Contending for the faith

Contending For The Faith

Jude is a small book in the bible. But it makes an important point,  that being we need to contend for the faith.

Jude 1 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction;[d] 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire,[e] hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

It may be very politically incorrect and socially frowned upon to speak against certain sins (not the sinners) in today’s society, but only by speaking the truth of God in these situations can salvation be had.  If you contend for the faith and speak God’s truth in these situations you will be called haters and reviled, for some of these surely do not want to hear the truth. But some will. Some are dying to hear the truth.

The prophets of old contended for the faith, and they were hated

The apostles contended for the faith and they were hated

and the saints between that time and now who contended for the faith we also hated.

by men.

But they were loved and blessed of God, and people in those sins were saved.

Surely it is not everyone’s dream job to be reviled and hated by men, to speak the truth, to contend for the faith is not an easy task. But it is an important task.

If you can’t find it in yourself to stand up and take the fore front in this endeavor, you must at least make sure you do NOT roll over the the prevalent lies of today’s society

A compromising Christian is a lukewarm Christian, who God will not abide. If the bible says something is wrong, we cannot say “I don’t see anything wrong with it”.  If the bible says it happened a certain way (ie creation) we can not say “I don’t think the bible is literal”

Contend for the faith. if not proactively, then defensively. Do not roll over to the modern thinking of men.

1 Timothy 6:  12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Thessalonians 5: 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

2nd Corinthians 10: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Fight the good fight, stand up for what is right, speak the truth some people do not want to hear, or at the very least hold the line and do not give in to the lies of the day.

 

May the Lord richly bless you this day.

 

Fervency – The Steam Of Determination

Fervancy

fer·vor
ˈfərvər
noun
intense and passionate feeling.
“he talked with all the fervor of a new convert”
synonyms: passion, ardor, intensity, zeal, vehemence, emotion, warmth, earnestness, avidity, eagerness, keenness, enthusiasm, excitement, animation, vigor, energy, fire, spirit, zest, fervency


There was a story from my childhood called “the Little Engine Who Could”. It was about a steam engine that had to drag a train up a hill, a big train. He needed coal, he needed fire and he needed water and the combination of these three things produced steam – the fervency of determination. No one thought he could do it, but with the fervor of determination “I think I can, I Think I can…..” he could and did  “I knew i could”

Life can wear you down and when you let the world come in and attach to you like a leach it can empty you of the zeal of Christ, the fervency. We must protect our fervor, we must nurture it and grow it and not let it get robbed by circumstances that can act like a relief valve and dump all of our steam. How do we do that? We produce spiritual steam. Read the word (the coal), praise the Lord (the fire), Be one with the Holy Spirit in prayer (the water) stoke them all and you will possess the steam of fervency to get your self up that hill and over that hill.

 

Romans 12: 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

The prayer that avails much has three components, effectiveness (that is inline with the word and will of God), that the prayer is righteous (that is saved) and it must be fervent, full of faith and the energy and determination that we will see it through to the end.

James 5
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

If you want to overcome that hill that has been placed before you, you must stoke your engine with the things of God

When the devil pushes you down-push back

push back

Humble Resistance

runJames 4: 

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. 

This fight we are fighting in our life is a curious thing. This enemy we have is only allowed to inflict us, if we allow him to.  He requires our complete acquiescence.  He knows this, and is very clever. He won’t come at you straight on, he will come at you sideways, whispering temptations and doubts in your ear, preying on your fears, your weakness and most importantly. your pride.  He has to convince you to let him in and fiddle about.   And make no mistake he is very good at his job, and on our own we easily fall victim to his machinations.

But we are not alone.   Not by a long shot. We have, if we remember, our Big Brother Jesus standing behind us, and he has already  beaten satan and our enemy wants no part of Him.  The enemy wants to lure us away from Him, from our faith and our reliance on Jesus. To pull us out to the dry places where he can push you down.

But if that old devil wants to push you down, push him back.

Submit your life to God, if you’ve been pulled away by worry, fear, desires or pride; repent! Get yourself right with Jesus, submitted to His will, then and only then can you turn around and bare your teeth at the enemy and he will flee. Don’t let the enemy snare you with his whispers and if he does, remember this scripture.

Romans 8: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who ishe who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As For Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord

Two ways

rightwayWe live in perilous time my friends.  As the distance between the path that God favors and the path the world favors become increasingly wider we will find that we can no longer have a foot on each path. We will have to choose which path we will follow. And make no mistake, the choice will be costly either way.  Choose the way of the world and you will leave God behind.  Choose God’s way and you will face derision persecution and possibly worse.  There is soon to be no middle path.

I am not a doom and gloom type of person. I consider myself to be a realist, and my wife thinks I am a skeptic ;),  but Jesus told us to count the cost and be prepared to give up the world to follow Him

Luke 14

25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Likewise Joshua tells the people of Israel they cannot flirt with two Gods…you must choose one way or another, and that way has consequences

Joshua 34

14 “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

16 So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; 17 for the Lord our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve theLord, for He is our God.”

19 But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.”

21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord!”

22 So Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord for yourselves, to serve Him.”

And they said, “We are witnesses!”

23 “Now therefore,” he said, “put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel.”

24 And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!”

Through  out my life, as an American citizen, I have been able to stand against the worldly system and oppose it.  Abortion, gay marriage, et al, but the day is coming that such opposition will no longer be free.  They will pass laws forcing me to comply with their will, as they are already doing in California Schools. And I will not comply with their laws, and I will be an outlaw

Because I have counted the cost.  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord

and the Lord will be with me and all who choose to serve Him

God Bless you Children of God….stay faithful

The Sufficiency Of Grace- Making It Through The Valleys

Making it through the valleys

HOTAs with a lot of people we are in the middle of a heat wave here in Fresno. But unlike most people, I do not have air conditioning at my current clients place of business. So yesterday was 109 degrees Fahrenheit  today will be 110 degrees  and tomorrow is going to be 111 degrees , 110 the next day until we dip down to the polar 105  on Sunday

Now being a dweller of the central valley of California I am used to the heat, and  it is thankfully dry heat  but working with no A/C in a 110 degree heat is just a little too much for me and I am ready to throw in the towel….but I can’t. So I am going to need the sufficiency of the grace of God.

We know grace is what saves us, the unmerited favor of God, but it is also grace that helps us, when we can’t do it ourselves

2 Cor 12:

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

mountainIn life we face valleys, on our way to the mountain of God, and these can seem very daunting.  The gap between what we can accomplish and what needs to be accomplished can seem overwhelming. But Grace is that gap filler. God’s loving grace provides us with HIS strength and HIS ability to go through those valleys and rise upon the mountain. His Grace is enough.   We may not like the trial we are going through, it may be painful and sorrowful, but there are purposes for this.  It keeps us reliant on the grace of God, walking in faith growing and maturing.

God does not promise we will not have to go through valleys, but He does promise to help us through.  So don’t hesitate to call on in times of need. He is waiting to perform miracles for you.

He loves you.

 

A Prize In Every Box

cerealkidWhen I was a kid and was allowed to choose the cereal we would eat that week, I haunted the cereal aisle looking for the best prize inside. After all the cereals were pretty much the same, sweet corn  or wheat in funny shapes, sometimes with marshmallows.  But the prize….that was it.  And if the prize was good enough I would even choose a cereal I didn’t like.

Then we would take it home and play Russian Roulette with the cereal box until the prize plopped out in someones bowl… If the magic “dibs” phrase hadn’t been invoked  yet.
cracjerjack

I really enjoyed Cracker Jacks because we each got our own box and the prize was all mine. Whether it was temporary tattoos, or a cheap plastic ring it was all mine. And I almost did not enjoy eating the cracker jacks until I got it. Imagine all that yumminess going unappreciated 

 

So what has this all got to do with Christianity?  Our salvation has a prize.  Never forget when we are slogging through the tasteless bowls of cereal we call life, there is a prize, a hope that we are waiting for. And we are going through all of this….to get the prize.

Now sometimes the cereal (life) is sweet, and sometimes its just down right nasty, but we are working for the prize.  I would encourage us all to find what I call ” the islands of happiness in a sea of troubles” as we go through life, enjoy the happy moments while you can, embrace them and they will get you through the troubled sea in between.  But never forget that the real prize is yet to come and that is what we truly have to hold on to. Never forgetting that the grace of God is there to hold us until that day comes.

Revelation 21

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

This is our prize.  The hope of our calling

Ephesians 1:

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Never forget you are a child of God and when you have run the race, finished the course and set aside this brutal  mortal coil, you will hear the words:

Matthew 25

21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

So take heart children of God and be faithful. This life maybe as nice as bowl of honey nut cheerios or as hard as cold grits,   but there is a prize awaiting us.   There will be a day…

 

How shall they hear without a preacher?

mount

 

Isaiah 52:7. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”

 

There are many kinds of Christians in the world. There are loud Christians, quiet Christians and every variety in between.  But whether you are comfortable sharing your faith to an open audience, or prefer a quiet representation of your Christian faith through the way you live your life, it is imperative that those around us know who we belong to and what He has done.

Romans 1 16

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,[a] for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

The only way people will hear about the good news is if we tell them. Because the faith that develops the faith for salvation comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God

Romans 10: 

13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”[17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

If you look back on your own experience you can trace your development of faith back to someone who told you the good news of Jesus Christ.   Some of us grew up with Christianity and it still didn’t take until we heard the Holy Spirit inspired word of God about the liberty of salvation in Christ Jesus and suddenly the light went on.  The point being …we heard

Now back in the day when the disciples were rocking the dusty roads of Judea, there was one way to do this…..preaching the good news.

Today its slightly different, we can preach, post, tweet, like, friend, pinterest, text, email, etc. And all are valid ways to get the word out.  And you can do it without saying much at all, just live as Christ and represent. As long as they know who you belong to, and see the peace in your life people will want that.  There is a lot of desire out there to save the world, and I can think of no better way to save the world, than to SAVE the world.

And to do that, you have to communicate. “And how shall they hear without a preacher?” 

This Post is Dedicate to Bruce Morrison. The loudest Christian I ever knew, who hardly said a word.

Stop Holding On…And Just Be Held

cast

Some times things get so tough, so hard that you often wonder what is the point.  

As adults we are taught that “as the going gets tough, the tough get going” and “that which doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger”. I am a great fan of such sayings and I try to life my life by them. Being strong and of could courage is a message repeated many times through out the bible.

But sometimes….

We have to let go, and give it up to God.

1 Peter 5:5-7

5“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Casting all your care upon Jesus, because He cares for you.

It is important for us to be strong when we can be strong, to endure, to fight to push to resist. But when comes the time that you have done all you can do, you have carried all the burden you can, don’t be afraid to call on the Lord and let Him carry the load for a while

2 Cor 12: 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

So while I would never encourage you to give up completely, I would encourage you to take a rest when you come to the end of your endurance and don’t crumble under the load. Grace is God’s gift to us to fill the gaps that we can’t cross, don’t ever be too proud not to take advantage of every gift of God.

God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Its okay to be humble.

This song by Casting Crowns says it well.

Be Strong and Of Good Courage And the Lord Will Take You As Far As You Are Willing To Go.

Joshua 1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that theLord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

There is no limit to the things you can do in God.  There is nobody you can stop you from doing great things….except you.  God will accept whatever you choose to give him, he is not looking for your ability, merely your availability…and if you are willing to let God use you greatly He will.   Now his idea of great and ours might be completely different, but what Christian doesn’t want to be used in the best way to make the most impact on the kingdom.  Whatever role God gives you, your willingness will take it to its extreme.   It was Joshua’s willingness to do the things of God that took him from the mud pits of egypt to the conqueror of the Holy Land. Each time he was given an opportunity to excel, he did, even when others around him paled and ran.

Now God knows what you are capable of, and what you are willing to do, and he won’t ask more of you than that. But if you want to make an impact for the Lord, then gird up those loins and “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Trust In The Lord

proverrbs35

 

Romans 8:

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[b] with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Proverbs 3:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.

We don’t always know whats best for us, but God does.  And god doesn’t always let us know what is a head of us, usually for our own good.  So rest in Him …trust in Him, for your Father Loves you and will not see you come to harm

Matthew 6

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.