Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"Who Are You Listening To?"

  Today, more than ever, we need truth to be taught and held to. We need teaching and sermons that sounds forth the word of the Lord rather than tickling ears and making for interesting discussions. Too many are seeking to make things 'consumer friendly' rather than God centered.
   When we hear preaching/teaching we need something solid to hold too. We need that one good jewel of truth in lessons we hear. One thing I hold to is this: if a man fails to listen to God we should not listen to that man! Our preachers need to hear God's voice (from Scripture) and not their own ideas. Too much of our preaching/teaching is self-centered and self-driven. 
   If we take a group of ten people, at least nine of them sure believe they are qualified to give advice to others! And in no other field of human interest are people ready to offer their two-cents worth is in the field of religion and morality. It is precisely this field that is done the most harm and for that reason alone we must select carefully those who we listen to and gain insight from. Along with selection inevitably carries with it the idea of rejection.
   David warns against the counsel of the ungodly (Psa. 1). The word of God is filled with the history of examples of men and women who made a failure of their actions, their lives because they listened to and took the wrong advice. Rehoboam, Solomon's son, listened to men who had not listened to God and the result was the whole future of Israel was led astray and paid a high price (I Kings 12). The counsel of Ahithophel led Absalom into his destruction (II Sam. 15). And we can't forget the 12 spies sent into God's promised land where God would provide and care for them that 10 of them refused God's word and took it upon themselves to offer their counsel while threatening to kill the two that stood with the word of the Lord (Num. 13:30-14:10). We see this over and over and it's before our eyes yet it seems many aren't concerned.
   No man has any right to offer advice, his teachings and ideas who has not first heard God speak. No man has any right to counsel other who is not ready to hear and follow the counsel of the Lord. True wisdom must echo God's voice. The only safe path and light for our feet is the light which is reflected from Christ Jesus, the Light of the world. Who are you listening to?

Monday, May 22, 2017

"God Is Faithful"

   There seems to be an over-riding theme in Scripture: "GOD IS FAITHFUL!" That statement about God is stated over and over. "God is faithful!"  (I Cor. 1:9) "God is faithful!"  (I Cor. 10:13) "God is faithful!"  (II Tim. 2:13) The absolute nature of God is declared that He is faithful. God is completely trustworthy in His words, actions and promises. Too many do not believe this even though they say the words that God is faithful. "If God really cared, why did He let this happen?" is the thoughts of many. No matter what is going on, how much your struggles become, the fact still remains: "God is faithful!"
   The word "faithful" means "to be reliable, trustworthy and loyal." We use the term "faithful" in lessor ways at times and it distorts the faithfulness of God. We call people "faithful" as one who attends assemblies every time the door is open. While assembling with the saints is an important part of faith, I've known many assemble but their daily lives are less than faithful by the way they conduct themselves in their home or the way they simply respond and treat others. Sitting in a building each week does not necessarily qualify one as being "faithful." The "religion of attendance"  is not something new. Jesus experienced it while walking on our earth. The Pharisees strutted with their chests out and high-minded attitudes because they did everything the Law spoke. Jesus condemned them! Just read Matt. 23.
   "God is faithful" and we are called into His faithfulness through the blood of Jesus. Some are "infants" in Christ but they long for His pure milk of the word so they grow. (I Pet. 2:2) They are faithful. Some stumble in their lives, not willingly, but their heart turns in repentance and they are being faithful. The goal of the faithful is to always please the Lord. There are weak people, that struggle and many write them off but they stay with it. The weak are important to Jesus (I Cor. 12:23-24). They are faithful. We are called to help the weak and encourage the fainthearted because they are faithful (I Thes. 5:14). 
   Abraham believed God. David trusted God. Peter leaned on Jesus. They all three had one thing in common. They failed but they didn't trust in themselves but relied on the faithfulness of God. There is nothing about us but the faithfulness of God. To be a faithful follower means I do not focus or look at my failures but to the Lord Jesus Christ for my cleansing and strength. When we stumble badly, we look away from us and to the faithfulness of God and not drown in our guilt. When we sin, we confess to Him with a willing and humble heart. "He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9) Our faithfulness is not ours. It is a response from faith to trust in the Lord to do as He promised and we simply are humble and obedient. This sums it all up: The legalist TRUSTS in what they do. The liberal TRUSTS in what they don't do. The saved TRUST in what God does. "God is faithful!" 

Monday, May 15, 2017

"It's Where You Look"

  His name was Charles Proteus. With physical deformities he had one of the most brilliant minds in the field of electricity.  He immigrated to the United States in 1889 as a political refugee from Germany and was hired by GE in Schenectady, New York. As an engineer, Steinmetz designed the massive turbine generators used by GE. On day, without warning, those generators crashed and the plant came to a complete halt. The plant manager brought in ordinary mechanics and technicians to save GE money but they could not get the generators up and running. Frustrations were growing and with each passing hour GE was losing money. Finally it was decide to call in Steinmetz to see if he could get things up and running again. The electrical wizard came to the plant, puttered around for a few hours and threw the switch. The lights blinked for a few seconds and suddenly the turbines began turning and GE was back in operation.
  About a week went by and GE received a bill from Steinmetz for $10,000. The managers at GE were taken back. They felt the bill was excessive for the amount of work that had been done. They returned Steinmetz's bill with a note attached: "Charlie, isn't this bill a little excessive for a few hours of 'tinkering around' on those motors?" Steinmetz returned a corrected bill to GE. His note said: "For 'tinkering around' on the motors - $1. For knowing where to 'tinker' - $9,999. Total: $10,000!" GE paid the bill.
  What do we learn? Today everyone is running around looking for answers to life and drawing from every resource from "experts" rather than the One who made us and holds the answers! Sometimes people are mixing God's answers with the world's advice/teaching which waters down and voids the power of God. All of man's answers are found in Scripture, not man. There are two sources of wisdom around us. One is natural, earthly and demonic. That's the source of the world. The other source of wisdom is from God and will lead us into His life (James 3:16-18). I wonder what God thinks of man mixing His wisdom with demonic wisdom? God has provided all the power, the insight and help in Jesus and nowhere else. "In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men." (John 1:4) There is no part of life apart from Christ so why do we look into the world of death for answers on life? All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Jesus (Col. 2:3). I see more and more claiming Christ, speaking of God yet lifeless and trying to sustain their lives by 'positive thinking' and busy doing things thinking that is what life and spiritual looks like. Have we been blinded? "See that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness..." (II Pet. 1:3) There are too many 'tinkerers' rather than believing where to look!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"Seek the Truth"

  The most important aspect of Christianity is to seek the truth no matter what others might say. The truth,  not a truth, is the will of God. Outside the will of God danger lurks. "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." (Col. 2:8)
  It is your personal responsibility to not be taken captive through following teachings and ideas that are not part of Christ. The greatest danger in this is being taken captive by the power of sin itself. Sin is looking for ways to take back control and one of the easiest ways is to get you following teachings and philosophies that are religious looking but not the will of God. It might make us feel good but feelings are not the truth. The only thing that can set a person free is the truth. The truth is singular! There is only one teaching that can set one free and we must be humble and willing to seek that truth. Only by abiding in the words of Jesus can bring us knowledge of the truth (John 8:31-32). 
  Jesus points out clearly that "if anyone hears My sayings, and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day." (John 12:47-48) Jesus allows anyone to reject His sayings! But to reject His word is a rejection of Jesus Himself no matter how one feels or thinks. It is a huge mistake to not want the truth to enlighten our minds to God's will.
  Paul told Timothy: "Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything." (II Tim. 2:7) If we are going to come to understanding we must pay close attention to what was spoken and taught by Jesus as His apostles taught His word. John points out that in the first century, after preaching and teaching the truth, there were those who departed from the truth that was established and gone out into the world with other teachings (I John 2:18-19). It didn't take long for people to depart from the truth. There were people, who once were part of the truth, that were now trying to deceive those who held to the truth (I John 2:26). John says to hold to the anointing, the truth, to stay with you as no lie is of the truth (I John 2:27).
  We must seek the truth. There are too many following, listening and reasoning that whatever they deem as religious must be okay because they quote from Scripture. We must hold to the truth of the Scripture and not allow anyone to take us captive to something else. If it is not according to Christ, it's not the truth!!! 

Monday, April 24, 2017

"I Don't Love Her Anymore!"

  He was 45 yrs. of age and shared that he was having 'a mid-life crisis.' He and his wife have been married for 23 yrs. and he began relating how their relationship had changed over the years. He felt completely unfulfilled in the marriage! The words came out but they were difficult for him to say. "I just don't love her anymore!" Have you ever been in this mode of thinking? I have heard this many many times over the years in dealing with couples and it is more common than you think. Let's listen to the rest of the conversation:
"I just don't love her anymore! Am I free to move on with my life and be happy?" I asked: "Is she in Christ Jesus?" He responded: "Yes." I stated: "That means she is your sister in Christ as well. Would you love her as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her?" (Eph. 5:25) He leaned back in his chair and said: "That's so hard." I asked: "Would you love her as a sister in Christ?" His eyes looked away while he spoke: "Why are you making things more difficult for me?" I replied: "If you don't love her anymore, and you see her as an enemy, would you love her as an enemy and pray for her?" (Matt. 5:44-45) Silence ruled the conversation. Everything became evident that his unhappiness was not her and the marriage but the result of his lacking a relationship with the Lord Jesus! How sin blinds.
  Too many today are speaking they have fallen out of love. Marriages can be difficult but the Lord provides for us a way to overcome if we would apply faith in our lives according to His standard. A child of God concerns themselves with the will of God. God's will is to love on every level. True love isn't an emotional state that comes and goes. True God centered love is a choice we make, a dedication to the best interest of another that sacrifices for them. When we read I Cor. 13, called the love chapter by many, every aspect of love is a verb which means it is an action of choice. Go ahead and read it right now and look closely at what is attached to this idea of love. The lost around us speaks loudly, "If you are unhappy in your marriage, get out of it and find someone you can be happy with. Find your soul-mate!" I've never heard the term soul-mate used in God's word! God speaks for His children to love their mate. It's the identical love that Jesus loved us with in giving His life for us. (Eph. 5:2)
  Why do people fall "out of" love with their mate? Because they fail to practice love in their life! John spoke that the one who does not love does not know God and lives their life in death (I John 3:14). When a couple finds themselves struggling with one another, feelings for one another starts to diminish, what should they do? LOVE as Christ loved. When one chooses to love they will find the love they were missing and the emptiness will be filled with Christ. It's rather simple but very powerful. If one refuses to practice God's love for their mate, their lives will head downward with more struggles and eventually spiritual defeat. One thing we are assured of: "Love never fails!" (I Cor. 13:8) One can't find happiness and fulfillment without following the Lord and choosing to love. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

"A Word About the Love of God"

 Peter speaks of the prophets who prophesied of God's grace to come how they didn't know everything as it was not revealed (I Pet. 1:10-12). In all this coming grace of God the angels stood looking at this  loving grace and the salvation that came with it. To them, it was a sight to behold.
  Maybe it was something like this as God was creating:
     "What's that place you're making?"  God responds, "One day it will be called Judea!"
     "What will go in that mountainous area?" God responds, "That's called Jerusalem!"
   "What's that hill just outside the place you called Jerusalem?" God responds, "That's              called Golgotha! That's the place where I will die to save the human race I created!
      And the angelic voices go silent.
  From creation to the day Jesus Christ died, the whole journey was about traveling toward death. God knew it as He planned it. It's mind-boggling to try to understand. But there was a dedicated love and mercy wrapped up into one Man, the man Christ Jesus. Everything of God was poured into His Son because of His devotion.
  We don't seem to know much about this love. We try to explain it but it's beyond our ability but we do try. Paul said it rightly when he penned, "And to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge." (Eph. 3:19) The love of God is beyond our knowing through our senses of how precious it is. If we grasped it, there wouldn't be all this strife, hateful and self-righteous attitudes floating around. We can speak fluently at time about this grace and love and the words can come from us, "I sure love you brother/sister!" Then the very ones we speak we love disagrees with us or we with them and wham, the love we had in our very spiritual moment is gone! God's not like that. The angels are longing to see it.
  If we had some real understanding of how God loves us in Christ, we could gain more of letting Him fill us to His fullness (Eph. 3:19). We would be loving God back and carried away with His purpose even when those disagree with us! When Paul was taken captive by the love of God in Christ, he went to a world spreading the good news where he could and it cost him dearly. In all, Paul, Timothy and Silas could speak: "For the love of Christ controls us..." (II Cor. 5:14) I need to see and understand that better, don't you? We need the love of God compelling us in our daily living and worship, don't we? 

Monday, March 27, 2017

"God's Holy Ground"

  When Moses encountered that burning bush in the desert (Ex. 3) there was more going on than a story we read over quickly. God was revealing His character and power in the presence of man. This encounter with man's Creator was teaching to get those sandals off, go barefoot as the ground on which he was standing was holy but not by the bush but by the presence of God Himself. 
  This bush was burning without being consumed because God needs no external help from us. The fire of God did not have to draw from the surroundings of the bush to exist! The wood of the bush was not the source. Here was the Almighty revealing that He depends on no one for His existence, who isn't kept alive by the power or strength of His servants or worshipers. That's a lesson we need to learn. God wants to be with us but we are the ones in need of Him and it is only by His power that we exist and move. 
  This bush was burning to show that God would not allow His people to be destroyed no matter how difficult their situation may be. Whatever our experiences are and sufferings we face, God will not let it destroy us! We see it from time to time how people go through some major obstacle in their life and they end up not being bitter or complaining but completely relying on God and His righteousness. It amazes us! People in those situations facing them with such faith and courage shows us God's holy ground we are standing on.
  We look at a young man (a teen to be exact) Daniel being taken from his family yet never yielding to the power of the world where he was taken captive. Daniel was kind and humble but never forgot the presence of His God always doing what was pleasing in His sight. God made Him prosper and in all that Daniel never quit. The king saw something very different in Daniel than the rest of the people around. When we read this, do we not see the holy ground on which Daniel was standing?
  We come to our worship of God and what do we find? Entertainment while we are captivated by the voices of people and we loose sight of the holy ground we stand upon. It's not about man! It's all about the God who sustains man yet we orchestrate the worship around us to make sure it sounds just right and the crescendos at the right time to move people. Maybe it's time we get back and read again about that burning bush and see the revealing of God who calls us to Himself without any help from man. That night in the dark recesses of the Roman jail, two men were praying and singing hymns to God surrounded by criminals and stench but here they were, standing on holy ground and others took notice (Acts 16). Take off our shoes as we are standing on holy ground!!