Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Evil & Unbelieving Hearts"

  I have arrived back home from another opportunity to preach at a congregation in Illinois. What a blessing I received.
  It struck me as I preached last evening the seriousness of our lives lived in the presence of our Father. I have always known it is serious but something really hit me last evening. It's amazing how many speak of the truth, the faith and holding to the truth yet in practice, we don't submit and heed the word of the Lord. As we read from Heb. 3:12, warning about an evil, unbelieving heart, it is very possible to have or it wouldn't have to be addressed. So many who claim faith in Jesus turn their hearts away from His word when they get stirred by someone to another direction. People complain. The Lord asks us not to do that (Phil. 2:14). People rebel against the authority (using that word as the Scriptures intended, not as a dictatorship) of the elders, taking bad attitudes toward them where the Lord asks us not to do that (Heb. 13:17). People are unloving, unforgiving and unmerciful which the Lord asks us not to hold to such (Col. 3:12-13). People gossip and spread rumors against one another, dividing people which the Lord asks us to never allow but preserve the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:1-3). It should make each of us wonder, are we really belivers or unbelievers? OT Israel as God's people were found to be unbelievers because they were disobedient to God's word because they simply didn't allow His word to penetrate into the heart uniting with faith (Heb. 3:16-4:2). No wonder we are warned about having an evil, unbelieving heart. Makes one think and reflect! How serious do we take God's word?

Thursday, August 23, 2012


  When we speak of unity within the body, that is clearly God at His height. It is God at heart. Unity is God seen among the lost. The church belongs to Jesus, not us! Yet here people go and see nothing wrong or even justify actions that shatter the image of Jesus. Jesus taught the power of unity and its effects on the lost world (John 17).
  Over the years I have watched God's people hurt one another intentionally. I've heard accusations fly that are nothing but twisted things to make it seem like something its not. I've appealed for the Lord's cause of unity only to get accused. Paul called the Corinthians back to Jesus when he asked who was crucified for them (us) (I Cor. 1:13-14)? They were exhorted to be one under the name of Jesus. Too many times we place our wants, our thoughts ahead of everyone including Jesus. The result? Division and hard feelings.
  Paul told the Corinthians that he had heard of their divisions that existed among them. Those divisions had created factions (I Cor. 11:18-19). But they did serve a show those who are approved! There didn't have to be any justifications from among them. The actions of unity and harmony proved the relationships of those with the Lord over those dividing over preachers and hateful attitudes toward one another.
  Unity is a God given element! Unity is Christ at His height! Unity is the proving ground of our likeness to Jesus. Unity is being humble and tender toward those, even if we disagree because the Lord's interests are what we serve. Paul even took it to the point that even if someone has been defrauded by his brother, he has a case of any kind, "why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?" (I Cor. 6:7) Doesn't that sound like Jesus? They were reminded they were all washed, justified and sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! (I Cor. 6:11)
  What about us? What message are we really sending? We need to build within each of us more Christ-likeness. Unity is the complete expression of God and His holiness.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Don't Believe It!"

  Look around you as you read this. What do you see? Your house, work, outdoors....take a good look at it all. People may be living through difficulties at the present or experienced some type of disappointment. There may be a health issue that has cropped up. Everything seen is a facade! They are all temporary. When negative things happen, when things come along that disappoint us or something looks hopeless and we feel helpless, don't believe it!!! Don't put your trust in it any longer. "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (II Cor. 4:18)
  Putting you faith in the Lord Jesus we trust His word. He tells us it is all temporal. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things unseen (Heb. 11:1). We are called to operate on the unseen, the powerful promises of God. No matter what we face in this life, it's all temporal. If anything, that should encourage our hearts in whatever situation you find yourself. It's simply temporal! As things come before our eyes, as difficulties rise up today remember, it's only temporal. People and situations are there to discourage. God is there to encourage. "For we walk by faith, not by sight - we are of good courage..." (II Cor. 5:8) Now, look around you again, take inventory and what do you think? Who are you really trusting?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"L E T"

  It is one of the biggest, most powerful words to accept from the Lord that can turn your attitude to its proper place and allow the of love of Christ into what it should be within the heart. It is a word of such simplicity and when ignored it can create such strain and stress in the heart of the believer. The word is over-looked especially when people are stewing over something. When the flesh is stirred and reactions are firing off, those reactions take one a different direction opposite of what the Lord wants. If it is humbly accepted by faith it can calm the soul. What's the word?  L - E - T!
  The Lord asks us to "LET". In other words, when things in your heart are headed in the wrong direction would you allow this? That's what is being called on in difficulties. L-E-T! We are to be walking in a new self that was raised with Jesus, in the likeness of God that is created in righteousness, holiness and of the truth (Eph. 4:24). Instead of being all stirred up at someone, wanting to react, the Lord says "LET."

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth..." (Eph. 4:29)
"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." (Eph. 4:31) 
"Let your gentle spirit be known to all men." (Phil. 4:5)
"...let your requests be made known to God." (Phil. 4:6)
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..." (Col. 3:15)
"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you..." (Col. 3:16)
"Let your speech be with grace..." (Col. 4:6)

When we "LET" we are giving the Lord reign in our hearts by allowing His grace and love to keep us soft and tender in heart. When we refuse to "LET" because we are upset, well...just watch how we act and respond. It's something to behold and it's sure not of Christ. That should get our attention!

Monday, August 20, 2012

"The Gospel"

  The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. He opened it and began to read: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." (Luke 4:18-19) Jesus had a mission. To save! Jesus had the truth. The pure gospel! The gospel was about saving people, setting people free.
  The gospel is God's voice from heaven to heal and help people. The gospel is the freeing agent from people drowning in their misery and lifting them up. The gospel is about a Person reaching to persons. The gospel is about bringing those bound, helpless people to the Person, Jesus Christ. The gospel joins hearts into one body, the body of Christ. The gospel is God coming to those who have failed so miserably and lost their way giving hope and help even in the most difficult circumstance. Jesus came to proclaim the gospel and that's still His goal today.
  What about us? Is it the gospel that thrills our souls or some speaker? Is it the gospel that gives us a buzz or the preaching that gives us a buzz? Is it those exciting real life experience stories that draw us, move us and entertain us or are we drawn to through the gospel, God's power to save? When we get at the foot of the grave, will we be there will a wealth of facts and knowledge with no life of God?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Love Perfected"

  It was John who wrote for our benefit: "By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world." (I John 4:17) That's the goal of God to get His love perfected in us so we will be as He is in this world. That's hard for us to grasp.
  The true love of God calls us up! That upward call means we want those in the church, in our families, in the work place to be better and we want to help them be better. A love that does not draw us upward to help those be better, do better is missing the very heart of God. I've known parents who protect their children when their children are completely out of line with the Lord rather than love them by correcting them. They seem to excuse wrong behavior. I've known marriages where one mate is tied to Jesus and the other is not and the one tied just doesn't care if their mate makes it or not! "I've given up! They won't ever change!" What if God took that attitude toward us?
  The bottom line is, if we are to be confident in the day of judgment, we will be as He is while in this world. That means we will be concerned about character, of our own and those around us. To say you love someone, you will want them to grow and will try to help where you can. You will encourage and exhort them (and yourself) upward to the Lord. That is more than just warm fuzzies of embraces and smiles!! True love calls us to be a giver, a contributor to the best for others. Sometimes that true love calls for us to distance ourselves from evil practices to send a message when we have tried to help (I Cor. 5). Sometimes people call God's love "unconditional" but we taint that concept with our lazy approach. God loves unconditionally but He doesn't use that in some sugary way like we do. We are to be like Him in this world! That means we should be calling for moral development and looking out for the betterment of others. Too many love when love is useful to themselves. That's not "as He is."
  Encourage one another upward to the Lord! Let them know when they do well. Wisely speak of their failures only to point them to the Lord. Let another know their lives, their character and their growth matters. Let's not go over-board with things but let's praise the things that need praised and let's move away from selfishness and self seeking, thanking those who point it out to us! God is trying to perfect His love in us to bring us confidence in the day of judgment.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"A Parents Sin"

  If only parents could realize the effects of their behavior that is has on their children, people might sober up spiritually. God reminded Israel that if they did not respond, treating Him as a God to be honored and worshipped, their iniquities would be visited upon the children, all the way to the fourth generation (Ex. 20:5/Deut. 5:9). Why would such a holy God do that to the innocent? What does the Lord God mean when the sins of a father are visited upon their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren?
  Let's see it from this view. When a father/mother breaks the law and taken before a judge, their sentence might be to prison. In the process, there are three children in the home, the judge is not punishing the children but the children suffer the loss of the parent. The judge is simply sending a message, trying to spare the rest of mankind (and the family) from evil and harmful ways. In that respect, the children have the sin of the mother/father visited on themselves.
  When God visits  the sins of a father on his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, it simply shows that they bear the consequences of the ungodly acts of their father (or mother) when God punishes them. The innocent aren't called sinful and God is not punishing them but the actions of the parent is bringing consequences to all those "beneath" them. There are consequences to sin that can be far reaching.
  I had the children and grandchildren of a family that refused to go to their father's/grandfather's funeral because of his reputation and actions had embarrassed them over the years. A couple of them changed their last names so they would not bear the shame of the actions of their father. Are they guilty? No! Do they have the sin of their father being visited upon them? Yes!
  We want our families blessed. God wants blessings in the relationship with Him. The promises attached or the curses attached are to send a message that the actions of parents can either bless their homes or curse their homes. God is looking out for His righteous purposes but those who treat God with contempt, with rebellion by walking into sin, the consequences can be devastating. Maybe it would do us all good to relearn: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."  (Eph. 6:4)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"When God Disappoints"

  People hurt. Those who sincerely seek the Lord God with all their heart find disappointment and failure and wonder why God doesn't do more. Some are left wondering what God is really up to. They call on Him, live for Him and try their best to walk in the steps of their Master only to find heartache and face despair in their lives. They read about the Lord raising the dead, healing the sick and helping in grave situations but then we are reminded He doesn't work that way any longer. It leaves them hurting and disappointed. Or does it?
  We read of Jesus working and moving among the needy. That's what we want. That lovely Christian lady who lost her husband just wishes, oh how she wishes that her husband could be raised from the dead. But he doesn't. The family that lost a child cries out asking God to help, hoping something will come. That husband or wife who feels the deep pain of their mate walking out with someone else. They would give anything to have the relationship back on solid ground but the betrayal that they feel makes them wonder what about God? Where is the relief, the help?
  Why do so many with sincere hearts and faith find so much disappointment? Why does it seem that the promises of God seem to fail us at the most difficult time? Maybe it's because our disappointment is the result of looking for fulfillment of a promise of God that never was made! We look for promises our heavenly Father never promised. God doesn't promise our comfort but wants our hearts. God doesn't promise prosperity but wants a transforming righteousness within. God doesn't cause the heartache but promises the heartache will be turned for our good! The bottom line is this: God is concerned about our character than our ease!! It is our character that will take us to Him eternally and that's His focus.
  When Jesus walked this earth, He never promised miracles for lives redeemed. He never offered health and wealth in the place of loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. The miracles He performed was nothing more to show the people that God came to redeem man from their sins! That was the goal then and the goal now.
  Yes, there will be many who will feel that God let them down in their lives and that He doesn't care. They will question His intentions and cry out for His help wondering if He really is there as He says. But God's one and only goal is this: GETTING YOU INTO HIS ETERNAL PRESENCE! All the hurts and disappointments were just part of the whole to develop in those sincere that God has a plan and that plan is for eternity. Why do we forget that?

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Home Again"

  It's back to my normal routine! We ended three wonderful weeks of being away. I know that sounds like a lot but it was needed. The first week was spent in our congregational retreat. We had 183 people go to Colorado and enjoy having their heart and soul filled with the things of the Lord every single day for one week. It was amazing to watch people grow together by rallying around the Lord Jesus. It was wonderful to see people who didn't know one another that well come to know one another!! It reminded me that when Jesus is the center and His Lordship is what our heart desires, He always brings unity and love. People are already asking for the next retreat.
  The next two weeks after this were spent resting. I have a little bit different idea of resting than probably most people think. My two weeks were spent in prayer and reading of God's word while enjoying His creation. I am amazed at the beauty of God's creation, not only in the mountains but His animals. They are a wonder to behold! In the wisdom of God, He put all this together with just speaking. From dust He created living beings. It hit me, "And the Lord can't solve our problems?"
  We are now home again. Back to the reality and work. I'm ready! I look forward to what the Lord will do next and will continue to search His word for His truth with all my heart. What about you? What is your heart really seeking? I pray it is truth and not some personal agenda or idea. Just simple, plain truth allowing God's word to be God's word and not what someone tells us to believe. May the Lord bless your day!