Monday, April 23, 2012

"God's Love"

  This will be my last blog until May 1, 2012. My uncle who I grew up around and spent much time with their family passed away in Colorado. I will be traveling to Texas to pick up my aged parents and take them to Colorado to attend the funeral. This is my dads brother. I do cherish your prayers as we travel.
  Let me leave you with this thought. We are sometimes astounded to see pictures of a little boy saluting over the casket of his fallen father because he gave his life in service of our country. We are proud of the men and women that gave their all for our freedom.
  We see children whose life might be in danger and a mother or father giving their life to save the life of their child. It moves our heart to see the willingness to put the life of a parent for their children.
  We have read or heard stories of good friends, best of pals laying down their life for the sake of the other. It brings us to tears as we hear the story of how things came about.
  Let's keep things in real perspective. How many people do you know would lay down their for the town drunk or the drug addicted? How many people do you know would lay down their life for the murderer, the rapist and those who commit such horrid crimes? The measure of true love is not that God sent His Son to die for us but that He died for us while we were yet sinners and ungodly (Rom. 5:6). Sinners and ungodly people are not good people. They might do some good things but we are still filthy and vile. When we can come to grips with that we will begin to see the true love of God in that Jesus laid down His life when we were His enemy. Don't be afraid to reach out. Don't fear the love the God. Jesus died for Hitler, the Boston strangler, Barabbas the murderer and yes, me and you! Think of it this way...without the death of Jesus for your account, you would be standing next to some of the most vile and ungodly people that ever lived in eternal condemnation being tormented along with them. Your better quality of life does not exempt you from the consequences of sin! Now that's love! And no one will end up in eternal condemnation without being shown love. They simply did not care and rejected God's great love. What about you? 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Jesus At Work"

   The work is never done! For years I have tried to catch up but as I have gotten older, I'm not sure what I am trying to catch up with or to or what that even means anymore. There is no such thing as catching up. People still need to be reached. Doors open here and there. It is a continuous cycle but that's the way it's suppose to be when people need salvation.
  Jesus is at work! He is working in the church as He is alive and well. People's indifference, laziness and hypocrisy doesn't stop the work of Jesus. I'm trying to stay out of the way to allow the Lord Jesus Christ to do what He needs to do with His body. It's tough sometimes. I get a little too involved in me at times and forget that hinders. I want people in heaven and I know many others who have the same desire. In order for people to get to heaven they must see and come to Jesus. For some reason people think that because someone does good to others and just live good lives that they will be saved in the end. The mentality of others has been that the Lord surely won't refuse anyone who leads a decent life and tries to help where they can. But that's just it. It's about us and what we do, or at least some make it that way. Salvation is about Jesus! It's coming to Jesus as our sin-bearer, as our place of refuge, as our union into His death to escape our own so we can be raised up with Him (that's the purpose of baptism - Rom. 6). Too many are baptized into Christ but rely on themselves as the end result.
  Jesus is at work! Too many are looking at what is wrong with the church, who is messing up, who is holding us back and what isn't going right. Maybe we are looking at the wrong side of things because when we have this mentality, it's actually us holding back the church. We need to focus on Jesus and let Him work on me to see the real issue of salvation. Trust Jesus. Let Him work on the things that lack while I work on my faith in Him. You will see a difference and in the process see your calling into Christ. We aren't saved because we are good. We are saved because we were in death and Jesus came to our rescue. If the Lord can save, He can work! Let Him!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Healthy Worship"

  All healthy worship has at its heart a sense of awe and reverence. Reverence and awe bring about an inner conviction and awareness that the Lord our God is greater in all aspects than anything created, since He is the Creator, and that alone should lead us to something greater in our faith. Healthy worship is centered in a complete sense of dependence that we aren't self-made, self-maintained and owe everything about us to our Lord and Master. Healthy worship should deepen our humility leading us to magnify the majesty of God Almighty. "Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire." (Heb. 13:28-29) This is a great summation of healthy worship.
  How we worship and what we bring from our hearts to worship reveal our inner being. We show our insight to our heavenly Father. We show our understanding or lack thereof. Healthy worship is much more than what things look like and the external things going on around us. Too many look to the externals for their up-building and it becomes the focus. It's like looking at a rainbow. People try to break down this optical phenomenon that results from the refraction of light by water droplets. While that may be true, many, so many miss what the rainbow stood for in Gen. 9! It's things like this that help us understand and allows us to see the depth of healthy worship. Our worship is not something we just do but something in the process is being done to us!!
  Healthy worship is to strengthen our trust in Him who we can't see. "And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory." (I Pet. 1:8) When is the last time you had a joy inexpressible in your worship? Have you ever? Healthy worship carries our hearts and minds into the glorious world that is purer and greater than anything we see on this earth. Healthy worship is not about externals or a social gathering. It's all about your inner life: your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength. That inner life reaches beyond the norm and grasps hold of the eternal God by which we give to Him us, all of our being! And that my friend is what God is driving for and what Jesus died for.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Do We Hear?"

  "For the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them." (Isa. 6:10) This seems to be an old problem for God's people. Isaiah speaks to God's people about their hearing and seeing. Jesus quotes this verse and applies it to God's people in His day and time in Matt. 13:15. Paul quotes this same teaching in to God's people in Acts 28:27 and the Hebrew writer applies it in Heb. 5:11. Why would it be any different for us today in the church?
  Hearing is not just related to sound. Many of those deaf physically hear just fine! It is the heart that has grown dull and insensitive. The result is people simply refuse to hear the whole of God! They pick and choose what they want to hear while ignoring the things they need to hear. When something from God is spoken that addresses their present situation, they turn off their 'hearing aids' and close their eyes. It is much easier to ignore than address. The Lord cannot reach those who refuse to listen and take in His word honestly in their heart. As the result, no healing of life and soul! They remain who they are, the way they are and head the direction they continue with all deception.
  God's word directs us individually and congregationally. God guides us down the path of morality, attitudes toward those outside of Christ and attitudes toward brethren. God's word addresses our speech and conduct among the world of the lost and in the church. God's word directs us in congregational worship, respect for the eldership, work of the deacons and the work and purpose of the church. God speaks! God reveals! God wants our hearts! Saving faith is produced in the heart! The real question is do we have a heart to hear and see so we will change? As Jesus would cry out to the people: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Luke 8:8) Are we listening?

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Keeping Judas Away"

  We need the Lord's wisdom. It's that simple. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." (Prov. 27:6) What a deep statement of wisdom. How you ask? We expect 'wounds' from our enemies and 'kisses' from our friends. But sometimes things aren't what they seem!
  People are drawn to the flatterer, the one who is full of energy, always doing for others and speaks what we want to hear. The danger in this is all this flattery and business keeps one from noticing red flags. For the sake of a smile or a word one may turn a blind eye to any possibility of ulterior motives. In many cases, the truth comes out only after the damage has been done!
  On the other hand, we are turned off by criticism or people questioning about the wisdom by which we are approaching things. One can offer their criticism with well-intentions or in kindness and some are still offended. "Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you." (Prov. 9:8)  We need wisdom to recognize a scoffer! Our enemies may give us a slap on the cheek and we expect it but what about the one who is genuinely concerned for our spiritual well being trying to awaken us from a spiritual stupor or helping us not set ourselves up for disappointment? When we can use wisdom and not allow ourselves to be drawn in by our emotional state or attachements to determine the real value, we will say, "Thank you! I need that insight or help!"
  I pray that God grant you true people in your life that will tell you what you really need to hear in truth. Not mean-spirited but truth. May God keep Judas from the doorsteps of your heart! It takes God's wisdom to know the difference!!!  

Thursday, April 12, 2012


  Maybe you say it when your attitude isn't the best. We hear it from young people. Married couples when they are in disagreement use the term to show disapproval or lack of interest. It's called "WHATEVER!" I heard someone the other day tell another, "Whatever! Talk to the hand!" What many don't realize, "whatever" is a very biblical term.
  "He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields it fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers." (Psa. 1:3) 
  "Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps." (Psa. 135:6)
    "Pray for us to the Lord our God; and whatever the Lord our God says, tell us so, and we will do it." (Jer. 42:20)
  "Whatever you devise against the Lord, He will make a complete end of it. Distress will not rise up twice." (Nahum 1:9)
  "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."  (John 15:7)
  "...and whatever is not from faith is sin." (Rom.14:23)
  "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of Scirpture we might have hope."  (Rom. 15:4)
  "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (I Cor. 10:31)
  "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap."  (Gal. 6:7)
  "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." (Phil. 4:8)
  "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."  (Col. 3:17)
  "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men." (Col. 3:23)

How does your "whatever" line up with the Lord's "whatever"? Maybe we need an attitude adjustment?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"A Lesson From A Water Basin"

  I was sent an email asking about foot washing as an act of worship. There are religious groups that believe foot washing is an act every Christian should do at their assembly. What are we to make of this?
  John 13:5 begins showing Jesus pouring water into a basin and wash the feet of His disciples. Was Jesus teaching this is what He wants in actuality? First, we have no other evidence of this practice by any congregation of our Lord in New Testament times. Some view this just as significant as Jesus instituting the Lord's Supper. We know from Scripture they practiced the Supper each first day of the week. Wouldn't it seem rather fitting if this was intended to be part of the worship that we would have evidence after His death, burial and resurrection?
  When we look at the lesson Jesus was teaching, we find other verses that sum up His attitude and work. The Hebrew writer speaks of Jesus being appointed heir of all things and the world was made through Him (Heb. 1:1-2). The Creator and heir of all finds himself among His creation. Jesus left heaven, taking the form of a bond-servant, emptying Himself and ultimately offering His body as a sacrifice for our sins (Phil. 2:3-8). Jesus was a servant! It is very difficult to understand the heart and mind-set of Jesus the humble servant so Jesus illustrated it before He is sent to the cross by washing the feet of His disciples telling them to do as He did to them. Let's make the tie...
  We are told: "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 2:5) What attitude did He have? An attitude of service, not looking out for His own personal interests but for the interests of others. Isn't that what love speaks? This is the lesson we learn from the water basin!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Will We End In Faith?"

  As one reads from the Old Testament, we see the many kings that reigned over Judah and Israel. When the kingdom divided in 931 BC, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (called the tribe of Judah) remained faithful to the Lord with some faithful kings. The ten tribes of Israel never had one king that was faithful and it was carried off into captivity in 722 BC by Assyria.
  Looking at the Judah side, the tribe Jesus came from, many of their faithful and righteous kings didn't end that way. King Uzziah stayed faithful to the Lord with a heart of faith but later in his life, his faith wained and he failed. Even before the nation divided, King Saul (the first king of Israel) and Solomon both started as faithful men to the Lord but later in their lives, they went off into corruption and unfaithfulness.
  What do we learn? For many who have been in Christ for years this should be a sobering lesson. We tend to think that because one has years in the Lord, they taught classes and were looked to as godly doesn't mean they end up that way. We have a tendency to think faith grows with age but that's not necessarily true. In fact, corruption many times can grow with age because early on, brethren never learned to 'put off' the old self and 'put on' the new self (Eph. 4:22). The longer that old self stays, the more corrupt we slowly become until one day it shows itself completely. Age does not necessarily translate into faith!
  The faith in one's old age is maintained the same way it was acquired upon conversion. It all began with a heart that responded to the teaching of God's word and a continuance in hearing God's word. Over time people can become hardened and the word of God no longer impacts them as it once did. The attitude that they have arrived or matured seems to take over and "we have heard this before" attitude sets in. Bible studies are no longer for seeking the Lord but listening for something misspoken! Instead of encouraging, they begin finding fault. Jude encourages the brethren to builld themselves up on your most holy faith (Jude 20). Those who don't are described as following their own lusts, cause divisions, worldly-minded, and devoid of the Spirit (Jude 18-19). Our faith must be maintained with an humble heart and a heart of faith listening to His word.
  The same God who showed Himself to us in His word when we were younger will show Himself strong when we are old, provided we have the faith and heart to let Him. That should give us all a reason to pause and examine.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Up Close and Personal"

  Recently while speaking at a congregation of lovely Christian brothers and sisters, the preacher afterward came to me and said, "I am so thankful you addressed what you did because if I would have said something like that, some of the brethren would have crucified me!"
  I knew exactly where he is coming from. How is it that someone, an unknown to us, can come to our local congregation, preach/teach about something in the Bible and people are moved by being confronted with God from His word, yet if the local minister speaks against the same, people get upset, mad and fume and start accusing? What is really wrong with us? I have been accused of sending 'sublte' messages at times to certain members when there was nothing more than the word of the Lord being proclaimed. (I will tell you that I will get accused of it for writing about it at this moment!) I'm speaking of preaching the word of the Lord and trying to get people to focus on God and move away from sinful things in our lives. Isn't that what the Lord would want?
  Do we not believe: "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Heb. 4:12)? God's word is living and active! Preaching God's word will do what it is intended to do from God...pierce the depths of people. God knows and is aware of what goes on in my heart! When His word is proclaimed, God is reaching out, trying to help. I can't begin to recount the number of times people say things like: "Do you have a camera set up in our house?" or "Have you be speaking with my mate?" to "You've been spying on us!" They say it jokingly but they realize the word of the Lord is speaking to them to help and they don't see me as their enemy. The instrument of God's message is a frail human but His word is powerful, deep penetrating and exposes the intentions in our hearts.
  I heard this preacher in his sincerity knowing what needed to be said. Even one of the elders came to me afterward and said it was something that needed to be addressed there but if the leadership had said something it would have led to a fight within the body. I shook my head, knowing exactly where they were coming from, saying a brief prayer and thankful the Lord used me in such a way. The words of Jesus come to mind: "However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) It's nothing personal for anyone. It's about faith and being saved! God, help us all.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Overcome The World"

  John writes: "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world..." (I John 5:4) Really? Jesus in speaking to His disciples tells them: "...but take courage; I have overcome the world." Jesus hadn't died yet and here He speaks that He has overcome. John speaks those born of God overcomes presently. What does it mean to "overcome the world?"  
  How many do you know that are in Christ Jesus and continue to be overcome by the world? To "overcome the world", does it mean a little bit here and there? Does that mean we have a little victory over a particular sin in our lives? Is that what Jesus and John both were speaking about? Sin is a struggle sometimes and when we are taken in by it does that mean we are "overcome by the world" even while we have "overcome the world?" Is "overcomes the world" like a light switch that we turn off and back on, off and back on?
  We look around and see a brother or sister in the act of committing a sin. Could we point to them and say, "they are born of God and overcome the world" or would we say, "they were at one time an overcomer of the world"?
  We need to ponder questions like these and take a deep hard look at ourselves in relationship to Jesus. John speaks that those who trustingly have placed their faith in Jesus the Christ have "overcome the world". Are those just words written on paper or do they mean something profound? Was John just playing mind games? Was Jesus just using the power of positive thinking with His own disciples? We know the Savior and apostle meant something so in relationship to us, what did they mean? That's something to think about!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Trust Me"

  Jesus spoke straight forward with people. He could upset some by saying things that would offend. Jesus wasn't always soft and tender like many try to portray Him. On one occasion we have the disciples coming to Jesus telling Him that the Pharisees were offended by His statements (Matt. 15:12). Jesus went on to tell His disciples if the heavenly Father didn't plant that plant, it will be uprooted and just leave the blind alone (Matt. 15:13-14)! He didn't mince His words.
  But on the other hand, Jesus could always be trusted for doing what is right and speaking the truth. Whatever Jesus spoke, it was absolutely true. In telling His own disciples in John 14, Jesus reveals that if it wasn't so what He said, He would tell them (John 14:2).
  We need to listen more closely to Jesus. Read through John 14. Jesus said if those disciples had known Him, they would know the Father (John 14:7). Jesus knew God and when He taught, He was showing them the every detail of the Father. Jesus lived in a joy-filled union with the Father and He showed that union by doing the Father's will.
  Because of this, we can trust Jesus to bring us to the Father. When Jesus spoke, "no one comes to the Father but through Me." Jesus was speaking from His relationship because Jesus was just like His Father. Looking how Jesus lived, thought and moved about and you're looking at God. Years ago, a friend of mine shared with me (he got it from someone himself) that there was a time in the history of man where a mother could take their child to see Jesus and say, "You want to see God? There He is!" I like that!
  Trust Jesus when He speaks of the Father. Trust Jesus when He says He and the Father are one. Trust Jesus when He speaks He is the only way to get to the Father. If we were to ask someone to teach us how to play the piano, how would you like to have a Bach or Beethoven teach you? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could learn anything in life from someone who we deem as great in that line we want to learn? If you want to learn about the Father, Jesus stands up and says, "I'll show you!" Go ahead, trust Him and look at Him from Scripture and you will find yourself seeing God. Jesus can teach you and get you to the Father. Can't you hear His words: TRUST ME!?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"What Do We Preach?"

  One of the greatest needs among the church is preaching, solid, sound and truthful preaching. In order to accomplish that there has to be a decision made in the heart of the preacher: "Preach the word" or "Preach the feel good." To "preach the word" is a charge from Jesus, in the presence of God what is expected. When you "preach the word" it will upset some. They will attack, accuse and try to find ways to get you to stop it! When you "preach the feel good" all will be happy, entertained and make them feel good at the moment and lead them to believing everything between them and the Lord is just great when in reality the relationship is lacking!
  Back in the days of Jeremiah, the people of God had taken offense at God's word. They had no delight in His word because their ears were closed (Jer. 6:10). The result was God was full of wrath at His people! God had enough of their smugness and attitudes of complaining. People were dealing falsely and the Lord was preparing to strike. Those who were teaching were telling the people: "Peace, peace!" (Jer. 6:14) The problem? "But there is no peace!" The people of God had become so calloused toward the Lord and His word that "they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be cast down." (Jer. 6:15) It's too easy to tell people what they want to hear but it takes faith and a commitment to the Lord to preach what they need to hear!
  The devil is hard at work trying to gain a foothold in the church. Some of those claiming Christ at Corinth were attacking Paul personally. Paul warns: "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds."  (II Cor. 11:13-15) 
  This is a fight for life. A fight for your life and my life. There is too much feel good put out. False security, false teaching and false work. "Preach the word! It's the only way anyone will be saved and continue in God's salvation! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

"Who Has The Final Say?"

  It's simply amazing how many say they believe the Scriptures to be God's word yet when it comes down to allowing the Scriptures to be the final say in all things, they won't allow that. There are a host of non-believers who also believe the Bible is God's word. They simply won't commit to Christ and His word though they accept the truth of Scripture.  
  Some non-believers just like some believers like to hear themselves talk! It doesn't matter what the Scriptures teach, though they agree it is the word of God, they simply must chime in with their own ideas and weigh in against Scripture because they just won't allow it to be what it is. Many of those professed believers won't allow the word of the Lord to be the end of all arguments. They justify their beliefs that a man's religious and moral views have 'evolved' and since the Bible is something of years gone by it might need a little adjustment. The result? Over the years there is all this religious confusion and in that confusion Scripture is tossed here and there with little thought on how to put it together. Just a piece of God's word here, a piece there, mix in a little of man's smarts and logic and wham, they have their whole belief system even though there could be some teachings from God's word that contradict. But they won't accept that because it would destroy their whole belief system.
  People take bits and pieces of God's word and formulate their whole belief thoughts yet they can never seem to put the whole together. Why? Because they treat His word as something less than God! It is God who opens the hearts and minds to understanding. It is God who grants people to see the truth. Many continue to gain knowledge but can't come to the truth because the truth from God is not where their interests lay (II Tim. 3:7). When we put our ideas and mind-set over the word, it becomes a word of their own liking. The result, many like to hear themselves talk! And talk they do! They wear the hearers out while staying in their ignorance. What about you? How do you treat God's word? You believe it is from God but do you allow Him to have the final say?