Costly Grace

You can listen to the audio by clicking hereMatthew 10-28Good morning, this is Michael De Rosa, and today I want to talk with you about the cost of discipleship.   My text will be  Matthew 10:38

And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

In our Westernized culture of Christianity, Jesus’ words can be too easily glossed over because while the political climate is becoming heated against Christians, we still have the mindset that persecution via martyrdom is not going to affect us.

Maybe it won’t.

BUT….to not live as though we may be called upon to give up our lives for the sake of Christ leaves us vulnerable to living in a cheap type of grace.

This grace that gives us the freedom to live within rules and regulations of the Christian faith with which we are comfortable.  This type of so-called grace which is fed by the fires of hell.

The only way for us to live a vibrant Christian life is to consider the horrors of the cross of Christ and to realize that we are obliged as Christians to willingly embrace such trials ourselves.

So, how well are you handling your cross today?

Stop Complaining

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Philippians 2-14Good morning.  This is Michael De Rosa and today I am looking at Philippians 2:14

Do all things without grumbling or disputing;

We are not really left with many options as to when we can grumble.

Now, if you think this is impossible, you have arrived at a good place for only God, himself, can work this out in You, doing more than you could ever dream for.

So, to live out his Word we look at the context and find that it takes effort to live the Christian life, that our salvation by grace never was meant to be freedom from the consequences of our actions.  Rather, His grace becomes the foundation upon which we mature in faith as we keep an intent focus on God Almighty

Let’s just practice this simple truth:  If God said it, let’s obey, and just allow the Holy Spirit to work out the details as we become resolute to living by His word.

Trust God ruthlessly, and roll up your sleeves to seize this day for His glory

Who is Being Promoted?


Philippians 1-12

 

Philippians 1:12-14 (Emphasis mine)

 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my imprisonment IN THE CAUSE OF CHRIST has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

Today, I focused on ‘in the cause of Christ’ and asked myself some questions:

While I am not in a prison, do I do what I do because of Christ, or are there other reasons?Am I promoting the Gospel with my actions, my behavior?

And my response needs to be either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  For me this is a black and white issue;  I don’t really have to wonder if I am doing it.

Now, I find it totally opposite of my pre-Christian days when I believed that being good enough warranted Heaven for me…and, yet, if you were to ask me what ‘good enough’ meant, I would have assuredly point you to the bad people, which I surmised were either all in prison or soon to be going there. And that type of thinking did not seem odd to me for others I knew were of the same mindset as me.  And during this time, I readily believed that some people were extreme in their faith, namely those who vocalized that Jesus was the only way to heaven and. that all without Him you would be eternally lost.  While I accepted that part of Jesus being the only way, I thought they went a bit overboard by preaching a Hell for those who did not believe this way.

Ah, yes, during my pre-Christian days, I felt confident (shudder! shudder!) that my moral standing would keep me on the right path for heaven. So, I know I would have looked up ‘in the cause of Christ’ as something that everyone who was good enough just did, and, again, some just did it to an extreme, namely born-again Christians…at least as I looked at it.

Back then, I would call myself a fence sitter, as I saw a lot of gray in what living as a Christian might mean. Basically, I had a view of Scripture as a book of good morals that were not meant to be taken literally, but only applicable if a person had the ability.  (I was, unwittingly, telling God that I expected Him to make exceptions for me!)

Not anymore:  black or white

Living like this is liberating because it leaves no room for doubt:  Christ is the Way, God’s word is plain.  The Holy Spirt lives in me to show me how to walk in faith  So, each day, I can make the decision to live for the cause of Christ.

This type of living is not one of arrogance, but it is one of confidence as I continually am made aware that I ‘have not arrived’, but I press on towards the goal for which Christ has received for me.

While Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written from a jail cell,  he is showing me that his imprisonment did not enslave him to his surroundings because of his confidence in Christ’s cause.

And I am beginning to think that when we are not living for the cause of Christ, that we are the ones who are imprisoned because while we know about the power of God, we have succumbed to mediocrity through living life in the hear and now.

QUESTION:

What do you think keeps Christians from experiencing the reality of being mindful of Christ 24/7?

 

Love Abounding

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Philippians 1-9

 

Good morning, this is  Michael De Rosa and today let’s look at Philippians 1:9-10

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;

For the past couple of days, I have been camped out in this book and this was one of the verses that captured my attention as I was praying and this is why:

Paul is asking our Lord for his brothers and sisters love for their Lord and for others to flourish.  In other words, Paul is wanting his church family to experience God’s amazingly intoxicating love.

While praying for physical health, financial help, relationships to be healed have their place, asking God for this trumps it all for what does it really matter if we got everything but lost our first love.

Oh my friends, think of the revolution that would start when we, ourselves, prayed for one another’s love to grow exponentially.

I tell you what, why don’t we do an expermiment, for the next month let’s make an effort to pray for our church families in this manner.

And then see what God will do

To Live is Christ, to die is Gain

Philippians 1-21I have been reading through the book of Philippians in a prayerful and meditative manner and  need to share my journey

 

 

Today, I want to look at Philippians 1:21

for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

I believe this, but…

too often my mind easily focuses on how much I am doing here and now, and it seems to all be important.   I believe it is because I am doing my best to ‘live for Christ’.  And isn’t that good…enough…to not want to go to Heaven… just… yet?

Then there are those struggles that I desperately want to see resolved before leaving.   And isn’t that the Christian thing to do?

And, at this point, I begin to grasp that my reasons for wanting to stay here, and not eagerly seek heaven, are because I am too heavily invested with my reputation! Namely, something is wanting me to accept that all the things that I know God desires  just won’t have a chance of happening if I am gone.

But there is the Spirit in me, countering my Self Importance, wooing me towards living a life eagerly focused on heaven…regardless

of my accomplishments, or lack of them

regardless of my struggles

regardless of others’ views

This wooing is akin to wanting to receive a gift of a totally new set of clothes, while still liking the comfort of the one’s I am currently wearing

I know the choice I must make.  It will be uncomfortably satisfying, but something that God is calling me to. I don’t know all that will await me, and maybe that too is part of my struggle, my hesitation of going deeper, namely I am wanting to navigate where all this will lead me; I am wanting to know know where I am going.

Well, I am taking the plunge!  God will and does provide an excellent Road Map.  His name is Jesus

Living with Him in this Journey of a lifetime,

-Michael

Judging is Captivity

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Romans 14-11

 

Good Morning, this is Michael De Rosa and today we are looking at Romans 14:11

 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.”

Here, the writer reiterates Scripture from the Book of Isaiah, which in its context is addressing the Israelites who are in captivity and telling them that God will set them free and that all people would confess  him as Lord

Now, fast forward to the time of this epistle and you will find the author using this same word as he confronts judging amongst Christians, specifically their accusations towards their brothers and sisters style of worship.  (Hey, sound familiar?).

While the physical contexts of this verse in both testaments are different, one spiritual applications are similar:  namely God will free his people from captivity while everyone will acknowledge His Sovereignty .

And Sin makes us Captive.  This happened when Foreigners ruled over God’s people as noted here in this Old Testament passage; and it is experienced when Christians judge one another

How can that be, you say?

Because when we judge one another, we are holding them Captive to the thought that our way is the best.

Set the captives free.  Stop judging them.

Discover Delight in God

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Psalm 37:4

Good morning.  This is Michael De Rosa and today.  Let’s look at Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart

Serving Christ for many years continues to show me how he trumps the worst struggles I have had, by continually giving me the desires of my heart as I delight in Him.

I understand how people get discouraged to the point of leaving the faith because they are not getting what they expect during their own struggles, but what I have seen during such times is that what I wanted had become a barrier to my understanding what I needed from God.

Too, there have been times that I pushed through and got what I wanted.  But I also went through hell and back because what I wanted was not God’s desire for me.

In contrast to our expectation, the desires of our heart as expressed in this context are those feelings and thoughts and behaviors goals for which you were hardwired by God

So, having gone through that school of hard knocks, I want to strongly encourage you to let go of your own expectation and learn how to delight in God because only then will you have those things which are good and profitable and holy and right and pure and lovely.

Mastering the Beast of Sin

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Happy Easter day, this is Michael De Rosa.  Today we are reading Genesis 4:7

If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Now one subtle reality that sin is working around us is our becoming desensitized as we watch the daily news. The only action we take, in general, to talk the problems of our society

When we become blunted towards our neighbor’s problems, we fail to honor God by practicing Love thy neighbor as yourself. And, unbeknown to us, sin is eating away at us

However, the author of this text, God Himself, does not stop at painting sin’s powerful effects;  He also tells us tells us to Master Sin, not try to manage it.

And this is only done on a daily basis as we acknowledge our need for our Risen Savior

So rejoice, Christian that God has provided the Way

He is risen.

He is risen, indeed

The Power of Redemption

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Ephesians 1-7 photo

Good Morning, this is Michael De Rosa from the Mountainside Community Church in north newport.  Let’s look at  Ephesians 1:7

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

Are we reflecting that freedom from sin in our lives?

The Good News is that we can find a way to live victorious BECAUSE we are redeemed.  Let me explain:

While we can never stop the assault of negativity upon our senses, Christ in us, our Hope of Glory, will continually reveal to us the fact that His Holiness will dispel the darkness of sin surrounding us.

Redemption implies that our enslavement to Evil has ended because our debt to Evil has been paid in full.

Too often, though, we misplace the receipt and act as though we still owe.

Watching uplifting news or reading good books or talking to caring friends can help in rediscovering how to live as the redeemed.

But, far more than any of these is spending time in God’s word to hear, again, the redemption story, to read of God’s redeeming his people…and to realize that one of those people is YOU.

Team GOD

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Psalm 62-7Good Morning, my friends.  This is Michael De Rosa, and today I want to share Psalms 62:7 

On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.

King David, the writer of this psalm is in dire straights:  men are intent on killing him and his one recourse is to seek shelter in God Almighty.

If this seems a bit odd because he did not call in the troops to protect him   maybe its because we have become so busy that we fail to recognize that our very existence depends upon God Almighty; and, thus, we get scattered in our thinking, and lost in activities.

Namely, our busyness subtly creates false security for us, and thus we grow inclined to find “a so called peace” by pressing in to completing schedules and pleasing other.

The ONLY WAY OUT of this is to take ourself by the nape of the neck and simply BE in God’s presence, to learn and re-learn that it is not our planning and execution of plans that will provide us with a safety net, but it is only God Himself