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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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.

Waffling with God

Image of waffling with God

Stop waffling. Allow God to transform you into the man or woman He created you to be.

Waffling or flip-flopping, by today’s definition, is a verb often used to describe a person (in a Christian context) who is indecisive, who lacks a strong sense of Christian commitment and character.

Are you like that?

Are you trying to walk both sides of the road: following the way of Christ and following the way of the world at the same time?

Chances are, you are confused in your mind and restless in your thoughts. You’re still living according to your fleshly passions, rather than by the Spirit of God who wants to free you from all instability and sin.

A double-minded person.

The Book of James describes waffling as a double-minded person who is unstable in all their ways:

“But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver [waffle], for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. A double-minded person is unstable in everything they do.” – James 1:6-8

Double-minded believers are like waves in the sea, tossed to and fro, by every emotion, inclination or influence. One day you are up, and the next day you’re down. One moment you’re living for God, the next day you’re allowing the devil to control you. When you’re in church, you act like a Christian, but when you’re around worldly people, you tell dirty jokes, curse, lie and cheat – just like everyone else.

How long will you allow this to go on?

You are waffling – halted between two opinions. You need to make up your mind to be sincere with God and genuinely live for Christ. Not just in church on Sundays, but the rest of the week as well. If you don’t make a commitment to be a true Christian you’ll be laughed about by your worldly friends and labeled as just another hypocrite (and we have too many of those already in the church). Even your prayers will go unanswered. God will not approve of your waffling, and hold back His blessings until you stop flip-flopping.

Stop right now and pray. Ask God to forgive you. Promise Him you’re going to stop wavering in your commitment to Christ, and sincerely ask Him to give you the strength and grace you need to become a better Christian – one who shuns evil and makes wise choices. One who embraces a life of integrity and refuses to compromise his Christian convictions – no matter who criticizes you, or how many friends you may lose. That is the cross all true Christians must be willing to bear. Jesus said, if we refuse to take up our cross daily, we cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:26)

Allow God to transform you into the man or woman He created you to be. Desire to become a person who is steadfast in their faith, without hesitation. Despite life’s perplexities and trials, never waver, stand firm in your principles, steady in your integrity, and settled in your determinations – a person whose moral character anyone can understand, and in whom God can bless and confide.

– Luis Josephus

 

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For Further Study:
Read about the children of Israel’s wavering between serving Jehovah God or serving Baal. The prophet Elijah rebuked them, saying:

“Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver [Waffle] between two opinions? If the LORD [Jehovah] is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.” – 1 Kings 18:21

Trusting God in All Circumstances

Keep Trusting in God No Matter What

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

Heavenly Father, I don’t know how everything in my life is going to work out, but I’m going to keep trusting you no matter what. Right now, I don’t see a way, but I know you will make a way. At this very moment, You are opening doors and lining up the right opportunities for me. Things may appear dark, but I have faith that my dawn is coming! In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

Image of trusting in God in all circumstances

When You Miss the Mark

How far have you missed the Mark?

Image 1 of Missing the Mark.The Bible tells us that all we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. But, what does it mean to sin?

The word sin comes from the Greek, hamartánō, which means to “miss the mark.” Miss what mark? Missing the mark is symbolism that is derived from the practice of archery – of having shot an arrow and failing to strike the target. Therefore, sin is having failed to strike the bulls eye of God’s standard of perfect obedience, or perfect living. I can relate to that! I admit, I have missed the mark many times myself. How about you?

I think we can all agree that none of us are perfect, nor have lived an absolutely perfect life. Yet, God’s standard for us to make it into heaven is still perfection, because there is no sin in heaven. Since God is holy and perfect in everything He does, everything in heaven is perfect, as it should be.

“We are no longer powerless to the desires of sin, but mighty in power to live victorious as conquerors in Christ.”

So, in order for us to be saved and allowed to enter into heaven, our heavenly Father sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to be perfect for us, and pay the penalty for our sins. Through our faith in Christ’s atoning work on the cross, His perfect obedience and righteousness is imputed unto us. Imputed means that our sin debt was placed upon Him on the cross, and His perfect righteousness is transferred unto us.

When did this occur? The day we believed.

It was a free gift of God’s grace through faith. We did not earn it, nor deserve it, but God gave it to us anyway. We are justified (cleared of all sin guilt) freely through the redemption that He provided for us in Jesus Christ.

Image 2 of Missing the MarkHow far have you missed the mark?

Imagine participating in an archery competition: You shoot your arrow and get about three-quarters of the way to the target. Other people next to you shoot their arrows and only get about half the way. Still others may miss the mark by a mile while others by an inch. No matter how close anyone gets to the target, everyone is disqualified just the same. Our sin debt is like that.

Jesus Christ died to save every sinner.

It does not matter to God how close or how far you’ve gotten to the target, or how much you have sinned in the past, He is willing to forgive us all the same. Whether we’ve sinned a little or a lot, He does not judge us on this basis. Everyone is already condemned because no one was ever righteous enough to be saved by his or her own merits; everyone has missed the mark. There is none righteous, no not one.

However, when we come to faith in Christ, everyone is equally given a clean slate and allowed entrance into God’s kingdom on the same basis: By grace through faith alone.

Therefore, we conclude that since all of us have missed the mark and fallen short of God’s standard of perfection, we must enter into God’s kingdom by faith, trusting upon His grace and forgiveness. Because God is merciful, He provided a way for our sins to be punished on the cross of Christ, so that we would not have to suffer His judgment for our sins. God the Father has justified us and forgiven us completely, through our faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Afterward, through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, we are now capable of honoring and obeying God’s moral laws. We are no longer powerless to the desires of sin, but mighty in power to live victorious as conquerors in Christ. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us, who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Let us, therefore, endeavor to keep from continually missing the mark and making sinful choices. Let us honor God with our hearts, minds, and bodies forevermore.

– Luis Josephus

 


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Scripture References:

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him apart from keeping the requirements of the law…Even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference. For everyone has sinned, and we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” – Romans 3:21-23

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

“…overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” – Romans 8:37


Study Notes:

“The Glory of God” in Romans 3:23 refers to the praise or approbation of God. The Jews had sought to be justified, or approved, by God the keeping of the Law, which was impossible to perfectly do. They did not realize they had all failed. Their works of the Law had not secured God’s approbation, and Jesus said they were still under condemnation.

The Hebrew word for sin is chata, pronounced khaw-taw. It also means to miss the target, make a mistake, an error in judgment, commit a sin against God. Sometimes the idea of sinning against a fellow human being is also present.

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