Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Learning To Love"

One of the major teachings that I hear floating around is how to love but in the wrong way. One concept that keeps defining love is this: "One can't love others until they love themselves!" I heard a preacher once state that "self love is the door to loving others." It sounds logical but it is not God's love.
Paul warned Timothy that hard, grievous times would come because "men will be lovers of self."(II Tim. 3:2) One can hold to a form of godliness, looking good but powerless in their lives. We see it often. People aren't thrilled with certain things in the lives of others and what do they do? Attack! If something doesn't go our way or the direction we think it should be, we fly into someone with an outburst. That's a good illustration of self love. That's is the flesh dominating. Love is powerful and never fails (I Cor. 13:8). Love seeks the highest good of others at a cost to you. We see this love in the death of Jesus. He was not a self lover or seeker. Jesus gave up His rights for us and sought our highest good. Love does not seek it's own (I Cor. 13:5).
Just take close inventory of yourself and see what happens when things don't go your way or when your plans aren't considered. We may feel slighted but what you do with that shows either love of self or the powerful godly love. Sometimes in the church, things won't go well because people are selfish and fleshly. What do you do? Love. We must bear up and rather than react in an ungodly fashion with outbursts at someone, let it go and reach out to do our part to help encourage. That means there is no room for bad attitudes or pouty feeling shown. Love does not do that. Jesus did not do that! Jesus loved and expects us to follow in His steps.
To know God is to love (I John 4:8). To put on love is to bring unity (Col. 3:14). Everything will not always be what we want or expect but love will always take us into the heart of God. And for love to exist, self must go! If self does not go, love will not exist.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Faith and Grace"

Too many are building their relationship with the Lord on a term called "faith." Let me explain. Just as we live in a political correct world, many are living in a political correct religious world. Everything has to be explained while little is believed upon. We speak of God's grace which saves us, and it does (Eph. 2:5-8) and all ends there. "We can't save ourselves!" which is true but it seems to end there. Others are only interested in doctrinal correctness without any understanding of God's real intention of the whole. We are great at trying to be religiously correct with little insight to what is really meant in the terms of faith and grace.
God gives us straight up about our faith is a trust in Him. One cannot help reading the Psalms and see this over and over. But what many are calling trust in the Lord, is nothing more than isolation from all. People hide behind their walls at the assembly while a preacher or teacher rails at the greatness of the truth and holding to that and we isolate ourselves from the lost world around us. That's not faith and trust in the Lord and His grace. I am afraid that some of us in Christ Jesus are standing only for a intellectual concepts and never allowing the grace of God by faith to take full affect in our lives. Faith in the grace of God works! Not meritous or patting oneself on their back but a real, walking and trusting in the Lord who leads us forward.
I know you have read it but read it again...Hebrews 11. Read it paying close attention that each person spoken about in times past, wasn't worried about defining their faith in God. It was the Hebrew writer showing us the real saving nature of faith. We see faith building an ark, leaving homes, taking the lessor in life while giving up the greater, marching around city walls, refusing to live in pagan lifestyles and dying before seeing all the promises but still holding to the grace of God by faith. People lived in holes and caves just because they trusted their God and followed Him.
Faith in the grace of God works! That's the bottom line. Faith in the grace of God doesn't sit and let their intellect dictate their rational or religious correctness. Faith in God's grace lives each day by walking in a relationship that says "NO" to evil, taking the lessor things of life while trusting Him as they walk. Stop worrying about life's wrongs. The Lord will take care of all that. Start living each day and respond to His word. Faith reaches out and works according to God's desires. Anything less is not faith and His grace doesn't reach into that arena!

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Simple Things"

Some people see technical information in too many things. They analyze everything to death. They never learn to keep the purity and enjoyment of the simple things in life. Their lives revolve around their analytical thinking while robbing others of their the joy of purity.
We need to see the joy that God created things for and draw from the small things of joy to gain the fullness of life. I heard a fellow one time tell me he tried to explain to his children what a rainbow was really made of. To explain the physically properties of something so marvelous is to miss the great power and promise behind it. Too technical, too analytical...robbing others of God's purity and hope. "Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." (Jam. 1:17)
When people explain things away, it robs the marvelous blessings God intended for us to share in and see. Here is the newly engaged lady, thrilled with her up-coming wedding. She shows the ring on her finger, with joy in her heart in the anticipation of a marriage that God blessed and created. Just explain to her about her diamond ring: "Your diamond is nothing but pure carbon crystallized in octahedron's under pressure ranging from 45 to 60 kilo bars and having a cubit atom formation." She is robbed of her commitment and love shown by her soon to be husband with a promise of good things to come. Some can see little good in the things created by God.
Let's learn to enjoy the things God has given to us. God speaks to us that we need to fix our hope on God, "who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy." (I Tim. 1:17) Let the little things shine a little insight to God and His simplicity. Have you ever watched a little baby discover their toes or fingers? Isn't that a wonderful sight to behold? And there sits God, who gave that baby to those parents to behold the little simple things of life. Slow down and take a look and it might surprise you how many simple things are passing us by.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


They sat quietly looking down. I could see the sadness on their face and you could hear it in their voice. Their eyes spoke of lostness. Finally the words came out, "I feel so empty inside. Every thing seems to cave in on me. What little life I have, my job and family take it away. If that weren't enough, our finances are over-whelming. I have no joy!"
It is heart-breaking to see people in Christ Jesus in such despair. Why are those in Christ this empty? There is an answer and that answer is found in Jesus. Let me explain. Some simply do not believe in the saving power, the renewing power of Christ. They want to but they allow the things of life to affect them more than Christ. Our focus is our hurts, our disappointments and difficulties rather than Christ. I know people hurt, we have all been there. But the difference between staying buried under the pile of hurt and over-coming is found in Christ Jesus. The longer one focuses on the hurts and disappointments, faith is lost little by little until it becomes almost impossible to believe.
Read carefully the book of Philippians. Paul wrote this letter while sitting in a prison cell, facing a life and death situation. Why was he there? He sure wasn't a criminal! He had committed no acts that deserve prison. His crime? He followed Jesus! Can you imagine what he must have felt, going through all he did just for serving Jesus? I am afraid many of us would have quit, complaining how unfair life is. What did Paul say? "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4) The term "rejoice" is an imperative present active verb. That's a command. That's a choice! No one can keep you from rejoicing in the Lord. You choose to do that provided you have your eyes and heart fixed on Jesus. To believe He died my death and transferred me to His kingdom (Col. 1:13) means God is completely 100% for us. Our circumstances do not alter or change God's intentions. Our faith in our Lord, our trust in Him is what will take us beyond our circumstances. We see our eternal destiny! Faith reaches to God and Christ. Paul saw the opportunity to share in the grace of God and the gospel spreading because of His circumstances (Phil. 1:12-18)
When every thing appears to be caving in on you, especially when things you have no control over, that's when we need to look at the marvelous grace of God. (I must say we don't understand grace and it's power. God told Paul it was all he needed in II Cor. 12:9.) In our difficulties is where the power and grace of God become greater. Difficulties do not change the spiritual blessings we have in Jesus but make them come into clearer focus if we fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:1-3). In Philippians and Paul's difficulties, his attention was completely fixed on Jesus (Phil. 1:18). It took Paul toward God's resources (Phil. 1:19-20). He was committed to exalting Christ, his Lord!
Sometimes we don't' get the best situations in life and start complaining. That takes your attention away from the Lord, His promises and grace and will take you down. It will rob you of life, joy and grace and end up with nothing but misery. Paul saw it was better to be with Christ but at this time, he didn't get the better. What did he do? Made progress anyway (Phil. 1:24-26)! Paul saw himself as no longer living for himself but for Jesus who died for him (Gal. 2:20).
When a crisis comes in our lives, what do you expect? Christ and His spiritually blessings working with God's grace or dejection and misery? Who do you magnify? Christ, looking to Him for an opportunity to grow or your troubles? To answer those questions reveal every thing about our faith.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


John Stott wrote a book titled, "What Christ Thinks Of The Christ." He is from Langham Place, London. The following is a quote from that book: "Our ranks are filled with baptized unbelievers. It has become respectable to have a Christian name." Stott goes on to say, "All manner of wild and idle superstitions surround the ordinance of baptism." He went on to question if it was ever justifiable to baptize infants and answered with a resounding "No!" Upon that, he asks the next question: "Can we really dare to put into adult lips, on behalf of a child, solemn declarations of Christian repentance, faith and surrender which we know they neither mean for themselves nor have any intention of fulfilling for the child?"
I am one that rarely quotes from other books as our source of insight but this is one of those rare cases. He makes a very good and valid point. It seems many are moving further and further away from God's intended purpose and Scripture on baptism because of the term "Christian." Many claim that term as their salvation. I am not trying to cause waves here but make us think with some soberness and think carefully of what Jesus commissioned those twelve apostles with (Mark 16:15-16).
Every account of baptism in the New Testament shows it to be a response of faith. Baptism is not just a passing thought but a faith response. People seem to go back under the Law, before the death of Jesus was complete asking about how Jesus could save the thief on the cross without baptism? What escapes their notice is Mark 2:10, where Jesus said He has the authority to forgive sins while on earth! He had that authority while on earth!! After His resurrection from the dead, He commissioned those apostles to teach the gospel and those who believed it and were baptized would be saved. Faith and baptism go hand in hand and it is all tied to the gospel! Just because one is "dunked in water" does not mean they are baptized into Christ Jesus (Rom. 6). The Lord is looking at the heart and faith in what is being taught. (That's why infants are exempt.) If one comes to baptism believing they are already saved or it is nothing more than an outer expression, they did not enter Jesus. Baptism is a burial and in that burial it takes faith in the death of Jesus to determine if one is raised by God from the death of their sins (Col. 2:12). If one thinks they are saved before baptism, and baptism is a burial, why would you bury a live person?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"A Saving Faith"

Guilt eats at the heart of many of those in Christ Jesus. Guilt drives people into faking their lives and covering up who they are. Guilt brings memories of shame and failures. Guilt is like a wave that rolls over the top of a person, making their esteem little to nothing. Guilt drives many to depression. Guilt is powerful and can be good, provided the response in our guilt to our Lord is by faith.
Faith, saving faith is a personal commitment to the death and life of Jesus. Without this saving faith, this complete trust in His work on our behalf, we can't be saved. Read Mark 16:15-16 and see the saving faith Jesus spoke to His own apostles He sent into all the world. Saving faith is more than believing in the Lord, it is a commitment to Him! We commit ourselves to Him because we trust Him 100%.
That means there is no no cause for guilt feelings unless they reflect our indifference and lack of commitment. Take some time and read II Peter 1:1-11 followed by I Thessalonians 5:23-24 and you will see the point. To have a saving faith in Jesus means we believe with all our heart that Jesus can and does forgive sin, our sin completely!
Jesus not only forgives the "little" sins but also those "big" sins we have committed. Saving faith believes that Jesus does not just denounce our sins or uncover them in us but He forgives, wiping them completely off our slate because His blood removed them. It's not that He CAN forgive but to the humble and sincere confessed sinner, He forgives completely. To have a saving faith means we embrace these things about our Lord and have committed our lives back to Him.
Saving faith means we live our lives, in every thing we do, to the glory of the Father. We live to reflect His salvation in our lives. We rejoice, even in pain, because of His marvelous grace we received when we were baptized into Him (Rom. 6). That saving faith means we realize Jesus destroyed sin and is working to keep it out of our lives as we live in a trusting relationship to glorify Him. Saving faith is embracing Him as our Savior and living under His Lordship. That removes us out of the way and exalts the heavenly Father.

Monday, September 21, 2009


People need hope! I am not speaking of the hope that wishes: "I hope everything goes well!" The hope I am speaking of is a God-given hope. A hope of assurance. A hope that not only desires but expects God to do as God said He would. Any other type of hope will disappoint.
Our hope, if one is in Christ Jesus, is tied to two elements: (1) God is faithful! (2) God is able! Listen to His word carefully: "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (I Cor. 10:13)
We want to believe that God is faithful. We say the words but somehow, we really don't trust Him to do as He says. When we encounter difficulties, the question arises in our hearts, "Will He be faithful to me?" which leads us to doubts and fear arise in our hearts.
To some, the struggles in life seem like mountains. Fears, anxieties and sense of hopelessness settle into the heart. We find ourselves reaching, looking for security in our time of need because we don't know or trust our heavenly Father. For us to have hope in God is to have a confident expectation! How can one be sure He will aid in the midst of difficulties? Why don't we start by looking at the cross, the death of Jesus on our behalf? Isn't that the direction God is trying to move our hearts? Take some time and read Rom. 8:31-34 and there you will see the confidence that God is for us! And if He is for us, will He make sure we have every thing we need to make it to the end, not matter what we encounter? Hope, real genuine hope, has God at the center because He is faithful and is able to do as He says. We expect little because our faith does not have God at the center many times.
When does hope disappear? When God is not the center of our faith. We look and listen to everyone else while God sits the sideline. Then we wonder why we fail so miserably. God has the resources (He is able) and will do exactly what He says He will do for our well-being (God is faithful). We tend to focus on us and our problems, our defeats and God gets pushed into the background. The result: hope is lost because faith is lost (Heb. 11:1)! (Some head to the nearest bookstore to find a book for hope.) It's easy to speak of God, talk of His love and mercy but it's another thing to place our hope in Him. Our hope must be based on His ability and His faithfulness in every circumstance. That does not eliminate our suffering and pain but brings God's faithfulness and ability in the midst of our suffering. And does not disappoint (Rom. 5:5)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"On the Road Again"

I am leaving for New York so this will be my last blog writing until I return. I will begin writing again on Sept. 21.
I was recently reading about a cave in Southern Mexico called the Cueva de Villa Luz or "Cave of the Lighted House." The path to the cave winds through a wonderful paradise of tropical birds and lush rain forest. The cave is fed by 20 underground springs which are beautiful watercourses that team with tiny fish. The cave itself is home to a spectacular rock formations and beautiful ponds. The environment is so beautiful, so inviting and almost like a dream world. There is one problem - the Cueva de Villa Luz is filled with lethal poisonous gases!
As I read about this it struck me that's the way sin operates. It presents itself to us as something inviting, attractive and at times, life giving. Yet in reality, it is poisonous, toxic and deadly! Sin can be pleasurable! Moses realized this when he was called the son of Pharaoh's daughter (Heb. 11:25). That's what makes it so destructive. Songs are written about sin being so good that it can't be wrong! Before long, people are taken captive and held in its cord. Once enslaved, only through the power of God will one be able to find their way out.
Don't be deceived by the appearance of things. Sin is deadly and in the end, it will cost you your soul.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


It never ceases to amaze me the impact parents have on their children. I was sitting reading a book to my youngest granddaughter (she is 1 1/2 yrs. old), we came to a page with a rainbow on it. Immediately she spoke up, "Noah...God". The book had nothing to do with the Bible account of Noah but in her mind, the moment she saw the rainbow, the two names came out. I sat in gratitude and wonder. Such an innocent little girl, with a limited vocabulary yet in her heart she tied Noah and God together.
My mind shifted to godly fathers and mothers who train their children. It has such an impact at such and early age. Children take things in and eat it up. When parents are more involved in the world and the things of the world, it will eventually be reflected in the attitudes and lives of their children. I was listening to a little girl (around 6) the other day and she spoke of how she was bored with "church stuff". It was heart breaking to hear at such a young age, the heart was set. It comes from the training in the home. It's not about 'Bible stories' but the reality of a relationship internally with the Lord. When parents have it, children will follow suit. If parents are just pretending, it will come out.
I want to encourage each of us, train our children to love the Father of our Lord. They need Him for the daily breath, for life and one day for their salvation. What a blessing to have godly fathers and mothers!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Fact or Feelings"

Have you ever been at a place where your senses fail you? Take for instance where there is an illusion that the law of gravity is askew? Near Los Angeles, Ca. it is said that motorists stop their cars at a certain point on the side of a hill, shut off their engines and release the brake. Their car seems to roll up hill! But a plumb level placed on the ground where the cars begin shows that the cars are actually rolling downhill. The eye can be deceived while the level cannot.
In our lives, we have to make determinations about things. How do we go about those determinations? Many make them on their natural senses of feelings and emotions. When people form statements and beliefs based on how they feel or are emotionally moved at the moment, that is not a safe thing to do. God's word tells us, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil." (I Thes. 5:21-22) How does one go about examining and what standard of that examining is to be used?
It has to be based on the word of God, not our feelings. Too many are basing things on their emotional state at the moment. That is why parents fail in dealing properly with their children because there is such a strong sense of feeling and love for their child, that becomes the basis of their reasoning's and thoughts in dealing with them. The same is said of our salvation. Too many base their relationship with the Lord on what they feel. They feel the Lord's nearness or feel Him in their heart. Listen carefully to these words from the Lord: "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered." (Prov. 28:26) Jeremiah speaks that the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick (Jer. 17:9). What is one to do? Follow the Lord and His word and not your feelings or some catchy phrase from the world.
"Thus says the Lord, 'Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord." (Jer. 17:5) Our determinations and walk with the Lord must be based on the Lord and nothing else. Sometimes it is difficult to accept but it is always the best thing to do. By following the Lord you will not have to worry about a harmful decision made that will make matters worse down the line. It might hurt at the moment but it will lead you to peace and will deliver you from fleshly, wrong moves. Too many walk with their emotions and senses and the word of God is left inactive.
"Feelings come and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God, nothing else is worth believing.
I'll trust in God's unchanging Word, till spirit and body sever;
For though all things shall pass away, His Word shall stand forever."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Despising the Word of the Lord"

"But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is a native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt will be on him." (Num. 15:30-31)
"Therefore the Lord God of Israel declares, 'I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever'; but now the Lord declares, 'Far be it from Me - for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.'" (I Sam. 2:30)
"Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon." (II Sam. 12:9)
In the above verses, if you read them carefully you will see the word "despise"used. These are just a few verses speaking of despising God and His word. What does it mean to "despise" the word of the Lord? "Despise" means "to look down on with contempt and scorn, to regard with dislike or repugnance." Who in their right mind would "despise" the word of the Lord? In reading the above verses, the Lord Himself says that when people sin, they are despising the word of the Lord. Go back and read the context of these verses and see what situation surrounded them. In the last Scripture above, guess who "despised" the word of the Lord? It was David when Nathan the prophet came to him confronting him with the sinful actions against Bathsheba.
How bad is sin? How utterly sinful is sin? We live around sin and think little when sin is carried out. We think nothing of having a bad attitude or being hateful to someone. God paints a vivid picture to help us see what He thinks of sin. God says sin is despising His holy word! Now that should get our attention.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Sin Is A Power" (2)

Sin is a power that is waiting for every man and woman to open the door so it can master us. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Rom. 5:12) From the beginning, man chose to sin and as a result, sin entered into our world and spread to all. All have sinned (Rom. 3:23). The result of sin? Death. When one sins, they die spiritually. There is a separation between them and God. Until there is a changing of masters, one cannot overcome their state of death. Jesus is the master that we must come to.
Let's take this a step further. "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished,it brings forth death." (Jam. 1:13-15) Notice we learn from God that "each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust." It is our own lust, our personal desires that leads us into sin. The word "lust" is the Greek word epithumia which means a longing for, especially for what is forbidden.
Adam and Eve in the garden from the beginning were led into sin by their lusts. "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate." (Gen. 3:6) Look carefully at "she saw, a delight to the eyes, desirable". Adam followed suit.
When David committed adultery with Bathsheba (II Sam. 11:1-2), we find the same principle at work. He saw, she was beautiful (delight to the eyes) and his lusts pursued her and sin was accomplished. What have we learned? Sin is a choice that comes from our lusts and it always ends in one place: death! Sin accomplished will separate one from God and that's the state of death. We see or want and it stirs us further. At first we might slowly move, but the thought of our lusts stay in our heart and mind. A little movement here, a little there and we draw closer to what we desire. Then, we give ourselves to our lusts (desires) and act upon what we wanted all along. Sin is born and death results. We might not realize it at the time because we find pleasure in fulfilling our lusts, but God has no part of sin, is not the cause of sin and will not fellowship sin. Sin becomes the master and from that point sin controls our thinking, our actions and outcome. Sin is a power and its desire is for us. Only in and through Christ can one overcome sin and its desires.