Thursday, February 25, 2010

"A Fool"

Three times the Psalms speak of a fool or the wicked say, "There is no God." (Psa. 10:4/Psa. 14:1/Psa. 53:1) A person who does not believe in the Almighty Jehovah God is called corrupted in both deeds and thought.
Here is what is amazing about those who profess there is no God. No one is born an atheist! People choose to become atheist just as people choose to believe. Many an atheist try to deny "faith" but what they fail to recognize is that atheism is a belief system! It requires their faith placed in something that God does not exist.
What makes a person turn to such extremes to denying the existence of God? There could be several but one of their major ideas is because all the pain and corruption in the world has led them to "believe" that there could be no God to allow all this evil. In their mind, if God were all powerful and He sees everything, why would He not use His power and all knowing insight to deal with all this hurt and corruption? Here is where they miss the point. If there is no God, how did they come up with the idea that evil actually exists? What process can be use to distinguish good from evil? There has to be a standard somewhere set in order for man to know what is good and evil. That means there is a belief system behind their denial!
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." (Rom. 1:20) God made it evident to man He exists. Just look at His divine nature. Every single day, in the east and west the sun rises and sets. God never fails in this. Look at the storms and natural disasters proving the power of God is greater than man. In fact, God made it evident "within" man that He exists (Rom. 1:19). The result? God sees man as without excuse. God holds man accountable for his conclusions and actions.
David was right when he said: "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" God holds man accountable and because of all the evil and corruption, only through Jesus will man escape. I pray we aren't fools!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


The Greek word 'Gehenna' comes from the Hebrew 'Ge-Hinnom'. It is translated "hell." To the Jewish mind, the term 'Gehenna' had a significant meaning. The origin came from the valley of Hinnom, a garbage dump just south of Jerusalem. In Jeremiah 7:31-33, this valley was where the people burned the bodies of their children as an offering to strange gods. God says it never entered His mind and as a result of their ungodly and wicked practices, it will be called the valley of Slaughter and the dead bodies of the people will be there while their bodies will be food for the birds. It was known as a place where dead carcasses were piled up by God!
As one would approach Jerusalem from the south, which most people avoided this road, they would pass by this valley. Carcasses of dead animals were visible. The stench of smoldering flesh and the hideous sight of millions of worms and maggots eating on the parts that weren't burned. It was sickening and repulsive.
When Jesus spoke about 'Gehenna', this was the thoughts that would come to their mind. This was the way Jesus was illustrating the fire of hell, a place of torment and where the worm does not die (Mark 9:47-48). Listen to the following words: weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, agony, torment, a lake of fire and brimstone and eternal punishment. These words described 'Gehenna' or hell. It seems the word of God exhausts our human language to describe how awful a place hell will be and Jesus used these words to warn.
It seems we are hearing less and less preaching about hell today. Everyone speaks of love and a God of love with little regard to punishment for those unreconciled. God's love demands justice and righteousness. If we believed in the eternal fate of those who never were reconciled or walked away from the Lord, we would be trying to reach out. We are talking about our families, our closest friends and neighbors. Everyone that is separated from the Lord will end up in this place of torment, while the worm never stops eating on their body. All have sinned. That means all deserve this eternal place of punishment and death. There is no one righteous on their own to earn a place beside God in heaven. Only through the blood of Jesus, our sacrifice, the One who paid our price in our place will we be able to escape this place of eternal punishment and pain. God spells out there are two groups of people that will find themselves in 'Gehenna.' "Dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." (II Thess. 1:8-9)
Jesus rescued us from this place taking us into the presence of God, seating us with Him. Only those who lovingly and faithfully follow Him will continue at His side. The will be their choice and their fate will be a great tragedy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


If there is anything that will destroy our spiritual lives, it will be our own fleshliness. It is a struggle I know in my life. What is the scariest thought is most do not recognize when they are being fleshly! Fleshliness is nothing more than walking after your own thoughts and feelings and allowing them to determine things. That's where we can easily go wrong. We get stirred emotionally and those emotions determine our response for the good or bad.
The easiest way to spot fleshliness is when there is strife or jealousy among brethren (I Cor. 3:3). When people are at odds with one another, that's fleshly. Many a congregation has split over fleshly people, who claim they are defending the truth. Things become so obscure that what they call defending the truth is nothing more than walking over the opinions and thoughts of another. Disagreements become a mountain, feelings get hurt and off we go.
How did the Jews who came to Jesus and the Gentiles get along in the first century? The Jews came from a strict background of Scriptures while the Gentiles came from a background of idols and loose living. How were they going to live in harmony? It began by being converted to Jesus (Eph. 2)! Jesus had to be the focus and center of their heart. Jesus had to be the only one to have a say so about life and what is proper. It would be easy for the Jewish Christian to point to the Law of Moses saying this is what God wants done and condemn the Gentile. It led to division and hard feelings. That is what the book of Galatians is about. The Jewish Christians were trying to bind the Old Testament laws along side of Christ and it was creating all types of disharmony. Paul pointed to one thing: "But I say walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." (Gal. 5:16) We must surrender to the Spirit of God and let Him lead us away from our fleshliness. If we don't, there will be strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes and many more things like this that will cause us to divide from one another. Love is a spiritual power that unites and embraces, even when we have differences of opinions. Learning how to serve one another from love is what will keep us from devouring one another. Our flesh is strong and only by submission to the Spirit of God will we overcome.
If you belong to Jesus, what have you done with your personal desires and passions? "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Gal. 5:24) Who is leading your life?

Monday, February 22, 2010

"The Mercies of God"

The mercies of God has deep meaning to those saved. The mercies of God are to be a motivator for our lives. "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (Rom. 12:1) The mercies of God gives us reason to present ourselves back to God to His service in an acceptable way. If the mercies of God means little, there will little response and certainly no presentation. To present yourself as living means you show God, "I'm alive!" To present yourself back as holy means you show God, "I love and appreciate your ways and want to walk in your ways." To present yourself back as acceptable means, "I just want to please you." These things are what spiritual people do.
The effects of the mercies of God show itself in our lives. We become "devoted to one another in brotherly love." (Rom. 12:10) We are in the same mercies and it makes us warm toward one another. We "give preference to one another in honor." That is where we show honor to others under the mercies of God. The mercies of God become a motivation for "not lacking behind in diligence" (Rom. 12:11). We are speaking about having zeal for our relationship to the Lord and exerting ourselves in our lives in our service to Him. Too many are looking for something to motivate them from workshops, lectureships or meetings while the whole time the mercies of God seem to have little impact. I recently heard of a congregation that brought in a motivational speaker to get people more involved. If the mercies of God is not what moves us and inspires us, we will continually have to find something to excite us and that's not a spiritual source. The mercies of God brings about a "fervent in spirit" attitude. Fervent carries the idea of being hot or heated up. It's an attitude from within you and a drive that you are hot for the Lord. "Serving the Lord." (Rom. 12:11) All the above come down to this one issue. Serving the Lord is showing you care, your hot for Him, you love and care for His brothers/sisters and want to serve Him in this manner.
How does the mercies of God affect you? Do you find yourself just going through the motions or does His mercy and saving you from your sins move your heart?

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I was looking around Barnes and Noble the other day, just browsing. As I came across several books, briefly reading something on their covers, I found one that was interesting. It was the "Answer Book." It was a book that supposedly answered all the questions that no one wants to answer. One chapter was about God and it began by stating that whatever your belief is in God, He is an under-achiever. It went on to question all the failures on earth and problems around the world. Then it concluded that if God has the power He must assuredly lack the drive. At first, it bothered me but then as I thought about it, maybe this book is saying what many are thinking but afraid to say. The book is completely wrong on the part about God but many live like God is a under-achiever!
Books are everywhere. Each time I deal with people in problems, it seems somewhere someone comes up with a book that deals with their problem. I have had many over the years offer me books to read about psychology, self-help, depression and the list goes on and on. Believers in God that turn to man's writings to solve their problems are saying exactly what the "Answer Book" was saying about God. We know He has the power but where is God's drive to exert that power? Then one reads the books about unlocking God's power but they are no more than 'rah-rah' books with no substance or take us into humanism. I read books but I make certain they are no substitute for the Creator holding every answer to man and his being from His holy word. When people are struggling, we seem to want more concrete answers about our problems and somehow think man has those concrete answers. Many don't see God as addressing depression, anger management, mental stress, addictions of all types and marriage difficulties. God's word for many just doesn't seem to amount to much and as a result there is little hearing or appreciation of the holy word. The result: powerless lives that flounder because there is no real faith in God directing us with His word. No wonder people question God!
Let me share this with you if you happen to be one of the those who depend on man's thoughts and writings to direct their lives. If all the books that are written have the answers for us to live by, why are so many written? If one book has the answers to a particular problem, shouldn't that be it and no more? I know writers can bring us to God's word but they are still man's writings. We need to believe in our God! We need to trust His power! We need to understand how He works and operates. The greatest failure of man is NOT KNOWING GOD!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Jesus In History"

It is simply amazing to think about the impact that Jesus Christ has made on this world and in the history of man. What did he accomplish in His life? According to the striving of man, not much. Man's history is filled with Presidents, explorers, writers, actors, musicians, military leaders and they all lie in dust. Their names are not something that is revolved around on a daily basis. We remember them because someone calls them to our mind and as time marches onward, their memories fade even further.
Jesus Christ began as a Jew, the son of a carpenter that lived in a place that had little respect called Nazareth. He wrote no books, discovered no worlds or advanced the science of man, invented no philosophy, built no structures or led no armies. His own closest associates fled from Him and betrayed Him. His life was ended in what we would call man's prime time and died the death of common criminals. Yet in all this, His birth, childhood and adult life as a Jew craved something in the history of man to the point that even today, there is a universal tag called 'the year of our Lord.'
As time for man passes on, this Jesus Christ has been carved onto the hearts of so many in time. His holy living, His passion for His Father, His love for God's word, His hands and side pierced before mankind's eyes and He governs the ages. Why each week is He worshiped and adored by many? What catches our eyes and ears some 2000 years later that makes us speak of Him, honor Him, pray through Him and fellowship Him in His Supper? Maybe we need to take a closer look at Him, this Jesus Christ, the Lord of heaven and earth? His impact on the history of man will continue while we as humans will not. When is the last time you sat down and investigated the life of this Man who will ultimately determine your eternal destination? Go ahead...take a look, a close look!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"How Blessed"

Paul quotes David the great sinner in Rom. 4:7-8. "Blessed are those who lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account." In the Greek, Paul uses a double negative for the words "will not". That means God simply will never, ever take a sin back into account once it is forgiven. It is like God saying, "There is no point in trying to persuade Me to bring back up a matter I have forgiven! There is no way in heaven I will do that! Just forget it!!"
What is the point? We have a sinner, who failed his God miserably and recognized what they did was sin. They appealed to God for His cleansing while repenting. We have a Lord who will simply not hold that sin against this sinner. No wonder David and Paul can call such a person "blessed"!
Not everyone is "blessed" in this way. There are only a certain group of people that possess this kind of blessing. God is a holy God, full of mercy and grace. Only those who are in a relationship with Him, that takes direction from Him and allows Him to shape their character, they are the "blessed." Those who God will never, never ever take their sins into account are those who humbly, with a whole heart, live in a covenant relationship with Him and have embraced His life.
Those in that covenant life and union with Him, their sins are not held against them. This is a relationship of grace between a covenant keeping God and people accepting that covenant. God knows our moral weaknesses and our capacity to sin. That's why He calls ungodly sinners to His side! It is sinners He makes His companions!! But they aren't sinners that actively despise Him and wander into sin intentionally. The convicted sinners have a contrite and repentant heart that seek to glorify His name and bless Him.
What do we learn? To have a true and loving relationship with someone, do we think we can treat them with a bad attitude and defy them when we feel like it? If that is our mindset, we know nothing of friendship and love. Friendship has built into it an attitude and purpose toward the other that leads to a certain kind of behavior toward that other. Just read Jam. 4:4 and see the opposite of what I am saying.
Too many in Christ Jesus live as if the Lord is punishing them continually for their past failures, sometimes major failures. God says, "I don't do that!" Maybe we aren't living in the relationship if that's our mindset? When we come to God with a repentant, humble heart God forgives and does not record that sin against us. The death of Jesus is not to make it easier for us to sin or make evil to appear less evil. It is to show us the depth of the relationship we have and enjoy that relationship. It is knowing that God will never, ever take a past sin into account which should produce within us a desire to move into His path, letting Him mold us and make us because His covenant is so wonderful and we want to stay away from sin. It breeds love! No wonder that person is BLESSED!

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Where Has Holiness Gone?"

"Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you be in holy conduct and godliness?" (II Pet. 3:11) We think too much of our own thinking! Under the old covenant, God reminded His people over and over about His holiness and their pursuit of His holiness. Today many seem to dismiss this notion about pursuing holiness in our lives. It seems preachers and teachers have out-grown the Old Testament and we are much more sophisticated than they. We have progressed, especially in the church!
We know God doesn't dwell in buildings made with hands and the "church" is the people, not the building. Where does that lead us? We dismiss the talk of holy places, holy clothing and holy actions. It seems more and more are revolving their lives about acceptance of all beliefs with little conviction and warning about being a holy temple of God (I Cor. 3:16-17). To treat the Old Testament as a carnival of ceremonial actions with some good historical stories as illustrations in a sermon is demeaning to God, His holiness and our holiness.
Let me share this, not in any fashion to berate anyone but to illustrate how we need to be a people of holy conduct and godliness. Because we know the building isn't the church, we know the building isn't a special place and because we know it isn't a special place we have no special place. Then someone comes across with the notion that because the New Testament has little regard for special locations, there is no holiness pursued. Yet our holiness, founded upon the blood of Christ should lead us into His holiness. We have built into our building complexes places to make coffee, to play basketball or dominoes, to eat meals but where is our place of holiness? We have our places to make jokes, to talk about the weather, munch on our donuts but where is the place of holiness? Because we have driven out the notion of holiness, nowhere is holy. We are killing our spiritual well being by making our assemblies "consumer friendly", laid back while thinking we can just walk into the presence of God with little to no thought about who we are in our holy conduct and speech! We do need to celebrate in His presence but what about the rejoicing with fear and trembling? (Psa. 2:11) Where is the working out our salvation with fear and trembling? (Phil. 2:12) The grace of God, His loving forgiveness should make us all pause and take our breaths away, knowing what kind of people we ought to be in holy conduct and godliness.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"The Gospel Teaches..."

"Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Rom. 6:4) The issue is newness of life. By the power of God we are raised to walk in newness, God's newness and power. When we were confronted with the gospel, it revealed the seriousness of sin in our own lives. It seems today, many are minimizing sin while lifting up our human weakness. It makes sin acceptable and the seriousness that God has with sin is lost.
The gospel, the death burial and resurrection of Christ (I Cor. 15:1-4), teaches us that self must go, be buried so the power of Christ can live in us. Many are making the teachings of God on how to preserve self. The gospel points us away from the world and loving the things in the world. Today much of the preaching/teaching is how God will bless your life with wealth during a crumbling economy. The gospel points us to die to self while much of today's beliefs is about overcoming our worldly frustrations we face. The gospel teaches us to give up our pride because God is opposed to the proud. Much of the books and teaching we hear today raises us up in order to build our self esteem. The gospel teaches that our greatest need is atonement which only God can provide through Jesus. We are hearing seminars and sermons on "guilt complexes" that only professional counselors can relieve! It seems there is more and more "therapeutic" preaching which crowds out the need to have a guilty conscience cleansed by the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:14). The gospel teaches us our we must be confronted with our sinfulness while much of today's preaching focuses on self-forgiving.
The center of the gospel: The cross of Christ! Maybe we are becoming a lot like the 1st century when they tried to reach out with the gospel message: "For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (I Cor. 1:22-24) That's what the gospel teaches!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


How do congregations grow? Recently I was asked to speak with two different congregations on church growth. What struck me as strange was the preachers in both places had little to no interest in what I was teaching because it was not a formula or program. They left the meeting.
People believe that growth is from some type of program. It is by our efforts, our classes, our outreach programs or hiring a preacher with flare and a personality. It seems congregations are more concerned with numbers than the preaching of the gospel in its purity and simplicity. Often I hear elders or preachers speak of "growing the church" as if we are the ones who gives the increase. It's true we have to reach out but let's listen carefully to Paul: "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth." (I Cor. 3:6-7) Paul understood his role as an apostle and preacher but he knew where the real power and secret to growth lay.
At another congregation I was visiting, the preacher was speaking about how they were to reach the lost in our present day and time. In his speaking, not once did he mention the gospel of God (Rom. 1:16) but the "buzz" was centered around meeting the needs of the community. It struck me if we believe we have 'out-grown' God and the preaching of His word alone as all important. Feeding and clothing people, seasonal outreaches and financial stability classes offered has become the outreach. I want you to know that I realize we need to help those in need, looking for opportunities to help, but what is happening is our evangelism has centered around these things while the preaching of the gospel to the lost has gone by the way. Classes are offered on coping with anxieties, building self esteem, teen problems and pure bible study has taken second place to these themes.
The greatest danger the church is facing is the voiding of the cross by our own cleverness (I Cor. 1:17). Once we void the cross and its power, the church is reduced to a denomination that must compete for people in an entertainment rich society. Our worship, our classes and studies look and sound like the world. I have witnessed many good things done for our hurting world by the church. But when our outreaches reduce or stand in the way of the power of God to save, the preaching of the gospel to draw people into His salvation, they become the efforts of man and not God.
"According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it." (I Cor. 3:10) We need to be careful how we build. There is accountability before God.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"What Have We Missed?"

Recently I had a preacher write me and gently reprimanded me for using the term "entertainment" when describing some of the outreach programs and worship experiences in different congregations. It motivated me to the following thoughts...
The holiness of God and the power of the gospel seem to be slowly fading into a religion that seems to have 'tamed' God while focusing on our human wants and service. Instead of hearing God's call to holiness, we call on Him to give us peace of mind in our stress-filled world. Instead of hearing our Father call us to servanthood, we call on Him to assist us in our pursuit of health, wealth and success. Instead of hearing our Lord and Savior call us to worship, we call on Him to build our self esteem and charged emotions through our ideas of what we call worship. The bottom line - God has become our great assistant who aids us in our self-chosen ways. Today, with all the religious talk and pursuits, many are trying to shape God into man's agendas and set the terms on how He is to approach us!
Have we forgotten the God who spoke: "By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored." (Lev. 10:2)? Have we forgotten that Jesus spoke plainly that "no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him." (John 6:44)? Have we forgotten where God's power to save anyone is only in the gospel, not some form of entertaining worship, schemes to draw people in and outreaches that are little more than 'government commodities'?
Too many have turned God's holiness and power into a gospel of pop psychology and self help. We have become a people "holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power." (II Tim. 3:5) The people of God grows weaker and weaker spiritually only to gain strength in self-centeredness, self maintained and self serving ways. One can see this when you try to direct them away from self and back to God. It upsets many!
The gospel is God power to save! It is founded in Christ, not in man's ways or manipulations. The gospel expresses the holiness of God and guides us into the grace of God (Col. 1:5-6). The grace of God is what instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires so we will live righteously, sensibly and godly in our day and time (Titus 2:11-12). The result: "If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of stay on earth." (I Pet. 1:17) Reuel Lemmons said it right back in Jan. 1987: "Jesus said we should be the salt of the earth. But I see very few salty churches. We have drawn so heavy upon our culture...that there is little about us that is unique except in our own eyes."

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Unrepentant Sin"

Paul saw his life, his teachings as being spoken "in the sight of God." (II Cor. 12:19) He was aware of God and Christ in every move in his life. That is where so many make their mistakes today. A lot of sin and sinful attitudes are the result of forgetting that we do things "in the sight of God." When one looses that awareness, the controlling factor is lost.
Why would Paul speak such? Because in the case of these brethren at Corinth sin was still abounding. Just listen to the list: "strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances." (II Cor. 12:20) Paul cannot ignore the sinful actions and the worst part is the lack of repentance from those who have practiced such. The result: Paul states they may not like him at all because he was going to call their hand!
Why do people get upset when you call their hand in sin or you take a stand against sin in their lives? There is only one reason: they are living in their sins and have not repented! People continue to live in many of the things listed above, while it may not bother some, it is wrong in the eyes of God. When brethren practice sinful attitudes, it encourages others to not be serious about sin. Unrepentant sin means a person continually lives in their sins and that will doom them eternally. Unrepentant sins are not swept under the rug by the Lord. He gives people time to come to their senses and repent but eventually their time will run out! (See Rev. 2:20-23) All sin will be dealt with at some time and point.
We need to examine ourselves, test ourselves to see if we are really in the faith (II Cor. 13:5). If Christ is in us, what will we do about sins of anger or disputes with another? What will we do in harboring ill feelings? Christ lives by the power of God, who raised Him from the dead (II Cor. 13:4)! That same power is directed toward us in Christ and we can live because of God. If one refuses to repent when they know they are wrong or harboring bitterness in their heart, we will stop the work of God in our lives! We will die spiritually. That is why Paul was so concerned for the Corinthian brethren.
We need to take heed and make certain that we have no unrepentant sin in our lives. If we know we have hard feelings toward another, or there is a rivalry between us and another, we need to repent of that, turning away from it and be reconciled to the Lord and one another. We need the power of God to give us strength in our weaknesses and above all, live our lives in the sight of God!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Know No Evil"

There is so much sin and evil around us. Sometimes my heart goes out to those who work around more than normal ungodliness. I recently had a brother in Christ share with me that he worked in an office with three professed homosexuals. They spoke openly of it and have convinced other office workers that it is an acceptable lifestyle. It reminds me of what God's word speaks: "And if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds..." (II Pet. 2:7-8) I can only imagine what some of my brethren must go through daily. That's why I pray for you. I wished every preacher would work in the world system before entering preaching for a local congregation. It would open their eyes to what my brethren face on a daily basis.
What are we to do with all the evil? We need to not be touched by it. We don't need to find out more evil and what is going on in the lives of people. Sometimes we know too much, which is not good. Paul reminded the Roman brethren: "...but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil." (Rom. 16:19) The more we find out about evil, it can do us great harm. We need to stay away from evil, from listening to evil and searching out evil. Paul reminded the Thessalonian brethren to "examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil." (I Thes. 5:21-22) The form, the appearance of evil needs to be turned away from. What value is there in knowing/learning evil? I once heard a brother in Christ give a short lesson at a devotional and he spoke openly and boldly about sex and the sexual practices of many he had encountered through his profession. What would drive a person to speak such to the holy, pure people of God? What was the spiritual value in knowing such?
Jesus praised the faithful brethren at the church at Thyatira by saying: "But I say to the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them - I place on other burden on you." (Rev. 2:24) We don't need to be studying or looking into the things of Satan! We need to be keeping our minds and heart pure for the Lord.
This world is difficult with error and evil all around us. We can't escape the world but we need to live as light in the dark world of sin and death so people can see the true light of God through the gospel. Sometimes we know too much about evil and not enough about the purity of the Lord. "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled." (Titus 1:15) Let's live for the Lord and know no evil!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"I Want Your Time"

The father came home from work late, was tired, irritated and frazzled. His 5 year old son was waiting at the door. "Daddy, may I ask you a question?" The dad was shuffling his things away, "Ok, what is it?" "Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?" It caught the father off guard and he quipped, "That's none of your business. Why would you ask me such a thing?" The little boy asked again, pleading with his father. The father said in a huff, "I make about $20 an hour if that will answer your question!" The little boy looked at his dad and said, "Daddy, may I borrow $9 please?"
For some reason this infuriated the father and he bluntly said no and told his son to march right to his room and go to bed. The words came out, "I work long, hard hours and I don't have time to deal with your silliness!"
The little boy went to his room and shut his door. As the father sat down, it began to bother him how his son had asked the question only wanting to get money from him. After settling down for a while, the father realized rarely did his son ask for money and maybe he had a good reason for the $9. The father went to his son's room asking, "Are you asleep?" The 5 year old said, "No, daddy, I'm awake."
"I'm sorry for being so harsh to you earlier. It's been a long day and I shouldn't have been so unkind. Here's the $9 you need." The little boy sat straight up, beaming, "Thank you!"
The little boy reached under his pillow pulling out some crumpled bills. He began counting the money and looked up at his father saying, "Here daddy, I have $20 now...can I buy an hour of your time?"
I am generally not into a lot of stories but I thought this incident made a great illustration of how much our heavenly Father wants our time! God demonstrated His own love toward us (Rom. 6:8). Paul proclaimed that God demonstrated such great love by giving us the gift of Himself (Gal. 2:20). In all His giving, the majority walk along their lives with little thought or concern. We get caught up in the world, our business of events and pleasures while God and His love gets pushed to the side. We falter, struggle and fail while the whole time we could have a wonderful, endearing relationship of power, strength and courage. A relationship that would lessen our stresses, renew our minds and give us an inward strength to move forward.
Jesus died that we might live. That is for NOW, not the future. What are you doing in your relationship to the Lord? How much devotion are you giving Him? Our heavenly Father longs for us but He will not take second place to anyone or anything else. He gave His all and expects us to give our all back. That will lead us upward into God and the relationship will be beyond human words. "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:15-16)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"The Greatest"

The disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus calls a child, sets him before them and says, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:2-3)
The has their own ideas of the greatest. Some say Elvis Presley was the greatest of the music industry. Others say John Wayne is the greatest in the movie industry. Some say Albert Eisenstein is the greatest mind that ever lived. Fred Astaire was hailed as the greatest dancer of all time. People have their personal likes who and what they think is the greatest.
Yesterday, I sat and held my new born grandchild, my fourth. My mind raced around as I looked upon the life of the purest thing we will ever have on this earth in regard to God and Christ. A baby, a small child has accomplished nothing in our world. All they know is humility and love. We develop them to fear what we fear, to seek what we place emphasis on, to react to how we react and to love the way we love. That is rather sobering, wouldn't you say? But as a baby, a small child, Jesus said they were the greatest without one ounce of accomplishment. The message: we as adults need to be humble and converted as a child or we aren't going to make it. Your job, your accomplishments, your college education, your wits or smarts, your friends, your money, your home is not drawing any of us closer to the Lord. It might mean something to us but it doesn't to the Lord. To the Lord, a baby, a child is the greatest and we need to learn that the only thing we are leaving this world with is our souls. And that translates to one thing: if we have humbled ourselves before the throne of the living God, letting Him convert us according to His word and ways, depending on Him completely for making us whole and one in Jesus and walking in that newness. That's the greatest!