Wednesday, February 29, 2012


  Bitterness is a bad master! Bitterness is a life wrecker! Bitterness grows the fruit of death! Let's face it, bitterness has destroyed more homes, more relationships and split the church! Bitterness brought a railing judgment against Simon from the apostle Peter as his heart was not right before God and if possible the intention of his heart would be forgiven (Acts 8:20-23). That's a scarey thought. Simon pleads with Peter to pray for him. 
  "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness sprining up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal." (Heb. 12:15-16)
  The grace of God is powerful that gives us the ability to live beyond us. God's grace strengthens and provides more than we can even imagine. Without the grace of God, salvation doesn't exist and our lives are reduced to living just like mere men. God's grace toward us in Christ Jesus simply put is the ingredient that causes us to live in Him and is always greater toward us than any sin.
  Bitterness cancels the grace of God! The results of bitterness in the heart of a person shuts out God's involvement with us. Bitterness satisfies the angry heart. Bitterness leads one to trying to let others know how they have been wronged and how upset they are to destroy the one with whom they are bitter. Bitterness that stays in the heart long enough, it will create such hardness and callouses beyond degree that you may never be reached by grace again. Bitterness is a deceiver making people think they are doing right with the Lord while their heart is fueled by its standard. Bitterness is a bad deal and worst of all, it does cancel the grace of God!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"It's About God"

  Too many take their relationship with the Lord so lightly, they think heaven is theirs no matter what attitudes they hold to, how they treat one another or what they say. They believe heaven is theirs simply because they grew up being taught about God, going to worship and Bible studies. They almost have an attitude as if God is their right! It goes as far as seeing the church as belonging to them because their parents or grandparents are the ones who were here from the beginning and that too is their right!
  When we look closely at the Tabernacle in the Old Testament, what do we see? There is an altar which the common person was allowed to come. No further. There was the first room where the priests went in daily ministering before the Lord. But they  had to look at a curtain, a veil that stood between them and the presence of the Almighty. What did all this mean? Sinful humans cannot just stroll into the presence of God or see Him as their inherent right! That's what the Jew's thought in the days of Jesus. Abraham was their father, the Law of the Lord was given to the Jew and the Tabernacle/Temple was the proof God resided among them. It lead them into arrogance, unloving attitudes that eventually killed Jesus. They saw nothing unloving and unholy about themselves. They saw the holiness of Jesus and His holiness caused them problems and exposed their unloving hearts.
  What are we to learn? God takes our sins much more serious than we. That's because our Lord understands the nature of sin more than us, He holier than us and He loves with this true, holy love. The more you and I become conformed into the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29), the more you and I will grow in despising our sins, learning how to love (not just those who agree with us, as that's selective love and there's nothing holy or right about that) and going to greater depths of righteousness and purity.
  There is one thing in all this. God remembers that we are but dust (Psa. 103:14). He knows our limitations. The Lord realizes we are shaped by dust, invaded by sin and we are weak in the process. However, God does not allow us to just dismiss sin as trivial! God wants us to see the horror of our sins and speaks about unloving attitudes toward others, our unfaithfulness to our spouses or not training our children in His ways, our ungrateful hearts or selling our souls out for things that perish. Our sins are our sins!
  What does God want from us? What is He really desiring? It's not about us!!! IT'S NOT ABOUT US! Everything is about holiness, God's holiness. This love God extends to us is because He is holy. The love He expects us to live by is a holy love. Our deliverance from our sins was God's holiness reaching down. Our entrance into His presence, that's a holy priviledge. Worship as the body of Christ, that's a blessing because God is holy and nothing more!

Monday, February 27, 2012

"One Of Those Days"

  It's one of those days. You know the kind of speaking of. The mind isn't as sharp and you can't seem to put together any thoughts worth stating. That's my today! I went over early this morning recorded several radio programs and in the recordings, I do ad lib a lot and my ad lib was ab-sent! It was a tough morning. I'm just tired mentally this day.
  But here's the good news when we have days like today. The Lord is our Lord. The blood of Jesus hasn't stopped being applied to my life. Blessings still flow. Our life in Christ Jesus hasn't stopped. If that's not words to encourage us, I don't know what else would. Sometimes we have bad days and here's what we need to remember: the worst your day will be is still in fellowship with the Lord. That's the worst I can expect in a day such as this. You know, come to think of it, I will take these worst days because in our weaknesses, the strength of the Lord still stands. That's worth a pray of thanksgiving and a heart of praise. What do you think?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Where Is God?"

  It seems more and more people are wondering where is God. I'm not speaking of the agnostic or atheist. I'm speaking of Christian men and women, hiding behind masks of hurt, disappointment and bewilderment. It seems to be an endless parade that "God loves us" is placed before us and to some, they understand what that means. To others, they hear it but aren't sure. The love of God has been placed before many as a non-hurting, non-suffering God and people are looking around wondering where this is.
  God's love for us is placed before us to be shown in our love for one another. What do many do with this? Love is made into a 'hugging, touchy, feel-good' love that just warms our hearts with little fuzzies when we see one another. In the process, God is missed because that's not the love of God. God's love involves discipline when needed, siding with what is right in His eyes and correcting those when they are in sin.
  Take Paul who was imprisoned on numerous occasions, took beatings and stonings yet he knew the love of Christ was what controlled his life (II Cor. 5:14). What did Paul know and those other apostles that we are missing? Maybe we are really missing God and what His love for us stands for. We look at the pain and suffering, sometimes our very own and are left wondering is this what it means to walk with the Lord?
  A friend of mine said it best in a sermon I heard him preach. He said everything about God didn't start in the lights of a city, the hustle and bustle of mankind but God's love started in a lonely, deserted wilderness. It was in that wilderness God dwelt among His people, taught His people, took care of His people, disciplined His people and shaped His people. Some lost their lives in rebellion. But one thing was for sure, God used the wilderness to bring people to Himself. Maybe we need to realize not all our lives are going to set well, sometimes lonely, sometimes filled with goodness but whatever circumstance we find ourselves in, God loves and His love for us does not wain. It's our love and faith in Him and even when we show faithlessness, He remains faithful because He cannot deny Himself (II Tim. 2:13).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"God Will Be Revered"

  Sin is horrible and deplorable in the eyes of God. We live around sin so much daily that we take a softer, kinder approach to it. We are quick to dismiss it in our lives as just simply being "human", shrug our shoulders and move on. No big deal.
  There are times that sin is more costly than others. Ask Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. God sent a message to the church that day by taking the life of two members of Christ's body. Just ask Uzzah in II Sam. 6. David was bringing the ark of God back. There was rejoicing as the ark traveled along and then suddenly it happened. An ox almost upset the cart and the ark tottered. Uzzah reached out, took hold and steadied it. Whew! What a close call and God struck him dead! Why? Because of his irreverence! He died right by the ark.You would have thought that God would have been pleased for someone helping and reward them. Does God think more of His furniture than the life of man?
  It was the Ark of the Covenant where God appeared enthroned above the cherubim and proclaimed the eternal truth of God's Majesty and Kingship. God had taught that His ark, when moved was to be carried by poles expressly made for that purpose (Ex. 25:10-22). From the beginning to the end, the whole situation was out of step with God's divine teachings. The final thrust was one man reaching up touching God's holiness giving little reverence. If one thinks about, they all should have died! One man died to show the rest, I am God and I will be honored and My words will be revered!  
  What are we to take from all this? We aren't talking about rituals here. We are speaking of seeing God for who He really is. We aren't to take Him for granted, do as we think He would want us to do but know that when He speaks through  His word, He can be trusted to do as He says. God has our best interest at heart and when we look at the cross, it's not something to be worn as jewelry or a sign, but the heart of God speaking to man, showing man the severity of their sins and He will not tolerate sin in us. Revere His name! Listen to Him and Him alone and beyond all, trust Him with our lives.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Gaining God's Approval"

  Wouldn't it be great if we were like the men and women of Hebrews 11? These men and women of faith that was recorded by the Holy Spirit living by faith. I want to have a faith like theirs, don't you? But when we examine it closely, we find men and women of faith that were really flawed. Some were spiritual messes at times!
  We look at Abraham, a man of great conviction and faith. In his servanthood to the Lord, he made great blunders. Abraham lied about his wife being his wife...twice! He was trying to spare his own life. If someone did that today we would call them a liar and many would have such an attitude toward them. "They are nothing but a liar!" would be the attitude of some. It took an out-sider to rebuke him for his actions.
  And what of David? A man after God's own heart yet his life was anything but faithful at times. We know of his immorality, to deception, to cover-up and murder. What would we do with such a man today if he were in the church? What would your attitude be toward someone such as this? Let's be honest here.
  We come to us. Well intended in our service, striving to seek the Lord's will and do it. We are people of integrity and uprightness, or that's what we see ourselves as. But reading through the list of men and women of faith, we find ourselves not being able to put us in their line of faith! Here they are in all their weaknesses and failures yet we regard them as faithful because God regarded them as faithful. It concerns me how easily we throw away an eldership because of mistakes made and they are attacked as if they are the most ungodly men on earth. Yet here is Sampson in the list of faith and he sold out God's promise yet we don't see him as unfaithful. Or what about Rahab the harlot? Many look at preachers and if a preacher makes a serious blunder, attitudes are taken toward him and attacks made.
  Let's face it. Sometimes we, all of us, are spiritual messes!!! Abraham held to God. David held to God. Sampson held to God. Rahab held to God. And God said of them: "And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect." (Heb. 11:39-40) They gained approval of God! God wouldn't let them go because their faith always brought them to God! When you look in the mirror and see who is looking back at you, we can acknowledge we need some serious tune-ups spiritually. Just because of failure doesn't mean we are unholy. We are God's work, all the way to the end! Yep, I have to admit, we are just like those men and women of faith that gained God's approval.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"As You Go"

  We hear over and over, teaching/preaching on the evils of the world. It is true there is so much evil around us and that evil can impact our attitudes and thinking. But there is something more. We don't need to shell up and avoid the lost world. How are we to go about converting people to Jesus if we never have contact with them? I'm afraid that we are losing the mind-set of conversion. We are unsure of what to say or do around those lost. We work with people, live by people and shop with people daily that are separated from Jesus and headed to an eternal doom. We have family that is headed to an eternal ruin. They need to hear a message of hope and salvation. But how do we do this? God doesn't really say. Everyone seems to have their 'formula' for outreach. There is no certain way. Here is what the apostle Paul taught on outreach: "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity." (Col. 4:5) Right there we read it. A wise conduct looking for opportunities. A word spoken. An interest shown in someone's life or family. A prayer offered for an illness or someone who experienced a death in their family. These are all opportunities if only we would use wisdom and see them. 
  There are no 'programs' that one can formulate on out-reach that are more effective than others. Have you ever thought why the Scriptures never spoke of an organized program? There's nothing wrong with an organized program but people get so comfortable with them, when there is nothing organized they feel as if nothing is being done. They feel the church is not fulfilling its mission and along with that attitudes start turning, and not for the better. Programs come and go by the way-side. Its always been like that. I can't tell you the number of programs I have been a part of over the years and today, they are dead in the water. I'm glad I worked them but it makes one be honest and think why is it this way.
  Then if we would listen closely to Jesus, as He spoke His last words to His apostles: "Go, therefore and make disciples of all the nations..." (Matt. 28:19) What did Jesus mean? Some say this is a command for us. Is it really? The term 'go' is not an imperative in the Greek which means its not a command. It literally says, "As you go..." There is the tool for outreach. "As you go" is what we need to do. When the persecution arose against the church that began in Jerusalem on Pentecost, the brethren were scattered and they simply went about teaching (Acts 8:4). "As you go" to work, to play, to home, to eat, to visit, to whatever it is you go do, use wisdom and make the most of an opportunity presented. That's how we have an out-reach. That's what makes the church so unique and different. We have a message and that message needs to be taught. People need a Savior from their sins. It's just plain and simple. "As you go" is about as natural of evangelism that one can have and that's what Jesus still wants today .Maybe if we would stop reading everyone's formulas and programs and start reading the word in its simplicity we would reach more of the lost. When Jesus reached out to help someone, He always taught a message of truth to save, not just simply offered help!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Getting Old"

  My age is creeping up. I've seen a lot of things over the last 31 plus years of preaching and teaching. I've heard a lot of things spoken, been in circumstances looking back on them wondering how I survived and watched some of the most heart-wrenching things that sometimes still bother me if I allow my mind to go there. I've have heard, "We need teachers that can identify with our young people. Someone closer to their age.!" I've heard, "We need a preacher with some fire!" Many have said, "We need men in our pulpits that can invigorate us!" and then there is, "I think it's time for you to leave!" There are other forms of similar statements and they could all fit under one of these statements.
  I have moved from youthful energy to seeing more wrinkles, slower responses and my energy isn't what it use to be. I know I am not far from being replaced by youth. But looking back, in my own ignorance and youth, I have realized what I thought I knew, I didn't really know. I had a lot of things on correctly but I also had a lot of things that I missed. Maybe it's because I am getting old but I am starting to realize the wealth that I have gained from the Lord. Please note that's not a statement of pride. I don't know why the Lord allowed me in my ignorant state such insight. 
  Recently I had a family come speak with me and they wanted to 'pick my brain.' It was interesting to listen to them ask about insights or wanting to know exactly what the Lord would say in such. I asked them why they were asking for answers in these areas. They responded by saying that because of my years I would know more than those younger. Then they asked me what I was going to do with my gain over the years in regard to the word of God. Was I going to write some commentaries for future generations or some books? (Does that mean its time for me to be put to pasture?) It was touching to hear them voice their thoughts but there are enough commentaries and books out there and we have the best book ever written if only our preachers and people would study it with honest hearts.
  My insight and knowledge have been reserved for my own children. I have started writing down classes I have taught, insights into the word of God I have gained and I will give it to them. I have given them their first completed book on Colossians. I pray they will use it wisely and realize the things I have shared they won't get from a commentary. Yes, I am aging quickly and my value to a congregation will probably diminish with each year now. I will hear "We need a preacher that can identify with the youth." What I am is thankful, so very, very thankful for being able to serve my Lord! Never in my dreams would I have ever thought my life would take the journey it has. May God be forever glorified.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"What If I'm Wrong?"

  I'm not trying to promote doubt. I want to take a moment and have us think about this: what you believe, could it be possible that you are wrong? Maybe your conclusion about things is wrong or you are misapplying Scripture?
  There are teachings revealed that are clear cut without a doubt (i.e. baptism, the Supper). Yet there are others that aren't so clear cut and it doesn't take much to see how many times we separate from one another on certain topics. A particular teaching comes along that we are absolutely sure we have hold of and someone shows us somewhere else this might not be a  complete correct view and what do we do? Immediately go into a defense mode! Why how dare someone teach something so false!! Is it really? Why do we have a difficulty in realizing that maybe a conclusion we have come up with might not be complete? The apostle Peter recognized that some of the things the apostle Paul wrote were hard to understand (II Pet. 3:16). Why do we take a stand like they are easy if people would just open their eyes!!!? That's called arrogance. It's this attitude of arrogance that divides us and makes us suspicious of one another.
  Over the years I have many a discussion with my brothers and sisters about certain topics and they just flow with their reasoning's like gooey syrup. They are sincere, well intended and have formed a conviction and I respect them for that. It's their faith, not mine. I must have my faith. The discussion begins and the lines are drawn. Just speaking for me, when I walk away with such discussions, I take seriously what they have shared. My mind mulls it over and then it strikes me: "What if I'm wrong?" That's not a bad place to be. What it makes me do is start over again. I look at passages that have been presented and put other passages that come to my mind. What does it do? Does it create more questions? Sometimes it does but in most of the cases it makes you sit and re-evaluate what led you to your conclusion. Did you get it because someone taught you this way? Was it from a book or paper you read? Did it come from someones persuasive arguments? It's a struggle sometime but it's a good struggle.
  You see, sometimes we can be wrong in a conviction that we concluded years ago. A refusal to listen intently to what God has presented, not just from your angle but the other brother or sister is to help each of us get a better grasp. Instead of taking a arrogant, self-righteous stand, maybe we need to ask: "What if I'm wrong?" That's not a question of doubt but a heart of faith looking intently with faith toward the word of the Lord and see how the whole fits together. That is what will take us into a fuller love and greater faith in the things of the Lord. The only thing we must be concerned with is we aren't carried away by the error of those unprincipled, those who just go with what they want with little restraint in their thinking! In other words, their reasonings mean more than Scripture. Be honest! Be humble!

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Majority Rules!"

  When I was a kid we played games outside a lot. When all the neighbor kids came over, it was rather interesting. We had an empty lot across from our house. All kids need to have that empty lot that's a whole block long once in their childhood! The house at the next block was always our goal to hit a baseball that far. What an incredible feeling to hit the side of their house breaking a window or chipping off a piece of their wooden fence. You might say that's not good but you see, we just hit a baseball the length of the city block! We could deal with the result because to hit one that far as a kid was what all the kids in the neighborhood had as their goal. It gave you respect in the eyes of all because you were the 'power hitter!'
  Many times in the different games we played, whether football, baseball or just chasing each other around being silly, when we would want to change a rule we simply stated 'majority rules!' The vote was cast and that was that! 'Majority rules' was the end to every matter. What I have learned since that time is the majority is not always right. In fact, the majority is rarely right! That might come as a surprise to some. We live in a day and time where 'majority rules' seems to set the standards on how we approach life. What we learn from the word of God is whatever the majority is doing or believes, that's probably not the course to take.
  If the 'majority ruled' the Israelites would have returned to Egypt as slaves when the mighty hand of God brought them to freedom. They were voting to return to bondage! If the 'majority ruled' David would have never stepped forward to stand against Goliath who taunted God's people and spoke evil of the Almighty! David would have stayed with the sheep and nothing more.
  When the 'majority rules' they made their own god to go before the nation that had witnessed the mighty powers of God to help! Many lost their lives and souls. When the 'majority rules' the people became fearful of listening to God thinking they would fall prey at the hands of their enemies and refused to go into the land of promise. The result, two men were allowed to enter. The majority died in the wilderness. When the 'majority rules' they wanted to stamp out the truth of God's word as spoken by the apostles and stay with what they wanted to believe. When the 'majority rules' man chose Barabbas, an evil and murderous man, over Jesus and killed Him.
  God will have the final say in the lives of every man and woman that has lived and will ever live. Remember, the majority aren't going to make it in the end and that's the word of Lord Jesus Christ spoke while on this earth (Matt. 7:13-14).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Jesus Is More Than a Forward or Bracelet"

  We see it all the time whenever we get on the internet, especially in groups like twitter and facebook. People post things about God and end up with the words: "If you love Jesus (God) repost!" or a challenge to repost it to prove your relationship. Sometimes it comes in other forms that someone sends an email which end up with the words: "If you love the Lord, please forward this to 10 others and send it back to the one who sent it!" People line up to do it and agree. I want you to know that I am not bashing this. Too many get caught up in the game that reposting or returning something proves your relationship with the Lord.
  The love for the Lord is shown by your walk not your talk (Luke 6:46/I John 1:6-7). It is easy to talk the Lord but to give Him right, give Him complete entrance to your life is another thing. People wear the little rubber bracelets that ask, "What would Jesus do?" A relationship with the Lord is beyond a rubber bracelet and forwarding some message. It is our life living and sharing in His life.
  What happens as the result of a living relationship with Jesus? You bear fruit in His name. Your tongue comes under His control. Your attitudes take on the nature of Jesus. Your life becomes a life of service to lead others to the gospel message that would save them. People say we are to confess Jesus before men as that's what Scriptures teach. Maybe we need to know what it means to confess. It's not just saying, "I love the Lord"  or "What would Jesus do?". The word confess literally means to speak the same thing. We are to speak the truth that God speaks about His Son. That means we must speak the  same truth as the Lord spoke. If you note, the apostles didn't go around saying, "If you love Jesus, tell 10 others and come back and tell us!" They spoke a gospel saving message to change lives into the likeness of Jesus.
  Please understand again, this is not to hurt anyone but to call us to an awareness that sayings passed down by others means little. Living the life we have been called to is what makes the difference. If I have to proclaim my own love in words and not in the way I live daily, there is something missing. A living, loving relationship with the Lord is beyond forwarding some email, a comment on facebook or twitter and a rubber bracelet! "Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth." (I John 3:18)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"What Does God Think Of You?"

  Holiness is demanded by God because of our relationship to Him. Peter spoke openly about the holiness of a saint that our behavior is to be a behavior that is holy (I Pet. 1:15-16). Where does that leave us? Fearful at times. We don't want to come across to others as self-righteous or not seen as one who 'judges' the sins of others. What we seem to miss is when we judge the sin of another, we also are standing in judgment against our own sin and pursuing holiness. Listen, it's not a sinful hypocrisy to pursue a purer, stronger, more honorable lifestyle than we now possess if what we do is because of our Lord Jesus Christ!
  It's not hard to understand that we don't want people to see us as smug or 'holier than thou' in their attitudes. But let's think about this. If we allow fear to hold us back from pursuing the holy things of God, isn't that denying who and whose we are? We are not to water down what we have been called to be in our behavior and attitude. We can't join with others in their sins or smile at wickedness. Where are we missing it?
  We are overtaken too much by what others think than what God has called us to in relationship to Himself. God's holiness in our lives takes a back seat. I'm not talking about acting like we are above others or giving out the impression that we are above sin. We shouldn't be acting as if sin and ourselves are complete strangers while condemning others. We all have sinned. We all have need of the cleansing blood of Jesus but to some, that has become an excuse NOT to pursue holiness in their behavior. Because they know their sin and weaknesses they approach their lives with that mindset never reaching for the a life of holy behavior. When holiness is called upon and their behavior isn't striving for that, they simply shoot the person down with their tongues.
  Where has this led us? To the mind set of, "We're no better than anyone else!" That's a statement lacking God. We are fearful of being 'saintly.' We don't want to appear too different from others, nor sound too righteous so we begin to protect us and our reputations before the eyes of others. God's reputation, with whom we have been called into fellowship with, is set aside. This must disappoint God greatly! So here we are, not overly concerned about holy behavior after being sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling and now to reflect His holiness in our behavior. We are concerned more with what others think of us and God is pushed to the side. Our eye is not to be on people and what they think about us as it is to be on God and what He thinks about us!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


  One of the greatest things we need to remember is the faith you have must be your faith. It must be your faith formed from your conviction because of the word of God (Rom. 14:22-23). Some people in the church try to bully others into things they don't want to do. Preachers can whip the brethren to try to guilt them into praying, giving or being involved in programs set up but that doesn't make them pray, give or be involved. That shames them to be involved which is not from faith. Many guilt others into reading their Bibles but that doesn't breed a faith that will lovingly embrace the truth. Guilt is used is so many wrong ways to motivate people. What are we left with when we operate the church of our Lord like this? A bunch of immature, faithless and weak people. There's a great difference between encouraging people and guilting people to conform for fear of being ostracized.
  Paul encouraged the Corinthian brethren to: "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." (I Cor. 16:13) It is an encouragement to grow up and be mature but how does one do that? Maturity is not gained by forcing or guilting people. Maturity is a response of faith because you choose it from within. It's completely your choice. It's not doing something because you have told me to do it that way. It is my faith, my behavior being expressed from my heart as distinct from what I do to gain your favor!
  Look at when we approach someone to serve in the assembly. We make them feel 'unChirstlike' if they choose not to serve. They are intimidated by the one asking. It's not their choice, left to their choice. They are made to feel like rebels or faithless. (And where did Jesus ever say one would be lost for not serving in His assembly?)
  For us to mature, it is more than orthodox or approved conduct. It must be from my faith and my choice! That's the sure way to grow. There are weak people in the church and weaknesses isn't condemned. In fact, Paul points that the weak are necessary and are given more honor from God (I Cor. 12:24).  Maturity and personal growth is more than giving memorized answers and conforming to someones demands. It is the ability to weigh in the heart from faith what needs to be for you, the individual in light of Jesus. Sometimes we must step out of our comfort zone because of our faith in Christ. That's maturity! Sometimes we say 'no' because we aren't ready. That's maturity! Sometimes we forfeit our rights for the sake of others. That's maturity! Whatever we do, never live on another's convictions or carried along by their convictions without being fully persuaded in your heart of faith!

Monday, February 6, 2012

"A God Who Will Go Before Us!"

  In Exodus 32:1, the people cried out to Aaron, "Come, make us a god who will go before us!" These weren't just any people. These were those under bondage, slaves and God took them by His mighty hand and delivered them from the greatest kingdom of oppressors that existed in their day and time. They had witnessed God's protection, provisions and direction and yet when things settled down, they wanted a "god" to go before them. A man-made god in their own image.
  God responded if He were to go before them in their midst for one moment, they would be destroyed! (Ex. 33:5) Their own mind and desires had led them away from God who rescued them. That's a good description of man. What does all this have to do with us today?
  We are more sophisticated with more technology and education that any people that have ever existed on this earth, aren't we? We marvel at how far we have come and the great insights we have learned from our medicines to religion. We have travelled from the dark ages to the age of enlightenment. We don't worship a golden calf or cut some tree and make an idol out of it! That's silly and immoral! Just look how far we have come in our worship alone!! We have introduced things the word of God doesn't condemn and have found in this our god! Worship for the body of Jesus has become so little because many have made it about us! Who needs Jehovah God? We are wise among ourselves, aren't we?
  How many ideas have taken hold, promising us the greatest of blessings while breaking away from the chains of the past? Where has it taken us really? It has created more division. It has created confusion. It has created labels on one another. The very shackles many have tried to take off have shackled us more. More and more "smarts of man" are being employed yet we look around and more and more people are feeling lonely, hurting and wondering when they are going to find relief. To the resuce we come with supplies and help, but where is the spiritual help? Wasn't it Jesus who spoke the the multitude to work for the true food which endures to eternal life (John 6:27)? We use to ask, "Is it true?" Today we ask, "Does it make us feel good and bring us worth?" What are we missing?
  Israel paid a high price looking for a "god who will go before us." What are we doing? We will never be free from the need of the Almight Jehovah but until we go back, look at His record, listen to His voice and apply His word properly without our philosophies and higher education, we will continue to set up others gods to go before us. The price is being paid!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Us Compared To Jesus"

  "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 2:5) What attitude? Humility of mind!
  It was on a news program that comes on weekly and it was featuring a school which put "self esteem" above everything else. They had one student after another stand before the class telling everybody of their own individual greatness. Many of them couldn't do their school work, some were struggling greatly in simple things of reading and writing that should be learned in school but they all had "self esteem." What made the program worse is the teachers were thrilled!
  It becomes very difficult not to equate this so-called modern day "self esteem" with what God's word speaks as "pride" and "vanity." Too many are on a diet of their personal greatness that God condemns. I once heard a statement made: "Pride must die in you, or nothing in heaven can live in you."
  Maybe we need to examine our lives standing next to Jesus. Here are a few things for us to think about:
(1) We are proud of our status - Jesus emptied Himself taking on the form of a bond-servant.
(2) We are proud of our profession - Jesus was a carpenter, a rather lowly profession in His time.
(3) We are proud of our family status - Jesus grew up in the home of a peasant.
(4) We are proud of our "luxurious homes" - Jesus had no place to lay His head.
(5) We are proud of our "wealth" - Jesus had none.
(6) We are proud to rub shoulders with those in "high reputations" - Jesus walked with fisherman.
(7) We are proud of our "high social circles" - Jesus was in the homes of sinners and tax collectors.
(8) We are proud of our "abilities" - Jesus said He could do nothing of Himself.
(9) We are proud of our "education and learning" - Jesus never attended a place of higher education.
(10) We are proud when we push enough to "get our way" - Jesus sought God's way.

  It should make us pause and look at who we really are. Did we make ourselves, create our lives or did it come from a heavenly eternal source? How did we become reconciled to God? What have our efforts really done for us?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Our Purpose?"

  Sometimes I wonder what many of my brethren believe is the work of the church. I wonder what leads us forward? Is it God's word or our word thinking it is God's word? Too many insert a verse here or there thinking they have found the nugget to prove their point while there are other verses that speak differently to their conclusion. What are we to do?
  If we are the church Jesus spoke of in Matthew 16 that He would establish and build, we need to build things according to Him and not us. That means everything done is about His glory, not ours! The church didn't come into existence by the people!! It came into existence because of the sacrifice of Jesus. It was Jesus who called us to Himself. It was God who showed His grace and glory to man and we responded. It was God that worked everything out over the many centuries after the counsel of His will and formed the whole. The church is not a "community church" but a Christ-centered people that reflect a Christ in all His glory. People need to be drawn to Jesus not the church. The church never saved a soul but the saved are the church because they belong to Jesus!
  For the church to do the work the Lord intended must be built upon what the Lord intended. Listen to Peter's admonition: "You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from you own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (II Pet. 3:17-18) That's the conclusion to Peter's inspired writings from the Holy Spirit. It is easy for us to be carried away if we aren't careful. How does it happen? We stop growing in the grace and knowledge of or Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! We stop seeking and presenting His glory and insert ours. For the church to continue on the truthful and right track it takes sound preaching in line with the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. It takes brethren committed to the same. It takes hearts set on loving Jesus which means they will be warm and loving toward others in the body. That will reflect on those outside the fellowship of Jesus to make them want to find what we have found.
  To glorify the Lord, to grow in His grace and knowledge means our purpose in this life is to save the lost! That is and always should be our goal. That means we MUST share a message of salvation with this community. When we have an outreach, it must be with a saving message, not just doing nice things! As a part of the New Covenant Church we need to help people find the covenant that God has brought to man through Jesus. The world, no let's start here, our city needs to hear the gospel truth and we need to commit ourselves to growing in that gospel truth (grace and knowledge) so we can share that with others. That's the plan of Jesus!