Don’t Be One of Those People

2 Peter 2

2 Peter 2 1

For every ounce of truth a lie is out there.  In 2 Peter 2 the apostle warns of those people who would distort the truth or add to it.  He warns in verse 1 from the beginning that false teachers and false prophets are out there twisting, distorting, and adding to the truth.  By truth here he is referring to the message of Jesus Christ.

Today it is not uncommon to hear people say things like – all roads lead to God, and regarding religion: I’m looking for what works best for me.  These are twisted and in some cases flat out lies about the truth.  The truth of the matter is that Jesus is the son of God and that he is the ONLY way to the Father, and the ONLY source of salvation and forgiveness, and the ONLY hope for eternal life. This is the message that Jesus taught and that God confirmed when he spoke from the heavens saying that Jesus was his beloved son in whom he was well-pleased as referred to in 2 Peter 1:17.  Jesus is the ONLY way!   Anyone who would persuade you otherwise may fall into the category of the false teachers and prophets of whom Peter warns.

This is why it is important for Christians to know what the word of God says – so they will not be deceived by these false teachers and prophets.  If something someone says is contrary to scripture or seeks to add to it in ways that do not agree with scripture then watch out!  And for goodness sakes – don’t be so foolish as to be one of those people who leads others astray!  We must know God’s word and be filled with His spirit to be able to discern what is true and what is false.

In concluding the chapter Peter reminds us that God has not turned a blind eye to those who lead others astray because of their acts of deception but rather that their destruction is sure.  So to sum up Peter’s words to us:  Don’t be one of those  people  who is either led astray or leads others astray from the truth!

Merry Peterson

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Are You Eagerly Waiting?

Hebrews 9

Hebrews 9 15

I asked you a question yesterday as we considered some passages in Hebrew 8.  That question was for you to decide what kind of heart you have.  The reason that is important is because the kind of heart that you have determines what other people see in you.  Do they see a person who loves God?  Do they see a person with a heart for serving Jesus and others?  Do people see a person who trusts God no matter what might happen in your life?  Or, are you like the Israelites?  Do people see a person overcome by sin?  A person impatient with God, who wants things right now?  Do they see a person who is willing to give up everything for all the wrong reasons?  What we learned was that God’s laws and commandments don’t change us unless we allow God to write them in our minds and write them on our hearts.

But allowing God to write on our hearts and in our minds is not easy.  Taking out our old heart of stone and replacing it with one of flesh, required a blood sacrifice.  It always had, but now we know that no more blood is required.  In the past the blood of goats and calves was used to obtain purification and forgiveness for people.  But this ritual had to be repeated regularly and often.  That is, until Christ.  Christ was the perfect sacrifice; He was the only sacrifice without blemish.  His sacrifice was able to totally purify our conscience (minds and hearts) from dead works in order to serve the living God!

Because of Christ’s once and for all sacrifice, He was able to enter heaven itself in the presence of God Himself.  There, Christ, our high priest, continually intercedes on our behalf, to put away our sin.

End of story.  Right?

No.  Not the end of the story.  There is much more good news for us.

Take your Bible out.  Take your pen or highlighter and mark this verse: “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with (your) sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.”  (Hebrews 9:28)

Today’s question:  Are you eagerly waiting for Him?

Luke Elwell

 

No Daily Patch Needed

Hebrews 7

Hebrews 7 24 25 NIV

So often when we pray for ourselves or for others, we are concerned about certain specific things that are happening in the present moment of our life or their life.  This is okay, because sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by a situation or weakness in our life, that we want immediate help.  We fall on our faces or knees and plead for help in this particular situation or with this particular weakness, but never see the whole picture.  That’s because we are human, after all.  We often can’t see past the present moment. We want to put patches on what is torn or broken. We feel the pain right now, we experience the embarrassment of a sin and hope no one else notices, or we share in part with another in their present experience.  All of that is well and good as we plead for ourselves and intercede for others.  But then a new day comes, laced with all the same trials, tribulations, and temptations of life all over again and we look for another patch.

That was the life of a priest before the time of Christ.  Before a priest could do his job of offering up sacrifices for the sins of others, he first had to take care of his own personal business—his own sins, his own cares, his own violations.  So, each day, as he lit the fire to begin his godly work, he took inventory of the sins of his people and his own sins (Hebrews 7: 27).  Day after day, moment by moment, his mind raced with all these shortcomings.  His job was difficult and exhausting.

Then Christ came and became the high priest, and He holds this position permanently and forever (Hebrews 7:24).  He was after-all, “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7: 26).  Not only that but “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:27).   The daily grind of fire building, killing a sacrifice, inner-searching, and finally offering up prayers ended.  Jesus paid it all.

That does not mean we do not pray for others or ourselves.  Indeed Peter says that we are to be “a royal priesthood” (I Pet 2:9), meaning we are to pray for others.  But unless and until we accept without question and wholly the atonement of Jesus in our lives, the daily grind of being a priest will continue for us. We will never get out of that cycle of embarrassment, regret, remorse and the need to pray for that “daily patch” to cover our sins along with the sins of those for whom we pray.

Jesus lives to make intersession for us (Hebrews 7:25), He prays for us continually.  It is because of His intercession that we can do our work of intercession for others.  It is all possible because Jesus has saved us to the uttermost.  No daily patch needed.  Jesus saves us totally and at all times.  Once we believe this as a little child of God, and we draw near to God through Him, He is able to save us to the uttermost! (Hebrews 7: 25).  Then, with full assurance of our own atonement, we can put our full energy into praying for others which is our greatest work.

Luke Elwell

 

How Was I Supposed to Know?

Romans 10 14b

Imagine that judgement day is here and you are standing before Jesus.  Imagine that you grew up outside of the church and nobody ever shared a Bible with you or even bothered to explain what was going to happen in the future.  Imagine Jesus telling you to go get in the line where they throw you into the fire because you did not accept Christ as your savior.  I suspect you would go kicking and screaming saying that wasn’t fair.  You would probably shout back at Jesus, “How was I supposed to know?”

In Mark 16:15, Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  He said to go into ALL the world.  Like many of you, that is why I am passionate about missions.  That is also why I went with a team to Peru on a mission trip.  We have an extremely important message to tell others; in fact, lives depend on that message.

Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  And then verse 14 asks the obvious: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”  That is so obvious that you don’t even need me to explain that to you.

But I like explaining things.  Let’s imagine that you know of someone that is locked in a room that is on fire and the only way they can get out is to unlock the door with a key.  The problem is that they don’t know where the key is, but let’s say that you know where the key is.  Would you take the time to call them and let them know where the key was so they wouldn’t die in the fire?  Or would you not really have the time or energy to make that call?  I am very confident that each person reading this devotion would take the time to call that person to tell them where the key was.  People respond with crazy amounts of urgency when there is a life to be saved in a fire.

So why don’t people respond with the same urgency when trying to save a life for eternity?  We have information that people need to hear to save their life.  We have the “key” that they need to save their life, and that key is Jesus.  If they don’t ever hear about Jesus, they are going to be sent to that line where they get thrown in the fire.  In my story and in the future in real life, you are going to die in the fire if you don’t have the “key”.  Someone needs to tell them about the key to life.

Don’t be the reason that someone says, “How was I supposed to know.”

Rick McClain

Alien

John 15 19 (1)

As a bearded, green-eyed, 6’ 2” white male, it was hard to lose me in a crowd when I was doing mission work in Peru.  I dare say it was apparent to everyone that I was not a local.  Now we could spend a lot of time being politically correct, especially with the hotbed of controversy that currently exists around race, ethnicity, and nationality –  I PROMISE I understand more than most how tall you are, what color your hair, eyes, or skin are, or even how bearded you are doesn’t necessarily make you a foreigner. You’re right. I very well could have grown up in the streets of Huanchaco, in fact, my Memaw (that’s a grandma in the South) who looks a lot like me, spent the majority of her childhood in Peru’s capital, Lima – HOWEVER, shocking as it may be, I didn’t run across anyone that remotely looked like me.  This left most people with the right conclusion –  I was obviously a foreigner.  In fact, Mackenzie, another girl on the mission team who happens to be pretty tall too, and I posed for more than one set of pictures with complete strangers while we were out and about because we were in fact so strange ourselves (if only they really knew).  I can only imagine the conversations that took place later – “You will never believe what we saw today” – as a phone is being pulled out to show the photo – “They were so TALL.  And WHITE.  And HAIRY.” Well maybe more true of me, but Mackenzie does have pretty long hair.  What is true of me in Peru is true for me in Michigan, and Ireland, and even North Carolina (which is the state above my own that defiles their barbecue with vinegar) – as much as I try to conform to the people and surroundings, there is still a part of home that shows.

As Christians, we rightfully spend a great deal of time being inclusive. According to Paul, in one of my favorite passages, any identity we bring to the table – nationality, status, or gender – is superseded by belonging to Christ (Gal 3:28). This is consistent with the message of Jesus – “Who is my neighbor?” – anyone. Jesus drives home the point that love crosses cultures as he tells the familiar parable of “The Good Samaritan.”  Make a note: this story is NOT simply called “The Good Child of God.”  This is not a politically or socially correct tale.  However, the moral of this tale from Jesus is not “See – Samaritans can be nice too,” but lies in the emphatic removing of the barriers of race, class, and status to place the sole importance of your identity coming from following the will of God alone – all that other crap: doesn’t matter.

This means that the lines we draw are simple.  We don’t have to use family trees, tax brackets, brown bags, diets, or circumcision to prove that we are followers of Christ.  Our status comes from following the example of Christ as we live out our faith. In so doing this, you are part of the promises of God, or you’re not.  You’re in his will or you’re not.  You’re a sheep, or you’re a goat (Matt 25:31-45).  This is divisive.  Some would have you believe there are many paths to salvation.  No, there is only one (John 14:6).  Some would have you believe that other religions worship the same God.  No, they don’t (Deuteronomy 6:4).  Some would have you believe that since God is love, everyone will be in His kingdom.  No, see the aforementioned sheep and goats.  At this point, you might be shaking your head. Is it moving left to right? Or it is moving up and down?  I get it.  I can feel the reflexive wince kick in from the “you do you” age we live in, but if you submit to today’s wisdom and not the teachings of Jesus, your home is here and now.

We are called to be aliens of this world which means we must, we HAVE TO! be different.  When so many are clamoring that truth and identity are relative, Christians must stand-out like a 6’ 2”, greened-eyed, bearded white man in small-town Peru or more so like a 33 year-old radical priest flipping over tables in the tabernacle, and say, “This isn’t so! Children of God, don’t give up your inheritance!”  We have to say IT IS NOT OKAY to sling mud or resort to physical violence just because someone has wronged you.  IT IS NOT OKAY to steal from someone even if you think you are deserving of what they have. IT IS NOT OKAY to live with someone before you’re married or divorce them simply because you decided not to be with them.  IT IS NOT OKAY to fail to actively teach your children the Word of God.  IT IS NOT OKAY that multiple sexuality and gender fluidity are glorified and thought of as superior to God’s design.  AND MOST OF ALL, IT IS NOT OKAY TO WITHHOLD THE LOVE OF CHRIST FROM ANYONE WHO STRUGGLES WITH ANY OF THESE THINGS OR MORE, NO MATTER WHAT TITLE IS PLACED UPON THEM OR THEY PLACE UPON THEMSELVES.  The Good Samaritan is the The Excellent Jihadist is The Great Transexual is the The Awesome Deadbeat Dad.  “That is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:11)”’ This is the transition that is the definition of our hope.

The time of exclusion on this earth is temporary because our awaited time is soon coming; I don’t say this with triumph as much as I do with a sense of urgency.  It is worth the persecution, the name-calling, or moments of being looked upon as a fool or insensitive in order to lead someone to the true knowledge and the fullness of knowing their identity as a stranger of this world but more importantly, a child of God.  He has foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified us, not even withholding His own Son for us all.  It is time to make some waves because of your faith.  Maybe become the object of ridicule because you speak and act so differently.  But most importantly, it is time to stand as an example of how God changes the hearts of His children in this world, and moves them into the precious citizenship of His Kingdom.

“They are so JOYFUL. And LOVING. And GIVING.”…”Why?”

Aaron Winner

Repentance that Leads to Salvation

2 Corinthians 7

2 Corinthians 7_10

While I was at church last week, one of the younger girls that I have watched grow up  since she was a baby came up to me and was so very excited to whisper some big news into my ear. Her smile grew larger and larger as she leaned in close to reveal that she and her older sister are planning to be baptized in just a few weeks! I looked at her with excitement! I was overjoyed! What wonderful news for anyone to tell me, let alone this sweet girl who I adore. Of course as an education major, I am drawn towards investing in youth. I am passionate about teaching children in my daily life but more than that, I am passionate about guiding youth to become individuals who strive to honor God daily. In the same sense, Paul was passionate about building and growing the church. He was passionate about investing in others also as we see here in 2 Corinthians. I imagine the excitement that I had when I received the news of the baptisms in my church was similar to the excitement that Paul had when the people of Corinth were repenting.

 

 

While reading this chapter today, I was especially drawn to verses ten and eleven as they state,

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret,

whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief

has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation,

what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved

yourselves innocent in the matter.

 

Question:

Is there anything in your life that is holding you back from pursuing a healthy relationship with our Heavenly Father? Moreover, is there anything in your life that is stopping you from accepting the sacrifice that His son made on our behalf?

 

  • No matter where you are at in your life right now, no matter what struggles you may be facing, I encourage you to give it all to God. Lay down all of your burdens and troubles and He will meet you wherever you are. It’s not too late to say yes to His free and perfect gift. It’s one that you don’t want to miss out on!

 

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38

 

-Kayla Tullis

Who Deserves Our Faith & Following

1 Corinthians 1

1 Corinthians 1 18 (1)

Hey guys this is Chris and I’m excited to go through 1 Corinthians 1-7 with you this week.  I hope you enjoy this book as much as I do.

 

In 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 Paul chastises the people in the Church at Corinth for being divided based on the person they were baptized by or whose teachings they followed.  I think that this is a very good message for us today. Many Christians are drawn to a well spoken pastor, or an impassioned speaker, and these are good people to follow, but too often people place too much of their faith in that person.  I have seen it many times, these types of leaders will move away from their church or they will have a scandal, and the faith of the people will be shaken and many will stop going to that church. Hebrews 4:14 says “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.”  We need to follow Jesus as the head of the Church because he will not fail us, and he is the only one who deserves our faith. Also, in this age of social justice people can get caught up in a certain movement or behind a certain leader and let those ideas influence them, and we need to remember that Christ’s teachings come first. Those other movements may be good things, but we need to check what they are saying against what Christ teaches.

 

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 tells us that salvation is not attained through wisdom or knowledge that you can gain if you study long enough.  That was the teaching of the Greeks such as Plato and Aristotle, that seeking wisdom was the highest goal. Salvation comes through faith.  In the Church of God we can be very focused on the Word of God and the truth, which is a good thing, but we need to make sure that we do not take pride in our knowledge and somehow think that we are any better than other Christians. We are saved by our faith, not our knowledge or wisdom.  Knowledge and wisdom will come as we seek God and grow, but we should not have pride in our knowledge, only in Christ and his works.

 

Have a blessed day.

Chris Mattison