God’s Presence and Our Daily Struggle with Sin

By Tim Exelby

Why does there seem to be a contradiction between our “faith” and our “actions?”

To give an example of what we’re talking about is our struggle with pornography, anger, resentment, etc. We know the draw to such things and it’s usually after we’ve given in to such temptations and are left to ourselves afterward that we start with the thing that we just gave into. The conviction is a good thing and it is definitely a sign that God is still moving and working on our behalf for forgiveness and healing. But the danger comes when we start to doubt our faith. We think to ourselves, “if I really believed in God then why did I do what I just did?” “If I knew that God was really at all places at all times then how could I have done what I just did?”

These are good questions that should be asked but we need to be careful as to where we go to find the answers to such questions. As Christians, we all know that we should be taking these questions to the Holy Spirit and seeking answers in God’s Word.

My own experience with this very contradiction of faith and sin:  

As a police officer, I was required to carry a microphone on me at all times while on duty. There was also a camera mounted inside my patrol car which turned on every time my lights were activated. I also had the option of turning the camera/microphone on or off from my vest.

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The Thief on the Cross, entered Heaven with Jesus

How does the thief on the cross, fit into your theology?

As Christians, we all have our idea of how we should worship God, what we need to do to secure a place for ourselves in heaven, and what we need to do to be saved. Some of us worship very simply, while others worship very ritualistically. 

But what about the thief on the cross?  He wasn’t baptized. He never took communion. He was never confirmed. There was no speaking in tongues, no special prayers, no volunteering, and no special church clothes. He didn’t say the sinners’ prayer. He couldn’t kneel to pray. Jesus didn’t take his pain or heal his body. He was just a naked dying man on a cross that couldn’t even fold his hands to pray, yet he entered heaven along with Jesus, simply by believing. The only thing he had to offer was his belief in Jesus, that He was who He said He was, as the Scriptures show us:

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

There is nothing that we have to do before coming to Christ! There is absolutely nothing we can do to pre-qualify ourselves for Christianity. The one and only thing required of us is to believe. Many times we try to make Christianity more complicated for ourselves and others than we should. It is really very simple. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for our sins, that He rose again and is alive today; then seek His forgiveness. That is all that is required. Do that and you will be a child of God and you will secure your place in heaven. 

All God wants is for us to love Him as He loves us.

Are you Passionate or Lukewarm?

By Pastor Neil Kenyon, Salem, IN.

It seems that many are passionate about many things, except for Christ! One can have a passion for movies or actors – but not for Christ. It is okay to have a passion for certain styles of clothing,  but not for Christ.  A visible passion for certain foods or restaurants or hobbies or sports teams or individuals is okay – but not so for Christ, who often is obscured, even hidden, in one’s life.  It is okay to support a cause such as gun rights and the second amendment, or animal rights, that’s fine….. but when it comes to Christ,  passion, for many, seems to have become lukewarm!

In His revelation to John, as recorded in Revelation 3,  Jesus described the church at Laodicea as being lukewarm. They had lost their passion. Their drive and dedication for Him had become stale and dry! They were serving the Lord half-hearted without gusto or dedication. It is clear that they were going through the motions but they had lost their desire – their passion!   Jesus compared their relationship with Him to the temperature of something to be consumed:  A drink, or food,  that is to be served hot is not good if it is not hot, and that which is to be served cold is not good if it is not served cold – therefore, it is spewed out of one’s mouth! It follows, then, that a Christian who has lost his passion for Christ – a lukewarm person, who is only going through the motions of being a Christian, has lost his usefulness to the cause of Christ!

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Rev. 3:14-16)

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire…… (Rev. 3:18)

Christ counseled the church at Laodicea to, “Buy me gold tried in the fire.” (Gold  tried in the fire is a reference to a process in the refining of gold that removes the impurities.)

Behold, He knocketh!  If, for some reason, your relationship with Christ has become stale, or dry – even lukewarm,  may you have ears to hear that the first and the last – the alpha and omega – the one standing at the door, counsels you to invite Christ to enter in and remove the impurities and refine your passion for Him!

Usefulness to God

By Pastor Derl Keefer, Three Rivers, MI.

Here is a thought I had about being useful to God.

Usefulness to God is an important element in the life of a Christian. Usefulness binds us together as brothers and sisters of faith, improves our own character, and makes an impact on society.

Need a Bible verse to chew on? Here is one from Paul writing to Timothy: “Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guest for their blessing” (II Timothy 2:20-21 MSG).

Hold onto your seats as we jet through some ways to be used by God!

1. Love Your enemies. Generosity will surprise them

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It Only Takes a Little bit of Faith

We will never behold the glory of Christ by sight in the next world if we have not in some measure beheld it by faith here in this world.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

The eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews lists many examples of men that had great faith and the things they accomplished.

Yet, it is not the quantity of faith that saves us. A little faith is just as real faith as the person with the greatest faith. A drop of water is just as real water as the whole ocean. A spark of fire is as real fire as a whole forest fire. A sickly man is just as real of a human being as a healthy man. So it is not the measure of your faith that saves you, but the blood of Christ. We all start out with little faith, but as we grow and see the hand of God in our lives and the lives of others, our faith increases astronomically. So if your faith is small, yet you seek Christ, He will not let you perish. The weakest hands may take the gift as well as the strongest. Christ is that gift, and a little faith is all it takes to begin a journey that will lead to a life of triumphant joy in our Lord.

Life is hard — Jesus is Easy

Everyone that has lived for any length of time on this earth, has endured hardship, troubles, and disappointment. Life is not always easy. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, Christian or non-christian, famous or unknown, sooner or later you will face difficult times in your life. 

The difference is, as a Christian, you can lean on Jesus during those hard times, To lean on someone, takes so little effort. Jesus wants us to lean on Him when we are weak. He can lighten the load. We may be weak, but He is strong. Let His strength work through us.

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

As a believer, you know that God is ultimately in control and wants only the best for us. He can work any situation into our ultimate good.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

When we diligently contemplate the omnipotence of God, the glory of Christ, and the sacrifice that He made for us, plus all the things He has prepared for us in heaven that we will enjoy for all eternity, it puts our troubles and distresses here on earth in greater perspective when compared to our eternal home. Not to make light of our troubles here on earth, for they can be very overwhelming, but they all grow on the overvaluation of temporal things. All things in this life are transitory and perishing, affecting only the outward man or body, perhaps even to the killing of it. The best things here below have nothing that is truly substantial or abiding in them. For what are all the things of this life, the good, and evil of them, in comparison to our home in glory. With the help of Christ, we can overcome any pain, sickness, sorrow, fear, danger, and even death. Knowing that these are all outward, transitory, and passing away, fixing our minds on those things which are eternal and filled with incomprehensible glory.

To the believer, this world is the only hell they will ever know. To the unbeliever, this world is the only heaven they will ever know.

Jesus: The Great ‘I AM!’

“I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am !”

Because of Jesus, I am………

I am alive with Christ. (Ephesians 2:5)

I am free from the law and death. (Romana 8:2)

I am far from oppression, and fear does not come near me. (Isaiah 54;14)

I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me. (1 John 5:18)

I am holy and blameless in love before him. (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16)

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Being Christ-Like

As Christians, our greatest desire should be to be more like Jesus. How do we do that? By surrendering our lives to Him. By making God’s will more important to us than our own desires. As we strive to do this we will find our own desires being more in line with God’s desire for us. We will experience the love of Christ flowing through us.

When asked what was most important, Jesus replied, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.”

God is love. His nature is love. It is impossible for Him, not to love. He loved us so much that He gave His son, Jesus Christ, to die a horribly painful death to save us. He did this while we were sinners. We certainly didn’t deserve it. Jesus loves all of us. He loves us when we are unlovable. He loves the worst of sinners, people who we think are unlovable and don’t deserve God’s love are still loved by God. He doesn’t love the sin in their lives, in fact, He hates their sin, but He loves them. 

We have all heard love the sinner, hate the sin. This is very hard to do, it seems impossible; it is only possible for us when we allow the love of Christ to flow through us. When we surrender our own will and seek to do God’s will, we will find God’s love flowing through us naturally, without even thinking about it.

If we want to be more Christ-like, we must love those we may not like. We don’t have to like or accept their lifestyle, their behavior, what they stand for, or even their religion. We may not like to be near them or listen to them, but we need to love them as a creation of God. If we do this, we will find that we are becoming more concerned about their salvation and where they will spend eternity. We are becoming more Christ-like.    Love others.

The Value of a Dime

By pastor Neil Kenyon, Salem, IN.

I have been thinking about my dad (Geoffrey Kenyon) this morning.

The way we respond to the things we encounter, good or bad, big or small, sets an example for someone. Sometimes, it is the way we respond to the small things that make the biggest impression.

My dad was one who taught me and my sisters, not so much by what he said, but by what he did – the way he lived. He set the right example for us. I remember one of those lessons clearly and have written it below. I use it often in my preaching, it set such a lasting example and standard for me. I call this living parable from my dad, “the Value of a Dime.”

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