Friday, March 30, 2007

He sees through our eyes

"I have made a covenant with my eyes" (Job 31:1)

This is the core issue of my ministry to children and families…especially fathers: Make a covenant to fix your eyes (and your heart) on the things of God and not the world. A wandering eye draws us all to sin, bottom line! What we seek out shows our heart desires. As we covenant with God to honor Him, we also must be prepared to partner with one or two others to hold us accountable to the covenant! No promise is worth anything without accountability!!! It’s as easy to hide in a crowd as it is within our home.

"Does He not see my ways, and count all my steps?" (Job 31:4)

Doing well in front of others is one thing. Our reputation can be one thing to one person, but totally different to someone else. What they see us do is their opinion of us. Integrity is what we do when no one is watching…but God. He sees it all. We can’t fool God. Only His opinion counts. He sees directly into our heart! He sees through our eyes…everything we feast our eyes upon, He sees. Everything we do, whether in the dark of night or the light of day, our Father sees. Who do we think we’re fooling?
"Oh that the Almighty would answer me…" (Job 31:35)

I must admit, unlike Job, I am so ashamed of the places I have been, the things I have seen, and the things I have done…since being saved! Though not who I used to be in 1993, I am nothing without Him and yet I still fall short every day of His desires for me. God is HOLY and does not deserve to have a wretch like me embarrass Him! Thank God for His grace and mercy. I never want to take advantage of His love for me. I definitely do not want His judgment!!! I pray that I never knowingly challenge Him. The more I see of God, the less I think of myself. Let’s commit to covenant together to honor God at all times, especially when we think no one is watching! May His mercy continue to endure and His grace be our covering
Slow to Speak

"Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice."
(Job 32:9)

Elihu, the youngest of Job’s friends has sat by quietly, listening to all the wise and aged men, and out of respect, he has been silent. Finally he has heard enough of the talk of blaming Job, blaming God, and even how good and righteous Job keeps saying he is! He has been slow to speak and now he respectfully confronts the men with love.

"And I have heard the sound of your words saying; ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent, and there is no iniquity in me’…For God is greater than man."
(Job 33:9-12)

Elihu dares to confront Job and the other men with the Word of God. Who is good but God? Who can possibly say they understand all of God’s ways? We all are filthy rags before a holy God and have no right to justify our actions before Him. Yet, we do it often!!! We really think we deserve God’s blessings. I deserve the fine house, the nice car, healthy kids and a beautiful wife. I am entitled to a pay raise and a luxurious vacation. I deserve that position over the other guy. After all, I’m not as bad as most folks!!! Oh really... I have to check myself daily, because I actually deserve nothing but death and hell after how I’ve treated my Savior. After all He’s done for me; all I can do is cry out for mercy!

"At this my heart trembles, and leaps from its place…As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him; He is excellent in power, in judgment and abundant justice…therefore men fear Him…" (Job 37:1, 23-24)

I am so glad others have cared enough to confront me in love, according to God’s Word. Someone loved me enough to sit me down and challenge me to be obedient, repent, and turn from a wicked lifestyle. Even today, we all need a small group of friends whom we trust will not allow us to get to high and mighty that we forget where we came from and Whose we are now! Personally, do we fear God enough to stand for His ways and hold one another accountable in our lifestyles? Does our heart still tremble and leap in His presence? Let’s not get too comfortable…
Cross –Examined by God!

"Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you and you shall answer me."
(Job 38:3)

Many times we question God. We ask why…we ask when…we ask how long. We must be careful however to never question His authority or motives! God always has our best interest in mind and is always sovereign! The best question is to ask God is, "what shall I do to honor You in this situation?" We definitely do not want to find ourselves in Job’s situation and be cross-examined by God. His questions do not seek answers, but cause us to fall on our knees, awaken our hearts, and stun our senses!

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth...Do you know the ordinances of the heavens...Who provides food for the raven when its young ones cry to God...Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
(Job 38:4, 33, 41, 40:2)

Who are we to question our Daddy’s motives? When will we finally realize He wants what is His best for each of us? When will realize that to receive His best, we must live in such a way that brings Him glory, not shame? How long will it take for us to realize He is GOD?????
(Job answers) "Behold I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth…" (Then God replies) "Who then is able to stand against me? Who has preceded me that I should pay Him? Everything under heaven is Mine." (Job 40:4, 41:11)

God owes no one, yet he offers each of us more than we’ll ever need. Is He our all-in-all, or doe we find ourselves contending with Him daily? How do we see ourselves in relation to our God? Maybe it’s time to empty everything out of our hands, out of our control, and allow God to take control and keep control!
What Will It Take?

"But now my eyes see You. Therefore I abhor myself…" (Job 42:5-6)

David realized this when he begged for the Lord’s forgiveness. He was growing old, sickly, and feeble without the presence of God in his life. Isaiah exclaimed, "Woe is me" when he experienced just a glimpse of the holiness of God. Job also realizes here how small and frail a man is before God. These three men all share one significant occurrence. They had a personal experience and relationship with Almighty God!
Many today have heard of God. Many know He exists. Even more realize that He is in control of the world and its destiny. Millions pray, sing, and speak His praises. But how many experience Him and really have a personal relationship with Him? How many know there is a god as opposed to those who know God? What will it take to know God as Lord, Savior, Deliverer, Rock, Fortress, Friend, Counselor, and Father…Abba…my eternal, loving, forgiving, patient, jealous, and holy DADDY? What will it take for it to be personal?

As Job experienced, hardship causes us to appreciate things more. We become humble. Our eyes are opened to see things as they truly are. Life changes when God intervenes! When we lose our health, our relationships, our possessions, perhaps even family members as Job did, we see God in a different light. We know we are really out of control and in His hands! God also intervenes in positive ways; as in a pay raise, a successful year in school, wonderful health, a new home, an unexpected sale at the store, a new friendship, a beautiful sunny day. Do we experience these things and change our perspective of God as well, or do we believe we orchestrated all these things?
It doesn’t have to be what we consider a negative intervention from God to get us to really know to Him. When Job first experienced his hardships, he fell down and worshipped the Lord. Obviously this was not the first time he worshipped God. He had a relationship with The God of the universe. He recognized all things come from Him, not just a few things. In his heart, he knew God. Our attitude in life is based on our perspective of God. Who is He…really? We must answer that for ourselves. Good times come and bad times will come. God is the same despite the circumstances. The better we know Him, the happier, the more blessed, the holier we become!
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:8)
Lay It Out Before God

And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.
(2 Kings 19:14)

Have you ever been overwhelmed with things; so overburdened that you feel the walls caving in, squeezing you, and pressing you to do something? The pressure is causing us to react…do we run…do we panic…do we just give up and surrender to it all? Let me suggest trying what King Hezekiah of Judah did when faced with the mounting attack of the enemy. Lay it out before God!
Hezekiah realized that the surrounding armies of Assyria were mighty and strong and had been terrorizes nations all around Judah. The Assyrian king, Sennacherib had boasted against the God of Israel, claiming he had defeated the gods of all the other nations, who was this god? Hezekiah realized what he needed to do. This battle was not his to fight, but it was indeed the Lord’s!
Hezekiah prayed acknowledging God as his Jehovah Nissi, our God who leads us in our battles. Hear his words:

"O Lord God of Israel…You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth,,…incline Your ear…open Your eyes…hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God…save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone."
(2 Kings 19:15-19)

Through the prophet Isaiah, God then reassured the king saying,
"I have heard…for I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake." (2 Kings 19:20 & 34)

Oh if we could all get this! We try so hard to fix things on our own. If we just realize the many major battles we face (even small ones) are plans of the enemy to surround us, threaten us, and break us of our dependency upon God and to smear our witness for the King of kings. If we would only lay it out before God: ask Him to gently incline His ear to our cries, look down upon our weaknesses and frustrations, acknowledge our ineptness, and how others doubt His work in our lives, and to please reach down and rescue us…save us…enable us to be a witness for Him and His name through it all. Imagine hearing within your heart, "I have heard…I got this!" The more we allow God to work in and through us, the more others will see just how great He is! Isn’t that our goal in life, to bring glory and honor to God so others may come to know Him as well? Sometimes we forget the power we have when we give up control!
Listen, Believe, and Watch

It’s around 516 B.C. The Temple had been rebuilt. The ads were all over the papers, on the local TV and national news, and on e-mails and advertisements everywhere. It would become the key to the spiritual identity of the Jewish people. Yet the Lord had something even greater to say to the people through the prophet Zechariah.

By 480 B.C., some twenty years later, Zechariah had more to say, yet it mustn’t have caught the attention of too many. Maybe they were too busy doing church stuff…you know, outreaches, fellowships, ministry events. Maybe they got so comfortable in their new surroundings and thought the building was enough. They had done their work and now it was time to sit back and enjoy their building. Uhh oh…something’s wrong here. Who was temple built for? Was it for people to sit and glory in, or for people to come and worship the God they serve every day? Was it a hub for missions or a spiritual social club? Was it a lighthouse for the lost or a recreational facility for the found? Here what Zechariah would write:

See your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9) NIV

While the people were busy doing church, Zechariah was telling them just how exactly their anticipated Messiah would come to Jerusalem. Apparently it wasn’t take too seriously, because some 500 years later, the same Jewish people would cry out "Crucify Him", days after Jesus came into town riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.(Matthew 21, John 12) If they would have only listened, believed, and watched.

I will rouse your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, a make you like a warriors sword… the Lord their God will save them on that day… (Zechariah 9:13-16) NIV

The prophet not only foretold how the Messiah would come for the first time, but also of His second coming, to rescue and restore the remnant of the Jews, as well as complete His plan for all of those who have put their trust in Him! How many still have the blinders on? How many are still deaf to the truth of God’s word? How many still have their heart set on what we can do, rather than what God has done and wants done through His people? Are we still saying, "Let us make a name for ourselves"?
You see, it’s not just the Jews who are stiff-necked and arrogant. How long will we continue to be so comfortable in our beautiful churches and not get out of those four walls and do some real work…mission trips, evangelizing our neighbors, caring for the sick, touching and feeding the hungry and hurting on our streets, and bringing the abandoned babies into our homes? Oh, by the way, are we even supporting the work of that beautiful and comfortable church with our required financial support? What has God done compared to our efforts? If we would only listen, believe, and watch! Would we recognize Jesus, if He came back today? Would we really want Him to? John says it well here. It’s not just the believing in Christ that is so exciting and rewarding; it’s the living in Christ that is so exciting and adventurous.
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:31) NIV

Listen, believe, watch, and LIVE!!!!
A Personal God.My DADDY!

I was reminded over the weekend at Promise Keepers (in Baltimore) how concerned God is with each one of us individually! Just as a father or mother is so concerned with their child, God has a special plan for every one of His children. Even if we have been blessed with many children, we still have a unique concern for each one individually.

Dr. Bob Reccord ( really touched my heart as he reminded me how God can speak to me concerning our relationship through my kids. How many times have we experienced God's presence as we discipline our children? I can recall how God has allowed me to see His grace, His mercy, and even His sense of humor as I observe and parent my children.

One of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 29:11 continues to remind me of His personal plans for each of us, but especially for me: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Are we leading our kids along God's path for them? Are we on His path ourselves? Have we been caught up in the world's values?

This verse encouraged a wandering and enslaved people to trust in God's plans for a future and even for each day. Who am I to doubt such a mighty God and proven Savior? All my doubts.all my fears.all my struggles and plans, I give over to my Daddy to help and guide me through, so I may bring Him glory and draw others to come to know Him as their Father as well! At least that's my prayer. At times, I get in the way; my flesh thinks it can solve things on its own, so continue to pray for me. I want to get to the point where I am satisfied with what God wants for me and know deep inside that He is pleased with me doing His will, not my own! I want to make my Daddyproud, which is the desire of most men I know! Let's get to know our Daddy this coming Fathers' Day!
Now What?
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:14)

So what do we do now? We’ve just experienced a joyous Easter season. We’ve been moved to change things in our lives and really be on fire for Christ. Perhaps we witnessed a play or maybe even accepted Christ for the first time as Lord and Savior. Maybe we, for the first time, really understand what it means to be a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ, a real DISCIPLE. NOW WHAT???

I think we can learn something from the early followers of Christ. They must have been devastated by the things they saw and heard during the first Holy Week! Their promised Savior had been turned in by a friend, arrested, beaten, spat upon, drug through the streets, humiliated publicly, and finally crucified and put into a grave. As sad and defeated as they must have felt, now they have seen Him alive, they’ve touched Him, and been told to wait….NOW WHAT???

Sound familiar? Have we not been torn apart and dejected…defeated by the sin we lived in? Then the Savior found us and renewed our hearts and we were so excited! Jesus is here, yet really not here. He is with us, yet so is the temptation we face every day. We talk about His peace, His love, and His grace, yet we are bombarded with hatred, racism, violence, pornography, cursing, provocative and indecent situations, and so much more every day. Do we think the early followers of Christ had it easier than we do? Let’s remember, they faced jail, murder, boiling oil, beatings, crucifixions, and more! How did they do it? They were prepared and obedient to the Lord’s instructions:

"…you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit…you shall receive power…you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:5-8)

The early followers of Christ remained prepared, obedient, and on one accord! Oh if we all could just get that! If we were only prepared to face each day, studying His Word, and allowing the it to rule us. If we only obedient to His directions and commands. Imagine if the Body of Christ, the entire Body, could be on one accord! It’s hard to get a group of four or five believers on one accord sometimes!

There they were; a small group of fairly new believers (some for two to three years, some just for a week or so), gathered in a small building, holding a prayer meeting, waiting for further direction from the Lord. Then they experienced the power of the Holy Spirit! They boldly carried out the work…continuing the work day by day, and people were getting saved each day, sometimes by the thousands! (Acts 2:5-47)

Now What? Do we need another event to excite us? Do we need the Lord to personally give us a jump start again? Isn’t the fire of the Holy Spirit enough to keep us prepared, obedient and on one accord? Be encouraged today! There is power in the blood of the living Savior and there is power in the unity of His people.

"So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house…praising God and having favor with all people…the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:46-47)
One Anothers…So Others Can See

Recently, a friend asked me to help him prepare for a talk with families of his child's day care. What is it families need to hear today? What do we need to stress within the four walls of our home, so when we walk out the door, we are not only strong, secure, and prepared, but also confident to represent Christ to the world? What can we build into our families that the world can readily recognize as uncommonly CHRISTIAN?First of all, I must remind the men to be a spiritual leader in the home and out, so we must model it (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
Families are falling apart because dads are missing and many of the men who are at home, aren't deeply involved in the family! Moms, whether married or doing battle as a single mom, be encouraged to strive for the model in Proverbs 31.
God will bless your efforts! Children, you have one main command: love and honor your parents, so you'll live a long and happy life. How many kids today are searching for happiness in the world among their peers, only missing out on the promises of God because they have turned a deaf ear to their parents?
It's important that the Christian family live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16), accept one another as we are (Romans 15:7), teach and admonish one another in all wisdom (Colossians 3:16), serve one another ((Galatians 5:13), submit to one another and confess sin to one another (James 5:16), honor one another (Romans 12:10, and comfort one another (2 Corinthians 1:4). The apostle John stressed this throughout his ministry, if you believe in Christ, and then love one another.

"But if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is brought to completion in us!"
(1 John 4:12)
Have we decided that first in our homes and then as we go, we will serve the Lord?
Playing Favorites

"My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism." (James 2:1)

We play a lot of games in life don’t we? Some require expensive equipment, some require costly memberships, and others require a social status. I enjoy the simple games of a ball, some simple accessories, and a few buddies or family members. We can choose from many games to enjoy our leisure time in this day and age.
One game no Christian should ever participate in is favoritism! It compromises character, tears apart testimonies, and ruins relationships. It’s easy to fall into the trap. We go out of our way to greet the Pastor every Sunday, but ignore the first-time visitor seated directly behind us. We’ll only attend Bible study if our favorite preacher is teaching that evening. We’ll support one ministry over another, not because of the work being done, but because of who is heading the ministry. Even in recruiting workers, we want the well known, the popular, the up-front people to be a part of out team. Who are we cheating?
Playing favorites is a deadly sin! It’s natural to do, if only because we have a sin nature! We have to be consciously aware of our thoughts and actions and purpose to honor all those we encounter with a greeting of Christ’s love. We must seek out those who are normally left out when recruiting helpers in ministry work. We must encourage and support all our leaders and teachers within the church, as they are doing valuable work for the Lord. We’re cheating ourselves out of friendships, out of knowledge, and out of experiences God has planned for us by ignoring, or should I say preferring, some over others, in the Body of Christ especially!
Imagine if Phillip would have ignored the Ethiopian stranger in town; if Jesus would not have gone through Samaria and spoke with the Samarian woman; if Paul would have ignored the Gentile dogs as they were known; imagine if God would have ignored each of us sinners, preferring to not touch us with His grace and mercy!!!! Where would we be? God is no respecter of persons and neither should we be!
Take Note Of God
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin…I write to you little children…I write to you fathers…I write to you young men…Therefore, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. And this is the promise that he has promised us…eternal life. (1 John 2)

John, the Apostle whom Jesus loved, was constantly reminding those around him to love one another, even into his old age when they had to carry him into the churches to speak. They ask him why and his reply was simply that it was what Jesus taught. John said that if we all would just do that, things would fall into place. Isn’t that what Jesus said as well…love God and love your neighbor? John was a very simple and uncomplicated person and he no doubt remembered the innocent way children came to Christ and how he first believed. All John had to hear from the mouth of John the Baptist was,

"Behold, the Lamb of God" (John 1:35-36)

John continued to recall how important those few simple words were and he lived by them and he wrote about them. It’s funny, but that’s how God gave us His message, He simply told people to write it down. Not everyone had paper at the time (it may have been on stone tablets) but God chose a simple way for us to remember things about Him. You see, he knows about our memory. Like most of us, I too am not going to do it unless I write it down. Today, if God were to speak through someone, he may choose e-mail, a blackberry, text messaging, or blogging, but He would still want us to put in on or in something so we and others would remember! We have to take note of GOD throughout the day.
God told the prophet Jeremiah

"Write it in a book for yourself all the words I have spoken to you."
(Jeremiah 30:2)
Imagine if Moses would have said, "That’s ok Lord, I’ll remember, I don’t have to write these things down." The Lord said,

"Write these words…" (Exodus 34:27)

So here’s our challenge: Are we writing His words that we hear each day? Are we writing out our prayers as people share their needs with us (so we can pray for them)? Are we writing our needs down, so we can lay them out before God? Are we taking notes in Bible study and on Sunday morning? Are writing and highlighting in our Bibles to revisit when we begin to doubt? God still speaks…in circumstances, through people, in simple things, in catastrophes, and in a still small voice. We need to record it somewhere to keep it fresh and to keep us at the level of innocence and acceptance as when we first believed. Keep a note pad and a pen handy (or PDA, or whatever new gadget there is) and Take note of God!
The only Know-It-All

"But as for me, I would seek God…" (Job 5:8)

When I began to study Job weeks ago, I thought it would be good for preparation for our mission trip planned for October 2006 to New Orleans. To study his afflictions, his trust in God, and how God ultimately blessed Job would be good for ministering to a town which lost it all and need a word of hope. So I thought…
As I now go through our family’s struggle with my mom’s illness, I see how God still has things worked out. God is the one and only Know-It-All! Obviously, the Lord knew that He would put Job to a test concerning his health, family, and friends. Satan again thought he would do something unique, yet God had a plan. Even as Job was suffering, his friends gave all sorts of advice as to Job’s sins, his attitude, yet one piece of advice was very wise. Eliphaz told Job, "But as for me, I would seek God!" And may I suggest that long before we experience problems, we should be diligently seeking God!
Friends don’t always understand, though they mean well. Our problems are not always caused by sin. They are not always a source of correction. Tragedy is not always someone’s fault. We live in a fallen world and things happen, simply because it’s not a perfect world. But we must deal with the present and we must seek God and His wisdom each day, so we’ll be prepared for the unexpected! Before trouble knocks at our door, we need the whole counsel of God, through His word!
So as we go through, remember this: God has all the details worked out. When we lack wisdom, we ask of God. Perhaps He’ll send wisdom our way in a friend or counselor, or He may just guide us along one-on-one. Just remember, He’s the expert and the one and only know-it-all! Praise God!
There is Hope

We all need to know there is a future. Without it we can’t get up and go to work; We can’t raise our kids; We can’t see our marriages growing; We can’t trust a God we can’t see; We can’t really live.
The question is this…what do know about the future? Can we see past the next hour, the next day, or even years ahead? Do we look forward to tomorrow? As a Christian, do we look forward, or hope in our future with Christ? Are we so caught up in this world and what we have that we don’t really want Christ to come back just yet? What if we lose all we have today? Where is our future then?
As we have personally witnessed the loss of jobs, homes, and even entire communities due to natural disaster, we see just how temporary this world and its possessions are. What is constant is Jesus. He never changes. His promises never fade. His Kingdom will last forever and I for one can’t wait for it to come! Will it take losing it all to realize there is only one thing worth having…a personal relationship with the King of kings! In Jesus there is hope. As a former President used to say, "There is a place called hope." It’s not necessarily in Arkansas, but in a person…Jesus Christ!

"Behold, the Lord’s eye is upon those who fear Him, who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving-kindness, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. Our inner selves wait for the Lord; He is our Help and our Shield. For in Him does our heart rejoice, because we have trusted in His holy name." (Psalm 33:18-21)

"Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. "
(2 Corinthians 6: 2)

"I don’t have time"…How many times have we heard that when looking for a volunteer? How many times has that been our response? Before we even know the amount of time that’s needed, we respond, at least within our minds, "I don’t have time."
I don’t have time to visit family. I don’t have time to play with the kids. I don’t have time to go to Sunday school. I don’t have time talk with my spouse. I don’t have time to spend quality time with God. I simply don’t have the time! So who put me and you in charge of our time?
I learned on Valentine’s Day 2005 that God controls all my time; my time to work, my time to sleep, my time to be sick, and my time to go home! When I was rushed to the hospital for surgery, I realized I had no control over my time (the romantic dinner plans with my beautiful wife were out the window) and finally I had to admit, "Do what you want with my time Lord, because it’s really your time!" When our child cries out, all time stands still and we rush to see the cause of his cries. When our spouse or child is sick, our first desire is to find medication…get them to a doctor…get them well! When death strikes a family, the family comes together and life stands still for days, sometimes weeks. What will it take for us to see the urgency of our time? How much time are we giving to our God, who holds our time in His hand? Is He our time manager? David learned how to properly use his time. He wrote,

"So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. "
(Psalm 90:12)

It’s been my experience to ask busy people to help me if I have a project to do. Busy people work. Busy people are committed. Busy people do things! People, who do nothing, don’t have time to do anything! Have you noticed that every time something is going on, we see the same folks doing the work? Look around your church at the next function. What a shame! It’s a good time to examine our reputation around the family, around the church, and even at the job. One more important reminder though: don’t be busy just to be busy! Get busy for Christ since only what we do for Him will last. We need to join Him in His work. There is plenty to be done!

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart." (Galatians 6:6-9)

Trust God to be our Time Manager! As Luis Palau says in his book, A Man After God’s Heart, "He knows His business."
Were You There?

"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" (Matthew 27:46)

Were you there when Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have you abandoned Me?" We all were actually! When Jesus felt the burden and anguish of our sin, the Father turned His face from Jesus and Jesus, for the first time in all eternity, felt alone, abandoned, and separated from God. God didn't't die on the cross, Jesus the human being did. His flesh died a human death and was raised by the power of God three days later. As the Lord became a sinoffering for us, He suffered the pain for us. Now we no longer have to bear the death of sin, because of Christ's perfect sacrifice on the cross for each of us.

Think of the pain and shame we feel when deep in sin? We feel alone, separated, as if no one seems to care. Now imagine Christ, eternally one with the Father and the HolySpirit, suddenly torn from that relationship and for the first time feeling the pain of sin! No wonder He cried out! Sin left Him feeling abandoned as it does to us. So now we can understand a little of how Jesus felt. It's the same way I felt when I finally cried out to God, "Please save me! Where are You God? Why don't You help me?" Only Jesus didn't't just feel the pain and consequences of my sin, but the sin of all mankind!

Now I understand why You cried out Jesus. How lonely You must have been. Hung on a cross for all to see. Beaten beyond recognition for something You never did. Ridiculed for sacrificing heaven's bliss for my disgusting acts. Oh, now I know how You must have felt.yet You said nothing! You did it all for me. I deserved it all, not You. Please forgive me Jesus. Now what can I do for You?

Jesus did let us know what we could do. After God raised Him from the dead, he met with His disciples and instructed them,

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 27:19-20)

We don't keep Christ on the cross! We who have received His resurrection power, being saved by His blood, should now walk in such a way that teaches others all He has done for us, so they too may know Him in the forgiveness of their sins. If we died with Him, let's live with Him and for Him! We have good news to share! Let others know, YOU WERE THERE!
What Do You Really Believe?

And he believed in the Lord and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

Believe: accept, understand, have no doubt, convinced, to rest assured
Live: continue, survive, breath, experience life

Before circumcision, before baptism, before speaking in tongue, before communion, before church membership, before any ministries, Abraham was counted righteous before God because of his faith! John had two basic words to share throughout his Gospel; believe and live. Paul was heartbroken over the fact that the Jews didn’t understand this very truth; salvation is by faith (belief in the Messiah, Jesus Christ). What do you really believe?
John quoted Jesus as saying,
"…he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life…"
(John 5:24)

Paul pleaded with his fellow Jewish brethren that,
a man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ.
(Galatians 2:16)

In his writing to those in Ephesus, a city full of sinful distractions (sound familiar?) Paul wrote,
for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
So what do you really believe? Why do we still believe crazy ideas of what leads to a relationship with God the Father? We have all the evidence and testimonies before us. We know we can only come to the Father through Jesus. We know works can’t do it. We know obeying laws, joining popular churches, praying a specific prayer, or traveling down a certain road can’t do it for us. Things and people may guide us to the knowledge of Christ, but faith still comes through hearing the Word of God, through foolish preaching, not from physical acts. The only thing we can do to truly know the Savior personally is to believe it in our heart and live it out. It’s between us and the Lord!
Sadly, some are doing so much, yet they remain lost and confused, unsure of their future! It breaks my heart to realize that some folks can be in a Bible teaching church, attend Sunday school, and be surrounded with Godly teaching, yet doubt still prevails! Like in Ephesus, we have so many sinful distractions that cause many to doubt the Truth and accept what is not stated in God’s Word. They’ve been baptized, they’ve joined a local church, they’ve done ministry, yet they may not really know Jesus! Salvation is instant and secure. It is by faith. Then the Holy Spirit begins to work in and through the Christian. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and live eternally with Him!!!
Why Me…Why Not?

"This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil." (Job 1:1)
Many godly people suffer. Why? Some things we don’t just understand, but God does! Many evil and hurtful people purposely go about life harming others and show no mercy to anyone, yet they prosper. Why? No one on earth really can explain, but God can! I am learning to leave some of life’s mysteries to God alone and keep a list of questions to ask Him when I get to meet with Jesus one-on-one that fine day. In the mean time, I must trust that He who formed the world from absolutely nothing will one day make something out of this mess we call the world! It’s definitely not what God intended for us! Instead of asking, "Why me?", or "Why him or her?" I asked, "Why not?"
I must realize that God has a plan for me and all His children, so for that plan to be carried out we have to trust Him to carry that plan out to its fullest, even if it involves suffering! No one likes to suffer, or to see our children, parents, or friends suffer, yet it develops character, it demonstrates God’s power, it tests our faith, and it disciplines us. I’ll tell you what else it does: it makes us desire heaven so much more and draws us closer to His heart and away from the desires of this dreary world! How in the world could we even want to go to heaven if life was nothing but peace and joy anyway? I now look forward to being with my heavenly Father, where all suffering will be done away with and real PEACE will be mine and for everyone who places their trust in Him! In the mean time, I try to get to know Him better now, so I may better understand what He’s doing around me.
"My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge." (Psalm 62:7-8)
03 19 07 Just In Case We Forget
"Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told to you since the very beginning? Have you not understood from the time the earth’s foundations were made? He is the one who sits on the earth’s horizon; …
He is the one who stretches out the sky like a thin curtain…
He is the one who reduces rulers to nothing…
‘To whom can you compare Me? Whom do I resemble?’… "
(Isaiah 40:21-25)
Just in case we forget, occasionally we might hear God whisper to our hearts, "Did you forget who I am?" We become so caught up our routine, so strung-out with our struggles, so frustrated with the day–to-day that we forget Who God really is, or should be, in our lives. We do not communicate with our Daddy on a daily basis, not letting Him in on the little things we face, and suddenly we are faced with major dilemmas! We’re so out-of-touch with God, that we then try to fix things on our own, only to fall deeper into trouble, tumbling further down into despair, anger, depression, and helplessness.
We need to go back to when we first learned of His love. We need to remember when we first heard His voice. We need to remember the story we were told of His grace, His forgiveness, His passion for us, and His strength to do ALL things to make us successful, in His will. Just in case we forget at times, we need to go back to the day we first believed and placed all our trust, hopes, and dreams, along with our sins, at the foot of the cross.
He is just as lovely, just as powerful, just as forgiving as He has ever been. His love for us never changes. We forget! We take our eyes of Christ; He is always watching us! It is good to look back, even today. To whom can we compare our God? Who can even come close? Tired? Weary? Stumbling? Fainting? Lost your GPS?
Seek His face. Stand upon His promises. Wait on the Lord. Trust Him once again…, again…, and again! Just in case we FORGET:
"But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength…" (Isaiah 40:31)
03 20 07 But We Don’t Do It That Way!
"This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me, and they worship in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:8-9)
The Jewish leaders and experts questioned Jesus about His disciples’ actions; He answered them with His own question: "Why do you disobey the commandment of God…?" Doesn’t this conversation sound familiar among people today? Why do they sing those kinds of songs in church? How can they go to church dressed like that? I just don’t like the way they do things at that church! Instead of seeing the heart of worship, we see the outside. Some people and churches are more caught up in looking right and saying the right things, that they are worshipping in vain, following the doctrines and traditions of the churches, not the teachings of Jesus.
" ‘Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders?’ " (Matthew 15:2)
Better yet, today we will more likely here this question: "Why do Jesus’ disciples disobey His ways?" I remember growing up in traditional denominational church and being told it was a sin to step foot in another denominations’ church. I assume that was because of doctrine and beliefs. Then, when I began to coach the church basketball teams, I began to hear whispers of who was on the team and why our team members weren’t church members. Some of you know where I am going with this. I began to see a different Gospel, on re that was preached and a totally different one lived out! Doctrine is one thing, but the heart is what Christ desires … a heart that worships in spirit and truth, in our daily living, without hypocrisy! I wonder how the lady at the well would be treated today if we met her at McDonalds! I wonder if we would read to the Ethiopian today if the Lord placed us next to him in the subway. If we saw the Jew homeless in the streets tonight, would we doctrinally sound and born-again believers walk past him, crossing to the other side of the street, or would we be a Good Samaritan?
How often do we disobey the teachings of our Savior, only to uphold the traditions of our culture? Oh, but we don’t do it that way anymore! So whose way are we following?
Open the eyes of my heart Lord. I want to see you. I want to worship You in the way I live. I want to honor You and represent You well. See my heart. Try my thoughts. Test my words. Purify my life for Your sake! Your will be done; not mine, not man’s!!!
03 21 07 Sin Hasn’t Changed
"Her house is the way to the grave, going down to the chambers of death." (Proverbs 7:27)
Over the years, we have come to replace the word sin with words like mistakes, blunders, wrong doing, slip-ups, and immaturity. While choosing sin over doing right and obedience is indeed a mistake, a blunder, and a sign of immaturity, it is SIN! Calling it anything else is glorifying the author of sin in my opinion! Satan would like nothing better than for a believer to cover up the foolish acts of sin and pass them off like we do a wrong turn on a highway. Sin costs us much more than a ten minute delay to work. It cost Jesus His blood on the cross! Sin hasn’t changed. It’s still sin!
There is no way to water this down and we all need to be reminded of its consequences. The wages of sin is death, yet the gift of God is eternal life through the Savior, Jesus Christ. He didn’t suffer for a slip-up, a mistake, or a boo-boo! He died to forgive our sin, every last one of them. Sin kills. It kills our reputation. It kills our integrity. It kills relationships. It separates us from God. Only Christ can repair the separation.
"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil…" (Proverbs 8:13)
Once forgiven through Christ, we need to learn to hate the sin that caused the separation in the first place. Just as we learned to enjoy the sinful lifestyle we once lived, we need to practice righteous living with the aid of the Holy Spirit and others. To really love the Lord is to HATE sin! Hate it with a passion! Love God with even more passion! Let’s keep it simple: love God, hate sin. They can’t co-exist! Don’t believe the lies from hell.
Sin hasn’t changed. Neither has God! The choice is ours to make. Choose today whom we will serve, God or the devil. I choose the Lord!
03 22 07 Every Act Counts
"Therefore I exhort you brothers, and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice---alive, holy and pleasing to God---which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1)
I was reminded this morning in reading some devotionals I receive, as well as in e-mail from a friend last evening, of one of my favorite (life) verses in God’s word. Paul exhorts, or beseeches (Gr. parakaleo, call near, desire) each of us to present our very being as a living sacrifice to the Lord. We are not to be dead weight, just sitting around waiting for Jesus to come back and rescue us. We are to be active, alive, vibrant, and working for His purposes, not our own.
Paul says this is our reasonable service, or our logical and rational service (Gr. logikos). It’s the least we can do to give our life for Christ, since He gave His for us. So very simply, everything we do counts for or against Christ. There is no excuse! We live for Him or we don’t! Every act counts.
So by way of self-examination we simply have to ask this question: "Is what I am doing, or planning to do, honoring Christ?" If not, don’t do it! This is our reasonable behavior, our reasonable sacrifice, the least we can do to worship our God throughout the day. It makes sense. It’s logical. Let’s come alongside one another and encourage each other to do the little things for Christ and let big things happen under God’s planning.
Every act counts!
03 23 07 Keep on…
"For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have demonstrated for His name, in having served and continuing to serve the saints." (Hebrews 6:10)
Sometimes we do grow weary in doing good. In a world where it seems as though everyone is trampling over everyone just so they can get to where they are going, it’s hard sometimes to continue to focus on doing good, sacrificing, and giving. It’s human nature to want some sign of gratitude, a little recognition, some applause for a change.
Imagine what our Lord must have felt like, humanly speaking. He decided to keep on!
Just as Jesus could lay aside His divine nature and live in His human nature, we must lay aside our human nature and live under the divine control of the Spirit within us. It’s not easy to do good and be ignored time and time again. It’s not a simple task to give knowing it will not be appreciated, possibly even rejected or ridiculed. It’s not human nature to sacrifice, only to be mocked and misunderstood. But we must keep on!
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul---"(Hebrews 6:19)
Oh but we have this hope in Christ! Because He endured all the ridicule, shame, rejection, and pain; because He bore the cross upon His shoulders, because he said, "I must keep on." The Father’s will was accomplished. We have this hope, this anchor that keeps us grounded and focused! There is gratitude coming for the saints who continue to give. There is recognition coming for the Christian who doesn’t give up hope. There is applause for the believer, who despite circumstances, decides to keep on.
Oh Daddy, if you could just make it a little easier. If you could let me know that things are progressing as you planned. If you could just have things be a little less stressful. Nevertheless, give me the strength and desire and pleasure to do Your will and seek your applause. Give me the courage to keep on, all the way home!
03 26 07 Positive Attitude
"… Let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water."
(Hebrews 10:22)
It’s so important to have a positive attitude. We hear it at work, in school, in sports, and yes, in our relationship with Christ and one another. Satan would have us continuing to wallow in our guilty conscience, negative attitudes, and selfishness. He desires for us to believe we’ll be nothing and there’s no use trying. He’d also have us to talk negatively about others and their work as well. Misery loves company and Satan is out to seek as much company as he can get, because he is getting more miserable by the minute as his time is winding down!
"… but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25)
The writer of Hebrews is encouraging the believers to not turn back. He wants them to press on and not dwell on the past, or even the present struggles, but spur one another on to good works and love one another. He writes to them to stay together and be together on a regular basis, even more so as things heat up.
It’s quite easy to let Satan get a hold of our attitudes when we isolate ourselves from fellow believers. We begin to believe the lies and rumors. We listen to the gossip. We give in to the flesh. Now, more than ever we need to have each others’ backs! We need to really think about what we say, what and who we listen to, and what we repeat! Do we have everyone’s best interest in mind? Are we being encouraging, strengthening, and spurring one another to good works? Let’s think about what is good, right, and lovely and do these things! The more we know of Christ, the more we grow in Christ, the more we should be growing as a family. As sports teams say, "We need to defend this house!" As a family of God, we need to defend one another, not look for opportunities to break down what the Spirit has built up.
I have no time for your foolishness Satan. Back off! Your days are numbered. Lord, help us to grow together in love and fellowship. Here’s to a more positive attitude among us all!
03 27 07 Precious Life to Celebrate
"Precious (important and no light matter) in the sight of the Lord
is the death of His saints (His loving ones)."
(Psalm 116:15)
For one of the rare times in my 47 years, I will attend the funeral of one of my peers today. It’s not something I think I will forget easily. This friend was a lot like me when I met him at my church 12-13 years ago. He was a struggling single-dad trying to do the best by his little girls and by the Lord. He would give anyone the shirt off his back and lived to serve. He was of a gentle spirit and a loving and generous heart.
This brother showed my wife and me the ropes on the dark streets of DC as we first began serving the homeless together some seven years ago. He lived out a life of giving, sacrifice, and had a manly gentleness about him. His heart was reflected in his eyes and his wallet. As I went on my first several mission trips, he was there too. He just showed up, willing to work wherever needed. He taught me how to say "yes" to the need, whether I was qualified or not. I learned how to allow the Holy Spirit to use a willing and available vessel. He taught me how to be there!
He didn’t drive a fancy car or where fancy clothes, but I rejoice today because I know my friend is now sitting with the King of kings in a royal robe wearing an even bigger smile, because he’s home! My friend and I had some long quiet talks about fatherhood, brotherhood, and life in general. We couldn’t quite understand why some people did some things. We couldn’t quite figure out why we were in the predicaments we were in (well, we were sinners, after all) or how to get out of them! But we decided to let the Lord work things out and do the best we could with what life we had left! Life took us in different directions over the past few years, yet we shared a special bond.
My friend’s journey is over now. He has the answers. He served well. He gave and he showed me how to give. Thank you my brother; rest well. I’ll see you soon to catch up on things. Save a place for me at the table! You are indeed a precious life to celebrate!

"Precious (important and no light matter) in the sight of the Lord
is the death of His saints (His loving ones)."
(Psalm 116:15)
For one of the rare times in my 47 years, I will attend the funeral of one of my peers today. It’s not something I think I will forget easily. This friend was a lot like me when I met him at my church 12-13 years ago. He was a struggling single-dad trying to do the best by his little girls and by the Lord. He would give anyone the shirt off his back and lived to serve. He was of a gentle spirit and a loving and generous heart.
This brother showed my wife and me the ropes on the dark streets of DC as we first began serving the homeless together some seven years ago. He lived out a life of giving, sacrifice, and had a manly gentleness about him. His heart was reflected in his eyes and his wallet. As I went on my first several mission trips, he was there too. He just showed up, willing to work wherever needed. He taught me how to say "yes" to the need, whether I was qualified or not. I learned how to allow the Holy Spirit to use a willing and available vessel. He taught me how to be there!
He didn’t drive a fancy car or where fancy clothes, but I rejoice today because I know my friend is now sitting with the King of kings in a royal robe wearing an even bigger smile, because he’s home! My friend and I had some long quiet talks about fatherhood, brotherhood, and life in general. We couldn’t quite understand why some people did some things. We couldn’t quite figure out why we were in the predicaments we were in (well, we were sinners, after all) or how to get out of them! But we decided to let the Lord work things out and do the best we could with what life we had left! Life took us in different directions over the past few years, yet we shared a special bond.
My friend’s journey is over now. He has the answers. He served well. He gave and he showed me how to give. Thank you my brother; rest well. I’ll see you soon to catch up on things. Save a place for me at the table! You are indeed a precious life to celebrate!
03 28 07 Riches and Relationship
"…go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; and come, be my disciple. (Matthew 19:21 Amplified)
So, we think that we are doing all the right things. We go to church, we’ve been saved, we’ve been baptized, and we may even be a deacon, ministry leader, even a missionary. We are very satisfied with our relationship with Jesus! Then we face the test: what are we willing to trade in for that relationship, that commitment to the Lord? Is Jesus pleased with our commitment to Him?
The rich young ruler stated that he had followed all the commandments since childhood; how commendable (seemingly impossible, but commendable)! Then Jesus, knowing the young man’s true condition, asked him to give all the riches away and follow him, as He had no doubt asked others. This man chose the things of life and went away saddened and grieved. I wonder how many of us are grieved because we are holding on to things we need to let go of, so the Lord can have His perfect way with us.
"And anyone and everyone who has left houses and brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for my name’s sake will receive many times more and will inherit eternal life." (Matthew 19:21 Amplified)
What do we need more than a closer walk with Jesus? What is more valuable than a deep and abiding relationship with our Savior? What investment can possibly give a better return for our time and possessions? What relationship has a higher priority? Be careful: it may be our job, our homes, our shiny new vehicles, our church, even our families. Nothing, NOTHING is more important than our relationship with the One who suffered for each of us!
What is Jesus asking us to give up, or at the very least, place below our relationship with Him? Our love for Him must make our desires for others and other things seem ridiculous. In fact, Jesus said others will think we despise family because of our love for Him. The comparison between our love for Christ and our love for others must be of no comparison! It should be that distinct!
So what do we have to change? What decisions need to be made to be totally sold out to serve as a living sacrifice before our God? Riches and relationships; will we go away grieved and saddened, or receive His embrace as He says, "Well done!"?

The Need to Tell

03 30 07 The Need to Tell

"When they heard the boldness of Peter and John, and they discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men,
they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus."
(Acts 4:13)
When the Lord found me in 1993, he found a bull-headed, stubborn, aggressive, passionate, and commited man. I am so grateful for His mercy and grace, because only He knows where I was headed. Well the destination was hell, but I believe it was on a bullet! After having been used up and taken advantage of for the umteemth time, I had had enough and was ready to run and hide or just eat drink and be merry...and die!
I truly owe what life I have left to Christ! He took my stubborn aggressiveness and gave me the gift of evangelism to passionatley to places others wouldn't go to and to be committed to hang in when things seemed hopeless. He used my passion for children and families to teach them about His desires for each of us. He turned my attributes into His tools and my downfalls He interchanged with grace. He has used me and is using me as He sees fit, not according to what man thinks of me or who they knew me to be. I don't have to prove anything to God---He knows me from my head to my feet, inside and out!

In the Greek, uneducated and ordinary unlettered (agrammatos) and one's own (idiotes). We get the words unlearened and ignorant in English. It is beleived that the leaders listening to Peter and John and the others knew that they had not received a rabbinical education and therefore unlearned in Jewish schools. The apostles were thus private men, not officials or dignitaries. They were just ordinary men, "unschooled ordinary men" (NIV) or "uneducated annd unschooled men" (NASB).
There is indeed a place for us to study and show ourselves approved. However, God can use anyone who is committed to Him, who has a heart for God. Not all of the educated and schooled are even qualified! They are just that, educated and schooled, but no desire to serve God and people. For some theree is the need to tell, for others there is a need to sell. There is a difference!
"Whether it is right before God to obey you rather than God, you decide,
for it is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard."
(Acts 4:19-20).
Wherever we find ourselves in our relationship with the Lord, we need to tell others our story. We can't allow political correctness to keep us quiet. We can't allow our personal agenda overide God's agenda. We definitely cannot allow man to tell us not to do what God says to do! We can can never stop learning and we never stop sharing. We'll never know whom we can reach with our unschooled, ordinary, and common life. We all must give the Lord free reign in our lives and put off the shackles of man. What are we willing to do when the world says, "you can't!"

Storms and Faith

Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him.  Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesu...