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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Make time...

"In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." - Acts 13:1-3
With the advent of cell phones the question "when will it be convenient to call?" has become more significant than ever. When will we be best prepared to receive a call from someone? The real issue is when will we have the time to listen and respond? But for some special people in our lives we are always willing to "make the time'.
The prophets and teachers of Acts 13 had gathered together to worship the Lord. Even in a busy ministry schedule they slowed down and stepped aside to worship and fast. It was in this setting that the Holy Spirit extended a fresh and challenging call to Barnabas and Saul. They heard his call and responded because they had "made the time".
When will it be convenient for you to take a call from the Lord? Is there time in your daily and weekly schedule when you simply stop the busyness to worship? In those quiet moments you are saying to the Lord "Speak, for your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:10) God always has a fresh and challenging word for you if you will "make the time". 
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A QUOTE FOR THE DAY

 "To stand by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and to give oneself again to God, what more could a man ask?  Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth.  
I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him."   


   -- Jim Elliot in The Journals of Jim Elliot

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Little faith?

"When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished." - Acts 12:12-16
There are some people who hear the weatherman announcing rain, and choose to leave for work without their umbrella. Why are they so quick to reject the news? Why not take the update seriously and prepare for the storm? The answer is simple... they have little faith in the report.
The disciples were gathered together in prayer, but did they believe that God would answer? At first blush I am sure they would claim a great confidence in the Lord. But, when Peter came to knock, they were overwhelmed with shock. They had little faith in the Lord.
When you pray for rain, do you bring your umbrella? When you ask the Lord to intervene and provide for your needs, do you expect great things? Or are you surprised when He suddenly does the impossible? When you pray, are looking for real answers, or do you have little faith?
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QUOTE FOR THE DAY

"Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand 
that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand."
 - Augustine

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Are you?

"...The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." - Acts 11:26
I attended a college in Tennessee during the seventies and worked full time to pay the freight. When I spent time with fellow workers from the area I was often tagged a "New Yorker". I spoke a little different than they did and I had an urban lifestyle that reflected where I was raised. It was simple; I was called a "New Yorker" because I was!
There are three occasions in the New Testament that believers are called "Christians"; in the above passage, Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. The term was originally a derogatory tag. But it was a term that expressed one truth about the believers... they were "Christ Ones". Their speech was different and their lifestyle reflected the One they followed. It was simple; they were called "Christians" because they were!
Today people are called "Christians" for the most unwarranted reasons. To many, it is nothing more than an empty religious tag, but, what about you? If you are called a "Christian" or "Christ One", is it true? Is your speech different and does your lifestyle reflect the One you follow? Are you called a "Christian" because you are?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Savior or... Judge!

"And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."" -- Acts 10:42-43
We often read about crimes committed and the long process of trials and imprisonments. The details include the police, lawyers and juries. Along with these officers of the court we are regularly exposed to the court of public opinion. But, at the end of the day the final sentencing is given by one person... the Judge. 
There is only One who has been appointed to be judge of the living and the dead. Jesus Christ was foretold of by the prophets and belief in him alone will bring forgiveness of sins. He is more than a prophet, more than a teacher and more than a great religious leader. He alone is the Judge to whom all mankind is accountable.
This message has been the same since the early church to this very day my friend. The only way to prepare for eternity and your standing before the Lord is to trust Him as your Savior. Otherwise, you will face Him as your Judge with no appeal.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Changed?

"The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends...  Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people... “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." - Acts 10:24, 27, 47
The summer months bring a vast number of opportunities for inviting people to your home. The occasions may be holidays, celebrations or just plain fun. At the end of the day everyone will leave, well fed and filled with fond memories. But, have they been changed?
Cornelius was a man with great social prestige. I'm sure that he had many occasions to entertain family and friends.  Yet, this gathering was different than any other before. People didn't gather to eat, drink and be merry. They came together in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord had commanded Peter to tell them. (Verse 33) At the end of the night no one wanted to leave, because... they had been changed.
This is the question: Is your home open for others to gather to hear the good news of Jesus? Do you make plans through the year to invited family and friends to hear a missionary, see a Gospel movie or have a Bible Study? Cornelius wasn't even converted yet, and he filled his house to evangelize. When was the last time someone left your home having been changed?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Everyone needs a Barnabas...

"When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus." - Acts 9:26-27
I well remember the first year or two after Bible College. I was seeking the Lord's direction for ministry and looking for any opportunity to preach. My pastor was a kind and gracious man who took me to ministerial fellowships and introduced me to fellow pastors. As a result, I was invited to preach at different churches and eventually one called me as their pastor. My pastor, George Bogan, (who later became my father-in-law) was a true "Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36) to me. Everyone needs a Barnabas.
Paul shook his world for Jesus. He had the courage and tenacity that very few men have. He traveled throughout his world three times with the gospel message and debated with the wisest men of the day. He wrote volumes of deep doctrinal truth that even Peter found hard to understand. (2 Peter 3:15-16) Yet, Paul needed an encourager to come along side and introduce him to the disciples in Jerusalem. Paul needed a Barnabas.
Be wise my friend, and don't try to go it alone. We all need someone who will be an encourager on the road of life. At the same time, there is someone that the Lord has brought into your life that needs you to be their encourager. Will you answer that call? Just remember... Everyone needs a Barnabas.

Friday, July 7, 2017

No gain without pain...

"For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."" -- Acts 9:16
Suffer or success... Here we find two opposite polls. Many people are willing to give all they have to succeed, but not many are willing to suffer. They want great gain without any pain. But, what kind of gain will they have?
Paul was chosen of the Lord to suffer for the sake of his name. It was all about the cause of Christ. Today there are many who believe that Christians should be successful and prosperous. Yet, if they have to suffer for the Lord's name, they back off. They want great gain without any pain; even if the gain is the cause of Christ.
As we serve the Lord my friend, let us remember his words in John 15:20, "'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." If the cause of Christ will be our gain, there will be pain. But, oh what a gain it will be!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

How are you led?

"And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” ... And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing." -- Acts 8:29, 39
Some people are led toward making money. Others are driven toward success at any cost. Still others are all about living the "good life". In a very real sense, everyone is led by something. What is it that leads you?
Philip was led by the Holy Spirit. He willingly dropped everything to go where the Lord wanted him. When he had accomplished his task, he was off again, led by the Spirit elsewhere. As a result of going where he was led, Philip had the privilege to share the good news of Jesus with someone who was ready to believe. All this happened because he was at the right place at the right time.
That is the key to being led correctly my friend. When the Lord is the one leading you, it will be certain that you will be at the right place at the right time. Make the right choice every day; look for the Spirit of God to lead you step by step and you will be surprised how he will use you.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

God's blessings are NOT for sale...

"But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God." - Acts 8:20-21
We hear it all the time; "Everyone has their price!" There seems to be a general sense that everything in life can be bought. People have been known to buy freedom from justice, positions of power, as well as academic recognition. Some even believe that the good things of God are for sale. The truth is, God's blessings are reserved for those whose hearts are right with Him.
Centuries have come and gone, but very little has changed in the misunderstanding about the things of God. As much as Simon believed that the gift of God could be purchased, there are those today that give large sums of money to the church with ulterior motives in mind. They are persuaded that God will bring success to their business, and eventually they will have a special place reserved in heaven. But, they tend to forget, God's blessings are reserved for those whose hearts are right with Him.
Have you been convinced that God can be bought my friend? When you are ill do you seek His healing work by doing good works or giving large gifts? Such thinking is not far from the ways of Simon the magician. God freely cares for His children out of love and grace. These are gifts that can never be bought. Remember, God's blessings are reserved for those whose hearts are right with Him.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Great gain...

"On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria... Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went." - Acts 8:1, 4

On two occasions, our family has moved to new church ministries. Both times the change has been quite a shock to our lifestyle. Yet, each change brought spiritual challenge and significant growth. When the Lord is in the change, it can be of great value. Change for the sake of change can be a real pain, but... change for God's sake will bring great gain.
The intriguing truth of this passage is found in this fact; Acts 1:8 begins to unfold in Acts 8:1. Persecution brought change in lifestyle and led to many believers moving to new and unfamiliar regions. Yet, wherever they went, they preached the Word and people came to Christ. While the change was frightening and very unsettling, it was for God's sake and... it brought great gain.
Great persecution may not be breaking out in your life, but events may be occurring that are bringing unexpected change. Since God is always in control, you can be sure that this change has divine purpose. Will you pray for the Lord's wisdom to get the most spiritual value out this change? Remember, when God is in the change, there will be great gain!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Tragedy to Triumph...

“Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord" - Acts 7:30-31
D. L. Moody was a powerful and productive american evangelist of the nineteenth century. From his conversion in 1855 throughout the 1860s Moody grew to be quite the Christian worker and preacher. But on Sunday, October 8, 1871 he concluded his evening sermon in Chicago and shortly afterward a fire broke out, burning on until Tuesday afternoon, consuming much of what Moody had built. In the months that followed the young preacher came to realize that he needed to stop moving forward on his own, but first wait on the Lord for for His direction. Tragedy became triumph in Moody's life.
Moses had launched out on his own and murdered a man in the process. He was forced to flee for his life and spend the next forty years on the far side of the desert, shepherding flocks. At a ripe old age of eighty one would think that his usefulness was ended. All his youthful dreams and fervency were long gone with the passing years. But, the lesson was clear, until we breath our last, God is not finished with us. In the hands of God, the greatest tragedy can become a triumph.
Have you had a few fires or desert years my friend? Have your dreams and personal aspirations all gone up in smoke? Well, come alone to the wilderness bush and find the divine fire of new dreams and aspirations. Take time and listen for the voice of God and let him turn your tragedies into triumphs!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Rescued...

“And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household." - Acts 7:9-10
Martin Luther was a man of great conviction and courage. As a result, he found himself hiding in the Wartburg Castle at Eisenach. During this stay at Wartburg, which he referred to as "my Patmos", Luther translated the New Testament from Greek into German and produced a wide array of theological writings. As God was with him, in time he was rescued from his afflictions and returned to Wittenberg.
The story seems to be the same throughout the ages. Those who serve the Lord may suffer persecution in many ways, but God is with them. As we think about Joseph we must realize that he spent thirteen years in servitude and prison. The time was sufficient to embitter the best of us, but Joseph only grew stronger and more effective for His God. In the end, God rescued him and blessed him abundantly.
Are you in the Wartburg Castles or Egyptian dungeons of life my friend? In such dark hours find a way to carry on with great purpose for your Lord. Seek to be a blessing by blooming where you are, and in time... the Lord will rescue you out of your afflictions too.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Specialists...

"And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit... And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith." -- Acts 6:5, 7
In addition to the physician, there are a number of people who are able to help the patient toward good health. Within the medical field there are a wide variety of specialists who are assigned different tasks. If each one will exercise their skills to the full, patients will be greatly benefited. 
As for the spiritual welfare of the church there are those who are called to be pastors, or in other words, physicians of the soul. The major task of these men is to be devoted to prayer and the ministry of the word. In addition there are a variety of specialists who are full of faith and the Holy Spirit. If they exercise their spiritual gifts to the full, the church will be greatly blessed.
If you are a pastor, remember to keep the main thing the main thing and leave the rest to spiritually gifted specialists. If you are not a pastor my friend, you are a specialist with God-given gifts and assignments. If, being full of faith and led by the Holy Spirit, you will fulfill your calling, your church will be greatly blessed.