Monday, April 30, 2007

04 30 07 Just to be with Him!

“But a time is coming---and now is here---when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be His worshippers---the people who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

We read of the Samaritan woman receiving a surprise visit from the Savior, the Messiah, whom all were looking for to rescue the people. Perhaps she is seeking relief from her lifestyle, freedom from reproach and shame, a new start in a life of failures and disappointments. We can see clearly that the one thing the Lord requires of us is true worship; no false pretenses or flattery. I believe it’s more than Sunday worship the Savior is referring to here. I believe Jesus is talking about our life in general. Are we true believers or are we caught up in the hoopla of it all; the ceremony, the prosperity promises, the blessed and highly favored lifestyle. Are we in love with the Lord and do we live in His truth day by day, for today’s Samaritan, the hurt and rejected, to see?

“‘I know the Messiah is coming’---‘I, the One speaking to you, am He.’” (John 4:25-26)

Oh, once the woman realized whom she was speaking with, she ran to tell everyone else. She seems to have been relieved that despite all her shortcomings and failures, she was accepted for who she was by God Himself. She was free to worship, free to live, free from all ridicule and labels. She not only heard the truth, but saw and experienced Him personally! Wow, what freedom! No one could tell her anything! She knew!!!

Do we experience that freedom today? Do we allow ourselves to truly worship the Savior, whom we all as believers, have experienced personally deep with the recesses of our hearts. Or have we? Perhaps we’re caught up in false doctrines of prosperity, prophecy, and entitlement. We’re looking for our blessing when it’s right within our grasp! We’re awaiting a fresh word from God when all we need to know is already written down! We want to tell someone else, yet don’t know for ourselves. We want we can’t have and are in danger of compromising what is rightfully ours as God’s child!

Beware of false teachers! They are perhaps more relevant now than in the first century. They are truly wolves in sheep’s clothing and they are creeping within the Body! Prophecy? I can’t be so caught up in what God wants me to tell others when I still have a lot of growing to do myself. Prosperity? For me the future of a home in heaven is promise enough---abundant life with the King of kings! That brings a peace money can’t buy. Entitlement? What God allows for me is going to have to be enough; I don’t deserve a thing!

Before we want to teach others, judge others, or tell others, we must first know Him so deeply that we are one with Him personally; in our Spirit and in His truth. I’m working on this one thing at this time: to be satisfied just to be with Him!

Friday, April 27, 2007

04 27 07 Do Others See My God?

“Your God, whom you continually serve, He will deliver you.”
(Daniel 6:16 NKJV)

It’s so important to have a consistent and public relationship with our God, my God. We can’t afford to hide our beliefs and character. It’s no time to be politically correct! At a point in our culture where we may be restricted from speaking or writing about Christ, even sharing e-mails, our character is sometimes our only witness. We are going to be held accountable for it too! My worst feeling is having someone say (or hear of someone saying about me) “I didn’t know he was a Christian!”

Daniel was in a real bind here under the Persian King Darius. Though appointed a government ruler, Daniel was not well liked and known to be a close follower of the God of the Jews. The only thing his enemies could attack him with was his faith! They knew he lived a consistent life before his God and before men as well! Even as Darius was tricked into signing a decree requiring citizens to honor only the King (not a God), Daniel remained faithful to God alone. How many of us would trade worship for a paycheck? Are we willing top hide our faith for a promotion? As with me personally, will I cheat God and compromise His call to missions, just to have a few dollars in my pocket?

Daniel was thrown into a den with live lions---real teeth and real claws and I suppose real hungry! I recall a rendition of the scene in the den whereby Daniel is depicted as looking to a ray of sunshine beaming down unto his face, as the lions lay peacefully around his feet. Wow, what a challenge for you and me today. As the world begins to turn more and more rigid against any forms of public worship, will we get even bolder in our walk, in our talk, and in our witness? Will we cower to secular pressure to honor the kings and rulers, instead of THE KING? As the lions gnash and claw at our feet, will we stay focused and trust our Daddy? Do we realize others are watching to see what we’ll do? Perhaps they’re waiting to see what our God, my God, will do through us!

“---has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
(Daniel 6:20 NKJV)

In the morning, Darius called out to Daniel, “Has your God saved you Daniel?” He waited to hear his voice and was relieved; so much so the King had the enemies of Daniel put in the Lion’s den and set forth a new decree that all would honor the God of Daniel! Will we live in such a way that others will see our God work through us in trying circumstances and then turn to Him themselves? Will we allow our Daddy to use us to His glory and to let others see Him at work? That’s our challenge! Let’s ask ourselves, “Do others see my God?” Am I living in His image or my own?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

04 26 07 A REAL Christian (a little Christ)

“Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another. Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.”
(Romans 12:9-16)

One of my biggest mistakes when I first received Christ was to remove myself from all non-believers. While it may have helped my spiritual discipline and maturity, I stayed there too long. Now 15 years later, I still struggle to find relationships with non-believers. Jesus, on the other hand, sought out the lost, deliberately becoming friends with those who needed a friend in God.

Jesus knew who he was, according to God’s design; Jesus knew whose he was, according to God’s truth; and Jesus knew his purpose for being here on earth. All this allowed him to relax and ignore what others thought or said about him. It meant Jesus wasn’t worried when others accused him of being a friend of sinners (Luke 19:7) because he was doing exactly what the Father sent him to do: persuade men and women to make peace with God (2 Cor. 5:20).
How do we safely seek the lost and unbelieving? Jesus’ actions suggest that our witness to a non-believer starts with friendship: We earn the right to share the Gospel through relationship. The old cliché is a cliché because it’s true: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Those who have yet to become friends with God are just like you and me, looking for deep, true, supportive friendships. We need to be a REAL Christian, no phoniness! We need to be a representation of Christ to the lost.
We must meet people from who we are and where they are, not pretend to be someone else: no hypocrisy! Be friendly with everyone. Don't be proud and feel that we are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people. While evangelism can indeed be a planned activity, most of our opportunities to share Christ will come in ordinary circumstances: in the check-out line, at the gas pump, even in the Board meeting. People watch our everyday personality and may even ask us why we do what we do! What an open door!
So let’s be real. Let’s be a friend. Let’s meet needs when we see them and let’s allow the Spirit to flow through our personality more often!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

04 25 07 A Trusted Friend

“A friend loves at all times, and a relative is born to help in adversity.”
(Proverbs 17:17 NET)

While I am getting used to reading the NET bible, there are some words that seem a bit casual for me. The KJV says there’s a difference between a friend (“rea” or “reya” in Strong’s Hebrew) associate or companion, and a brother (“ach”, Strong’s Hebrew) or kindred, one with a resemblance. I’ve learned over the years the meaning of true brotherhood. Just because someone is related to you, doesn’t mean they really care or are capable of caring! Friends are a definitely a blessing and make life enjoyable. However, a real brother, one who has a kindred spirit with me and really can get in the trenches with me, is truly born for those trying times, when friendships are tested! This is when relationship takes over!

A brother is built out of friendship. The relationship grows upon each experience. We choose friends based upon companionship, shared interests, and congeniality. The true friend, a brother, is available wherever and whenever needed! Only real adversity allows for such a conjunction of spirits! One may have many friends, but just a few real brothers. It takes much time and sacrifice to be a kindred spirit.

I thank God for all my friends and family. Lord knows how much I’ve relied upon each of you at times, even for our daily sustenance. However, the Lord has provided even more than a few brothers (and sisters too!) and for that I am truly blessed! Many of you have gotten real dirty with me and my struggles and challenges: thank you so much! I hope and pray to be that brother to my wife, my children, and others and I am willing to put in the time as well.

I may not be the every weekday at 5:00 am kind of a brother, but if you need me at 5:00 am, call me! I can’t promise you I’ll be able to go with you every Saturday on an outreach, but if you need me next Saturday, please ask me. Because the ministry God has called us to may be challenging at times, it doesn’t mean I’m not available to you or to my church. I’m busy, yet not that busy to ignore a need! Please ASK! Jesus was busy, yet He had time for the Samaritan woman, the government official’s daughter, for Lazarus’ and his sisters, and for you and me as He prayed in the garden. I want to be a trusted friend and a proven brother! I believe it’s the best way to reflect Jesus to others.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

04 24 07 Unlocked Treasures

“A lamp isn’t to be put under a basket or under a bed, is it?
Isn’t it to be placed on a lamp stand?”
(Mark 4:21)

Mark writes after the death of Peter (A.D. 65-70) to a people who are facing persecution from the Roman government. As the church faces severe trial, Mark concentrates on the servant hood of Christ. As they faced trials and threats, Christ is portrayed as the faithful servant, even in His final hour, remaining faithful to the will of the Father. If the early Christians could face death (11 apostles were killed for the sake of Christ) and still witness for Christ, why won’t we? Why are we ashamed of the light shining too brightly from within us?

“The secret of the Kingdom of God has been given to you.
But to those outside, everything is in parables---”

To believers, parables disclose the truth. To the unbelievers, a parable hides the truth. Only those with spiritual ears and eyes can see and hear the truth. What will we do to help open the unbeliever’s eyes and ears? Are we willing to risk friendship, relationship, even family ties? Will we risk a place of honor, a reward, or even a job? Will we be ashamed of the Gospel for the sake of our reputation?

We hold the secrets to life and death within our heart. Are we willing to do for someone else what someone did for us? Jesus went to the cross for ALL who sinned, not just our friends, or not just for me! He suffered for the chief sinner (that’s me!) and for the least (perhaps that’s you, or your boss, or your next door neighbor). Do we care if we may be the last person to tell them of Christ? How can we let someone go to hell without a warning? What if they face the Lord and say, “Jerry never told me Lord!”? Would that change our actions?

Make a list: whom do we need to speak to? Who needs to hear? Let’s begin to pray for opportunity and power to speak and live boldly for the Savior, so all may see His light shining brightly from within us. Amen!

Monday, April 23, 2007

04 23 07 Do we love Him?

“…Jesus laid His life for us; thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians.
But whoever has the world’s possessions and sees his fellow Christian in need,
and shuts off his compassion against him,
how can the love of God reside in such a person?”
(1 John 3:16-17 NET)
This may seem rather difficult at times, but we are to actively, consistently, and deeply love the believers God brings into our lives, our congregations and our Bible studies. Love is a command; our decision to love is an act of obedience. God considers loving one another so important that he told us we must do it. (1 John 4:21) It is a lesson so important that the Apostle John consistently describes love and obedience as synonymous: If you love Jesus, you will obey his commands. I received this reminder from the daily devotional from Purpose Driven Life this morning. So I ask the question: Do we love Him?
Christ crushes the myth that love is based on feelings. He pushes the definition of love to a higher level, God’s level if you will, where behavior and beliefs combine into Godly action. Should we not strive to love at His level, as He loves us? Love is no longer a schoolyard romance or a relationship dictated by compatibility, as some matchmakers may suggest. Rather, real love is and has always been a parent staggering to their baby’s crib for the fifth time in one night, or a passenger giving up his place on a lifeboat to save someone else from a sinking ship. When is the last time we saw a man (young or old) give up a seat for a lady just on the subway? Love is Christ on a cross, dying for us even while we were still lost in our sins. (Romans 5:8) Have we died to our selfish desires now that we are redeemed of our hellish state? Do we love Him?
We must choose to love, not selectively choose who to love. Love requires community. We cannot obey Christ’s command in isolation. We must engage one another; challenge one another, love one another! Our love is not to be measured by the minimum of what we can do, nor is it to be limited only to those who appear deserving. Imagine if God loved me in that fashion! I would have been dead and rotting in the recesses of hell long ago! But He thought enough to pursue me and love me unto Himself.
How would our relationships with other believers change if we began to love them with the standard of Christ?
*God is always near and will never forsake us. We can make up for forsaking others.*God has good plans for us. We can help others see His plan for them as well. *God listens to us when we pray. We can pray for others and show others how to pray.*God forgives us when we fail. We can let others see His grace and mercy in how we treat them and help to pick them up when they fall and keep walking with them! Do we love Him?

“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one
(John 13:34 NIV)

Monday, April 16, 2007

“For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer. Above all, keep your love for one another fervent, because love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without complaining. Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God. Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything, God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.”
(1 Peter 4:7-11)

I write this to encourage my family in New Orleans and surrounding towns (Covington, Slidell, and other areas) as well as those of you who are serving so diligently in God’s vineyard. For those of you who are dragging your feet, it’s time to get up and “go”. The field is indeed white for harvest, both in New Orleans and in your neighborhood as well!

Please remember that only what we do for Christ will ever have any lasting value. As we serve, we must continually do it as unto Christ. As we feel challenged, even sometimes a little taken advantage of or forgotten, remember that the Lord is seeing everything we do. As we feed, clothe, counsel, mentor, and give, we are giving to Christ, even as we serve the least or the greatest of our neighbors, our brothers and sisters. Even our personal suffering is in partnership with the Lord.

Rewards are wonderful and recognition can be advantageous at times, but we serve people to serve Christ and to share His love with the hope that someone will come to the saving knowledge of Christ as their Savior and Lord. It’s indeed a challenge as we look into one another’s eyes each day and sometimes see no progress; yet we must see God’s eternal plan in it all. The culmination of things in near! The Lord is coming back: sooner rather than later! Let that be our motivation to press on, treat each other with love and compassion as we serve, and continue to labor for Christ, for our labor is not in vain in the Lord. There is still one who needs to hear, see, and fell Christ’s redemptive love.

Thank you Urban Impact (Scott and staff), Castle Rock Church (Pastor John and staff), Trinity Church (Pastor Mike and staff), Woodstream Church (Pastor Bob and staff), TouchGlobal and Compassion Ministries Staff and everyone else along the way who have shown my wife and me how to serve with love, commitment, and the compassion of our Lord.

We all need the support of the Body. There is much work to be done, in New Orleans and around the world, even in our own backyards and front yards; even within our own homes. For those not yet involved, pray for where the Lord wants to use you and how. Pray that you have the faith to say “yes” to go, “yes” to give or to repent and then go or give! Prayer is needed for sure, but the prayers must have arms, legs, feet, and heart!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Lest I Forget…

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, and His loyal love endures! Who can adequately recount the Lord’s mighty acts, or relate all His praiseworthy deeds? ---The Lord of Israel deserves praise, in the future and forever more. Let ALL the people say, ‘We agree! Praise the Lord!’”? (Psalm 106:1-2, 48, NET Bible)

Who in fact can possibly lists all the things the Lord has done? We take Him so much for granted that we don’t even recall the fact that He alone woke us up! It took me to leave my job and go into full-time ministry to actually realize it is God who provides my every need. I really have no control over the money I make, the home I live in, or the car I drive. I do not control my health, no matter how much I exercise or how healthy I eat! I can’t make my children obey or even respond to God’s calling for their lives. I can’t solve the child abuse problem in the world. I cannot lead every person I meet to the Lord either! Lest I forget, God is in control!

All it takes to realize this fact is to be rushed to surgery and within minutes unconscious and out of control. Springtime weather overnight turns to snow and freezing temperatures. One day enjoying a meal within your happy home and the next you’re in a courtroom facing divorce proceedings. One minute praying thanksgiving to God and the next answering a emergency phone call to come quickly and help a child in trouble. A trusted friend suddenly acts like your worst enemy. Twenty years of 9 to 5, comfort, and stability and then no paycheck, no insurance, no retirement plan. Lest I forget, God is in control!

The more I am in touch with God; the more I am understanding how futile my plans are. While it’s good to plan, I must know His plans for me to truly find peace. The only way to know His plans for me is to know Him more deeply. I even begin to understand myself more, as I realize How Daddy made me and formed me. Things will rust and fade. People will let me down. Money loses value every day. My relationship with my Daddy is eternal! Lest I forget-------

Friday, April 6, 2007

Glad I Was There!

“But God, demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.----while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son---we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received this reconciliation.” (Romans 5:8)

Consider the following from the Gospel verses:
they “arrested Jesus and tied Him up”
they “struck Him on the face”
they “struck Him on the head with a staff and spit upon Him”
they “had Him flogged severely”
“braided a crown of thorns and put it on His head”
“struck Him repeatedly in the face”
they shouted, “CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!”
they “defamed Him”
they “spoke abusively to Him”
they “crucified Jesus, they took his clothes”
they “pierced His side with a spear”.

And all the while, Jesus must have repeatedly said within His heart, “You will be done Father, not mine.” He prayed for the forgiveness of those who tormented and tortured Him. He received the abuse for me and for you. It hurts me to think of it. It breaks my heart. I’m glad I was there that day.

Just as easy as we will accept that day of salvation when Jesus comes for us to live with Him, we must accept that we were there as well when He suffered for us! It was necessary for our sin. It was necessary for our forgiveness. It was necessary for our redemption. I’m glad I was there then and will be with Him in the end. Where will you be?

As we were in Jesus’ heart that day, I beg you to let Him into your heart today. Accept the fact that we all are sinners, enemies of a holy God. Yet because of Jesus’ sacrifice on that day, we can accept His blood sacrifice for our sin. That’s the only way to be there then…on that day to come!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

What’s on Our Mind?

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;, that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, and that the world may believe, that You sent me.”
(John 17:20-21 NKJV)

What’s on our mind? Is it what was on Jesus’ mind and heart just before He was about to be handed over to suffer a horrible punishment and death upon the cross? Wasn’t it quite ironic, that He prayed more for believers to be one than He did for His own strength? He would have preferred to save us from an eternal hell another way, but He nevertheless accepted the father’s will and the cup that was before Him. But His concern was those He left behind, those with whom He lived with and shared with, and those of us who would believe because of them.

How concerned are we for others? Do we only care that we know Christ and that’s enough? Do we really care that our neighbors, our co-workers, even our family members are on a fast track for hell? Do we seek to be one, to be family, with our fellow believers? Do we greet one another within the family of Christ by name, with a personal embrace, as John would ask his children to do? (3 John 14) Are we concerned with the image we portray to a lost and dying world? Do they even know what we believe? What’s on our mind?

How concerned are we for others? If we take the example of our Savior, even when we face our greatest challenges, we can take the focus off of self and continue to pray and help others. It just may make the burden a little lighter. Sometimes, it’s just better to help someone else rather than worry so much about me! There always is someone in more need than me! Let’s begin to pray for others, how we may be able to be of help, and perhaps we’ll be able to focus on the Fathers’ will and not our own so much!

Not my will, but thine be done. Make us one Daddy and give a mind that is like Christ’s! Amen!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

God Relates Heart to Heart

“Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offerings and whole burnt offering; then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.”
(Psalm 51:19)

No amount of worship services can make us perfect. No matter how large the offering, it doesn’t do anything for our soul’s condition. A gallon of whiskey can’t wash away the memories of the past. A bucket of bleach won’t cleanse the stain of sin. We can’t possibly be good enough to make ourselves right before God: no one…no how…no way!

Only by the blood of Christ is the sinner redeemed, by the riches of the grace of God! Our forgiveness is a gift from God (Romans 6:23). Only after we have been cleansed by that blood, will any thing we do be accepted by God. The only sacrifice He desires is the sacrifice of our hearts, our lives, (Romans 12:1-2) given over to His redeeming power and the control of His Spirit living within every believer.

We are saved from sin to do good works for the Lord to draw others to Him. We can not possibly do good works to be saved. Every man’s heart is wicked and prone to sin (Romans 3:23) without the grace of God. God judges the heart and knows our hearts’ desires. We can’t fake it! Back in Deuteronomy 30:14, Moses reminded the people:

But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.” Then in Romans 10: 9-13 Paul reiterates, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…for whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (See Joel 2:32)

You see, this is not some new wave religion or spiritual awakening. God has been saying the same thing since man fell in the garden. “Seek after Me. Let Me help you. Only I can save you. Stop hiding behind the bush, or behind your career, or behind failed relationships. Stop believing the lies. Come to Me: with your heart.”

So as we conclude this look at Psalm 51, we come to the realization that no matter what we’ve done and no matter what man says we are, God still seeks after us, but we too need to seek after Him. We give our tired, broken hearts to Him and He in turn gives us a new heart, a new desire, and a rebirth. God relates heart to heart! I would venture to say that as a believer in the risen Lord, we need a heart exam every day! I want to be a man after God’s own heart!!!!
Let God Build The Walls

“Do good in Your pleasure to Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem.” (Psalm 51:18)

The king has now moved from his personal prayers and pleading and turns toward the concerns of his nation. We all realize the importance of the leader, whether it’s the President, the boss, the local pastor, or getting more personal, the head of the family. If the leader is not stable, confident, secure, then those under him or her will be lacking in some area. The nation will be at risk. The business will be in danger of folding. The members of the church will be lacking spiritually. Our family will vulnerable to the various wiles of the devil and his world. Instead of allowing God to build the walls of protection and strength, we are the cause of collapse.

A leader must be right for those under him to be right. Just as our good fortune can trickle down and bless those around us, our sin and decadence can infect those in close proximity.

Let’s take a good look at whom we are influencing. Even if we’re not leading a nation, a church, or even a business, most of us are parents. Even if you find yourself without a child or family, you are still influencing someone somewhere! Someone is looking up to you for example. While this is a wake-up call mainly to parents, we all need to realize how our actions, much more than words, influence our co-workers, fellow church members, and neighbors, as well as our spouse and our children.

Peter wrote to husbands in the verse below. If the husband is not living in proper respect, honor, and service to his wife, his prayers are hindered. All the honor and blessing goes to the wife. Responsibility lays with the husband…the father….the man. From one husband to another, one father to another, one man to another…we look for too much recognition and honor! That may not come until we come face to face with our Father! Let’s stop looking for recognition and simply keep our responsibility…to lead by Christ-like example! Are we allowing God to work through us to build the walls of our family or are we the cause of breakdowns and hindering of His blessings?

“…that you prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)
Nothing To Give

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart…these, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

Well, we need not look up too many Bible commentaries to figure this verse out, do we? What God really wants from us is what any parent wants from their child: a humble spirit and a forgiving heart. Just think as we who are parents react to the hearts of our children as they come running to us with tears in their eyes, arms wide open, ready to sink into our arms for forgiveness, reassurance, and love. No matter what they’ve done to offend us, we welcome them. They need us. They recognize their wrong. They want our help. We don’t ask for money, toys, or even their favorite stuffed animal, in return, just their hearts.

It’s simple. God the Father just wants our hearts to be one with His. He desperately wants to reach deep within our souls and provide all He knows we need. However, He will not force Himself on us, as we do at times with our kids (this is one of my faults I’m working on). So let’s keep things simple today. God wants me, not what I have. I really have nothing to GIVE but me! Once He has our hearts, all we could possibly obtain will be for His glory!
Dumb and Dumber

“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.”
(Psalm 51:16)

The prophet Samuel said, “…to obey is better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22) David is reiterating that here in Psalm 51. In fact in the Mosaic Law, there was no sacrifice for adultery or murder. He knew He faced death. This was in strict violation of God’s commandments and David saw no way out. There was no blood sacrifice to cover the sin he committed. Today, we are always looking for a way to cover our sin…hide it, even though we have the grace and mercy present in blood of Jesus. We continue to try to work our way into God’s graces instead of living our way closer to God! It was dumb to think that then (in David’s day) and even dumber to think that now!

God provided the Jews with a way to atone for sin, through sacrifices and offerings. We no longer are bound by that law and are freed up through the sacrificial blood offering of Christ. When will you and I really begin to live a life pleasing to God by allowing the Holy Spirit to completely control our lives? I struggle with it each and every day. It is indeed a process, yet one we can accomplish. We must give up the reins however!

The Amplified Bible translates the verse below in the following way: “Make a decisive dedication of your bodies (presenting all your members and faculties) as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.” I believe we’re hearing that in lieu of God’s mercy, it’s just plain dumb to think we can do anything but live right before God to really please Him! Our offering, our worship, our praise, our basic gift in response to His love for us is simple: live a life pleasing to Him. We need to be the type person God saw in David; a man or woman running after God’s own heart!

“…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable (service.” (Romans 12:1)
Loose Lips….

“O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.” (Psalm 51:15)

Loose lips sink ships! Our mouths, if nor under the control of the Spirit of God, can destroy reputations, crumble relationships, and tear apart families; sinking the whole ship and everyone on board. The words don’t have to true, just uttered for someone within earshot to hear, and like wildfire, the rumors and stories spread. “Did you hear what happened?” “How could he have done that?” “I had no idea that she would be involved in such activity!” By the time the rumor mill and gossip column is finished, a person can be convicted, character destroyed, and reputation forever tarnished. What took hours or days to tear apart now will take years to restore…but for the grace of God!

How many times have we found ourselves arguing with our spouse in the church parking lot, only to walk into the sanctuary with a smile and “good morning” to all we greet? “How are you doing this wonderful day? Oh, I’m great! God is good!” What we should be saying is, “Wait a minute. I’m not doing so well. I have some apologizing to do to my wife and children before I even set foot in God’s house. If He is so good, than why have I just allowed Satan to use my tongue for such evil?”

“But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.”
(James 3:8-12)

James admonished the reader to be Christ-like Monday through Saturday as well as on Sunday. He realized that our actions are as important as our faith…they go hand in hand. Paul did as well. Peter learned the lesson of speaking to quickly. Faith in Christ brings a transformation of the inner soul. We must learn to give over control of our thoughts, actions, even our words to honor God and our fellow man, made in His image. How can we possibly say we love God yet curse our neighbor, verbally abuse our spouse, or cut down our children with uncaring words? My pastor once said that the Lord gave us teeth to cage in the unruly animal within our mouths…the tongue! We definitely need to be slower to speak, listen more intently, take in the situation, and pray for the Holy Spirit to give us utterance and wisdom in our speech! Loose lips sink ships. Who is the captain of your ship?
The God of MY Salvation

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, the God of my salvation and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.” (Psalm 51:14)

David was a murderer, a thief, and an adulterer, among other things. He didn’t always perform as he should have as king. He wasn’t the best dad in the world. Even growing up, he was not the favorite son or the most popular among his siblings. Yet as he pursued the mercy of God, the God of his salvation, he vowed to speak of His mercy and righteousness. He was nothing without Jehovah and everything with His presence.

What have we been delivered from? What has the blood of Christ purged from our lives? What black spot has the Lamb washed whiter than snow, that when God looks at us He sees the righteousness of Christ and not the guilt of our actions? What has the God of our salvation done for us to make us “an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:7)?

What business do I even have with idle thoughts and words, after what Christ has done for me? Everything I do, every word out my mouth, every plan I make, should be centered on honoring God and drawing others to the love and mercy of the God of my salvation! After what He has delivered me from, why do I waste my time on junk? With all that is going on today, we need to be reminded that all that we do should be done to bring glory to our Abba, our Daddy, and cause others to seek Him for themselves. My God must be the center of my life. Is He not worth it? I too am nothing without Him yet can do all things in Him! I am His son and He is the God of my salvation, so when will I begin to act like it so others can witness it? Time is getting short…just look around!
All Pride Is Gone

“Then I will teach transgressors Your ways and sinner shall be converted to You.”
(Psalm 51:13)

Once we are truly cleansed of all unrighteousness through the blood of Christ, we are free to now live a life for Him and for others to witness; especially those who are where we have been! We are not saved from a wretched lifestyle to simply hide behind the cross, but to step out into the marvelous light, take up that cross, follow after God’s will for our lives, and allow others in darkness to see what the Lord has done in us!

My desire is to see everyone I meet to come to the saving knowledge of my Savior, Jesus Christ! I want to prevent others from making the same mistakes I have made along the way. If that means living my life as an open book, so be it. All pride is gone.

What right do I have to hide what I have done, after the humiliation Christ went through for me? How in the world will someone pondering divorce know the consequences if I don’t share with him? How will the struggling single father learn to lean on Jesus more than women if I don’t come alongside and walk with him? How will a young man realize how strangling pornographic material can become if I don’t open up my past to him and let Him see how Christ can meet needs of affirmation, companionship, and self-assurance? How will the step-father work through family issues if I keep my struggles bottled up within my own heart? How will the couple hanging on by a thread seek counseling if my wife and I don’t share how much counseling has helped us work through issues of life?

I desire for the Lord to use my life to win others for Christ, to save those slipping (or racing) down the slope to hell as I was in August of 1993. I don’t care what it takes or what embarrassment it may cause me. I’m a fool for Jesus at this point! He was not embarrassed to suffer publicly for me; I will not be embarrassed to allow Him to use me any way He sees fit. I am not ashamed.

“…for the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10)
All Pride Is Gone

“Then I will teach transgressors Your ways and sinner shall be converted to You.”
(Psalm 51:13)

Once we are truly cleansed of all unrighteousness through the blood of Christ, we are free to now live a life for Him and for others to witness; especially those who are where we have been! We are not saved from a wretched lifestyle to simply hide behind the cross, but to step out into the marvelous light, take up that cross, follow after God’s will for our lives, and allow others in darkness to see what the Lord has done in us!

My desire is to see everyone I meet to come to the saving knowledge of my Savior, Jesus Christ! I want to prevent others from making the same mistakes I have made along the way. If that means living my life as an open book, so be it. All pride is gone.

What right do I have to hide what I have done, after the humiliation Christ went through for me? How in the world will someone pondering divorce know the consequences if I don’t share with him? How will the struggling single father learn to lean on Jesus more than women if I don’t come alongside and walk with him? How will a young man realize how strangling pornographic material can become if I don’t open up my past to him and let Him see how Christ can meet needs of affirmation, companionship, and self-assurance? How will the step-father work through family issues if I keep my struggles bottled up within my own heart? How will the couple hanging on by a thread seek counseling if my wife and I don’t share how much counseling has helped us work through issues of life?

I desire for the Lord to use my life to win others for Christ, to save those slipping (or racing) down the slope to hell as I was in August of 1993. I don’t care what it takes or what embarrassment it may cause me. I’m a fool for Jesus at this point! He was not embarrassed to suffer publicly for me; I will not be embarrassed to allow Him to use me any way He sees fit. I am not ashamed.

“…for the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10)
The Company We Keep

“Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:11)

David knew he had grieved the Holy Spirit. His action with Bathsheba had caused a separation in his fellowship with God. He dreaded this more than anything. He realized his powerlessness without the Spirit working within him. God has no fellowship with sin and had to remove Himself from David’s activities. David pleads for forgiveness and restoration of the fellowship, the friendship, the intimacy with God.

God knows the company we keep. Do we desire to be in fellowship with Him, or the world? Whom we hang out with has a definite effect upon our lives and of those we love. God and sin have no fellowship. A friend of God is the enemy, the counterpart of the world. Why then, do we look so much like the world and why are we so comfortable with that look? We study His Word, worship His holiness, and call on His name to bless and protect us, yet we expect Him to join us while we yet hang out with sin.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord.”
(Psalm 1:1-2)

My interpretation…? Happy (blessed) is the Christian who does not listen to the advice of the ungodly, stand around with blatant sinners, nor sit around with haughty and egotistical folks. The happy and blessed Christian is one who desires intimate fellowship with the Holy Spirit of God! Our walk with the Lord requires some hard decisions in life: Whom do I associate with? What and who do I listen to? Where do I go? Whom am I trying to please? The choice is up to each individual: How close doe we want to be with God? We’re known by the company we keep!
Between The Father and Child

“Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
(Psalm 51:10)
We must see, as David did, that real forgiveness, the cleansing of our souls, does not come from a simple, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” It has to come with a heartfelt desire for the Lord to change me…transform me…remold me! Make my deepest desires and interests for You God. You are indeed the potter and I desire to be the clay in Your hands to be used as You see fit. I want Your will! Make me a new creature, evolving day by day by the power of Your Spirit into Your likeness and image.

“You must be born again.” (John 3:7)

Jesus said this to Nicodemus, a leading teacher in the Jewish Sanhedrin. We need to hear it today. Being born again is not a freakish thing, a cultish activity, or a denominational sacrament. It’s biblical instruction from Christ Himself! We can’t change ourselves: it’s the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a re-birth! It’s a new life! Once truly saved by the power of the blood of Christ, God has designs upon our lives. We must allow the Spirit free reign in our personal life, our marriage, our jobs, and every aspect of our life. We have a new life from above…from the Spirit of God. These questions are now Between the Father and Child… “Am I truly born again?” “Am I a new creature?” Have I allowed the Lord’s Spirit free reign in every nook and cranny of my life?”

“But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John3:21)
God’s Eraser

“Hide Your face from my sins and blot out ALL iniquities.”
(Psalm 51:9)

What God forgives He forgets. There are no remnants with Him of our past, once we accept His Son as our Savior and Lord. God’s Eraser leaves no streaks or blemishes behind. Our sins are totally wiped out as far as the east is from the west! Praise God!

So then where is the problem? Why do we continue to allow Satan and others to cause us to doubt: doubt our salvation; doubt our fellowship with the Lord; doubt our usefulness? What God chooses to forget, He doesn’t keep bringing up, as we humans tend to do! Once we come to understand and trust this truth, we can move on and not keep lingering in the past.

Once forgiven and saved from our sin nature, ALL our sins are forgiven and ALL unrighteous is removed. We are then given the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ, just as Abraham was granted righteousness by His belief in the promises of God. We though, have seen the promises fulfilled in Christ! John, the young disciple whom Jesus loved dearly, kept consistent throughout his ministry, even to his senior years. He constantly preached to believe and live. His constant message was to love one another. Once forgiven, we are mandated to live out our faith: personally!

Though our sins have consequences and we may have forfeited some opportunities to serve in certain areas, no one is cancelled out! There is a place in the Body of Christ fore every believer to serve and it is of vital importance for ALL to serve for the Body to function properly. So get in there and serve! Stop allowing lies to keep you on the sideline. Jesus didn’t go to cross for a few, but for YOU and for ME! It was personal. Let’s show our gratitude through a lifetime of service, not just for a day or a weekend or two!!!

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

The Great Physician still makes house calls!

“Make me hear joy and gladness that the bones you have broken may rejoice.”
(Psalm 51:8)

Sin is depressing, degrading and demoralizing. The longer we stay in it, the worse things get. Have you ever felt like David, and your bones ached from the condition of your heart? I’m not talking about the Arthur-itis in your knees or shoulders or other joints, but the aching deep within our souls from decisions we’ve made, relationships we’ve had, or even things we didn’t do when we should have done them.

The Good News is that we don’t need to rely on an analgesic rub or pain pill for what is only temporary relief. As born-again believers, we have the indwelling Spirit of God ready and willing to work deep within our aching hearts and the marrow within our bones. David desired the intimate experience of communion with God. There is an abiding peace that goes beyond all understanding when we are at peace with God. Bones broken by conviction can rejoice and be comforted. That same Spirit that convicts also causes a resounding peace to surround one who has been alienated by sin.

Is it enough to be saved by grace and escape the fires of hell? It wasn’t for David and it’s not for me. It should not be for any believer. Yes, there’s peace in knowing that one day I’ll be with my God and Savior in heaven. But I desire fellowship and relationship with Him every day…now! It can only come from living a life of repentance, confessing my sin to my Father through Christ and seeking to live in communion with Him and those around me. Knowing Jesus is knowing peace. Abiding in Him (John 15:4- 8) is living a life of joy, contentment, and fulfillment, knowing our Lord lives in and through us and is pleased with what we’re doing, despite what things may look like!!

One question: Spiritually speaking, are we experiencing more pain of Arthur than the peace of the Lord? The doctor…the Great Physician still makes house calls!
There Is Working Power In the Blood

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean, wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)

The hyssop pant is of the mint family, an aromatic shrub which grew among the rocky crevices and cultivated on terrace walls. Bunches of the plant would be used to sprinkle blood on the doorposts in Egypt (Exodus 12:22) and during Hebrew purification ceremonies (Leviticus 14). David refers to it here in Psalm 51 as an inner cleansing. The same plant was used to relieve Jesus’ thirst at the cross (John 19:29).

Hyssop purged one from being defiled by touching a corpse or person with leprosy (Numbers 19:18/Leviticus 14:4). David here asked the Lord God to not only cleanse the outside however, but to wash his entire being, even to the soul. One doesn’t simply wash his clothing, but his entire body to be clean. Neither would one was his body and put on the same filthy rags. David desired a thorough cleansing!

Do we seek the total cleansing that the blood of Christ offers us, or do we simply want the brushing of the hyssop plant on the outside? Do we allow the atoning blood to wash our hearts and souls, and relieve us from the drought of sin? There is working power in the blood! Have we allowed it to work from within us?
Gut Check

“Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:6)

It’s important that when things get tough, we know where a person’s heart is. We want to know who we can count on when things really count. It the same in war, in sports, even in business and family matters. We want to know where a person really stands deep, within their heart. We need a gut check at times!

It’s no different with God. He already knows though. He searches our hearts and knows where we stand. Yet he still stands waiting for us to just ask for His help. Those who sincerely desire to be filled with His Spirit and taught to follow His ways will be rewarded. If we really want what God wants for our lives and for others He will teach us and equip us. We need to want it. Whatever we lack in wisdom, God sits ready to fill us…just ask with a sincere heart. He is Truth!!!

The less we think of ourselves and the more we desire God and His ways, the more we become like Him, the more we learn of Him, and the more effective we become for Him. God is searching for some soldiers to do battle for Him. He is in the locker room asking where our heart is. He’s challenging the work force to get on board. Let’s take a gut check and ask ourselves, “Do we desire His truth in our inward parts…in our hearts, or are we just on the outside looking in?” Can we be trusted in battle?
ALL Have Sinned

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”
(Psalm 51:5)

David does not excuse his sin, but rather acknowledges it. He is not blaming his mother or father for his actions either, like a lot of us tend to do. “Well, you know, my parents did not give me all I needed. My father wasn’t there for me. My mom was always out working.” All these excuses may be our reality, but the ultimate reality is that by nature, from birth, we ALL are born sinners. A child left to himself will do wrong…I’ve seen it with my four year old. I don’t have to teach him to say, “Not me”, when I just saw him reach for the candy bar or cookie I just told him not to touch!

“…for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

As human beings, we inherit Adam’s sin nature…impure from the moment we become human! Under the blood of Christ, we all can become forgiven, made pure, righteous in the sight of God. We all are born sinners, but we all can also be born again, made whole, and transformed through the sacrifice of our Savior. No more excuses, just action. Stop blaming others for our sin and accept things for what they are. Without Christ we are nothing! With Him we have God intended for us “in the beginning”. (Genesis 1:1)
“Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight…
that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.”
(Psalm 51:4)

One thing we all must face in life and that is that all sin is ultimately committed against Almighty God…our holy and sinless Father. Though murder and adultery are perhaps the most treacherous and direct sins upon mankind, directly harming both the individual and families, David feels the effect of his sin on God. He always hurts the most when we choose to sin.

It is our sinful nature…our want to sin that caused God to send His Son to earth in the flesh to give His life as a sacrifice for our sin. Imagine the pain caused when He witnesses our continued sin! There is no hidden sin, no private offense, and no covered-up crime when it comes to God, our all-knowing, ever-present, and all-powerful God. All sin is committed in full view of God!

Thank God for Jesus however, because we can be blameless in God’s sight by the blood He shed on the cross! David experienced God’s forgiveness though prayer and sacrifices. We can too, but now through the one complete and perfect sacrifice of the Cross of Christ. The more we realize our helplessness before our Holy God, the more we embrace the cross! It’s only through the shed blood of Christ that we can be in communion with our Father!

Against You and You only do I sin Daddy. I’m so sorry…so grieved…so upset that I bring You pain time and time again. Help me to take it personally as Jesus did and live for Your will and surrender my very soul for Your glory! Let the Cross be my guide and my motivation.

I Hate This!!!!

For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” (Psalm 51:3)

The first step repentance is showing contrition for our action. If we don’t feel any remorse or sorrow for what we’ve done, there will no real admition of guilt. So many of us today say, “I’m sorry”, yet there is no feeling of sorrow. I’m sorry becomes a way of getting out of the situation we’re in! Secondly, we must come to realize and acknowledge that our sin is sin and we can’t deal with it alone. We need a holy God to remove the evil condition of sin!

David was surely remorseful for his actions with Bathsheba and the subsequent death (murder) of her husband Uriah (2 Samuel 11). He also acknowledged that the sin was “always before him”…it would not go away! He couldn’t cover it up and he couldn’t run any more. It was eating at his health (Psalm 32:3) and now Nathan the prophet knew as well (2 Samuel 12:7).

I think we all can relate to David. I know I can! I have gotten to the point where I hate the sin I even think about and it makes me sick to consider the things I do and have done, compared to what God has done for me! I can imagine David crying out, “I hate this!” in reference to his sinful condition. We just can’t handle it alone! We need His grace. We need His love. We need His mercy. We need the blood of Jesus to thoroughly cleanse us! We also need a Nathan at times to help us admit our guilt.

What is the comparison in our lives to the sin we commit and the grace and mercy offered by Christ? Ask yourself, “Do I hate the sin enough to admit how much I need Him? Am I willing to cry out to Him for help? What must I do to be saved from the deep sorrow of my sin and transformed to a new life of holiness?” Call on the Savior, the One who died for each of us that we might experience His deep and abiding love. Trust Him to do what we can’t do alone! Don’t hide anymore!!!
A Thorough Cleansing

“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:2)

Wash me…cleanse me…not simply the sin! I find myself asking God to forgive my sins more often than I ask Him to forgive me! True repentance requires a desire to change from the inside out. It requires an inner change…a true change of heart! To truly repent is to turn away from the sinful activity and walk in a newness of life, despising the sin and hating the activity itself and how we are when in that sin!

Charles Spurgeon said, “The hypocrite is content if his garments be washed; but the true suppliant (petitioner) cries, ‘wash me’.” Through the blood of Christ, our whole entire debt is washed away, every stain cleansed. We should desire to be completely cleansed when seeking forgiveness with no secret lusts hidden within the recesses of our hearts. Satan would have us believe we are held bound, but Christ sets us free from all sin! Christ’s sacrifice was complete and our cleansing is whole. Let us desire not just for the sin to be forgiven, but that our hearts be cleansed and our minds be set free to live as that visible sacrifice unto the Father so others may see and want it for themselves.

Remember Peter, just as Jesus was about to wash his feet before sharing the last meal with His disciples?

“If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” (John 13:8-9)

He would have no part of Jesus lowering Himself to wash his feet. Yet when he found out the “washing” was a sign of partnership with Christ, Peter desired a thorough cleansing! Do we want simply a topical antiseptic or the entire illness wiped away? “Wash me, Lord!!!”

Psalm 51

If Not For His Mercy

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1)

After David has been confronted by the prophet Nathan concerning his sin of adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12), David realizes his condition and pleads for the mercy of Almighty God! What else could he do? He was guilty and deserved death for what he had done! At times, all we can do is humble ourselves before God and those we offend and ask for mercy.

David addresses God as Elohim, showing his unworthiness to even speak the covenant name of Jehovah God (Yahweh/YHWH). Picture David; fearful even for his life before the God of the universe, bowing, pleading, prostrate before Him. Is that not how we should be every morning…every evening? Have we lost sight of Who God is? I know that after all the Lord has allowed me to do…all the places He has seen me visit…after all the dirt I have done …I owe Him the respect to fall on my face, plead for His mercy, and thank Him for not only saving my soul, but sparing my physical life as well!

David knew, as we do, that God promises to wipe away our sin as far as the east is from the west, and remember them no more as we ask for His forgiveness. Our sin sacrifice has been paid by His Son Jesus, however. We need not kill an animal and make an offering as the Old Testament believers once did. We are to be a living sacrifice for the Lord, for all to see His glory! We do not have to plead for the Lord to restore His Spirit within us, we experience His presence in the indwelling Holy Spirit, received at the moment we accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.

Has it become too easy for us? Do we not feel the urgency to receive His new mercies every day? Let’s not take it for granted. If not for His mercy, where would you be…where would I be? I shudder to think….

Monday, April 2, 2007

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!"?
In His Hands

“But now O Lord, we are the clay and You are the potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)

The city had been melted like wax, totally destroyed, yet Isaiah reminded the people of his day (and even us today) that Jehovah is still our God, He is still our Father. Despite our condition, He still loves us and desires for all to come to Him. No matter how desperate things become, God is always able to intervene on our behalf. Once we are His, no one or no thing can snatch us from His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands…

The potter is the one who formed us. God the Father knows us from the very beginning of our existence. He knows the plans He has for us, if we would only give ourselves over to His hands. We are to be the clay in the Potter’s hands, pliable moldable, and submissive to the One whom has total control and absolute authority over the clay. Though God controls the entire universe, He’ll allow us the free will to go free and do things on our own.

As I think of various cities of our world which have suffered devastation through natural disaster, war, and poverty, I can only help but to think and pray that they know to call on the God who still cares. Have they given up hope? Can they see beyond the desolation? Can they see that now, they are truly simple clay in the potter’s hands? Will they allow His hands to protect, provide, and love them?

What about you and me? What will it take for us to finally throw our hands in the air and say, “I can’t do it any more on my own Father. I need You. I give You complete control!” We rely on the fitness trainer, the financial coach, the family counselor…and they are all good methods of seeking help and plans to get into shape. I believe however, that we first need to give control over to the Potter, because after all, if we are to please Him, He must have complete control for anyone else to be able to really help us. Once the Lord has our whole heart and every aspect of our life, then we allow Him the authority to change and mold us, as individuals, as families, as a city, and even as a Nation. He’s got you and me (brother, sister, momma, daddy, neighbor, little baby, businessman, politician, pastor, doctor,)…in His hands

We try so hard to do so good. Then we blame others when things go bad. There’s a new diet; a new approach to parenting, a new debt consolidation plan; and new plan to revitalize a city; a new economic package with tax breaks and incentives for businesses; a new man with a new plan…..Why not go back to the original? No matter how bad things may get (and they will get bad) it’s this simple: God is the potter, we are the clay. In His hands is the safest place to be. He’s got us! Why do we keep trying to squirm out?
Hammer And Nails

“Blessed is everyone who fears, reveres, and worships the Lord, who walks in His ways and lives according to His commandments … behold, thus shall the man be blessed who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord.” (Psalm 128:1-4)

My pastor shared these verses with our congregation along the theme of home improvement. During the entire sermon, my wheels were spinning and my heart was being stirred within! As Pastor reiterated time and time again, we can have the grandest home with the most elaborate furnishings, yet if the heart of the home …relationships… is broken, the home is simply a house!

While my pastor challenged the men especially, I couldn’t help but be convicted and encouraged. As head of the homes, the men must lead in every category. We have to stop hiding behind our jobs, the TV set, and our heritage. We may have not had the best father. Perhaps we had no male figure while growing up or just bad examples of manhood. Then again, maybe you’re like me and just blown it all by yourself at times and have no one to blame but the man in the mirror!

As my pastor spoke of how Christ builds the home (or rebuilds it!) as He is in my home, my thoughts went to three things: a hammer and nails and a tool belt. I thought back two-thousand years ago when a Roman soldier took a hammer and some very heavy thick nails and nailed my Jesus on the cross for me. To me, that was the beginning of my rebuilding project. The cross needs to be my focal point if I am to allow Him to be the architect of my life and home.

So how do I strap on my spiritual tool belt and hammer away failures, nail down Biblical principles, and do the necessary home improvements? Start with an empty belt with lots of storage. Buckle it up and secure it around the waist. Load it with local fellowship at a Bible teaching church, private study of God’s word, small group study with like-minded believers, prayer throughout the day, accountability to a few men (women for you ladies) who will strongly hold you accountable, and specialized hand-tools such as humility, sacrifice, forgiveness, and a servant’s heart.

It does no good to have the tools in the garage (or in the back of the car). Home improvement takes work … labor ... sweat. We can’t avoid the church, the pastor, and our friends when we need help. The more we run from the work, the more the structure decays. It’s time to stop running and get to work! Our family is worth it! No more excuses of what others did or did not do. Are we willing to make the necessary improvements? Here’s the challenge, from the original Home Builder:

“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, so that He might sanctify her by the washing of water by the Word. That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor … even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.” (Ephesians 5:25-28)
His Eyes

“Since times are not hidden from the Almighty, why do those who know Him not see His days?” (Job 24:1)

Reading Job 24 reads like present day society. Listen to a few verses: “Some remove landmarks…they push the needy off the road…all the poor of the land are forced to hide…and huddle around the rock for want of shelter…there are those who rebel against the light…the eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight…in the dark they break into houses, which they marked for themselves in the daytime; they do not know the light.”

We wonder out loud at times, “Where is God and why doesn’t He act?”How much longer will He put up with such sickness, disgust, and SIN?” We must remember that He is a patient God and longsuffering, so that all may come to repentance. His will is for no one to be lost! He waited for you and me, thank God! There are still yet a few (maybe a few million) who are yet to be saved!!! Job gives us the answer to our questions in verse 23, “Yet His eyes are on their ways”.

God sees all that’s going on around us. He is disgusted by it all. However, just as He is patient, He is holy and just. He will judge it all one day, including the work we Christians are doing about it all. Are we coming against the injustice? Are we aiding the poor? Are we helping to even out the scales? Are we being a light in the darkness or hiding ourselves? His eyes are on us as well! The days will get worse and worse, but we need to do more and more to make sure our light stays trimmed and burning for Him! It’s time to step up, not give up!!!
Father Knows Best!


Trial after trial…tests after test…disappointments, failures, rejection…more and more pain. Will it ever end? Will things turn around? When will my ship come in? When will the sun shine and the clouds go away for a while? Why do the ones who seem to do everything wrong have so much fun and happiness? Why is all this happening to me?

Have you asked these sorts of questions? Are you finding yourself asking them even today? You’re not alone! As a Christian, sometimes we believe that God is a genie in a bottle that we rub every once in awhile to get a wish or two. Maybe if I ask for this or that, I’ll get it and all my troubles will go away! NOT TRUE! Temporary fixes work for a minute or two, but we have a lifetime to live for Christ and a legacy of faith to leave behind. One thing we must trust and believe:

“…‘for My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are your ways My ways’, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)

Even as we are going through a series of storms, as Job experienced, we must realize that God is in control and has our best interest in mind. His best is not our best! He desires holiness for us, not constant happiness. That is why it is so important to stay connected to the Body of Christ as to not get confused and dejected. I don’t think I could have handled Job’s friends! I’m so glad for my church family! While they tell me the truth, it’s in love and that is so important in order to continue growing along our journey with the Lord!

God is always at work to mold us for His plans for our lives. It’s important to stay in touch with His will and respond in a way that we continue to grow and not doubt God. Let’s remember to be encouraging to one another and help one another grow stronger through our trials. Allow God to work things out for His good, for those of us who love Him and are called according to His purposes. After all, Father knows best!
Accept the Cross, It’s That Simple

“Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)

Who does God see as great? The disciples asked Jesus that and he referred them to the kids playing around them, even to the point of bringing a child into their circle. A child is at times helpless, always needing advice, craving attention, seeking boundaries and discipline, and always...always ready to forgive and move on with life. Jesus had to remind His disciples that God sees the heart of a person, as a child does. A child can sense when someone is genuine, can’t they? They can feel something we can’t. We lose the innocence, the freedom, and the sensitivity of a child, as we grow wise!

Surely Jesus recalled His childhood, as he played with His brothers, learned the carpenter trade under Joseph, and even gathered in the temple as a young boy. He probably remembered His siblings poking fun at Him, or the ridicule He received for being so young, yet knowing Scripture so well. I bet He remembered the scolding He received for missing the family van when they pulled out to go home from the temple too!

Jesus knew what it was like to be a child, because He was one! He also knows what it’s like to be an adult in the world, because He lived in this flesh as we do. He also knows what it takes to please God, because He did only what the Father said, despite all the temptations known to man! We have to remember that Jesus knows everything about us…and He wants to help!!! He wants to keep it real simple too. We get so caught up in intricate details and complicated processes, that we lose the message. God loves us and wants us to run to Him as a little child runs to His daddy with open arms at break-neck speed! It’s that simple!

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart…these O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17)

Psalm 51 is my favorite Bible passage from my favorite biblical hero. It reminds me so much of myself, who I am in Christ and who I was BC. Jesus knows us because He made us and because he was one of us. He knows what it’s like to have too many tasks for the 24 hours in a day. He knows what it’s like to be taken advantage of, not to be asked to help, or not being appreciated. When we struggle, He is willing to listen. When we hurt, he is ready to heal. When we’re all alone in a sea of people, He will step next to us and lift us, making us feel special. We need to hear that today!

But we have to do some things first. We have to know Him, trust Him, and let Him love us His way. It takes humility, innocence and a desire to learn. We must run to Him as He calls our name. Focus on only Him and run to His open arms!!!!
A Change of Identity

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

In this day and age there are people who make it their job to steal your identity! They seek out your personal information, such as credit card information, social security numbers, driver’s license, etc. They don’t want to be you, they just want the privileges your name and information gives them…access to your money!

We as Christians have access to certain privileges because of what Christ did on the cross for us. He imputed (placed in our account) His righteousness to us when He suffered, died, and then rose from the grave. Much like a bank account deposit, Christ’s sacrifice replaced our sin with His righteousness. The sin was withdrawn and the righteousness of Christ shows on our statement! We must believe it however and live like it. We are redeemed sinners, saved by the unmerited favor of Christ (grace) and recipients of His mercy (we don’t get what we deserve for our sins!).

So here we are (if we truly are believers) walking, scurrying, and sprinting through life, redeemed from the hell we deserve, free to serve the living God, and we allow a thief to take away our identity right before our eyes! Oh yeah, we have alarm systems on our cars and homes, pictures on our credit cards, and locks on our computers, but what about our character? Is our reputation protected? Is our testimony safe? Is our witness secure?

Peter told us that we must be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Satan simply struts around picking and choosing whom he can ruin. He wants to lie about who we are and whose we are, much like he did to Adam and Eve. “Are you sure you belong to God, after all you’ve done?” He puts doubt in our minds concerning what we can do and ways we can serve God. “You can’t possibly believe that God will allow you to do that do you?” Finally, he gets us so confused we begin to doubt if we’ll even to make it to heaven. “You know sinners aren’t allowed in heaven”, he whispers. How do we stay protected?

We must be careful each day to strengthen our faith through prayer, the reassurance of Scripture, and the encouragement of friends in the faith. Satan just can’t stand a Christian willing to walk by faith, despite what things may look like. We have to see spiritually, not depending on physical eyesight! Our faith is the security we possess to protect our identity with Christ.

Each day, we must remind ourselves, that though we walk on this earth, our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)
What is Holy Anyway?

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!
(Isaiah 6:3)

Webster defines HOLY as living according to a strict or highly moral religious or spiritual system, being specified or set apart for a religious purpose, being devout, sanctified, sacred, revered. What does HOLY look like to you?

I like the words being specified or set apart, in this case for God’s purposes! Peter defines it well.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…(1 Peter 2:9)

So HOLY doesn’t mean that we walk around in sackcloth, or chanting prayers constantly, or locking ourselves away in the caves somewhere. We are called to exclaim and display God’s praises and His mercy toward us as we live our daily lives. We are to live peculiar lives, in that they do not conform to the world’s standards, but to the high and holy standards of our great God! Our speech should be encouraging to others and reflecting the gentleness and love of our Lord. Our actions should express the grace of God and genuine care and concern for our fellow man. Our private life should be that which if it exposed for all to see, would be an example of high morals and ethics, pleasing to a holy God as well as to the common man.

Holy Week is a time to examine the other 51 weeks in our lives. Are we living a life that reflects a devotion to God, so others can see we have been set apart from the world’s standards? Are we living out God’s purposes, so as to draw others to the Light of the world? Now is also a time to commit to do just that! If we have failed, praise God for His mercy, because there is time to start today! I pray this can be a time of reflection so we may make changes in our lives to indeed be HOLY! A dying world is watching!!!

…But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’(1 Peter 1:15-16)
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 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 sin offering 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 Holy Spirit, 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 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!
Carry The Cross

You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” (Matthew 26:2)

Jesus warned His disciples that His time was near. The chief priests and elders were ready to carry out the task of killing Jesus, but just after the Passover. They didn’t want to cause an uproar with all the visitors in town. As the Lord celebrated Passover with His friends, He called out His betrayer (Matt. 26:20-25) and explained the New Covenant, His blood sacrifice in exchange for our sin. (Matt. 26:26-29)

As they finished their meal, Christ led them out to the Garden to pray. He explained to Peter, James, and John that He was so distressed and saddened.

“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
(Matt. 26:38)

Jesus then prayed to the Father to find another way to accomplish the task of saving our souls, if was possible. He must have agonized over the coming torture, knowing the pain He would have to endure for us. What a picture of His love for each of us! Even after realizing what He must do, for a sinner like me, Jesus said:

“O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matt. 26:42)

Jesus then faced the torture, the ridicule, the absurd questioning of the officials, and then the cross head on…just for me, just for you. It was personal! He loved us all so much that He accepted all the pain on our behalf…and did not say a word, except,

“It is as you say.” (Matt. 27:11)

He accepted the guilt for us! He bore the shame. He paid the price that none of us could ever pay! What is our response? We all have a cross to bear for Christ. Will we accept the challenges we face day to day? Will we stand before man and claim the name of Christ? Will we be ashamed of the Gospel, or proudly proclaim it in words and action? Will we publicly stand for the Savior as He publicly gave Himself for us? Will we die to our selfish desires and decide to live for the One who gave His life in exchange for ours? Will we carry the cross God has for us, or hide from it, denying we even know Him? Can we commit to say with one voice today, “Your will be done Father!” May the Spirit living within every believer cause us to be His living sacrifice, not just during this Holy Week, but throughout the other 51 weeks of the year as well!
A Passion For Christ

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful…do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…you were bough at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
(1 Corinthians 6:12-20)

We hear people talk of Christ’s final days of life as the Passion of Christ. It refers to His suffering: the torture, the ridicule, and finally the crucifixion, all for you and me. He endured it all in obedience to the Father and because of His love for us. He asked the Father for an easier way, nevertheless, He accepted the cup given to Him (Matt.26) and carried out the task of saving man from our sin.

Christ’s Holy Week was nothing like a holy week we could imagine. We would probably think of a week away on retreat, a prayer revival, a short –term mission trip, or even a week of Vacation Bible School. While we may be passionate about our prayer life, our service for Christ, and even our responsibility to study and show ourselves approved, what are we suffering for Christ?

If we are to share in the salvation Christ has provided for us by His suffering, then surely we will suffer from our faith in Him as we walk throughout the world.

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…(Philippians 1:29)

As we grow in our faith and begin to take steps of obedience for Christ’s sake, we will suffer! As we develop a passion for Christ, we may experience ridicule from friends, isolation from family, even rejection from co-workers. But does any of this compare to what Christ endured for our sake? We have so many opportunities to take a stand for Christ today, yet we don’t want to face the possible consequences. Do we stand for Christ when it comes to office jokes and language that is unbecoming of a Christian? Do we take action when we see the provocative men’s magazines in children’s eyesight at the local store? Do we speak to our government representatives about topics concerning marriage, unborn infants, and pornography? If given the opportunity, would we risk our reputation or our popularity for Christ?

We spend so much time trying to avoid a situation, which we miss opportunities to witness. If we are truly passionate for Christ, we’ll look for where He is already at work, providing an opportunity for us, and passionately step in and do what God is challenging us to do! We need to embrace the challenges He gives us; a financial struggle, an illness, a challenge with our children, a job loss. We need to recall how Job honored God throughout his suffering, only to receive much more from the Lord in the end. No matter what we suffer, we know the end is our salvation…to live with Christ eternally! Isn’t that reward in itself? The question to ask while going through a challenge is not why, but how can I glorify God and what would God have me to do. Let’s embrace suffering as a way to honor the Lord and witness for Him!

Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let Him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. (1 Peter 4:16)

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...