Thursday, February 26, 2009

"God At Work"

When people suffer, they somehow start thinking God does not care or He is not in control. For many, (I am speaking to those in Christ), suffering sends them into a state of panic or depression. In speaking with them, they have the same "You will never know how I feel unless you walk in my shoes." attitude. It's just another reason for them to stay in their down-trodden mind set. Please understand, I am very sensitive to people when they are suffering pain in their own bodies or lives or the loss of a loved one. The problem is we always look how things affect us and that blinds us to God and what He is doing. Simply put, people want a explanation as to 'why' in their situations.
Jesus cries out on the cross to God, His Father, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46) Despite His pain and loneliness, He calls on His God. Man took everything from Him, His rights, His privacy and His life, and yet they could not take away His faith. Following the crying out, the words came, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." (Luke 23:46) Victory in the face of death! He trusted! God had given His Son into the hands of sinful man and Jesus trusted Himself to God for His victory. Isn't this what God is trying to get us to see in Rom. 8:28? All things do work together for good to those who love the Lord and look to His purposes! Isn't that what God assures us in Rom. 8:31-32? God is for us! Why do we think like He is against us?
John sent disciples to the Lord wanting to know if He was the One they were looking for. At that moment, Jesus cured many of diseases, afflictions and evil spirits. (Luke 7:18-23) They go back to John, who is in prison, and share with him the miracles they just witnessed. John is given no explanations, but a simple lesson stating: "TRUST ME!" Jesus with all His power never once offered to release John from his prison cell and surrounding circumstances. John was beheaded! He went from a prison cell as a common criminal to the eternal presence of our glorious Father. Jesus said 'NO' to John's suffering, wanting him to simply trust and brought him so much more than he ever expected.
Where does all this leave us? Either a trusting faith or a hopeless mess! God has more in mind than alleviating our present hurts and suffering. God has eternity in mind. We have a few years on this earth in mind! Jesus suffered for our eternal benefit and everything we go through, every hurt, every dissapointment, every loss is wrapped around that God is for us and will cause each and every difficulty to work for our good if we will just love and trust Him. We need to hush, stop all the drama and thinking "why me?" and simply trust, listen and obey...God is at work!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"God Speaks"

God speaks! God has always spoken and still speaks today. He spoke to his prophets and through his prophets, who preached to His people. There is no communication of truth without words spoken. God spoke long ago in many portions and ways (Heb. 1:1) tells us but God came speaking in Jesus! Jesus preached! Jesus taught! Today we are hearing more and more groanings against preaching. Take some time and read through the gospel accounts and just take notice of how many times you read where Jesus preached or taught. It might amaze you how much. I found 40 times where Jesus came preaching/teaching just in Mark alone.
In all this, it makes no sense for people to ignore the fact that Jesus and His apostles had a definite doctrine about the Scriptures. Jesus taught a definite doctrine about the nature of God but also a definite doctrine about Scriptures and the truth therein. Peter insisted that the words of prophecy of Scripture were not personally interpreted but they were words from the Holy Spirit that came to man (II Pet. 1:20-21). Paul said all Scriptures were 'God-breathed' (II Tim. 3:16). Paul proclaimed his words were Spirit given (II Cor. 2:13) and Peter backed him up (II Pet. 1:16-19). In everything I have spoken, we need to see that God is not mute and still not mute today. God speaks and continues to speak. It's just many (in the church) are starting to ignore what He speaks.
The church is to be committed to preach the Master's word. There is a definite standard of teaching called 'the faith' that must be upheld and defended. There is a message of reconciliation and good news for lost mankind to hear. The message God still speak is not about the messenger! It's not about the great things God and His Son have done for us in our lives. The message is about the glorification of our risen Lord!!!! When are we going to learn? The message of the church is not: "See how we worship!" or "See how God works among us!" It is: "Look at the One who has redeemed us!"
God still speaks! Acting groups, plays and skits is not God speaking! That's man acting and my, how many glory in that. If we are going to supply the psychological needs of our day and time, it will be found in God's speaking through His word. Nothing is to act as a substitute for that. No cherished traditions. Not science. Not philosophy. Not entertainment. Not personal experiences. Not the exalted status of a person. Not a lovely life. God spoke! He spoke in His Son! They heard Him and they spoke what He spoke. We, the church, are to speak what He spoke!!! I wonder why we are having so much confusion and splits? Maybe because we have stopped listening when God speaks?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


We need to encourage one another but so many, what they call encouragement is nothing more than 'lording.' We ask people to participate in something because we want them to and if they are reluctant, we lay the talk on them making them feel badly or guilty because they do not do what we want. That's lording! I have seen in the church where people, especially the men, are asked to lead a prayer or serve in some capacity. If they say 'no' or feel uncomfortable being put in such a position, they are made to feel their relationship with the Lord is lacking. That's lording! I heard an elder once tell a fellow that if he was really growing, he would be speaking from time to time and more involved in the public worship. That's lording! There is nothing more shallow spiritually than those who try to manipulate and control others by exposing their lack of deeds in certain areas as a lack of love for the Lord. It's not only 'lording' but complete legalism!
The Pharisees thrived on lording and their deeds! They prayed and fasted often (Matt. 6). They gave money to the poor and paid tithes (Matt. 23). They were regular, every time the doors open temple worshipers (Luke 18). They were tireless evangelists (Matt. 23). They held that their possession of Scripture was their ticket to heaven (John 5:39). They used their Bible as a their textbook in correcting those in the wrong. They even used the Scriptures on Jesus! And what did Jesus say about them? They were heartless and loveless. They honored with their lips but their heart was not with God. They looked good, spoke good and acted good but they had a heartless and faithless approach to God. They looked good externally but were rotten within.
Why am I speaking all this? We need to be careful trying to convince people what they need to be doing! We have become lords that judge the motives of people. We simply cannot and do not know someones motives for why they do what they or don't do what they do. We can judge someones actions as that is right. We can assess words spoken and deeds according to the word but motives as to why someone chooses not to do something, that's not our right!! We can say, "Your actions are contrary to the teachings of the Lord!" But to say someone isn't growing or not spiritual because they refuse to be a part of something is a judge of motives. The Lord considers peoples weaknesses and fears. We can encourage others to step forward but to make one feel inferior or guilty because we think they should be doing something, that is stepping across the line. It even carries to the point of, "If they were really repentant, they wouldn't be asking for prayers again! This is the third time this month they have come forward. They are just looking for attention." When will we realize that some may have an intensive struggle with certain sins in their lives? Can it be possible? Yes! Just because we don't think so doesn't mean others don't struggle. Too many have become so smug and self righteous lords, but know nothing of overcoming the intense struggle against sin. Sin tries to take people down and thank God people try to hold to Jesus!!!
Can we trust Jesus to grow us? Why not encourage someone and leave it at that. No digs, no guilt to get a response. Encourage them to Jesus and let Him grow them. How do you know He wants them doing what you are asking and lord over them? Didn't Jesus say those very words to Peter (John 21:19-20)?

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Where Have We Missed It?"

In my travels, I hear many speak of the struggles that face their local congregations. For the most part, one thing seems to stand out and that the lack of numbers growth. Congregations seem to be losing numbers and that becomes the focus. Brethren do not seem to ask 'why'? Many have their ideas, but for the most part there is only one reason congregations slowly die off....CONVERSIONS! We have stopped in many cases of reaching out with the Gospel. The social gospel is embracing everyone who claims to believe and see none as lost! I am not a legalist, for those who know me well, but there is a standard of the truth and one must line up with that truth if they are going to be saved! For some, they have little insight to the Gospel. One thing for certain, the Gospel is God's power to save people (Rom. 1:16-17). In forgetting God's power, many turn to gimmicks and other things to 'attract' those outside Christ. Let's have a special Sunday worship to bring people in or make our services more attractive when people visit. We create all sorts of out-reaches for this and that. Now, understand there are some good things we do to reach others and I am not against them. What seems to be most troubling is the lack of insight to where the real power and out-reach program needs to be: THE GOSPEL!
Are we being equipped with spiritual food? Are our preachers teaching the things that grow people in the likeness of Jesus or making us fleshly like the rest of the world? Preachers can only preach/teach what they know and if they do not know the power of God, the 'good news' of God and what that means, they are deteriorating the faith of the listening saints. I sat in a large congregation while visiting and listened to a sermon, (by a so called big name brotherhood preacher), that was taken directly out of the Reader's Digest! And people wonder why we are dying? Preachers are speaking about love, love, love (and that is a true and real part of God), but the love they preach is a 'touchy, feel good' rather than challenged with the dynamics of God's sacrificing love. Paul warned Timothy that there will come a time in the church when the brethren will not want sound doctrine but want their ears tickled and find teachers/preachers who will tickle them with little social lessons (II Tim. 4:2-3). God's word is wrapped around the Gospel. Not a social gospel but the Gospel that will save others. The Gospel is what gives people hope! The Gospel gives people the assurance of heaven! (Col. 1:5) The Gospel is the message of truth (Eph. 1:13). THE GOSPEL SAVES!
You want to win your family for Christ? Get them the gospel! You want to influence your friends? Share with them the gospel. You want the church to grow? Center on the gospel. We can have our different programs but if the Gospel is not the center point, the drawing point, we have relinquished the power of God to save to a man saving scheme! The result? Maybe we are looking at it in the local congregations?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"What Is Your Life?"

I have heard often, and there was a time it was me, how people say they live for this or that. Some people wrap themselves up in their jobs and that becomes their life pursuit. Others go after entertainment or the outdoors. Still others live their lives for their children and grandchildren or maybe their mate. They say that is their life! It is things like these that professed Christians have involved their lives in, investing every ounce of their energy toward a certain one or thing. It has become their life...but it will disappoint. People lose their jobs or ill health can take a toll on plans for the future. Our children can pass away (I sure don't want that but it does happen) and it leaves people devastated, sending them down into a deep well of pain and misery. Why? Because they have made them their lives!! I am not trying to discourage anyone but we need to take a real serious inventory of why we are living and what we are pursuing. You might say this is your life but there is coming a big surprise...
What is our life? What are we missing? Someone calls to Jesus, asking Him to tell his brother to divide the family inheritance (Luke 12). Jesus used this opportunity to explain to man what life really is about and He tells us that our lives do not consist of our possessions, even when one has an abundance. But there is more. If our life does not consist of "things" or we make our lives about our families, what are we missing? There is something seriously going wrong in the mind and heart of people. Jesus explains...the man built larger barns storing his goods. He was content, happy as his life efforts were placed in the present leading to the future. The man speaks to himself, calling it his soul! But then God steps in and calls the man "a fool." Listen to the words of God, "This very night your soul is required of you..." (v.20) What is our life about? It's our soul! Our life is our soul, not possessions, not our jobs or our family. Our lives aren't about hunting or fishing. One may make their lives about these things, but the Lord knows better. Your life is about your soul as that is the one part of you that will enter eternity in the presence of God. Your soul is the spiritual part of you that makes you who you are. (I'll write about the soul sometime.) We all have a soul and what happens is the soul is going to attach itself to either the physical realm or the spiritual realm. Whatever you pursue, your soul will attach itself to that. If it is the wrong thing, you will suffer a great loss. Just look at the great efforts we put toward family and things, yet the soul part of us is dying or maybe already dead! The man building his barns was so blinded by his pursuits, gave little thought about his soul and it cost him eternally!
Jesus came to redeem us, to rescue our souls! That is the most important part of our lives. Your life is your soul! To make your life about anything else, you will forfeit everything eternally. Jesus said, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26) What about you? What are you exchanging your soul for? Maybe we need to re-think about what we live for...eternity is one breath away!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Love Bears All Things"

Take some time and read I Cor. 13:1-7 about love. I don't mean from your memory but a sincere effort to think about what is being said about love. Put some serious thought about your practice of love. We aren't speaking of the "feely, touchy" type of love but a sacrificing love that might even cost you!
One part of love is that it "bears all things." (v.7) The word "bears" literally means "to cover." When we speak of a roof on a house, it covers and protects us. That's a good illustration of real love. Instead of exposing, love "covers" and helps. Over the years I have heard many a wife freely speak about the faults of their husband. Other women standing around and the wife just speaks of his failures or habits, without any concern how it might affect him (or the attitudes of the others listening). People do not realize when you speak openly about another that you might be setting some attitudes that will be etched in the mind of those listening. I am not picking on women here but rarely have I heard husbands running down their wives. Love, the love of God does not do that! Love is a powerful motive and the motive behind love is to help someone down the right path. We cannot make choices for people and decide for them if they are going to follow the Lord Jesus Christ or not. What we can do is be the kind of people that we have been made in Christ Jesus trying to bring others into a living, loving relationship with Him and that takes love! And love "bears, covers and protects" those struggling!
Sometimes I wonder if we really have the same heart as the Lord. Do we really want to see others saved, especially those in our family? God is working on saving people. If God is not trying to free people from the power of sin and death, then He is not working on us either! We need to realize what He has done for us (and continually working on us), He is trying to do for others. We need to take His love and use it to help others make it! Look at your situation or home. You might struggle with a mate or another brother or sister in Christ. The struggle is not the issue. Love is the issue and love tries to help by bearing with them. If they are sinning, don't blast them but kindly show them looking to the Lord for your help and strength. Love would do that. Remember, love tries to reconcile and redeem. Isn't that what God does?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


There is something unique about us and that is how easily wrapped up we become in us. When we are in difficulties or pain, the world seems to revolve! If the difficulty is extreme, then there is little time to think about others for anything. It is about how we hurt or how tired things make us. We look for sympathy by making statements to get people's attention. Little effort is spent toward the Lord and our mind set does not reach to Him for the true answers. It's just about how I feel or the demands that I am going through. What's more amazing, we think no one understands because they have never been through all this! More self consumption!!
I think of David in his writing Psalm 8. I can almost visualize him, laying on the ground, looking up into the heavens above and the vast array of stars. Then he speaks, "What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?" (Psa. 8:4) Why would God give any thought to us puny, small people that have sinned and fallen short, beset with weaknesses and sometimes so selfish and self centered? The great and majestic, eternal Father, with power and might that upholds all things by the word of His power...and He considers little us! The power of God and greatness of God is bent on helping us make it and the death of His Son is the proof. Why would He do such? Especially when we put so little effort at times toward Him? And God comes in the form of man, on our level, in our world of sin and death and lives among us. It comes in little's night and the disciples are traveling to the other side of the huge lake and Jesus walks on water. (Matt. 14) They are frightened and Jesus speaks to give them courage. Boldly Peter asks permission to walk toward Jesus and Jesus says, "Come!" Peter walked on water...until one thing happened. He allowed his circumstance and what he saw to consume his mind and heart. He stopped looking to Jesus and looked at what he was going through. He failed! He began to sink and cried out to the one who was able to save him. Peter found himself in a worse condition than when he left the boat just by simply taking his eyes off Jesus! He was overcome by his own circumstances. Yet we find Jesus immediately reaching to save him but only because Peter looked to Him. "What is man that you would take thought of him...?"
There we have it. When we go through difficulties, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or looking for sympathy from others, what if we would set our minds on things above and look to Jesus? Would we find strength beyond ourselves? Jesus gave Peter the power to go beyond himself. What about us? "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith..." (Heb. 12:2) Maybe we need to learn something here about overcoming in our personal struggles? The Lord does not cater to our whims and ways. He takes thought of us, realizing our weaknesses but we must make a proper and right move. It takes a sincere faith to do that. Faithless people wallow in themselves.

Monday, February 16, 2009

"To Live Is Christ"

They say quietly looking down. There was a sadness on their face and as they looked up, you could see a lostness in their eyes. Finally, the wife spoke softly, "I feel so empty inside. Every thing seems to cave in on us. What little life I have, it seems something takes it away each day. I that weren't enough, our finances are over-whelming. There is no joy in our lives."
Have you ever been in such a position? Why are so many, and I am speaking to those in Christ, so empty? Why do things drain us? The answer might surprise you. It is simply because we do not look to Jesus for our strength and help! Things and circumstances have more impact than the death of Jesus. Our faith waivers and we focus on hurts, disappointments and difficulties and allow those to determine things in our lives rather than Christ. The longer things and circumstances stay in our heart, faith is slowly eroded away.
Read the book of Philippians. Paul wrote it from prison, facing a life or death sentence. How could he rejoice? How could he be so thankful? What did he have a firm grasp on that we only speak about? His life and love centered around his Lord, Jesus Christ. He knew his circumstances did not effect or cancel God's intentions. All spiritual blessings are in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3)! They are ours in abundance despite our circumstances. Faith reaches out to God and Christ. "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Phil. 1:21) There was Paul's hope and heart. His circumstances were not obstacles in his way but opportunities to share in the grace of God (Phil. 1:12-18). When we allow our circumstances to control our happiness and contentment, it robs us of God's life and grace. God did not save us for us to be overcome by our circumstances. Our tendencies is to look at our problems, find a "woe is me" attitude and our spiritual eyes become dimmed. Christ and every spiritual blessing takes a back seat and leaves us with wallowing in our failures, troubles and faith is being lost and might not be recovered.
When every thing appears to be caving in on you, especially things in which you have no control over, that's when we need to grasp hold of the grace of God. Opportunities to grow abound during these times (Phil. 1:12-13). Circumstances never stop God's intentions! Trust in Him! Our circumstances do not deflect every spiritual blessing. Believe in Him! When circumstances are piled one on top of the other, when people do things that deliberately hurt you, you have two choices: (1) Complain about it and become depressed or (2) Reach for God's grace (Phil. 1:15-17). Notice the direction of Paul's attention (Phil. 1:18). Difficulties in life are to push us toward the resources of God (Phil. 1:19-20). Paul saw Christ Jesus as his hope and was committed to exalting Christ. Where did it take him? "To live is Christ!" (Phil. 1:21) To continue to live in this life, with all the difficulties involved, Paul saw the benefit of helping others (Phil. 1:22). When we don't get the best situations in life, we complain and wallow in self pity! It will always rob you of life, joy and the grace of God and you end up with nothing but misery!!
When a crisis hits or a circumstance that is difficult, your reaction will be toward Christ, God and His grace or become dejected. Whom do you magnify: Christ, looking for the opportunity to grow or complain and become depressed about your troubles? One is faith growing, the other is faith being lost.

Friday, February 13, 2009

"Drama, Drama, Drama"

Some people seem to feed off of drama! We have all witnessed it one time or the other. You see it from time to time in the church. Someone has hard feelings toward another and they sit on it and seethe. The sin of unforgiving an unforgiving heart grows each passing day. The right opportunity comes along and they unload. Brethren are upset about something and they seem to never be happy unless they can vent on someone. Others have their rights violated (they think) and they demand accountability. It just seems there are those who are not satisfied unless they create or have drama in their lives. Little contentment and always searching. Looking for reasons only to find excuses. Bottom line it is called fleshliness.
People in Christ who are like I just described are hard on the spiritual minded. The spiritual stay concerned about the well being of those in drama, knowing full well you cannot approach them or talk to them about things because it will only create more drama for them! John teaches us, "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." (I John 2:6) Jesus wasn't about drama. He didn't blame people for turning on Him or making excuses for problems that arose. He simply walked with God, set His heart on following God, listening to His word. We need to overcome and not be overcome. We need to allow the Lord to lead us and not allow our feelings and fleshly responses to lead. Follow Jesus with all your heart and you will see the drama cease. He guarantees it written in blood!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"God's Will"

Be careful in your mind set and how you think about God. Too many live their lives believing God has a plan for them. I hear this often from my own brothers and sisters. It makes me wonder where we get this kind of thinking. Some believe and think God has every thing mapped out for our lives. I hear it from the religious world all the time but I do not find it in Scripture. If there is something I have missed, someone please tell me.
God cares about the decisions we make but He does not have our lives mapped out. People make decisions to change jobs and request the will of the Lord. That's good and proper. We need to let God lead us, open doors for us but that is not the same as saying He has plans for our lives. The only plan He has is to bring us home to eternity with Him by demonstrating that through His Son death, burial and resurrection. When we are faced with difficult decisions, many are thinking, "What if God doesn't want me to take that job or go that direction? I don't know what to do!" Abraham was called by God to go to a place he was to receive, not knowing where he was going. He simply went! (Heb. 11:8) Abraham simply trusted and went! Sometimes there is no right or wrong decisions. We simply have to make a choice. We face decisions and it bothers us that the will of God is not plain. We assume too much! Let's simply have our heart set on pleasing the Lord and let it be. Use God's wisdom and discernment to decide but He is not going to strike down a map for you to follow.
Our lives belong to the Lord! Live your life to just simply please Him. That's the simplicity of it! Why not apply: "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." (Col. 3:17) Right there lays our answers. If I change jobs, do it to for His name sake. Seek to please Him by making decisions that are geared to honor Him! It is more along the line of bringing our decisions to show Him what we are deciding, doing it to please Him, honor Him rather than wanting some blueprint or road map to follow. As the Lord forms us more and more into His likeness, we will make wiser and wiser decisions to please Him. Pleasing God, that's our life ambition. "Therefore we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him." (II Cor. 5:9)God cares and is concerned and will always help. Just simply "trust and obey", doing things to His glory and He will take care of the rest!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Sins Power"

If you wanted to gain a complete insight to what the Bible is about, what God was driving at from eternity, just read Romans 4-8. Those chapters contains the whole in an abbreviated way. But in closer examination of these chapters, Romans 5-7 give us a profound insight to sin. Sin is personified! Sin is seen as a slave-owner! Sin is a king that reigns over people! Sin is a lawgiver! It tells us the controlling power of sin over man. Sin is presented not in wrongs that we do but as a power that controls human lives. I hear preachers define sin as "missing the mark." It is true that is what sin accomplishes but sin is powerful and it will take over one's life, even those with the best of intentions! It permeates every human life on this earth. It's a pollutant that spreads itself like bad drinking water. It is like smog that fills the air of many cities and people breath in those contaminants. Sin takes over a persons life.
In Romans 7, Paul is describing himself before he came into Jesus. You can see the master-slave relationship sin had with him. Paul knew the Law (Old Testament teachings) and stated it was holy, righteous and good. The Law was not the problem. Sin took complete advantage of him through the Law and killed him spiritually. Sin is that powerful! Sin took him into going against the very things of God. He wanted to do good and right, but kept failing. Have you ever been there? He was confused as to why he could not follow God, doing the right thing, even if his mind wanted to do right! His conclusion was one thing: SIN! Sin dwelt inside him, the one who wished to do good. This powerful thing called sin repeats itself over and over in the lives of every adult human today. That's why people do not know what to do to overcome things in their lives. Preachers of the Lord's church are heading out to get counseling to overcome their anger problems, sex addictions and many other things. People are enslaved to alcohol and drugs, not realizing sin has hold on them, turning to man for their answers, only to fail again and again. Sin is real! Sin is powerful!
When Jesus offered Himself as an atoning sacrifice for sin, He wasn't just dealing with forgiving individual sins. Jesus was destroying the kingdom of sin!! He came into our world as one of us, resisting the power by the Holy Spirit, He defeated sins power in sins world! He would not accept sins kingship or submit to its laws. He defied the power and when sin tried to take Him down, God raised Him up giving Him complete triumph over sin. He offers us more than forgiveness! He offers us power: power to live and overcome sins temptations! He destroys the working of sin in our lives if we would simply come to Him in faith, being united with Him in baptism and raised with Him to this newness of life, the power of God. Why do we seem to be so easily defeated and overcome? Maybe we do not see who our Lord and Savior really is to overcome in our own lives.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Reality of Hell"

Hell is a reality! In fact, hell was created for the devil and his angels. (Matt. 25:41) Many will end up there because they have submitted their lives to the direction and influence of the devil. I realize people will not admit that, but when one chooses to ignore God and His word, to follow with a submissive heart and love Him with all their soul, that only leaves room for the devil. We often hear people speak of being 'lukewarm' or 'straddling the fence.' What is one saying when they admit that? I know Jesus said He will "spit you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:16) Hell is eternal and the punishment is on-going. Jesus said there is a worm there that doesn't die and the fire can never be quenched. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth because of the intense pain. The devil deserves a place like this but what about mankind, God's creation? God tries to reach us with the love of His Son but many just 'pretend' to follow, hoping they can escape this horrible fate of eternity. God knows the pretenders and unfortunately, we know too!
It seems that more and more the only time someone thinks of hell is when they use the term in a descriptive way. Why do people use hell in this manner, yet we don't use descriptive terms about other tragedies? For instance, someone doesn't say, "This has been one 'poverty' of a day!" or "That was a 'cancer' of a golf game." We don't exclaim, "What the 'disease' was that?"! To use hell in terms of our language seems to minimize the seriousness of it or casualize it! Do you think the devil is pleased with this? Jesus sure didn't do that. He knew the horror of it and spoke more about hell than any other person because He came to deliver us from the consequences of our sins and following the devil. I realize writing this might not brighten your day but I want us to pause and think for a minute about the seriousness of our Lord and our lives. Jesus was pierced to His soul to buy us back into fellowship with the Lord God. He took all the consequences, not only physical but spiritually too (Acts 2:27). I am not sure many realize this! He paid our price eternally!!! For us to be so unconcerned, so lacking in devotion and commitment is a slap in the face of God and undermining the great love of Christ.
Hell is real, just as heaven is real. Let me end by saying this, there will not be one person being gnawed on eternally, feeling the immense pain of fire to never be destroyed, that is there because they were unloved. Jesus loved us to death and if we end up in that place of eternal torment with the devil and his angels, it is because we have chosen to be there. God chose for us life and it is up to us to dedicate and surrender our lives into the hands of the Almighty. That's some serious food for thought!

Monday, February 9, 2009

"Wasting Life"

As you look back on your life, have you found times you just wasted your time or regretted doing something that took up too much time? As we grow older, those times become clearer in our hearts because we realize the waste of time that will never be regained.
Abraham Lincoln stated, "It is not the years of your life that counts but the life of your years." Moses in writing the 90th Psalm said, "As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away." (Psa. 90:10) Life is fleeting but I know I don't have to tell many of you that. Moses says if we live to eighty, life is full of labor and sorrow! That's what we will have to show other than a marker in the graveyard. Too many are frittering here and there, wasting time and their lives, accomplishing nothing! Busy is the word spoken about our lives but what many are busy with is nothing but empty things that never will take one upward to eternity. After things are done, we only find ourselves moving to the next empty day that keeps us busy. I have had many older ones tell me, as they see the grave approaching, the regrets they have for not living the right kind of life, involving themselves in the things that are not really beneficial. In other words, time and life wasted that will never be regained. I can remember in my early thirties thinking about 20 years down the road and telling myself, "Hey, I'll just be fifty!" No real thought about what I was doing. Just existing! Now I think about twenty years down the road and I'll be in my seventies, provided the Lord grants me to live that long and I don't want to waste my time on empty things that are going nowhere.
What if we would live our lives for the Lord? How much better off would we be? "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Eph. 5:15-17) To apply this to our lives in Christ, this will keep the sorrow and labor to a minimum. You will look back in your younger years, knowing that you filled your days with the Lord and His will. You rejoice in your marriage, the relationships that you deem as precious taking full advantage of the time, not wasting life with, "I wish I had said this or done that with them!" A full life! At a recent funeral, a fellow walked up to me with tears streaming down his cheeks and said, "I never got to say goodbye. I never told them how much I loved them. I never thanked them for being there for me. I feel so ashamed." A life of labor and sorrow.
Jesus said to live our lives for the Lord is the best way to live. To seek His kingdom, His righteousness first and foremost will keep our lives full. Moses concluded, "So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom." (Psa. 90:12) To waste our lives and time is not wise. To present to God a heart of wisdom, that's a life without regrets. For you young mothers and fathers, I know you think you know this, but your children are growing up and one day you will be left wondering what happened. The times you wasted in frustration at them rather than enjoy teaching, training and helping their souls. May we be able to present to God a heart of wisdom and make the most of our times!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Are We Missing Something?"

Andrew was the brother of Peter. He is only mentioned a total of thirteen times in the gospels. "He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which translated means Christ)." (John 1:41) Andrew brought Peter to the Lord! Andrew brought a young lad with five barley loaves and two fish to Jesus (John 6:8-9). Philip came and told Andrew about some Greeks (they were proselytes to be able to enter the temple) going to worship and Andrew, along with Philip, went to Jesus about them (John 12:20-23). What I noticed was on these three occasions, Andrew is bringing someone to Jesus! I realize we aren't speaking of conversions as we would think, but Andrew was trying to get people to meet the Lord! Some may think all this is trivial but is it really?
Have you ever been around people that are always trying to bring people to the Lord? Have you ever spent any time with them, listening to them? They are something to behold! Their convictions, their desires and willingness just reaches out....and exposes us! Why don't we all do it? I know the obvious answers, at least I think I do. Some can reach out to people to lead them to Jesus because they are made to feel guilty if they don't. What a sad state of being to be motivated by guilt. Some are just afraid! There seems to be this silent guilt within people when we speak of bringing people to the Lord! But that's not my point. I just wanted us to look closely at Andrew and rejoice in his willingness and desire that he had in the souls of others and wanted to share them with Christ! I realize one can only give what they possess and Andrew had found Jesus, the Messiah, and was excited about Him.
As a reminder for us, Andrew did not come up with some 12 step program or 7 steps to success. He wasn't ashamed or made to feel guilty to reach out to others. He didn't work on his relationship skills in order to communicate better. He had no idea of how to manage the wrongs of society. I am not so sure he knew exactly what he found in Jesus, but it moved his spirit and heart. He searched through a crowd looking for his brother Peter. He knew Jesus was looking for help in feeding a large crowd and eagerly offered this lad and his goods to Jesus. He wasted no time in reporting to Jesus these Greek worshipers wanting something for them. He had found the One that was faithful and loving and this One had cared deeply for his and others eternal well being. It was all that mattered and he wanted others to share in this wonderful Messiah. Maybe, just maybe...are we missing something?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Church Discipline"

I'll never forget it as long as I live. I had been preaching for two or three years. We had a family among us that seemed bent on causing disturbances. Anytime I left town for anything, it seemed the husband or wife would stir something up by trying something. They were in their fifties. As things progressively got worse in regard to them, she became so brazen that she decided to have an affair, and get this, with her husbands approval! I spoke with them both about what was going on. Everyone knew it! I guess being young and green and they being 'experienced' put them in the mind set of control or power. They were unrepentant! That morning, my palms were sweating, my heart rate had increased but I knew what the Lord wanted. I had to trust, never having done this before. I stood up in the assembly, read a few verses from the word of God and then I said in a few words that we must dismiss this man and woman (calling them by name) from the assembly with them sitting there. I gained a new, inner strength. I continued to point out that the Lord does not tolerate such and because of their refusal to repent when spoken to, we must do this as a whole. Some began to cry while others sat there in shock. They had never personally witnessed anything like this. It was over and I asked this couple to leave the assembly of the saints and not return unless they were repentant. They both walked out! I don't remember much after that, except a lot of praying.
It hurts to discipline people but discipline has always a twofold purpose: (1) To turn people around and give them a right frame of mind toward right. (2) To send fear into the rest so they will not wander from the path of truth and righteousness. (The same can be said in regard to disciplining children.) There has been so much preaching/teaching on the love of God (which is the very being of God) that we embrace people that continue to walk in a stubborn path of sin. We say they need encouraging and we need to love them anyway. Sometimes people do need encouraging but when someone continues to walk in the path opposite of God, there needs to be rebuking and eventually a withdrawal. It's not in the spirit of meanness but of love. Do we not realize this is part of the love of God? It is to try to get them to come to their senses and repent. That is why in the body of Christ we are losing our sense of the holiness and righteousness of the Lord. That's why there is so much entertainment and lack of reverence and respect. People just embrace the thinking, "We all sin!" or take the attitude, "He who is without sin cast the first stone!" God calls us upward into Him. He has imputed to us His righteousness in the name of the Lord Jesus. We have been sanctified (set apart as holy) by the blood of Christ and justified (declared righteous) because of His resurrection (Rom. 4:25). In the name of the Lord, we need to take our sins and the sins of others seriously! Otherwise, the death and resurrection of Christ become a mockery and empty in result. How would you like to explain that to Him? they way, the couple repented!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"The Purpose of Repetition"

Someone wrote and asked why does the Bible have so much repetition, especially in the Old Testament books. Let me see if I can give some helpful insight. When reading your Bible, things move along and then there seems to be chapter after chapter of the same thing restated. The repetitive nature of commands or instructions in a book serves great importance. We look at the beginning and find all sorts of teaching and instruction from God. From Genesis to about Exodus 19. There begins some commands given, slowing things down and then it seems to pick back up in about Exodus 32 but by chapter 35, things slow down again. By the time we reach Leviticus and a large portion of Numbers, it just seems so drawn out. The detailed commands are repeated time and time again. There are details in nineteen chapters in Exodus. The rules and regulations spoken in all twenty seven chapters of Leviticus and genealogies along with commands in a large portion in Numbers seem to drag on forever. Many view them as unimportant and a lack of interest, so for many, they skip much of it because they see no motivation in reading through it all.
But wait...they are of vital importance and great interest for several reasons. The Old Testament is strong on repetition as a method of teaching! The countless details about the Tabernacle are given not just for information purposes but to stress the centrality and importance of worship!! Let me give a quick illustration. In Exodus 32:2-4, we have three verses describing and the making of a golden calf. The tabernacle, where God showed His purpose and desire to dwell among His people, is described in thirteen chapters! The golden calf is nothing more than an impulsive passion and evil desire from the heart of God's people. Like Aaron said, "I said to them, 'Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.' So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf." (32:24) In the tabernacle, there is a loving relationship over the details by people moved by God and the joy of that relationship. It was God's place of residence among His people on earth. God was showing His presence made a great difference in the thinking, the working and walking with Him and He wanted them to know who He was in holiness and character. Worship was the central theme.
Repetition drives home a point of genuine spiritual insight! They are not words just to write words but are showing the adoration and the love of worship as the central part of their relationship with Him. The Almighty was their God, dwelling among them, loving them and would not share Himself with any created thing! Man needed and still needs to know that.
Take your time, read and re-read the repetition again and you will see that the heart of the relationship is worship because He is our God and the relationship is holy.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Our behavior is one of the most telling things about us. The effect of God on us is seen in our behavior. In I Pet. 1:22-23, Peter reveals 3 things that happened in our relationship to God. (1) We have been purified! When we entered Christ, God gave us a new start. With God, it is always about purity and removing the evil from us. Obedience to the truth always leads to purifying the soul. (2) We have been converted! Conversion is simply a change of heart and attitude. Conversion is what leads to a sincerity and sincerity always leads to the love of the brethren. Before we were purified and converted, we cared little about our brethren, the church. We had little desire to worship with them or be an intricate part of the body. When people leave their purification and become 'unconverted', it will show itself in this area! To not love the brethren, the church means something impure has happened in our heart. (3) We have been born again! This is a spiritual process. Our birth was not by some physical seed of man, but an imperishable seed of God to produce living, eternal and pure things in our lives. A new birth is what gives us contact with the eternal things of God. A new birth brings about a new desire for God's word, listening to His voice because it is from a spiritual source, God Himself! Allowing His word to abide in us will produce the life of God within.
Because of the three things above, there are two things that we need to realize to continue our growth, the life of God working within (I Pet. 2:1-2): (1) We must put aside all evil in our hearts! If the seed of God is planted in us, we have the opportunity to move forward with God in His world. If we do not put aside all evil that affects us, we will stop the growing process and head back into death! To "put aside" means you must make a decisive act. When people have bad habits they know are not good, if they never make a decisive act to put it away because of the Lord, they never overcome and remain overcome! We must put away all malice. Malice is active ill will toward another. We want them to feel the pain they have caused us. Malice is part of spiritual death. We must put away all deceit. Deceit is when you mislead another or scheme to get what you want. We must put away all hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the result of malice and deceit. They are simply fakers and some get very good at playing the game!!! God is aware and they will be exposed. We must put away all envy. Envy is that feeling of a grudge because some is ahead of you or gets recognized and you don't. It will darken your heart and cause one to hate. We must put away all slander. Slander is where you falsely accuse people with your words. These things must go from your heart or you will die spiritually. (2) We must long for the pure milk of the word. It is impossible to grow in respect to our salvation when we do not hunger for the pure milk of the word. If there is no longing, there is sickness and if the sickness stays too long, death will occur. When death occurs, all the purification, the sincerity and new birth will be for nothing. You will be worse off than before you came to God through Christ Jesus. Bottom line is we need to take our relationship to the Lord seriously because He does!