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The Struggle for Righteousness

The wicked will not prosper.   Righteousness reaps great rewards.  This is what the Bible says. The NT teaches that righteousness includes our behavior.   I Corinthians 6:10, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?”  If we go to the OT we see teachings about washings, cleansings, and required duties of sacrifice.  We see teachings about keeping oneself separate.  In the OT this applied to the nation of Israel. They were not to partake with or get involved with the idolatrous worship of their neighbors. They were to abide in God’s commandments as set out in the Mosaic Law.  In the NT we see teachings about keeping ourselves from being spotted by the world.  We see teachings about doing what is right and good.  We see teachings about not loving the world or the things of the world.  Teachings about turning from sin, setting aside the deeds of the old man and his nature, and taking on the new nature of Christ for ourselves.

How is it that we are being taught by Christian teachers today that these things are not necessary?  The Bible is clear that we will reap what we sow.  Proverbs is full of admonitions about the wicked and the just.  The whole theme of the Bible is wickedness and sin versus righteousness and goodness.  God is holy.  “Be ye holy”, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice”, “produce good fruit”, ” you will know the ungodly by their fruit”.  This is the advantage of pulling back from the world’s ways and making time for reading God’s word.   A clearer vision.   A better understanding of God’s ways, and an ability to know what he wants from us.

There’s a struggle on today for righteousness.   The Christian is being bombarded from every quarter saying that righteousness is not necessary, that God does not require upright behavior from us.  The Bible teachings are clear.  If you are in Christ you will do what is right.  God gives you the ability to do this through the power of the Holy Spirit.  He requires it of you.  You will not be excused for bad behavior.


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The Sufferings of Christ

The Bible declares that the believer will partake of the sufferings of Christ.  That this is in their best interests. That the believer will partake of the glory when they have also suffered like their predecessor Jesus.  Jesus has gone before us, we are to follow him.  Job declares that he knew of God, he had heard of him previously, but when Job suffered he stated he then saw God, gained understanding, and abhorred himself for his complaint against God.

Job suffered when he stood alone in his faith.  His friends contradicted him, his wife encouraged him to curse God.  Job experienced the loss of his family, his children, his friends, his possessions, his standing and respect in the community.  He stayed faithful to God, and afterward was richly rewarded by God in this life, and I am confident, in the life to come.  In the kingdom of God.  How could Job be happy with what God gave him after he had experienced such devastating losses?  God makes it possible.  Our further understanding makes it possible.  God’s work in us makes it possible.  The Bible says that with God nothing is impossible.

The New Testament says that we need to arm ourselves with this knowledge of the believer suffering.  It is happening in the world today and believers in the western nations don’t understand it.  Arm yourselves with this mind, the Bible says.  Christ suffered, and so you can expect that you will suffer as well.  Are you greater than your teacher, the Bible says?

Do we suffer in a vacuum away from God?  No, God is with us.  He makes it possible.  He provides.  It is not easy, but the suffering will end.  Paul states that if it is God’s will that you suffer for a period of time endure it like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  These are teachings that are lost to the western church doctrines in our day.  It should open our eyes as to who is a true leader of God’s people in our day and times.

 

 


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My Sheep Hear My Voice

What does this mean to us as Christians?  It means that when we hear something being taught or expounded by someone else we can connect to it or recognize it as coming from God.  In my own experience I find that I can hear aspects of God in a teaching but I find if it is mixed with error there is more difficulty for me to discern that the whole of the teaching is from God.

This is the deception of our current day.  God’s truth mixed with error.  This means that when we hear truth it does not mean that everything that the person says is from God or is God’s truth.   We need to discern or suss out what is God, or what is of God, in a teaching.  This is done through the Holy Spirit and by our own knowledge of the Bible.  Our personal day by day reading and slugging through books and chapters of the Bible is critical for discerning truth.  We should not miss reading a word in a book of the Bible.  We need to read it carefully and meditatively.

We need to read the full chapter or the full book to get the proper teaching.  What we read and believe the book is saying to us needs to correspond to other teachings in other books of the Bible.  It all fits together in some way.  One book will not teach one thing and be contradicted in another.  If this happens, then some part of what we believe as Christians is in error.  The Word of God is truth.  What we believe about the Word of God can have errors associated with those beliefs.

When I read the Bible I find that I am thinking one way as I’m reading it, and then if I am in error something will come up in another book that will tell me that what I had been thinking is not entirely  correct.  I adjust my thinking accordingly.  I will say to myself that what I had been thinking is not true, or what I had been thinking only has part truth to it.  I will also be corrected in my thinking by reading an article or some other material that expounds the teaching of these scriptures better.  However, I must be careful.  Lots of current Christian teaching sounds good.  The article that I read must also agree with other scriptures that the Holy Spirit will bring to my mind to help me understand truth, and the article must also agree with the overall teachings of that particular book that the article is pulling a scripture from to make it’s point.

The Bible is critical for us as believers and we must be reading it carefully and intently.  We must be searching and looking for the voice of God and allow the Holy Spirit to correct us as we go along.

 

 


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What God Requires

Micah 6:8
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

What must we do to work the works of God?  We need to implement justice, morality, and rightness, today in our own lives.  God is clear in his Word.  What we do in our lives, and how we do it, matters to us, and to God.  He has requirements of us. We need to do certain things in order to prosper spiritually and physically in our lives. We are told repeatedly throughout scripture that judgment from the Lord is coming.  That God will judge the just and the unjust according to their works. He will judge the nations and peoples of the world.  He will judge his own people.

Immorality and corruption are increasing in the environment where we live.  We need to be looking to God for the ability to refuse temptations.  Western governments and nations are rejecting God and his commandments today.   Lying and deceit are everyday occurrences with those we deal with in business and everyday activities.  We see this in the news about our financial organizations defrauding and deceiving their banking customers.

What are we to do?  It’s not going to be ok for us to participate and do business the same way as the world around us.  God has given us his commandments.  They are laid out extensively in his Word.  The ten commandments being the scaffold of what he requires of people.  His Word is what we must follow.  God has not left us defenseless as his people.  We do not have the old nature that powerless against sin.  We have choices as God’s people to do what is right.  How do we do this?

Through  the Holy Spirit. We need to be asking God for his Holy Spirit to be given to us in a measure that is responsive to what is happening today in our world and what is happening where we are living.  This is individual, and also corporate, for us as God’s people.  We are in a struggle and we need to overcome through God.  Western Christians are  experiencing opposition from their government leaders, education institutions, judicial legislation, and popular culture.  What to do?

Stand with God, and do his will.  Keep his commandments. Ask him to help you to do this.  He will.  Guard your heart, your mind, and do what is right.  Avoid and rebuke temptations in the power of Jesus Christ.  You will be richly rewarded in this life and in the eternal life that you will enter.  ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant’.

 


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Character Deficiencies Within and Without the Church

We are seeing something today in the church and in our society at large that I have not previously witnessed to this extent in my lifetime. Deficiency in the character of people. Personality disorders are increasing in the general population. One of the main personality disorders arising in our time is narcissism. This occurrence is having a very adverse effect in our world and in the church. People with functional narcissism often seek positions of power and influence. They are found in greater numbers among CEO s, politicians, ministers of religion, and in other positions of decision making and authority. Scripture says that in the last days people will be given over to a reprobate mind because they will not accept the truth but prefer to believe a lie. I think that we are into those days now.
Narcissism is filtering down to the average person in our day from upper echelons. People are engrossing themselves in the culture and the often perverted teachings coming from places of higher authority in our lives. People do this seemingly unquestioning, even in the church. Christians are accepting of any book, any new thought, any teaching, as long as it has the ‘christian’ label.

People having narcissism personality disorder are looking for power, control, and ‘food’ to feed their need. This requires that they put on a false personality before others. What you see is not them. You see the false person. This person does not have normal human emotions. They mimic emotions that they have seen on other people’s faces for particular circumstances in their own lives. This narcissistic condition emerges in their very young years. Emotionally they remain very young and self-centered throughout their lives. They make extremely poor marriage partners because whoever marries them marries an emotional child. They can make the ‘hard’ decisions because they do not feel guilt or remorse for their actions. They cannot love as a normal person can. The main emotions that are real for them is anger and rage.
When we think of this type of person being a pastor, a government leader in a position of trust, a company manager or owner making decisions that affect hundreds maybe thousands of lives, we get a picture of the devastation that this personality disordered person makes on society. Church leaders with this condition are no exception. Many other church leaders are following them because these people may be successful by worldly standards.  Pastors who are their followers then lead their own flocks into error and possible destruction.
We are currently living in extremely precarious times as Christians. We are going to have to exercise judgment and discernment within and without the church. We have the authority to do so according to scripture. We must judge the spirits. We must look at the fruit. We must analyze the lives of our leaders to see if they are being true. To not do this is foolhardy in our day and time.


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Postmodern, Emerging Church?

My current understanding of the postmodern and emerging church is its desire to reject traditional Christianity and Christianity’s historic doctrines and teachings, even to the setting aside of biblical scripture, if necessary. The church services in the postmodern and Emerging Church are designed and intended for unbelievers. Places where people who don’t normally attend a church can come and be entertained and encouraged by self-help and self-esteem teachings and philosophies.

If Christianity was simply a belief system, where there is no true and living God, then it would have its place in our church systems. However, from my own experience of over thirty years of being a devout Christian, I can testify that Christianity is a transformation that comes about through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds. One of the main avenues for this transformation is the Bible scriptures. Christianity is about following Jesus Christ into eternity. Christianity is about being reconciled to God the Father through the Son by the perfect sacrificial atonement on the cross provided by the Son. His sacrifice releases the believer from the Mosaic Law of death, so that we can then live to God in newness of life. Christianity is the power provided by God to remove sin from our lives. To achieve a new creation in us that has been purposed by God through our obedience to him. Christianity is slaying the old man and his wickedness, and putting on the new man who is created in the image of Christ. Christianity is the embracing of light and love and the rejection of darkness and wickedness in our own lives and in our world. These are just some of the things that are taught in the Bible concerning Christianity.

The postmodern and Emerging Church teaches none of these things to any extent. The leaders of these churches criticize believers who want more in-depth teachings about their faith and what God requires. Believers are told that the church is not for them but for the unbeliever. This is untrue. Believers are the church. There is no church without believers who have been reborn by the Spirit of God. The postmodern and Emerging church is not a true church, but rather an organization that is doing business in the name of Christ. Based on the knowledge that I have at this time, I would say that there is nothing to fear from these leaders, and to leave these organizations who are impersonating Christianity in our day.


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The Modern Church and It’s Structure

In reading about the apostles and prophets in the New Testament,and how they taught about Jesus after his ascension, we see that they went to the synagogues outside of Jerusalem and initially to the temple itself in Jerusalem to proclaim their message and teach their understanding about Jesus. I think of Paul on his missionary journeys entering into the synagogues, standing up by invitation from the synagogue ruler, to speak openly to the assembly if he had something that he wanted to say. This custom or system provided a way for Paul and for others to speak to the Jewish people in the synagogues.

Our modern church does not have a good system or custom for those attending congregations (never mind visiting guests) to set forth their understanding of scripture openly to people, or to challenge leadership concerning their teaching. Today’s church leaders think of this provision as rebellion and division against them and against their organizations. We have very controlled religious establishments in North America today. Church is a highly structured and controlled event on Sundays and leaders are not open to having anyone other than select and chosen persons minister. The average believer cannot exercise their Holy Spirit gift under this kind of system.

Believers are truly under the control of these religious leaders whether they are good or bad. The system we have for churches in North America is a protective womb for cultist like errors and false teaching. People are now questioning more and more about how much ‘truth’ is actually being taught in our churches today.