Brothers And Sisters In Christ Ministries


Reverend Steven A. Knotts

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November 03, 2013

God...the Master Chef 

Greetings in the name of the Risen Christ!

This is dedicated and directed to the countless millions of faithful servants of Christ who labor quietly and tirelessly for our Lord…

How many times have you looked to the “giants” of the faith not only as a source of inspiration, but instead have felt more than a little intimidated especially when compared to your own efforts?  We generally view their achievements far - obviously without any intent on their parts – eclipsing our own.

I know personally I have viewed the giants of the faith like Billy Graham, Dwight Moody, Charles Spurgeon, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitfield, et al…but even more impressive, the heroes of faith from the Bible listed in Hebrews 11 – with not a little envy.  The list is long and illustrious.  We all want to slay the giants, lead the oppressed to freedom, overcome insurmountable odds, all while remaining steadfast and uncompromising.  But, we also have to remember the trials and testings these same individuals underwent in order to be equipped by God to accomplish His purposes.

When we bring it down to a level more of us can practically identify with, how many of us have read of others’ achievements – people we can more readily relate to – “real” people, and thought…why can’t I do that?  Or be more like that?  Or, how often have we sat in church listening to an inspiring sermon/teaching, or listened to a really great worship band and wished that WE could do that?  Granted, many pastors have often lauded the tireless servitude of those often unnamed and often overlooked and taken-for-granted servants who labor in such “unglamorous” ministries as the “kitchen ministry”, “nursery/childcare”, “usher/greeters”, etc., not to mention all those who volunteer to clean-up after this meeting or that function.  And, what about those who labor quietly behind the scenes to ensure that our “church experience” is the best, most rewarding, and most comfortable as it can be?  Those who show up early (often hours earlier) and stay later (often hours later)?  Those who get there early to unlock doors…clean sidewalks and driveways of ice/snow…set-up chairs?  Those who work the sound and lights for “the big show”?  The office staff…those who answer the phones…make the calls…put together and distribute printed materials?

Remember, what we do should always be first and foremost for the Lord, not for our own edification!  If we desire the praise of our fellow man, we may (or may not) receive it, but if we do that will be our only reward or acknowledgement; a fleeting flicker of “fame”.  Seek not the praise and approval of others, look to the Lord.  And, keep in mind, since this praise is from men, might it not also be “false praise, from flattering lips”?  Is this the “reward” we should be seeking?  No, we should all look forward one day to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21-23). 

If we receive our reward or credit here, we can’t expect to get it later as well.  It says in John 12:42-43, 42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Himlest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

Similarly, remember the hypocrites in Matthew 6, when Jesus says, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”

At any rate, each of us have our own “race to run”.  Don’t look to the side to see how the other person is doing – you’ll only break your stride.  They have their race to run…you have yours.

Don’t look over your shoulder – you’re already past whatever is there.  Besides, trust in the Lord to be your rear-guard.  He will at the same time go on before you to clear your path, but will also protect you from whatever might be behind you.  Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14:  12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Focus on the prize – keep your eyes on Him.  Run your own race.

I can recall as a child in elementary school during art sessions; I remember coloring away with my basic, “Roy-G-Biv” box of 8 Crayola’s (which were all my family could afford), and happen to let my gaze wander to my classmate’s work area and the picture they were working on.  They would have the HUGE box of crayons – 64 colors!  Including “periwinkle” – with a built-in crayon sharpener in the box!  Yes, I must confess, I did indeed covet my neighbor’s crayons.  And, to my dismay and great disappointment, my heretofore excitement over the picture I was coloring suddenly vanished…like vapor.  Suddenly, no matter how much time and effort I had invested, it just didn’t seem to count for much.  When we start to compare our performance and our accomplishments to others’ we are navigating waters that are better left uncharted.

God knows every fiber of our being; our very essence.  He has known all of this since the beginning of time.  You, and your role, were determined long before you were formed.  God, in His perfect timing, brings forth everything at exactly the right time and in exactly the right way.  While your part, to you, might seem insignificant, to God…it is essential.  In fact, anything and everything the vast majority of us may do (the good AND the bad) will have no readily discernible effect at all…but rather, what we do (or don’t do) may profoundly affect someone/something else, which in turn affects someone/something else, and on and on.  We need to consider Isaiah 46:9-11 which says, Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country.  Indeed I have spoken itI will also bring it to pass. I have purposed itI will also do it.”  All people and events are intertwined, interdependent, and interrelated.  We just don’t often see it.  It’s kind of like looking at the back side of a tapestry – all disjointed bits and pieces of thread…no apparent pattern…but when you turn it over – a marvelous picture emerges.

God is truly the Master Chef.  Just as you can tell when even one small (but essential ingredient) is missing from a dish, and you may not even be able to identify exactly what was missing, you just know that something is lacking – so does He know exactly what is needed in the casserole.  So, the next time you see on TV a giant outdoor arena filled with 50,000+ people listening to one of our faith-leaders (and may God truly continue to bless their ministries!), don’t feel that your efforts don’t matter when you compare that to your tiny, little congregation, or your discipleship group of at most 3-6 people.  God can cook in small pots just as well as He can in large ones!



December 2012


I originally posted the following article as my official “Christmas Message” on Christmas Eve, 2011.

However, since that time, I have received many questions and concerns raised through my on-line missionary ministry which this article addressed.  Additionally, I've received feedback from a number individuals who derived a great deal of comfort and peace from this post and I have had requests to re-post it – so, that’s exactly what I am doing!

Let us never forget, without the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, thus redeeming us forever, a celebration of His birth would have been meaningless.  While we celebrate His birth, let us never lose sight of His sacrifice and His gift to us…that of mercy and grace!

May you all have a blessed Christmas!

- Pastor Steve

December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve message…

As we gather this Christmas season to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Christian radio, print media, the internet, and personal interactions are flooded with messages of encouragement, inspiration, and good cheer – all competing to be the most unique and memorable message – one which could become, in a sense, a “Hallmark” moment.

When I first decided to post a short message marking this momentous occasion, I was immediately inundated by many thoughts regarding the type of message I should post.  These all had the form and substance of a “traditional” theme…but the question was…how to say it in such a way that would somehow set it apart from all the other messages?

But almost as soon as the ideas began to coalesce, a deeper urging kept nudging these to the side. Despite my best efforts at ignoring this while I focused on how I could deliver a message that is somehow unique…different than those which have undoubtedly been delivered in countless different ways by both countless known, and unknown messengers over the past 2,000+ years, this one particular thought kept creeping to the forefront – that of forgiveness.

I wrestled with this concept for a while.  Why would I want to focus a “Christmas” message on forgiveness – shouldn’t the message be one of “glad tidings of great joy to all mankind”?  Shouldn’t I save the “forgiveness” aspect for an Easter message? I know that far too often many people, (myself included) particularly at this time of year, want a message that will “tickle their ears” – something that will make them “feel good”.  But, we must remember…it’s not about us.

At any rate, this date – and as people who study the “Word” know that this date has been arbitrarily selected from many possible dates – is actually of lesser importance; the actual time of Christ’s first arrival is far overshadowed when compared to the significance of His second.

So, while this specific event is a fulfillment of the prophecies spoken by Isaiah and other prophets, as well as alluded to as far back as the Book of Genesis, this time is still a mere foreshadowing of two even more momentous events – those of our Savior’s death and resurrection and His ultimate triumphant return!

Obviously God has been trying to lead us to focus not so much on the birth of Jesus Christ, but rather upon His death and resurrection!  So, this date is merely an arbitrary time which marks both a beginning and an end.  It marks an end to the suffering under the onus of burdensome man-made laws, rules, and regulations which we, mankind, had put in place to better clarify the few, simple, clear-cut, yet impossible-to-follow due to our sin-nature, directions that God gave in order to have a lasting relationship with Him. If we can’t follow a simple list of 10 things that God has given us, what makes us think that we could ever faithfully and totally adhere to the hundreds of rules and regulations developed by man which mark “the law”?  Most importantly this event marks a beginning – that of a final reconciliation with Him.

No, we can’t do this on our own.  It is only through the cross-work of Christ that we can ever hope to come into Our Father’s holy presence.  Not by anything we have done – not by works – only by the shed blood of Jesus Christ for the remission of all sin…and grace through faith.  It can all be summed-up in simple mathematics… “Jesus + nothing = salvation”.

So, during this season of giving…if you’re at odds regarding “what to get someone” perhaps the greatest gift you can give others is the gift of forgiveness…and not just YOUR forgiveness, but our Father’s forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not just a bi-lateral act.  In other words, it’s not a matter of someone committing a wrong toward you and then you forgiving them, forgetting it, and moving forward.  But rather, it’s a TRI-lateral act; one which involves you, the transgressor, AND God.  Therefore, when you pray, it is not enough to merely ask forgiveness for your sins and to “forgive others” for the wrongs they have committed toward you – but rather, pray that God will forgive those who have sinned against you – that their sins should be blotted-out and remembered by Him no more.  In this way, with Christ’s intervention, you can truly balance the books.

So, in conclusion…if this message has offended anyone or upset anyone or caused any discomfort – I apologize, but I’ve done my job.  However, if it has nudged anyone even one step closer to the saving grace of Christ, then the Holy Spirit has done His job.

Thank you and have a blessed Christmas!


Pastor Steve


Week of:  April 17 - 23, 2011

Are we too, walking the “Roman Road”?

 

I recently read an excellent article “America Is Traveling Down The Roman Road”, by Dale V. Nobbman which was a couple of weeks ago onwww.prophecynewswatch.com and can be read in its entirety onwww.raptureready.com 

 

I’ve been pondering the current climate in our country for quite a while and was preparing an article similar in nature.  However, the estimable Mr. Nobbman beat me to the punch and published it first (and much more succinctly, I might add!).

 

So, rather than merely reiterating what the author has so eloquently stated, I will just include a few of the highlights and suggest you visit the above referenced sites to read his article.

 

As the article states, “The downfall of the Roman Empire resulted from a gradual downturn of their political, economic, and military systems, not to mention the decline of social institutions, including their originally established higher (emphasis/sarcasm added by me) social morals. Barbarian (people alien to the Roman culture) invasions and settlement within their empire were the final doom.”

 

We too are facing the inevitable…  Take a look at the below bullet points emphasized by Mr. Nobbman and compare those to the current situation.  The following are only a few of the more major crises faced by “western civilization” and specifically, our current culture in the United States.  This trend began in western Europe and for a while, the US escaped, or at least was partially insulated from the more rapid encroachment of these ideals.  Europe’s decline into rampant socialism happened at a much more rapid pace than it has here (until now!) due primarily to their “enlightened” and elitist attitude (self-designated).  We too, have followed suit, embracing the very ideals which are now wreaking havoc in Europe.

 

At any rate, Mr. Nobbman identified the following as being some of the more significant events and trends – some to a greater and others to a lesser degree – which brought about the eventual decline and ultimate collapse of the Roman “civilization”.


  • Increased economic inequality among its citizens.  The Romans implemented a system of tax collection that drove many small-scale farmers and business owners out of business, which resulted in more out of work people being dependent on the government, which placed even more tax burden upon those who could not escape taxation.  Sometimes the poor were dependent upon the elite who were exempt from taxation.
  • Incompetent political leadership.
  • Incompetent military leadership.
  • The implementation of substantial political and economic reforms.
  • Cultural and political dilution (barbarization) leading to differing opinions, paths and standards among a diverse population, creating societal problems.
  • Intrusion of alien religious ideas.
  • The Romans fought with most of the Middle East countries and many other countries, resulting in a strained military and a drain on financial resources.
  • High inflation caused by years of Roman coinage devaluation.
  • Land was withdrawn from cultivation on a very large scale.
  • Roman society became more complex as it tried to solve problems, creating new layers of bureaucracy, infrastructure and social classes.
  • Urbanization and overpopulation of cities resulted in increased disease epidemics, water and food shortages.
  • An almost non-existent budgetary system, resulting in wasted monetary resources.
  • Moral decay.  Sexual immorality and perversion became out-of-control, including rampant homosexuality, prostitution, pornography, orgies, slaves used for sex, increased lust for blood and violence in sporting events, and other debauchery.
  • Diminished fortifications to protect cities from barbarians.  Invasions by the Visigoths, Vandals, Germanic tribes, etc…led to a clash of civilization when the invaders ‘settled’ within Roman land.
  • Reduced tax revenue when barbarians wanted to take part in the benefits of the Roman way of doing things, without paying back into the system, resulting in a crumbling infrastructure.
  • The empire ‘spent more money than it took in’ due to the enormous budget it took to maintain the military and infrastructure such as the roads and water supply.  This forced the Romans to frequently raise taxes, which in turn caused major economic stress.
  • Additional economic stress was placed on the empire when a greater amount of money had to spent on social services to keep a restless public happy.  This included the promise of pension payments made to retired bureaucrats.


As Mr. Nobbman so aptly stated, “See if you can plug our current ‘buzz words and talking points’ into the corresponding Roman problems listed…  For example, words and phrases such as increased taxes, increasing social class economic inequality, unemployment, political partisanship and finger-pointing, President Obama, Social Security, Medicare, Health Reform, urbanization, illegal immigration, intolerance, Islamists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria, the U.S. military budget, war justification, inflation, a devalued U.S. dollar, the CRP agricultural program, governmental bureaucracy, diseases, super-bug bacteria, over-spending by government, budget shortfalls at all levels of government, obsession with sex and sports, …” 

   

All of these, and many more, are all too prevalent in America today. Complete treatises could be written on each of the above mentioned points.

A writing often (mistakenly or not) attributed to a Scottish historian/professor named Alexander Tyler – later identified as Alexander Frazer Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (1747-1813) – wrote a number of books in the late 1700’s – has floated around the internet for quite some time. It is undoubtedly part “urban-legend” and is most likely a blending of the works/thoughts of several individuals. Nevertheless, there is a nexus of truth behind the aggregate thought put forth which can readily be discerned – to those willing to accept and apply it. 


"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government."


"A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.  From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose [sic] fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."


"The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years."


During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:


1. From bondage to spiritual faith; 
2. From spiritual faith to great courage; 
3. From courage to liberty; 
4. From liberty to abundance; 
5. From abundance to complacency; 
6. From complacency to apathy; 
7. From apathy to dependence; 
8. From dependence back into bondage
.


While there is not always a distinct delineation between these “stages”, but rather a slight blurring, I firmly believe that we, as a nation, are somewhere between #6 and #7. I think any student of history – serious or casual – can look at the major events which have unfolded over our country’s history and identify those which have prompted the progression to the next “step”.  Keep in mind, a nation/civilization may stay at one “step” longer than at others and may reside in two or more steps at once.  But, the overall progression is a natural order.

 

One has to view this as a continuum of sorts with many of the “steps” overlapping to some degree, but it is fairly obvious that a definite cycle exists.  In other words, once steps on the path have been taken, there is no going back – there may be delays and/or  slight detours, but not a retracing until the cycle completes.


Is it too late to stem or turn the tide?  Probably… but, we would only be delaying the inevitable.  The future has already been written.  Our ultimate destiny has already been determined since the beginning (not to mention having been written down and “sealed-up”)…it’s just a matter of time.  How much time – some like to say:  until May 21, 2011; others forecast May 27, 2012; and still others, a  popular and an ever increasing group of secular “doomsday” theorists cast their lots toward a cataclysmic ending on December 20 (or 21st), 2012.  As I mentioned several times previously (see archives), “the end of time” has been prophesized practically since the beginning of time.

 

One thing is sure, our time – the rule of man on earth – is rapidly drawing to a close and we have only to look forward to the “coming wrath of the Lamb” which will bring about Christ’s righteous rule.  God, our Heavenly Father knows when this will be.  He has provided, through the Scriptures, enough for us to know “the season”. The only important remaining question, and one which have eternal consequences, will be…to which fold will you and I be shepherded…with the sheep?  Or, with the untold vast multitudes of goats?  I KNOW where I will be – my Redeemer lives – do you?

 

Blessings,


Pastor Steve

 

Week of:  February 6 – 12, 2011

 

Falling away…

 

For anyone who wonders what happened to the posting for the week of January 23 – January 29, 2011…not only am I late in posting this, I have also deviated from my planned writing series altogether.  But, having been lead with a sense of urgency to address this subject – certainly not in the depth it deserves – I nevertheless felt compelled to move an article on this subject to the forefront; I can always expand on it later.

 

Therefore now, as in the future, rather than attempt to adhere to a specific topic which I select, I will leave this to the Lord and follow wherever His  Spirit leads in writing and posting.

 

It has been over two week since I began to prepare this article.  I had already outlined another more eschatological series in which I really wanted to discuss many of the prophetic signs that are occurring with greater frequency and intensity. 

 

Initially, in an effort to “compromise”, I attempted a common human – and thus futile – effort to “blend” or otherwise merge these two topics, which was met with failure.  So, from this point forward, until lead differently, I will leave this entirely to the Lord and write as the Spirit directs.

 

As written in 1 Timothy 4 (New American Standard Version – and unless noted differently, I will use the NASB version as a primary reference – more on this subject later):

 

1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron..."  

 

I, like many of you, have been both alarmed and thoroughly disgusted by the apostasy evidenced in religion, particularly the “mainstream” religions. We have entered an era where, in addition to chasing after other “gods” and false idols, the pursuit of the truth and walking in the way of God has given way to worship of the self.

 

Far too often in our so-called age of enlightenment and the accompanying media hype, we are presented with this “prosperity theology” particularly within the evangelical ministry…we can have more, be more, do more, etc.  Do NOT be deceived.  Those who espouse this apostasy are nothing more than “false christs” for whom special judgment will be reserved and the sheep who are so desperate for meaning in their pathetic lives and for instant gratification are being deceived and are being lead to their ultimate destruction. 

 

This world view and its focus on one’s sense of self is totally unbiblical and totally without merit. Any focus that does not keep God at the center is not only unscriptural, but is doomed to failure.

 

Those who are told and those who feel that they are basically a “good” person and swallow the ever increasingly popular opinion that, “…there are many different ways” to find God and that, “…there are many different paths that ultimately will lead to God”, and that, “their god is a loving god and he would never punish them for minor indiscretions” are deluding themselves.

 

Jesus is quoted in Matthew 7:12-14 saying:  13Enter through the narrow gate; 14for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it…”

 

Also, Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”.

 

The large, corporate churches will ultimately fail along with many of our recognized mainstream religions.  They will either eventually reach critical mass and implode sucking everyone into a black-hole of permanent separation from God, or in their continuing efforts to “be inclusive” and serve too many self-interest groups, they are denying the faith and perverting and diluting the truth.  In fact, whenever convenient, this “truth” itself is often rewritten so that as many people as possible may identify with, and buy into, their particular brand of theology.


Numbers, which translate to dollars, are what is driving the mega-churches and many of the mainstream religious establishments.  The more money and the more “programs” and “ministries” which appeal to a wider and wider “customer/consumer-base” all in the name of helping others and bringing more people into the fold is the engine which drives these organizations.  In fact many have practically rewritten the reasons for the saving grace of Jesus and His justification based on faith completely out of the equation.  God and His ultimate judgment has been relegated to a role of minor importance.

 

As a result, they pervert and pollute the “truth”.  They have watered-down the Scriptures and are busily rewriting controversial portions so as not to “offend” anyone and to be “politically” correct.  In order to avoid being stereotyped or otherwise “labeled” as a “fundamentalist”, a “rightwing fanatic”, a “homophobe”, “islamaphobe”, etc. – one who adheres to “the Word” simply bites their tongue and remain quiet. 

 

In fact, what one should wear as a badge of honor, i.e. that of being labeled as “orthodox” or “fundamental” in popular thinking, these terms have now taken on a negative connotation.

 

In this age of compromise consumers and spectators of religion will often accept many things that are contrary to their core beliefs (albeit with a little quiet grumbling to themselves) as long as their individual needs are mostly met and as long as most of their particular concerns are addressed and as long as these core values are not challenged to a degree they can't accept.  In this age of “go along to get along” people are forced into a polite acceptance and implicit or tacit approval of things which run contrary to their, and more importantly, God’s principles.  In fact, a great many people do not even know their principles any longer; they can easily be manipulated or coerced into adopting the herd’s opinion.

 

We have allowed ourselves to be “led away” by challenges to sound Scriptural theology and adherence to God’s word.

 

"Difficult Times Will Come"

 

2 Timothy 3:1-17 states: "1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; 5Avoid such men as these.  6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, lead on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of truth.  8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith.  9But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes' and Jambres' folly was also.  10Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!  12Indeed, all who desire to live in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."  


How to avoid this? Simple…study the Scriptures and learn to rightly divide the word.  And, what exactly IS this “Word”?

 

An Unashamed Workman – Rightly dividing the word (2 Timothy 2:15)

 Rightly dividing the Word...this is the key, an onerous task for one who tend to read with less than a high degree of critical analysis.  But, it is this correct division which will ultimately impart understanding.


14Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.  15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.  16But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17and their talk will spread like gangrene..."


Understanding that each book, chapter, and verse was written at a specific time for a specific audience and for a specific purpose is pivotal in attaining clarity of thought and understanding.


The commonly recognized Protestant Christian "Bible" is a collection of 66 books containing hundreds of chapters and thousands of verses written by over 40 authors of diverse backgrounds over roughly a 1500 year period and covering a history, and future, of over 6,000 years or so.


Some of these were written to be taken literally, allegorically, metaphorically, or prophetically.  Many are simply no more than factual recitations of events as recorded by the participants in and/or observers of the events which occurred.  The key is in knowing and understanding why they were written, to whom they were directed, and what message was/is intended to be conveyed.


The vast majority of people who at least still show some degree of interest into the meaning of God's word have become lazy.  They would rather let someone else do their thinking for them.  This is evidenced most frequently by the prominence of so-called "experts" who parrot-back with their own interpretation and analysis of every single word uttered by any public figure, politician, movie-star, sports figure, etc.  People don't even bother formulating an opinion until others have had the opportunity to formulate it for them, and then only after carefully weighing the potential negative impact of any, correct or otherwise, opinion regarding their own reputation or standing.


There is a proliferation of "user friendly Bibles" exploding on to the scene as quickly as they can be printed written with the purported purpose of making the "antiquated and "archaic" writings" (the Scriptures) "more relevant" and/or easier to understand.


Inspired Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17) interprets itself.  It doesn't require the massaging of the knotty portions in order to impart understanding.  All too often the more "controversial" issues are either glossed-over, marginalized, or omitted altogether.


The serious Bible student should find a translations/edition that is the closest to the original Aramaic, Hebrew, or Greek and STUDY it!  Pray to the Lord for Him to impart to you the wisdom and discernment necessary to obtain the proper understanding of God's will.


People will complain that...modern day religion/church is just not relevant anymore; the most recent writings were authored almost 2,000 years ago...they simply just don't apply to our present-day society and culture.  Times have changed.  No, it is we who have changed - not God.  As written in Hebrews 13:7-9, 


"7Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.  8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  9Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace..."


Blessings, 


Pastor Steven


 

January 16 - 22, 2011

As Far As The East Is From The West…

 

King David, the psalmist wrote in Psalm 103… 

   “8The LORD is compassionate and gracious,

      Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

    9He will not always strive with us,

     Nor will He keep His anger forever.

   10He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

     Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

  11For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

     So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

  12As far as the east is from the west,

     So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

  13Just as a father has compassion on his children,

     So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

Ever since coming to Christ, I’ve pondered these words.  Does God really “forget” our sins?  Can an omniscient being ever truly forget?  When Christ, who was both God and man, offered Himself as ransom for our sins, He paid a debt He didn’t owe for a debt we could never repay. He offered Himself as a gift – we only have to accept this gift of grace to assure our eternal relationship with God.

When you stop to think about just how far our sins have been removed from us – as far as the east is from the west – at first blush, this may just seem to be a metaphorical way of expressing the depth and breadth of God’s forgiveness. But, I think it goes even further.

In choosing this particular metaphor it would appear as though our ancient brethren knew more about geography than we might have originally thought….keeping in mind that this was almost a millennium before initially ceded credit.

Why didn't he say, as far as the north is from the south?  For a very good reason.  If you were to board an airplane at the South Pole and begin flying due north at some point you will cross over the North Pole.  At that point, if you continue in a straight line, what happens?  All of a sudden, you find yourself flying SOUTH.

Now, if you board an airplane in say…San Francisco and begin flying eastward, crossing the United States, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, crossing the European, African, and Asian continents and eventually coming to the Pacific Ocean and continuing; you will eventually reach your starting point of San Francisco.  Never once changing direction!

In other words, you can circumnavigate the entire globe by going either west or east and never once change direction.  You can’t say the same when traveling north or south.

So, as far as the east is from west, this is how far God has removed our sins from us!  

Keep God and Christ number one in your life – witness for Christ, shout and share the good news!

Have Blessed Day!

Yours in Christ, 

Pastor Steve 


Additional thoughts…see:

 Isaiah 43:25 (NASB)

 25"I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

Jeremiah 31:34 (NASB)

“No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

 

Hebrews 8:11-13 (NASB)

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

 

Hebrews 10:15-18 (NASB)

15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, 16" THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:  “I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,".  He then says, 17"AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE."

 

 


And so...our sin is removed from us by the grace of God - as far as the east is from the west...

Psalm 103:8-12

[8] The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
[9] He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
[10] He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
[11] For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
[12] As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.


TWO EXCELLENT BIBLE SEARCH SITES:

Revised Standard Edition:
http://www.hti.umich.edu/r/rsv/browse.html

King James Version:
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/k/kjv/browse.html
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