Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Cease Striving and Know I'm God"

  Have you been around those who seem to be upset that those who do not follow the Lord have so much good in their lives? Here we labor and pour ourselves out only to  be met with difficulty time and time again yet here are those who have nothing to do with God and they seem so happy and a lot of things going their way? That's what the writer in Psalm 73 is upset about. He wants to know why they prosper and why they aren't going through the difficulties as others. They even speak against heaven and their tongues is pictured as parading throughout the earth and nothing happens. We see that a lot today. People speak against God, speak arrogantly against the good and nothing happens to them.
  But then the writer turns to himself speaking of his own righteousness and God-fearing ways. Yes, that's who we are!! Aren't we? But then something happens. He's not as God-fearing as he perceived himself. His heart was embittered and pierced within. He was senseless and ignorant acting like a beast before the Lord. In fact, earlier in the chapter, he states he came close to stumbling and losing everything. How did he arrive at his arrogant, senseless way? He came before the Lord!!! It wasn't until the writer came humbly before the Lord to listen that he found how far off he was.
  We find the same today. We are so quick to talk and we do talk! We speak of injustices and question this and that. Politics get us disjointed. We are real quick to give our views and jump to our own conclusions about something. You know what's missing? "Cease striving and know that I am God." (Psa. 46:10) Instead of our talking and parading about, we need to stop, come into the presence of God and be still! We need to listen more and talk less. Maybe that's why our bibles studies lack because we aren't drawing near to listen but give our two cents worth. Maybe we don't gain true spiritual nurturing from the assembly with little to offer God because we are striving for something else. Maybe we don't revere God because we talk too much!
  In Psa. 49:16-20 we have God expressing the end of all the arrogant and those satisfied with their goodness of life. When troubles hit us, we talk! When things disturb us, we talk! We seem to be good at talking. When will we learn to come into the Holy of Holies of God, sit and be still to listen? That's where true gain is found. Habakkuk was correct: "The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him." (Hab. 2:20) Job was correct when he came into the presence of God and said he would lay his hand on his mouth and be quiet (Job 40:4). Solomon advised that in approaching God, let's not offer a sacrifice of fools by being hasty in word or impulsive in thought but draw near to listen (Eccl. 5:1-2). Let's learn to be still, knowing that God is in His holy temple and He will give understanding as well as have the last say on this earth.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Fret, Worry & Anxiety"

  To many people fret. They fret over every detail it seems. It gnaws at them and whatever it is they fret about, it is their constant focus. Fretting is worrying. Worry leads to anxiety.
  Here's the word of the Lord: "Do not fret!" (Psal 37:1,7-8) "Do not worry!" (Matt. 6:25-34) "Be anxious for nothing!" (Phil 4:6) How can the Lord ask such from us? It's seem so hard to do when facing great obstacles. We need to realize that the Lord does not ask us to something we are incapable of doing.
  The solution to fret, worry and anxiety? "Trust in the Lord!" "Delight yourself in the Lord!" "Commit your way to the Lord!" "Rest in the Lord!" (Psa. 37:3-5,7) "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness!" (Matt. 6:33) "In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Phil 4:6) Do you see the tie? The solution to all our worry and anxiety issues are found by our commitment and trusting the Lord!
  Are you a worrier? Do you have your anxiety attacks? Do you fret of what many come or what is happening around you? What does the Lord call you to do?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


  It concerns me how many in Christ Jesus are dealing with failing marriages. Does it you? I get a lot of calls and do a lot of counseling regarding to marriage. It's not all bad but there is a lot that is bad. People need help and direction. What is concerning is why do those who profess Christ wait until they are at wits end to deal with it? If we are faithful to Jesus, should we not be dealing with problems before they take our souls down into the pit?
  The marriage relationship is the same as the relationship between us and Christ (Eph. 5). I'm using "us" as the church. The way Christ treats us and we treat Christ is the standard which we use. For the husband, Jesus is the head. Immediately the husband rises up and starts demanding his way because he is the head of the home. But then it is ignored that Christ gave Himself for us, cleansing us and presenting us as holy and blameless. Husbands are to give themselves to their wives, making certain they stay pure and holy by aiming the relationship to the Lord!! That's what the head does, it directs not dictates. If the husband isn't holding to his part as Christ would expect, the home will slowly sink into things that aren't holy and blameless. That's a great responsibility placed on the husband from heaven.
  The wife is fulfilling her purpose by an attitude of a willingness to be led upward. It's called submission. She knows her husband has her best interest at heart as he walks faithfully with the Lord and she wants to be led upward. But what about that husband who cares nothing for leading the home upward, who is cruel with words and uncaring attitudes? Does the wife quit? She wants to! But the godly wife knows her relationship with the Lord is her life. She can grow and move upward because of Christ. The result is her behavior is loving and respectful. As the husband is displeasing to the Lord, she wants to be pleasing. Her behavior has reaping benefits. The Lord said it would (I Pet. 3:1-2).
  How are you dealing in your marriage? As a husband, are you leading the home upward or downward? As a wife, are you reaching for Christ or pushing Him away? It doesn't take much to see that when the home is struggling and in some cases, shambles, someone or both have moved from the Lord's intentions. You want a happy marriage? A fulfilling marriage? Where's Christ? 

Monday, January 27, 2014


  People need hope. God gives hope. But tell that to someone who is going through a difficulty that is intense. To them, hope is nothing but a word, not reality. If you are one going through such a difficulty have hope!
  Hope relies on two major things: (1) God is faithful and (2) God is able. Many want to believe God is faithful but will He be faithful to me, at this moment in my dire circumstances? Just read I Cor. 10:13 and Heb. 7:25 allowing the word of the Lord to sink deep within.
  People in their problems focus on the problem. It's so easy to do. We panic, fret and seem to have no answers other than we make a move to do what we want to do. Matters get worse. We look for God and find no real answers. What's missing? Our trust in God! We want to do something yet in the midst of the difficulty, do we not hear "Be still and know I am God!" ? Faith in God gives hope no matter what. What are we to do? Hope in God! What does that mean? Trust Him to work it all out and realize you are going to become stronger through this by drawing near. God is faithful and God is able. It's not God's side that's in question here. If we come to know that God is faithful and able, that alone should give us hope! Hope has God at the center.
  When does hope disappear? When God is no longer the center and the fear becomes the center. God wants to help but we won't allow Him because we run so head-strong and fast forward in a panic mode that God is pushed out. The result is our pain increases and faith in God decreases. Hope is lost. Faith is abandoned. We become this empty shell. When we can keep God and Christ at the center, it will carry us to the end no matter what may come. The word rings true: "Hope does not disappoint!" (Rom. 5:5)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Religious or Saved?"

  The easiest road to walk is the religious road. Being religious is not the same as being saved and spiritual minded. The religious have been around. They were around when Jesus walked this earth but religion was not what Jesus brought. He brought God, grace and truth (John 1:17-18). Through this Jesus set up His church, those called out to Himself. Jesus didn't set up denominations or even non-denominations. Jesus established the truth about God and His purpose and that's how He brought about the saved, the church.
  Paul found the religious in the regions all over the world he traveled. When Paul came to Athens, they were a people who did nothing more than sit around telling or hearing of something new (Acts 17:21). Sounds like what a lot of people look for today. Paul found them very religious: "So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, 'Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects.'" (Acts 17:22) Religious, very religious but lost!
  It is completely different to be spiritual and saved. It is a different world than being religious. Being spiritual and saved does not try to convince others they are walking with the Lord. There is no running around "Praise the Lord!" in every item daily. The saved and spiritual walk with Jesus humbly and always seeking His ways for their paths. When did you ever read Jesus walk about among the people "Praise the Lord!" when something happened? There was no show but a simple trust to do the will of His Father. He praised God in His prayers but never a show before everyone to see.
  What's the point of all this? We need to be a people seeking, not talking. We need to be a people submitting, not showing. It was Jesus who showed from the beginning of His ministry that just because people did things in His name didn't make them part of Him but only those who did the Father's will (Matt. 7:21). Jesus taught there were two roads with two end results. One led to life while the other led to death (Matt. 7:14-15). The easiest road is the religious road. Let's be a people that seek and live. Change comes from a new birth and that comes from Jesus. The new birth brings new life and new life brings a spiritual mind that has sober thinking and self control at its base. New life seeks truth!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"In This Is Love"

  How many times we misunderstand the love of God. Maybe I should say how I misunderstand God's love. You may not but sometimes I do. Looking at the love of God, we find that we cared nothing for God! Yes, look carefully. Paul points in Rom. 5:6-8 that God sent His Son to die for us when we were enemies! We didn't love the Lord and didn't care if we walked in a relationship or not. John writes in I John 4:10: "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." John continues: "We love, because He first loved us." (I John 4:19)
  What does all this mean? It shows us that God did all the moving in the relationship, not us! It reveals how tragic of a people we can be. Too many times we think that our ability to love the Lord is all on us yet here we were going about things in our own way, whether it be in rebellion toward authority, in vile language, in arrogance and pride or just hurting someone the way they hurt us, the love of God meant little. When we came to our senses and finally saw the love of God for us, we didn't have to coax Him or earn love from Him. God loved from the beginning and that love continues.
  There are those who think that their good behavior or their following Scripture is what earns their love from God. That's self-righteousness! God loves period and He sent His Son as proof! It is not necessary for us to try to make a deal with the Lord to love us or to generate something good within us to make us worthwhile to be loved. Even when we were enemies!!!
  We aren't able to love on our own. The Lord is able. In fact, the Lord is more than able, He is eager and already involved in bringing us to His love and salvation which is something we could never do for ourselves. Loving us before we loved Him, that's the drawing power. It was Jesus who laid down His life voluntarily for us, the vile. In this is love. That's why we find recorded: "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us..." (I John 3:16) God expressed His love which means, everyone who ends up burning in the fires of hell for eternity, they weren't God rejected. They were loved and rejected God's love for themselves!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"A Look At Psalm 23 and Us"

  Are we a people of faith or a people of circumstances? Too many times we allow our circumstances to determine our attitudes. When things go well, we are having this wonderful day and nothing seems to distract us. But the moment something is said or done that disturbs us or makes things more hectic we seem to go into a downspin leading to the statement, "I don't know how much worse this day could get!"
  As our human frailties get exposed we need to make a proper response in light of our difficulties. We need to be a people of genuine faith, not a talking faith or this false sense of "praise the Lord.". We need to see our opportunity for advancement in the face of the difficulty. The Lord is working on our faith and with that comes difficulties to help us lean and move toward Him. We should find this in all trials that come our way (Jam. 1:1-4).
  David faced more stresses and strains in life yet he was known as a man after God's own heart. How did David, despite all his failures and weaknesses become the man after God's own heart? How do we become such? Just look at what he wrote in the most popular of Psalm known as the 23rd Psalm. Sometimes familiarity blinds us to what is being said.
  "The Lord is my shepherd". David saw the Lord leading, not himself and his dependence on the Lord was where his heart was set. Circumstances were never the issue. It lead him to settle down and stop allowing his desires to lead..."I shall not want."
  Notice where David knows the Lord will take him no matter what comes in his life: "lie down in green pastures...quiet waters...paths of righteousness." This is the path he acknowledges the Lord leads. The result? "He restores my soul...for His name's sake." David knew he would find comfort and restoration because God was his shepherd and the shepherd would watch out for his well being eternally.
  But wait, what about those dark days that pop up? "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the presence of my enemies." Life can get tough and David knows it! How did he handle things? "I fear no evil, for You are with me!...Your rod and staff, they comfort me." David found himself walking under the protection of the Lord. He didn't feel as if he was left to the wolves and standing in difficulties all alone. God was real to him! He trusted with all his heart! When David was prone to turn to the right or left, the Lord used his staff to correct and David found that a comfort. Circumstances and his enemies were not the determining factor. God was what determined everything about his life.
  What did David expect? "My cup overflows...goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." His life was set today to eternity!
  What do we do when faced with difficult circumstances? Burdened? Or do we see the Lord as "the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls?" (I Pet. 2:25) Our attitudes and statements reveal where we have placed our faith.

Monday, January 20, 2014

"At The End Of The Rope!

  Today's post is short but sweet, right to the point. People state: "I don't know what to do anymore. I am at the end of my rope!" We know what is meant and our difficulties have a way of bringing this on in our lives. But wait, there is good news! When you are at the end of your rope, GOOD! That's when one finally realizes they can do nothing. We want to quit. That's not the answer either. 
  When you are at the end of your rope, surrender! That's when you can realize you have been trying to do things on your own, by your own power and strength. We fail! Our pride pushes us to work everything out ourselves. We get in deeper. Finally, when we have used all our resources of our strength and find ourselves at the end of our rope, that's when you find the true power of the Lord available because you give to Him and depend on Him what you thought you were strong enough to do. It was what Paul found when he was struggling that he found the grace of God was sufficient. That's when the power of God becomes your strength (II Cor. 12:9). 
  The Ephesian brethren were directed to be strong in the Lord and in His might (Eph. 6:10). The next time you find yourself at wits end, at the end of your rope, congratulations! You are on the road to discovering the power of God and stand in His strength if you will just surrender!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"A Deathless Hope"

  "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 15:13)
  "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word." (II Thes. 2:16-17)

   We need hope and have hope. But there are those who suffer greatly and feel as if the situation they are in is hopeless. But look carefully at the above verses. In these it is clear that hope, a convicting and trusting hope, does not lie within our resources but it is all based on the Lord's resources. The reason many feel their situation is hopeless is because when the focus is on our resources it is weak at it's strength. But when our hope is set on God, His resources become ours and that's what faith is built on. One can't demand their way to having hope. One can't earn it or worry your way to it. You can't scheme your way to hope or make a deal with God to obtain it. You can't buy it. Hope is only received when one humbly submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ trusting He is faithful, knowing He is able.
  As we look around our present situations, the evils that abound may look like from our view they are winning. But they are not! Jesus was met with a force of man in the garden, betrayed by His own apostle - but hope said Sunday is coming and He overcame. Jesus was mocked, stood before the governor who washed his hands, Herod had his time to mistreat and Annas showed malice toward the Lord - but hope said Sunday is coming and He overcame. The Pharisees convinced a crowd to spew hate, the Sadducees grinned and the Romans stood by just watching the antics go on - but hope said Sunday is coming and He overcame. The crowds screamed for a insurrectionist to be set free among them in exchange for the Lord while Caiaphas showed his colors - but hope said Sunday is coming and He overcame. The demons of darkness rejoiced along with the Devil while the soldiers did their part in the mocking - but hope said Sunday is coming and He overcame. The earth showed the submission while it cracked open and the sun was shaded - but hope said Sunday is coming and He overcame. What do we learn? HOPE BECAME DEATHLESS!!! The last word in any circumstance we find ourselves in should be HOPE in God.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Trust God"

  Trust God! Easy words spoken but it can be difficult to do when you're the one suffering. Many want a God they can see and when they communicate, He communicates back. When sufferings hit, we really want to know what direction or what steps to take. But God is Spirit (John 4:24). We cannot touch, feel or communicate on all humans senses with Spirit. That's why so many simply cannot trust. Faith is an issue.
  How do we know? How do we gain that trust? Let's start at the cross. A visible response to mankind, in view to a world at that time shouting, "God is!" They saw a man, the man Christ Jesus, take a whipping that would drive most on a downward spiral. It took Him upward. They saw a man, the man Christ Jesus, hung between heaven and earth between two common criminals but was still looking to His Father who is Spirit. Once He died, the earth shook. Graves opened. The sky turned into night. Something very different was revealed to man from the eternal Father who is Spirit speaking loudly, "Trust in Me!"
  Then the reality of it all came into complete focus. Witnesses, eyewitnesses saw an empty tomb. Who raised this dead man, the man Christ Jesus? Who put life back in Him when His life was snuffed out by man? The Almighty Lord Jehovah God who is Spirit! The world was set on its heels and even as hard as man tried, Jesus Christ could not be pushed out of man's lives nor man's judgment. For over two thousand years we are still talking about Him, preaching about Him and directing peoples lives back to Him.
  You want a God to see and communicate with? You have Him. God has communicated to man all man needs. We call it Scripture or God's word. Those words penned on paper for us came from the lips of God who is Spirit and sent into our world through the mediator Jesus Christ. The word of God is inspired like no other. Every action, thought and desire of God is in His word. Every thing we need to know about life and promises are in His word. Jesus is the proof and the guarantee that His word is trustworthy. Why else would He put Himself in harms way? 
  In your time of trial, trust God! Trials are always temporary. Ask Jesus. But whenever you are pained or in a deep place in life, remember, the resurrected Christ promises there is life beyond what you see and He's the proof. That means if someone is causing you pain with evil, you can do what is right with a right attitude because you know that someone will answer for the pain poured on the defenseless by a God who lives. There is coming a judgment day! Trust God!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"The Phone Call"

  It started with a simple phone call. My grandchildren living in another state wanted to speak to us on FaceTime. (For those who are unaware of what this is it is a video along with the phone call.) You could hear the giggling in their voices which I always hear and they were jumping around but this was different. The voice of my daughter speaks: "The kids have something they want to tell you!" Then came the words: "Mommy has a baby in her tummy!" The sheer joy and the lack of words.
  "Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons is their fathers." (Prov. 17:6) What more do I say other than I'm not an old man!!! God's blessings to you this day.

Monday, January 13, 2014

"True Life and Joy"

  I have seen it over and over. People pretending to love Jesus. Why I was there too! You know how it goes: sing the songs, say the prayers, smile at others while around them, talk about Scripture as if we have studied every day of our lives and are moving forward. But then we find ourselves in our own world. At home, work or play where others in Christ do not interact. There we are drawn to the evils that we always desired but no one but ourselves (of course the Lord but we aren't thinking in those terms at this point) knows. We listen to those around that seem to enjoy the very sin we would like to partake in. 
  Then comes those in Christ Jesus around again. We put on that smile, talk the talk, act like we love the Lord with all our being but deep inside, there is something profoundly missing and we know. The first time something that is spoken or done that we can toss our misery out of our way and accuse them, well, it only covers our hearts desire and we cast our stones easily! 
  Back in our real world we head. Empty and knowing it! We wished we were different but we have those dark bouts in our soul. We know who we really are. It can eat on us and depress us at times. The more we think, we wonder why we can't find happiness or joy. My unconverted friends seem to have joy and life. Sin is the appealing side and we look over there, walking just in the edge but not get caught. The pull is great. This continues for some time, maybe years and then one day we find the boldness to stand up and fling Jesus far away and go after whatever it is that has always attracted us. There will be consequences but we finally say we are being honest with ourselves. This is what we wanted all along and now the door we hid behind was opened for all to see and we don't care. The years of hypocrisy have finally been tossed aside and we are who we are or are we?
  We can look at Judas. A hand-picked apostle of the Lord. Those years of acting the part, watching the miracles and listening to His teaching but the heart was somewhere else. Somehow he had become the 'watchman' over the money box and would skim money for himself. Oh, not enough to get caught but walking in the edge of darkness knowing that's really where he wanted to be. Yet once he had made a deal for thirty pieces of silver, broke from the pack by turning on Jesus, he stood with his collection in his hand and the world he desired lay ahead of him. All the joy and happiness he ever wanted was for his taking but while he clutched his money, he could not escape his treachery. He hurls his whole world at those who gave it to him and ended his life. 
  It doesn't end so dramatically for us. Some just quietly go to there eternal grave with time. Some head their own direction whimpering, blaming others. All in all, little was found in Christ Jesus. Bored with lessons, bored with people that speak and represent Him and knowing the He really got in our way to what we really wanted. There was too much for us to engage in, to drink and to laugh about without Jesus standing in our path. All the while, the heart grows dull and the guilt is buried in a seared conscience. 
  Let's not pretend any longer. We don't have to pretend to make Christ attractive to others because in the cases above, He wasn't attractive to me, you or others trapped in sin. Down below all the tasty sin there is something profoundly missing that sin and the sin in our friends cannot bring us...JOY and LIFE. Only Jesus can provide these. These are found only in an honest and pure walk and binding ourselves to Jesus and learning from Him. Once Christ is submitted to with a whole heart, joy is real and life, true life is found. That's the promise from heaven. No more pretending and only living. Isn't that what man really wants?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Help Your Brother, Your Friend"

  Jesus is in the transforming business. We were not people who came to Christ, baptized into His name for the cleansing of our sins because we were pretty good with a few flaws. Sin dominated our lives. Sin made us a slave and it molded our out-look on life, the decisions we made and the directions we chose to walk. I realize not everything we did before our coming into Jesus was sinful but no doubt, sin was our master and we were its slave.
  Once we entered Christ, we became this new creation (II Cor. 5:17). Our old ways, our old man was buried and put to death (Rom. 6:5-7). We must now begin our walk. It's a walk that changes who we were into who He is. To renew our minds is giving our mind and heart over completely to His will and teaching, making our decisions based on Him and His word. Transformation comes from a willing heart. Without that, there will be no transformation. (Rom. 12:1-2)
  But we are called to also help our brothers and sisters. Many eagerly do this for which I am thankful but there is one area we need to address in our walk with the Master. When a brother or sister is in sin, walking in sin whether it is from a bad attitude to a practice that goes against the teaching of the Lord, we must NEVER whitewash their evil, even if they are our dear friend! Especially if they are our friend. You don't have to brutalize people to confront them with their sinful ways. You don't have to be rude. You have to be gentle and watch out you don't get entangled with them just because they are a dear friend (Gal. 6:1). It is NEVER right to side with one walking contrary to the Lord and we must not give the strugglers the impression we side with them. They must know we are for them and want them saved! We must make it abundantly clear that we are on God's side to aid them. They need to confess the evil and repent to God. If it is someone dear, never leave them in a sinful attitude without trying to confront them. That's cruel and heartless.
  I can remember several years back how I found myself trapped in sin. My dearest friend who I love so much confronted me. He pointed out my waywardness but he did it with kindness and love. Yes, it hurt but the test was on me to see if I would be humble in heart or rebel. The battle line had been drawn and my friend was calling me back to the side of Jesus with him. I have been so grateful for that tearful evening and realizing a true friend confronts sin in their friend. That's love at it height!
  We are called to help bear with one another. We are called to grow that the strong can help the weak. We are called to aid our brothers and sisters. But when a dearly loved brother or sister refuses, what is left? Ask Jesus as He tried to help His betrayer Judas on the night He washed the feet.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Worship Again?"

  I've been doing a lot of reading from Leviticus and Deuteronomy. I came across some interesting things about worship from this and we miss today in our "modern" modes. One thing began to stand out was God's instruction about sacrifice and the priesthood. God makes it clear that worship is something God crafted, shaped and initiated. In other words, worship is really God's idea and once understood it creates within the saved an almost instinctive motivation because of salvation.
  In Christ Jesus, we are all priests according to Peter (I Pet. 2:9-10). Priests are called to proclaim the excellencies of God! Therefore, worship is about God! Not about a performance of man or things orchestrated by man but hearts engaged upward to God that proclaim the greatness of God.
  In reading under the OT and their tabernacle worship, we find several things that might need to be re-visited to get a point, not the practice under that covenant. The first thing you find is that worship was and should always be addressed to God. If more preachers, those leading recognized they were standing before God, not the people, it would shape how things are approached. Under the OT offerings, the slaying of the animals and the cutting and dividing the parts were done for God exclusively. It was all about communing with God
  Worship was the recognition and foundation for the graciousness of God. The priests were called to keep alive the memory of the great events God had done to redeem Israel from slavery. Worship reminded Israel and gave each generation the opportunity to bring themselves under the grace provided by God toward them. We too, under Christ Jesus, have a greater reason to see the graciousness of God toward us who believe.
  Worship was the personal response of gratitude and commitment to Jehovah God who was their Redeemer and Lord. When the worshiper brought their basket of first fruits, they came thanking God out of a heart that was AWARE and grateful. (You can see this in Deut. 26.) They truly saw God as the source of their blessings and brought that offering with that heart and mind-set. Today, what do we see in our giving? From our first fruits? How much thought is really given in regard to gratitude and commitment?
  Worship was an offering of the individual that was given to God that represented the worshiper! When one looks at the sacrifices, an animal died in the place of the worshiper which meant the worshiper was representing himself to God. There stood the worshiper with a spotless sacrifice in their place as a confession before God and was wanting to offer their whole back to God. The confession was giving all that belonged to God from the worshiper. What do we miss today in offering ourselves back as a living and holy sacrifice (Rom. 12:1)?
  Finally, worship was about holiness. The worshiper wasn't just strolling up to the tabernacle or in the temple just to say "Hi" God! There was a seriousness about God's holiness and the worshiper knew the holy difference between God and themselves. It brings about an awe struck sense that a holy God communes with man cleansed through the blood of the sacrifice. How many of us think in terms of holiness and holy living (I Pet. 1:14-16)? Shouldn't holiness be what we strive for in our worship and daily living before God?
  Why do you worship? I mean really, why do you worship? Don't tell yourself 'canned' answers! What's going on in your heart and why do you assemble with the saints to worship? 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"A Major Lesson Learned"

  Life can beat on one and disappoint. We have been there. It seems that one thing after another comes at us and leaves us wondering why. Sometimes it could be due to an unrepentant heart that refuses to humbly yield to the Father who loves us and He is trying to get our attention. An honest examination of the the heart would solve this. However, there are those who honestly and humbly seek the face of the Lord, wanting to know Him and openly walk in the Light yet they meet such disappointment it seems at every turn.
  Here are just a few things to help us move forward in the face of disappointment:
(1) There is something the Lord is trying to grow in you and first and foremost is faith. The disappointment can be a faith building tool (Jam. 1:1-4). This should in itself help change our attitude.
(2) Do not look at the disappointment but look to the Lord allowing Him to lead you forward in His paths of righteousness. Too much focus on the disappointment only creates self-pity which eventually will drown you.
(3) When anxiety enters over something, stress is soon to follow. Both are destructive to the soul. We need to apply diligently Phil. 4:6-7. (By the way when we are told not to "be anxious for nothing" that is not an option but a command.)
(4) Seek out the Lord Jesus Christ. Put your heart and faith on Him which means you need some serious time listening to His word.
(5) Grow in the faith of giving. That's right. When most are going through a difficulty, giving is the last thing they think about. Giving puts others needs ahead of your own which is Christ in you. Didn't Jesus give the night of His betrayal?
(6) Spend more personal time in prayer, fervent prayer. Not just while you're going through the difficulty but when things are on track. Prayer is a vital communication with the Lord. 
  From all my years of dealing with so many different ones in many different situations, I have come to a major conclusion from God's word. There are too many who are lazy and undisciplined in their lives to really live in Christ Jesus. Timothy was told that God gave us a spirit of power, love and discipline (II Tim. 1:7). Let's take time to live, really live in Christ even when things aren't the best.

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Handling the Word Accurately"

  I want to start this new year properly by stating the biggest need: handling accurately the word of truth! Too many find a verse in God's word that agrees with their thoughts and spout that as if it is true because they feel if it's in God's word, it's true. (The devil did this to Jesus - Matt. 4:6) Accuracy is the key. I know over the years that I have had to re-evaluate my position on something simply because I stood on one particular verse finding I wasn't accurate in my belief. How does one know?
  First, it's all about context. One must understand the context of what is being discussed. When you come across a teaching from God's word, you have to look at what is being discussed and whom is being addressed. Too many times we quote a verse thinking it is saying one thing only to find out that in another place it says something differently. That's when you realize you have misapplied your understanding.
  Second, read carefully around the verse you are trying to understand. There many times you will find the context and an answer to your question or understanding.
  Let's use this example. Over and over I hear people speak that we cannot judge. They cite Matt. 7:1 where Jesus speaks, "Do not judge lest you be judged yourselves." It looks like on the surface that's what Jesus said and off many go running with this thought, believing it to be true. They reprimand anyone who goes against these words of Jesus. However, they fail to read on. If one read down through the verses they would find Jesus also teaching: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." (Matt. 7:6) Doesn't one have to "judge" when determining the dogs and swine? Then what did Jesus mean?
  Look carefully at Matt. 7:2: "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it shall be measured to  you." Just a little help for you. When you see a statement made and the very next statement starts with the word "for", that's a word explaining the previous. What do you learn from this? To give out judgment on someone and you're the standard, that's wrong. The way you judge, the standard you use to judge is what the Lord will use to judge you! If your standard is God's word to determine things, that word will be used to judge you. God's word is always the standard, not man. When someone steals, they are a thief! The word of God says so. When someone practices immorality (including homosexuality), drunkenness, swindling people and the like, they will not be in heaven. That is sinful in the eyes of God. How can I judge that? Because the word of God speaks that (I Cor. 6:9-10). When people cause strife, have outbursts of anger, cause factions, they will not end up in heaven because God's word speaks to that (Gal. 5:19-21) 
  Be careful how you determine a conclusion about the things of God. Make certain that before you come to a faith convicting conclusion that your conclusion could be proved wrong from another verse. The word of God NEVER goes against itself. We need to be people who are concerned about accurately handling the word of truth. That means I must be a reader of God's word and trust Him to take me forward.