Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"Living Daily"

  There are two ways to go about daily living. (1) Ignorant of God and His ways or (2) knowing God and His ways. I know on the surface that looks a little simplistic but it's really not.
  The Jews had the Scriptures from God and every day they read them in the temple and on each Sabbath. During the different festivals and new moons, Scriptures were read over and over. They saw miracles at certain times leading them forth when all looked hopeless. The Prophets came expressing God's attributes and His call to them to listen and heed. With all the reading, praying, daily sacrificing and their worship, you would think they would know God. Here is what God said about them through the Hebrew writer: "Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways.'" (Heb. 3:10) Did you get that? "They did not know My ways." That's something that seems foreign to us, but is it really? 
  We have listened to how many sermons and been in how many classes and heard how many Scriptures read over the years? In all this, listen to God's people still go about daily life with the mind set of self-made people. The power of positive thinking has become a 'god' to many. Take control of today by surrounding yourself with positive people and thoughts is believed upon. Tell yourself you are special. There are many more people that believe in and teach different ideas like those mentioned but what about God? Where does He fit? If one doesn't know God they have to manufacture their own world of attraction. When will be believe things like: "Whatever is true"? "Dwell on these things!" "And the God of peace will be with you!" (Phil. 4:8-9) True things are the things that deal with reality. God's truth is reality. "Whatever is honorable!" Things that lead us into seriousness of purpose in daily living before the Lord. "And the God of peace will be with you!" "Whatever is pure!" Listening and dwelling on the things of the Lord on a daily basis and not contaminated by man's ideas. These are just a couple of ideas of daily living. Go and read what the Lord calls us on a daily basis from those Scriptures. 
  To go about daily living in a world searching for something but so lost and dead, we have God to hear and follow. We don't have to make our own way or find our own ideas of how to have a better day. We simply listen and heed by following the Lord and giving Him our heart. That's how we can see when He opens doors for those lost to hear a message of hope when we come in contact with them. That's how we can help turn someone to Light by showing them the path of Light as opportunities arise. Our lives cannot be run by our own little self-talks and walks. That's how the dead world lives. Our lives must be moved upward into Christ Jesus, walking in His ways and trusting Him to bring what needs to come today to help us better see Him. 
  Without knowing God we set our lives on a course of following whatever comes from some book or idea of another. In the end we will find that we will not be in the presence of the Lord because "those who do not know God" and "those who do not obey the gospel" will be standing side by side eternally because that's where they lived their lives daily. (II Thes. 1:7-8) We need to come to know God, not about God! Some may know about me, but they don't know me. Knowing God and knowing about God are two completely different elements. Renew you mind with the word of the Lord...DAILY! Let the transformation begin as you come to know God and His ways!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"Affecting the Heart"

  We know that the death of Jesus paid for our sins. We believe that but many miss the point of forgiveness and being reconciled to God. The Scriptures teach that not only forgiveness was achieved but there was also a transference (Col. 1:13). Apart from Jesus we are darkness (Eph. 5:8). It doesn't say we were in darkness (which is true) but that we are darkness. In all this, it is not just a matter of guilt and punishment but it was a state of heart. The mind is corrupted. The sight is blind. The ability to discern is not there. This is darkness!
  To be reconciled to God, to be forgiven and made holy and pure is more than just sins paid. It is suppose to go to the depth of man's heart turning us to a different state of mind and sight. Forgiveness and fellowship with God, standing in His Light and His holy presence because of Christ goes to the depth of a heart cleansed and wanting to serve. That means the mind must be renewed so sight can guide and lives are lived in the Light. If the heart isn't cleansed then all the statements of forgiveness and reconciliation are meaningless! There is a change of heart in the justification and sanctification of the blood of Christ or we remain in darkness.
  What does a change of heart, a realignment of heart mean? It means we look at things through the eyes of Jesus! It is a complete rejection of ungodliness and an alignment with our Savior and Creator. It is faith in the heart desiring to walk with Him where He wants and that willingness to do it. When we were darkness, we wanted little to do with the Lord and if we did, it was only on a 'have-to' basis. No desire, no faith in the heart. Faith in the heart denies the godless behavior and opens up a new world of newness of life. 
  God does the work of raising us up with Him in baptism but your faith is the determining factor of His work (Col. 2:12). What we must see that if one comes to Jesus, we are delivered from this domain of darkness and the heart is cleansed by faith. That's when we begin our walk as Light in the Lord and it must affect the heart otherwise we remain darkness. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

"Church Punishment?"

  The conversation went like this. A dad and his son were in a disagreement. The son was upset and not responding while the dad was yelling.This wasn't their first encounter like this. The son had begun a rebellious stage and the dad thought he could continue to strong arm his son into doing what he wanted done as he had done when he was younger. Too old and too late! As the situation grew the dad had nothing left and told his son: "I'm going to send you to gramdma's house for a while. You think its rough here, she will make you go to church!" What a sad, sad statement for a dad to make to his son.
  Too many are seeing assembling with the saints as punishment. They may not say that but that's how they feel and they push that mind-set off on their children. PUNISHMENT! Worshiping God has become so heartless and meaningless that it has become a wearying to the soul. People so far removed from fellowship with the Lord they do not have any desire to worship and honor Him for their salvation much less their daily living. You see it in the children. Where are the children? Look at our worship assembly, where are the children? What is going on in the home that make the children detest being there? 
  A home built around the Lord is a home of love, safety and peace. It is a place where Christ is foremost and every thing done revolves around thanksgiving to the Lord. It affects the children as they see where all blessings come from. They see mothers and fathers bowing humbly before the Father who gave His Son for them. Too many times we find the home is where the children want to escape from. Parents are busy with things of the world that the Lord is used as nothing more than a 'by-word'.
  What do you do in your home? Where do you direct your children? It takes effort. It takes time. It takes a heart. As I have aged I see it. You can see the homes where Christ is Lord. It affects the children. Listen, you only have ONE shot at this! There are NO re-dos. Train your children. Teach them to love the Lord by your example. Teach them to love the truth as well as telling the truth. Their path to eternity begins with you. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

"The Church Prayer Life"

  I am preparing to be gone over the next week and a half speaking at two different locations in New York. I'll begin in Buffalo this Sunday and the following Sunday I will be in Jamestown. These two congregations are such a blessing to me. They work and strive in the midst of difficulties that is little understood in our part of the country. Pray for them and me as I make this travel.
  I would like to leave you with a thought about prayer since I am asking for prayers for the brethren in these locations. It seems prayer is spoken about often in classes and sermons yet regarded as one of the least aspects of our worship and living. That's hard to really know why. We teach and talk about prayer the way we should teach and talk about prayer but our practice in what we say is something entirely different. We really need to grow in prayerfulness.
  Many years back, in a congregation I was involved with, I decided that on a Wednesday evening we would devote the night not "on" prayer but "in" prayer. We sang songs and I had asked before our starting a few of the men to lead some prayers with specific content. I also announced to the brethren that if they had any prayer requests if they would raise their hand we would bring them a paper/pencil and they could write it down and we would pray for their specific request. One prayer, then another, then another. Hands began to be raised and paper handed out. I asked the elders one at a time to lead the prayers in some of the specifics. I asked the deacons to follow suit. I cannot begin to describe what happened but something magnificent did! Our service lasts from 7-8 PM generally. At 8 we still had many different requests and I announced if people needed to leave that was fine but we were going to stay with this. No one left of about 200 people. At 9:45 we finally concluded!! No one rushed out. There was a cleansing, a heart response over the whole. I've never witnessed anything like this since that day some 35 yrs. ago. 
  Why is it that church prayer is almost non-existent? The public prayers begin with an opening prayer and closing prayer. They are often framed with little requests for specific needs of the church. Little praying on behalf of the lost and outreach, in fact, I rarely hear any! If there is turmoil within, why don't we pray as the church for soften, humble hearts? But forgive us for our sins is almost in every single prayer. How many times do we sin between the opening, the in between and closing? Where are the prayers of unity and steadfastness in the truth as God's people? To pour out our needs where are the prayers? Why are we afraid? To pray as one voice by magnifying the name of God, relying on His will and knowing our lives are dependent upon Him for our "church" life is edifying. To hear prayers offered in our public worship on behalf of the body of Christ for Him to lead us, deliver us, to shape us, to open doors to present the gospel and build us as we rely on Him is moving but seldom heard. 
  Set prayers, traditional prayers can be nothing but a ritual. I have often wanted to ask the brethren what they think when a man leads us in prayer? Are they praying or just sitting playing with their children, thinking who knows what and nothing in union? Sometimes it concerns me that a congregation can become the property of a few ministers! In other words, prayer is something that we are suppose to do, get it out of the way so we can get to the central issue - the preaching! Just look at the early church how they devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 2:42). Prayer is the property of the whole church, not a few. Individual prayer is important but the whole church assembly needs to focus more on prayer as prayer is our expression of dependence on the Father who we worship.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Sins Power"

  Sin is powerful and if you don't think it is, you don't understand sin. Sometimes our understanding of sin is shallow, even empty. There are the self-righteous who just move along and find someone who fails, often many times, and they cast an insult about their not being sincere or something like that. Those who do such do not even realize that sin is using them to cast down others! 
  Just listen to us when fighting against sin. We think we can defeat it. Positive thinking, prayer, church attendance, promises and resolutions are our ways of dealing with it. Rubbish! Sin is something only the Lord can defeat! Sin is what the death of Jesus saves us from! It's not something we can overcome by a few 'religious' moves and it's done. Take some time and read carefully Rom. 7. Paul expresses there the power of sin in his life, before he came to Christ, while he was trying to keep the Law. Paul exclaimed he was "sold into bondage of sin." (Rom. 7:14) That doesn't sound like someone in control of anything but a slave only to do what the master sin said. It led to his confusion, (how many become confused in their struggles?), knowing that he would like to do what's right but the power to do right wasn't there. There wasn't anyone desiring more than Paul to do what was right! But sin dwelt in him and mastered him and there was nothing he could do on his own. Can't we see us in that? We see through this that human knowledge, human diagnosis and human resolve CANNOT master sin! What do we do? Start comparing our lives with others who we believe to be worse than us. That's how we feel better. Sin gets pushed aside and we start thinking we have done well compared to others. In this is sins greatest deceit toward us. And off we go thinking we have done well compared to them. 
  The solution? Be honest and own up to your sin. That's where it begins. We have to be willing to face our sins in order for God to defeat sin in us. A person baptized into union with Jesus is not about a religious act so we can go to heaven. It is where Jesus and you (I) come together with His redeeming power and work. It's His blood that cleanses from all unrighteousness. Jesus paid the price and defeated sin. Does it end there? No! We must be willing to confess when we do sin (I John 1:9). Confession means that we acknowledge we have sinned. Confession means we are to blame. Confession means we have grieved God. Confession means we turn away from our sins looking to His faithfulness. Confession means we are turning to His grace and mercy. God loves to forgive!! When are we going to believe that? Yes, I'll say it clearly...GOD LOVES TO FORGIVE! It thrills Him when people turn to Him. Just read Micah 7:18-19 or Luke 15. And God forgives not because of us but because of the perfect and willing sacrifice of Jesus who overcame sin in His death and life by being resurrected. He is our life!! He is the answer. Don't be afraid any longer. Don't be arrogant. Go ahead, believe God wants to forgive you and run as fast as you can to His arms. No delaying! No excuses! Just plain and simply cleansing from all unrighteousness. Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"We Need the Church"

  We need the church! Why? Because it is the body of Christ. It's not a religious organization but the body of Jesus Himself. Every time man gets their hands on what the Lord creates, we destroy His intentions with all our haughtiness. The church has turned itself in many cases into something worldly, fleshly.
  But here is Jesus, calling us to Himself through the gospel. You and I joined nothing! The gospel of the Jesus Christ came, we answered His call and are reminded: "But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desire." (I Cor. 12:18) God placed each member. We didn't place ourselves. We were united with Jesus in baptism and God placed us right where He desires us to be. What do we do? We fight, argue and divide over matters that were never intended to be matters. People take issues and make them so monumental that the body is splintered leaving it weak. It's not Jesus who is weak. The weakness of the members is affecting the whole. 
  As we look closer at this spiritual body of Christ we find so many varied teachings and directions that come from fleshliness. We fight and argue among ourselves and challenge to debates as if that's the solution. The lovelessness is demonstrated. We look everywhere but one place: the Lord! If God placed us where He desired, why are we so divided and splintered?  Paul tells the Colossian brethren: "And not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God." (Col. 2:19) There is our answer. Not holding fast to the head, Jesus. The result? Not growing with a growth from God. Many think its up to them. They become church 'watchdogs' attacking where they can. The church grows weaker because man is no longer holding to Jesus the head. 
  I know this all sounds like a downer but what are we to do? How does the true church survive? By the Spirit of the living God that dwells within her. The Lord's deathless life is her life. The church doesn't survive by the people. It survives by the resurrected Christ and His power! It's for these very reasons that we cannot live without her! We need the church because it belongs to God and is Christ's body. We need to focus on who this body is attached to as the head. Yes, there will be those who try to run other peoples lives, who will make mountains out of teachings that the Lord did not make, who will turn her worship into something the Lord never called for, who will divide over every little thing, hating one another to the extent of attaching themselves to another part of the body thinking they are okay with the Lord, who will try to rule with an iron fist but because Christ lives and God places, they determine everything about her!! It's time we stop the non-sense, get back to our purpose in Christ Jesus and that's preach His gospel to a lost, hell bound world! We, the church, exist for God's purpose and that purpose is found only in Christ Jesus. The world needs the church! Let's get busy to what we are called to do.

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Looking At God"

  Let me say something simple yet very profound. It's not profound because I said it. It's profound because God does it! If there is anything we need to learn is this: God loves all humanity! Too many times we only love what humanity should be!! Listen to that carefully. We don't like to be with the sinners and so we pick and choose the part of humanity we want to be around. Yet when we read of our Savior, where was He found? Around the company of sinners and outcasts. Maybe we need to learn something here.
  Wasn't it Jesus who spoke to His church in Rev. 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me." This was said to His church that was poor, naked, blind, pitiful and wretched! They mattered to the Lord when they didn't matter to us.
  We have limits how far we go with others. As long as they act as we would act and never do us wrong, we are lovingly embracing them and wanting to share in their life. But when they do things we deem as terrible or say things we think are not proper, we rid ourselves of them. I realize the Lord spoke to us through His word that there are those we are not to be part of, dealing specifically with the church, but that is because they need a message sent they are on the wrong side of fellowship with the Lord and need to return. That's love acting. But there are those we just don't like, for whatever reason, and we cast them aside as if they don't matter. Even more when people wander off into sin, terrible sins in our eyes, we give them little to no chance when they want to return. We hold things over their head, remind them of who they are and never trust they could be sincere in heart and faith. Didn't we learn that from the prodigal? The older brother had no joy or commitment to his prodigal brother! He didn't miss his brother. He didn't feel any loss for his brother. He felt himself smug and righteous holding to the side of his father and in strolls this horrible son who squandered everything their father had given him and he was callous and loveless! Yet the father was watching every day, hoping of his sons return. What his son had squandered didn't matter. Only his soul mattered. When are we going to learn how much God wants us and others saved!
  Take some time today. Do you find yourself questioning God's love for you? Do you find yourself refusing another, especially a brother or sister, who you think has done unspeakable things? That means we must ask ourselves: Aren't you glad God's not like you? Pray for open eyes and a softened heart.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Heart Of God"

  How you view things and people is determined by your heart. Yes, your heart determines so much about you in approach and  your view! If the heart feeds on the wrong things, your view of individuals and situations will be according to that. Here's a great illustration of that. Jesus was dining with Simon the Pharisee. A woman, a known sinner among them, came in falling at the feet of Jesus washing His feet with her hair, kissing His feet and anointing His them with perfume. (Luke 7) Jesus asked Simon to look at the woman. Two people looking at the same woman. Simon saw a sinner and Jesus saw her forgiven. In fact, Simon saw Jesus as less than a Prophet! It all depended on the heart. The prodigal returns and the father see his son returned and back in fellowship. His son was a source of joy! The older brother saw the heathen that was rewarded for his wickedness!
  We see it in the church all the time. People get upset about someone and they in turn look for ways to justify their conclusion about the individual. They aren't wanting to unify or love, they want to declare their own judgment about that individual and move as far from them as possible. It all comes from a heart tainted, not given to God to see things from God's eyes and perspective. God created us and all He got from man was our rebellion and thrusting Him aside. What did God do? He came looking to reconcile us to Himself through Jesus. Oh yes, there are those who hold to their ungodliness that the Lord will deal with but He still looks and wants all saved. That's the heart of God! The self-righteous chief priests and Pharisees saw a crowd of people accursed. (John 7:49) Jesus saw the multitudes as "sheep without a shepherd." (Matt. 9:36) Our view of people is either seen through the eyes of our  blemished heart or the eyes of God's heart that has affected our heart.
  It is so hard for me to grasp how God can see us humans worth dying for. With all our smugness, filth and self-righteousness, with our lips attacking one another and the sin and shame we try to cover, God sees us as someone worth loving! And His love for us is something glorious. Oh yes, God sees our sin and He sees it clearly. God is against sin and will punish the unrepentant sinful. All of this is fact but behind all this declaration of judgment, there is also a yearning for man to turn away from their sin and to come to His side. There is this place in the middle of the heart of God that desires deeply to help us, the helpless. That's the heart we need to develop. We need our hearts molded by the Lord and not by our own thinking and desires. Maybe it's time to start praying for the Lord to soften our hearts so we can see things as He sees things! And I don't understand one thing that I just spoke about God but I'm grateful for His love toward me!! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Dress For God"

  There were three young men in their teens standing in a room talking. They didn't know I was there but I heard their conversation. "Did you see what so & so was wearing today?" one teen exclaimed. "It's more what she wasn't wearing! You could see her underwear. She didn't even have to bend over." That was troubling no doubt.
  We have come upon that time of year when the dress of many becomes so revealing that many a Christian goes right along without any thought. The world around us is steeped in sin and dead spiritually. They have no notion of God and His ways and frankly, don't really care. That attitude is revealed in their dress and walks right into the lives of many saints. I'm sometimes shocked at the lack of soberness and awareness of God's people in what they wear.  
  Whether we like it or not, people draw assumptions about us based on our physical attire. The focus of your life can been seen in your outward manifestations both by actions and wear. It's that simple. Jesus said the mouth speaks what fills the heart! (Matt. 12:34) Solomon noted this in Prov. 7:10 where he speaks of a woman coming to meet a man "dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart."  Interesting there is a recognized look in the dress and is associated with the heart. Paul speaking to Timothy speaks of a woman who makes a claim to godliness that there should be proper clothing (I Tim. 2:9-10). "I'm a Christian!" What is proper? What is modest for one claiming godliness? First, their good works should adorn them. Second, their outward clothing should be addressed as clothing that is modest and discreet. It carries the idea of not calling attention to ourselves and well arranged. It is also a quality that must be part of the character of an elder (I Tim. 3:2 - "respectable"/"good behavior" - same idea as modesty).
  What is your goal? If we are citizens of heaven, if Jesus is our sin-bearer and we have been cleansed by His blood from all unrighteousness, where should our focus be? On the Lord Jesus and watching that our hearts aren't carried away! The apostle Peter spoke to the women that they need to concern themselves "with the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God." (I Pet. 3:4-5) The heart! That's what the Lord desires. When our hearts are pursuing other things, our lives begin to reflect that. Our attitudes become more like those around us and the result, we will walk and look like the lost!
  I will never put a harness on anyone to what is modest in attire. I will only point that if the men and women are dressing their hearts and their bodies, they will dress for God! They will adorn their heart with proper attitudes and desires which will translate to their bodies offered to God as a living and holy sacrifice that pleases Him. Dress for God! Living and holy! Dress in ways that honors God! Dress in ways that will not call any attention or give any attempt for anyone to lust. Listen, we don't want anyone to draw a wrong conclusion about our focus in our lives. Yes, I know there will be those who will look upon a woman no matter what she wears. Jesus addressed that. They have a serious heart problem before the Lord. But if men and women would dress for God, put emphasis on the saving blood of Jesus, it should lead each of us into holy behavior and godly attire which means a sincere faith and consciousness that we don't call attention for others to desire us for what we wear (or don't wear)! Dress for God! It might be time to rethink our lives and how we go about our lives both in heart and body. DRESS FOR GOD!

Monday, April 14, 2014

"Pilgrims and Aliens"

  How many believe they are going to die? Those who read this will think that's rather silly to ask such a question because we readily agree that we will all die at some point or the Lord will return. One of the two options are there. But many who believe they are going to die physically really don't seem to take it too seriously. After all, we have a family to raise and too many things to do. The result, we don't see ourselves as pilgrims on this earth. When we don't view ourselves as aliens (Heb. 11:9) living in this world,  so our lives get bogged down with too much business. We don't travel light! We burden ourselves with "things" and obligations. Our energy gets sapped right out of us and our focus becomes blurred. We plod through this life with the head knowledge but the reality doesn't seem to strike us.
  We look at Abraham, a man of faith. He lived as an alien in the land of promise, a man of great wealth but he never took roots. His sights, his life, his ambitions were placed in looking "for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Heb. 11:10)
  Jesus approached this tax collector named Levi. Levi had the money! A life secure and also hated by most. This man Levi, also called Matthew, had no clue about becoming an alien among the living and suddenly, following the words of Jesus, he left it all for life! We see the same in Peter, Andrew, James and John, all fishermen. They walked away from their livelihood, their possessions as they found the life in Jesus. As a result, all these didn't live their lives the same as others. Their view of life (and death) changed forever. They didn't speak like others, think like others and weren't interested in what others living were interested in. They weren't shaped by their surroundings but longing for the Lord shaped their thoughts and desires.
  What about us? Too much of what we see shapes our lives and not enough of the reality of the unseen, which is faith. Some can't face the day without complaining about something. Some can't face a situation without thinking the worst is bound to happen. It's all gloom and doom or gripe and fight. But for the alien, the pilgrim that sees the heavenly as reality, the life found in Jesus, they see the opportunity to gain and move forward in such situations. They see God as their Father. They see the reality of His promises and their heart is set. Those who search for the heavenly do not see what happens in this life as the end or the last say. They do not believe they are "home"! They belong to God and they have been liberated as they move toward their eternal city. Their colony is in heaven and they order their lives as such.
  Maybe we need to lighten our loads and rethink about what we are living for, what we get bogged down in. Maybe we need to shape our faith into the reality that we are passing through and not just sing it in a song! Yes, God at our birth, at our marriage, at raising our children and reaching for home knowing we are but pilgrims, NOT wanderers!!

Monday, April 7, 2014

"Message To Encourage"

  This week I find myself in Gideon, Mo. I have never been here or in this area before. It is rather unique with all the rice fields and small towns. But there is something else that I find that seems to change little: the needs of people. There are such wonderful people here wanting to know and hear Jesus. I've met brethren that I have never known before and they are stirred by Jesus Christ. What good news.
  As the Lord gives opportunities we need to take advantage. We need to hear and surround our lives with spiritual food just as we need physical food for our daily living. There is too many droughts in the lives of people. People seem to be less and less interested in food to feed the soul. As the soul is starved, the spiritual health declines. It can finally reach a point of death, separation from the Lord. No desire, no interest, no wanting to know. The soul goes into death and the only thing that is left to draw from is the physical so all our activities and stirrings come from the external to keep us going. The soul lays still being fed only from the physical. The end result will be eternal death. I encourage you, feed your soul! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014


  "I wish I could find peace of mind!" Have you ever said that or heard someone say that? People strain for peace but it seems to evade so many. People become worn, frazzled and in search of this state of peace and happiness. Why can't it be found by many? Because peace cannot be built, earned or attained by human efforts. Peace is the result of Christ! Peace is the result of the grace of God! It has nothing to do with circumstances in life. Jesus spoke to His disciples: "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Paul taught the Christian's at Ephesus: "For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall." (Eph. 2:14) To the Colossians we find: "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..." (Col. 3:15) Peace is found some 88 times in the New Testament alone!
  Peace is "totality, wholeness and balance." Peace is from God through Christ and never from man. It is given, not attained by any effort on our part. It can only be received! It is peace that comes from Christ, knowing that one is safe in what the Lord has accomplished for us. People run from one thing to another hoping to find peace of mind. Pills, psychologists, support groups, you name it are where people look and believe they will find peace. The moment the pills wear off, the counseling is over and the support groups break up, its all back to you! One place that is not looked is Jesus. People simply don't believe Him but believe in the other elements. Christ is the only One that introduces us to God's grace and peace is the result of standing in His grace. (Rom. 5:1-2)
 Peace is beyond the thoughts of man. Peace is not in man, in treaties, in the absence of conflicts. Just look all the peace talks that take place in certain areas of our world. While terms of peace are discussed, war is still taking place and the next move is being planned. It is impossible to have peace without the God of peace. "...and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa. 9:6) 
   Peace is the result of righteousness. God counts one righteous through Christ and peace comes to the inner being. How often do we pray for peace yet little for righteousness? Righteousness is where one is being brought into a right relationship with God. The result: PEACE. Trying to attain to peace by changing your environment or circumstances without coming to Jesus is impossible. Holiness and purity are the result of the cleansing blood of Jesus knowing you have been counted as righteous. Peace enters the heart. A person practicing sin will never find peace! "But the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud. 'There is no peace,' says my God, 'for the wicked.'" (Isa. 57:20-21)
  The Father loved us so much by sending His Son on our behalf and offers us His peace to dwell within us. The fruit of the Spirit is peace. The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding is what guards the mind and heart of those in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7) We sing about it: "When peace like a river attendeth my way..."Peace, perfect peace, in this dark wold of sin: the blood of Jesus whispers peace within." "There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God. A place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God." Peace! Peace! It's only found in Jesus and looking anywhere else is useless. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"A Preachers View"

  I must tell you that preaching is one of the most difficult things I have ever done! I haven't always been a so called 'preacher' as I worked in among the world. I have worked in some body-stressing labor but preaching, this has been much different.
  As I travel about getting opportunities to speak for the Lord, preachers amaze me. I have met some very godly men of sincere faith that preach and they do so much good for my heart and faith. They get beat down from cold and calloused brethren but they continue to hold to Jesus for their strength. The congregation benefits from them over-all. I also have met men that have no business preaching. Just listening to them, what drives them, how they don't study and the things they involve themselves in is very alarming. Some of their statements are bold and arrogant. I have had three preachers over the years openly admit they never pray! Dead sermons!! I have often wondered if the local congregation knew what was going on...well, I'll leave it at that. And I too will leave the preachers in the hands of the Lord. The Lord will determine their faithfulness and stewardship!
  I find myself sometimes wondering about the brethren here where I have been honored to preach for almost 21 years. God has blessed His word! I try to be faithful and honest in dealing with His word. Paul knew it would be difficult for the sincere preachers. The inspired apostle spoke about "taking pains" and "being absorbed" in things (I Tim. 4:15). Preachers we called "to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." (II Tim. 2:1) We will suffer hardship at times (II Tim. 2:3). Then comes the over-riding thought that "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (II Tim. 3:12) It should be of no surprise that the persecution will come from brethren. It was the 'chosen people' of God that killed Jesus! It was the 'chosen people' of God that pursued Paul and many of those preaching the word of the Lord. It was 'brethren' that tried to kick people out of the church. It was 'brethren' that made things rough within the church and stir revolts. Preaching is no picnic! But there is this drive, this want within that keeps me going. I cannot stop speaking about the good news the Lord has brought to me. Being saved when I was such a wretch means everything. Often I am asked when I plan to retire and if I will retire here. My reply: "No plans to retire! As long as the Lord continues to give me good health, I'll preach!" That might not be good news for some but I must stay the course the Lord has called me. I must honor the Father and I thank Him for giving me such good health and His wonderful salvation! As the Lord allows, I will continue to "preach the word"!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Destruction of Fleshliness"

  Fleshliness destroys the spiritual things of God. That's a fact! It's difficult to get fleshly people to recognize they are fleshly especially when they feel they are spiritual. Their basis of spiritual is based on their knowledge of God's word, discussions on topics in God's word and their personal activity in church related matters.
  What does the word of God mean by "fleshly"? Fleshliness is simply following your desires and feelings with little regard for what God needs you to do. Someone feels like saying something because someone has made a statement (it could be right or wrong). Something drives within to speak and counter the statement! Someone feels like doing something with little regard to how it might affect others and so they act. There is little thought of what God needs to be done at the moment. There is a reaction without thought! That's fleshliness. There are others who feel they are experienced to teach or speak on a matter because they have been through a similar situation. What if their experience was a fleshly reaction? Experiencing something does not necessarily translate into spiritual and how to teach others to overcome. God must be at the center. 
  The Corinthian brethren did many things that were unacceptable to God. Paul spent a great deal of time pointing out their quarrels, siding with certain preachers, arrogance against one another, judging motives, not dealing with immorality, having lawsuits and showing their approach to situations was less than spiritual. Paul pointed he gave them the proper food but years had passed and they were still fleshly, just mere men (I Cor. 3)! No spiritual progress had been made even though they had the teaching of the apostle. The spiritual matters were in place for them to gain spiritually but their fleshiness destroyed it all. 
  Fleshly people jump to fleshly conclusions when reading God's word. Silly sayings, turning God's word into something it wasn't intended is the norm of fleshliness. There's not a lot of sober and spiritual thinking much less a proper mind set. Fleshly people react in quick flashes, speaking in anger or harshness only later to regret it. I'm not talking about the accidental stumbling. I'm speaking of the norm. Something is said they don't like or disagree and flash, they react. It is done over and over.
  How does one overcome their fleshly tendencies? We all have them. You must be willing to submit yourself humbly before the Lord. You must be willing to allow the Lord, when things get agitated within you, to take you into His line of thinking by following Him where He wants you to walk! Keeping silent and thinking in terms of God. Listening and allowing Him to instruct you how to react. Simply put: "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." (Gal. 5:16) That's God's answer for us.