Monday, December 26, 2011

A Wide and A Strong River

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 

By God's  mercy He caused us to be born again!  Did we choose Him or did He choose us?  A discussion for anther time perhaps but today we look at the benefits.  What is the living hope that comes with this being born again?  God calls it an inheritance.  It is something that someone else earned that we receive!  The text says that it is imperishable, undefiled and will not fade away.  Unlike other inheritances we may receive in our lifetimes this one will never run out! Beyond the promise that it will not run out it is also guaranteed by heaven itself.

The last portion of this sentence is the primary point to discuss here.  The born again are "protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed".

God has caused our rebirth, has secured our inheritance, has guaranteed it and preserves and protects us to get from here to there.

Peter goes on:

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 

"In this you greatly rejoice" Really?  It seems to me that the last thought that the general population would have about Christians is "rejoicing".

From the beginning of time God's people and even the angels in heaven have longed to see what we experience every day.  Unfortunately, most Christians today miss this entirely.  How could anyone understanding this great wealth given to us not rejoice?

  As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look. 

God used the thousands, no the hundreds of thousands of people that we read about in what we now call the old testament. to display His magnificent grace to us.  They never saw the end of the story like we now see.  All of the laws, all of the sacrifices, all of the legal priesthood, all of the battles and the victories are all wrapped up and completed in Jesus!

Most Christians stand on the banks of the great river of grace that runs through eternity.  We see it clearly as it begins in our world within the Garden of Eden and flows powerfully through the events recorded in the old testament.  The river continues through the life of Jesus and through the beginning of the church.  We can also look into the future and see in the Book of Revelation it continuing flow.  

Heer we stand, the river flowing strong and wide and we stand thirsty and waiting on banks of the river!

Jump in!  It only takes a small step of faith.  He will do the rest!
(Scripture in from 1 Peter chapter 1) 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Missing Person?

When was the last time you heard a message on the Holy Spirit?  Jesus said, "you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit will come upon you".  Where exactly is that power within the church or within Christians today?

The Holy Spirit is fully God, you know, and He chooses to dwell within believers in Jesus making them His temple!  With Him, he brings love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.  Our gauge fo the Holy Spirit's presence is not some mysterious power that flows though as as believers. It is, instead, the attending fruit that comes with His presence.  How are you doing on this list?  These are not options and its not multiple choice it is an all or nothing proposition.

So why is the Church reluctant to talk about Him?  Have we bought into another lie out of the depths of hell or are we just plain ignorant of this gift?

Invest some time in getting to know Him.  He has been calling you into relationship with Him have you heard His soft voice?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hidden Faults and Presumptions

Psalm 19

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands

 So begins David’s consideration of the grandeur of His God!  He continues to build a strong case for the wonder of a God who we will never understand; His law, His restoration, His encouragement, His enlightening, His righteousness.  Overwhelmed would not be to strong of a word to describe David’s attitude as he writes Psalm 19.

But right in the midst of his wonder he comes to this: “and then there is me”.

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.

When the truth is known, it is no longer the outright sin that messes up our walk with our God it is the hidden faults and the presumptuous sins that trip us up.

The hidden faults are those that lie deep within our personalities.  We get tired, stressed, over-worked, under appreciated and those hidden faults begin to emerge.  Back biting, criticism, lust, self-adulation, fits of anger, depression and on and on are the things we have learned over time to keep under wraps. 

Presumptuous sins are so easy to slip into that we are, in the most part, totally unaware to them.  Jesus counseled us about “worrying about tomorrow”.  As I sit writing this today I am remembering the previous night as I contemplated not only “tomorrow” but far too many tomorrows to even remember. I didn’t intentionally seek to have all of the “what if’s” run through my mind particularly at the cost of needed sleep.
Presumptuous sins are not just about worrying things that will probably never happen anyway.  Other types of presumptuous sins are when we presume we know the intentions of others.  That person driving erratically, what do you presume, rudeness or stress or emergency?  The person who walked by you without saying anything, what do you presume?  Your spouse is abrupt of just plainly rude to you, what do you presume?

Can you see why David is brought so short by this issue? 

Contemplating the great goodness of our God and His grand design for our liberty and provision while knowing how quickly we sell out to these hidden faults and presumptuous sins.  They are enmeshed within our personalities and are difficult to weed out!  

It is simply impossible for us eradicate these things our of our lives.  David understands his great need for God’s help.  “Acquit me” of my faults and pull me back from my tendency to presume!

Liberty, including the joy and the peace that fills our thirsty souls is at stake.  Bring your faults and your presumptions to Him!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Two Laws!

But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.  James 1:25

The perfect law; few things within God’s creation remain “perfect” due to mankind’s sin.  But the law of liberty is one of those things having been bought back from its demise by the blood of Jesus and His subsequent resurrection. 

The next word that we must understand is the word “abide”.  It is far more personal and just understanding a concept, or just giving a mental agreement to a thought.  It is parallel to how you occupy your home.  You abide or live there!  Such is the case with abiding in the perfect law.  We must totally immerse ourselves within the law of liberty for us to gain the real life that is “blessed in what we do”. 
God never intended for man to live independently from Him.  God’s intention was to stay close to man in order to protect and to bless him.  Read the first chapters of Genesis to discover God’s original design for His relationship with His creation.

Within the law of liberty, we see things differently.  We see people, we see events and circumstances and we see our own lives differently.  

There is one primary problem for the people of Jesus in today’s churches in understanding this concept.  It is always easier to teach the law of death than the law of liberty.

Let’s read what the Apostle Paul wrote the Roman church:

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8

Why is it that as soon as anyone approaches the topic of grace and liberty we hear words like: bible study, discipleship, accountability, daily devotions, financial stewardship and on and on and on?

There are many things that will eventually come forth as fruit from someone who chooses to abide in liberty.  One will never find the life of liberty attempting to orchestrate it by things and acts no matter how well intentioned.

Refuse to sell your birthright!  Too often the measly price that is offered is testimony to how little regard the church has for liberty.  Be different!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Joy and Peace in True Believing

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Believing is a difficult subject to discuss and not only this scripture but the whole good news message is based upon believing.  

There is a short story that may help to display what the word “believe” really means.

 One day on the way home from work I drove past a home that was having a garage sale.  Display amongst all of the stuff was and old rickety chair. 

I bought the chair for a buck thinking that it would be a perfect picture story from my weekly Bible study.
I carried the chair to my study and placed it gently in the center of the group.  I then asked each member of the study to give me their opinions n the chair.  As the words “old”, “unique”, ugly” as well as many others were thrown out I wrote the list of words down.  After the discussion faded   I repeated the list of words and summed up the discussion.  I then turned their attention to the purpose for which the chair had been built.  “Do you think that the chair would hold you if you were to sit on it”? 
There, again, were various opinions on the question.  After a few minutes I turned to one of those who had stated his confidence in the chair’s structure.  “Will you take a walk over to the chair and sit on it now”?
See, we don’t really believe that the chair will hold us off of the floor if unless we are willing to sit on the chair.  All of the discussion and all of the theorizing didn’t change the fact that the chair was either sufficient or it was not.

The amplified Bible uses the following descriptors whenever the word faith or belief is used: “ trusts in, clings to, relies on”

It is this type of believing that the above scripture applies.

How do you know if you have that type of belief?  Let’s look again at the scripture.  Joy and peace are wrapped up with the believing.  One cannot separate the three.  Joy and peace always go with believing. 
It is within truly believing, including the deep joy and peace, that we begin to experience the real personal power of the Holy Spirit.  As this connection is made the world and the worldly powers arrayed against us begin to crumble!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Truth is not always what we believe

Here is a statement directly from Jesus that might upset your theology initially:

And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.     You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. (John 5:35-40)

Perhaps the greatest challenge in this statement is that many of us think we have the best life available in our circumstances so we don't even search the scriptures looking for life.  We do tend to place our dependence upon weekly or occasional messages preached on Sundays or other days of the week on the radio or television.

Jesus told us that if we have God's word hidden within us that we will find true life.  What he doesn't invite us to is to study the scriptures every day or to memorize a certain number of scriptures daily or monthly.  What He said is "Come to Me".   Elsewhere He said without any hesitation or any exception: "My sheep hear My voice".

The church today, in large part, is spiritually bankrupt because we have injected all types of formulas and programs for fulfilling the "needs" of its members. We have failed to under-gird the members with a clear message of the good news of Jesus!  "Come unto Me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest".

There simply is no true life outside of Jesus!  What we have imagined to this point is that if we do the "right" things and work hard life will work itself out.  Is there anything in your experience that confirms this convoluted thinking?  Do you see crowds of people who are a little farther down that familiar path that have found real life?   The lies have been hoisted upon mankind to lead us to the miserable end of disappointment, frustration and poverty.

Here is God's challenge to us today:  (2 Corinthians 13:4-6)

For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.   Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?
Is Jesus in you?  This is a simple pass/fail test!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Convoluted Thinking

I am far from an expert in the scriptures so I need your help.  Can you tell me about the time where one of the disciples of Jesus made a statement and Jesus responded, "wow so true, you got that one perfect"?

Of course its not there is it?  So why do we think we are so much smarter than them?  Don't we tend to think we are unique and, except for those few dysfunctional types of thoughts, are pretty much in line with God?

Here is a scripture that is a little too familiar so don't read over it too quickly:

So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
  Proverbs 3:4-6

Truthfully, how often to you depend upon your own understanding of the issues around you?  Could it at all be possible that your perceptions are askew?  I know that this is a hard thing to grasp because we have lived a lot of years depending upon our individual evaluations and decisions.

Once again you will notice that this is another one of those sticky "heart" issues.  Our minds wish to control our thoughts and our actions but God tells us that life dwells within the heart.  "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart".  Honestly, this seems a task totally impossible doesn't it?

This has been an issue from the beginning.  Whether it is Adam and Eve in the Garden or any of the thousands of individuals that we read about in our Bibles it remains the single most important principle in the Kingdom of God!  "You shall have no other gods before Me"!  Jesus said that this is the first and the greatest commandment.

Let's agree together that we are going to abdicate the tattered thrones in our lives and allow God to take His rightful place.  Having favor and a good reputation in the sight of God and man is a pretty incredible benefit!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Life or Dread!

I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the LORD. 

Do you really trust the Lord?  Why do we worry so much.  Surely, worry and trust are distant places!  Maybe it is because we have never "waited patiently for the Lord".  Our tendency is to see the problem and figure out how to deal with it.  The psalm writer had one distinct advantage toward the end of waiting on the Lord.  He was evidently in over his head.  The "pit of destruction" must be pretty deep.

A point worth considering is, how did he get into that pit?  Just perhaps the psalmist is much like us in that we leave God until the last choice.  Maybe the pit wouldn't have been quite so deep had he turned to God earlier?  Let's see what else he had to say:

 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. 

Evidently the writer discovered the emptiness in seeking counsel from the wrong places.  The proud, the brash, the self-confident appear to be people with answers.  Actually, "puffery" is not a very good recommendation at all. 

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count. 

Without a doubt one of our biggest problems is our ability to understand our God's attention toward us.  He is never burdened by the things that weigh upon our minds!  His track record is 100% yet we are slow to turn to Him when stress and worry beging to move in.

Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”

O LORD, You know.
I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; 

Here is an opportunity to analyze the problem here.  Did you notice what was lying within his heart?  "Your law is within my heart" is his statement.  There is much that I could say here about the purpose of the law but that is for another time.  What we need to see here is that the psalmist discovered was not within his heart: "I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart".

Invest some time in the eighth chapter of the book of Romans if you would like to know more about what the law versus the freedom of the gift of righteousness brings.

I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.

You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.
For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see;
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
And my heart has failed me. 

Continually, since the psalmist doesn't know the freedom of righteousness, he is brought back to his iniquities and gets lost in the troubles to the point of weariness.

“The LORD be magnified!”
Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God. 

How much has the Church of Jesus missed?  Most of Christianity today would read these words and nod in agreement.  This is how Christians live today but we don't see anything like this kind of attitude within the First Century Church!   We do we struggle so much?  Let's go back to the what the psalmist had stored away in his heart.  The Law always brings death; grace always brings life!  If we are living like we are dying what do you suspect resides within our hearts today?

Scripture says that "we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus"!

Isn't it time you exchanged the contents in your heart?  Live the life that Jesus died to give you!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Joy to Peace to Miracles As An Undeniable Witness

I am not one who practices new years resolutions. My simple mind tends to think that if something is really worth changing, starting or quitting now is a better time than waiting for a new year to start.

There is something that I would like to challenge you to this new year however. Recently, God showed me this simple plan to an incredible life in faith.

This very first qualification is that you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It is at that time that each of us is give the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our future.

Galatians 5:22&23 tells us what comes to us with the Holy Spirits presence:

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

I invite you discover the connection between two of the Holy Spirit's gifts.

From Isaiah 55: 12;13 (God is speaking to His people)

"For you will go out with joy
And be led forth with peace;

The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

"Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up,
And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up,
And it will be a memorial to the LORD,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off."

Could it be as simple as that? Begin each day with joy and we will not only find true peace but all of creation has been set up to respond to us. Together, the joy, the peace and the miraculous events surrounding us will testify to Jesus and an eternal sign!

He said it. Will you put it to the test?

Come back and let us all know what you find.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Will We Not Learn the Lessons Offered?

Solomon has a unique opportunity.  He had ultimate wealth and total authority at his disposal.  There was absolutely nothing out his ability to have.

We turn the the second chapter of Ecclesiastes:

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility.  I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?”  I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives.  I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself;  I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees;  I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees.   I bought male and female slaves and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem.   Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasure"

He explored fun, pleasure, possessions, accomplishments, renown and found the pursuit "vanity" and "chasing after the wind".

We simply are too dense to learn from someone that had a gift of wisdom for our God which was beyond any normal human intellect.

God has expanded our resources far beyond that of most of the world and, in many cases, beyond what our own parents live with.  Was His purpose for expanding our borders for us to expand our possessions in the pursuit of pleasure?

Today, our churches, our neighbors and our brothers and sisters are struggling because we have grabbed possession onto what God has placed in our hands to manage.  We could consider a couple of parables that Jesus told about unfaithful stewards (servants).

We hear or read the weekly deficit of our own place of worship and think what?  "It is terrible that so many people only tip or God when will they finally get it?"  We sit justified because we "tithe" or we "more than tithe".

I tell you that no servant is justified in what he does if it is not in direct instruction of his master.

We have stolen what is not ours to have.

I know that this is a tough message to read but if we seek true freedom we must address this issue.  Our wold is rapidly unraveling and the sooner we pick up our opportunities the sooner God will open new doors of opportunity to us!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Seeing The Unseen

SHOUT joyfully to the Lord all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who made us and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100

Joy and gladness is a BIG thing to our God! It is a sincere expression of faith, and faith is music to God’s ear.

As a matter of fact joy and gladness insulate us from so pretty ugly things.

Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart for the abundance of all things; therefore you shall serve your enemies…Deuteronomy 28:47&48

Are you weary yet with serving your enemies? Give a joyful life a try!

The Book of Philippians is an amazing book. The Apostle Paul is sitting in a prison cell and writing a letter of thanksgiving to the church in Philippi. To understand this situation it is important that we understand the setting. The prisons of that era were not like our prisons of today or even recent history. No, these were typically dungeons of filth and disease. Absolutely no care was provided to prisoners. The only food or clothing that they had was that which came from the outside world. This where the church at Philippi comes into the picture. They sent not only food and clothing but attendants as well.

There were no laws regarding false imprisonment, unfair terms of imprisonment or even the condition of the imprisonment. Paul had no idea when, if ever, he would get out!

This same Paul had left his entire family, his vaulted position and his society. He had traveled the known world to spread the good news of Jesus. He had been shipwrecked, stoned, whipped, stranded and alone and run out of town.

His recent life had been totally dedicated to the service of his God. Now we find him in the dregs of a filthy jail cell.

Paul, in writing his personal note of thanks to the Philippians makes this statement: …I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly so that I may also be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. Philippians 2:19&20

I’m not certain how I would react to this situation if I were up to my knees in filth, death and waste and I looked around and could find no one other than one single person that was trustworthy. Years of ministry, years of service, years of self-sacrifice had brought him to this.

His response?

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write these things again is no trouble to me and it is a safeguard to you.” (3:1)


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. (4:4&5)

There is his secret. It didn’t make any difference to Paul where he was; the Lord was always there with him. So, whether imprisoned or whether free, he was with his Lord.

The importance of rejoicing is that it keeps us in the presence of the Lord. He may be with us; it is rejoicing that places us with Him.

It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, choose to rejoice and be glad. Stand back and see how God will respond!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

For Freedom's sake!

I have been hesitating to post this message. It is not one that delights my heart but I post it only out of obedience. Jim

Realize this, that in the last days…men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 2 Timothy 3:1-4

Quite a list, isn’t it? As you read many of the descriptions what came to your mind?

Sounds a lot like the society that we live in doesn’t it? Everywhere we turn we see one or more of the traits described above displayed openly.

However, before we go too far down this road, we must read the rest of the scripture:

holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power… 3:5a

So, evidently, the descriptions above aren’t addressing the society’s issues. Those issues have always belonged to society. What is new is that these traits have seeped into the Church. It is only the Church that has the position to “hold to a form of godliness”; the world has never been interested.

Too easy it is to think of examples of the above traits within the Church. The music is too loud, it is too hot, the message was too long, church isn’t fun/friendly/applicable anymore and on and on.

Lost within the ugliness is the “power”. Long ago the manifest power of the gospel message has been buried under the self-interest and self-promotion. Each weekend we see displayed only the “form of godliness” while privately God’s people carry on the sickness.

Hear the Word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah. “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer; incense is an abomination to Me. I am weary of hearing them.”

So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you, yes, even though you multiply your prayers, I will not listen.”

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease evil, learn to do good, seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”
Isaiah 1:10-17

As the Nation of Israel was equated to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah perhaps today’s church is not far from the equation as well.

We are well aware of who makes up today’s Church. Individuals like you and me are responsible for the loss of power. Jesus is inviting us to “wash yourselves, make yourselves clean”.

Let’s agree together to quit “trampling His courts” with our worthless prayers and come into agreement with how He sees us. It is only then that we can once again discover the power!

Our God desires our freedom and it is our freedom that glorifies Him!

Monday, October 3, 2011

There is a River!

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the morntains slip into the heart of the sea; though the waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at is selling pride. Selah

Our world is indeed changing rapidly. Perhaps you have been caught up in the web of change in your personal or your family position. Whatever is our state, God has not changed! He is, and has always been, the refuge and the strength for those who have discovered the wonderful life of faith! While others may fret over circumstances or possible anticipated circumstances, the individual who lives by faith trusts and resides in deep peace and rest withing the refuge of our God!

This next part of the Psalm is very important. Don't skip by too quickly.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy places of the Most High! God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered: He raised His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold! Selah

"There is a river whose streams" meander throughout the churches in this world. It is a stream of true believers who "make glad the city of our God". These believers have sold out to the good news of Jesus. They overflow with "streams of living waters".

Remember the stark statement that Jesus said, "broad is the path that that leads to destruction but narrow is the path that leads to life and few find it".

Are you part of that stream? Does flow from your very being regardless of the day and regardless of circumstances? Too many Christians are compromised! Jesus told us that it is absolutely impossible to love both God and mammon yet far too many continue to attempt to do both to their own spiritual demise!

Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire.

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

One final invitation as we close, God invites us to cease our vain efforts and really, really get to know Him! It really makes no difference to Him, He will continue to be exalted regardless of your choices. Surrender! Life awaits!

The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Stronghold! Selah

Monday, September 26, 2011

Light That Brings Life

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was formless and void and darkness was over the face of the deep and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light" and there was light. God was that the light was good' and He separated the light from the darkness.

In the beginning we were all spiritually formless and void and the Spirit of God moved over the surface. Yet, God said, "Let there be light" and separate the light from the darkness and saw that it was good.

Have you noticed that most Christians today like there remains "darkness over the surface of the deep"? When we allow the Spirit to only "move over the surface" we can only live ordinary lives. We aren't much different from =non-Christians and, therefore, are very poor witnesses for our God.

God calls out to His church, "Let there be light".

Open up your heart, the very deepest recesses, to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to separate the light from the darkness that is hidden there.

Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control are what the Holy Spirit releases when He brings the true light. Measure yourself against this list of fruit of the Hly Spirit as described in Galatians chapter 5 and it will be a indication to you of any hidden heart issues still restricted to the Holy Spirit's fire.

The light is good! Isn't it time you agreed with God?

Monday, September 19, 2011


The psalmist (psalm 73) begins:

The psalmist (psalm 73) begins:

Surely god is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart!

A pretty good start, focusing up on God's goodness is a wonderful way to start our day and even each prayer.

But there is something else going on there as he quickly shifts his focus.

But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For there are no pains in their death, and their body is fat.
They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace; the garment of violence covers them.
Their eye bulges from fatness; the imaginations of their heart run riot.
They mock and wickedly speak of oppression; they speak from on high.
They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue parades through the earth.

The words seem to just pour out of him as he lets loose is pent up thoughts. It is very easy for us to envy the wealthy. It is even easy to envy those who are seemingly free from moral and ethical restraints.

Before we are too harsh on the writer let us first consider the honesty of his message. It does no good for us to keep the poison inside. As we will see as we proceed through this Psalm, releasing our troubled thoughts toward God is often the beginning point for true healing.

let's continue his travail:

Therefore his people return to this place, and waters of abundance are drunk by them. They say, "How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?"

"They don't even know you God! How can you allow such injustice". It is so easy to identify with the "justice" issue. You know, kind of like, "God, I've been living my life for You and what good has it brought me"?

Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and washed my hands in innocence; for I have been stricken all day long
and chastened every morning.

If I had said, “I will speak thus,” behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children. When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight

Can you sense his angst? He is struggling greatly with the concept of God's justice but the real weight of the issue is that he must not let down the whole group of people who are depending upon him!

I hope that you can identify with the heavy load he is carrying. His consideration of the wealthy and the unjust has dropped him into despondency but the greater load is the guilt he carries about having the thoughts and how it might effect the other people in his life.

What is he to do with all of this? He found the answer:

Until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end.

Everything became clear for him "in the sanctuary".

We live in a busy culture! As a matter of fact, we often view those who are not busy as lazy.

This busyness carries over into every area of our lives.

Sanctuary is a word that we may know about but one we are not quite in tune with. Sanctuary is vital part of a spiritual life and that is why the Church in America is so bankrupt today! We have lost the message of Sanctuary.

This is not about finding a "quiet time" or a "devotion time". No, this is about investing some time simply in the presence of the One who is called the Great Lover of our souls. There is no book you can read, no guide other than the capable guidance of the Holy Spirit that is required!

Find Sanctuary regularly but particularly when you are burdened or when you are struggling with the heaviness of your perceptions! God will meet you there; that is where He dwells!

Monday, September 12, 2011

How do You Walk?

I found this note written in response to a person who used the Bible to condemn homosexuality. It makes a point far better than I can:

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan.

Romans 8:2-4

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

What are you doing that is trying to maintain the law? Many times we hold certain things or thoughts that we don't easily recognize as legalistic; "quiet time", Sunday church attendance, Bible reading or study, smoking, drinking....the list goes on. Oftentimes we even hold others actions to our dysfunctional ideals!

Surrender once and for all. "do not walk according to the flesh"! Choose, in faith, to walk (skip joyfully?) according to the Spirit!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Fable of the Oppressor

Isaiah 51:12-16

I, even I, am He who comforts you. And the son of man who is made like grass, who are you that you are afraid of man who dies that you have forgotten the Lord your Maker Who stretched our the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor as he makes ready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor?

So how would you answer God's question? Why are you concerned about the opinions of man? What gives them a right to even have an opinion about you, a child of the living God; a joint heir with Jesus?

They criticize what they do not know!The exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon, nor will his bread be lacking. For I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (the LORD of hosts is His name I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’”

God even puts His name and reputation on the line saying He will provide the words, the sustenance and the protection for you. His desire is for the captives to be set free and He has designed His plan to set them free around us. For the most part, we have abandoned our part of that plan due to the fear of man's opinions.

Isn't it time to take God at His word and step through the fragile wall of fear ("where is the fury of the oppressor?")? Remember that courage is not the absence of fear but of action in the face of fear! That is also the definition of faith! Only the initial step of faith is hard. The second and third steps come much easier after the first one!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Your Turn: Here is the scripture, you leave the comments about it!

Hebrews 10:14

For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified

You may wish to review the whole chapter of Hebrews 10 to get the context:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm sorry about the way this blog is being displayed. I may have to find another way to post these messages.

Faith that bring Peace

From Matthew 6:25-34

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on, I not life more than food, and the body more that clothing?

Most Christians live and look much like the world around them. Honestly, what do you go to work for? Is it to pay the bills, to invest for your future, to put food on the table. It was never intended for us to settle for such drudgery. If we were to look back at Adam and Eve the design was for them to have absolutely everything that they needed and more and to "tend the garden". Not for needs of the flesh but for personal value!

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

It is a known fact that worrying actually decreases the hours of our lives. The deal with worry is it is a direct indication of how much we believe our God!

why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow and is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you?

You of little faith!

So there it is in a nutshell. We have too little faith. The difficult thing about this diagnosis, however, is that the littleness of our faith can only be fixed by pushing through the false fears that our enemy places before us. Fearful? Do it anyway!

Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This is the real deadly issue. We worry about "tomorrow" most of all. And you know most of what we worry about will never happen anyway. Beyond that, even the things that do happen are never made easier by our worry.

Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations;
You established the earth, and it stands.
Psalm 119:90

He is trustworthy! He never plays games with us! He never deserts us! He never leaves us nor will He forsake us! Trust the ultimate in trustworthiness! You will not be disappointed.

Monday, August 15, 2011

How Can You Believe?

Jesus had many thing to say about faith. Things like moving mountains, seeing the unseen, living a life worth meaning. He also contemplated to his followers whether He would be able find any faith on earth when He comes back!

So how is your faith? Is it the backbone of your life or an appendage?

Jesus made a statement to a group of religious people one day about faith:

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the
one and only God? John 5:44

Most of us have the tendency of flowing with the tide. We take our lead from the people around us and adapt our behavior to our perceived expectation of these people. This is not a bad thing for the world's values but God has designed a life far higher for His people.

The roller-coaster existence of adapting to people's expectations has become almost natural due to years of practice under this system.

Jesus asked, "How can you believe?" when you live like this!

It is a scary thing to live by faith. It requires that we break from our "normal" and comfortable and accept the unknown. We simply cannot perceive all of the things that God has in store for us when we take the bold step of living by faith.

We will know we have begun to move toward living by faith when we adjust from seeking approval from others to seeking approval from our God!

The Kingdom is wide open for those who will choose to live by faith!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Knowledge or Wisdom?

Before I begin let me tell you that I am not nagging you. The first part of the scripture deals with what we talked about last week. I guess we can begin to accept that God is serious about this subject since the scripture that He led me to this week was preceded by these words:

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

Did you get that last few words? Real life deals in the truth that God has given us the resources that we have to share with others. Maybe that is why the church today is devoid of joy, peace, contentment, and true love! Instead of sharing our resources we hoard them in new clothes, bigger houses, 401-k's, new cars, entertainment and on and on! Life is calling!

The final words of a mentor to his child in the faith, Timothy are those that are close to the heart of the mentor, Paul. Before he concludes his letter he desires to give a final piece of advice. The last advice has the best chance of being remembered so Paul was strategic in in final words:

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. 1 Timothy 6:17-20

This world is comfortable with empty chatter. Chatter about other people, chatter about sports, chatter about the weather but avoiding at all-costs any discussion about anything of value. Try to bring up something of substance and you will discover how unprepared most people are.

Paul had personal experience with people at all levels and wanted to prepare his friend and child in the faith. Opposing arguments and worldly knowledge are a defense against truth and difficult life giving discussions. These lead away from the very things that they are defensive about, truth and understanding.. It is important for us to understand that we, as His witnesses, are not sent to debate or argue with people. The only thing that our efforts accomplish is driving them further into their "knowledge".

Why is earthly knowledge called false? Wisdom is God's gift to mankind and knowledge is the world's imitation. Proverbs states that the "fear of God is the beginning of wisdom"! Without an understanding and a faith in God mankind has no hope of discussing truth!

We are left to a couple of choices when we encounter individuals who chatters incessantly, we can smile and listen thereby supporting the person or we can begin to bend the discussion toward truthful things. Understand that you are never alone in turning a discussion from the inane toward truth. The Holy Spirit partners with you as you take the first step.

Paul said to avoid the empty chatter because it is worthless are best and destructive to our witness at the worst! As you bend the discussion, the Holy Spirit will make you aware when the discussion slips into a discussion of "false knowledge". It is at this point it is best for us to walk away on good terms and leave future encounters and results to the Holy Spirit! Remember God cares far more about the lost than we could ever care!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Life Beyond Normal

Do you wonder what life is really all about? Routine after routine, day after day suddenly you look up and realize that the month or the year is disappearing and you wonder where it has gone?

We've all had big dreams, some bigger than others. What has happened to those dreams?

Let's take a quick look at what Jesus said about life:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Let's start at the core of things. Where is your heart?

Be careful with this one. Scripture tells us that the heart is deceitful above all other things! We can easily be fooled thinking our heart is okay. Jesus invites us to examine our hearts by evaluating our possessions.

Where does your security lie, where does your joy come from, what is the reason that you do what you do everyday?

Here is the really tough issue: Is what you are today a sum total of your efforts to be your idea of a good person?

This is not a bad thing for the world but is far below what God designed for His people.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Matthew 6:19-21,24

See the problem? It is an impossibility to serve more than one master! It simply can't be done yet we have been trying to to just that!

This is precisely why we often wonder what is this life all about.

The Apostle Paul knew about our struggles in this area and encourages us to reconsider our thinking:

Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:22-24

I was first going to include the last part of this passage to make the point of this message. So let's start there. The strong term "whatever you do" is all inclusive isn't it? Do you work a job or career? Do you parent? So you live with your spouse? Do you mow the lawn, do the laundry, wash the car, cook the meals.....?

How would these activities and responsibilities be different for you if Jesus were to object of the tasks?

Let's no move on too fast here. Sure we can pretend that it is Jesus that we are doing what we do for but pretending isn't effective; it just doesn't last. Paul tells us that it is not a make-believe thing but and actual thing. Jesus sees that what we do for others we have done for Him! Don't miss this point; it is critical!

Finally, the first part of the previous package address "slaves" and their situation. Paul gave them no room for excuse. It is not out of hardness that Paul addresses this issue to slaves. No, anyone can be bitter or angry or resentful. What Paul was saying to the slaves and now to us is that God has such a higher plane for us to live on and the normal patterns of life are anchors holding us down.

The world has no choice in how they will live every day. God has given us a clear and free choice to live the adventure that He has designed for us or for us to continue to follow the worlds standards and practices and get their results.

It remains your choice. Choose wisely!