Monthly Archives: December 2011

Shack: Off

Dr. Shack Attack

Imagine for a moment; There is a doctor who has just been given a temporary visa to Haiti. He has the only cure for a deadly disease along with standard medical and training equipment. Someone he has never seen has generously supplied him financially with whatever he may need or ask, in order that he may train the native people to use the supplies and equipment. However, during the doctor’s stay,  he notices a very nice shack with a beach front view. He uses most of his time and resources fixing up the shack and making himself a comfortable island getaway. Sure, there are people dying of disease all around him, yet the bulk of his time is spent in his comfy little beach shack. After all, he’s worked hard, and deserves a little comfort. “Right?

“All that he has built

            must be left behind.

3 years have now passed and he is informed that his visa has expired. All that he has built must be left behind. When he returns to America, his benefactor asks him to give an account of his trip, noticing that some of the original medicine and supplies were never opened or used. The doctor reports that while there were very many sick and dying people all around him, he spent most of his time and resources on creature comforts and building a “really nice shack on the beach.”

Off-Mission

That story should make people sick to their stomach, but in all honesty, that’s the way I have lived most of my life as a Christian. God sent His son Jesus, to die in my place, to forgive my sins, and justify me before God and make me a new creation. But instead of Him taking me “Home” instantly, He has given me a short mission here on earth. The mission: to love Him with all I am and all I have, to love others as I love myself, and to share the “Cure,” the Good News, with the “sick,” the unbelievers, and teach them about the mission. But I somewhere down the line got off track, much like the doctor in the story, I started living for myself and working on my version a “shack.”

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 1Peter 2:11 (NLT)

Instead of living as a foreigner or temporary resident, I acted like this was a permanent home. My prayers were selfish, and “off-mission.” I see this mentality in a lot of believers today as well, an off-mission mentality. There’s more focus on the gifts, than on the Giver of the gifts. And what’s more, we have missed the actual purpose of the gifts. The gifts are primarily FOR the mission, not for our comfort.

“The gifts are primarily FOR the

          mission, not for our comfort.”

I have to say, that there is nothing wrong with having things we enjoy, as long as the things don’t “have” us. God gives us richly all things to enjoy. But we should not be prideful in nor trust in riches and “things,” which are so unreliable. That’s like boasting about a “nice shack” in Haiti. Instead, we are advised in 1 Timothy 6:18 to use the things God blesses us with for good so that we can be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share; which actually ends up storing “a good foundation for the time to come.” There it is again. Its about being on-mission. When we see our life the way God sees our life, its not supposed to be aimless or self-centered, its about the mission.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Summary:
Our mission is to Love God, Love others, and share the gospel. It’s simple, clear-cut and concise. We are only here temporarily.

Question:
What answer will you give when God asks you to give an account of the resources He gave you during your mission here on earth?

Thank you for reading, Be Blessed.

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Starting the New Year Off Right

Can we really live a righteous life?

As Christians, we know that we are supposed to live a righteous life. Yet many Christians today seem to be missing it. I for one am someone who constantly struggled with this issue. I’d try and try to live righteous and sinless, but I always seemed to fail. I still slip-up from time to time, but there is one truth that totally changed my life. It set me free from addiction and bondage. Here’s a clue;

“Righteous living starts not with right doing, but with right believing.”

Let me unpack that a bit for you. Many Christians I see today are getting the “cart before the horse”, so-to-speak.

Here’s an example. Let’s say a drunk comes in off the street into a church service. Christians will go to him and tell him of God’s wonderful grace. They’ll tell him of Ephesians 2:8, “for by grace you have been saved, not of works…” Let’s say the man has a genuine conversion, repents and believes in Christ. But the next week, he stumbles in off the street, drunk again. These same church people spoke of grace will likely go to him and condemn him, and tell the man that he’s not right with God unless he is “living right.” They’ll even say he’s not really saved if he isn’t “living right.”

Do you see the problem here? We say that we are saved by grace through faith, but then we turn around and say that it really depends on our own works. That’s the mentality I see in a lot of the Church today—A “works” mentality. A “works gospel,” if you will.

Get it Right

But please look at what the Bible says about the true gospel in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

So the biblical description is that the gospel is the power of salvation for everyone who *believes,* and it reveals the righteousness of God by *faith.*

And then in Romans 3:21-22, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

The righteousness of God comes only through faith and believing in Jesus Christ. One of my favorite verses in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:21, sums up how the gospel relates to us in this way,

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

That’s called being justified, being made right with God. And it doesn’t depend on your effort. Period. That’s good news!

Romans 3:28 says, “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”

And then a few verses later, Romans 5:8 & 9 has this awesome thing to say,

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

I hope you’re getting the message, We are justified by faith, based on Jesus’ work. Not our own work. We didn’t earn it, we didn’t deserve it, we can’t deserve to keep it, so we can’t lose it. Its not based on us! We just believe.

Get Right or Get Out

If I just shocked you, then read this shocking letter from the Apostle Paul.

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”Galatians 1:6-9

“This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”Galatians 3:2

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.””Galatians 3:10

Right On

“I want you to see that by faith in

Jesus Christ, you have become

the righteousness of God in Him!”

I want you to see that by faith in Jesus Christ, you have become the righteousness of God in him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”2 Corinthians 5:17

The old sinful you is gone. The old sinful me is gone. All that’s left is the new righteous spirit man that “wars against the flesh, and vice verse.

“But pastor Chris, are you saying you never sin anymore?”

No, I’m not saying that. But I am saying that when you feel the urge to sin, if you remind yourself of the Good News, you’ll see what the Apostle Paul talked about in Romans 6:14 when he said, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

You will see that you do have the power to overcome sin, and that power is called GRACE! Not only that, but when you declare what the Word of God says about you, sin will actually flee from you!

Go ahead now and declare what the Bible says about you as a believer. “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!” “I am the temple of the Holy Spirit.” “I am the temple of God.” “I am a child of God.”

Don’t get caught up in the religiosity of religion—Don’t try to clean the fish before you catch it. Faith comes first, then sanctification, which simply means, putting into practice what you already are positionally with God. I want you to live righteous, and that can only come from knowing that you already are because of Christ.

The more you focus on God, and what He has done for you, the holier your life will become. That’s the secret. Use it well.

-Chris Esparza