Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Are YOU Sure?

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 7:20-21)

Very few things are sure in life . . . death is one and eternity is another. Yes we all will die and yes, there is an after-life! Question is, are you sure where you will be spending eternity?

Really, only God truly knows who belong to Him. We can only be sure about our own presonal relationship with God. But in observing others, there is evidence of faith. How do folks stack up against the Word of God? What about you and me?

Even for our own confidence, we must be sure we are living according to His Word. Are we keeping our personal and corporate time with God? Are we sharing His Word in our daily interaction with others . . . in what we say and what we do? Are we holding to the basic doctrines of the Scriptures and not compromising? Are we leading people to Christ or away from Truth? Are we consistent with the decisions we make? God is superior to any thing or any one else.

How can a person remain strong in faith and keep a consistent testimony? The power comes from who is within . . . Who is ruling the heart? God of heaven or the god of this world?

Jude gives great advice to us all . . . it is God and God alone!

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy . . . to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
(Jude 24-25)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Man or God . . . Choose Your Sides!

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?
(Psalm 56:3-4)

Captured by the Philistines, pretending to be insane in order to escape, David knew where to turn. He wasn't crazy! He was confiding in God . . . the only one he could trust.

Pain and faith had collided. Where was David to turn? Who can we trust when our trusted freinds and family seem far away or simply do not understand? When the world closes in, where is our solace?

Paul said it this way, echoing his confidence in God:

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31)

God has a plan for each of us, even when things seem their worst, He works things out for His good will as we trust in Him. We must have a desire to have His will fulfilled in our lives in order to experience this peace. Do we trust our God?
It comes down to this . . .Man or God . . .Choose your sides!

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24:15)

I find myself faced with making this choice many times throughout each day. We have to choose! We cannot have it both ways. Have Your way Lord . . .be glorified!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Th Army of ONE

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
(Ephesians 4:11-13)

Did you know that when we are saved that there is now work to do? The Holy Spirit equips every believer with at least one special gift in which to serve the Body of Christ. Some are gifted to teach, others to lead, still others to serve behind the scenes. However, everyone has a unique gift in which to serve and if we neglect that gift, abuse that gift, or deny that gift, thaen we all suffer!

It is important to discover one's spiritual gift . . . then it is imperative to use the gifts properly!

There are several on-line assessments for the individual to partake in. Once you know the areas you are gifted in begin to volunteer at the local church and allow God to use you! Be a part of the army of ONE!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Simple Advice . . .

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
(John 15:7-8)

Just some real simle advice heading into the weekend: stick with Jesus! His way is best and His way is proven. He has been to hell and back. He has been to the future and back. He will always be and always know what is best for each of us.

If we simply stick to His game plan, we will be successful.

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither whatever they do prospers.
(Psalm 1:1-3)

One road to success . . . stay on the path!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We Just Cannot Quit

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:58)

We just cannot quit! It's that simple. We will let too many people down. Need a few reasons?

1. Jesus knows exactly what you are going through. (Philippians 4:6)

2. Character formation is difficult but valuable. (Luke 16:19)

3. Look at obstacles in your life as opportunities for growth. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

4. The gospel of Jesus is just as potent and powerful as it always was. (Hebrews 13:8)

5. Show compassion to the people in your life who are going through a tough time. (Matthew 9:36)

Finally . . .Love the brotherhood! (1 Peter 2:17)

There is too much at stake to quit. Souls are in the balance. God has not and will not quit on us. Hang in, God has us. Just when we need Him, He is there as we must be for one another!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Reason to Rejoice!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
(1 John 4:18)

For the one who knows the Lord personally, there is no fear of God's judgment. In fact, the one who abides in Christ (John 15:5)actually looks forward to the coming of Christ! It is not that he will enjoy the suffering of those who do not know the Lord, but will rejoice in the fulfilled promises of God.

You can almost hear a sigh of relief in Paul's words here:

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:8)

Yet we still have work to do. We do not just simply accept the Lord and wait. We must share the Good News so others may know. We must live out our faith for others to see love in action. Rejoice in knowing that the Lord is soon to return and let others know in how we live!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

God and His Family

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
(Hebrews 3:13)

Sin is deadly! Yet of all the blatant things sin causes, I believe the most deadly is when it causes a beliver to be lazy, casual, or uninvolved.
It has been said that the best weapon for Satan is a Christian who does nothing at all . . . no praying, no witnessing, no Bible study, no ministry, just the minimum Sunday morning routine.

We need one another in the Body. We need to be one to effectively go against the evils of this world. We must care for one another and truly be family . . . brothers and sisters in Christ!

. . . so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
(1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

In a day when family is lacking definition, it is up to the Church to re-define what family really is as God laid it out. We must strive for unity within but also contend for our faith in the public venues. May our families be the foundation of our faith in Christ! It begins with God and His family!

Friday, February 17, 2012

To Know God . . .

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
(John 17:3)

What does it mean to know God? Many claim to be a Christian. Even more believe that there is a God. But to know God . . . ?

We know that Jesus says one must be born again (John 3:3). We also know that to follow Christ, one must deny his personal desires and take up the cross. (Matthew 16:24-25) But still, what does it look like to know God?

It is personal. It is sacrificial. It is not about me, but others. It is knowing who one is (a sinner) and seeing the need for a Savior (Jesus Christ). In a world of get rich quick, lose weight easy, and be happy now schemes, there is still only one way to know God . . . that is through Jesus!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Active Faith

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.
(Jude 1:3)

Times are tough. As beleievers, we hear and see many signs of twisted teaching, moral decline, and overall lack of respect for both God and traditional family values. What is a Christian to do? The Bible tells us things will get worse.(Matthew 24) So do we just sit back and allow it to happen? Jude warns us otherwise.

An active faith will contend for the faith! We must study and show ourselves approved by God first of all! (2 Timothy 2:15) For God to use us as a faithful witness, we need to be prepared. We need to know what we know! Then, as David put it so clearly, now that we are fogiven, we must teach (show)sinners how they too can know and praise the God we now serve. (Psalm 51:12-13)

Like Paul (Philippians 1:27), we are to stand firm in our beliefs and not allow the world's views to infiltrate our belief system. We must viligantly fight for the cause of the Gospel. We must be involved in the political process. We must influence the educational system. We must not only be seen and heard in the walls of the church but in the halls of justice as well!

In this day and age of all sorts of new exercise programs and active lifestyles for better physical health, le us be determined to exercise our faith! An active faith may not help shed pounds and inches, but it will get rid of deadly spiritual toxins! The best asset for Satan is a Christian who does nothing . . .

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Importance of Fathers

"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."
(Malachi 4:5-6)

Do not mess with God when He gives a choice between blessings or curses. He means business, but always offers a merciful option. (Jonah 4:2) If we obey God on His terms, His offer of mercy is so sweet! However, we must accept things on His terms, not ours.

The prophet is letting us know that there will be a final time when God will seek reconciliation. One will come bearing a message (as Elijah did)pleading for the people to repent. Here he mentions fathers specifically. In today's society, there is no worse condition than fathers who are not involved with their children. Even some fathers who are within the home are abandoning their families by choosing jobs over family and happy hours over children's ball games and plays. The importance of fathers is never more important than today!

God has set the man up to be a leader. Fathers are designed to lead, provide, protect, and direct as He is led by God. Whenever the father (husband) abdicates his position, (though the mom fills in well)there is room for destruction. The fort (family)is vunerable to attack. The enemy is ready to pounce. The family (mom and the children) are in danger!

God is not pleased with a man who relinquishes his position as husband, father and leader. The whole earth is at risk, not simply the family. What a responsibility . . . what a privilege!

Men love challenges. We love to compete. So it's on . . .

And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:19-21)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What to do on Valentine's Day . . .

. . .walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(Ephesians 5:2)

What to do on Valentine's Day . . . it gets harder every year. Should I buy chocolates, flowers, jewelry, something sexy, dinner . . . what to do?

I must admit, it is easy to love my family, to express my love to my wife and family is hard. What can a flower really do but for a week? Candy might not even last the day! How do I show my heart to those whom I cherish? Paul gives us very simple advice: walk in love . . . as Christ did!

We all have heard it said that love is a verb. While gifts are a sign of that love, our spouse especially needs to see it and feel it! Our children need to know we are there. Our friends need to know we will stick by them. People need love in action!

But I want to address families this day: for families to remain one, we must follow Paul's direction:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ
(Ephesians 5:21)

We all must serve one another; husbands, wives, children. There is no exception for the family to be one. Christian families are the biggest light to be lit up for Christ!

Now for fathers, husbands and those men who serve in these roles be careful to do this:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . .
. (Ephesians 5:25)

and

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:4)

I am not here to instruct wives and children today, but really just the men. As the fathers and husbands go, so goes the family. Thank God for our strong moms and wives and for theose wonderful children, but the men must get it right with God first!

What to do on Valentine's Day?


Commit to Christ . . . commit to family!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love is . . . Not a Quitter!

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:6-7)

If you notice a theme in the very popular verses above: ALWAYS and NEVER. Now I realize that in relationships we are not to use these two words when engaged in what I refer to as intense fellowship. But since the apostle Paul uses them here, I would like to share some of my opinions too . . . especially to the gentlemen on this Valentine's Eve.

Men, love is ALWAYS protective.

Love is ALWAYS trusting.

Love ALWAYS keeps hope alive.

Love ALWAYS perseveres.

Love NEVER quits . . . on a spouse, on a child, or on God!

There it is in very simple to understand words. We do not need to read any complicated directions or manuals guys. We have no excuses. God has not quit on any of us. Dedication, loyalty and commitment really cannot be expressed in flowers, candies, dinners, or gold. It has to be lived out. Love is not a quitter!

Don't quit guys . . . and buy the flowers!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stop Playin'!

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

It's time we stop playin'!It is is way to late to be fooling around with God and others! So many today read the Bible. . . Many go to church and work in ministry. . . even more claim Christianity as a faith. But I wonder . . .

Are we fans of Jesus or followers? Have we truly taken up the cross or simply taken up a new hobby? To be a true Christ-follower takes sacrifice, dedication, and many times pain. it is not a casual life or even an easy life. The joy the Bible speaks of is not the kind this world knows.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
(James 1:27)

I am not religious! I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, Son of God and the promised Messiah. In Him alone do I place my faith. I live because of Him and through Him. I am nothing by myself. I must admit, I am getting highly frustrated at the fans of Jesus. I am even a bit tired of my own complacency. We all must begin to live a more dedicated life for Christ and allow our actions to reflect our beliefs.

It is one thing to advertise our Christianity . . . it is quite another for others to witness it being lived out.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Yes we can . . . but will we?

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
(Mark 8:34-38)

I follow Christ . . . many say it, but few do it! So what does it take? How much sacrifice? How much "it's not about me"? Often I am asked, "Is it really that serious?"

It's HARD o be a Christian . . . a little Christ . . . a Christ-follower. C'mon now, 24-7 . . . always dong what God wants and always in communication with Him.

How can one really be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

One has to be super-human! It takes super-natural power. We however, are only human after all! As all the youth have told me at one time or another . . . I am not Jesus!

Oh I agree, we canot do this alone. We cannot do this of our own power. We are just simple no-bodies!

However, for those who are truly children of God, to those who have called upon His name . . . repented and asked for His forgiveness . . . these have received such power!

Power?, you say. Yes power . . . super-natural power!

Jesus left His disciples with these words:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you
. . . (Acts 1:8)

Yes we can . . . but will we?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Created to bring my Father glory!

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
(Matthew 5:43-45)

So who ever said to hate your enemy anyway? This was misconceived principle the Pharisees came up with from Moses' writings. (Leviticus 19:18)If the Lord could have loved us, while we were yet His enemy (Romans 5:8), then who are we to even have anger against anyone who may come against us? We should understand their motives . . . their bitterness . . . their need for a Savior.

While we are not called upon to be trampled upon, we are called upon to pray for thse who harm us. Rather than despise them, we are to love them as Christ loved us. We are even called to have compassion upon them.

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.
(Romans 12:20)

When other who do harm to us, whether physically or emotionally, purposely or unknowingly, Jesus challenges us to meet their glaring needs. If Christ could reach out and save my soul, why can I not have a smile for the one who cuts my heart? Why can't I pray for the one who will slander my name? Why can I not share a kind word with the one who misrepresents me? Why can't I feed the emptiness in a lost soul with a Word from God?

I am always reminded that this life is not my own . . .I am created to bring my Father glory!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Life of Thanksgiving

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Regardless of the circumstances, the believer has reason to rejoice! Our joy is not based on circumstance, but in our relationship with the Savior! Paul encourages the Thessalonians and us today to remain in communication with God as he had done, being thankful in every situation. Not thankful for the pain, or the sadnes, but thankful that we know the outcome!

Nothing continues to amaze me more than the words of Job after he was stricken by Satan:
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in
worship . . .(Job 1:20)

Living a life of thanksgiving is the greatest evidence of a sincere walk with the Lord!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Why Am I Here?

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
(Colossians 1:16)

It's the question we all have asked at some point in life . . . most of us have asked it more than once. "Why am I here?"

While we have many reasons for doing things in life, there is an underlying goal. Each of us has a core reason to exist. There is a hole in the pit of everyone's heart that needs to be fulfilled. Folks work long hours, sacrifice relationships, and suffer health issues for the satisfaction of filling this void . . . yet we find only stress, frustration and failure. We must go back to the reason we exist. Hear from John . . .

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1:1)

We get so caught up in the world and its distracions that we begin to focus on me and my life . . . my desires, my plans, my success. At times, it is even an unselfish motive (wife, children, etc), but still my wife, my children . . . We must realize that it is not me, but God!

The god we need to be pleasing is not me or man, but the God who designed each of us! In Him alone is our reason for existence. All our frustrations and failures lie in our motive to work. Just as with the early philosophers Paul addressed in the following verses, we are seeking to please the wrong (unknown)god:

For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship . . .and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
(Acts 17:23)

As believers, our success is not measured in buildings, bank accounts, or popularity. All we do, even the very breath we take, is for His glory. Once we realize this is our reason to exist, life becomes a bit more clear. We are here to please God. From the inner parts of our bodies, to work of our fingertips, to the footprints we leave behind. . . it is all for God!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tired of all the Mess?

. . .if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.
(2 Peter 2:9-10)

At times, don't you just get tired of all the mess around us? I know I do!!! However, we must remember that God IS in full control. He will not simply remove His people from all the ridiculous stuff going on around us, but give us what we need to be effective for Him in the midst of it all! We can STAND! Even in such a time as this . . .

God singles out the ones who will suffer the most: those who despise and reject authority and those living bodly to the lustful desires of their flesh, ignoring the words of the Lord. God will judge them . . . however, we need to be sure we are following all God instructs us to do as His children! We must call sin what it is and not ignore the degradation around us. Believers need to challenge the politicians, speak up against injustices to our children and families, and continue to influence the community both in our neighborhoods and in Congress and the White House. We are still a force of One! We do not have to crumble quietly into the night!!!

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13)

God requires us to stand for Him, not give up. Tired of all the mess? Be a change agent for God. Be a good soldier and fight!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Public Embarrassment

No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
(1 Corinthians 2:7-10)

Just as with the early church, there is evil trying to infiltrate the church today! Even those who had once been taught the truth, are now not just believing a lie, but actually lobbying for those lies, trying to convince others of its truth and mutual benefits.

Why else would a Christian nation be up in arms because a nation continents away decide that an abomination to God is unlawful? (http://news.pinkpaper.com/NewsStory/6483/29/11/2011/Nigerias-Senate-votes-to-make-gay-marriage-illegal.aspx)

Why else would a state official who was once a believer in the Word of God announce that what God calls sin should now be allowable and endorsed by law? (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/us-gaymarriage-maryland-idUSTRE80U2AQ20120131)

Why else would two church leaders dare to not only announce that they are in direct disobedience to God but actually say that certain sins are in fact civil issues, not biblical issues!

There is no secret knowledge accept that in which God reveals by His Spirit! Here it is straight from God's Word:

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

All of us have sinned. By God's grace, the one who accepts Christ's sacrifice upon the cross is forgiven and saved from hell. However, we do not continue in that sin and still call it right and acceptable . . . we repent and realize it is in fact an abomination before a holy God! There is now guilt from sin for the redeemed sinner. Shall we continue to sin? Ask the apostle Paul:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
(Romans 6:1-2)

Sin is sin and despite what many may be calling it today, we who know better need to stand up! No longer can we allow the Gospel to be a public embarrassment! We need to let others know what we know to be the TRUTH!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Investments

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
(Matthew 6:24)

Finacial investments are for the long haul. They are not a get-rich-quick scam. They require patience and trust. It is very similar with the Kingdom of God. One must place their trust in the promises of God and trust Him to work things out in the end. In the mean time, we invest our labor, our plans, and our finances in His plan. There will come a time when it comes down to choose a plan for our lives. In this case, the portfolio needs NOT to be diverse, but one must choose one plan or the other . . . God or man!

Luke puts it this way:

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
(Luke 12:29-31)

Financial investments are not bad. In fact, wise finacial decisions are a good thing and show good stewardship of the things God provides for us. But it is more than money. Where do we invest our time? Are we sharing our talents and abilities to serve God and His purposes? The question is what are we investing for and for who? Is it for the buiding up of God's Kingdom of our kingdoms?

As Christians, we can send blessings ahead . . . laying up treasures in heaven or eternal rewards. Investing in God's Kingdom also leaves a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren.

There is a life beyond this earth . . . where are our investments?

one stable foundation,

Then  as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings  are here! ” ...