Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Fun or Lord?"

Spiritual darkness is all around us. It leads to misguided spiritual applications and teachings that are simply false! Spiritual darkness envelopes the minds of so many while they believe they are so enlightened. We see  where people promote the things of the Lord Jesus Christ as if they were some banner or parade float for all to view. Spiritual life through Jesus never nurtures arrogance or self-promotion.
Spiritual darkness abuses the things of the Spirit of God and our Lord and Savior. Too many are making the Lord and the Spirit 'user friendly' by making the true Light as a fun-time loving atmosphere. There is no awe in the heart, no reverence or sober thinking. The Lord is paraded by the spiritual darkness of people as fun, one liners, smart remarks and such a laid back atmosphere while speaking of joy in the Spirit is what this is all about. The other night while watching a TV evangelist, while it showed thousands sitting and listening, he spoke out, "Let's give the Lord a wave offering!" The whole crowd broke out into clapping and the lifting up their hands to heaven. It was a loud noise they called 'praise' and it took a few minutes to regain control. When we look closely at Scripture, there is nothing like this ever mentioned. (By the way, the wave offering was when they brought of the peace offerings to the Lord and were waved toward the Holy of Holies to the Lord! It had nothing to do with the waving of hands.)
When the Lord Jesus is spoken or presented by shallow wise-crackers or gestures as something common and familiar to us, it not only demeans the Lord but it also injures the people listening taking them deeper and deeper into spiritual darkness. It becomes difficult to reach those because they were made to feel something, either laughing or crying or some emotion they have tied to the Lord. The truth doesn't matter. We need the Lordship of Jesus to be just that...LORD! In His Lordship, never tie Him to getting you a parking spot right in front of the store while it was raining (while the Lord ignored everyone else). Never speak of Him as finding you the right hairdresser who does your hair just right! That is right up there with the arrogant, wisecracking preacher, parading around in his gold watch, designer cloths who promotes the Lord is doing all these wonderful little things for us on this earth. May we keep the Lord in His proper place...first place in our lives and remember we were bought with a price and show some reverence for our salvation!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


There is a spiritual warfare going on between the saint (those sanctified in Christ Jesus - I Cor. 1:2) and Satan. Diving into learning all we can about Satan may not be the wisest move but we do need to know what our "adversary" (Satan) is after. Paul urged the Corinthians, "so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes." (II Corn. 2:11)
Satan is eager and looking for an opportunity to stir up a fleshly mindset or look for our gullibility. Let's face it, we do have the capacity of being deceived! "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." (II Cor.11:3) Satan took advantage of Eve's mind set and questioned God's veracity, bolding stating "you will not die!" Then stirring a little further, Satan sweetened the thought process with the assurance, "your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil." (Gen. 3:5) Satan was trying to gain an advantage and stirred her mind. Satan is ready and willing to lie to gain an advantage over the saint.
In dealing with our mind-set, Paul urges the saint in a list of things to dwell on, seeking after: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true..." (Phil. 4:8) We need to set our minds to seeking and searching out truth. Setting our minds on what is true is a must if we are going to be protected from gullibility! Satan is a liar and will stir our minds to things that aren't true while making us believe they are. That's the real danger for the saint. How do we know what is true? Line things up with the word of the Lord and go no further!
Satan tells the saint that he can be self-sufficient! I'm sure you have heard it that we don't need the church to have a personal relationship with the Lord! In the eyes of some, you don't need to worship with the church because you can do it in your own home. Jesus said the church is His body! To be attached to Jesus one must be attached to His body and His body (as our physical bodies) work together in harmony.
Satan distracts the saint with things of the world, lusts and pride. Satan attempts to lie to the saint by trying to bring assurance they have plenty of time to get their lives right. Satan is an adversary and he is looking to take advantage over us through any means possible. We need to be aware, keeping our eyes open and heart in tune with the Lord. That's why daily we need to have God's armor put in place (Eph. 6:10-17).

Monday, September 26, 2011

"The Goal and Love"

We are called and encourged, "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." (Heb. 12:1) These faithful men and women that have passed before us are urging us on, calling us to run the race before us. In their lives while walking this earth, they failed, struggled but kept their eyes on the goal and trusted the promises of God. They now call us upward to the same.
We fail and sometimes we fail miserably. The failings are not what life is about. It is the over-comings. The victories over weaknesses and struggles. It is running the race by not allowing the weights that some shackle on us or we shackle on ourselves and the struggles against sin that we need help to overcome. I can remember when my grand kids were learning to walk. We didn't sit around counting the number of times they fell before they took their first step. We were wanting to see them take their first step unaided and rejoiced in that. That's what love would do and does!
In all these witnesses surrounding us, we learn another important lesson. A lesson on love. Loving the Lord with all our heart knowing He too is not counting our trespasses against us as long as we are being honest with Him. To run this race love is a must! Then we turn to God speaking in I Cor. 13:5 where we are called: "[Love] does not take into account a wrong suffered." This is an accountants term. One version says: "Love keeps no records of wrongs." We need to lay aside every encumbrance, things that weight us down so we can run the race before us. One thing that weighs on many is they are CPA's while keeping an account of every misstep or what they believe are missteps of others. Too many operate their lives on numbers. We see it in righteousness: so many good deeds done, so many evil deeds not done! Many determine their spiritual walk by the number of points they think they have accumulated, either for themselves or against another! We talk of grace but operate our lives almost graceless!!
When Peter asked Jesus if forgiving seven times was a good number, Jesus told him no. Jesus wasn't urging numbers from Peter, to keep records! Jesus was urging him to forget the numbers and embrace grace, mercy and love.
We are called upward, to run a race set before us. Those who love our souls will rebuke us when it is necessary but they will NEVER keep an account of wrongs. That's just not love. That's not Jesus. What are we to do with those who fall or fail? You know, those sinners? Are we talking about sinners like ourselves? What are we to do with ourselves? Do we threaten to disown one because they fail? Would we do that with ourselves? Do we keep a record of wrongs of others so we don't notice our own? Remember, there is One who sees us for who we really are rather than what we think we are. And you might not recognize this, but this One won't keep a recorded past of wrongs! Why? Because He loves and those tied to Him urge us on, forget the wrongs and try to help one another make it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Christ's Body"

We live in a day and time where individualism is promoted. It's all around us especially in religion. It has affected the church. While recently on a campaign I met up with a lady who once was an active member of Christ's body. I asked her why she stopped assembling with the saints. She simply said, "I've never left the Lord. He's in my heart and always near!" That was her answer from her heart. 
When we read I Cor. 12 carefully (and other places) we seem to just dismiss the word "body." While it is true there must be a personal relationship with the Lord, a personal conviction of faith there is something greater involved. Too many have taken the "personal faith" to a point where they act as if they are 'free-standing individual units.' The Scriptures acknowledges the individual and personal faith but no-where does it teach that individual as a primary unit! God's word does not encourage or teach 'free-standing.'
As Paul teaches us in I Cor. 12 about the body, he shows that there are individual parts: the foot, the eye or the ears. These individual parts are all part of the body, not standing alone! Division was a problem at Corinth and Paul was showing that it takes the whole to make the whole. Each individual part was dependent upon another. Each part has its purpose but must blend with the whole. The church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23) The body, Christ's body! ONE BODY! Christ didn't promote individualism. The body at Corinth did! Those elite felt themselves superior to the rest. The spiritual gifts were being abused and Paul taught it was for the body as a whole the gifts were to be used. The Lord's Supper was abused by abusing others in their love feasts. It was Jesus Paul pointed to that showed even Christ was including His own disciples the very night He was betrayed. Paul placed Jesus before them and showed them they are all part of the whole and not to be their own person apart from the whole.
We see much of the same today. People treat the church like some social club or social activity. They can do away with it if it doesn't fit their independent life-style. Aren't we each baptized into the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:13)? We are called the body, not the individuals of Christ. Our attachment to Jesus brings an attachment to one another. Without the many there is no ONE! What makes us what we are is Christ and no one can be a part of Him and independent of those attached. If we do, we are not part of Christ as He has a body!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Attitudes, Attitudes"

Have you ever been pained by the attitude of another? I know that's a silly question. Sure we have all been pained at one time or the other by the attitude of those around. Attitudes are so important. The more I study and apply the Scriptures to my life, the more I see the importance of attitude. Attitude determines a lot of things.
A few years back while preaching, I mentioned the importance of attitude in the message. Suddenly, out of know where a little boy was sitting, writing on the piece of paper and said, "Attitudes, attitudes, attitudes, that's all we hear is attitudes!" It embarrassed the parents but here this little boy had gotten the message.
Paul speaks "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 2:5) The attitude of Christ is what the Lord is trying to develop in us. We've done it. We find ourselves in a situation that is not the best. Our attitude starts to deteriorate a little. Then comes a little complaining which if left unchecked leads to bigger complaining. Before we know it, we have moved so far from the attitude of Christ Jesus while thinking we are in good standing with Him. The Holy Scriptures become easy to dismiss because there are so many that hit on our attitude and we don't want to let go of the attitude just yet. So what do we do? We let go  of the Scripture, basically walking away while fueling our attitude. The Scriptures are too easily dismissed when we get our feathers ruffled. It seems we want to walk in our attitude and not get too close to Scripture at that point.
If we have the attitude of Christ, where would that lead us when we find ourselves disturbed or troubled in attitude? To His voice! We would reach to Him and follow His voice and not the voice of our attitude. We would change our attitude!
Years back at a congregation they were preparing to put in a solar cell for heating and cooling their building. The elders asked for input from the congregation and one man came forward, who was an engineer and met with them. He told them it wouldn't work and here's why. After many weeks of deliberation, the elders decided to go with the project and announced to the congregation for helping to dig a pit on Saturday. Guess who was the first to show up with shovel in hand? The engineer who said it wouldn't work!! Attitude! The willingness to serve the Lord despite what was said. It was Christ Jesus he served and he knew what the Lord expected. He didn't dismiss Scriptures. He didn't shy off from being loving, humble and kind. He embraced that heart of the Lord. Guess what? IT DIDN'T WORK! He never once told them, "I told you so!" He never took on the attitude, "Look how you wouldn't listen and look at the cost it caused us!" He simply had the attitude of Christ and walked in humility.
Attitude. It's what the Lord looks for in us. Attitude. The proper response will keep us surrounding our lives with His word, listening to His voice. We won't pick and choose when to listen and to what to listen. We will simply bow in humility and try to help where we can help. God's gives His grace to those humble!

Monday, September 19, 2011


I was in the airport preparing to board a plane. A military man came over with his wife and two small children. The airport security had allowed the wife and two children to come to the departing gate to say their good-byes. I watched the wife, clinging to his arm while one child was in front and the other holding his hand. Every once in a while, she would turn away from him and wipe tears from her eyes. He stood looking at his children. It sure looked as if he was tearing up as he gazed at them both. The children were playing and laughing unaware their dad was about to be shipped out. The time came for us to board. The wife hugged, kissed and hugged some more. He picked up both children kissing them, hugging them. It was really great to see. Now I'm not trying to be a sentimentalist here but it was touching. His lips quivered as he tried to speak. Tears were flowing freely. It was time leave. I walked by and stopped by them, then I thanked him for his service which he gently smiled and thanked me for saying something. I turned to the wife and told her a heart-felt thank you. As she fought her tears she thanked me for thinking of her. I walked on to the plane and took my seat.
As I reflected on all this, my mind shifted to Jesus. God in the flesh! Leaving the eternal righteousness and taking on our form, lowly sinful man. "Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being make in the likeness of men." (Phil. 2:6-7) Jesus died our death. His mission was to free mankind, not a nation but mankind. For every evil man and woman, crimes committed against God and Jesus came to into our world as our sacrifice. OUR SACRIFICE!
I am thankful for those who have sacrificed for the freedoms we have in this country. I thank the Lord for that. But it seems so many forget the ultimate sacrifice. To have the freedoms we have in this nation, people will lose eternally. Jesus came and sacrificed for us no matter what nation we live in so we could live eternally. That's the big picture and I wonder how many tears the Lord sheds, reaching out, watching moment after moment men and women heading off to an eternal destiny they didn't have to go but because they choose to ignore the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus wept! 

Thursday, September 15, 2011


To some its all about 'hoopla'. What do I mean? Too many want to make a banister or want public recognition of the help (benevolence) rendered to others. That's what the Pharisees did which Jesus condemned (Matt. 6). Years back I heard a man speaking as we were all leaving an assembly how much money he had given that week to help the poor and proceeded to tell them how much he gives each week in his offering. It was rather offensive.
In John 13, Jesus washed His disciples feet and told them they should do the same. It was a beautiful act of selflessness and acceptance. When Jesus washed those dirty feet, Jesus was claiming them as His own! When we serve another, we demonstrate our love and acceptance of them. That's what true disciples do as we are called to serve. Let's make a few brief points about serving one another:
(1) Serve when you see a need. Many simply cannot serve a need without going through channels. They need permission or maybe a committee needs to be addressed. The NT church didn't do that. As the brethren went about, they served when needs arose. John spoke when you see your brother in need and have the ability to help, serve right there (I John 3:17)!
(2) Serve with the best you have. I know others have more goods or greater ability than we do at times but that's not the issue. Give what you do have. Give what God has given you to give and leave it at that. The Lord is pleased with such. Jesus spoke of giving a cup of water in His name. A cup of water! It's not trivial when that's the best you have. It thrills Jesus.
(3) Serve with wisdom. Sometimes we are asked for money from someone. Knowing their history, can we be sure the money will be used to feed an addiction or the family. I know many think we need to suspend judgment but we need to use some wisdom from above. If what we give doesn't help the need and is wasted or worse, it is of no value. We can be helping people stay in their condition. If we would be prayerful and wise in our service, we would realize it takes more than a room filled with clothes and canned good to do wise and effective benevolence. If our giving, our service to one another is part of submission to Christ, it merits close attention, thought, prayer and wisdom. A friend of mine, Jim McGuiggan said it best: "Benevolent bungling helps no one. Serve wisely!"
(4) Serve without broadcasting it. If God needs our service broadcast to others, let God work that out. We don't need to be sounding our own horns, sharing with others what we did or when we did it. If we are true servants of the Lord, let's be servants of the Lord and not in the eyes of others. My dad ran a tv and appliance business until his retirement, some 45 yrs. He did it well. My dad will go to his grave without others knowing (except what I am telling now) how he served others less fortunate by giving them stoves, refrigerators that they could not afford but needed for their family or themselves as a widow/widower. It cost my dad a lot of his own money (which he did not have) but thrilled his heart to serve his Lord in this way. Dad didn't need man's approval and applause! We need to serve without broadcasting. That's the heart of the humble.
I know there are many other things that could be said but today, I encourage each of us...SERVE! Serve without 'hoopla'!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"One More Time"

We were in grade school. The best I can remember his name was Bobby Dean. He was the chin-up champion. One day Ricky was being ragged on by Bobby and a few friends. Ricky was challenged to show his "boyliness" (I guess we will use that instead of 'manliness') by chin-ups at lunch recess. Ricky was in a no win situation. He was picked on often and his family wasn't well off as his clothes were less and his appearance. There we all stood. I can't remember how many. To a little boy it seemed like 20-30 kids but I'm not sure it was that many. Bobby Dean had set the record of 8 chin-ups. It was Ricky's turn. Each chin-up was more and more a struggle. Finally, Ricky to the surprise of all, made 8. All were shocked. Bobby Dean was mad and mocking him. Ricky was hanging by his arms but unwilling to let go. Hanging, unable to go up or down, Ricky knew he wasn't going to let go. Everything in his little life depended on this effort. Ricky looked beaten. Suddenly, the voice of one little girl spoke loudly to Ricky, "Okay Ricky, you can do it! One more time!" That was it. It was all it took. Up went Ricky and the rest is in the history of boyhood chronicles!
Encouragement! Sometimes we have been beaten down so many times, failed in our lives and we need that little word of encouragement, "One more time!" We know our failures and are aware of our missteps. We focus too much on us! If we could just look and listen to the voice of the Lord, "Okay, one more time!" Give the failures to the Lord. In Him we are complete (Col. 2:10). Jesus is for us what we aren't. Jesus is our High Priest in the presence of God filling all that is lacking in us. He is our purity, our holiness, our strength and our Mediator! He is what we aren't and He should be our focus.
We have failed so many times and allowed opportunities to slip away but we must fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2). He is the perfecter and author of our faith. See Him working on your behalf. Listen to His voice through the word and the next time you find yourself at the end, wanting to quit and walk away He will speak, "One more time!" The reward is great. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Pursuing Holiness"

Where God exists there is holiness! When God claims something as His, it is holy and it will be entered or walked on under certain conditions. If it is a burning bush, the worshiper will take off his sandels to approach. If it is a mountain top, it will be off limits treated in great respect or serious consequences will be on those who transgress. If it is items used in the worship of the temple it is only used in the way God intends and for nothing common. If it is in money or gifts, it will be used solely and completely  to promote the glory and purpose of God to whom they were given. If we are talking about us, the church, those baptized into Christ separating them from the world, they are given responsibilities and privileges that are completely devoted to Him and for His purpose. They are a different people, not common like everyone else. This people will no longer be the same and must be treated in view of God's holiness. The markings of holiness are seen by practices, convictions and their service to the Lord. Having been made holy, they are to no longer be as the rest of the people around them.
The God of the Bible is holy by virtue of simply being who He is, by just being Himself! Everything that comes from Him is a fountain of holiness and anyone that stands against Him or treats Him in any less way is counterfeit.
"But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in  all your behavior." (I Pet. 1:15) What does holy behavior look like? GOD! Since we have embraced as our Father this holy God who called us to Himself, should we be living our lives in reverent fear? To call God our Father and treat His church, His "holy ground" less than holy is a mockery of the holiness of God. "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are." (I Cor. 3:16-17)
If we wish to be with God in the end we need to live lives that pursue His holiness or we will not ever see God. We need to be more careful in our lives and take His holiness and His holy ground much more seriously, don't you think?

Monday, September 12, 2011

"God Is In Control?"

We have difficulty at times to see God working, especially with all the corruption and evil that fills the earth. Many wonder if God is so powerful and mighty, controlling all things, then why is there so much violence and the harming of innocent people and children? We listen too much to the voices around and too little to the voice of God.
When the Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians, they were pounded into the ground with hard taskmasters. The lives of Israel, God's chosen people at the time, were made bitter! Then a law from Pharoah was imposed that all male babies were to be put to death (Exodus 1). Where is God? Evil was spreading and hurting the innocent. However, the Hebrew midwives did not follow the law of the king and allowed the male babies to live. In fact, the kings own daughter violated the law and kept Moses, preserved by God, for her own. He grew up in Pharoah's own household! In the midst of the evil, there is God. "Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them." (Exodus 1:21) Here was a brutal Pharoah casting his violence upon a nation of slaves. We have seen it in our history too. Just look at what Hitler tried to accomplish killing hunderds of thousands to preserve the German people. A world looked in horror. God was at work to accomplish His purpose and no nation, no man, no amount of violence was going to thwart God's purpose. In the end, it was that ungodly, brutal leader that ended his life in a brutal way. The nation fell never to regain power. God at work.
God began His wonderful, marvelous work upon Pharoah to the point that it cost him the most precious prize to his heart: his own son. Only then did Pharoah allow the people freedom. Yet with a cold and hateful heart, this Pharoah sent the greatest army on earth after a people who had no army and once again, God was working. The mighty army was stopped by fire and ultimately drowned in the depth of the sea. Yes, there were brutalities but they didn't go unnoticed or unpunished. 
We wonder what takes God so long at times? There is so much evil, so much corruption that is entrenched in the hearts of man, in our governments, in our homes that is so widespread and looks ever increasing but here comes God, wading through it all and moving everything to its ultimate end and purpose. Look at the mock trial of Jesus, the brutality spent on Him, the shame of the cross and in trust, Jesus is committed to the Father knowing everything was under His control. He died! He arose! He lives forever! Yes, God is still in control. Why can't we believe that?