Wednesday, December 28, 2016

"The Law of Arrogance"

  There are laws God has placed within this world that no man or woman will violate. One such law is reaping and sowing. You will reap what you sow. Many know this but few seem to take it to heart.
  There is another law God has placed in this world without exception: "God is opposed to the proud, but give grace to the humble." (I Pet. 5:5/Jam. 4:6) God does not give any grace to those whose hearts are arrogant and prideful. Why? Because they will not listen or accept correction. But those humble, both in mind and heart, God gives to them His grace, His undeserving favor. For the humble, God freely gives the things that are needed in your life. Sometimes things can change quickly in life but if we can know the law of grace and God will give me what I need to help in life's situations, humility guarantees that.
  One of the greatest insights to this law placed within this world is Daniel 4. King Nebuchadnezzar was the world ruler in Babylon. God allowed Babylon to bring down arrogant Israel. God sent men preaching/teaching His word but Israel would not listen so the people were warned if they didn't humble themselves they would suffer severe consequences. God is opposed to the proud and the pride of His people saw their nation taken down by an ungodly nation. Daniel and Ezekiel are both in captivity in Babylon.
  King Nebuchadnezzar had a vision and no one could explain it until God brought Daniel forward. As Daniel began to explain God's intentions, the word of God rang out: "...until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes."  (Dan. 4:25) The world ruler on earth is not above or greater than God! God ultimately decides what takes place and man must recognize. If we could only believe this in the church today!
  After the warning King Nebuchadnezzar did not heed. His heart was too proud and God allowed him twelve more months to get his attitude and heart corrected. Nothing changed within the kings heart and God removed his sovereignty and the king was driven from mankind. What a collapse in huge magnitude! God rules and will always rule and His law of opposing the proud will always stand even if you are the world's greatest!!
  Sometimes people have great success in their life through jobs and many live comfortable. They might have a personality that draws others to them and things seem to come easy. Arrogance begins to settle in heart and upon ignoring God they fail to realize God is greater.
  Honoring God and being humble to listen and take in His instruction will guard you from a lot of difficulties. Humility is what gives people the ability to hear and heed. God's gives His grace to them freely. But those who think they are above or refuse to take instruction, they are on a course at some point directly in God's opposition. Our lives cannot be consumed with us!! Our lives are to reach beyond us and reach out to regarding others as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:3). How many know that? How many practice that? God's grace is only for the humble. The humble of heart do not have to earn His favor. God will be there guaranteed! 
  Pride will destroy you sooner or later. God's law will see to that. If we believe in this law, it becomes much easier to humble ourselves knowing the outcome no matter what we face. "Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; assuredly, he will not be unpunished." (Prov. 16:5)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"Why Are Many Enraged?"

  I am so glad this election is over and I'll be even more glad when the swearing in of our new President is done just to get past all the drama and hate spewed. I have never in my lifetime heard as much anger, fighting and resentment in one election than the one we came through. What is more troubling is those claiming to be children of God were caught up in the roller coaster! I have heard from brethren that they have been over-come by anger and anxiety in many of these cases and are still fighting it! Brethren throwing around words we shouldn't be lending ourselves to. 
  The Greek word Scripture uses for anxiety or worry is the word merimnao. It comes from the verb merizo (to divide) and nous (mind). It literally means "to divide the mind" or "to draw in different directions"  Anxieties and worries draws our minds in different directions creating division. That division in our minds creates fears within and it is those fears that are raged against one another and the anger spews forth. That sounds like our election and our post-election doesn't it? I just spoke with someone yesterday still fuming about the whole election and the more they spoke the more angry they became. They were in the complete room of anxiety not even knowing where their divided mind was taking them!!
  Why don't we just take full advantage of our worries? Let's allow the anxiety of this world to become our anxiety. Let's take full advantage of the news media and allow them to fuel our minds to divide our thinking while it creates a rage within us. And brethren turn on one another! Anxiety, worry kicks God out. There is little trust and no "peace of God which surpasses all comprehension." (Phil. 4:7) All these media outlets are robbing God's children of His joy, His peace while we attack others who do not agree with us. All this worrying is making us better, isn't it? Worry creates panic and fear and fear is contagious! Many have gone on the attack spewing their anger at others who will listen. No one seems to hear God. Let's face it, treat yourself to a good dose of fretting and watch your concerns just drift away! We know that doesn't work. Anxiety, worries and fretting creates a new set of problems. Isaiah said, "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) 
  Let's be truthful. Anxiety and worries serves no purpose. It creates no advantages! In our rage we find an outlet for our minds drawn in different directions but it's only temporary. It's not long and back at the same anxiety but in another form. There will be a whole new fueling of anxieties when the swearing in comes and many will fall in line. We claim God is in control but live in such divided mind-sets we can't settle down. This worrying and fretting divides our minds, splits our thoughts from moment to moment and causes division among people. "For that man ought not expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (Jam. 1:7-8)
  Jesus is Lord in heaven and on earth. God installs kings and brings down kingdoms. God rules no matter what and we must put our trust in Him. We need to allow the peace of Christ to rule our hearts (Col. 3:15) and not this world or else you will find yourself fighting against the Lord Himself while destroying His purpose among His church. Just read Psa. 2!! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"God Knows My Heart!"

  Over the many years I have heard people say, "God knows my heart!" When they speak such it generally is because of some sin practiced in their life and this is how they deal with it. It sounds as if the one is saying: "I know I am doing wrong but I'm a good person in heart and the Lord knows it!" Playing games with sin and believing one is a good person in heart is a self-deceived person! God never speaks to approve sin and never calls one who justifies their sin as a good-hearted person.
  Jesus spoke that a good heart are the ones who hear His word, they hold it fast and it bears fruit in their life (Luke 8:15). Jesus taught that "out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness." (Mark 8:21-22) Ever spoken evil of another behind their back or deceived someone? Would you be bold enough to justify yourself, "God knows my heart!"? That's the very thing Jesus said was in the heart! If you were committing adultery or flirting with someone other than your spouse (sensuality) and claimed your self-righteousness by speaking, "God knows my heart!" as an excuse for your practice, maybe the real question is do you know your own heart? God spoke to Jeremiah: "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9) All this evil is what is stored in your heart and what's in your heart is what defiles you before the Lord!
  Let's make this very clear: one doesn't sin because they have a good heart. One sins (as a practice) because there is something sinful in the heart. We all sin as I John 2:1 tells us but a good heart doesn't sin and excuse it with "God knows my heart!" A good heart when it sins is sensitive and goes to the Lord for forgiveness and cleansing (I John 1:9). Your heart is hidden from man but is open and bare to God (Heb. 4:13). You can hide your motives from man but God understands and sees. You can appear as godly and righteous to others even if you are corrupt in heart but God knows the truth. Jesus condemned the religious men of His day by calling them evil and self-indulgent while they looked good outwardly (Matt. 23:25). 
  Let's get this straight. No matter how many bad things you have thought or done, your heart is worse! Our heart is not better than our life but worse as we can pretend in our exterior life. God knows the little secrets, our greed and lusts, our selfishness and pride and even our bitterness and resentful attitudes. What are we to do?
  The death of Jesus along with His resurrection is where you will find your justification and sanctification. When one speaks, "God knows my heart" that should drive me to my knees and bring about a repentance before the Lord. The fact that God does know our heart should alert me that what I did came from a heart not pure and clean. The blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse should bring us joy and hope as we look away from our heart and to Him alone for cleansing. Our ONLY hope is Jesus. There is no other way around it. Be humble, be honest and look to the cleansing power of Jesus to create within us a clean and useful heart. Then the sin can be removed from my life!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"Are You A Sinner?"

  In his preaching he made a statement that we are all sinners. People nodded in agreement while some said "amen." It made me think! Are you a sinner? What does the term "sinner" mean? The Scripture speaks: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23) 
  Paul spoke of Jesus: "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all." (I Tim. 1:15) Paul knew that he was among the world's worst sinners and he was the "chief" of sinners. But backing up and looking at the context, Paul spoke of his sinful condition as "formerly." "Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor..." (I Tim. 1:13) Paul speaks of himself as a sinner but only in the sense that he had sinned and was undeserving of God's mercy and grace.
  Paul did not see himself in Christ as a sinner but a saint and an apostle! Paul addressed all those in Christ Jesus as saints, not sinners (I Cor. 1:1-2). Forgiveness brings a new creation. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (II Cor. 5:17) Forgiveness brings us under God's work. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Eph. 2:10) Forgiveness brings us into the likeness of God. "And put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (Eph. 4:24) 
  When Christ died for us, before we came to Him, we were sinners but now, those in Christ Jesus are no longer sinners! "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." (Rom. 5:8-9) We are children of God, the saved wearing His name. To say we are sinners is not giving Christ Jesus His rightful place.
  Does that mean we no longer sin? Of course not! "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (I John 2:1) While we struggle against sin we no long walk in sin and are no longer slaves to sin (Rom. 6:1-7). Our sins are not held against us (Rom. 4:8/Heb. 8:12). We will always have our struggles against sin in our life but we are joined to Christ, called by God as His child and saints and we are no longer "sinners." We are new and made new. We are no longer part of the world of darkness but are in the world of the kingdom of His beloved Son where forgiveness is found (Col. 1:13-14).
  If you're still practicing sin you're a "sinner." If you have been joined to Christ Jesus, you are His brother. We need to give thought to who we are and where we stand.

Monday, November 28, 2016

"Why Do You Believe?"

  If someone came to you and asked you why you believed what you believe, could you tell them? I am certain some would give a Scriptural answer. The next question comes, "Well, why do you believe that?" You might stumble for words but probably end up saying, "Because the Bible says that." As they continue to probe they ask, "Why do you believe in the Bible?" What would you say? How would you respond? Would you simply state that it is God's word? Then comes the big question, "How do you know the Bible is God's word? The Quran, the book of Mormon also claim to be the word of God!" Would you have an answer?
  Do we not realize how important it is to know why we believe what we believe? Over my many years I have watched the children of many growing up in the Lord's church and are talked out of their faith either in college or early adulthood simply because they have no understanding or conviction about what they believe. Other children just walk away and think nothing of it. They simply went with mom and dad growing up with little to no understanding. The belief by many parents is they will get what they need at worship or study. No real conviction of faith was ever developed. We can turn the page and find many Christian adults fall to pieces when their faith is put to the test because they have no real foundation of strength because of the lack of conviction. Many adults do not know why they believe what they believe. They simply exist without any real desire and the moment a problem arises, off they go to something else or quit. Many find their belief that easy to rob!
  We need to believe God's word is God's word but unless you know why it is so you won't last long when confronted with ideas and you can be easily swayed to something else outside the realm of truth. Paul stated to the church at Colossae when speaking about the treasures that are hidden only in Christ and found no where else: "I say this to that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude."  (Col. 2:4-7) Paul was making certain they were grounded and rooted. What about you?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Praise or Praise?"

  Do you sometimes think how disjointed we might be in our adoration of God? Worship is not something longed for by many. It's just a place to hang out because it's Sunday. Now I am speaking general terms here. When was the last time you looked so forward to worshiping God with His body? Or a matter greater, when is the last time you adored God with thanksgiving and praise simply because you belong to Him while at home or the office? Nothing scheduled but simply a heart of praise. Sometimes I wonder if the only time we give our Father and loving Savior praise is when the word shows up in a song or Scripture. 
  Let's turn the page. Listen to us at times. We openly speak of a sports team, a world catastrophe, an election or our children and grandchildren and make every point about that we can. Where is the praise to God? Where is the speaking of our glorious Father to one another? When was the last time you were speaking with another and said, "I was reading Scripture and listen to what I found in our Lord?" 
  One more step forward. Is the only praise and thanksgiving that flows from our hearts and lips are from 10-noon on Sundays? And we pick it back up again on Sunday evening? Or maybe our national holiday of Thanksgiving? That's all we have? That's all that's going on in our heart?
  The greatest blessing, THE GREATEST BLESSING of all is the salvation we possess in Jesus. From doom to salvation and you earned nothing.What a Savior! What a love demonstrated on our behalf. It thrills our hearts when our children or grandchildren says something so loving, unrehearsed and we share that with others. What about the Lord? How much do we really adore the God of our salvation? Your heart praise says it all!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

"Remember LET"

  We didn't create ourselves! This creation (and we are part of it) did not become "very good" because of our flourishing. There was one word from the lips of God that stood along: "LET"! And it was so. No matter where you look in this created world among humans or things created with humans, it was all unaided and by the word "LET" from our Creator. Ten times God spoke "LET" and it was so. The power of the Almighty. The humans created enjoyed all the blessings of this relationship simply because of  Jehovah God. We exist simply because of the loving labor of the Father and no other involved.
  On that 7th day it was all finished and complete and from that beginning and that word "LET"is the same pattern every week. Work expected six days and rest on one. Creation was not remembered. It is the Creator, the Almighty, Jehovah, Yahweh was to be acknowledged on that 7th day. Mankind was called to remember the existence of God and He alone is our blessing in a blessed environment and it is all His work. In all this, the nation of Israel was making a grand and glorious confession on the 7th day that they owe all they are and have due to Jehovah God. That was to take away their concerns for tomorrow by remembering Him and His creating power today. Here they were working their harvest and storms coming in which might destroy what the people worked so hard for. The storm is set to hit on the day of remembering and praising their Creator. Panic? We have to put all aside and get in the crop? Debts must be paid and can only be paid by the harvest? Were they to become a nation of merchants? The 7th day, the Sabbath, is God's call to a relationship! God can and will continue to provide no matter what storms He sends!!
  We fast forward to today. Here we are, immersed into union with Christ, a new creation. In Christ we have become His workmanship anew. What sin took, God created again. From the raising of Jesus to eternity to come, God created and it had nothing to do with our working. God raised Jesus on the first day of the week unaided by human hands. We enjoy the blessing of this relationship simply because of Jehovah God. We exist in Christ because of the labor of God. What are we called to do? Get your things done 6 days but on that first day, the day of the resurrected Savior, remember Me. Share in the Supper to remember His creative, saving power and rejoice in the covenant. Do this as His people. Rest in the Lord! Rejoice and be glad for your Creator upholds all things by the word of His power and that includes every aspect of your life. Simply put, remember "LET"! 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

"Dwell On These Things"

  "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." (Phil. 4:8)
  Are you having difficulty holding on? Do your find yourself tossed here and there with ease? Are you angry and bitter in certain situations? How much time to you put toward God and His word? Here we are called to "dwell on these things." These things we are called to dwell on should be at the very fiber of our spiritual well-being. By lending your mind to God in this manner, you are giving Him the right to help, to control, to grow and strengthen you. If you we do not give our minds to God in this manner, life becomes one complicated mess and we are easily taken down.
  "Dwell on these things" are how we are to shape our lives. David concluded in Psa. 19, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer." David knew his speech and thoughts needed to honor God and be acceptable.
  We need to dwell daily on things that are true. True carries the idea of reality and trustworthy. Our minds needs to dwell on true things inspired by God not man. We need our minds centered on what is true according to His truth. Filling and dwelling on what is true keeps us from coming to wrong conclusions and reacting in wrong ways.
  We need to dwell on things that are honorable. Honorable carries the idea of what is serious and dignified. It relates to things that are pure and holy. How do we think on holy things? Psa. 119:38 speaks: "Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You."  The more you dwell on God's word, spend time with God's word the more it will lead you to thinking honorable thoughts leading to reverence of God. Reverence for God seems missing. Acceptable worship to God is from reverence for Him (Heb. 12:28). Our minds needs to dwell on the honorable things from God to us. 
  We need to dwell on the things that are right. Right is what is just according to God. It reveals there is a divine standard we need to hold to. If we are going to follow what is just we must think according to God's standard. 
  We need to dwell on things that are pure. Our minds need to be given to reflecting the holiness of God. We live in a world that impure and impurity confronts us daily. If we allow our minds to dwell on the injustices, the impurities around us, our lives will not improve. We are called to be holy as God is holy (I Pet. 1:15). We are called to use God's wisdom which begins with purity (Jam. 3:17). We need to dwell on God's holiness. His purity expressed in His word.
  We need to dwell on things that are lovely. Lovely deals with what is attractive and desirable. Wouldn't that fit God's word? Doesn't God call the women to be known for the godliness of their adornment? (I Tim. 3:10/I Pet. 3:3-4) Dwelling on God and His word are what helps us see the things that are true attractants in our lives and pleasing to Him.
  We need to dwell on things that are excellent and worthy of praise. What is excellent about bad situations mulling them over only to anger us? What is praiseworthy of evil? Why are we drawn into knowing more about failures of others or the evil that happened to someone? What does that do to our minds? It's sure not making us more pleasing to God!
  The more we "dwell on these things" from God's word the more we will have our thinking conforming to His power and love. What will happen next is your life will begin to follow God's holiness. This is a natural spiritual progression. Only by dwelling on these things will you begin to practice these things. Let's up-grade our living today!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

"A Good Father"

  "For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet unborn, that they may arise and them them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments."  (Psa. 78:5-7)
  Parenting is difficult. The role of teaching falls squarely on the shoulders of the father! From the days of Israel to our time, the Lord expects the teaching of the children to come from the father. That doesn't mean the mother has no responsibility. The mother plays a big role but the lead and direction is set by the father. "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring  them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."  (Eph. 6:4)
  How does one know they are a good father? Most of the time father's  are working before the children are awake and arrive home after the children finish their day at school. This presents a problem as many father's forget about...FATHERING! Too many father's emotionally disconnect from their children because of work or schedules and never re-connect. The children are left on their own many times and the mother has had to deal with a landslide of issues dealing with them. Thank the Lord for godly mothers!! A good father will be connected even while away working by making certain the things needed for the day are met. A good father is connected to the mother and working with that makes sure their children are trained and taught to put their confidence in God and keep His word!
  A good father makes tough decisions that affect the home with spiritual impact. That means a good father understands his model before the eyes of his children. Children have a very unique set of "antennas" that not only hear and see but replay the behavior they see in their father and mother. Father's make a decision to be godly before the eyes of their children and directs the home into spiritual alignment.
  A good father keeps the hearts of his children encouraged toward the Lord and His word. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart." (Col. 3:21) Father's are to be well-balanced in dealing with their children. Not overly critical or harsh but putting the right amount of discipline while teaching a life of contentment and happiness. Walking with the Lord brings great contentment in the heart and a father should know this. That means a good father is there for his children no matter what.
  A good father sees his heavenly Father as the source of his confidence and holding faithfully to His word. We know our faults but it's not the faults that take center stage. It's the progress toward the image of Jesus that matters. When you fail, humility is there. When you succeed, humility is seen. When you struggle, humility drives you to the source of help and strength. Yes, a good father makes godly decisions pointing the home to THE FATHER from whom all praise and honor are due. A good father effects not only his children but the generations to come to "put their confidence in God" and "keep His commandments."

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"Our Saturdays"

  "And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into your hands I commit My spirit.' Having said this, He breathed His last." (Luke 23:46) Trusting but enduring a horrible death. All Jesus had was the promise from His Father. No one to hold Him, touch Him or help. He simply died in our place because of our sins trusting God would do as He promised, raise Him from death's grip. 
  Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had taken away the body of Jesus and prepared a mixture of myrrh and aloes. The women followed seeing where the tomb was and how Jesus was laid. Jesus is lifeless as the stones around. 
  God made Himself known to mankind on Friday by displays of nature and the relationship to Jesus Christ the Lord. Open graves, a blackened sun in the brightest part of the day as the earth was shaken. On Saturday, all went silent. The Lord Jesus is silent. The God of heaven and earth is silent. Saturday is the day between the struggle and the solution for all mankind. What was going to happen? As silent Saturday came along man heard or saw nothing. It all seemed over. 
  Sometimes we have these "Saturdays" in our lives. Friday we found out we have no employment any longer. Friday we received unfavorable news about our health. Friday our child went across the line. Friday our marriage has reached a height of disappointment. We pray. We cry. We reach out and there seems to be such silence. Our lives seem so dark. What are we to do? Why hasn't God done something? The silence of Saturday grieves us.
  We are called to do as Jesus did...lie still and wait. Jesus trusted God from the beginning to the end. No matter what physical forces were around, Jesus simply trusted and His body lay there on Saturday waiting. Jesus knew the promises. Jesus had a conviction about God and His word: "For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your holy One to undergo decay. You will make known to me the path of life..." (Psa. 16:10-11) Jesus knew God would not leave Him alone. 
  Then came  Sunday when God raised His Son and grip of sin and it's power were destroyed! The solution for all mankind was made known. He lives! He reigns! The first day of the week began a new chapter with the Lord Jesus Christ in charge! Just because of silence on Saturday does not mean God was absent or inactive. 
  We have many "Saturdays" in our lives and it leaves us bewildered. But just because something is not done on the spot, when you want it doesn't mean God is not aware or inactive. Our "Saturdays" have a purpose. Those silent "Saturdays" are to help us focus and simply be still. "Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  (Psa. 46:10) Sometimes we need to simply be still and stop trying to direct things when we encounter them. If God had raised Jesus within thirty minutes of His death, we would not appreciate the depth of the love and power. If God were to come and solve your problems the moment they appear, you would miss an opportunity for faith to grow and a deep sense of love for His strength. It's for this reason that God gives us "Saturdays." Learning to be patient and "know that I am God" has great benefits. Trust in the Lord and learn that silence is an opportunity for prayer and awaiting the "Sunday" power.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"Stumps and Dirt"

  Many years ago while growing up in West Texas a fellow brother in Christ owned some land with mesquite trees on it. He wanted to use some of that land for farming so he began the task of pulling stumps. I went out to help him one day while he was pulling stumps. That was some of the most difficult work I ever had to do. Those who have pulled stumps know exactly what I'm saying. A few weeks later the stumps were removed and the ground was ready to be plowed.
  I went back out when he was plowing just to see and he approached me asking, "Smell that? That's a sweet smell of dirt!" It was all dirt. No stumps and ready to be used and useful. 
  It struck me the other day that the church many times is like the land being cleared to be useful. Sometimes there are those stumps and they keep the richness of the blessings in Christ Jesus in check! Jesus was preparing the soil of hearts and encountered many who impeded what the Lord was looking for. They were stumps and unwilling to move. When the soil of the heart is pure it gives the opportunity for seed to be planted and grown as intended. Useful and rich. The Lord has blessed His people with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3) and redeemed us (Eph. 1:7). The Lord has provided us with EVERYTHING that pertains to life and godliness. Nothing is missing. Everything is for our benefit and our blessing. Yet there are those stumps who stir and refuse. They throw in their attitudes which are less than Christ-like. The church struggles. But here's the good news, you can be an aroma for Christ. Hold to His promises. Be humble and pull up any stumps that are in the heart so the soil of the heart is good and useful. You will be amazed how the Lord grows you. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"S I N"

  I do a lot of counseling. Marriages, families and individuals. People come by and share their life struggles and they are real. Heartache, disappointment and sometimes rebellion troubles the souls. For the majority, their struggles seem so big and complicated they do not know what to do. Many times people speak that their situation is so complex that it is hard to explain. Many times individuals have sought out "professionals" and found no answers and they seem to grasping at straws. I guess one might say that I sometimes fall as a last resort! First or last, at least they come.
  Here is the thing. I know the answer to all situations before I am ever told what is going on. There are no letters before or after my name as I am a nobody. But I understand why things are the way they are. Our day and times is no different from the day and times of Jesus. The same problems He faced with people are the same problems we face today. The only thing that has changed is we have gotten better at covering up the problem with all these layers and that's what makes people confused or complicated. The problem up front and always: S I N! It's not anything else. One can listen to this action or these words spoken in a situation but the cause is s i n! In marriages, s i n separates people. In families s i n brings destruction and hurts. In individual lives s i n creates confusion and hopelessness. S I N is the enemy of man.
  Knowing the problem up front makes it easy when the circumstances are laid out. S i n is involved in every step of the way. People express what happened in certain situations and they don't know what to do from this point. It is rather a simple solution knowing the individuals are trapped and need the answer to overcome the power of s i n. People need saving from s i n and being held in its power. That's where the answer is simple. They need the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's that simple. God's power to save from s i n is found in the gospel (Rom. 1:16). S i n robs one of life. Jesus came to give life. When things get confusing and complicated you can bet s i n is the root cause. Once we can see the cause the solution is easy for those with faith. 
  Next time someone comes to you with all this swirling complexity they want to share realize up front you know the problem and the solution. S i n is overcome by Jesus Christ. Point them to Jesus. No gimmicks, no mastermind plan but just simple and plain words of Jesus and Him crucified!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


  We recently had a congregational retreat. We try to do this every four years for our congregation but as time has moved us forward we have expanded into the lives of families, brothers and sisters from all parts of this nation. It takes two years of planning (which is why we only do this every four years) and physically wears me out. But that can be overcome! The blessings received are beyond the physical. People tell me to get others to help and I do on certain things but I guess as I am, with all my flaws graciously brought into Christ's love, I want to make sure it glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthens us. That's not saying others can't or don't do that. It's just me. Yes, sometimes my humanness gets in the way but I always keep things pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ. I can do better and I will!
  We had 242 people at this years retreat in Colorado at Snow Mountain Ranch. Many have asked about it and others have asked how to go about putting one together. I'm glad people ask but I have no real answers. You just do it with Christ as the center piece! Kevin Lawrence from Gideon, Missouri did our speaking and what an outstanding job he did pointing us toward fellowship with God. It's so encouraging to see humble servants of the Lord just preach/teach simply and plainly. There were other preachers (I believe 8) there from different locations and I can say I love them everyone. Many times preachers want to compete with one another or push their personal agendas or ways. Not one of these servants of God did that. Every man of God was kind and humble. They each pull from God's word to be their guide and not their personal opinion. I was thankful to the Father above for bringing all these men into my life and sharing in this retreat.
  Our next retreat will be in 2020 if the Lord will allow. I am prayerfully considering this process asking for guidance and strength. As I reflect on what we did and accomplished, it was good, very good. Families have time together that they may never have done as a family. Brethren get to be with one another and see each in the level of life. It is wonderful. There is too much world in our lives and not enough life in our lives! Someone asked why we traveled that far. It's simple. If we had something like this local, people would be trying to fit some schedule they had or some work they have on-going into this week. To travel away, completely out of the norm, focusing on life in Christ is center stage without any interference. Jesus would often slip up into the mountains to pray. I see the value! In all things, we need to be gaining a deep understanding of our life in Christ Jesus so we have something greater to share not only in our families but to the lost world around. Refreshing of the soul brings things into greater focus!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"Does Jesus Really Make Any Difference?"

  Does Jesus really make any difference to us? Let's be honest in our apporach. Church division, marriages crumble, arguments among brethren, hatred, strife, bitterness and hardness of heart seem to abound in the lives of many who claim Jesus Christ. 
  We have people pursue their own ideas in the body of Christ and the next thing you know people part ways. People stating they would never have anything to do with certain ones again. The Supper is taken while hatred is in the heart toward others. Does Jesus really make any difference to us?
  Marriages can be difficult at times but for many, hurt feelings and hateful words become the norm and slowly two start drifting apart. Infidelity results and the blame is placed on the other. No one accepts responsibility for their own actions. Cutting words are used to let the other know how they feel. Hearts become embittered and hard and then it happens...divorce. Does Jesus really make any difference to us?
  False accusations are brought up and some seem to be waiting to hear such, especially if it involves one who they already don't like. It's licked up like a cold cup of water on a sweltering day. They dig into it from a source that spews bitterness. Sides are joined and lines are drawn. It's a time bomb ticking. Does Jesus really make any difference to us?
  How many times have you sat and read from God's word? How many sermons have you heard? How many times does Jesus call us to be tenderhearted, forgiving as He has forgiven us? We read and know yet we do the opposite. It is shrugged off as nothing but it is everything! Does Jesus really make any difference to us?

Friday, September 2, 2016

"It's All In The Mind Set"

 The Lord calls us to set our minds on the Spirit (Rom. 8:6). The Lord calls us to seek things above continually (Col. 3:1). The Lord calls us to set our minds on the things above and not on the earth (Col. 3:2). Set, to fix it! To continually draw our minds upward where Christ is seated. It is a matter of spiritual life and death. It's that serious. And we wonder why the things we face on this earth take us down so easily. 
  Heaven is bent on getting us to eternity. God planned on our forgiveness through Jesus but that's only part of it. There has to be a way to be forgiven so we can stand in the presence of a holy God. Jesus provides us with that. All our sins, ALL OUR SINS were taken away and that's the covenant of God. Where does that leave us? We need the power to take us to the end and that power comes from God. The power to forgive and the power to overcome painful situations, God has done it all! 
  The Lord calls us to live by faith. Set your minds! Fix it and let your minds not just dwell but be fixed seeking when we encounter situations. When someone upsets us, what do we normally do? We dwell on how we were hurt. The more you dwell on it, the more angry you become. As the mind dwells on the situation we start slowly falling apart spiritually. We are easily agitated. When the opportunity presents itself we say something or do something to show how upset we are. The situation becomes worse and sometimes it can become 'unmendable'. Where did it start? Someone not setting their mind on the Spirit and seeking Jesus where He sits. Our lives take a downward spiral. We become weaker especially dealing with that person or situation. Misery sets in. The spiritual is lost. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace...we have to look no further than those three to realize none of those are in our lives when we encounter a difficult situation and set our minds on the situation. The Lord would lead us into love, joy and peace and the rest of His life listed in Gal. 5:22-23. The Lord's power is there to help and we choose to set our minds somewhere else. Keeping the Lord our of your situation will leave you weak and helpless because He is not going to walk in the world of your mind set on the things on this earth. The Lord is calling us upward! He's is power. He's the provider and when we don't set our minds there is nothing He can do. Bottom line is we refuse His help by not setting our minds.
  I've noticed over the years when something goes wrong for people, it seems to be all they think about and talk about. You can encourage and point them but generally the response is, "I know that", and it's left right there. That makes matters worse. To know and still not respond by faith is the worst place to put yourself. 
  It takes faith and discipline to set your mind but the result of your response, whether good or bad, will be your choice. God's trying to help. God has helped. God's power is in our reach. It all boils down to where we set our minds. Where you set your mind on a daily basis determines everything!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


  Not loving the Lord God and His truth is what sent the Hebrew people back into a wilderness of trial and wanderings. That was not what God had in mind for them. Just listening to God's word and following would bring great benefit and joy. But that wasn't the result and it wasn't God's choice but theirs.
  Forty years passed and it's time to bring the next generation back into the promises of God full of hope. Before entering what God provides, there had to be some things put before them as a warning so they wouldn't follow the same path as their parents and grandparents. It was a matter of life and death for them. God gave them seven "ites" to destroy completely. They were the Hittities, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, the Hivites and Jebusites. (Deut. 7:1-2) These nations were to be removed in favor of His people and they were greater and strong than Israel. God promised to be the power to remove these nations if His people would listen and heed. These "ites" God knew would influence them away from Himself to follow their teachings and thoughts. These "ites" were a great danger to their spiritual survival. These "ites" had different beliefs. These "ites" ended up taking Israel away from God and His promises and they eventually were destroyed.
  This is a very difficult lesson for us to learn today with all the teaching and books floating around in our religious world. There seems to be little discernment and if we speak of "contending for the faith that was once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3) it gets people into an uproar. But if we would be a people seeking, searching and listening to the truth as spoken from God, the gain for us is great. In our nation, voices are speaking all around. Believe this. Believe that. Here's a new writing with new insight. Just as Israel faced their "ites" we too have many "ites" facing us. The struggle for truth and spiritual survival remains the same today. The truth from God's word seems to get lost. Preaching/teaching from God and His word gets lost in all the stories and videos. The "ites" aren't driven out and as they have rested among us, truth is obscured. Many aren't bothered. Many believe it's part of God. Peter heralded to the saints that there are going to be those who secretly introduce destructive heresies (II Pet. 2:1). What is a heresy? It's a self-willed opinion that is substituted for the truth! But it doesn't end there. Peter goes on to say that many will follow their sensuality and the way of truth, it will be maligned (II Pet. 2:2). Peter knew it. The other apostles knew it. Jesus knew it.
  I'm not saying I have all the answers but this I can say, just as the "ites" took down Israel and kept them from God's intentions we too have the same message of "ites" around us. God's word is no longer enough. His simplicity and purity have been made obscure. People are running everywhere to what's new and 'fun' while the word of God is limited or left out. When is the last time you sat down and just read the word of the Lord without any helps or your own ideas placed in it? Just simply read and  heed? Too many are wandering in the wilderness with no clue why things are the way they are. Listen to the truth of the Lord with all your heart!

Monday, August 15, 2016

"It Has To Be Gone!"

  It is amazing to watch people. People who profess their love for the Lord and dedicated to His service are really amazing to watch. They can really encourage you toward the Lord. There are others I have noticed over my many years that are controlling people. Not just in life but in the life of the church! Too many believe and think that everything has to go the direction they believe it should go. If someone doesn't follow their thoughts or wants, they find a way to get rid of such in the church. I have known congregation after congregation that can't keep a preacher and each and every time it is blamed on the preacher not able to get along. However as I have aged, some of those preachers that have moved on from these congregations were solid, well grounded lovers of God and His word. Those preachers refused to follow what the ones in control wanted! Those congregations died.
  People want to control and that's a fact. When you find a few individuals controlling things in the church, something is terribly flawed. When those who control everything don't get what they want there are stresses, strains and little love for the Lord's cause and His people. The more they couldn't control the more they fought for control. Have you ever tried to have a discussion with one who tries to control situations? They come across as angry and they become agitated that you express something different than what they want. They try to lord over you to change your mind or approach. There is no love in that as love "does not seek it own." (I Cor. 13:5) 
  What do we do when people try to control things within the church? Maybe they are elders, preachers or simply a few strong-minded members with strong personalities. Alexander the coppersmith harmed Paul greatly as he opposed the teachings of Paul (II Tim. 4:14-15) What did Paul do and teach about such people? "The Lord will repay him according to his deeds!" There lies the answer. No matter who does what the Lord is still Lord of everything and head over His church. I believe that with all my heart. I use to wonder why some congregations never grew much and some folded and you don't have to look far. The Lord shut it all down because there were too many controllers rather than one Lord. Rather than holding to the head the controllers act as the head.
  There are still things that pop up from time to time that people want to control but when you let go and give Jesus His rightful place, all arguing and stress are eliminated. Jesus will grow His church. If we would stop trying to "run the show" true spiritual growth will take place and we will all become more spiritual minded. Peace will prevail. The controllers think that by running off those who don't agree with them creates peace, they are self-deceived and in the process can't figure out why we never grow. You see, Jesus said the students will only become like the teacher. If the controllers are the teachers the body of Christ will reflect that. Jesus is the only One capable of growing, pruning and growing His fruit within us. We have got to stop the controlling, the nagging while trying to proceed the way we personally envision. That part of us has to be gone or we will die spiritually!  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"The Headless Church"

  I'm going to be away for three weeks so there will be no writing. I'll be back! That's not a threat!!
  The other night as we were looking for a good movie to watch, I came across an old movie and started watching it a few minutes. It was the headless horseman but not a gory one. It struck me a little into the movie about the "headless church." It's a tragedy in the church in places.
  What is dividing the church? Why all the riffs and splinters? People speak its a change in doctrine and that could very well be. But people get upset, make accusations (something the devil is good at) and threaten. It eventually will lead to 'killing' the spiritual and advancing the flesh. The real culprit behind this; THE CHURCH HAS BECOME HEADLESS! At times some want to make the church the head rather than the Christ. Others make themselves to be the head rather than Christ and that's what creates the upheaval. 
  Listen closely to what brethren say. The church is what all the talk is about and preached about. The church this, the doctrine rather than the Lord Jesus Christ who spoke His doctrine. We do things to make the church attractive as if we were peddling goods to come over here because we have something different. Gimmicks are used to draw people attracting them to us. Some even put a coffee shop in the midst where we assemble to draw in people. We want to be attractive to the world so we use the world's way to advance. The church and our position in life is what is paraded in communities rather than the Christ.
  Listen to our teaching. We want people to be led to the church rather than the Lord Jesus. Get people to the church, get them to come back to the church, get them interested in the church and the list continues. Are we speaking to people to see Jesus the Lord or the pattern of the church? 
  The church at times seems to go headless. It's the church that's the body, not the head. Everything flows from the head, not the body. It is the head that supplies the entire body and the growth comes from God (Col. 2:19). The apostles spoke about the Christ. The teachings of Scripture pointed people to the Lord Jesus. Conversions were to Jesus. The only way people will be saved in the end is through the Lordship of Jesus Christ and nothing else. Convert people to Jesus and they will be part of the church period! Get those who have gone astray to Jesus and they will return to the church. It's not the church that saves, it's Jesus as He is the way, the truth and the life. Maybe we have become so weak and struggling is because we have lost sight of the head and glory in the lessor. In anger people leave having no attachment to the head. The headless church is why there is so many troubles and problems. 
  In the end it will be about the Lord Jesus Christ who saves us. We confess Jesus, not the church. We are baptized (immersed) into Jesus and His death not into the church. The abundant life is found in Jesus not the church. Maybe, just maybe the reason we can't keep those who have been studied with is because they are converted to a body without a head? No Jesus, no church. No Jesus, no life. No Jesus, catastrophic!  

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"God Created...AGE"

  This world God created was created...aged! From the beginning of man it was aged. God created man full grown and yet lived to the old age of 930! Science is running around trying to carbon date this world as millions of millions of years old. The evolutionist is trying to use the reason of science to prove their point and it all collapses when you simply read the word of God. 
  There is one fact that we need to accept and let it stand on the merit of God and His word. God created age!! Yes, the world was full grown and Adam and Eve were created full grown. Adam and Eve never went through childhood. They were created by God in the image of God as male and female aged. 
  All the so-called experts who research the age of the mountains or the oceans or humans run into a serious problem when one of the first things God did was create age. That gives us a great reason to "be still and know I am God!" 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

"Out and About"

  For those reading have noticed I have not posted any writings for a couple of weeks. I have been traveling extensively preaching and taking care of family. I pray you will be patient with me and I will continue writing once a week. 
  In the meantime, study the word of the Lord and read with a heart of understanding. Someone mentioned to me  that you preach/teach a lot on the truth. Yes I do. I don't do it saying I have everything on correctly but I do love the truth and when I am confronted with a belief that is not true according to the word of the Lord I cannot embrace or accept. John said the same thing in II John. Read what John wrote and he speaks loudly about not helping false ideas to move forward. You can't mix everything together and come out with the truth. Seek the truth. Love the truth. Make certain what you place your faith in is based solid on the revealed truth and not someone's smooth and flattery speech. There is too much of that. Lord willing, I will get back writing this next week. God's blessings!

Monday, June 13, 2016

"Choices, Choices, Choices!"

  We live in a time of choices. The more choices that there are the more things become complicated. Just go to a grocery store and look at the choices. Multitudes of items for one product. You read, look and look some more just to make a simple choice. You go to an electronics store to search for a new product and what do you find? Multitudes of choices! It even comes down to something as simple as buying a pair of jeans. Slim fit, easy fit, relaxed fit, button fly, zipper fly, stone washed, acid washed, distressed, boot cut and tapered. What has happened to "the only kind"?
  But there is more. Because of our modern technology we can work every hour of the day from almost anywhere on this planet and we face the choice of how to do that. The choice of i-pads, tablets, laptops and phones and whatever else you want to choose that is offered. Choose your hours.
  Where has all this taken us? Choices can be good on some things but there are so many it is affecting the very core and fiber of our lives. You hear people speak, "I wish I had made a better choice of a mate." Our youth aren't being trained but make choices based on whatever is offered that appeals. People seem to pick and choose what best fits them and that can lead to disastrous results. With so many choices in everyday life some find it difficult to choose anything at all. The devil is doing a good job at complicating our lives. We come to religion. Look at the choices. There is something offered for whatever a person is looking for to fit their situation in life. There are so many flavors offered, the choice can be difficult. People come to worship looking for something to offer their children, something that agrees with what they agree with, some special songs played by the gifted they might want to be a part of or something that is entertaining and fun. There seems to be little taught or sought about worship "in spirit and truth."
   We turn to God and He calls us to make a choice: Him and His truth! God "uncomplicates" everything. One direction with one purpose. Jesus pointed to God and His truth. The apostles pointed to God and His truth. The inspired writers of the Holy Scripture point to God and His truth. One direction. Seeking God on God's terms not God on our terms. There are many so-called gods among us but there is only One true and living God and He has revealed Himself through the truth of His word. Paul reminded the Ephesian brethren: "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph. 4:4-6) One choice and only one choice in each matter of faith. These seven ones are the very basis of God and anyone who moves from these 7 ones is not part of the truth. Any of these ones that is left out is not part of God! Choose two baptisms and you have strayed from the truth. Choose many faiths and you have wandered from the Lord. Our choices become much easier when we realize this. We are called to seek the things above where Christ is seated and set our minds on things above not on the earth (Col. 3:1-3). That simplifies every thing. One direction, one choice. To set our minds and seek the truth of the Lord brings His favor to helping us find the standard of truth. Joshua's words rang out in the ears of those people listening and should ring in ours: "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River; or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15) 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"What's Happening?"

  At the heart of Israel was this tabernacle and it was not a given as a social place even though many used it as such. God placed Himself in the midst of this nation and brought to Himself a priesthood where the nation could be blessed and meet with God in their worship. If we examine that tabernacle closely, it was not thrown together. There are chapters written for us in detail on what would be part of this "worship house" and how God was to be approached. Many just quickly over-look all this. There are many instructions given on a multitude of things necessary to the worship of the Almighty. In all this, the Lord God Himself laid down these instructions and the purpose to worship. Yes, God has a purpose in worship!
  When we look at the church at Corinth, they had taken their worship to a whole new level beyond what God desired (I Cor. 14). What we learn is who and how we worship not only reveals our inner workings but shape our inner self as well. Worship and those who worship bear witness to the existence of a world beyond what our senses can't grasp or that's what it should do. To worship the Lord God is to act out of a conviction. Who and how we worship reveals our insight to God or the lack thereof.
  When Jesus pointed out to the woman at the well about God seeking true worshipers (John 4) He was drawing her and us into a reality beyond just words. Coming into the presence of God, we realize our relationship to Him as we come as His body who also is in that relationship. Together we recognize His sovereignty, speak to His goodness, marvel at His power and honor His majesty. What we fail to realize many times is not only are we doing something but something is being done to us!
  Outside this "worship house" there was life and service lived. God calls us together as His body and His body was responding daily in their lives. Something is happening in worship with the heart and mind engaged and it was with them in daily life. Some never seem to realize the God given value of worship and their lives reflect that. The worship as one to our Father makes something of us. All healthy worship from the heart draws toward truth and that drawing creates a sense of awe and reverence. Our God is greater in might and eternal in nature points that we are not self-made and we owe all our blessings to Him. Our worship is a confession of that very thing! All healthy worship strengthens our trust in Him who we can't see. The presence of the unseen is seen through eyes of faith and offering ourselves to Him changes who we are and how we see life.
  All in all, Jesus took 12 men aside on the last night of His earthly mission and what did He do? He engaged them in worship! Why? Jesus was preparing them for the tough road ahead as they would come to realize His redemptive work on man's behalf. That in itself should give us a little insight that worship and real daily life come together at some point. Worship is not just something we do but meaningful worship encompasses the truth while something is being done to us! Have you ever thought about what is really happening?

Friday, May 27, 2016

"Wasting Our Spiritual Lives"

  Have you ever thought if you were wasting your spiritual growth? It could be. When things are going smoothly and we seem to be on top of the world, it takes no effort. Things fall into place and we are just having a great time at a great place in our lives. Look what happens to us...nothing! We simply do nothing. Do you find yourself giving thanks upon thanks when things are well? Do you rejoice each and every day in the Lord when things are well? Do you seek the Lord diligently at those times?
  One day it happens to us. It might be us personally or a family member and we are hit with something not so pleasant. Anxieties hit us. We find ourselves lost as we aren't sure what to do. Fear grips our hearts. It leads us down a road to speak to anyone who will listen as we feel over-whelmed with the situation. We hope things will improve but worry keeps us penned up. And there we have it. In the good times we do little and when the troubles hit we crumble with little power to help. Spiritual growth is wasted!
  Paul spoke: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Rom. 8:28) For those who love, who are dedicated and serve the Lord with all their heart and have His purpose at heart, there is a power extended. "God causes" is a powerful statement to those who are dedicated! When we turn to the wrong source or make a wrong reaction we are wasting God's power toward us. "God causes all things to work together for good" even those times when we have a difficulty with another, pain in our own lives or tribulations that crop up. God is working them for good, our good. That's not something you do but the One you trust knowing what He is doing. His power is directed toward those who love Him and put His purpose first and foremost in our lives. When we fail to look to the Lord and follow through on His word, we begin to waste our spiritual lives. How can we grow unless we listen and follow when we face difficulties?
  "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulations bring about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character; and proven character hope; and hope does not disappoint..." (Rom. 5:3-5a) Exulting in tribulations? When was the last time you did that? What are tribulations for? To sit and fret wondering what will happen next? Tribulations help us persevere, to stay with the Lord under difficult circumstances and keep staying gaining more strength! Where does perseverance take you? Character! Character is where you will be trustworthy, hold to great integrity and continue to be a blessing to others. Character is what brings you to hope! Not a wish but a sure assurance that the Lord will do everything He said. How do we gain such strength? Through difficulties! When we encounter health issues, loss of job, unable to meet needs in our family or simply having trouble with another person, these things bring us to "God causes!" The power source, the help and stability for our lives. In all this, God is helping us arrive at the hope that never disappoints. Even in difficulties God is growing us and bringing to us His richness and His power. Too many times we are are wasting our spiritual lives by heading the wrong direction when encountering these situations. All in all, our circumstances should be fueling our lives to trustingly walk with our Lord, rejoicing in difficulties and let Him cause! The power of God and spiritual growth is right under our noses! Make certain you don't miss it. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"When I See the Blood"

  It was the night of the Passover. God had pronounced to Moses that on this night He would pass through the land of Egypt to strike down all the firstborn, both man and beast. The Lord told Moses what meal they were to prepare and the ingredients to use (Exodus 12). Then came the words from the Almighty: "And when I see the blood I will pass over you." (Exodus 12:13) What a night it must have been. The fear that came with it, as well as, a promise that your household would not be touched with death by the living God. That blood smeared doorposts and lintels saved each one from dying as the Destroyer did as He promised. This blood would be the very thing that drove home a point to those protected and those who were not part of it.
  "When I see the blood." There was not one word about their injustices, their bitterness, or sinful actions. "When I see the blood" was the only thing that stood between them and death because the blood was from a sacrifice. "When I see the blood" made the clear difference between the dying and living and it was not about their loyalty or upright living, but about the innocent sacrifice.
  "When I see the blood", pointed to the unity of them all, one people under one God involved in one unit. The meal eaten that night was a meal eaten in unity in which the whole nation was brought under the protection of the blood. The blood was the ransom price for a ransomed people. 
  What have we lost in all this today? Have we forgotten "When I see the blood?" How is your standing before the Lord? Your goodness? Some think because they are benevolent that gives them their standing before God. Others think that attending all the assemblies of the saints brings them boldly before the Lord. Our standing, our relationship, our lives are based on one thing: "When I see the blood." "But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Epheisans 2:13)
  When we assemble and partake in His Supper, what are we doing? Just as the nation of Israel was partaking in the Passover, we too are partaking in our Passover (I Corinthians 5:7) Many want to dramatize the Supper. But what should be happening? "When I see the blood" should be first and foremost in our faith and is being applied to our lives in this relationship. We renew that covenant, our standing, before the Lord in this Supper. His body. His blood. The blood of the covenant. What is that covenant? "For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:12) We renew that each time we take His Supper and fellowship the Lord. It is about unity, one people, in Christ Jesus. It brings into focus for us the difference between the dying and the living. It points to our standing that the only way we stand is because He is the sacrifice (His body) and His blood of His covenant applied. "When I see the blood" speaks that our standing before the Lord is because the blood is applied to our lives. That is the only way we are going to live forever with Him. That alone is what creates a love and devotion. There is nothing we bring except a falling short, sinful people, under the blood that cleanses and staying under that blood. It's about Jesus and Him crucified. Our lives should be wrapped up in Him and under His blood daily. When you pray, work, and go about in your life, we should pause and think: "When I see the blood!"

Thursday, May 12, 2016

"You Can't Judge Me!"

  Too many are taking our faith into areas that the Lord did not speak. Taking a verse without looking at the context can be misleading many to believe in things that simply aren't true.
  One of such items is when we are criticized by someone and immediately we throw up a roadblock, "You can't judge. Only God can." That is a shut down in our growth. We are told we can't judge and many use that belief in stopping any further examining. It is stated from the religious world over and over, "You can't judge!" And listen to us tiptoe around a subject by stating: "I'm not trying to judge but..." We know something needs to be said, but we are fearful people might take us as judging. It creates a fear but the bigger thing is it creates a compromise to uphold sin.
  Of course we know where people get this mindset. "Do not judge so that you will not be judged." (Matthew 7:1) Jesus said that. But what did He mean? Many say He means what He said but the very next verse begins with the word for which explains what He meant. "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:2) It's the way one judges. It's the standard one uses to judge. That's what we have to be careful about because whatever standard you use, that will be the standard used on you. Some people are just critical and harsh. If that's their standard of measure, the Lord will use that same standard on them. But what if we use God's righteousness as the standard of our judgment? Jesus made sure those Jews who constantly excused themselves from following the Law for their own personal thoughts understood judging. "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with a righteous judgment." (John 7:24) Why do we say Jesus said not to judge, yet Jesus calls to judge with a righteous judgment? The standard is God and His purpose. It's always God and the truth of His word. Too many judge wanting to see others condemned and see their guilt carried to the fullest amount of punishment. That's not a righteous judgment. Many want to feel superior and that is the standard of their judgment. That's why Jesus brought up that many were looking at every little detail of wrong they could find in others and can't see anything about themselves (Matthew 7:3). When one is concerned for the righteousness of God, you will humbly clean things up in your life, so you can see how to help others (Matthew 7:5). That's a righteous judgment.
  When a brother or sister is caught in sin, you have to make a righteous judgment to help them out (Galatians 6:1). The judgment is they are in sin and the need is to bring them back to God. In the church, sin can abound as it did in Corinth (I Corinthians 5). No one was concerned or upset about the situation. Paul pronounces them guilty, as it is horrible for one claiming Christ to be acting this way. Paul points to the goal in this judgment: " that their spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (I Corinthians 5:5) To cut people off, to dismiss them from the church, it is all about saving, not harshness. The righteous judgment of God involves His mercy, wanting to see people saved. It's calling sin, sin, but there is a merciful tone to it.
  Aren't you glad the Lord didn't cut you off and condemn you the last time you sinned? We can judge others using God and His word as the standard. If someone steals, they are a thief. God says that and they need a heart change. If they refuse to listen to the message of God, go your way. It's time we stop fearing and responding to the call of the Lord. We can judge. Just do it with saving intent.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

"Preserving the Unity of the Spirit"

  In Ephesians 4:3, we are called "being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." This is part of walking worthy of our calling, yet so many just overlook it or ignore it. We must be a people making every effort to hold to that which the Spirit already possesses. The unity of the Spirit is the doctrinal qualities that God has built into the church. The Holy Spirit Himself has laid it down and calls upon us to keep this unchanged. There can be no alteration of any kind and walk in a worthy manner of our calling. 
  In Ephesians 4:4-6, these patterns are established as the pattern by which the church must be identified. Wherever these qualities exist, there is the church. Wherever any one of these qualities is missing, that is not the church of the Lord Jesus. These qualities are the standards that have been imposed by the Holy Spirit. These seven elements that the Spirit has declared must be examined and held to as they are the very essence to the identity and existence as the church. Again, where these elements exist so does Christ's body. Where these elements are missing, they are not the church of the Lord and Scripture makes that very clear.
  This is the constitution of the church,if we might say. Man does not have the privilege of changing in any way the characteristics, the standards, or the platform upon which Jesus built His church. We cannot negotiate with the Holy Spirit. We did not establish these standards. We do not have any authority of establishing new ideas or ways. The Holy Spirit planted these in the constitution of the church and those who hold to these, preserve these, are identified as those "called out" to Jesus. 
  If we for any reason decide this is narrow mindedness, or some legalistic setting of rules and begin to stretch the seven elements laid down into other things, we have just begun a walk with Jesus in an unworthy manner. It violates the Lord and His Spirit in every way. This is so basic, yet it is being blasted by so many today. This isn't a new theory or some new idea and not even some old pattern of denominationalism. This is the calling of God, in Christ Jesus, through His Spirit to make certain we are diligent to preserve this unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Why is there so much disruption in harmony among those claiming the Lord? You don't have to look far.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"And We Honor Them Because..."

  I want to revisit something I wrote recently about honoring your mother and father (Ephesians 6:1-3). This teaching from God has direct promises tied to it. These promises were not tied to any other teaching. That alone should make us pause and rethink how we view or deal with our parents.
  Over the years I have met many a Christian brother and sister that wants to serve the Lord. They love Him, but their hearts seem amiss and troubled. In speaking with them, it seems to eventually come up: family problems and some are deep seated. As they speak about how they were treated growing up it is painstaking for some and rightfully so, but then there is this hesitancy. "I haven't spoken to my mom or dad for some time now." Pushed away because of hurts in the lives of those who were under the guidance of parents. Yes, some parents failed miserably. What are we to do?
  God calls us to honor because of the promises He tied to His teaching. We look at the  misery caused and decide not to honor. There is too much pain and hurt so some simply dismiss it from their lives. As time flows along their heart continues to be troubled and they don't know why. After all, they are wanting to love and serve their Lord, but when anyone sets aside God and His teachings, with little thought. A darkness begins to set in. Things become unsettling in their lives. The promise begins to take an opposite effect and it's not going well. No matter what, the heavenly Father, is your Father and His grace and mercy are in place in your life. Calling you to live for Him. Part of that involves your parents, even if they are dishonorable. God calls us to honor. That is so difficult for many, but think for just a moment about your own sins before the Lord and rethink our attitudes toward our parents. Just simply step forward and honor them because they are your parents, which God calls us to. His mercy and grace gives us the strength to do what we can't and faith allows us to act righteously toward God's word.
  I know parents who are everything they aren't suppose to be. They hurt, tempt, and oppress their children and God will hold them accountable. We need to believe that. Those who had parents that molded them and helping them have their best shot in life, to live on this earth with honor and dignity, for them the word from God comes with such clarity and power: Honor your father and mother. We need to look beyond and see the very foundation of our salvation in Christ Jesus. Our salvation is based on His love for us and our submission to Him. Those who do not take their place under His honorable authority in the home will find life difficult. Both in their work and in the Church. Submission is not a word they are in love with. Some come from those warm, fulfilling homes, while others want to escape their past because of the horrible memories.  Yet God's word still speaks to His children, "Honor your father and mother." Sometimes parents try to shame their children into a response as adults by telling them that as parents, they have a right to expect certain things from their children. That too is backward. That's guilt control, not God loving. That makes life for their children more difficult and pushes them into moving away. Sin upon sin. We belong to Jesus and  God is our Father. The need to rise above comes from His power, not ours. 
  One of the greatest fundamental ways in which we honor our father and mother because God calls us to is honor and not worship them. Parents are not God and should never be allowed to take place of God. And God is greater than our parents and should have the highest place both in our lives and love. That means we honor our parents because...

Friday, April 22, 2016

"What Is Worship?"

  Who is worship for? Us? God? I've heard many try to answer that question with great writings of the pen and search of Scripture. I too have written many things about worship. People have their own ideas but one thing for certain, why aren't people more interested in worship? Preachers rake people over the coals for not coming together and worship which is a little backward to me because in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and condemnation is used to get people to show up. What are we to do? Why don't people seem to enjoy, desire and want to worship?
  I walked into my office after our worship some time back and there was a note scribbled on my desk: "I love you grandpa!" Right there. I know my granddaughter loves me. She didn't have to pen that note but there was something compelling her to put this note on my desk just as a statement of how she felt. 
  A while back I got two pictures from two of my other granddaughters they had drawn. They laid down on a table and had their mother outline their bodies. Afterward they drew in their eyes, fingers and hair stating how much they loved us. They didn't have to send that but it sure was nice to hear. I know they too love me (us). 
  This is not a profound writing today but just a quick point about our worship of God. Our worship with the body of Christ is not something we should be doing out of guilt or 'because the Lord commands it' but it is simply wanting to express our love and affection to the One we love because...we love Him! We are because He is! I'm far from holy but yet He makes me holy because of who He is. I don't do things correct and fall short in many areas yet here He is standing before the Father calling me brother! He intercedes for us. His blood continues to flow every moment. So what can I do? I love Him for what He has done and continues to do and our worship is simply saying what we already know and we want Him to know even though He already knows every thought in my heart. Worship is expressing how we feel and wanting our Father to know. We get hung up on too many "directions" and forget the pure. Just as that note and pictures came to me, with all the flaws in the drawings and handwriting that wasn't pretty, it expressed a great desire from their heart and resulted in a heart-felt honor. That's worship, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"The Voice In the Political Fire"

  I want to say something about our political fire that is going on at the present. I can understand how an unbelieving society has so much fear and anxiety over what is happening in our nation. Lines are drawn, political writings are thrown around, and people are calling on others to step in and do something.
  "For thus the Lord has spoken to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people." (Isaiah 8:11) Assyria was the world power and headed for Judah. The people were in a frenzied state and what could they do? Syria and Israel had plotted also against Judah because Judah refused to join forces to fight the Assyrians. On every side Judah was in trouble and the people were in fear as to what would happen to their nation. 
  God grabs Isaiah by the arm, so to speak, and tells him not to walk in the way these people were walking. Stop the panic, the fear, and the hysteria. "You are not to say, 'It is a conspiracy!' In regard to all that this people  call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it." (Isaiah 8:12) What do you do when everyone is running around with their ideas and theories speaking as if it is all a fact? Where do you turn to find help when a nation seems headed into hysteria? "It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread." (Isaiah 8:13) The ones going crazy and driven by all this panic were the people of God. They were running to one another passing fear upon fear and God told Isaiah don't walk with them.
  Standing in the midst of this situation, there was no assurances coming from the people, nothing visible. All Isaiah had was a word from the Lord God and his faith. FAITH! Isaiah had to believe, respond, and trust His God and be in fear of Him. Don't let the people control your thoughts.
  We fast forward today. Look at our nation under all these politics. People running here to there, putting out information from one source to counter the information from the other. Panic, division ,and even hate is being stirred. It's hard not to get carried away when people around us are calling upon our fears to do something. People are polarized by it and news outlets feed information to us at alarming rates. Maybe that's why the true people of God should step back and see that following in the steps of everyone around is not the correct move. Maybe it's time like these that we can glorify God and let Him shine in the midst of all this darkness and despair. We need to make it clear in our nation that our God can be trusted and He will bring everything about us under His control. This is a great time of outreach when there is so much panic and despair. Have you every thought about that?
  God knows how things look. God knows what nations are doing and will do. God's counsel will stand and will always do the best for His children. The unbelievers can't see it. Are we siding with them and listening to them? Maybe that's why the church is failing? The door is open before us to reach out with the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ and stop fearing what everyone else fears. Listen closely and you can still hear His words: "Don't walk in the way of this people!"
  "Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings." (Daniel 2:20-21)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"Guard Yourselves From Idols"

  John ends his letter with this: "Little children, guard yourselves from idols." (I John 5:21) That is such a foreign concept to us simply because we have difficulty identifying 'idols' in our day and time. 
  God called Israel to have no other God but Me! God had earned that place in the lives of His people because He alone was their Rescuer and Redeemer. This Almighty God had acted on their behalf. He stood alone in delivering them. The people were a mess and a handful to deal with. Constantly over and over they rebelled always seeking other gods for their means of protection and assurance. But God had it all under His control. He had arranged for His people a place of refuge, down in Egypt during a great famine that hit the world. He blessed them over and over. This Egyptian nation had been their refuge and their refuge turned against them. God came to their rescue to lead them to a place of their own, (a land flowing with milk and honey), which He prepared for them for centuries. The people panicked upon leaving Egypt with no army and God provided protection with fire and water as their salvation (Exodus 14). There were no other gods. What God could they put in the place of Jehovah? They did nothing to deliver themselves. There was no question or doubting God was their God and He wasn't going to allow any other god, no idol, to be before Him in the eyes of His people.
  Today the temptation of "other gods" is more real than ever. Look around. Have you seen a greater time where people felt alone in striving against nations, diseases, evil, and simple existence? Where is assurance going to come from? Who is going to feed and clothe humanity? Man does this on his own to some extent thinking this is the answer. We have become the idols. People put their trust in government, man's abilities, schooling, and smarts. The church turns to these kind of idols and you see it in worship and daily living. We praise man. We make our assemblies about man. We honor man and God gets shifted to the background. He's alluded to, but has a limited space in our thinking and life. It sometimes seems that many believe they rescued themselves. They are enlightened by their own knowledge and secure in their own beliefs from man's source. Little is seen in Jehovah God any longer. We do things from our own brain and brawn while worshiping...US!
  Israel had seen the working of God and His rescue. They trembled with helplessness watching some of the greatest war machines come up against them, only to be protected by the power of God. They felt desperation and despair only to see God and stand in assurance. He had it all under control. And what do we say? Why are we drawn into so many fears and trying to find assurance from man? We glance from time to time at Jesus but many times with little thought. Jesus Christ the Lord was God's answer for man. Jesus Christ is the rescue from our sins. The Christ is God's wisdom and God's power and found nowhere else. The Lord Jesus Christ is the assurance of a heavenly home and that all things will end at His side. Why are all these other idols coming into play? 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"Honor Your Father and Mother"

  God has been rejected as the supreme moral authority over man. Man is quickly rejecting God and inserting our own ideas of morality. Parents are not teaching their children. Teachers are being strapped so they cannot establish right and wrong values. The government steps in and tries to ensure that every person gets full "human rights" by inserting legislation. This is not a political article, but the point is once the authority of God is rejected it opens up avenues that goes horribly wrong and kills the souls.
  Many lives are in shambles. Homes are in disarray. People can't figure out why such a vast majority of the younger wander seemingly lost. Homes continue to fall apart at an alarming rate, even among those who profess Christ as their Lord. What is happening?
  God took His people from Egyptian bondage. They did nothing on their own, but listen and obeyed His voice. God did all the work to release them. That nation of slaves walked out of the shackles of an Egyptian empire who abused them and took all they had only to give them more than they ever thought possible. They walked out of bondage with arm loads of necessary items for them to live life. They were brought to the mountain where God instructed them how to make it in life whole and pure. One of those instructions or commandments was stated clearly:  "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you." (Exodus 20:12) There it was placed before their eyes. God released them from bondage and gave them a land they didn't earn. "Honor your father and your mother" said Jehovah. 
  We fast forward today. Under the authority of Christ Jesus rings these words: "Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may lives long on the earth."  (Ephesians 6:2-3) From this we can see why so many problems are arising in our day and time. A complete rejection of God and His moral instruction. When we start building our houses on sand, it cannot stand. When a nation is built on dirt it's going to collapse. No matter how educated we think we are, how rich and acclaimed we've become, to ignore the calling of God brings disasters to any people. There is a promise attached to this authority: "So that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth." It's not well with many. The pattern for the young is to despise their aging parents.
  God shouted to the ears of Israel over and over about despising or dishonoring their parents. You can see this in Exodus 21:15,17 and Deuteronomy 27:16 as a couple of examples. There were dire consequences to dishonoring parents.
  What does it mean to honor? It means to esteem or value your parents. We need to view them as people of substance and weight. Leviticus 19:3 calls the child to "reverence" their father and mother. That term is used of God Himself many times. But what if my parents aren't honorable? Maybe they are a drunkard or thief. Keep in mind your sins that were forgiven by the Lord Jesus. Take His word upon your heart to keep them honored as the Lord calls you to honor them. It's not about their "honorability", but a loving relationship with the Lord. 
  Honor your mother and father because you have learned more than you have discovered. Honor your mother and father because they have clothed you and brought you into this world. Honor your father and mother because they introduced you to the Bible, the Church, and humanity. Honor your mother and father because only they lived with your mood swings, your changes, your selfishness ,and outbursts. Honor your mother and father because God calls us to do that. It won't be long and they won't be around for you to honor.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"If The Light In You Is Darkness"

  Over the past few years there have been dramatic changes in our nation. The political world has set fire many of the attitudes and desires of this nation. Politics has become a hot bed for insulting and hating. All sides are slinging the mud to the other, daily, and many professed Christian's are in the middle of the arena. Many have lost sight that Jesus is STILL King of kings and Lord of lords!
  Just as all of the political has impacted the mindset and attitudes of many we find the same happening in the church. I cannot believe some of the things that have taken place and are presently taking place. Here are some of the ideas and changes I've seen. The preacher gets up, tells a couple of jokes and using the name of Jesus he then plays a four minute segment of Frozen to make a point. The rest of the sermon rallies around this movie segment.
    The family minister is a drama major and he puts together a drama team and they dress out in full costumes to bring a play about the suffering of Christ and His apostles during worship. The audience sits with drinks in hand as if at a theater production.
    Once a year a congregation has a baby blessing day. Parents bring their babies up where the elders and preacher or preachers, lay their hand on the babies and family to bless them. It's one of the largest attended assemblies at that place each year.
    Clips from the Andy Griffith show are played and the preacher makes present day applications for his sermon. Women are being brought forth to serve and pray in the worship assembly. More and more are "joining" up with religions that do not hold to "the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." (Jude 3)  
  I am not trying to bash people. I'm trying to get us to take a sincere look at the direction many of the Lord's people have taken upon themselves and continue to follow. What's missing? Jesus states it plainly: "But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matthew 6:23) God is light. All spiritual light comes from Him alone. There is no other place that gives availability for light. When we abandon the Lord and His word, reducing it to something that appeals to mankind, it's no longer light but darkness. Even those who are sincere, kind, and loving can take on spiritual darkness in their heart and become blinded by that darkness. Anytime we seek union with the world's take, the world's advice, and the world's thinking, it will separate one from God. Paul warned the Corinthians of this very thing          (I Corinthians 1:18-25). To put into the hearts of God's people these warm "fuzzies" and draw attention to man a separation from God will occur. When the authority of God's word and His Son loses prominence in our faith, we will begin a union with spiritual darkness. Jesus Christ is the head of His church and God the Father gave Him that position. The church is quickly dividing into sections that people can choose their flavor. Name calling is prevalent. This group is a legalist. That group is liberal. They are contemporary. Sounds political doesn't it?
 When the church of our Lord begins to try to make everything appealing to all religions something must be given up and it begins with the inspired word of God. We are finding, because of our abandoning the Holy Scripture as all authoritative, that few are lost anymore. There is no need to concern ourselves with the truth of the faith, because many believe it divides. Truth is the only thing that will last and the only foundation for salvation. Jesus wasn't all inclusive among the Jews. He spoke plainly what He heard from His Father and when Jesus sent the Spirit back, the Spirit only spoke what the Father told Him. When we abandon the Lord's teachings we become darkness in a world of darkness and there is no longer any distinguishing light for people to be saved.
  The church isn't the church because we have a sign out front. The church is the church of Jesus Christ because it adheres to His word, His truth, and worship is about Him, not man. There can be good moral movies made, not many but some, but they are not a substitute for God's word. A reference to God's word or a dramatization of God is not the same as the authority of God's word. Preaching and teaching from the Holy Scripture is God's way to communicate His desire. Picking and choosing what to communicate because of our day and time will lead us into darkness. "But if your eye is bad, you whole body will be full of darkness." Are we really seeing clearly?