Category Archives: Regeneration/Conversion
In followup to the foundation laid in “Oil Crisis” (Part 1), I now present to you – to be taught of the Lord alone – numerous passage of Scripture – with thought-provoking questions – for your consideration. (If you have not already done so, please read Part 1 now.)
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Jesus said something rather shocking in John 16:7, “It is good that I go away…”
“it is for your good that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper (The Holy Spirit) will not come to you but if I go, I will send Him (The Holy Spirit) to you.”
Are you still living a Christian existence based on the Life of Jesus, and not what His Life produced/provided?
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Then, John 14:16-17 reads:
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.“
Is it possible that you are living this Christian life as if the Spirit of God is sill only “with you” in the form of Jesus at your side, rather that living knowing that the Spirit of God is now living on the inside?
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Ezekiel 36:26-27 reads:
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”
Could it be that you are resting comfortably in the glorious regeneration of God alone, and neglecting the purpose for which He has provided such great a salvation, that is, the very habitation of the Holy Spirit of God within the life of a mere human being, to lead you, guide you, teach you and remind you of the logos of Christ?
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Acts 2:38 says:
“Repent and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall [future tense] receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
And, Luke 11:13
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
Yes, Child of God – you have been given a “lamp” that is Christ Jesus Himself, and His most Holy, infallible written Scriptures – but have you sought “oil” for your “lamp”? Have you asked the Father to light the fire and fan the flame of His Holy Spirit within you?
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2 Cor 3:6b reads:
“the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life“
Are you living your Christian journey with your sole source of nourishment to be the Scriptures alone (logos) – void of the power of the Spirit (Rhema) that has been made available to you?
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Acts 19:1-6 tells us:
“It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized was a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them…” (Footnote #1)
Is it possible, that like these Ephesian believers (disciples), that you are stalled in a place of repentance and forgiveness, weakened and defeated by the enemies of the world, the flesh and the devil – unaware that such a Helper as the Holy Spirit even exists?!
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Oh Child of the Most High – Virgin that you have been made to be by the Sovereign Choosing of God – I beg you… do not be found to be foolish – rather cry out to the Lord God to awaken you to His Most Holy Spirit!! The great OIL of God that has been given to cause YOUR LAMP – the very life of Christ within you – to burn white-hot and bright for all to see. Cry out that this same Holy Spirit will take the precious logos of God, and whisper the utterance of His Rhema in to your heart.
(1) It seemed wise to me, and I was deliberate in my omission of the later portion of the 6th verse of Scripture, as to not allow a “good thing of God” to be a stumbling block to the readers who might be disillusioned by false impressions, misuses, abuses or teachings on such things as the gift of tongues and prophecy.
I’ve known some really good people in my life. In fact, I have known some “non-believers” who were more pleasant to be around than some who profess Christ. Problem is, how good is good enough? The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus encountering a young man who inquired of Christ, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
As Jesus talked with this young man (Luke 18:18-27), we find that this man was far more “good” than anyone I have known in my 53 yrs of life. He confessed that he had never committed adultery, murder, stolen or lied, and has always honored his father and mother! (Who among us can honestly say that we have been that good?!? Personally, sadly, I am 0-5 on that list.) But Jesus said that was NOT good enough. In fact, we see in the opening of this passage that this fella also confessed Jesus was both God & Savior – I surmise this because 1) he asked of Jesus a question about eternal life… This strongly suggests to me that he knew Jesus was the Savior sent from God; 2) he knew He was God, for he called Him “Good”.
But, alas, confessing Jesus was both God & Savior, was not good enough either.
Lastly, Jesus essentially says to the man “You want eternal life? Then allow me to be Lord & King of your life, ruling and reigning over even your most prized possessions.” In this, the man walked away sad, for he was willing to admit Jesus was God; willing to admit Jesus was Savior; willing to live a “good” – even very good – life; but not able to surrender the throne of His life to The Christ.
Isn’t that our problem really? We want a Savior (for heaven); we want a God (in heaven); we want to be pretty “good” so we can feel good about ourselves (a little heaven on earth); but it all comes to a grinding halt when we are faced with the reason the Savior came… To make a way that we might return to know His rule and reign in our hearts and lives; knowing intimacy with our Father; and knowing the indwelling of the Spirit – i.e.: “thy Kingdom come”
So, here is what every person (including the rich your ruler) wants: “a list of rules for inheriting eternal life!”
- Acknowledge Jesus is God
- Acknowledge Jesus is Savior
- Do not commit adultery (or even lust); do not murder (or even hate); do not lie or steal; honor your mother and father.
- Surrender wholey to the Lordship of Christ without reservation into all aspects of your life that He might, by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, and His sovereign regeneration of your life, bring His Kingdom to rule and reign in you…. (grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone).
Sorry, I realize #4 kinda destroyed “my list” – but after all, isn’t that the point…
Let him who has ears, hear.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and you be caught by surprise like a trap. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Excerpts of Principles Spoken by Christ, from Luke 21:34-36 NASB)
I am no prophet… moreover, some of my dearest CHRISTian brothers and sisters would struggle or even oppose my suggestion that I have a “Word from the Lord” regarding the new year: 2015. Others of you would think nothing of that phrase or suggestion, and eagerly read on to see what I sense the Spirit is speaking. For those who might struggle in any regard with this, let me assure you that I am not “making prophetic predictions” nor am I in some way attempting to “add to the fullness of the revelation our Lord” given us in the Scriptures. Let simply say, I am prompted to encourage the Body of Christ with the following thoughts and words for the coming year.
First, there are multiple references throughout scripture to the principles that direct the “Ecclesia” (the called out ones of God) to be “vigilant”, “alert”, “sober-minded”, “on their guard”, “prepared”, “diligent” and the like. It is with these general Scriptural Truths in mind, that I share the following thoughts for 2015.
Let me say as well, as my predominate awareness and experience is with the “church in the west” (or Christendom in America), that this is the primary audience that I have in my heart, as I write this. Let me clarify regarding this phrase: “Christiandom in America” – I am including here a group of individuals that range from those who would check “Christian” as the answer to the question “What is your religious affiliation?” – to those who would most assuredly, but humbly, say of themselves, “I have experienced a life altering encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and have been redeemed, regenerated and restored to relationship with my Heavenly Father” – and everyone in between. Within this group, I believe, is found the True Church of Jesus Christ… the Ecclesia, as He called it – His called out and chosen ones – the “Sons of the Kingdom.”
In The Year Of Our Lord, 2015. It takes little effort – whether on Cable News Networks, or Internet News Feeds, or Cell Phone Breaking News Alerts – to witness that our entire planet is experiencing dramatic changes – as the pains of Child-birth. In some ways, we have never seen greater days! In other ways, there is so much hurt, pain, loss and devastation, that it seems we are in humanities worst condition in modern history.
Around the globe, CHRISTians are being martyred at an alarming rate. (The Center for the Studies of Global Christianity in the United States reports: “About 100,000 Christians die every year because of their religious beliefs.”) Persecution of CHRISTians around the world is alarming, and become far more blatant and commonplace. (Voice of the Martyrs reports that “The Christian Faith is illegal in 53 countries around the world”.) And here in the west, particularly America, we are quickly losing any hope of leaning on our “constitutional rights of religious freedom” that Our Lord has allowed to protect us for the better part of 225 years. There is no rational denial that we are seeking an increased rapid decay in Judeo-Christian morals – both globally and domestically – and we are fast approaching a day when “things will be different” than we have ever known in our lifetime, even here in the west. The assault on “Christian Religious Freedom” in America is rapidly on the increase – both from freedom to practice our faith, and freedom to speaking publicly (or privately for that matter) regarding our convictions of faith and belief.
Deceptive doctrines taught by false teachers is becoming rampant – and clearly taking on more of a “perversion of truth” than an the outright cultic foolishness of years gone by. Truth mixed with lies, and palatable intrigue, lead the list of deceptions – while taking Truths foundational to the Christian Faith and perverting them, as to both lead astray, and mock the very essence of their principle counsel.
Say what you will, but there is already a “great falling away” that is taking place in our midst, as the faith of many is being shipwrecked & derailed, with these perverted and deceptive doctrines; accompanying that, is a gospel message that is weak, fruitless and ultimately, inadequate to save.
“You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation [trial, testing], for when he has been proved, he will receive the Crown of Life that he promised to those who love Him. (James 1:3, 4, 12 NASB)
It is my personal conviction that this coming year will be a time of great trial and testing for Christendom in America. The time is near that we will begin to see greater persecution of those “true to their CHRISTian faith”, here in these very United States. To the Saints among us, I plead that we get established in our faith now. Settle your matters and affairs of assurance, trust and allegiance – for when then testing comes, it will be too late. If you are not grounded now in your faith in Christ – when hard times come, you will certainly sell your soul for a loaf of bread, or a bag of rice.
Be prepared. Be Alert. Be vigilant. Take time in prayer now to insure that you have oil in your lamps, and plenty of “oil to spare”. There will come a time when it will be too late to acquire more. I am NOT talking of stockpiling in the natural – but, rather, stockpiling in the Spiritual. There are 4 places the Holy Spirit will cause this to happen:
- in Scripture,
- in prayer,
- in true worship, and
- in godly, committed, accountable relationships with other faith-filled Saints.
We have, for the most part, experienced years of plenty, years of ease and years of comfort. If we are not solid in our faith – rooted and grounded in who Christ is, in whom we trust, and where we are placing our allegiance – then there is little chance that we will get solid when the times of trial and testing come. For it is in trial and testing that our faith is proven – it is in Christ, thought the Holy Spirit in us – in Scripture, Prayer, Worship & Fellowship – that our faith is built and established!
Won’t you join me now in falling before our Lord & King and crying out to Him to generously & lovingly, cause our individual faith to be rooted & grounded, solidly, in Christ as the one whom each of us trusts with all our heart, and pledge our sole allegiance to? And should storms of trial and test indeed come our way in the west in this year, 2015 – we who are the Ecclesia of Christ, indeed stand firm and honor our Lord & King!
If I am mistaken – you will have lost nothing, and still gained everything!
May it be so, Maranatha, Lord Jesus!
As I sit here watching the Thanksgiving Day sunrise outside the windows of my den, and see the grays slowly turn warm purple, and the pinks begin to morph into a blazing red, I am reminded of the awe of the Lord God. I see the silhouettes of the mostly leafless trees against the backdrop of this Artist’s canvass, and I am reminded of the dull and plain condition of my life, in comparison to the vast, indescribable beauty, of this Great God.
Then the wind begins to blow through the limbs, and they start to dance! As a result of the beauty of their backdrop, even the simplistic, non-featured limbs and trees begin a beautiful, intriguing, and fascinating performance of worship to His Glory.
Isn’t that just like us and God? Our lives are dull and plain – mere silhouettes of barren trees – until the beauty of The Lord becomes our backdrop.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…
…To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
(Isaiah 61:1a, 3)
So, on this day of giving thanks, as I ponder the long list I could make of true blessings for which I am sincerely grateful – I can only pause and realize that among them all, there is truly only One that matters. For without Him having turned my mere silhouette of a life into something more than ashes, nothing else would be of significance – nothing else could even matter. And for that, my Lord and King, I am eternally grateful.
May this life of mine, that was once a barren tree, indeed now be called an Oak of Righteousness, because You, my Jesus, have planted it for Your Glory.
May the canvass of Your beauty – be the backdrop of my life. Amen.
The same passage of Scripture (1 Tim 4) that begins with these words: “in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons”, ends, 16 verses later with these: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” In between is talk of things which are permitted, encouraged, taught, preached, lived, and forbidden.
But what are we to make of these words “Watch your life … closely”? Given the dramatic start of this passage, I have a suspicion that these closing words are of utmost importance. With that in mind, I ask myself, “what do they mean to me?”
Recently – as many times before – I was browsing the Facebook pages of my friends, and I saw some photos of folks whom I know to be followers – even disciples – of Christ, photographing and displaying actions and behaviors, that for some among us, would be considered – at best, questionable – and at worst, sin (or at least “self-serving”).
I am NOT the perfect human – but I am humbled that perfection, in the person of Jesus Christ, does indeed live in me! I am not perfect, but am called to be holy, as He is holy. I am not perfect, but I am called to be certain that any liberties that I might perceive myself to have, are not a stumbling block to my brother or sister, or a reproach, to the watching world.
Among the fruits of repentance is ‘self-denial’ for the sake of others, rather than ‘self-serving’ actions for my own pleasure. I might foolishly say: “I can’t help what others think of me – that’s their problem.” That may be true, however, I can control the image they are given, from which they formulate their thoughts towards me. Their perceptions will be, what they will be – yet, I can bear the fruits of repentance, by showing concern and forethought in my actions and behaviors that might aid them in making wrong perceptions. 1 Thess 5:22 comes to mind here: “Abstain from all appearances of evil.”
Sure, we can we debate alcohol, tobacco, tattoos, immodesty, cussing, and the like, until Jesus Himself returns. But the questions we must ask ourselves – in light of the Life that lives in us – is this: “Am I exercising my perceived rights to self-serving pleasures, or am I going to elevate myself to self-denial, in the name of ‘bearing fruits of repentance’ for the sake of my weaker brothers and sisters, and the Lord’s testimony to a watching world? Simply put… am I going to obey the admonishment of 1 Tim 4:16 and “Watch [my] life … closely. [that I might] save both [my]self and my hearers” and watchers? Or will I enter eternity rejecting the fruits of repentance, while singing that old nightclub *hymn*: “I did it my way”?
What is the fruit we bear? In fact, are we bearing fruit at all. In the name of relevance, what have we sacrificed? In the act of “getting folks saved”, what have we lost? In the name of “bigger is better”, what have we neglected?
You remember the story from Luke 13:6-7:
Then [Jesus] told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’”
Are we bearing the fruits of conversion and regeneration? Or have we Sacrificed them by focusing on Relevance? What price have we paid in our efforts to be “attractive”? Relevance can look a lot like flesh-appealing-entertainment. It can turn our efforts to a place if sensitivity, sensuality and suductiveness. Praying through, preaching conviction and sin, and leaning solely on the power of the Word – birthed from a place of prayer, may all have been sacrificed on an altar of fleshly appeal. Is our fig tree barren?
Are we bearing the fruits of repentance? Or have we lost them by just trying to “get folks saved”? What of repentance? What of a radical change in life and lifestyle? What of being transformed by the renewing of our minds? Is there a one among us who is miraculously “a new creature in Christ”, bearing fruit to a watching world, so they might behold that “old things have passed away and all things have become new”? Is our fig tree barren?
Are we bearing the fruit of the Spirit? Or have we neglected it for “Bigger is Better”? Gifts are nice. Fruits are better. Have we neglected the optional for the essential? What of the Koinonia of the body of believers? What of “there was no need among them”? What of kindness? Peace? Patience? Joy? And the rest? Is there room for the fruit of the Spirit in our programs, planning meetings and productions? Is out fig tree barren?
And on that day, with tears streaming from the eyes of the sheep, and weeping and wailing in the hearts of the goats, they will cry out, “but Lord”… Was our fig tree was barren?
“Recap” of Inspirational Thoughts & Quotes from 2013 From My Facebook
Part 4 – October-December
I might have said a few things that I learned of the Lord in 2013 that will be impactful for the Kingdom. I have shared some of them here. Also, I have listed numerous quotes that impacted me, from local pastors to great Saints of old, including Tim Conway, Spurgeon, Chambers, Corrie Ten Boom, Pastor Jeremiah Stingl, Pastor Tom Myers, Pastor Don Morrison, Pasture Scott Mitchell, Pastor Alan Trippe, Major Ian Thomas, CS Lewis, Sparks, Phil Powell & many others. I know with confidence, these Saints, and I, would all say, in sincerity, that if any of these words are impactful, it is because they are not our own, but the Holy Spirit’s. I pray you find blessing herein. ~ Gary
QUOTE: “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there. There is no such thing.” – C.S. Lewis
QUOTE: “God has not made this world to be a nest for us, and if we try to make it such for ourselves, he plants thorns in it, so that we may be compelled to mount and find our soul’s true home somewhere else, in a higher and nobler sphere than this poor world can give.” – Charles Spurgeon
QUOTE: “The treasures contained in the most basic truths of the Lord Jesus are enough to last for more lifetimes than you can measure.” – Rick Joyner
QUOTE: “Our greatest problem is that we esteem self more than we esteem God.” – Paul Washer
Oh how I cringe when I hear someone say: “As Christians, we need to remember that we are all sinners.” Seriously?!? Oh Preachers, we need to get our theology right coming from our pulpits!
Yes, Christians “sin”, but we, as a “born again new Creature in Christ”, are no longer “sinners”. We are saints. Watchman Nee said it best in The Normal Christian life: “We are not sinners because we sin – we sin because we are sinners. Likewise, we are not Saints because we do works of righteousness; rather we do works of righteousness because we have been made saints.”
As a Christian, I am a saint – FACT – not a sinner. Do I from time to time stumble and fail? Sure (sometimes more often than time to time) – but my new heart, given to me by Christ (Ezekiel 36:25-27) no longer loves SIN, it loves God – in fact I hate sin.
The difference in a born again Christian and the world, is that when we sin, we hate what we do, but the world loves its sin. A sinner loves sin. A Saint loves God. Both sin, but the difference is who/what they love.
Let him who has ears to hear, hear.
– Gary Kienel
QUOTE: [Christian]: “If you say you are saved, but there has been no radical change in your life, you need to check to see if you have indeed been born again!” – Pastor Tom Myers
The distance between the mind & the heart, is the distance between Life & Death. Don’t confusing “believing about”, with “believing in” – remember, the demons believe, but they did not “trust” the One whom they believed… do you “trust” Him with your whole “heart”? Then “confess your whole trust in Him” with your mouth! (Rom 10:10) – Gary Kienel
What kind of lives are we called to live as “Christians”? A life of holiness – a life of being set apart – a life of otherness – a life that looks like “strangers and aliens”. It’s not about alcohol, smoking, pre or extra-marital sex, tattoos, cussing or even the style music you listen to. These merely bring the topic to light. It’s about the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the lives of those who call themselves by His name.
It’s about putting the good of others ahead of your personal wants and needs.
It’s about laying down your “rights” and “freedoms” (perceived or actual) because you care more about how it might negatively impact your “brother”, your neighbor and your community, than your self-indulgence.
As followers of Jesus, we are to be Christ-centered, not self-centered. We are to live by the Spirit, and thereby put to deeds the desires of the flesh.
I am not perfect at this, but it is my goal – and it is a biblical goal worthy of all my efforts!
– Gary Kienel
“Oh Holy Spirit, may the same grace that prompts me to say such quotable inspiring words, work in me to live out those very same words. Quotable words are not inspiring when they’re not lived out with sincere action.” – Gary Kienel
The Christian journey begins with Jesus’ Cross – then the journey continues with my cross!
Typically, we forget that Jesus spoke of two crosses – His Cross, and our cross. It is because of His Cross, that we are privileged to carry our cross – His Cross was once for all – our cross is for a lifetime. His Cross brought me life, my cross brings me death. Oh the wonderful, wondrous cross – both of them!
– Gary Kienel
“One more night with the frogs”
A dear brother of mine, who has now gone on to be with the Lord, used to preach a message entitled: “One more night with the frogs.” A simple message detailing the truth that after months of a variety of miseries, Moses came to pharaoh and said: these frogs that plague you will “end” if you let God’s people go. Pharaoh’s response? “I will let you know tomorrow, Moses.” – Pharaoh knowingly suffered one more night with the frogs, to “think about it” – when he could have repented and slept “frog free” that night.
What frogs are you sleeping with “one more night” rather than repenting right now, and sleeping frog free?
– Gary Kienel
“You can’t have the will of God, without the Kingdom of God. His Kingdom always precedes His will (Matt 6:10). If you are looking for His will, search our His Kingdom (basileia) first.” ~ Gary Kienel
QUOTE: “It costs something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run. Conversion is not putting a person in an arm-chair and taking them easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory.” – J.C. Ryle
QUOTE: “It’s in the valleys where true disciples are made; it’s on the mountains where they are displayed.” – Pasture Scott Mitchell
QUOTE: “True Grace always leads to a healthy fear of The Lord.” – Pastor Tom Myers
QUOTE: “If you ask ‘how much do I have to give?’ or ‘how much can I afford to give?’ then you have yet to be permeated by the Grace of God.” – Pastor Tom Myers
CHRISTIAN: Jesus came to be your Savior, in order that He might become your Lord – nothing less. He came to restore the Father’s rule & reign in your heart – let Him reign! – Gary Kienel
“Oft times the problem is not the sin itself (behavior), but our attitude towards it.” – Gary Kienel
CHRISTIAN: The consequences of knowingly, and willfully, embracing and engaging in sin in this life for the momentary pleasures & happiness it brings, reaps massive results in this life and in the life to come – even when there is repentance from one with a heart after God. So I implore you Saint, turn from the dead life of the flesh, and live by the Spirit of God within you, while He strives with you, for His Spirit will not always strive with man. (2 Samuel 12:9-14; Genesis 6:3) – Gary Kienel
BLOG QUOTE: “We are called to make faithful disciples—and that will never be cool in the eyes of the world. At some point, we have to leave the adolescent realm of cool to reach spiritual maturity.” – Lee Grady (What ‘Cool’ Churches Could Learn From Abercrombie & Fitch)
QUOTE: (From the book, Not A Fan) “Fans will try and make Jesus one of many. Some fans may even make Jesus the first of many. But when Jesus defines the relationship he makes it clear; he wants to be your one and only.” – Kyle Idleman
QUOTE: “Grace is the voice inside your head telling you to turn around when you’re going in the wrong direction, then gives you the power to do it.” – Misty Edwards
“Christ-Follower: we need to be less concerned about the world’s hell-bound culture taking Christ out of Christmas, and more concerned about the liberal fleshly culture invading the church, that is taking Christ out of Christian. Now that’s a problem worth getting upset over!” – Gary Kienel
QUOTE: [CHRISTIAN]: If you think you have found “happiness” in your sin(s) – think again! Sin is directly “against man’s good, both present and future, here in time and hereafter to eternity, in this life and world which now is and in that to come. It is against all and every good of man, and against the good of all and every man.” – Puritan Ralph Venning
Do you remember how, from time-to-time, you would get those Christmas gifts, or birthday gifts, that came in 2, or even 3 packages. Careful instructions were given to “Open 1st”, “Open 2nd”, “Open last” – Well, the Gift of Jesus is just like that…
The first “package” is Christmas: Emmanuel, a babe in a manger. This gift alone, is extremely thoughtful and absolutely amazing, and is the stuff that holiday TV specials & Christmas Carols are made of, however, without the second gift, it is just a magical night, filled with wonder and awe; love, giving and humility. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6) Worldwide, not all will open this gift, but many will.
The second “package” is Easter: the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord & Savior of the mankind. Yet, this gift too, without the third, remains a inspiring, emotional story, filled with obedience, sacrifice and love! “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” (Acts 2:36) Worldwide far less will open this gift.
Ah, but the third “package”, rarely given, even more rarely received, and not even seen as a “gift” by most: The gift of ears to hear, and eyes to see, and a heart to understand the Truth & Purpose of the Life of Jesus. Most will leave this package “under the tree”. Without it, Christmas is just Santa, Carols, Gifts & Lights; Without it, Easter is just baskets, eggs, pretty dresses and religion. “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45) “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 8:10) Worldwide, fewer still will open this gift.
It is my Christmas Prayer for YOU, that YOU will discover this gift beneath your tree & open this 3rd Package – the gift of “eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand, the secrets and mysteries of the Kingdom of God found in the Holy Scriptures”, this, and every, Christmas Day!
May this Christmas, be YOUR year!
Merry Christmas 2013
– Gary Kienel
“For unto you is born this day in the city a David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
I am strongly inspired by this verse to consider the seemingly absolute & inseparable connection between “Savior” and “Christ the Lord”. Our church culture has done such a poor job of making this connection as clear, as it is here in the Gospel of Luke, 2nd Chapter, 11th verse.
Answer these questions in your mind: What is a Savior? How about this: What is “Christ” (Jesus’ last name?!?) – and lastly, what about “the Lord” (just a tagline to Savior?)?
Luke tells us that “the Savior” which we readily embrace, IS “Christ the Lord”. He is not just “Savior” – period. No, He, Jesus, is Savior, which is “Christ”, and He is “The Lord” (also see, Acts 2:36b).
I would propose that if we, out of ignorance or otherwise, attempt to separate Jesus the Savior, from Jesus the Christ & Jesus the Lord, then we neuter the very purpose and reason for which He came as “Savior”. This verse says that The Savior, is the Christ. This inherently means that this Savior, is the “Promised Anointed One From God” – this elevates & equates our Savior to a place of divinity. He is not just Savior, He is also God.
Secondly, He is “the Lord” – with “Lord” comes one with “authority”. In fact Jesus is called the Lord of lords, meaning He is the absolute Authority for all, and above all. So, Jesus is not just Savior; He is not just God; He is also King.
How precious is this truth, this promise, this creative reality, that the Babe in the Manger, is fully Savior, fully God & fully King? “God” Himself, came to “Save” me unto His “King”-dom!
May we, during this season of Epiphany, with the celebration of the advent of both Jesus and the New Year – enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus – embracing Him as thoroughly as God (Christ) & King (the Lord), as we have as Savior!
– Gary Kienel