Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Final Thoughts"

It's that time of year when things are crazy for many. I guess I am no exception. We will be visiting family next week so this will be the last blog for this year. What do I write? I have been pondering this for a couple of days.
Let me first encourage each of you, seek and love the truth of God's word. That's the foremost thing I could tell you. There is too much religion and little truth seeking. I had an e-mail from a reader questioning something I had said in a blog I wrote. I appreciated their willingness to write and take a slight issue with me. It shows they are thinking on their on. What hit me was their idea of what they thought was right was based completely on something they had been taught and it never came from the word of God. It sounded good and right, but when compared to Scripture, it was found false. They acknowledged that when I responded to them. That's a sign of a good heart! Jesus did not come to establish more religion. He came to establish the truth from God for man! All treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Jesus (Col. 3:3). That means the sincere must seek them out, looking only to one source for their answers. Remember the warning given to the Thessalonian brethren, "...because they did not received a love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason, God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness." (II Thes. 2:10-12) That should stir all our hearts to seek and love the truth and not blindly follow someone.
Secondly, spend time in prayer. Prayer is such a vital part of our lives, or at least it should be. Prayer is faith! Prayer is trust! Prayer is strength gained! Prayer is submission! Pray for open doors and opportunities to share the gospel with family and friends. Look for those doors to be opened.
Finally this new year coming up, if the Lord continues to allow it, there will be many shocking moments in the lives of many. There will be disasters and deaths. There will be illnesses and difficulties. Work on trusting God and growing in His name because the next thing that might crop up will be something serious you might have to deal with. I am not trying to be a downer here. It's reality! Heaven is our goal and that should be our focus in life. Reach forward to what lies ahead and let go of what is behind. We need the strength of God to continue. If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to write. I simply want to serve. If you wouldn't mind, click the "follower" link and join in please. Until 2010...God's blessings be on each of you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Let me say a few words today about one of the greatest things that can endanger the soul. Some people live their lives this way with such normalcy, they think it is...normal! You have been around them or maybe you are one of them. I had an individual who on a weekly basis would stop by my office and it flowed from them with such ease. What am I speaking of? GRUMBLERS!
The term "grumblers" (some Bible versions use the term 'murmurers') literally means "to say anything in a low tone." In other words, it is always spoken quietly to others. Most "grumblers" are careful not to be heard but they want to make sure others hear, if that makes sense. Grumblers express an indignant displeasure for a situation or person. In Exodus 16-17, God's people in their wilderness journey were grumblers and it cost them their lives! They never entered God's blessings because of it. They displayed their indignant displeasure at grumbling against the lack of food, the lack of water and their leadership. In all, God helped them more and more and they continued to grumble.
The warning to us: "Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages have come." (I Cor. 10:9-11)
We have been given an example that grumblers will not make it! Grumblers were destroyed. That should get our attention. God is not tolerant of grumblers, complainers, backbiters, gossiping, bickering brethren. For people to do such, something is wrong with their heart. Jude speaks of such people in the church that are ungodly: "These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; the speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage." (Jude 16)
We need to be careful and not be a grumbler. Our words and conversations should express faith in God and His word. Instead of grumbling at the leadership, the way things are gone about, line up with the Lord and help. There one will find the strength and insight to understand how to better help a situation than run down the situation while expressing your discontent. At that point, God must deal with you as a problem!

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Children Are Givers"

Children are simply...amazing! I never realized how being a "grandpa" could change the way you looked at children. Children are just fascinating! No wonder Jesus said they were the greatest in the kingdom of God (Matt. 18:1-4). Jesus spoke to the adult that they needed to be converted and become like children. Why? They trust, can change their attitudes and love so easily and quickly. Even when little children are in abusive homes, they still reach out to their parents for their love and acceptance. It is just amazing the capacity of their heart!
One thing that really catches my attention about children is their willingness and wanting to give freely! They don't know a penny from a dollar. They have no idea of a dollar from a twenty. It makes no sense to them about amounts. The only thing that they desire is to give and give it all away willingly. To a child, giving is love in action. I remember one of my sons, when he was about 4 years old came and brought me all the money he had in his little bank. He told me to take it and I asked him why he wanted to do that. Apparently he had over-heard his mom and I speak about things being difficult for us financially and in his heart, he wanted to give it all knowing it would help. I'll never forget that evening!
Here's the strange part...parents take away this desire to give from their children and seem to train in to have a heart for greed! That's what Peter reminds us about those ungodly who reside among us in the church. "Having a heart trained in greed..." (II Pet. 2:14). For some reason we as parents have taken our children and taught them to hoard, to get, to want and flood them with every gift we can get out hands on all in the name of love! We say we love them that we want them to have what we didn't or couldn't so we train them, advise them and encourage them to be selfish and keep. As they grow up, they become "wanters" and when things don't go the way they want, it upsets them. What are we doing?
Children have this ability to sense the need of the moment. They see an opportunity and delight in helping. We need to train our children to understand the value of a dollar but it is more important to train our children, encourage our children the value to continue to be giving. Paul encouraged the elders from Ephesus, "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35) As I observe many of our young couples today, most have spent themselves into such a tight budget that hoarding is natural and giving has gone by the way. Their children have everything it seems and there is little giving both monetarily and with their lives. No wonder many never find the blessings of God.
Jesus knew that children are the greatest and maybe we need to re-think what we are training our children into becoming. Are we training them to have a heart for greed or giving is always much better than receiving? Oh, for a heart of a four year old!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Recently while listening to an individual that was going through some marital difficulty, the husband and wife decided to seek out a counselor in the world. The wife went in to visit by herself, then the husband. The conclusion by the counselor: they had seen situations like this for many years and never once has the problem like the husband had ever been overcome! In other words, once you have a particular practice, there is no cure. We have heard that for many years. Once an addict, always an addict. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. Once a sex addiction, always a sex addiction. Once a liar, always a liar. I have heard this MANY times over the last 30 years of my preaching/counseling experience.
The question that needs to be asked: is this really true? The majority of counselors and psychologists deal with the lost world. People that are separated from Christ are in their sins and controlled by sin. That is why many can never change or it is a limited change by acting out certain practices in their own lives. "Count to ten to manage your anger!" and things like this to control our lives. God spoke from the beginning to Cain that "sin was crouching at the door and its desire is for you." (Gen. 4:7) Paul spoke of himself, before he came into Christ in Romans 7 that sin dwelt in him and it was sin that controlled his life, even when he desired to do what was right! But what about a person in Christ? Paul taught that such a person has a "new self" that can be "renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him." (Col. 3:10). The new self is from God, created by God, according to the image of God. Paul reminded the Ephesian brethren to put on this new self, which is in the likeness of God (Eph. 4:24). The brethren at the Rome congregation were instructed that it was the predetermined plan of God that His children would be "conformed to the image of His Son." (Rom. 8:29) In all this, we find that one in Christ can change, can overcome and not be a hopeless case. The world has no power to become conformed to God in righteousness and truth. They have not been united with Christ, raised with Christ so there is no help from God! Unreconciled people are still in their sins and they conform to the image of sin!!
When Jesus said He had overcome the world that one could take courage in Him because in Him we have peace (John 16:33), He wasn't speaking of behavior modification. He was talking OVERCOMING! John reminds us: "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world..." (I John 5:4). If one is in Christ, the only issue is will we put on the new self or resurrect the old self that was buried with Christ in baptism (Rom. 6:6-7) that is enslaved to sin? Too many are listening to the world, taking the advice of the world, thinking like the world and having to depend on the world's resources to control their lives. What if we would listen to Jesus? "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come." (II Cor. 5:17)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"What's The Purpose?"

Someone wrote and asked me the purpose of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. To the reader, they look like many of the same things restated but to those who want to grasp a deeper meaning, they aren't just repeating the same incidences over and over.
Matthew, an apostle and tax collector (Mark calls his name Levi - Mark 2:14, His Jewish name), is a book that is completely Jewish in nature. There is one purpose for the book and that is to show the Jewish Christian that Jesus is the Messiah. The Jews were the first to hear the gospel message of Jesus Christ! One can quickly pick up on it in the genealogy of the first seventeen verses. Genealogy was major to the Jewish culture. Matthew often records the Old Testament prophets to show the fulfillment of the Messiah, the anointed of God.
Mark is also Jewish in nature. It is probably the first of the four gospel accounts that was written, around 50 AD. The purpose of Mark was to stress the action and works of Christ to prove He was the Son of God. It focuses heavily on the miracles in His life.
Luke is the only Gentile writer in the Bible and written to the Gentile (what most of us are). He addresses Theophilus, which we know little about. One thing for certain, Luke made certain each and every detail was accurate (Luke 1:3-4). Luke does not rely heavily on the Old Testament Scriptures as Matthew and Mark because a Gentile would not be as familiar with them. Luke stresses Jesus as the Son of man. Luke focuses more heavily on the prayers of Jesus as the Son of man than Matthew or Mark.
John the apostle wrote this book. John spells out his purpose in John 20:30-31 to produce and keep producing faith of those who are in Christ. In other words, his book was written mainly to the church. John stresses three things in particular: (1) "Believe (2) "Life" (3) "Truth".
Read them, study them. Keep in mind their purposes. Read with a heart to understand and look at Jesus. Therein you will find answers to life and His purpose.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Don't Walk In Their Ways"

They were completely surrounded. It looked like doom for sure. Assyria was the world power! Syria and Israel had allied against Judah to get the Judean troops to side with them in their fight against Assyria. In the eyes of those of Judah, there was no way out! Judah was in the full blown state of panic. What were they going to do?
God grabbed tightly to Isaiah and said that he was not to walk in the way the people! (Isa. 8:11) The word of the Lord thundered, "You are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it." (Isa. 8:12) The people were being carried away by their own hysteria and fear. If Isaiah was going to be in dread of anyone, it was to be the holy Lord God Almighty (Isa. 8:13).
People who do not know God or have little faith in God turn to people to sooth their fears and woes. What is difficult is that those who profess to be servants of the Lord God Almighty turn to the same avenues of fears as those of the lost realm. I realize it is easy to be carried away when everyone is in a state of fear. It's hard sometimes not to be carried away in fear when it seems all you hear and see in every news broadcast how bad certain things are and the spread of sicknesses. But maybe that's the more reason God's people should NOT follow the ways of those around us. It is the times of panic and fear that we could do our best work for God, making it clear that He can be trusted!
God is very aware of how things look and He knows how people tend to respond when it seems like things around us are flying apart. Our faith is so weak at times, we react instead of trust. Trust is something difficult amid troubles but that's not an excuse. God is still God and wants His people to put their whole being into Him and stop listening to the fears of those around. Because people panic and are fearful is not reason for us to respond the same. God has control and knows all the answers. In the end of all matters, God expects His people to consult in Him rather than turn to the people around for their insight (Isa. 8:19) It is very troubling to see the people of God talk, react and think like the faithless. Was it not Jesus who spoke, "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)? He overcame the world and the only way we are going to overcome is by our deep convictions and trust in Him. Where are we turning to for our answers and insight? I know things can be troubling when we look at the seen, but God still speaks and says, "Don't walk in their ways!"

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Christmas...According To Christ?"

I need to say a few words about the Christmas season. This might be a little long. Because of some emails I have received and people visiting with me personally, I will address this. Let me start with this, believe me I am no Scrooge! I enjoy holidays and use them as a time with my family but we need to look honestly at Scripture and see what needs to be addressed in light of Scripture.
Over and over we hear, "Jesus is the reason for the season!" or "Happy Birthday Jesus!" Some say to put "Christ" back in "Christmas." There are other forms of this. Before we address any Scriptures, let's think about this for a moment. How did someone determine this was Christ's birthday? Remember, today it is winter in that part of the world also. They would not be out this time tending their flocks but they are stabled through these cold months. No one knows what time of year Christ was born (other than not in the winter) so that will obviously mean it came from someone making it up therefore making it a tradition of men.
Paul warned the church at Colossae: "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." We must be careful we aren't taken captive. It was the 4th century that a fellow by the name of Nicholas, a Bishop in Asia Minor, who gave gifts especially to children, that the Catholic Church sainted. That's where the idea of St. Nicholas came from. It was from this Bishop, in order for the world to accept it as a religious holiday, they tied it to Jesus. Do a little research and it might surprise you.
It is easy to be taken captive by man's traditions and empty deception. If one wants to see if they are captive, listen how upset people become when you start teaching the truth about this holiday season that it is not from the teaching of Scriptures. What are we to do? Make certain that whatever we do is "according to Christ." He is the true source. What's the source of Christmas? The word itself means "the mass of Christ." Does that make the source of men or of God's word? Many teach and preach against copying the world and following the world in many areas of their lives but when it comes to the world-wide holiday, no one seems to give it little thought.
Let me give you a quick illustration for your consideration. In Matt. 17:4-8, Peter, James and John were with Jesus when He was transfigured before their eyes. Appearing with Jesus were Moses and Elijah. Peter spoke up and wanted to make Jesus equal with Moses and Elijah, making three tabernacles, one for each. God spoke and said "No!" God instructed them to listen to Jesus and Him alone. The point was to make certain that Jesus was not made common and blended with other things about man!
In the church at Colossae, someone was making angels equal to Jesus (Col. 2:18). Others were thinking they saw visions or acted so contrite and humble that was a sure sign of their superior Christianity. Paul had to straighten all this out and tell them the problem was people have stopped holding to the head, Jesus Christ. What they were doing was not "according to Christ!" To blend Jesus with a fake man called Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) is not proper holding to the head, Jesus Christ.
What is the real reason for the season? It's not Christ even though man says it is. Man has made this a tradition. When Jesus sent His apostles into the world preaching, what message were they to preach? The birth message? The gospel message is what the apostles were commissioned with (Mark 16:15-16). What is that gospel message "according to Christ?" His death, burial and resurrection (I Cor. 15:1-4). That how people would be saved! The birth of Jesus would not save one soul! The birth of Jesus was NEVER honored by any of the teachings of Jesus. It was recorded in Scripture to show the fulfillment of prophecy of the Old Testament prophets 500-700 years earlier. That was the sole purpose. Paul announced the book of Romans that he was an apostle set apart for the gospel of God (Rom. 1:1). That gospel of God concerned Jesus and Jesus was declared the Son of God with power by raising Him from the dead (Rom. 1:4)!
The religious world presses us to observe this time as the birth of Jesus. It is not "according to Christ" or Scripture. What are we, as Christian's to do? If one will carefully read Romans 14, there you will see that a person is allowed to use days individually. It is alright to use the time to be with family and renew friendships but to use this as our worship to God, tying it to Jesus because man ties it to Jesus, that's not proper because it is not of God. It is a tradition of men, an elementary principle of the world. The greatest danger is to be taken captive and forget the will of God! Oh, by the way, when are we going to put FUN back in "funeral"?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"What Do We Have To Offer?"

Too many in Christ have nothing to offer those lost. That might sound a little odd, but let's think about this. What do you have to offer your family, your neighbors or friends spiritually? Do we have "religion" to offer or something more? That's why there are all these varied teachings and people cannot distinguish between religions! They all offer one thing...RELIGION! Jesus did not come to offer "religion" but LIFE (John 10:10)! Not human life but the life of God which tells us the majority do not have it.
Judas was an apostle, appointed by Jesus. He saw the miracles and watched Jesus do incredible things, yet in all this, he passed on LIFE from Jesus and exchanged that life for money. When he looked the thirty pieces of silver in his hand, he realized what he had done, where he had lived and found he had nothing to live for despite what he had witnessed. He ended his human life without the life of God. There are thousands upon thousands of humans each and every day who go to the grave, some are our loved ones, and they do not have the life of God. In eternity, people will realize what they had was nothing more than lifeless, joyless, emptiness that was lived for rather than LIFE of God.
People live daily in human life never knowing the LIFE of God. People who have been very unfortunate cannot delight in much because all they know is disappointment. Others have learned how to be takers without one ounce of gratitude for what they are given. There are those enslaved to bitterness or hatred that will never know the possibilities for joy because the life they live in bitterness is enslaving.
Tens of millions just shrug at the name of Jesus while "partying on!" To them, Jesus is a bore and kills their lives! People who have professed Christ, who assemble in the name of "religion" are bored with the message about Him and bored with those who represent Him. Just look at our assemblies and we see those sitting, just going through things because that's what "religion" demands. We want our lives, we want entertainment and find things that appeal to our senses. There is too much "eat, drink and be merry" to even bid Jesus the time of day!
What do we have to offer? LIFE from God! Too many who profess Christ are trying to prove to the lost world around that you can fun and be in Christ too! What a horrible thing to portray to lifeless people! you really want the life of God? A life that brings power and a joy that cannot be touched by experiences good or bad. John wrote in his letter of I John that they saw the LIFE! It was in Jesus and it had a profound effect upon him.
Let's not try to compete with the non-believing world at the level of entertainment. Let's not try to make things look "religious" to attract others. We have a message, a LIFE giving message found in the form of Jesus Christ that will enrich all who come into this LIFE. Yes, the majority will probably walk away and not pay attention but the LIFE of God still bids them come. The church has forgotten the message while trying to fit in with the lifeless. Jesus Christ - in Him is LIFE, the LIFE of God! What do you have to offer?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"What Does Our Worship Reveal?"

In I Cor. 14, Paul speaks of the assembly and what takes place. According to what we read, apparently the Corinthian brethren were out of control! While many were "glorying" in tongue speaking (which cannot be done today no matter what people try to teach), Paul had to point out that "tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers." (I Cor. 14:22) The point that is being drawn upon is what is the purpose of the assembly?
In the worship assembly, there are those who have gifts from the Lord, those who were ungifted and unbelievers (outsiders) in their midst (I Cor. 14:23-25). The purpose was not about the gifts and the commotion but the center of our worship! If there were unbelievers present, they should draw a conclusion from the assembly: GOD IS AMONG US! That's what the assembly is about. Too many are making the assembly worship about themselves! When the worship assembly points to individuals and their gifts, that is no longer worship of God. There are musical arrangements, soloists and all sorts of things that go on in many worship assemblies only to have the people break out in applause. To make it look "Godward", you hear the words, "Let's give God a hand!" followed by an "amen" or some sort of religious sounding word or saying. The point being made: God is not the center and is not getting the praise. The applause and adoration is for the "gifted one!" People just aren't honest in this.
Paul points out that the worship assembly is about God and God alone! Worship is to be God centered. Too many are making the worship assembly into a production and because we live in an entertainment society, it is acceptable and fits in the thinking of many to make it "enjoyable" as one would go to a theater or play. I know this might ruffle the feathers of some but we need to look closely at what Paul was teaching. The whole point of I Corinthians 14 is to teach that the knowledge we have of God is seen in our worship assembly!! These Corinthian brethren had to be corrected!
When an outsider visits our worship assembly, what do they see? Do they see the same thing that is in those assemblies of the world who do not hold to the truth and made their worship into what they want? Or do they see that God is certainly among us? The true worship assembly is completely 100% God centered and not orchestrated or proded by our ideas. Too many are trying to create an atmosphere rather than the heart offering up a sacrifice. True worship is about the heart seeking God, speaking to God, raising it's praise to God without man adding their own twists and turns! True God centered worship convicts and discloses the secrets of the heart of outsiders while it edifies those in Christ. The conclusion: "If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized." (I Cor. 14:37-38)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"Power Robbers"

It is hard for many to accept that the New Testament Scriptures were written for the church! Paul warns Timothy that in the church, among God's people, there will be difficult, perilous times (II Tim. 3:1-5). God's people will become wicked. That is hard for many to accept, however, let's look in the passage what makes for perilous times.
"For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these."
Let's make one quick point. Many today say you can't judge another. You have to make judgments in order to "avoid such men as these." People need to be better students of their Bibles! (I'll save this for another day.) The reason one must avoid such people in the church (he is talking to Timothy about the church) that have these characteristics is because they will affect you if you walk with them!
Let's notice another thing mentioned. "Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power." It is easy to look spiritual and religious! People wear Christianity like a coat. It's just a covering, a shell. Outwardly they can say the right things, speak using religious terms and "amen" those with whom they agree. But godliness is not their life. They have denied the power! There is power involved with God. Too many try to control situations and outcomes in their lives. They have little power to overcome in difficulties other than what they can muster. People that "hold to a form of godliness" give themselves away by the things listed that are practiced in their lives. One doesn't have to have all the things listed. If any of them are part of us, that speaks volumes about us.
Notice the first thing listed: "lovers of self". One quick note. How many do you hear say that in order to love others, you must first love yourself? What does that tell us? In order to find the power of God, self must go (Matt. 16:24).
I'll not deal with each one listed but let's make a few observances about some of them and you can apply the others. "Unholy" deals with the way you live your life. Taking your life serious and not treating things or the church as common. Holiness is a life lived in reverence and respect for God and others. "Irreconcilable" is where someone will not yield to forgiving another and coming together. Some people hold so much bitterness in their heart toward another that they refuse to be reconciled. We see this in marriages where one or maybe both refuse the other no matter what. It will cost them their soul. "Brutal" is neither sensitive, nor merciful or any sympathy. It is savagery! I have met those in Christ who abuse their mates or children in their home. "Treacherous" is the idea of betrayal. It can involve one not keeping their word to taking advantage of others and situations. "Reckless" is a person that is headstrong and obstinate. They will not be influenced by wise advice. They just do things the way they want and it doesn't matter who gets hurt or the outcome. People that are reckless never consider the consequences of their actions or choices. They do what they do because that's what they want to do.
I realize it is hard to believe this happens in the church, but it does. It more prevalent than we think. Too many are hiding, faking their lives. They act one way at the assembly and a completely different way in their daily living. It is people like this that cause difficulties for God and the church. I pray we will look closely at our relationship with our Lord and move away from the things that will hurt us spiritually. If not, God says they must be avoided!

Monday, December 7, 2009

"What Do You Say?"

Are you troubled? I know we have all been through difficulties and battles in our lives. What do you say to someone who is going through a difficult time in their life? Have you been in a situation and wondered what to say when their heart was aching?
Several years ago I was asked to travel with a preacher to visit a gentleman in the hospital. I did not know the fellow in the hospital but went along because I was asked. The fellow was facing serious surgery the following day and upon our entering the room, you could see the concern on his face. A few moments went by after the introductions and silence fell on the room. The preacher had no clue what to do and the fellow in bed had small tears flowing down his cheeks. Out of nowhere came these words from the preacher: "A few years ago I had an uncle who faced a similar surgery and he died!" Before anything else was spoken and me trying to get my mouth closed from dropping open at such a statement, the heavy-laden fellow burst into crying. Upon our leaving the hospital that day, I asked the preacher why would he say such? He told me he had the rest of the story to tell but with all the commotion and reactions, he never got to finish! Needless to say from that day, I never visited anyone with him again. People have no clue what they are saying or what to say in times of difficulty!
When people have heavy hearts, we need to know what to say. Where do you begin? Troubled people need more than just some sympathetic words. They need help and hope. Let's learn something from the Bible. Peter writes to Jewish Christian's in trouble. These Christian people had been scattered, rejected by society and are facing difficult days ahead. What does Peter say to such? He tells them who they are (I Pet. 1:1-9)!!! They are the chosen of God and are the people that God did not reject! Peter doesn't deny their troubles. Read the letter. But in reaching out to them he reminded them (and us) who they are! Can you imagine them sitting, listening while this letter is read out-loud? They are being comforted by the very presence of God and that relationship they have. That is something that rejection, hurt and disappoint can never take away from the heart of those of faith!
How should we speak to those in Christ throughout the world that are struggling? What about those places that are small, with few brothers and sisters, fighting day in and out to maintain righteousness? What about those in foreign places trying to teach and suffering for their teaching (something we know nothing of)? And those that are closer to us that we speak with and see weekly but have to carry a major burden, would this not be what they need to hear? But what about someone who doesn't know Christ? Silence can be golden! Never forget people are troubled and we can't expect them to act like they don't have troubles but should we not speak to them who they are?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Purpose of Scriptures"

If one wanted to learn math, you wouldn't read a sewing book because that would be a waste of time and effort. To approach God's word as something that it was not intended is to miss God completely! We need to understand the purpose of the Bible and its message. Too many use the Bible to prove their personal religious beliefs which is really doing a great injustice to God's purpose. (God's word does show us the truth!)
God's word has a central purpose. It is to produce and sustain faith in God through Jesus Christ. It is turning people whom God created back to Him, staying with Him and honoring Him. To ignore the central purpose is to completely misunderstand it! One has to be willing to listen and seek the truth through the voice of God who is calling us into fellowship with Him. The sacred Scriptures is not about drama or on-going drama! That's demeaning God and His holiness. (Just read Lev. 10:1-3) God's word is to be taken and 'eaten' rather than analyzed! It is to feed the soul rather than dissected.
But there is something more...the Bible IS NOT a substitute for God! To confuse a letter from a husband or wife with the husband or wife (or anyone else) is to violate the purpose of the letter. The letter is not the person and is not intended to replace the person. It is to bring the two together into closer fellowship with each other! One can easily read the Scriptures and completely miss everything. Just read John 5:39-40.
Once again, the purpose of the Scriptures is to bring us to the life of God and that life is found ONLY in Christ Jesus. He is the central character in God's purpose. Therefore, how we stand in relation to Jesus Christ is the issue which must be understood and settled before any other question is asked or given.
Now that we have gathered the purpose where does one begin in their reading and study of God's word? Too many begin at the beginning, like any other book. God's word is not like 'any other book.' Begin in LUKE, since he is the only Gentile writer of in the Bible and read ACTS. Luke wrote the book of ACTS. Let me make one quick point about the book of ACTS that many seem to miss. ACTS is not a history book and if we approach it as a history book, we can miss God again. ACTS is how God worked His power and accomplished bringing faith among the lost world, both religious and non-religious. Begin here and don't ignore the other letters but these two books are great places to start. These two books gives us the answers to finding freedom and life with God in Christ Jesus. This is the grand purpose of the holy Scriptures! If you would like to know more, please drop me a line and I'll do my best to answer you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Two Patterns"

People can influence us in good and bad. We have seen it in our children when they play "dress up" imitating their parents or the little boy trying to walk in his dad's footsteps that seem so far apart. Teens get caught up in the glitz and glamour of some actress/actor or "musical star" or maybe an athlete. Adults are influenced by successful business people, those rich or powerful and read to find out what made them so successful or powerful. We can be influenced!
Paul urges us to join in and follow his example and the example others have set in the pattern of living for the Lord (Phil. 3:17). Timothy served Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:19-21). Epaphoroditus served the Lord (Phil. 2:25-30). This tells us that there are two different patterns that can influence us and we need to exercise great care in who or what is molding our lives. What are those patterns?
(1) There is a pattern (example) if we follow that will end up in destruction and those following this pattern are not even aware of what is coming upon them. That should open our eyes if we are spiritually sensitive! "For many walk..." (Phil. 3:18). Many...we are speaking about brothers and sisters in Christ! Paul's not addressing outsiders. There are many that the cross seems to make little impact on. It's just a story, something repeated but has little effect on their lives. Paul says "they are enemies of the cross." What makes them enemies of the One who bought them? Listen carefully "whose god is their appetite" (Phil. 3:19). They live by their own desires and it controls their thoughts and actions. Whatever they feel or want, that's what they go after. We see it often when someone is upset and they allow that to control them. That's their appetite! It is what leads people into wrong attitudes toward others or even depression. "Who glory is in their shame". Just listen to some of the things people in Christ glory about! They have no shame is speaking of how they took advantage of someone or broke a law and didn't get caught. Others have outburst toward another and justify that outburst. They feel good about it! That's glorying in their shame!! "Who set their mind on earthly things." This is where their thinking runs. They don't think in terms of serving Christ and what He expects. What does your mind dwell on through the day or in difficult situations? "Whose end is destruction." All the above is the wrong pattern and many are walking enemies of the cross and aren't even aware of where it is taking them! To many, this is normal for a Christian and what Christianity is about.
(2) There is a pattern (example) if we follow that will guarantee our ending in heaven. It is patterned after a citizen, living as a citizen of heaven. How many see themselves as citizens of heaven? If we see ourselves as true citizens, that will cause us to "eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Phil. 3:20) When we leave our children in the care of another, those children eagerly await your return because they are citizens of their home. This should influence our lives, our mind set, our desires and direction. If our citizenship is in heaven, then heaven should be in our home and lives! What is going to happen? We will be changed into His likeness by His power! It is going to happen and we should be living as if it is going to happen.
Who are you pattering your life after? What are your energies put toward? Remember, Paul warned there were many heading down the road that will end in destruction because they pattern their lives after those who walk this road...IN THE CHURCH! Maybe we need to ask, what do you influence in others?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Make God the Center"

Haven't you had one of those moments where you saw something or someone said something and realized if you could do something over again, you would do it differently? I know many times I have found myself in that position. But let's think about this: to want to do something all over again because you would do it differently doesn't make a lot of sense. Why? Because you are speaking from your present experience! That is something you didn't have and would not have if you were to do it over. We only speak from our gain now!
Having said that, there is one thing I have learned from my present that I would call on each and every one to do: MAKE GOD THE CENTER OF YOUR LIFE! I can almost hear some reading this saying, "That's a no-brainer!" It is not as simple as it sounds. Many profess to make God their center but listen to them speak (those little "spiritual phrases" they pick up from others) and watch their actions and attitudes and it betrays them. Too many speak like the religious world, draw from the religious world and think like the religious world rather than God. John warned in the 1st century when all those left the apostles and their teachings: "They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them." (I John 4:5)
How do we go about making God the center of our lives? First we must recognize that the center of the Bible is not the Bible! It is the God of the Bible. The word is not the center but the God behind the word. The central subject in God's word is God Himself! We read about the interesting people and events but those people and events are not what is being revealed. They reveal the greatness and purpose of God Almighty! The heart of the Bible is a Person, GOD!
I realize we cannot get to know the God of the Bible without learning about Him from the Scriptures. Too many are missing God while caught up in 'stories.' Jesus said, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3) The term "know" is not head knowledge but a knowledge gained by experience. In other words, as God and His Lord Jesus reveals themselves through Scripture, you have to walk where they live. That's where the "knowing" becomes a reality. Too many walk after what they feel or think and therefore they never come to "know" God. For instance, to be unjustly treated and to reach out to those who hurt you (rather than withdraw into hurt and pity), you then will come to "know" God and His love.
Yes, if I could encourage us to do one thing, that would be make God the center of your life. He calls us to do that and it is absolutely essential for us to do that if we are going to gain real true knowledge of Him. There is nothing else that exists for us to make our center. There are too many creation worshipers, star gazers and spiritualists that make the Creator and Sustainer of our lives less while elevating the wrong things. Making health, fitness, education, intellect, beauty, wealth or power as your goal and desires will rob you of God and in the end, ruin your life!

Monday, November 30, 2009

"The Term Hell"

It has become a sad commentary in our society. Recently reading someones comments who claimed Christianity, they used a term that is rather disturbing but they apparently give no thought to the seriousness of it. By their usage of this word, it was probably fairly common in their language. What are we speaking about? The term 'hell'. This term is used to describe many things in our society and has found its way into the communication of many of those claiming Christ.
People use the word 'hell' to describe a hot day outside to a good meal. Others use it as an exclamation of surprise or wonder. People do not realize that this final, tragic abode of those unreconciled to God is a place to torment and horror. The term 'hell' is thrown around and used to describe common, ordinary events in life. Have you ever heard anyone speak of their golf game as 'going to prison' or 'this is an aids of a traffic jam!'? Do we hear anyone say, 'what the cancer is going on'? Those terms supplied speak of tragic things that we don't like to think about and take seriously. Yet the most tragic eternal thing we could think of called 'hell' is used in such an empty and shallow way.
Satan knows that if he can cause 'hell' to appear as casual or less serious, we will not take serious eternity in our own lives. From the beginning the devil set out to minimize the teachings of God. He told Eve that God didn't mean what He said and things would not happen the way God said they would happen (Gen. 3:1-5). He lied and deceived them and is doing the same to many today.
'Hell' is the ultimate tragedy where Jesus describes it as a place "where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:44). Jesus revealed to John that is was the second death, the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15). 'Hell' is the final resting place of all those who are not one with Jesus and it is an eternal place of horror and punishment. It is such a horrid place that Jesus willingly gave His life to rescue us from this eternal punishment.
Let's not be a part of Satan's deception to minimize 'hell' by slinging the word in a causal, common, every day term. We need to be sober minded and realize that careless words thrown around, there will be accountability (Matt. 12:36). It might be time to listen to our language and take our word usage seriously!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thank You

I had someone suggest to me to put a 'followers link' on my blog. I am always thankful to those who help me improve. I sure need it! Just click on the 'followers link' and you will be added automatically. See everyone on Monday...until then, may God bless!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I am going to take a few days break from writing. This will be my last post until next Monday, Nov. 30, 2009. I want to thank those who read and the e-mails and comments of encouragement. Sometimes when one writes so often, you wonder if it is really reaching anyone or doing any good. It takes time and effort but I only try to write things to encourage us and help us see things a little more clearly. If you get a chance, let me hear from you...I want you to make it to heaven!
Have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy your time. Each day we are one day closer to being in eternity with God. Make the most of your opportunities and time!

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Do Not Fret"

One of the greatest insights from God's word we have on fretting or worry is found in Psa. 37:8: "Do not fret; it leads only to evil doing." The Hebrew term "fret" literally means "to eat away, to gnaw, to worry, to agitate, to wear out." It is easy to tell someone not to "fret" but then our world gets turned upside down and we are forced to live in agony like many others go through. "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him." (Psa. 37:7) It is easy to tell someone to "rest in the Lord" when things are going well for us, but it is completely different when we are in the difficulty.
Is it really possible to "rest in the Lord" and not "fret?" "Rest in the Lord" is not dependent on your external circumstances but on your relationship with God Himself. God is faithful and will always be faithful. He doesn't know how to be unfaithful. That's impossible for Him. If we can see His faithfulness, we should trust Him at His word because it is absolutely impossible for Him to lie or be untrustworthy.
The reason many can never "rest in the Lord" is because they are always trying to work out situations they face. They try to help here and there and it only leads into more fretting because things don't work out according to our working! Simply put, we just don't trust God. We think we have to help. Worry, fretting ALWAYS results in sin. Fretting rises out of our determination to have things work our way and our plans! Compared to when Jesus walked on this earth as us, His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill the plans of God. The will of God was at His heart so in the difficulties He faced, He rested in His Father. He knew God was righteous and could never do anything other than who He is.
Have we been propping up our foolishness with the idea that our circumstances are too much for God to handle? Do we really believe we can work things out better and for the righteous purpose of God by doing things ourselves? All our fretting is caused by planning and acting without God! "Do not fret, it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, the will inherit the land." (Psa. 37:8-9)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"A Preacher or Comedian?"

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a comedian and a preacher? I must say sometimes there is little. Comedians and comic actors are there to make us laugh, enjoy the time. Sometimes they have a great insight on life and can open our eyes to our flaws in society using humor to get the job done. I am not speaking about the immoral or obscene that many comedians speak but those who really can make us us! When comedians use obscenities to show us our faults, my mind comes to God: "Fools mock at sin..." (Prov. 14:9) It is bad enough to engage in it but it's even worse to think it is funny!
But that's not my point. When we go to God's word and read God's expectations of preachers, preachers are not to be comedians! A preacher is to be sincere and sober minded in his teaching/preaching. Paul exhorted Timothy to "be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (II Tim. 4:5) The preacher is to be an example in their conduct and speech for other believers (I Tim. 4:12). A preacher is to take pains in their preaching so the brethren will see your progress, while paying close attention to yourself and your teaching so we will ensure salvation for us and those who hear (I Tim. 4:15-16). Too many preachers seem to work hard at entertaining! They want the people to like them and use their wit to get every one's attention. I am not saying that sometimes something funny comes up to make a point, but it seems too many are focused on the comedian entertainment and God is secondary.
When one reads of the OT prophets that preached, they weren't comedians! They rejoiced when rejoicing was in order but their preaching wasn't in patterns of a comedian. Sin is far too serious and people can be easily led down a path of insincerity and lack of conviction just from being funny. Those prophets had a message from God and they had to express that message to keep God's people on track or get them to turn their lives around. It wasn't "The Temple Comedic Hour!"
Listen, thirty minutes of rolling-in-the isle material and some biblical passage sprinkled in with a few serious stories of morals is not preaching the word of God!! It will not take much and the listeners become shallow, hollow shells and opens their lives to listening to anything because it is more than they are presently getting. There is too much "cotton candy" and not enough seriousness of God. People need God and need to be confronted with God. Comedians cannot provide that. Paul warned Timothy, "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires." (II Tim. 4:2-3)
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a preacher and a sour, belligerent, tedious quoter of Bible with little application? (You figure that one out!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"The Secret"

Recently I was reading an article someone wrote based on Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." The writer was using this verse as a 'pep-rally' verse. The constant repeating it was being used as a positive thinking verse and if "we would claim it as ours" (his words), it would be as if something magical would happen. Now I will tell you, I don't like 'sour' tones but I don't like fluff either because God's character is not fluffy and puffy!
Let's think carefully about the context of the above verse. In Phil. 4:10-12, Paul is speaking of how he moved from weakness to strength. There is a sustaining power. The congregation had sent help to him to help with his preaching, but that was not the issue. It has been a while since they helped and now they were helping again and Paul "rejoiced in the Lord greatly." But there was something deeper. Paul learned something that many never see or learn. He learned in every circumstance contentment. He learned how to deal with life that it doesn't matter if you have or if you are lacking, that's not the issue. He learned to be faithful and focus on God. That's the secret!
The secret is what unlocks the power in ones life and Paul had found it. Too many people are driven by their desires, their feelings and even restlessness. They want something but are not sure what it is. In many, there is this great desire just to do something! There is a driving force of wanting. These desires and feelings are propped up with the repeated words "doing all things through Him who strengthens me." It is like a battle cry but that's not the proper understanding of what is meant. Jesus does not work like that.
Paul found his strength day by day. He learned how to lean on the Lord and that helps one settle down under His control. That is when you find your wants, your feelings and longings to dwindle. People seem to do very little Bible reading and they never come into a deeper understanding of the Lord which leads to all these abuses in God's word. It didn't matter about circumstances with Paul. It mattered of walking and being faithful to Jesus. That's the secret to unlock the power in our lives.
There is why Paul (and us if we would allow) could find in all things, strength through Jesus. With Jesus, even the worst situation there is help, hope and strength. We need to learn to focus on the Lord and depend on His strength when we are without. In good times and bad times, learning how to let Him help brings strength. That's the secret many miss!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Thoughts on the Cross"

She was an humble and kind lady. People that know her realize how devoted and dedicated she is to the Lord. As she spoke with me, her heart poured forth troubles. It was evident in her struggle that she loved her Lord but her failures over-whelmed her at times. She was struggling with sin in her life. Have you ever been there? She spoke to a close friend of hers about it and they didn't help much. They just shrugged it off saying we all struggle at times. It will be alright. It was not alright to her as her sincere faith wanted to over-come sin in her life. People might look good outwardly but inwardly they can be a mess!
We need to take sin seriously. God sure does! It seems more and more of those claiming Christ take sin so lightly. I hear little comments here and there. It is right to denounce sin and it is even more right to oppose it in our lives. We don't need to be running and rubbing shoulders with the world but we do need to let them see that we aren't opposed to them. God is trying to save the lost and sometimes, the lost is us! "For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." (John 3:17) God is not waiting around to destroy someone, sending them to the pits of hell. Here is God at His height: our sin provoked our Holy Father to mount a great rescue operation through His Son.
God is opposed to sin, all sin! His opposition to sin is pitiless and ceaseless! But let's not forgot this: God has a relentless love for us, the sinful! Here are a few things to think about as you struggle in your life in battles against sin:
(1) The cross of Jesus did not bribe God to adopt a forgiving mood! The cross of His Son was the expression of His eternal love for us.
(2) The cross of Jesus did not buy grace from God! The cross of Jesus was the unveiling of an eternally gracious God.
(3) The cross of Jesus did not persuade an unwilling heavenly Father to come to our rescue! The cross of Christ was the ultimate demonstration that God had already, from the beginning, moved that way.
Put some thought into these things and as you find difficulties in your walk, realize what the cross is speaking loudly. Our God is not wishing any to perish!

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Listen to the Atheist"

Newsweek wrote an article about the well known atheist Sam Harris. In this piece, Harris warns the world against Christian type voters and would like to produce a "religionless" world and government. It would make for a much better place to live according to his philosophy and thinking.
Maybe he is right!? If we could just transform these Christian types into atheists, then our world would be much better off. If we would remove God and His Son completely out, our government leaders would further the best medical research, follow peace giving solutions and would shape our society into far better living conditions and honesty! Yep...there's no doubt about it that the God given word and faith in Him is and has always been humanity's enemy!!
Maybe Sam is right if we would just get rid of all the so called Christian voters! Our government leaders along with the atheistic teachings in due time would make this world a lovely paradise! Why not look at those religious men like Stalin or Pol Pot or Mao Tse Tung and Adolf Hitler and see how right Sam is. I think he may be on to something. Oh, let's talk about what happened when God's principles were followed in the Gulag of Russia. You might want to look that up and see how these prison camps worked. What about the godly medical research done by the God-loving Josef Mengele and all those wonderful God-fearing colleagues at Auschwitz. We can rest assured that if all these men in history had been active atheists, we would have a different and more wonderful world right now, wouldn't you say?
Wait...maybe I am missing something here!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Pray and Trust"

Let's see if I can make a little sense of prayer. People sometimes seem to get into great theological discussions about it which really does not help except talk in ways and words that confuse. There is something simple about prayer yet there is nothing simple about prayer. Did I just confuse us????
Jesus knows every aspect of prayer, the difficult questions we want to ask and all He urged people to do is prayer and not quit (Luke 18:1). There may be many thoughts and questions surrounding the passage but one thing is clear, persistent prayer. Paul encouraged the young Thessalonians to "pray without ceasing." (I Thes. 5:17) God hears the prayers of His children and responds (I Pet. 3:12) and His children pray.
Where should we begin to our understanding of prayer? One simple thing: Trust in the Father to whom we pray! Do not trust your understanding or trying to figure something out. Just trust the Father. God's ways are greater than ours and many speak of God's mysterious ways as if He is allusive from us. All talk like that just discourages prayer. God made Himself known in Jesus Christ. Just read your Bible and see that looking at Jesus, that gives us ground to trust God! I realize God is too grand to be fully grasp but when you look at Jesus, you see God. Trust Him even when you don't understand. Didn't we do that with our parents growing up? The same with God. It was Jesus who said we should be converted and become like children (Matt. 18:1-4).
Many times we don't know how to pray, what to ask for. Here is the greatness of God. He still knows what you need. That's what Romans 8:26-27 teach us. The Spirit of God who dwells in us intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. When we hurt, our souls are disturbed and feel the world caving in, if you're in Christ and trusting in the Father, there is intercessions going up on your behalf when you don't know what to ask for. That should create a deeper sense of trust in the Father. We aren't left alone just to fend for ourselves. Trust the Father to whom you pray!
Prayer is the only one expression of the rich and complex relationship we have with God. Prayer is vital to our spiritual well being. Do not allow anxieties and fears dominate your life to hinder your relationship. Cast your anxieties on Him because God cares deeply for you (I Pet. 5:7). He knows your need and the answer to your life. Pray! Trust! God already knows the end and it is impossible for Him to be unrighteous! Trust the Father!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"The Man"

I know a man who some thirty-five years ago watched a young lady walk into his life. He was struck with a sense of wonderment! It took some time to win her but this man knew it was going to be worth it all. That man worked hard to get such a lady's attention. He had never worked so hard for someone in his life before then. Someway, somehow she responded to his attention. It was something that this man couldn't grasp as to why. This man was very flawed and immature but she gave him a chance. This man took too many things for granted early on and was even afraid of life at times but just by being with her, it made things a little easier. In this man's selfishness and self consuming attitude, a little at a time the Lord was chipping away, showing that through her he could become something much better and wiser. She was showing him God.
Thirty-five years have passed and this man realized he was never worthy of such a lady but is so thankful for the opportunity. Lessons learned, life lived on different levels, failures that cannot be counted, weaknesses exposed and despite all this, the Lord sought to redeem this man and open his eyes to one of life's wonderful blessings. People know and see the man in glimpses but they can never see what this wonderful, beautiful lady had to live with and pray intently for strength to endure. The years have passed and age is starting to set in as God intended but the resolve and heart of this man is continually moving forward with her. Yes, I know the man and I also know the lady! I thank the Lord for the many years we have had and I pray more to come...she is worth every moment!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


"What the wicked fears will come upon him, and the desire of the righteous will be granted. When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation." (Prov. 10:24-25)
There is a definite difference between the righteous and the wicked in the eyes of God. They both anticipate something: (1) the wicked anticipate the worst (2) the righteous anticipates the best possible. The wicked have lots of fears because they have no foundation or assurances. The righteous has an everlasting foundation and assurances which eliminates their fears.
How does God define a wicked person? It is difficult for us to accept we might be wicked because we categorize wickedness with horrible, disgusting acts. But that's not how God views all wickedness. We know there is none righteous, not even one (Rom. 3:10). Let's see if we can define the wicked in God's view. We will use the book of Proverbs for this.
"Because I called, and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and no one paid attention; and you neglected my counsel, and did not want my reproof." (Prov. 1:24-25) These verses are speaking about the wisdom of God trying to call us into listening and heeding. When God's wisdom and teachings are given and people refuse or pay little attention, it leaves one in a position with God that is not blessed. "I will even laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm, and your calamity comes on like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come on you." (Prov. 1:26-27) A wicked person is one that will not heed the wisdom of God and when difficulties come into their lives, they have only one thing: FEAR! Their fears will hold them in anguish and their fears will increase.
"He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself. And he who reproves a wicked man gets dishonor for himself. And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself." (Prov. 9:7) A wicked person will not take correction. When they are corrected, they insult and attack the one who corrects them. Their fears will bring them into dishonor. Compared to the righteous: "No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble." (Prov. 12:21) The wicked have troubles in abundance. This does not mean the righteous will never see trouble but they have a comfort and assurance because the righteous sees their security in the Lord. "What the wicked fears will come upon him."
Listen to how the righteous are described: "But he who listens to me shall live securely, and shall be at ease from the dread of evil." (Prov. 1:33) Wisdom is being personified again in these verses. The righteous have their eyes and ears attentive to God as His wisdom calls. "Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will will increase his learning." (Prov. 9:8-9) The righteous wants correction when needed and wants to gain greater insight for their life. The righteous become more and more secure and stable.
"The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous." (Prov. 15:29) The righteous rest assured their prayers are heard and heeded. The righteous are in God's favor and their humble, willing attitude to listen and heed prove it.
"What the wicked fears will come upon him." This one little statement is the reason the power of positive thinking seems to work. It is often preached/taught that if you think positive thoughts, good things will happen. All positive thinking does for the wicked is slow down the fear aspect but it does not solve the greater problem one has. Stability and assurance comes from a right and loving relationship with God by following His word and heeding His wisdom. God knows the difference between the wicked and the righteous and the wicked lives in many fears.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"What Are We Missing?"

The worship of the Almighty God is a grace-given privilege. Many do not see that or even know that. To some, worship is a duty expected. I had this statement made to me recently while speaking at one of my engagements: "Do you think I would be here if I didn't have to?" The problem with this statement was the fellow was sincere. He felt obligated to be there. What was worse, he was one of the spiritual leaders in the congregation. It made me wonder what the spiritual pulse of the congregation was?
What is worship? It literally means "to kiss toward, to do reverence to." Worship is always a response of reverence. Failure to revere God will lead one down a path of condemnation and self deception. You can see it in the beginning with Cain (Gen. 4). His offering, an outpouring of his worship, was not regarded by God and it made Cain angry. Nadab and Abihu thought the fire they brought into the presence of the Lord as they led in worship was good enough. Fire is fire in their mind and without any regard or reverence toward God, it cost them their lives (Lev. 10). Jehovah God sounded forth His word: "By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored." (Lev. 10:3) King Saul thought he would take upon himself to offer his own worship, his personal choice and it cost him everything (I Sam. 13). The Pharisees worshiped God on a regular basis and Jesus condemned them. They had no heart and it was nothing more than man-made meaningless words and teachings (Matt. 15).
I have heard people say they are bored with worship, it is mundane or they get nothing from it. Why are people so empty and bored? What are we missing? Worship is not about us, the worshipers! Worship is about God!! Worship is not about what "moves" us or motivates us. True worship of the heart is God centered, God directed and God revered! Worship is our expression of love, devotion and glorification of God. It expresses how we feel about God and our worship shows our insight and knowledge of God. Worship IS NOT to arouse in us experiences like a ballgame or entertain us like some theatrical production. Worship is God directed to please Him and Him alone! Worship is an awe and reverence shown toward His name and power. When true reverence, heart desired worship takes place, it will move your heart to love Him more and honor His name. Worship of God is never orchestrated by man's ideas or music! I realize there will be some who will not like me saying that but we need to do some serious study from God's word what is true worship. Worship is an honoring the greatness and majesty of God's love despite our sinfulness.
Worship is not about receiving! It is about giving. "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of the lips that give thanks to His name. (Heb. 13:15) Notice worship is spoken as a sacrifice. When people are bored or gain little, it reveals their sacrifice! They have nothing to offer from the heart and their sacrifice is rejected.
Worship is completely God centered. He is the audience, not us! God examines our hearts and looking at the sacrifice we offer. Bottom line for us: what does the death of Jesus really mean? Our worship is the indicator! What are we missing?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"What Is Love?"

How many times have we heard something about God's love? The countless lessons on I Cor. 13 or John's writings in I John 4:7-8? With all the teaching/classes and articles written, still one of the most lacking aspect in those claiming Christ as theirs is love. Over the last few years, I have come to realize how few really know how to love, especially among preachers! I'm still working on it!
As long as everything moves along smoothly, no one rocks the boat, there is little distress in peoples lives. The moment someone says something that is slightly off the way we think, suspicions arise and the emotions become stirred. We feel threatened and think we have to correct such thinking in the lives of others. Some believe it is their duty to correct people and have a strong desire to do so. (That's not always the wisest move.) Some never think of trying to help the other person but they take an attitude of avoidance! From this point, what controls you? Love or your feelings?
Sometimes brethren aren't the kindest in the approach of things. Some are blunt (which they call being straight forward) and rude. Their words can be sharp, cutting and hurtful but they believe they are helping. (I've been here and had to repent of this!) Let me ask you, those in Christ, shouldn't we expect them to act like Christ? That would be ideal but that's not reality. Some of the most vicious people on earth are those claiming to belong to Jesus! What does one do? Listen to Paul: "Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save for their parents, but parents for their children." (II Cor. 12:14) Notice carefully Paul's attitude toward them. What is he seeking? What's best for them! He will not burden them or expect from them. That's love! But it doesn't end here. "And I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you the more, am I to be loved the less?" (II Cor. 12:15) What was Paul looking at? Their souls! The soul is what is most important to God and Christ. The love of God allows you to look at the soul, which will over-ride the emotion. Too many work off their emotions and never come into true love. If Paul loved them that much, shouldn't he expect to be loved back in the same manner? We would think so. What if they don't expend themselves back for Paul and love him back? What would he do? "But be that as it may..." (II Cor. 12:16) It did not matter one bit to Paul whether or not they loved him back. It won't stop him from being expended and doing what is best for their soul. This is what godly love is all about!
God's feeling about our ungodliness didn't stop Him from seeking our highest good. He gave His all for our eternal well being. Christ was the offering for us and did God get our love in return? No! He received from us rebellion, stubbornness and hate. Did that stop God from trying to reach us? No! Jesus knew that. "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) There's the depth of love! How many of us love like that?
To love one another is not an emotion or prompted from an emotion. Emotional love, which too many work off of, limits how far you will reach and react emotionally! God's love is different and much deeper. People hurt us and we want to avoid them. Love looks at the soul and does what it can to help the situation. People say things that aren't exactly right and we give no allowance for growth but jump them for their statements. They never look at the soul to see what really needs to be done. People do things to us unintentionally yet we hold to that deed done to us and it stays with us. That's not love because true love would let it go so it would never become a hindrance.
Without love, when you get hurt, you will pout and not consider the best for the other. You see it in marriages all the time between mates. Here's the danger: as you close the door to your hurt, you will slowly but surely drown in bitterness and hate! "By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) Disciples of Christ love and will always do what is best for the others soul. There are no barriers in that.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Who Is Your God?"

If someone was to ask you, "Who is your God?", what would you say? Most would probably no doubt say Jehovah God, who created us. People claim the God of our Savior, Jesus Christ and the Father of mercies. Many recite something they have learned about God or have some deep conviction about the God they serve.
Have you ever thought that the God we say we have a relationship with and the god we actually serve can be two different gods? A person's god is what he cares about and who they serve on a daily basis. A person's god is where we place our money, sacrifice for and give our thoughts daily to.
In the days of Rome, the Romans worshiped Mars, their god of war. Today, we would consider such as ignorant and empty but is that really true? Let's think about this. We hold our nation to be great because of the high technology of our war machines and bombs. We boast of military superiority. In this, many take their security in this false god. "The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men...The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength." (Psa. 33:13,16-17)
The Romans worshiped Bacchus, the god of wine, drunkenness and sexuality. What do many serve and think about today? The goddess Aphrodite was the goddess of sex. Look how many are obsessed with sex, pornography and the things tied to this. There was Venus, the goddess of beauty. Look how many are obsessed with physical beauty, surgeries to enhance their physical appearance.
With the above things, maybe we need to ask ourselves again, "Who is your God?" What drives you or what do you sacrifice for in your life? What do you talk about the most and controls your thoughts? It takes an honest heart to look at this.
Paul knew his God and he served His Savior and Lord with all his heart. Jesus taught that no man can serve two masters. It is impossible! (Matt. 6:24) God has first place in our lives or we serve a different god (Col. 1:18). Paul taught the pagan Athenians, "...for in Him we live and move and exist." (Acts 17:28) Paul taught Timothy the young preacher, "...for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day."(II Tim. 1:12)
We have needs in our lives but it seems many have more wants than needs. Our desires can easily become our god. To expend our energies in pursuit of education, recreation, literary achievements is not sinful when kept within their means. To some, these things make them who they are! They become their love and pride. I recently had a preacher telling me of the years he put in for his high educated degree and he said he deserved respect for it! It had become his god and he didn't even realize it. The God who died for us, calls us to choose Him, to follow Him with a whole heart, forbids us to follow any other god whether it be a drive, need, person or object. He calls us to make Him the center of our thoughts, actions and desires. We need to please Him in all respects because He is worthy and capable of filling our each and every need. Who is your god?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"What Are You Selling Your Soul For?"

Jesus asked point blank: "For what will a man be profited if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Have you ever applied these words to your lifestyle?
What if you gained everything you wanted, did everything you wanted to do and go anywhere you wanted to go? What if you won the lottery? These ideas excite many! People would love to have money at their disposal and be able to go freely as they please. People strive for "things" and "externals" while the soul is left unfed and uncared for. Just listen to how we talk about doing this or that and how busy we have become "playing" for us and our children. It might scare you if you took an inventory of your life and see what you have wrapped your living around. How much do we really value our souls?
Jesus pointed out that our life is not about our possessions (Luke 12:15). In fact, our lives are not about our children or jobs. These may be what we live for but your life consists of one thing: YOUR SOUL! Today, if you were to pass away, tell me what would be the most important part of you? Jesus describes what is most important in Luke 12:16-21. God will require the soul! He will call the soul to an eternal destination. Too many are selling their soul for things in this life and little importance is place on the spiritual well being of the soul.
You are not in control of your stay on the earth. God's word tells us that the days that were ordained for us to live were recorded before they even existed (Psa. 139: 16). Have our days been recorded to end today? Tomorrow? Next week?
Jesus came to save the soul of man. He saw the soul as the most important part of man. When He became man, He followed God with all His heart and soul, knowing His soul would be required of Him. Nothing detoured Him from the will of God. For us, when we allow things of this life to get in the way of our soul feeding on God, those things will erode the soul spiritually and it will crave the physical but finding no rest.
What are you selling your soul for? Pleasures? Work? Are you busy in life with things, running here and there, sacrificing for things while we sacrifice little for our souls? What if you won millions, retired, travelled the world and enjoyed life to the fullest and in the end, you lost your soul eternally? What is the profit of that? Eternity is where our souls will exist. We all face the question Jesus asked and the answer we give will determine everything about us for eternity.

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Intake Determines Output"

I grew up in West Texas where cotton is the major crop. While recently visiting my hometown, I heard much of the same talk I heard growing up: the cotton crop! I listened to one farmer friend of mine talk of how he got all stalk and little cotton. Not once did the farmer blame the stalk for the lack of cotton!!
As my mind went toward the word of God, I thought about the stalk how it can never produce the cotton. God produces the cotton on the stalk. Let me explain. A stalk will only produce in direct proportion to what it brings in as far as nutrient. The intake always determines the output! That's the nature of growing anything. The more the nutrients, the more fruit. I have never heard of one farmer blame the stalk during the time of drought! The stalk is at the mercy of the intake. The intake always determines the output!
In Eph. 3:14-21, Paul prayers for those in Christ to take in the proper nutrients. Notice the strength that comes from the Spirit to our inner man (v.16). Christ is to dwell in our hearts through faith (v.17). We are to be rooted and grounded in His love. It's all about intake. Intake will determine the output! Something from God is feeding us as we respond in our faith. We are told to " filled with the Spirit." (Eph. 5:18) "To be filled" is not some miraculous happening or feeling that comes over you. The word "filled" means "to be influenced or controlled by." By following God with all your heart, yielding to His will and not yours, it allows Him to control your attitudes and actions. As we grow to know more of the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge (v.19) the result: "That you may be filled up to all the fullness of God." You can have all of Christ you want to take in. The ability to overcome, to grow is ours for the taking. Our intake always determines the output!
A true relationship with Christ is not a "self-help" program or some "self-improvement" course. It's not the pursuit of man's ideas or anything people (especially preachers) try to coerce us into following. When we are pointed away from Christ and being rooted in Him and Him alone, the output will be fleshly...all us! After a while, you will quit because it wears you out. Why do so many get worn to a frazzle? Why do so many find themselves stressed? Why is walking with the Lord such a burden and people quit? There is no power because...intake always determines the output!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Bear with me in this blog today. It might be a little lengthy. True God centered worship is about the holiness of God. It is a reverence and awe of His holiness and love. It's called "fear of the Lord." "Therefore, since we received a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire." (Heb. 12:28-29) Worship is about acceptable service, showing gratitude with reverence and awe. To many today are making worship something that stirs their personal likes or some feel good style. A sincere faith offers acceptable worship to God, what is pleasing to Him with reverence and awe.
When people take upon themselves to approach God as they want or what they think, God does not honor that worship. God's holiness decides what is acceptable and unacceptable. Too many are taking upon themselves as what they think is acceptable. Worship is promoted that "different styles" of worship are alright to pursue and many brethren are buying into it. Have you ever heard anyone who is pushing all the "new" worship ideas say, "Let's go to God and ask Him if this is acceptable?" But verses are used and misused for pursuing personal likings. Every time man has taken upon themselves to "improve" something God wants, we end up corrupting it because man tends to glory in man!!! God warned Israel about the altars they used in worship of His name: "And if you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield you tool on it, you will profane it." (Ex. 20:25) Worship is about God's holiness and it must come from a heart that's cleansed and made holy by the blood of Christ. It is a pure worship, with no attention on man, undefiled by thinking we add some "flavor" to it while realizing we are as one body standing in the presence of a holy God. The songs of praise are genuine words spoken from the heart. They are offered out of reverence and awe. God knows the difference of those lifeless pretenders and the sincere worshiper. The prayers are from a sincere faith that expresses our dependence on God. The Supper is a genuine reminder of the cost and love of the new covenant, not some drama skit from man's idea of "wielding their tools on it!" Thankful hearts bow in reverence to worship our loving Father and His holiness.
The Corinthian brethren were destroying themselves spiritually with their fleshly acting as mere men (I Cor. 3:3). They should have a higher standard than the world around but their own fleshliness had corrupted them. We don't seem to learn from this. What did it lead them to in their worship? They were using the assembly of the saints for self expression! Brethren with spiritual gifts were running over the top of those without spiritual gifts. Those with the spiritual gifts wanted to "perform" (I Cor. 12-14). Just read those chapters carefully. Their services were lively and a lot of commotion was taking place (I Cor. 14). There were those who felt like speaking so they spoke out with no regard for others. Who determined if they were acceptable or unacceptable? GOD! They thought they were doing right until God sent them a letter through the apostle Paul. It was God who placed each member where He wanted them (I Cor. 12:18). It is God who gives more honor to the one lacking and the weak were necessary (I Cor. 12:22-24). God gave spiritual gifts to build up the body according to His way and never used for self proclamation or promotion. Worship of God is not a stage show!!! Worship is always about "offering to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe!" Worship is never about us. When one worships, they reflect their knowledge of God (I Cor. 14:24-25). Paul ends by stating that God is not a God of confusion but of peace and there needs to be self control in worship (I Cor. 14:31-33).
The world is tainting our thinking. Real worship takes place in the heart of a worshiper. It's UN-ORCHESTRATED by external means. When worship is spoken of as dull or dead, we need to examine our hearts and see if the death of Jesus is the motivation in our lives. If He is our life, then we need to "show gratitude with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Growing Spiritually"

Do you really want to grow spiritually? I pray you do. Where does one start and how do you go about it? In order to grow spiritually, you must realize that the door is open for you to grow which means the only thing holding us back is us!
Look carefully at II Peter 1: 1-11. In verse 3 we find God's divine power has already granted to us everything that pertains to life and godliness. It is like being given a blank check that is signed by a millionaire telling you to fill in the amount needed. God has already granted everything we need to grow and be faithful. True spiritual growth is always based on His promises (v.4). God always keeps His word. Spiritual growth is gaining the nature of God and sharing in His nature!
If God has already granted us everything for life and godliness (and He has), what are we going to do with His promises? Let's look at verse 5: "Applying all diligence..." that's our part! If we have faith, we will be more diligent in our lives but it doesn't end there. " your faith supply moral excellence." Some versions use "virtue" or "goodness". We are talking about in your faith you must deal with your sins and become morally excellent. Many times we are faced with difficult situations of right and wrong. Moral excellence means you don't justify doing what is wrong. We have to do what is right because God is morally excellent! He always does the right thing and we have to apply that same diligence in our faith. One can't sweep sin under the rug and draw closer to God. It is impossible! This is the first step in spiritual growth.
"And in your moral excellence, knowledge..." Whenever we supply moral excellence to our faith, you begin to gain knowledge of who God is, what He is like. Your understanding begins to increase. The reason some have little knowledge is because they never deal with moral excellence. Each of the things listed in verses 5-7 are progressions working off of each other. Knowledge is only gained after moral excellence.
"And in your knowledge, self control..." Doing what is right, you gain knowledge of God and self control starts taking hold in your being. There are no "behavior modification" programs involved like the world offers. This is from God. Your life starts coming under control only when you gain knowledge of what God is like.
"And in your self control, perseverance..." Perseverance is the ability to endure difficult people and circumstances. One can't persevere until they have some self control and you can't gain self control until you have some knowledge of God. Knowledge of God can't be gained until we deal rightly with things in our lives.
"And in your perseverance, godliness..." Being more like God in your behavior and attitudes. A love for doing His will.
"And in your godliness, brotherly kindness..." Have you ever wondered why some have no love or little for the brethren? Here's your answer. One can't have some brotherly kindness until they have some godliness and it goes right back up the ladder.
"And in your brotherly kindness, love." This love is a sacrificial love, looking out for the best of others. It has nothing to do with how you feel and everything about seeing the need to help. Isn't that what the cross teaches us? Didn't Jesus put our needs above His own? That's love!
The opportunity to grow is before us. The only question left is do we really want to grow spiritually? Do we really have faith? Take a look at the list and find out where you are spiritually. It might surprise you!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Death, Burial and Resurrection"

I've debated over writing this. I will go ahead and say it here, at this time for us to think about. This is in no way to put others down or create a controversy. People need to think with some spiritual insight instead of following everyone else. We are coming upon a time of year when the religious world will be calling attention to the birth of Jesus. His birth will be in song, in visible ornaments, pageants and plays, dramatized and worshiped. Many sincere and religious people will focus on the birth of Jesus.
The birth of Jesus was not what Jesus asked His disciples (followers) to remember about Him. As Jesus sat with His own apostles, He told them to remember His death (Luke 22:17-20). It is the death of Jesus we assemble together on the first day of each week to remember.
The Old Testament prophets prophesied over and over of His death. Yes, they mentioned His birth here and there but the emphasis was on His dying for the lost. God planned the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus from the beginning of time. It was no accident..." the right time Christ died for the ungodly." (Rom. 5:6) "This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Eph. 3:11) Peter preached to the Jews that "this Man, delivered up by that predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death." (Acts 2:23) All of creation was pointing to this one event as man's spiritual well being would depend on the death, burial and resurrected Christ.
When the apostles were sent into all the world, they were to preach the gospel (good news) that Jesus had died, was buried and arose on the third day. Not once do we find them speaking and glorifying the birth of Jesus. Paul reminded the Corinthian church about where their salvation came from: the death, burial and resurrection (I Cor. 15:1-4). It was the dying of Jesus for my transgressions and His resurrection for my justification (declared not guilty) (Rom. 4:25). Paul's life was lived daily around the resurrected Christ (Gal. 2:20), not His birth.
The churches of Galatia were being led back into following the Jewish customs of feasts and seasons as set by God under the Law. In Christ, here is God's response to that: "But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain." (Gal. 4:9-11)
God never intended our lives to be broken down into seasons. Our worship and adoration of the Lord is not seasonal because man makes it up. Jesus left us a life-giving proclamation to unite His people every first day of the week called the Lord's Supper. I realize Matthew and Luke record the birth of Jesus but there is very little that deals with His birth compared to the chapters describing His death, burial and resurrection. People aren't saved by His birth but His death, burial and resurrection.
To use seasons for family, friends and enjoyment, that is a privilege we have been given in Christ Jesus (Rom. 14). Enjoy the time. But our worship and adoration of our Lord is not to be seasonal but daily because He raised for our sins. "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." (Col. 2:8)