Friday, October 3, 2014

"The End"

  After several years of writing and my work load changing, the time has come to discontinue my daily blog. You can still access the many articles if you so desire. This was a difficult decision knowing many read this daily but it is a necessary decision.
  I want to encourage each of you, be prayerful and listen carefully to God's word. Let Him speak and direct through His word. Learn how to properly apply Scripture and not use His word in ways that were never intended. If I could ever be of help or if you continue to have questions, please feel free to write and ask. May God bless your walk and build your faith as you give Him access to your mind and heart. Be transformed by renewing your mind (Rom. 12:2). You cannot transform yourself! Remember that! Only God can transform and that happens as you give Him access to change your thought process and your heart to change your actions. Man can only conform on their own. God wants to transform us into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). There is the secret to true spiritual growth. May God richly bless your life as you change into His ways!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"Just To Preachers"

  Today I want to speak to the preachers from one who has been around preaching/teaching/counseling and many other things over the years. I travel each year speaking as well as continue to stay up with my responsibilities locally. I know what struggles are and I know what discouragement feels like. I also know encouragement and the excitement of one coming to faith in Jesus. Both are necessary in our growth in Christ Jesus to what He has called us to.
  From my experience, the greatest problem or blessing within the body of Christ is the man in the pulpit. Yes, it's us! When we can be honest with ourselves and the Lord we will begin to see who we are and what we lack. It is at that moment that we will realize that we are a great solution in the local church in each place.
  What I have found, it's not the church doesn't want to grow. Many are so weak in the body, even elderships but they do want to move forward. Brethren week after week 'tolerate' us when we are doing little feeding. The church is very tolerant! As we go through our struggles, taking hits about ourselves, feeling discouraged we need to get the focus off of us and look at it through the eyes of the Lord that He is trying to discipline us perhaps because we aren't giving our all to His name in the service of an evangelist. God is trying to grow us and we need the 'down-times' to show us that we are vital and need to grow ourselves. There is too much fluff in preachers today. Too many stories and jokes. Not enough pursuing "righteousness, godliness, faith, love perseverance and gentleness." (I Tim. 6:11) We need more in the pulpit that are concerned about "speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe." (I Tim. 4:12) We need men that "pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you." (I Tim. 4:16)  
  Don't give up! Don't give in! Grow yourself. I've known preachers who get so down they want words from the people to lift them up. I can understand that as it seems at times like no one is listening, no one gets it. But it's not the praise of man we need. It's the confidence from God that we are fulfilling His purpose in our position. Sometimes preachers are just skimming by and they know it. They need something from the brethren to ensure that they aren't being found out as not giving 100%. That's part of the problem in the pulpit.
  Preach the word. That's what we are called to do. Yes, you will have your few that want to attack you, trying to find things out on you simply because they don't love. The Lord will deal with them. I have seen it over and over in my many years. It's the Lord's church, not theirs. Jesus will deal with those who cause disturbances. Preach the word. Don't allow anyone to stop you. When you find you're struggling, be diligent in prayer and study knowing God is trying to build and grow you. Yes, we can be the greatest problem but we can also be a source of great blessings from God if we would take to heart the task to which we have been called. You will always be a target. God will always be your guide. Jesus will be your guard. Preach the word.
  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Eternal Life"

  Let's learn about God! Let's come to know God! Let's not just learn some facts or know about Him but come to know Him in the deepest level that we can. And how does one do that? You have to listen and spend time with Him! If you think you can assemble with the saints once or twice a week and come to know God, you're missing Him. I don't mean we can't come to know Him at the assembly. The assembly is where God should be most visible. Many times there is too much football talk, baseball talk or some other hobby or catch up time on the latest news. It robs us! We need to know God!!
  Let me offer you some ways in which you can come to know God in a deeper level. Learn to walk where He wants you to walk! That's rather simple. But what about when someone does you wrong, how do you react? You are faced with two choices. Resent them or embrace them? "And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him." (Luke 17:4) How many of us would be willing? Once or twice, maybe but seven? Right then and there you find out if you're willing to know God. How many times over your life has God forgiven you? More than seven? And how about in a day? When you forgive anyone, no matter what they have done to you, you step into God's world of love and begin to discover how He lives and walks. You begin to know God!
  He was a man who claimed God yet held grudges. He wouldn't call them grudges but had 'documented' the times he felt he was wronged by another. Ever met someone like that? Listen to the word of the Lord: "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death." (I John 3:14) To not love (this is the sacrificial love) is to remain spiritual dead! Here is love defined in I Cor. 13: "...does not take into account a wrong suffered." People who keep records of wrongs do not love, live in death and do not know God. "The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (I John 4:8) It was Jesus who said eternal life was knowing "the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3) Paul reminded the Thessalonians about the return of Jesus that there would be those who will pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord. And who are they? "Dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." (II Thes. 1:6-9) Two groups targeted. We readily agree about those who do not obey the gospel but have we ever thought about those who do not know God?
  We need to know God! Take time in prayer and read His word. Listen carefully to His voice as He speaks in His word and then walk where He walks! Therein you will find yourself coming to know God...and that's eternal life!  

Monday, September 29, 2014

"Get Up!"

  Too many are drowning in guilt. I am speaking of those immersed into the name of Jesus. Guilt is a terrible master. People who have failed and failed thinking that God will not and cannot forgive them any further. Who taught us that? The result is people withdrawing into themselves, not wanting to do anything or be around anyone. Their service to the Lord wains and even stops. What a tragedy! 
  Have we forgotten the Lord Jesus and His love? Have we lost so much faith that we no longer believe that the Lord will forgive? Do many not realize that God delights in forgiveness?? Yes, that's not a misrepresentation of God. God delights to forgive! (Micah 7:18-19)
  Instead of spending time thinking about your failures we should spend time thinking about the God who forgives our failures if we will confess (I John 1:9). Those words spoken are spoken to the one in Christ Jesus. Confess and He will forgive! Confess as He wants to forgive! That's our Father. We need to spend more time thinking about who we are running to and less time thinking about who or what we are running from. One takes you down. One will build you up. The only way to finding freedom and forgiveness is to embrace the Lord who wants to forgive you. When will we learn, even while the Lord was lifted up on the cross between heaven and earth, shamed in the eyes of man, the words came from His lips to His Father: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" A cruel and hateful people yet we hear the heart of our Savior wanting their forgiveness. What about us? Why can't we believe that? Jesus isn't only willing to receive you the failure but is eager to receive you! 
  What are we waiting for? Get up, see the blood, believe the words of the Lord, embrace His assurance with what faith you have. Stop looking at you! God doesn't delight in our sins and He never will. But He does delight in forgiving and that's why He gave us His Son Jesus. The real question is: Who do you delight in? Your sins or your Savior?
  

Friday, September 19, 2014

"Power of God"

  Off again! I am headed out to Kennbunk Port, Maine to preach for a week. Ill be out of pocket all next week so my writings will be delayed until I return. 
  In the meantime, be dedicated and committed to reading of God's word. Give God entrance to your heart and allow Him to change your life. You can't change yourself. Man tries with their many self-help books and techniques but they are powerless to transform us into what God wants us to be. Man uses man's methods to make changes in their life. If man has the power to make changes into what God wants, then that means the power resides within us and not God. In other words, we don't need God. Too many cannot distinguish between the power of man and the power of God. When man relies on man's steps of psychology and efforts it will lead you one place: away from God. Just listen to what God spoke through Jeremiah the prophet: "Thus says the Lord, 'Cursed  is the man who trusts in mankind and makes his flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord.'" (Jer. 17:5) When people want to follow man's ways their heart goes after man's ideas and ways and the result is the heart turns away from the Lord rather than the heart embrace the word of the Lord and His ways. That's a rather sobering thought.
  Jesus said this way: "And why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46) Just calling on Jesus and His Lordship does not make that a reality in our lives. We need His strength, His power and His life working in us which means we must deny us! Dethroning self is the secret to the life of God and coming into His power. That's the only way that change will take place and you be made 'a new creation' in Christ Jesus. Yield to God! Surrender to Jesus! There is where the true power lay!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"It's All There"

  Are we sure we have enough revealed in Scripture about God? Why are many looking for answers that are not revealed? As we face difficulties and decisions, are we short on the truth that our problem is ours alone and there aren't enough answers from God? Some people believe that we are short on the truth. That's why so many things are added along side of God's word as if God short-changed us! There are too many voices trying to convince us that God hasn't given us everything on every area of our lives. But slowing down and reading from Him, we find that we have been given every thing we need, in every area of our lives if we would only listen and accept.
  I am persuaded that we have all we need. Some religions are running around preaching they have "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." Another? Really? God gave us information that there is not "Another Testament!" God speaks that a covenant (testament) is valid upon the death of the one who made it. (Heb. 9:15-17) When did Jesus Christ validate "Another Testament"? It means He would have to die...twice!! And to top it off, in this "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" there have been found some 3913 changes and deletions since the "Another" came into existence. Mistakes are common in this book called Mormon that is claimed to be the complete revealing of God. In fact, to convince people this "Another Testament" is from God, it is stated in this book that those who say the word of God itself is enough, they are cursed!
  God spoke through His Son and Jesus showed and taught man God. "Grace and truth were realized through Christ Jesus." (John 1:17)  We have all we need except one thing. We need to heed!! Paul said we are transformed by presenting ourselves back to God, having our minds renewed from His word each day. (Rom. 12:1-2) That means we say 'no' to the world so we can come to know the will of God. We have enough teaching on life. Many simply have no heart of faith and want to haggle over this. If we would only listen with a heart for God and follow His voice, we will know more than we ever dreamed and as much as we need to know. It sounds like to me that the problem isn't the lack of information but the lack of 'formation'!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Take Care"

  The Hebrew writer warns: "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) The words "fall away" literally mean "to stand off from". In warning about our hearts turning to evil and unbelieving, that individual "stands off" from God. The good and believing heart is explained in this way: "Therefore, putting aside all malice, and all deceit, and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord." (I Pet. 2:1-3)
  An evil and unbelieving heart backs off and the things of God are no longer a priority in life. In fact, an evil and unbelieving heart is tied directly to the preaching/teaching of God's word (Heb. 4:2). There has to be within each of us the coming together of faith in God's word when His word is spoken. That's what drives one forward. God speaks and how your respond reveals much about yourself. When the church is disrupted by disputes, what is taking hold in the hearts? When homes are in disarray, what is taking hold in the hearts? A good and believing heart takes in the things of God, longs for the things of God and we are willing to let go of anything that would promote decay and indifference.
 God wants our faith to grow. God wants us with Him. It is up to us to make certain, to take care of our hearts that we don't become dull and insensitive toward the things of God. We must make certain that we aren't allowing things to crowd out the Lord by making choices of pleasures or our wants over His. What responses are you making daily? Are they God-driven with a heart of trusting faith or do we make choices that take us away into other things resulting in indifference and apathy ? We are partakers of Christ and that will continue unless we forget and stop holding fast from the beginning to the end. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Home Again"

  I just returned from New York preaching/teaching for a week. What a wonderful week it was along with some heart-wrenching times. A wonderful, dedicated Christian lady who for years has been concerned for her son and spiritual well-being got a phone call while we were having lunch together. It was her daughter telling her that her son was just taken to the hospital. Within a short period of time he passed from this world. I can only imagine what this lovely lady must have gone through. Life has no guarantees but eternal life does!
  As I reflect on all this, yesterday millions around this world met to remember and proclaim the death of the Lord Jesus in His Supper. In each congregation, together as ONE, they eat the bread and drink of the fruit of the vine. With Jesus in their (our) presence as the Holy Spirit indwells the church we are reminded of His death in our place and in His death it is announced that our sins, our iniquities have been judged and sentenced carried out in His death and He is coming again! What a joy! What a fellowship! What a Savior! Let's rejoice and be glad in the Lord.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"The Treasures In the Heart"

  He called himself a "pastor". I had spoken with him in the past and called me "pastor." I reminded him by asking if he even knew what a "pastor" was according to Scripture? As he thought he said, "We've had this discussion before, haven't we?" I gave no response except a smile.
  As he spoke, once in a while he would throw out a word used in a profane slang way. After doing this three or four times, I asked him why he used such words in such a profane way and calling himself as one who preaches. He had no clue what I was talking about. That told me a lot! He seemed to use this slang, profane word so often in his daily life that he didn't realize what he was saying it. It was habit. I pointed out the word. He quickly apologized for such telling me he doesn't know why he does that. I do!
  "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his own tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless." (Jam. 1:26) 
  He is a member of Christ's body that I was listening to. In conversation with another, he would let a word out that was very profane and kept on talking like it was nothing. He was completely unaware of what he was saying because he used such words in his personal daily life, it was part of his normal speech. In the course of the conversation he was completely unaware how often he used such words.
  "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills the heart."  (Luke 6:45) 
  God's word speaks clearly. Listen to someone's talk. When the tongue cannot be bridled, their religion, no matter what they say, is worthless. When the tongue uses words that are demeaning, crude, off color and profane, their mouth speaks what is in their heart. There needs to be some serious personal examination for such as the heart is evil! What kind of words do you use?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"Dying For Somebody Like That"

  I was facing the possibility of being drafted into the Vietnam war. I'm grateful I wasn't but many of my friends were and some lost their lives. I can't imagine what families went through. Then I heard this come across my desk. He was a graduate of West Point Academy and was sent to Vietnam to lead a group of new recruits into battle. This young man was very well trained and kept his men from ambush and death. After some time, one night he and his men were overtaken by a group of Viet Cong. The West Point graduate was able to get all but one man to safety. The one soldier had been severely wounded and from their trenches, the young lieutenant could hear the wounded comrade moaning, crying out for help. He knew there would be great risks to leave the trench but the lieutenant had to help as he felt responsible for all. 
  The young lieutenant crawled out of the place of safety toward the cries of the dying man. He safely got to him and was able to drag him back. Upon pushing the wounded man into the safety of the trench, the young lieutenant caught a bullet in the back and was killed instantly.
  Months later the rescued man returned to the United States and when the parents of the dead hero heard that he was in their vicinity, they planned a dinner for him. They wanted to know this young man whose life was spared at such a great cost to them. On the night of the dinner party, their guest for whom they had waited so long to meet, arrived...drunk! He was loud and boisterous. He told jokes that were unfitting and showed no concern for the family of the young lieutenant that rescued him. The parents of this dead hero did their best to make it all worthwhile but their efforts were unrewarded. Finally, at the end of the torturous visit, their obscene, drunken guest left. The mother collapsed in tears weeping loudly and said, "To think that our precious son had to die for somebody like that!"
  Listen carefully and bring God into view in your heart. From man's perspective: "For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die."  From God's perspective: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinner, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:7-8)
  We were yet sinners! We were the vile and embarrassing! We were the drunk, the profane, the horrible and yet God demonstrated His love and Jesus died for us. What are we going to do with that?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Unpack the Gospel"

  Maybe it's just me but I stand firmly on the ground that the gospel is where we need to be focusing and using in all our preaching and teaching. Just take some time and look through the letters of the NT and there you will find over and over some mention of the gospel in one way or another. There is too much talking and pursuing secular textbooks on family therapy, someone's book as a life source for all to heed or ideas of being married and the amount of time spent on this subject. I'm not saying we can't teach things or approach things differently but what I am saying is it's the gospel that changes a person, that confronts people in sin to offer them a way out and is God's only source of salvation. If we are going to be transformed it will come from the power of the word of the gospel. You want to get hold of the life of God? Get hold of the gospel and not just a defining meaning of what the word means. I'm talking the heart of God! Give people a steady diet of the significance of God Himself, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and speak of the life, death and resurrection, the glorification and the coming again of this wonderful Savior and Lord and speak of His purpose and our destiny and mission. All of this is found in the gospel! 
  That brings me to my purpose as a 'preacher'. It's not the business as a preacher to fix everybody's life (and some think they can) or to try to micro-manage the lives of believers (which some try to do) which he knows little about. The business of the preacher is to proclaim and 'unpack' the gospel and help the sincere brethren to announce that gospel on which their very existence as Christ's body of faith depends. Too many nod at texts which allude to the gospel and assume everyone knows what those texts mean. The assuming is what gets us in trouble.
  There is becoming increasingly an attitude of "how to win friends and influence" people type of material being heralded out there. Meet people in parking lot, be super friendly, set up games and such to get people interested. Sounds so much like people in the business world offer to increase their flow. When will we accept with all our heart that the gospel is and will always be God's power to influence, direct and save people? It's God's calling, not the business world's calling card. Unpack the gospel! Get looking into it intently and then you will see where your faith has been directed. Ask your preacher, your elders and others where you assemble as Christ's body,  to unpack the gospel!!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Grace and Church"

  We want to get people to the water. They are told they must be baptized or they won't go to heaven. While there is truth in that statement, too many are scared into baptism (especially children) rather than being faced with their sin and its consequences so faith in Jesus is never taught much less sought. We need to tell people what God did before we tell them what to do! The real, true motivation of faith is the grace of God. When we speak of Christianity, we are speaking of the grace of God in Christ Jesus. When we speak of His church, you cannot separate Christ, grace and the Church. Paul expressed this thought when speaking with the elders from Ephesus (Acts 20:28) and Paul teaching the church at Ephesus (Eph. 3:21/5:25-27).
  Today, I want you to think and realize to believe in the grace of God is to love His Church! It was Jesus Himself that told Peter He would build His church and Hades gates would never prevail against His Church. (Matt. 16:18) This is one of the more familiar Scripture but we need to read it carefully and think. Jesus didn't say He would build 'a' church or 'your' church. Jesus built His Church and it was based on Him being who He is and He is the grace provider. Too many are making the Church their own private property or ownership. I know of congregations where certain families dominate and if things are done according to their way, the one or ones not following are removed. That is not the Church Jesus built. That is a man built church by man's ideas. Jesus did not build 'our' church!! Grace from God through Jesus Christ built the Church of Jesus.
  What do we learn? The Church is about God's grace to us. Jesus built His Church without man's involvement. That means it has nothing to do with man's efforts but Christ's efforts and God's grace. The Church Jesus built is not self-reliant. It is completely dependent upon the grace of the Lord Jesus. The Church is where God's grace-works are done! (Eph. 2) Grace is through faith. Think about how you feel about the Church, not a denomination because the Church Jesus built is not a denomination. That's man's doings! Grace teaches us to love His Church and to love His Church is God's grace toward you at work. That should give us each something to think about!   

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Alter Your Course!"

    He was a young naval officer. His first assignment at sea was given and he was determined that nobody would push him around or abuse his authority! One stormy night he saw a bright light coming toward his ship so he sent a message to the ship, "Alter your course by ten degrees!" Immediately a message came back to him, "Alter your course ten degrees!" The young officer was put out with such a message. He spoke out about the disrespect for his authority and the defiance! He sent a second message, "Alter YOUR course by ten degrees...this is the captain!" Almost immediately came the message back, "Altar YOUR course by ten degrees...this is the lighthouse!"
  Too many in Christ are like that young naval officer. Too many want to guide their own 'ships' without any anyone telling them what to do. We want independence and prove that no one will tell us what we can or cannot do. We act as if we are completely capable of doing things for ourselves, without instruction.
  A friend of mine was sharing with me about a congregation he worked with. Every time he spoke or wrote an article about dress, he had one family that became upset at him and they would let him know. "No one is going to tell me how to dress my daughters!" is what the woman would tell him. It didn't matter if God's sacred word asked for the women to dress for God rather than for the world (I Tim. 2:9-10). It was nothing than pure rebellion. As this family took on difficulties later in their lives, it became apparent that none in that family had a real firm grip spiritually while fear and anxiety seem to bury them. They never recovered.
  That is sad to hear but yet there are many living in arrogance, self-maintained brethren not taking any instruction thinking that someone would dare tell them how to live. Jeremiah spoke plainly, "I know, O Lord, that a man's way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps." (Jer. 10:23) The Psalmist wrote: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psa. 119:105) God's word is our lighthouse and if we do not take action as He asks, we too are headed from a course in life that will crash us into the rocks. What's worse is you can see it coming while they can't.
  How many difficulties could be avoided if we would only heed and make certain we are taking proper instruction? How many congregations would resolve matters if only we would accept what the Lord asks when we want to strike out on our own? Let's not defy or fight God's authority. It's always better to alter our lives according to His word. How do you receive the authority of God's word?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"God's Goodness"

  What's your view of God? How do you really perceive Him? Your conviction and understanding of God are revealed in many different ways. What you do in your worship reveals your understanding of God. It can also reveal your lack of understanding also. But mainly what you say to others, what you speak reveals your insight of God. And we need to speak!
  Moses asks of God, "I pray You, show me Your glory!" (Ex. 33:18) God responds by letting Moses know that no one can see His face and live. But God does grant this: "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you..." (Ex 33:19) The goodness of God is nothing like the goodness of man. We compare goodness with one another but God's goodness, who do we have to compare it too? How are we going to get a glimpse of God's goodness and speak about it?
  Look at the cross! The death of Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Lord speaks volumes about the goodness of God. Yes, we see mercy, grace, righteousness and all those elements of God but His goodness is demonstrated also. 
  Here is Micah the prophet never witnessing or hearing about the saving death of Jesus but he speaks loudly the goodness of God. "Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."  (Micah 7:18-19) Micah speaks of God before a sin-filled people. Micah speaks to this sin-filled people that God does all the above with delight and compassion. God doesn't have to be begged or bribed or cajoled into forgiving. God does what He does with a fullness of generous joy. 
  Why can't we believe that? To realize what God does with delight brings about a recognition of His goodness so that we can adore Him and know Him. And here Jesus stands, the complete delight of God on our behalf and God delights in this love for us. Isn't that what Rom. 5:9-10 speak? What do you speak? How do you view God? Speak of Him! Tell it to one another! This is what we proclaim every Lord's Day at His Supper! Tell is clearly and speak it often. The goodness of God has passed before our eyes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Upon Death"

  There are all sorts of questions that surround death and I understand why. It is something we have never experienced to speak about. But Jesus spoke of it. After all, He was face to face with God from the beginning because He was God (John 1:1-4). With that being said, He knows what death is about for man and He taught on it when He walked in our world.
  Here are a few things and I will draw these from Jesus teaching of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. First, we need to realize that a person's consciousness after death is still there. When death separates us from the living on the earth, that individual does not stop existing. They are very well aware and conscious of things around. "...remember that during your life you received your good things..." (Luke 16:25) Death does not destroy a person's consciousness. I have heard ones use Eccl. 9:5-6 stating that the dead have no awareness of anything. That's not what Solomon was saying. The dead do not lose their conscious state but Solomon states that people on earth soon forget the one who passed as a faded memory. I just wanted to throw that in.
  Secondly, death does not destroy destiny! Death is the entrance into our destiny. Death is a reminder that there are only two possibly destinies open to every person. Jesus is plain about that. One is a destiny of torment and the other is the destiny of comfort. Jesus knew this well as the purpose of His dying to remove our sins was to offer a destiny of comfort to those who would choose Him over the world. Each of us has a choice and in our choices our destinies are set. Too many are careless not realizing what choices they are making will have an eternal destiny at the end. 
  Finally, upon death we can and will recognize others. The rich man recognized Lazarus and Abraham. The rich had never known Abraham before but he knew him there. Death does not diminish the ability to recognize because they are conscious and aware of their surroundings of their destiny. Those who have died know who others are. 
  I know there are so many things we don't know or understand and this is so brief but what I was trying to do is give you something that would prick the heart and make you think about your eternal destiny. Jesus came to rescue us from the destiny of eternal torment and it must be so much worse than we could imagine or He wouldn't have given His life in our place. God wants our destiny with Him. Jesus pleads us to choose our destiny carefully and not allow anything to get in the way of our eternal home with Him. What are you planning for presently or are you just living each day with little direction or thought? Your destiny is at stake! 
  

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Trembling Before God"

  Have we missed something about our God? Maybe I'm looking for a little help from you today. It seems that too many are making the Father as their good 'old buddy' or 'pal.' They seem to speak in ways that make me think they just stroll into His presence like those who give a big hug asking, "How ya doing?" I hear others say, but I don't believe them, how God spoke to them in this manner or that like they were selected out of all those on the earth to hear this special revelation. 
  I read where Moses encountered God in the wilderness seeing a bush burning and God calling him by name. When it was revealed that he was standing in the presence of God Almighty, the ground was sacred, Moses didn't say, "Hey buddy, good to hear from you!" Moses hid his face and was afraid to look at God!! (Ex. 3:6) 
  When Moses requested to see God and God explained no man can see Him and live, God placed Moses in the cleft of the rock, put His hand over Moses to shield him and passed by, Moses could not stand up but made haste to bow low and he worshiped the Almighty (Ex. 34:8) Moses and God were close as friends (Ex. 33:11) yet it was not a common friendship. James speaks that Moses was called a friend of God (Jam. 2:23). There was a great reverence and each of those encounters with God, this closeness of relationship, God spared Moses by protecting him each time as God revealed no man can see Me and live. 
  Jesus showed God to man in Himself. As close as Peter was to Jesus, when Peter and his partners had fished all night and the Lord bid him to let out again into deep water, their nets filled with fish so great like nothing they had ever seen before. And what did Peter do? He fell down at the feet of Jesus bidding, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" (Luke 5:8) There was a confession, a realization in the presence of Jesus. While Peter was pleased to be near, there was a reverence in the presence of Jesus. 
  How about Thomas the doubter when He encountered the risen Lord? In his touching Jesus, Thomas exclaimed, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28)
  What do we learn? Are we to be a people that come crawling into the presence of the Almighty, taking the Supper with gloom and doom in our heart? Of course not! Too many see the Lord God as One who is ready to crush us with His mighty fist! This God protected His friend. This Lord spared His apostles.That's what friendships do but we are called to pursue the sanctification (holiness) which we were called to or we will not see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). Holiness is serious both in living and worship! This same God who loves us and this Son who committed His life for us calls us with a holy calling that we are to show gratitude. How? "By which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe." (Heb. 12:28) Acceptable service with reverence and awe. He's not just a pal and chummy buddy. The Lord God Almighty and His Savior needs to be revered and held in high esteem, not some encounter as we would see in on the street corner or with some other person. He is holy!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"There Is God!"

  God created and it was very good! That's what Gen. 1:31 tells us. There was a time in this world's history that every single element was in perfect alignment with God. What kind of place would that have been? Have you ever thought about it? There was no record of any decay or corruption. It was all exceedingly good. On top of that the blessing of God was bestowed to flourish in this great harmony together. The Creator, man and all living things were in unison living and talking together. All of this speaks of the relationship of God to His creation and it something beautiful. We sometimes don't allow it to impact us but God brought all that exists into existence. His great wisdom and might brought into existence things that had no matter, no material but He spoke and there they (we) were!! The Creator organized it and gave things their proper place.
  And we think we can live on our own power? We act like it at times. We think as God's people, the church, it's all up to us to do this or that. We believe without us God can't get things done. We organize and work hard. Many of our efforts fail and fall short. We get frustrated as we try harder. Too many have become self-sufficient rather than 'God-sufficient'. Our thoughts are we must take care of things rather than allow God to take care of things. We put our hands on too much and trust too little. That's it...we simply don't trust our Creator or at least that's how we approach things. Maybe it's time we backed off and reflect while meditating about this Creator that we have been called into fellowship with through His Son.
  God alone stood in bringing all things into existence. No one told Him how, when or why. All the elements are His created servants. It was the Creators mind that put every single detail into place and how they function. There were no other gods or forces to be conquered in order to do this. The earth stands on its base because of God. The waters of the earth keep their place because of God. The animals are fed and watered because of God. The sun rises and sets on its time because of God. The seas team with life (which man is discovering something new almost daily) because of God. There are no gods, just the Almighty Creator. There was no "mother nature", just God. Why can't we trust Him to put us in the right frame of mind instead of turning to the creation for answers that does not understand how we function? 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Amazing! Simply Amazing!"

  It was a sight to behold. I've seen it before, many times in fact, but that day it was something different. I stood in awe and couldn't get enough. We were camping and the day was beautiful. A few small thunderstorms had gathered and it would rain for a few minutes and quit. We had decided to drive to the lake and take a look at things, about 4 miles away. 
  We turned out of our camp onto the pavement and there it was, right in front of us, road high as bright as I have ever seen it before. God's rainbow! It wasn't a normal rainbow. This was bright and brilliant shining like I had never seen before. Every color was vivid, even the purple at the bottom. It is a rarity to see the purple with brightness or at least that has been my experience in my years. This rainbow God placed before our eyes that day was a sight to behold. Each individual color in bright array on display before our eyes. I had to stop and get pictures. They never do justice. A couple of cars whizzed by while I stopped and I wondered if they even realized what was before their eyes. I couldn't wait to get back to camp and read about it. I wanted to hear from God Himself what He was showing us that day. 
  How many rainbows have you seen in your lifetime? We are amazed aren't we? We tell our children or anyone else around, "Look at the rainbow." Over 5000 years and it still impresses man. God is faithful. That rainbow is one way God speaks to His world, His creation. Why won't people believe and listen? 
"'I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.' God said, 'This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." (Gen. 9:11-16) I wonder if the creatures can see it?  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"A Holy Calling"

  Paul appealed to the young preacher Timothy to join in suffering with him "for the gospel according to the power of God." (II Tim. 1:8) Then he continues reminding Timothy that the gospel that is according to God's power is what saved them (and us) and called us with a holy calling. In all this, Paul speaks that he was appointed a preacher, an apostle and teacher to uphold this. (II Tim. 1:9-11) 
  Paul was defending the seriousness of all this and his position he was called by God. We too need to take seriously our holy calling and salvation. Have you ever thought about your "holy calling"? A behavior and attitude of holiness before God. That's what salvation has brought us: holiness. Peter speaks that saints are to be like the "Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior."  (I Pet. 1:15) I must admit that in my past, I wasn't holy in my behavior and didn't take my calling and salvation seriously which led me to silliness and ignorant behavior. 
  While returning home from our vacation, we stopped at a place to assembly with the saints for worship. That day these brethren had a guest speaker who was well known throughout East Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska or that's what we were told. He was introduced as one who will hold your attention and after you hear him, you will see why he is invited to so many places. The man speaking for God stood up and began...with a joke! That led to a story that ended in a joke. Another funny story came, some funny off the cuff comments, a quote of a Bible verse, a funny statement from the quote of God's holy Scripture and then the lesson began. Never once did he open God's word. He only quoted. Often he would speak of something of our salvation and end his words with, "Do I hear an Amen?" I never heard ONE amen. Finally, after a funny story, he ended with, "Do I hear an amen?" I'm not certain he understood he was asking an 'amen' for a funny story. It seemed to be all a habit without thought. In all, I can see why he holds peoples attention and invited to so many places. He was a comedian that walked over the holy calling of God with jokes. My heart was broke. What was worse is I'm not sure many of the people could see anything wrong. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I've gotten too old and have become an old stick in the mud. I just couldn't see the appointed preacher, apostle and teacher Paul flinging out one liners to get the brethren rolling.
  God takes our salvation seriously. His holiness that He called us to is something that shouldn't be common as we would see at a comedy hour. Our salvation is based on the brutal death of the Lord Jesus. He took my (and yours) load of guilt and carried them to the grave. The Lord lived only 33 short years but those years were spent carrying you and me to spare us from eternal consequences of condemnation. We need to strive carrying this gospel by the power of God and that takes a serious and sober minded life. We are called to holiness. What do you think?

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Renewal Of Mind and Body"

  "But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness to pray." (Luke 5:16) This little statement that was Holy Spirit inspired has great meaning or at least it is becoming to be more of an influence for me as I age. 
  Getting alone with God, away from all distractions is vital. I just returned from two weeks away, in the mountains, reading and praying everyday and I cannot tell you how refreshed I am. It's not vacationing just to run to every thing and do every event while you are where you are. It's not about being busy spending money. It's about time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord without any distractions and it helps both the mind and body! Too many families today are killing themselves daily with worries and pleasures of life. They take their vacation and what do they find? Spending themselves into more debt (which creates greater anxieties for paying off) and running at a fast pace from one thing to another only coming home to needing a vacation from their vacation. I know this well. I used to do it! Not any more. I have since discovered the "secret" of renewing your mind and body and it's not about running but resting in the Lord. Someone might say, "But you don't have kids anymore and they want to go do!" Aw, that's just it. We kept two of our grandchildren, ages 6 and 10, with us the whole two weeks and they were well content sitting around camp, playing in the dirt, walking along side the stream of water, throwing rocks, finding rocks, feeding the chipmunks, riding their bikes down a single path, doing a little fishing and all without electronics or wanting to go and do!
  Our lives are being pushed to the limits by too many activities and electronics. Our lives are being pushed by the love of pleasures rather than the love of God. When was the last time you sat down and meditated on the word of God? When was the last time you sat down and looked for God in His word, listening to His voice alone? When is the last time you sat down and simply prayed? I don't mean the short little prayers, but a praying with a yearning and longing from the heart? The mind becomes refreshed. The soul becomes clean and focused. The heart is stirred to great depths. God touches the depth of your being! I understand a little of why Jesus would slip away often.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"You Gotta Believe"

  Today will be my last post until Aug. 11 as I am planning on taking some time off to head to the mountains of Colorado. This is a yearly trek and I always look forward to getting time to reflect and fuel the soul. 
  Take time and read the John's gospel, all of it! It was written to the church and the purpose is stated in John 20:30-31, to increase our faith in Jesus which brings one to life, His life. But here's the interesting part about this word "believing". It is a present tense, active participle meaning a faith that is produced, continues and increases. It is not a one time act for salvation as many have tried to teach. It is on-going, ever increasing. The same word "believe" used in John 3:16 that so many use as a salvation verse is the same tense and meaning there also. John uses the term "believe" in some form some 99 times.
  When one looks at this word "believe", there are three elements that happen in the heart to produce a faith that continues to increase: (1) It is a conviction! A conviction is a confidence so that you will stand firmly. (2) It is a trust! When there is a believing trust it means there is a complete reliance upon Jesus. There should be. Jesus our Lord is the visible image of God, the exact representation of God Himself, so we can trust Him to show us God and bring us to God. He and the Father are one. (3) It is obedience! To believe and continue for faith to grow there must be obedience. People who claim that believing in the Lord as your personal Savior and never respond to His word are not believers! There must be an active obedience. Read Hebrews 11 that many call the faith chapter and there you will find every faithful man and woman, when God called, they obeyed! It takes all three of these elements together for a faith that brings one into the life of Jesus.
  One way of seeing these three elements of faith is seen in John 2 where Jesus does His first miracle. In verse 5, notice Mary's faith: "Whatever He says to you, do it." Within that statement to others we see a conviction, trust and obedience called upon. You find that throughout this gospel account.
  Grow in your faith in Jesus. Grow in your trust. Respond to His word when He speaks because He speaks about the Father. He knew the Father and His life was in loving communion with the Father. We need to know both the Lord Jesus and the Father better. The door is open for you to progress. It's time to take our walk more seriously. Jesus did!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Hope In God"

  Wars, injustices and natural disasters are taking place all over the world. It is a sad state our world has become. On the lips of many is the end of time while others use this as prophecy about some cataclysmic event that is soon to take place. The real question is: Is there any hope?
  As Jesus spoke to His own disciples about the impending judgment upon Jerusalem (Matt. 24), one thing He reminded them was there will be wars, rumors of wars and all sort of tribulations. Many of the disciples would lose their lives. Then comes His words: "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved." (Matt. 24:13) And how would they endure? Be ready and alert! That's what they are instructed. Instead of getting caught up in all the events, hold to Jesus! Prepare your heart! Watch over your life! That's what they were told about the impending doom of Jerusalem.
  For us we too need to do the same. Don't get caught up in what you see or hear. Get caught up in the Lord by the renewing of your mind and setting your heart to sober thinking. The Psalmist found himself on the verge of despair and penned these words: "My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, 'Where is your God?' (Psa. 42:3) Then as the Psalmist struggled, he came to a sober and proper conclusion: "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence." (Psa. 42:5) HOPE IN GOD! That is the course of the believer!!
  The preacher was finishing his lesson for Sunday and the phone rings. The words came from the caller: "My child died." The hurt and anguish was heard even though there were no more words spoken. "What can I say to him?" thought the preacher. The words came to his mind:
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor hold within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way, 
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the Solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
  Where is your hope when wearied? Hurting? Fearful? It's time to take inventory!

Monday, July 21, 2014

"What's Happened To The Message?"

  The book of I Corinthians is the church today! The exaltation of preachers, the arguments, the accusations among themselves, the fleshliness, the over-looking of sin, court cases and the list goes on. When the church began exalting in the preachers, Paul makes it very clear that he was no part of that!! He was with them in weakness, fear and much trembling (I Cor. 2:3). It wasn't Paul's ability that was making anything go. It was Jesus and Him crucified. That's the message of the Spirit! Paul pointed that the church doesn't thrive on the preacher or any man otherwise people's faith would rest on man's wisdom and not God's power! That's where we miss it.
  Paul then unloads and let's them know that it has nothing to do with the messenger but everything to do with God. In I Cor. 2:6-16 Paul declares the name of the God some ten times. It's all about God...God...God...not any man! Here were people who had once turned to Jesus and Him crucified, drawn to Him and now they were glorying in themselves. They wanted to speak about Jesus and Him crucified but their glory was in the methods, their men and that's what they upheld. So they took great pride in one preacher over another, one apostle over another and exalted themselves in their spiritual gifts as people who were special and great. But their problem was this was all part of the baggage the world glories in and they were now part of that scene. They couldn't see it. We don't see it. 
  In all the mind-set of the brethren at Corinth, they gloried in the wrong things. The physical was the attractant. Here's the major point that seems to be missed so much today: if we as true believers seek to bring Christ glory and live in the glory of Christ, it will come solely from the word of the cross and nothing else. To bring glory to the Lord Jesus, the steward must be faithful and being faithful to the trust committed to them (I Cor. 4:2). Preachers aren't called to strike out as some maverick working on their own personal agenda. Too many are working off their personal interests and agendas rather than knowing nothing but Jesus and Him crucified. That's where the power comes. That's where faith is built. Preachers/teachers aren't discovering anything new unless it comes from an arrogant, sin-filled word around! A self-glorying, worldly minded assembly that dives deeply into their interests and desires and the Christ, even though He is mentioned often, is left outside and the church grows dimmer and dimmer among the lost world. So many just migrate into other religions, looking like other religions, competing with other religions or even uniting with other religions because that's what we have become....another religion. When are we going to learn?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Love Life and See Good Days?"

  Today I travel to Harrison, Arkansas to speak to a group of believers this evening. It will be a long trip for a short amount of time but the journey is well worth it because of what I gain in the time. A time to think and reflect on the Lord. Yes, I do that when I travel and vacation. I reflect a lot on the Lord and my relationship with Him. I want to grow in my love for Him. I need to grow in that.
  As I leave, I would like to leave you with this: do you want to love life? Do you want to see good days? Even when you may be in a time of difficulty? Listen to the Lord: "Let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile. And let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attends their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." (I Pet. 3:10-12) What do you want today?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Repent and Love"

  The man sat in the office of the minister wanting direction and help. He was in his mid forties and began to explain how his marriage of some twenty years was no longer satisfying or fulfilling. As incident after incident was expressed, fighting through tears he finally spoke the words: "I just don't love her anymore!" Then came a question, "What can I do?"
  There was a brief moment of silence and the minister spoke, "As I see it, you have only one option..." The man perked up a little anticipating what was going to be said. Was the minister going to suggest divorce maybe? Would this man be free to pursue a life-style of the younger generation that he was wanting to enjoy anyway? Would this be his chance to return to his fleeting youth he saw was gone? Questions swirled his mind in this brief time of waiting. 
  The silent pause was broken by the following: "Are you a Christian?" The man looked and said, "Of course!" "The only thing, the only option left for you is to repent and start loving her again!", spoke the minister. No words were spoken. He slumped down in the chair. The minister continued: "According to the Lord who called you to Himself, we are commanded to love our spouse just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her."  The conversation was over. What would the man do? It all depends on if he has faith in the Lord or not. His response will tell his conviction and faith.
  Too many that claim Christ are going through this same type of battle. People "fall" out of love with their mate having no clue what love is. Love is a choice, not a feeling. The love of God is a love that chooses to love and sacrifice no matter what you feel. It's a love that seeks the highest good of another. Yet people are looking for something that the world has flaunted in their sinfulness that exciting, never ending feeling of utopia running around which really never exists because when the feeling is gone, there must be another new high to gain from someone else. It's called immorality, sensuality and impurity, all deeds of the flesh (Gal. 5:19) and will cost one their soul. It is not enough  to be committed to your spouse for life, you must be committed to love your spouse for life if you are part of Jesus!
  This love we are commanded to practice is a love of choice that has a beginning but no end! "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:6) Love is demonstrated by actions for the best of the other. 
  This love we are called to from God is a love that we offer our spouses. When one starts sacrificing for their spouse with a heart committed to the Lord, it will only build up the marriage and make the marriage lasting and wonderful. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

"The Starless Society"

  They were magi, wise men, making their way to Bethlehem following a star in the east. They arrived below the star before the giver of life in the person of Jesus Christ. 
  Too many today are following little to nothing but their own desires. There is nothing that pricks the heart or causes them to seek for life in Jesus. In other words, they drift through life starless! There is no sense of destiny which results in no sense of mission. There is little to accomplish. Lives end with nothing but worn-out bodies. 
  Life to many is nothing but party time, work and save, dance and booze, exercise and tan, listen to music and buy the latest cell phones with all the gadgets that we wrap our entire lives around and live for, have holidays in the sun and go for a little church attendance. Further they drift without any sense of why. There is no star beaming for them to see. They feed on their pressing impulse, worry about the latest headlines about the economy and get fixed on the political affairs wondering how this nation will be when they arrive at an old age. Freedom of rights of a country dominate their thinking but there is no star!
  Drifting is their world from one event to another chasing whatever it is they chase. Nothing is accomplished but every thing empty is desired. People attend church meetings all their lives but just dabble in it. No real sense of meaning or heart involved but they were in church. No sense of awe, no tap of God on their heart and no stirring of their spirit. Just sitting among others sitting with no real accomplishment in their heart or spirit. There is no star pointing them. More preaching is about history or interesting approaches to God's word and clever statements to get us laughing. The 'church-goer' heads home feeling something but completely starless. Year after year starless. Decade upon decade starless. The end of life starless. What are we missing?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"The Purpose of the Church Among the World"

  There were 8 of us in a discussion. Men whom are men of the word holding it with all their heart and with attitudes of humility. We were discussing the purpose of the church of the Lord. What was realized and agreed upon was this: if the church among the community we live offers nothing but more advice on how to live rightly, if it offers nothing more than a call to treat people right, if it offers little or nothing more than ways to make us more attractive, if it offers nothing more than how to make our marriages and families better, or the giving out commodities,  if this is all we focus on, we need to shut the doors! We ought to close the doors and quit pretending that we are offering something distinctive, something that can't be gained anywhere else! We ought to close it up because on these terms we are only offering what every other socially useful group is offering (and many times using their material) while they deny the gospel call of God in Christ Jesus!
  What is more alarming is the church of our Lord is not in the 'business' to compete with other religious movements which many have sought and pronounced. The 'business' as the one body, the church of Jesus Christ, is to be a bearer of God's story of redemption!! We aren't here to help societies and nations to live up to some moral code. We aren't here to stand for freedom rights and political awareness. Too many in the community around are standing on these issues. These are not what the life of the church is built upon.
  When God made His covenant with Israel, He warned them that this covenant was based on who He is and not on their success of military, economics, government or any thing else. That was not the basis of the God's people. God warned His people not to buy into the nations around about what they worshiped, spoke and followed. But Israel slowly drifted into the mind sets of the nations around, picking up their habits and thinking. God sent the prophets calling His people to repentance reminding them about the Exodus, the Wilderness, the Passover and the Almighty who was their God. In all the commandments given, they were embedded in the redeeming work of God on their behalf. This is why they sang, prayed, studied because they had a story of redemption from the Holy One. The lives they lived were not an attempt to live up to some moral code to be shared equally with the entire human race. It was a life lived in the image of God, a life bearing witness to God! They weren't speaking about themselves but about their God, the God who in holiness created them to be His witnesses to the lost world around (Isa. 43:9-13).
  We as God's children, Christ's church are not to forget our 'Exodus' from sin. We are not to forget our baptism in union with our Lord and Redeemer. We are called to eat His Supper just as Israel was called to eat their Passover. It doesn't matter if the world pokes holes in it. It is our redeeming relationship to Jesus that makes us who we are and we have a story to tell...HIS STORY!
  The NT church is the creation of God and in and through it (even with our many flaws) we are to hold up a life saving message before the face of all people. The church was not to accommodate and sink itself so that we can become another 'nice' moral group, with 'nice' messages on how to make your marriage stronger (but it will do that), or that you will find prosperity in life and happiness in our assemblies! This isn't the message that has been entrusted to the NT church of the Lord. We are not placed here simply for social dynamics! Any hope, joy and happiness that is distinctively found in Jesus rests completely on the Gospel of God. The NT church like the OT church (Israel) fails and grows weaker when this is forgotten. The church will suffer the loss of identity and purpose and the world around us will suffer loss because of it!
  We are here simply because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That's how we originated and that's how we are sustained. Our study of Scripture (Bible study) is not about getting more information or merely understand what an writer meant. It is about being shaped and sustained by our oneness with Jesus and Him crucified which results in His body. We must be careful that we aren't swallowed up by the drifts and cultures of the community we find ourselves in. We are in Jesus as His body to teach and speak in the presence of the entire human family God's gospel of redemption found only in Christ Jesus!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"An Empty Life"

  His name was Meriwether Lewis, born in 1774. The man was a man of great success with the admiration of thousands. He was the private secretary of President Thomas Jefferson. He became a distinguished war veteran and President Jefferson asked him to lead an expedition into the lands west of the Mississippi. Enlisting William Clark they began the greatest expedition of what we know as the Lewis & Clark expedition. 
  At the height of his fame, Meriwether Lewis wrote a letter to a dear friend with these words: "I feel all that restlessness, which I cannot help but thinking proceeds from the void in our hearts. Whence it comes, I know not, but certain it is, that I never felt less like a hero than at the present moment." Shortly after this letter, Meriwether Lewis passed away of what was believed to be his own suicide.
  Hopelessness seems to plague so many. People living with no sense of direction or they feel great shame and disappointment over decisions they have made which sends them into despair. How many do we know or maybe its you that feels the void in the heart, an emptiness of life? Judas found the same when he realized he had betrayed innocent blood by betraying His Lord. His answer? Suicide. Yet here comes Peter who denies Jesus, even swearing he never knew the man but what does he find in his dire need? Jesus! One of faith knowing the source and one of hopelessness not realizing the source.
  Jesus spoke these words: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30)
  An empty life, a void in the heart can only be filled by Jesus and nothing/no one else. If we would only stop looking at us and our situation and look to Him we could find rest for our souls. That means we must yoke up with Him. Walking hand in hand, learning from Him knowing He will lead us into life, His life while we walk our journey on this earth. Jesus is waiting!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Death Changes Everything"

   Death changes everything! The passing of a loved one is difficult even if we know their love for the Lord and His truth. Death changes everything! The memories become dear. The holidays that we once shared aren't the same. Some days you long for the loved one so deeply. With all our advanced medical technology, death cannot be stopped.
  But what about the death of Jesus? Everything changed the day He died! EVERYTHING! The people stood in their insults and tears as they witnessed the elements on the earth change. The words came from the cross: "It is finished!" (John 19:30) From that split second to two thousand years later, everything changed.
  The disciples of Jesus were at a loss. Death changes everything! Their Lord simply passed on in their mind to which Peter responds: "I am going fishing." (John 21:3) That's it! Life is over. The One whom they had set their hope as the deliverer was gone. What would become of His teachings? What would they do with His teachings? All the miracles they witnessed, what was that about? Their hopes were dashed. Death changes everything!
  But the death of Jesus changed everything. He arose and defeated death on Sunday morning. He's alive and is still living. His tomb remains empty. His body that was pummeled beyond recognition was well as Jesus walked among man. "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." (John 20:27) Jesus spoke these words to Thomas. Jesus died and arose from the dead! Death no longer has the final say in the life of Jesus. Jesus holds the keys to death and Hades and is alive forevermore (Rev. 1:18). 
  The apostles stood and watched the Lord of mankind, the Lord of death and over all the earth ascend to the Father. "You shall be My witnesses", Jesus spoke to those men. The death of Jesus changed everything, even death itself! The gospel is a gospel of life, not death. It's a gospel that through death we live because of Christ. "Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same, that through death He might He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives." (Heb. 2:14-15) Death changes everything! And the resurrected Christ changed death!

Monday, July 7, 2014

"God's Seeking Us"

  Sometimes we have a hard time believing! Especially those who struggle against sin. They get to a point believing that God doesn't want them anymore. While it is true that God cannot and will not walk in the world of sinful living with sinful attitudes, it doesn't mean He doesn't want us. God is opposed to ungodly behavior. He has to be separated from any unrighteousness to protect His holiness and righteousness! That's who He is.
  But do we really believe God wants us? Do we really believe that God delights in forgiveness? The Scriptures say He does! When Jesus explains the heavenly hosts break out into shouts of joy over one repentant one, God wants us! Jesus battled the self-righteous, sinful "preachers" of the first century called the Pharisees and was attacked by the teachers and preservers of God's Law called the scribes. Jesus was run out of districts and ridiculed over and over and then we find Him speaking of the city of Jerusalem wishing, wanting to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. He was seeking a relationship even with all that. But the bottom line fell on them: "You were unwilling!" (Matt. 23:37) There it is. That's the problem. We are never rejected by God but we reject God. It's our unwillingness to want to leave the paths of sin. We like what we do where we live and do not want to give in to Him whole-hardheartedly. The sin leaves us lonely, empty and hurting. We cry out for help and as this process goes over and over again, we conclude that He wants nothing to do with us. As we harden we believe Lord of heaven and earth wants to cast us aside. Our walking in sin's path has created a conclusion within us that the devil has convinced us that God wants nothing to do with us. That's far from the truth!
  Jesus came seeking and He still is seeking. It's us who will not give in and respond. We think that God doesn't want us because we have failed Him over and over. We do matter to God. I don't understand that either but we do matter and God has made it abundantly clear that He will keep coming after us, telling us what He wants for us and will do in us. The Lord seeks more than just forgiving us. He seeks to make something of us that looks like the image of Jesus. The question is: do we believe it? 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Compounding Problems"

  They came to me and said, "Why is it that I seem to go from one bad thing to another? I pray about it and yet when one difficulty is over another hits!" I can hear the pain in the life of this individual. What I had difficulty in doing (and it was my weakness) was trying to explain to the individual that it was their personal choices that was causing one difficulty after another. They were having a hard time excepting that. 
  There are trials that come into our lives just because. James 1 points to that plainly that "various trials" can hit at anytime. Things that we have no control over or did not cause. But then there are those who go from difficulty to difficulty because they use little wisdom from above and follow their own course of thinking and decisions which compounds the results in their lives. How many times have we known someone in a financial crunch and in the moment jump to a quick loan that charges 200% interest on a small loan? It's a load to have to get this paid off and many times they end up having to be bailed out. What if we had used wisdom from God rather than seek our want, our desire at first? Our wisdom follows our selfish ambitions. God says that! Instead of following a path from what we think is a quick fix, what if we sought God's help?Paul reminded the Ephesians that when we were dead in our sins, we walked according to the course of the world living in our desires of the mind and flesh. That's why so many make poor choices and those choices seem to follow them from one situation to another.
  The Lord will put us on a path to make wise decisions. Sometimes we need to seek out wise counsel, one that can help us make wise decisions according to the Lord rather than according to our selfish desires. Seek His word. Listen to Him alone through His word. If God rescues us from our sins through Jesus Christ, wouldn't He have the answer for lessor things? (Rom. 8:32) That's where we go off course. Do we really see our sins taken away in Jesus so we can see clearly a better path to walk? Don't fear when faced with a difficulty. If it is something you didn't cause then consider it all joy as the Lord will use it to help your faith. If you made some poor choices then be humble about it and repentant, seeking the Lord's face to make wiser decisions and He will make your path straighter. It might be difficult as we need to learn doing it ourselves causes more pain but the result will free us from following us and listening more closely to Him. That's a better solution wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"The Message"

  The charge is laid down: "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season..." (II Tim. 4:2) There is a message to preach and that message preached depends on messengers. The messengers of God are instructed what to preach and no matter how it is received, preach the word. There are writers of books and other such forms of communication and they can serve a purpose but if we would be careful and pay attention, few people come to God in Jesus Christ apart from actual contact with an actual person in whom the message is embodied!
  The word of the Lord must be preached! For a man with a message from Jesus or about Jesus that he himself is not taking seriously is being a hypocrite. There can be fine men but with no gospel to tell has little to offer. There can be fine men with merely moral advice and right values but that too has little to offer. There can be fine men that are compassionate and generous but with no message about Jesus Christ is sub-par. What we need to realize is the message of the gospel that raced through that first century wasn't just a lot of nice people saying nice things. It was nice people with a message about Jesus Christ! There is simply too much fluff and not enough substance about Jesus Christ.
  What brought the idol worshipers down in many cities? The word of Jesus Christ embodied in living messengers that were convicted of the message of Jesus Christ. What turned the world upside down? The message of Jesus Christ. Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, friends, slaves, free, Jews, Greeks, Romans all found freedom in the message of Jesus Christ. When the Lord instructed His messengers to preach the word, that word embodied Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That's where the majority miss it!
  
  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Grace and Love"

  There is so much talk about the grace and love of Jesus and there should be. His grace toward us is so deep that I know we cannot begin to understand. The love for mankind is another one of those attributes of our Lord and God that we cannot grasp fully, especially when we sin so often and easy. But there seems to be something in our teachings and beliefs about the grace and love of Jesus that is making some of the realities of the Lord obscure. 
  We as humans seem to go overboard with almost everything. When speaking of grace and love to many have lost the sense of what that means. Grace is God's unmerited favor extended to us and without His grace we would all be lost. The bounds to God's grace is so vast and enormous. The attitudes have developed that grace will cover all and therefore there becomes no boundaries for us to operate within. Many take the grace of God and run to regions unknown in Scripture making it a "believe as you want to believe" or "do as you want to do" because the grace of God outdoes it all! That's an abuse of grace. The grace of God brings salvation to us through the death of Jesus. But the grace of God also is an instructor to deny any ungodliness and worldly desires (Titus 2:11-12). The grace of God is given to teach us how to live sensibly, righteously and godly in our daily lives. Not flippant or believing God's grace will cover everything. 
  The same with love. Love, love and more love of the Lord is poured out and it needs to be. With the very nature of God being love (I John 4:7-8) it is who He is. But again we go overboard in our thinking and beliefs. Love has at its core discipline! Love has at it's core the truth! "For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines!"  That's spoken from Scripture (Heb. 12:6). When we are called to discipline someone for continued ungodly behavior, that's love in action. We seem to miss this side of love. Too many have made love 'gooey' and take it beyond what the Lord shows us. "Love rejoices with the truth, not in unrighteousness!" That too is spoken from Scripture (I Cor. 13:6). We have taken love to places the Lord never takes His character. 
  The result of these two principles of God being abused by so many in our day, grace and love, have led to a place where there is little standard anymore. It has taken us to being less reverent toward God and led us into our worship as more of a show than reverence. Our attitudes have taken on the "coffee and doughnut" attitude rather than reverence for the Lord. We need to refocus on the Lord and see what He teaches in regard to Himself. God is love! God's grace saves us through Jesus Christ! Those are the facts but those facts are to lead us into lives that honor Him and reverentially hold to His word. There is a standard from heaven and we must be careful that we do not blur what His standard has set before our eyes. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

"Every Hair, Every Throb, Every Drop"

  His name was Connell, an Irishman that was sentenced to death at Northampton in the year 1741. There was a minister by the name of Philip Doddridge that tried to helped Connell because Philip believed that Connell  was not guilty of the crime of which he had been convicted. It took a lot of time and money but Philip dug deeply into the case and proved beyond a doubt that Connell was a hundred and twenty miles away when the crime for which he was convicted happened. The sad part was the judgment in the case could not be reversed.
  Before setting out for the gallows, Connell was asked if he had any last requests. Immediately Connell asked as the procession headed to the gallows that they pause in front of Philip Doddridge's home. The request was granted and as the procession passed Philip's house, Connell knelt on the minister's doorstep and expressed a deep gratitude for the man who had tried to save him.
  "Mr. Doddridge, every hair on my head thanks you; every throb of my heart thanks you; every drop of my blood thanks you! You did your best to save me but you could not!", Connell cried out. 
  We too had the sentence of death, but not just any death. A complete separation from God for all eternity. And our death is deserving. We aren't innocent but guilty and our sins prove that. Yet Jesus came and at a great expense and trouble paid our debt taking our place. If we believe this with all our heart don't you want to express your gratitude? Do you find yourself with the words of Connell: "My Lord, My God, every hair of my head thanks you; every throb of my heart thanks you; every drop of my blood thanks you! You SAVED me from death by removing my sins in your death!" How do you really feel about the death of Jesus on your behalf? 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Lest We Forget God"

  It's one of the most seductive parts of our souls. We see it so many times and it's heart breaking. Israel was known for it over and over. The early church was warned about it and we see it happen. As we gain in knowledge or we become a little lazy and start embracing others and their ideas, whether through reading, listening to some broadcast or just friends. 
  God speaks to Moses in Deut. 8 telling them how the people are stubborn and they turn aside from listening to the voice of the Lord through His word. Moses said they turned aside quickly. We come to the Hebrew writer speaking warning us to not harden our hearts and provoke the Lord as they did back at that time (Heb. 3). When the Lord speaks there is only one of two things happening: (1) We heed with reverence and love moving us deeper into His things or (2) We harden our heart and not take things seriously moving away. Blessings from God can end up being our curse!! Why? Because we get too comfortable and in that comfort arrogance can set in. Here we find ourselves in great need of a Savior. Our hearts are humble seeking His presence. Salvation comes. We rejoice. Praying and listening to the word of the Lord is a top priority. Then something slowly begins to happen. As blessing flow and we are lifted completely out of the mire we take a nose dive! We start fading in our resolve. We allow other things around us to take our attention and love. Yet somehow we can't see what is happening. Our love for the Lord begins to wain and we take it easy. We don't admit that but then we just don't have that same fire, that same resolve. Our lives adopt other thinking and ways. It's all a slow process but we move that direction. 
  God wants our best as He has our best at heart. It's up to us to not get trapped in the thought processes of those around, of those we love. We must keep looking and listening to the Lord. The Hebrew writer was correct in his inspired letter that we must not provoke the Lord God by hardening our hearts when He speaks. Today, do you have the same commitment and fervor you once had? If not, take inventory quickly knowing that the road you are on could end in heartache. "Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God." "For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Past or Future?"

  Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. But when Lazarus falls sick and dies, Jesus says He was glad He wasn't there! (John 11:15) Jesus knew all along Lazarus was going to die and Jesus deliberately stayed away to show His disciples the glory of God. 
  Jesus approaches Bethany, the home of the family, and Martha comes to meet Him with these words: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Jesus responds: "Your brother will rise again." Martha takes the conversation to the future: "I know he will rise again the resurrection on the last day." Jesus tries to teach that He is the resurrection and the life.
  Martha flees to Mary telling her "The Teacher" was there and Mary came and met Him with these words: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 
  We can see how people in situations feed off of one another. The words of these two sisters were identical in what they said and thought. We do the same today. We feed off of one another and many times what we say in situations is not the best. Here both sisters are stuck in their thinking about the past. Their minds draw off the past and when Jesus points to the present of Him being the resurrection and the life, Martha's mind set goes to the future. What do we learn? Too many times people either live the past or deal with what may lay in the future. The past creates pain. The future creates uncertainties. What many fail to do is live in the present. Lives become wasted. Too much past and too much future while very little present. "If I had only done..." becomes many thoughts when encountering something. "Next time I'll..." for the future. And standing right in front of us in the present is the Lord Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life and we miss Him finding little help or comfort for our present need. We don't move forward today because we are stuck in mind-sets that aren't helping.
  When one reads John 11 account we find Jesus looking at the weeping Mary and Martha along with the rest of the Jews with them and it moved Him and troubled Him. Because of tears over the death of Lazarus? Not hardly! Jesus intentionally stayed away knowing Lazarus had died.  Jesus wept! What troubled Him so? Jesus arrives at the tomb and asks the stone removed. As Martha questions this decision, the words of Jesus penetrates to give us what troubled Him so and caused Him to weep: "Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" Jesus was troubled and moved in spirit while weeping because no one was listening to what He was saying!!! Simply put, these sisters He loved did not believe His word.
  When we find ourselves in situations, we must stop dealing with "what if's"! And we must stop reaching to "Maybe someday"! We need to live in the "now" listening to the voice of Jesus today! There is where we will find rest for our souls and ability to make progress in the present. Yesterday is gone! Tomorrow will care for itself! Today is the day for us to walk with the Lord.

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Addressing God"

 I don't know if it bothers you but too many speak of God in terms that are demeaning. God should be exalted! Our Creator, Redeemer and Savior yet many a preacher/teacher make God out to be their "chum" or their "good buddy". Then goes the conversations they have with God their "pal". In this comes a dialogue that is less than reverent. It is almost a joking conversation to listen how some address and even speak to God.
  I once heard many years back a fellow addressed God in the assembly of the saints as "Heavenly Dad"! As it seems more and more are putting their own ideas into their approach to God, the less reverent we are becoming not realizing who He really is. He is not "the Big Man Upstairs"! It is time we do a little searching ourselves and see what is meant when we see our adoption as His children and crying out "Abba Father." (Rom. 8:15) Maybe our assemblies wouldn't be so "coffee" friendly!
  God's greatness and glory are so beyond anything we can ever realize. That should create within us a rejoicing with trembling. "Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling." (Psa. 2:11) The Hebrew writer reminds us that since "we received a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe." (Heb. 12:28) 
  To waltz into the presence of God with an attitude of a buddy system is out of order. At the same time we don't need to grovel into His presence either. One is an insult and the other is tragic ignorance. God is our Father who loves us so much and wants us with Him. For that we rejoice. But that's just it, He's our Father, not our pal! Rejoice in His love while enjoying His salvation. "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." (Phil 2:12) 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Grace Is Greater"

  "The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death. even so grace would reign though righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 5:20-21) 
What do you know about yourself? Feel like the Lord won't have you when you have struggled so much with sin? It makes us ashamed. It makes us down-trodden. It beats on our conscience and sets foot in our thoughts. We want to overcome but yet fail so miserably and often. You may find yourself thinking the Lord completely rejects you because you struggle against this power called sin. 
  Grab hold of Jesus with all your heart. Grace always outdoes sin!!! I didn't say that. The Lord said that and His grace will always outdo sin. Next time you sin and think about giving up, look to the Lord Jesus and find grace is greater. There is a reason to live for the Lord!!! There is a reason to confess. His name is Jesus, the giver of grace!

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Called To Faith"

  When will we learn that those in Christ Jesus are not in the same line as those outside! I avoid the usage of the term "Christian" many times because the word is so misused and distorted that everyone calls themselves a Christian. I like the term "in Christ Jesus" better because that's when and where we were united with Jesus and pointed to Jesus. To those in Christ Jesus there is not a program that's tailored to make society better. While it is true that those in Christ will make a difference in the lives of those around, it's not about a program or being nice. It's all about faith in Christ Jesus!
  When we speak of faith that the NT church had, it wasn't a faith of "praise the Lord" or "have a blessed day" or anything like that. I'm not trying to bash anyone who uses those phrases. I am trying to get those in Christ Jesus to focus on what faith is all about. It is about Jesus Christ Himself and nothing less. Jesus didn't walk around with those statements nor did His apostles. The NT church didn't go about speaking things like that. It was about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We aren't in the arena that social clubs, civic clubs and all these movements we see today are trying to do. It's not about making people kinder, gentler and less angry. While the world focuses on these issues and they can be socially useful, those in Christ Jesus focus becomes a true faith in Jesus and nowhere else.
  Take time and read through Hebrews 11. We call it the faith chapter but look carefully at how those listed lived by faith. Jesus hadn't come into the world while they lived but look carefully at where their faith was placed and what happened as a result. All their faith was shaped by the coming and promises of Jesus Christ! They intently listened and looked at their God who promised the coming One while leading them. These men and women committed to God in faith in terms of God's self-disclosure up to the point before Christ came but with the coming of Jesus God revealed Himself as never before. He called those Jews who were confronted with the word to commit to Jesus in a new way of faith. Listen, read carefully the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus and then pay attention to Acts 2-7 and see that the people were being called to faith while they claimed they already believed in God. They were called to faith through Jesus Christ!
  Too many speak of believing but are not living by faith in Jesus Christ. They live by what they believe is religious or some program that makes them better. Many work programs with the mind-set that the program is the life giver! Take away the program and listen to the discontentment start up. Where's their faith? That's not faith in Jesus but people try to tie it all together like that. Please, read those places I've mentioned and if you will pay close attention, you will begin to see that those in Christ Jesus live by faith in Christ Jesus and trust nothing else for their faith to rest upon. It's not just believing, it is being called to faith!