Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jesus, Lord Over Sin

“He said to them. ‘Go!” (Mat. 8:28-34)

Evil cannot stand in the presence of Jesus.  His holiness and authority require it depart, for he will not be moved.

The things that possess us, and the “sin that so easily entangles,” are obvious in the presence of the Lord.  His light exposes the darkness within us every time.  That’s why we feel too ashamed to pray at times.  But the joy of the Lord is to show us mercy and free us from the chains of our self-enslavement.

The only limit to the power of the Christ is our own will.  He will not do in us what we will not allow.  If we plead for him to go or refuse to let him deal with the sin that possesses us, he will honor our choice.  But if we seek him, he will drive it away.

What is Jesus’ presence exposing in your life?  What cries out in you at the very thought of him?  He has the power to release you, but you must draw near to him and ask.

The power to overcome sin is in Jesus the Lord.  Our desire and will are not enough.  "There is no one who is righteous," only Jesus.  Our need is not to become strong enough to beat our temptation.  Our need is to grow deeper in love and in nearness to Christ, and his Spirit will, by our welcoming, overtake our own and fill us with his holiness and righteousness.

Nothing can stand against the light of God.  "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."  (Mat. 6:32)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Live a Life...

In Ephesians, Paul encourages Christians to "live a life worthy of the calling you have received (Ephesians. 4:1)." It is interesting to note that he does not say to "live a Christian life" worthy of the calling you have received. His point, I believe, is that all aspects of my life (my entire life) are to be lived with a Christian worldview.

That's obvious, you say? The truth is that we often live two lives: a spiritual life as a Christian - at church or with Christian friends, and a secular life - at work, for example, or in our political and social lives. In other words, there are times when we consciously separate our Christian foundation from the things we may espouse in secular culture; indeed, allowing the world to heavily influence our thoughts rather than allowing the Spirit of God to guide all of our thoughts and actions.

In many ways, this may be the biggest struggle we face as Christians because the world has done a good job of convincing us that our "religion" has no place in the "real" world; that the "separation of church and state" precludes us from placing a Christian worldview on everything in our lives. Which, I believe, misses the point entirely.

One need not be an outspoken activist, creating a stir or distraction, to live a life that reflects the Christ - to be a light on the hill. Ultimately, the influence of the Christ in our individual lives is to see people differently, to treat people differently, to see and react to the world differently because "Christ's love compels us (2 Cor. 5:14)" to do so.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

If the only parts of our lives that are "Christian" are those that are seen by other Christians, what impact can we have?

Jesus Is Lord

Here are some encouraging thoughts I read this morning that I wanted to share with you. They were written by a long-time preacher, brother Kenneth Meade...

How fortunate we are to live this side of the cross and have the full benefit of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection! He set an example of high standards for us. He dwells within us and provides everything we need to live godly lives.

Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and Jesus for only three. Yet the influence of Christ’s three-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity. Jesus painted no pictures; yet some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him. Jesus wrote no poetry; but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world’s greatest poets were inspired by Him. Jesus composed no music; still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratorios they composed in His praise. Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by this humble carpenter of Nazareth.

Only Jesus Christ can break the enslaving chains of sin and Satan. Many people admire Christ and his teachings. Regrettably, few bow before His majesty and own Him as Lord and Redeemer.

Let Him be Lord of your life every day.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year!

Blessings, and Happy New Year!

The Open Door church of Christ is beginning its second year as a congregation of the Lord's people. The past year has been a blur - and full of peaks and valleys - but, we are greatly encouraged as we continue to build strong relationships with each other.

Our focus has not changed. As individuals, we are committed to "living a life worthy of the calling [we] have received," a phrase taken from Paul's letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 4:1). As a congregation, we are committed to enriching the community of Broken Arrow. As a family, we are committed to encouraging and building up each other. As members of the kingdom of God, we are committed to seeking His will first in our everyday lives.

Our resolve has not changed. We seek to serve as He served, love as He loved, and honor the Father as He honored the Father. We seek to create transparent Biblical leadership through our ministers and recently appointed deacons. We seek to add people-focused shepherds as soon as possible. We seek to find those works He "has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph.2:10)".

Our spirit has not changed. We will strive to build intimate spiritual relationships with one another. We will strive to resolve conflict directly and in love. We will "make every effort" to grow in goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love (2 Peter 1).

Our hope is that we will identify and confront our failures at every turn, forgive and ask forgiveness in every circumstance, and petition the Father in prayer at every opportunity. We ask for your prayers...and encourage you to join us in service to the King!