Thursday, July 24, 2008

"No News..."

I have always heard that no news is good news! Well, I have news...I guess that means...well, I am not sure what that means. I do have some news. I am going to take a very needed break! At the present, we are planning on leaving Saturday morning, July 26, and head for our congregational retreat at Snow Mountain Ranch in Colorado. We have 161 people from the congregation here going! That's not my break. Getting prepared for this retreat has taken a lot of energy and time. Most will never know what you have to go through to prepare a retreat. Each fall (except for this year) we have a couples retreat down in southern Missouri. That takes a lot of work but this is on such a large scale it takes 5 times as much. I look forward to the retreat especially once we leave because that means everything will be in place. The theme of our retreat is: "The Church, the Body of Christ: A Reality". I have some really good things planned for teaching to show the reality of Christ's body and why. My lovely wife Resa is going to teach the children each evening while the adults/high school have their classes. She has really put a lot of work into preparing and helped me tremendously! Just a note for you men, give thanks to God for your wife. Let her know how much you appreciate her and all she does for you and the family. She has to do and put up with a lot from you!!!
But while we are in Colorado, we are going to take our two week vacation that we try to take at this time of year while we are there. That will be our break! That means I will be gone for a total of three weeks! I will be back on Aug. 16, so I will start my blog back on Aug. 18. I would encourage you, take some time and go back read some of the past blogs. I pray you will find some helpful teaching and insight. Comment on them if you would like! I sure don't mind people questioning me or disagreeing, provided they have the verses to guide me. I am far, far from having all the answers.
Be open to the word of God. Read it, apply it and let it perform its work in you who believe! Let your heart wrap around the very heart of God. If you're weak, that's alright. Jesus wants you to get stronger but in weakness, the power of Christ is greater toward you. That means get your attention off your weakness and look at the power available to you. I will look forward to writing again, Lord willing...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"In the Name of Religion"

Maybe it's me...I find too many people who profess a relationship with God and Christ, using and doing things in the name of God which has to be a great disappointment to Him. In the days of Isaiah, God people were doing things they professed in the name of God, but God called their hand (Isa. 58:13-14). On the "holy day" of God, they sought their own pleasures in the name of God, speaking their own religious words and God found it abhorring! Today, we find too much of this among the church. Everyone claims to do things in the name of God when in reality, they are doing things in the name of religion. There is a huge difference.
I was speaking to a Christian mother. She was proud of her children (which I know any mother would be) who had grown up. As she went into detail about where they attend the assemblies, her son in particular, led singing, waited on the Lord's table, led prayers and read Scriptures. She was speaking how great it was to see him doing all these things. Over and over she stated how proud she was of her son. I would be too and I don't blame her. However, the revealing of how the lack of discernment and the knowing the name of God came to the forefront and the mother could not even see it nor her son. Her son walks in, she introduces me and I stood in disgust...he was wearing a shirt from "Hooters" with a revealing woman on the shirt. I never heard one more word that mother said to me. It struck me, "Here you are speaking of the things your son is doing and how proud you are yet doing the things she thinks are from God are nothing more than religion!" Sometimes we are more proud of our children and glory in them rather than see the God who called us into fellowship with His holy name and glory in Him!
God is holy and pure. He does not look upon evil and fellowship sin. Our relationship to Him should reflect His holiness in all our behavior (I Pet. 1:14-16). We were called into Christ, under His cleansing blood to free us from the power of sin. We were cleansed, made holy and blameless before Him. We need to walk in a manner that is worthy of that calling and take it seriously! Do you think our Lord takes His life seriously? We need to reflect on the wonderful blessing and seriousness of being set free. If the blood of Christ, His cleansing power have so little effect on us, we aren't doing things in the name of God. It has been watered down in the name of religion...exactly what the Pharisees were doing! The name of religion will never save anyone. We need discernment to know the difference between good and evil. It's the name of God and the name of His Son that saves. What name are you doing things in? Take a serious look and open your eyes to your practices and it might shock you!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I know the future! Yep! You heard it right here but I am not prophet and claim nothing to do with prophecy. I do know the future. I am headed to glory, to heaven, in the presence of God and God promised me that in His Son. I do not know what turns and twists will be on the way, but I know where I am headed. I know where people without the Lord are headed too! The Lord is not part of the self righteous, the prideful or arrogant, those involved in sin. Their fate will be horrible in the end.
What I am seeing today is an increase in "individualism"! Go to the book store and look at all the hundreds of hundreds of religious books written. The majority are about "individualism." "You can be this..." or "The Lord's personal plan for you...". The books seem endless. People write how to develop this within or that within. We are going overboard on "individualism" and it is having drastic effects on the body of Christ. Personal development is a big hit! Preachers preach, teachers teach, people hold meetings, seminars all speaking of himself or herself and how they individually overcame. Our airwaves are filled with "Let me tell you what God has done in my life..." Instead of asking, "What is God's plan for me?" we should be looking at a bigger picture. I know God's plan and His plan was revealed in Jesus! The question should be, "Who is the God we have been called into fellowship with?" We have turned the Scriptures into such a personal agenda, we have missed the Almighty that spoke the Scripture! We need to be studying, reading to see the God and His involvement in human affairs not our "individualism". Jesus came to explain God (John 1:18)!
To walk after the Spirit means to live your life where He takes you. Our prayers need to be surrendered to the will of God that our lives will be molded and shaped by the God of creation. Our lives need to be changed into the glory of Christ and that comes by understanding Him and His ways, not our personal wants or needs. We need to really see ourselves as the Lord sees us. Paul spoke of having the attitude of Christ and the mind of Christ. That takes away us from "individualism." This "individualism" is having a drastic affect on the church. No more are people concerned about one another as Christ's body, but about being "individuals" and splitting up so we can be "individuals." That's where the "contemporary" and "traditional" ideas have taken us. God did not take us there!
Those in Christ, with a true and honest heart, are headed to the glory of God. We have had revealed to us our outcome. We need to grasp the big picture! Eternal life is knowing God! (John 17:3) The Scriptures weren't written to tell us each and every detail of what to do when this happens or that happens! They are written to show us God and His purpose in dealing with mankind. The Scriptures are not written for us to know a "gazillion" responses individually each time something happens or does not happen. They show us God! They reveal the glory of Christ and His message to a lost, sinful world. The Scriptures give us understanding and insight to our heavenly Father, why He does what He does. When "individualism" takes over, we forget our purpose and our God. The end result is each and every one forgets the goal that is already promised and wants "me" time!!! Just look around and see the fragmentation in the church and how people are moving to a more "community friendly" environment. We have lost our way and the power of God to change us into His image. If one is in Christ, they have eternal life in their possession. We know the end result. The in between from here to there, that's where we come to know and see God, which takes us away from "individualism" so we can be conformed into the image of His Son. It's hard to be conformed when all we are looking at is the great and grand things God can do for us!

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Easy To Quit"

When life wears on you, especially sin, it is easy to find yourself thinking that there is no hope. An endless stream of disappointments, failures and struggles. Sin seems to rear its head at every opportunity. We look at what we have produced and sometimes it is pathetic at best. Doubts begin to hit our thinking, "God really doesn't care for me anyway!" In the worst moments it seems to run us into the ground and we find ourselves ready to give up and quit. We try, only to fail and wonder why we are God rejected when we seem so sincere. The doubts hit us if God is unwilling to put up with us anymore, so the thoughts of quiting come easy.
We need to understand two things: (1) God is for us! The cross speaks volumes and says I am willing to die your death, to take your place of death so you can live. The depth and care from the heart of God become vivid and plain when one examines the cross in light of what was given up for us. You can doubt your doubts and wallow in your pain, but the cross says God is for us! (Rom. 8:31-29) Just ask our Lord when He was facing "our" death but knowing God would bring Him back into His fellowship and the life that was being given. (2) Our hearts need to come before the God who loves us. What happens too many times is when we doubt us and begin feeling like we can never reach God, our hearts begin to embrace "us", not God. God will not share your heart with anyone else. Our heart must be willing and open to embrace Him at all cost. Does that mean we will not fail? Sure we will but before our eyes is a cross full of love and help. We fail, and sometimes miserably, but God does not fail! He draws near to us only when we draw near to Him through Jesus. He picks us up when we are down, but only when the heart is willing to embrace Him. One cannot walk in filth and evil willingly and find help from God. God is holy and pure and will not be in the presence of sin. One can be caught in their filth and evil, desiring out of its repulsive grip crying out to God for a clean and new heart, with a willingness to walk in His presence with all their heart and He will take you into His presence, His life. When one's heart turns completely, 100%, they will find relief and freedom from their sins. The life they long for is found in Jesus. It is a matter if our hearts want Him!
Too many speak with their mouths and knowing in the conscience they need God but their heart is in another place. Their heart desires wrong and evil abounds within but they know in their mind they need help. As they lose time and time again, they find themselves ready to quit. It's hard to quit when you never have started! But if one wants freedom and come into the blessings of God, it takes one thing: and honest, open and broken heart fleeing to Jesus and God will reach out and help. David found this in Psa. 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." Yes, the worst of worst, the most vile on the earth can have hope provided their heart wants out of their sinfulness. Isn't that who Jesus died for? He didn't offer Himself for the self righteous and those who think they are good. He gave Himself for the sinful, hurting, sickest ones on this earth and speaks, "Don't quit now...I haven't quit on you!" What does your heart desire?

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Understanding God and His Grace"

The great, awesome Almighty God wants us to be washed completely clean. He desires a relationship with us lowly, failing people. Just think, we are in a relationship with the Creator and sustainer of 6 billion plus people on this earth. Us poor, pathetic people and yet He offers us Himself! That is grace extended.
But there is another side we need to be aware of. This great and powerful God will not allow anyone to abuse His love or grace. Too many have the idea they can sin, repent and all will be well. God is too wise to allow us to try to think we can manipulate His grace. God will not allow anyone to abuse His grace. The grace of God is to help us overcome our weaknesses and sinfulness. When the grace of God is properly understood and applied to our heart, it should lead us to denying ungodliness and worldly desires while living righteously, sensibly and godly (Tit. 2:12). The grace of God brings a spiritual awakening within the person who is baptized into His Son for the forgiveness of their sins. It brings a serious of the relationship to practice the holiness and righteousness of God. Too many are teaching and believing they can never fall from grace, so their lives become a carefree way of life because God will never cut them off. Paul warned the Galatian brethren they can fall from grace (Gal. 5:4).
Let the grace of God be applied to your heart. Believe in Him and His grace toward you. He wants us to overcome and be saved in the end. But remember, by no means will anyone manipulate Him or abuse His grace! His grace reaches us and our lives will reflect that!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I get personal e-mails from this one and that one, which I always enjoy. If anyone has a question or something they would like to see addressed, please write me or write it in this blog. I will do my best to give Biblical insight to what is asked. My personal e-mail is:
One thing people who have known me for many years is that I try to stay away from my personal opinion when teaching/preaching. When my opinion is given, I will state it as my opinion, not the word of the Lord. That seems to be so difficult for many. Too many, especially preachers/teachers, give out their personal opinions thinking if one does not heed or take it, they are sinning. I have watched many a preacher become offended because someone did not listen to their opinion. The more one studies, the better at discernment and wisdom they become. Advice becomes wise and can help many people. We need people with godly, spiritual, sound advice. But ultimately, each person is expected to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12-13).
This forum is yours....ask away....I'll try...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Bible Study: Where Does One Begin?"

I want to encourage each and everyone to read and study their Bibles. A sincere lover of God will read to understand. Too many are reading the Bible like some Reader's Digest or demean it to mean as some "long, lost love letter." It is the holy words that came from the heart and passed the lips of our holy God to mankind. While it is true is expressing His love for us, it is a life changing message for people to take in sincerity.
In order to gain insight to the Almighty and His word, you will need to start with a good Bible. Just my personal view from my studies, I like the New American Standard Bible (NASB). It seems to hold to the accuracy of the Scriptures in both Hebrew and Greek while using more of our language today. The New International Version (NIV) is very popular today because it is easy to read. In my personal studies and in speaking with many who are steeped in the Greek and Hebrew language, the NIV does not seem to hold as true and at times tries to add things or change words in different contexts. I know some will not like hearing that who hold to the NIV but that's as honest as I can be about it. I make personal notes in the back of my Bible on some of the word changes the NIV does. I realize there are things about every version that could be picked on, but I am holding to what I have found the most accurate. The New King James Version (NKJV) is fairly good but still needs some work in my personal opinion. Just one thing, stay away from any version that is a paraphrase!
Get a notebook! Write down questions that arise in your mind and make notes of verses how they strike you. Writing them down will keep things fresh in your mind. You might even take some time and print by hand a short book of the Bible, word for word, and words will begin jumping out at you or statements.
To help in furthering your personal studies, you need a concordance. A concordance will help you locate verses from any part in the Bible. Young's or Strong's concordances are good. They are valuable tools. Get a good Bible dictionary. A Bible dictionary will give you basic information on almost any subject you read about in the Bible. Once again, personally speaking, I have found the New Bible Dictionary about one the best single-volume dictionaries available. A Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words is good.
Finally, you need to find someone you trust to give you some guidance. God's word can be difficult at times and we need guidance (Acts 8:30-31). I might say one thing here, there is always a danger in asking for help. The person who offers their help and insight or the person you might seek out may hold some really strange and different views. They may be views that are fundamentally bad. Here is some advice: if a person holds himself/herself aloof, speaking like they have the only insight to the real meaning of things or they are upset at others while thinking they are in good spiritual condition, look for guidance elsewhere! Sometimes I will hear brethren tell me they are studying with so and so and I cringe inside knowing that the one they are studying with has a self-righteous, high minded opinion of themselves and hold themselves above others. As you grow in your personal study, you will be come more and more discerning and will see the things I am speaking of.
On a final note, you cannot study the Bible with any sincerity if you wait for an "in the mood" time! It is a commitment you must make. It takes a serious commitment to invest the time and energy to do it rightly. The Lord looks at the heart and it will be up to Him to open up His storehouse in heaven to you or withhold it from you. Sometimes I wonder about those who teach our Bible classes how much commitment they put forth in preparing their lessons to teach. Many seem to just "throw" something together and their lives reflect that same mentality.
LISTEN! You need to listen to God speak through the different writers. Be attentive and pay attention to His word by applying it to your life. Let Him in to change your thought patterns. Let Him guide you into dropping some habits you have while drawing closer to His side from your study. You have to be humble and willing to change and that change comes about as you touch His life and love for your soul. Don't be afraid! Don't fret what you don't understand! You're coming into the presence of a holy, loving God that wants and desires a relationship with you. He will grow you! He will equip you! Just be committed to Him.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"Take Care"

The Hebrew writer warns: "Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God." (Heb. 3:12) It is hard for some to believe they could have an evil, unbelieving heart, yet this was spoken from the mouth of God to His children because we are not immune!
When we speak of unbelievers, we think of the world, those separated from Christ and those not in Christ. It is easy to find them. But unbelievers can be found among the body of Christ, those for years who have slowly drifted and stopped heeding. An evil heart is a heart that does not work from pure motives and justifies their actions. An evil heart works to take advantage of others. Esau had an evil heart (Heb. 12:16-17) and sold his spiritual well being for food! An unbelieving heart is a heart that no longer responds to the will of God. They listen time after time, but because they have become dull of hearing, they no longer respond to God's word. For instance, God asks people to be forgiving. That's the will of God. When one will not forgive, are they believing? Are the obedient? Israel was strewn all over the wilderness with dead bodies because they were disobedient to God's word because of unbelief (Heb. 3:18-19).
We need to heed and take inventory. Are we just going through the motions of "religion" or do we respond by faith? Faith keeps one moving forward, reaching, desiring and making progress. Faith leads us to convictions and commitment to our Lord and His cause. Faith grows in a good and believing heart. How does one know if they have a good, believing heart? They do not back off of spiritual growth. They are not lazy in the spiritual life, but longing and wanting to let go of the things that corrupt them while taking in more and more of Christ. Jesus said a good and honest heart is seen when on takes the word, responds to that word and allows it to grow them (Matt. 13:23). The fruit is the seen result.
We need to be careful that we have not become dull in our senses. We need to watch over our motives and heart with every step. We need to encourage one another to move forward so sin will not deceive us or harden us (Heb. 3:13). We need to make certain that when God's word hits our heart, we respond. That's what a good, honest and believing heart will do. Above all...take care!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"I Love The Church"

I love the church! Do you? The reason is because Jesus loves His church. To be in fellowship with Jesus is to love what He loves and commit to what He commits to. One major part of the commitment to Jesus is His commitment to His church because it is His body. No one ever hates his/her own flesh, do they? Take a close look at Eph. 5:28-29 (it is speaking of the relationship between Christ/church). Do you find disdain and hate for your children? Jesus our Lord does not hate His own flesh, His body either! He loves us, nourishes us and cherishes us because we are members of His body.
The church is not some place you go! We need to change our thinking and the way we speak about spiritual things. We assemble as the church to worship our Lord and God! It is the church, the body of Jesus whom He loves, coming together and letting our Father know we love Him. The church is a relationship with Christ. Did we get that?
I hear it all the time. Someone gets upset in the church with another. I am not speaking about teaching/preaching that is false and ungodly. I am speaking to those who get offended for some reason, or they point their finger because a leader in the church practices immorality, or someone steals something and the list goes on, only to proclaim the whole is guilty! I wonder what Jesus thinks? There are those in our midst who are involved with Satan! There are those who could care less about the righteousness of God. There are selfish members, weak members and those that criticize every little thing decided. There are elders who have no business being elders. Deacons who are not faithful in their service. Preachers who speak one thing and act another way. Yes, there are hypocrites in the church. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN THE CHURCH HAS GONE BAD! The church is the body of Jesus. He loves His body, just like we love our body. When things go awry, He does something about those individuals. You might not see it with your visible eyes, but something has/is being done. He has to keep the gangrene out, the decaying parts separated so the whole is not affected. There are still plenty of faithful, loving, caring brothers and sisters dedicated to the Lord!
Don't separate yourself from the church. If you do, you have to separate yourself from Christ first! You leave Christ, you will leave His body. You leave His body, you leave Christ. It's that simple. You love the Lord, you will love His body, the church. The one who loves the Father will love the children of the Father (I John 5:1). And that love is expressed when we respond to one another the way Christ does. He nourishes and cherishes. Do you? I love the church...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"Grace Working"

"Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:16) Have you ever been in deep need? Have you ever felt the stress and strains of life, wondering how you would continue from day to day? Are you in Jesus? If you are in Christ, that should make a difference in your life! Many times we are weak, struggle and find ourselves just drifting along. The anguish of our struggles, the difficulties of a marriage or the burden of physical illnesses weigh on us. What do we do? We forget where Christ has brought us! Through the redeeming blood of Christ, we stand in the presence of God and in the middle of His grace (Rom. 5:2). That puts us before the throne of God's grace! Jesus gave us that right, that privilege to be there. What do we find? Mercy! We need mercy for our wrongs and faults in our lives. Mercy is ours in abundance. Mercy is for those, who with humble and repentant hearts, come to the throne of grace knowing their failures and finding forgiveness.
There is something else for us at the throne of grace: Grace to help in time of need! Grace, the unmerited, undeserving favor of God, is extended to us to help us move forward in the midst of our struggles and weakness. It's His grace to us, not our abilities or power. The grace of God is powerful and extended to those in need.
Read carefully II Cor. 12:1-10. Paul reveals he had heard "inexpressible words which a man is not permitted to speak." Can you imagine hearing something from the Lord and not allowed to speak about it? Where could this lead a person? Into pride and God knew it! God responded to help Paul by giving him a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to keep him from exalting himself. God knows man's pride is what takes him/her down. This "thorn" hurt badly and Paul appealed three times for God to take it away. God responded, "NO! NO! NO!". The words came from the throne of grace, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Paul needed the undeserving favor of God and he found it. Paul needed strength from God for his weaknesses and he received it. Paul found the power from God to continue to move forward despite the hurt and weakness. Paul found power from God by drawing near to His throne of grace.
What about us? The power of God and Christ are extended to us in our weaknesses! It is when we are weak we find strength in abundance. We walk around gloomy because we are so weak or see our failures. For many in Christ, they focus so much on this, they never draw near to the throne of grace to find His grace to help. That leaves us weaker and working on our own. It will eventually wear one to a frazzle! God didn't let Paul down and we are no Paul!!! If God would give power in Paul's weaknesses, what about us? Stop looking at how you fail, your miseries, how you are mistreated at times and start drawing near with some confidence to the throne of grace! There you will find power and strength that comes from Him and will stand in awe, knowing it is not you but Him. The great, powerful and Almighty God is waiting for us to respond by faith by drawing near. He is thrilled to help us in our weaknesses and our weaknesses does not disgust Him! That should make us trust and love Him. "Power is perfected through weakness." is still there and that's what it says. "So that the power of Christ may dwell in me." What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"Strange & Bizarre 2"

In a previous blog, I had asked if any had strange or unusual events in their lives over the years and would be willing to share with us. I shared a really bizarre event last time. Here is another...
I had started a Bible study with a lady who was longing for the Lord. She had even gone to the point in her search that she wrote a letter to God! We might find that a little strange, but that revealed her earnest longing to find God. I began going to her house with her husband there each week. He was very cutting at her and putting her down. As we would sit and study at their kitchen table, he would come in and join us, only to tell me things about her life and habits. He told me things I didn't need to hear, embarrassing to her and me both.
One day, as he realized her commitment to study and her desire for the truth, I came over as usual. They had a post attached from the ceiling to the floor between the kitchen and living room. On that post, he had hanging in a holster, a 44 magnum gun. As I walked in and sat down, he pulled that gun out of the holster and put it on the kitchen table. His wife came over as usual and we were getting ready to start our study. He sat down across from me without saying a word and proceeded to put bullets into the gun. Suddenly he shared with me how early in his life he had shot a fellow. I shrugged it off and we began. Slowly he reached out for the gun, turned the barrel toward me, laying the gun down on the table. We continued our study. He then reaches out, taking the gun in his hand and cocking the hammer, laying it back down pointed directly at me. Needless to say, I was feeling a bit uncomfortable at this time. He never touched that gun that evening but he did tap it with his fingers from time to time during our study. As I would look at him, he had a hard scowl on his face.
His wife was lead to Christ. It was a few weeks after this that he called me to come out to their house again. They lived about 30 miles from us. Resa had asked me not to go but for some reason I felt I needed to. All the way I prayed. Upon arriving, not knowing what I would face, I walked in. There he was sitting at the table sobbing. He wanted to know what we (his wife and I) had that he didn't. It opened the door to a Bible study and eventually leading him to Christ. It is something I will never forget.

Monday, July 7, 2008

"And God Gives Us Children/Grandchildren"

It was a tough day. One of those days when nothing seems to go right. Every thing you do, touch ends up having to be done over. People come by or call and complain about this or that, and sometimes about you! At the end of the day, you find yourself worn and realize nothing has been accomplished. It seems like a wasted day and the pounding you take, well...You just want to go home and sit, uninterrupted to get away from all the difficulties encountered. Then the craziest thing happens: we turn on the TV to watch more difficulties! Sometimes I wonder about us (me)! At least we can watch and not have to think about the day.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, you hear it. At first you might find yourself not wanting to deal with it. You listen more closely and your eyes brighten up and then it begins. The laughter is a giggling, bubbling laughter. Something has really turned upside down their world and the laughter seems endless. We get lost in it for a moment. It becomes an infectious kind of laughter. Our child/grandchild comes strolling into the room still silly with laughter. It makes us smile. They jump up on you wanting to play or tickle. If we pause we would see, even with the rough day behind, there is something to laugh about. Your mind forgets everything that has happened and suddenly, like a ray of sunshine through a storm cloud, the day fades into the background. You are caught up in the laughter and fun of a child/grandchild. You're tired but for some reason, you want them around and find their laughter contagious.
There you sit while God has given you a giggling, squawking, stomach-holding laughing child! Maybe the Lord has given them to us just to get our attention to stop focusing on all the gloom of the day and "consider it all joy" instead. We should have fled to God to begin with! The lesson speaks: change your attitude and learn to work through difficulties with a proper mind set toward the Lord. You will realize there is something to laugh about. I just wish we could bottle it!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

"A Lesson From the God of the Burning Bush"

Many times we are too familiar with Bible stories we read. We just quickly go over something with the attitude we already know it. What a tragedy! What a blessing we miss to move forward. Sometimes people have so little spiritual drive to see the unfathomable riches and ways of God, they are content with the surface things they already know.
Read carefully the meeting between God and Moses at the burning bush Exodus 3. Was it a natural event, like a volcanic eruption that could be observed for hundreds of miles? No! Moses was accustomed to the wilderness and had seen about all natural events there was to offer. Moses draws near and the Creator, the God of his father, of Abraham, Issac and Jacob not only spoke but called him by name. Unaware of the awesome presence of God, Mose moves in while God observes and knows his every thought! Moses was standing on holy ground being the presence of God.
What do we learn just from this? First, the fire on this bush did not need to draw off the fuel of the bush to burn! God is self sustaining!! Here we see the God who calls does not depend on any person or substance for His existence. God does not need any of us to do anything for Him!!! We sometimes think He does! He can (and will) accomplish His will if we cooperate or if we do not cooperate! We need Him to be close to us, to depend on Him completely for our existence and needs in life each and every day. We cannot sustain ourselves.
The God of the burning bush is our God! The bush God used was not burned up. This shows us the power and might of God. We are taught and instructed by God, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (I Cor. 10:13) We find ourselves tempted, desiring to sin, to be drawn back into the world of death, yet we find a faithful God, a self sustaining, all powerful God giving us a way out of the situation if we would only look and draw near. We can be tempted but God will not allow us to be "burned up" if we will look to Him for the way. He alone can sustain us, not ourselves or our professional lives, our smarts and skills! It's not a "nobody understands what I am going through" attitude! It's a life lived for and in the presence of God.
But there is more. Look around you at other brothers and sisters. You will never know the depth one goes through to keep food on the table, to endure ill health or endless abuse at the hand of a mate, yet they continue with a steadfast spirit, encouraging our hearts while we wonder where they get the strength to endure such difficulties. How can they keep such good attitudes? We see them and wonder just how they survive their difficulties. We see it in little children with deadly diseases and ill health, but their bright eyes, their cheerful hearts and no notion of fear touches us deeply. Take note: They are standing on holy ground, in the presence of an all sustaining God, drawing from His resources. When we are around such people, we too are standing in the presence of God! Maybe we need to reflect on such things and "remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Revelation" V

Let me see if I can give some help in understand Revelation 21. So many make this apply to heaven and I can see where they get their thinking. However, it is so important to let the book explain itself to us without putting our hands on it. That is difficult for many to do because we read so many different things. Once again, as a reminder, you need to know how the Old Testament prophets preached and spoke to help grasp this book.
The chapter begins with a "new heaven and new earth" statement because the "first heaven and first earth passed away and there is no longer any sea." John sees something coming down out of heaven and it is the holy city, a new Jerusalem made ready like a bride for her husband. Let it stand on its own merit. Heaven does not come down out of heaven. This city was coming down out of heaven. This is almost an exact wording of Isaiah 65:17-25. Isaiah is describing a new environment where their oppressor has been destroyed and no longer exists. The "first heaven and earth" were dominated by the Roman Empire, killing the saints and trying to destroy anything that has to do with God. Remember, the devil was behind the destruction and used Roman leadership for his purpose (ch.12-13). Here the evil empire has been destroyed and what is left? "A new heaven and a new earth" and no longer any sea. Remember what came up out of the sea (13:1)? Always get the facts. John describes in detail what this "new heaven and new earth" is about (21:10-21). It's not literal but trying to convey a picture for the encouragement and help for the saints to overcome. The over-comers will be part of this (21:7). But notice who is still here (21:8). The ungodly have not been done away with. They are told what their part will be in the future. The point that is being made is this book is written to the bond-servants and they have to make choices to either overcome or be overcome. Jesus lets them see the end result if they overcome and if they do not. There are still nations, kings and the like (21:24) that exist. They will benefit from this new environment that will exist among men. This new city, this new environment will be the ruling power instead of the world ruling God's people! Just take a quick look at chapter 5:10 where Jesus promises the saints on earth will be a kingdom and priest to God and will reign on the earth. The Lord will lead in this new city and illumine the way. That's why the nations will benefit.
How much fear and hurt did saints have to contend with under the Roman dictatorship? Would it be a day of rejoicing if their ruling power was taken away? Would it be a day of freedom, no more tears and no fear of death (being killed)? No mourning over family members that were taken away? This is a chapter of victory during their time! This new, holy city was only for the saints on earth. We live in that today and outsiders have no part in it. Think about it. Let it stand on its own. Some will have great difficulty letting go of their ideas but when you sit back, let it describe itself, you will find more insight. Just tie chapter 22:14-15 and see if this makes sense. I am always open for your input.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"Revelation" IV

People like to use big words. I am amazed how eloquent some people can put things. Myself, well, I am very simple minded must have things broken down into simple language and I realize I lack in my writings/speaking! Let's take the word "apocalyptic". A big word used a lot by people, thrown here to there but really is simple in meaning. The book of Revelation is "apocalyptic" language. It means nothing more than word pictures to drive home a spiritual truth. For instance, the woman in chapter 17 is described as clothed in purple, scarlet and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls. Across her forehead she was known as the mother of harlots. This kind of language shows the her beauty and ugliness and using this to describe her charm on the rest of the world. She is Rome (17:18) and took in all the nations with her beauty and sinfulness. She has corrupted others. She is shown as drunk with the blood of the saints and the eyewitnesses of Jesus. She loved killing the people of God!
"Apocalyptic" language is also prophetic. It reveals future events and how God was in control of it all. This kind of writing always reveals the sovereign power of God and God is in control even in the face of evil! The one thing we can do is just be patient, take in the vivid picture being described and allow it to explain itself. Daniel is another book that is written in "apocalyptic" language. Daniel 7 begins with the vision and dream Daniel saw. The "apocalyptic" language (pictures to describe a spiritual truth) about 4 great beasts coming up from the sea, each one different. As each is described, the reader is to get the image. After these images, the meaning is given to describe kingdoms and kings. If one starts making up their mind before getting to this point, they will miss the real purpose. Daniel 2 is written the same way.
Do not let the book of Revelation intimidate you or be fearful of it. Read it with an open heart and listen to the descriptions. It will explain itself. The name "Revelation" literally means "to uncover". It is Jesus' revelation, which God gave Him to show to the bond-servants, the things which must soon take place. It was communicated to John by an angel of Jesus. It was meant to be read, heard and heeded. Stop letting people put notions in your mind. Let Jesus "uncover" it! I once sat in a class on Revelation in which the teacher brought 3 commentaries in to help with the class. The teacher would read a few verses, go to one commentary, then another and the third and they all three said something different. The teacher left it up to the class to determine which one to believe. It was difficult to sit in. That can be very confusing. I have had people that disagree with me yet the only thing they seem to offer is what some commentary has to say. I never mean to for anyone to think I know it all. But I will hold to what I read and if I can be directed in the word to something I have misapplied, please help me. I will simply hold to the verses, let them explain themselves and try not read anything into it. Things become simple that way and by all means, I need it simple!