The Mandate for Believers!

It's easy to get lost in translation when it comes to living the Christian life.  I know and admit, there is a call to holiness that springs from being made righteous in Christ and thereby becoming the righteousness of God.  In our efforts to be like Jesus, and as the Apostle Paul says, to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God while not be conformed to this world but being transformed by the renewing of our mind. And of course, this renewal is impossible without the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit.  In all of our striving to be like Christ, let's not forget His commandment and commission to believers. It's commonly called the Great Commission.  

Matthew 28:18-20 "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I amwith you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen."

1. Jesus has all power.  The believer must rest in the fact that Jesus has all power to help you walk the Christian walk, and to do what God has called you to do. John said, "Greater is he that is in me than he that is the world."  Christ in you, Paul said, is the hope of glory.  Rest in this: your God is not a weak god. Jesus has ALL POWER in heaven and Earth.

2. Go. Jesus hasn't saved us, then left us to do nothing with our lives.  He has saved us and called us to go.  Go into your workplace.  Go into your school. Go to your family. Go to your neighbors. Go to your friends. Go to the broken. Go to the hurting. Go to the addict and the desolate.   GO! God has called us to go! Who is around you today that you need to go to?

3. Make Disciples. This is the crux of the call of the Christian.  Make disciples.  This means that Jesus is the hope of the world, and without Jesus people are going to hell. Without his saving power in and through their lives, we are all damned. Has our view shifted away from the saving power of Jesus, who is the only one who can save us from our sins and make us right before God. Lord, help us make discipled. Convict us till we do! 

4. Baptize them.  Don't let your faith remain secret. Go public, and wash away your sins in the name of the Lord.  We identify with Christ in baptism.  We are, as the Apostle Paul says, "buried with Him in baptism, in the likeness of His death."  (Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12) In the book of Acts, the disciples who followed Jesus' mandate in the Great Commission, baptized believers.  When a person believed and repented they were baptized in the name of Jesus. (Acts 2, 8, 10)  If you have believed in the Lord Jesus and repented of your sins, you need to be baptized! (Acts 2:38)

5. Teach them. Living for the Lord, making disciples isn't just about the number of people that get saved. (Though this is extremely important.)  It is also about learning to walk the Christian walk.  This is where being taught to follow Christ comes in.  We find Jesus' teaching in the Gospels, and we see the Apostles demonstrating what it means to live the Christian live in the Epistles (Romans - Jude). To be repetitious, remember Romans 12:2 - don't be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind! 

6. Jesus is with us. In this whole journey, from the moment you first believe, till the moment you die, God is with us.  He is with us, not in a bodily form as Jesus was in the Bible; rather, he is with us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  John 14:26, " But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."  God is with us. 

Have you sought the power of Jesus in your life today?  Believe on Him and repent of your sins!  

Have you obeyed the Great Commission today?  

My prayer is that you are stirred to obey the Gospel, and to share the Gospel.  

In Christ, 

Pastor B

 

 

God's Grace and Self-Control

Titus 2:11-14  "For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly livesin this present age,  while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

Paul's epistle to Titus is interesting. A repeating theme and word throughout the epistle is self-control, and the importance of living a self-controlled life.  Paul even credits the grace (Titus 2:12-14) of God, something we all need a little more of, for giving us the ability to say yes to self-control. Self-control is a life lived fully reliant on the Holy Spirit and resting in God's grace day after day.

 I know, we don't like to talk about self-control because it is counter-culture - we are a free and enlightened people, especially in America - so we think.....

The 17th Century philosopher Rene Decartes coined the phrase "I think therefore I am." From this idea, society's began to search within themselves for sacredness, and we stopped searching outside of ourselves for the sacred.  As one writer, Cal Newport said, "From Decartes' skepticism came the radical belief that the individual seeking certainty trumped a God or king bestowing truth." While the following Enlightenment period of history freed many from oppression it also made many in the West more shallow because they sought sacredness within, instead of looking to God without. 

Our search for God doesn't come from our own being - and to use a Decartes word, God is not innate - but the search for Him is. So, in our self control, let us search outside of our own goodness for God. 

This is encouraging: immediately when we begin to search for God, He makes himself known to us. No matter where you are at this moment in life - hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit as He leads you. Perhaps you will battle within yourself, and that's okay. The Apostle Paul did too in Romans 7, and even lamented, "when I want to do good, I can't," and then he asked, "who can deliver my from this body of death?"

Here is how we accept self-control empowered by the Holy Spirit: we realize that self-control is only possible through God's Grace.

1. The Grace of God offers salvation to all. This means God's grace is available to you and me today, in this moment right now. God's grace is sufficient and able. The Grace of God is the goodness and favor of God that leads me to salvation. Depend on His Grace to keep you today.

2. The Grace of God helps us say "no" to what we need to say no to, and "yes" to what we need to say yes. Say no to ungodliness and worldly passions - or, say no to addiction, to sin, to jealousy, to anything that separates me from God and isolates me from relationships. Say yes to self control, to upright and godly living.  This wonderful grace of God helps me say yes to the things I need to say yes to, and it is found in self-control.

3. The Grace of God helps us keep our eyes on Jesus.  It is God's grace that empowers me to keep my eyes on Jesus. I cannot do anything without Him and His Grace. This Grace of God empowers me to live with the expectation of Jesus Christ - and that's what I will do.

In conclusion - fully rely on God's grace today.  There is nothing you are facing in this moment that the Grace of God cannot give you strength to overcome. The Grace of God is available to all, it empowers all, and it expects goodness from all.  

2 Corinthians 13:14 "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

Much Love, In God's Grace, 

Pastor Brandon

 

Never Done It That Way

John 16:24(NLT) -  "You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy."

Have you known anyone to do something different than the way you would do it? I mean, their way works, but it's not your way. And, inevitably you try their way and it is way better than what you were doing?

Jesus had a similar situation. 

Jesus looked at his 12 disciples in one of his last talks with them in John 16 and said, "you haven't done this before." Something strangely new would be on the horizon for the disciples, and they'd have to deal with it.  

A new way of doing things always challenges the norm of complacency, the routine of mediocrity, and the comfort of tradition.  Up until this point the disciples had been with Jesus and new him personally, but very soon, they would have to rely on the Holy Spirit to lead and direct them. (Acts 2, 3, 8, 10). They had never done it that way before.  The norm was Jesus walking with disciples into a town and people who were sick and bound would come to Jesus and he would heal and deliver them.  Now, this would change. 

The new way they would do it: 

They would do it in the name of Jesus: They would pray to the Father, in Jesus' name. Jesus himself had already told them that he came in his Father's name (John 5:43, 10:25), only now the disciples would understand that access to God came in the name of Jesus. 

If we glance through the book of Acts and the Epistles, I'd say the name of Jesus worked! 

If you've never prayed and called on the name of Jesus, today is a good day. I know, you may say "Brandon, my way is just fine..." I promise you, if you will surrender your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, it is a better way. 

You've never done it that way before.... but give it a chance! Call on His Name!

Much Love, 

Pastor Brandon Cox