Extreme4Jesus

An Outreach Ministry

What does it mean to be extreme for Jesus?

Are you an extreme disciple of Jesus Christ?

Image, Not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ with photo of a crown of thorns. Extreme logo at bottom.The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word extreme as something that reaches a very high degree, exceeding the ordinary or commonplace. Therefore, we believe that a follower of Jesus Christ should also have the same radical characteristics, which will set him or her apart from the ordinary or casual-type of Christianity that is practiced in many churches today.

Marks of an Extreme Christian:

1. The unabashed public confession of faith in Jesus Christ.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes…” – Romans 1:16

2. A love for and determination to live according to God’s commandments.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.“ – John 14:15

3. A regular habit of Bible study and prayer.

Study to show yourself approved of God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly interprets the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15

4. A lifestyle that is not swayed or confused by the influence of the world, nor its ungodly mindset or philosophies; who always applies a Christian worldview to the analysis of their lives and the times we live in.

Do not be conformed to this world – don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think and act. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

5. A deep concern about the popularity of sin and unrighteousness in our culture.

”But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him… and was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.” – 2 Peter 2:7-8

6. Is burdened for the lost and for the advancement of the gospel of the kingdom.

Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:18-20

7. Consciously models agape love, recognizing that without the exercise of love a Christian’s religion is of no value.

” If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1

Historically, Christians have used a number of different external symbols to mark their identity – from crosses around their necks to t-shirts to bumper stickers to tattoos. However, there is something infinitely more important than these: the internal spiritual fruit that is evidenced by a true follower of Christ.

We invite you to join us in our journey as authentic disciples of Jesus who shine as lights in a dark world, and bring glory to God, which is the very purpose that we exist.

– Luis Josephus

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Bringing Glory to God in Word and Deed

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17
 
As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, our primary purpose in life should be to honor Him in everything we do. Before we say a word, before we make a decision or take any action, we should stop and pray, “Lord, what would you have me to do? Is the gospel message being preached through my life?”
 
We must continually guard ourselves from misrepresenting Christ through our sinful habits. There is still so much corruption in our heart that needs to be regenerated through the power of the Holy Spirit. Because people will judge us and speak blasphemies towards God based on our bad example, we must think through whatever we’re going to say or do – to ensure that we always represent a good testimony for Christ and bringing glory to God as His disciples.
 
– Luis Josephus
 
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Trusting God with All Your Tomorrows

A video sermon by Pastor David Wilkerson encouraging you to trust in the faithfulness of God and allow Him to be in control of all your circumstances.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:33

 

The Lesser of Two Evils?

Image of lesser of two evilsAs a Christian, I normally detest getting involved in discussions about politics, since it normally leads to arguing and division among brothers and sisters in Christ, which is sinful. The Bible teaches us to strive for unity and peace in everything:

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:1-6

Therefore, I am writing the following message merely with the intent of informing the church of Jesus Christ of their ability to vote outside the conventional two-party political system of Democrats and Republicans. I am not, in any way, endorsing any presidential candidate; that is your decision to make after you have prayed and sought Jehovah God for His divine direction.

Third party options.

In this 2016 presidential election, I have heard many American Christians say, “I’m voting for the lesser of two evils.” They are not happy with either one of the two major political candidates for president, so they figure they’ll just vote for the one who is more closely aligned to conservative values and what the Bible teaches. I can understand their way of thinking – if we only had two choices, but we don’t.

Did you know there are hundreds of third party options? Most people don’t know this. You can see for yourself how many other presidential candidates are also running in 2016. Go to the link: http://www.politics1.com/p2016.htm

It seems the mainstream media has done a superb job of brainwashing the public into believing they have only two choices for president. One of the ways they do this is by concentrating their news coverage on only the two major candidates, and playing down, or obscuring, the third party candidates.

The Constitution Party

One of the hundreds of voting options available to Christians is the Constitution Party, at: https://www.constitutionparty.com/

Keep in mind that I am not endorsing them, but I found in my research that they are more aligned with Biblical principles than the Republican Party. Here is a brief example of their principles:

https://www.constitutionparty.com/our-principles/seven-principles/
There is an interesting article by Gary Odom on their site about the history of Third Parties in America you might want to read:

https://www.constitutionparty.com/a-brief-look-at-the-history-of-third-parties-in-america/

According to Odom, “the Constitution of the United States says nothing about political parties and many of the founding fathers abhorred the very idea of political parties taking root in America…The fact that political parties have developed over the history the United States of America is largely due to human nature–a tendency to congregate with others who have mutual ideas and interests.”

Since many of America’s founding fathers were Christians, I can understand why they abhorred the idea of political parties, since they knew it causes division and leads to infighting. In the beginning, America was founded as a unified people and they functioned quite well in this manner until political parties started taking root. Be that as it may, today we have no choice but to vote for political candidates who belong to such parties, but you should choose, at least, those who align themselves with the Christian agenda, and its principles and morality.

Image of "If my people..."Please pray and vote your conscience.

Carefully research and study the life of the presidential candidates. Fast and pray for this nation to repent from its turning away from God which has caused so many of the economic problems and tragedies we face on a daily basis. Pray that America will humble herself, seek God’s face again, turn from its wicked ways, and be healed and restored its former blessings (2 Chronicles 7:14). Do not be part of the “ignorant masses” who are too lazy to do their homework and blindly vote for whoever is the most popular. Pray for God’s wisdom to make the right choices, according to His will and purposes.

– Luis Josephus

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Religious Tolerance

faqShould Christians respect the freedom of others to practice their own religions?

Yes, we should practice tolerance towards others of different religious beliefs such as Hindus, Buddhists, and so on – not because we believe their religion is a valid way to God – but because the Bible teaches us to show respect to everyone —even if we disagree with their religious teachings.

“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king.” -1 Peter 2:17

At the present time, there is substantial anger and hatred towards people of the Muslim faith because of the senseless atrocities their extremist factions are committing around the world. Yet most Muslims people are peaceful and moral people. Let us allow the governing authorities to punish the evildoers. However, Christians should not try to pressure politicians or lawmakers into restricting or banning the peaceful practice of other religious groups. Instead, we should extend to others the same tolerance that Christians appreciate and receive from our governments. Jesus taught us to treat others (regardless of their religion) with the same kindness and consideration we wish to be treated. (Matthew 7:12)

– Luis Josephus

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The only way of salvation

Image: Jesus_The Only Way of SalvationJesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to [God] the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

Contrary to popular thought, there is only one way of man’s access to God and salvation. Many people today may find this statement offensive and narrow-minded since they are of the opinion that God would never turn anyone away for their wrong beliefs. But Jesus Himself declared it to be true. He said, “No one can come to God the Father except they come through Him.” According to the words of Jesus, you cannot get to God through any other mediator except Him. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity–the man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5

Whether they want to admit it or not, the majority of people today are Unitarians. They don’t want to be controversial or cause any waves. They just want to get along with everybody and be left alone to pursue their own personal agendas. Truth is divisive, therefore they avoid taking a stand for truth and steer clear of judging anyone on their moral behavior or religious beliefs.

Political Correctness & the heresy of Unitarianism.

Politicians, on the other hand, are more concerned with pleasing their constituents than they are with following the truth. They are afraid to offend their non-Christian voters (Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.) by admitting that their religions are false. So, they buy into the heresy of Universalism where everybody is right and nobody is ever wrong. This aberration of orthodox Christian theology was founded in the 18th century and believes that all human beings will eventually be saved – regardless of their race, culture, nationality or religion. It is frequently taught by the liberal denominations today known as the Universalists or Unitarians (Unity churches).

Actually, this philosophy of universal salvation for all has been around for ages. Two thousand years ago, a typical politician by the name of Pontius Pilate, mocked Jesus at His trial by sarcastically asking Christ, “What is truth?” In other words, he was saying, “You think you’re the only one who has the truth? Everybody claims to have the truth. What makes you any different?” Pilate’s cynical question to Jesus proves that he really didn’t want to know the truth. He chose to be deliberately ignorant. That’s why Jesus never answered him.

Whether they want to admit it or not, the majority of people today are Unitarians. They don’t want to be controversial or cause any waves. They just want to get along with everybody and be left alone to pursue their own personal agendas. Truth is divisive, therefore they avoid taking a stand for truth and steer clear of judging anyone on their moral behavior or religious beliefs. As a matter of fact, their philosophy is that it really doesn’t matter what you believe, since God will ultimately reconcile the entire world to Himself. They deceive themselves into believing that everyone will be saved and no one will ever go to hell. In the end, everything will be “hunky-dory,” so why bother arguing about religious differences of opinions?

Yet, nothing could be further from the truth!

Over and over again, the Bible clearly warns us that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation and one day mankind will stand before God and give account for their sins. They will be held accountable for every evil deed committed. Unless their names are written in God’s “Book of Life” through faith in Jesus Christ, they will be found guilty, individually condemned, and thrown into the lake of fire:

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened…The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:11-15

Does this sound like “universal salvation” for all?

Not at all! Every human being will stand before God at the Great White Throne Judgment. If their names are found in the Book of Life, they will be saved. But if not, they will be eternally destroyed by the second death. Millions upon billions of souls who rejected Jesus Christ and died in their sins will not be universally saved, but universally lost. They will have no one to blame but themselves, for, during their lives, God gave them more than ample opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, receive the forgiveness of their sins, and have their names recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Man’s free moral agency & salvation

It is true that God wishes that none should perish, but He leaves this decision of choosing everlasting life, or everlasting death, up to every individual person. If they never chose to receive God’s free gift of salvation, they will have no excuse.

Salvation by good works.

Some people are trying to find salvation by their own good works (which is impossible). We must remember that we are fallen creatures and are flawed beyond repair. There is nothing we can do (on our own) to be good enough to merit our salvation. So, we must humble ourselves before God and plead for His mercy. We must admit our complete depravity before Him and need for His unmerited grace. We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” – Isaiah 64:6

Religious deception.

Others have been deceived by false prophets and false messiahs into following a counterfeit religion. Just about every false religious system in human history has been started by someone who claimed to be God’s messenger and prophet. Nimrod, who led mankind’s rebellion against God at the Tower of Babel was the first of many false prophets and messiahs. Afterwards, Satan raised up scores of others throughout human history, such as Gautama Buddha (the founder of Buddhism), Muḥammad (the founder of Islam), Joseph Smith (the founder of Mormonism), and Charles Taze Russell ( the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses), to name a few. Every single one has drawn people away from the truth faith into following their own religion and (supposed) alternate path to God. But Jesus knew these false religious leaders would come along, that’s why He warned us not to believe them but reject them. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” – Matthew 24:23-24

A God of their own making.

Others, simply don’t like the God of the Bible, so they make up their own god. You often hear them say that their god is a god of love and never judges our evil motives and behavior. But, when we willingly reject God’s revelation of His true self as described in the Bible, and instead substitute our own concept of what God should be like, we are in effect, creating a false God of our own making, made after our image, and not His. This is idolatrous and fatal.

If we want to be sure we are worshipping the real Jehovah God and the real Jesus, His Son, we need a correct theology of what God is truly like. Otherwise, we become absolute fools who change the image of the true and living God into a false god made into the image of the corrupt mind of reprobate humans. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man…” – Romans 1:21-29.

In conclusion, we must resist the prevailing mindset in our society today to be politically correct and “live and let live,” or “just try to go along with the flow.” True Christians cannot be silent or compromising about the message of Jesus Christ. All other Christs are false prophets and deceivers, blind leaders of the blind. Jesus is the only way to God and salvation. Yes, the way of salvation is narrow and there are few that ever find it. But, let’s not apologize about it, for we must never be ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God to all who believe and will be saved.

– Luis Josephus

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For further study

Luke 13:25-28
“When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’ There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.”

John 10:1-3
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”

Romans 1:16-17
”For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

 

In the Beginning, Jesus already existed.

Image: In the beginning was the Word”In the beginning, the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.” – John 1: 1-4

Many narrowly believe that Jesus Christ was born only 2,000 years ago as a Jewish baby in Jerusalem, Israel. They don’t really understand that Jesus already existed long before. As a matter of fact, the Bible tells us that He is the eternal God who created all things – the heavens and the earth, all life forms, and the entire universe. Jesus has existed with God from the very beginning of all creation, and He has made everything that exists.

There was never a time that Jesus did not exist.

It is true that 2,000 years ago He descended from heaven and took the form of a human being. We call this His first advent – or first coming, when He came to reveal Himself to mankind and die on the cross as a substitutional atonement for our sins. But if we genuinely believe that Jesus was divine, how is it possible that He could ever have a beginning or an end?

Some may have a high view of Jesus as a great teacher or prophet, but that’s not high enough. To be saved, you must absolutely believe that Jesus was no ordinary man, but God Himself in human form. He has always been God, and never will cease to be God!

The preexistence of Christ

Theologians often use the term, “the preexistence of Christ” to make their case for describing His divine nature and eternality. All human beings begin their lives at the moment of conception in their mother’s womb through intercourse with a human father. Not so with Jesus. He came into this world from a preexistent state, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and was born of a pure Jewish woman (Mary) who had never had any sexual relations with a man. He was unlike any other man that has ever lived because He was the unique Son of God.

Everything that Christ taught and did is grounded in His divinity.

The apostle John calls Jesus “the Word,” or logos in the Greek language. He wrote, “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This concept of Jesus being the “Word” (with a capital W) has a specific meaning in Jewish thought and practice. In the Old Testament, the religious Jews believed that God’s personal name was so holy that it could not be uttered, lest they commit the sin of taking the Lord’s name in vain. Therefore, it was their custom to substitute (and still is today) another word for Jehovah, or Yahweh (whichever you prefer to use). Instead, they used the term “Membra,” which in Hebrew means, “a Word.” That is the reason John referred to Jesus as “the Word,” to emphasize His holiness and divinity, who is one with the Father, and also God.

After John shows us the divine essence of Jesus, He proceeds to show us Jesus as the Creator of all things:

“Through Him all things were made.” This fact, that Jesus created all things is supported elsewhere by the apostle Paul:

” For in Him all things were created, everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see–such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him.“ – Colossians 1:16

Thus, if Jesus is the Creator, He has the rightful authority over all things.

That is the reason why today we say, “Jesus is King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Whether unbelievers want to acknowledge this or not is not important, for one day they will . When Jesus returns at His second coming in great power and glory, every human being and every earthly king and authority will have to bend their knees to Him, and confess with their mouth, that Jesus is Lord of all, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10).

In the meantime, those of us who believe and have trusted in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord of our lives must fully understand that Jesus is God. Some may have a high view of Jesus as a great teacher or prophet, but that’s not high enough. To be saved, you must absolutely believe that Jesus was no ordinary man, but God Himself in human form. He has always been God, and never will cease to be God!

After He was crucified for our sins, He rose from the dead and ascended back up to heaven (where He came from), and now sits, once again, at God the Father’s right hand interceding for us as our Great High Priest (Hebrews 8:1-2).

At His resurrection, Jesus’ glory was restored.

Just before His crucifixion, Jesus looked toward heaven and prayed to the Father:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.  Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” – John 17:1-5

Notice Jesus said, “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” Can there be any doubt that Christ existed before the world began and we should worship Jesus as God and give Him the glory and honor He deserves? Amen.

– Luis Josephus

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For Further Study:

John 14:5-11

“Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me…”

Daniel 7:13-14

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed”


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Walking with God

God did not send His Son, Jesus Christ into the world to keep us from having fun or bind us into a life of misery, but that we may truly enjoy a happy life.

Walking with God_Vanessa Miller_jpgGod created us to walk in love and fellowship with Him. However, in order to do so, we have to live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to Him. Even our earthly friendships and relationships are built upon a foundation of mutual interests, love, and respect. After all, how can you genuinely walk with God if you disagree with His direction for your life? The prophet Amos addressed this contradiction in many believer’s hearts when he wrote: “For how can two people walk together without agreeing on the same direction?” (Amos 3:3).

In the same manner, how can you successfully walk with God unless you agree that His laws and commandments are true, righteous, and the best course for our lives? God did not send His Son, Jesus Christ into the world to keep us from having fun or bind us into a life of misery, but that we may truly enjoy a happy life. Jesus declared that those who follow the devil’s ways would suffer destruction, for the thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy them. But those who follow Christ will experience a spiritually rich and abundant life (John 10:10).

Most people follow the bad principles and practices of the world around us for the majority of the world is under the control of Satan. It may appear that worldly people are having more fun than those who follow Christ, but this is all an illusion. The fact is, worldly people are not happy people at all. They are the most miserable people. They have no lasting joy or peace – always searching for a new thrill or high to temporarily settle their troubled spirits.

However, those who follow Christ are the truly happy and successful people. They have the greatest riches of all: a life filled with lasting inner peace and joy that can only be had as a result of walking with God. No amount of money or material wealth can buy that, and no artificially-induced high can compare to it.

Whether we have little, or a lot, when we’re faithfully living our lives in obedience to the teachings of Jesus, we will experience God’s manifold blessings, for He is rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Walking with God is not a life that is reserved for a select few such as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses and many other saints of the Bible. God desires that all of His children – including you and me – to walk in fellowship with Him. I pray that this message will personally encourage you to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

– Luis Josephus

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Jesus – The Discerner of Hearts

Image of Jesus the Discerner of HeartsWhile some skeptics claim that Jesus was only a prophet – but not God Himself – the holy scriptures prove otherwise. Our Lord’s accuracy as a discerner of men’s hearts is evidence of His deity since only God can see the inner person.

More than a prophet.

As we follow our Lord’s ministry in the Gospel of John, He accurately discerned the hearts of many people He came in contact with on a daily basis. No thought or motive in others ever escaped His awareness.

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.” – John 2:23-25

Numerous examples of the omniscience  (having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things) of Jesus:1. 

1. Jesus knows all that is in man. – “He knew what was in man” is a statement that is often emphasized in John’s Gospel.

2. Jesus knew the character of Simon – “And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).“ – John 1:42

3. He knew what Nathanael was like – “When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.“ – John 1:47

4. He told the Samaritan woman “all things” that she had ever done –  “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?“ – John 4:29

5. He knew that the religious leaders did not have God’s love in their hearts – “but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.“ – John 5:42

6. He knew that one of His disciples would betray Him – “Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.“ – John 6:64

7. He saw repentance in the heart of the adulterous woman – “When Jesus had lifted up himself and saw none but the woman, he said to her, Woman, where are those your accusers? has no man condemned you? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.“ – John 8:10-11

8. He saw the murder in the hearts of His enemies – “As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things.“ – John 8:40

Does Jesus know what is in your heart?

Yes of course. Nothing we ever think or say or do is ever hidden from God. So it’s always best to avoid trying to deny any wrongdoing. When we sin, God expects us to confess it. Only then can we expect His forgiveness and mercy.

Unfortunately, many people today want God’s blessings, healings, miracles, and prosperity but they are unwilling to give up their sinful and rebellious ways. If we want God to show us His favor we must willingly to forsake those things and habits that are displeasing to Him.

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, it was easy for people to follow Him because of the healings and miracles that He manifested, and the loaves of bread and fishes He provided to eat. Afterward, Jesus began to test the hearts of His followers. He wanted to see how many truly loved Him, and how many were only interested in what they could personally benefit from Him.

When His teaching began to convict their hearts of hypocrisy and sin, the people started having second thoughts about following Jesus. The conviction of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of God’s commandments leads us either to conversion or opposition. It is impossible to be neutral. We have to decide whether we’re willing to obey the words of Jesus, or oppose His teachings.

Sadly, many of Christ’s followers today are falling away from the faith, or following the false prophets of a gospel of easy-believism. Jesus asks for our complete loyalty. If you are not willing to forsake all in your heart that is contrary to following Jesus, then you are not a true follower. Jesus said, “But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me…” – John 10:26-28

– Luis Josephus

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Spiritual Maturity

Image of plant seedling, spiritual growth in Christ.Although many voices today are heralding the numerical growth of Christianity around the world, other voices like myself, are concerned with the spiritual superficiality and carnality of many of these professing believers upon closer scrutiny.

It is true that there are much more Christians than ever before in history, however, it is “growth without depth”,  lacking biblical discipleship, Christian morality, and theological foundation in a great number of cases.

No matter how many years many of these Christians have been saved, they still manifest the characteristics of being “babes in Christ.” The apostle Paul once confronted this problem within the Corinthian Church:

Brothers and sisters, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. I have to give you milk to drink, not solid food, because you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready, For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as mere unbelievers?” – 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

You can sense the great disappointment in Paul’s writing to find that the church he had once planted has not matured during his absence. It was just as spiritually immature as he had left it. He rebukes these Christian sons and daughters for still acting like infants. By this time, they should have grown up into spiritual adults. He had hoped to be able to give them solid spiritual food (mature teaching), but they were not ready for it. Instead, he still had to continue feeding them baby’s milk.

So what is spiritual maturity?

Before we can answer that question, let’s examine what it is not.

It is not physical maturity (having a healthy, well-developed body).

It is not intellectual maturity (having an educated, well-trained mind).

It is not emotional maturity (having a balanced personality, able to assume responsibility and maintain emotional equilibrium).

Spiritual maturity, then, has to do with the depth of our spirituality. It is clearly seen in individuals who manifest the characteristics of Christ through continual union with Him through prayer, Bible study, worship, trust, love, and obedience. We call such people godly or Christ-like.

How can we become more spiritually mature?

After salvation, the goal of every believer should be to become spiritually mature, or perfected in Christ. It is an ongoing process that can only be achieved by yielding to the guidance and activity of the Holy Spirit who indwells us and empowers us to get victory over the flesh (old nature) and produce the fruits of the Spirit. You must willingly desire to radically change your priorities in life from pleasing self, to pleasing God. It also requires self-discipline, consistency, and perseverance in changing our thoughts, feelings, desires, character, and overall outward behavior. A truly changed life is the valid evidence that one is God’s child.

Let us go on to maturity.

Hebrews 6:1 exhorts us, “Let us go on to maturity,” (or, “Let us continue progressing toward maturity”). Although perfect spiritual maturity is not attainable in this lifetime, all believers should be able to examine themselves daily to ensure that they are making regular upward progress and being transformed, more and more, into the image of Christ. J. Oswald Sanders called it “a dynamic progress involving constant progress.” The final consummation will be at the Second Coming of Christ, when we shall become like Him.

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:2–3

In the meantime, those of us who look forward to His coming will seek to purify ourselves of all sin, carnal behavior, and unrighteousness. We stand on God’s promise that when Jesus appears, we shall be caught up together with Him in the clouds, and receive our glorification.

– Luis Josephus

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Loving Yourself

Image of Self-Centered Woman Arrogantly Pointing to Herself, Loving Herself.Loving Yourself and the Sin of Self-Centeredness

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…having a form of godliness but denying its power.”   – 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Bible prophecies proclaim that in the last days before the second coming of Jesus Christ, evil in the world will accelerate and intensify. I believe we can all agree this is happening today. Among other signs, the Bible predicts, people will become “Lovers of Themselves.”

So what’s wrong with loving yourself?

Nothing, as long as it does not produce a self-centered personality. After all, it’s acceptable to love yourself enough to maintain a normal degree of self-esteem that leads to cleanliness, personal hygiene, healthy eating, exercise, education, and self-preservation. The problem lies when people take self-love to an abnormal level like is happening today in American culture. Our society has become obsessed with physical appearances and self-gratification. Every type of self-absorption, selfishness and sin are justified as “loving and pleasing yourself.”

Even secular researchers are reporting that Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) are even more self-absorbed than generations before. The latest obsession with taking photos of themselves (Selfies) is an indicator of this (see follow-up article below, The Selfie Disorder).

“We all tend to be self-centered, it’s the radius with some people that becomes problematic.”

The sin of self-centeredness.

Selfishness or self-absorption is not only a personality disorder (a form of mental illness), but it is also detrimental to harmonious relationships, and functioning in society in general. No one can get along with a selfish, self-centered person because they contemptuously look down on others and are only concerned with their own problems, and their own needs. They really don’t care about anyone but themselves. That’s why God calls self-centeredness a sin. He created us to be considerate and thoughtful and concerned for others as well as ourselves. Therefore, the root of self-centeredness is absolute selfishness.

People who are excessive lovers of themselves (selfish and self-centered) commonly manifest the following behavior patterns, which the Bible calls, The Works of the Flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).

• Rudeness • Disrespectful • Uncaring • Unloving • Arrogant • Resentful • Quarrelsome • Angry • Envious • Divisive • Hateful • Immoral

However, those who are truly born-again followers of Christ are the exact opposite. Instead, they will manifest The Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). They will be…

• Loving • Happy and Joyful • Peaceful • Longsuffering and Patient • Gentle and Easy-to-Get-Along-With • Practice Goodness • Trusting and Faithful • Meek • Temperate and Self-Controlled

If some of you reading this have been guilty of the sin of Self-Centeredness, today is your opportunity to repent and ask God’s forgiveness. Showing caring concern for others is a learned behavior and it’s never too late to change, with God’s help. Pray and invite Jesus Christ to become the Savior and Lord of your life. His Holy Spirit will come into your heart and teach you how to overcome your self-centeredness. You have a choice today: You can continue living the same as before which only brings unhappiness, or ask God to change you into the man or woman He created you to be.

– Luis Josephus

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For further study:

How to tell if You Are Self-Absorbed
http://www.wikihow.com/Tell-if-You-Are-Self-Absorbed

Common Traits Of The Self-Centered Person
http://www.lifescript.com/well-being/articles/c/common_traits_of_the_self-centered_person.aspx

 


 

Image of woman taking a selfie.

THE SELFIE DISORDER

Is social media making us narcissistic?

Some people today have become obsessed with taking Selfies (self-photos) and posting them on Facebook and other social media. This has led many to develop Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is a preoccupation with your physical appearance and how others perceive you. Personal validation and gratification depend on how many “likes” or positive comments your photos get on social media.

Furthermore, a new study shows that people who constantly take photos of themselves to post on Facebook and Instagram are self-centered and believe they are more attractive than they really are.

Researchers with the University of Toronto’s psychology department had college kids take pictures of themselves and then asked them and strangers to rate their attractiveness and likability. The results from the strangers polled did not live up to their expectations. The students thought they were much more attractive and likable than the strangers did.

According to Mark Drummond, a psychologist who specializes in personality disorders, “[self-centered people] are completely self-driven and more concerned with their image and materialistic things than issues that affect the entire country and even the rest of the world.”

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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