Saturday, August 31, 2013

“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” – 1 Corinthians 3:5-7
Football season is upon us. These days take me back to when I played “Pop Warner” football. I didn't have a very stellar beginning, as I was assigned the position of offensive tackle and I always wanted to run the ball. I was constantly struggling to accept my task and trust that the coach knew best.
Church ministry needs servants who will be faithful to their “assigned task”. Each one is important and is needed for overall success. Yet, as each worker does his or her task, God alone makes the church grow. Wisdom tells us to accept our task and trust the Lord to do his part.
While it may be hard for you to accept your place in ministry, remember that the Lord knows best. In divine wisdom God assigns your role and faithfully fulfills his. When you do your part you will be most blessed and the ministry will be most successful.

Think about this: "There are no trivial assignments in the work of the Lord."
                                                                                   - Vance Havner

Friday, August 30, 2013

“However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
Secret societies and fraternal organizations have existed for ages. People are drawn to them because they promise the knowledge of secrets that only members can know. We all seem to be interested in knowing secrets of the hidden past and the unknown future. But the only secrets worth knowing are those that can change our lives for the good.
From ancient times, God prepared to help his people with unheard and unknown blessings. In a real sense they are secret blessings that begin with salvation by grace. With this gift comes the Holy Spirit who reveals even the deep things of God to all his children. There are no more secrets.
Why look elsewhere for spiritual wisdom my friend? There is no church or special group that will give you that certain edge to know the mind of God. Take advantage of the truth that Paul writes, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” (vs.12) Walk in the Spirit and know the mind of God.

Think about this: "The true knowledge of God will result, not in our being puffed up with conceit at how knowledgeable we are, but in our falling on our faces before God in sheer wonder and crying, "O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how unfathomable his ways!" Whenever our knowledge becomes dry or leaves us cold, something has gone wrong."
           - John R. W. Stott

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God." - 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 
People have flocked to hear skilled and eloquent speakers for generations. The story is told of an occasion when the ever popular New York pastor, Henry Ward Beecher was on vacation from his pulpit. Ward's brother was scheduled to preach in his place and when he came to the platform a number of people gave sighs of disappointment. As the guest preacher began to speak he offered this invitation: "Those who came to hear Henry Ward Beecher may feel free to leave at this time, and those who came to hear the Word of the Lord, please remain seated." God intentionally chooses to use the foolish, the low and despised and those who are considered nothing that He alone will receive all the glory.
Paul lived and ministered in a day when traveling speakers were very common. Large crowds would gather whenever a well spoken personality came to town. Average preachers and lesser public speakers were ignored or ridiculed. How interesting that into such an atmosphere God sent fishermen, tax collectors and men like Paul to proclaim the eternal truths of God's Word. As a result, there was no room to boast in the presence of God.
Take note my friend. We are all different. This is as God intended. In His providential wisdom the Lord has called his servants from every walk of life; some with great strengths and others with incredible weaknesses. Yet, no one can ever boast of anything other than God's grace and mercy in His calling. Listen with open hearts to those who sincerely open the Word of God and grow thereby. In turn, be the man and woman that God called you to be and allow Him to use you to His fullest glory.

Think about this: "God's main concern is that we are more interested in him than in work for him. Once you are rooted and grounded in Christ the greatest thing you can do is to be. Don't try and be useful; be yourself and God will use you to further his ends."
               - Oswald Chambers


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." -- 1 Corinthians 1:17
Over two thousand years have passed since the above passage was written. Yet to this very day the average public is still drawn to the eloquent speaker. There are times that they will choose one personality over another because of well spoken words. Lack of experience or skill may be overlooked if the crowd can be wooed with fine words of human wisdom. Words may satisfy, but they can never save.
Salvation comes from a work, not words. The cross of Christ is the power of God to save the souls of men and women. When religious charlatans lead people astray by winsome words they have emptied the cross of Christ of its power. So, when a faithful preacher gives the message of the gospel it should be simple and focused on the power of the cross and not the proficiency of words.
Be careful who you listen to my friend. Be wise in your choice of preachers. Those who are well spoken may tickle your ears and make you feel good, but are you receiving the truth in all its power? Never sacrifice the life of the cross for the love of words.

Think about this: "In the cross is health, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is heavenly sweetness, in the cross strength of mind, in the cross joy of the Spirit, in the cross the height of virtue, in the cross perfection of holiness. There is no health of the soul, no hope of eternal life, save in the cross."
                     - Thomas à Kempis

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil." -- Romans 16:19
The pursuit of knowledge can be quite profitable. Next week classes will be filled with students seeking an education in preparation for a career. While these studies can be good, there are some college experiences that would be best avoided. Some students will graduate wise in what is good, but others will not be so wise.
Paul was very well educated. His writings and testimony reveal great insight and understanding in many areas. But he saw the need to be discerning in our pursuit of knowledge. With only so much time and too much to learn, Paul directs us to be "wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil"
Knowing all about evil will never improve our ability to deal with temptation. Being wise about what is good will deepen our walk with God and strengthen our resolve against sin. Choose your reading and media carefully my friend. Someone wisely said, "You are what you read.

Think about this: "The things you read will fashion you by slowly conditioning your mind."
                                  - A. W. Tozer

Monday, August 26, 2013

"I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf" - Romans 15:30
You go to your doctor, lawyer, professor or some other professional for specific help. You see them as people who have expertise in their field to give help, not receive help. But, don't they ever need support from others? Doctors need nurses, lawyers need paralegals, and professors need research assistants. No man is an island ... people need people.
In that spirit, Paul was never so independent that he didn't need others. He was a premier apostle with credentials galore and yet he sought help from brothers in Christ. His request was made with passionate words that acknowledged the need for prayer support. No Christian is an island ... believers need believers.
Are you always ready to pray for someone in need my friend? This is good, but when have  you been transparently honest about your own needs? When was the last time you asked for prayer and support from others? Follow the example of Paul and be as ready to ask for help as your are to give help. You're not an island ... you need others.

Think about this: "For the early Christians koinonia was not the frilly 'fellowship' of church-sponsored bi-weekly outings. It was not tea, biscuits and sophisticated small talk in the Fellowship Hall after the sermon. It was an unconditional sharing of their lives with the other members of Christ's body."
                                                                  - Ronald J. Sider

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God" -- Romans 15:7
Being accepted onto a college campus as a freshman can be quite a challenge. It all begins with someone who is willing to welcome you. An upper class-man that remembers receiving a kind welcome themselves always helps. Acceptance leads to acceptance.
Paul knew what it was like to be suspect as a new believer. To be accepted by Jesus was a great blessing after he had persecuted so many believers. This gracious reception by the Lord marked Paul's ministry forever. Acceptance led to acceptance.
In the Christian family we all stand on level ground. Jesus forgave each of us and lovingly receives us into his fold. If our Lord is so accepting of us, how can we not be accepting of one another? Acceptance should lead to acceptance.

Think about this: "God has a secret method by which he recompenses his saints: he sees to it that they become the prime beneficiaries of their own benefactions!"
                                                                             - I. D. E. Thomas

Saturday, August 24, 2013

"And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed." -- Romans 13:11
Have you ever been awakened by the alarm clock, wondering about the time? Did you find yourself so groggy that you weren't sure what day it was? Thankfully, after a few moments and a splash of cold water on your face, you were awake and ready to take on the world. That's a good thing, because the day wouldn't go so well if you walked around in a state of slumber. The blessings of life will pass you by when you're asleep.
Our spiritual lives are no different. While we have been made alive in Jesus, we're not always awake. If we were, Paul would have no reason to write this admonition. If we walk through life in a state of slumber we won't understand the present time or live in readiness for the Lord's return. Spiritual blessings will pass you by when you're asleep.
Occasionally you will read about someone who has been in a very long coma. When they waken they are shocked and saddened at how much time has passed since they slipped into the deep sleep. Don't be a coma Christian my friend. Wake up from your slumber and live your life to the full for Christ. Get the most out of God's challenges and blessings before they pass you by.

Think about this: "Spend your time in nothing which you know must be repented of; in nothing on which you might not pray for the blessing of God; in nothing which you could not review with a quiet conscience on your dying bed; in nothing which you might not safely and properly be found doing if death should surprise you in the act."
                                                              - Richard Baxter

Friday, August 23, 2013

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." -- Romans 12:11
When I was growing up I played football and soccer. We always looked forward to game day. Practices were not as much fun or exciting. We were driven by our coaches to built our stamina and skill. To win on game day, we needed to maintain our zeal.
The spiritual life is no different. We all want to do the fun ministry activities. But if we don't practice by performing spiritual disciplines, we'll never build stamina. The Lord wants us to have energy and zeal in the second half of our lives. To win the race set before us by the Lord, we need to maintain our zeal.
You may be excited about preaching, witnessing and counseling those in need. But if you hope to keep your fervor over the years, you need stamina. Make quality time to pray and read the Scriptures every day. Listen to the voice of God and nurture a deeper walk with him through discipline. Get back to the basics of your spiritual life and then you will have the zeal to win.

Think about this: "A disciple can be forgiven if he does not have great mental ability. He can be forgiven also if he does not display outstanding physical prowess. But no disciple can be excused if he does not have zeal. If his heart is not aflame with a red-hot passion for the Savior, he stands condemned."
                                                                      - William Macdonald

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen." -- Romans 11:36
Aristotle embraced the geocentric model, believing the earth to be the center of the universe. In 1543 Copernicus proposed a new paradigm placing the sun in the center. Over the years I have met some rather unusual individuals that dogmatically believe that they themselves are in fact the center of the universe. Could they all be wrong?
Paul has taken the Roman believers from the answer for mankind's lost condition to the divine elective plan for Israel. When all the detail and design is thoroughly revealed the reader can see that all the glory belongs to the Lord of creation. The whole universe comes together with beautiful symmetry when we acknowledge God as the true Center. Paul alone was right.
The best day is the one that begins with this truth: "For from him and through him and to him are all things." Every day continues to grow better and make more sense when, the Lord is given all the glory. Life is never about us... it's ALL about Him!

Think about this: "True have his promises been; not one has failed. I want none beside him. In life he is my life, and in death he shall be the death of death; in poverty, Christ is my riches; in sickness, he makes my bed; in darkness, he is my star, and in brightness, he is my sun; he is the manna of the camp in the wilderness, and he shall be the new corn of the host when they come to Canaan. Jesus is to me all grace and no wrath, all truth and no falsehood; and of truth and grace he is full, infinitely full."
        - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace." - Romans 11:6

We make decisions every day. Do you want fries with your order? Does the brown couch match better than the beige? Should you take the highway or the local road? In most cases you have to choose one or the other, but you can't have it both ways.
We find the same issue in spiritual matters. You will worship Jesus Christ or another God. You may believe God's Word or man's word. You may choose heaven or hell. Ultimately you must choose God's gift or your works, but you can't have it both ways.
Don't you wish you could "have your cake and eat it too" my friend? Some may teach you that heaven is reached by grace AND works. Others believe that our sins are paid for by Jesus AND our efforts. But the truth is clearly stated in the above verse. It's one or the other, but you can't have it both ways.

Think about this: "Grace in the New Testament is not... an impersonal energy automatically switched on by prayer and sacraments, but the heart and hand of the living almighty God."
                                                                  - J. I. Packer

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." -- Romans 10:2-4 
The pilot announced, "I have good news and bad news; the good news is, we're making great time and the bad news is, we're lost." Yes, it's an old worn out joke, but it readily applies in this case. Zeal and progress may be tremendous, but when the knowledge is lacking and the direction is wrong, all is lost.
Religion may seem to be just right, but if it isn't true to Scripture then people will suffer, both now and eternally. Paul wrote about his nation and the incredible zeal they had for God. Their relationship was solely built on a righteousness of their own without submitting to God's righteousness. For these "religious" people, there was no place for Christ, the end of the law.
Too many people are under the persuasion that they "know" all there is about the Bible and religion. Their zeal is unfounded and misdirected as a result. The reason to read the Scriptures is to find truth and find our way to God. While Paul wrote in verse 13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”, he also wrote in verse 17, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."  Don't be in such a hurry that you lose your way. Stop and read the Word and be zealous for what is true.

Think about this: "Zeal is like fire; in the chimney it is one of the best servants, but out of the chimney it is one of the worst masters."
                                                                  - Thomas Brooks

Monday, August 19, 2013

"I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race..." -- Romans 9:1-3
I attended an ordination service for a good friend some years ago. He was being ordained to the Gospel ministry with a focus on inner city mission work. His brother spoke of growing up near the city and making many visits as a family. One thing he remembered about my friend was the way he wept over the homeless and downtrodden of the city. To this day my friend has unceasing anguish in his heart for the city. He has selfless compassion.
Sincere ministry should be passionate. The passion comes from deep within and motivates us as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14, "For Christ’s love compels us..." In the above passage he is also moved by the lost condition of his brothers and he has a passion for their salvation. His passion is so strong that he is willing to be cut off from Christ for the sake of his brothers. He had selfless compassion.
Jesus gave his life for the salvation of the lost, what are we willing to give? Do we love the Lord and the lost enough to be passionate about their salvation? May we pray for the passion of Paul as we look to the fields that are white unto harvest? Sincere ministry needs selfless compassion.

Think about this: "It is a fair rule of thumb that only that love of neighbor which can also draw people to Christ is truly a reflection of that love for God which is its source."
                                                                                               — Jeremy C. Jackson

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39
Over the years I have used a number of glues and epoxies. Some have been waterproof, others have been limited to wood, plastic or metal. There were also the well known "super-glues" that would restore your broken lamp in seconds. Still, the most important quality of any adhesive product is the ability to remain secure over time. 
Paul was confident in "super-glue" of God's love. It was and is impervious to catastrophes, life changes, earthly powers or the passage of time. Ultimately, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Such love can and will restore your broken life in seconds and you will remain secure over time.
Have you experienced trouble, hardship and rocky roads recently my friend? Have you questioned the love and care of others? Do you feel as if no one can put the pieces back together? Well, there is Someone who loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and is ready to not only restore your broken life, but will hold you tight ... FOREVER!

Think about this: "In our first paradise in Eden there was a way to go out but no way to go in again. But as for the heavenly paradise, there is a way to go in, but no way to go out again."
                                                          - Richard Baxter

Saturday, August 17, 2013

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." -- Romans 8:17-18
Through the last two hundred years the majority of British monarchs have served in the military. Their service stretched from the American Revolution through World War Two. While they were officers, they were still involved in war, and the way to the throne was not easy. But, because they were heirs, the glory was theirs.
As children of the King of Kings, believers will share in his glory. Our path will lead us through the battles of spiritual warfare and the way may not be easy. As soldiers of the cross, we are called upon to serve our King with faithfulness in the darkest days of suffering. Yet, because we are heirs, the glory will be ours.
Just because you are a co-heir with Christ, doesn't mean the road to heaven will be paved with gold. The battles will be tough and the hardships many. But, remember my friend, "that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us". So, because we are heirs, the glory will be ours.

Think about this: "Think of yourself just as a seed patiently wintering in the earth; waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener's good time, up into the real world, the real waking. I suppose that our whole present life, looked back on from there, will seem only a drowsy half-waking. We are here in the land of dreams. But cock-crow is coming."
                         - C. S. Lewis

Friday, August 16, 2013

"So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God." -- Romans 7:4
A florist delivers flowers because of his job. A husband delivers flowers because of his love. The one fulfills his task out of obligation and the other out of devotion. Now, when the florist gives flowers to his wife his obligation ceases and his romance begins. The difference is a relationship.
The law was given to reveal the inability of man to fulfill his obligation to God. It was never meant to save his soul or enable him to bear spiritual fruit. In Christ we not only died to sin, but we also died to the law. Now we belong to the One who rose from the dead in order that we might bear fruit to God. The obligation has ceased and the romance has begun. The difference is a relationship.
Why do you strive to live a Godly life my friend? Is it because of legal expectations? This train left the station at Calvary and you now belong to Jesus with a loving devotion. Take him flowers of romance, not of obligation. Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." 

Think about this: "Christian obedience is unlike every other kind of obedience. It is not the obedience of slaves or soldiers, but essentially the obedience of lovers who know, love and trust the person who issues the commands."
                                                      - John R. W. Stott

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" -- Romans 6:1-2
In his book on Elephants, Gavin de Becker tells how young Elephants are held to a stake by strong chains until they no longer struggle. After a few months, the huge beast can be held in place by a slender rope. The animal is free to run, but the memory of strong resistance keeps him in place. The chains are gone, but the conduct is unchanged.
While such Elephant training may be a good thing for the sake of safety, the chains of sin have been removed with greater expectations. Paul reminds believers that we have died to sin and its power no longer holds us as slaves. Since we are united with Christ we may now live a new life in his resurrection power. Our chains are gone, so we our conduct should change.
Could it be true that believers still live in sin, making grace increase? Is it possible that while we have died with Christ, we don't live with him? The chains are broken and it's up to us to "count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (vs.11). Don't be like a well trained Elephant, held down to sinful living by a slender rope. The chains have been broken and you've been set free. Live for God and reap the benefits!!

Think about this: "True liberty consists only in the power of doing what we ought to will, and in not being constrained to do what we ought not to will."
                                                                 - Jonathan Edwards

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." -- Romans 5:3-4
The promises and hope of a new career can be easily dashed when challenges and struggles enter the picture. For some the job is dumped and an easier path is chosen. But others will stay the course and grow through the hardships and become successful. It's all about an inner drive.
For the believer there is great joy in knowing that they have peace with God and are forgiven. But when sufferings come, and they will, how should they respond? They not only press on, but they rejoice in their sufferings finding spiritual qualities growing in their lives. All this is possible only through an inner drive... the Holy Spirit.
Before you give up the fight my friend, remember that God has poured out his love into your heart. He who has begun a good work in your life will never give up. So stay the course and press on, because you have an everlasting inner drive that will never leave you... the Holy Spirit.

Think about this: "Seamen cannot create the wind, but they can hoist their sails to welcome it; neither can we create the breath of the Spirit, but are we to miss it when it comes through failure to keep our sails unfurled?"
                                                             - John Bunyan

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." -- Romans 4:20-21
Millions of dollars are spent every year with one purpose in mind: persuasion. Efforts are made to persuade us to trust insurance companies, investment firms, law firms, security providers and health providers. Trust them and they will see you through any and every dilemma that may come your way. But, do they have the power to do what they promise?
Promises of an incredible nature were made to Abraham. To the human mind they were impossible, but Abraham believed God, and "it was credited to him as righteousness." Just as Abraham did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, we too should be persuaded. Why? God has the power to do what he promises!
My friend, the Lord has promised the gift of new life to all who will believe. It seems impossible that anyone can begin again and have a totally changed life and heaven to boot, but it's true. This is God's promise to keep and ours to believe. We never need to fear or doubt; no matter how dark the days may become. God paid the highest price in history to persuade us of his power. Jesus "was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification". Be persuaded my friend... Be persuaded and live!!

Think about this: "We are not truly converted if we are not intellectually and morally converted, and we are not intellectually and morally converted if we have not subjected our minds and our wills to the yoke of Jesus Christ."
                                                                       - John R. W. Stott

Monday, August 12, 2013

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood..."  -- Romans 3:23-25
Guilt is real. But what has be done to remedy this great weight upon our hearts? Throughout the years psychological pursuits and various forms of religious efforts have been made to set us free from the burden. Yet, guilt continues to lay upon every soul around the globe for "all have sinned" and there is only one cure.
Paul presented a very thorough case of universal guilt of the religious and irreligious. Down deep within every heart there is great guilt that cannot be relieved. To be justified and forgiven a price of redemption had to be paid that was quite specific. That price to clear our guilt was the shed blood of Jesus. This alone is the only cure.
As the old green stamp "redemption center" was a place to find all kinds of treasures, the "redemption center" of the cross of Christ is a place to find the greatest treasure. We no longer need to carry our guilt through life. Forgiveness has been paid for and can be ours "through faith in his blood." That is our only cure.

Think about this: "The Bible says that God himself accepted the responsibility for sin; the cross is the proof that he did. It cost Jesus Christ to the last drop of blood to deal with the vast evil of the world."
                     - Oswald Chambers

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." - Romans 3:20
I have two temperature instruments in my home. One is a thermometer and the other is a thermostat. The first one tells me what the temperature is and the second controls the temperature. No matter how cold it gets, the thermometer can never adjust the temperature. Change can only come through the thermostat.
Like these two wonderful instruments, we have the law and faith. Many people confuse the two and believe that the law can change the spiritual temperature and make one righteous. As we read above, the thermometer of law can only reveal sin and never improve the condition. Change can only come through the thermostat of faith. 
Be careful my friend and never depend on the works of the law to change your heart. Learn from the law how great a sinner you are and flee into the arms of Christ and be transformed from within.  Change can only come through faith.

Think about this: "Moral virtue may wash the outside, but faith washes the inside."
                                                              - Thomas Adams

Saturday, August 10, 2013

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." -- Romans 2:1
Over the years I have met a vast number of people who claim one major reason for not attending church. They believe that there are too many hypocrites in the church. The sad truth is; there are and always have been hypocrites in the church. As a matter of fact, our world is full of hypocrites. These are people who criticize others for doing the same things that they do. We are all hypocrites to some degree and we need God's mercy.
Paul addressed the "unchurched" and the "churched" in chapter one and two. In the above verse he speaks to those who think themselves to be without fault. But, he reminds them that God judges us all according to truth and every man needs the Lord's kindness that leads to repentance. Before we pass judgment on others, we ought to look in the mirror and seek God's mercy.
Our human nature will always be prone to see others as sinners and ourselves as righteous. But, let's be honest and take a closer look. We're all in the same boat and we need God's patient forgiveness. The next time you criticize someone, look in the mirror and take inventory. Don't judge hypocrites because you may be one. Be grateful for the riches of God's kindness and seek his mercy.

Think about this: "Hypocrites in the church? Yes, and at work, and at home. Don't hunt through the church for a hypocrite. Go home and look in the glass. Hypocrites? Yes. See that you make the number one less."
- Billy Sunday

Friday, August 9, 2013

"God gave them up ..." - Romans 1:24, 26, 28
There are control gates that regulate the flow of water to Niagara Falls.These gates are about a mile upstream from the falls and are often called "the point of no return," because any boat or person caught in the current beyond them will be carried right over the falls.  On rare occasions lives have been lost by going beyond the gates. No one can be blamed, because a choice was made to ignore the warning.
The Scriptures are chock full of warnings. The holiness of God is clearly taught, the wrath of God toward evil is honestly stated and the grace of God is beautifully presented. Our journey into the future is full of moments when warning signs need to be considered. When someone chooses to venture past the gates, and live beyond "the point of no return" they will experience Divine wrath and condemnation. God must not be blamed, because the choice was made to ignore His warning.
What is "the point of no return", you may ask? The answer is difficult for us to pinpoint, but John writes in 1 John 5:16, "There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that." Between Romans 1 and 1 John 5 we have sober warnings. Seek and embrace the grace of God to avoid the gates that lead to "the point of no return".

Think about this: "Sin drives men mad. Against their reason, against their best interests, they follow after that which they know will destroy them."

                                                                                  - C. H. Spurgeon

Thursday, August 8, 2013

"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God" - Romans 1:1 
Every year we are entertained with political adds. We hear the many promises of candidates as they speak of what they won't do. The past records of opponents are brought to light and we are assured that they oppose such practices. We aren't quite sure what these politicians are for, but we certainly know what they are against.
On another front we may hear, "I don't dance, drink, smoke, chew, or go out with girls that do!"... and so the thinking goes by many "separated" Christians. For such believers what they are for is rarely stated, but we certainly know what they are against. 
While Paul often spoke against sinful practices, he was always very clear that he was for the gospel of God. Do people know what you are for my friend? Do you spend your time living for Christ and sharing the good news of God's grace? It's far more important for people to know what we are set apart for than against!

Think about this: "A man's heart has only enough life in it to pursue one object fully."
                                                                  C. H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured." - Acts 28:7-8
When we set out on a trip, we're focused on our destination. Flat tires, detours and illnesses are just inconveniences that are quickly dealt with so we can move on. The thought of stopping and smelling the roses or slowing down to give a helping hand is often rejected because...We're on a mission.
Paul was on a journey and the trip had been rough. The need to regroup and move on was great. But, Paul was willing to take time to get involved in other people's troubles. His needs were put aside to show the love of Jesus to someone else. Paul's life and ministry was reaching people everywhere for Jesus. Trips and troubles were never more important than people. Every day, Paul was on a mission.
What is your destination today? Are you going someplace exotic? Somewhere exciting and challenging? Is your plan more important than those you meet along the way? Is your ministry for Jesus always down the road and in the future? Take time to show the love of Jesus to those you meet day to day. Because people all around you need the Lord, you too are on a mission.

Think about this: "Is anyone happier because you passed his way? Does anyone remember that you spoke to him today?"

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat." - Acts 27:35
Jonathan Edwards would lead his family in a prayer of gratitude before and after every meal. George Muller of Bristol would lead the orphan children in a prayer of thanksgiving and faith before meals, where the food was yet to arrive. As the crucifixion approached, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it saying "Take and eat, this is my body" (Matthew 26:26). Saying grace is far more than a Christian obligation, it's a moment of worship.
Paul and an entire crew of storm worn sailors were about to eat some bread. It wasn't a feast and it wasn't a celebration. With the surrounding events so discouraging and threatening, appetites were long gone. Yet, Paul encouraged them to eat for strength and as they prepared to eat, he gave thanks. With the mess they were in, one might wonder why he would express gratitude. Grace isn't just being grateful for good and plentiful food it's... a moment of worship.
Do you take time to  give thanks before your meal wherever you are? Do you give thanks in the restaurant? Do you pray over your sandwich at work? How about your cereal in the morning when you are alone? Is your prayer an obligatory "Thanks", or in light of God's presence and provision is it... a moment of worship? 

Think about this: "More spiritual progress can be made in one short moment of speechless silence in the awesome presence of God than in years of mere study."
                            A. W. Tozer

Monday, August 5, 2013

"The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs." - Acts 27:3
When the time comes to purchase a car, I am often directed toward the looks and comfort of the vehicle. While these are certainly important factors, there are so many other parts that are just as significant. As all these details are uniquely organized, a dependable form of transportation is the result. A designer planned all the parts to come together to produce something beautiful.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he stated in chapter 8, verse 28 "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." This statement has been a wonderful comfort and encouragement for God's people. But, how does the Designer organize "all things"? I suggest that the above passage is one of those moments when God brought people into Paul's time of hardship to produce something beautiful.
Do you often question the events in your life that are troubling? Have you doubted the passage in Romans 8 on occasion? Well, step back and consider the small but significant parts or "things" that God brings together to provide a blessing. Remember that the Heavenly Designer is always at work in your life, using a wide variety of "things" to produce something beautiful.

Think about this:  "There are no days when God's fountain does not flow."
                                                                    Richard Owen Roberts

Sunday, August 4, 2013

"I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’" -- Acts 26:17-18
Do we fully appreciate the whole package of the gospel? Is the salvation story fully presented in our witness? Rather than a dozen roses, we are given a radiant bouquet of various flowers. God has given us an abundant blessing in Jesus, and as we have freely received, we should freely give.
Paul never short changed those to whom he spoke. He gave them the whole story without missing a beat. Salvation brings light, deliverance, forgiveness and a heavenly home for all who believe. God's servants have been sent to open eyes so they might see and receive such a beautiful gift.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” As you bring the gospel story to others, remember that you are bringing the most beautiful bouquet of spiritual blessing that anyone has ever received. Be a blessing to someone today my friend.

Think about this: "Euangelion (which we call gospel) is a Greek word, and signifies good, merry, glad, and joyful tydings, that makes a mans heart glad, and makes him sing, dance, and leap for joy."
William Tyndale (c. 1494-1536)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

"Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges." - Acts 25:19-20
I've been using a computer on a daily basis for about fourteen years. As time has passed, I have become reasonably skilled in using this great tool. Occasionally, I am called upon to explain the features of some Bible software to a newbie. The results are often quite frustrating. They don't understand the basics and it takes great patience to show them the way.
This Bible reading provides a similar revelation of the unbeliever's mind toward the Gospel. After all was explained, Festus was at a loss. He understood Paul's claim that Jesus was alive, but he failed to see the significance. In the end, it all seemed to be religious "mumbo jumbo". Festus needed someone who would, with great patience show him the way.
Have you grown weary of that "someone" who just doesn't get it? Have you given the gospel to them time and again and they are still confused? Prayer is imperative, but patience is critical as well. The gospel may seem so simple to you, after knowing the Lord for many years. But the unbeliever needs someone who will take the time and patiently show them the way.

Think about this: "The object of witnessing is not to win an argument but disciples."
                                                                - John Blanchard

Friday, August 2, 2013

"As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”" - Acts 24:25
"Please get back to me when it's convenient". You have heard or said this polite and considerate statement from time to time. When is it ever convenient to deal with uncomfortable situations? In most cases we just have to make the time to deal with matters and hope for the best. Time waits for no man.
Paul brought Felix the message of salvation and "judgment to come". As always, Paul was thorough and most convincing in his discourse. The pressure of conviction upon Felix became so great that he said, "That's enough for now!" God's Word will always bring truth to bear and then we are pressed for decision. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2) There is no other convenient time because... Time waits for no man.
Have you put off the message of God's saving grace in Christ? Do you think there will be a more convenient time?  When God speaks to your heart, the time to respond is now, not later. Remember... Time waits for no man. 

Think about this: 

"The Bible, which ranges over a period of four thousand years, records but one instance of a deathbed conversion—one that none may despair, and but one that none may presume."
                                                                         - William Guthrie
"Hell is truth seen too late."
                                                                         - H. G. Adams

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"... I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man." -- Acts 24:14-16
How should belief affect one's life? Will simple confidence in the facts be enough? Is the ability to instruct others sufficient? Or should there be something much deeper that leads to a defined lifestyle?
Paul stated the defense of his faith. He spoke of his worship, belief and devotion to the Lord. But, the most significant statement is the way his belief defined his life. He took pains to have a clear conscience toward God and man.
How much does your belief motivate your daily walk my friend? Do others recognize a spiritual vitality in your heart by the significant integrity of your conduct? Take pains to not only know your faith, but also show your faith.

Think about this: "Man's practices are the best indexes of his principles."
                                                           - Stephen Charnock