Paul says whose end is destruction. Their way seemed right but what was at the end? The Apostle said if you follow them you will have the same destiny which obviously is the bad place in eternity. This is why Paul was crying.
A genuine Christian even though we may be in this world has their conversation in heaven because this is not our home. Our final destination is Paradise. Paul says ..."For our conversation is in heaven."  I always was skeptical of being in a Christian fellowship and then it happens --- the name of Jesus Christ never comes up and when I do mention Him there is silence.
In verse 20 and 21 Paul talks about the rapture of the church and gets very excited regarding the truth of our vile bodies being changed or ... "Fashioned like unto His glorious body." I'm sure many Christians are reading this and looking forward to the resurrection. This is the power of God through His Son Jesus Christ.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your heart as your personal Savior and Lord please repent of all your sins and invite Him into your life. If you do not pass on before the rapture of the church you will go up in the great snatching away because you are now a Christian and living for Jesus Christ. The Bible does give us this wonderful promise so I would urge anyone to get right with the Son of God or unfortunately they will be left behind to face many horrors that will take place in this world. I trust you will make the right decision.
God Bless,
Bob D.       

Saturday, August 05, 2017

LIVING FOR JESUS CHRIST AND THE HOPE OF HEAVEN

Living for Jesus Christ and the hope of heaven
 
The Apostle Paul is really stressing knowing Jesus Christ so our faith in Him must be very important. Did you ever just talk to a person about this issue and watch them a couple days later forget about what you told them and get really entrenched in the world. It happens all the time. What I'm going to write about "Might" seem complicated but all this boils down to is come to know Jesus Christ, live for Him and look forward to heaven. Stay with this article because Paul makes some great points. 
 
Believing in God is a discipline that must be practiced or exercised every day. It does not just happen by being passage or forgetting about our walk with Jesus Christ. It is a conscious effort on our part to," And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." 3:9. We are righteous in Jesus Christ but it is through our faith in Him.
 
This is what Paul held onto, not his gains or loses which he counted both as nothing in comparison to truly knowing Jesus Christ. The desire of Paul was to win in Jesus Christ. He was not interested in some temporary situation which is subject to change in a matter of seconds. If you will notice the very first part of this verse says, "And be found I Him" ... which is the most favorite expression of Paul in every one of his epistles. First Paul got saved through Jesus Christ and was positionally ..."Found in Him" ... but he realized that on an experiential level Paul had to strive for this everyday in his earthly life to be living for Jesus Christ.
 
Paul knew his good deeds were not going to atone for his bad ones. That is sort of the same principle as his earthy profits atoning for his loses which Paul went over in great extent in the previous verses.
 
God has seen all kinds of sins, profits and loses throughout the history of mankind and He had the wisdom to give us many Bible passages on this subject. Placing our faith in Jesus Christ is the ordained way for us to option salvation and as a result we receive the saving benefit of the purchase of His blood. This is why so many Christians sing songs about the precious blood of Jesus really hard because they understand that if it were not for this truth they would not be redeemed from their sins.
 
If our righteousness is not in Jesus Christ we will not be able to stand before God the Father. This is why Jesus Christ died for our sins so we could accept Jesus Christ by faith because the repenting of our sins allows us to stand before the Father some day because the Lamb of God became our perfect sacrificial atonement. If one truly comes to salvation through Jesus Christ God does not even see our sins. They are washed in the precious blood of His Son.
 
If you are one that has not accepted this precious invitation I would be on pretty safe ground to say "Wow." My sins are no longer held against me so I don't have to pay for them. One might ask,"Are people paying for their sins"? and the answer is yes because there are billions of people in hell. I know for many people what I just went over is theological review but I hope we never forget the fact that people are burning in Hades for all eternity because they never took care of the sin issue inside of them through Jesus Christ. 
 
(10) "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death. (11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren I count not myself to have apprehended of Christ Jesus." 3:10-13. Obviously Paul had many truths to convey to the Philippian church.
 
Knowing Jesus here is the same thing as believing in Him but Paul was talking about an experiential knowledge because Paul desired to be sanctified just like he was justified from all his sins. He wanted to be conformable to Jesus Christ. He understood that this only happens if we die to sin as Christ did for us then we become crucified with Jesus Christ because at this point the world is crucified to us.
 
Here we see a classic example of Paul tying in his justification of Jesus Christ with his sanctification to His Lord because the two are very much connected with each other. He chose not to separate the two truths but to incorporate justification and sanctification together as one because if he did not do this a double life would have been present as he went through his daily routines.
 
He says ... "If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead." The joy of heaven is referred to as the resurrection of the dead. This Apostle was looking at the afterlife scenario and he knew he would inherit Paradise. He very much had a joyful and glorious countenance in his heart. First of all he was going to escape the judgment of the unjust. This is horrible but Paul was "Living" for Jesus Christ. He pressed toward this and had a holy fear for God. Paul had perseverance in his faith for Jesus Christ.
 
The first outlook in his Christian life was his justification and sanctification not only because it was very close to his heart but it is only logical to get right with God before the second part which was his hope to go to heaven. This is a place of joy and no sin is present in this planet. Of course Paul did not desire anyone to miss the good resurrection and if you will notice I urge people to get right with Jesus Christ all the time. It is hard to watch people not take their relationship with God as their number one priority. This is a settle process but I see it go down to two, three, four and then the conscience becomes seared to the point where they don't even care about their own soul. 
 
Paul made it clear that he could not get to heaven on his own but through the merit of Jesus Christ. In verse twelve he confesses his imperfections in his flesh. There is character in confessing we fall short in our present state but God desires us to walk perfect in His way. It's not that we will be without flaw before Jesus Christ while we are down here on earth but the bent desire of our heart should be that way. If we are not in that place we probably have Jesus Christ second or third on our priority list. This is not good because, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33. If we put the Lord even second then were putting in our hands to ... " All these things shall be added unto you." This is not even to mention (I will be nice) that Jesus Christ is second in our life. He might be third for all I know. 
 
In verse thirteen he says ... "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended" ... because when we receive grace from God through His Son Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit we desire more. Every once in a while I will hear this whole idea that you have to much grace from God but I believe this is impossible.
 
The Holy Spirit will measure the grace He gives us based on where we are in life but whatever we receive a thankful heart is always present and we want more. This is how God fills the void that He made us to be as people (Christians) so of course a pursuing of this love should be very active in our lives. If we are not being filled with some measure of the grace and peace of God in our hearts then start to question where we are in our walk with Jesus Christ. In this case more than likely some sort of anxiety and fear has taken hold of us to some degree and we need to get back into the yoke of Jesus Christ. 
 
If you do not know Jesus Christ as your very own personal Savior and Lord then please understand in context what I am writing about to internet land. God created you with a void in your heart so in one way or another it has to be filled. The bad news is most people try and fill that emptiness through some sort of sin. The good news is you don't have to be one of those persons. At this juncture you should repent of all your sins and invite Jesus Christ into your life. Live for Him. If we sin then repent, if we are not in the yoke of Jesus Christ then just start abiding in Him. The Christian life is exciting but not without hardships. At least we serve an All Knowing God who has our best welfare in mind for us but we have to do our part and meet Him halfway because this is a relationship.
 
God Bless until next time,
Bob D.                      
 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

PERSECUTED OR THE PERSECUTOR !

Persecuted or the persecutor

I just want to start in Philippians chapter three because Paul is sort of engaging in small talk about the different people that were tentatively going to visit the church or in some cases he talks about past tense issues.
 
(1) "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.(2) Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision." 3:1-2. The Philippian church was for the most part strong but Paul had to step in because the church was being bothered by Judaizing teachers.
 
It is interesting that he tells them to rejoice in the Lord right away because Paul desires them to be grounded in their faith. He wanted them to cleave to Jesus Christ and suffer if they had to but the one thing he did not want was for them to get discouraged and walk away from the Lord. Did you ever just lose hope in your soul? I have because life can be very disheartening.
 
Paul mentions ... " The same thing to you" ... but he was not concerned with this because it is the same principle as reading a Bible passage twice. We know it but our spirit needs the words again so we can be nourished.
 
He tells them to beware of dogs because these people are against faithful professors for Jesus Christ. They had hatred in their hearts. They may not openly show their malice but that is why Paul used the word "Beware." These people put much stock that they were part of the circumcision and if they were open with their opinions they were called dogs. They were figuratively barking at good people of God especially ministers. If they took it one step further they would bite (inflict some kind of injury) at certain Christians. I see this all the time today and it is usually very blunt, mean and downright vindictive. Even if I am in a simple conversation I get all kinds of objections regarding Jesus Christ and the Bible.
 
Paul specifically addresses the situation. (3) "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (4) Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more. (5) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee." 3:3-5. 
 
Paul also goes on to say, (5) "Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee. (6) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is the law, blameless." 3:5-6. Before you get bored with this résumé because Paul does go on and on but he does it with a point. I can fully understand as we read verses 4 to 6 we might say, "O.K Paul could you please stop bragging." He only does this to prove his theme and what the Holy Spirit showed me was very revealing.
 
Apparently some people were not only depending on the fact that they were circumcised for their salvation but they were prideful. Paul in laymen's terms says, "You are small time. I am the one that was born under the strictest circumstances and I put absolutely no stock in any of these duties I already engaged in so let me make my point."
 
If they were depending on their circumcision they were "Not" putting their trust in Jesus Christ. If they had an ego because they did one little thing that is absurd. Do I really have to elaborate on how ridiculous this pride is if you know what I mean? Based on this small thing they actually decided to put the Philippian church through a persecution. When people rely on our their strength
they have the potential of putting a group of believers through a persecution.
 
Well this is what happened but notice the Philippian church was depending on Jesus Christ Himself. It would have been unthinkable for this body of believers to put anybody through a persecution because they were humble and relying on the strength of Jesus Christ.
 
When a group of people are looking at a group of Christians relying on their own strength with an ego then the next step is a possible persecution. Starting at Philippians 3:7 Paul gets into the real substance of everything I just wrote about but he throws his resume out and embraces what his love for Jesus Christ really means from the backdrop of gains and loses in life. For example if you were to go to your accountant and listen to him or her we may here "You gained here" ... "Oh good" ... "You lost here" ... " Oh no really. This is the way the world thinks but Paul had a completely different response on gains and loses but he does it from the perspective of His relationship with Jesus Christ. 
 
The moral of what I am trying to convey is these people were putting the Philippian church through a bad trial but Paul is trying to explain how he sees his relationship with Jesus Christ from the backdrop of gains and loses in life. They were depending on the wrong thing for their salvation, they became prideful and they went to the final step of hurting the church. Paul is now interceding and explaining to the Philippians and their persecutors the proper view of true salvation and what we are to do with our gains and loses in life in our fellowship with Jesus Christ. The Apostle puts this whole thing in perspective for life and eternity. 
 
(7) "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." 3:7-8. 
 
We have to remember in verse six Paul just confessed that he was a very busy man in his faith "Before" he got saved ... " Concerning zeal persecuting the church" ... so he had zeal without any kind of wisdom from God through His Son Jesus Christ. Paul was the persecutor but he became the persecuted. He understood this situation from both sides so now he is able to speak with incredible sustenance on the whole issue on how we are to approach our experience with Jesus Christ.
 
When Paul says, "But what things were gain to me those have I counted loss for Christ" he was saying that if I held on to those gains in this world he would have been a loser for Jesus Christ.
 
If we win one million dollars the idea and reality of being intimate with that money in our heart replaces our Savior and Lord so the material becomes first and Jesus Christ is second at best.
 
I am writing to some very sincere readers so if this is where you are the best thing you can do is just talk to the Lord about the situation. Just be honest and ask Him in prayer to help get your priorities right through confession in your heart. Tell God that you are struggling with holding onto this world to tight and let Him gently work through you.
 
We lose so many things in life so additions in our journey down here are something that we just so easily hold on to very strong. We are fearful that we will have another loss in life because after all we have been through so many defeats and of course nobody cares about anybody in this dog eat dog world so it is mine. No God owns everything so we are just managers in what He entrusted in our possession. The question is are we stewards for Jesus Christ or for ourselves?
 
Paul progress deeper into this subject by saying, ... "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ"  ... because he was "Striving" for the knowledge of Jesus Christ and refers to Him as Lord. I can always notice a group of people that are trying to get right with God. It turns me off when I hear someone say, "Oh yea I trusted Jesus Christ into my heart in 1982" but I see absolutely no "Striving" for the knowledge of Jesus Christ. 
 
True Christians want to get to know our Savior and Lord, it is not easy and it is about as practical as we can get as opposed to the example I gave in winning one million dollars. By the way I am not advocating gambling because it is wrong but I was and still am trying to make a point in context to this subject. We can lose money but our relationship with Jesus Christ is more precious than gold. Our monetary system is speculative but our fellowship with Jesus Christ is not because it is the excellency of knowledge as opposed to the unknown of knowledge (our earthy gains and loses). We can lose our gains tomorrow but our intimacy in Jesus Christ will last forever. No wonder Jesus said, "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth or rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." Matthew 6:20. 
 
Paul counted all things as loss because he knew it was like water in his hand. He could not hold on to it because it is based on the uncontrollable circumstances of life which are constantly changing because in this world the only thing constant in life is change. He counted all things, not most things or some things as loss in relation to his fellowship with Jesus Christ. We need to pray on this because if anything is in the way or in front of God it is an idol. We are worshipping the wrong God.
 
Paul then goes deeper into the subject by saying, ... " I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I might win Christ." Dung is another word for rubbish. What is more valuable (1) the gains or losses in this world or (2) Jesus Christ Himself? The answer should be obvious.
 
For those of you who do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord remember Paul saw anything that got in the way of his relationship to God as contempt because it was in competition with his fellowship to the Son of God. The Father desires you to repent of all your sins and come to know His Son. If you have just made that all important eternal decision invite Jesus Christ into your life by reading the Bible and praying to God to get to know Him. He loves you and nothing in this world can compare to your relationship and fellowship with Jesus Christ. This is intimate and goes straight to our hearts but the world is fragile and can cut our soul in pieces.
 
God bless you,
Bob D.    
 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

REJOICING AND MOURNING !

Rejoicing and mourning


Paul really cared about the Philippian fellowship so he starts out by talking about behavior so the world will understand who they are in Jesus Christ. (14) "Do all things without murmurings and disputings. (15) That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world." 2:14-15.

If God called us to do something the one thing we don't want to do is grumble because the countenance of Jesus Christ will not be shining through us and as a result our behavior will resemble and represent the dark side of life. God desires us to have cheerful obedience as opposed to quarreling which does not point to Jesus Christ but it does misrepresent Him. If we are a phone operator at a company would we scream at the customer? We represent the business so that would be unthinkable for us to respond like that or engage in that type of behavior.

We need to obey and not dispute with the right attitude because a peaceable nature is evidence that we love God and others with the light of truth glowing through our souls. I noticed work is usually associated with some sort of conflict of interest. For example someone may say, "I only have so much time to do this" but we serve a God who created "Time" and can show through example that we are working hard but not intimidated by the deadline. Another one is, "I am doing this but I really don't want to" but that spirit can be transferred to a willing heart for Jesus Christ.

Some Christians say we are all just small candles around the world but Jesus Christ is not a little light because His radiance is so strong that if we were to see Him in our flesh our optic nerves in our eyes would become blind. This is only if we were to see Him in all of His glory. We are representing the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Apostle John had a similar experience when he saw Jesus Christ in Revelation chapter one. "And when I saw Him, I fell at his feet as dead. And He laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last." Revelation 1:17.

Paul says that he wants us to be blameless and harmless as sons of God because obviously some kind of rebuke is coming to our bad character if we have bad behavior. If we engage in this at the very least under the surface we want to hurt somebody but most people do not even realize that wrong responses may injure someone else and not bring glory to God.

Paul talks about a crooked and perverse nation in this passage. The real truth of the matter is if we grumble and have a bad spirit we are no different than the world. We should be extra mindful that we are without blame so we don't hurt or injure someone or a group in an already crooked and perverse society because that is just adding insult in injury.

Paul says we are to shine as lights in the world so when God raises up good people on this earth He is setting up the radiance of His Son Jesus Christ in different locations on this earth to be a witness to other people for His glory.

(16) "Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain. (17) Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all." 2:16-17.

First we have to know what the Bible says but conviction with knowledge. In keeping with the subject of light the candlestick holds the candle so just imagine that we are holding the Bible (candlestick) and declaring the word of God (candle) but not as a weapon but one that really desires to impart the truth of God. This is for the benefit of others and should never be for our selves.

Paul said he was going to rejoice in the day of Christ because his motives were right and he was useful for the cause of Christ otherwise he would have ran in vain and labored for no real heavenly purpose. If we do what we are doing for ourselves we get no reward in heaven. This makes me think why am I doing what I am doing? Paul ran with intensity but he labored with the right reasons for the kingdom of God.

When Paul said ... "If I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith" ... he was saying that he did this with joy. If we truly take a direct loss because we served Jesus Christ in this case for the Philippian church be joyful which is just the opposite of what we were taught in our culture. At the very least over here in America if we get burnt or fail through some sort of deduction at that point we are considered losers especially in business. Paul is saying because I lost I am now more joyful. If this takes a while for you to figure out then don't be to hard on yourself because most people were trained the opposite way. I have taken a loss in business but the kingdom of God goes by an entirely different set of rules. If you lose for the cause of Christ you win.

(18) "For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me. (19) But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state." 2:18-19.

If you will notice the Bible talks about joy and rejoicing in many passages. It is only reasonable to conclude that we should be doing the same thing especially in context if our minister has sacrificed so much for his listeners. He has probably inspired people to come to Jesus Christ and get into the truth of the word of God. Heaven is rejoicing so the Holy Spirit is saying we should be joyful too because we are just singing with all those involved in Paradise. We are joining the heavenly chorus.

Paul wanted to send Timothy and he also wanted a report back to him. He was thinking about them much and desired to be comforted because he was concerned for them. Paul is being punished in prison but still put the Philippian church first before himself. This Apostle really cared about this body of believers and wanted to send a man who had a good spirit and a very tender heart. The world teaches us to be tough but the Bible urges us to have a soul full of mercy. The way of the world goes in one direction and the way through Jesus Christ goes in the opposite path.

(20) "For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. (21) For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." 2:20-21.

Paul had a very high opinion of Timothy. What Paul was saying was when I compare everyone I know to this man he does not want credit, ease or safety but cares about truth, holiness and his responsibility before God. Do we have a person in our life that is dependable for the right reasons? Not everybody does but you can always count on Jesus Christ. If you don't know Him it would be wise to accept Jesus Christ into your heart by repenting of all your sins and inviting Him into your life.

I am going to leave verses 22-26 out because Paul is repeating himself. Paul was thinking about sending Epaphroditus to the church but he almost died because of a sickness. In verse 27 Paul basically says God spared that man's life because his sorrow would have been to much to handle.

Jesus Christ knows all about grief. There is never a day that goes by that our Lord does not face sorrow in what He sees on this earth. If your heart is vexed day after day because of what you observe in this world then understand that is a good sign. It might be very painful but we are in the heart of Jesus Christ. "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4. How did you get from rejoicing to mourning? Rejoicing in our Lord Jesus Christ is wonderful but we do not grow without pain. We need to pray to God that He can show us how to balance the two for His glory in our Christian life.

God Bless you,
Bob D.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

THE ESSENCE OF JESUS CHRIST

The essence of Jesus Christ



This article progresses into the very essence of who Jesus Christ is so the tone of Paul is really changing from should I stay or should I go to admiration for the Son of God. He starts by saying, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." 2:6.

It would be unthinkable for a person to say, "I am equal with God". Lucifer went for broke and wanted to be greater than God. Most people know where that got him but Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God and was not guilty of saying that if you have seen Me you have seen my Father. (9) "Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? (10) Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself : but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works. (11) Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works' sake." John 14:9-11.

"But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." 2:7. Yes it is a fact that Jesus Christ walked on this earth as a human being. We did not ask for our existence as people but our Lord voluntarily took upon Himself human nature as an act of God for us. Jesus Christ emptied Himself with the rags of being a man. You may ask ,"How did an All Powerful God do this" but this is not an easy question to answer. The Apostle Paul takes several verses to explain this truth.

When Jesus Christ became a man He was not only a servant of God but to people. Did you notice how this lowliness of mind and heart keep coming up over and over again? Let me ask you another question ... how many people do you know that apply this truth to their life? I know of a couple but they usually do it for the wrong reasons. He did not come as a King but a servant. The Bible says He will come again as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords but first He served God and man on earth. It is my opinion that everyone in heaven regardless of who they are is a servant in one form or another. It is the way of God.

I did a little experiment one day as I was walking through life. I asked myself a question --- am I a servant? So I began to take mental notes of every response and attitude from the backdrop of the question am I a servant. Well I have to tell you that I came short several times but I noticed that when I was a genuine servant my soul had a lighter yoke. When I thought I was entitled to something without giving anything I had to bear a burden in my spirit. Just because we do a job does not mean we are a servant. It is a meek, lowly, humble spirit of wanting the best for people in the form of some sort of labor which could be as small as listening with an open heart.

(8) "And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (9) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name." 2:8-9. Notice empathies is placed on the Lamb of God dying on a cross because it is one thing to live right as a human being but it is another thing entirely to die at the mercy and hands of brutal men who could not stand Him and be voluntarily obedient to the process which involved torture and dying the most painful death a person could ever go through known to man. Jesus Christ did this for us so we could be forgiven of our sins. This is how much He loves everyone of us.

The Holy Spirit has been tugging on the hearts of people for centuries to point to the Son of God and explain that Jesus Christ died for their sins and it is urgent for them to make that all important decision of accepting Him into their hearts as personal Savior and Lord. If you are one of these people just repent of all your sins and invite Jesus Christ into your life. This is the right decision for your journey through this world and eternity.

Everyday of my life I can sense demons keeping people from this message because you can not be giving the gospel for 35 years and not understand the way they operate. People will respond to me with good intensions and literally remember everything else but forget their promise to come face to face with God through Jesus Christ. I can remind them but there is a specific resistance I can not put more finger on except to say the minions that serve the devil are very good at what they do to take away thoughts or detour them into something worldly.

What did this death involve? When it was happening people cursed Him, it was a shameful death, the physical pain was so bad that I am not going to even attempt to comprehend everything our Lord endured for us. There have been doctors that attempted this and they even fell short. The law referred to Jesus Christ as a malefactor which in their eyes was a person beyond human redemption and they made sure that our Lamb of God became a public spectacle which only incited hate in the hearts of the crowd.

Jesus Christ humbled Himself for us but God highly exalted His human and divine nature by raising Him from the dead on the third day. Jesus is now in His glorified body in Honor and Power. This is why Paul then says, (10) "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, of things in earth, and things under the earth. (11) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." 2:10-11. Jesus Christ has a name above every name and every knee will bow before Him. This is a reality that all of creation will be in subjection to Him because His exaltation will be in honor and power.

Notice the honest and the dishonest before God are bowing before Jesus Christ. Nobody will be exempt but people that love the Son of God will do it willingly. People that kicked Him out of their lives in one way or another will get down on their knees with some sort of fear. We can love God with respect or we can fear God with disrespect. It seems to me that because Jesus Christ is our Creator the first option is obedience but the second option is disobedience. I am trying to convince people to love God with respect as opposed to fearing God in a bad way with disrespect by ignoring Jesus Christ either subconsciously or consciously. By the way it is the same thing. One is blunt and the other is settle but both have the same consequences.

Verse ten covers every category in heaven, earth and under the earth because at the name of Jesus Christ all will give homage to Him but it is very interesting that the Bible takes this one step deeper that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. As Christians remember one thing that when we give respect to the Son of the Living God His Father always gets the honor. These words such as bowing, confessing, adoration, respect and honor in this context are reserved for the Triune Godhead. I wake up every morning and say, "Lord you are God and I am not."

(12) "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but how much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (13) For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." 2:12-13. These two verses are one of the most popular verse in the Bible. We need to take our Christian life serious and be very diligent about the work of the gospel. For the most part I can understand who truly is a disciple of Jesus Christ and who really does not care about serving God. If the second is the case you need to ask yourself if you are truly a Christian.

Look at how stern the world is regarding the deadlines we have to meet or some kind of consequence take place in our lives. How much more serious should we take the business of the kingdom of God. The eternal destination of people are at stake. Man made rules will come and go but eternity lasts forever.

These verses are saying that it is in our best interest to care about the welfare of our soul regardless of our circumstances which will come and go but our pureness and intimacy with God through His Son Jesus Christ will last forever. I don't even remotely think about judging other people because I have my hands full making sure I am clean before God. This involves our personal fellowship with Jesus Christ and our service to Him. This is me working out my own salvation in my Christian journey with my Lord because I want a clear conscience on earth so I can give a good account of my life to Jesus Christ when I am judged in heaven.

There can be true pain in this exercise but not necessarily all the time because this process does require us to do everything we can on the inside (fellowship with Jesus Christ) and outside (our service to Him in true obedience). If we feel something is missing it is our responsibility to either (1) being more obedient in that area or (2) if nothing is there obedience in that particular realm in our walk with our Lord Jesus Christ. I don't think I have to say this but that is not the responsibility of God. The Holy Spirit will show us but ultimately we will be held responsible and accountable to Jesus Christ for our obedience or lack of obedience.

The reason why we are to do this with fear and trembling is because "Fear" is a guard against evil. If we did not have the proper "Fear" of God we would just sin any time we wanted to whenever it is most convenient for us in our life. This with circumspection in our life is working out our salvation with fear and trembling.

When these verses talk about the absence of Paul all this means is the Philippian church was obedient all the time even when the Apostle was not in their presence.

When this passage says ... "It is God which worketh in you" ... we need to understand that the Holy Spirit works His grace through us but it is based on our faithfulness to Him. This passage is an example on how a relationship works both ways because it is never one sided in that this is where the connection is made between Jesus Christ and His children.

The last part of this verse says, ... "Of His good pleasure." The grace of God and the goodness of God go hand in hand but to be more specific it is the love that the Holy Spirit bestows on our soul that motivates our will to do good. It is in the best interest of God, ourselves and other people for us to trust and obey Jesus Christ so in turn we will receive more grace and our will is then prompted to do good for other people. Do we see how all this is connected together (God, His children and other people) is described so perfect in this passage of Scripture.

We get all kinds of people reading these articles and I don't know if you are a believer in Jesus Christ or an unbeliever but as you can see God has laid the blueprint out for a strong relationship with Him on the inside and an active service for Him an the outside. If you are a believer I urge this for you and if you don't know Jesus Christ as your very own personal Savior then this is probably a good time to repent of all your sins and invite the Son of the Living God into your heart. If you just made that decision then by all means focus on a strong fellowship with Jesus Christ on the inside and use your gift to serve other people on the outside.

God Bless you,
Bob D.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

HOW TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER

HOW TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER

In this article I am going to explain how Paul talks about suffering, goes into the very essence of Jesus Christ from the backdrop of troubling times and speaks about proper behavior. Much of this writing will explain how everything ends in the Person of Jesus Christ. That is a much-needed message in this world because we are drilled into believing that everything ends in whatever culture we live in so take heed because the Bible outlines a very different story and reality. Societies come and go but Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living Eternal God.

"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake."1:29. The two main verbs in this verse are believed and suffer. Both are gifts that God grants us the privilege as His children to exercise through the Person of Jesus Christ. Notice the order --- first, we put our trust in God which is a decision and then we are able to suffer for the kingdom of God which usually means some sort of loss but the reduction in our lives is directly correlated to standing up for Jesus Christ in one way or another. We should be willing to stand up for this truth because this is the truth that stood up for us. His name is Jesus Christ.

"Having the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me." 1:30. They saw Paul suffer with their own eyes and they heard of the trouble he was going through but did not see it with their vision. Suffering in and of itself is not a sufficient explanation for this verse because eventually everybody goes through issues in life but there is always a "Cause" for persecution and in this case, it was for Jesus Christ. Paul also came out with the proper spirit on the other side. He did not say, "I have to go through this ring a roll every single time --- come on man" but endured it with patience for God. Apparently the Philippian church was going through the same thing they "Saw" and "Heard" regarding the life and example of Paul. This tells me they were living right for Jesus Christ. Of course that is the question we need to be asking ourselves.

"If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies." 2:1. If Jesus Christ is consoling us we will love one another because this divine encouragement is an overflow to others. If I do not love others I should not expect to much consolation from God. If the Holy Spirit is loving me then there is a sense of comfort but we must also be diligent in giving affection back to God. Love is always a two way street so if we believe it is one sided then some sort of deception has blinded our minds.

When Paul talks about the ..."Fellowship of the Spirit"... he is talking about our communion with God through Jesus Christ in the presence of the Holy Spirit but we are to be like minded so if you feel one of your brothers or sisters in Christ is struggling with this issue gently guide them back to Jesus Christ. As I look back on my somewhat fragile life I remember the people that were brash with me about walking with God and it did not resonate in my spirit but I do recall the gentle Fathers in Christ were highly effective. We can go over to the bull and pull him by his horns or we can gently call the animal over to us.

Paul talks about any bowels of mercy because the Holy Spirit does comfort us but if we are compassionate to others that goes straight back to the heart of Jesus Christ. In this scenario we see a triangle (God at the top and us and others at the bottom two points) so all are showing mercy in this connected appointment from heaven.

When Paul says fulfill ye my joy he was talking from the backdrop of a minister. Your Pastor probably won souls to Jesus Christ but enjoys seeing the congregation one in Jesus Christ. If division is in the church sorrow tends to fill the soul. If you think your teacher is strong especially in light of something like that then you need to understand how weak leaders can be when Jesus Christ is not in the center of the church. I have been to churches like this and walked out miserable. The whole verse says, "Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." 2:2. Then he goes on to say, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." 2:3.

We can walk into church and oppose a person or group but we are confessing through our actions that we are against them. More importantly we are not with them in spirit being one in Jesus Christ. I know how it is because I have been around the block a couple of times. A Christian comes storming in head strong wanting to get their particular schema across usually regarding a slant on doctrine and if he or she were to examine themselves it becomes more about them than Jesus Christ or caring for others. They just want to be right with no real regard for anybody else. Christians often times desire pride in their hearts as opposed to being humble. I know because when I was young I had zeal without wisdom. It would be far more wise to wait if somebody asks us a question and then answer very soft with as much detail as possible. We may want to ask, "Where are you coming from with this particular subject after we answer but with respect and a genuine spirit of caring. Wow what if we did this in a relationship?

Paul talks about esteeming others in lowliness of mind better than ourselves so if judgment starts in the house of God then that rule would apply to how we judge ourselves. We should be very hard on our faults and charitable in judgment of others. We sow what we reap so we don't have to worry about anybody getting away with anything and besides most people are very tuned into their sins --- they know who they are and what they did or are doing in the flesh. They need to know who they are in Jesus Christ and this is where we come in because we can gently explain these truths little by little so our brothers and sisters in Christ are more secure in their faith. I'm not saying we don't need to deal with our sins but most Christians that I know of are wobbling like children just trying to walk. Our role is to help them not oppose who they are because we are suppose to be with them in Spirit and one in Christ. We are a family. It is not about us it is about Jesus Christ and love toward one another.

Look for the gift in other people and let them know because they may not understand but we should not promote the abilities God gave us because now we are pointing to self. If I am helping anybody I understand it is the grace of God because I know me. I'm the one that sees all of my shortcomings. It is God who causes the growth. Paul even gets more detailed when he says, "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." 2:4. Our interest should be in the concern for others with love. Believe this or not human beings have radar inside them because they know when self is on the throne and when there is genuine empathy for other people. If we ever want to know what the opposite of Christian love is then all we have to do is look at our selfish spirit if we have one inside of us. To get even more specific if we took on our brother or sister's case as our own then that is true Christian love.

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." 2:5. If there are two attributes that come to my mind immediately that Jesus possesses it would be humble and meek. Not once does the Apostle Paul ever say in any of these verse to rise up in our own strength. If anything the Bible is saying to be low minded. If we do this then we can see another person for who they are and be like minded in Jesus Christ. It does not hurt to ask Jesus Christ for His spirit. God honors prayer requests like this because it is glorifying to Him.

If you do not know Jesus Christ in a personal way resist putting the Son of God on trial based on the bad behavior of some Christians. I have seen this on several occasions. If you must do this then give Jesus Christ a fair trial based on who He really is and what He is like in His being. He has got so much character that when He came to earth in His flesh He did not even sin once. He is our perfect sacrificial atonement because He died on a cross for our sins and took our place. He conquered death by raising from the dead on the third day. This is someone that I would like to get to know. I hope you feel the same way. If this is the case then accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your Savior and Lord by repenting of all your sins and inviting Him into your life. This is not only a decision for your life but for all eternity.

God Bless you,
Bob D.