Friday, December 28, 2012

No Matter What Man Thinks or Does . . . God Rules and Over-rules!

All of you should honor marriage. You should keep the marriage bed pure. God will judge the person who commits adultery. He will judge everyone who commits sexual sins.(Hebrews 13:4)
The marriage bed . . . what a beautiful place for a husband and wife! It is pure, holy, good and fun . . . for the husband and wife! Anything else is just wrong. God gave sex to the husband and wife to enjoy and to be fruitful and multiply(Genesis 1:28)making little ones who are also in the image and likeness of God. Sex is indeed pleasurable, but in marriage. There is no shame or guilt when a husband and wife make love. But when it is fornication (singles) or adultery (married folks with others)boy is there shame, guilt, and consequences! One may not feel the shame or suffer the consequences at the moment, but it will catch up with a person mentally, physically, and spiritually! I am not speaking from a holier than though perspective, but from experience. Before becoming a CHRISTian, I uffered through a divorce and then indulged in a relationship outside of marriage. I still suffer the consequences! But God has saved me and wiped clean my slate and I now enjoy the benefits and joys (guilt-free) of a Godly marriage. Grace, mercy, and new life abound! Consequences of my past . . . yes. Forgiveness and new life in Christ . . . YES INDEED! Sex, no matter what kind or with whom is wrong if it is not enjoyed within the parameters of God's Word (husband-man and wife-woman). There are no exceptions! God's Word has not and will not change or adjust to the times or culture. We must subject our lifestyle to His Word! As we approach a New Year and in many cases new government laws and mandates, I challenge every believer to STAND for Christ and against unGodly practices in CHRISTian love, with the intent to win souls for the Savior.
But Adam didn’t find a helper that was right for him. So the Lord God caused him to fall into a deep sleep. While the man was sleeping, the Lord God took out one of his ribs. He closed up the opening that was in his side. Then the Lord God made a woman. He made her from the rib he had taken out of the man. And he brought her to him. The man said,“Her bones have come from my bones. Her body has come from my body. She will be named ‘woman,’because she was taken out of a man.” That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. The two of them will become one. The man and his wife were both naked. They didn’t feel any shame.(Genesis 2:20-25)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Applause . . . Applause!

A huge cloud of witnesses is all around us. So let us throw off everything that stands in our way. Let us throw off any sin that holds on to us so tightly. Let us keep on running the race marked out for us.(Hebrews 12:1
) Everyone needs a little encouragement. Everyone needs to hear a "Way to go" now and then. We need to know that what we are attempting to accomplish can in fact be successfully carried out. The writer of hebrews reminds us in the passage above that we have plenty of examples all around us . . . in the Bible and in our own lives. What holds us back is sin. Satan lies to us saying we can never do it. We doubt ourselves. We doubt God. So what story will we believe and carry out? Will it be God's story of success (Jeremiah 29:11)or Satan's story of deception and lies? We must decide to stay in the lane God has placed us in. We must focus on His will and the finish line, rather than the daily struggles and adversities. We have the proof all around us. God is able! Will we trust Him at His word?
I am sure that the One who began a good work in you will carry it on until it is completed. That will be on the day Christ Jesus returns.(Philippians 1:6)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Upreach and Outreach

Let us hold firmly to the hope we claim to have. The One who promised is faithful. Let us consider how we can stir up one another to love. Let us help one another to do good works. Let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing this. Instead, let us cheer each other up with words of hope. Let us do it all the more as you see the day coming when Christ will return. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
The vertical beam of the cross points directly upward as a reminder of the work done directly by God on our behalf: . . . sin debt paid . . . relationship restored . . . man's hope alive! However, there is another beam reaching east to west. This beak reminds us of the human touch of Jesus . . . how far and wide he reached out to save every human being if we simply accept His plan on His terms. These very vertical beams require those of us who claim His name to reach out to touch those around us as well. Jesus' pain upon the cross should be a reminder that we need to show others how much we appreciate the sacrifice made for us. It is the only way we can express the love of Christ. The upward reach of the cross to God's heart leads to the outward reach from our hearts to others. We stir up others . . . partner with one another in ministry . . .meet to encourage one another . . .cheer one another up! It's how we reach one another and the dying world . . . with the hands, feet and heart of Christ!
Reach up . . . and Out

Friday, December 21, 2012

What a promise . . .Still Standing!

The high priest enters the Most Holy Room every year. He enters with blood that is not his own. But Christ did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again. If he had, he would have had to suffer many times since the world was created. But now he has appeared once and for all time. He has come at the end of the ages to do away with sin. He has done that by offering himself. People have to die once. After that, God will judge them. In the same way, Christ was offered up once. He took away the sins of many people. He will also come a second time. At that time he will not suffer for sin. Instead, he will come to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.(Hebrews 9:25-28)
It's December 21, 2012 and most of us are still here on earth! Oh yes, some have passed to on into eternity. Yet for those who were afraid of the most recent (and still absurd) predictions of the end of the world as we know it and even those of us who place our trust in the Creator of this world, we are still here! People have been offering up various views of the world since time began. Others have attempt at explaining God and some even claim to be God. All throughout time some have even made feeble attempst to predict God or even claim that there is no God. I choose to believe Him at His Word! God is our Creator and He is still attempting to reach every one of us still standing with His promises of grace, mercy and ultimately forgiveness and eternal life. However, it comes only through one person . . . JESUS CHRIST! When He does come back, and He will, it will be on His timing! We must be ready and the decision must be made while we are yet here living.
What a promise from God . . . to save all mankind if we will just respond according to His instructions . . . the promise is still standing! How will you respond?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Do not settle for less . . .

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:7-12)
Many times we look around us and see evil winning out. We experience hardships in our lives . . . thinking we are doing what God desires for us to do, yet we see those who do ot even acknowledge God prospering day after day. It is hard to swallow at times . . . Yet if we truly trust God's Word, we do know that better things are yet to come. We must have spiritual vision. We have to see things through our Savior's eyes or else it will become too much to handle! This is when the Holy Spirit takes over and we begin to trust. We experience walking by faith and not by sight! Are we seeking after our Father's well done? Are we anticipating His will and even His return? Like watching fruit develop on a vine . . . this life of following Jesus is a developing process. We seldom receive immediate results.
We reap what we sow. (Galationa 6:7) Let's dig in deep and trust the Lord to follow through! Do not settle for less!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We Play to Win the Game . . . .

By this time you should be teachers. But in fact, you need someone to teach you all over again. You need even the simple truths of God’s word. You need milk, not solid food. Anyone who lives on milk is still a baby. That person does not want to learn about living a godly life. Solid food is for those who are grown up. They have trained themselves with a lot of practice. They can tell the difference between good and evil.(Hebrews 5:12-14)
I know all my former athlete friends remember growing up when mom or dad would measure our height by the closet door? We would try to stand on our tip toes to get an extra 1/4 inch. We would try to predict how tall we would be? Then later on in high school and college, as we would hit the weight roomand gym, we would often measure our biceps and chest just to see how much muscle we had put on that day! Everything was measured . . . our height, weight, distance, speed, vertical jump . . . Our goal was always to get faster, better, bigger, stronger . . . So why have things changed now that we are now mature and settled as Christians? Do we not continue to engage as if to win the battle just as we did in school? Why have we become complacent? Where is our sense of competition? Yes the overall victory is won. Jesus defeated sin on the cross. However, there are still souls out on the field to be won! We cannot just sit on the bench and allow others to lose the battle. We compete until the final whistle blows! We need to be leaders in the war!
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.(1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
God did not save us for us to lose our competitive edge. In fact, He wants us to increase our fervor. CRISTiands should be the most intense athletes, especially in the spiritual playing field. To quote a rather popular former NFL coach:

CHRISTmas Presentation 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why do we study . . . why not?

The word of God is living and active. It is sharper than any sword that has two edges. It cuts deep enough to separate soul from spirit. It can separate joints from bones. It judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart.(Hebrews 4:12)
The Word of God is alive and well and will do us well to know it way before tragedies and disasters occur. We must be ready with an answer when the world as "Why?". By being properly prepared, understanding the character of God, we can properly comfort and console those who are distraught, even ourselves! We may not be able to expalin the whys and hows, but we will be able to be the heart, hands, and feet of Christ. Even Jesus could not explain away the death of Lazarus, but He felt the pain and healed the hurt. yes, He did raise him from the dead, but just being able to grieve with a person can be enough for us and those we know are hurting. God's will is hard to explain at times, especially as the world gets worse. Sin can tear at the heart of the very best Christian soul. Yet we need to be available and ready to act in accordance with God's heart to be sure others can feel His grace and mercy. So how do we prepare ourselves . . . why do we study His Word daily . . why not? We have to be ready, because we never know when God will use us!
Do your best to please God. Be a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed. Teach the message of truth correctly.(2 Timothy 2:15)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What to say?

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 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 3:12-13)
With so much sin around us, many fall away and give up on God. "Where is God now?" many will ask. "Why does God allow such evil to occur?" God is still God but because of our sin, man chooses evil over good. However, we must not concentrate on the evil, but rather on the plans God has for those who choose to live for Him.(Psalm 37) Like Queen Esther, we too are in this world in this time to do God's bidding and accomplish His purposes. Rather than be shocked at all the violence, we need to be grounded in His Word and prepared to respond. We cannot afford to shrink back.
For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)
In terrible times, it is not so important what to say but what to do. What would God have us to do? How does a believer react to dire circumstances when it seems to others that our God has disappeared? We must be Jesus in the flesh as we comfort, counsel, feed, and clothe the hurting. We must respond with a heart of Jesus.
What to say? . . . no . . . rather . . . What to DO?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

. . . between Sundays

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.(Philemon 4-7)
It is always good to have a core group around when serving the Lord. The few who support you in think and thin and encourage you when things are challenging. Believe me, things do get challenging . . . Paul here is asking Philemon to live out his faith by forgiving a run away slave, Onesimus, and accepting him just as would accept Paul. here is a fine example of living out the grace and mercy which Christ gave unto Philemon! Active faith shows in real life situations that occur between Sundays. Active faith not only serves others in need, but also encourages fellow believers.
It's not the Sunday worship that proves our faith and witnesses to the unsaved . . . it is what goes on between Sundays . . . outside of the walls of church!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Perfect Gift

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. (3 Titus 4-7)
Grace and mercy . . . we hear it often but do we understand it? We eeceive what we do not deserve (forgiveness and eternal life)and are not being punished (death and separation from God)for what we have done (sin). What a gift! What a Savior! Yet do we share it in return? After receiving such a gift, we are to reciprocate such gifts to others, so that they too may experience the love of God! God's love is to share and in this world, we need to share it before we preach it for people to really experience it!
This is the time we are out shopping for the perfect gift . . . we already have it. Just share His love and watch the results!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

His Way or the Highway

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. (Titus 2:11-15)
Many times we are presented with the opportunity to stand for our faith, yet we will crumble under political corecctness, friendships, family loyalties, or job security. Imagine being able to love the Lord so much that nothing matters more than to honor Him! I can recall a few athletes and politicians who have stood their ground and lost positions of prestige because they refused to waver. The Bible warns us against going with the crowd. Do we have to be reminded that not everyone who says they know Jesus and claim to be believers are what they say they are? Beware my friends of the traps of legalism, warped doctrines, and social religion. Our faith is not to be seen as an opportunity to climb up the social ladder or increase our network of friends and business associates. It is rather an alternative lifestyle of denial, sacrifice, and a conscientious and daily decision to live to honor our soon coming Savior.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
We are all facing an audience with the Almighty God one day. Once we face Him, He will render a decision . . . Welcome home or away with you. (Matthew 7:23)Where will you and I stand?
His Way or the Highway? The decision must be made while we are living!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

God has the answers

For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. (Titus 1:10-11)
Wow . . . this could very well have been written today! As we celebrated CHRISTmas with the teens we serve (and their families) I was moved when I read this during my studies this morning. Working one on one with these kids, my wife and I realize the challenges they indeed face. We can see the hearts of the kids. They really want to do right. They want to be successful. They even want to honor God! But they face so many obstacles in their schools, in their communities, and a times even within their homes. Many times it is our task simply to listen and allow them to share their struggles. We do not have all the answers, but God does! His Word sounds forth loud and clear today. The wisdom of God calls out among the streets and in the classrooms. It is our calling to share His Word with the kids in deeds and actions and if we need to . . . with words! Teens today need to see and experience God's love even before they hear it. It is not unlike the days when Jesus walked the earth . . . Meet the needs, then share the Words. God has the answers!
My children, listen to me. Blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my teaching and be wise. Don’t turn away from it. Blessed is the one who listens to me. He watches every day at my doors. He waits beside my doorway. Those who find me find life. They receive favor from the Lord. But those who don’t find me harm only themselves. Everyone who hates me loves death.” (Proverbs 8:32-36)

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Finish Line

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 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: 6-8)
Life can and will be very challenging. Beleievers were NEVER promised riches, glory, great health, good times, and the like . . . in THIS world! The rewards await us after we live this portion of life.
We must keep our hearts and lives focused on the finish line!
Paul was in constant challenge, mentally and pysically. His old freinds resented him and hunted him down. His new friends feared him and mistrusted him. He lived for Christ alone and for His time with Him in heaven. Nothing on earth was more rewarding for Paul then to be at the feet of the Savior on that day!
What are we living for today? Where is our heart's focus? Are we anticipating the finish line or living for the thrill of the race?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's ALL good (and TRUE!)

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
When it comes to God's Word, it's ALL good and it is ALL true!Some may be a history lesson, some may be a song, others may be parables, but every word is from the Holy Spirit of God and it is all true and good for our good. There is no lie in the Bible. There is no untruth. Man may have caused some minute translational errors along the centuries (simple words or letters left out here or there) but God's Word is God's Word! If we do not believe it all, then we are lying to ourselves and disrespecting God. Many today choose to believe some of the Bible but not all of it. They pass it off as fairy tale or out of date. Not so! God's Word is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow . . . for all eternity.(Hebrews 13:8)There is no changing with God.(James 1:17)Jesus is the Word and His words remain as well. Everything else may pass away, but His Word shall always be! (Matthew 14:35) God's Word is a direct communication from our Creator to us. What a wonderful and comforting thought! It makes no sense to reject it! Only a fool would suggest such a thing!
It's all good and it's all true. Love it . . . embrace it . . . cherish it . . . believe it . . . live it out!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sharing the struggles, sharing the victories!

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. (2 Timothy 3-6)
Sharing the struggles, sharing the victories! . . . One beautiful thing about sports is that the harder one works, the better one feels after the competition. Hard work produces good results. One must put in the time at practice, in the weight rooms, studying playbooks, in-season and off-season. An athlete never stops working to get better . . . to defeat the opponent! The individual gains and the team gains as everyone works at their particular job. it's the same with the believer and his team . . . the Body of Christ. We must all put the time in to improve as a player for the team. We must study, exercise (spiritually and physically), and actively partcipate in the competition (ministry) in order for the team to function properly. Just one player on the disabled lists hurts the team! As believers we work to please the Coach . . . Jesus Christ. We do not seek the appluase of the crowd. At any time they can turn against us with just one miscue. His ways bring success. We must keep to the scripted game plan. Only the final score matters . . . We win . . . Satan loses!
Sharing the struggles, sharing the victories!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Power is a good thing to possess

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.(2 Timothy 1:7-8)
Power is a good thing to possess . . . if used corretly! Power under control (meekness) is one of the things the Holy Spirit gives to every believer if we choose to use it. Not power to abuse, enslave or belittle, but power to love others, to forgive others, to offer others a second chance, to share with others the power of Jesus Christ! To walk in the power of the Risen Savior is to walk in confidence despite struggles, despite suffering, and despite setbacks. It is the power of knowing that God has it all figured out!
Do you have that power today? Will you share it?

Monday, December 3, 2012

God has no favorites!

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)
I have now been saved for more than twenty years (August 1992). For me, that is a milestone! However, what is even more amazing is that God has allowed my wife and I to serve Him in full time ministry now for the fifteen years of our marriage. Since we pledged our love for one another and for the Lord, He has been faithful to us and our family! Though we have stumbled and fallen along the way, God's grace and mercy has never been more evident than His work in my life! God has blessed us with so many faithful pastors, ministers, teachers, counselors, mentors and Godly friends that we have been able to gleen so much from them and apply it to our own lives. It has also taught us how to serve others, whether they are adults, teens, toddlers or even strangers we have met on the streets and in the business field. God has given me the gifts of evangelism and teaching, but also he has given me the abilities to be able to interact with folks across the spectrum of age, culture, and other various backgrounds. Though I love our ministry to teens, I also cherish my conversations with senior citizens, the four and five year olds, also my peers in ministry. As we all serve where God has guided and equipped us, let us remember to treat everyone with the respect they deserve. Whether folks are young, elderly, or a bit different than we are, everyone deserves our respect and everyone has something to offer. If God could respect me enough to wait for me to come to my senses, I can surely be patient, kind, and respectful to all He brings my way! Who am I to know if the next person I see may come to know the Lord because they encountered my presence?
Just as Peter, wrote, I too have learned that God has no favorites! (Acts 10:34)

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...