Friday, February 27, 2015

Keep the Soil Prepared

A farmer went out to plant his seed. He scattered the seed on the ground. Some fell on a path. People walked on it, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some seed fell on rocky ground. When it grew, the plants dried up because they had no water. 7 Other seed fell among thorns. The thorns grew up with it and crowded out the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It grew up and produced a crop 100 times more than the farmer planted.”

When Jesus said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears should listen.”

9 His disciples asked him what the story meant. 10 He said, “You have been given the chance to understand the secrets of God’s kingdom. But to outsiders I speak by using stories. In that way,

“ ‘They see, but they will not know what they are seeing.    They hear, but they will not understand what they are hearing.’ (Isaiah 6:9) (Luke 8:5-10)

Many people know of God. Others have heard the story but refuse to believe it. Others yet disregard the facts and believe the various other fables and lies. Some could care less about any talk of a god or eternity. As Luke records Jesus' words above however, "Whoever has ears should listen"!

Where do we stand? Are we keeping the garden of our hearts and minds open to the truths of God? Have we been crowded out with the weeds and insects of the world?

Keep the soil prepared! Grow in God's Truths and in relationship with Him! If not, we will be as those in Luke's writings; seeing without vision and hearing without understanding!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Eyewitness Proof . . .walk by the FACTS!

But you must hold firmly to the message I preached to you. If you don’t, you have believed it for nothing. 3 What I received I passed on to you. And it is the most important of all. Here is what it is. Christ died for our sins, just as Scripture said he would. 4 He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said he would be. 5 He appeared to Peter. Then he appeared to the 12 apostles. 6 After that, he appeared to more than 500 brothers and sisters at the same time. Most of them are still living. But some have died. 7 He appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, he also appeared to me. I was like someone who wasn’t born at the right time. (1 Corinthians 15:2-8)

In a courtroom, one or two eyewitnesses are possible to conjure up a story. However, if more that five hundred adults witness an event, the judge must accept the evidence as true! Who wouldn't?

So some say we have a blind faith. Really? I would say that if more that five hundred people actually witnessed Jesus Christ alive and well after seeing Him dead and buried, well even a scholar  . . . even perhaps a blind man would believe that!

Yes, I walk by faith in the promises of God. I also walk by the facts!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why Pray?

In a secretive moment of foreboding, Jesus spoke a heartfelt prayer; a personal connection with eternity, while just outside of their presence forces of evil organized in opposition.

Faced with impossible tasks and insurmountable odds, where do we turn . . . to Whom do we turn? Listen carefully to our Savior's words as His heart was beginning to crumble . . .

I will not remain in the world any longer. But they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them safe by the power of your name. It is the name you gave me. Keep them safe so they can be one, just as you and I are one . . .  I have given them your word. The world has hated them. That’s because they are not part of the world any more than I am. I do not pray that you will take them out of the world. I pray that you will keep them safe from the evil one. . . “I do not pray only for them. I pray also for everyone who will believe in me because of their message. Father, I pray they will be one, just as you are in me and I am in you. I want them also to be in us. Then the world will believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me. I did this so they would be one, just as we are one. I will be in them, just as you are in me. This is so that they may be brought together perfectly as one. Then the world will know that you sent me. It will also show the world that you have loved those you gave me, just as you have loved me.                           (John 17:11, 14-15,20-23).

Jesus prayed for His disciples but also for you and me! Is that not awesome?!?! His prayer was that we could be one with Him and the father and with one another. He desires for us to STAND in the midst of trials and not to falter. 

We can go through trials knowing God goes with us and he equips us to honor Him in the midst of it all. Who else can you and I possibly trust?

This is why I pray!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Do Not Believe the Hype!

Jesus promised His disciples three things — that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble. — F. R. Maltby

I’m like a gate. Anyone who enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out. And they will find plenty of food. 10 A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so they may have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way. (John 10:9-10)

There is a lot of HYPE in church circles today. Plenty of noise, fanfare, and excitement. While this is good, there is still only ONE WAY to heaven . . . to God the Father! It is a narrow gate and He is the ONLY gateway to heaven and eternal life! The theif (the "enemy", "Satan") would have us believe the lie that there are many ways, many faiths, many "highways to heaven", all kinds of fun, lavish blessings, and a trouble-free life .

NOT SO.......

But what I’m about to tell you is true. It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Friend will not come to help you. But if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove that the world’s people are guilty. He will prove their guilt concerning sin and godliness and judgment. The world is guilty as far as sin is concerned. That’s because people do not believe in me. 10 The world is guilty as far as godliness is concerned. That’s because I am going to the Father, where you can’t see me anymore. 11 The world is guilty as far as judgment is concerned. That’s because the devil, the prince of this world, has already been judged. (John 16:7-11)

There is only ONE WAY to peace and understanding in this world full of chaos. Only those with the Spirit of God can understand the things of God.

Know Jesus . . . know PEACE. No Jesus . . .NO PEACE!

Do YOU have JESUS?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Born to Serve . . .

Have we really decided to "serve"?As CHRIST-followers, this is our goal . . . our life . . . the example set by our Savior and Lord:
When Jesus finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes. Then he returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You are right. That is what I am. 14 I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have given you an example. You should do as I have done for you. 16 What I’m about to tell you is true. A slave is not more important than his master. And a messenger is not more important than the one who sends him. 17 Now you know these things. So you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17)

How do we spend our resources and time? Which topics dominate our thoughts and conversation? What do our check books and "to-do" lists reveal about us?These are a few indicators of the driving goals in our life. Like many people. we may long for worldly recognition, however God has a higher calling for us, His children. Let's ask Him to grow a servant's attitude within our heart.

If we want to live a life that honors God, we SERVE!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Falling in LOVE . . . with JESUS!

So what's it like to fall in love? REALLY fall in love?

I have been crucified with Christ. I don’t live any longer, but Christ lives in me. Now I live my life in my body by faith in the Son of God. He loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

The most important thing that happens within the Christian life is when a person falls in love with Jesus. . . . REALLY falls in love!

If you haven’t done it in a while, pray and talk with Jesus. We can't just talk at Him! We need to ask Him to become REAL to us. Ask Him to forgive us of our self-addiction, ask Him to put a song in our heart.

I can’t think of anything better that could happen to any of us than this.

As the song says . . .Falling in love with Jesus is the best thing I have EVER done!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

His Grace is still amazing!

Here is a saying that you can trust. It should be accepted completely. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the worst sinner of all . . . (1 Timothy 1:15)

I was searching for appropriate videos to share with my middle school bible students concerning "grace" and this one blew me away! What an example of God's grace to us all and how He can change the chiefest of sinners, like me, into a submissive and serving child of God...

My prayer is that as we celebrate OUR rich history of people of color, we see God's grace in the middle of it all!

Take a listen . . .

Is GRACE not STILL amazing?

The law was given so that sin would increase. But where sin increased, God’s grace increased even more. (Romans 5:20)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

God's Timing . . . God's Power

Jesus said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you. Everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms must come true.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written. The Messiah will suffer. He will rise from the dead on the third day. 47 His followers will preach in his name. They will tell others to turn away from their sins and be forgiven. People from every nation will hear it, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You have seen these things with your own eyes. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised. But for now, stay in the city. Stay there until you have received power from heaven.” (Luke 24:44-49)

Ever feel frustrated? Ever wonder why we fail so often? Why does it seem that God is not with us?

Many times we are working under our own power rather than God's! The original disciples had to wait for the Spirit to arrive. But we have it now . . . if we are His. But we still must wait at times . . . for God's timing! 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. Then you will tell people about me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria. And you will even tell other people about me from one end of the earth to the other.” (Acts 1:8)

Get in touch with God . . . seek His face . . .His will. . . His timing. He wants to work through you and me!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Got kids?

Consider these statistics:

Within the next 30 minutes at least:  

  • 29 kids will attempt suicide.

  • 57 adolescents will run away from home.

  • 14 teenager girls will give birth out of wedlock.

  • 22 girls will get abortions.

  • 686 kids will use one of many illegal drugs.

  • And 188 will abuse alcohol.


People were bringing little children to Jesus. They wanted him to place his hands on them to bless them. But the disciples told them to stop. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was angry. He said to his disciples, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t keep them away. God’s kingdom belongs to people like them. 15 What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who will not receive God’s kingdom like a little child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms. He placed his hands on them to bless them. (Mark 10:13-16)

What are we to do as believers? If we do not have time for our youth then who will? The drug dealers will. The pimps will. The gangs will. Those living alternative lifestyles will. The terrorist recruiters will. SATAN will!   

We do not ignore them. We do not allow the TV, schools, sports, and churches to raise them.

So what do we do? We show them. We teach them. We model for them. We embrace them. We eat with them. We hurt with them. We cry with them. We laugh with them. We play games with them. We do homework with them. We kiss them. We sing with them. We dance with them. We listen to them. We pray with them. We have TIME for them!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What if the rapture IS Real?

Now I want to talk about some other matters, brothers and sisters. We taught you how to live in a way that pleases God. In fact, that is how you are living. In the name of the Lord Jesus we ask and beg you to do it more and more. You know the directions we gave you. They were given by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

God wants you to be made holy. He wants you to stay away from sexual sins. He wants all of you to learn to control your own bodies. You must live in a way that is holy. You must live with honor. Don’t desire to commit sexual sins like people who don’t know God.

None of you should sin against your brother or sister by doing that. You should not take advantage of your brother or sister. The Lord will punish everyone who commits these kinds of sins. We have already told you and warned you about this. That’s because God chose us to live pure lives. He wants us to be holy. Suppose someone refuses to accept our teaching. They are not turning their back on us. They are turning their back on God. This same God gives you his Holy Spirit.

9We don’t need to write to you about your love for one another. God himself has taught you to love one another. 10 In fact, you do love all God’s family all around Macedonia. Brothers and sisters, we are asking you to love one another more and more. 11 And do everything you can to live a quiet life. You should mind your own business. And work with your hands, just as we told you to.

12 Then unbelievers will have respect for your everyday life. And you won’t have to depend on anyone.

13 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know what happens to those who die. We don’t want you to mourn, as other people do. They mourn because they don’t have any hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again. When he returns, many who believe in him will have died already. We believe that God will bring them back with Jesus. 15 This agrees with what the Lord has said. When the Lord comes, many of us will still be alive. We tell you that we will certainly not go up before those who have died. 16 The Lord himself will come down from heaven. We will hear a loud command. We will hear the voice of the leader of the angels. We will hear a blast from God’s trumpet. Many who believe in Christ will have died already. They will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them. We will be taken up in the clouds. We will meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with him forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-18)

So let's talk . . .

  1. Let’s not get caught up on words!

The word rapture does not occur in our English Bibles. We get the word by way of St. Jerome (c. 347-420 A.D.). In his work of revising the Latin New Testament from the Greek New Testament, he translated the Greek word ἁρπάζω (harpazō) into the Latin “rapiemur.” The Latin verb form is “rapio” and means to be caught up or taken away. From these Latin words come our English word rapture. While Paul used the word ἁρπάζω only once (1 Thessalonians 4.17), he taught the doctrine of the Rapture in other places using other expressions. The Greek word ἁρπάζω means to “seize” or “snatch away.” It is used 13 times in the following versesMatthew 11.12, 13.19; John 6.15, 10.12, 28-29; Acts 8.39, 23.10; 2 Corinthians 12.2, 12.4; 1 Thessalonians 4.17; Jude 1.23; Revelation 12.5.

  1. So what does this mean for us now?

    • Live Out LOUD
      • We taught you how to live in a way that pleases God. In fact, that is how you are living. In the name of the Lord Jesus we ask and beg you to do it more and more. (v4)
        • Live a life that honors God.
        • Set the example.
        • Be prepared (keep your lamps burning . . .  Matthew 25:13)
    • KNOW the signs
      • We don’t want you to mourn, as other people do. They mourn because they don’t have any hope. (v13)
        • Be aware of what is happening but be confident in Christ. He is in control! (Matthew 14/Luke 12)
        • Don’t live in fear, but in anticipation! (2 Timothy 4:8)
    • Be Encouraged
      • Many who believe in Christ will have died already. They will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them . . . So encourage one another with these words of comfort.
        • Live a life that others will want to imitate and embrace!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine Week 2015: No better LOVE!

Lookin for LOVE? Consider it FOUND!

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:12-17)

There was a song long ago that cried out: Lookin' for love in all the wrong places . . . too many faces . . . it was a plea of frustration, and failure.

However, in Christ we find a perfect LOVE . . . a forgiving LOVE. . . LOVE that never ends. But it comes with a price . . . a price paid by Jesus Christ. It must be accepted on His terms or it is a lost love!

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. (Romans 14:11-12)

Do not miss out on the LOVE of a lifetime . . . choose Christ today!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine Week 2015: From WHERE do we LOVE?

The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools. The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction. Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:21-24)

LOVE is produced deep in the heart and soul of a person.  Evil is as well. The WORDS that a person speaks are deeply formed within the recesses of one's heart. They are taught, learned, formed, and rehearsed well before they are heard by someone.

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts . . . murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” (Matthew 15:18-20)

We all must be careful what we take in through our eyes, ears, and minds. Written word, media, other's words and actions . . . all contribute to the feelings and thoughts we form deep within our hearts (souls). The heart is a garden of cultivation for the words and actions of life.

Set a guard over my mouth, Lordkeep watch over the door of my lips. Do not let my HEART be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies. (Psalm 141:3-4)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Valentine Week 2015: Why do we LOVE?

WHY do we love? 

 . . .since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

What is our motivation to LOVE? God first loved us! (1 John 4:19) Even while we were His enemies . . . He loved us! (Romans 5:8) God IS love. (1 John 4:8) We are made in His image (Genesis 1:27) so we have a desire to love and to be loved.

Does this change in any way your idea of LOVE?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentine Week 2015 : How do we love?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 (Corinthians 13:4-7)

Read the verses again . . . LOVE is much different from God's point of view!

A simple question today: How do 'ya love? 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Valentine's Week 2015: Who do 'ya LOVE?

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (1 John 3:11)

Here's a thought from my reading this morning . . . "I used to think being loved was the greatest thing to think about, but now I know love is never satisfied just thinking about it." (Bob Goff)

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)

We hear it often: Love is a verb as well as a nounLoving someone is a bit different than being in love.  One may not always feel as though they are in love or being loved, but we as CHRIST-followers are always called to love.

Who do 'ya LOVE?

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Joy-Filled Weekend!

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor . . .The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways.  There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan  that can succeed against the Lord The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord. (Proverbs 21:21,29-31)

It's tough walking with the Lord and trying to live a righteous life. Imagine being young and attempting this . . .It's really rough on our youth! Whatever we can do to set the example for them, to encourage them, to show we care is so helpful.

They need us in their lives . . . even when they push away. We need to gently push back!  Engage them in love! I really like how John the Elder addresses his followers as dear children . . .
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. (1 John 2:28-29)
We must show them the joy we have in striving to serve our God! But do we have that joy? Share it with the kids we hold dear!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Keep pushing forward . . . no going back!

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:19-25)
I hear folks all the time believe it is normal to be a CHRISTian and accept the trivial sins . . . even deliberate sins in life. No guilt . . . no shame . . . no repenting. REALLY?
 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)
Jonathan Edwards once preacheed on falling into the hands of an angry God. I think we need that kind of preaching today! I don't know about you, but I still fear the God who saved me. Yes, I love Him dearly, but I keep a healthy fear and I strive to be sinless. I do  not want to  to disregard all He has done for me. We need to hold one another accountable! God deserves it!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Who Knows What Is Right?

He guides the humble in what is right  and teaches them his way.  All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful  toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.  For the sake of your name, Lordforgive my iniquity, though it is great. Who, then, are those who fear the LordHe will instruct them in the ways they should choose.They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lordfor only he will release my feet from the snare. (Psalm 25:8-15)

How are we possibly to know where to turn today? So many suggestions. . . so many classes . . . so many diets . . .so many groups! Everybody you meet has a new plan, a new book, or a new idea.

I have an idea . . . why not follow God's plan . . . HIS plan for each of us! (Jeremiah 29:11)
 Well, to know His plan we must know Him! Without faith in Him, it is impossible to know Him, or to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Do YOU know Him? Will you commit to HIS ways? In this case, the original plan is still the best plan!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I don't care what people think!

   “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)

I don't care what people think. God knows my heart and He knows me! What I do is between me and God!

Ever hear that attitude? Is it right? Is it proper coming from a Christ-follower? Read on . . .

  So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God  even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)

Though we are free in Christ and not under "The Law" as were the Hebrews, we still are responsible for the influence we have over others; believers and non-believers alike! What we do in public (and private for that matter) can in fact sway a person to Christ or away from Him.

Let's think about our actions. Like the old saying: "Actions speak louder than words!"

Monday, February 2, 2015

Just tell me what to do!

 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,  and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good? (Deuternomy 10:12-13)
 Just tell me what to do and I will do it! I believe this is what most teenagers what to hear today. Just give 'em some boundaries. We all need to know what is out of bounds, especially our children! Even the champions of this world have been known to "cheat". People are skirting the rules all around us. Are we living by the rule book . . . the BIBLE?
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

In a world where wrong is right and right is wrong, are we surprised that our kids are confused?  It's challenging enough for a mature adult! Jesus Himself made it very simple when asked how one should live;
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
A friend from New Orleans once told me this: "Love God with all you got and love people 'til you drop"! Advice for the CHRIST-follower to live by . . .

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...