Monday, August 31, 2009

"Sin Is A Power" (1)

How do you picture sin? Do you see sin as an act one does? Listen to how it is described to Cain from Gen. 4:7, after Cain's offering to the Lord was rejected: "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." God paints sin to Cain as "crouching at the door."
Do you picture sin as something waiting for you to open the door so it can pounce on you and master you? Or do you just see sin as a mistake you make?
"Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness." (Rom. 6:16) Sin is described as one whom you obey. Sin is personified. It is pictured as a master that will enslave you.
Back to Gen. 4:7...God told Cain that "you must master it (sin)." That means you cannot open the door to sin because of the master/slave relationship that will ensue. If you present yourself to sin, you will become it's slave. We see it all the time. People take that first drink, and the door to a master/slave relationship has started. People find life so stressful that they want an escape. Here comes some type of drug and they become hooked. (Just look at the power of smoking that it has on people.) Pornography draws people in and are mastered by it, only to go deeper and deeper into that world. All the above becomes a master/slave relationship. Look at our rehab units that are over-flowing with people trapped in different things. For the majority, they have no clue why they are struggling with these addictions. It all started by people never looking to God but looking somewhere else and sin just waits for the opportunity. What this tells us is that sin is a choice! We choose who we will submit to as our master. We offer ourselves to whom we want to serve.
Only through the Lord Jesus Christ can one change masters. "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Rom. 6:17-18) More tomorrow...

Thursday, August 27, 2009


If you won a large sum of money, what would you do? I am not advocating playing a lottery or some type of experiment with gambling but have you ever dreamed about winning perhaps half a million dollars or more and what you would do with those winnings?
Have you ever heard or read about those who do win the lottery? Here are a few examples of some of the big winners: Ken Proxmire was a machinist when he won one million dollars in the Michigan lottery. He moved to California, went into the car business with his brothers and in five years, filed for bankruptcy. Willie Hurt of Lansing, Michigan won $3.1 million in 1989. Two years later he was broke and charged with murder. Missourian Janite Lee won $18 million in 1993. Eight years later she filed for bankruptcy and had $700 to her name. William Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but now lives totally on his Social Security check of $450 a month. Evelyn Adams of New Jersey won the state lottery not once, but twice in 1985 and 1986. Her winnings totaled $5.4 million dollars. In 2004 the money was all gone and she was living in a trailer. Adams is quoted as saying, "I won the American dream, but I lost it, too." William Post said, "I wish it never happened. It was a total nightmare."
Many people often think and dream of hitting something big so they could have a lot of money to be set for life. But is that really what makes one happy? "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (I Tim. 6:9-10). The Lord knows that those desiring riches find many snares, foolish and harmful desires that will ruin your life. In fact, it will actually lead one away from the Lord!
What does the Lord expect? For us to labor with our own hands so that we will have something to share with others who are in need (Eph. 4:28). That's the very heart of the spirit of Christianity. There is nothing more satisfying than to work with your hands, gain from your labors and able to share that with others in times of need. There is something rewarding and satisfying to that. Solomon, the richest man to live on this earth, said it well in the wisdom God gave him: "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. When good things increase, those who consume them increase." (Eccl. 5:10-11)
No wonder we are told from God's word that "...if anyone is not willing to work, then his is not to eat either."(II Thes. 3:10). There are great blessings gained when we just do things the way the Lord intended and stay away from quick fixes!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Changed For Good"

His name was Dr. Henry Ironside and was speaking before an assembly. In the crowd of people, there was a man named Arthur Lewis, an agnostic lecturer. Mr. Lewis wrote on a card and proposed a challenge to Dr. Ironside to debate the subject, "Agnosticism vs. Christianity." Mr. Lewis offered to pay all expenses for the debate.
Dr. Ironside read the card aloud and to the audience said, "I accept your challenge on these conditions: First, you must promise to bring with you on the platform one man who was once an outcast, a slave to sinful habits, but who heard you or some other infidel lecture on agnosticism and was helped by it and cast away his sins and became a new man and is today a respected member of society, all because of your unbelief!
Second...that you agree to bring with you one woman who was once lost to all purity and goodness, but who can now testify that agnosticism came to her rescue while deep in sin and implanted in her poor heart a hatred of impurity and a love of holiness, causing her to become chaste and upright, all through a disbelief in the bible!"
Dr. Ironside continued, "Now sir, if you will agree, I promise to be there with one hundred such men and women, once just such lost souls, who heard the Gospel of saving grace of God, believed it and have found new life and joy in Jesus Christ our Savior. Will you accept my terms?"
Arthur Lewis walked away in silence.
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (I Cor. 6:9-11)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Showing All Good Faith"

"Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect." (Titus 1:9-10)
In the above verse, the phrase "showing all good faith" is a contrast with what is expected from those claiming Christ as their own. They may hold different positions in life, but this attitude must be reflected in the lives of each one claiming Christ as their Lord and Savior. This "showing all good faith" explains why we are not to be "argumentative" or "not pilfering". Why is all this so important? "That they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect." The word "adorn" means "to arrange, to put in order." We get our English word 'cosmetic' from this Greek word.
When we "show all good faith", we must realize that "not argumentative, not pilfering" is the opposite of it. When we are "not argumentative", we are being agreeable rather than pressing our desires. When one is "not pilfering" they are being honest and not taking things that do not belong to you, even if you think you deserve it!
"Showing all good faith" is where we understand and trust the Lord is in control. When one is practicing not being argumentative even when you think you are wronged, that is trusting in God that He will work things all out for good. It is faith at work! The one who is being honest in all things believes God will take care of their needs so their is no need to pilfer or steal. Pilfering is a lack of trust.
In all this, one begins to beautify the teachings of God! To adorn the doctrine or teaching of God is not to do things just because it is right, but because it is the GOD thing to do! People say you don't steal because it is the right thing to do, which is true but God would never consider that thought. It is the GOD thing to do. It glorifies God through our Savior Jesus Christ.
That leaves us with one final question. How do you adorn the teaching of God our Savior? Are you showing all good faith?

Monday, August 24, 2009

"The Price of Materialism"

The conversation went something like this: "Officer, I just can't understand why my son stole those things. He has always been provided for. I've always worked and part of the time I had two jobs so we could give him all those things we didn't have when we were growing up."
Here's another conversation: "I don't understand why my daughter married that boy. They are both so young and he can't support her. They need to get their school finished first. I tried to reason with her but she wouldn't listen. This is the first boy that showed her a little attention."
How about a conversation like this: "I don't understand why my children have stopped attending church. We took them every Sunday, taught them better than that and now they have no interest."
Our children have everything, but seem unable to find what they want. Teens feel like they must have someone or something they can possess and call their own. They "go steady". They make the earliest possible break from their parents. They marry to get away from home. They want something which they are not finding at home and will wreck their lives looking. Why is this?
We have misplaced our values! For many, "things" have become far more important to us that a home. Lives are filled with phones, games and the latest on the Internet. A home centered around God and His love, dedicated parents toward the Lord are fading. The result is mother's and father's time is taken up "paying" for the "things" to keep our children going. "Things" are more important than a godly mother in the home or a father taking time to guide and instruct. "Things" seem to be more important than spending quality time with each other.
In all this, we are now beginning to reap the harvest of materialism. Young people are being buried in "things" and the result is searching for love and understanding. With the lack of instruction in the home, our children are searching other places. Parents are left in shock as they watch their children's attitude change while claiming, "We didn't raise them like this!" The Lord meant what He said when the words were spoken, "Do not love the world nor the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (I John 2:15)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"One Nation Under God?"

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." (Prov. 14:34) Even though many have read or heard this verse, the real question is do we believe it?
Historians confirm the assessment of General Douglas MacArthur: "History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has either been a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster."
Sin is a nation's shame, and that applies to us! Just pick up a news paper or listen to any news broadcast. Let's just herald the phrase: "Read all about it!" The lying, business dishonesty, pleasure-seeking, murder, rape, fraud, drunkenness, abortion, drug addiction, robbery, lusts, selfishness, greed, homosexuality, pornography, gambling, open lewd displays, profanity and the list goes on. These things cannot be ignored. People do not believe that you reap what you sow. One sows to the wind and they reap the whirlwind!
Mark it down. Our respect or disrespect of the teachings of God will determine the future of our country. We relish in our strength, glory in our military might yet forget that God is the only One holding up our nation. It's not by our strength and might! What arrogance we sometimes demonstrate. (Many even have worship services to honor our country. Worship is about God!) God toppled many a great nation in history because of their arrogance and sin! And He did it with fewer number.
The bottom line is that we can strengthen this nation. How? Not by fighting and demanding but by keeping the commandments of God and doing His will. We need to be teaching the gospel to a lost nation so we can become one nation under God.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"The Right Kind of Father"

Let me begin by saying, not all fathers are created equal! Some just relish the role of leading and loving their homes while others, they simply could care less. However, blessed is the child who has a godly, loving father!
John had the right kind of father. His father, Zechariah, was a priest before God. Sadly, not all fathers care about the Lord. Some are concerned about wealth or pleasure and so God has no place in their lives. They may attend religious services, but still, they have little interest. Consequently, little to no thought is given to training their children in the paths of God's righteousness.
Zechariah made a wise choice in his life by selecting a companion who would be the right kind of wife and mother. She too, was a godly person. Her name was Elizabeth and she was one of the daughters of Aaron, a descendant of the High Priest. The right kind of father picks the right kind of woman to be his wife!
The right kind of father establishes a God-fearing home. Here is Luke's inspired testimony about this couple, "They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord." (Luke 1:6) What do we learn? Look at their devout example they set. Their lives were God pleasing. They were not pretenders but righteous before God. They weren't "church attenders" but worshippers of the Lord.
The right kind of father prays. Zechariah was a prayerful father. He was offering incense while the people outside the temple were praying. Incense stood for further intercession of prayer.
Jesus gave us the ultimate assessment of John, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth: "I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John..." (Luke 7:28) It pays great dividends to have the right kind of father and mother!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Days Ordained"

David penned these words in Psa. 139, "...and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." The greatness of God is to realize He has written in His book the days we will live. So many do not realize this. David said it was so.
The unbelieving world does not take God at His word. Just listen how many think that exercise and eating right will extend our years. God's word tells us, "For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also the life to come." (I Tim. 4:8) Eating right and exercise may make our years enjoyable, keeping our health up, but it is not extending our years. Those are written in God's book, before they existed. That's why godliness is so important because godliness holds us to the promise of our future in this life and the life to come.
When you pillow your head tonight, what if the days that were ordained you is tonight? We need to put some serious thought into that and learn to live each and every day like it is our last. That means never let the sun go down on your wrath (Eph. 4:26). How would you like that if your last day ordained was spent in anger at someone or your mate? We need to spend our lives living for the Lord, practicing godliness and when the days ordained me come about, what a bliss that will await us. If our loved one is taken, there will be no regrets because we lived each moment in relationship to Jesus.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


From last night to today, I have been confronted with the death of a beloved sister in Christ, the wife of one of our Shepherds. There is a joy beyond description but a heaviness of heart. That's our human frailty coming out. It reminds us all the reality we face. It speaks to our hearts why we need to be walking, looking toward the Lord each and every day and not being overcome by the matters of this world. One lays down to sleep and arrives in eternity. It's that fast and real.
May God open our eyes as we open our hearts to realize we live in the temporal and that eternity is reality. Everything is set and nothing will be changed. Let's prepare to meet our God!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Thoughts On Proverbs"

The book of Proverbs is a book to gain wisdom from God. Let's define wisdom: "The ability to see through things, to see what needs to be done and when it needs to be done." Often we hear people speak of learning from their mistakes. What if we had spiritual wisdom and insight to not make those mistakes to begin with? All true wisdom in founded in God. Wisdom from God will bring instruction to your life. Instruction teaches, directs and guides us. Wisdom from God gives one understanding and if received, it will change your behavior (Prov. 1:2-3). God's wisdom will teach you what is right, what is just in one's behavior and what is fair (equity).
Where does one begin to gaining this wisdom from God? "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Prov. 1:7) This is an eternal principle! This is the way God operates. A reverence and respect for the Lord puts one on the road to gaining knowledge. Knowledge will instruct us how to walk faithfully, to do what is right in all situations. Fear of the Lord means one has to adjust to God and His ways and not bring God into our ways! This is the starting point and no one will gain wisdom from God without this.
What about a fool? They despise wisdom and instruction! You can't tell them anything because they are too quick to reveal their own minds, their own thoughts and their thinking is more important to them than the Lord's! That's why you hear someone say, "Nobody understands how I feel." They are stuck on themselves. There is no fear of God and that makes them foolish. There are 5 different words in the Hebrew for the word "fool" as used in the book of Proverbs. (1) The term "fool" used in the above verse means a person that is stubborn, refusing to yield to wisdom while set in their mind to do things their way. (2) There is the term "fool" that means a boaster, someone who is always trying to impress others. They talk a lot! (3) Another word for "fool" used in Proverbs is a person who is self confident in their own natural abilities. They depend on those natural abilities to take them through. You can see why they are called "fools." (4) There is the "fool" who is an empty person and very content on staying the way they are. They have little to no interest in getting stronger or gaining insight from the Lord. (5) The final term for "fool" used is a person that is thick headed. No amount of correction will change their lives.
The fear of the Lord is the best path to follow and fear of the Lord means there is no "but" or "you don't understand how I feel" attitudes. It is a healthy, reverence for God and who He is. He holds your eternal destiny in His hand and will have the last say in your life. That should give us all pause and think about our lives. Read the book of Proverbs with these thoughts in mind and you might be surprised what happens in your life!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Overcoming the Devil"

Sometimes it grieves me to see the depth of fleshliness in my brethren. It is even more disturbing to see my own fleshliness flare at times and it creates such a burden for me. But here's the thing: fleshliness destroys the spiritual! In fact when people are fleshly, for the most the part the don't see it. They think they are being spiritual and that's the power of deceit it uses. Paul said that it is "being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit." (Eph. 4:22) Fleshiness and our old self (prior to our coming into Christ) work off of this deceit and makes us worse. Many never learn to put away that old and so fleshliness remains part of their lives and thinking even though they are in Christ.
Let me give you an example that I see demonstrated in one way or another. When our fleshiness is working, we focus on us and our power. I heard sometime back a fellow Christian speak of making the devil flee because their feet hit the floor each morning. That's fleshliness abounding. The devil isn't afraid of us! He is not intimidated by anything we do. The devil is fearful of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Father! Our fleshliness blinds us to reality! I often hear preachers speak of making the devil flee, telling him to get out and hit the road. What a lack of understanding the spiritual powers that surround us. Fleshliness blinds us!
The ONLY way to overcome the wiles of the devil are through God, not ourselves. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might." (Eph. 6:10) It's not our might and we need to be careful of being arrogant. We must stand in the strength of His might! That means we surrender to God, His power as our only means to turn away the devil. But not only that, we must put on God's complete armor in order to stand firm against the devil's schemes (Eph. 6:11). It is a spiritual warfare and only through spiritual means can we defeat him. It's not about us, our feet hitting the floor or telling the devil to hit the road. It's about our submission with all our heart to God, holding tight to His power, His strength so the devil can't scheme his way into our lives. James puts it this way: "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."(Jam. 4:7) Did you notice submission to God is first and foremost? That's what a spiritual person will do. There is no resisting until there is submitting first! That means the power and strength is not within us but standing in the Lord's might and power. That should humble us and take away much of our fleshly thinking.

Monday, August 10, 2009


It's good to be back from vacation...somewhat! I was not ready to return but once I hit the "Kansas Mountains", it made home look so much better! Let me share with you something I learned several years ago about 'vacating.'
Many people go on vacation to get away. It is so needful at times and very beneficial. Have you ever thought about what you do on vacation? Most people go so fast, pile in so much in a short time that they are just as worn out when they return as before they left. We need to learn a lesson. Jesus would often slip away into the mountains to get away from the crowds always pressing Him and demanding His time. He saw His retreat into the mountains as a time of refreshing and renewal. How did He renew? By renewing His spiritual well being.
Our spiritual well being is directly tied to our physical well being. Many do not realize that. When God's word speaks of being "renewed in the spirit of your mind" (Eph. 4:23), there is something very significant about that. Have you ever been involved in an outreach or maybe several nights of a meeting where God's word is taught? At the end, even though you have travelled each night and it tires the body, you find yourself "renewed." You don't want it to end and you feel better. Why? Because the whole week or days has been about renewing your mind from God's word. You fed your spiritual side and it affected your physical side. I have been worn out mentally and physically only to leave the house in the evening to a Bible study with individuals. All the sudden, you find yourself "renewed" and vibrant because you fed your spiritual well being. As I have spoken across this country, I find that at the end of several nights of lessons and enjoying the fellowship of other brothers and sisters, no one wants it to be over. There is a new strength, a new spirit, a new life and growth that has taken place. That is what is a "renewal" and that's what I do on vacation.
Maybe we need to refocus our thinking and efforts when we go on vacation, realizing it is good to get away but to put all your efforts into spending tons of money, running from one place of entertainment to another while the spirit side of us is left untouched, it wears us out even further. Jesus knew that His spiritual renewal was the vital part of His physical well being. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Rom. 12:2) Maybe that's why our spiritual progress is so slow?