Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Are We Messy?"

    We seem to know a lot about Abraham but do we really? The Scripture speaks of him as the father of the faithful. But what about his blunders? His mighty blunders? God had promised him that he would father a child by Sarah and he would become a father of a great nation. But beyond that, he would be the father of a multitude of nations. All the promises of God yet what did he do? He placed his wife Sarah to be placed in a position of an Egyptian harem! This wasn't a one time sin. He did it a again!! It took a Philistine, an outsider that rebuked him for his mistreatment of his wife. Abraham created a mess spiritually!
  We turn to Heb. 11 and call it the "hall of faith" chapter. Abraham is listed in this. It's all true and wonderful. But have you ever wondered why the Lord left out all the messy details about Samson, David, Jacob, Gideon and many others? Their faith was intact and genuine and it was genuine despite the fact that they stumbled and severely failed, some even into old age. They all created some very messy spiritual situations for themselves. We think of David and his horrid failures yet if you were to ask a ruler of Israel about their faithfulness of their ruler ship, the answer depended on if they clung to God as their father David had! 
  Step up to the mirror. See who is looking back at you. You might wince but if you are honest in heart you would admit that there is some serious fine tuning that needs to be done. We are reminded of our failures yet here we are standing in fellowship with our loving Creator and Redeemer, who is working on bringing us home. The Lord called us to Himself and as long as we hold to our faith in Him, trying with an humble heart, He promises to finish in us what He began! What does that mean? There is coming a day when there will be no more messy details in our lives because of God's grace combined with our faith.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Grace Is For the Weak"

  The Hebrew writer reminds us that our heart needs to be strengthened by grace, not by foods (or keeping any food laws). (Heb. 13:9) Strengthened by grace! God's unmerited, undeserving favor toward us, the weak and sinful. Sometimes we know so little about grace though we speak of it. We define grace but seem to miss the point.
  "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:16) Our Lord Jesus can help with our weaknesses. He alone knows the pressures and strength it takes to not bend or give into sin but stand in the righteousness of God against the forces of evil. We do not know that. We crumble. We give in too easily. We know well our failures and sense the guilt. We need to know the blood of Jesus is to cleanse us in our conscience from guilt (Heb. 9:14) and the grace is God is for our WEAKNESS!
  There is too much talk about winners from our perspective. We hear how 'Christians are winners!' But what does that do to us? What does talk like this do to God's grace? Being winners makes us strong many times in our own eyes. I know we don't say that openly. We speak our reliance on God but it seems there are those who are on a endless track that because of being a winner tied to God, there is little weakness within. The grace of God is for weakness!! Christianity is for weak people! Salvation is for the helpless and ungodly!
  Jesus taught: "...for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matt. 9:13) "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28) "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." (II Cor. 12:9) Grace is for weakness. Grace isn't for the elite, powerful, successful, positive thinking like there are no problems and why can't you rise up above everything attitude people. Grace is for the weak and ignorant, the unwanted and despised, the down-trodden and helpless. The church is full of such people. Jesus is the Savior of the helpless, suffering and fear-filled person. We fail!! We need mercy for our failure! Sometimes things hit so hard and it seems to push us down into despair while we look to the Lord God for help. His grace is there at those times to help and help it does!
  No wonder we can sing "amazing grace how sweet the sound". His grace is for me, in my weakness and failure. Are you hurting? Draw near with some confidence because Jesus went before you to make atonement, making you holy so you can draw near to the throne of grace and find help in your time of need. That's not me or anything from me. It's all from the grace of God. Maybe we need to pray the Lord forgive us for our personal strength thinking and self-reliance!

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Can We Hear?"

  It must have stung in the mind of the Jew's that had believed Jesus. Yes, they believed Him but were still not part of Him. Jesus said they were of another father, the devil (John 8:44). Jesus spoke the words, "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word." (John 8:43) Therein lies the problem. They weren't physically deaf. They heard every sound of every word. What made them separate and apart from Jesus was they refused His word as truth! That is what happens to so many today.
  I don't hear many today seeking, looking for the truth. I hear a lot of people listening to whatever anyone speaks that sound good and reasonable in their mind but little about truth. And when we speak of truth, it is generally in a little box that we have made and tied a bow on it! That too is just as bad. We need to hear the word of truth and that comes by a willingness to listen and accept, even when it goes against your personal stance.
  If a person believes the truth and seeks the truth, they cannot or will not received anything else as truth. They will compare what they hear with what is revealed. They cannot hear anything else but truth. That's where seeking comes into play. If a person cannot hear the word of the Lord, in the context in which in was spoken and the purpose for which it was spoken, there is no way that you can make them hear. All the speaking that  you do will never persuade them to hear anything different than what they want to believe.
  We need to listen to Jesus. We need to be prayerful that when we read the word of the Lord and study His word that we are willing to hear His word. Then comes the words of Jesus to our hearts: "If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself." (John 7:17)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Final Meeting"

  It's one more time. I am off for my last speaking engagement of the year, this time to Hidgen, Arkansas. I look forward to speaking with them about the Lord and His truth. I also will get to spend some time with a dear friend and his wife. That is a double blessing.
  I want to encourage each of you that read this, please spend time in the word and prayer. Those are the two vital ingredients in your growth. Allow the word of God to speak and not insert your ideas or thoughts. Give God complete allowance and access to your heart. Listen with a heart of faith, ready to respond immediately to what you read. That's how faith is grown. May God richly bless you in your walk with Him!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"That's Love?"

  I was watching a program on television about the declining family values in America. When I listen to people and their views placing them up beside what God speaks, it is rather alarming how distorted the thinking has become.
  In one segment they were interviewing a man on death row for murdering his wife. The man spoke of their lives together, their children and then his wife began running around on him. He confronted her but to no avail according to his account. Then he spoke the following words: "I loved her so much that if I couldn't have her, no one could!" What a distorted view of love! That's not love. It's called jealousy, a fit of rage and ungodliness but it's certainly not love!
  The next segment focused on a young mother who was trying to turn her son against his father. Their marriage had failed and she called her ex-husband useless and couldn't stand the sight of even seeing him. Then she spoke the following words: "I love my son so much that I don't want any harm to come to him, especially from his father!" Afterward they spoke with the boy (about 10 years old) and asked him how he felt and he said he was mixed up because his parents seem to hate one another and he couldn't understand why. The mother calls this love. That's not love. It's called hate, anger, bitterness and ungodliness but it's certainly not love!
  I've heard parents say they love their children to much to discipline them whether it's from spanking or some other form. That's not love. "He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently." (Prov. 13:24) It's called laziness, uncaring to be bothered but it's certainly not love!
  Have you heard people in the Lord's body tell you they love you or someone else only to speak evil of them behind their back? That's not love. It's called gossip, slander and ungodliness but it's certainly not love!
  Have we lost the meaning of true love? Have our lives become so distorted that we cannot recognize what God's love pursues and looks like? "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."  (I John 3:16) That's love! Harming others or speaking against others or not bringing up your children in the discipline of the Lord is not love. "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen."  (I John 4:20)
  God is love. Read I Cor. 13 and see love responding. God gave, endured and committed Himself to our well being at all cost to Him. That certainly IS love!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Guilt and Shame"

  They were down and depressed. Their past seemed to haunt their lives. They had made some terrible choices and they paid a great price. People had told them that they needed to learn to forgive themselves! When they came into my office sharing this with me, I asked, "How does one forgive themselves? If we  have the ability to do that, we don't need Jesus!"
  Guilt does terrible things in the heart People have so much difficulty with their past and it is affecting their present, even their health. Recently speaking with a psychologist that lives in town (I've known them for years and ran into them at a store), she made the most startling statement: "I like it when guilty people come see me. They make me a lot of money!" She knows about the lives of guilty people and she teaches people how to control their guilt while living with it and never how to overcome it! She doesn't know how.
  We need to realize that we are spiritual being. We have a body, a soul and spirit (I Thes. 5:23). It's the soul and spirit side where everything takes place. Our conscience is on our spirit side (Rom. 2:15). We are created in the image of God, who is Spirit. If we could realize that all defilement takes place on our spirit side, that's the part of our being we would take care of. But many live for the body side which is passing away. Our memories (conscience) are from the spirit side of us and that's why guilt cannot be escaped because it happens on the spiritual side. When guilt raises its head, people try to find things to keep them busy on the physical side so their mind cannot be occupied with the feeling of guilt and shame. They avoid any situation that might make them think of their guilt. The final thrust of guilt is one cannot serve the Lord in guilt!!
  What's the answer? The death of Jesus on our behalf. Faith in the death of Jesus will solve all guilt problems. Does God know we have failed? Sometimes miserably? Jesus went to a cross bearing my sins and the shame of my sins. We need to place our faith in the cleansing blood of Jesus. The Hebrew writer speaks: "How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God."(Heb. 9:14) The blood of Jesus is to cleanse the conscience from dead works. When one is guilty, the works they perform are from death because they are trying to alleviate the pain. You see it when people say they will study more, pray more and attend services more just to find freedom from guilt. Jesus' blood is the cleansing agent and faith in His death on your behalf is the answer.
  How did Paul, who murdered so many innocent people in the name of God, find the ability to move forward in his life? Through the death of Jesus! How did Peter, swearing he would die for Jesus only to end up walking away from Him, even using profanity that he didn't know Jesus, find the forgiveness to overcome? It was through the blood of Jesus.
  Guilt is on our spirit side and if we are going to overcome, it must come from spiritual answers. "And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you, not the removal of dirt from the flesh but an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (I Pet. 3:21) The inner cleansing is upon baptism. Baptism wasn't removing dirt from your flesh. It was to cleanse you internally. You and the blood of Jesus came together in baptism as you appealed to God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You want freedom from guilt and shame? It can be found only through Jesus! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

"Spiritual or Unspiritual?"

  It seems to happen more and more. I hear people speaking of congregations they worship with saying how "dead" or "unspiritual" the congregation is. I know things might not be what we expect and there may be those who have no clue what it means to walk with the Lord and love the Lord but to condemn the whole, that is walking on dangerous ground.
  When you inquire further of what an unspiritual congregation is like, many relate to some experience they had with another congregation they thought was spiritual. They begin a comparison.  But what they relate most of the time is the activities and programs that are being done. People relate spiritual with externals many of the time. It makes me wonder if those who call a congregation unspiritual or dead really knows what spiritual means?
  Here's what we need to understand. If one is calling a congregation unspiritual, who might really be the unspiritual in that case? Would the spiritual condemn the whole? Would the spiritual speak against leadership knowing the word of the Lord says not to do that? Would the spiritual take an attitude with others?
  Spiritual brethren help those who are not as spiritual! "Now we who are strong ought to bear with the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves." (Rom. 15:1) Spiritual people are not out to please themselves. A self-pleaser will have an attitude but not that of Christ Jesus. "Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of the Father." (Rom. 15:7) There's what a spiritual person would do! Jesus dealt with unspiritual men called apostles and they took His message to a lost world loving the Lord's body! Jesus didn't quit or take an attitude toward these men when they failed. He accepted them to God's glory!
  Let's think of it this way. How would you react if you were at the church in Corinth? Here is what you would call an unspiritual congregation with so many problems. Fighting over preachers, adultery, law suits, complaints, comparing people with others, abusers of those who had little, inconsiderate, loveless and abusers of God's spiritual gifts. For those who complain about a dead congregation, how would they fit in at Corinth? They would quit!! What did Paul do with these brethren? "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling..." (I Cor. 1:2) Paul addresses them as God's church, as those sanctified in Christ Jesus and they were saints!!! In fact, just read the first nine verses of chapter one and you will see a spiritual man viewing God's people with all these problems. Everything depends on whose eyes you are looking through: Jesus' or self! A spiritual person will do what they can to help and help mold attitudes to those of Christ Jesus. An unspiritual person will complain, carry a chip on their shoulder, do little to lift a finger or even quit. Would that be a fleshly move or spiritual move? Are you spiritual or unspiritual?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Walk In Love"

  God speaks to us through His word that we are to "walk in love, just as Christ also loved you." (Eph. 5:2) Walk in love. Live your life as Christ loved you. Let your attitudes and manners be directed by the love of Christ. How many times have we heard this yet people who claim the Lord as theirs walk by their own feelings, their mind being upset at this one or that one and allow that to act out in their lives? How much impact does the love of God, the word of God have on our lives?
  The term "love" is agape. This love is not a feeling type of love. It is not a special feeling you have toward others because they are your friend or family member. Agape is not an impulse from any feeling. Feelings will always limit a person how far they will go for another. Love, God given and God acting love is a sacrifice, doing the best for another at all cost to you. That's the love Christ had for you. Love seeks others, not self!! Feelings seek self! To walk in love as Christ loved us can only be seen through ones actions. Agape has God as the primary object and can act on behalf of another because God is at the heart of your life! Self love is when you refuse to act on behalf of another because maybe you have a disagreement with them or you feel they took advantage of you so cold shoulder them. Cain killed his brother because he loved himself (I John 3:12). People who never come to the love of God will pursue things that pleases them and when things don't go the way want, they get upset and refuse from that point.
  Jesus told His disciples that all will know that they are His because they have love for one another (John 13:35). Agape makes an impact on the lost world around because they have never seen or known the love of God. When God's people do not act off of His love, seeking the highest good of others but instead speaking down to others, suspicious of others, not caring about one another, that's the level of love the see in the world. Why would they want to follow Jesus if they can get the same from the lost?
  The cross speaks to us and show us a sacrificing love. Will we walk in that love? "The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (I John 4:8) Those who don't know God will pay the price of eternal separation away from the presence of the Lord (II Thes. 1:8-9). Where does this leave you?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


  We go to the doctor for tests. We want to know the truth if there is anything wrong. Our children in school need to know the correct answers in order to receive good grades. We take prescription medicines and want to know the side effects and proper dosage. In all these things, we want one thing: TRUTH!
  We've known situations that come up where there are two opposing sides. One side sounds truthful but if one is really concerned for the truth, they need to get both sides as an offended or hurt person might be looking from a distorted view. 
  Isn't it interesting when it comes to God and His word that truth is not what is sought? The majority seek religion and something they feel comfortable with. Truth is not at the heart many times when it comes to God. They want something about what they believe so they can feel good.
  Jesus spoke: "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6) Jesus spoke of the Spirit that would be sent back after His ascension to the Father as "the Spirit of truth" (John 14:17;15:26). Paul instructed the Ephesians "speaking the truth in love" (Eph. 5:15). The Colossians were instructed in "the word of truth" (Col. 1:5) and they understood the grace of God "in truth" (Col. 1:6). The true church of the living God is "the pillar and support of the truth" (I Tim. 3:15). John writes that one can know "the spirit of truth and the spirit of error" simply by who we listen to for our information (I John 4:5-6). It comes from the world sources or the apostles who got it from Jesus.
  TRUTH! We need to not only seek it but love it. We need our hearts so set that we want the truth from God no matter what. To not have a love for the truth put one in a dire predicament. They are sent a deluding influence to take them further down the road of falsehood (II Thes. 2:11-12). That should be enough to put a godly fear in anyone seeking the truth. How intent are you looking at the truth? Are you afraid to put your belief up against the whole teaching of God's word? Too many take bits and pieces which leaves us with partial truth which is not the truth that Jesus is part. He is not only the way and life, He is the truth.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"A Better Home Life"

  There is a clear indication in our present day that people are looking for a better home life. The lectureships and marriage enrichment series that are promoted seem to be in record number. Videos are available  and books written on the home are just too many to count. The other day while walking down the religious section of a bookstore, I counted at least 36 different books that dealt with something about home life. Let me say that I am not against anyone wanting to improve their home and marriage relationships. What concerns me is all the so called "expert" advice given, sprinkled with a little bit of God's word and the suffering and decline of the home still prevails. What is being missed?
  Everything God has granted to those in Christ Jesus is "everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." (II Pet. 1:3) We have given to us from God EVERYTHING PERTAINING TO LIFE AND GODLINESS. God's ways improve our lives and will lead us into His holy conduct. That's the true knowledge of God! People are missing the key ingredient. Submission to the Lord and listening to His voice! Many are trying to improve their marriages without submitting to the Lord. Many are attempting to train their children without submitting to the Lord and their children learn nothing of submission. Listen to two ideas spoken by the Holy Spirit and written by the apostle Paul: "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord." (Eph. 5:22) Why is that so difficult? Why do we not accept, "as to the Lord."? "Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her." (Eph. 5:25) Why is this so difficult? Why do we not accept, "just as Christ loved"? Too many focus on the externals rather than a heart to hear and submit. A love for the Lord with all our hearts is what the Lord calls us to. A submissive spirit and a humble heart toward the Lord is what determines things. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right." (Eph. 6:1) Why is this so difficult? Why do we not accept, "in the Lord"? "And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Eph. 6:4) Why is this so difficult? Why do we not accept, "the discipline and instruction of the Lord"? All answers to marriage and the home are found in one's submission to the Lord. When one departs from a heart that desires the Lord and His ways, you will be reduced to man's "expert" advice because we are getting nothing from the Lord. For many, they move from one idea to another while remaining unhappy and frustrated in their homes. If a wife, husband or child would work on their submission to God from their heart, loving Him, where do you think God would take them? What kind of marriage would you have?
  Sometimes we read the above verses so many times and heard lessons on them that we have become dull in our spiritual senses and that's a tragic mistake. God speaks and says here is the way to a happy, fulfilling marriage and home: to the Lord! But when the word submission is mentioned, to love like Christ is mentioned, in the Lord is mentioned ears suddenly block anything else and the heart grows cold. In all this, it is the Lord's way. Have you ever wondered why there is little written on the home other than like the verses above? The Lord is speaking to us and yet many would rather have man's advice other God's. And look at the homes in failure, especially in the body of Christ!!