Monday, October 31, 2016

Just a Few "innocent " Questions

Beloved, do not imitate evil, but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. (1 John 3:11)
Halloween is one of the most celebrated nights of the year for witches, occultist, and Satanist. Rituals such as contacting the dead, casting spells, and even blood sacrifices are performed world wide. Even today, as many believe they are simply being innocent in allowing chhildren to dress up and have fun, our society has increased the "suggestive" outfits for kids and adults alike, horror movies increase in more demonic ways, and the fascination with the occult grows. Animals are mutilated and children abused throughout the world on Halloween. I don't know about others, but I have been freed from the grip of sin and death! We must be careful how we "celebrate". Would you expect a Satanist to put up a nativity scene during CHRISTmas and say "Merry CHRISTmas"? Why would we celebrate evil and say it's "innocent fun"? Just a few questions . . . .

Friday, October 28, 2016

It's NOT my money . . .

And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." But God said to him, "Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?" (Luke 12:19-20)
The Bible repeatedly warns us to pay attention to spiritual matters. . . . the Lord is to have first place in our lives and be the center of our affections. He urges us to store up heavenly treasure by caring for the lost and hurting people around us. On whom is your attention focused? Working hard and preparing for the future is a good thing and a responsible thing. However, it can become a selfish thing if not kept in check! The physical and tangible things such as food, clothing, homes, and money have no meaning if they are collected merely for selfish and personal gain. God provides not only for our personal needs but also for the needs of others around us as well. Our talents, our time, and our treasure is to be shared with those in need. We are not in this world alone and just as the rich man discovered, one day God will call everyone to give an account of himself as to how he lived. (Romans 14:12)
How will your life's story play out? There is time to change the ending . . . begin today!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

God Sees Our Desire to Please Him

Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors, and satrap, because an excellent spirit was in him . . . (Daniel 6:3)
Integrity can be defined as the steadfast and constant adherence to a moral or an ethical code.” It is “the state or quality that strives to be complete, free of the corrupting influences of improper motives or methods.” The thesaurus pairs integrity with such words as honesty, completeness, and incorruptibility. In the language of the New Testament, the word integrity translates a complex Greek word containing a negative prefix, the preposition "through", and the noun "corruption". The word very literally describes a man or a woman in whom runs “no corruption through them.” Integrity suggests a consistency between what we do in public and who we are in private. That is to say, what you see in public of a person of integrity is what he or she is in private. This is how Daniel is described in the Bible. Throughout his life, through ups and downs, he remained streadfast in his faith. Everyone saw this, even the "secular" world around him. He did not have a "church" life and a "other" life. His character was admired and rewarded. Though we may never experience the rewards he received on earth, God sees what we go through. It is worth the effort.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Encouraged by Youth

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
Our young people really WANT to do right! This I am learning over the years as a coach, mentor, and teacher. The problem is that they do not have a lot to work with these days. The examples they see before them are lacking. We, the adults, are so challenged that we do not even realize how we are damaging our youth. With all the talk of political upheaval, terrorists' activities, financial woes, too busy to do anything, and more . . . we are placing way too much upon our kids. Where is OUR trust and reliance upon God?
But know this, that in the last days perilous times WILL come. (2 Timothy 3:1)
While we KNOW that perilous times WILL come, we also have the promises of God for a future and a hope! If we quote it to our children than we must live it out. If we speak of the peace of knowing the Lord, than we must show that peace. If God has really NOT given us a spirit of fear, then why are we living with so much doubt rather than courage? Our young folks cannot be an example to their peers unless they see it in action from us, the MATURE believers.
What are our young people seeing in us?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Like a horse with blinders . . . .

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel", which is translated, "God with us."
The prophet Isaiah said it thousands of years before (Isaiah 7:14). God had a plan. In His timing it would come to pass. Today many are still looking for signs of things to come. Many are still looking for Jesus! Jesus Himself was rather plain when He discussed these very things. (Matthew 24:3-50) Daniel prophesied as well (Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11, 7:13-14). We know where He will set foot (Zechariah 14:4) but we do not know when (Matthew 24:36). Rather than look for a sign, simply trust His words. Do it now, as the Samaritan woman and her neighbors discovered in John 4.
"Now we believe,not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world. (John 4:42)
Are we so blind that we cannot see? Are we so drowned out by noise that we cannot hear? It's time to stop playing around and simply believe.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Back to Basics

In the beginning God . . . .(Genesis 1:1)
There was God . . . when the "Beginning" occurred. Do you believe that?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God. He was in the beginning with God. . . .(John 1:1-2)
Also at the "Beginning" was the "Word". . . . the one Who "spoke" all things into existence.
I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . the Beginning and the End.(Revelation 21:6)
Here at the "end" we still hear the "Word" speaking. There is the offering of grace and forgive.ness for all who freely come and receive. A few questions:
Do you believe that God is Who the Bible describes . . . Who He says He is? Have you responded to His offer of grace and forgiveness? Is He your Lord and Savior? Are you prepared to face Him when He sets eternity into place? (Revelation 22:14-21)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Don't allow Satan to play MIND games with you

. . . and be renewed in the spirit of your MIND, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:23-24)
Satan plays MIND games with us! He uses our culture, our friends, and our families to have to THINK things are harmless, trivial, and acceptable. The shows we watch, the music we listen to, even the friends and family that we interact with every day influence us one way or another. The decisions we make are all based upon our experiences as we interact in this world. Our fashion, our language, our recreational activity is all influenced by our culture. Like a coffee bean changes the water that hits it, God would have believers to change the environment they enter. We are not to be changed, but to be THE CHANGE! Do not allow Satan to play MIND games with us. Have a plan. Identify the enemy and his tactics so victory through Christ can and will be achieved. This does not mean we live a boring life in the closet of our churches. Personally speaking, my family and I enjoy the culture. We go to movies . . . We travel often . . . We attend sporting events . . . We love music and we dance! God intends for us to enjoy this world . . . but to His glory! So go for it . . .
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your MIND . . .

Friday, October 21, 2016

Less of ME

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the SPIRIT have their minds set on what the SPIRIT desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the SPIRIT is life and peace. . . Those who are in the realm of the flesh CANNOT please God. (Romans 8:6-8)
We all do it . . . Act out. . . Speak out . . . Walk out in our flesh! We simply say or do things way before we think. We believe what we are thinking just needs to be said or done and we are the ones to say or do it! Many times, most times in fact, it just may be the right thing but not the right time or the right words. If we only waited for the SPIRIT to let us know just what to say . . . what to do . . . when to do it! If we could only get out of the way of our feelings. The SPIRIT-led life is indeed a challenge, but it is a challenge that can be met head on. A humble spirit within can cause us to walk a little lighter, talk a little softer, and yet still have an awesome impact . . . an eternal impact in fact! Jesus' brother (James 1:19) reminds us to be slow to speak, slow to become angry, yet quick to listen. Listen to others. Hear their hearts; even through their angry or bitter comments. Don't take everything personally. Speak when the SPIRIT says to speak. Then and only then can we have the peace that goes beyond understanding.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Where is our GOD?

Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly;Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babies . . . Why should they say among the peoples, "Where is their God?"(Joel 2:15-17)
The closer we get to the coming of Christ, the more penitent we should be. It was so in the days of the prophet Joel and it is so today. I was reading about the Church's dwindling influence upon our youth today and one common theme arose: as we divide our kids up into age-appropriate groups and even allow the youth to teach peer-to-peer many times, we have actually driven them away. Proverbs 13:20 explains to us that in the companion of fools one will suffer harm. Without wisdom, our youth will stumble. They remain spiritual adolescents into adulthood. The Bible is clear in the Old Testament as to the value of family worship, father-led devotions and teachings (Deuteronomy 6:6-9), and united worship of the entire Body. Children, teens, and young adults need to witness the worship of mature believers to understand it. Simply telling them through entertainment driven sessions is not getting it done! Do they see a genuine relationship with our Lord and Savior in and through you and me? Their is a burden in my heart for this generation of souls who desperately need a close encounter with the Lord. Even our congregations are losing touch, striving to entertain as opposed to teach, disciple, and worship. It is even obvious to a watching world.
Where is our God?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

God WILL!

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You WILL revive me; You WILL stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand WILL save me. The Lord WILL perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy O Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands. (Psalm 137: 7-8)
David believed the promises of God. . . . now will you and I trust Him? Throughout the two verses above, David repeatedly reminds himself what the Lord will do. We many times need to have some certain promises from God's Word that will secure us in challenging times. The truths of the Bible are our strongest security when the storms of life attack. Self-reliance or advice from others will never equal the help God's Word offers us. I cannot be so worried about all that is around me that I lose track of what God wants for me. In actuality, that is really all I can control; to allow God His way with me! I cannot convince others to accept Christ, to understand His ways, or even to respect Him. At the same time, I cannot listen to all the advice everyone else seems to have for me. I can only be responsible for me in the end! As the world turns day by day, I am still responsible to God.
God WILL have His way with me if I just let Him ... The rest is also up to Him!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Who is the Holy Spirit?

And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; of sin , because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness because I go to the Father and you see Me no more; do judgment because the ruler of this world is judged. . . . When He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all Truth . . . (John 16:8-13)
The Spirit is not something we "get" when we want to shout, dance, or sing. It may however, make us weep, shout, dance, or sing! Like any person we encouraged, the Person of the Holy Spirit of God can and will cause us to do things, feel things, and react to things. The difference is this Person must be received through belief and repentance in the Lord Jesus and His work upon the cross of Calvary! God the Holy Spirit is not something to place upon the shelf for SONday worship or prayer meetings, or when we want Him or need Him. He indwells every born-again believer when he repents and commits to Christ. Only God knows the true believer, yet the proof comes in the leading and controllimg of the Holy Spirit upon one's life. If we say we love Christ and we call Him Lord, then proof should show in our living ... living led by the Holy Spirit! A Spirit-led life is not one that compromises or accepts the world's ways of living. It does not justify sin. It commits to a life worthy of a Holy God . . . an exciting life and a life set apart from this world. Too may "believers" get this wrong. While loving a set apart life requires saying "no" to much in this world, it also allows freedom to say "yes" to so much more of God!
Are we teaching and modeling this life to our young people today?

Monday, October 17, 2016

It's How I Was Raised

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.(1 Peter 3:8)
Have you allowed your upbringing or experiences to prejudice you against a particular group of people? Women? Men? The poor? The rich? Asians? Jews? Black or White? Prejudice leads to hatred and a lack of compassion toward others. To the contrary, God's people are to be known for their love and compassion. Surrendering your life to God means recognizing and relinquishing your prejudices. Your spiritual transformation will be stunted until you let go of your prejudices toward any people group. Seeing your own prejudices doesn't come easy. You need to ask God and those close to you to help you see areas of prejudice in your life. Once you see them, confess them and ask God to change your heart. (Steve Arterburn-New Life Ministries) This U.S. presidential election Of 2016 has caused many unpleasant attitudes and character flaws to rise up. "True colors" are showing and with it bitter hatred and accusations. People are aligning with one party or the other based upon traditional values and upbringings. However, for the Christ-follower, there is no room for past prejudices or cultural divisions. In Christ, there is either born-again or not! In Jesus' day you were Jew or Greek. Now, there is a disciple (follower) of Christ or not. There is no room for a white CHRISTian or black CHRISTian. There is no room for the democratic or republican CHRISTIan. A follower of CHRIST is FIRST a CHRIST follower! His ways . . . His doctrine . . His guidelines take precedent over tradition, culture, family and any other influence that MAY have had it a hold on us. As we examine our hearts, we must be honest with ourselves and deal with the sin of our upbringing and even past experiences. "That's how I was raised" is not an EXCUSE to sin, but rather a REASON to repent! There is NO ROOM in the Body of CHRIST for cultural or racial divides . . .there simply is not!

Friday, October 14, 2016

God the Holy Spirit is awaiting our call . . .

But God has revealed them to us, through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of man except the spirit of the man which is in Him? Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God . . .but we have the mind of Christ! (1 Corinthians 2:10-16)
Are the things of God still a mystery to you? Do you find yourself asking "why", "how", and "what" much too often? James addressed this question very plainly and his answer was to "ask God"! (James 1:5) God the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to give us all knowledge and wisdom pertaining to life's issues . . . if we are only willing to inquire and OBEY!
Dr. Charles Stanley writes: "The Spirit’s goal is not to fill your mind with information but to bring you to a deeper level in your relationship with the Lord. He wants you to understand the truth so you will fall in love with Jesus. Then you’ll long to spend time in the Word, thereby getting to know Him even better.But all these treasures of God’s Word could remain out of reach if you never ask the Teacher to unlock them. Each time you read your Bible, ask the Lord for understanding. A wonderfully intimate love relationship with Christ awaits those who let the Spirit reveal to them the thoughts of God."
Whether we have fallen out or touch with the Spirit or simply have never sought His wisdom, we can begin anew today. Treat Him as the real person that He is. A simple "Holy Spirit, please help me to understand this" is a great beginning. He will "unlock" the mysteries of life to each of us who asks.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Job, Jesus, you and me . . .

The eyes of the Lord never squint, never close, never slumber, and never sleep. . . .not even a nap! Every moment of day our Lord’s perfect eye scans every corner of the globe, surveying every heart of every person, looking for someone, for you,for me, for anyone whose heart is fully committed to Jesus Christ. Even as we go through times when it seems like we are all alone, He is with us, watching, engaging, willing to assist . . . even to take over!
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever . . . the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.(John 14:16-18)
A life committed to serving the Lord and His purposes is not easy. It is many times lonely. There are dark periods when it seems all is doomed. There are times when it seems tomorrow will never come and the light will never shine. However . . . His promise never fails. Hold on. Hang in. Lean on Him. Like David, like Job, like Jesus on the cross . . . He NEVER leaves us nor forsakes us. He is RIGHT HERE!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Prepare the Youth

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by NO means pass a away. . . .but as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. . . they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and did not until the flood CAME and TOOK them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:35-39
Rather than worry about what we really cannot control, like the political circus we call a presidential election, can we please focus on things we know WILL occur? Jesus is coming back and a whole lot of folks . . . young folks especially have no clue! We as Christ-following parents, mentors and teachers are responsible to "go and make disciples" of these very young people. It is NOT enough to teach them math, science and geography. It is NOT enough to have them in every sports program and tutoring session available. While the MIND is a terrible thing to waste, the SOUL is what matters most! We have so many intelligent, athletic, and good looking young people preparing for a future in medicine, technology, sports, and education, but few prepared for eternity and a specific appointment with the Creator.
What answer will they give . . . will we give. . . when asked "Who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Redeem These Times!

He changes times and seasons . . . He removes kings and sets up kings . . . He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.(Daniel 2:21)
Daniel was about to reveal the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream. In the end, The Kingdom of God rules! What peace this is to the believer today! No matter the circumstance, no matter the seemingly confused state of world politics, God is in control and working out His plan. We as Christ followers need not to worry so much about the politicians as we do about our personal relationship with Christ. We are to be involved and influential in the political process. We are to pray for our leaders. (2 Timothy 2:1-2). We are to obey the laws set before us. (Romans 13:1) Yet we need to trust God with the ultimate judgment. (Psalm 75:7) Let's redeem the times we live in and be sure of our calling in Christ. The harvest in indeed ripe. There is work to be done!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Less of ME . . . A spiritual weight loss is needed!

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life. This is the CONFIDENCE we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know we have what we asked of Him. (1 John 5:13-15)
Many times we feel as though our prayers are going nowhere . . .and that's probably true! We get into ruts and habits with everything in life, even our prayers. While we know that we can approach God directly because of the blood of Christ, we must do him humbly and respectfully. We cannot treat Him casually! He is not Santa . . .He is GOD after all!!!! To get in tune with the WILL of God we must be in tune with the WORD of God. We get to know His character, His plans for us, and what He would have us to do. Simply based upon His character, we can many times discern what we should be doing. As we grow closer to Him, we begin to realize how to please Him and what would please Him. As we align with His will, He will the new begin to orchestrate our lives accordingly. May I suggest to ask for nothing more than more time with Him? As we spend quality time with our Daddy, our wants become less important and our desires are to please Him and not ourselves. My prayer is that we all seek God more and "me" less. (John 3:30)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Armed and ready . . .

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed . . . (Jude 3-4)
When I have been reading the Bible lately one sure thing has been striking me: Things have not changed too much! While we like to believe that because of our technology and other advances that we are so much more advanced than the folks we read about in the Bible, we are still struggling with the same issues. Sin is still sin and the Word of God is still the Word of God! Here Jude, Jesus' brother, reminds believers to "contend earnestly" for the faith. He gives us the command to "agonize" over continually and vigorously defending the purity of the salvation message of the Bible. Just as Paul instructed Timothy ( 2 Timothy 1:13-14, 1 Timothy 6:19-20), we too are to retain the standards of sound doctrinal truths. While we hear the slogan "Protect This House" in sports today, we as Christ followers must also defend our faith and protect the sound doctrine and not allow it to be watered down or dummied-down in our presence! We are under attack!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

There WILL be a Final Exam!

If you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.(Colossians 3:1-2)
The best athletes focus on their sport and how they might improve each day. The most skilled physician studies up on new medicines, procedures, and therapies. Lawyers study up on laws and legal practices. Parents and teachers are constantly seeking out more effective ways to reach children in order for them to achieve their highest potential. Even politicians strive to win every vote, in every state so they can win the election.
Why then, as Christ followers, do we focus upon so many things other than Christ?
Do we not desire to know as much as we possibly can about Christ? Do we not want to discover how to best please the One Who created us . . . with a sole purpose of bringing Him glory? (John 15:8) If we were indeed created to bring Him glory and to "bear fruit" for this reason, then why do we not gather all the knowledge we possibly are able to gather about our Lord and Savior? The old saying concerning any area of expertise, be it sports, medicine, law or the like is that we never stay the same. We either get better or worse with each passing day. It is sad that those of other faiths know more about CHRISTianity than most CHRISTians! We have to study and practice our faith!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Don't GIVE UP . . . GIVE IN!

God will equip us for whatever He calls us to do. Because the Holy Spirit dwells within every believer, we have all a need to fulfill the Lord's mission. Instead of letting human inadequacies hinder us from obeying, allow it drive us to us to our knees so we can then get up with renewed insight and power. I am so in awe of Nehemiah. Here he was serving the King Artaxerxes, pretty well set in comparison to most Jews, yet his mind was on his people and his city, Jerusalem. The king could see the worry on his face!
"Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart." . . . "the place of my fathers' tombs lies in waste, and its gates are burned with fire." (Nehemiah 2:2-3)
The king then decides to send him back along with letters of protection as he travelled. Though he faced opposition, Nehemiah would rally his people to rebuild the walls totally depending upon God and His provisions. What are we troubled with today? What do we believe is impossible . . . but for God? It is still true today: if we indeed trust Him with our whole heart, if we lean upon His strength and understanding and not our own, then we too can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! Allow our inadequacies to be God's opportunities to use us to His glory. Do not give up, but give in to God!

Monday, October 3, 2016

God is . . .

. . .I pray before you now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father's house and I have sinned. We have acted corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, "If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments, and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest parts of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to a place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name." (Nehemiah 1: 6-9)
Nehemiah respected the awesome holiness of God, so he approached Him with confession. He admitted not only his sin, but his father's and Israel's as well. We cannot hide or continue to enjoy our sin and expect the Lord to hear and answer our prayers. Purity of heart and the power of God are linked. We need the sensitivity to instantly recognize when we've strayed, and the willingness to deal with sin immediately. We must approach God with a sinful, needy, without hope attitude, because that is what we are without Him . . . a holy, perfect, all-knowing and all-powerful God. We all fall short and we must humble ourselves before Him in order to receive His grace and mercy . . . He alone is GOD and we are NOT!!!

one stable foundation,

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