Christian.

Christians. Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s become a common term in our languages, but have you ever wondered how the term got it’s start? Technically, the ending “-ian” means “belonging to the party of,” so “Christians” meant those of Jesus’ party. The word is only used 3 times in the New Testament and each instance is referring to the first “Christians” of the early church. They were called “Christians” because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ Jesus. The word Christian means, “follower of Christ” or “belonging to the party of Christ.”
Did you know that the word “Christian” comes from the Greek word christianos, meaning “little Christ”? And that the accusers of Jesus’s disciples used it as an insult…? “Check it out, there’s the ‘little Christs,’” they would say. So, what was meant to be a jeer became a blessing for billions of people as their actions made them part of this group called “Christians.” What a beautiful historical irony…

I guess the question we each should be asking ourselves is this: do I deserve to be called by that name? Am I worthy to claim His Name as my own?

Sources:
John 13:35, Galatians 2:11-17, 3:28, Colossians 3:10-11, Acts 11:26, 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16

Where the "Christian" Name Really Came From

Do you know where the word “Christian” comes from?

https://www.allaboutgod.com/what-is-a-christian.htm

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Race Wars!

“Race” – an absolutely polarizing issue that is being force-fed to us through media, politicians, and lawyers. Why can’t we have relationships with people based on our commonalities rather than our differences? To be considered politically correct (the All-Powerful “PC”), we – the public, everyday citizens, the “proletariat” – are expected to embrace each other regardless of social or economic status, lifestyle, clothing preferences, age, religion (with the exception of followers of JESUS, whom it is PC to harass, persecute, and prosecute) ….. but we are divided by race? King Solomon of Israel is reputed to have been the wisest man to have ever lived. Even Christians who are told to “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Matt 22:39), allow ourselves to be divided by the color of another’s skin. There is nothing wise in allowing this to happen!

“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Proverbs 1:1‭-‬7 ESV

Let’s go back to the beginning:

“So GOD created man in His own Image, in the Image of GOD He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:27 ESV

Have you ever noticed that GOD repeats the really important stuff? He created us in His Image; in His Image He created us. Period. There weren’t a bunch of different couples created as Anglo, African, Mexican, Asian, or any other “race”. There was one couple; Adam and Eve were created in His Image. So what did they look like? Since they were created to reflect GOD’s Image, we won’t know until we meet them in Heaven. In the meantime, what we view as separate “races” are merely years – thousands of years – of the human race adapting to climate and the environment around them. I believe that “race” is simply an invention of man as a tool for rulers to control their people. You might argue that GOD used His people to wipe out other “races,” but I maintain that this is a word used to simply designate people of other cultures, not of other skin colors.

“For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.” ….. “You commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering, to take possession of it, is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness. Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’ ” – Ezra 9:2‭, ‬11‭-‬12 ESV

Ezra, one of GOD’s prophets, called GOD’s people the “holy race” as a means to distinguish it from the other cultures and kingdoms, not because they were a separately created race. It was an intentional separation of that culture from all others. I guess we could say there is the “holy race,” GOD’s Chosen People, and then there is everyone else. (So what are we? If we become Christian, a follower of JESUS, then we become a part of GOD’s Holy race.) The prophet Daniel, interpreting the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, talks about people from different cultures and kingdoms but not races:

“As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of those kings the GOD of Heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever …..” – Daniel 2:43‭-‬44 ESV

“Race wars” are absolutely unnecessary and redundant. In CHRIST JESUS, we are all brothers and sisters. We all have the same Father, the Creator GOD and the FATHER joy our LORD JESUS CHRIST. A friend of a profoundly different skin color from mine used to call me his “sister from another mother.” I like it. To all of my brothers and sisters from other mothers, in all of the shades of the rainbow, I love you. “Race” doesn’t enter in.

Image is from Pinterest

Unto Us

Oh what a day, for CHRIST was born today!

“For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His Name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6 ESV

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His Name IMMANUEL” (which means, GOD with us).” – Matthew 1:21‭, ‬23 ESV

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His Name JESUS. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” – Luke 1:31‭-‬32a ESV

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you Good News of Great JOY that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a SAVIOUR, Who is CHRIST the LORD. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising GOD and saying, “Glory to GOD in the Highest, and on earth Peace among those with whom He is pleased!” – Luke 2:10‭-‬11‭, ‬13‭-‬14 ESV

“Now after JESUS was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His Star when it rose and have come to worship Him.” – Matthew 2:1‭-‬2 ESV

Worship and celebrate the LORD, JESUS CHRIST, KING of Kings, IMMANUEL, PRINCE OF PEACE, SON of the MOST HIGH!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

NOTHING

NOTHING. That’s a really big word. How do you describe such a word? The Mirriam-Webster dictionary gives it a shot:

“Nothing” can be a pronoun, an informal adjective, or an adverb : defined, “nothing” is “not any thing, not a thing,” or “someone or something that has no interest, no value, no importance.”

Isn’t it, by definition, an oxymoron to try to describe “nothing”? If there is “nothing” there, how can you have it? On the other hand, if there is nothing, not any thing, no thing, then there is emptiness, right? I think the second definition may be the most important in light of the following scriptures: ”

of no interest, value, or importance.” Of no consequence.

If we embrace the meaning, the “no – thing”, then the opposite is, of course, every – thing, or any – thing.

“And we know that GOD causes everything to work together for the good of those who love GOD and are called according to His Purpose for them.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If GOD is for us, who can ever be against us? Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else?

Can anything ever separate us from CHRIST’s love? Does it mean He no longer Loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For YOUR sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through CHRIST, Who Loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from GOD’s Love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from GOD’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the LOVE of GOD that is revealed in CHRIST JESUS our LORD.” – Romans 8:28‭, ‬31‭-‬32‭, ‬35‭-‬39 NLT

Look again at verse 38 – What a sermon in one sentence! Do you feel alone, separated, bereft of your God? Is it because the god you worship is not the GOD of the Universe, the GOD Who left heaven to come to earth, the GOD Who became the sacrificial Lamb in order that we might have eternal salvation? I, too, am convinced that nothing can separate me from my GOD. The enemy certainly has tried! But you see, whatever you think is separating you from the Almighty is nothing…. the enemy of my LORD, by name of Satan or Lucifer or any other name, is

of no interest, value, or importance; he is of no consequence when it comes to JESUS! It’s all in the name, people, the NAME of JESUS.

Listen to the song “Praise Him In This Storm” by Casting Crowns.

Know God?

“Yes, they knew GOD, but they wouldn’t worship Him as GOD or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what GOD was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.” – Romans 1:21‭-‬22 NLT

What does your god look like? Is He Majestic and Holy, clothed in His Creation? Is your god clothed in Sooner cream and red, Dallas blue and silver, OSU orange? Perhaps your god is dressed in the latest fashions, or corporate goals. Maybe your god is wrapped up in busyness or children or a spouse. Loyalty, addiction, obsession to something in this world can so easily supplant THE God, Creator and Saviour. Too many times, in our quest to fill that God-shaped hole inside us, we get caught up in the external and the glittery temptations that God’s enemy, Satan, places in front of us. It’s so easy to get sidetracked into his lair, and it can be incredibly difficult to extract ourselves from the webs of deceit he weaves to trap us.

Reflecting on my past, I see clearly many instances where I was hung up in those webs. I was so busy having fun, I could ignore how miserable I was. That’s on way the enemy keeps us trapped. Busy, busy, busy. Career, kids, school, football and other sports, cars, shopping….. rather than dwelling on “What’s in your wallet?”, can we switch focus to “What’s in your heart?” Do you know the Almighty GOD? Is HE in your heart, filling it with love and compassion for His people, or are you cramming tnat hole full of earthly pursuits? It’s lke the sign says,

“Know God, Know Peace. NO God, NO Peace.”

Which part are you? Do you KNOW Peace, or do you have NO Peace in your heart? Be like the author of this psalm: Praise Him, be Thankful for Him, and Pray for God’s help and protection.

“I praise GOD for what he has promised. I trust in GOD, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?” – Psalms 56:4 NLT

WHY Do Christians Act This Way?

Listen to these words from Paul to the church in Corinth, and his plea to God to remove the “thorn” in his flesh:

“Each time {God} said, “My Grace is all you need. My Power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me….. For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior. Yes, I am afraid that when I come again, God will humble me in your presence. And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9‭, ‬20‭-‬21 NLT

In verse 9, Paul is admitting to his weakness. We don’t know if it was a physical condition or perhaps it was pride, or arrogance? Whatever it was, God uses Paul’s weakness in his ministry. I love that sentence, “My Grace is all you need.” God’s Grace is all I need. Many times in his letters, Paul pleaded with the people to pray for. In many ways today, we do the same thing in prayer requests…. only too many times the prayer chain is used a gossip line. “We need to pray for Brother Tom. He’s struggling in his marriage. He just doesn’t see how good he has it with that wife and business of his. Did you see his new assistant? Why, I would never cheat on my marriage! Mercy, his wife must be a wretch behind closed doors! I just wish I had his good fortune!”

I’ve heard similar stories passed on as “prayer requests” many times. We use the opportunity of a prayer request to grill that person for details. There’s nothing wrong with asking for what specifically they want prayer for, but we really don’t need the details. In my study groups, I have interrupted someone digging for dirt by saying “We don’t need the details because God knows them already, so let’s pray.” and then leading the group in prayer. We all make mistakes in our lives. Even the greatest Christians to ever live were human, are human, and sin. It could be a little lie, and it could be have sex with someone other that your spouse. It could be gossip, or it could even be murder. God doesn’t differentiate between these sins. Sin is sin, period. “…..quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior…… impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.” We are ALL quilty of these things, so be careful of your judgemental attitude!

Yes, I am one of “those people,” and I can only give my LORD the credit for saving me from that lifestyle of self-indulgence and lustfulness. I am not now, nor will I ever be perfect. I am broken, but Jesus has put me back together. I love this quote “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” This doesn’t give me Carte Blanche to think and act however I please today. It actually reminds me of my past and how incredibly loving my God is to love me and forgive me, in spite of myself. It also reminds me of this saying “To whom much is given, much is expected.” God gives us forgiveness along with our salvation. That is HUGE. As Christians, we have been given Eternal Life with our LORD. Shouldn’t we be sharing that, instead of sharing all the dirt? We need to growing together……

Consequences

“Be not deceived; GOD is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap Life Everlasting.” – Galatians 6:7‭-‬8 KJV

What an unpopular scripture! “Girls just wanna have fun….” “Love the one you’re with….” “Love ’em and leave ’em….” Take a few minutes and listen to the top songs, look at the publicity of Hollywood stars, see what is being said about top athletes and politicians in the news. Our society is all about “me” and having a good time. People are so busy chasing the “dream” and complaining about others, that God and consequences for our actions are pushed back and forgotten.

“Be not deceived; GOD is not mocked….”

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the Justice of GOD. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” – Galatians 6:7‭-‬8 NLT

If you take the time to consider this statement Paul made in one of his letters to the Christ-followers in Galatia, it should probably stop you in your tracks and give you pause in your life. Harvesting what we plant can be a good thing, or it can be a nightmare. I think that for most Christians, this is recognized and acknowledged. We reap both good and bad, and we know it is consequences. However, we must also learn that the bad things that happen to us (illness, deformities, cancer, rape, abuse, and more) are not always OUR consequences. The bad and the ugly in our world is courtesy of our enemy Satan. We suffer the consequences of his rebellion against the Almighty God, through the choices of Adam and Eve, and because of our own rebellions. We shouldn’t just dwell on the consequences, and we DEFINITELY shouldn’t try to justify someone’s lives as their own consequences. Many, no, MOST of the “bad” comes directly from the enemy as he tries to break us into blaming God and turning our backs on Him. Satan has made great strides on the earth in turning people against God through the introduction of atheism and agnosticism, and through false prophets such as Buddha and Mohammed (and many others).

Consequences hurt, but they don’t have to derail us or destroy us. “Seek the LORD, all who are humble, and follow His commands. Seek to do what is right and to live humbly. Perhaps even yet the Lord will protect you— protect you from his anger on that day of destruction.” – Zephaniah 2:3 NLT

It is vital to recognize our responsibilities. Whether our struggles are the consequences for our own actions, or roadblocks thrown into our lives by the enemy, we have to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on Jesus. We have the added benefit of the Holy Spirit on our side. For me – and you – to live is Christ, and to die is gain. To help me keep my focus where it should be, I listen to positive music infused with the Love of the LORD. In my home and in my vehicle, that means the radio is tuned to K-LOVE at 88.9 FM and 103.7 FM, or AIR-1 at 91.9 FM (Oklahoma City OK area…..), or online at http://www.klove.com. (Yes, this a shameless plug for K-LOVE Radio, and no, I am not compensated by the station.) Try it! You might just find the inspiration or encouragement you need to make it another day, or at the very least, it can help adjust your attitude to a more positive one….

“As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. Dear brothers and sisters, may the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. AMEN.” – Galatians 6:14‭, ‬18 NLT

(https://bible.com/bible)

Here I am LORD, arms wide open…. (Jeremy Camp, Gracefully Broken)