Share Your World 2015 Week 38

It’s that time again folks. Cee has asked her questions and we can but answer. My answers to the questions are below and Cee’s other friends have answered HERE. You have only to click on the underlined word and you will be whisked away to Cee-Land a most beautiful place…really!

Here are my answers:

What do you do to make a living or during the day if you are retired.  If you are a student what are you studying?

I am the assistant pastor at Cornerstone Church in Winchendon MA. My portfolio includes worship and the arts as well as Prayer and Compassion ministries. To that end I run C. cada a Christian artist’s collaborative. The goal of C.cada is to help people discover, develop and deploy their God-given gifts in the church and in the community.

I am also a founding member of Special Touch R.E.A.C.H. New England a chapter of Special Touch Ministries based out of Wisconsin. The goal of this ministry is to bring the gospel message to the disabled community.

Basically I spend my days meeting and training teams of people to reach other people with the love of Jesus through prayer, compassion and the arts

Have you ever participated in a distance walking, swimming, running, or biking event? Tell your story.

I have done walk- a- thons to raise money for missions. there is no real story there. I walked and people gave me money to give to missionaries. The end. 🙂

What is usually your first thought when you wake up? 

“Good morning Lord. Do I really need to get out of bed? It is really warm in here and really cold out there.”

Complete this sentence: Look out behind you, it’s a …

Falling tree! I really don’t know where that came from. It is just the first thing that crossed my mind. No one I know has ever been squashed by a tree. I don’t think I have ever even seen a tree fall.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful that my editor Tracy sent the prologue of my story back complete with edits to be made. Now to work. I am looking forward to the Toy Town Fall Fest which C.cada, Prayer Shawl Ministry and Special Touch R.E.A.C.H. New England are participating in this weekend! I

The Law In the Grace Pt. 5

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Over the last several days we have been discussing four mindsets regarding the Bible which hinder people from developing fruitful relationships with God.

If you missed any portion of our previous discussion it can be found in:

PART 1

PART 2

PART 3

OR PART 4

Today we begin discussing the third destructive mindset in our series

The next attitude or mindset that is prevalent in the world and in the church today is,

 

  • I live under grace not the law so I don’t have to obey God I just have to receive the mercy of God.

 

This  mindset is found in  the person who comes to Jesus, hears preaching about His death on the cross and comes to the altar to say the sinner’s prayer and then thinks they are saved because they said a bunch of words. The problem is they miss a step. They never repent.

This is the person who goes on living in their sin, living in violation of the Word of God and who refuses to even try to change.

This is the person who when confronted with their sin says, “You have no right to judge me because I am not under law but under grace.”

This is the person who says, “That’s Old Testament teaching. Law teaching. I don’t have to obey the law because Jesus died so I don’t have to.”

“I don’t have to tithe.”

“I don’t have to quit getting drunk.”

“I don’t have to quit watching pornography.”

“I don’t have to stop sleeping with my girlfriend.”

“I’m saved by grace.”

This is a misunderstanding of the New Covenant, the new binding agreement, we have with God.

To people who believe this lying mindset the Prophet Jeremiah and the writer to the Hebrews say the same thing.

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel

after that time,” declares the Lord.

“I will put my law in their minds

and write it on their hearts.” Jeremiah  31:33

When we receive grace, God writes His word on our minds and hearts. The law gets inside of us. It is not just in a book we read anymore. It becomes woven into the very fabric of our being. That is why when a true Christian sins it is so painful, because now the Word of God the law is written on our hearts. When we violate it, it causes us greater discomfort than we ever had before. That is what we call conviction of sin.

Paul the apostle said it this way in his letter to the Romans,

“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

5Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

12Do not let sin control the way you live;a do not give in to sinful desires. 13Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. 14Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

Romans 6:1-13

Christian there is a law in the grace. There is a way that grace must be applied and there is a way grace will demand we live. When we violate the Word of God and try to say “It’s OK” because we are under grace we do so at our own peril and to our own hurt.

Grace requires more holiness of us than the law ever could. Don’t you know that the law is God’s minimum standard?

The Law says “Do not kill. Do not commit adultery.”

Grace says, “Don’t even hate anybody. Don’t even think lustfully.”

Then it says, “and  by the way God will now pour the power to achieve that higher level into you.”

 By yourself you can’t even achieve the minimum standard with grace you can achieve even more.

Christians who cut pieces of the Bible out and  who say “I don’t have to obey that part because I am not under law but under grace” short change themselves from ever achieving the part of grace that is miraculous.

Tell me what you think.

The Law In the Grace Pt. 4

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Over the last several days we have been discussing the authority of the Bible in the realm of defining absolute truth.

If you missed our previous three discussions you can find them

HERE

HERE

AND HERE

In our previous discussions I asserted that there are four mindsets concerning the Bible that keep people from coming into a deep relationship with God and an understanding of what is truly good.

Today we are dealing with the second mindset.

The second attitude or mindset  I see threatening the authority of the Word of God in our lives is one that says

  • The Bible is not the only Word of God. God has chosen to reveal Himself in other religions.

This is the Spirit of the New Age and frankly the Bible calls this mindset “the spirit of antichrist.”

John the Beloved warns us,

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” 1 John 4:1-3

The Bible tells us that in the time of the Tribulation, that great judgment of the Earth by God, the antichrist shall rise to power. He shall have a servant. This is what is said about that servant in the Book of Revelation

11Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth. He had two horns like those of a lamb, but he spoke with the voice of a dragon. 12He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and its people to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13He did astounding miracles, even making fire flash down to earth from the sky while everyone was watching. 14And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world. He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. 15He was then permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak. Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die.” Rev. 13:11-15

In that time men and women will willingly worship the antichrist because they will have come to a place where they believe that God is not just the god of the Bible but He is in all things and all manifestations that dare call themselves god; so worshipping the antichrist will not seem like such a stretch after all they will say, “truth can be found in all religions not just Christianity.”

As Christians we must come to understand that God does not reveal himself through other religions. Satan may inject bits of truth into false religion to make it look appealing, even right, but that is a snare laid to catch unwary souls.

Paul wrote these words to warn people off of this attitude when he wrote to the Galatians,

6I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ.c You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News 7but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

8Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. 9I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. Gal. 1:6-9

People who hold onto these wrong views of the Word of God will tell you that we are free to do anything we want with the Bible. If we want we can cut whole portions out of it because we don’t like them or because they are “old-fashioned”, OR if we like another religion’s Scriptures we are welcome to put them right alongside the Bible and follow the pieces of both that we like.

I am here to tell you that there is a law in the grace of God. The law in the grace of God requires that grace be applied to our lives according to biblical patterns and according to the covenants of God. If we violate the covenants of the Bible, if we take away or add to them, then the Covenants will not work. Grace will not work.

God’s grace does not cover everyone as some would have us believe. God’s grace only covers those who attach themselves to God through the covenants, the binding agreements which are found in the Bible.

We understand this in the business world.  If you need work done on your house you hire a contractor. The contractor of your choice comes to your home and has you sign a contract. Once you have signed the contract you expect that contractor will show up and do the work. No one in their right mind would think that because they signed a contract with Tim Slocum that Bob Smith is going to show up and do the work. That would be ridiculous. Conversely no one would go out and think they should hire seven contractors for one job because they liked Tim’s personality but Dan’s work and Sam’s billing method would they? No! You choose one contractor and work with that one.

Why do we think it should be different with spiritual matters?

But that is exactly what  people are doing.

They say, “I like this part of Christianity and that part of Islam and that part of Buddhism so I will mash them all together and get something wonderful.”

 That is the spiritual equivalent of hiring seven contractors to fix the paneling in your 10x 16 living room. It doesn’t work because there is a law in the grace and the grace of Jesus only works if you sign on with Him alone as the spiritual contractor of your life.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

The Law In the Grace Pt. 3

Restoring Connection

Restoring Connection

Yesterday I was privileged to share the message at Cornerstone Church in Winchendon MA. I shared a sermon entitled, “The Law In the Grace”.

The first two parts of that sermon have been shared here on LIllie-Put. You can find them by going

HERE

and

HERE

I f you have been reading you know that we have introduced the notion that there are four mindsets concerning the Bible which can stifle the believer’s devotion to God.

The first mindset is one that our lead pastor alluded to last Sunday and I want to touch on it again.

It is the mindset that says,

  • The Bible contains some of the words of God and it also contains a lot of things that were only from men. So we cannot trust all of it only parts of it.

Brothers and sisters if I thought that was true I would stop being a Christian today. Christianity is based on the concept that the Bible is the Word of God and if we cannot trust its revelation of God then we cannot trust that we can know God at all. The power of Christianity is found in a little book in the New Testament called Colossians.

 In it Paul, the Apostle writes to the Colossian people and says,

25God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. Col. 1:25-27

If the Bible isn’t reliable from front to back, then it is not reliable at all. Chiefly because it claims that it is reliable from front to back. So if what I come to is that I don’t think the Bible is reliable in its entirety, then I have to accept that the Bible has lied about itself and so is as all liars are unreliable

If the Bible isn’t reliable at all then we cannot trust at all that the secrets of God are revealed by it and therefore we cannot use it as a reliable source for coming to God.

As Pastor Risto taught last week as soon as we say the Bible is not the only word of God or only some of the Bible is the Word of God then all of it becomes suspect. Frankly, the whole story of Jesus becomes suspect because the Bible is the primary source for our information about Jesus. If it’s possible that the Bible is not true then it is also possible that what we know about Jesus is untrue. That means it’s possible that Jesus might not be able to save us from our sins. If that’s true then our faith is in vain.

Christianity requires a high level of faith in the Word of God and can I just say, I have placed a high level of faith in the word of God for 35 years and every time… EVERY TIME I have put my faith in the Word of God it has paid off. Every time I have used the Word of God as the basis for my life I have been blessed. Even when things seemed to go sideways in life as long as I continued to practice the Word of God I was blessed in the end. On the other hand in those times when I neglected the Word of God and didn’t follow it as my guide things always fell apart no matter how many good things came my way.  The Word of God does not fail!

Weekly Travel Theme: Move

Ailsa’s blog has asked us to show us how our travels MOVED US. To see other moving pictures click the capitalized link. Here are my moving shots.

The wind moves on the water taxi on Boston Harbor

The wind moves on the water taxi on Boston Harbor

This is one of my newest pictures. It captures the wind unfurling the flag on the water taxi that crosses Boston Harbor. My publishers and I took a ride the day we signed contracts on my book

The Bird Man of Amsterdam

The Bird Man of Amsterdam

I caught this man feeding the pigeons in the courtyard of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.

The Trio

The Trio

This was actually part of a drama exercise my sister taught in one of her classes at Azusa College, in Holland.

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This picture was taken along the Zuiderzee

The Law In the Grace Pt. 2

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I am preaching a message this morning entitled, “The Law In the Grace”. This is excerpt number two from that sermon if you missed the opening of our discussion. You can catch it

HERE

Now on to today’s discussion:

The New Covenant (which we spoke about yesterday) is our hope folks. It is why we gather on Sunday mornings to worship God. This binding agreement with God says that anyone who comes to Jesus and accepts Him as Lord of their lives, anyone who will believe in Christ’s power to forgive and in the power of Christ’s resurrection from the dead will be saved unto eternal life. That is good news and it is good news we find only in the Bible, God’s book of covenants.

We have been studying from John Bevere’s book, Good or God,  over the last several weeks and in that time we have established several facts.

  • There are things in the world that seem good and even may have aspects of good in them but they are not of God.
  • Many things may seem good or right in our eyes as humans but because they are not of God they actually lead to death.
  • Because of “the Fall” mankind’s perception of reality is skewed and so we cannot rely on our heart or emotions to tell us what is really good or of God. Because of sin in our lives we can even sometime end up calling good evil and evil good.
  • God has given us His Word, His book of covenants or binding agreements to show us what is really good and really God and what is not. That Word is the Bible and the Bible is the only Scripture. Both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man. The Bible is the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct.

That is a review of the foundation that Pastor Risto has already laid. I would like to add to that foundation this morning by continuing to speak about the authority of the Word of God. This is important stuff because the Word of God is our foundational revelation of God. Let me explain that another way. God, the Father , the Son and the Holy Spirit is the foundation of our faith. But the only way we know about God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is through the Bible. Only the Bible reveals to us who God really is. Without it we have no understanding of God we can trust. You may ask, “Pastor Jay what about experience, what about the gifts of prophecy, what about dreams and visions, what about other religions?”

Every one of those things is second to the Bible. The Bible is the litmus test for every other truth. If our experience teaches us something that is contrary to the Word of God then our understanding of that experience must change. If a dream or a prophecy or a word of wisdom contradicts Scripture it is in error and I do not care who delivers the dream, vision or word. It must be thrown out. If another religion contradicts the Bible, then it is error plain and simple and is not speaking the truth.

The Word of God is the only infallible, authoritative Word of faith and doctrine and the only source of knowing good and evil that will never fail us. There is an old song we used to sing in youth group and it went something like this.

“If Jesus said it I believe it. It’s His Word He cannot lie. If it’s written in the Bible I’ll believe it till I die. Until the mountains be removed and be cast into the sea if Jesus said it I’ll believe it that’s good enough for me.”

 

In these days when that song had largely been forgotten. I see four attitudes arising concerning the Bible that are eroding the Bible’s influence and which are destroying people’s trust in the Bible and are destroying people’s grip on what is truly good and what is truly God….

Tune in again tomorrow for more of “The Law In the Grace.”

The Law In the Grace Pt. 1

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I will be preaching a message at Cornerstone Church tomorrow entitled, “The Law In the Grace”. Our subject matter is the importance of the Bible in judging what is right, good and of God.

Over the next few days I will be publishing the sermon in bits and pieces. Here for your perusal is our launching point.

Our Scripture study this morning begins by introducing us to the fact that God is a God who operates in the world  by covenants.

 How many of you know that God is a God who makes binding agreements with people? Whether you know it or not God has offered to make a binding agreement with you today. He is just waiting for you to sign on the dotted line, so to speak.

God talks about His newest covenant, or binding agreement, with mankind in the Book of Hebrews, There He says,

“Here is the main point: ….

now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said:

“The day is coming, says the Lord,     when I will make a new covenant     with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one     I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand     and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant,     so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. 10 But this is the new covenant I will make     with the people of Israel on that day,[c] says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds,     and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God,     and they will be my people. 11 And they will not need to teach their neighbors,     nor will they need to teach their relatives,[d]     saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest,     will know me already. 12 And I will forgive their wickedness,     and I will never again remember their sins.”[e]

13 When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.

…by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant. “Hebrews 8:1-9:15 (excerpted)

What is the importance of this covenant to you?