Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Slow Of Heart"

  Two men walking a road. They were in discussion about events of the time. It was events like none before and would be in the headlines for days to come. What were they to make of things? It was something that was so amazing and couldn't figure out but it also was the hot topic of the day.
  Suddenly there's a third. He walks up to them and asks what all this information they are exchanging is all about. The third man knew it was something big as he could see and hear the intensity of the conversation. They walk a little further and stop, standing still. They both looked at the third man with sadness. Then came the words: "Are you unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?" The third man listened and responded, "What things?"
  Have you ever found out something well after everyone else? You feel like you missed something or maybe an opportunity passed you by. You're told the news, brought up to date and it stirs you to want to know more. There could be shock or just simple amazement and you wished you had heard it earlier. I know I've missed out on times like that.
  What was so unique about the men above? One of them was named Cleopas. We don't know the name of the other but they both were caught up in sadness and unable to stop talking about the situation that took place with Jesus the Nazarene. The third fellow involved, it was Jesus Himself! Can you imagine, the One whom everything was about was being asked, "Are you unaware?" (You can read this in Luke 24.)
  How many times do we accuse our heavenly Father of being unaware of things. "Lord, don't you care? Lord, don't you see all this injustice and hurt? Why don't you do something?" The Lord of heaven and earth watches each and every detail. He knows every hurt, every disappointment, every injustice and suffering that takes place. He is aware of the little children starving, to the disease ridden bodies all the way to fighting among nations. 
  Jesus responds to these two men on the road to Emmaus and to us: "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!" (Luke 24:25) Maybe that's just the problem. No, that is the problem. We are just so slow of heart to believe! We read but believing what we read is another thing. When is the last time you sat down with Jesus, looking to Him and realizing, He knows, He cares and is very aware. I'm just slow of heart to believe! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Mashed or Boiled Potatoes?"

  Paul spoke to the body of Christ at Philippi: "make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose." (Phil. 2:2)
  Several years back while at a lectureship, I heard a fellow, who said he got it from another man's book, speak of unity in the church. He spoke of boiled potatoes in a bowl doesn't mean unity because they are all in the same bowl. He explained that mashed potatoes are in unity. Boiled potatoes are individuals at the same location. Mashed potatoes were blended in with one another that serve a single purpose.
  Now I know we aren't potatoes. But let's think about this. The single boiled potatoes might be with the church but they aren't committed to the Lord's purpose. Over my 32 years of preaching, too many so called members of Christ are in Jesus for themselves. What makes them happy is where they get their drive and joy. When they aren't happy about something, it shows on their face and in their attitudes. They fail to see the heart of maintaining the same love, united in spirit and intent on one purpose. And what's that purpose? The purpose of Jesus Christ to seek and save! Jude describes these "boiled potatoes" best: "These are the grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; speaking arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage." (Jude 16) Too many have motives or reasons that aren't from the Lord Jesus and the results...boiled potatoes! The church of Jesus Christ is the extension of His cross and those rooted in Jesus are blended by His life and blood to those from all sorts of walks and various backgrounds to serve His single purpose.
  When you have boiled, it is easy when things don't go the way you think to "take your ball and go home!" When we are mashed and blended together, you find Jesus working in you as well as the other members knowing that each has been placed in the body where the Lord wants them (I Cor. 12:18). It brings about a single purpose, the purpose of Christ in the heart. Peter urged the brethren to be "harmonious." (I Pet. 3:8) Boiled can't do that. They just sit, waiting for something to be upset about. The mashed work in harmony with Christ for the betterment of the whole. Which potato would you consider yourself? 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"Which Father?"

  "Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you..." we are taught in Eph. 5:1-2. Imitators of God! Beloved children! Just as Christ! Those are profound words. They are spoken to the heart of His beloved children and are expected to be heeded.
  While a teen, I remember my dad telling me to watch myself because I wore the family name and he wanted the family name to worn with dignity and honor. I rebelled. It hurt my mom and dad. It cost me dearly in some situations. I could have spared a lot of heartache if I had only walked as a beloved child.
  We are in Christ. Jesus is Lord! That's easy to say but much different to believe to change your life. We were adopted into this heavenly family through Jesus Christ. Jesus brought us before His Father, the Father acquitted us of all charges based on the death of Jesus and His name was placed in us. Imitate God! How? By walking in love as Christ loved you! How did He love you? To death! Yet here we find ourselves, calling God our Father but little imitation of Him at times. Too many imitate the wrong father. I wonder how our heavenly Father feels when those illigitiment children call Him theirs while they walk opposite of His love? But one thing about it, God doesn't recognize those who aren't His. His children walk in His love just as Christ loved them because the nature of God is seen in His children just as the nature of the other father is seen in his children. The apostle John wrote: "By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother." (I John 3:10)
  We imitate one of two fathers. It's not what you say, it's how you walk. When God is our Father, we will imitate His ways. It's not what you speak, it's how you live both daily and in love. Examine yourself. Where is your life patterened?

Monday, March 26, 2012

"My Children Bless"

   Today my blog is a thankfulness for my children. Not in the sense that one might normally think. I have some very spiritually minded children. I heard the voice of the Lord speak through one of my daughters yesterday. First, she realized my struggles and saw her father-in-law needed some help and help she did. I have always prayed for my family to be spiritually minded. Secondly, she didn't give me her opinion but pointed me back to the God who gave Himself for us all. God spoke! I heard Him from His word speaking loud and clear. My daughter knew it too!
  How blessed can a man get when his family brings the things of God to his mind and heart? There were no reasonings, no comparison of an event in the world to make it apply to my life. It was simply listen to God and hear Him. It made my heart leap! It filled my eyes with tears! It was God telling me what I had been praying for. She never had to say, "You know we love you!" She never had to appeal to my emotions by telling me some warm fuzzy. No, it was a blessing. 
  I pray for my children every single day. I know of the mistakes that I have made, wishing I could have changed some things but those are gone. I watch my children grow up and mature...spiritually. They are gaining insight to the bigger picture of things. My daughter in Arkansas really helps her father and mother apply the teachings of God as she grows in her faith. My son-in-law too realizes the bigger things involved. What a blessing they are for me. My children who live here are changing getting hold of bigger things. The youthful things that hindered are slowly fading and they see the bigger things. God is growing them! In the process of it all, they are helping me and their mom grow. For that reason, I can bow before my Father and say thank you for giving me such wonderful and godly minded children. Oh, they haven't arrived where they need to be. Neither have I but what they do realize is the bigger things involved in faith and seeing through the shallow things. That takes real spiritual growth! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Love's Deception"

  We have so much spoken today about the love of God. It is all around us. "God loves us!" "God loves us despite who we are!" The statements are numerous and are said in different ways. It is true that God loves with a love that is unfathomable to grasp. God wants people saved and went to a great extreme to show that through His Son.
  Here's the deceptive part of teaching like this. People have come to believe God's love for them that they miss that His love demands change! God's love does not coddle people in their sins. God's love does not simply over-look sin in lives and allows people to just do as they please and they will end up in heaven. God's love is built around His holiness and His righteousness. His love calls for repentance to everyone. That means there must be changes in the heart and life of every man and woman. Too many have believed that God loves everyone that no matter what lifestyle they live or sinful things they involve themselves in, God's love will reach beyond that and save them anyway. Those with such a mind-set aren't responding to His love but abusing His love and grace. They have believed a lie that they can continue their own way and still be saved in the end. This is seen clearly in Acts 17:30-31 where Paul states that God has fixed a day where the world will be judged in righteousness through a man by raising Him from the dead. God's love sent Jesus on a death mission. God's love raised Him from the dead on our behalf. God's love will judge the world in righteousness and man must respond to His love from their heart by changing their lives and mind-set.
  The Thessalonians were reminded that those who did not receive the love of the truth to be saved, they are sent a deluding influence to believe what is false (II Thes. 2:10-12). God's love isn't blind. God speaks His love through His Son and in that love, truth must be loved and sought if they are going to be saved. If it isn't, that person is given the delusion that they will be saved no matter what and off they will go chasing their own ideas thinking they will end up in heaven. That is a complete message of self-deception and it's not cause by God but man twisting the teachings of God!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Hebrews and Jesus"

  How easily we forget. We are no different than the many we read from Scriptures. Take the book of Hebrews. Here was a book written specifically to Jewish Christians yet it goes beyond the scope of them. It speaks to us today. The Jew's gloried in their past and their past was rich. But this isn't our past so it really doesn't hit home. Are we missing something?
  One thing the Hebrew writer strikes toward the end of the book is this: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Heb. 13:8) This book is filled with the riches of Jesus Christ! This book is addressing the blessing of Jesus, the man Jesus Christ. This Jesus Christ that was yesterday was appointed heir and through whom the world was made. He upholds everything by the word of His power (Heb. 1:2-3). This Jesus Christ is today is the one who comes to our aid when tempted (Heb. 2:18), sympathizes with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15) and intercedes for us who draw near to God through Him (Heb. 7:25) This Lord Jesus Christ that lives forever will save forever those who draw near. 
  The Hebrew Christian's were being called backward into a past of glory. That's all they had. If we keep the book of Hebrews as something past, not relevant for us today, then it has no meaning. But this book is not the case. It is a book about our grand and glorious Savior who is Lord over all, reigns over all and will bring us safely to our heavenly home! It is rich in content. It is powerful in nature. It makes us look at this Jesus whom we are united with. Hebrews contains the gospel, God's power to save (Rom. 1:16-17). He is the same yesterday, today and yes, forever. Read it from that light. It will hit your heart! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Jesus Prayed For Me"

   A lot of things were planned before you were born. Just ask your parents or grandparents. Just listen to them speak about you and you will see the delight of planning and waiting for you.
  It is most likely that before your arrival into this world your parents began to think about you. What color of hair would you have? Would you have any hair? Would you be healthy? What color of eyes would you have? Plans were made for where you would sleep and clothes were bought for your arrival and beyond. For some, prayers were offered on your behalf. Why all of this? Because you were loved and the plans were being made for your life before you arrived into this world.
  Let's take this one step further. Are you aware that the Lord Christ Jesus also did the same for you? Can you imagine that? All you have to do is read the Scriptures and we find assurance this is true. During His last twenty-four hours of His life, Jesus thought of you. As Jesus went to the garden to pour out His heart to His Father, He prayed for His apostles and you. "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word." (John 17:20) Right there in the midst of His most trying time Jesus prayed for the future believers as well as those during His day and time. Let's think about this. Jesus prayed for you!
  How did you come to be a believer? Through the inspired words of the apostles. Before they passed from this life, inspired by the Holy Spirit, they penned the words of the Lord that would save you and me. They took Christ's word teaching it and writing it down for each of us today. We heard their message from the Lord, a message of faith and came to faith to being saved.
  Yes, Jesus prayed for me before I was born and His prayer was heard. Today, for those who draw near to God through Jesus, He continues always making intercession for them (Heb. 7:25). What do you think of that?

Monday, March 19, 2012

"Heaven Rules"

  I stay out of the political arena. There are too many opinions that are thrown around as facts and it affects the minds of so many. I wish those who were so stuck on the political would do a little more reading of their bibles.
  All through Scripture we have God speaking through prophets that God is in control of this world. The Scriptures weren't written from a democracy viewpoint! They are written from God's viewpoint. For instance, we find Daniel, taken captive by the Babylonians in 606 BC. It was the first wave of attacks on Jerusalem but they didn't completely destroy Jerusalem. Jerusalem was utterly destroyed in 586 BC. Daniel, in interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar's dream tells him: "This sentence is by decree of the angelic watchers and the decision is a command of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes and sets over it the lowest of men." (Dan. 4:17) God was sending a message to the greatest King that ruled the world in their day and time: HEAVEN RULES!
  In 597 BC, Babylon laid siege on Jerusalem again taking the leaders of the Judah and the craftsmen leaving a small remnant in Jerusalem. Jeremiah has been preaching for 41 yrs. trying to get the people of God to listen. They come to Jeremiah asking for a word from the Lord. Jeremiah prays and the Lord responds telling the people not to leave Jerusalem with the remainder of those left and stay put. God would defend them against the mightiest on earth. God warned the people not to flee to Egypt for safety and help but stay put. You can find this in Jeremiah 42-43. After Jeremiah gives them the word of the Lord, they turn on Jeremiah calling him a liar and accusing him that he and his friend Baruch were doing this together to destroy them. What army was left, the remnant of people were carried away by force to Egypt. The result? The Lord told Jeremiah to put large stones hiding them in the mortar in the bricks at the entrance of Pharaoh's palace in the sight of the Jews. Then God spoke through Jeremiah that the king of Babylon would come into Egypt and set up his throne right over these stones that are hidden. It happened just as the Lord said!
  The same God who functioned in the Old Testament is the same God who functions in our world today and if we would only listen more to our God, we would find help in the midst of chaos. There is something happening in our nation at the present and only God knows what it is but it is working after the counsel of His will, even in an election year! Keep the Lord first in your life. He will take care of the rest. It's HEAVEN WHO RULES!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


  "But Jesus would often slip away to the wilderness and pray." (Luke 5:16) I will never claim my life is just like the life of Jesus. With my many different flaws and weaknesses I could never say that. I try to be like Him and allow Him to mold me into His image but I get in the way at times. Don't you want to be more and more like Him? What a noble goal for each of us.
  I will not write in my blog this next week. I need to "slip" away and renew some batteries within my heart and mind. I will not miss an assembly except for Wednesday bible study as I am going to take my lovely wife and my grandchildren away for the week just to spend time with them. But I won't just spend time but also renew within. I will write again on Monday, March 19.
  How are you doing in your spiritual walk? I want to encourage you, sit down, reflect and meditate on the word of the Lord. Do a self-examination and see where you find your life. Go to II Pet. 1:5-7 and write on a piece of paper each quality listed in the order they are listed. Can you find where you are in that list? Do you find brotherly kindness missing from your heart at times? The things listed before brotherly kindness have to be placed within your being before you get to that point. But above all, you must start with the very first thing mentioned: moral excellence. Some versions say virtue. You have to be sincere in dealing with your sins and weaknesses if you are going to get on the road to growing into the likeness of Jesus. Once you begin dealing honestly with God's standard of what is right and wrong (that's moral excellence/virtue) only then will you begin to move into the arena of knowledge and once knowledge starts we have to put that knowledge into the proper practice by exercising some self control. That means taking control of your bad habits and the usage of your tongue. And the list just keeps moving forward from there. The last thing listed is love. A love where you will sacrifice for one another. Some never reach this stage. They sacrifice others by wrong attitudes toward them or holding to resentments. They never have reached brotherly kindness and that's why they never reach love. They don't reach brotherly kindness because godliness is not being put within the depth of their heart.
  Be sincere in your faith by being honest in your life. Look carefully at these things and you can pinpoint where you have matured spiritually. God bless and until a further day, Lord willing, be prayerful and seek God.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


  It's hard to grasp sometimes. This isn't my blog today about any self-pity. Actually it is the result of receiving an email from a young man wanting to preach. I call him a young man, he is actually in his early 30's but that's young to me.
  Preaching is hard. Too many see the Sunday man or a Bible class man. As people joke, it must be nice working one/two days a week! It can blind people. We have men preaching who should get out and men not preaching who should get in. You better be ready for some things if you're going to preach. People will love you and encourage you. People will treat you with contempt and say things about you. It's a tough position. You will be told what to preach. You will be told what not to preach. You will be told to preach more on this subject. You will be told to stop preaching on that subject. You will be expected to be everywhere at the drop of a dime. You will be misunderstood and sometimes you can't repair it. You will be thought of highly by some and can do no wrong in their eyes.
  How does one survive? Simply put, you must trust and serve the Lord and Him alone! Otherwise you will go nuts! It's not the people that determine your faithfulness, your movements and outreaches. It's the Lord as He gives opportunities by opening doors. You can't worry about those who hurt you (and you will be hurt) but you must preach the truth even if it is met with hostile accusations. I believe Paul stated in Rom. 8:7 that the mind that is set on the flesh will be hostile toward God. That teaches us much! It's the Lord Jesus we serve and no one knew the difficulties of teaching/preaching better than Jesus. It's good company to keep.
  Who should preach? It's not about talent or education. Those two elements do not determine the effectiveness of preaching. It depends on the heart surrendered to the Lord and a desire to serve in that capacity. The grace of God will lead you forth.
  Who should not preach? Those who want recognition. It is Jesus who died for us and Jesus will get us safely home. All of us are recipients of His grace and mercy. Christ Jesus the Lord is the only One that needs recognition.
  Those who want a good salary with little work. You need to stop right there. Preaching to gain money is an evil motive. If one thinks little work, they are in for a big shock.
  Well, there I've said it! I just wrote a young man (this time I mean young, high school age) that is thinking about preaching. We need sound, humble, solid preachers. We need men filling our pulpits, not just throwing together some Scriptures but taking time to study and involve their lives with the life of Jesus. They take on His attitudes and desires. We need strong preaching relying on the word. We need faithful preaching that will practice what they teach. If you think you need to preach, feel pulled toward it because you want to serve the Lord in that capacity...DO IT!  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"The Test of Believers/Unbelievers"

  What constitutes one being an unbeliever? We would immediately speak about those "unchurched" or those who don't believe in God as some type of agnostic or atheist. While it is true these type of people are unbelievers, what about one that believes in God, could they be rendered an unbeliever? Could it be that those that were immersed into Christ, part of His brotherhood fall into the state of unbelievers? That's would be absurd in the mind of many.
  The Hebrew writer warned those Jewish Christians, those who were immersed into Christ and part of His church, "Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God." (Heb. 3:12) It must be a serious threat to become an unbeliever or this warning would not be written. Can one go from a believer to an unbeliever while still going to the assemblies and participating in "religious" things?
  The test for believing/unbelieving is found in a whole hearted trust and obedience from the heart. If we read Heb. 3:12-4:2, we will find the nation of Israel was rejected because they were found in unbelief. They were disobedient (v.18). They still worshiped, followed the teachings of the Law but were unbelievers because the word of God was not united by faith in their heart (4:2). They witnessed the miraculous deliveries by the hand of the Lord yet still would not trustingly submit to His voice, His word. It cost them not able to enter into the promises of God because of their unbelief (3:19).
  Let's test our faith from Rom. 12. "Never pay back evil for evil to anyone." (v.17) Never says the Lord, even if wronged. Paul spoke of lawsuits with brethren, even if they had a case, to just being wronged or defrauded (I Cor. 6:7). It was the attitude of Jesus. When we hold to resentments or bitterness, we are trying to pay someone back for the evil they have done us. Are you a believer or unbeliever?
  "Respect what is right in the sight of all men." (v.17) Respect means to have a strong regard for doing the right thing no matter what in the sight of others. Are you a believer or unbeliever?
  "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." (v.18) Sometimes we deal with calloused, hard hearted unbelievers. They may hold a resentment or some other attitude toward you. Trustingly looking to Jesus, we will follow what He asks and make sure we are at peace with them. Are you a believer or unbeliever?
  "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengence is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord." (v.19) Never! Revenge is never right. A believer knows God will always do justice and keep His word. Vengeance is the role of the Lord, not us. An unbeliever will make vengeance their role. Are you a believer or unbeliever?
  "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink." (v.20) The Lord wants us doing things that will soften the heart of those who hate us, are bitter or spiteful to us. Are you a believer or unbeliever?
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (v.21) If we react wrongly to those who act wrongly, we become part of the problem and help evil spread in this world. Are you a believer or unbeliever? 
  The test of our state of faith or lack of faith is seen in how we respond to the teachings of the Lord. Israel heard God's teachings, watched His works in dire situations and still, they became unbelievers. If they could that easily, what about us? 

Monday, March 5, 2012

"A Story That's True"

  A while back my wife and I were watching the movie "Camelot". Here was King Arthur with his idea of a round table where all noble knights could sit in unity. Wrongs would be made right and evil extinguished from the land. Then something went terribly amiss. Lancelot and Guinevere came together in dishonor. Treason was the word and Guinevere was tried, found guilty and sentenced to death. Lancelot came to her rescue, carrying her off to France. From that time onward, Lancelot's forces were going to war with the Knights of the round table. 
  It's the end that was interesting. On the morning the battle was to ensue, King Arthur was preparing and a boy appeared before him named Tom of Warwick. The boy wanted to go to battle against the enemy. He wanted to be a knight! King Arthur asked why? Was his father a knight? No! What did this little boy know of knights? It was the stories he was told and King Arthur asked: "What stories?" Tom of Warwick spoke of the round table, might for might, right and justice for all! The idea was still alive and well in the mind and heart of this little boy. Hope was restored and the message had affected another generation.
  We come to God and read in Scriptures how greater those who had died are much better off now than when they lived and walked this earth. People who struggled in this world all in the name of the Lord. They lived in difficulties, prisons and were ill-treated. Just read Hebrews 11. Even though some two thousand years have passed, we still hear them speaking in their faith. They had entrusted themselves to the God and their faith could see what awaited. Simply put, they wanted to be with the Lord. They were wanted by the Lord. Their lives speak to us today and stir within us the glory that awaits.
  "And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls." (I Pet. 1:8-9)
  What a story of truth and justice! Are you ready? Only stories of truth live forever because no lie ever lives.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Not Good Enough"

  Preaching/teaching is one of the strangest things for me at times. I've had many a Sunday where I was on, I mean you knew it within your being. The message from God was good, the mind was clear and it seemed to flow like a unhindered stream of water. I heard God! I spoke what God said and it was right. We leave our assembly of worship and someone comes by and they didn't connect with God through the preaching. It sends you into a thought of "did I miss something?".
  The very next week, you seem to stumble for thoughts, the words don't flow and you focus on the Lord but there is little. You find yourself lost about, what did I say? Did I convey God's message? Those lessons you feel you let God down because you weren't at your best. We leave our assembly of worship and someone comes by and says that was most powerful and God was speaking directly to their heart. It sends you into a thought of "did I miss something?". 
  It has made me realize that God, our Father and sustainer of all mankind and all life, is not affected by my abilites or lack of abilites. I am just a very small insignificant person that has been allowed to be part of His glorious kingdom. Me, a nobody yet here I am given an opportunity to speak for my Lord and Creator. Sometimes not well. Sometimes with mistakes but the Almighty takes my weaknesses and uses them to accomplish His purpose. Maybe the lesson was for a couple of people, maybe the whole, maybe me as His proclaimer or the elders. I don't know and even venture to know the purpose. I do know this, just as the rain and snow come from heaven and do not return to the Lord without watering the earth for man's seed and harvest, His word goes forth and will accomplish what He desires (Isa. 55:10-11)!
  You too, instead of thinking what you do is minimal or of little account, be thankful you are in the position as a husband/wife/mother/father/son/daughter/daily laborer that God will accomplish His will despite your weaknesses and failures because He is not affected by our abilities or lack of abilites! He did create this universe without us and it was very good!!