Saturday, October 31, 2009

Consistency Between Word and Deed

The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

-I John 2:4-6

The book of I John is filled with bold statements that get right to the heart of the matter. If we claim to know Christ, but don’t keep His Commandments, we lie, and the truth is not in us. John says that if we say we are believers, but fail to follow what the Word of God says, then we are liars. That is a harsh indictment against those who claim to know the Lord, but fail to live it out in their daily lives.

Verse 5 is the reverse of this, however; those who keep the Word have the love of Christ perfected and made complete in them. The faithful follower of Christ has the constant affirmation from the Holy Spirit that we are in Christ and He is in us. I love this concept of God’s love being perfected in us. Perfection is something to be ever striving towards. Perfection comes when something is practiced over and over again for the long haul. A story is told of a tourist walking down the street one day in New York City. The tourist stopped a man on the street and asked him, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The New Yorker replied, “Practice, practice, practice.”

So it is with the Christian life; we live it and practice it daily – over and over again that God’s love might be made perfect in us. By following Christ each day we find life, peace, and spiritual victory.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Our Witness to the World

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.

-I John 2:3

The Bible says that there is clear and certain evidence regarding our faith in the Lord Jesus; we keep His commandments. This is a witness to the world that Christ is in us, and it is a witness unto ourselves. The Holy Spirit confirms in our hearts that we are in Christ as we live for the Lord. It has never been God’s will that we live in doubt regarding our salvation. We can know for certain that we have salvation, and the Lord will continually affirm to us this truth. I John 5:13 says, “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.”

When we know the Lord and He will affirm this to us, and there will be evidence in our lives of our relationship with Christ. If we are truly Christ’s followers, we will not wish to hide it, nor will we be able to. We cannot conceal it any more than Simon Peter could on the night Jesus was betrayed. When questioned about being a disciple of Jesus, he denied it, not once, but three times. Everything about him, from his attitudes to his accent, gave away the fact that he was indeed a follower of Jesus.

Let the same be said of us; that all aspects our lives demonstrate to the world that we are indeed Jesus’ followers, and that we are dedicated to sharing the Gospel with others.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Christ Our Advocate

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

-I John 2:1, 2

John said that his reason for writing was so that the believers would not sin. Part of our Christian life and testimony is the avoidance of sin. We seek, as the scripture says, to gratify the Spirit rather than the flesh. Someone has suggested that the flesh and the Spirit are like two dogs that are always at odds with one another. They are always battling and seeking dominance. The question arises as to which one wins those battles; the answer is the one we feed. Feed the Spirit and the Spirit is victorious. Feed the flesh and it will win.

Victory over sin can only come through faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord understands that we are fallen and frail humans before we came to faith in Christ, and we continually need all the spiritual strength we can acquire. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will help us to remember all that He has taught us (John 14:26), and the Holy Spirit will empower us to stand firm. The scripture teaches that we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ the righteous. But let’s be sure we understand that sinful behavior is in no way typical of the believer’s life. The Bible says in Romans 6:2, “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (KJV)” What the Bible says in these verses is for us in the event that we do fall along the way somewhere. If we do sin, we have one who speaks in our defense – Jesus Christ. He is our defender, for He has paid the penalty for our sin.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Follow Jesus’ Example

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

-John 13:15

Consider for a moment those who are looked upon as heroes and roll models in our culture today. Typically these persons are athletes, movie stars, rock stars, actors, and famous singers. We don’t seem to mind at all contributing to the immense wealth of these people through paying to see their movies, attending their concerts, or purchasing tickets to their games. A good many of these celebrities have vast fortunes beyond anything their typical fans could imagine. It’s interesting that the TV show “American Idol” chose to call itself that, for that is a fitting title. These celebrities are indeed idolized in our culture.

But we realize that quite often those persons looked up to, glamorized, imitated, and yes, idolized, are really not worthy of imitation. To put it bluntly, they often make terrible role models. They are frequently involved in scandals, their behavior is at times erratic and risky, and their morals seldom match up with those taught in the Word of God. How does such a thing happen? How is it that our culture has provided such wealth and fame to persons who make the worst kind of role models? The answer lies in the fact that many if not most of the celebrities of our day are glorified in and of themselves. Anytime we begin to glorify people we will soon be disappointed. We will be disappointed because those persons we glorify have the habit of behaving like people; frail, human, and subject to flaws and mistakes. The Bible teaches that we are to give all glory to God. When we glorify the Lord in all things we will never be disappointed. Christ will not let us down, He will never fail, and He will never forsake us. Let all glory, honor, and praise be given to the Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Being Where God Has Told us to be

That night God came to Balaam and said, "Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you."

Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and

went with the princes of Moab.

-Numbers 22:20, 21

The Bible says that Balaam rose up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with along with the princes of Moab. The men who had come to hire Balaam to curse Israel seemed to be getting what they wanted; Balaam was going with them. And the scripture says that God’s anger was kindled against Balaam because he went. Why was God angry with Balaam? Had not God told Balaam in verse 20 to go ahead and go with the men? The answer is yes, but the problem was the intention with which Balaam was going. God’s plan was for Balaam to go and bless Israel, but it appears that Balaam had every intention of trying to put a curse on them. And for this God was angry with Balaam.

Here is a classic case of someone knowing full well what it is that God wants him to do, yet doing the complete opposite. Have you ever done that? I would say that we all have at one time or another. There may have been a time when we wanted to go somewhere and do something which we knew in our hearts would displease God and go against His Word. So in essence God had told us not to do that – but we go ahead and do it anyway. Those kinds of circumstances will never produce a positive result. We get good results and we have peace in our hearts when we not only listen to what God tells us, but we then obey Him. It is a sad and sorry state of affairs to find ourselves somewhere that God has told us not to go doing something God has told us not to do.

Quite often the results will be a disaster - maybe not right then, but the Bible says that our sin will find us out. Balaam was a man going prepared to do something which would go against the will of God. He was about to go and try to curse the people of Israel.

The best course of action is faithfulness to God and a life characterized by integrity.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Remain Faithful all our Lives

As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.

-I Kings 11:4

We hear a lot these days about the need for revival, and count me in as being one who believes it’s true – we do need revival; in our hearts, our families, and in our churches. But do we understand the factors involved with revival coming to an end? What are the causes of a time of revival ending? There are some things that can happen which effectively end any period of revival in our lives. The one overriding element is turning away from God. Once that happens the revival is over. No one ever experienced any spiritual growth while in a state of rebellion against God. And let us never become so arrogant and self-assured that we believe it could never happen to us, for it can.

The scripture shows us numerous examples of people who were experiencing tremendous revival in their lives only to have it all come to an end. Every time the cause had at its heart rebellion against Almighty God. There are instances when servants of God were running a good race and they were walking with God. But somehow they got off track, they were tempted, they gave in, and soon they had turned away from God – thus ending the period of revival and spiritual renewal. One of the most wise and successful kings the nation of Israel ever had, King Solomon, unfortunately came down the home stretch of his life and turned away from God. Like some others in the Bible, he allowed himself to be drawn away by the lure of idolatry, and as a result a once great servant of God lost the power of God in his life. His time of revival, spiritual blessing, and spiritual victory came to an abrupt halt.

We would do well to take a close look at our lives and seek a constant and consistent walk with Christ. As we walk with the Lord we will find the strength to remain in His will and therefore under His blessing.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Consequences of Idol Worship

Tell the righteous it will be well for them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done.

-Isaiah 3:10, 11

The people of Israel in the Old Testament were blessed when they were faithful, but how they suffered God’s wrath when they were unfaithful. In this regard the Lord did not leave anything to chance. God spelled things out in no uncertain terms. The Lord told them what would happen if they turned away from Him and worshiped idols. What is amazing is that knowing all that they chose to do so anyway. How like that people are today; the follower of Christ knows that sinful behavior displeases God, yet quite often people allow themselves to be drawn into sin. It reminds me of a habit which we know is harmful, yet we do it anyway.

The book of Isaiah deals with the problem is Israel’s unfaithfulness and what was going to happen unless they repented and changed their ways. Isaiah is what is known as a Major Prophet of the Old Testament. A more modern way of saying this would be that Isaiah was a “heavy hitter.” When we read Isaiah we know that here was a prophet of God who really meant business. Not to say that the Minor Prophets didn’t mean business, but Isaiah’s word from God was given on a much wider and broader scale. Right from the start the Lord begins to outline for the people the result of what will happen unless they turn from their wicked ways and commit their hearts to Him.

There is indeed a lesson here for the world today. If people continue to refuse to get their hearts right with God, the end result will be the wrath and judgment of Almighty God. However, turning away from sin and trusting in the Lord brings forgiveness of sin, new life, and life eternal. That is the sure and certain promise of God.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Be Witnesses for Christ

Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

-John 4:35

Consider the question of why do we witness for Christ? And along with that is, why are we to be witnesses for Christ? The answer lies first and foremost in the fact that our Lord has commanded us to reach others for His kingdom. When Jesus told us to go and make disciples that was not a suggestion, but rather it was a divine commandment. We are not to keep the good news of the Gospel all to ourselves. Have you ever been in a situation where you knew something, but you also knew that you should not tell anyone? How long were you able to keep it a secret? How long could you keep it to yourself? Shouldn’t we as followers of Christ be known as people who can be trusted? Let’s make sure that when someone confides in us that we do indeed keep it where it’s supposed to be – in our hearts. I fear that people assume that pastors go home and tell their wives everything, and I think that many do just that. But what a pastor must understand is what he is told in confidence by someone to whom he is ministering is as sacred as a priest’s confessional. I hope people don’t think I go home and tell my wife everything they tell me because I can say with a clear conscience that I do not.

Here is why I say all of this; why do we have a hard time keeping to ourselves what we shouldn’t tell, but we have an even harder time telling what we should tell? Does that make sense? We should not gossip, but it’s so easy to do. We should tell others about Jesus, but that’s more difficult.

We are called to witness for Christ out of a sincere concern for people who do not know Jesus as Savior. In faithfulness to Christ’s commission to us, let us go and share the Good News of God’s love to a lost and hurting world.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Eternal Life Found Only in Christ

Do not turn to idols or make gods of cast metal for yourselves.

I am the Lord your God.

-Leviticus 19:4

Many of the ancient religions of the world held to the belief that the condition of the body at death directly affected what happened in the afterlife. Think about it; what have we learned about the ancient Egyptians? Their belief was that the body needed to be preserved so that the deceased could live in the afterlife (which explains their emphasis on mummification), and they also believed that you can take it with you when you go. Over the years when archeologists have opened the tombs of the kings, princes, and nobles of Egypt, they found the same items which the person would have had while living; furniture, food, money, and even pets which were mummified along with them.

Where had the Israelites been for the 400 years prior to entering the Promised Land? They had been slaves in the land of Egypt. They knew all about the gods, goddesses, and religious practices of their captors, and God was reminding them that He was going to instruct them that His ways were different. They were not to follow the pagan beliefs and practices of the nations around them. They were to worship the Lord and serve Him only.

It’s amazing how much of those ancient beliefs have made their way down through the ages. Egyptians, along with people such as the Trojans, and the Greeks, believed that what happens to the body influences what happens after death. That is why the ancient Greeks placed coins upon the eyes of the deceased, so they would have money to pay the ferryman who would take them across the River Styx. Even as late as the 1800,s there is evidence that the American Indians believed that what happens to the body affects what happens after death.

Our hope of eternal life rests in Christ Jesus alone. Through faith in the Lord Jesus, our home in Heaven is secured and certain.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Wonder of Creation

Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

-Exodus 15:11

Consider that one of the wonders of God’s creation is that no two people are absolutely alike. Each and every person is unique in his or her own way. That included identical twins. They may look just alike, but there will be differences in personality and temperament. No one is exactly like you and no one is exactly like me. We are all unique and different. That is just one more example of the wonder of God’s creation. The evidence of the hand and power of God are all around us. God was inviting His people to step back and look at all that He had done. He accomplished all those mighty acts to further demonstrate to them that He is God Almighty. When Moses and the Israelites made it safely across the Red Sea which had been parted by the power of God, they proclaimed in Exodus 15:11 "Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”

God’s plan was that people come to Him in faith and believe that He is God. Whenever the Israelites began to turn away from God they started on a dangerous and terrible path. The same thing holds true today. When we reject God’s Word and His offer of salvation we do so at our own peril. To go through life with no faith in God is a dreadful way to live.

The fact that today people will believe just about anything, no matter how ridiculous, stems from a failure to believe in God. The evidence of God is everywhere, and that evidence is overwhelming.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hearing God’s Call

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

-Genesis 3:8

Since the earliest days of mankind God has been calling to people, sometimes calling them directly by name. And when people have heard the voice of the Lord it was unmistakable. They knew that this was something extremely powerful and life-changing. They would never be the same once they heard the voice of the Lord. Adam and Eve heard God calling to them in the cool of the afternoon, but they were afraid because they had sinned, and they hid from the Lord. Abraham heard God speaking and telling him to leave the land where he had grown up and go to the place where God would show him. Throughout Abraham’s life he heard and responded to the voice of God as the Lord promised that he would be made into a great nation. Numerous others heard the voice of the Lord as God called out to them with a message of love, redemption, and hope.

No one who experiences the Lord's calling can walk away from that experience without being profoundly affected by it. God’s call is a reminder of His love for us and His plan for our lives. The call is not one of, come and be condemned, but rather it is a call of come and be converted; see what God can do in your life. Never forget that those whom God calls into His service He also equips. The Lord does not and will not send us out empty handed. He provides us with what we need to accomplish His will for our lives.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bringing our Thoughts in Line With God’s Word

Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you.
-Deuteronomy 6:17

This verse is one these, “I’ll stop saying it when you start doing it” kind of things. Why did God keep reminding His people about the importance of following His Word? For one thing, it was to stress the vital importance of it. The second reason was that they had a hard time doing that, as evidenced by their failings. Parents often do this with their kids; “I’ll stop saying this when you start doing it.” If something is vitally important and we believe can mean the difference between happiness and unhappiness, peace and turmoil, or even life and death, then we belief it is worth repeating a time or two.
I’m no mechanic by any stretch of the imagination, but when I was growing up and started driving, my father used to say to me, “Be sure to change your oil regularly. The oil is the life blood of the engine. Change the oil – and also check other fluid levels on a regular basis – and keep the right tire pressure in your tires.” There were times when that drove me crazy. I mean, he just seem to repeat that a lot. And do you know what happened? It worked. All these years later I change the oil in my car regularly. I even have a little book in which I write it down. And I’m a little fanatical about the fluid levels in my car. And that has made a remarkable difference in the life of every car I have ever owned.
If this was not important God would not have said it so many times. One of the keys to walking in spiritual victory is to bring our thought processes in line with the Word of God. For the believer this becomes very practical. God’s Word leads us to have the mind of Christ. This is where we approach life and it’s problems, not from a worldly standpoint, but rather from a Christ-like standpoint. Therein are life, joy, and peace.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Coping With Problems

…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

-Colossians 1:11, 12

People have long wanted to know how to better cope with their problems, crises, anxieties, sorrows, and hang-ups. People continue to search for answers in these areas, and they are looking for quick answers and even faster solutions. Such is the current trend of things; get it now and fix it quickly. If you watch and listen to the newest exercise programs and diet pills being offered, what do they all have in common? They all claim to work fast – real fast. “I lost 40 pound fast by using the Super-starving method.” “I got great abs and I went down four sizes by using the ultra-turbo-energizing aerobic workout plan – in only one week!”

So you see it’s not just about results, but it’s about fast results. If we learn nothing else about life, we should learn that properly handling the problems of life takes time. There are rarely any quick fixes to the problems we face as a result of day to day living. Many of the problems we face did not develop overnight, and neither will they be solved overnight. I find that often people approach their problems with what I call a “grab it and fix it” mentality. They want to try to solve the problem – right this moment. That will work with a flat tire, a leaky faucet, a blown light bulb, or a broken window. However, that approach will not work with such issues as a troubled marriage, financial problems, depression, or negative attitudes. Those things developed over many years time, and they will probably take a long time to resolve and set right.

Walking in spiritual victory is not something a person comes to immediately. Victorious Christian living is available for all believers, but it takes time, patience, dedication, grace, and commitment over the long haul. Keep moving forward and trusting in the Lord. He will help us to grow and to overcome the challenges that confront us.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Refraining From Complaining

Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah.

-Deuteronomy 6:16

When the Bible here speaks of testing God, the idea is to not tempt God – do not put Him to the test. Take Him at His Word, do what He says, and do not try His patience. This verse makes reference to an event described in Exodus 17 in which the people grumbled at Moses over not having enough water. The problem was that rather than pray and ask the Lord to provide for that need, they instead began to murmur and complain about what a terrible leader Moses was and how awful it was that the Lord was letting them all die of thirst. When I read this I am amazed at how quickly the people forgot all that God had done for them up until that point. God providing water for them to drink was such a little thing – it was nothing for God to do that. How could they have forgotten that some time earlier God had parted the sea for them to walk across on dry land? This is the direct result of walking by sight rather than by faith, and when we walk by sight we are quickly going to be discouraged. Discouragement leads to frustration, which leads to bitter complaining. To me, this is like my best friend providing me with an amazing banquet – all I can eat. I mean its more food, more delicacies, and more of a feast than I have ever seen; and I just have a fit because there’s no steak sauce. "Oh sure, this is a great meal, and this is the biggest and tastiest looking steak I’ve ever seen, but it’s all ruined because I don’t have any Heinz 57! I can’t eat now. It’s all your fault!” Would not such a response be childish, ungrateful, and unchristian? Indeed it would.

The walk of spiritual victory begins when we are thankful for what God has given us and for what He had done regardless of where we are. When we seek to bring our will in line with God’s will, we can then begin to walk in spiritual victory.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

You are Special

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

-I John 4:10

Have you ever been told that you were special? That’s a nice thing to say, because it implies that you are a person of worth; you are unique and of great value. Despite everything that had happened up until that point, when God looked upon His people He did not see a group of grumbling, complaining, weak-kneed, and shallow people. No, He saw people of unlimited worth and potential. When God looks at you and me He still sees the same thing. He does not see us in light of our weaknesses, but in light of our potential. That reminds me of a children's song I once heard that said, “I am someone special; there’s no one quite like me; I’m a great big bundle of po-tent-ial-ity.”

I am so very thankful that when the Lord looks at me He doesn’t shake His head and say, “Oh my, what a pathetic loser.” Instead He sees my potential in light of what Christ Jesus can do in and through me. And guess what? He loved me in spite of all my weaknesses, flaws, and hang-ups. Such is the nature of God’s grace. He loves us; so much so that He wants to have a personal relationship with us. God loves us; and He knows who we are, and we are unique, special, and holy to Him. Never forget that in God eyes you are indeed special.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Wonderful Grace of God

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

-Deuteronomy 7:6

People sometimes mistakenly believe that grace is found only in the New Testament. Stop and consider that this is not the case, for the grace of God is found all throughout the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation we clearly see the grace of God at work in the lives of His servants, and we find that His grace is extended to all who will put their faith in the Lord. Grace was made manifest, tangible, in the person of Jesus Christ yes; in Jesus we see what the grace of God looks like. Christ Jesus has embodied the essence of grace in its purest form. The people of the Old Testament were under the law, but even then they saw demonstrations of the compassion, mercy, and yes, the grace of God. Many times God could have easily destroyed His people, but He did not. Instead He gave them another chance. God gave them opportunity to try to be faithful again. That, my friends, is how grace operates. God’s people of the Old Testament were under the law and commandments, but they experienced God’s grace many times. In that we see a foreshadowing of the perfect grace which would come in Christ Jesus.

God could have done away with us, but He gave us another chance. That’s grace.

God could have condemned us to an eternity in hell, but He chose instead to redeem us in Jesus Christ. That is grace.

God could have sent us away without forgiveness, lost and undone. But instead He adopted us and made us as His very own children.

Imagine a courtroom in which an accused person is found guilty of a terrible crime, and sentenced to death. He is condemned and without any hope whatsoever. Imagine the judge halting the proceedings, taking off his regal robes, stepping down from his high position, and volunteering to take the condemned man’s place. That is what God did for us in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Proclaiming the Gospel With Boldness

You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness.

-I Thessalonians 2:5

Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a sacred trust. God allows the preacher and those in the ministry to be trusted with a great and awesome task; that of proclaiming the way of salvation. That is a charge, a task, that should not only be taken seriously, but it merits handling with great care. The devil is alive and well, and he is out to not only discourage, but to destroy. The devil will look carefully until he finds a weakness, and he will take aim with lethal precision at that vulnerable spot. That reminds me of the English archers of Medieval England, which I love to read about. They were the most deadly fighting force on the battlefield until the advent of gunpowder. They would look for the weakness in their enemy; any exposed place between the armor was a target. And they would aim with deadly accuracy.

The devil works on us in like manner. We must be so close to God, so deep in His Word, so soaked in prayer, that we can stand when the devil starts firing his arrows – and they are always the flaming kind.

What Paul and Silas preached was just the good old Gospel; they didn’t try to dress it up, flower it up, or water it down, but rather they just proclaimed it. And they did so with great fervor, dedication, and commitment. That calling to do so has not changed - not for a moment. We too are called to preach the Word with boldness and commitment as we stand firm against the forces of darkness in the world.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Standing Firm in Conflicts

We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.

-I Thessalonians 2:2

Paul and Silas did not allow the rough treatment and hard times of the past to keep them from doing the present work. Do you know why a lot of preachers leave the ministry? It’s because they first get discouraged because of some painful things that happen to them in the ministry. They become fearful that if they go to another church the same or worse might happen, and they decide they would rather be safe then sorry, and so they walk away from their calling. I have come to view the ministry as being similar to playing football. If you don’t take some hits once in a while, then you really aren’t in the game. Very often a pastor leaves a church because the church is going through some conflict. The pastor should leave because God is telling him to leave, not because the church is going through some difficult times. All congregations go through conflict from time to time.

While they were in Philippi, Paul and Silas had been treated badly. They had been attacked, beaten, thrown in jail, and shackled (Acts 16:16-35). Many a preacher would have considered quitting after all of that. But they would not allow themselves to be discouraged, and instead they stayed with the work – they stood firm and God blessed them. There is a time to move on, and there is a time to stay, but the work of the Gospel continues whether we are in Bristol, California, or South America.

This same principle can work in us as well. Don’t allow painful and difficult circumstances of the past keep you from doing a work for the Lord right now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Talking About What God has Done

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

-Deuteronomy 6:7

The Bible says to teach God’s Word, His commandments, to our children. We must impart to them the truths of God’s Word, and we impart not just by talking, but by living. The old saying about actions speaking louder than words certainly applies here. To live the Christian faith in front of those around us is to share it with them through our lives. We’re not only talking about it, but sharing it from day to day, and living out the attitudes of Jesus Christ.

Let us never shy away from having spiritual discussions with anyone, especially the children in our lives. We must communicate to young people that life presents all kinds of questions – the answers to which can be found in God’s Word. Consider the differences between the philosophies of the world and the Word of God:

The world says to look out for number one. Jesus said that we should love God with all our hearts and love our neighbor as ourselves.

The world says to be self-centered. The Bible teaches that we are to Christ-centered.

The world says that we live for ourselves and we are accountable to no one. God’s Word teaches that it is appointed unto man once to die and then after that the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). We are accountable to God and we must one day stand before Him.

We are called to impart to those around us the good news that in Jesus Christ there is salvation. Through Christ the world with all its troubles can be overcome. The Bible says here to talk about these things and be ready to do so at any moment. Talk about them with our children and our loved ones as we’re in the house visiting, when we’re walking down the road, when we go to bed and when we rise up in the morning.

The things of God become so vitally important to us that we desire to share them with others. Let us share freely and openly the blessed truths found in God’s Word – the words of life, joy, peace, and salvation.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Mercy of God

And you said, "The Lord our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a man can live even if God speaks with him.
-Deuteronomy 5:24

The people came confessing; we’ve seen the glory, we’ve heard His voice, and yet we have been spared. Here we see God’s people finally coming to understand an extremely important truth; God’s first and foremost concern is that people find salvation. People sometimes mistakenly believe that God is just sitting there waiting to strike them down. One wrong move and you’re going to get it! They perversely believe that God takes pleasure in bringing judgment upon people. Nothing could be further from the truth. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” God desires that people be saved. That is why Christ Jesus came into the world. Jesus said in John 3:17 “For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” When we realize this we learn about the grace, mercy, and compassion of God. If God didn’t love us He would have already destroyed us, and believe me He can do it with one breath from His nostril or one wave of His hand. Such is the power of Almighty God. But God has instead chosen to redeem us through Jesus Christ. You see, if God punished me according to what I deserved, I wouldn’t have salvation at all. I would be lost, condemned, and separated from God. But God in His mercy sent Christ to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins. Instead of condemning us, He has adopted us as His very own children, and as His children He loves and cares for us. He will not abandon us during the trials of life.
Stop and thank God for His mercy, and give thanks for all the blessings God has provided. By faith and through His strength we can overcome life's struggles, for God is with us. Those who seek the Lord will find mercy, and will be empowered to move forward - to victory.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

God Still Speaks Today

When Moses went and told the people all the Lord's words and laws, they responded with one voice, "Everything the Lord has said we will do."

-Exodus 24:3

As a young boy I wondered what it would have been like to have been at the battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and have heard President Abraham Lincoln give his historic Gettysburg Address. This was before the days of electronic recordings, so no one knows exactly what Lincoln’s voice actually sounded like. You would have had to have been there and have heard him speak.

We might be tempted to think the same thing about this passage in the Bible. This happened thousands of years ago, so only those who were there knew what the voice of God sounded like. That, my friends, is incorrect. We can know what the voice of the Lord sounds like, for we can still hear His voice as He speaks today. People will often say that they have never heard God’s voice. My response is that they need to keep listening. However, don’t just listen, but listen in faith. If we seek God we will find Him, and if we listen for His voice we will hear Him as He speaks - in a gentle whisper, a quiet conviction, or a calm reassurance.

God gave the commandments in absolute completeness. The same thing occurs in God’s Word. We have all of God’s Word we are going to get, and we have all the Word we will need. God did not give 8 of the commandments and tell them to come back later for the rest. No, God gave them in completeness. The same holds true with the Word. We have God’s Word, in its entirety, as God intended for us to have it. Just as God inspired His Word, so did He preserve His Word down through the centuries – so that we have it today. Let us never take for granted how precious is the Word of God and our freedom to possess it and proclaim its message of salvation, grace, and hope. The Lord still speaks today - through His Word, in our hearts, and that calming voice will come just when we need it the most.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pondering the Good Things

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

-Philippians 4:8

There are things which impress us so deeply that we will never forget them. Some of those thoughts are positive, and some are not so positive. The challenge for any person is to not dwell on the negative, but rather dwell on what is good, right, holy, and God-honoring. Philippians 4:8 tells us the kind of things on which we ought to dwell; whatever is noble, right, pure, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Those kinds of things will help move our minds away from the negative which has made its way into our hearts. There is great power in having something in our hearts which evokes good and positive feelings.

We will not forget that which has made its way into the deepest recesses of our hearts. Here we see the movement from intellectual assent to spiritual power. The Word of God says that just knowing it is not enough; His Word must make its way into our hearts. We move from just having knowledge in our minds, to the power of God’s Word in our hearts. Once there, it is there to stay.

Do you think that as long as I am in my right mind that I will forget who my wife is? Of course not! As long as I am in my right mind will I forget my family and close friends? Again, the answer is no. Now, if I meet someone in line at the grocery store, and we talk for a moment, and I leave and never see that person again, there is a good chance I will not remember that person a month, a year, or ten years down the road. That’s not so with those to whom I am close. Why is that? It’s because I have them in my heart. That is where the Word of God is to be at all times; in our hearts. For a brighter and more positive outlook, keep God's Word and its timeless truths close to your heart. Spiritual power will surely follow.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Being Christ's Witnesses in the World

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…

-Acts 1:8

A number of years ago it became popular for people to place bumper stickers on their cars that read, “Honk if you love Jesus.” Hopefully some people saw your sticker, knew that you were a believer, honked their car horn, and everyone involved was blessed. I didn’t get one of those stickers and to date I have never honked my horn at those who have them on their cars. The reason is that I once heard a story about a man who was driving home one day and saw a car in front of him with the honk if you love Jesus sticker. He said that he was in a pretty good mood that day, and so he just laid on the horn and waved at the driver. The driver of the car, thinking perhaps that the man was honking the horn for some other reason, proceeded to display a certain hand gesture that left little doubt as to what he thought of a car horn being honked at him. His gesture proved he did not like it – at all! Ever since I heard that I’ve been leery of honking my horn when I see the bumper sticker.

It really does not require much effort to place a bumper sticker or honk a car horn. However, it takes great commitment, devotion, dedication, and faith to live for Jesus Christ each and every day and be a positive witness for Him in the world. It takes tremendous effort to rise up a little earlier every morning so that you will have time to spend in prayer and in God’s Word. It requires great energy and motivation to be a positive witness for Jesus, to be salt and light in a world that is spiritually dying. It requires living faith to go and teach all nations the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Anything less and we run the risk of being uncommitted and indifferent in our faith. God has called us to be living, breathing, walking testimonies of the grace of Christ Jesus in our lives. The Bible says we are to be living sacrifices for Christ (Romans 12:1). We are called to daily take steps to keep our faith alive, growing, active, and vibrant. Therein is the power and resolve to be Christ's witnesses in the world today.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Listen for God’s Voice

Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.

-Deuteronomy 4:12

We know that the Bible says that God spoke to His servants, that He told them His will, and instructed them in what they were to do. That is very clear. But what about us today – right here and now? Does God still speak to people today? When we talk of the Lord speaking to us, understand that we are referring to a powerful conviction that took place in the heart. The Lord moved in my heart, the Holy Spirit dealt with me about something, and it was a though I was hearing God’s voice speaking to me. Perhaps not in audible words received through the ears, but nevertheless He communicated His Word. This is where we come to understand what the Bible calls the still small voice, the gentle whisper, and the work of the Holy Spirit. We listen in faith, expecting, listening, and waiting for the Lord. And when we do so we are not disappointed, for the Lord speaks to us in His own way; in our hearts, in our spirit, and through His word.

The Bible is clear that God spoke directly to His people and that He did so in a voice that rang like thunder across the sky. The people heard the voice of the Lord as He spoke to them. And it was not a word of condemnation, but one of assurance that if they were faithful they would be blessed. But if they turned away from God and went after idols they would suffer the consequences of doing so. Let us listen for the voice of the Lord. He will speak, comfort, guide, and bless.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Never Forget the Lord

Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God…

-Deuteronomy 8:11

How easy is it to forget the great things which the Lord has done in our lives? In some cases, all it takes is one new crisis, problem, or tragedy. The tendency is to fall apart and just go to pieces. Somehow we forget that God has always brought us through in times past, and as He did before He will do so again.

It’s easy to forget that, especially in the midst of some new trial we are facing. And if we forget what God has done we can easily begin to rely on our own strength to help us through. And how effective is that? The Bible teaches that our strength will fail us, but God will never fail – and that in spite of whatever we see happening around us. The scripture says in Psalms 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.” Such is the result of remembering what God has done; we are empowered through faith and our hearts sore over the presence of Christ in our lives.

The outcome of whatever we are facing is in God’s hands – as long as we are trusting in Him. The Word of God also says in Proverbs 21:31, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.” We can make plans, we can ready ourselves for the battles and struggles of life, but as the scriptures says, victory rests with the Lord. The ultimate victory is in God’s hands.

May we not forget the victories which the Lord has brought to us in the past. As He has worked, moved, blessed, and brought victory, so He will do again in our time of need. And when that happens we are called to give Him all of the glory. The high call of God in Christ Jesus is to stop relying on our strength and see that help and power, that divine strength, which can only come from the Lord. When we do that we will discover what happens when the Holy Spirit is truly at work in us.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Give God the glory

…be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
-Deuteronomy 6:12

We have to wonder sometimes how often we have taken the credit, the glory, for something which the Lord actually did. We have all been guilty of that at one time or another. I know that in my life countless things have happened; events which turned out just the right way. And I either realized at the time, or I realized it later, that God had simply placed me in the right spot, and He had done the rest. There was no explanation but that God did it. But there is always that tendency to pat ourselves on the back and kind of think that maybe we had done it after all. When God does great things He does so in a way which removes all doubt as to who actually provided the power and often times the miracle. If we will surrender to God’s will, He will place us where He wants us and where we are supposed to be. Then we will see the power of God at work in our lives and all around us – leaving no doubt as to who was at work.
All throughout the scriptures and in our lives the Lord has done things which demonstrated that it was His power all along working through us. Were we a part of the great things the Lord has done in our lives? Yes we were, but let’s be sure to give God all the glory, because without Him those great, wonderful, and blessed events would not have happened.
As followers of Christ we are living in the blessings which the Lord has given us – which He has provided. Be thankful, and remember that God is the One who has done those great things.