Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hello . . . Anybody in there?

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
(Revelation 3:20)

We all have heard the description of God as a gentelman . . . He will not force Himself upon anyone: It's one's personal choice to follow Him or not. Of course to not accept Christ as Savior and Lord has some severe negative consequences for eternity!

Jesus came as a gentle new born baby to a virgin named Mary in Bethelehem some 2014 years ago or so, depending upon the calendar you may choose to follow. He died a sacrificial death some thirty-three later without putting up a struggle and suffering brutsl beatings and eventual crucifixion.

Jesus was humble, kind, generous, caring, and meek . . . but He was no way weak! He lectured large crowds, questioned political officials, rubuked church leaders, and overturned the tables of money chagers. Yet Jesus also had a heart for the widow, the broken-hearted, the lame, the accused, and the little child. Jesus prayed for those who would persecute Him (Luke 23:34)and wept for those who rejected Him. (Luke 19:41-44)

Jesus is knocking upon everyone's heart in a way each of us can hear and answer His call. Some welcome Him in and live with Him. Others ignore the knock, tell Him to come back later, or even slam the door in the Savior's face! But we all get that chance . . .

The fact is one day Jesus will return physically and on that Day, He will come for one thing: to judge!He will rule with a rod of iron. (Revelation 19:11-21) Eventually all who reject God will be destroyed. (Revelation 20:11-15) He is coming and we must be assured that eternal life is through Jesus alone. (Revelation 22:12-21)

There is still time today . . . He still knocks upon every heart's door: Hello . . . Anybody in there? What is your answer? The option will not be available for long!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Simply . . . . God!

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
(1Corinthians 14:33)

Here we are sitting in a hotel room in Virginia as we have been tracking down possible ministry vans for our program. As we test drive a few, we keep searching the internet and find the ideal van: not too old, not too many miles, and clean inside. It is in our price range and has a good Carfax report . . . but the van is in Maryland!!!!!

God knew this all along and He was not the least bit worried or confused. We were not at peace about the vans we drove and were ready to head back home with nothing . . . then He led us to the one we believe is it. Thank God we prayed throughout and kept our prayer warriors updated along the way!

We must trust God is all our ways . . . in all our decisions . . . and never think our problems are too trivial for God. How else will He get the glory for what we do? It's God . . . simply God!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight
.(Proverbs 3:5-6)

Monday, June 27, 2011

So What is L-O-V-E?

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:12-13)

Many people would like to think they are unselfish: bighearted, bounteous, bountiful, charitable, free, freehanded, freehearted, fulsome, liberal, munificent, open, openhanded, generous, unsparing, unstinting. All these words are great descriptions of good people. These adjectives all describe loving people for sure. But it is not the kind of love Jesus describes here in John 15.

Jesus' love was a love that totally put aside self and took on others. Jesus was other-minded. Though He was fully God and fully man, Jesus laid aside the constant use of His divine attributes. He was still God, but in obeying the Father's will He sacrificed His entire earthly existence to serve man. He lived to die . . . for the opportunity for mankind to live with Him eternally!

So as belivers, how many of us literally live for others to know God personally? Jesus not only laid down His life for His friends, but for His enemies too!

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

To me anyone can sacrifice for their friends, family, and those whom they have an affinity towards: however, to love your enemies . . . give to those who wish harm upon you . . . help someone who has lied about you . . .

In fact, Jesus instructs us in this way:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you
(Matthew 5:44).

So we have a challenge each day to live for others, not for me! That's love!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Faith in Action

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
(James 1:22)

I remember my parents saying time and time again, "Do as I say, not as I do!" This ws always confusing to me. Why do I have to do this and that, when you cannot? The times I actually voiced this was not a pleasant time of course. I was reminded not to talk back to my parents and to obey! Yet I still ask, Why tell someone to do something that I cannot do?

Here is the answer right from the lips of the Savior:

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
(John 5:19)

Jesus taught by example, not simply by giving orders. I have tried to do this as a parent and mentor. To truly disciple someone, one has to walk closely by the side of another and model the desired behavior.

As Christians in this world today, it can be hard, knowing we are under a microsope as others watch our behavior, waiting for a fall. All the more reason to walk circumspectly (Ephesians 5:15-16)as others observe our behavior and attribute what we do to all followers of Christ. We never know when we will have an opportunity to share the Gospel or with whom, so our character is important . . . every day!

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
(Peter 2:120. The world may not like us and poke fun at us, yet we still do the right things. They will know who to call upon when things get tough!

Paul, Peter, James . . . they received it directly from the Lord as we should: We have to live out the things we believe! It is not enough to instruct: We have to model! Seeing is believing. Folks today need to see our faith in action!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How 'Ya Livin'?

It is better to heed a wise man's rebuke than to listen to the song of fools.
(Ecclesiastes 7:5)

There is so much clamoring for our attention today: movies, music, tweets, posts, e-mails, texts and more . . . and all just a click away! Most are usually mindless diversions that keep us from substantive pursuits that may just require some scholarly investigation on our part. Having fun is great . . . and needed, but it is not the ultimate pursuit of man; at least not the Godly man!

The Preacher concludes the Book of Ecclesiastes with these words:
Now all has been heard;here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13)

To be happy in life the believer needs to live a holy life! It is really simple, as Solomon states above. We love God and love on people! All throughout HIS-tory, God is calling His people to obedience so He can bless them. The old saying is true: God cannot bless a mess! God is holy . . . holy . . . holy and we too must live a life that reflects His image and character. If we love Him, we obey Him, remember that verse? (John 14:15)

The prophet Micah admonishes us that to be a good Christian requires more than prayer, devotions, and a warm feeling inside. God desires for us to allow the entire world to see His work within us. Others must see God through us. We are living gospels! So here is our charge:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly[a] with your God.
(Micah 6:8)

How 'ya livin'?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Caution! Curves Ahead . . . Stay Focused!

Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
(Proverbs 4:25-27)

We all have noticed the warnings along country roads and mountain highways: slippery when wet . . . bridges freeze before roadway . . . runaway truck ramp . . . and my favorite, DUI enforcement area. Come on, when do we allow folks to drive drunk . . . really?

Seriously though, we are often warned of dangerous situations ahead of us in life.In fact, as we are doing our family devotions this morning, my nine year old son asked, "Daddy, when does wisdom keep us safe?" He was studying Proverbs as well(Proverbs 5). Just as warning signs are not just pretty decorations along the highway,Godly advice is not simply casual conversation to pass the the time away. Heeding the advice of Scripture keeps us from hurt, harm, and even death!

As a driver who travels often with my family, I have come to appreciate the rumble strips along the sides of the road as well. As with most family trips, many times I am left alone in the driver's seat as everyone else dozes off, enjoying the gentle rocking of the vehicle. At times I may slightly (slightly I said!) take my mind off the road and hear the gentle bump . . . bump . . . bump as my right tire barely grazes the rumble strips.

However slight, this reminds me to re-focus, stay in my lane, and not swerve right or left. There is danger if I do not do these things! It's the same in life. God gives us boundaries as do our parents, teachers, and spiritual leaders. Veering right or left can cause us pain and injury both physicially and spiritually. It can harm us as individuals, put our families in danger, and place a black eye upon the Church as a whole.

As a curious world looks upon the believer, we need to show that we are grounded in morals and that we live our what we teach and preach. We have the ultimate role model in our Savior who stay focused on the Father's will for His life throughout His time on earth.

We must be found
. . .fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:2)

Drive safely this summer!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Father's Day message from DADDY

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.
(2 Chronicles 15:7)

This prophet (Azariah), who is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible, appears at this stage of the sacred story in the discharge of an interesting mission. He went to meet Asa, as he was returning from his victorious pursuit of the Ethiopians, and the congratulatory address here recorded was publicly made to the king in presence of his army.(

The king was so encouraged by these words that he eventually went on to remove idols from the land and not satisfied with these minor measures of purification and improvement, Asa contemplated a grand scheme which was to pledge his whole kingdom to complete the work of reformation.

Sometimes we just need a bit of encouragement. It does not always have to be directly from God's Word, but when it is, we seem to really get a boost! I have recently been so encouraged as I sit in Bible Study or in Sunday service and I just know God is speaking directly to me through my pastor!

Well, this is one of those times! As I read, I hear from God: be encouraged . . . do not give up . . . do not look at the present circumstances . . . I AM watching you and I will reward you!

Thanks DADDY (ABBA): I needed to hear that . . . and the day after father's day too! WOW!!!

God loves those who serve Him with diligence and with a great joy in doing so. Complete obedience always brings blessings! Be on the lookout . . . do not quit!

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Winning Side

Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Proverbs 26:12)

The fool says in his heart that there is no God. (Psalm 14:1) Even so those who know God and still do what pleases themselves personally is probably worse off than those who do not believe. Even Jesus made a comment on these lukewarm Christians:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
(Revelation 3:15-16)

To know God and His ways and not follow His ways is simply foolish . . . stuuuupid! As my pastor reminded me last night, we do not battle for victory, but from victory! The victory has been won: Why not side with the winner?

I am on the winning side . . . how 'bout you?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Continue the Battle

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

I know it may sound trivial and a bit uncaring when we are going through, but if Paul and so many more went through such severe challenges, why do we fret? Did God not meet their needs? Do we not look to these folks as our heroes in the faith? So when we are challenged spiritually, and many times physically as well, why are we surprised or even frustrated? I even get frustrated at my own frustration at times! Now that's dumb!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

People often say my wife and I are an encouragement to others. While I cannot see why or how, I am humbled. I should always feel privileged to be called by God to do His work, no matter the struggles, no matter the recognition, no matter the consequences. As Paul stated, I must understand the war between my flesh and my spirit.(Romans 7:14-25) it is real!

It's a jungle . . . a war . . . and those who love the Lord will not quit, but rather continue the battle.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Need for Discipline . . . Not Just for Kids!

“Teach me, and I will be quiet;show me where I have been wrong. How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove?"
(Job 6:24-25)

We sometimes forget that discipline is a never ending requirement in our maturation processs. As Job answers the accusations of Eliphaz concerning his situation, he states that correction is good when it is honest and good for the person.

Tha Amplified Bible reads as follows:
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful.
(Proverbs 27:6)

Anyone can criticize a person or say they are wrong. They may not know the entire situation however, judging from the surface of things.A true friend knows us and the situation and can give sound and Godly counsel.

I am so thankful for the real friends I do have. Oh there are many who like what we do and think it is so noble. Many support our work financially and we are so grateful for that!

However, the ones I cherish the most are those who know and care for me so much that they tell me when I am wrong, when I can do more, and when I need to just suck it up and get the job done! These same folks cheer for me when the whole world seems to be booing (or ignoring me!) They pump me up when others have taken the wind from my sails. They confort me when I have been slapped around a bit too much.

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:“ My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;For whom the LORD loves He chastens,And scourges every son whom He receives.”
(Hebrews 12:5-6)

It appears this Greek word for discipline(paideia)involves a form of punishment with the idea of training and education in mind; in other words, not just hitting to punish, but correcting with the deed or goal of training and educating the child. Of course, as we note, the child extends to we adults as children of God.

The need for discipline is not just for kids!

I thank God for using my bride, my pastor, and several caring and honest ministers and friends who have loved me enough to chasten me! Still growing . . .

Monday, June 13, 2011

Just For Me

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.
(Jeremiah 32:17)

As I head into a summer of stretching, this verse is definitely just for me! The prophet Jeremiah was purchasing land for his people even though Jerusalem was about to be levelled!

As believers, though we have to live in this world, we cannot allow present troubles keep us from the promises of God!This is our faith . . .nothing is too hard for God!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1)

As a missionary / teacher my paid employment is cut off for the summer as we go into a sort of fundraising sabbatical. God's work is not stopping however . . . it is the weak in faith who refuse to trust God to provide when all seems bleak. We cannot just stop . . . maybe slow down a bit, but never stop!

I have to allow God to increase. I must not see the circumstances as the ruler of my life. God rules and over-rules! If I do not allow God to work, then who will be able to see Him at work?

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:16)

These words are just for me!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Finished" is Not Always the End!

“It is finished.”
(John 19:30)

These famous words of of Jesus are often quoted during the Easter season and when giving testimony to the fulfillment of the ultimate sacrifice for the sin of mankind as a whole and as individuals.

"Tetelestai" doesn’t translate simply, we have to make a phrase out of it - "It is finished." But still some of its power is lost in the translation. In the Greek it implies that something has come to an end, it has been completed, perfected, accomplished in the full and that something has consequences that will endure on and on.

As we relate the close of a school year to teaching and the students as well, I want to encourage everyone that the energy we put into education, especially one that is based upon a biblical world-view has enduring consequences.

What we learn to be truth is how we live our life! As teachers, we need to be sure to convey the truth to our students. As students, we need to be responsible for what we know, and that we know it to be true! Education does not stop when the final bell rings for the year or for the school career. One never stops learning! There is always someone and something to teach.

We know that though Jesus said it is finished on the cross, He still had more to do and is still doing on our behalf. That part of His ministry was completed however. . .

But for my teaching brethren, one word of warning or encouragement, considering how one receives it:

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
(James 3:1)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nothing Too Impossible with God!

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.
(Jeremiah 32:17)

Jeremiah was not the popular prophet with the King of Judah! He did not tell him what he wanted to hear. He spoke "thus saith the Lord"!Zedekiah king of Judah, had confined Jeremiah to the courtyard even as Jerusalem was under siege from Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Jeremiah told of doom and destruction, but the King wanted to hear of successes and prosperity!

Impossible situation? Not with God on our side! Unbelievable circumstances maybe, but not impossible . . . God is still God. Even though times are tough presently, we have a hope and a future . . . maybe not right now, but one day (Jeremiah 29:11)

They will be my people, and I will be their God.
(Jeremiah 32:38)God is seeking for a people to follow Him!

Thank God for the preacher who tells the TRUTH! Too many today preach the good time Gospel. Way too many motivational ministers and payday today pastors! What we need most is the truth! Things are not going to get any better until the Lord returns!(Mark 13)We make the best of what we are given and we trust in His promises.

I will restore their fortunes . . .
(Jeremiah 32:44)

Just as the Lord promised Jeremiah concerning Jerusalem, He promises all who believe on Him today . . . There is eternal life with God through Jesus Christ! There is hope! All will new one day. (Revelation 21:1-5)

Come Lord Jesus . . . soon!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Leading, Following, or Lost?

But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice
(John 10:5)

I have come to realize that in life, we find ourselves in three distinct areas: leading, following or lost. Here in John 10, Jesus lets His followers (you and I) know that He is like a shepherd: sheep know the voice of their shepherd and they follow only his voice.

So as His sheep, who are we following? Who or what is leading us through life? Are we taking any one with us? Are we simply lost in the jungle of life?

Jesus goes on to say He is a good shepherd: He sacrifies His life for His sheep . . . you and me! Jesus gave up all He had in heaven so that we may have all God has promised to us. Who are we living for? Are we making life better for those around us?

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep
(John 10:11)

Even if we are following the Words of Christ and know we are His sheep, what are we doing with that? Is it enough to follow? Who are we bringing along with us? What about the lost?

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice . . .
(John 10:16)

Jesus commands us to go out and find more . . . lead more to Him. As we follow the Leader, we are to bring others along. We are to teach what we know as we are taught. Our task is not to prove we know the Savior, but show we know Him in such a way that leads others to know Him! If we really want to be like Jesus, we would practice sheep herding! Let's go out and find the lost and lead them home!

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost . . .
(Luke 19:10)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Not a Choice . . . a Commandment!

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
(Acts 1:8)

After Jesus rose from the grave, He spent many quality hours with His followers, explaining all the things that had occurred and answering many of their questions. One question, still asked today, was Lord, when are you coming back? (Acts 1:6).

Jesus' reply was to the point:
"It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority."
(Acts 1:7)

What followed from Jesus in the following sentence was instruction for each of us today.(Acts 1:8) What Jesus wanted His disciples and us to know is that the time He comes back is not as important as what we do in the mean time!

Once given the gift of the Holy Spirit (at the point of salvation)we shall be His witnesses!It is not a choice.

We are not given the power of the Holy Spirit to sit back and wait, but to engage others and live such a life that convinces them the Jesus is truly the One . . . the Messiah!

Matthew concludes his Gospel with these words of Jesus:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20)

Since we have the power given by the Lord to go, it is not a choice, but a commandment!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Do You Love Jesus?

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart
.(1 Peter 1:22)

It is not enough to say we love Jesus. It has to show!

When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He replied:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
(Matthew 22:37-38)

Love is the key to honoring our Lord and Savior; love for Him and love for people. Love is an action verb, not a feeling!

My friends in New Orleans say it this way: Love God with all you got and love people 'til you drop!

Jesus once asked Peter: Do you love me? (John 21:15-19)He is asking us today . . . Do you love Me?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Faithful Teaching . . . Genuine Relationships

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
(James 3:1-2)

Those called to teach, mentor, or disciple others must be careful! It is not as easy as it looks and God requires a serious commitment to both our realtionship with Him and those whom we serve!He also requires an honest relationship, admitting that we are not perfect,but striving with those we teach to seek to be like the Lord.

Faithful teaching requires genuine relationships!

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.
(James 3:9-10)

Kids know the real thing when they see it, much like those who check for counterfeit money. Hold the bill up to the real thing if you want to know if it real . . . genuine. We cannot fool this generation and we definitely cannot fool God! To teach others, we must be consistent and faithful to the Lord and those around us. Just look around and see how many of those we have looked up to have fallen . . . the truth will come out eventually!

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
(James 3:17)

As we teach, we must set the example. Character counts! Who we are and Whose we are counts more than what we know. As we have heard, people do not care how much you know until they know how much we care! This is especially true when working with our youth!

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
(1 Corinthians 4:2)

Faithful teaching requires genuine relationships! Can God trust us with His children?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

This is war!

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
(Colossians 1:13-14)

Think about it: If someone has been resued from behind the enemy lines after years of darkness, emptiness, seperation, and torture, would they choose to willingly go back? Once someone has been set free from a mental illness such as depression, they would not choose to return to that loneliness and isolation. So why do we CHRISTians, once rescued from darkness, stroll right back into the ememy's camp? What makes us choose the slavery of sin over walking in freedom?

Paul explains his personal struggle with sin(Romans 7:13-25)and concludes:
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
(Romans 7:24)

So do we keep sinning? Do we just give up and keep our fire insurance, knowing we are saved by grace? Certainly not!,Paul exclaims.(Romans 7:7)

As Paul stated (Colossians 1:9-10)We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God . . .

We must continually seek after God, studying His Word, growing in close accountable relationships with fellow believers, and become involved in the work of the Lord. We must take deliberate steps to follow after the Lord and realize our weaknesses that lead us to sin. Boundaries need to be set and defenses need to be established! This is war!

But through CHRIST alone, we have victory!

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...