Thursday, March 31, 2016

Yes Sir!

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother", which is the first commandment with promise: "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."(Deuteronomy 5:16) And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-5)
Obedience (or lack thereof) by children to parents has a direct correlation to a child's obedience to God and future respect for all authorities. If a child is required to obey at home, he will have no issues with obeying the Word of God and all authority later in life. It has been studied and proven that a child with issues of the home authority (which has been established by God) will eventually live a life of struggle with authorities at school, work, and in society (law enforcement). Yes, the toddler not accepting "No!" In the toy store and the parent giving in to him (to make him "happy") will undoubtedly turn into a teen who struggles with school rules, on-the-job requirements, speed limits, and the like. Parents, teachers, mentors . . . REQUIRE obedience the first time. It's best for us and the kids!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

No Pain . . . No Gain: A Life of Sacrifice

For consider Him, who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him, for whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourges EVERY son whom He receives." (Proverbs 3:11-12) If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sones; for what son is ther whom a father does not chasten? (Hebrews 12:3-7)
Let's all admit it: Many times as a CHRISTian we become a bit tired of the ridicule, frustrated with "others" seemingly to be doing better, and constantly hearing "You will get your reward in heaven". It's true. We are all just frail clay pots, brittle and cracked. I understand. However . . . We have a Savior and God Who knows our struggles and frustrations. We must share these burdens with Him! He too suffered . . . and much more than we do. He too became frustrated . . . yet He continued on His path to the cross. He too was a bit weary in healing and being gracious only to be spit upon, beaten, and hung upon a cross to die. Let's keep this fresh in our minds and hearts. . . And we think we have it rough! He did all for me . . .for you . . . for all who suffer for His namesake and for His glory. Hang in. Stay focused. He knows and He cares. S T A N D!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Choose You This Day . . .

My little children, these things I write to you, so you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous. . . Now by this we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him", and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is NOT in him. . . .I write to you, little children, because your sins ARE forgiven you for His name's sake . . .Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is NOT in him. For all that is in the world--- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life---is NOT of the Father, but is of this world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever . . .And now, dear children, ABIDE IN HIM, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming . . .(1 John 2:1-28)
John loved his disciples dearly, much like Jesus loved His followers. John cherished his relationship with Jesus. He writes to his followers about the differences between the world and those who truly love the Lord. There are simply some things we cannot and should not embrace as followers of Christ. Yes, we are forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. However, that does not mean that we can do anything and everything we desire. Peter reminds us all that we are be a "peculiar people" and a "holy nation" (1 Peter 2:9) As we struggle with varying temptations from this world, remember we have an Advocate! Jesus pleads for us to the Father and the Holy Spirit within us convicts us and conforms us more into His image daily. We must give Him freedom to work! We also have one another. Let's lean upon those who no better and what us to do better! Jesus has laid out the standards. They have NOT changed. Will we join Him or the world?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Back to life or NEW life?

But when morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore, yet the the disciples did not know it was Jesus. . . .so they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish . . . "It is the Lord!" . . . Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread . . . Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast." (John 21:4-12) The disciples had gone back to their routine of fishing. I am sure they were still a bit baffled by it all . . . their Savior had been brutally beaten, crucified, buried, but now had appeared to them twice in the flesh. This had to be a bit unnerving and challenging. Routine may help bring some sense to it all. But as they tried and failed to collect fish, there was this stranger calling out telling them to go to the other side of the boat. Could it be? Was that Him again? As Jesus called them to shore, they recognized Him and did as He said. As they ate, Jesus restored Peter and mentioned his fateful death as well. Now that we have celebrated our great Savior and His victory over death and sin, what will we do with this Monday? Will it be back to our routine and business as usual or will we recognize the Lord, and hear His voice calling to us? Will we be willing to do things a bit differently, trusting Him to supply? Will we accept the commission to "go and make disciples"? Are we willing to "follow Him"?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Where is Jesus?

For Christ also died for sins once for all, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (1 Peter 3:18-20)

Saturday . . . Jesus was crucified upon the cross . . . buried in the tomb . . . Where was He? What was He doing? One thing He was not doing was preaching to those in hell to save those who rejected Him earlier in life. They did see Him and they knew for sure that they had missed out. It is thought,  however that He released those who had put their faith in the coming Messiah. Some were seen in the Holy City during this time. (Matthew 27:50-54)

Praise God that we do not have to wait today! We can accept Him at His word. We can make that eternal decision today. Many have died and found out the hard way . . . Jesus' words are true! Do you know my Savior? Has He redeemed your soul? Will you be with Him in paradise one day as the " good thief" was promised? Today . . . Make the choice! Today . . . before Easter . . . Choose Christ! Easter is not simply a day to play dress up. It's a day to celebrate His resurrection and our future resurrection with Him. 

But you must know Him while we are yet living . . . or before He returns!

Friday, March 25, 2016

It was all for me. . . .make it personal!

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, because the sun's light failed. The temple curtain was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit!" And after He said this He breathed His last. (Luke 23:44-46)

I just want to think on this the entire day . . . He did it all for me! Have you really accepted it . . . accepted Him . . . embraced the cross as Jesus did? There is still room at the cross!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

No Room for Compromise

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." . . . Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, " O, My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." (Matthew 26:39-42)

Jesus loved each of us for sure, but He did not want to sacrifice Himself the way He did. Here we hear from the very heart of the servant Jesus.  He was deeply distressed (Matthew 26:37) He prayed three times to the Father about the situation but to no avail. He had to do what He had to do! He could not change the will of the Father . . . could not make it less painful . . . could not water it down.

Oh, if we could just grasp this fact: God has not changed! He is still the same God Jesus spoke with intimately in the garden. He requires complete obedience, not partial obedience or lip service! His ways are not our ways and His Words are still true. 

It seems as though it always comes to this lately: stop watering-down the Word, dummying-down discipleship, and trying to make the will of God the ways of man! Let's carry our the will of God in our lives . . . there is no room for compromise!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Radical Change

In the same manner, He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the New Covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." (1 Corinthians 11:25)

As Jesus was celebrating the Passover meal and offering the Cup of Redemption, He was actually ushering in a New Covenant, a greater redemption if you would. He was offering Himself as The sacrificial redemption for our sin, not simply out of slavery from Egypt. He was about to embrace the cross, shed His very own blood, to purchase our freedom from sin!

As we approach the most solemn days of our faith, let's get into the mindset of Christ and realize what He was going through if we possibly are able. He did it all for you . . . for me! A real hope . . . a permanent salvation . . . a blood covenant that He would establish and never break! 

Embrace it . . . Enjoy it . . . but know it was not free and not taken lightly. There was a huge price paid for our redemption and it was all done for each who would accept it. 

What are we going to do about it?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Teaching Responsibilities

What a warning, yet an encouragement to all who teach, mentor, parent, or otherwise influence our youth . . .

Not not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1)

Paul adds in his instruction to Timothy . . .

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of Truth. ( 2 Timothy 2:15)

Jesus instructs us Himself in the Sermon on the Mount . . .

Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of theses commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19) 

Challenging . . . Yet rewarding promises!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Would Jesus WEEP Today?

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes" . . . then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it . . . (Luke 19:41-45)

I wonder if Jesus is weeping today . . . over our cities, over our churches, over our families, over you and me? As He drew near to Jerusalem, He knew of the future to come: they would reject Him . . . even call for Pilate to "crucify Him!"

What does He think about us today? Our governments have banned the use of His words. Our churches have dummied-down the Gospel to a mere show and entertainment. Our families are riddled with pain and suffering because we have "left our first love". (Revelation 21:4)

Do we have an ear for Christ's words today? Do we have room in our heart for Him? Will this indeed be a HOLY WEEK?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Tired of seeing others prosper . . . the ungodly doing well . . . perhaps simply burned out?

Rest in the the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. (Psalm 37:7)

Ahhhh . . . REST! What a lovely word . . . if only we could find real REST! 

How many hard-core believers are going through right now? Are you pressing on, pushing through, trying your best to please God but somehow seemingly hitting a brick wall observing others succeeding? Do you feel as though you are letting God down? Do you simply want some rest

Well REST, physical rest may come and go. We may just get that relaxing weekend or sleep-in Saturday. We may have a getaway to the beach or the mountains to rejuvinate. However, the fact remains that others will still prosper more often than we might. REST here to me means to rest in the Lord

When we become frustrated, irritated, challenged by our surroundings, we can REST in knowing we are working to please just ONE.  We can REST knowing our DADDY sees and is pleased. We can REST with the understanding that God sees and will reward one day. 

David goes on to say that "it shall be no more . . .the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way." (Psalm 37:10-23)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Christian Mission Experience

On this day when many celebrate with whiskey, beer, green clothing, and other mythical items, may I share a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving from a culture rich in God's love and mercy . . . we celebrate the Celtic heritage. I am reminded of our missionary experience and am thankful for the many we have met and the customs and cultures we have experienced. Embrace one another today and seek the God in us all . . .

In thanks for the fullness of days spent together; the friends that we pray will be with us forever; the feelings we've shared, the feed and good fun; with faith that God's blessings have only begun. (Irish blessing)

No matter the culture we embrace nor the family name we claim, God is still God. Is it not wonderful that He created all so very different yet so much like one another . . . in His image! Today, like everyday, it's an opportunity to observe a bit more of God's likeness in each of us and to look forward to an eternity rich in culture.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. . . (from a prayer of the Irish missionary named Patrick)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Striving to be perfect . . .under construction!

I am a CHRISTian so that means I am now holy . . . right?

Well, it means we have committed ourselves to be holy, yet we still have that nagging sin nature! So even if and when we fall short of God's holiness, we still desire to be holy . . . to be like Him. Being a CHRIST-follower means that we are following Him, desiring to be like Him, hating our sin and desiring Him more than anything!

 Therefore, since all these things (the earth and everything in it) will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the Day of God, because of which heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

 (2 Peter 3:11-13)

Be encouraged today . . .

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Finish Line awaits . . .

God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful. (Mother Teresa) 

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. . . . Then each one's praise will come from God. (1 Corinthians 4:2-5)

As anyone handling the Truths of God, whether a pastor, minister, Sunday School teacher, bible teacher, parent, mentor, or other role model, God demands much of us. We also know that the hours are long, the labor intense, the sleep is depraved, and the rewards are few, while the criticisms pile up! 

Such is usually the experience of a faithful steward. However, we have this one hope . . . PAYDAY SOMEDAY! Stay faithful to God and His Word. Stay in the fight. Don't give in to this world and don't give up on God. One day, The Savior will embrace us and utter these words quietly and peacefully within our ears: 

"Well done, good and faithful servant. . . Enter into the joy of your Lord."

Monday, March 14, 2016

Speak up!

This man, they charged, is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law. (Acts18:13)

While while in Corinth, Paul was led by the Lord to speak but the Jews rejected the words. He then turned to the Gentiles . . . Thank God he did, or we would be lost! As a result, many Gentiles were saved, even the ruler of the synagogue, a man named Crispus. 

Paul was never afraid to speak of Jesus. When one rejected his words, he moved on to the next. Will we, still free to speak, cave in to political correctness or speak boldly while we still are able?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Celebrating Life in Christ

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die . . .a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance . . . So I saw that there is nothing better for a person to do than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. . . . (Ecclesiastes 3)

Birthdays come and go. While I am asking God for long life so I may be a spiritual influence upon those coming behind me, as I get older I realize that others are also passing on . . . with celebrations come mourning. Yet, with Christ, we can even celebrate the moving on, because we have a definite HOPE in Him.

 It's not over . . .

So today I celebrate, not necessarily me but those who have made me who I am; my Father, my Savior, my Guide, my beautiful and committed bride, my children, my parents, my grandchildren, my extended family, those with whom I have labored. I am who I am because of what God has allowed in my life. God has indeed blessed me and I owe Him my life.

 I don't know about you, but with the remaining years I have, I gratefully say, "As for me and my house, we WILL serve the Lord!"

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Embracing the Cross

Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, 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: 54-58)

Death is not an easy thing to face for anyone, but it is a reality for us all. But through Christ's death on the cross, believers gain strength and perseverance for life! Yet we tend to shy away from the cross. Especially as we approach the Easter season, lets cherish the cross and even pain and torture Christ endured for each of us, so that we may not simply LIVE, but live ABUNDANTLY! (John 10:10) 

Live each day to the fullest as unto the Lord. Battle the struggles! War with the setbacks! Defeat the desire to give up! 

We have the victory, so let's live it up! It is worth the effort for Christ . . . .

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Never to tired to serve . . . buckle up CHRISTians!

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You CANNOT serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)

In Matthew 6, Jesus has recently taught on doing good without letting everyone know of it. He went on to teach the disciples how to pray to the Father. He then goes further to explain that even when we fast, we do not have to advertise it. We are to be happy and energized. Finally,  He speaks about wealth and the things we see with our eyes . . . our lusts if you would. Then He addresses our worldly desires and how they can keep us from Him. 

Has it changed today? Even when we serve in ministry, we tend to only do what we want to do and are never really s t r e t c h e d. Yet Jesus goes on the challenge us to serve Him and leave the essentials up to God. Don't worry about the daily needs. Don't even worry about  tomorrow! Can we not trust God at His word? 

Man, I needed this reminder today . . .from my bride and from my God . . . Thank you!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

No Matter the Circumstance

Are things a bit challenging lately? Do we not quite understand what is going on? Asking God, "What next, Lord"? Be comforted by these words in Matthew 28:20. “And surely I am with you always,” He promises, “to the very end of the age.” 

Jesus is with us today, no matter what, fighting our battles with us. He’s right by our side. We may not see or feel Him, but He is right here! He won’t leave us. He won’t abandon us. To protect ourselves, we must remember this important truth.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test ALL things; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 516-19)

No matter the test; no matter the trial; the more we trust Jesus the better for us and those around us. God's got it!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Back to Reality

"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5)

I am so encouraged by Job. From Job 1:20 when he worships God after all has been taken from him to the end of his writing when God restores him, I am in awe. He acknowledges the Lord, but also realizes that as good as he might be, he is still no match for a Holy God! He sees very vividly how small we all are before a high and righteous God! 

Man, if I could only be in that place every minute of the day! There are times when I don't even acknowledge His presence, much less His power! I might go through a day and think I did pretty good all by myself . . . then BAM . . . something happens and I am brought back to the reality that I so need God!  So I thank God for the struggles . . . the pain . . . the illnesses . . . the challenges . . .  the sudden shocks of life. They bring me back in proper perspective. 

God is STILL God!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Even in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:16-18)

Giving is never easy. Supporting missionaries and their work is sacrificial. This means it takes a real decision to give rather than not give. You could do something else with the money! Yet as the apostle states above, we seek the FRUIT that comes from the work allowed by ones gift. 

That FRUIT is counted toward the giver as well as the  preacher/evangelist/missionary. God regards the giver as a partner in ministry and so do the workers in the field, trust me on this. Those who cheerfully support the spreading of the Good News are a vital part of the ministry. 

If you cannot GO, then GIVE. 

If you cannot GIVE, then PRAY for God to cause others to GIVE! Join God at work! 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Invisibility . . . What mission work often is!

Let him who is taught the Word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is NOT mocked; whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. . . And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:6-9)

If we never doubted, I don't think Paul would have written the words we read above.

 Is the effort worth it? Does anyone notice? Is all my labor in vain? God, do You at least see? 

All human feelings and emotions of hard work seemingly in vain. All we have to do is read a few descriptions of those in the Bible to identify with the frustration of CHRISTian labor. Many were laughed at, jeered, ignored, scorned, beaten, jailed, even killed! Yet we have been influenced by these same testimonies and have come to trust the same God and Savior with our lives! 

Trying as our efforts may be, they are NOT in vain. Lack of support . . . lack of understanding . . . uncaring attitudes . . . taken advantage of . . . never seeming to do enough . . . These are all real feelings.

We have eternity to witness the results.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Christian Politics

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is NO authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. . . For they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. . . But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:1-14)

Christ followers should indeed be involved in the political system. The bible tells us to use our influence in all aspects of our lives. We are to shine our light everywhere we go! 

As late as 1789 our government's Northwest Ordinance stated that; "religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of learning shall forever be encouraged". 

Freedom of religion is NOT freedom from religion! However, saving souls must be our goal, not winning elections! Spreading the Gospel must be our focus, not spreading propaganda or vicious insults. 

As Paul reiterates above, we must always give honor and respect where due and ALWAYS  "put on the Lord Jesus Christ"!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Godly Teamwork

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. . . Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold chord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

We have all heard that "teamwork makes the dream work". This is not only a true saying, but scriptural as well! The Preacher tells us that as we work together toward Godly goals and accomplishments, the enemy cannot easily defeat us. As we keep one another focused upon the main thing, the main thing becomes reality. 

I thank God for my bride, where God has placed us, and the people in our circles both within our family and our ministry work. While we keep one another grounded, we also allow the Word to keep us connected toward a common goal. 

Only what we do for Christ will last . . .

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...