Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Glorify God...

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31
When I turned sixteen my Pastor gave me a copy of "In His Steps" by Charles Sheldon. This book, which was first published in 1897, has since sold over 30,000,000 copies which places it as the ninth best selling book of all time. The full title is "In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?" While the lingering phrase "What Would Jesus Do?" has been quite popular, the more precise and Biblical question should be: "Does It Glorify God?"
Paul led believers to live a selfless life that considered others first. The greatest focal point was the honor and glory of the Lord in everything. He never handed out wrist bands or bumper stickers that raised a qualifying question for decisions. He just stated a simple word of counsel; "whatever you do, do all to the glory of God". Life becomes so much clearer and far more simplified when we bring every decision and action into line with this mandate.
Here it is my friend... Will that purchase glorify God? Does that conversation glorify God? Is that thought or action bringing Glory to God? Does your treatment of that person Glorify God? Is your conduct at work glorifying God? You may ask; What does God have to do with it? EVERYTHING. Remember... "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever" (Westminster Shorter Catechism)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Lessons...

"Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did." -- 1 Corinthians 10:6
It has been said that the only thing we learn from history is... that we don't learn anything from history. Could this be true? Is it possible that some people never learn from the past? While in high school drivers education I remember being shown pictures of auto collisions caused by careless drivers. That same year one of my classmates died from the same kind of careless driving. Some lessons from the past are never learned.
As Paul wrote to believers who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, he was confident that they could learn from history. While the unbeliever is lost in their sin-bound condition, every believer has the freedom and power to learn from the past, avoid evil and live rightly. Examples are recorded in the pages of Scripture as lessons to keep us from careless living. Lessons from the past are given to be learned.
Do you regularly read the Scriptures from Old Testament through the New Testament? Have you considered the positive lessons to follow as well as the examples of evil to avoid? Don't be like my friend who ignored tragic examples of the past. "... if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (verse 12)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Whatever is necessary...

"Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible... I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." -- 1 Corinthians 9:19, 22
They call us at dinner on a daily basis. They send us brochures in duplicates. They come knocking at our doors on a regular basis. Who are these nefarious schemers that seek our attention with such determination? They are sales people! They strive to win us over to buy their product or service and they won't take no for an answer. They will do whatever is necessary to win as many as possible.
While you will readily relate to the above experiences, do you believe that there might be a greater reason for which to win people? Don't you think that a heavenly home is more valuable than new siding for your earthly one? Sales people are seeking the big paycheck, but Paul was seeking the big blessing of souls saved. He was willing to do whatever was necessary to win as many as possible.
Are you afraid of offending people with your witness for Christ? Paul said earlier in chapter one, verse eighteen, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." A soul is worth far more than a paycheck, so never give up. Do whatever is necessary to win as many as possible!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Well known...

"Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God." -- 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
The world is full of scholars and experts in their various fields. They know that they know, and know how to inform others about that knowledge. Only a select few have the capacity to exercise their knowledge graciously to benefit others. These are those who are moved with love and compassion to use their knowledge to build up, not criticize and tear down. Such individuals are often well known by the world.
In the church there are also those who are scholars and experts in Biblical matters. They know the right and wrong as well as all the implications of both. But it takes a special love from God to exercise such knowledge with care and understanding. These brethren care little about what they know, but care very much about how they love. Such individuals are always well known by God.
Which one are you my friend? Do you know that you know, or do you know that you might love with such knowledge? As Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:15 "...speaking the truth in love... we will in all things grow up". When we love God and his church with all that we know, we will always be known by Him with love.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

What really matters?

"What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away." -- 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
I have lived through the years that moved from "Laugh-In" to "Saturday Night Live". These years were filled with the hopes a four day work week and tons of fun on the other three days. The bumper sticker said it all with these words: "He that dies with the most toys wins". In the light of this present world passing away, when will we ever get serious about what really matters?
Since Paul had been very clear about marital commitments in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, I am sure that his comments here were about the balance of life in light of eternity. He counseled the believers to deal with "the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them." Rather than laughing away our grief and finding ways to be entertained with new gadgets, Paul reminds us "that the time is short". When will we ever get serious about what really matters?
When was the last time you took inventory of your life my friend? On what do you spend your time and money? Are you of the misguided persuasion that you will always have tomorrow to live for God? Have you been duped by the world to "eat, drink and be merry" and "you only live once, so get all the gusto you can"? One thing is true; you do only live once, but only what is done for Christ will last. When will you ever get serious about what really matters?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Honor Him...

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." -- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
From our church family, during the past few years, we have had one young man serve in Iraq as a Ranger Officer and two other young men at sea in a naval vessel. As many of us have experienced, these young men are bought and paid for as military property. As a result they must honor their country with all that they have and are. For now, they are not their own.
While we might resist the thought, as believers, we have also been bought and paid for as God's property. The price was higher than we could possibly comprehend. We were purchased by the blood of Jesus and sealed with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The only thing left for us to do is honor God with our body. Now and forever, we are not our own.
Why do we think that we are free to live any way that we choose? We come to Christ and receive his marvelous gift of salvation, but we refuse to wear the uniform of the day? Those that try to live this way in the military are most often tried as deserters. While military personnel have personal freedoms, they always live within certain perimeters. So it is with us: Christian liberty should always be lived within the perimeters of being a temple of the Holy Spirit, owned by God. Be sure to honor Him today my friend!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Surgery...

"Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. " -- 1 Corinthians 5:6-7
I had my first knee surgery four years ago. A certain part of my knee joint that had been healthy and valuable tore away and became hard as a rock. The good old "stuff" became bad old "stuff" and brought pain with the promise of future damage. Since the "stuff" wouldn't change for the better, it had to be removed. It's just that simple.
The Doctor made it clear that bad days were ahead if I didn't have the surgery, and Paul said the same thing for a church that wouldn't remove bad "stuff" from the fellowship. The church is full of sinners saved by grace, being changed everyday to be more like Christ. As believers, we may not be perfect, but if we love Jesus we are fighting "the sin that so easily entangles" (Hebrews 12:1) everyday. Those who stop fighting and become hardened in sin need to repent or be removed from the fellowship for the sake of spiritual health. It's just that simple.
Do you find yourself overlooking unrepentant brethren in your church because you don't want to judge? Paul gave clear counsel in verses 12 and 13, "Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."". Don't be that brother or sister hardened in sin and don't allow such fellow believers to damage the "body". Sometimes surgery is necessary. It's just that simple.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More is caught...

"Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church." -- 1 Corinthians 4:15-17
I will always remember the man who led me to Christ and his Christian testimony. It has dramatically marked my life and my spiritual devotion. I watched his conduct and listened carefully to his witness and counsel because he was my spiritual father. I am thankful that he was consistent in his walk with Christ.
Paul noted that believers have many teachers that come along after the new birth, but only one spiritual parent. He always encouraged those who came to Christ through his witness to follow his example. Such was a bold word of counsel and quite demanding for Paul. Since children learn from their parent's lifestyle, a consistent walk is critical.
Have you ever led someone to Christ? If so, have you proved to be a faithful example for them to follow? Has your lifestyle been one of consistent study in the Word, dedicated times in prayer and passionate witnessing of your faith? Remember that other eyes are watching and as someone once said, "More is caught than taught"!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Do your part...

“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 fast approaching. 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.

Monday, August 14, 2017

No more secrets ...

“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.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The power of the Cross...

"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.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Your Divine Travel Agent...

"Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, 'After I have been there, I must also see Rome.'" - Acts 19:21
Every summer people spend tons of money traveling to parts unknown. Many of these world explorers  begin with a visit to a travel agency. They map out their trip with every detail considered, yet the end results often end up quite different than planned. Wouldn't it be great if we had a travel agency that provided a way that guaranteed good results?
Good Results? When Paul followed the lead of the Spirit, the days got very tough. But all along the way God used Paul to bring great blessings. No matter how strong the persecution, people came to know Christ when Paul spoke. Life is not just about "entertainment", it's also about "entering Heaven"; and with that goal we guarantee good results.
Whatever your plans are this summer, resolve to follow the Spirit's lead my friend. Allow Him to be your Divine travel agent and seek to be a blessing wherever you find yourself. When you travel this way, every trip will bring good results. Remember, you may be the only "Jesus" some people will ever meet.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Whole heart or Half heart?

"Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power." - Acts 19:18-20 
In a time when unemployment is so high, employers can be very demanding in their hiring choices. They are looking for employees that will be fully committed to the business. They want someone who will  leave their personal life at home and come to work completely focused. Anything less than this work ethic will lose someone their job. In this climate, there is no place for half-hearted workers.
In the same way, disciples of Christ are expected to be fully committed, leaving their past behind. A great number of new disciples in Ephesus were coming to Christ from a background in the occult. They recognized the need to make a complete break from this past if they were to be faithful followers of Christ. The sacrifice and monetary loss was great, but on that day in Ephesus, there were no half-hearted disciples.
When you came to Christ you became "a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17) As the heart becomes new, so should the lifestyle. Our connection to past sins and gods needs to be broken forever. The Lord looks for disciples who are fully committed and totally focused on Him. Have you taken practical steps to put the past behind you with a whole heart, or are you still a half-hearted disciple?
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A QUOTE FOR THE DAY

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

- Jim Elliot, October 28, 1949 (Martyred Missionary)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The personal touch ...

"He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately." Acts 18:26
The days of "Mom and Pop" stores are quickly slipping away. The mega store with all its bells and whistles is the place to go for whatever you may need. The stock is plentiful, the prices are great and tons of people can shop at the same time. There is one thing missing though... the personal touch.
 In the days of Paul, Apollos, Priscilla and Aquila people gathered in large groups for worship and study, but they also spent quality time in the home "explaining the way of God more adequately". From the very early days of Acts 2:46 believers met in the Temple courts and their homes. While group study and fellowship was of great importance, they also studied together in their homes. They saw the value of... the personal touch.
 Some believers are satisfied in meeting together in the mega church setting. This might be 10,000 people or it could be just 100 people. The attraction of the larger church seems to be more like the mega store, providing a vast number of ministries. But in the process, the one-on-one disciple making and mentoring has slipped away. You and I can make a difference today, if we will take on the mantle of Priscilla and Aquila. We can open our hearts and our homes to others and share the "way of God" in small individual settings. In a day of mega everything, we can still provide... the personal touch.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Be a lighthouse ...

"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter." - 2 Thessalonians 2:15 
We collect lighthouses. We visit them while on vacation and regularly add to our collection of miniatures and pictures. Lighthouses remind us of being a light in the darkness and a guide to wayward. They are those great stone edifices that stand firm in the storms and send forth the light that saves from a watery grave. God also places lighthouses on the shores of this world to save souls from eternal damnation.
Paul writes of coming days of increasing evil and tribulation. He assures believers of their deliverance from this time, but until those days arrive he calls us to stand firm and hold to the teachings passed down to us. The winds of time may bring change, but the truth remains the same: Those who refuse to love the truth will perish, and those believe the truth will live eternally. As we spread the light of this truth, we are God's lighthouses.
There is no lighthouse of worth that doesn't stand firm in the midst of the storm. The lighthouse serves the mariner with the same purpose today as it did hundreds of years ago: it gives light to show the way to safety. Stand firm my friend, hold to the teachings passed down to you and be the lighthouse that God called you to be.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Praying personally...

"With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." -  2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
It's that time of the year for weddings, another occasion when gifts are given. As usual, there will be duplicate gifts that need to be returned for exchange. Sometimes the duplicates will be triple and quadruple. Some people just refuse to check the bride's gift registry. Gifts are best when they meet personal desires and needs.
Prayers are much the same as gifts. There are those prayers that seem to be an unending list of unspecified thoughts repeated with very little personal content. Paul prayed in view of his prophetic insight for the Thessalonians. He touched their spiritual needs and spoke about "every act prompted by your faith". His prayers were always personal and spiritually focused for the greatest growth and God's glory.
May I encourage you today to look carefully at this prayer and all of Paul's prayers for the churches? Learn from these prayers how to pray personally, powerfully and precisely. Move your requests for spiritual growth and success to the forefront and focus on each person's desires and needs. Check the registry before you pray.

PAUL'S PRAYERS: Romans 15:5-7; 16:25-27; 1 Cor. 1:4-7; Eph. 1:15-20; 3:14-21; Phil. 1:8-10; Col. 1:9-12; 1 Thess. 3:11-13; 2 Thess.1:11-12; 2:16-17; Philemon 4-6.

Monday, August 7, 2017

E.G.R. ...

"And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone." - 1 Thessalonians 5:14
 As every snow flake is different, so each one of God's children is different. We are different in many ways and our spiritual journeys differ in both speed and level of maturity. A lesson I had to learn early in my ministry was this: everyone is at a different place in their walk with God and I need to be attentive to this fact. I need to be sensitive to their diversity and be kind.
Paul urged the Thessalonians to warn, encourage, help and be patient. Some brothers were idle, some were timid, some were weak and some just needed patience. I recently heard someone use the term "E.G.R. people" (Extra Grace Required people) for those who had special spiritual needs. Showing the love of Jesus is needed by everyone, but especially by "E.G.R. people". Be sensitive to their diversity and be kind.
Who are the believers that live in your circle of ministry? Are they all up to speed spiritually? Or do you find many of them are still struggling in their stability and growth? Be a good brother or sister and be patient and kind to your "E.G.R. people.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The right "more"...

"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more... And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more." - 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 10
We live in a world that's all about improvement. Improve your looks, your job, your education, your car, or your house. We're never satisfied with the status quo. As in the Dickens classic, Oliver Twist, we are always asking, "Please, sir, I want some more".
What about our spiritual lives? Paul mentioned the phrase "more and more" twice in this chapter. He instructed these believers to "live in order to please God" more and more and "love all the brothers" more and more. In both cases he noted a current lifestyle of Godliness, but he didn't want them to settle for just enough. He wanted to see spiritual improvement, "more and more".
Have you become satisfied with your spiritual life, while being driven for more worldly gain? What efforts are you making to improve your walk with God and your love for the brethren? The next time you want bigger and better or you're planning some home improvements, ask yourself, when was the last time you did some "heart improvements"?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Do you care?

"So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them." - 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3
Some time ago twin babies were found abandoned outside a fire station in Shawnee, Oklahoma. A note attached read, "Take care of my babies. I'm poor and can't do it." In a recent annual statistic, 570 children were reported abandoned in that state. Such stories are sad and quite troubling when children are born into the world and left alone without care.
There is another type of birth when someone is born again into a spiritual life. Paul knew that such children needed care and protective love. With this concern, "when he could stand it no longer", he sent Timothy to provide the proper spiritual nurture. Paul never led someone to Christ and abandoned them, alone without care.
Have you lead someone to the Lord recently? Do you have plans to care for their spiritual needs as new babes in Christ? Will you make the time to follow up their "new birth" with spiritual mentoring? Or, do you know someone who has recently been born again and abandoned? Allow God to use you as spiritual parent and give them the nurture and care that they need.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Motivation...

"We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Years ago my father worked for a nationwide retailer that gave its employees a vested interest in the company. The more they sold, the more shares they would be awarded. As they succeeded, the business succeeded, and as the business succeeded, so did they. This company learned that success comes from a healthy motivation.
Paul greatly appreciated the work, labor and endurance seen in the Thessalonians. He noted that they were a motivated group of believers who were driven by a much deeper commitment than most. Their faith empowered them to work hard, their love encouraged them to labor diligently and their hope invigorated them to endure to the end. Three spiritual qualities kept them motivated in the most difficult hour.
Faith, love and hope; every believer has these qualities, but not often drawn upon for motivation. From time to time, we will face the giants, but every day we will have to deal with the little foxes that pester us in our spiritual walk. The work, labor and endurance will be difficult at times, but trust in the Lord with all your heart, love the Lord with all your heart and hope in the Lord with all your heart and you will be sufficiently motivated for the greatest success.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Our Vision...Our Hope...

"And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people." -- Acts 18:9-10
When the Lord calls us, he has a purpose and he will faithfully provide. If we look at troubling circumstances, we will be discouraged, but not if we keep our eyes on the Master. When the Lord is our vision, there is hope.
Paul was following the Lord's lead as he preached and was faced with steady opposition. Yet, the Lord came to him in a vision to assure him. God had many souls in the city and he would protect Paul until he completed the task. Paul was encouraged to look to the Lord who was with him and find hope.
When you walk through the storm, in which that God places you my friend, don't be afraid. Keep your eyes on the Lord and his purpose and live for him. Don't be afraid, because you're never alone in the work of God. He is with you.

"BE THOU MY VISION "

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.


Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Are you ready?

"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." -- Acts 17:30-31 
There are times when some wonder if there is any order in the universe. More directly, some are at a loss to see any order in their personal lives. And finally, is there to be any order as we face future days? Well, as sure as the sun rises in the morning, there is order for every life.
Paul speaks of God's order in this way: 1) Now he commands all people to repent, 2) He has fixed a day for judgment and, 3) A man (the risen Christ) has been appointed as judge. To put it in other words, our lives are ordered around two days and one person.
Is your life in order my friend? Has there been a day when you turned from "ignorance" and sought the Lord in repentance? Are you prepared for the "fixed day" to meet the "appointed judge"? As sure as the sun will rise... the Son will come!! Are you ready?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Real Deal...

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." - Acts 17:11 
A Cubic Zirconia, OR a beautifully cut diamond... which would you prefer? Given the stone was free for the taking I am sure most people would choose the real deal. From a distance you might be fooled, but under close examination, there is always a difference. Our world is full of knock-offs and fakes that catch the eye and skillfully mimic the original. To know the difference you need a close examination.
In the days of Paul, there were many traveling orators; some brought truth and some deception. As a result some people became very cautious as they listened to visiting speakers. Some were of far more "noble character" than others and carefully compared Paul's teachings with Scripture. These were men and women who wanted the real deal, so they made time daily for a close examination. 
In the same way today, there are charlatans who mimic true preachers of the Word. They look slick and they are enticing. Their words are smooth as they smile their way into your heart but, are they giving you the truth of the Word? Which would you prefer... a Word from God or a word from man? To know the difference we need to be in the Word daily for a close examination.
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A THOUGHT FOR THE DAY 
  
“Sadie,” a Labrador retriever belonging to the Charles Thurber family in Terra Linda, California, was ordained as a minister of faith by the Hilltop House Church in San Rafael. The dog’s name and $15 were submitted by the Better Business Bureau of San Francisco through a newspaper ad. By return mail Sadie received her “Certificate of Ordination.”

Anyone can be ordained...
but only those called of God will have a word from God.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Meaningful Life...

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." - Galatians 6:14
The summer will soon be past and many recent graduates will have found a sad end to a long academic pursuit; no job. There were hopes and dreams of a bright future, but alas, the economy has closed doors to most of them. The truth is sobering; having a diploma doesn't always lead to a meaningful life.
Paul brought everything in life down to the main thing - the cross of Christ. It's the cross that puts an end to our past failures and opens the door for a bright future. It's the cross that breaks the chains of sinful habits and sets us free to live for Christ. It's the cross of Christ that makes it possible for us to have hopes and dreams fulfilled.
As someone has best said it, "Keep the main thing the main thing". Never leave this basic truth behind and never lose its power to change you day by day. Having that diploma may or may not open the right doors my friend, but starting each day at the foot of the cross will always lead to a meaningful life.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Serving Others...

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." - Galatians 5:13-15
One of the interesting results of the Alcoholic Anonymous program is the support given to others after sobriety is achieved. Recovering alcoholics know that they need each other to make the journey in life. For years they were bound to a lifestyle from which they are now free. They use this new found freedom to serve others.
Paul spoke to the Galatians about a new life in Christ that set them free from the law and sin. They were now a transformed people who were called upon to love others as themselves. Any other lifestyle would be devastating. This expectation was a timeless truth found as early as the giving of the law. God knew the need for his people to lovingly serve one another. 
All too often my friend, the church of Jesus Christ is guilty of shooting its own wounded soldiers. We give way to selfish agendas and critical attitudes. As we cut each other apart we lose the battle and the blessing. We have been set free from such ways. Use your freedom to love your brothers unconditionally and help them up. Be a brother or sister who lovingly serves others today.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

God is Never Late!

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." - Galatians 4:4-5
The words from Alice in Wonderland often come to mind in this busy world we live in: "I'm late, I'm late for a very important date." Too many people, on too many occasions are late for very important dates. As a result, we tend to lower our expectations and even believe that the Lord will be late for our very important needs. But God... is never late!
Paul noted that Jesus came to be our Savior at just the right time. He didn't come too early, or too late. God had a time table that ticked away with exact precision and when the time had fully come, God sent his Son. To this very day God is following his time table and will bring life and blessing to each one of his children on time. Our God... is never late!
Trusting the Lord involves the patience that lives within God's time table. We need to wait on Him with utmost confidence that he will accomplish his will and our best in his time. Solomon said it in Ecclesiastes 3:11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." Wait on the Lord my friend, for he is never late for a very important date!

Friday, July 28, 2017

All on the Bus...

"Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" - Galatians 3:3
The story is told of a traveler with a heavy backpack. Along his journey he was given a ride, but he wouldn't take off his pack. When encouraged to do so he replied, "You've been kind enough to give me a ride, I couldn't expect you to carry the weight of my pack as well"... foolish logic, right? The principle is simple; if you're on the Bus, you're all on the Bus or you're not on the Bus at all.
Along the away, Paul grows quite impatient with the believers to whom he was writing. They began their walk with God in faith. The Spirit of God transformed their lives and secured their place in God's family. Yet, they were now misguided to believe that human effort was their resource for spiritual security and growth. Paul reminded them that the child of God begins, continues and ends his journey by faith alone. If you're on the Bus, you're all on the bus or you're not on the Bus at all.
My friend, your greatest frustration in the Christian life will be failure to walk by faith. When you lean on your own strength and human effort, rather than the Spirit of God, the way will be hard. Paul wrote in verse 14, "He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." If we begin by faith with the promised Spirit providing our greatest need, you can be sure He will provide for the rest of the journey. If you're on the Bus, you're all on the Bus or you're not on the Bus at all.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Be a good example...

"When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray." - Galatians 2:11-13
It has been said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. There were times that I wanted to be just like my father and there have been times that my sons have wanted to be like me. From time to time, we are all influenced enough to imitate someone. But do we ever consider that we too are influencing others to the point of imitation? If we are imitated, are we leading others astray or into truth?
Paul was led to rebuke Peter to his face for hypocrisy. Peter's conduct was confusing and inconsistent with Biblical truth. While his personal practice was disturbing enough, the fact that others followed his lead was even worse. Peter's fear of men led him into error, followed by other Jews, and finally Barnabas. By imitating Peter, many were being led astray.
It doesn't really matter who we are, other people imitate us. There will always be someone who looks up to you and is influenced by your life. When you walk with the Lord and live a godly life, this can be a good thing. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." Be a consistent and godly example to imitate my friend, for as you follow Christ, you will lead others into all truth.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Who's your Master?

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." - Galatians 1:10
Over the years we have read about american spies that were convicted as "double agents". They tried to serve two countries at the same time, but in the end they failed both. The issue is thought provoking and life changing. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters"
Paul faced quite a dilemma with the churches in Galatia. The believers had initially trusted in the finished work of Christ for their salvation, but now there were false teachers that sought their allegiance. These teachers were winsome and convincing, teaching a works salvation. They were seeking the approval of their own circle of peers and were determined to increase their followers. Paul sought the approval of the Lord alone and was simply saying, "No one can serve two masters"
There is no safer path than the one that follows the Lord alone. Do you seek the Lord's approval in every decision you make? Is His will the most important thing in your life? Serve the Lord and you will never go astray. Remember, "No one can serve two masters"

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Are you humming?

"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them" - Acts 16:25
Today my mother-in-law is with her Lord. There's a lot about Louise that we really miss, including her humming. Even into the last months of her life, while suffering from a number of physical problems that gave her pain and discomfort on a daily basis, she hummed. We could hear her hum in the morning, afternoon, evening and the late night hours. She hummed hymns and favorite spiritual songs through every dark valley and rocky road of life. She hummed because she had the joy of the Lord and people listened.
Paul and Silas were servants of the Lord who risked their lives for the sake of the Lord and the lost. As a result they suffered persecution, pain and humiliation. But after all was said and done, they sang. They lifted their voices and sang hymns to God in the darkest moments of life. They sang because they knew the joy of the Lord and people listened.
How about you my friend? You may not sing or hum, but is the joy of the Lord evident in your life? Is there a smile in the midst of the storm? Do you have an uplifting word on a disappointing day? Is there a song in your heart or a hymn on your lips? Let the joy of the Lord be heard from your life, because people listen.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Our Divine GPS...

"Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them." - Acts 16:6-10 

I recently used a Google map for directions and learned a new meaning for the word "lost". The stories are unending about wild and woolly experiences brought on by internet map usage. Using such maps is like using our own heart for spiritual guidance. The chances of our arriving at the wrong place are most often guaranteed. If we want to find the right road to take in life we need to use our Divine GPS.
Paul and his team were passionate about reaching their world for Christ. They were truly "on a mission" that drove them forward with great energy. They were careful though, to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. If He said "no" to one direction they considered other ways until He said "yes". When they followed the Lord's leading, people came to Christ. They were wise and therefore blessed when they faithfully followed the directions of their Divine GPS.
Are you using a flawed "map-quest" today by following your heart? Where will your passion or drive lead you in the decisions of life? The Lord will lead you in His way, and His way is always best. Be wise and therefore blessed by following the directions of your Divine GPS.

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A QUOTE FOR THE DAY

At a meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bobby Richardson, former New York Yankee second baseman, offered a prayer that is a classic in brevity and poignancy: “Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen.”

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Risking your life...

"men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ." - Acts 15:26
From time to time we read about those who have risked their lives for the sake of others. Last Tuesday, first responders and four good Samaritans who risked their lives after a recent massive explosion in Marengo, Illinois, were honored by the McHenry County Board for helping rescue several people trapped in a burning home. For these public servants, there was no sacrifice too great when lives were in danger.
From the very early days of the church there were those who risked their lives for the sake of others. They faced persecution, loss of possessions, comforts, family and friends. All this was willingly laid down for the spiritual welfare of lost souls. For these faithful servants, there was no sacrifice too great when lives were in danger.
When you look around today, what do you see my friend? Are there not hundreds of men, women and children who are living outside the saving grace of the Lord Jesus? Consider the words of Romans 10:14: "But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?" Will you be the one who will sacrifice everything for sake of those who are in danger? Are you ready to risk your life for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Just as you are...

"No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” - Acts 15:11 
Shortly after we married, Jayne and I adopted a little dog. Her name was Jenny and she was the sweetest pup anyone could ever have. We went to a rescue shelter one afternoon and looked around until we came to a litter of pups that had just arrived. One small pup... the "runt" of the litter spotted us and kept coming to us wherever we moved. We couldn't imagine what she would look like when she grew up, but she won our hearts and that day we took her home... just as she was.
Paul pleaded with the church leadership to stay on point concerning the work of salvation. No one is saved and adopted into the family of God because of what they bring to the table. The Lord takes us into his family through his grace alone. The day we come to Jesus, he saves us from a homeless and hopeless future, out of a heart of grace and love... just as we are.
Becoming a child of God is far more significant than being an adopted dog. But in a way, the simplicity of the process is similar. Have you come to Jesus, saddened by, and repentant of your sin? Have you come with nothing to offer but a heart cry for mercy? He will save you and love you with an everlasting love. You don't have to be the "Best in Show" to win the heart of God. He will take you into his family by his grace alone... just as you are!  

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A HYMN FOR THE DAY

JUST AS I AM


Just as I am, without one plea but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am, tho tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind—Sight, riches, healing of the mind, yea, all I need in Thee to find—O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Charlotte Elliott, 1789–1871

Friday, July 21, 2017

Patience!

"Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!" -- James 5:7-9 
In a time of great impatience, farmers are a rare breed. When the internet and rapid transit has made everything lightening fast to the touch, these stalwart souls still have to be patient. Over two thousand years have passed since the above writing and little has changed for the farmer. Patience remains the great imperative.
The same remains true for the believer who awaits the return of Christ. His coming is nearer today than in James' day, but we still need to be patient and stand firm. Our conduct should be God honoring with brotherly love. Our faith in the Lord's timing must continue strong through the darkest days. As Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:8, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."
All believers know the end of the story and we live in great expectation of the Lord's return. The question is; how then shall we live? Take a lesson from the farmer my friend, and patiently sow your seeds of Christ-like living. As the spring and autumn rains come, the Lord will also come... and He's never late!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A simple prescription...

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you..." -- James 4:7-8  
I have known too many people who have suffered physically rather than seeking the care of a doctor. I knew a man who came to a point that he daily swallowed a dose of Listerine for throat pain. One morning he just collapsed. He died of advanced cancer that was never diagnosed or treated. We can fight disease in our bodies all we want, but until we are willing to come under the care of a skilled physician, we will only get worse.
The soul is far more diseased than the body. We have a condition called sin and it will eat us up if we don't seek help. Choosing to deal with the habits of sin in our own strength is like taking aspirin for a tumor. We can determine to resist temptation, sin, and the devil all we want, but until we submit ourselves to the Great Physician of our souls, we will only get worse.
The simple prescription for spiritual health is found in the words, "Submit yourselves, then, to God". Place yourself under the care of the Great Physician. Allow him to heal your soul, knowing that if you "Come near to God and he will come near to you." Only then will sin, temptation and the devil flee, and you will get better.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Faith completed...

"Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness'—and he was called a friend of God." - James 2:21-23
Nik Wallenda became the first man to walk over the Niagara Gorge in 116 years on Friday evening, June 15, 2012; the first ever to walk right over the falls. Nik had been interviewed during the previous days, questioned concerning the possibility of this walk being successful. His confidence was undaunted, but not until shortly after 10:30 p.m. on June 15 was his faith actively completed by his walk.
Abraham was clearly justified by faith many years earlier than Isaac's birth. He believed God in Genesis 15:6 and it was placed on his account as righteousness. Abraham traveled, settled and raised his family in a land promised to him by God. His confidence was undaunted, but not until the day of Genesis 22:12 was his faith actively completed by his works.
You may call yourself a friend of God my friend, but do you have an active faith? Belief in God is more than mental ascent. True faith is walking with God through the valleys and over the mountaintops. People who are firmly confident in God's promises willingly sacrifice everything for Him without fear. Your faith, as Abraham's, will always be completed by your works. 
Quote for the Day

"Fold the arms of your faith and wait in quietness until the light goes up in your darkness. Fold the arms of your faith, I say, but not of your action. Think of something you ought to do, and go do it. Heed not your feelings. Do your work." 
- George Macdonald

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Love them like Jesus...

"If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." - James 2:8-10 
Herb was a businessman who attended our church many years ago. Over time, his life fell apart and he became homeless, unkempt, with an unpleasant smell. In the colder months Herb used to stop by the church to get warm and have a bite to eat when we would have a church supper. I was thankful when some of our church family would talk with him and invite him in for a meal. But it saddened me when other believers would avoid him at any cost. How can we love one another and not love Herb?
James called us to a deeper level of compassion when he challenged our "Love Capacity". It's easy to love those who love us back and those who are lovable. Such are the people we choose to show that extra interest and care. But, if we are going to be consistent in our obedience to the second greatest commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39), we must take time to love the Herbs of our world.
Today you will meet someone. They will not win your attention or your desire to show compassion. They may offend you by their conduct and attire. How will you choose to treat them, my friend? Will you avoid them in the name of inconvenience or will "Love them like Jesus"?

Monday, July 17, 2017

A tight rein...

"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." - James 1:26
How often have we heard the phrase "I misspoke"? Day by day we read about a political  or popular figure that said the wrong thing at the wrong time. As social media quickly reports any and all verbal blunders, many treasured positions or jobs are lost as a result. It pays to keep a tight rein on the tongue.
James makes the quality of thoughtful speech a significant characteristic for the believer. We can do all the right things and teach others with great insight, but with just one wrong word we can irreparably offend someone. Many a Christian testimony has been lost over a few thoughtless words. As James said earlier in verse 19, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak". It pays to keep a tight rein on the tongue.
By the grace of God, there have been many thoughts that have come to mind that I refused to verbalize. I would encourage you to do the same, my friend. We may have "Freedom of Speech", but it's not freedom to offend. The treasures of friendship, peace, harmony and unity are far more valuable than words can say. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 25:11, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." and in Proverbs 17:28 "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." It pays to keep a tight rein on the tongue.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Power gone amuck...

"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings." - James 1:1
Of the many humorous presidential quotes of all time consider this one by George H. W. Bush: "I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. I am President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli." This could be qualified as "power" gone amuck.
James could have addressed the early church as the brother of Jesus or leader of the Jerusalem church. He could have reminded them of his close connection to the Lord and the incredible authority he wheeled among the apostles. But in this one introductory verse he gave clear evidence of being a true "servant-leader". James never let his "power" go amuck.
Are you overwhelmed and super impressed with yourself my friend? When you meet others for the first time do you make sure that they know all your accomplishments and titles? Or do you look for every opportunity to simply be a servant of the Lord to bring greetings and blessings in His name? Be careful to never allow your "power" to go amuck!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Never give up...

"Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said." - Acts 14:19-22
As we follow the Olympic games when scheduled, there are occasional reminders of past years. Stories are brought back about athletes that pressed through great pain to win the gold. They struggled through practice runs, but were determined to compete well on the day of competition. This is what being an Olympic athlete is all about... you never give up.
Paul was an Olympic Christian... he took a beating and kept on ticking! Not only did Paul continue on his mission trip, but he chose to return to the same towns that participated in his stoning. His passion for the gospel message and believers was undaunted by any amount of persecution. He knew that believers "must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God". Therefore... he never gave up.
Are you an Olympic Christian today? What will it take to stop you from fulfilling your mission for Christ? There may be pain and persecution of all kinds, but press on my friend. The leading of souls to Jesus is the greatest reward and the building up of believers is a valuable prize as well. But these rewards only go to Olympic Christians... that never give up.
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A QUOTE FOR THE DAY
  
Have you ever noticed that world-class runners have a "kick?" A kick is a technical runner's term that means when they get to that last one hundred yards or so, the runner can still sprint. No matter how much he's run before, he can sprint that last leg to the finish line and win that race. God wants you to have a kick. No matter what your circumstance, 
God wants you to finish strong.
-- Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish,"

Friday, July 14, 2017

Freedom...

"Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses." -- Acts 13:38-39
Laws are written because men are sinful. Society would be chaotic without legal guidelines and the nature of man reinforces this everyday as laws are broken. Mankind is bound to laws by chains of sin and true freedom is out of reach. Where can one turn to be free?
The message of Paul alerts us to the great fact of freedom in Christ. As we are forgiven, we are set free from the power of sin to live for God. Our new found freedom is given so we might live as we should, not as we want. There is no law that could ever set us free in this way.
What are you doing with your freedom in Christ my friend? Are you living as you want, or are you living as you should? Do you yearn for God's will and way in your life, or have you returned to bondage of sin? Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." 
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A Quote for the Day

"The important thing about a man is not where he goes when he is compelled to go,
 but where he goes when he is free to go where he will."
~ A. W. Tozer