Thoughts on Pete’s Message December 26, 2014

God has blessed us exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think. He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. By his grace and mercy, he has given us spiritual gifts including the gift of salvation and the gift of the holy spirit. Along with these gifts, he has also entrusted us with material blessings. He has empowered us as stewards over these blessings so that we can appropriate them for his honor and glory.

In Isaiah 9 the Word of God implies that unto us a leader has been given… for the government shall be upon his shoulders. Understanding the meaning of “leadership” is to understand God’s calling of his only begotten son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A disciple is a disciplined follower of his Lord. A disciple follows his Lord, his leader… he is disciplined to follow in his master’s footsteps.

When God placed Adam and Eve into the Garden of Eden, he only gave them one rule: of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ye shall not eat. For on the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. The devil tempts man at his weakest point. He studies and understands the carnal nature of men whom God has called. He appeals to the lusts of the flesh, the pride of life, and the and the lust of the eyes. He distracts men of God to focus on the things of the world and not on things above. The devil starts with questioning the Word of God: “Did God really say…?” To counteract the devil’s distractions, men of God must turn their eyes upon Jesus and concentrate on following in the footsteps of The Lord… for he maketh my feet like hinds feet and setteth me upon my high places.

Jesus Christ’s brand of leadership was diametrically opposed to the world’s concept of leadership. No leader except Jesus had taught his followers to love their enemies, to bless them that persecute and despitefully use them… to recompense to no man evil for evil. Jesus said to do these things… for your reward is not of this world, but great is your reward in heaven.

Isaiah 42: talks about a leader in a fallen world: Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

Fairness and justice are found only in Jesus Christ. The scales of God’s Justice cannot be balanced in a fallen world. As Daniel proclaimed to King Belshazaar, “thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting.” Jesus taught his disciples to never expect justice in this world. Although God’s justice is not of this world, by his power in us, we should never fail to offer God’s justice through Jesus Christ. The essence of leadership is not to seek to receive, but rather to seek to give God’s justice, grace, and mercy, through Jesus Christ from a heart of love. As we give it away, God will continue to fill us.

Oswald Sanders wrote “Spiritual Leadership.” One of the themes of spiritual leadership is found in Jeremiah 45:5. I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me…

Because there is one Lord, do not seek great things for thyself. This is the opposite of the world’s motivation for leadership. It’s not about me, it’s about Him. It’s not about the praise of man and worldly accolades. It’s not about who we are, rather it’s about whose we are. You belong to whom you serve.

In Mark 10, James and John were the first of the twelve to arrive in Jesus’ presence. Before the others arrived, their request was to sit in honored positions on the right and left hand of Jesus. The other apostles also argued among themselves, each one claiming that he was the greatest of the twelve. Jesus reproved them all when he said, “whosoever shall be chiefest among you shall be servant of all.” Therefore, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ, who took upon himself the form of a servant and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

The purpose of the Ten Commandments was to show us that we could not keep the commandments on our own. Without God, we are totally inadequate to keep the law. For he who knows the law and keepeth it not, unto him it is sin. The law leads us unto Christ because it reminds us that we are sinners in need of God’s son to recompense, redeem and balance the scale of justice as the perfect payment for for our sin.

Often when men hear the Word of God, they give back to God the scraps from that which they have received from God. Jesus does not want your performance. He does not want your money… He wants your heart. Salvation is only by grace through faith.

The culture is in want of spiritual leadership. The enemy uses the military strategy of “divide and conquer.” The adversary has divided and conquered the culture of our times. The divisions are between the races, between the political right wing and left wing, between polarized secular political positions. The struggle among the socio-economic classes is a result of the adversary’s pitting opposing factions against each other… to divide between the rich and the poor, between the haves and the have nots. In marriage relationships, the divide and conquer rate of divorce in Orange County is 72%. In the church, divisions are among competing theologies, structures of hierarchy, and personal preferences of worship styles.

However, God is a God of reconciliation and unity. Reconciliation means to bring together that which has been divided. The power of unity through Jesus Christ shall overcome of the adversary’s strategy of “divide and conquer.” The power of unity is over-abundantly disproportionate to the power of division. Much more power is released in an atomic fusion (unity) reaction than in an atomic fission (division) reaction.

Reconciliation is the foundation of peace. Reconciliation is the balancing of God’s scale of justice by payment for the penalty of sin resulting in peace with God. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. His power is far more powerful than the the power of satan, the “god of this world.” Jesus Christ has broken down the partition of sin that separated us from God. For he who knew no sin became the sin sacrifice on our behalf, that we may be made the righteousness of God in him. Jesus Christ is our reconciliation… he has reconciled our debt of sin to our Heavenly Father by payment of his own blood, thereby making peace.

Ye are not your own… you have been bought with the price of the precious blood of the Lamb of God. According to Galations 3:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Therefore, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ, who took upon himself the form of a servant. Jesus Christ has the power of life over death. Therefore, choose life… come to Jesus and live.

May God richly bless you.
Your brother in Christ,

Thoughts on Pete’s Message December 19, 2014

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village…
The son of a peasant woman espoused to a lowly carpenter.
He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone…
Of all the armies that have ever marched,
all the navies that have ever sailed,
of all the governments that have ever ruled…
Nothing has changed the course of the history of mankind as much as this one single solitary life.

For he who knew no sin humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the father.

That in everything he might have dominion over the sin that separates us from the righteous judgement of almighty God. For Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, paid the price for our sin nature when he became the sinless sacrifice on our behalf, that we who were dead in trespasses and sin, may receive life and become the righteousness of God in him.

Many may have come to church burdened and heavy laden. We may have approached the throne of grace with a heavy heart. We celebrate Christmas so that Jesus the Christ, the son of the living God could come and rescue us from the darkness of our self-centered souls and the darkness of this fallen world. When we draw close to him, the first thing we hear him say is “I love you.” Though we were unworthy, he made us worthy and now by his grace his mercy has made us his own.

One solitary life, God’s only begotten son, was sent by God, so that the world would be saved by the shedding of his innocent blood.

Therefore we can forget what lies behind and press toward that which is ahead… for we press toward the mark of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus. He, having delivered us from the burden of guilt and shame, allows us access into the Holy of Holies. We can now come boldly before the throne of grace when we repent, when we turn from the darkness of the world and turn our eyes upon the bright and morning star, Jesus Christ, God’s day star, the light of the world.

When we as prodigal sons, come to ourselves, turn from the ways of the world, arise and go unto our Father because of the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf, our Father will run to meet us. He will embrace us in his arms.

We are blessed when we are meek and lowly of heart, humbling our hearts under the mighty hand of God.

Christmas ushers into his holy of holies… for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders. And his name shall be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, Prince of Peace… and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

May God richly bless you as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ, the Redeemer, the son of the living God!

Your brother in Christ,

(One Solitary Life is based on an essay by Dr James Allan Francis in “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia)

Thoughts on Pete’s Message, December 5, 2014

Isaiah 9 is a prophecy of the birthday of the Messiah:

Unto us a child is born.  Unto us a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder.  And his name shall be called wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, Prince of Peace.

Christmas is the fulfillment of this prophecy of Isaiah.

How do you celebrate Christmas?  The way to get outside of the secular culture of Christmas is to focus not on receiving, but rather on giving.  Children live for the gifts of Christmas presents.  However, we must live for the gift of Christmas presence, the presence of God in Christ in us.  God our father has already presented us with the greatest Christmas present of all… for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Continue reading