Sunday, July 21, 2019

Close Examination ...

"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 thing. 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 thing, 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.

Think About This: “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.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

God always makes a way...

"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened." - Acts 16:25-26
I often marvel at the way some roads have been cut through rock. As one travels along, many roads have been cut through entire mountains. As our country was settled and access from one city to the next was needed, nothing ever got in the way of progress. Engineers always made a way.
When Paul and Silas were on the missionary trail, God had an agenda for them to fulfill. On occasion they were slowed down or "tied up" for the moment. While the Lord had good reason for such moments, moving on to the next city was necessary. Nothing ever got in the Lord's way of spiritual progress. God always makes a way.
Are you "tied up" right now, when you know there are great tasks ahead to accomplish? Is it possible that there is an immediate purpose of which needs to be attended? Be about the Lord's business where you are, and allow God to open the doors for future work in His time and way. Nothing ever gets in the Lord's way of spiritual progress. He always makes a way.

Think about this: "God can never be outmanoeuvred, taken by surprise, or caught at a disadvantage. He is a God who knows no crisis. Before an emergency arises, God in his providence has made adequately and perfectly timed provision to meet it."
                                                                                   - J. Oswald Sanders

Friday, July 19, 2019

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.

Think about this: 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.”

Thursday, July 18, 2019

No sacrifice too great...

"... men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ." - Acts 15:26
From year to year we read about those who have risked their lives for the sake of others. This summer the raging fires of the southwest led a number of firefighters to even lose their lives for the welfare of many local families. 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?

Think about this: "If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him."
                                                                              - C. T. Studd

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Just as your 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!  

Think about this: "Perfection demands perfection; that is why salvation must be by grace, and why works are not sufficient."
                                                  - Donald Grey Barnhouse

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Exceeding the demands...

"When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." - Acts 14:21-22
Navy SEAL training prepares candidates for the extreme physical and mental challenges of SEAL missions. Those who are up to the challenge will be in incredible physical shape and possess the confidence, determination and skills needed to succeed in any combat environment. Training exceeds the demands.
Paul had severely suffered for his faith, only to rise up and press on for Christ. He then returned to those disciples of earlier days to strengthen and encourage them in preparation for many tribulations. He wanted them to be in incredible shape to succeed in any spiritual combat environment. His training exceeded the demands.
Are you training to be God's SEAL my friend? Have you taken seriously the challenge to be in great spiritual shape for the battle? Are you in turn training others to be confident, determined and skillful in spiritual warfare? Does your training exceed the demands?

Think about this: "The whole Bible and all past history unite to teach that battles are always won before the armies take the field. The critical moment for any army is not the day it engages the foe in actual combat; it is the day before or the month before or the year before...."                                                 — A. W. Tozer, Topical Reader

Monday, July 15, 2019

Are you prepared?

"But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe." -- Acts 14:19-20
How committed are you to the cause of Christ? Some are willing to give a day here or there, while others are ready to give their all for a whole season or year. Still others are faithful through life until they grow weary from labor and age. But, who is prepared to go the distance?
Paul set an example to follow that takes in all of the above and more. His commitment went from day to day, through a lifetime and never gave up. When he was stoned to the point of death, rather than slipping away in the night he "rose up and entered the city." Paul was always prepared to go the distance.
Has there been too much demand on your energy and time lately? Have you found little to encourage you in your efforts for Jesus? Are you tempted to retire and let someone else take over? Commitment is for every day and a lifetime, with or without the accolades of men. We are called by the Lord, from the very first day of our new life to go the distance. Are you prepared?

Think about this: "The sign of our professed love for the gospel is the measure of sacrifice we are prepared to make in order to help its progress."
                                                                                - Ralph P. Martin