“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
The American pioneers of the 18th and early 19th Centuries were making their way across the central states to a distant place that had been opened up for homesteading. They traveled in covered wagons drawn by oxen, and progress was necessarily slow. One day, a band of travelers were horrified to note a long line of smoke in the west, stretching for miles across the prairie, and soon it was evident that the dried grass was burning fiercely and coming toward them rapidly. They had crossed a river the day before but it would be impossible to go back to that before the flames would be upon them. One man only seemed to have understanding as to what should be done. He gave the command to set fire to the grass behind them. Then when a space was burned over, the whole company moved back upon it.
As the flames roared on toward them from the west, a little girl cried out in terror, "Are you sure we shall not all be burned up?" The leader replied, "My child, the flames cannot reach us here, for we are standing where the fire has been!" What a picture of the believer, who is safe in Christ!
"On Him Almighty vengeance fell, Which would have sunk a world to hell. He bore it for a chosen race, And thus becomes our Hiding Place."
The fires of God's judgment burned themselves out on Him, and all who are in Christ are safe forever, for they are now standing where the fire has been.
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
The Human Fly October 22, 2020
“They hatch cockatrice' eggs, and weave the spider's web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper. Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.” Isaiah 59:5-6
Some years ago there came to Los Angeles, the great metropolis of Southern California, a so-called "human fly." It was announced that on a given day he would climb up the face of one of the large department store buildings, and long before the appointed time, thousands of eager spectators were gathered to see him perform the seemingly impossible feat.
But slowly and carefully he mounted aloft, now clinging to a window ledge, anon to a jutting brick, again to a cornice. Up and up he went, against apparently insurmountable difficulties. At last he was nearing the top. He was seen to feel to right and left and above his head for something firm enough to support his weight, to carry him further. And soon he seemed to spy what looked like a grey bit of stone or discolored brick protruding from the smooth wall. He reached for it, but it was just beyond him. He ventured all on a spring-like movement, grasped the protuberance and, before the horrified eyes of the spectators, fell to the ground and was broken to pieces. In his dead hand was found a spider's web! What he evidently mistook for solid stone or brick turned out to be nothing but dried froth!
Oh, and how many are thinking to climb to heaven by effort of their own, only to find at last that they have ventured all on a spider's web, and so are lost forever.
We are saved and fit for heaven only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. He is “the way, the truth and the life” and “no man cometh to the Father but by Me” (John 14).
What are you trusting in to save you? Is it a “brick” of your good works? Maybe a “ledge” of relationships or network of like minds? Regardless, Jesus is the only way; not a good way, the best way or one of many ways.
He IS the way! Trust Him to day and you will not fall once you have cast it all in one final attempt.
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Possessing Our Possessions October 21, 2020
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24
Believing God's testimony is like endorsing a check and cashing it. A gentleman went into the home of a very poor old lady who had applied for relief. He saw something on the wall that attracted his attention. It was a piece of paper in a neat frame.
He asked, "What is that on the wall?" She replied, "I just don't know what it is, but it is a paper my uncle sent me and I just don't like to throw it away and so I keep it there in remembrance of him." He exclaimed, "Don't you see what it is!" "No, I just don't understand it." "Well, it's a bank check. Look! There is the name of the bank on which it is drawn and it says, 'Pay to Jennie Johnson the sum of $5,000.00' and there is your uncle's name at the bottom of it."
"What," she said, "did he intend me to have that money? And I have been living in poverty all these years!"
How many people are like that? They believe the Word and God's promises—in a certain sense. They know Jesus died to put away sin. But they have never “cashed in”, they have never trusted Him for themselves. In 2 Corinthians 1:20 we have these words for our benefit; “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” What part of that do we not understand?
It is clear and settled that we can trust the Lord to do all He has promised on our behalf, if we will just not hang those promises on the wall to look at. Promises are no good until they are put to belief and then into action. What are you waiting for?
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
The Two Natures October 20, 2020
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Galatians 5:17
An American Indian was giving his testimony in a gathering of Christian members of his tribe. He told of his conversion and of how in the beginning he felt as though he would never sin again; he was so happy in knowing His Savior. But, he explained, as time went on he became conscious of an inward conflict, which he described somewhat as follows:
"It seems, my brothers, that I have two dogs fighting in my heart: one is a very good dog, a beautiful white dog, and he is always watching out for my best interests. The other is a very bad dog, a black dog, who is always trying to destroy the things that I want to see built up. These dogs give me a lot of trouble because they are always quarreling and fighting with each other."
One of his hearers looked up and asked laconically, "Which one wins?" The other instantly replied, "Whichever one I say 'Sic 'im' to."
Surely there could not be a more apt illustration of the two natures in the believer. "If we walk in the Spirit we shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh." But if we pander to the flesh, we will be certain to go down in defeat.
Which dog seems to win more of the battles in your life? You know, just as our Indian brother pointed out, we are in more control of the battle than we may want to acknowledge. Let’s cultivate our relationship with the Holy Spirit (the white dog) so we are more apt to allow Him the victory simply because we allowed Him to engage the enemy!
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Doubtful Things October 19, 2020
“And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23
Sandy was a thrifty soul who objected to needless laundry expense, so when he wore a dress shirt to a banquet, he put it away carefully for future use. On one occasion when dressing for such an event, he took a used shirt out of the drawer and examined it with care, hoping to be able to wear it that evening. Not being quite sure of its strict cleanliness, he took it to a window, where he was looking it over under a better light than the room afforded. His wife, Jean, noticed him shaking his head as though fearful that it would not pass careful scrutiny. "Remember, Sandy," she called to him, "if it's doubtful, it's dirty."
That settled it. The shirt went into the laundry and another—a fresh one—took its place. Jean's words may well speak to every believer concerning things about which conscience raises any question whatsoever. We encounter situations that try our conscience daily. Some are easily discerned and others require careful, studious thought. When you rise upon such a circumstance, how do you determine the right or the wrong of following through and avoiding all together?
You know, Scripture says we have an advocate with the Father, and we have an advocate of the Father…the Holy Spirit who will guide us if we will but only listen to His still, small voice. I have found it is imperative in times like that, to turn down the volume of the world and listen carefully to Words of wisdom that will win the day.
How about you? Have you learned to quiet your soul in times where further advance is doubtful? Many a wrecked lives could be avoided through the discipline of waiting and listening when in doubt.
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
More to Follow! October 16, 2020
”But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
A benevolent person gave the Chairman of the Deacons of a local church 200 dollars to give to a poor minister. Thinking it was too much to send him at once, the Deacon forwarded twenty dollars in a letter, with simply these words within the envelope: "More to follow." In a few days' time, the good man received another letter by the post—and letters by the post were rarities in those days; this second messenger contained another twenty dollars, with the same motto: "And more to follow." A day or two after came a third and a fourth, and still the same promise: "And more to follow." Till the whole sum had been received the astonished minister was made familiar with the cheering words: "And more to follow."
Every blessing that comes from God is sent with the self-same message: "And more to follow."
"I forgive you your sins, but there's more to follow." "I justify you in the righteousness of Christ, but there's more to follow." "I adopt you into my family, but there's more to follow." "I educate you for Heaven, but there's more to follow." "I give you grace upon grace, but there's more to follow." "I have helped you even to old age, but there's still more to follow." "I will uphold you in the hour of death, and as you are passing into the world of spirits, my mercy shall still continue with you, and when you land in the world to come there shall still be 'More to follow.'
Isn’t it amazing that relationships come and go, businesses rise and fall and political parties change platforms but the Word of God never fails. One thing for certain, we cannot exhaust the vast riches of God, nor the promises made to those who love Him in return by accepting His blessed Son.
It reminds me of the stately, aged widow woman who insisted she be buried with a fork in her had. When asked why, she replied; “Dessert is always served after the main course!” Like her, we know there is “More to follow!” Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Heavenly Motivation October 15, 2020
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
I recently read the striking account of the conversion of the artist who painted one of the beautiful national pictures that adorns the rotunda of the Capitol at Washington. When he selected his theme he was an utter unbeliever in Christianity. Since subject matter knowledge relating to American history was required, he chose to follow the path and motivation of the Pilgrim Fathers, without a thought of its religious associations.
After outlining his characters as grouped on the deck of the Mayflower, the question arose, why were they there? He saw that they were driven by some principle he could not comprehend. He studied their times, their lives, their deeds, their sacrifices, their plans and hopes; and as he studied the truth gradually stole into his own soul, till he had learned to believe in their God and Savior.
He found that the secret spring of all their actions was their religion; that their lives were hidden with Christ in God, and that they could abandon home, country, wealth, for freedom to live for Christ. Not till he became a Christian could he understand their motives or characters, or was he fitted to put his immortal work upon canvas.
Tell me, what is it that motivates you every day? Is it the simple needs of family and satisfaction of a job well done or are there other, underlying factors at work in your life? All of us have emotional, physical and relational needs. What is it that drives you to meet those requirements so you may have a balanced and healthy life? For the Apostle Paul, Jesus Christ, crucified, buried, raised to new life and the promise of eternity in heaven was all the motivation he needed. For Paul the religious zealot, religion was his driving force. As a Christian, Jesus held the reins of his life and guided him day-by-day.
To whom or what does your allegiance lie? What is it that motivates you through the daily grind? Something to think about in light of our verse for today. Let the love of God and the satisfaction of living for Christ be all you need to prompt you forward. Selah.
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Has He Been Lifted Up? October 14, 20020
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:” John 3:14
A gentleman who was being urged to accept Christ, said to the preacher: "There are some things in the Bible that seem to me to be highly contradictory. Christ must have overestimated Himself. Once He declared that He would draw all men unto Him, and yet He hasn't done it. I know you will remind me that He hasn't yet been lifted up before all men, but even that does not alter the case. Men go to church and listen to you; they even read the Bible, and then go away and live worldly lives. They devote themselves to money-making and sensuality, and are not drawn to your Christ—at least, not more than one of them in a hundred is."
"Do you believe that there is such a thing as gravitation?" the preacher asked. "Certainly I do." "Well, what is it?" "I believe philosophers define it as being an invisible force by which all matter is drawn to the center of the earth."
The preacher stepped to the window. "Come here," he said. "Do you see those three business signs hanging from the buildings?" pointing to the suspended signs across the street. "Yes." "How about the power of gravitation now? You say that it draws all matter to the center of the earth, and yet those signs have been hanging there for three years." "Oh, well!" said the young man, his face flushing, "they are fastened to tight to the buildings." "Yes," replied the preacher, "and it is so with the men of whom you speak. One is bound fast by the lusts of the flesh; another is anchored by his ambitions; and still another finds his business an iron rod that holds him fast."
Christ draws men wherever He is lifted up to their view, but they can resist Him if they will. Have you lifted Him up lately? What is holding you back from acknowledging Him and being an example of Him in your daily living? The answers to these questions just might surprise you. Think about it!
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
I Am Healed October 13, 2020
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13
Henry Moorhouse, the celebrated English evangelist, who died while quite young, was once a guest in the home of some friends of his. One evening, while he was preparing his sermon, a child of the household came into the room where he was sitting, and said, "Mr. Moorhouse, I want to be a Christian." "Well," he said, "you may be, for it is very easy." He asked her to turn to the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and to read the fourth and fifth verses, making them personal where the pronouns "we" and "our" occur. She did so and read them this way, "Surely He hath borne my griefs, and carried my sorrows, yet I did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for my transgressions, He was bruised for my iniquities; the chastisement of my peace was upon Him, and with His stripes—" and as she came to this part she suddenly stopped, her eyes filled with tears, and Moorhouse said, "Read on!" Then she read, "I am healed." "It is just as easy as that," said the evangelist, and the child went away believing.
Have you read that passage in Isaiah and made it personal. You know, the problem with too many Bible readers is they read as though reading a novel and are entertained by the written words and images of mind. But, to really understand the Word of God, one must read it as though the entirety of writ was solely for their benefit…because it is!
How about you? When you read God’s Word, is it personal; does it apply to you or do you notice those around you and deem it is for them? The Word is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts both ways. Have you let it cut you lately? It will only bring conviction and repentance if we read it as though it was talking only to us, and no one else.
Read it and weep; for all eternity hangs on its every word.
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Momentous Example October 12, 2020
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” 2 Corinthians 13:5
NIST-F2 is a cesium fountain clock, a type of atomic clock, in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado, and serves as the United States' primary time and frequency standard. If someone has any doubts about having the correct time, you may set your watch by this clock. This is the source of time displayed on your cellular devices and is always accurate…in fact, it is considered the most accurate clock in all the world. Its accuracy is within 1 second in 300 million years. All industry, manufacturing, healthcare, military and general operations can rely on this time to be accurate. Precise timekeeping underpins much of our modern world. GPS, for instance, needs accuracy of about a billionth of a second in order to keep you from getting lost. These satellites rely on high precision coming from atomic clocks at the U.S. Naval Observatory (which maintains U.S. military time standards). GPS, in turn, is used for synchronizing digital networks such as cell phones and the NTP servers that provide the backbone of the internet.
Let us remember, one atomic clock that goes wrong may be the means of misleading a whole multitude of others. So it is with life. A wholly consecrated person may become the example for many, and a wicked life of sin may, too, be the means of entangling a whole community of associates.
Psalm 26:2 says, “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” If we are to live our lives in openness among family and friends, what example are we providing them to follow? What would the Lord say about our actions and our words? Are they activities that lead others to Him; the standard by which are will be judged, or to the things of this world?
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Christ, our Captain! October 9, 2020
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15
I have read many biographies of great military commanders and leaders of men. Once, of a distinguished general who conducted an army by forced marches through a sterile as well as a hostile country. They were footsore, worn, and weary; supplied with the most meager of fare, and toiling all day long, through heavy sands, and beneath a scorching sun. Yet his brave men pressed on—unless shot down by the foe who crouched like tigers in every bush, and hung in clouds on their flanks and rear, rejoining their ranks in the cool and darkness of the night. Thus this gallant army, undaunted and indomitable, accomplished a great achievement in arms. And how? They were inspired by their commander.
Foregoing the privileges of his rank, he dismounted from his horse to put himself not only at the head of his men, but on a level with them. He shared their hard bed; he lived on their scant rations; every foot they walked he walked; every foe they faced he faced; every hardship they endured he bore; and with cheek as brown, and limbs as weary, and bed as crude as theirs, he came down to their condition—touched by their infirmities, and teaching them by his example what part to act, and with what patience to endure. They would have followed him to the cannon's mouth—His cry not Forward but Follow.
Such is the passionate cry of the Master. He has walked where we dare not go and endured such heartache as we must hope never to endure. Yet, He as our shining example, lives today, applauds our faithfulness and is willing to commend us all for a job well done. You cannot walk where He has not and you cannot endure such as He would turn His face away from. The Captain of our forces leads from the front without the comforts of the rear.
Will you follow Him into battle? The leader is always the first to fall, but in falling, He has shown us the way to fall with dignity and courage in the face of eternity.
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Who’s on First? October 8, 2020
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Matthew 22:37
Several years ago, there was a hilarious comedy routine done with precision of presentation and timing by the team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. This routine centered on Abbott trying to teach Costello about the game of baseball. Throughout the sketch, Abbott is continually confusing Costello as they work their way around the baseball diamond and through the outfield. It ends in raucous laughter by the audience as Costello is completely confused and befuddled.
We are living in a “ME first” Cultural Revolution with serious implications for the church and the family of God. We must not be confused about Who is on first, second and third in our lives. I read this story some years ago and thought it prescient for today’s missive.
“In a boy's college room among the banners and pennants was one that read: I AM WILLING TO BE THIRD. It wasn't until the freshman year was almost ended that his roommate spoke about it.
"George," he said, "I have been curious all the year to know the meaning of that motto on the wall over your desk. I may not come back next year, tell me what it means."
"My mother gave it to me," answered George. "She said if I would live a helpful life, I must be willing to put God first, others second, and self-third."—S. S. Lesson Illustrator.
Who’s on first in your life? And just as importantly, who is second? You see, we can live our lives lifting other’s need above our own and if we all do that, we are all lifted up. That’s why Philippians 2:3 tells us, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
How about it? It’s certainly worth a try!
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Arm in Arm Together October 7, 2020
“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:16
I read an interesting account the other day about climbers of the Alps in Switzerland. The only way of safety is to fasten each other together with a rope, hence linking a string of climbers together as they ascend the mount before them. For you and me too, a great way of safety is to join yourself to someone else and increase the odds of survival for both of you and all those joined to you as well.
This allows you to draw strength from your immediate companion and for your “climbing” companion to draw strength from you. This synergy of effort allows the two of you to be much stronger than proceeding solely and alone. Two horses hitched together can pull significantly more than the sum of each individual horse alone. The young man who lives alone and shyly refrains from adult conversation or involvement has a very poor chance of standing against temptation.
Christianity is a social thing; that is one reason why Christ instituted the Christian Church and the Sacraments, that there might be a bond of union between all of His followers. We are called to live in community with likeminded people on a likeminded mission…sharing the Gospel. As the old song goes, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…”
Feeling weak and isolated; run down from trying to go it alone or simply just tired of battle single-handed? Link arm-in-arm with a band of believers and receive strength for the climb ahead. Works for mountain climbers, and heaven knows, there are plenty of those to climb in this life!
Have a blessed day!
Let Your Light Shine October 6, 2020
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 2 Corinthians 4:4
Back in the day of being hired for “wages and board”, the owner of a brick manufacturing plant, who was a very substantial man, advertised for an errand boy. A boy appeared, and he was running over with questions. "How much wages do you pay?" was the first question. "Five dollars a week and board," was the reply. "What kind of board?" said the sharp applicant for a position. "Well," said the well fed and good-natured manufacturer, "I eat the same food served to my workers." "Give me the job," said the boy, with a smiling glance at his prospective employer. Now, this is a humorous story, but it has a point. The brick manufacturer was a good advertisement of the food that he gave his workmen. If you and I should ask someone to become a Christian, would they look at the Gospel's results in our lives, and say, "I want the job."
You see, you and I may be the only Christ some people ever see in this life and we certainly may be the only Bible they will read. But if in seeing you and me, do they see the risen Christ and read the Holy Writ? This should be a major concern for each of us as we endeavor about our daily routines.
It has been said, “Let your life preach a sermon…use words only if necessary.” That is a real challenge for you and me!
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Doing Our Best October 5, 2020
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” Colossians 3:23
Years ago, there was a master craftsman who built houses for a living. Not just ordinary houses mind you, but the kind of houses people dream about. Homes built with the finest materials and executed with crafted care built into every niche of floor space. Houses in which anyone could pride themselves for owning; such was the level of workmanship and craft.
For over 30 years, the man had built for only one architect who designed and created great spaces for families to live in. As the man was advancing in years, he had decided it was time to hang up his hammer and retire to a life of leisure and rest. He announced his retirement to his family and to the business he associated with. The architect begged the man to build just one more house. It would be the “magnum opus” for both of their careers.
Reluctantly, the builder agreed and would begin the project as soon as possible. But his heart just was not in it. He had promised to build this one last house, but the drive for perfection was no longer there. He used less than first quality materials, employed shoddy workmanship, took shortcuts where you should not and literally just threw the house together to get it finished. So it is safe to say, the house was not up to the standard of quality the man was known for throughout the local construction industry.
Then came the day when the builder was to turn over the keys to the architect for him to list with the realtor. But much to his surprise, when he met the architect at the house, there was a great assembly of tradesmen, suppliers from local businesses and all of his family. The architect handed the keys to the house to the aged builder and told him the house was a gift for his faithfulness and commitment to quality throughout the years of their relationship.
We may never know the end from the beginning, but we do have control over the “now.” What are you building? Are you doing your very best? Will the Master come to you and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant?”
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Committed to the Lord October 2, 2020
“Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass…Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him…”Psalm 37:5, 7
“Commit thy way”—roll it upon God. Leave to Him the guidance of your life, and you will have peace of soul and mind.
This combined admonition and promise is for all of life, not just for its great occasions. There are not many times in a person’s life when he is called upon to make a momentous decision which will change his entire future; but to all of us there comes at least one occasion when the success or failure of the future depends upon our bearing the least bit to the right—to the left. Powerless though we are to see the future, we must choose; and that choice sometimes determines the rest of our days.
Certainly we need divine guidance at such times, but we need that same guidance in the smaller decisions of every hour. If we examine life carefully we will find that just as the ocean is made up of tiny drops of water, character is made up of “little things” in life. Great events grow out of a series of smaller events. Looking at life from this viewpoint it seems far more important to seek God’s guidance in the innumerable “trifles” of life that in the occasional weighty matters alone. And if we have not learned to commit the daily, monotonous steps to Him, we shall find it difficult indeed to seek His help when we come to a definite turning point in life.
Far too often we trade the spiritual for the secular because our approach to life places different elements of our life into these separate compartments. Where, oh where in Scripture are we told to do such? Nowhere! We are admonished, however, to commit ALL our ways unto the Lord. So for the child of God, all of our life is to be consecrated to the Lord and nothing left out or excluded.
Examine your life and check to see if you have done that very thing of excluding some of your life from the loving gaze of your heavenly Father. This is simply an attempt to protect it for yourself knowing it fails to garner approval of the Lord. Lift it up and let the Lord guide you so He can guard you against the wiles of the devil and thereby ensure your success in His service.
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Live Free October 1, 2020
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1
Bill Bouknight tells the story of an Air Force Colonel who was piloting a B-29 bomber during World War II. During an attack on Tokyo his plane lost two engines. Home base was over 1,000 miles away. The colonel said to his crew, “I have never believed in ditching a ship as long as it’s flying. Let’s try to make it home.” They threw out everything they could do without, including ammunition and armor. The colonel landed that plane on the sands of Saipan and was decorated.
Bill says, “If we’re going to make it safely home there may be some things in your life that we need to throw overboard. It could be destructive habit or an unhealthy relationship. It could be an obsession like greed or a poison like racism. It pays to travel light. We can get lots farther without bulky baggage.”
Our verse today addresses the “excess baggage” all of us have a tendency to lug around with us day-by-day. This burden weighs us down and prevents us from doing all God intends for us to be able to accomplish in His name. Bad habits, toxic attitudes, possessions and even some personal relationships are often times added weight you were not meant to carry. These elements of our lives become hindrances in that they need tended to, cared for and nurtured like anything else in our lives. Ultimately, they can consume us and leave us wasted and ruined.
What “every weight” and “sin that so easily besets you” should you get rid of to restore sweet fellowship with our heavenly Father? What could you shed to lighten your load and be more able to follow your Father’s will for your life? How would this release impact those around you…family and friends?
Something to think about. Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Going the Extra Mile September 30, 2020
“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” Matthew 5:41
In the Roman occupation of Palestine during the times of Jesus, locals were required to carry the armament and shields of a Roman soldier for up to one mile. As most would do, at the one mile point, they would put down the soldier’s gear and return to their home or business. Jesus taught His disciples instead to go two miles with the soldier and part of His instruction was that they not grumble or complain about the requirement.
I heard a story about a man who was out of town on a business trip and as happens sometimes, the airline misdirected his luggage to another airport. He was stranded without clothes for the remainder of his trip, so he went to a national department store in the local mall, arriving at 8:58 pm. The store would close in two minutes, but the clerk told the man to “take all the time you need and I will be here to help you.” While he shopped, she went about her responsibilities of closing up her area for the night and then proceeded to check out the man’s purchases before leaving.
She could have turned him away because he might not be able to complete his purchases in time, since she wanted to go home. Her selfless attitude of service won a customer for life because she treated him fairly and as she might want to be cared for by a stranger.
When was the last time you went the “extra mile” to assist someone? When did you last receive that courtesy from someone you never met before? You see, if we all were committed to doing this simple act of kindness, we might not win the world with our kindness, but you will influence your world all the more. Something to think about.
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Affirmation and Appreciation September 29, 2020
“The hope of the righteous shall be gladness…” Proverbs 10:28
All of us need encouragement—somebody to believe in us, to reassure and reinforce us, to provide us with increased determination in spite of the odds.
When we encourage others we spur them on, we stimulate and affirm them. It is helpful to remember the distinction between appreciation and affirmation. We appreciate what a person does, but we affirm who a person is. Appreciation comes and goes because it is usually related to something someone accomplishes. Affirmation goes deeper. It is directed to the person himself or herself.
While encouragement would encompass both, the rarer of the two is affirmation. To be appreciated, we get the distinct impression that we must earn it by some accomplishment. But affirmation requires no such prerequisite. This means that even when we don’t earn the right to be appreciated (because we failed to succeed or because we lacked the accomplishment of some goal), we can still be affirmed—indeed, we need it then more than ever.
I do not care how influential or secure or mature a person may appear to be, genuine encouragement never fails to help. Most of us need massive doses of it.
Think of someone you could affirm today that might just need a lift from a word well-spoken or a gesture of kindness without any provocation. Then take the time to make that phone call, send a text or e-mail, or maybe just invest the time to visit them in person. You may never know this side of heaven just how much a simple act of affirmation may change the whole world of someone who so desperately needs a positive moment to affect their future…and maybe yours! Have a blessed day and be a blessing!
Prayer as a Way of Life September 28, 2020
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (KJV)
We have been given the greatest privilege in all the universe…that of prayer to our Heavenly Father. This discipline of the Christian life is often the most neglected and taken for granted exercise of our faith. Here are five questions to spur your prayer life as part of a daily devotion aimed at “jump starting” your day, every day.
1 How does it make you feel to realize that you have a direct line of communication to the throne room of God?
2 God is deeply interested in you. He cares about every detail of your life. Have you experienced the care of God in some of the “little” areas of your life?
3 How has God proved His ability to provide for you in the “big” areas of life?
4 What is the one need you are lifting to God in prayer at this time in your life?
5 What is one joy for which you are thanking Him?
You see, it only takes a little effort on our part to take full advantage of this wonderful privilege of prayer. Sometimes, all we need is a little nudge in the right direction to get things moving along the way they should. Remember, go boldly, holding nothing back from the Creator of the Universe. He loves you and wants to hear from you, so go ahead, ask!
To be perfect before God is not only the calling and the privilege of a man like Abraham, it is equally the duty of all his children. The command is given to all Israel, for each man of God's people to receive and obey: "You shall be perfect with the Lord your God." It comes to each child of God; no one professing to be a Christian may turn aside from it, or refuse it obedience, without endangering his walk with the Lord. It is not a command like, "You shall not kill," or, "You shall not steal," having reference to a limited sphere in our life, but is a principle that lies at the very root of all true religion. If our service of God is to be acceptable, it must not be with a divided, but a whole, a perfect heart.
The chief hindrance to obedience of this command lies in our misunderstanding of what religion is. Man was created simply to live for God, to show forth His glory, by allowing God to show how completely He could reveal His likeness and blessedness in man. God lives for man; longing in the greatness of His love to communicate His goodness and His love. It was to this life, lost by sin, Christ came to redeem us back. The selfishness of the human heart looks upon salvation as simply the escape from hell, with so much of holiness as is needed to make our happiness secure. Christ meant us to be restored to the state from which we had fallen—the whole heart, the whole will, the whole life given up to the glory and service of God. To be wholly given up to God, to be perfect with the Lord our God, lies at the very root, is the very essence of true religion. The enthusiastic devotion of the whole heart to God is what is asked of us.
If we hold fast our integrity, our confidence, and the rejoicing of hope steadfast unto the end, being perfect in heart will lead us on to be perfect in the way, and we will realize that Christ fulfills this too in us, "You shall be perfect with the Lord your God."
Have a blessed day!
A Perfect Heart Makes a Perfect Man September 23, 2020
Genesis 6:9; Job 1:8; 1 Kings 11:4; 1 Kings 15:14
We have grouped together four men, of all of whom Holy Scripture testifies were perfect men, or their heart was perfect with God. Of each of them Scripture testifies, too, that they were not perfect in the sense of absolute sinlessness. We know how Noah fell. We know how Job had to humble himself before God. We know how sadly David sinned. And of Asa we read that there came a time when he did foolishly, and relied on the Syrians and not on the Lord his God; when in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians. And yet the heart of these men was perfect with the Lord their God.
To understand this, there is one thing we must remember. The meaning of the word "perfect" must in each case be decided by that particular stage in God's education of His people in which it is used. What a father or a teacher counts perfection in a child at the age of ten, is very different from what he would call so in one at the age of twenty. Childish “perfection” and adult “perfection” seem a life-age apart. In the Old Testament nothing was really made perfect; how Christ has come to reveal, and work out, and impart the true perfection; how the perfection, as revealed in the New Testament, is something infinitely higher, more spiritual and gracious, than under the old covenants. And yet at root they are one. God looks at the heart. A heart that is perfect with Him is an object of surrender and approval. A wholehearted consecration to His will and fellowship, a life that takes as its motto, WHOLLY FOR GOD, has in all ages, been accepted by Him as the mark of the perfect man.
The lesson which these Scripture suggest to us is a very simple, but a very searching one. In God's record of the lives of His servants there are some of whom it is written: his heart was perfect with the Lord his God. Is this what God sees and says of me? Does my life, in the sight of God, bear the mark of intense, wholehearted consecration to God's will and service? Is there a burning desire to be as perfect as it is possible for grace to make me? Let us yield ourselves to the searching light of this question.
Have a blessed day!
The God of Our Salvation September 22, 2020
"My soul waiteth only upon God; from Him cometh my salvation." Psalm 62:1
If salvation indeed comes from God, and is entirely His work, just as creation was, it follows, as a matter of course, that our first and highest duty is to wait on Him to do the work that pleases Him. Waiting becomes then the only way to the experience of a full salvation, the only way, truly, to know God as the God of our salvation. It is through this effort of waiting that we become silent in His presence to fully acknowledge what He desires of us with our lives, our service and our testimony.
The deep need for this waiting on God allows Him to show forth His power and goodness. Man was not born with infinite strength, knowledge or life, but was totally dependent upon the Creator to provide all this and more. Man's glory and blessedness was not to be independent, or dependent upon himself, but dependent on a God of such infinite riches and love. Man was to have the joy of receiving every moment out of the fullness of God. This was his blessedness as an unfallen creature.
When the created couple fell from God, they were still more absolutely dependent on Him. There was no way for them to recover from their fallen state of death and depravity, but in God through His power and mercy. It is God alone who began the work of redemption; it is God alone who continues and carries it on each moment in each individual believer. Even in the regenerate man there is no power of goodness in himself: he has and can have nothing that he does not each moment receive; and waiting on God is just as indispensable, and must be just as continuous and unbroken, as the breathing that maintains his natural life.
"Truly my soul waiteth upon God; from Him cometh my salvation." First we wait on God for salvation. Then we learn that salvation is only to bring us to God, and teach us to wait on Him. Then we find what is better still, that waiting on God is itself the highest salvation. It is the ascribing to Him the glory of being All; it is the experiencing that He is All to us. May God teach us the blessedness of waiting on Him.
"My soul, wait thou only upon God!"
Have a blessed day!
Let Trials Bless September 21, 2020
"Knowing that tribulation worketh patience." Romans 5:3 This is a promise in essence if not in form. We have need of patience, and here we see the way of getting it. It is only by enduring that we learn to endure, even as by swimming men learn to swim. You could not learn that art on dry land, nor learn patience without trouble. It is worth- while to suffer tribulation for the sake of gaining that beautiful peace of mind which quietly submits in all the will of God.
Our text sets forth a singular fact, which is not according to nature, but is supernatural. Tribulation in and of itself works petulance, unbelief, and rebellion. It is only by the sacred ministry of grace that it is made to work in us patience. When we thresh wheat, it is not to beat the wheat into submission, rather that the kernels of grain might be freed form the bondage of the chaff and dust which is not the desirable part pf the staff of grain. The Lord deals with His children through grace in the midst of adversity that they may be freed from the bondage of sin which so easily besets us (Hebrews 12:1). He does not cajole us or beat us in to submission, but lovingly reproves us through His Word, the work of the Holy Spirit or the guiding hand of a precious brother or sister in the faith. All this is done for the good of the saint and to the glory of God the Father who receives us as a work nearer to completion than when He began His work in us.
Oh, that the Lord might bless me through my trials. But may He remove my impatience and grant to me a waiting heart to receive His grace and mercy as the ministry of Christian character and the Likeness of His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Have a blessed day!
The Enemy’s Top Five Tactics: September 17, 2020
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
1) Prevent humility, by promoting self-sufficiency. It’s not likely that full on pride will be your downfall. You can see that coming. But pride can be sneaky. (The enemy is a schemer.) It often comes in the form of “I can do it.” Things aren’t working so you work harder instead of leaning more on God. Lean into your humble heart, depend on God.
2) Prevent unity, by creating division. The enemy loves it when churches split, staff teams compete and church leaders don’t get along. Division is the quiet killer of the church. It starts behind closed doors, and when it gets out it’s a monster. Fight for unity in spirit, vision and oneness on the team.
3) Prevent joy, by causing discouragement. If I had listed the tactics in order, this may be #1. I’ve seen discouragement take out more church leaders than anything else. Discouragement comes when your perspective becomes askew. When you think things like, you are alone, no one cares and nothing is working. Get some time with a trusted friend to help you see more clearly. God is with you and you are doing something that matters!
4) Prevent commitment, by encouraging complacency. On many a Monday morning, pastors want to resign. Have you been there? Yet you rethink that and stay, but perhaps pull your foot off the throttle just a little. It’s not that you don’t care, but slide into a more comfortable place of complacency thinking “This is good enough.” That’s what the enemy wants. He knows you will likely not quit, so he’s happy to have you let up on your fierce commitment. Hang tough. Remember your calling!
5) Prevent peace (and closeness with God), by busyness. The peace of God is such a great gift, of course the enemy doesn’t want you to have it. And what better way to steal it from you than your work in ministry. Don’t let busyness crowd out your time with God, your family and some fun along the way. Humility, unity, joy, commitment and peace are not new to you, but perhaps you see them in a different light. Don’t make them another to-do list. Don’t make this more work for yourself, or you may end up inadvertently stepping in more busyness. This is a lifetime process. Know that God is with you and provides you with protection.
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11 “Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13 (See full armor—Ephesians 6:14-17) We can see this is not a passive process and that we are called to take action. Paul closes this passage by reminding us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests! With this is mind, be alert.
Have a blessed day!
Grace to Endure September 16, 202
When Joseph saw the cup bearer taken from the prison, he must have thought, Now's my chance! This guy has Pharaoh's ear. He'll get me out of here. We don't know whether Joseph knew what happened to these men, but when their release came within the predicted time, he must have figured that, with God's help, he had given the correct interpretation of the dreams. So he waited hopefully for his opportunity to be released and set free.
Instead of being remembered and rewarded, he was forgotten for two more years. It's easy to overlook that little fact buried in the midst of all these dream sequences and their interpretations. But for two years after the cup bearer left, Joseph remained buried in that dungeon. Notice the emphasis: two full years. Two long, monotonous, miserable years!
What did Joseph think about during that time? The human tendency would be: Will I be on hold forever, Lord? In fact, it seems like You have forgotten me! No, there was none of that. This remarkable man, victimized again and again, continued to wait—to trust—to hope—to lean on God.
Listen to me, victims of mistreatment; more importantly, please listen to God's truth. He has a hundred different messages to give you during a hundred different dungeon experiences. He knows just the right message at just the right time, and all it takes to receive it is a sensitive, obedient, trusting heart. A heart that says, "Lord God, help me now. Right at this moment. Deliver me from my own prison. Help me to see beyond the darkness, to see Your hand. As I am being crushed, remold me. Help me to see You in this abandonment, this rejection." Pray that prayer. Turn your trial into trust as you look to God to tenderly use that affliction, that dungeon, that abandonment for His purpose.
God has not abandoned you. He may be silent, but He has not forgotten you. He never left. He understands the heartache brought on by the evil which He mysteriously permits so that He might bring you to a tender, sensitive walk with Him. God is good, Jesus Christ is real—your present circumstances notwithstanding. My prayer is that He will do for you what He did for Joseph. May He give you the grace to endure.
Shine, Jesus, Shine! September 15, 2020
Jesus stated his mission clearly: "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). Eternal life starts the moment we make Christ our Lord. Consider the present tense of these familiar statements:
--"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
--"Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24).
--"He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
When the Spirit gives us eternal life, he takes up residence in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). Three facts follow.
One: Life is significant only when it is lived in the power of the Spirit. In The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis noted: "Human will becomes truly creative and truly our own when it is wholly God's, and this is one of the many senses in which he that loses his soul shall find it." In First15, Craig Denison adds: "You and I are only truly living to the degree that we've surrendered our lives to Jesus."
Two: When we live abundantly, others see Christ in us. Oswald Chambers: "Our individuality is to be rendered radiant through a personal relationship with God." The "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-23) are obvious in a fruitless world.
Three: Helping our children love and serve Jesus is urgent in our post-Christian culture. Our mission as parents is to engage, equip, and encourage strong children who will know and love God and strive to fulfill his purpose for their lives. I hope you'll take this challenge as serious as the charge given us by God.
Have you ever noticed those times when no moon is visible? The sun is still shining on it, but its position relative to the earth made its sunlit side impossible for us to see. However, if you look closely, the stars are out and shining brightly. The difference: the moon reflects light that shines upon it, while stars reveal the light within them.
When Jesus told us, "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14), he meant that we are to reveal his light within us to the world: "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" (v. 16).
Would you ask the Holy Spirit to help you "let your light shine" today? Have a blessed day!
Trapped in the Middle September 14, 2020
When you hear convicts and drug addicts tell how they came to believe in Jesus, you might figure your testimony is too tame to interest anyone. Actually, not having a gory personal story is a good, God-glorifying thing. And you might not know this: Every Christian has an exciting story to tell.
First, before you received Christ, you were a slave to sin and Satan. You were blind to the truth about Jesus Christ. The world, the flesh, and the devil jerked you around as surely as if you were chained to them. To see a vivid description of your old self, check out Ephesians 2:1-3.
Second, before you committed your life to Christ, you were the hopeless, helpless victim of what the Bible calls your sinful or fleshly nature. “When we were controlled by our old nature,” wrote Paul, “sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced sinful deeds, resulting in death” (Romans 7:5). Satan and sin engineered the dissatisfaction, pain, guilt, and frustration that characterized your life without Christ.
Third, the moment you trusted Christ and committed your life to him, you were set free from your captivity to Satan and sin (see Romans 8:1-2). Christ broke the power of your old nature to control you. You are free from the control of your former masters-Satan and your sinful nature.
“But,” you might be saying, “My life hasn’t always run smoothly since I trusted Christ. I don’t always live like I know a Christian should. I blow it!”
True. You are free from sin’s control, but Satan, the world around you, and the habits of your old nature work together to keep you from enjoying the freedom, peace, and satisfaction of knowing Christ. Even Paul experienced the frustration of struggling with sin. “When I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong . . . . Oh, what a miserable person I am!” (Romans 7:21, 24).
Maybe you have felt the frustration Paul wrote about-becoming so bogged down by guilt from old habits that you wonder what good it does to be a Christian. Well, God didn’t create you to go through life feeling frustrated and guilty. He wants you to feel satisfied. How do you get that way? Paul asked that same question: “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?” (Romans 7:24). He also knew the answer: “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25). And that’s the great part of your story God is still writing.
REFLECT: What would you tell someone who asked you about the pros and cons of being a Christian? Have a blessed day!
Hope for Broken Dreams September 11, 2020
2 Samuel 7:18–29; 1 Chronicles 22:1–6’
What a father! He may have been weak at other times, but at this moment, David stands tall. "Lord, I know You don't want me to fulfill the dream, but, Lord, I'm going to set apart as much as I can to support my son as he fulfills the dream that was on my heart." What an unselfish response.
I see two simple truths in all this. First, when God says no, it means He has a better way, and He expects me to support it.
Second, my very best reaction is cooperation and humility. He doesn't call everybody to build the temple, but He does call everyone to be faithful and obedient. Some of you are living with broken dreams. Sometime in the past you had high hopes that your life would go in a certain direction. But the Lord, for some mysterious reason, has now said, "No." And you've moved along in life and now you're up in years, and you find yourself slowly becoming shelved, and the younger ones are taking charge and moving on. How quickly age takes over!
Just about the time we get our act together, we're too old to pull it off. And so we release it to the Solomon in our lives. It takes genuine humility to say to that person, "May God be with you. I'll do everything I can to support you in seeing that it gets accomplished."
Do you identify with David? Did you have your hands full of your dreams and your visions, ready to present them to God on the altar of sacrifice? Did you have your plans all prepared and thought through, only to see them crumble at your feet? And now you're standing there, empty-handed?
Know this: God is ready to fill your empty hands like you would never believe, if you will only lift them up to Him in obedience and praise, as David did. God is still alive and well, and He knows what He's doing. To some He says yes. To others, no. In either case, the answer is best. Why? Because God's answers, while surprising, are never wrong.
God's answers to our prayers may be surprising, but they are never wrong.
People Panic, God Provides September 9, 2020 1 Samuel 15:1–19
The tragic story of King Saul is that he never, ever fully repented of his sin. Saul's greatest concern was his image, how he looked before the people. Even after Samuel gave him a break, Saul took advantage of it and continued in that same vein until the day he took his own life. How sad is that?
Samuel has reached the end of his rope. The people elected Saul king, but he's no longer qualified. What are they to do? Israel is surrounded by enemies, and they need someone to carry the scepter. But who? Samuel didn't know and couldn't imagine. The people didn't know and had no suggestions. No one knew . . . except God.
What Samuel didn't realize—what we often don't realize—is that behind the scenes, before He ever flung the stars into space, God had today in mind. He had this very week in mind. In fact, He had you in mind. And He knew exactly what He was going to do. God is never at a loss to know what He's going to do in our situations. He knows perfectly well what is best for us. Our problem is, we don't know. And we say to Him, "Lord, if You just tell me, then I'll be in great shape. Just reveal it to me. Explain Your plan to me, and I'll count on You." But that's not faith. Faith is counting on Him when we do not know what tomorrow holds.
When a man or a woman of God fails, nothing of God fails. When a man or woman of God changes, nothing of God changes. When someone dies, nothing of God dies. When our lives are altered by the unexpected, nothing of God is altered or unexpected. It was the prophet Isaiah who wrote: "Before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear" (Isaiah 65:24).
"Before you even utter a word," God promises, "I'm involved in answering. In fact, while you're speaking, I'm involved in bringing to pass the very thing I have planned from the get go."
God knows exactly what He's going to do, and nothing can restrain His bringing it to pass. God is never unsure of what He's going to do. Our problem is, we’re unsure.
Make the Most of Today September 8, 2020
Carpe diem. This Latin phrase means “seize the day,” and it certainly echoes a valid objective. We do need to seize each day, because we don’t know whether tomorrow will come or just how much of this life remains for us.
But what if we did? Imagine if a clock on the bottom of one foot digitally displayed how many days remained before we died. Theologian Francis Schaeffer put it another way: “Life is like a clock with no hands. It’s ticking but you never know when it’s going to strike midnight.”
What a sobering thought—for those living in the 1st century or the 21st century. Despite all of our advances in safety measures, in both industry and transportation, and all of our progress in the medical field, life still maintains a measure of unpredictability for us today. Accidents still happen, and people still suffer from strokes and coronary artery disease, often seemingly out of the blue. Nearly everyone has a story to tell regarding a friend, family member or coworker who has experienced something like this.
The 1st century disciples asked Jesus, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). In the midst of his teaching, Jesus replied, “Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42).
In a way, Jesus urges his followers to “seize the day” because no one knows when he will return. But we do know that each of us will come face-to-face with Jesus and give an account of how we have lived for him. Each of us in large measure determines how that encounter will go.
Jesus wants us to be ready no matter when he returns—to be “faithful and wise” servants (Matthew 24:45). Who are the faithful and wise servants? Those who are ready—those whom the Master finds doing his will when he returns. Are you ready?
Storms of Life September 7, 2020
Billy Tyne, a down-on-his-luck captain of a sword-fishing boat, set out with his crew in October, 1991, for one last try at a big catch. However, when a unique confluence of weather conditions combined in the North Atlantic to form what meteorologists later called “The Perfect Storm,” Tyne and the rest of the crew of the Andrea Gail perished.
According to locals, weather over the Sea of Galilee in Israel can be equally unpredictable. A squall can rise up at a moment’s notice, hitting with such a fury that fishermen in the area must be quick on their feet and ready for anything. At least four of Jesus’ disciples—Peter, Andrew, James and John—made their living as fishermen. Certainly they knew of Galilee’s infamous storms. Yet as Jesus slept in the ship’s bow, even these seasoned sailors panicked when the storm rose. After waking Jesus from his slumber, they pleaded, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” (Matthew 8:25). Imagine a storm so intense that even hardened fishermen cowered in fear.
Jesus responded with a rebuke: “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26). As the disciples faced the greatest storm Galilee had ever thrown at them, Jesus expected them to trust him first. And then he calmed the storm.
Life often seems to rise up against us when we least expect it. A dark spot shows up on an X-ray. A pink slip lands on our desk at work. A quarterly report reveals a serious downturn in revenues. Suddenly our deepest fears rise to the surface. So we look to the sky and plead, “Lord, save us!”
And Jesus responds, “Don’t be afraid. Trust me first.”
The next time the turbulence of life’s trials blows into your life, remember what Jesus asks. Trust him first, no matter how overwhelming the storm appears.
Have a blessed day!
God Notices September 4, 2020
Never fails, does it? Things are not as they seem. And about the time you think they cannot get worse, they do. This was certainly true for Mordecai at a pivotal point in the story of Esther.
When all seems lost, it isn't. Mordecai could have despaired at the situation in Persia. The king was a Gentile. He had no interest in the Jews. Furthermore his closest confidant was Haman, who shamelessly hated the Jews. Esther was in the palace, but when the king found out she was a Jew, her life might be over in an instant. When all seems lost, it isn't.
When no one seems to notice, they do. Remember Mordecai's courageous decision earlier when he heard of a conspiracy between two of the doorkeepers of the palace, who were plotting to kill the king? When Mordecai heard of that conspiracy, he told his adopted daughter Esther about it. And she, being the queen, alerted the king.
Esther had told the king that the information had come from Mordecai, yet no one ever rewarded him for his great act. It seemed as though no one noticed or remembered. So Mordecai went on living his life unnoticed, unrewarded, and unappreciated—until this pivotal night.
I love the first three words of 6:1, "During that night." That's the way it is with God. At the eleventh hour, He steps in and does the unexpected. When no one seems to notice and no one seems to care, He notices and He cares "during that night."
Learn a lesson from Mordecai today, will you? Through all that happens to him, Mordecai never becomes a man of vengeance. He never tries to get back at Haman, even when he has the opportunity, even when he has Haman in a very vulnerable spot. He doesn't kick him in the face when he has a chance to. He doesn't even speak against the man. We all have someone that has wronged us and seemingly, gotten away with it. God notices, and He will always deal with it in His time.
Let me challenge you to guard your heart as Mordecai did. Have a blessed day!
Facing the Resurrection September 3, 2020
“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28-29
Both believers and unbelievers will be resurrected from death. But resurrection will bring entirely different results for the two groups. Jesus' words in today's scripture make it clear that some will rise to eternal life . . . others to eternal judgment.
Scriptures describe two resurrections. The first one is for all believers. The second resurrection will be for those who did not follow Christ. They will not be with the Lord forever.
Have you made your choice? Which resurrection and judgment will be yours? If you have never committed your life to Christ, you can do that now. We have all sinned. Sin blocks our way to heaven and the presence of our holy God. But Jesus died on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins. You can receive forgiveness and be in that first resurrection by receiving his gift of love.
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; Romans 3:22-25
Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sins. I know I have done wrong. I believe Jesus is your son and that he paid the price for my sins by dying on the cross. Please forgive my sins. I choose to follow Jesus. In his name . . . Amen
Please know which resurrection you face!
Have a blessed day!
Prosperity Versus Profits September 2, 2020
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
I read a story about a fellow in his second year of career in investment banking, and several of his colleagues and him left the company where they worked and assembled a new firm to compete in a niche of municipal finance that had not yet fully matured. In those early years they often remarked that their philosophy of management could be summarized as "revenues exceeding expenses." They soon discovered that being prosperous meant more than simply being profitable.
Every business enterprise must ultimately be profitable to accomplish its purposes. Yet simply earning a profit is an incomplete organizational objective. As owners they needed to concern themselves with additional issues, such as employee benefits, staff development, and strategic planning. As time passed they became better managers, and the firm experienced impressive growth in both earnings and market presence. Had they focused only on profitability and not taken a holistic approach to the business, they were convinced their results would have been measurably different.
In our desire to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, there may be times we have been satisfied with only the most profitable matter of our faith—eternal life. Yet I have learned that when I center my thinking only on salvation, I miss out on the broader blessings of the Christian experience. Jesus said that we should seek the fullness of faith in Him and follow His example of righteous living. Our spiritual journey should not end when we offer our lives to Jesus and seek his forgiveness for our sins. Rather, He should have ownership over every department of our lives. We should not be satisfied with anything less than to have Jesus reign supreme in every relationship and in every responsibility.
We naturally try to control our lives rather than yield them to Jesus. We tend to rely on our impulses rather than turn our hearts to heaven. When we are in fellowship with others who follow Jesus, and when I seek to serve rather than to be served, I undergo spiritual growth and sense the presence of God in my life. When I go beyond spiritual "profit motive" and pursue a relationship with Christ to its depth and breadth, I know true prosperity—the only prosperity that endures.
Have a blessed day!
Details Matter September 1, 2020
Today’s missive is a bit longer than usual, but I think you will find it worth the extra effort. In our Scripture passage today, many details often get overlooked because for most of us, we think we are all too familiar with the event. However, I have found that when I look deeper into the details, I usually find more than I thought possible.
Read the passage and note all the details that come to mind. Then, compare your notes with mine and see if we agree. I find nine normally overlooked thoughts about this obscure event of a preacher, a fisherman and his boat. Let’s look at them:
Jesus, the intruder: when he saw the crowd was too big, Jesus first stepped into Peter’s boat and never asked for permission. Jesus simply asked Peter to push off. This is the beginning of the story, and beginnings are important: I wonder what would’ve happened if Peter had said, “Get your own boat.”
Peter thought the mission was fishing, and he was done for the day. Jesus had a new mission, one that incorporated Peter's skill and experience. Jesus spoke the language of commerce but, as we all know, he trades in souls. I wonder how many of our listeners realize that their work experience can be applied in the economy of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus said, “Try again” at a different time and a different place. Peter, somewhere between amused and irritated, humored the clueless Lord of glory. But he did what Jesus said. Perhaps we should all humor the Lord the glory.
Peter’s obedience was really disobedience: Jesus commanded him to “let down the nets” in verse 4; but in verse 5, Peter states he will “let down the net”. Jesus commanded him to let down “nets”, plural, Peter let down the “net” singular. Is our obedience any better?
Yep: there was a ton of fish. So many, in fact, Peter needed help to bring them in. How many preaching applications can you find in that one detail? Hmmm, let’s see: Doing God’s work requires community? The bounty of God isn’t just for me alone? God’s work draws in more people? (Also: Peter and friends are about to “leave everything” and follow Jesus—in the great catch of fish was provision for those left behind.)
Peter’s first reaction is to see his own sin, and he thinks he isn’t “qualified” to be a disciple. In truth, his sin did not disqualify Peter from being a disciple; his recognition of sin was the starting point.
"Don't be afraid" How many times does Jesus say this? At least seven times. Angels say it, too. So do the prophets. So I decided to do a quick Google search: according to some accounts, add them all up and you hit 365 “fear nots.” One for each day of the year: fear not, daily.
Leave everything: no, Luke didn’t really say this. A close study of the original languages reveal that what Jesus said was “develop an attitude of inner detachment from your possessions and cultivate a spirit of sacrifice.” Actually, that's nonsense: those guys left everything.
Finally, Jesus was after more than a boat. This passage starts with a description of Jesus preaching to a crowd, so we think it’s about the preaching or the crowds. Then Jesus asks a random fisherman for the use his boat as a preaching platform. Then we hear nothing of the sermon or the crowd, but we discover the Lord’s true objective: the fisherman. I guess Peter wasn’t the only one who had a good catch that day.
Has Jesus stepped on your boat? If He does, are we ready? Have a blessed day!
Experiencing Jubilant Joy Every Day August 31, 2020
“Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
We need to be careful not to confuse happiness with joy. Happiness is based on our feelings, the circumstances of our life, and how people respond us. It originates from the outside, so if got news that my grandson was awarded a full scholarship for college, I would be extremely happy.
In contrast, and opposite to the scenario described above, I could be in the midst of challenging circumstances, and still have a sense of joy. Joy is not dependent on our circumstances for it originates from the inside.
This joy comes through our relationship with Jesus Christ, and is available for all the situations of life that we might face. Charles Spurgeon, the nineteenth century British minister, maintained that joy is a critical ingredient in the Christian's life, and as such "the Christian joy needs looking after."
Spurgeon explained that Jesus is concerned about our present state, that is, that our joy might be full (1 John 1:4). Our joy rests on what is revealed to us in the Scriptures about Jesus Christ.
Take some time to meditate on the verses that describe the basis of the Christian joy below. As you read and meditate on this Scriptures, ask God to give you a revelation of true joy, so that you experience its reality.
James 1:2-3 John 16:24 Philippians 4:4 Habakkuk 3: 17, 18 John 15: 10, 11 Galatians 5: 22, 23
Have a JOYful and blessed day!
This World is not My Home August 28, 2020
“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:9-10
Even though we may eventually settle down somewhere that seems to be permanent and for the long haul, the child of God is really never at home here on this earth. Abraham dwelt in tabernacles which literally means “portable dwelling place,” because as a sojourner, he was always on the move. When we read Old Testament accounts of Abraham’s life, we see he truly had nowhere to call his own even though God promised him a home.
Having moved around quite a lot in my lifetime, I know firsthand the rigors of moving in and moving out. We have so much more stuff nowadays and yet, none of it is permanent. Everything we have is transient in nature. If you don’t believe it, ask your kids what inside your house they want when you pass off this mortal plane and you will realize quite quickly, your stuff does not have the same sentimental attachments for them that it does for you.
There is only one thing I can count on in this life that is true and lasting in nature…my salvation and my place at the table of the Marriage Supper! That is the one thing I can put my faith in and “know” without question. How about you? Do you have that peace settled in your heart knowing that you are a child of the King and that you can look with great anticipation to that city Abraham saw afar off?
God has promised us a home that is both permanent and eternal. Your reservation for that city must be made before you need that final home. Are you prepared to enter into the eternal rest of your Heavenly Father? Don’t delay, there are no “resets,” “restarts,” or “redos.” Be ready and be sure! Have a blessed day!
The Signs of Advanced Momhood August 2, 2020
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
I decided that with all the moms out there assuming one more role, that of school teacher, that maybe some light hearted thoughts were in order. I take these today from “Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul.”
Maybe it starts when you realize rock concerts give you a headache. Or that you’re offering to cut up other people’s food. Or you catch yourself ending a discussion with, “Because I’m the mother, that’s why.” You’ve all reached a new level of motherhood. All the warning signs are there. You know you’ve crossed the line into advanced mommydom when:
-You count the sprinkles on each kid’s cupcake to make sure they are equal. -You hide in the bathroom to be alone. -Your child throws up and you catch it. -Someone else’s kid throws up at a party and you keep eating. -You hope ketchup is a vegetable because it’s the only one your child eats. -You can’t bear the thought of your son’s first girlfriend. -You hate the thought of his wife even more. -you find yourself cutting your husband’s sandwiches in funny shapes. -you fast-forward through the scene when the hunter shoots Bambi’s mother. -You can’t bear to give away baby clothes—it’s so final. -You hear your mother’s voice coming out of your mouth when you say, “Not in your good clothes.” -You stop criticizing the way your mother raised you. -You lose sleep. -You use your own saliva to clean your kid’s dirty face. -You read that the average five-year-old asks 437 questions a day and feel proud that your kid is “above average.” -You hire a sitter because you haven’t been out with your husband in ages, then spend half the night checking on the kids.
And finally, you say at least once a day, “I’m not cut out for this job,” but you know you wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Go ahead and laugh…it will certainly do you good!
Have a blessed day!
Going to the Root August 26, 2020
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
Paul was trying to tell the church that we are human and live in a real world with real temptations and hard times. But as Christians we need to look at life through our spiritual eyes. We live in two worlds; a natural world and a spiritual world. They’re both happening around us at the same time. When circumstances or temptations come into your life, realize that there is more going on than you see on the surface. There is something deeper taking place on the spiritual battlefield.
The only way to get true victory over the enemy is through prayer, not just ordinary prayer, but prayer that goes to the root of the problem. As children of the living God, we must learn to pierce through the surface problems like sickness, depression, and fear. The list could go on and on. We must get to the root! The only way to go past the surface is to enter the battlefield and use the weapons God has given us (Ephesians 6). This verse tells us that our weapons are mighty in God to overcome the strongholds of the devil. Battles are won in your prayer closet through intercessory prayer and pulling down the strongholds the enemy has put in your life. Intercessory prayer is when you intercede over a specific need, you go past the surface by taking charge over the enemy and letting him know who is in control. Don’t stop praying until the victory is won. As a Christian you have the power over the devil, but he’s not going to give in without a fight. You must take the authority God has given you and lay an ax to the roots of your needs.
Anyone feeling the need to act like Paul Bunyan! Have a blessed day!
Cultural Genocide August 25, 2020
“In those day there was no King in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25
Our thought for today stems from the on-line and media driven narratives about “cancel culture” and “woke progressives” which seems to dominate the current news cycle. As I think about this phenomenon, it reminds me of the cogent passage of Scripture which closes the Book of Judges.
Moses is long gone, Joshua and a host of God’s judges are now legacy. The Exodus is complete and the Hebrew Nation inhabits the Promised Land. Israel has slipped and slid into and out of trouble with the ever present, yet sometimes, seemingly reluctant hand of God their only aid. There is a seven times repeated cycle of falling into sin; forced into servitude, finding their way to supplication, finding salvation by God and fearsome silence that never seems to get the attention of the people or the leaders.
More and more, I see in this course of events in America, what happened to Israel when there was no king on the throne. We revel in our intellect and progressive dogma that leaves God out of the equation and factors heavily on man’s enlightenment. We boast of our forward thinking and change the truth of God for a lie and the lies of man for the truth. To be sure, this is no overnight, flash in the pan, rather a well-crafted attempt by Satan to rise above God. To illustrate, the “father” of Marxism, Karl Marx is long dead, yet his writings influence exponentially more minds today than he could ever imagine. Satan is alive and still impacting culture, long after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We, like Israel, have slipped on the slippery slope of humanity with speed ever increasing because we as a nation have let go of God’s hand.
But God has not moved and all we must do is remember our way back to Him by simply turning around. This may seem too elementary or basic, but according to God’s Word, when we turn, He is there! How refreshing it is to know that regardless of how far we stray as a nation, we are still a nation comprised of people who can stop and return from whence we have fallen. We must survey our surroundings and select the solution befitting our need and return to the One who loves us with an everlasting love. How about you? Have a blessed day!
Cleansed by the Word August 24, 2020
“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” John 15:3
This discourse in the Gospel of John, Chapters 14, 15 and 16, are spoken in the Upper Room after Jesus had the bread and the cup (Communion) and washed the Disciples’ feet. He has spoken about His betrayal and now reassures them of His preparations on their behalf and His imminent return when all things are ready.
Right in the middle of His assurances, He speaks to them of a new intimacy and relationship based on obedience and service. He likens their sustenance to the vine and the branches and how the branches can do nothing apart from the vine. In fact, not just attached to the vine; but abiding in the vine. Abiding in Jesus proves to be the most important aspect of our relationship to the Master. Jesus is not only the Master Vinedresser, He is also the vine to which we are dependent.
He purges the branches of the unproductive elements as a means of “cleansing”. This cleansing has numerous purposes in the lives of believers. When we are cleansed by the Word; we hear it, we receive it and we are to live it. We are saved by Grace by the hearing of the Word (Ephesians 2:8); Born again through the Word (1 Peter 1:23), Begotten through the Word (James 1:8). The Word of Christ is the power unto salvation (Romans 1:16), and we are sanctified by the Word (1 Peter 2:2).
Let me ask you a few questions; is your relationship with Jesus all you would like it to be? Do you feel like you are getting all the nutrition you need to sustain your relationship? Are there dead or dying parts of your life that need to be purged? Have you tried to “make it on your own” without the Vine?
You see, in each of these queries, your answer tells you what you need to know about how well you are doing as a branch! We need Him to be all we need and all we want. Sister Teresa of Calcutta, India said it best, “When you find that Jesus is all you have, you realize He is all you need!”
Have a blessed day!
What’s Your Legacy Going to Be? August 21, 2020
“All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the Word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:23-25).
In 1867, Alfred Nobel discovered a way to encase highly volatile nitroglycerin into a form that was safer and more convenient to handle. He patented this new invention as dynamite, and during his lifetime it made him millions of dollars.
One morning, Nobel opened a newspaper and found that his own obituary had been printed there by mistake. What disturbed Nobel more than the paper’s error was the words that he read: “The merchant of death is dead. Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”
Alfred considered all of his worldly success to be nothing if it meant that he would be remembered in such a way. So, on November 17, 1895, Nobel signed his last will and testament and set aside the bulk of his estate to establish a fund that would reward certain individuals whose work was deemed to be beneficial to society. This award is known today as the Nobel Prize.
What will people say about you and me when we die? We must live in such a way that people will see the light of Christ shining within us unhindered by the clutter of this world. This life is not a dress rehearsal…it is a journey that ends at one of two destinations; heaven or hell and there is no in-between. Is your destination certain? Like Nobel, have you taken the necessary steps to ensure those left behind know your wishes and how to carry-on your legacy?
Additional verses for consideration.
Psalm 141:3-4; Matthew 5:13-16; Romans 10:1-4; James 1:22-25
Have a blessed day!
Get the Salt Out of the Shaker August 20, 2020
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is henceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Matthew 5:13
In His inaugural message we know as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared that “we are salt.” Being “salt” is no more an option than being a witness. If we belong to the King, we are, by virtue of that relationship, the salt of the earth.
To be salt has numerous implications. First, before the advent of refrigeration, salt was used to preserve food. Thus our lives should be such that they have a preserving effect on others. Simply put, we stop the rot! Our lifestyle—our presence, our language, and our behavior—should have a preserving influence.
How do you respond when you are around those whose language has a putrefying effect? What should you do when people at the office begin to say things that destroy the reputation of a colleague? What would be the proper reaction to racist or filthy jokes? What do you say when someone uses the Lord’s name in vain? How would salt respond to such rot? These moments, when properly seized, can be a forum s to show the Gospel.
Second, all of us know that salt brings out the flavor of food. In fact, sometimes health conditions mandate that persons maintain a salt-free diet. This is called a “bland diet” and for good reason. Food without appropriate seasoning has little flavor. The Christian should add flavor to life. Our zest for living life stems from our relationship with the Creator and from the understanding that He desires for us to experience abundant life (John 10:10).
Our ability to express hope and even joy in the midst of adverse circumstances arises from our confidence that God is at work in everything for our good (Romans 8:28-29). Such personal and Biblical convictions show the people around us the power of the Gospel. Every event and encounter of our daily experience provides a platform for us to show the Gospel.
All we must do is get the salt out of the shaker! Have a blessed day!
God of the Moment August 19, 2020
“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me.” Isaiah 49:16
Remember the song learned in elementary school; “He’s got the whole world, in His hands?” He’s got the wind and the rain, the little bitty baby; yes, even you and me in His hands. How easy it is to forget that! And it is not limited to our geography or our culture. He’s got the Middle East, South America, Asia and all of Europe as well—all right there in the palm of His hands. And while we’re at it, He’s got our future, our children, our circumstances, our friends and our foes in His hands; within His grasp; under His control. Even when fears slip in like morning dew to shroud our faith…He’s there and in charge.
I know there are times when it seems hard to believe that He has our circumstances under control and in His grasp. Not only are the wind and the rain, and the little bitty baby in His hands, but so are life’s little interruptions as well as major calamities. In fact, would you believe they never leave His attention?
In other words, God sees us as we are; warts, wrinkles and weaknesses! In fact, He sees everything. And how close is His view? You and I are in the palm of His hands; whether at arm’s length or held to His face for a closer look, we are safe within His grasp.
Not only does He have you and me, our friends and foes, our failures and fortunes in His hands. He has our past, our present and our future within His hold as well. In fact, John 10:28-30 says that if we are safe in the hands of Christ, we are also safe in the hands of God since Jesus is in God and we are in Jesus. Jesus finishes by saying in verse 30, “I and My Father are One.” What a promise of providential care for you and me as we contemplate the world around us and the times in which we live.
Now that is a promise I can rest in and sleep well at night knowing I am safe in the hands of my loving Father! Have a blessed day!
A Rock of Escape August 18, 2020
“Save me, O God, by Thy name, and judge me by Thy strength. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them.” Psalm 54:1-3
Psalm 54 is David’s cry out to God when being chased by King Saul and the army of Israel. David and his band of mighty men are fleeing for their lives from the presence of a king who is certain of David’s revolt against him. David must have known he had no control over his circumstances or even the outcome. He did however, know the character of His God was righteous and unchangeable. He cried out to God during his time of oppression and flight and God turned the king and his army to go after the Philistines (1 Samuel 23:27). After Saul return from chasing the Philistine army out of Israel, he resumes his quest to find David.
Saul has been spared once by the renegade “giant killer”, but is determined to put an end to his insurrection. Little does he know that he would once again be spared by his nemesis, who showed more grace and composure than his foe. David chooses to worship in the midst of his danger: “I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise Thy name, O Lord; for It is good” (verse 6). This freewill offering is a peace offering that celebrates God’s goodness and sovereignty.
David is grateful for what God has done in the past and is certain of God’s deliverance in the present. Do we exhibit that kind of faithfulness in God’s character and activity? What is going on in your life right now that has you defeated and distressed? Stop where you are; lay down your “weapons” and turn to God in prayer and praise. He knows your situation and exactly what needs to happen in your life.
Only when we turn to Him in praise and worship and trust Him completely, will our enemy be defeated and we will be encouraged. Have a blessed day!
Prepare for Rain August 17, 2020
“And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years but according to my word.” 1 Kings 17:1
In the movie Facing the Giants, Grant Taylor, a discouraged football coach at Shiloh Christian Academy, gets an unexpected spiritual lesson from Mr. Bridges, a prayer warrior. When the coach tells Mr. Bridges “I just don’t see God at work here,” the prayer warrior responds with a story:
“Grant, I heard a story about two farmers who desperately needed rain. Both of them prayed for rain, but only one of them went out and prepared his fields to receive it. Which one do you think trusted God to send rain?”
“Well, the one who prepared his fields for it.”
“Which one are you? God will send the rain when He is ready. You need to prepare your field to receive it.”
How do you prepare for rain? How do you cultivate the soil of your life in preparation for God’s outpouring? How do you break up the unproductive and fallow ground? How do you wait both expectantly and patiently for God to act?
Do you want God to send the rain? Do you want to see Him work in your life; to see revival in our church? Do you want to embrace all God has for you?
Have you sensed times like that when you were as dry and discouraged as Grant Taylor and you could not see God at work? He is always working even when we don’t experience it. Have you sharpened up your plow, repaired the traces and made preparations to receive the outpouring of God? WE must remember, plows turn the soil and everything in their way. They uproot weeds and break up the hardened soil of our life and even occasionally encounter a seemingly unmovable rock, boulder or stump. We must remove the obstacles to the plow and continue preparing our soil to receive the rain of God.
Just as Elijah told King Ahab, the rains will not come until God’s time is fulfilled.
Are you ready? Plow on!
Wilderness Experiences August 13, 2020
“And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.” Mark 1:12-13
Before Jesus started His ministry here on earth He had a wilderness experience. After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the Spirit of God came upon Him. This was the beginning of His ministry. Before He performed any miracles He went to be alone and prepare Himself through prayer and fasting. During the 40 days and nights Jesus spent in spiritual preparation He was continually praying to God and seeking His direction. Jesus spent the time emptying Himself and surrendering His will to God. He did this by spending time alone hearing from God. Through this, Jesus’ Spirit was being strengthened and prepared for God’s purpose for His life. Jesus was willing to sacrifice His time and energy to spend time alone in the wilderness with the Lord, getting direction and seeking God’s perfect will for His life.
God is also calling us as His children to step up to the plate and step into our own wilderness experience. God wants us to spend time in spiritual preparation where we empty ourselves before Him and seek His direction for our lives. We are living in the end times and Jesus is coming back soon. God is looking for people who are willing to turn off the TV, to get off the Internet and who will spend a little less time hanging out with friends, just to spend tie alone in His presence. He wants us seeking His voice with the willingness to answer His call on their lives. I promise you, if you’re feeling alienated from the Lord, or you know that God has called you to the frontlines, seek Him with all your heart and He will take you places and show you things that you never could imagine. Serving God is awesome and exciting when you’re willing to take your relationship with Him to the next level. How far do you want to go?
Have a blessed day.
Chosen August 12, 2020
“Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you.” John 15:16
Did you know that God has a special plan for your life? Did you also know that He has chosen you? If you didn’t, you know now. God has chosen you and wants to use your life to reach others with the Gospel. It’s awesome to know that we didn’t choose to follow Christ, He chose us. He chose us, while we were yet sinners, to be His children.
God has gifted each one of us in different areas so that He can use us. The devil might tell you you’re not good enough to be used by God, but you are. The devil is a liar; that’s what he does, he lies to us and tries to make us feel unworthy. Realize that no matter what you’ve done in your past, or even if you slip and mess up today, God still loves you and wants to use you and there’s nothing you can do to ever change that. God looks at your heart and as long as you’re doing your best to put Him first and seek Him, He will do the rest. God isn’t counting on your strength, He’s counting on what He can make of you.
he Bible says in Psalms 94:18, “when my foot slips Your mercy and loving kindness hold me up.” So even if you slip, God’s mercy will hold you up. This doesn’t mean we can just keep living in sin and keep asking Him to forgive us. There is a difference between slipping up and deliberately sinning. As long as you’re doing your best to follow Christ, He will use your life. Today’s verse says that He has ordained you to bring forth fruit. You don’t need to go to school to become a pastor to be used by God. Like the verse says, God has already ordained you to be a minister.
With that knowledge, go out and do something wonderful today! Have a blessed day!
All Creatures of Our God and King August 11, 2020
“For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him. And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” Colossians 1:16-17
I like to use various hymnals as part of my private worship time because in many ways, the hymn writers express in words what I often times feel but cannot express verbally. The title of today’s missive is a hymn we sing from time to time and as I read all four stanzas today, my mind was flooded with the truth of today’s verse. When we analyze the verses carefully, we realize there is not one part of all creation not affected by the living Christ; either before incarnation or after resurrection. All of our life is wrapped up in the eternal glory which is the Godhead of One in Three and Three in One. In these tumultuous times of demonstrations, protests, violence, murder and the like, it would do us well to remember these verses. Just as Daniel wrote in the second chapter of the book bearing his name; “…he removeth kings, and setteth up kings…” We must realize that God is in control and nothing escapes His gaze and nothing catches Him by surprise. We must not put our trust in the things of this earth, nor the rulers and powers to be. We must look heavenward and fix our faith on the One who never fails.
In fact, I have written in the margin adjacent to Colossians, Chapter One; “Everything held together by Christ! From the invisible sub-atomic particles to the visible end result of them all functioning in perfect harmony according to the Master’s plan.” All this is so because all of creation in in accordance with the will of God; except humanity!
We have been given “free will” to function one of two ways. Either by the design of the Master or according to our own desires. Which of these guides your daily routine? Unto which of these do you subscribe as the master plan for your life? When we think about all the Lord has done, is doing and can yet do, why do we trust our day-to-day and tomorrow to our finite abilities and knowledge? Something to think about the next time you are overcome with fear or trepidation at the thought of all that is raging in the world today.
Have a blessed day!
The Front-lines August 10, 2020
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Too many times, Christians stop at the point of blessing. They give their life to the Lord and expect to get things from Him. They seek the blessings of God and become comfortable just knowing God, not sharing Him with others. The hit a place of contentment in their relationship with Christ and don’t want to press any further. Being a Christian is not about what God can do for you, but what you can do for Him.
In our Scripture today, the church was born. All of the Disciples were gathered together waiting for the promise Jesus gave them. This verse holds a powerful truth about how the Church was formed. The Church was not formed with or through great preachers. The Church was not born weak, or spiritless. The Church was born in POWER! After the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 people in the upper room they were charged to go and be witnesses of Christ throughout the world. The word “witness” in this verse means to go and do the things that Jesus did when He was here on earth, healing the sick, casting out demons, and setting free everyone bound to the enemy.
God won’t use you without first giving you an experience. Before the 120 people left the upper room to fulfill the great commission, they had an experience. The people left the upper room filled with the Holy Spirit and power to turn their world upside down for Christ. You are no different than any of the 120 people that God called to be His witnesses. If you haven’t already, God wants you to have an experience with Him today and He wants you to be His witness to this world. If you want to be used by God, just open your heart to Him and ask Him to give you an experience. Seek the Lord diligently and ask Him to come into your life and fill you like He did the 120 Disciples in the upper room.
Feel the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit!
The Bible, a Mirror August 6, 2020
“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” James 1:23-24
I ran across an illustration the other day that I think pictures this so well. An elderly gentleman, who was very nearsighted, prided himself on his ability as an art critic. On one occasion he was accompanying some friends through a large gallery and was seeking to display his real or fancied knowledge of pictures to these friends. He had left his glasses at home and was not able to see things very clearly. Standing before a large frame, he began to point out the inartistic features of the picture there revealed. "The frame," he said, "is altogether out of keeping with the subject and as for the subject itself (it was that of a man) it is altogether too homely, in fact, too ugly, ever to make a good picture. It is a great mistake for any artist to choose so homely a subject for a picture if he expects it to be a masterpiece."
The old gentleman was going on like this when his wife managed to get near enough to interrupt. She exclaimed, "My dear, you are looking into a mirror." He was quite taken back to realize that he had been criticizing his own face.
Now the Word of God is such a mirror. It does not hide our deformities. It shows us up just as we are. But we are not to be occupied with our old selves. The Spirit of God would turn us away from self altogether to occupation with the risen Christ, and as we are taken up with Him, we are kept from sin. It is when we get our eyes off Christ and become self-occupied or taken up with the world around us that we fail. And who of us does not so fail? We all have to confess our failures from day to day, but our ever living Savior is not only our High Priest to minister all needed grace and help, but even when we fail to avail ourselves of that as we should, He is our Advocate still and the moment we fail, He takes up our case with the Father. Mark, it does not say, "If any man confess his sin, we have an advocate," but rather, "If any man sin, we have an advocate." The moment we fail He is in the Father's presence about us, and as a result of His gracious advocacy, the Spirit continues His work in our hearts, bringing us to repentance and confession, and "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Have a blessed day!
The Priority, Privilege and Power of Prayer August 5, 2020
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 1 John 5:14–15
In First John chapter five, we are assured that God both hears and heeds our prayers. The fact that God hears our prayers is a statement of His omniscience, and the fact that God answers our prayers is a statement of His omnipotence.
The pages of both the Bible and human history are filled with examples of answered prayer. Prayer is not a form of spiritual self-hypnosis or a means to a better emotional state. It is the God-directed means for a child of God to receive what his Father wants to give him to accomplish His will and work.
These verses make it clear that prayer is both a priority and a privilege for every Christian. What breathing is to the physical man, prayer is to the spiritual man. Prayer is a necessity for every born again believer.
R.A. Torrey said, “Prayer is the key that unlocks all the storehouses of God’s infinite grace and power. All that God is and all that God has is at the disposal of prayer, but we must use the key.” Yes, we must pray if we expect God to answer and bless. We do not have to bear the burdens of our lives alone. We have the privilege of bringing every care and concern to the Lord in prayer. Ephesians 3:12 reminds us that in Christ, “We have boldness and access with confidence” to approach Him in prayer. Hebrews 4:16 exhorts us with these words, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
John says, “That if we ask any thing,” assuring us that we can never ask anything that is beyond His ability. Something to think about next time you go to the Lord in prayer!
Have a blessed day!
Who is Your Source? August 4, 2020
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5
Is God your source in life? If you’re struggling in certain areas of your life, it could be because you’re not connected to the vine and making God you source. In John 15:5 Jesus is talking about how He’s the true vine and how we, as the branches, need to stay tapped into Him in order to stay alive spiritually. He also says that if we don’t stay tapped into Him we will wither and die and will be cast into the fire. As long as we remain, or abide in Christ, we will continually be connected to the power of God and will become a mighty force against the enemy.
The key to a relationship with God is to seek Him, to spend time in His presence. The Bible says that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near unto us. It’s so important to make time daily to talk with God, listen to God and study His Word. Notice how I said make time, that’s exactly what you’ll have to do. If you don’t make time to spend with God the cares of life will creep in ad take your time. Building a relationship with God is something that you need to do every day. The Bible says that we need to take up our cross daily and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). Don’t give God your leftovers and try to squeeze Him in. Make it a priority to put Him first in your life.
The bottom line is we need God. We need to become desperate for Him. The Bible says that apart from Him we can do nothing, but in Him and through Him we will bear much fruit. If we want to see the power of God produced in our lives we must lay everything aside and seek Him, obey Him and honor Him, no matter what it costs us.
When we walk with Christ and He walks with us there is no limit to what we can do together.
Have a blessed day!
Genuine Prayer August 3, 2020
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
Have you ever wondered what James meant when he wrote the Scripture verse for today? I believe he was amplifying what Jesus said when He said “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” You see, all of Scripture may be boiled down to this one common denominator. If you take a large quantity of maple sap and boil it to remove all the water and impurities, you will eventually be left with a simple lump of maple sugar. The impurities are skimmed off and the excess water is evaporated away and all that is left is the purest form of maple sugar. That’s what Jesus did when He made the statement above to the legalist who really wanted to justify himself and embarrass the Savior.
To love God first and foremost is not up for debate. This is the first and whole duty of man. One of the great secrets of effective prayer is that the attitude of the heart must be right toward God. The heart that recognizes the divine wisdom and love and trusts to them will pray as simply as a child asking help from its mother.
One of the most beautiful prayers I have ever read is that of Fénelon:
"O Lord! I know not what I should ask of thee. Thou only knowest what I want; and thou lovest me, if I am thy friend, better than I can love myself. O Lord! Give to me, thy child, what is proper, whatsoever it may be. I dare not ask either crosses or comforts. I only present myself before thee. I open my heart to thee. Behold my wants, which I myself am ignorant of; but do thou behold, and do, according to thy mercy, smite or heal, depress me or raise me up. I adore all thy purposes without knowing them. I am silent; I offer myself in sacrifice. I abandon myself to thee. I have no more desire but to accomplish thy will. Lord, teach me how to pray. Dwell thou thyself in me by thy Holy Spirit. Amen."
Have a blessed day!
The Gateway to Your Mind July 31, 2020
“And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.” 2 Samuel 11:2
One of Satan’s strategies for luring us into temptation is to gain access to our minds through the “eyegate” and the “eargate.” In other words, through what we see and hear. This verse shows us that even great men of the Bible were seduced through what they allowed their eyes to look upon and their ears to hear.
The Bible says that King David was a man after God’s own heart, and David truly loved the Lord. David won many great battles, but even David fell into Satan’s trap when he allowed Satan to gain access to his mind through what he saw with his eyes. Many times Satan will hit you the hardest after you’ve experienced a victory in your life. When everything is looking good he will sneak in and try to catch you off guard. This is exactly what happened to David. Everything was going good for him at the time and he let his guard down. The Bible says inn 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” The minute that you relax in your spiritual life is the minute Satan will hit you the hardest. When David looked at the woman it aroused a desire inside him. The woman was very beautiful, and the longer David looked at her, the more he wanted her. David actually committed the sin of adultery in his heart and mind right there on the rooftop before he ever acted it out.
Don’t give Satan access to your mind through what you see and hear. He will put things that are pleasurable or desirable before your eyes and ears to lure you into sinning, just like he did David. So be careful what you watch on TV, at the movies, or on the internet. Be careful what magazines and periodicals you read. Be careful what music you listen to. Be on guard and guard the “eyegate” and the “eargate” to your mind. Let the Holy Spirit and the Word of God be your gatekeepers and only desired visitors will enter!
Have a blessed day!
Get Violent July 30, 2020
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12
Did you know that there is a spiritual battle taking place right now for you? The Bible says in Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” There is a real devil out there whose job is to destroy your soul. If you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior, the battle is on. Before you were a Christian, the devil didn’t spend much time with you, you were not a threat to him. But as soon as you’ve accepted Jesus, the devil will do everything in his power to get you back and living in a cycle of defeat so that you cannot accomplish what God has in store for your life. This is nothing to be afraid of. God has your back and you have His Spirit living inside of you.
It’s important to know where you stand. God has given you power over the enemy but the enemy is not going to give in without a fight. Our Scripture for today teaches us to be aggressive, to get violent and take by force what belongs to us. In order to win this spiritual war you have to be able to move into an offensive position. You can’t win a fight defending yourself all the time, you have to fight back in order to defeat Satan. You must have an offensive strategy. We can’t wait until the enemy tries to come after us, we need go after him ad put him on the run. We must use the power God has given us to take what belongs to us as sons and of God. God wants us t be bold when we face the enemy, not timid or fearful, but bold in our warfare to take back our lost loved ones, to overcome sickness and disease, to take authority and be victorious, not just sometimes but in every situation. We need to bind the enemy and take charge over him when he tries to step on our territory. Tell the devil to stay on his side of the line in Jesus’ name! You have the power!
Have a blessed day!
Getting Through the Burnout July 29, 2020
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song I will praise Him.” Psalm 28:7
All of us go through ups and downs in our walk with the Lord. Most of us get so stoked on the Lord right after we get saved. We dive right into our relationship with Him. But after some time goes by our passion inside starts to wane. Sometimes you just won’t want to pray, read your Bible or go to church. It’s normal because we’re human and we do have emotions. But it’s so important not to let our relationship with the Lord be run on our emotions. We’re not always going to be pumped all the time and that’s all right. But we need to make sure we don’t let ourselves get focused on how we may or may not feel at the time. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus and keep on praying and reading the Word, especially during the tough times.
If you’re going through a burned out time in your walk with the Lord, get focused. This is a time that the enemy is going to step in and try to keep you caught up in a cycle of defeat. If you read the book of Psalms you’ll hear many times that David cried out to God for help, comfort, protection and encouragement. Through all that David went through he always kept his eyes on the Lord and knew that the Lord would pull him through. David was always praising the Lord. Praise is a powerful tool to use if you’re burned out. Remember, we need to always give God praise for who He is and what He’s done for us. Just start to thank Him for all the things that He’s done for you. Think about those things, don’t let the devil fill your head with lies and keep you in a cycle of defeat. Take those thoughts captive and realize that the devil is just trying to keep you from drawing close to the Lord again.
Spend time praising God and sharing your heart with Him. Ask Him to light the fire again. Remember He loves you and will always be there for you.
So, what’s on your mind?
End Times July 28, 2020
“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:13-14
Jesus was talking to His disciples and was warning them of things that would take place in the end times. Many of the things He spoke of are what we are seeing on the news and reading in the periodicals today. Jesus outlined some specific points when He addressed the disciples. He said we would see false christs, famines, wars and rumors of wars, pestilences, earthquakes, false prophets, lawlessness, violence and a lack of love for people. He also said that the Gospel would be preached to all nations of the world before He returned. All of the details that Jesus talked about are coming to pass, from the wars to the false prophets. They are all taking place around us now. I believe that Jesus is coming back very soon and we need to be ready for His return. Even though all these things Jesus talked about may sound a little scary we have nothing to fear. God is in control and He said these things must take place.
During these times we must put our trust in the Lord. We need to have a strong relationship built with Him so when the world around us looks like it’s going to hell, we have built our foundation on Him and we will not be shaken. You don’t want to be caught off guard when Jesus returns. You shouldn’t be doing things or allowing things in your life that you know are separating you from God. Jesus is coming back for people who accepted Him as their Savior; that have made Him first in their lives and are sold out for Him. Just because Jesus is coming soon doesn’t mean that He wants us just sit by and wait for His return. We need to keep going in our lives by making plans and setting goals for ourselves. We need to seek God for His plan for our lives and always know that He could come today or in twenty minutes or in twenty years from now. So seek God with all your heart. Don’t be afraid of the times we’re living in. God is in control; you just need to be ready for His return.
Do you know Him today as your personal Savior and Lord? I sincerely hope so. Heaven will not be the same if you are not there!
Love Your Enemies July 27, 2020
“But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you and pray for them which despitefully use you.” Luke 6:27-28
These verses go against human nature. It may be easy to want to do good towards someone who did something good to you, but to be nice and love someone you would consider an enemy, are you serious? Yes, that’s what the Bible tells us we need to do. The enemy wants to use people to rile you up and to get you angry at people who cross you. This goes against what God has taught us. If we allow anger to get us so frustrated at someone that we lose our temper and sin by cursing them or retaliating against them, then we have failed at one of God’s greatest commandments to us.
This is exactly what the devil wants to happen. He wants you to get your eyes off God and cause you to stumble, worrying about something that really doesn’t matter. By putting these verses into practice in your life you’re taking all the power away from the enemy and walking one step closer to Jesus. It’s not easy to love your enemy, but Jesus showed us it could be done. Even after Jesus was beaten, cursed, spit upon and nailed to a cross, He still showed love towards His accusers. He asked God to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing. Jesus didn’t curse them. He didn’t hate them. In fact, He loved them. By loving your enemies you’re being a witness of Christ’s love. You’re not loving what your enemy has done to you, you’re looking past that to the person inside who Jesus loved and died for. So the next time someone crosses you, don’t allow yourself to get angry at what they have done, but be the bigger person.
There is power in doing this, when you forgive, love and pray for your enemies. It turns something Satan wants to disrupt you into something God can use for good.
Have a blessed day!
Waiting on God July 24, 2020
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
We live in a busy world where we have become accustomed to having things done fast. Form fast food to the internet at our fingertips, we aren’t a very patient generation. We all live busy lives and most of us can’t just sit still without doing anything. We have to be watching television, listening to our music or talking/texting to someone on the phone. How often have you just sat alone by yourself without the television or music on? We even want God to work on our schedule. We’re busy—can’t He just make things happen now? When we pray, it’s often like a shopping list…”Lord can’t You do this, and I need this.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s not wrong to ask God for things. We need to do that, but it’s important to just sit alone in His presence and wait on Him for guidance and strength, however long it takes. God isn’t on our time schedule, we need to be on His. We need to be patient and wait on the Lord.
If you’re going through something in your life that needs an answer, or if you’re tired and struggling in your walk with the Lord, don’t get in a hurry. The only way you’re going to get the answer or the strength you need to get through is to wait on the Lord. God knows you want an answer. He knows where you’re at and He wants to get you through it. But God also knows what’s best for you. Don’t try and rush things because you’re too busy or impatient. Make it a priority to set time aside to spend with the Lord. If you’re exhausted, you can’t just stay awake and keep pushing yourself, sooner or later you’ll crash. You have to make time to rest in order to get more strength. That’s how it is with God. You can’t just run on empty, you need to make time to let God refuel you. Don’t let the business of this life get you too busy for God. Remember if you wait on the Lord, He’ll renew your strength.
Have a blessed day!
Keeping God First July 23, 2020
“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry” 1 Corinthians 10:14
How important is God to you? Do you love the Lord enough to put Him first? The Bible says in Exodus 20:3 to put no other gods before Him. God created you. You did not come from some big bang theory or evolve from apes. God Himself created you. He breathed life into your body and He loves you more than you can even comprehend. God created you so you could have a relationship with Him. He wants to be your best friend. He wants to be the one you come to in good times and in bad. He wants you to put your complete trust in Him and He wants to help you get through the tough times in life. The bottom line is God wants to be first in your life.
If you allow anything to come between God and you then it can be an idol. You might say that you don’t worship idols, but you might without even knowing it. An idol can be anything you put before God. An idol can be money, friends, music, cars, a boyfriend or a girlfriend. It can be exercise, water skiing, fishing or anything that is more important to you than spending time with God. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:14 that we are to flee from idolatry. That means we are to run and get away from it. If we want to see the promises God has given us in His Word come to pass in our lives, then we must put Him first. The Bible says to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you (Matthew 6:33). Do you want to live in peace and victory? If you do, you must seek God and build a relationship with Him.
God doesn’t want our leftovers and He doesn’t want to come in second. Make a commitment to love the Lord and put Him first in your life today! As the old saying goes, “Give God what’s right, not what’s left!”
Have a blessed day.
Living Sacrifice July 22, 2020 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1
We live in a world today filled with people who have taken their eyes off God and placed them on what feels good to them. The world today doesn’t want people to tell them what they can and can’t do. They have thrown the Bible out the window and are blinded to what God has to say about things. Satan has deceived us into thinking we don’t need God, that we can do it on our own. But that’s simply not true. God has called us as Christians to live at a higher standard than the world, to step out from among the world and to not go with the flow. In today’s verse, Paul is encouraging us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, which means not to give into our human desires or what we want to do just because it feels good. As Christians we must lay aside our wants and desires. We need to follow what God has taught us in His Word.
God doesn’t want to take everything you like to do or want you to live in a bubble. God wants you to enjoy your life. It’s OK to have hobbies and enjoy things, as long as they don’t go against God. But it’s not OK if you allow your own desires to become more important than God. Make God most important to you, even if you have to make sacrifices in your life. Making a sacrifice isn’t always easy. Sacrifice means to suffer loss, give up, renounce or destroy. This means not only giving up those things that you put before God, but it also means giving up things that go against God. When putting the verse into practice you’ll have to go against your own personal wants and selfish desires in order to please God and make Him number one in your life. God will give you new desires. Your life will be exciting and you’ll become more fulfilled than you’ve ever been. Sacrifice the things in your life that God doesn’t approve of. Sacrifice the things in your life that you put before God and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Have a blessed day!
The Power of Prayer July 21, 2020
“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:18
God has given us a powerful weapon, strong enough to pierce through the enemy’s territory and destroy the strongholds he tries to place on your life. That weapon is prayer. Why is prayer so powerful and important? It’s during our times of prayer that we enter into the presence of God. It’s where we spend time before Him worshiping and crying out to Him. Prayer is powerful because you have all of heaven backing you up when you come before the Lord. We know it’s powerful because the Bible tells us that God hears and answers our prayers. Another powerful side to prayer is spiritual warfare. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” We are at war and fighting against the devil and all the demons of hell. There are spirits of fear, lust, greed, perversion, hate, murder, sickness, confusion, addiction, etc. The list could go on and on. These spirits are trying to destroy your families and your life. This is where you as a Christian, having the Holy Spirit living inside of you, must use the authority that God has given you. The Scripture above tells us that whatever we bind on earth God will bind in heaven. The “whatever” this verse is talking about is demons and evil spirits.
You see God has given you the power to bind the enemy when he comes against you. You don’t have to ask God’s permission to do it. He has already given you permission to take authority over the enemy. Jesus had permission to walk this earth healing the sick, casting out demons and speaking deliverance into the lives of people. Like Jesus, you have been given permission to do the same things, because you have the same Holy Spirit inside of you leading and guiding you. You can also speak forth, or as this Scripture says, “loose” deliverance into people’s lives through God’s Spirit in you. You have complete power over the enemy in Jesus’ Name! Don’t be afraid to use it! Have a blessed day!
The Power of Your Tongue July 20, 2020
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21
Do you know how powerful your tongue is? James said that if we can control the tongue, we can control our entire body (James 3:2). James also said that your tongue is like a fire, a world of evil set fire by Hell (James 3:5-6). Satan can use our tongues to corrupt our whole body and have us speaking curses and death into our lives and the lives of those around us, unless we bring our tongues under submission to the Holy Spirit. We need to take accountability over the words coming out of our mouths. Try and pay attention to what you say. Do you allow words of criticism, negativity, bad language, backbiting, lies and doubt to come out of your mouth? Is your mouth full of “I can’t” or “it’s impossible”? Well, if you answered yes to any of those things, it’s time you bring your tongue under control of the Holy Spirit.
Your tongue is a very powerful tool. It can be used to speak blessings or death and curses. We need to use our tongues to bless people not curse or talk against them. We need to speak forth God’s promises into our circumstances, not worry and doubt. If you’re going through a battle in your life right now, you need to be speaking the promises that God has given you in His Word, even if your battle seems impossible to overcome. God’s Word is true and He will ever leave you or fail you. I’m not telling you to use the power of positive thinking or live in a pretend world, but you need to look at your problems through God’s eyes, eyes that know no limits. Use your tongue as a weapon set on fire from God, not the enemy, and speak life into your circumstances today.
Have a blessed day!
Facing Fear July 17, 2020
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Everyone has felt afraid of something, and many of us still battle fear. Maybe you’re afraid of death or disease. Maybe you’re afraid of what people might say about you. Whatever the case may be, we’ve all dealt with fear in some form or another. The question is, how do we overcome fear? How do we fight it?
In order to overcome it we need to expose it for what it really is, a spirit. You can’t fight fear on the surface level, you must go deeper. Whether we like it or not, there are spirits loose in the world and these spirits have been given the assignment to tear us down and destroy us. The spirit of fear can wreck and torment you, leaving you in a state of confusion. It can take you out of living and walking a victorious Christian life. This Scripture clearly says the spirit of fear does not come from God. So if it’s not from God, then it’s from the enemy.
Jesus has overcome the enemy. The verse says that God has given you not just any spirit, but His Spirit of Power, Love, and a Sound Mind. As a Christian you have God’s Spirit living inside of you. You can’t lose. You have the power over fear. The next time the spirit of fear attacks your mind and tries to fill it with fearful thoughts, take charge of them instantly. Don’t even allow yourself to entertain those thoughts. You must recognize and be aware of what’s happening. You have to be aggressive about this. The spirit of fear isn’t going to just give up without a fight.
The battle over fear is won on your knees through prayer. Not just any prayer, but through spiritual warfare. The Bible says if God is for you who can be against you (Romans 8:31). David said in Psalms, God is at my right hand, I shall not be moved (Psalm 16:8). So stand strong and trust in the Lord. He’s got your back. Put the spirit of fear in its place. Have a blessed day!
July 16, 2020 God is in Control
“The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” Psalm 34:17-19
God never promised us that serving Him would be easy or fun all the time. He never said that we would not got through hard times in our lives. In fact, His Word tells us that we will be afflicted with tough times. Just because you may be carrying a heavy load in your life right now does not mean that God does not care about you or that He likes to see you suffer and struggle. God promises us in the verses above, that despite our afflictions He will always deliver us out of them. Don’t let your circumstances defeat you, but use those circumstances to draw closer to God. Don’t get so focused on what the devil is trying to do to you. The truth is he’s already defeated and has no power.
During the trials of life get focused on the Lord and what He’s doing in your life. Our circumstances are opportunities for God. He’ll use what you’re going through to prove Himself strong in your life and strengthen you. So no matter how long you’re stuck battling something, don’t give up! Keep reminding yourself that God will deliver you. Even after you’ve told yourself over and over again and you’re still stuck in that same circumstance, tell yourself again.
God does not work on our schedule, and just because we want to get out of something now does not mean we will. God is in control, even when we think things are out of control. He loves you. And, remember, He will always, always deliver you!
Have a blessed day!
July 15, 2020 Truth is Power
“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
Truth equals power. How, you might ask? This Scripture holds the answer to that question. Revealing the truth produces power, because the truth this verse is talking about is God. When the truth is revealed to you it becomes knowledge. When you learn something that is true, it’s a fact and can’t be proven wrong. It’s always right and it never fails. The same is true for God’s Word. God can’t lie, so if He makes a promise to us in His Word, it becomes a fact, or truth, thus producing power!
We understand God’s faith through His Word. We can have God’s faith when we have His Living Word inside us. Let’s get a little deeper—the Word is God Himself. You see, God, through His Holy Spirit, wrote the Bible. You cannot separate God from His Word. God and His Word are one.
The Bible says the devil is the King of Lies. When he tries to get into your head with his lies, that’s when you need to draw on the Word of God, the Bible. It’s not just a book: the Bible is actually God’s Word straight from His mouth. The Bible holds the keys to activate your faith and gives you the confidence to go head-to-head with the enemy. So next time the devil tries to fill your head with lies or defeat, draw on God’s Word and His promises to you. The faith you need to overcome whatever you are going through is inside the promises of God.
By understanding and accepting God’s Word as truth into your life, it enables you to have the power to break free from this world and the enemy. Jesus overcame every temptation, every sickness, every ounce of power that the enemy has. He did it through the power of the Holy Spirit. The exact same Spirit that is in Jesus is in you, if you have accepted Him as your Lord and Savior.
So know that you have the power over the enemy—you have the truth inside you!
Have a blessed day.
July 14, 2020 Walk By Faith
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
What is faith? And how do we walk by it? One definition of faith is complete trust. Do you have complete trust in God? It’s easy to say “yes.” But really think about it. If the doctor came to you with a bad report and said you didn’t have long to live, do you have complete trust that God is in control of your circumstances? Faith is important to God. In fact the Bible says that it’s impossible to please God without faith.
The first step in a relationship with God is faith. You have to believe that He’s the one and only God. The second step is to act on your belief and have complete trust in Him no matter what is going on around you. You can’t just say you believe in God and just go on living your life the way you did before you became a Christian. When tough times come your way, and I promise you they will, it’s important not to get too focused on them. If we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed with the circumstances in our lives then we’re taking our eyes off God and not putting complete trust in Him. By doing this we’re trying to fix things on our own. I’m not trying to tell you to pretend what you’re going through is not happening or to use the power of positive thinking. When you focus on God’s promises to you in His Word, no matter what you’re going through, you’ll have confidence that He’s in control.
The next time the devil throws you a curve ball and tries to wreck you, don’t panic! Immediately take your eyes off your circumstances and focus on God and know that He’s in total control. That’s what walking in faith is all about. Remember, faith isn’t knowing God, it’s knowing He will!
Have a blessed day!
July 13, 2020 Perfect Peace “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28
On the surface, this verse appears to speak of those that work hard desiring rest from their toils and weariness. Our Scripture for today has several elements worthy of a closer look that will be an “aha” moment for those who choose to understand the depth and the breadth of the peace afforded to those who trust Jesus.
First of all is the invitation for us to come. All of us toil in one form or another; whether in the rigors of physical labor or the taxing of our mind through mental exertion required to manage resources and lead others; all work can be laborious and tiring. We are called to simply come to the Lord. This requires us to come to Him; He already came to the earth once, purchased our salvation through the burden of the cross of Calvary and arose to present His sacrifice for sin to God the Father. When the burden is heavy and respite seems far away, we can find rest in Him in the midst of whatever we face.
Secondly, He gives us rest. This rest comes in many forms, but has basically two personalities. There is the temporary rest which comes in this life. This is rest that manifests itself in the form of pleasure received for work well done. If our work and toil is offered as a form of worship to God, it is much more meaningful and fulfilling. Then, when all of life on earth has ended, we have the perfect and final peace of God which truly “passes all understanding.” It is sometimes difficult for us to comprehend how this peace is possible, but we have the promise of God that gives us assurance of it being accorded to you and me.
This rest will defy all you ever knew or though you knew about peace. For in the perfect peace of God’s eternity, there are no doctor visits, no daily barrage of COVID-19 statistics, no need for funeral meals and no further need for confession of sin…since there won’t be any of that either!
Think about it and find rest in the midst of the chaos and tumult that is today and it will see you through to tomorrow; then repeat the process. Have a blessed day!
July 10, 2020 Be Still
“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10
We live in a world full of all kinds of activities and other things that can take time away from the Lord. It’s so important that we make time to spend with the Lord in prayer and reading His Word. If we don’t, the time will get sucked up into other things. Really be honest with yourself; is spending time with friends, watching TV or surfing around on the internet more important to you than spending time with the Lord? You may say no, but do your actions prove otherwise? I know in my life I say that God is most important, but I’m as guilty as the next person. The cares of everyday life and pastoral ministry often leave me too busy to spend my one-on-one time with the Lord.
It’s time to make a real change and put God where He deserves to be - First! If we don’t make God a priority in our lives He will just get our leftovers, and that’s not what He wants in our relationship with Him. You have to set time aside each day and make an effort to spend time with the Lord. There will always be things that will try and sneak in and steal that time away. The devil doesn’t want you to have the one-on-one time with God every day, because he knows that the more time you spend with the Lord the stronger and stronger you’ll become. Satan will plan to keep you too busy and bring things across your path to distract you from spending your time with the Lord.
When the verse says, “be still and know that I am God,” it simply means take time out of your busy life to remind yourself that no matter what’s going on God is still God. He’s the King of the Universe and nothing can change that. God is in control of your circumstances, not you. Be still and give Him the time He deserves. You are what’s most important to Him, make Him what’s most important to you.
July 9, 2020 Chosen
“Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit…” John 15:16 Did you know God has a special plan for your life? Did you also know that He has chosen you? If you didn’t, you know now. God has chosen you and wants to use your life to reach others with the Gospel. It’s awesome to know that we didn’t choose to follow Christ, He chose us. He chose us while we were yet sinners, to be His children.
God has gifted each one of us in different areas so that He can use us. The devil might tell you you’re not good enough to be used by God, but you are. The devil is a liar; that’s what he does, he lies to us and tries to make us feel unworthy. Realize that no matter what you’ve done in your past, or even if you slip and mess up today, God still loves you and wants to use you and there’s nothing you can ever do to change that. God looks at your heart and as long as you’re doing your best to put Him first and seek Him, He will do the rest. God is not counting on your strength. He’s counting on what He can make of you.
The Bible says in Psalms 94:18, “when my foot slips your mercy and lovingkindness hold me up.” So even if you slip, God’s mercy will hold you up. This doesn’t mean we can just keep living in sin and keep asking Him to forgive us. There is a difference between slipping up and deliberately sinning. As long as you’re doing your best to follow Christ, He will use your life. The verse above says that He has ordained you to bring forth fruit. You don’t need to go to school to become a pastor to be used by God. Like the verse says, God has already ordained you to be a minister in His presence.
As I have said before, I may be the pastor of our church, but all of us are called to be ministers of the Gospel; the mercy and grace of the God who loves us.
Have a blessed and fruitful day! July 8, 2020 Stop Running From God!
“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me. But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid its fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”
God has a plan especially designed for you and He has called you to step up and answer it. In the Scripture quoted above, God called Jonah to go to Nineveh. He wanted to use him, but Jonah didn’t want to go. He ran from his calling. It’s never a good thing to run from God’s call on your life. I sensed God’s calling on my life but was unsure and afraid of what it would entail. Just like God found and changed Jonah’s mind, He also changed mine. While I was running form God, I had no peace. It seemed that circumstance after circumstance continued to block my way, leading me back to His calling on my life until one night at a revival service, I surrendered and answered His calling.
We are all called to be part of the body of Christ in one way or another. If you’re going through your life and you know God has called you to do something, but maybe you’re afraid to step up, don’t be. God will give you what you need to answer His call on your life, all you need to do is be willing to serve. If you’ve never felt God call you to serve, maybe it’s because you’re still living for you and aren’t ready to give God all of you. If that’s the case you need to make a decision in your life on who you’ll serve. God or yourself? I encourage you to seek God for His plan for you and step into your calling.
He’s waiting on you!
July 5, 2020 Do We Love Our Neighbor?
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34
Listen to the gist of a letter a co-worker shared with me years ago at a base in North Carolina. It is not word-for-word, but I remember the basics of the correspondence. It went something like this: ‘‘You know me. I’m the fellow that takes care of your house when you go on vacation. Sometimes we cook out together on Saturday nights and the kids play in the yard. Our wives are good friends. They drink coffee together, trade recipes, and carpool the children. We are a lot alike, you and me. We want the best for our families. We determine to stand against adversity, to try, to persevere. But sometimes you seem to have more strength than I have.”
“On Sunday morning I may be in the yard watering the grass and you drive by with your family, all of you dressed in your Sunday best, and you wave at me. And I wave back knowing where you are going but not why. “
“Sometimes it seems that your life is different than mine. Our wives have talked about it, but you and I are scared to mention it. There’s a lot about you that I don’t know. There’s emptiness in my life, a void that I just can’t seem to fill, no matter how hard I try. I need desperately to be answered, to be comforted, to know. And I need someone to tell me.”
“But we go on; and I don’t mention it because some unknown fear prevents me, and you don’t mention it because some unknown power binds you. We laugh together; we joke; we share, but not the important things. I’m your neighbor, and I don’t know Jesus.’’
Who is waiting for an invitation into your life as a child of God? Who are you familiar with as friend, co-worker or the neighbor next door that you have never invited to church or talked with about their spiritual soul?
The old song says; “They will know we are Christians by our love” but does that love extend to the unloved and/or unlovable? Think about it!
July 3, 2020 Walking Forward in Love
“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.” Romans 14:1-3
In Romans 14 Paul is addressing a divided church, or one with the potential for division (Jews and Gentiles are trying to be one church but disagree on a lot of stuff: what to eat, drink, how to socialize, etc.,) all of which is an issue of who is more righteous than the other.
Who is more godly, which group does ‘church leadership’ support?! Paul’s direction is this, and it is something we all need to hear right now. Notice Paul’s point: one person thinks eating meat or vegetables only is right or wrong, the other doesn’t.
It is the first-century version of: one person thinks vaccinations are an issue of public health and we need to get them when the government and health officials tell us to, another thinks they are unhealthy and being pushed by the deep state’s desire to control the population, as part of a One World Government.
One person thinks that social distancing is just us doing our part and we should stay in our homes. Another thinks this is a sham against small businesses and a controlled destruction of the economy and an opportunity for the government to take our liberties away. To mask or not to mask, that is the question. Really, okay, but are you going to use your liberty as an occasion to rob me of mine if I get sick because you failed to recognize or wantonly disregard my feelings.
The solution is smack-dab in the midst of Romans 14. Romans 14:7 puts it like this; “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.” We are all in this together and we must strive to look out for each other, love each other and communicate with each other. “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good.” Romans 12:9. In other words, love without hypocrisy.
Know what you know and know why you know it! Think about it.
July 2, 2020 Watch What You Say
“Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.” Proverbs 8:6-7
Many a Christian has ruined their testimony when they failed to monitor closely the words of their mouth. It has been said that “fools put their mouth in motion before they put their brain in gear.” It is easy to let our mouth run away with itself and an unbridled tongue is likened to a ship with a wayward rudder by James, the brother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I found a few tidbits of anecdotal wisdom that help to put our manner of conversation in perspective. I hope you enjoy these and I also desire they help you and me with the most unruly of our members…the tongue!
“Don't complain and talk about all your problems--80 percent of people don't care; the other 20 percent will think you deserve them.” Mark Twain
“You will find that, as a rule, those who complain about the way the ball bounces are usually the ones who dropped it.”
“Air travel has great advantages, but have you ever had to sit in a bus three hours while it circled around the depot?”
“Need something to complain about? It's not very encouraging to know your bank deposits are protected by an agency of a federal government that's $1.6 trillion in debt.” From Sources Unknown
Have a blessed day!
July 1, 2020 Freedom
‘‘When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan’’ (Prov. 29:2).
Freedom: That is the intention of the First Amendment: ‘‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’’ Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court has trashed four centuries of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, ignored the original intent of the Founding Fathers and turned a statement in one of Jefferson’s private letters on its head and therefore twisted the First Amendment by declaring a two-way ‘‘Wall of Separation’’ between church and state.
The Result? Black robed tyrants feel compelled to remove nearly all religious influences from public institutions. The Supreme Court outlawed public prayer in the schools in 1962, out went public Bible reading in 1963, and in 1980, down came the Ten Commandments from school house walls! This agenda of radical secularization has not only been zealously prosecuted by the activist courts, but by extension, the various public entities, school boards, educators, and teachers. For example, some have declared it to be unconstitutional:
-For kindergarten students to recite, ‘‘God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.” -For a student to ask and for the teacher to answer whose birthday is being celebrated at Christmas. -For two middle school students to bring their Bibles to class, which were confiscated, called ‘‘garbage,’’ and thrown into the trash can by their teacher. -For students in nine western states to recite the Pledge of Allegiance including the words: ‘‘One Nation, Under God.’’ -For an Honor Guardsman to say: ‘‘God bless you and this family, and may God bless this country’’ at the graveside of a veteran. -For a county government building exterior to display our national motto: ‘‘In God We Trust.’’ -For a New Jersey high school coach to kneel and bow his head because the Third Circuit Court doesn’t want his posture to be misconstrued as prayer.
Hear me: If we don’t use our freedom to defend our freedom, we will lose our freedom. George Washington in his Farewell Address said, ‘‘Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.’’
June 30, 2020 Taking A Stand in Troubled Times
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13
Required reading for these turbulent times is A.W. Pink’s Gleanings From Joshua:
“It would indeed be strange if we apprehended how that on the one hand Canaan was a free gift unto Israel, which they entered by grace alone; and on the other that they had to fight for every inch of it!
“God has nowhere declared that He will preserve the reckless and presumptuous. He preserves in faith and holiness, and not in carnality and worldliness.
“God is jealous of His honor and will not share it with another. It pleases Him, as a general rule, to select for His instruments those who have no glittering accomplishments: rather, plain, simple, homely men. It is not silver-tongued orators through whom He most shows forth His praises, but by those who have nothing more, naturally, to commend them unto their hearers than that which resembles the ‘rams horns’! His most eminent servants have not been those of royal blood, noble birth, or high station, but taken from the lower walks of life. Spurgeon had neither university nor college training, nor was he a graduate of any seminary! Though after God’s call to the ministry, [he] studied hard and long to improve himself! In proportion as the churches have made an idol of education and theological learning in their ministers, has their spirituality waned: that is a fact, however unpalatable it may be.” *
American Christianity has to get back to the fundamentals of Jesus’ Kingdom assignment found in Matthew 16:18, His ekklesia, where “the gates of Hades will not prevail.” For the most part, the leaders of the early church were “unlearned and untrained”, but they had been with the Lord and turned the world upside-down with their preaching and life amongst the people of Jerusalem and the surrounding environs. The quasi-biblical model adopted over the last century - a Church sheltered and hidden from view behind the four walls of the building - has been a fatal and mournful debacle.
Praise be to God that Gideons and Rahabs are beginning to stand.
*A.W. Pink, Gleanings From Joshua
June 29, 2020 Righteous, Holy Indignation
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us on the armor of light.”
Based on their dependence upon God, the Founding Fathers were willing to pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. They put it all on the line. Of those fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, and in each case subjected to torture. Several lost wives, children, or entire families. One lost his thirteen children. Two wives were brutalized by the British. All were at one time or another victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Indeed these men not only pledged but gave their lives, and their fortunes, and not one went back on his sacred honor. The nation they sacrificed so much to help found is still intact for us to enjoy today on this Independence Day Sunday. May God bless America even as America seeks to bless God!
Stand Up to Government: You can find examples throughout the Bible of believers who stood up to government leaders and spoke out about the culture.
-Moses petitioned Pharaoh for the liberty of God’s people. -Nathan confronted King David for his sinful actions as a leader. -Elijah faced off against King Ahab, who promoted idolatry and immorality. -Isaiah condemned moral decay in the culture. -Amos inveighed against injustice in society. -Daniel pronounced judgment on King Nebuchadnezzar for promoting idolatry. -John the Baptist pointed out the adultery of King Herod.
In fact, the Hebrew midwives were blessed because of their civil disobedience to Pharaoh’s edict to kill the male babies. We need to stand up to a government funding abortion providers with our tax dollars and speak with righteous indignation: ‘‘Killing babies in a mother’s womb is wrong!’’
We need to speak out with moral outrage to legislators promoting the gay agenda that: ‘‘Redefining marriage to include homosexuals is wrong!’’ We need to remind those black robed tyrants masquerading as judges about America’s Judeo-Christian foundations, and with holy fury voice that: ‘‘Taking away our religious heritage is wrong!’’ Sometimes we must stand up to our government and say: Enough is enough!
June 25, 2020 Divine Direction
“Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the Lord hath called for a famine; and it shall be upon the land seven years.” 2 Kings 8:1
The Christian singer/songwriter Chris Rice wrote a song called “The Color Nine” in which he describes his struggle and journey to follow the Lord’s direction. He begins the song describing his frustration and misconceptions:
I would take “No” for an answer, Just to know I heard you speak. And I’m wonderin’ why I’ve never seen the signs they claim to see. A lot of special revelations meant for everybody but me. Maybe I don’t truly know You, maybe I just simply believe.
Rice ends the song by sharing what he has learned because of this struggle: That the Lord doesn’t necessarily speak audibly or tell us every step. Simply following the Lord and depending upon His wisdom is key in our Christian lives:
Now I’ve never felt the presence, but I know You’re always near. And I’ve never heard the calling, but somehow You’ve lead me right here. So I’m not lookin’ for burnin’ bushes, or some divine graffiti to appear. I’m just beggin’ You for Your wisdom, and I believe You’re puttin’ some here.
One night as F.B. Meyer stood on the deck of a ship approaching land, he wondered how the crew knew when and how to safely steer to the dock. Standing on the bridge and peering through the windows, he asked “Captain, how do you know when to turn this ship into that narrow harbor? “Do you see those three red lights on the shore?” replied the Captain, “When they’re all in a straight line I go right in!” Later Meyer said: “When we want to know God’s will, there are three things which always occur: the inward impulse, the Word of God, and the trend of circumstances…Never act until these three things agree.”
Have a blessed, God lead day!
June 24, 2020 Do I Love My Neighbor?
“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, with respect of persons.” James 2:1
Our world has become a chaos filled, violence riddled, and topsy-turvy place of fear, dishonesty, distrust and shame. People of all colors, creeds and commitments have cast off civility and decorum for a “me first” attack on humanity. One need only to scan the headlines for words of angst and disgust with all that is America…from the founding of this great experiment in freedom to the opportunities afforded to all willing to make the effort to achieve their dreams.
But all this freedom is slowly leading to anarchy and utter chaos. When we look at all of what is going on around us, I see my Lord and Savior weeping like He did over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). But I think He is weeping because of what the church has become and what it is not doing. You see, in our text verse, the author is forthrightly calling us to fulfill the second element of the Great Command from the Lord Himself; “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
In light of all we are experiencing as a nation under siege, have we really loved our neighbor as ourselves? Has the church and those who constitute the body of believers, really engaged their communities with the love of Christ? Do we look on all men as being equal before God…and ourselves? Rich or poor, black or white, Latino or Asian, capable or disadvantaged…what characteristics do we use to affirm our right to judge others as less than ourselves?
We know from Scripture; the very Scripture that provides us the Gospel, that God is no respecter of persons. Romans 2, verse 11 makes this imminently clear as one of the attributes of God’s righteousness and holiness in executing judgment on all who stand before Him. We have two options; guilty; or not guilty. Which is it, because it cannot be one sometimes, and the other at other times?
Something for you and me to chew on for a while. Think about it and see if loving our neighbor as ourselves just might be the answer to all the hatred and vitriol we are bombarded with daily. Selah
June 23, 2020 Sage Advice on Life and Ministry
Wisdom of the ages straight from the Bible. You may have heard these and thought they sounded Scriptural…that’s because they are based on God’s Word.
"Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsakes not his saints… "
"Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you… He has delivered us and will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us." (Psalm 55:22; 2 Corinthians 1:10) "Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement… "
"If you have faith as a small as a mustard seed, you can say to this… tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." (Luke 17:6)
"Trust God alone, and lean not on the reeds of human help. Be not surprised when friends fail you… it is a failing world… inconstancy you may reckon upon without fear of disappointment… "
"Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save." (Psalm 146:3)
"Be content to be nothing, for that is what you are. When your own emptiness is painfully forced upon your consciousness, chide yourself that you ever dreamed of being full, except in the Lord… "
"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances… in any and every situation… I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:12b, 13)
"Continue with double earnestness to serve your Lord when no visible result is before you. Any simpleton can follow the narrow path in the light: Faith's rare wisdom enables us to march on in the dark with infallible accuracy, since she places her hand in that of her great Guide."
"They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune, for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, and their descendants with them." (Isaiah 65:23)
Have a blessed day!
June 22, 2020 The Strength Behind the Strong Man
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.” Proverbs 31:1-2
The day after Father’s Day bids me to remember who it is that allows me to be all that God has called me to be and who it is who stands beside me as I serve the Lord. Father’s Day would be meaningless without the love and devotion of a faithful, loving wife and companion to walk life’s paths with. As I ponder these machinations, I am reminded of a story I heard once. It goes something like this:
A man came home from work to find his house in chaos. His children were outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud. Inside the house, a lamp had been knocked over, the throw rug was wadded against a wall, and the living room was littered with toys and clothing. Dishes filled the kitchen sink, cereal was spilled on the counter, and a broken glass lay under the table. The man went upstairs, stepping over toys and piles of clothes, looking for his wife. She was still in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went. “Never mind my day,” he said, “What happened here today?” She said, “You know every day when you come home from work and ask me what in the world I did today? Well, today, I didn’t do it!”
Fellas, if God has given you a faithful companion, fall on your knees and thank God for His wisdom and grace in blessing you beyond your merit and worth. You are truly blessed!
June 19, 2020 I’ll Shout it From the Mountaintop
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” Matthew 28:18-20
A British writer named Derek Ratcliffe once analyzed our television viewing habits. He spoke of “the mindless, shallow hedonism that seems to be the way our society is heading: a restless search for instant gratifications, trivial and ephemeral pleasures that leave no lasting satisfaction, let alone fulfillment.” He described today’s entertainment as “a decadent media culture of soap operas, docusoaps, quiz games, police action, cooking shows, home makeovers…football, pornography, and other expressions of the current intellectual and aesthetic development of modern western society.” Most of us want something more in life than what we see on television. We want to make a difference. We want to make a mark on our empty, mindless age. We want a cause bigger, purer, and nobler than we are. We want to change the world and impact eternity. In the words of a popular book, we want to live a purpose-driven life. There’s only one way to do this. We’ve got to rediscover the Great Commission. Everyone who is committed to Jesus Christ is by logical extension connected to His great purpose. In fact, perhaps the only reason He is leaving us on this planet is because we have a part in fulfilling His worldwide plan (Philippians 1:21-24).
All the things that mankind strives after are at best temporary for all that is will one day be purified by fire. Therefore, the only thing you and I can take with us to heaven are the believers we have led to faith in Jesus Christ and helped them become disciples who can do the same.
To that end, we must realize three things about this Great Commission:
One, there is an authority behind us. We function and have our purpose in the commission of the Lord Himself who told us He had all authority in Heaven and earth.
Two, there is a task before us. Armed with the power and authority of the Lord we go into the world in His power to accomplish His task for us.
Finally, there is the Presence beside us, in that He said He would always be with us. What a promise to carry out the purpose of our salvation!
June 18, 2020 A Daily Doxology
“O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His name: make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him: talk of all His wondrous works. Glory in His holy name; let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.” Psalm 105:1-3
David Larson once said, “All human activity is to be doxological in nature.” “The most acceptable service we can do and show unto God, and which alone He desires of us, is, that He be praised of us.” Martin Luther
One of the greatest evidences for the existence of God is His beauty. Have you ever snorkeled off the coast of a tropical island? Or have you ever peered into the saltwater aquarium of your pet store? Have you ever visited a botanical garden and soaked in the beauty of a thousand varieties of flowering shrubs and plants? Ever stood on the edge of a vast chasm, gazing into rugged rocks and hills and valleys and canyons? Ever visited the zoo and noticed the colors of the animals, the richness of their fur, that patterns adorning their hides, the shape of their bodies and the tenderness of their young? Ever peered through a microscope at the hidden world contained in water drops from a pond? Or through a telescope at the mind-boggling array of endless galaxies?
Is this all-encompassing splendor the blind product of random accidents? Well, ask this; if we visited an art museum to view a painting of a beautiful landscape with trees and a river, fluffy white clouds and a pasture dotted by flowers, would we assume the artwork was an accident? Did a delivery truck wreck spilling cans of paint onto a canvas? Or would we assume that an artist of fabulous skill had created the beauty and signed his name at the bottom? The beauty of the cosmos is God’s signature. He could have made an ugly world with a loathsome universe. But He is a God of beauty, and we must worship Him in the beauty of His holiness.
Psalm 29:2 puts it like this; “Give unto the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
Something to think about as you get your day going!
June 17, 2020 The Perils of Parenting
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7
What in the world is happening with our lids today? Let’s see…I think it started when:
-Madalyn Murray O’Hair complained that she didn’t want any prayer in our schools, and we said OK.
~Then someone said you’d better not read the Bible in school. And we said OK.
~Remember Dr. Benjamin Spock, who said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem? And we said OK, we wouldn’t spank them.
~Then someone said that teachers and principals had better not discipline our children when they misbehave. And school administrators agreed, insisting that no one in their school could touch a child or else we’d all be sued.
~ Then someone insisted we provide abortions to our daughters without parent’s knowledge. And we said OK.
~Then someone else said, let’s give our sons all the condoms they want without telling parents. And we thought that was another great idea.
~Then Hollywood decided to establish a new set of standards for our young people, taking our nation’s morals to sodomic levels. Everyone said, “Well, I guess it’s all right as long as we put letters on the advertisements, like PG, PG-13 and R.
And in the process, everyone decided to ignore the old rule about reaping what you sow. And now we’re wondering why it’s so hard to raise kids.
Fathers, the Law of the Harvest has never changed and can never change. What you sow, you will reap; if you sow, you will reap. Add to that the fact that you will always reap more than you sow. For instance, place one kernel of seed corn in the ground. Water and weed it regularly, let it get sufficient sunlight and warmth and bingo! You get one or two ears of corn with a multitude of individual kernels, ready for the harvest. Alas, just like the Law of the Harvest, the wages of sin have also never changed, and the gift of God is still salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Let’s swap what we are sowing and reap the righteousness of God’s amazing grace and love. You think about that as we approach Father’s Day! Have a blessed day.
June 16, 2020 What Needs to Be Done?
“For whosoever shall call upon the Lord, shall be saved.” Romans 10:13
Years ago I came upon this tract that had an intriguing title: “What must you do to go to hell?” Like most people, I guess, I opened it to see, and it was blank. You see, you don’t have to do anything to go to hell. You have already done quite sufficiently. In fact, one sinful thought would be enough. Lucifer, the angel of light, had one proud thought and was transformed into Satan and cast out of heaven. Now, we have already done enough.
Similarly, years ago, I came upon another tract entitled, “What must you do to go to heaven?” Again, opening the tract, I discovered that it, too, was blank inside. You see, there is nothing you can do to go to heaven, for the same reason. It has already been done. But Christ did it. Christ accomplished redemption on the Cross. But I think it is fascinating to note that whether we are talking about going to heaven or hell, everything has already been done. In the one case, we did it, earning a “ticket” to hell; and in the other case, Christ did it, earning us a “ticket” to heaven.
Of course, we have things that must be done in this. We all have our responsibilities. But beyond these, there is a greater kingdom than the kingdom of this earth. There is the kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Am I living for Christ’s kingdom or am I living merely for this world and the things that are passing away?
Do you have religion or do you have a relationship? Religion is a practice of rituals, creeds and traditions which can become nothing more than mere habits and form. A relationship is a personal, intimate association with someone you love and who loves you selflessly in return. Which would you rather have…I choose relationship; especially, when He chose me first!
June 15, 2020 I’ve Been Waiting for You
“Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. Luke 12:37
Christians of every generation have longed for Christ to return. The Didache, an early document in church history, says: “Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come.” St. Cyril wrote in the fourth century: “But let s wait and look for the Lord’s coming upon the clouds from Heaven. Then shall angelic trumpets sound.” Augustine felt the Lord would return somewhere around the year A.D. 1000. In the 1930s, John Wycliffe, studied the signs of the times and concluded that the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ should be expected immediately. In the sixteenth century, John Calvin preached: “We must hunger after Christ until the dawning of that great day when our Lord will fully manifest the glory of His kingdom.” Today His return seems closer than ever before.
In a little fishing village in Scotland, the people gathered to welcome home a fishing vessel that had been away at sea for days. As the boat neared the shore, the men gazed eagerly toward the dock where a group of their loved ones were waiting. The skipper, looking through his telescope, identified some of the women standing on the shore, saying, “I see Bill’s wife. I see Tom’s wife. There’s David’s wife.” One man was very anxious because his wife was not there. The boat docked, and he left the boat with a heavy heart and took off toward home, climbing the hill and going up the steps to his house. There was a light in the window. As he opened the door, his wife ran to meet him, saying, “Oh John, I have been waiting for you.” “Yes,” he said, but the other men’s wives were watching for them.”
Are you watching or simply waiting for the Lord’s return? Those who watch are expectant for the return of the Lord while those who wait are busied with other matters of equal or greater importance. Let’s not allow the matters of life to crowd out our expectancy of the Lord’s promise to, “come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven.” (Acts 1:11).
June 12, 2020 What Do People Want from Christians?
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 Four Values As a maturing Christian, you are looked upon either with respect of regret. Respect in that you walk what you talk and regret in that your walk and your talk are completely opposed to each other. The former is emulating Christ, the latter disgraces Him. Here is a devotional I found that addresses both; one as encouragement, the other, as exhortation. See what you think.
1. THEY WANT YOU TO APPROACH THEM WITH INTEGRITY. That is: They don't want you to come with a hidden agenda. They do want you to respect them for who they are. "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified… For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake." (1 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:5)
2. THEY WANT TO BE ABLE TO TRUST YOU AND FEEL SAFE WITH YOU. Therefore: Don't violate their confidence. Never express shock at what they tell you. Demonstrate compassion and empathy at their anguish and pain. "People who are well don't need a doctor! It's the sick people who do!… I want you to be merciful… For I have come to urge sinners, not the self-righteous, back to God." (Matthew 9:12, 13b)
3. THEY WANT BIBLICAL COUNSEL FROM YOU. Therefore: Recognize the superior value of Biblical truth over personal opinion. Become a serious student of the Bible, making its mastery your goal. "The Scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God, and fit him fully for all branches of his work." (2 Timothy 3:17 – Phillips)
4. THEY WANT A SHARED PURPOSE FOR THE RELATIONSHIP. Therefore, mutually agree as to the direction the meetings should take: Friendship and mutual accountability? Help in relating Biblical values to the marketplace? Help in influencing others for Christ?
Something to think about. Have a blessed day!
Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals
June 11, 2020 Do Others See Jesus in You? “And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8 As you read the Bible and experience the presence of God in your daily life, what is the first thing that comes to mind about the attributes of God—those qualities which He is and will not change? Many thoughts come to mind and here are some from great Christian leaders of yesterday. -As I read the Bible, I seem to find holiness to be His supreme attribute. —Billy Graham
-It does not seem proper to speak of one attribute of God as being more central and fundamental than another; but if this were permissible, the scriptural emphasis on the holiness of God would seem to justify its selection. —Louis Berkhof, in Systematic Theology
-Lower our sense of holiness, and our sense of sin is lowered.—Dan DeHaan
-Divine holiness . . . stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible, and unattainable. —A. W. Tozer
Philadelphia pastor James Montgomery Boice once spoke to a discipleship group on the attributes of God. He began by asking them to list God’s qualities in order of importance. They put love first, followed by wisdom, power, mercy, omniscience, and truth. At the end of the list they put holiness. ‘‘That did surprise me,’’ Boice later wrote, ‘‘because the Bible refers to God’s holiness more than any other attribute.’’ The Bible doesn’t generally refer to God as Loving, Loving, Loving! Or Wise, Wise, Wise! Or Omniscient, Omniscient, Omniscient! But over and over we read the cry of the angels, Holy, Holy, Holy!
Now the real question for the day…Does your life reflect the holiness of God in thought, word and deed? For you see, we are called to emulate the Lord Jesus Christ, who as God the Son, was holiness in the flesh. Are we walking a path that leads to daily holiness or elsewhere?
June 10, 2020 The Impact of a Father
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1-4
The movie The Pursuit of Happyness is a story of a young black man and woman who had a son. They were not married and the woman walked out during tough times, leaving Chris Gardner, played by Will Smith, with the boy. Gardner decides to stick it out with the boy as he tries to build a career for himself. They lived on the streets, in homeless shelters—but they were together. He didn’t run from his responsibility as a father. He finally succeeded in his career and became very successful on Wall Street. It’s a great story, but the reason a movie was made about it was because it is unusual today.
In My Father’s Face, author James Robison tells of a federal prison chaplain who decided to improve morale. The clergyman approached a major greeting card company and asked for a donation of 500 Mother’s Day cards, one for each inmate. Spotting a good PR story when they see it, the company agreed. Each inmate enthusiastically filled out a card for his mom, and morale picked up. For Father’s Day, the chaplain decided to duplicate his previous success. Again, the greeting card company agreed to donate 500 cards. But this time, the project crashed and burned. Not a single inmate—not one—wished to fill out a card for his dad.
General Douglas MacArthur, one of our greatest military leaders, said, ‘‘By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that, but I am prouder— infinitely prouder—to be a father. A soldier destroys, a father builds. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battlefield, but in the home, repeating with him our simple daily prayers.’’
Dads, you have the awesome responsibility to provide leadership physically, emotionally and spiritually in your home. The future of our nation depends on you engaging the minds of your children and molding the future leaders of America and the world!
June 9, 2020 Cunning and Innocence “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1
In a Turning Point Daily Devotional, David Jeremiah writes: “In the story of Adam and Eve's temptation and fall into sin, the serpent is described as "cunning." Before their encounter with the serpent, Adam and Eve are described as "naked." What we don’t see in English is that the Hebrew words for "cunning" ('arum) and "naked" ('arom) are almost identical. This was no linguistic coincidence.
Moses' point was to link the serpent's craftiness with Adam and Eve's innocence, symbolized by their nakedness. The serpent was no doubt beautiful in appearance and his words were definitely persuasive -- words that piqued the first couple's interest and appealed to their human desires to taste what was forbidden. By yielding to the serpent's charisma, their eyes were opened and their innocence lost. The point: Innocence is often lost at the hands of that which is crafty, beautiful, or charismatic. Every follower of Jesus must be wise about what is good and innocent amidst what is evil (Matthew 10:16).”
In Ephesians 5:15, the Apostle Paul reminds us that we are to be ever aware of our surroundings and opportunities; not only for the good ones, but also for the bad. We are to be “trained” to know the truth so the lies stand out like a sore thumb. Adam and Eve, in their innocence, were unable to distinguish between the two because of the subtlety (cunning) of the serpent’s approach. He is no less so today and uses it to his advantage. Remember, all lures have hooks.
June 8, 2020 Are Christian Citizens to Pray for Their Leaders?
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1–4
Paul exhorts us in this passage to pray for our government leaders. No leader of our government needs prayer more than the President of the United States. No person needs divine guidance more than the President of the United States.
George Washington, our first President, said, ‘‘It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.’’
But what if that President holds different beliefs and convictions then we do? We need to remember that in this passage Paul is calling for prayer for Nero, a pagan king who persecuted the church. So how do we pray for our President?
It begins with praying for us as citizens.
1. We would honor our President (Ex. 22:28; Eccl. 10:20; 1 Pet. 2:17). 2. We would not be bitter towards him. 3. We would not be disrespectful of him. 4. We would submit to our government (Rom. 13:1–5; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 213, 14). 5. We would seek the welfare of our nation (Jer. 29:5–7). 6. We would live lives of righteousness (Prov. 11:11).
In the midst of all that is happening in our great nation, we must as Christian citizens be faithful in our responsibility to pray for our leaders. Paul wrote this in a time when Christians were being persecuted for their faith and adherence to the teachings of Christ and the disciples. Let us confess our sins and lift up our prayers in faith believing that God will hear and heal our land.
June 5, 2020 Give the Man a Chicken
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church and the Savior of the body.” Ephesians 5:22-23
A farmer’s boy was getting ready to marry. And the farmer said to his boy, ‘‘John, when you get married you’re going to lose all your liberties.’’ And the boy said, ‘‘I don’t believe that, Dad.’’ And the dad said, ‘‘OK, I’ll prove it to you, boy.’’
Go out and catch a dozen chickens, tie their legs together, and put them in the wagon. Then go and hitch my two best horses to the wagon and drive into town. Stop at every house, knock on the door, and ask, ‘Who’s the head of this house?’ At every house where the man is the head of the house, give away a horse. At every house where the lady is boss, give away a chicken.’’ The boy said, ‘‘All right, but you’re going to lose those prize horses of yours.’’ And the father said, ‘‘we’ll see.’’
So the boy did like his father asked. He put twelve chickens in the wagon and drove into town with his father’s two best horses. He went to eleven houses and had to give away eleven chickens. So he walked up to the last house and knocked on the door. The man and his wife opened the door, and the boy asked, ‘‘who is the head of this house?’’ The lady said, ‘‘my husband is.’’ The boy explained the proposition, then he said, ‘‘Mister, I’d like for you to choose the horse you like best.’’ The man went out and looked and said, ‘‘I believe I’ll take the black horse, because it’s the better of the two.’’ The wife said, ‘‘I think the bay horse is the best horse.’’ The husband says, ‘‘OK, we’ll take the bay horse.’’ The boy says, ‘‘No you won’t, you’ll take a chicken.’’
A little humor goes a long way to illustrate that man has abdicated his place as leader of the home and family. Men, unknowingly or carelessly, have given away their right to be the head of the household and lead their family to God. Ungodly pursuit of fame, fortune, frivolity and friendship have stripped many a man of his God given and dearly needed right of headship in the home, church and community and thereby lost his respect by others.
God give us men who are not afraid to be men, but willingly rise up and courageously be responsible for your place at home, church, the community and our nation. For God’s sake, lead!
June 4, 2020 A Wise Man Will Hear, and Increase Learning
“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:” Proverbs 1:5
In our microwave, drive-through, 60-second society, we want things quickly. Some churches are now even offering ‘‘express services’’ for busy weekenders—worship services guaranteed not to exceed 40 minutes. Well, there is one book of the Bible, believe it or not, that provides wisdom in quick, bite-sized chunks. Drive-through wisdom. Microwave wisdom, in quick, fast chunks. It is the book of Proverbs. A proverb has been described as a heavenly rule for earthly living. It is when the wit of one becomes the wisdom of many. The ability to distill and condense great truths in simple, quotable statements makes for unique literature, and everyone from Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard) to Yogi Berra has tried his hand at it. In Proverbs 1:4, we’re told that one of the results of studying the book of Proverbs will be the acquisition of ‘‘prudence.’’ In recent years, prudence has conjured images of prim and proper old ladies, or doddery, prudish old men. The related words prude and prudish have even worse connotations. But the dictionary defines prudence as ‘‘the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason; shrewdness in the management of affairs; good judgement in the use of resources.’’
Since this is a quality most of us badly need, I would like to tell you that this word occurs 31 times in the Bible (NKJV), half of them (15 times) in the Book of Proverbs, where we learn: 1. Prudent people are like cats—they know that some things are best covered up. ‘‘But a prudent man covers shame’’ (Prov. 12:16). Prudent people don’t take themselves too seriously.
2. Prudent people give cautious answers. The NCV says, ‘‘They don’t tell everything they know’’ (Prov. 12:23). Very often the wisest people give the shortest and quietest answers.
3. Prudent people think ahead. ‘‘[The prudent] look ahead to see what is coming’’ (Prov. 14:8 NLV). Most of us make spot decisions, without thinking through the implications.
4. Prudent people have a healthy skepticism. They don’t believe everything they hear (Prov. 14:15). Sometimes the experts are still seeking for wisdom when the janitors and cooks have found it long ago.
5. Prudent people handle correction well (Prov. 15:5). When was the last time you felt defensive and offended? Wise people listen to criticism, discarding what is invalid and heeding the rest.
6. Prudent people study. ‘‘The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge’’ (Prov. 18:15). They become personal students of the Scriptures. 7. Prudent people take precautions (Prov. 22:3; 27:12). They don’t live in fear, but they guard against ‘‘the evil day.’’
June 3, 2020 Scripture to Soothe Rattled Souls and Calm Troubled Minds
“And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:16 NKJV
With all of what is going on in our world today with violence, riots, looting and property destruction, I thought it would be a good idea to bring our focus back to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I find that when I am deeply troubled by events and circumstances of society, I take solace in Scripture. Here is a Scripture medley to soothe rattled souls and calm troubled minds. May you find peace and assurance in these words.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty—Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass…For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes…But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come. And behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last…I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” (Revelation 1:8, 17, 18; Matthew 24:4-14; Revelation 22:12, 13, 16)
Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, Who is, who was, and who is yet to come- May grace and peace now upon us descend From Father, Spirit and Christ the Son
June 2, 2020 Waste Not, Want Not
“And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, ant the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, He said unto His disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” John 6:11-12
“Use it up—wear it out—make do—or do without!” was once the motto of the careful American, but times have changed. Wasted food, broken toys and unnecessary luxuries have made destroyers out of us instead of builders.
A business executive accidentally tipped over a wastebasket and was amazed to see useful items that fell out of it! He found a perfectly good memo pad, a clean envelope, an almost new pencil and many paper clips and rubber bands. He computed their value at about $1.50—but then realized that his company had 2500 wastebaskets in all the offices of all the corporate buildings. If each one contained $1.50’s worth of good materials, this would mean throwing away $3,750 a day—an annual loss of $1.3 million!
Jesus said, “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” It is a sin to throw away that which is still useful, even if it may not be the latest model. We wonder how many ministries and missionaries might be supported out of the wastebaskets of Christian homes, churches and businesses.
Wasted time is just as sinful. Once “spent”, our time is totally unrecoverable and gone forever. How important it is to use those “spare” moments for prayer, reading and meditation on the mercy and grace extended to those who know Jesus as Savior. But just as important are the wasted opportunities to speak grace to those around us. Especially, given the current climate of racial tensions and division we are experiencing in America. If all of us endeavored to be Jesus to the masses, the masses could untie in one chorus of faith t the glory of God!
What time you got?
June 1, 2020 Do We Love the People of God?
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25
Church membership is our opportunity to grasp hold of each other in responsibility and love. By identifying ourselves with our church, we let the pastor and other members of our local church know we intend to be committed in attendance, giving, prayer and service. We allow fellow believers to have greater expectations of us in these areas, and we make it known that we are the responsibility of this local church. We assure the church of our commitment to serve and encourage us as well.
Being a member of the local New Testament church increases our sense of ownership of the work of the church, of its community, of its budget, of its goals. We move from being pampered consumers to becoming joyous proprietors. We look for means of improving the ministries of the church with a desire to see the church grow and become a more effective outreach into the community. We must begin to view membership as more than a loose affiliation and think more of the regular responsibility involving us in one another’s lives for the purposes of the Gospel.
Many Christians today seem to have forgotten church membership—or to have forgotten the church altogether. That’s why you find Christian books that talk about growing as a Christian but completely ignore the role of the church.
Incorporation into the church is both a glorious privilege and a practical help. Joining a church will help you to encourage and edify your fellow Christians and to be encouraged and edified by them. It will help both you and others as you struggle with temptation.
What about you? Do you love the people of God? Do you not merely feel well-disposed toward them but actually, actively give to them? Do you use your hands for them? Your money? Your lips?
Jesus said; “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you…This is My command, that you love one another.” (John 15:12, 17) Let’s link arms with one another and build the church!
May 29, 2020 A Godly Man
"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it… There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John." (Ezekiel 22:30a; John 1:6)
As we approach Father’s Day in a few weeks, I thought I might share with Dads something to think about as they contemplate their duties and responsibilities as head of their home and place in the world. The world today is looking for:
· Men who are not for sale; · Men who are honest, sound from center to circumference, true to the heart's core; · Men with consciences as steady as the needle to the North pole; · Men who will stand for the right if the heavens totter and the earth reels; · Men who can tell the truth and look the world right in the eye; · Men who neither brag nor run; · Men who neither flag nor flinch; · Men who can have courage without shouting it; · Men in whom the courage of everlasting life runs still, deep and strong; · Men who will know their message and tell it; · Men who know their place and fill it; · Men who know their business and attend to it; · Men who will not lie, shirk or dodge; · Men who are not too lazy to work, nor too proud to be poor; · Men who are willing to eat what they have earned and wear what they have paid for; · Men who are not ashamed to say 'No' with emphasis and who are not ashamed to say "I can't afford it."
God is looking for men. He wants those who can unite together around a common faith — who can join hands in a common task — and who have come to the kingdom for such a time as this. God give us men.
May 27, 2020 Is It Possible To Live A Righteous Life In A Godless Environment?
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” 1 Peter 1:18-19
Is It Possible To Live A Righteous Life In A Godless Environment? The answer of course is "YES!" Daniel of the Old Testament is probably our best example of someone who did it with class. You may remember that as a Jewish lad, Daniel, along with his three compatriots, was taken captive into wicked Babylonia. Throughout his life, he demonstrated God's faithfulness by choosing to live righteously amidst life-threatening pressures to conform otherwise.
HERE'S THE BOTTOM LINE: Daniel lived in Babylonia, but Babylonia did not live in Daniel. Four observations on how Daniel did it:
1. DETERMINATION — Daniel determined in his heart not to eat the king's defiled food. Working as many of you do in the public where compromise is a daily occurrence, have you determined in your heart to not take the first step toward defilement?
2. DELIVERANCE — Daniel chose to believe God for deliverance amidst humanly impossible circumstances. One example was Daniel's commitment to interpret the king's dream before God guaranteed him the interpretation. Failure would surely cost him his life. (Daniel 2:1-23) Are you willing to take steps of faith (when warranted) that could cost you an account, diminish your production, or otherwise adversely affect your career?
3. DEPENDENCE — In times of crisis, Daniel chose to be dependent upon his compatriots. In the instances cited in 1. and 2. above, Daniel enlisted the support or prayers of his three Jewish companions. (Daniel 1:9-20; 2:17, 18) Are you locked in with a team of friends whom you look to for mutual moral and spiritual support? Or are you choosing to tough it out alone? (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10)
4. DECENCY — Daniel chose to live a life of uncompromising decency. After interpreting the king's dream he chose not to yield to the king's influence by accepting his gifts. (Daniel 5:17; Consider also Daniel 6:1-5)
Has your moral integrity been compromised by receiving gifts or favors from those in positions of power or authority? (Proverbs 23:1-3) THE BIG QUESTION: "You are in the world, but is the world in you"? (John 17:13-19)
May 26, 2020 Without Complaining “The Lord beareth your murmurings, which ye murmur against Him.” Exodus 16:8.
Without murmur, uncomplaining In His hand,Leave whatever things thou canst not Understand.K. R. HAGENBACH
One great characteristic of holiness is never to be exacting—never to complain. Each complaint drags us down a degree, in our upward course. If you would discern in whom God's spirit dwells, watch that person, and notice whether you ever hear him murmur.
When we wish things to be otherwise than they are, we lose sight of the great practical parts of the life of godliness. We wish, and wish—when, if we have done all that lies on us, we should fall quietly into the hands of God. Such wishing cuts the very sinews of our privileges and consolations. You are leaving me for a time; and you say that you wish you could leave me better, or leave me with some assistance: but, if it is right for you to go, it is right for me to meet what lies on me, without a wish that I had less to meet, or were better able to meet it. May 22, 2020 Humble Yourselves
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6
What does it mean to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God in your job, vocation, or profession? What if you’re not getting the raise or the promotion you deserve? What if you are in a situation where you could make things happen…but you really want God to do that?
Think of David, the young musician, tending his father’s sheep back on the hills of Judea many centuries ago. He was a self-taught, gifted musician. He didn’t hire an agent and go on tour, trying to make a name for himself. Instead, he sang to the sheep. He had no idea that someday his lyrics would find their way into the psalter or would be the very songs that have inspired and comforted millions of people through long, dark nights.
David did not seek success; he simply humbled himself under the mighty hand of God, staying close to the Lord and submitting himself to Him. And in His time God exalted David to the highest position in the land. He became the shepherd of the entire nation!
In what area of your life is God calling you to humble yourself? Allow yourself the opportunity to not only listen to the still, small voice of God; but allow yourself to act upon the urging of the Holy Spirit. It may be a small step of obedience or a large leap of faith, but regardless, if God is calling, you will not fail. This may mean sacrifice or suffering in some small context, yet I assure you all will be worth it. Listen and learn as He leads and you will never lose your way nor will you ever fail.
May 21, 2020 BE Still
“Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
Most scholars believe this psalm was composed in the aftermath of God’s delivering the Israelites from Sennacherib’s army. This deliverance occurred after the siege of Jerusalem that ended when the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. Martin Luther’s famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” took its starting point from this mighty, moving Hebrew song that proclaims the sufficiency of God for the crises of life. This robust psalm, defiant of God’s enemies, moves beyond the local situation that may have inspired it, to universal principles. Its great value, however, is the word it speaks to individuals to have faith in
God’s protecting hand and ample resources. It proclaims the ascendancy of God in three areas. God has power over the forces of nature. Because communication technology, news of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and other tragedies reach our ears instantly. We live in the face of grim reality, often seeing innocent people victimized by these terrible events. We must remember, that God has ultimate control of these forces. He limits them and only allows them to go so far and no further. We must not surrender our faith when we are confronted with tragedies we cannot understand or explain. Continued faith will produce courage. God controls this world and will never turn it over to chance.
God has power over those who attack His strongholds. When God’s citadel, Jerusalem, was attacked God responded by protecting His Temple on earth. Though they have their shortcomings, the institutions of our religious faith are important. God ultimately protects His Word for how else can you explain its longevity down through the ages? God’s people need to trust Him, continuing to believe in the integrity of His Word.
God has control over the whole warring world. What does a Christian do when they see the nations of the world moving toward what seems to be an inevitable war that will bring universal destruction to the human race? The psalmist says, “He maketh wars to cease” and we know this to be true. Yet, wars continue to arise. We must realize peace can only come when people have peace in their hearts, and this comes only through Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
The psalmist cries out, “Be still!” If God be for us, who can be against us?