Wednesday, May 30, 2012

five basic and simple reminders

And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
Deuteronomy 10:12-13) I often hear the question: "What does God want from me anyway?" Well, God knows our questioning hearts and He laid it out in simple fashion to Moses here in Deuternomy.God gives us five basic and simple reminders:
1. Have respect for the Lord; 2. Walk according to His ways (follow after Him); 3. Love Him; 4. Serve Him . . . with ALL our hearts; 5. Observe His commands (obey God).
Not easy steps, but very basic and smple to understand. It is what Jesus stated much later as He spoke to His disciples just before going to the cross. (John 14:15) If we love Him we will obey His commandments! Man is forever trying to please God. This is what religion is all about . . . man making up regulations to reach God. However, a relationship with God the Father requires one thing: obedience. There is only one way to God . . . through Jesus Christ. One must be born again.(John 3:3)it is a faith thing, not of works or rules or regulations. It is just as Luther stated years ago . . . by faith alone!(Romans 8:1) In Christ, we are free from the ways of man!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

there is a promise . . . .

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
1 John 3:1-3) A believer's self-worth comes from God alone. He loves us and He calls us His children. That should be enough! This is not a future thing, but a now thing! We do not have to look forward to being His child, but we are right now, today. This fact alone should be enough to get us through each day, despite the circumstances we face. It is indeed encouraging to know that we belong to God. When we face the uncertainties of this world, the ridicule of folks around us, and the lack of support from folks we count on, God calls us His own.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
(Romans 8:14-17) An adopted child has all rights in his new family by law. Once God calls us His, we are His and inherit all promised to us by God . . . namely eternal life as an heir to His Kingdom! The Holy Spirit gives testimony to this fact. The suffering, the ridicule, the pain . . . it comes with being a part of God's family. Yet there is a promise . . . . This is enough for me . . . how 'bout you?

Monday, May 28, 2012

If I sound upset

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
(Revelation 1:7) This is no joke or fairy tale folks. Christ IS coming back and not everyone who thinks they know Him do! If I sound upset . . . angry . . . loud it is because I am! I am tired of the double-talk. I am tired of the justifying this action or that choice. I am tired of being critcized for being too hard or too biblical! It is time to realize that many are lost and have no idea that they are on their way to hell. Am I judging? Well not really . . . God has already set the standard! However, we in the Church need to stop half-stepping when it comes to accepting anything and everything and start being biblically honest with folks. Get mad at me if you want to do so. Call me intolerant or exclusive. But you cannot call me soft or flip-flopping. I know where I came from. I know what sin is and will admit mine to anyone. I need His grace. I need His blood! I am no good except for His sacrificial death and ultimate victory over sin and death! His mercy for me is so undeserved yet so vital! I feel so sorry for those who are lost and have no idea . . . thinking they have been saved. Oh, we need to repent. We need to pray. We need to cry out on behalf of young and old alike. Now is the acceptable time, before the fire comes and it is too late! (2 Corinthians 6:2) I am just a nobody but God has called me to tell everybody that there is a somebody, namely my Savior Jesus Christ, who can save anybody who will simply humble themselves and ask Him!.

Friday, May 25, 2012

It's all for Him, not me!

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
(1 Peter 1:6-7) No matter the situation, God has a completely different view of the circumstances. James would say that no mater what we are going through, "Count it all joy!" (James 1:2) God can and will and is I might add) make all things we are going through beautiful and perfect. We may not be able to understand it at the present time as we are going through challenges, but God knows! Has it been a challenging few weeks and days for you? It has been for me. Yet I must hold on to the fact that God is with me. He is working things out. When those whom I think are on my side . . . on God's side seem like the enemy . . . than all I can do is lean upon my Daddy. It's all for Him, not me!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

mutual interdependence

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
(James 5:15-18) No man (or woman) is an island! No human being can obey all of God's instructions without the help of a brother (or sister). But as a man, I must tell you that is something about the brotherhood! (Psalm 133:1) When believing men who really know the Lord come together with regular occurance . . . watch out! God is able to use these men! There is something about a praying, trusting, believing man of God. I cherish all my fellow believers. However, my besides bride of course, I cherish the men who have challenged me and set the example for me over the years. These men have set the pace. They have laid the ground work (Hebrews 12:1). Even at myworkplace today, there are a few men who hold me up and nudge me on when things get unbearable. God has designed this world that many of our needs are met only through mutual interdependence. Thank you . . . for those who stand with me! You know who you are . . . and so does the Lord! As iron sharpens iron . . . (Proverbs 27:17)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Where are we today?

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
(Psalm 145:18-19) There are some specific words in this psalm of David that I would like to point out; all, fear (respect) and cry. All means all, but it also means anyone in this case. Anyone and everyone who sincerely calls upon the name of the Lord will be heard. It requires a healthy fear or respect of God in order to be heard by God. God does not respect or honor the flippant prayers or casual conversation so many have with the King of kings and Lord of lords. We must sincerely and respectfully seek Him (Hebrews 11:6) in order to know he hears us. Finally, as we cry out from the depths of our hearts, with real emotion and heart-felt honesty and desire, God promises to comfort us and meet our needs. (Romans 10:13) The most sincere need of man is to be saved from a life of sin and God's will for all to be saved . . . but not everyone cries out, "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30-31) Where are we today? Are we in the right relationship with the Father? Do we truly respect and honor Him as King of kings, Master of everything? Do we have a sincere and heart-felt relationship with Him? Is He real to us? Knowing we belong to God is such a comforting feeling. Knowing we will be with Him for eternity is real peace in the time of storm. Do we really know Him? Let Him know today . . . let someone else know!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hold on . . .

Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.
(1 Thessalonians 5:21-22) There is only one truth ...God's truth. We must be careful to adhere to it, or we will be swayed by every opinionthat flies by. EVERYTHING must come under the truths of the Gospel . . . work, friendhips, partnerships, relationships, education. Every decision we make, no matter how small, will reflect our relationsip with God. Do we trust Him? Do we cherish His plans for us? Do we seek to please God over friends and family? Is our goal His will for us? Do we rely upon God and His Word as our lighthouse in the stormy seas of life? Hold on . . . trust Him!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Remain in Christ!

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) This is why we were created; to honor God and bring Him glory! Only as we do as God desires for us will we be one with Him.Thiese verses are NOY saying that God will do whatever we ask Him to do . . . Oh no! God is not a genie in bottle or an instnt lottery. What John is saying is that as we walk in obedience to the Father's will, He will supply all we need to accomplish that will.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
(Galatians 6:7) God has not changed over the years. Many today are claiming to be believers and doing all sorts of despicable things. Many Christian leaders and others in authority are condoning and even encouraging sinful lifestyles. But be assured, God has His eye on each of us. We will give an account of our life. There is a day coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is indeed Lord of all. I choose this day . . . how 'bout you? Remain in Christ . . . .!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Controlled by the Holy Spirit

"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
(Ephesians 4:26-27) Paul realized that human beings do indeed get angry! No doubt Paul did . . . who can possibly stay pealsant when facing all the obstacles he faced: falsely jailed, beaten, character assaults, ministry buddies quitting and more. Yet he warns us to deal with our anger. Do not allow it to control us and definitely do not take it to bed with us! However, he does instruct us (Ephesians 4:25)speak the truth. So if the devil uses this anger specifically to gnaw away at us and to lead us to deeper sin, how do we speak the truth (in love) yet still not sin? We must be controlled by the Holy Spirit and not our emotions!(Ephesians 5:18)Paul further instructs us in his letter to the Romans. (Romans 8:4-11) Believers must give up control and allow the indwelling Spirit to take over. It is the only way to be honest with folks and not allow emotions to take over. It keeps us mentally stable. It preserves friendships. It safeguards our character. It honors God and causes other to see His power in our lives!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Will we fight?

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
(1 Timothy 2:15) Paul encourages . . .challenges young Timothy to be diligent to stand ready before God. Just as a soldier must stand before the general for inspection, we must present ourselves before God ready for battle. We must know our job and be prepared for battle! We must be properly trained and understand what is before us. This is only done by understanding the Word of God. This is our weapon (Hebrews 4:12)as we enter into warfre daily! The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17)remains our most effective weapon against evil. If we are to be successful in ministry, if we are to best serve our families, if we are to correctly handle the Truth, than we must know the Word! A soldier knows his enemy. A soldier knows how to handle his weapon. A soldier fights for his general, his fellow warriors, and the cause. Satan is alive and on the attack. The Word of God is still alive and sharper than any two-edged sword. God is still on the throne. Are we prepared? Do we stand ready? Will we fight?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

worth walking . . .

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.
(Acts 16:30-32) The Macedonian Call . . . Paul's call from God to preach to those in Philippi and other cities. How many of us would love a direct call from the Lord on where to go and what to do next? Many of us have already received such a call. But like Paul, it is not always what we expect . . . or is it? You see, the call from God is often more of a challenge than a pleasure trip! Oh sure, serving God is a joy. Doing His will and being in His will is wonderful. I just want to warn you . . . it is a challenge and many times not what we dream about! The road is often bumpy, unchartered, and has dangers at every turn. However, we walk this road because we believe it is His will and we believe He rewards us in due time . . . in HIS time! Paul entered Macedonia on fire and ended up in jail. Yet while there, the jailer and his family accepted the Lord as their Savior! How many times have we faced challenges yet in the end it has worked out to the glory of God? God is in control! His ways are not our ways . . . But the road to the finish line is indeed worth walking.

Monday, May 14, 2012

not by words

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
(1 Peter 2:24) As Peter reminds us to be in subjection to all authority (1 Peter 2:13-17)he reminds us that Christ set the example for us. Though He was God, He offered Himself up for us, being subject to the rulers of this world, and He offered no retaliation when they tortured Him (2 Peter 2:22-23). It is tough to put up with the ridicule, the senseless actions of others, and the general carelessness of this world when one is trying their best to obey the statutes of God. However, as we set the example, others can see Christ. This may be the only way some people hear the Gospel; not by words, but by our actions! In a world where right is wrong and wrong is right . . . and our leaders . . . even professed Christian leaders set the wrong example, someone has to draw the line! Will it be you and me?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Take a stand!

The sinful mind is at war with God. It does not obey God's law. It can't. Those who are controlled by their sinful nature can't please God. But your sinful nature does not control you. The Holy Spirit controls you. The Spirit of God lives in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ.
(Romans 8:7-9) We are not our own! If we claim to be Christ followers, then we need to follow Him! If we claim the freedom granted by His sacrifice on the cross and Hs resurrection from the dead, then we need to live free from the world. We cannot have it both ways. There is no dual citizenship. There cannot be one foot in and one foot out. Oh yes, we live in a world of temptaton and lust. It is not easy. We desperately seek attention and acceptance; but from whom? We want to be recognized; but by whom? Are we seeking to please the One who has saved us? Young and old alike face decisions every day: Do I please the world or please my God? Whom do you serve this day . . . this moment? (Joshua 24:15) Take a stand!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Life goes on

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Matthew 5:11-12) Life can be so simple at times, yet so challenging. Just last evening, as I was coaching my son's Christian flag football team (elememtary school now)I had to experience a similiar event as Jesus described above. One would not expect controversy at a grade school athletic event. After all, we all are believers and we all realize we are doing what we do to honor the Lord and reperesent Him above everything else . . . right? Wrong!!!!! Life goes on, even within Christian events! As I was communicating with an official concerning a specific call during the game ( I called a time out to privately discuss the matter). He took the opportunity to raise his voice for the entire field to hear and instructed me to be quiet and that he had no more time for me and to not question his decision. Embarrassed, my human nature began to surface and I had to be reminded by the Spirit within me to humble myself, accept the embarrassment, and use this time to privately instruct my 8-10 year olds on Jesus' words as he was publically humiliated: "Father forgive them . . ." (Luke 23:34) This was an ideal teaching moment to allow actions to replace words and for the Spirit to replace the flesh. I reminded the kids to allow their action on the field replace our anger and embarrassment. They responded with a march down the field and scored a touchdown! After the game, I was urged to apologize to the official for causing him any embarrassment. I had to be sure I did not leave any false images in his head. Everything was fine. My concern was for the kids. How would they respond? What experience would they treasure from this teachable moment? It is my prayer that tey learned that despite efforts on our part, folks can still misjudge us. it is still our duty to represent the Lord whenever possible and even if it requires us to humble ourselves and take the blame. We must pray for those who hurt us and remember there is always someone watching . . . . our young people need to see Christ in action at every opportunity!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

just passin' through . . .

A righteous man may have many troubles,but the Lord delivers him from them all.
(Psalm 34:19) In this world we will have troubles (John 16:33). . . yep, all of us. Whether saved or unsaved, Christian or Muslim, good person or bad, we ALL will experience hard times now and then. Do not believe the lie that the Chrisyian life is a life of candies and nuts and sunshine. It is indeed difficult! It is not that the Christian life brings trouble, the world brings troubles simly because of the nature of man. Contrary to some beliefs, we are still born sinners and therefore we sin! The human heart is sinful . . . just observe a two year old for a few minutes! No child has to be taught to lie, be selfish, or greedy! The difference between a believer and a non-believer is that we understand the troubles better. We have confort in knowing God has it all worked out. The Holy Spirit within every believer offers a peace beyond human understanding. Our hope is not in this world, but in a Risen Savior and His promise of eternal peace with Him . . . one day! It is why we live and breathe and how we live and breathe! We are not of this world . . . just passin' through! Enjoy the ride!

Monday, May 7, 2012

So where is our reward?

Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.
(Proverbs 22:4) Great words to live by even today! Living a humble life, being appreciative of all God has done and realizing all we have is from Him leads to a rewarding life. nowingwe live and breathe because of our Creator keeps us grounded! Let's face it, we can get a bit full of ourselves at times! We get all caught up in what we have done and what we have accomplished. But in acurality . . . it is God and God alone Living with a healthy respect of God and keeping ourselves in proper perspective puts God in His rightful place as Lord and King. This kind of attitude brings honor to Him and others will appreciate our outlook on life as well. Wealth is not measured in money. Honor is not measured in rewards on earth. Life is just begin when we leave this earth. So where is our reward? Where is our hope? Where is our heart?

Friday, May 4, 2012

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
(Psalm 119:9-11) Many young peoeple ask me this every day . . . how is it possible to live a Christian life in this world? The psalmist lays it out very clearly here . . . we ALL must be close to His Word and trust God, not the world!In order to follow after God and honor Him, we must make the effort to seek Him. He will do His part! We fail HIm . . . He never fails us! God stands at the door. We have to knock! No one answers their door unless someone knocks on it! Call on God . . . He will answer and provide what we need to live according to His Word! (Hebrews 11:6)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

not a criticism but a challenge!

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) Ok . . . we are born again . . . saved from sin . . . forgiven . . . now what? Peter instructs us to live it out. Sincere love should flow from within our renewed hearts and be shown in our actions to one another within the church body. Folks on the outside should see Christ's love reflected in how we treat one another. They should want what we have! Is this the reality in our churches today . . . even within our nuclear families? Is Chrit's love at work? Can others see it . . . feel it . . . want it for themselves? This is not a criticism but a challenge! Let us be know by our love . . . for God and one another!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

care enough to share

It is better to heed a wise man's rebuke than to listen to the song of fools.
(Ecclesiastes 7:5) Old wise Solomon . . . still speaking wisdom today . . . How many times today have we wiser folks been mentioning to the younger crowd to to our advice over the foolish lyrics of songs the younger crowd is listening to 24/7? Do not get me wrong: I enjoy a lot of the music today and it's messages. But some lyrics and music videos are just downright foolish! Here in chapter seven of Ecclesiastes, Solomon begins by reminding us of the importance of good name (Ecclesiates 7:1) The legacy we leave behind when we die lasts.Our integrity . . . our character. . . what we are known for is really who we are. It is what we leave behind in the hearts and minds of those we leave behind. As we go through life, it is hoped that we grow in wisdom and leave behind the foolish things of our youth!
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
(1 Corinthians 13:11) Paul reminds us to flee the silly things of our youth and to grow, mature, become an adult! Unfortunately today there are many foolish adults still living in their teen years. Who are the young people to follow? What are we leaving them? Today's problems all not all the fault of our youth! Those of us who know better need to be sure to invest in our yourh and become responsible to care enough to share with others coming up . . . It begins in our own homes and families and extends to the neighborhoods and church families. Are you willing to be an investor . . .

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Who are we looking for anyway?

As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’"
(Matthew 11:7-10) Who are we looking for anyway? John the Baptist sat in prison and wondered if Jesus was the One. So he sent his followers to seek Him out. Many folks today doubt if this Jesus is the One. At times, we may even doubt. So we run to friends. We run to sex. We run to alcohol. We run . . . searching for the answer . . . Jesus is still the same today as in John's day. Look at what He has done! Is He not still God? Oh yeah, the world is changing, but Jesus remains faithful. We may change, but Jesus remains holy, perfect, gracious, and forgiving. He is God and we are not. he is perfect and the world is flawed. He is forgiving and the world is relentless. He is gracious and the world demands perfection. Just for a few minutes, think of all Jesus has done for each of us. Is He not enough? When in doubt, run to Jesus, not away from Him. Run to shelter, not to chaos. Trust the proven Savior!

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...