submission

Sanctification

We often seek a “right now” word, from God. Whether through preaching, teaching, reading, praying, or listening, a current and meaningful message is being sought. Many times, those messages are not really new at all, just more relevant than the last time we heard them.

As a child I remember many preachers, evangelists, and pastors preaching and teaching on the subject of sanctification or being sanctified. The vague memories I have (consider most of these memories are 20 years or more in the past) seemed to have more to do with holiness and salvation than actual sanctification. While I do see and understand the similarities and the direction the message was going, I can not say I remember any of those messages really “hitting the nail on the head”.

It is not my intent to undo any message, critique another’s sermon, nor undermine anything written, said, or heard. Instead, I hope to add to and hopefully broaden, if just a bit, the message of being sanctified. One of the difficulties when approaching this subject, is defining the subject. The word “sanctification” has several meanings which are similar, but distinct. Sanctification means to “set apart”, “make holy”, “make sacred”, “set free from sin”, and “make conductive to spiritual blessing”.

John:17:19: And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

Ephesians:5:26: That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

1st Peter:3:15: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

In those phrases and verses you can see a very general picture with very separate details. For the purpose of this writing I will focus on being “set apart”. Once you have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ the process of being sanctified begins. It is the process of being separated from the world (worldly ways) and dedicating yourself to His purpose for you. You can see how easily a message or teaching could go from sanctification to a message of holiness. Sanctification is an ongoing process, for we fight the flesh by the Spirit and this battle is fought until His appearing or our death.

Being sanctified, or set apart, is not a painless process. When we begin our separation from worldly ways and worldly lusts, it is not easy. The best analogy that comes to mind is “old habits die hard”. We are creatures of habit, and often lazy in spiritual matters, I speak from experience. We lose old friends, we refrain from going to old places (bars, casino’s, parties where drugs and alcohol are prominent), we truly begin a new life and that isn’t easy.

Today, I believe, the true church is being further set apart from the world. The refusal to call out sin or call a sin “sin” has become normal to many churches, while the true church confronts sin and shines the light into dark places. Homosexuality has been allowed to creep into the church as “acceptable” and even deemed worthy to become leaders within the church. Yet the true church proclaims the Word of God, stands firm, and declares sinners must repent. Many churches teach worldly prosperity, money, and worldly riches. The true church continues to teach “seek ye first the kingdom of God”, charity, and denial of self.

As these things continue to come against the church, and you as part of the church, it may get painful. The more you stand for what God has to say, the more you will be criticized, labeled as ignorant, or as an extremist. The more the world changes, the further the church will be separated from it. Keep this in mind:

Luke:12:51: Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
Luke:12:52: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
Luke:12:53: The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Luke:12:54: And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.
Luke:12:55: And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.
Luke:12:56: Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?
Luke:12:57: Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?

Sanctification is ongoing for the church. I will close with this: There is coming a “setting apart” where we will leave this world, be it by the grave or that trumpet sound. Once we are truly set apart from this world and from this flesh we will be with our Lord Jesus and serve Him eternally. Seek Him, seek His will, and be ready, for we could be “set apart” in a moment, in the twinkling of the eye!

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Compromise

We are taught and learn from an early age the value of how to compromise. Compromise is a great tool, a powerful tool, when used for the right reasons. It is the essence of what treaties are based on between warring factions. It is the common ground between differing opinions, it is an understanding with varying degrees of agreement.

Compromise is defined as “settling differences by mutual concessions” and “something intermediate between different things”. Most peace agreements in the world have been reached through compromise. It allows two opposing wills the opportunity to find a mutual agreement without the fear of further aggression.

One of the places we most often find compromise is in marriage. As I type this, I cannot help but to smile knowing my wife will laugh or roll her eyes when she reads this. Without compromise, would there be a lasting marriage, a real “til death do us part” marriage?

Marriage isn’t the only place compromise can be found. It extends to our families, siblings, cousins, etc. It also finds a place in our friendships. It allows us a way to find agreement with people we would otherwise never be able to associate with. It helps us grow stronger in our beliefs, it gives us perspective, and helps us to understand other points of view. Compromise is a good thing, in the right places.

The Word of God is the one place there is no room for compromise. Is there room in the church for compromise? Certainly, in the way things are done, in the way its ran, in the way it is set up, in the way that people are reached. For example, when do you pray, when do you sing, how is the offering collected, those things can be changed without harm, usually. Reaching out to the community can be done differently, through commercials, writings, advertisements and so on, and compromise on those things can be reached. The message of the church must not, and should not, ever be compromised.

Yet, generally speaking, today it is one of the church’s biggest problems. Too many are willing to compromise the gospel for the sake of filling the church. This is very contrary to what the Bible teaches:

2nd Thessalonians:2:15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

1st Timothy:4:1: Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

If you need one good reason why the Word should not be compromised, it is this: When you compromise the Word of God, you are saying it is not perfect, it is not good enough, it has fallen short. According to God’s word, we have fallen short, every man, not Him. He has more than met us half way, by coming down in the flesh of man, hanging from a cross, taking upon Himself the sin of the world, and dying, for us. His compromise toward us took place upon the cross, and when He said “it is finished” it was finished!

His life here was perfect. He offered Himself, a more perfect covenant than the law. He is holy and requires us to be holy, that does not speak of compromise. The only compromise must be on our part, in submission to Him.

This world wants you to compromise, your beliefs, your rights, and your faith. Be cautious, be wise as serpents, be gentle as doves, and guard yourselves. Compromise, in the right context is a good thing, but never let anyone or anything compromise His Word. Praise Him, because He is worthy, He is perfect, and His Word will endure forever, for it is perfect.

Scattered thoughts

This article marks the one year anniversary of my blog. I thought I would try something different to celebrate, through my writing. I like short, pointed, and articulate articles and make attempts to direct my writing toward that style. Today, however, I am going to depart from that and do something a bit different. Through the weeks many ideas for a writing come to mind, are jotted down as notes, then are rarely seen. Most give way to more thorough, comprehensive, structured teachings, illustrations, or encouragement. Today, I offer a peek into my thoughts and ideas from the past few weeks. These are a small collection of ideas, verses, and thoughts. Enjoy!

I had been considering writing an article on “liberal” Christianity. It is hard to imagine such a concept really exists, it appears to be an oxymoron. Can Christians really have liberal beliefs? Are there Christians who believe abortion, same sex marriage, adultery, or baring false witness is okay? Do certain circumstances make these things acceptable? What is the root cause, the foundational belief to allow any of these things to become tolerable? One concern is that true, doctrinal teaching has become too “old fashioned” or “too boring” for the majority of congregations. Is it because people no longer desire to submit themselves to the whole Word of God? Is this part of the apostasy? Many questions, few answers, but very deserving of a good study. Liberal defined as “abundant” and “broad”, reminds me of the narrow way to eternal life, broad is the way to destruction. Verse references would be:

Colossians:2:8: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
2nd Thessalonians:2:15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

A second thought or idea I had been considering began with a title, “The Perception Problem”. The idea began flowing something like this: The church has a perception problem, the way we are perceived and the way we perceive. Perception is defined as “apprehending by means of the senses or mind, it is also defined as “understanding”. The church, in general, perceives worldly ideas and teachings through the lens of the bible, which is the way it should be. The world attempts to perceive God’s truth through a carnal mind, which is not possible. The best description for both sides is “on the outside looking in”. Scripture references are:

John:8:23: And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
John:18:36: Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

The last few ideas are still in their infant stages and are not quite thought out, but here they are:

If Christ is the author and finisher of your faith, be of good cheer, your story ends “happily ever after”.

Waiting upon the Lord is not easy, patience is a virtue, and if He called you to do something, that time and place is on the way and ready, you are still being prepared. In due time He will lift you up, never forget to give Him the praise, it is His will, His strength, His sovereignty, not your patience that puts you there.

Do you love God? The answer should be yes, easily. Is that answer just lip service? Are you keeping His commandments? According to what Jesus said, if you love Him, you will keep His commandments. Yes, He fulfilled the law, but you cannot live to the flesh and reap a spiritual reward.

Sin must be punished. Why would a loving God send people to hell? Because He is a righteous God and has always punished sin. This is why Christ was beaten, mocked, and crucified. If you accept Christ as Savior, your sin has been punished in Him. Your life is hid in Him, and because He was spotless, because He rose again, you too will be made alive by Him. This is why Jesus is deserving of all praise, today and every day. “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun”.

These are a few of the things I had been considering, yet nothing really stood out. So, instead of giving one line of thought, I wanted to share a few of the things I have been considering. I rarely share partial thoughts or writings because so many things need to be corrected and some things can be taken out of context, yet tonight I throw caution to the wind and let these thoughts scatter. I hope you, the reader, have enjoyed reading these articles as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I am looking forward to another year of writing and watching as the number of readers grow, which is only possible by all of you who choose to share this blog with someone else. Thank you so much for your support, your prayers, and your kind words. Thank you Jesus, for the knowledge, the wisdom, and the understanding which has allowed me to serve You, and because You have given me a desire to serve, I pray the glory be to You, Jesus, my Love, my Friend, my Savior, my Lord, and my God.

Take a stand

Often times as a Christian it is difficult to express our beliefs to those who are not Christian. As with many things, it is not easy to understand something from the outside looking in. What could be so hard to understand? In my opinion, there is a word that a lot of people in the world no longer understand or put to use everyday. One word could be at the very core. What is that word? Submission.

Once a person accepts Jesus as the Lord of their life, they submit themselves to His Word and His authority. If that does not happen, have you accepted Him or are you attempting to use Him? If you cannot submit to His authority here what makes one suppose they will want to submit to His authority in Heaven or His soon coming Kingdom?

If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord, you must then also accept His Word, the Holy Bible, the inerrant Word of God given to men through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. His word, His desire, His commands, His laws must become ours. Why? If we do not submit to these things, we, in essence, say that we know better, that we have become more intelligent, that we have greater understanding. How foolish! If God is not all powerful, all knowing, and ever present, what purpose is there in serving Him? Also know that submission is not a one time act or something done when convenient. Submission is an ongoing act whether in season or out of season.

When the world brings about those things which are against the laws of God, it is only in submission to God that we must stand for what God says is right. Our opinion must mirror what the Word of God has to say about any given subject. In the eyes of the world, we as Christians are seen as hateful, proud, arrogant, self righteous, and hypocrites. In the eyes of the One you have submitted to you are seen as His precious child. Be bold, be brave for we are not here to please the world! Jesus was persecuted and we should expect no less. We do not speak out against people, we reach out in courage knowing we will be scorned. We, in love, knowing the bitter end of those who do not submit to Jesus, try to warn and sway any who will hear His word. It is in this sweet submission to the Master that we must be as bold as the three Hebrew children who feared not, being cast into the fiery furnace. It is not in defiance to the world but in submission to the only One who can save the soul that we must speak up, reach out, and endure all the world will throw at us. We are victors, more than conquerors! Not because i think so, but because God, in His word, said so. To Jesus be the glory, for He is truly worthy!