Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Retain The Standard"

A dear friend of mine who preachers was sharing with me a while back that an individual got upset at him and left because he was too closed minded and did too much preaching against embracing other religious ideas. What a shame. I am hearing it more and more that members of Christ's body are wanting more lenience toward other teachings. "Let's not be so strict!" or "We need to be more accepting and stop being so closed minded!" seems to be the battle cry from many today. Pay real close attention to statements like the above and see if you can hear it...listen carefully and honestly. You can almost hear the whisper of the devil!
Paul commanded Timothy to "retain the standard of sound words which you have heard in me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." (II Tim. 1:13) "The standard of sound words" are what the apostle Paul urged Timothy toward. "The standard" not "a standard" as in one among many. There is the standard of sound words that must be retained! Sound words are words that give solid, spiritual health.
The elders that are selected in the church are men that "holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching..." (Titus 1:9) "The faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching" speaks loudly that there is a true standard of faithfulness to God and His word, lining up with the teaching.
Jude writes to the "kept for Jesus Christ" (is that you/us?) they were "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." (Jude 3) The true beloved saints of Jesus Christ have a standard that they were to contend (strive/reach out) for. The rest of the book of Jude is how there are ungodly people (who think of themselves as godly) among God's people who turn the teachings and the faith into things never intended. People follow their personal desires and wants which makes the true things of God fall into the background. They revile against sound doctrine, grumble and are fault finders (Jude 16).
Over the years I have learned one thing: the majority that get upset or complain about holding to the faithful word or retaining the standard of sound words or contending for the faith are generally those who have little conviction in their own lives. If they admit to such, it condemns their personal behavior and they would have to change which they are unwilling to do. To them, the teachings of God are whatever they want to pick and choose. If you listen really carefully to their words and reasons, who is really talking?

Monday, November 22, 2010


This will be my last blog until after the Thanksgiving holiday.
It was early morning as the darkness still held a grip on the day. I was sitting in my tree stand waiting for a little light and then a deer. As the darkness was pushed away by the breaking of light it was simply amazing. I had done this before but I guess it really never caught my attention. The floor of the forest was covered with brown oak leaves. But something unusual was beginning to happen. It began to glow. It was like a multi-colored light show. I couldn't believe the glow from brown leaves. The dew was sparkling on top of the leaves to add to the whole.
Suddenly a group of small birds were jumping on the leaves turning them over. They were busy with their chirps and work. There were probably 10 in the group. As they jumped from leaf to leaf turning them over, I noticed a gray squirrel come out of a tree. It was very still, no wind as the creation of God awoke from its night rest. The sound of birds, squirrels and beauty made my mind head to Scriptures. "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God." (Rom. 8:19-21)
There I sat, waiting in amazement and listening to creation and it was speaking..."Can't wait for the revealing of God's sons." I heard every word!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"It's About Jesus"

The central issue in the life of a saint is Jesus! The central issue in the life of the church is Jesus! Our lives aren't about us, our wants and desires and getting attention for the church. The issue is Jesus.
Paul in writing to an unspiritual congregation at Corinth pointed to them to Jesus. Their sanctification (holiness) came from Jesus (I Cor. 1:1). The grace of God was given to them in Christ Jesus (I Cor. 1:4). They were enriched in Jesus (I Cor. 1:5). It would be Jesus alone who will confirm and make them blameless in the end (I Cor. 1:9). The preaching of the death of Jesus was the glorifying of Jesus and to some, the cross seemed foolishness (I Cor. 1:18). It was God who chose the Lord Jesus as the central point to shame the wise (I Cor. 1:20-25). Paul had one determination and one only: "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus and Him crucified." (I Cor. 2:2)
Paul wrote to a small congregation in Colossae. Jesus was central! The word of the cross, the gospel was bearing fruit in them (Col. 1:6). It was Jesus that we were transferred into and in Jesus is the ONLY place for redemption and forgiveness (Col. 1:14). Jesus is above all, before all and all things were created for Him (Col 1:16). The church is His creation as a result of His death and He is the head of the church (Col. 1:18). It is Jesus who holds everything together and all the fullness of God dwells in Jesus (Col. 1:18-19). What was Paul's conclusion? "We proclaim Him!" (Col. 1:28). Paul taught and admonished every Christian in Christ! Great care must be taken that we aren't captivated by the ideas and thinking of others around. We need to be taken captive according to Christ and Him alone (Col. 2:8).
The conclusion to the matter: GLORIFY CHRIST! Not us, not our works, not our name, not the church, not our outreaches: GLORIFY CHRIST! We are to be to the praise of the glory of His grace (Eph. 1:6). Anything less is not of God!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Prayer Is Surrender"

Does it trouble you by some of the prayer requests that are made? I had an individual ask me to pray for them they might get this new home they were looking at. People ask for others to pray for them often but one thing we need to be aware of in our prayers: MOTIVES DETERMINE EVERYTHING FROM THE LORD'S VIEW! To pray for selfish things for our own personal wants or pleasures will not even be entertained by God. "You ask and do not received, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend in on your personal pleasures." (Jam. 4:3)
Prayer is surrender. All one has to do is look at Jesus. Jesus was in agony, even to the point of death before He faces His trial (Luke 22:44). We face troubles in our lives but have never faced what Jesus faced. It troubled Jesus to His soul (John 12:27). When He met with His Father in prayer, He fell on His face (Matt. 26:39). Luke said He knelt down (Luke 22:41). People take this to speak of our posture in prayer but it wasn't the posture of Jesus that was being discussed. Posture is not prayer. Christ humbled Himself, surrendering Himself in prayer. How many times have you heard people pray for humility? Humility is an attitude of our heart. We humble ourselves before the Lord. The Lord doesn't give us humility! Prayer is self-emptying, abandonment of us and a complete relinquishment. That's what we see in Jesus. Don't we hear that from Jesus in Luke 18 about the Pharisee and tax collector? The self righteous Pharisee thanked God that he was not like other men. The tax collector was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven. Jesus went on the teach that the humble will be exalted before God.
Prayer is surrender. Conversion is surrender. Our relationship to God is about a heart that humbles itself before God and completely surrenders itself in the presence of God. Prayer is all about placing ourselves under God and petition Him because we trust.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"In The Name Of Jesus"

Let me say something about prayer. I was recently asked about this. Our prayers are ended "in the name of Jesus." This is proper as all our prayers are prayed in Jesus as He is our access to God. But to say "in the name of Jesus" is not just a cliche but a reality in the heart of the one praying. In fact, all that we do are to be done "in the name of Jesus" (Col. 3:17).
What does "in the name of Jesus" really mean? It means a complete reliance upon Jesus and a renunciation of self! Prayer is not a self request but of denial of self dependant completely on God. Praying in the name of Jesus is to be free from our selfish desires and ways and belonging to Jesus and Him alone.
What does "in the name of Jesus" really mean? A 100% acceptance of Jesus as our representative. In other words, we cannot enter into the presences of a holy and righteous God without Him. We are clothed with Him (Gal. 3:27) therefore it is Jesus God views in our stead. It is Jesus who gives us access to the very heart of God through His blood (Heb. 4:14-16). Jesus has literally given us His name!
What does "in the name of Jesus" really mean? Too many quote John 14:14 to show that "if you ask anything in My name, I will do it." Sounds incredible doesn't it? But many make that a self request which is what prayer is not! Let's back up one verse and see what it means to ask "in the name of Jesus." "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son." (John 14:13) Prayer is concerned about glorifying God and what we ask "in the name of Jesus" is to glorify the Father.
What does "in the name of Jesus" really mean? It means a complete surrender to the will of God. The will of God is the greatest haven of safety and rest. Jesus prayed to the Father, "Thy will be done." To pray "in the name of Jesus" means to pray with the heart of Jesus in doing the will of God.
What do you mean when you pray "in the name of Jesus"?

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Eternal Life"

Rom. 6:23 speaks to us that we earn death. You sin, you die! That's straight forward. But the second part of the verse speaks that eternal life is a gift you can't earn. Eternal life is not just an endless life. Too many are making eternal life something in the future. Eternal life is for us NOW! It is the quality of life that one has in Christ Jesus. Those who come into Christ share in His life now which will take us to eternity.
One of the greatest mistakes we make is to reduce eternal life to forgiveness of sins. Hear me out please. To boil our relationship to Christ on forgiveness alone will rob us of His riches and glory and power! When we entered into Christ, our sins were all forgiven but what happens after that? Our lives are to take on His nature, His power and stand on His strength. That's what Paul was describing for the Ephesian brethren in Eph. 3:14-19! Gaining the glory of Christ and His power is what eternal life is. Our lives should be committed wholly to Jesus because we share in His eternal life.
John really helps us see the eternal life that was with the Father and was manifested to him and the apostles (I John 1:1-4). Read it carefully. John is not talking specifically about Jesus but the eternal life Jesus possessed! It was a spectacle to behold. The eternal life that was with the Father was brought to man in Jesus and they witnessed what eternal life does, thinks and acts. They had fellowship with the Father and His Son and John writes so the reader can be assured they too have the eternal life of God in them presently! The one who has the Son has the life and the one who does not have the Son does not have the life (I John 5:11-12). Maybe we need to re-think what is eternal life.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Salvation Is Not A Word For Everyone"

Salvation is not a word for everyone! Sin is a way of life for the majority. Cheating, lying, stealing, deceiving, profanity, drinking, abusing your mate, adultery, fornication (couples that live together included), hate, dishonesty, arrogance, unloving attitudes, jealousy, strife, sensuality, disputes, homosexuals, covetors, swindlers...should I continue? Salvation is not a word for everyone! Sin is a way of life for the majority. Satan is the father of sin and the world steps in line with his lead (Eph. 2:1-3). People in sin will not admit to such. They admit they make mistakes but not sin. If they admit to sin, they admit there is a standard of right and wrong. This exposes the reality of their lives and brings condemnation from God upon themselves (Rom. 1:28-32).
Salvation is not a word for everyone, even in the church! People are baptized into Christ without leaving their old sinful selves behind. They try to live in Christ under this old dominated sinful person and it doesn't work. You see it often, people are united with Christ in baptism and after some time return to their former way of living or standard of belief. They didn't embrace Christ and His salvation. Some leave Jesus too easily! No commitment, no involvement and no real desire to move forward. Some are baptized into Christ for the fear that they cannot enter heaven without baptism. No commitment, no involvement but fear because they aren't baptized. Salvation is not a word for them.
Salvation is for the honest, penitent beliver who confesses they are a lost sinner! They come to Christ realizing their separation from the Lord, the price of sin and the accountability they stand under. Salvation becomes their because of the grace of God. The grace of God moves them from the consequences of sin into His salvation. God promised that salvation is found only in Jesus. Until the heart is convicted of sin, the known sinner confesses and repents of their sinfulness and baptized into union with Jesus, salvation is not a word for them!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"What Is Fleshliness?"

What does it mean to be 'fleshly'? We hear that term often and yet no one seems to know what it really is. It is very difficult to get fleshly people to recognize they are fleshly. Why? That's the power of fleshliness! Too many in Christ believe they are spiritual but they act fleshly. They base their idea of spiritual on their activity as a Christian or knowledge of God's word. People can be very active for the Lord and be fleshly. Fleshly brethren are those who follow their thinking or react to situations on their personal desires. In the moment, they have little regard for the will of God. When someone feels like saying something, they say it without any submission to what God needs. A spiritual person would consider God and what is needed for the moment. I knew of a man who once wanted to teach a Bible class because he had personally gone through some difficulties and those difficulties was where he based his decision on being able to help others. He was allowed to teach and it was all rooted in self! This thought, this feeling, this idea that others were doing and every once in a while throw in a verse to make it look spiritual. He had become so steeped in fleshliness he could not discern the difference. What was worse is some of those in the class thought it was great they had someone to identify with which revealed their standing in fleshliness.
The Corinthians were "still" fleshly after the years Paul had spent with them teaching them (I Cor. 3:1-4) How did Paul know they were fleshly? There was jealousy and strife among them! Those are two elements of fleshliness. We have seen it. Someone is jealous of anothers good fortune and they want to put that person down! There are people who constantly battle one another, have a bad attitude toward another which is strife. It doesn't lead anyone into anything good. Outbursts of anger, resentments, loose tongues are all part of fleshliness. Using the philosophy of the world as a standard to live by, that's fleshliness. Trying to control another or get people to do what you want, that's fleshly. What do we see in common with all this? SELF! It's all rooted in self feelings and desires.
How do you overcome fleshliness? Surrender to the Lord with all your heart. You have to give up yourself! That's what Jesus said about following Him. The first thing that must go is the denial of self and self interests (Matt. 16:24). You must allow the word of God to mold your thinking so we can become transformed and be led away from us. We need to become more spiritual minded and less thinking like us and the world around us.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"End Of Time"

Today I will be straight forward and brief! I recently received an invitation to come hear a man speak on the prophecy of the Bible and the end of time. It comes to us from all sides but there are some times that are greater than others in the talk of the end of time. What is more amazing is how many people are taken in and held captive by such talk. Some person weaves together verses from the Old Testament, jump to some New Testament verses and end in Revelation and WHAM...you have all the ingredients for the end of time prophecy! Oh, we might throw in there any conflicts in Israel to help add to the fray. People are being led into a false teaching. What's worse is they know so little Bible or understand the purpose of why things are written. Things are believed and accepted because someone has a bunch of letters before or after their name. Surely people like that must know what they are talking about???
Let me help and I'll use the letters IN my name...NEWTON. I know how little my name means as I am an uneducated nobody! First, when Jesus walked this earth and His disciples asked about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple buildings (Matt. 24:1-3), He told them that in that destruction the angels in heaven nor Himself knew the day or hour (Matt. 24:36). It was all fixed by the Father. Secondly, when Jesus returns it will be like a thief in the night and come upon people suddenly (I Thes. 5:1-3). When everyone is running around giving their predictions of dates and times, that's when you can bet it isn't going to happen!!! Why can't people accept that? Jesus didn't know! The angels didn't know! His return will be like a thief so man will not know! If no one knows, shouldn't we be prepared each day (II Pet. 3:11-12)? What makes people so bold and arrogant that they think they know?

Monday, November 8, 2010


She was upset and angry with the preacher. She felt he had abandoned her and sided with her husband and his ungodly ways. As time passed, the more angry she grew and the more she felt people were siding with the preacher. Here she was, attending each assembly, working hard to make ends meet while her husband, soon to be ex, was being treated like a king by many of the Christians. At least that was her view! The lady continually spoke to others about how wrong things were with the preacher and others who supported her husband. What she never realized is the preacher and others were not siding with her husband but working to save his soul. She wasn't interested in that, just wanting her husband to pay for what he had done and anyone who tried to help she was against. Each passing day she was fading into a world of hate and an unforgiving heart.
Maybe you know of someone like this or you have practiced the very thing. What fails to touch the heart is how hate contaminates the heart and blinds the mind from seeing the true light of things. Everything decided and looked at is done through sinful eyes and hearts and not through the eyes of Jesus. Life continues on a downward spiral and it completely escapes notice that without a forgiving heart, there is no forgiveness offered. I know things hurt and we sometimes feel slighted but how we are hurt and slighted is not the issue. The issue is Jesus! The issue is always Jesus! It was Jesus who said unless we having a forgiving heart, there is no forgiveness from Him to us! Many times people just don't believe that. They leave a congregation upset, holding to bitterness's and resentments thinking they are completely in the right to feel the way they feel. They feel justified and spiritually superior because of the way they were treated and they think they know better. All the while Jesus fades into the background while faith is slowly lost. It is a sad scene yet it happens more often than one thinks. It seems some are trying to find a justified reason for bad things in their lives while all the while they journey toward a complete separation from Jesus. And that's not His choice for them but their choice for themselves. The face of non-forgiveness continues to spread their disgust for certain others, not willing to budge in their attitude, harboring hatred and cherishing grudges which means there is NO forgiveness from Jesus unless repentance takes place first. Heaven will be filled with the forgiven and the forgiven forgive! We have the Lord's word on that.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"The Supremacy of Jesus"

I want to encourage you, take some time and read the book of Colossians. A wonderful insight to Jesus and He is all we need. He is supreme over anyone and all creation! Just listen to these descriptions of Him:
"He is the image of the invisible God." (1:15) - The word "image"means the expressed image. He is not a photo copy of God but exactly like the invisible God.
"The firstborn of all creation." - He was God's first born in all creation and holds the privileges and rights!
"For by Him all things were created..." (1:16) - It doesn't matter if they were thrones, visible things and invisible things, everything created owes their existence to Jesus! He has complete ownership and say.
"He is before all things" (1:17) - He simply is!
"In Him all things hold together." - This universe, our bodies and every detail around us He keeps it running its course. Jesus holds the supreme, powerful position in this universe!
"He is also the head of the body." (1:18) - Why would this statement have to be placed here if all the above is true? Because the people of God recognize His position in this world and in His body, the church. Here is why...
"He is the beginning." - The word "beginning" in its verb form means a ruler who created that which he rules. Jesus is the creator of the church and rules it, not man!
"The firstborn from the dead." - It was His resurrection that brought the church into existence. Without Jesus raising from the dead, there is no church!
"So that He might have first place in everything." - Where should true believers place Jesus? FIRST PLACE IN EVERYTHING! He already rules the world and they don't put Him in first place but that doesn't stop His rule and say-so. The true Christian recognizes Him and owes their existence to Him, our place of standing in Him (1:12-14) and that should make Him have meaning to us.
JESUS IS ALL SUFFICIENT! Why do we turn to man for our help, strength and comfort?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Missing God?"

There seems to be so little insight to God. Too many are working hard at taking the spiritual matters of God into realms never intended. We need to know our Father! We need to know Jesus!
God doesn't just sit in heaven looking for the next one to destroy. God made His intentions clear to Moses about Himself: "The Lord, the Lord God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished..." (Ex. 34:7-6) God is willingly and wanting a relationship with us but at the same time He is serious about sin and truth. God is willing to do whatever it takes to get us to Him, whatever the cost but will not compromise the truth and sin must be dealt with.
When you look at Jesus, you see God. Jesus is the exact representation of God's nature (Heb. 1:3) and the perfect, striking image of God (Col. 1:15). As Jesus walked our earth, we see God working among the sinful. Truth was taught and held to and sin denounced. When we look at the suffering in this world, we need to realize it was sinful man that brought this about and God's righteousness that condemned sin. When man is distressed in their lives because of diseases, hurts and pains, God doesn't just dismiss it as nothing. He hurt because they hurt (Isa. 63:9). Here came Jesus into our world helping, healing because "He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases." (Matt. 8:17). Jesus didn't heal everyone and that was not His intention. The intention of God through Jesus was to bring man back to Himself by sacrificing His Son to accomplish that. Maybe the reason we have such difficulty at understanding our Father is because we truly don't see the nature of sin in light of the holy love of God. Once we grasp that, we begin to see why all creation suffers from the beginning to now and God's redemption that is found in Christ Jesus. Just maybe we are missing our God!

Monday, November 1, 2010

"What Would You Say?"

If you were asked to speak about why you believe the way you believe, what would you say? Think about that for a moment. What would you tell someone the reason you believe the way you do? Where does your conviction come from that you hold your course on what you believe?
Maybe a better way to ask this is, what is your gospel belief?