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!!!