December 10, 2017                                                     PRISON OF OUR OWN MAKING


According to a 1993 study the Associated Press released this study.  In New York a maximum security prison costs $40,000 a year to house one prisoner.  Peter Daley stated in 1993 that he wants people who commit serious crimes in Pennsylvania to be sent to prisons in Korea and Turkey.  They will rent cells for $6.00 a day and it costs $100 dollars a day to keep one prisoner locked up in Pennsylvania. [Associated Press 93]   No matter how you look at it, prison is a costly business.  However, there is one prison that costs even more than this.  It is the prison of our own making!

UNBELIEF IS A PRISON WE MAKE FOR OURSELVES!


Unbelief hinders the work of God.  We bind ourselves in chains of doubt and fear.  We know the scriptures.  We know that God can do anything.  We know that the Lord never changes.  We know the compassion of the Lord.  Yet all the while we are doing the things we know to do, we may have built walls of stone and bars of iron about us.  Perhaps that is why David said..."Get me out of this dungeon so I can thank you in public.  Your people will form a circle around me and you'll bring me showers of blessing!" Ps 142:7 Message.  David had not spent time in a prison house.  But it appears that he considered the life he led a prison.  It appeared that he was losing even though the promise was his.  Doubt and fear will destroy God's good gift to us.  When it comes we may choose to disbelieve the answer.  We must break down that wall that separates us from God!


There are other strong prison walls as well.  The sad thing is that the prisons of our own making are so very difficult to break out of.  It takes a firm desire to escape, and a faith in Jesus Christ to destroy those barriers that we have built.

However you look at it, prison is a costly business.

DESIRE CAN BE A PRISON.  Felix, the governor, had a desire after Paul gave his defence, but it was a desire for personal gain.  He thought Paul would offer him a bribe.  Even though he trembled at the words of Paul.  Even though he was convicted of the wrong doing in his life.  There was no desire to change, only a desire to pamper himself with the things of life.  Desire is a powerful force.  It can be a force for good.  To desire to serve the Lord will keep us on the right track, believing God.  Obeying God, following God.  But when desire gets the wrong message, it can become a powerful force of evil.  Desire can cause a man to do things that he knows will not benefit him.  Desire clouds judgment, right thinking, and actions.  All the while the mind may recognize the wrong direction, but has no control on the emotions and actions that take place.  Desire can create a prison we cannot break out of, forge chains which hold our actions tighter than iron.  Only Jesus and our desire to be delivered will break them.


PRIDE CAN BE A PRISON.  When he stood before Agrippa, he asked if the king believed the prophets.  At this point, Agrippa said he was almost persuaded to be a Christian.  However, the king left with the governor and his wife, noting that Paul had done nothing to warrant his imprisonment except that he had appealed to Caesar.  He was moved, he was convinced, he was convicted.  But he was in a prison of his own making.  His position would not allow him to follow what he heard.  That prison was stronger than the one Paul returned to that day.


SUCCESS CAN BE A PRISON.  The Lord spoke to the Church at Laodicea.  Perhaps I am applying a template to this passage but it fits the creation of our own prisons.  They had gotten into an untenable position.  Convinced that they were rich, increased and in need of nothing they were actually miserable, poor, blind and naked.  The prison must have seemed plush!  They could not find anything that they needed.  Everything seemed to be at their fingertips.  Until the Lord came to them and showed them the folly of their lives.  They had nothing of the Spirit.  They may have been rich in this world's goods, but those riches were part of the prison that kept them from the things of God.  He encouraged them to change!  These are not prisons we have been forcibly put in, but attitudes that build prisons around our soul.  But there is hope.  If we seek the Lord, He will lead us out of our prison into a wonderful relationship with Him.



December 3, 2017                                                          HOPE IN OUR FUTURE


Our society is obsessed with the future.  When we attach hope to our future it conjures up the mysterious.  The caricature of the gypsy who looks into the crystal ball and says YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER is gone today.  In it's place are those that read your palm, listen to your voice or take the date of your birth and read you your immediate future.  None of these things are real.  No one knows the future.  Some will say it works, but it does not.  Planted by the seer is the desire for the "predicted" thing to happen, and you can make it happen yourself.  I am going to tell you that there is HOPE IN YOUR FUTURE, not to be mysterious, but to speak of things God has determined.  To show not a bed of roses without problems, but a God who has the power to go with you to your future and do His perfect will in your life.  Not​ only that, but He has prepared a place that goes beyond any future we may have in this life and gives us hope in eternity!


Hebrews 11 is called the faith chapter.  It is filled with the names of PEOPLE.  Some were kings, some were prophets, and some were nobodies.  They all had one thing in common.  They placed their hope in God, not in the things around them!  We could look at all they gave up, houses and lands, wealth and fame, and even life itself and feel sorry for them because they did not get everything good and pleasant in this life.  These things did not STEAL their HOPE!  They looked beyond today and what was happening today and realized that their eternal joy was in the hands of the almighty God, and in that they had hope!


HOPE MEANS EXPECTANCY WHEN THINGS ARE OTHERWISE HOPELESS.

G.K. Chesterton

NOAH in the face of laughter built an ark on dry land waiting for the rain God told him would come.  120 years he preached repentance and judgment.  He was laughed at.  When the animals began to come on board, people did not look at the miracle, but how crazy Noah was.  God shut the door and for seven days nothing happened.  While they laughed, Noah and his family waited.  It must have been bedlam in the Ark, animals everywhere, the need to feed and water and clean up after them.  And no rain to vindicate him in the eyes of the crowd.  He could have wondered if he had heard the right message.  Was God really going to send rain?  We read of no doubt in his mind.


What did the future look like?  Well, that depends on where you stood.  On the outside of the Ark it looked like Noah wasted 120 years of cost and effort.  But on the inside Noah had HOPE in His Future because he believed God.


We should be doing something about getting this hope!  In Galatians 6, Paul teaches us that there is a Law of sowing and reaping.  Whatever we sow, that we will reap.  To sow to the spirit is to reap life everlasting, but to sow to the flesh is to reap corruption.  WE SOW IN THE FIELD OF OUR HOPES!  If our hope is in this world, we sow to the flesh.  If our hope is in God, we sow to the spirit!  NOAH KNEW it was going to rain because God said it.  That is why he built the ark.  It didn't matter what was going on around him because he KNEW it would happen.


It is true that we do not know what the future holds, but as the old song says, WE KNOW WHO HOLDS THE FUTURE!  Because we know this we have faith.  Not in this world or what this world can offer, but in the eternal God who will not fail us.  In the STORM or the beauty of a SUNNY DAY, He remains the same and His promises will not fail!


David wrote:  Therefore we will not fear. Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; [Ps 46:2 NKJ] The writer of Hebrews paraphrased Psalms 118:6 as: So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?"  [Heb 13:6 NKJ]


Don't worry about tomorrow, we have a bright future, it's in God's hands.  He will accomplish His purpose and will if we will trust in Him.  We will receive good things today and tomorrow, but the best is in our Future!




November 26, 2017                                                  ARE YOU PREPARED?


In the heat of EXCITEMENT we sometimes make statements that are hard to live up to when the excitement is gone.  Flags and banners, speeches and medals do not give an accurate picture of battle.  They are motivating forces, they swell the ranks with volunteers, but they are not the reality.  The reality is a beach in Normandy where the first wave experienced a 100% casualty rate.  Where just getting ashore took all of the strength and courage capable in man.  There were no flags waving, just ordinary men going forward because they must.  Excitement is a wonderful thing, it motivates us to great desires, but we do not act from excitement, we act from determination.

Most great deeds are just hard work done in spite of opposition.​

At the last supper Jesus said; And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."  Lu. 22:29-30 NKJ


Then he turned to Peter and said, Satan has desired you, to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not, and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren.  I am not sure if any of them, including Peter really heard the words of Jesus.  There are two very opposite emotions that come from these words.  The first is EXCITEMENT.  You mean we are going to sit on thrones?  We will judge Israel?  We will sit at your table and rule with you!


The second is very different.  Jesus is telling Peter that he is in danger.  There is something about to take place that he doesn't understand.  If it is possible, Peter will be overcome.  The Lord is trying to WARN Peter of what is to come.  However, Peter's response comes from the heat of the moment.  Lord, I am ready to go with you, both into prison and to death!!!  We might say this was a powerful statement.  Actually, it was a POWERFUL DESIRE!  That was what Peter wanted to do.  That was how Peter wanted to act.  He was caught up in the moment and desired to do great things for this Christ he loved.  Jesus answered this enthusiasm in a strange way.  Peter, before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.


They went out to the Mt. of Olives and He told them to pray so they would not enter into temptation.  Can you see it?  He was trying to PREPARE them for the events that were coming.  Not with excitement, but with reality.  He knew that they would be scattered.  He knew they would be afraid.  He knew that their world was about to be torn apart because of the crucifixion.  They did not know what He knew would happen.  He wanted them to be prepared so He instructed them to PRAY!


Leaving Peter, James and John, He went a little farther and gave them an extreme object lesson.  As God, He did not need to pray, but He wanted to show them how important it was to overcome the flesh.  His prayer was so earnest that He sweat great drops of blood.  What an example of HOW we ought to pray with an intensity that matches our desires.  Twice He came to them as they slept, awakened them and admonished them to pray.  And finally He told them to sleep on.  They should have taken note of His example, but they did not understand what was about to happen.


Peter followed 'afar off.'  He wanted  to follow through with his desire but when confronted those three times about knowing Jesus, self-preservation kicked in.  This was what the Lord was trying to warn him about.  That in the heat of excitement it is easy for desire to rule.  But in the reality of the battle, it takes more than excitement.  It takes determination that has been strengthened by PREPARATION.


The men on Normandy beach pushed forward, toward the guns that were destroying them.  Why?  Because this is what they were trained to do, they were prepared.  What will we do when the enemy comes in like a flood, and he will.  What will you do if you fall short?  Excitement motivates us to try.  Gives us a desire to accomplish.  If we are to follow through, it will be because we prepare!  Instead of sleep, Prayer!! 


Good news however, Peter found repentance, but how much easier it might have been if he had been prepared.




November 19, 2017                                                 A CUP OR A BUCKET?​


[Ps 81:10-11 NKJV]  I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.  But my people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me.  The Literal Translation says And Israel hath not consented to Me.  The sense is the opposite of volunteering.


We are the only limitations on God that He allows.  We can limit God's work in our own lives through unbelief.  We limit God's work in others when we wonder if this one or that one would be receptive to the message of the Gospel.  If the vessel is presented, my friends, God will fill it with His spirit!  Yours, and your neighbor's!


God desired to deliver them, but within themselves, they could not or did not yield to Him.  They did not open their mouth, so instead of going into the Land, they died in the wilderness.


A city dweller moved to a farm and bought a cow.  Shortly after he did, the cow went dry.  When he reported this fact to a neighbor farmer, the farmer expressed surprise.  The city man said he was surprised too.  "I can't understand it either, for if ever a person was considerate of an animal, I was of that cow.  If I didn't need any milk, I didn't milk her.  If I only needed a quart, I only took a quart."  The farmer tried to explain that the only way to keep milk flowing is not to take as little as possible from the cow, but to take as much as possible.  Is that not also true of the Christian life?  Those who only turn to God in need miss the real joy that flows from a daily infilling of His Spirit. -selected-


God has more than we will ever need.  Its our attitude that determines how He will bless us.  Scripture tells us of His willingness to minister to our needs, but what of our willingness to receive?  It is important that we be filled with His Spirit!  All the teaching of the Bible, all the wisdom, all the hope of heaven, all of the miracles, all of the victory, is just a story unless it is MY hope, MY help, MY victory!  God made it possible for me to be a part of this great wonderful plan!  He made a place for you too!  We are together, in the presence of God, and His blessing is in abundance.  How great is our faith in Him?

What did you bring, a cup or a bucket?

A minister tells of dispensing food to residents in an impoverished area by means of a "soup kitchen."  All of the people were instructed to bring a vessel that would hold about 2 quarts.  However, an 11-year old boy, ragged and dirty but with flashing eyes and a winsome smile, lugged in a container that could hold at least 3 gallons.  "We would have been ashamed to have put only 2 quarts into that bucket," said Dr. Barry, "for the youngster came from a large and very poor family.  We felt bound to give him at least a gallon, and so we did." -selected-


The Heavenly Father says to us as His children, "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."  We need to be more like that trusting lad who carried away twice as much as the others because of his large asking!  Whatever the need, the answer is to be filled, a full vessel has no room for anything else!


Sometimes it's hard to tell others of the greatness of God.  Sometimes it's hard to act upon what we know and by faith present ourselves to Him.  I ran across this poem by Nancy Spiegelberg:


Lord I crawled across the barrenness to You

with my empty cup uncertain in asking

any small drop of refreshment.

If only I had known You better

I'd have come running with a bucket.

-Erwin Lutzer, Failure: The Back Door to Success, p. 117.


When I am empty, He can fill me.  When my friend needs Him, I know where to bring him.  God is the supplier, we are only vessels, but we can be filled to supply the need.  The question is, what do I bring!  A cup or a bucket?



November 12, 2017                                           THEN THERE WERE FOUR​


Jesus had come into Capernaum.  The scripture tells us that there was no more room in the house to receive them, so they were pressed around the door.  Visualize a building completely full, with the doors and windows full of anxious faces.  Into this scene there come four men with the burden of another between them.  They look at the scene and know that they cannot get the man through the crowd to Jesus, so they confer among themselves.  Up on the roof they go and they take up the tiles of the roof and let down the bed with the man on it.  Down it comes on ropes in front of Jesus.  Jesus looks up, first at the bedridden man, and then at the four faces peering over the edge of the broken roof.  The Bible tells us that When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you." [Mk. 2:5].  These men are unnamed hero's.  And it was THEIR FAITH that Jesus recognized.


I want to consider a truth here.  It took all four of them to bring the man to Jesus, none of them could do it alone.  This is not a new concept.


Hillary Clinton wrote a book entitled "It Takes a Village," for which she was applauded as bringing clarity to the needs of society.  It was however NOT an original thought.  "It takes a village to raise a child" is an Igbo and Yoruba proverb that exists in many different African languages.  It reflects the emphasis African cultures place on family and community and may have its origins in a biblical world view. [Bing search]


Though it references the raising of children, the broader concept is that nothing is truly accomplished alone.  It is accomplished by a group or from the data gleaned from those who have considered the problem before.  It is no different in the Kingdom of God.  We work together [Eph 4:14-16].  These four worked together to bring the man to Jesus.  I want to 'name' them for the type of characteristics a Christian must have if they are to effect their world.


The first man's name is COMPASSION.  Since we don't know their relationship with the sick man, let's pick them up looking at his condition.  Compassion looks at the problem and feels the burden of the need.  I am sorry for the man who can't feel the whip when it is laid on the other man's back. [Abraham Lincoln]  There was nothing that could be done for him, yet COMPASSION looked beyond the impossibility, beyond his inability and still CARED.  He couldn't do anything in himself, but he FELT THE NEED!


The second man's name is FAITH.  To recognize the need for faith is easy.  To apply faith is the hard part.  FAITH may need to converse with COMPASSION.  COMPASSION sees the need, and the impossibility.  FAITH must see not only the need and impossibility, but also the POSSIBILITY.  Without believing that something can be done, nothing will be done.  As strong as COMPASSION may be, it cannot lift the burden.  As powerful as FAITH is, it cannot, on its own, change the circumstance.  The burden became lighter when there were two.  FAITH gave hope to the desire of COMPASSION.


The third man's name is COMMITMENT.   While they discuss the spiritual side of the problem, commitment says to them, since he cannot go by himself, let's take him to Jesus.  Let's decide that we will be the ones he can depend on.  We will be the ones that will be able to bring him to the Lord.  COMMITMENT had the right idea!!  The man could not go alone and understanding that there was hope was not enough.  There had to be a plan of action.  But it's still not enough.  Three corners are covered, but its awkward and difficult.


Then along came another and his name is WORKS.  The age old question of FAITH and WORKS is solved by James.  I'll show you my faith by my works!!  The strength of these four was able to bring the sick man to Jesus.  Each grabbed a corner of that bed and down the street they went.  COMPASSION felt the need, FAITH knew who could help, COMMITMENT gave direction to the project and WORKS gave it legs.


These are the principles that allow God's Church to succeed.  But even more than being 'in' the Church, they must be IN THE PEOPLE.



November 5, 2017                                              ENLARGE YOUR TENT


A tent was their home, they were Nomads.  It was the center of their world, a practical home, but it was difficult to put up and take down.  So, they didn't go in for elaborate spaces.  They made them practical with enough space to satisfy their needs, and no more.  Even the first house of God was a tent made and used as they came out of Egypt.  One thing they knew, it takes work to take down or put up a tent.  The larger the tent, the harder the work.


Isaiah's words were a paradox.  First he compares them to a barren woman.  Being practical, why would you consider expanding your dwelling if there were no children?  Isaiah's declaration, Clear lots of  ground for your tents!  Make your tents large.  Spread out!  Think big!  Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep.  [Is. 54:2 Message] would have made sense, if there were children!  But that was not the case!  They were facing a dangerous enemy.  Not the time to consider expansion.


They were in trouble.  In that day a woman without children was considered a reproach.  She carried her barrenness as shame.  Her husband could put her away because she did not bear children.  Israel was in this manner filled with shame.  She, meaning her weakness, had not completed the work that the Lord had for her to do.  When she should have been a mother, she was barren.  Instead of turning the Gentiles toward God, the Gentiles had turned her toward their idols.  She had a distorted view of God.  She had become a weak nation ripe for destruction.  And God says:

Clear lots of ground for your tents!  Make your tents large.  Spread out!

Think big!

His directive does not seem reasonable, let alone practical.  Think of the work and the expense!  And what will people think?  But God's ways are not our ways, still bigger tents?


Scripture tells us that without a vision the people perish.  They had no vision, all they could see was the despair around them.  They saw what they thought would happen, but did not see what God had planned for them.  They weren't ready to expand, they only worried about survival.  God wanted to turn them away from sin, and bless them.  They worried about what they could see.


Sometimes it's hard to believe what God wants to do, His words seem fanciful, unreal and unattainable.  There are times when we, or the Church are called upon by God to leave what we know to embrace God's plan and direction.  Scary times, yes, but who's report will we believe?  To whom will we listen?  Will we respond to His call?

Isaiah called to Israel in their condition:  Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby.  Fill the air with song, you who've never experienced childbirth!  You're ending up with far more children than all those childbearing woman."  God says so!  (Isa 54:1 The Message)


Let me put it this way... Rejoice, God has not forgotten us.  He has not left us alone in our situation.  We may only see the darkness and not the sunshine, but we must respond to His words of hope!  God does not forget His children, or His plan for them!


One important truth to remember is that we do not overcome simply by believing it will get better.  We overcome by preparing ourselves to receive the victory!  To Israel He said He would take away the reproach.  They would forget the shame of being barren.  The LORD would accomplish this for them, but they had to prepare for the promise!


I may not know everything the Lord wants to do but I believe His promise.  We need not be barren!  We need not look at the great heroes of faith and wonder how it was that they could achieve the things they did.  We need not think we are weak in a weakened generation!  God knows us and our situation and still He says prepare for victory...ENLARGE YOUR TENT!



October 29, 2017                                               WHY ARE WE HERE?


What is the purpose of man?  Men have wondered and asked "Why am I here," through all generations.  Is there a higher purpose than just what we must face day to day?  Is there more to life than what we see and experience?  Do I have a higher function to fulfill?


In the Psalms, David gives a call to worship in answer to the question, "What is the primary reason for the creation of man?"  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord! [Psalms 150:6 NKJ]  It is apparent to him that humanity was created to become worshippers of God.


It should be understood that man was not created as a result of a necessity in God, for He is self-sufficient.  He did not nor will He ever need man for counsel, protection or provision.  He is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent.  He has no external need.


Man is the product of an internal desire in God.  God is perfect and pure, infintely loving and abounding in mercy.  However, He has a desire to be recognized for Himself.  He wanted a creature that was capable of noticing what a wonderful God He is and was then capable of choosing to know, admire and honor Him.


Everyone knows that loneliness is having no one to share your

thoughts and feelings with.

A politician's campaign headquarters is filled with supporters on the night of an election.  He realizes that a victory, no matter how large is lacking if there is no one on hand with whom it can be shared.  This internal need causes him to surround himself with loyalists who will offer praise in what he hopes will be his finest hour.


For this reason, God made men to share in the glory of His handiwork.  He desires for someone to notice the ongoing work of creation and then praise Him for it.  For men to perceive His handiwork and proclaim His excellence.  He wants men to recognize and praise His attributes.  Everybody has something God wants and needs for the personal reward of His handiwork to be complete.  Pure Praise!!  Everybody can share His handiwork through Praise.


Everyone longs to be remembered romantically by their mate.  A man decided he would really thrill his wife by surprising her with a dozen roses, a beautiful card and a sincere poem of his own composition.  He enjoyed picking up the flowers, buying the card and producing the poem.  By the time he finished he was excited, carried away with his wonderful expression of love.  He hurried home, arranged it all on the table and anxiously waited for her return. He hid in the kitchen.  He imagined that as she saw  the bouquet and read the poem she would be rushing into his arms.  He listened as she entered the front door, spotted the flowers and exclaimed, "Oh, how pretty!"  He smiled to himself as she carefully opened the letter and poem, sighing as she read aloud.  Suddenly he stepped in full view of his happy bride and braced himself for the rush and hug that was to come, but she did not move.  She asked, "Why did you do this?"  He knew the answer he gave would determine how much or how little the flowers and writing would mean.  She did not want to hear him say, "Well, I bought for a peace offering," or "I read in a book that this was the way for a man to please his wife."  That would make all of it mean nothing.  What she most wanted to hear was, "I did it because I love you!"  Only that special reason for the kindness would make it precious.


We know how to praise.  We see the excellence of a book, a car, a home, a boat, an ability or an action and freely give praise.  We are able to notice perfection, beauty, goodness, kindness, talent and accomplishment in our fellow man.  When we do, we naturally give praise to these things.  We should be sensitive to notice the perfect beauty of God, His creation, His kindness and His goodness.  If we can freely compliment, thank and praise men, we should also be able to freely compliment, thank and praise the LORD for all He has done.


The LORD wants to be loved, JUST BECAUSE as well.  He looks for the MOTIVE for our good deeds and praise.  He wants to hear us respond..."Because I love you!"



October 15, 2017                                                TRUE TO THE 'BRAND'


It would be very strange if you picked up something at the store and found no label on it.  Even the NO NAME products have names, like Shoppers Value.  Everything we pick up is marked in some way to identify who is responsible for putting it on the market.  Wikipedia defines this as a 'Brand.'   A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer.  Wikipedia


Branding began in ancient Egypt to distinguish the ownership of cattle.  Today 'branding' means a strategic 'personality' for the product of a company.  In effect the 'brand' promises customers a consistent quality and value of a product or service.


Many items have become so common that their BRAND NAME has replaced the product name.  KLEENEX is not the name of facial tissue, but when we need facial tissue we think Kleenex.  We buy what is cheaper because we use a lot of them, but we always put Kleenex on the shopping list.  When we ask for a soft drink we seldom say COLA,  we say Coke or Pepsi.  There are many other products whose BRAND NAME has become the common name for the product.  The product has been so marked by the company that you see the company not the product.


What about the brand 'Christian.'  Scripture says So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people.  And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.  [Acts 11:26b]  Webster defines Christian as: one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Originally the meaning was 'Christ like.'  They had not chosen the name 'Christian,' others used it to identify them.  So something about them identified with everything that Jesus represented.  The name became the definition of the product.


Christian in belief, yes, but also Christian in Action!

Saul is our example of change!  He was on his way to destroy the faith in Damascus, to throw people in prison, beat them, perhaps kill them.  His  anger and ambition saw a way to serve God and himself.  He would destroy these Christians that were perverting the Faith of Moses.  At the same time he would be noticed by the Sanhedrin.  In the middle of the day as they walked on the road a great light appeared to them.  They fell to the earth and Saul with a small voice full of fear:  And he said, "Who are You, Lord?"  Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  It is hard for you to kick against the goads."  [Acts 22:5]


A great change came over Saul.  All the others got up and went on to Damascus, but they led Saul by the hand for he was blind.  He bore in his body the MARK OF GOD!  For three days he was in darkness, in prayer and fasting until the Lord sent Ananias to touch him and heal him.  But he was never the same for the Mark went deeper than the temporary blindness, the Mark touched him in the depth of his soul and he was never to be the same.  His life was no longer for himself, but for the Christ who lived within him.  It was not important that he had a great education, for his preaching was not with the wisdom of men, but with the demonstration of the Holy Ghost.  It was not important that he was from a good family, he made his living making tents.  It was not important that he had almost made the Sanhedrin Court, he became the Apostle to the Gentiles.  He became the BRAND!


It's not enough to be religious.  It's not enough to know the truth.  It's not even enough to believe the truth.  We should not be defined as 'Christian' because we say we believe the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Or that we have allied ourselves to a group that states they are Christian.  But we must go back to the very root of the BRAND!  To be CHRIST LIKE!



Octobe​​r 8, 2017                                                         GOD'S STILL GOD


There has always been a certain mystery concerning God.  Paul even after his conversion cried out, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, (Phil 3:10 NKJV)


We know God is, we know that according to His word, He is an ABLE God.  We know He is the Great God and beside Him there is no other.  We know a lot ABOUT HIM.  However, it's in the midst of the trial, when questions come, or we don't know which way to turn that we cry in our frustration, WHERE IS HE?  We may find ourselves asking, IS HE GOD FOR ME?  We have seen many things, experienced others, but in our need we may wonder if we can really have what we see in scripture.  Can we have what others seem to have in their distress?  Let me answer simply, no matter what, GOD'S STILL GOD!


God is not affected by our mutability; our changes do not alter him.  When we are restless, he remains serene and calm; when we are low, selfish, mean, or dispirited, he is still the unalterable I Am.  The same yesterday, today, and forever, in whom is no varibleness, neither shadow of turning.  What God is in himself, not what we may chance to feel him in this or that moment to be, that is our hope. Frederick William Roberston (1816-1853)


Elijah had settled who God was.  On Mt. Carmel and on a nameless mountain at the entrance of a cave.  He was directed to a young man named Elisha, whom God had chosen to follow him. Elisha followed him, served him and observed all that God did through him.  But now it was time to go.


Three times Elijah tried to sever the bond between them and three times Elisha would not stay behind.  Others discouraged him, but he would not be deterred.  Finally Elijah was what he wanted and he answered with a double portion of Elijah spirit.  Elijah was taken and Elisha saw it.  He saw Elijah no more, rent his garment, picked up Elijah's mantle and started back.  When he stood by the bank of Jordan, he smote the waters and said, "WHERE IS THE LORD GOD OF ELIJAH?"  The waters parted and Elisha went over.  From now on, in personal conflict, when the chips were down and Elijah was not there to remind him or console him or tell him again that God was true, Elisha would KNOW that God is still God!


WE MUST SETTLE IT

GOD DOES NOT CHANGE


​In all his travels Paul had learned a valuable truth.  No matter what the struggle, opposition or circumstances, GOD'S STILL GOD!  So at midnight in the innermost prison, feet held fast in stocks, their backs bleeding and raw from the beating, they began to pray and sing praises to the Lord.


I want you to think about this.  It was not hard to praise God when Lydia was baptized.  It was not hard to praise God when the demon came out.  What about now?  Beaten, thrown into jail.  The excitement and euphoric feeling of victory GONE.  Now can you still praise God?


Paul understood that problems, troubles, persecution, sorrow, disappointment, or hatred cannot change the FACT that God's still God.  Situations change, plans change, even leadership may change, BUT GOD'S STILL GOD!  He does not change!!


We must learn this valuable lesson as well.  Prove in our own experience the power of God.  These men had confidence, not in their own efforts, but in the God who never changes!!



October 1, 2017                                                         JUST THE CRUMBS


What are crumbs?  They are the things that are missed.  I know it seems impossible, but even I miss my mouth once in awhile.  What happens to the crumb?  Well, it's so small, it falls unnoticed to the floor, or if it is noticed, then it becomes the object of the vacuum cleaner.  We're not often concerned with the POSSIBILITIES of a crumb.  It's just useless, something to be cleaned up and discarded.  One of our Missionaries told us a story about her native cook.  She had her cook clean the carrots, potatoes, beans, etc., just like we do here at home.  She had her trim the meat of fat and take out the bone.  One day she noticed that her cook was taking all of this GARBAGE home with her.  Why?  Because it was incredible to the woman that the Missionary would throw away perfectly good food.  She was feeding her family with the crumbs.  Perhaps the problem is not the crumb, but our attitude concerning them.


Jesus had come to Israel with great power and miracles.  His teaching dealt with the importance of God's relationship with His people.  Many of the Jews were excited by His ability to touch them in their needs.  Others would be excited about the feeding of bread and fish.  Some would discount everything He did and said because they could not believe He was the Christ.  In His ministry, Jesus allowed the Jews to gorge on the good things of God.  On many occasions scripture tells us that HE HEALED THEM ALL.  The lame walked, the blind saw and the leper was cleansed.  Jesus gave without measure to the Jews for 3 1/2 years.  But many of them despised Him, and all forsook Him, even though the table was laden with the good gifts of God.


Enter a woman with a need.  Not a Jew, but a Canaanite.  Actually she was one of the ones the Lord God told Israel to destroy in the land.  So this woman of Canaan was to them merely a DOG!! The highest form of insult!!  Back home her daughter was vexed with a devil.  She had nowhere to turn, but knew the reports of Healing and Miracles and yes, the demons being cast out.  She cried for mercy, and was called a dog.  She humbled herself and worshiped:  And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master's table.  (Matt 15:27 NKJV)  Jesus recognized her 'great faith' and she left with what she needed.


All she wanted was what the Jews had rejected.  Those things that fell from the well-appointed table Jesus had set for them in His ministry.  What she understood was that there was power in what the Jews rejected.  The crumb that went unheeded.  She knew those crumbs were wonderful; full of healing, power, deliverance, answers, peace and Salvation!  She was willing to endure any and every humiliation just to be touched by the crumbs.  And she knew the Jews would not miss a crumb.


We may not know everything about God but what happens when we pick up a crumb?  A man who repents before God of the sins he has committed applies the principle God instituted.  He may not know anything except REPENTANCE, but God honors his repentance!!  His life changes.  His thoughts change.  His desires change and he begins to seek the face of God.  Of course there is more, baptism to remit those sins and the infilling of the Holy Ghost for power to live a life acceptable to God, but if all he knows is repentance, that crumb is wonderful!  If he will remain honest before God, if he will search the scriptures, if he will pray and develop his relationship with God, God will complete the work as God intended in his life, even though he has only received a crumb!!


How do I know that?  Because the reformers only had crumbs.  Points of truth, revelation of God's majesty.  There were only crumbs in evidence in Topeka, Kansas in 1900, but God completed the work even though they only had a CRUMB!  Never despise the portion of God you are able to give your fellow man. God knows how to take the seed and nurture it in the heart of an honest individual and after all the work is the Lord's anyway!!



September 17, 2017                                                              HIDDEN

If something is HIDDEN, it is out of our sight.  If our keys are out of sight, we must look for them.  The reason may be varied, from being misplaced to having been taken and concealed.  They are out of sight, they have been hidden from us.


Concepts can also be hid from us, as Paul states. (2 Cor 4:3-4 KJV)  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.  Other translations use variations of this theme, to veil.


​Paul takes it further than mere concealment, he states that the 'god of this world' has BLINDED the minds of those who do not believe.  Now the knowledge of God is not merely 'veiled,' but has been intentionally taken and hidden from us.  Mary Farwell said:  I was listening to my 5-year-old son, Matthew, as he worked on his Speak and Spell (TM) computer.  He was concentrating intensely, typing words for the computer to say back to him.  Matthew punched in the word "God."  To his surprise, the computer said, "Word not found."  He tried again with the same reply.  With great disgust, he stared at the computer and told it in no uncertain terms, "Jesus is not going to like this!"  Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."


IS GOD HIDDEN OR FOUND?​

From the beginning God's desire has been to know His creation.  At the fall, when sin separated man from God, God sought a way to restore that relationship.  However, the relationship was not as personal as we know today.  Although God loved Abraham, still He could not reveal Himself completely. The power and glory of God could not be understood by this well-beloved man.  God's thoughts stretched from that day through the completion of His plan for man.  Abraham saw only a glimpse of that purpose, his nation and that was hard for him to accept.  So God showed Abraham that He was the one and only true God.


God found that Abraham would love and trust Him, and even teach his children and servants of this revelation, that God was one.  He did not fully understand God or God's purpose and plan, and those of his household worshiped with him, the God of Abraham.  To them, this God was a mystery for they had not heard His voice.


When Moses came down from the mountain, God spoke to the people, just as He had to Moses.  They were afraid and begged Moses not to have God speak to them, but to him and they would hear what God wanted from him.  The Law brought them closer.  Now it could be understood, not only that there was the one true God of Abraham, but that He had requirements that all could understand and obey.  Still, there was only this limited revelation of God.


Paul tells the Colossians what it is that has been hidden, what the god of this world is hiding from man....(Col 1:26-27 KJV)  the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.  To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.


In other words, the power and presence of God dwelling within you, in your body, in your flesh, in your everyday life...in your thoughts.  It is not just a mere stating of some facts, but it is a manifestation of the truth, not words, but actions from God.


This is what the enemy tries to hide.  BUT WE HAVE THE POWER TO SEE!  If we will allow God to reveal Himself to us, the god of this world cannot stop Him.  Allowing the spirit of God to dwell with us, to teach us, to guide us.  To be in obedience to His word and His will, REVEALS GOD TO US!





September 10, 2017                                                            CONTINUE


There are a lot of things that can hinder our relationship with God.  We need to Continue!  When we come to God we are new creatures in Christ Jesus.  The Old man passes away and the New man takes over.  That is what the Word of God says, and it's true.  But before you get discouraged and say to me that there are some things that seem to hold on, let me explain that you have an enemy.  The devil doesn't want you to succeed in your relationship with God.  So he fights you at every turn.  That is why you still have to deal with long standing habits in your life.  The key is to recognized that the enemy is bringing them to your mind and  fight him.  How?  With that power that the LORD gives when He fills you with His spirit.  We can counter habits by replacing them with the things of God.  But it is a daily activity.  We must go to God EVERY TIME we are faced with the things that would distort, discourage and destroy our walk with God.  EVERY TIME!  If we fail just one time, we give the enemy an opening.


Another of the problems we face is our inability to sustain a spiritual relationship with the LORD.  The enemy brings everything to bear against your confidence in our relationship with the LORD.  He is pretty sneaky about it though.  He doesn't always attack our confidence directly.  He allows life to intrude.  The car doesn't start, the kids are out of control, the check book doesn't stretch to cover the bills, people are unkind, and something breaks down, and added expense or pressure.  So, we don't have time to pray or read the Bible, witness or even think about the wonderful touch that the LORD has given us.


We must set priorities in our lives!!

 We also have demands on us.  Jobs, responsibilities, people even personal desire or ambitions.  You have all experienced it, you have a plan and somebody comes, calls or plans something for you.  These are the things that keep us from realizing our potential in the Kingdom of God.  We are told that we are in the world, but not of the world.  Well, tell us that on a blue Monday, or a frenzy Friday.  It's all well and good on Sunday, but the rest of the week we have to deal with life.


It is simply a matter of priorities.  Consider this, when you have something planned, for yourself or your family and something intrudes, the car won't start, the water heater quits or the weather doesn't cooperate.  What do you do? Give up?  Ignore the intrusion?  Reschedule?


It depends on how serious the intrusion is, right?  You get the car started, turn off the water and schedule a plumber and find an indoor activity.  In short, you don't allow little things to change your plans.  They may be frustrating, expensive or merely a distraction, but you don't allow them to destroy your plans.


Paul wrote in Galatians: But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?  Gal 4:9 NKJ  Of course he is talking about returning to the idol worship that they had practiced before they knew God.  But in applying the principle to today, can it not mean relying on the things of this world that we relied on before we knew God.?  Could it be that the principle is not to allow anything to hinder us from our service to the Lord?  God's Word for Today says:  But now you know God, or rather, God knows you.  So how can you turn back again to the powerless and bankrupt principles of this world?  Why do you want to become their slaves all over again?


The key is not to allow unimportant things to hinder our relationship with God.  Oh, and by the way, even the serious things cannot be allowed to hinder our relationship either.


Paul understood how life can intrude on the best intentions.  So he wrote to the church at Galatia:  We can't allow ourselves to get tired of living the right way.  Certainly, each of us will receive everlasting life at the proper time, if we don't give up.  Gal 6:9 GWT So just like life, we deal with the intrusion based on how serious it is and then we CONTINUE TO SERVE THE LORD!



September 3, 2017                                                             COMMITTED


Whatever you come up with, someone will follow you.  Fads and crazes have always been with us.  Even Alvin the Chipmunk had to have a HULA HOOP!  You don't remember that?  How about a CABBAGE PATCH DOLL, a WALL WALKER, or a TRANSFORMER?  It seems that there is a cross section of society who follow strange things.  UFO believers hold conventions, the believers are professional people, minimum wage workers and everybody in-between.  Spiritual Extremes also find followers.  No matter how extreme the doctrine, or outlandish the premise, there always seems to be somebody who will follow.


There is however, a vast difference between a follower, and someone who is committed to a cause!  A follower will follow only as long as it pleases him.  He will stay loyal to the cause as long as it benefits his own needs.  He will even work for the cause, for as long as it is to his advantage.  A committed person on the other hand is not bound by the benefits he receives.  He does not follow for gain.  He follows because he BELIEVES in the cause and is COMMITTED!  The cause may go through hard times.  It may face defeat, be driven underground.  It doesn't matter to the committed!  They will follow in good times and bad.  They will shout the cause when it's popular and when it's not.  They remain the same, because they are committed.  Take away the leader and the followers may scatter, but the committed remain!  That's what it means to be committed, not to a person, or a group, but to the Cause!


COMMITMENT IS NOT BASED ON WHAT WE MAY GAIN!


The story of Ruth has been used in marriage ceremonies for years.  Some of those marriages began with great anticipation only to end with each person going their separate ways.  Some remain strong marriages.  What is the difference?  COMMITMENT!


J. Allen Petersen said, "I do not know whether or not your marriage was made in heaven, but I do know that all the maintenance work is done on earth." -- Homemade July 1990


The story of Ruth is a story of commitment.  To parrot the words she stated without the same commitment is to utter them without meaning.  They are merely words, the proper sentiment for the occasion.  I am not talking about wedding vows but about commitment.  The vows merely show that commitment must be in the heart of the individual, not merely in the words of his or her mouth.  Commitment does not change because of problems or circumstances, money or the duration of years.


If we believe in a cause we will be completely committed to that cause.  A commitment that is not based on what we might gain, or what it might cost.  Not based on it's popularity, but on our BELIEF IN THE CAUSE!  How committed are we to the Cause of Christ?  It is reflected in our daily lives, our attitudes and our actions.


We can prevail, but we will have to enter into our commitment with all our bridges burned behind us.  No way to return to that which was before.  Looking only forward to the cause.


Pure worship, True worship.  Holding on to God until you prevail.  Repentance UNTIL there is a change of nature.  Obedience until we walk in NEWNESS OF LIFE!  The cause of God is just, the cause of God is worthwhile.  Edward Everett Hale wrote: I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  What I can do, I ought to do.  And what I ought to do, By the grace of God I shall do!



August 27, 2017                                                                 PRINCIPALS​


Mr. Webster defines the word principle in this manner:  1. a general or fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption; 2. a rule or code of conduct, also devotion to such a code; 3. the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device.


Something worthy to base our actions upon, a code worthy to live by.  Something UNCHANGEABLE that we place as our position from which we will not budge.  A Principle to live by.  Confucius said:  Better be poisoned in one's blood, than to be poisoned in one's principles.  He who merely knows right principles is not equal to him who loves them.   Our nation was founded upon certain principles.  They were to be what would make America great, and yet today many of those principles have been laid aside and America has not achieved what she could have, had she retained her principles.  Israel was founded upon principles.  From Sinai came the very WORD OF GOD to establish them forever. God stood by the things He had said to Abraham.  I will make of you a great nation as the sand of the seas for number.  Seventy souls went down into Egypt and 3 to 5 MILLION came out.  Those principles given were to insure that the nation would survive and prosper under the promises of God.  As long as they remembered that they were a nation created by the Lord and served Him, they did prosper.  When they forgot the principles they were established upon they failed.


Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.  [Heb 6:1-2 NKJV]


The Church of the Living God was founded upon certain principles that cannot fail!  Throughout history those principles have assured that there would be a church.  That God would honor those who would willingly live by the principles He established His church under.  Those principles have not changed.  They remain the foundation of the 
Church of God.  The World has changed, it's principles may have changed, men's ideas may change, but God does not change.  The Church does not need a different set of principles,  it needs men and women who will stand upon the principles of God with faith and without reservation!


There is only one reason to lay a foundation over and that is if it is defective or damaged.  He was not telling us to DO WITHOUT or LEAVE those first principles of God, but to go on into the perfection of God.  Who could say that we could do without the doctrine of Christ?  It's our foundation.  The writer identified the six ABC's upon which the Church would be built. These are the principles of the doctrine of Christ the Messiah.  Repentance from dead works, faith, baptism, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  That is the foundation.  Don't quit until you have your foundation complete.  Without Christ's death, burial and resurrection, there is NO GOSPEL MESSAGE!  Paul's life was consistent, and he consistently preached Christ and Him crucified and resurrected.  To kings and governors, dignitaries and heathens as well as common men, HE PREACHED CHRIST!


Let me point out that the writer of  Hebrews was saying clearly that these principles were not up for discussion.  God established these principles and the church is founded upon them.  Repentance and baptism is to be done according to God's established law.  And of course we obey because of our faith.  Peter declared to those who sought salvation:  Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."  ​[Ac 2:38-39 NKJ]  Further, no one in the book of Acts was baptized in any other way declaring that the early church recognized and obeyed the principle God established.  It was not up for discussion, it was God's law to be obeyed.  So also are all the 'principles' of God.  Principles to be retained must be applied, they must be lived.  If we are to be men and women of principle we must hold to that code of conduct.  Here I stand and I will not be moved, I will live and die by the principles of God!



​​​August 20, 2017                                                            A PERFECT SPIRIT


Some men have such perfect spirits that they are overlooked.  When placed next to the Davids and the Samuels, they hardly rate mention.  They are lost in the company of Paul, Peter and John.  Though men may fail to see their worth, God does not.  God knows that without them and their perfect spirit there could be no giants in the kingdom of God.  No notable miracles of victory and power.  They are the ones who simply do what is right, when it is right to do it, no matter what the situation.  They are the ones credited with the assists, if they are credited at all, but remember, many scores would never be made without an assist!  Naresky said:  Many are the varnish, few are the wood!  In the natural we are attracted to shiny things, but God sees the fundamental truth.


The New Testament is full of great men.  Men who wrote scripture, who preached, who suffered and died for this Gospel of the kingdom.  Barnabas was a man with a perfect spirit.  When Saul of Tarsus was converted the people in the Church were afraid of him.  He had persecuted them and they wondered if his conversion was real.  Barnabas took him under his wing and brought him acceptance from the Church.  That in itself is noteworthy.  They became a team traveling on the first missionary journey and were successful.  Scripture shows us how it was.  First we read of Barnabas and Saul.  Barnabas in the lead.  Barnabas, the one in charge.  But it begins to change and we read of Paul and Barnabas, Paul in the lead, in charge.  When it came to a parting of the ways, it was because Paul who was in charge, who had somehow passed Barnabas in importance, even in spiritual power, would not yield to Barnabas' tender heart.  Paul was unwilling to take another chance on John Mark.


In Barnabas was a perfect spirit.  He could have resented people placing Paul in more importance.  He could have wondered at God's using Paul more and more and him less and less.  He could have lost his soul through resentment of the way things turned out.  But he didn't!!  He continued to have a caring, loving, kind spirit, willing to take another chance on a misfit, a failure, because it was the kingdom that was important, and people make up the kingdom!  Paul went on to be called a great Apostle.  God called him into a special ministry that Barnabas never had.  Paul wrote scripture, but we lose sight of Barnabas.  Paul is quoted, never Barnabas.  But the Spirit of Barnabas was RIGHT AGAIN as we see Paul acknowledge that John Mark is profitable for the ministry.  But where would Paul have been without Barnabas?  Perhaps there would never have been a great Apostle Paul without Barnabas, never a profitable John Mark WITHOUT Barnabas.  Whose was the greatest ministry?  Why neither, and yet both!  Both filled a very necessary place in the kingdom of God.  God rewards both.  We need a perfect spirit!


Everything of greatness in the Kingdom of God.  Every 'giant' of faith or preacher of righteousness stands on the deeds of the unseen, unrecognized faithful people of God.  We can never know the impact of a word spoken at the right time.  A kindness shown or a lesson patiently taught.


It must be the kingdom first.  It doesn't matter if we receive the acknowledgement of men.  The only thing that is important is that we receive God's seal of approval on our lives.


Everything we do, God sees and makes note of.  Nothing is ever lost in God's kingdom, men may not know or remember, but God both knows and remembers.  Jesus said:  For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.  [Mk 9:41 NKJ]


Only eternity will declare the things obedient children of God did to insure His plan was established.




​August 13, 2017                                                        WHO'S IN CHARGE?


Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go."  [Matt. 8:19 NKJ]

Almost everywhere in life the question comes up, "WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?"  This opens a lot of levels of thought.  We might consider 'being in charge' as being in control.  Everybody wants to feel like they are in control.  Masters of our own destiny as it were, but reality may paint a different picture.  It seems that there is always someone telling us what to do, from the boss on the job to the government.  So, who's in charge is a valid question.


When it comes to our relationship with God we need to ask ourselves this question.  Whether we ask it or not, rest assured the question will be asked.  God will ask it, the enemy will ask it, and even people will ask it.


Of course one question leads to another, Why are they in charge?  We may think of the one in charge as the one who has AUTHORITY.  Or we may think of him as the one with RESPONSIBILITY.  If we ask WHY is he in charge, we might think it is because he has ABILITY, or OWNERSHIP.  This question can also be applied to our relationship with God.  Why is He in charge?  Every reason points to Him as the logical one to be in charge.  He has the ABILITY, all powerful, all knowing and ever present.  He has OWNERSHIP, He is the designer and creator of all things.  Who else could be considered to be worthy of the responsibility of BEING IN CHARGE?  And yet His position is what is most often challenged!


WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?

​Many people are attracted to the POWER OF GOD!  They are impressed by what He is able to do.  Jesus had been in Peter's home.  He healed Peter's mother-in-law.  The crowds came.  When it was evening they brought many who were demon-possessed and He cast out the spirits with a word.  Many needed healing and the scripture lets us know that He healed them all fulfilling the scriptures.  All of this did not go unnoticed by the crowd.  A scribe came and said to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go."  And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."  [Matt. 8:20 NKJ]  I don't know if the Lord was testing his sincerity or just stating the facts.  What I do know is that the man is not mentioned following the Lord.


Everybody longs for FREEDOM.  For many the pursuit of freedom leads to bondage.  I picked this up by Henrietta Mears:  A bird is free in the air.  Place a bird in the water and he has lost his liberty.  A fish is free in the water, but leave him on the sand and he perishes.  He is out of his realm.  So, young people, the Christian is free when he does the will of God and is obedient to God's command.  This is as natural a realm for God's child as the water is for the fish, or the air for the bird."  If the bird wanted to go to the water, perhaps it could, but no matter how great the desire, or how loud it's cry of "I can do what I want" might be, it will still die in the water.


Of all the thrones the Lord occupies, there is only one that you can withhold from Him.  It is the throne of your heart.  It is important to be very honest with ourselves and give Him the throne He deserves.  Whatever we may want to think, we do have someone in charge of our life.


Remember, when the one in charge knows what he is doing and has the ability to do it, everybody wins.  Jesus knows what He is doing, and he can do what He says He can do.  If we will let Him.





August 6, 2017                                                GIVE ME WHAT YOU LOVE


"Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."  [Gen 22:2 NKJ]


This perhaps is one of the hardest scriptures for us to understand.  Why would God tempt or PROVE Abraham by asking him to do as the heathen around him, who offered their sons as sacrifices to their gods?  I do not propose to JUSTIFY God, He doesn't need it.  What His purpose was becomes self-evident on the mountain.  I do feel there is a lesson that the Lord intended to span the generations to us.  It is a lesson  how we should approach our walk with God.  We are taught by this scripture an attitude of service, a level of dedication, a plan of faith that will determine in a large part how we will serve the Lord.  To Abraham it was "Take now your son, you only son Isaac, whom you love, ..."  To us it might be stated "Give me what you Love!"  NOBODY 'LIKES' SACRIFICE!  But it takes sacrifice to reach a goal.


Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?  Fourteen died and 4 lost their sons in the Revolution.  Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.  Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.  Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.  Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or the hardships of the Revolutionary War.  They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.


What did it cost?  One example was Thomas Nelson Jr.  At the Battle of Yorktown, he knew that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. Nelson quietly urged General George Washington to open fire.  The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.  Tragice story after tragic story of sacrifice and loss.


These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians.  They were soft-spoken men of means and education.  They had security, but they valued liberty more.  Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged:  "For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."  They gave us a free and independent America.  They gave.... what they loved for a greater cause!


GIVE ME WHAT YOU LOVE!

Abraham could have been justified in recounting all he had already done for God.  All he had lost, family, friends, the well-watered plains, Ishmael gone with Hagar.  He could have spent the night raving or demanding God to answer why such a thing that to be!  Why not another thing for sacrifice.  Why not the herds, wealth, tents...  Why my son?  But we see no record of Abraham trying to strike a bargain with God.  Only silence concerning the longest night of his life.  In the morning early, he had the preparations for the journey to Moriah.... to offer the sacrifice of obedience to the Lord... to give what he loved!


Jesus promised that whatever we 'give up' for His sake will be returned 100 fold.  So, the promise is that the 'blessing' will be greater than the 'sacrifice.'


Sometimes it takes a dark night.  It takes determination, belief in the promise God has given us.  Blind faith that even though we cannot see HOW God is ABLE to perform it if we believe that He will!  Just as we did not see the terror of Abraham's darkest night, so others will not see our darkest night.  It will seem that God has spoken and we have obeyed.  In reality, God said, give me what you love and in the dark night we came to the place of willingness, believing in the promise of God!


We will never know the promised blessing until we make the sacrifice!  But if we will, there is a blessing of 100 fold for us!  The commitment must be for the CAUSE!  No matter what the personal cost may be!  It takes that to found a nation!  Abraham knew that, so did the founding fathers.  Do we?




July 30, 2017                                                               I WANT TO BE LIKE YOU


But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 1:5-8 NKJV ​


We all feel the need to identify with something.  We seek acceptance, strength, and safety from one another.  The flower children or hippies, if you prefer, came on the scene crying that they would not be conformists.  They threw out the establishment.  Dressed oddly, wore beards, long hair and looked anything but the clean-cut executive.  The women adopted their own style which had nothing to do with Paris or any rule.  They would not be conformists.  They would have their own identity and exaggerated that identity.


What happened?  To be a flower child, you dressed like a flower child.  You talked, looked and acted like a flower child.  They were not conformed to the establishment, but they became conformed to one another.  The need to identify was as strong in them as in anyone.


Identity in itself is not wrong.  It's what we become identified to that can be wrong.  To identify with the world is to lose our identity with God.  To identify we must conform.  Scripture tells us not to be conformed  with this world.  We cannot put our trust in this world or the things of this world.  We must, however, become conformed with God!  Our identity must be with Him.  Peter was talking about confirming, adding to yourself those things that conform you to God.  Adding to your faith!  So, what is Faith!  It was a good answer that was once given by a poor woman to a minister who asked her, "What is faith?"  She replied: "I am ignorant, and I cannot answer well, but I think it is taking Goad at His word."  Someone else said:  "Faith is refusal to panic."  D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones


I  WANT TO BE LIKE YOU


It's human nature to desire acceptance.  To be accepted we must conform!  In society we conform to accepted behavior.  In God, it's being conformed to Jesus Christ.  We must want to be accepted before we are willing to conform to anything.  The reason we put on those things that are like Jesus Christ is His promise.  Scripture tells us that we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation.  The elect of God, holy and beloved.  God loves us, we are the apple of His eye.  Everything He has done has been done for us.  He didn't need to come to the cross to save Himself, but to save us!!  Being identified with God makes us accepted by the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords.


We don't need to worry about His promises being fulfilled.  He is OMNIPOTENT, all powerful.  Don't worry about your questions, He is OMNISCIENT, all knowing.  The promise is that if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God.  Don't worry about Him hearing your prayers, He is OMNIPRESENT, everywhere, right where you are.


We need to view our relationship with the Lord as an exciting growing experience.  Since we don't know the depth of God's power, we need to anticipate His moving in our lives.  He can do all things should not just be words, but a solid belief in His ability.


We must also become confident in our growth in God.  As we add these things to our faith we become identified with Christ and we are told that we will never fail!


His promise is that He will be with us ALWAY, even to the end of the earth.  To be like Him is a worthwhile ambition.



July 23, 2017                                                           BECAUSE HE LOVED YOU​


It's easy to take things for granted.  This is just the way things are.  It's easy to forget the REASON things are as they are.  Easy in the natural, and easy in the spiritual.  We simply tend to take to much for granted.  America did not just happen.  Men and women gave their lives, property and families to make it happen.  We try not to take our freedom for granted by celebrating Independence Day each July 4th, to remember the sacrifices that keep us free.  What of our spiritual heritage?  It didn't just happen either.  It was because He loved you!


Legend tells of a desert wanderer who found a crystal spring of unsurpassed freshness.  The water was so pure he decided to bring some to his king.  Barely satisfying his own thirst, he filled a leather bottle with the clear liquid and carried it many days beneath the desert sun before reaching the palace.  When he finally laid his offering at the feet of his sovereign, the water had become stale and rank due to the old container in which it had been stored.  But the king would not let his faithful subject even imagine that it was unfit for use.  He tasted it with expressions of gratitude and delight, and sent away the loyal heart filled with gladness.  After he had gone, others sampled it and expressed their surprise that the king had even pretended to enjoy it.  "Ah!" said he, "it was not the water I tasted, but the love that prompted the offering."  Many times our service is marked by multiplied imperfections, but the Master looks at our motives and says..."It is good."  Selected


Moses was not going with Israel into the land of promise so he reminded them of all God had done for them.  They had gone through 40 years of wilderness experience.  He reminded them that they must keep God's commandments if they expected the Lord to bless them in this new land.  His next words are curious.


The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  Deut. 7:7-8 NKJV


In other words, it was not because of the greatness of Israel that God took notice of them.  It was not that they had more to offer than others.  It was because He loved them and would keep His oath to Abraham.  He brought them out with a mighty hand.  He showed His power through the PLAGUES.  He opened the Red Sea.  He fed them in the wilderness with MANNA.  They drank water from a ROCK.  Their shoes and clothing were enough for the 40 years, and never did the cloud and pillar of fire desert them.  All of this was done because the LORD loved them.


WHY DOES HE LOVE US SO?


Why did He love them so?  The WHY is found in His love and oath to Abraham, and the reason He loved Abraham was because of Abraham's love and faith in Him.  Moses is saying, "Don't take it for granted, don't be like your fathers to murmur and complain.  There is a reason you were brought out, fed and protected.  Not your own strength, not your own worth, not your own ability, but BECAUSE HE LOVED YOU!"


Why has God loved man so much?  Man, who repaid his great love with a still-necked disobedience.  Who looked at the blessing of food and drink with "I'm tired of the manna, at least in Egypt we had onions and garlic.  What an extended love, a selfless love that brought Israel out of bondage!!


Perhaps it would be good to think of ourselves in light of this great LOVE of God.  We were nothing special, and yet we are sinners saved by Grace.  Why does He love us so much?  I cannot answer that question to my own satisfaction, let alone yours.


I am not perfect, and my offering may be less than perfect, but He understands my motive and blesses my effort.  I know, not think, but know that He loves me.




July 16, 2017                                                                  CALL HIM LUCKY​


Philippians 4:11 [NKJ]  Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:


There have been a lot of sermons preached from this passage of scripture on contentment.  Contentment is something that Paul had found.  In 1 Timothy 6:6 he wrote: Now godliness with contentment is great gain. [NKJ]  We marvel at this thought from a man who suffered so much in his ministry.  In writing to the Corinthian Church he listed those things that he had suffered for the sake of the Gospel.


Labors, stripes above measure, prison, danger of death.  Five times beaten with 39 strips, three times beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked three times, a night and day in the deep.  In journeys, perils of water, robbers, of the Jews, Gentiles, in the city, wilderness, sea and false brethren.  Not to mention weariness, toil, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, fasting, cold, nakedness.


Bad enough right, but then he tops it off with this statement:  besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.  [I Cor. 11:28 NKJ]


How does that stack up to the things you and I are going through eh?  Still, the most trying situation is not the one we read about or the one someone tells us about, or even the one that happened to us last year.  It's the one we are going through right now!


Still, logically, we haven't gone through what he went through, and yet he actually said he had found contentment.  There must be a way that he arrived at this state.  So,  I want to consider something I saw in this passage.


CALL HIM LUCKY!!!

An ad from the paper read:  LOST DOG with 3 legs, blind in left eye, missing right ear, tail broken .... answers to the name of "Lucky." - - Barbara Johnson


This attitude, this ability to answer to the name of "Lucky" is what I am going for today.  It's all in HOW YOU LOOK AT IT.


Paul had FOUND THE SECRET, to be content in whatever condition he found himself.  He could live humbly, or he could live with more than enough.  Outside circumstances did not control his inner peace.  It was not enough to have or not have, to feel full or martyred, there was something greater at work in his life.  He had made a commitment to serve the Lord, and he intended to fulfill that commitment no matter what he had to face.  What was his secret?  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  [Phil. 4:13 NKJV]  We quote this verse when we are struggling with doing the right thing, or faced with a task that we feel we cannot accomplish on our own.  But today, let's leave it in the right context.  Paul stated this truth in regard to his attitude about contentment.

NOT just concerning things that we find hard to do.  Bottom line is, I can attain contentment through Christ who strengthens me!


That's not to say that we don't need help to do hard things.  Yes, to do the right thing, or the hard thing or the scary thing.  But we also need help to be content in our present circumstances.  Maybe we should remember that our help comes from the Lord.  David understood this as well... I will lift up my eyes to the hills--From whence comes my help?  [Psalms 121:1]


​We need to remember where a healthy attitude and a proper outlook comes from, because we all need a little help from time to time.  The world places value and satisfaction on the wrong things.  I overheard this take on an old saying.  Money doesn't buy you happiness.  The response was that it does let you park in front of 'happy house.'  Everybody knows that happiness does not come from what we possess, or what we accomplish, or even what we feel.  But while we may 'know' that, we still can't help but want what those things SEEM TO PROMISE!


David said our help comes from the Lord.  Only He has the power to help.  Paul knew that and he knew that through his RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with God he could face anything and still succeed.



 July 17, 2017                                                                 WE WILL EAT CAKE!


One of the devil's favorite tools is discouragement.  You can't see it, touch it, or say WHY it comes upon us, but we certainly feel it.  It's one of the hardest things to fight because it's attack is in the heart.  It's a feeling.  We may tell ourselves in the time of discouragement that all things are not as bad as they seem.  We can use positive thinking to remind ourselves of good things, even forcing ourselves to do the right things.  While this is beneficial it does not relieve our feeling of discouragement.  Why?  Because we have not dealt with the cause of discouragement.  There are many reasons people become discouraged.  Lack of results.  Setbacks, even disobedience.  Sometimes it seems we have no results for our effort.  Everywhere we turn things come against us.  So we ask ourselves why bother.  It is also possible that we knew to do good and did not do it.  We failed in our responsibility to live like Christ by getting caught up in carnal thinking.  Discouragement is negative, I prefer to be positive, so let's look at this problem positively.  Let's consider the lack of results.  We have worked hard and done our best and still the results are not what we want.  So, in our FLESH we feel an emotion.  It is the emotion of IMPATIENCE.  We want results right now.  We did our part, and the results should have come.  When we think about it, we know that some things take time, but in our desire we want them to happen when we want them.


Let's bake a cake!  It's a project that we can do.  So, first of all get a cookbook and turn to the section on cakes.  There are pictures of beautifully decorated cakes, so choose one.  Whichever one looks the best to you, we'll bake that cake.

Now, if you have never baked a cake, pay attention.  Under the picture is a list of ingredients and...pay attention, a paragraph of directions.  They are probably simple, get a bowl, add flour, eggs, milk, etc.  Mix together, place in a greased pan.  Place pan in a preheated oven of 350 degrees for so many minutes.


IN DUE TIME... WE WILL EAT CAKE!


When you get all the ingredients together in the bowl, mix them and put them in the pan.  You don't sit down and cry because it doesn't look like the picture in the book.  You don't say, I just can't bake a cake.  You know that you must bake it and then decorate it and THEN it will look like the picture.  Now, the most important thing on this page is not the beautiful picture.  And, as important as the ingredients are, they are useless unless you follow directions.


I baked a 4-layer cake when I was still at home that was about 4" high.  I thought if I just read the cookbook, I could do it.  However, I didn't have self-rising flour or milk.  So I substituted eggs for the milk, and ignored the yeast.  I did not have the desired results.  I was impatient and started messing with the ingredients and directions.  We know that we must COMPLETE the preparations before we can expect results.  We must understand that in the spiritual realm, Understanding, Patience, and Full Preparation on our part will ensure not only results, but the right results!


In I Cor. 15:53 Paul wrote: For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  [NKJ]  This puts everything in perspective.  This world is what is corruptible.  This flesh is corruptible.  If we spend all our time concerned about the things of this world we will miss what is truly important.  That's why he told us not to become weary in doing good.  Don't despise the preparation, only preparation brings the desired result!  The cake must have time to bake, cool and be decorated.  Don't give up, don't change any of the ingredients, don't skip any of the steps.  In DUE TIME, we will eat cake!  Therefore, my beloved brethren be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.  [I Cor. 15:58 NKJ] The Message says:  nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.




  July 2, 2017                                                                 JULY 4th INDEPENDENCE DAY


July 4th is an important day for Americans.  It is our independence day.  America is not the only nation to celebrate "INDEPENDENCE DAY."  Around the world nations have their May day's, and independence days.  There is however a difference, our independence celebrates the freedom of the individual.  Others a change from one form of government to another.


On July 4, 1776, George III, king of England wrote in his diary, "Nothing of importance happened today."  He, of course, had no way of knowing what had occurred that day 3,000 miles away in the colonies, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in particular.  Thomas Paine wrote in 1776, "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value.  Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated."


On this day we especially remember the birth of our nation.  At no other time in the year do we use the words LIBERTY, FREEDOM, and DEMOCRACY as often or with as much sentiment.  We are proud to be Americans!  We are proud to be the freest nation in the world.  We are proud of our CONSTITUTION and our BILL OF RIGHTS.  We are proud that this nation offers us the right and opportunity to obtain the AMERICAN dream, and so we should be.  But let's not forget our personal responsibility.


Two centuries ago, a somewhat obscure Scotsman named Tytler made this profound observation:  A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.  A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.  From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.  The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years.  During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:  From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.


John wrote:

(John 8:32 NKJV) "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

(John 8:36 NKJV) "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."


We can stand tall as free men.  Not free merely on a carnal basis although I am so thankful that we still live in a FREE NATION.  But free from the bondage of sin.  Free from the guilt, free from the habits, free from the reward of sin!! No matter what satan tries to do to us, he cannot take our freedom from us!  The only way we can be brought again into bondage to satan is through our own choice.  It is the wrong choice to go back into the bondage that sin and habits draw us to.  The wrong choice to look at the moment and forget the long term effect of our action.


We would be remiss if we did not applaud our Nation on this day, for through the freedoms we have been granted, the greatest is the Freedom of Religion that allows us to worship God as we know we should.  While we applaud its greatness, the foresight of our founding fathers, we must emphasize the freedom we have been granted by God as well.




June 25, 2017                                                                      GOT TO HAVE A 'WANT TO'


God demands a decision.  A decision to forsake the things that once were important parts of our lives and replace them with the things of God.  It is also true that much of what God would like to replace in our lives goes against the nature of our flesh.  The flesh operates in the areas of the senses.  What we can see, hear, feel, taste and touch, what we consider reality.  But in the Spirit of God there is a world that is UPSIDE DOWN from that which our senses experience.  Consider, Jesus said if we would be great in the kingdom of God we would be the servants of all.  In the natural world, those who have authority command others, they are not servants, but masters.  Or, Jesus said if we would try to save our lives we would lose them, but if we lost them we would save them.  Pretty weird, eh?  Yet it is true, the Lord said it. 


A decision has to have something motivating it.  If our decision must go against our natural process, then something must accompany the decision.  We must have a WANT TO.  We are going to have to WANT TO serve the Lord.  If we don't, when the going gets tough, and it will, a decision just won't be enough.


Paul said we war against principalities and powers.  It is a spiritual battle.  That is the overall battle, the battle of the Church.  However, it is also a personal battle against the desires of the flesh.  He wrote that when he wanted to do good, he found evil in himself.  His cry was for a deliverance from the body of this death.  There was only one hope, Jesus Christ.  He has the power to deliver us, but we still have to WANT TO!


We can't accomplish ANYTHING unless we want to!  Wanting it is the motivating force.  It makes us get up from where we are and begin the journey to where we want to be!  Desire will start us, but it is only an all consuming desire, the WANT TO that will keep us going when everything seems to fail!


Determination is not stubbornness, but like stubbornness, it is an unmovable attitude.  To be determined is to make a decision and stick to that decision no matter what happens.  A determined person is one who has looked at the facts, seen the options and decided on a course of action.  They may become sidetracked, or delayed, or even sabotaged, but with determination they continue toward the goal.  Picking themselves up when necessary, plowing through obstacles, never taking their eyes off the goal!


The greatest achievements in life are usually accomplished by people who have a singular desire that becomes the ruling passion of all they do.


Sin pulls at the emotions, the feelings, as well as the mind.  So when we make up our mind we have only half the battle won.  We must also have an all consuming WANT TO to serve the Lord.  Jesus said that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness would be filled.  He understood the need for a desire-fueled determination.  What kind of desire?  What kind of hunger or thirst?  Perhaps those basic needs in the human body explain it best.  I know we have felt the hunger pains, but we were not in desperate need of food. However on these very hot days, we have felt the real need for water.  I like my water in something, coffee, or tea not just straight, UNLESS I am THIRSTY!  Then nothing else will quite do.  A coke just doesn't satisfy the thirst, the body NEEDS water!  Sometimes I wake up in bed with a THIRST.  If I wake up feeling hungry, I just roll over and wait for morning.  But when I wake up THIRSTY, I get out of my bed and go to the bathroom to drink water straight from the tap.  It really tastes good because I was thirsty.  My thirst was a motivating force.  That's what Jesus wanted in us, a desire that would motivate us to action.  Not to think about what we should do, but motivation that causes us to pursue what we decided to do about our relationship with Him.


There are many things that come against our decision to live for God.  We not only have an enemy in satan, the world, people, circumstances and emotions, we have an enemy in us!  There must exist within us such a WANT TO that nothing will keep us down, or apart from our goal for long!


We must TRY until we achieve, we must WORK until we master, we must FIGHT until all opposition is destroyed!




June 18, 2017                                                                        FATHER'S DAY​


This of course is "Father's Day."  A day set aside to honor fathers.  Mom's have already had their day, and now this is OUR DAY!!  As much as we need to honor "Dad," the day could not be complete without understanding some of the responsibilities attached to this title of "Father."


Matt. 6:9 NKJ In this manner, therefore, pray:  Our Father in heaven, Hallowed by Your name. 


When Jesus taught us to pray he spoke of Himself as our father.  We were to first Hallow His name.  Further, we were to desire His will in earth, or in us as His will is done in heaven.  Then we could ask for our daily needs, but it would be conditional, we would be forgiven as we forgave others. We were asked that he not lead us into temptation, but to deliver us.


All of this we know, and spiritualize.  But let me for a moment at least bring it down to earth.  He is talking about Fatherhood.  We respect God, we give Him glory and honor because of who He is.  The kind of Father that He is.  Notice that we come under his will.  Why?  Because we know that He knows what is good for us.  He is a good father with our best interest at heart.  He is also a provider.  And He is trustworthy.  He does not lead us into temptations.  In other words, He designs our instructions in such a way that we know the right thing to do.  His love and guidance delivers us.  How do we measure up to Him as a father to our children?


Adults have a view of God based on what they learned as a child.


Having a child does not make us a father!  Knowledge of our responsibility causes us to consider carefully the way we approach those most important people in our lives.  Those that we are responsible for.  Those that we hope will allow us to earn their respect and love.  It has been said that "a child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father."  Recently I asked the pre-school class in our Sunday school to draw a picture of God.  I intended to use them as an illustration for my Sunday sermon.  Toward the end of class the children were excited to show me their work.  They came up with rainbows and men with big hands.  Finally, my daughter showed me her picture: a man with a suit and tie on.  "I don't know what God looks like," she said, "so I just drew my daddy instead."  What an awesome responsibility. --Al Serhal, Oakford, Ind. "Lite Fare," Christian Readers, Leadership.


It's very hard to overcome that first impression.  If the impression of our Father was of a loving, caring, compassionate, kind and fair authority, then it is easy to see God and God's requirements as in our best interest.  Still we must see ourselves as Responsible Fathers:


Take leadership in the home:  According to the Word of God, the Father is to be the priest of the home.  He is responsible to God for what he does.  Mother may teach, but Father must lead!


That means that we must be:

           First in prayer, first at the altar, first in consistent service to God, first to fight the good fight, first to speak of the good things of God!


It is never enough to tell our children these things, we must LEAD THEM!





June 4, 2017                                                                           HE CAN DO IT


(Phil 1:6 NKJV) being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;


Have you ever seen the sign....ONE SIZE FITS ALL?  What a concept.  It would appear that everybody is the same.  There is no need for a tailored look because there is no difference in people.  However, we know that the one size fits all idea comes from fabric that will stretch to fit, or something that is designed to hang LARGE on someone.  The same thing does not fit everyone.


This is very apparent when we consider giving a gift to someone.  Take Christmas for an example.  People try their best to get the PERFECT gift.  They hurry to the store with their list in their hands.  Trying to place a gift beside every name.  Each name is different.  The relationship is different.  Certainly the likes and dislikes are different.  Shops are full.  The pace is hectic, and when we finally put the last check mark on our list we are very happy.  If you think the shops were full when you got the gifts, wait until after Christmas.  People will be RETURNING THEIR GIFTS!  Some will be broken or didn't fit, and some will be returned because they were a disappointment, it wasn't what they wanted, or didn't live up to the advertisements.


Perhaps you have someone who is hard to buy for on your list.  You may expect them to return whatever you get for them, but still, after all your hard work, it's disappointing to have your gift returned.  God's great gift will fit us all, it will never be unworkable, it's everything we want and need!  God intended the gift to be for all, no matter what their background, wealth, position, physical beauty or lack of perfection.  His gift is not attained by our worth, but by His great Mercy!  If once we take it into our lives we will never be the same.  Salvation is the beginning of a perfectly glorious relationship with the Creator of the universe!  It's the greatest gift, and it keeps on giving!


HE CAN DO IT !!!!


Paul wrote to the Church at Philippi as a proud parent.  He had great hopes for them.  He believed in them.  He loved them.  And he had confidence in the power of God for them.  This great Gift of salvation would take care of them!  From the beginning he wanted to encourage them.  He tells them that the Lord is able to complete the good work He started in them!


There was no doubt in Paul's mind, but for the gift of God to be useful, it must become a part of our lives.  It is not enough that God is able, we must be willing to give Him first priority in our lives.  When He lives in us, He can!  How much confidence do you have in the Gift that the Lord bestowed upon you at Salvation?  Can you stand with Paul and say...YES, GOD WILL PERFORM IT!  He has the ability, He has the desire,  He has the Love.  His gift is never outdated, broken or wrong for us.  It is JUST RIGHT!!  In spite of what life has given to you.  In spite of the trials, in spite of the difficulties, in spite of the temptations, sorrows or anything, God is able to perform the work He has determined for you!  If we seek His will.  If we desire His purpose.  He completes the work begun on our behalf!


It's easy to say that God has given us everyting we need with the gift of Salvation.  It's true, but there is a qualification that must be met.  No, we don't have to be rich or perfect, but we must be a participant in our salvation.  A yielded life allows Him to put to work His awesome power on our behalf.  We must act upon the promise.




May 28, 2017                                                                    THE REAL THING


The Coke company had a slogan for many years saying... It's the real things.  I grew up hearing it.  When we heard it, everybody knew it was talking about Coke.  So, Pepsi had to come up with something else in the war for America's thirst.  So Pepsi decided that it was for the New Generation.  Now, I wasn't there, so I don't know exactly what happened, perhaps Pepsi was just getting too much of the market with their New Generation drink, or maybe someone thought people had changed their taste and wanted something that wasn't quite as distinctive as Coke.  Or someone just thought people had changed their taste and wanted something that wasn't quite as distinctive as Coke.  Or someone just thought a change would be a good idea.  At any rate, the Coca Cola company decided it was time to come out with a NEW taste.  They launched a massive campaign to sell this new product to the public.


After a certain time, what we knew as Coke would no longer be available.  There would be a new drink on the market, one that would steal away all the Pepsi drinkers and make New Coke drinkers.  You may remember the campaigns, the taste tests, the hype and the new packaging.  At the right time, Coke was taken off the shelves and New Coke was put in it's place.


A strange thing happened.  In spite of all the programs, hype and tests, the sales of New Coke just didn't match the amount of Old Coke that had been selling.  Pepsi was taking a LARGER amount of the market.  What was the problem?  Why hadn't they sold more than the competition?  Somewhere in a board room somebody sat with egg on his face hearing the bad reports and trying to figure out he was going to explain all this to his boss.  New Coke just wasn't selling.


So they got their heads together and decided on a new strategy.  They worked hard and perhaps long.  Soon the campaign was ready.  They brought out a new drink.  They would place it side by side with the New Coke and would let the public decide.  They called it Coke Classic.  And of course you history buffs know what happened.  We are drinking Coke Classic and New Coke is gone.  The interesting thing is, Coke Classic is actually Old Coke.  What I grew up hearing was the "Real Thing!"  So, I guess people just wanted the real thing!


It's the real thing.

People were impressed by the power of God in His Church!  In Acts 19 we read of Jews who were exorcists.  The law gave a method of casting out devils.  They saw Paul's success, so they added something to their ritual.  They said to the demons in a man, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preached.  Satan loves to offer an imitation!  Sometimes the imitation is so strong that people want to change the message, just a little.  Enough so they can get a bigger share of the market.  But no matter how the imitation is packaged, it just AIN'T THE REAL THING!!  These men knew the form, use the Name of Jesus.  They knew who brought this message, Paul.  But they did not know the one who SENT the message, Jesus Christ.


Remember, the New Coke was a red package with the Coke logo, but people didn't want to buy the package.  They wanted to open the can and taste what they expected to taste.  They were disappointed by the new product.  It wasn't want they wanted, it didn't satisfy their thirst for a Coke.  The devils in the man were not impressed by these Jews either.  They were not impressed with their knowledge of the method!  Here are their words: Jesus we know and Paul we know, but WHO ARE YOU?  So the man attacked all 7 of them!


We are going to have to answer that question too.  Who are we?  Have we got the REAL THING, or are we trying to pawn off an imitation?  Paul told Timothy that there would be those.... having a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away!  2 Tim. 3:5 NKJ


The end time is full of religion, but is it the Power of God to salvation?  We don't need a 'new product',  God's word is true and powerful!  We need to obey it completely!


We cannot afford to have an imitation!  We need the real thing!






May 21, 2017                                                                      GROW UP


(I Pet 2:2 KJV) as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,


There is a story told of a woman who had been a school teacher for 25 years.  When she heard about a job that would mean a promotion, she applied for it.  However, someone who had been teaching for only one year was hired instead.  She went to the principal and asked why.  The principal responded, I'm sorry, but you haven't had 25 years of experience as you claim; you've had only one year's experience 25 times."  During the whole 25 years she had not grown.  She was the same as she had been 25 years ago.


IT'S NOT EASY TO GROW UP!

The very action of the verb 'grow' calls for change.  In a plant it's going from a seed to a plant to maturity.  In an individual it's going from helplessness through physical growing to a person's final size.  But that is not all there is to growth.  It is also growing in the mind and emotion.  From the child that is self-centered to the man who is concerned with caring for his family.  Maturity has certain stages.  Unfortunately not all people GROW UP.  Some become adult children...cruel, uncaring, selfish.  The world is filled with the ATTITUDE OF I.  As they grew physically, they stopped growing emotionally.  Jesus Christ gave us the attitude of Maturity.  It is not a selfish attitude, but a sharing attitude.  It's not easy to grow up!!!


Physical growth inevitable but gradual.  Emotional growth is also gradual and everybody doesn't "grow" at the same rate.  This is true of Spritual Growth as well, it is gradual and varied individual to individual.  Spiritual Growth is a call to perfection.  There are stages that we go through on our way to PERFECTION.  One of the differences between Physical and Spiritual growth is that we only grow spiritually as we LEARN the lessons given to us.  We can become HUNG UP in areas of learning and stay there for a long time.  One of the most important retirements of Growth is to learn to say "Yes" to God quickly.  To go forward from where we are, learning more about Him and being obedient to what we know.  The Letters of Paul are blueprints of Christian attitude and lessons for growth.  To the Ephesians he said we should not be "carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting."  [from Eph 4].  Instead we should do our share which causes growth of the body and edification.


Paul goes on to say we should not walk as other Gentiles in vanity of our minds, in ignorance and blindness (hardening) of the heart.  Giving over to lasciviousness to work uncleanness.  In short we must 'change' into that new creature!  Else we "grieve" the Lord [Eph 4:30].


We may know all there is to know about God and never Grow up.  We may have what we consider is understanding of the things of God and still never grow up.  Growing up is more than putting in time.  It is more than completing a certain course of study.  Growing up is becoming mature... scripturally speaking, being PERFECTED IN CHRIST JESUS.  That means all of the things that Paul mentioned as being against God must be put away, and all the things that are told us are the attributes of Christ must become a part of our lives.  It's not easy to grow up!!




May 14, 2017                                                         WHEN THE  SPIRIT MOVES​


Science has done a study of lightning.  In early times man attributed many things to lightning.  Early Greeks believed that lightning was a weapon of Zeus.  Thunderbolts were invented by Athena, the goddess of wisdom.  Since lightning was a manifestation of the gods, any spot struck by lightning was regarded as sacred.  Greek and Roman temples often were erected at these sites, where the gods were worshiped in an attempt to appease them.  They thought it was light spears thrown by angry gods for example.  Science knows better.  Socrates said, "that's not Zeus up there, it's a vortex of air."  In fact, we even know what lightning is:  Lightning is a big spark...static electricity on a giant scale.


But as late as 1800 in Russia if rain was needed 3 men would climb a tree, knock two firebrands together to imitate lightning and pour water over twigs to imitate rain while another would bang on a kettle to attract thunder.  [source:  National Lightning Safety Institute]


That's just crazy, no one can draw lightning, thunder and rain from the sky with such theatrics.  Yet, some feel that with much repetitive prayers they may move God in their behalf.​


Gen. 1:2 [NKJ]  The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.   Within His being is all this potential POWER.  The elements were ready.  God HOVERED over the formless darkness of the void.  In a sense, God was waiting.  He knew His plan.  He had the power.  Everything was in readiness.  And when God came near, His power flashed across the void and He created.  Nothing could stop His power because His purpose was to create!


GOD HOVERS OVER US


There is a truth that we must acknowledge.  If God is not near, nothing happens.  I know that God is everywhere.  I am talking about when God's attention is focused upon us.  Who we are and where we are, and God HOVERS over us.  It's when God is HERE that we experience the awesomeness of His Power, Presence and Purpose.  Scripture declares:  But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.   [Ps 22:3 NKJ]  We must not only recognize when He is HERE, but we must entertain His interest!


We must become the 'lightning rod' for Him, so how do we do that?  In Psalms 119, David shows the relationship between man and God.  In some stanzas he talks of God's might.  In others about His faithfulness.  But in many he is just talking to God.  Becoming his friend.  Nestled in the Psalm seems to be the answer, at least to me.  In verse 151 David writes:  You are near, O LORD, And all your commandments are truth.  [119:151 NKJV]


It would seem to me that if God is going to be near to me, it will be because I have drawn near to Him.  The song says...Here in your presence heaven and earth become one, Here in your presence everything bows before you.  We can have tremendous confidence in God because He has all power and authority, but we must be in His presence!


When the Leper came to Jesus he did the only thing he could do for himself.  He came into the presence of God.  Max Lucado writes:  Even before Jesus spoke to him, He reached out His hand and touched him.  He went beyond convention, no one would touch a leper, but because He had compassion on him, Jesus touched him.  God also has compassion on us.  We just need to get into His presence!!


Remember... But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.  Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them.  They cried to You, and were delivered; They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.  [Psa 22:3-5 NKJ]


The Lord HOVERS OVER US and is moved with compassion toward us.  Our praise brings Him close....we can have confidence!



May 7, 2017                                                                 I MUST DECREASE!


When Jesus came to John, the Spirit of the Lord anointed him and he saw Jesus for who He was.  Not his cousin, not a good man, not another teacher, but the Messiah that would take away the sins of the world.  In fact, he knew in that moment that his life was fulfilled.  In that moment, all was made clear to him.  "I shouldn't baptize you, you should baptize me," he said.  But Jesus made it quite clear that with this baptism all things would be fulfilled.  Then they each went their own way.  John did not quit preaching to the people about repentance, and the people continued to respond to his message and were baptized.


Perhaps this confused the people.  Many were still loyal to John.  True, some had left after his declaration and followed after Jesus, but there were still many who looked at John and saw hope.  In fact, even after the resurrection of Jesus, Paul found a group in Ephesus who continued to follow John's message.  However some wanted clarity, they needed John to explain it to them.  I am not the Christ, only the messenger.  He must increase, but I must decrease.  [ John 3:30 NKJ]

I MUST DECREASE!


You would think that John would never have any doubt.  And in this moment he knew that even if he were to continue to preach repentance and the people continued to respond, his time was limited.  His purpose was no longer the great evangelist crying out to the people to prepare.  His purpose was as spokesman gently pointing those who still followed the dynamics of his message to the Messiah who had COME!  This he knew with the clarity of revelation on this day.


John's ministry indeed decreased.  Speaking against Herod got him thrown into prison.  John had found a clarity in that moment when he saw Jesus walking toward him to be baptized.  But circumstances and prison had caused him to lose that clarity. He needed that clarity or revelation, he needed Jesus to come to him once again.  Jesus words were enough, look at what is being done.  Now he reaffirmed what he had felt that day, now John could decrease until there was no more of him.


Sometimes we forget this most basic principle.  I guess it's because when we find the Lord in Salvation we are not immediately translated to Heaven.  Instead we continue in a semblance of living.  One day marches on much the same as any other. Our flesh feels pleasure and pain, and joy and sorrow.  Even our will gets into the act.  We continue to make decisions.  We decide where we will go and what we will do.  We don't feel dead, we feel very much alive.  So, sometimes the clarity we had when we first saw Jesus Christ becomes clouded by everything around us.  We forget our purpose.  We begin to live the dream and not the reality.  Perhaps we find we are motivated by AMBITION rather than HUMILITY.  DESIRE and not SUBMISSON.   GOALS and not the WILL OF GOD.   And in that we lose the clarity we knew.  Doubts can come in.  Despair becomes our companion.  And Hope, not FAITH rules our heart.  We like John need to come to grips with the reality that it is God that is important.  His will that must be served.  His purpose for our lives is the only course of action!  The Love of Christ must compel us to live for Him and not for ourselves!!


Many have lost their way.  Many have brooded in the prison house of their lives wondering, fearing, examining all that has come against them.  Asking themselves the wrong questions.  Going to the wrong sources for answers and finding themselves filled with despair.  BUT THERE IS HOPE!!  John was in danger of losing his way, but he knew what to do.  When those doubts came in, he sent to Jesus and Jesus answered!!


Contentment comes when we are in the center of God's will.  When there is less of me and more of Christ in my life.  It is too easy to forget that Jesus is the most important thing in our lives.  Too easy to allow the world and the happenings of this world to cloud the real issue.  We need to be clear about who we are.  We are LIVING SACRIFICES, it is His will that must live in us, and not our own.  The CEV says it very simply in John 3:30:  "Jesus must become more important, while I become less important."




April 30, 2017                                                                CAN YOU SEE ME?


The need to be recognized is a basic human need.  It ranks right up there with the need for food and comfort.  But what is recognition?  According to Wikipedia it is: 1. The action or process of recognizing or being recognized, in particular.  2. Acknowledgment of something's existence, validity, or legality.  3. Official approval, certification, accreditation, endorsement, validation.  We may not always be able to adequately define what it is, but we certainly know when we feel it's lack.


'Cipher in the Snow', written by Jean Mizer, is an account of the life and death of Cliff Evans.  His parents divorced and he had no friends.  He became completely withdrawn from everybody and became what is known as a cipher.  Oh, by the way, a cipher is the symbol for zero and by definition: a person or thing of no importance.


One day he asked to be let off his school bus.  He then collapses and dies in the snow near the side of the road.  No one notices.  When he was found they thought they should do something to honor his memory.  They asked his Math teacher, who Cliff had listed as his favorite teacher, to take a delegation from the school to the funeral.  His teacher, who hardly knew who he was, could not find ten people who knew Cliff well enough to go to his funeral.  Jean Mizer implied that his death was because no one loved him, since no one missed him when he failed to get home.


This is, of course, a tragic story, and one that makes us wonder how anyone could live anywhere, interact with their peers, authority figures and even family and yet never be missed.  It is tragic because the problem is twofold.  Cliff's withdrawal from those around him, and that the people around him failed to recognized his withdrawal.


CAN YOU SEE ME?​


I certainly hope that none of us ever fall into either category, but all of us at one time or another suffer from a lack of recognition and wonder if anyone can see us.  No one recognizes our achievements.  No one sees our needs, no one 'helps'.  Feeling invisible is a powerful negative emotion that causes a reaction.  Children may 'act out', if I am not noticed, I'll do something that will make you notice me.  Others may, like Cliff, withdraw.  I don't need anyone.  Both actions are in fact a cry for help.


Scripture tells us:  Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.   [Gal.6:2 NKJ]  It's not about 'carrying a load', but about 'caring about our brother and what he is going through'.


It is impossible for me to keep someone from withdrawing from God or those around them.  However, I can "SEE" the signs.  If I am sensitive to the Spirit of God and to my 'brother', I can make an effort to draw them back into fellowship.


So, if you feel 'unseen', please don't withdraw.  You are not alone, at one time or another we all feel that no one recognizes us for who we are.  Help others help you by trying to interact with them.


As for the rest of us, LOOK AROUND.  Is there anyone that is hard to 'see'?  Find a way to bring them into the light, it's terrible to be invisible.


Also, consider this.  Not only have we 'been there', we may be there again.  Helping one another does more than "SEE" them, it makes us visible too.




April 23, 2017                                                              NEVER LOSE ANYTHING


Never lose anything!  That's the clever way of 'selling' a small device that can connect with your phone to allow you to find anything it's attached to.  Of course, you would only attach it to those things you really didn't want to lose,  like car keys, or even your phone.  But if you lose your phone it wouldn't do you much good if that's what it was attached to.


So, as neat as this device is, it has it's limitations, and usually the limitation is how we use it.  The bottom line seems to be, if we really don't want to lose something we should carefully consider how we use it, where we put it and how we treat it.


Yogi Barra said:  You've got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there.


Many of the things we 'lose' are misplaced because we have something else on our mind.  Our attention was elsewhere.


So to find whatever it is we have lost we must retrace our steps.  Where did we last remember having it?  Where were we going, and perhaps, most importantly, when did we miss it?


 KNOW WHAT YOU'VE GOT WHILE YOU'VE GOT IT!


Joni Mitchell said:  You don't know what you've got till it's gone.  But someone added, You knew what you had, you just thought you'd never lose it.


The truth is, the things we take for granted are the things we most often lose.  It might be our keys, our friendships and even our contact with God.


Paul declared after 30 years... that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. [Phil. 3:10-11 NKJ].  Even after all those years, after the three years in the desert.  After the miracles of casting out demons and seeing the dead raised.  After all his prayers and inspired words from God, he still valued his relationship with God.  He did not take it for granted.


Wouldn't it be great if we had a device that would always tell us exactly where God was?  As my grandson would say....ACTUALLY...we do.  It's called prayer.  It doesn't matter where we are, or what we are doing, or what is happening to us, God is always as close as our prayers.  It's just that we often wonder if we've lost Him.  But we haven't, He said He would be with us 'alway'.  The Greek meaning is that there is never an end, never an end to His being with us.


So if you think you've lost your way, go back to the last place you missed it.  He'll be there and you will never lose it again!



April 16, 2017                                                              EASTER'S MESSAGE


The message of Easter is familiar to anyone who has been a regular Easter Sunday Attendee, or should be.  A group of four-year old's were gathered in a Sunday School class in Chattanooga.  The teacher looked at the class and asked this question:  "Does anyone know what today is?"   A little four-year-old girl held up her hand and said, "Yes, today is Palm Sunday."  The teacher exclaimed, "That's fantastic, that's wonderful.  Now does anyone know what next Sunday is?"  The same little girl held up her hand and said, "Yes, next Sunday is Easter Sunday."  Once again the teacher said, "That's fantastic.  Now, does anyone know what makes next Sunday Easter?"  The same little girl responded and said, "Yes, next Sunday is Easter because Jesus rose from the grave" and before the teacher could congratulate her, she kept on talking and said, "but if he sees his shadow -- he has to go back in for seven weeks." -- Ben Haden      I am sure we all know a little better the Easter message.


The message of Easter is about resurrection from the dead.  Now there may have been different aspects of the message preached on any given Easter, but the bottom line of the Easter message is that Jesus Christ, who was brutally murdered on Friday came out of the Tomb on Sunday.


It's a great message, and an important one that we don't just limit to one Sunday a year.  Some have rightly said that it is the foundation of the Christian Faith.  Certainly the hope we have in Jesus Christ could only be realized if indeed there is a resurrection from the Dead.  Paul said:  ​If corpses can't be raised, then Christ wasn't, because he was indeed dead.  And if Christ wasn't raised, then all you're doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever.    It's even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they're already in their graves.  If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we're a pretty sorry lot.   [I Cor. 15:16-19 Message]


DO WE BELIEVE THE MESSAGE?


So, I'll never detract from this message, but I want us to understand that it is the hope of the message that is most vital!  The facts of the case will not save us, only if we respond to the message!


The plan was incomplete that Easter morning.  It was on tract, but incomplete.  They didn't recognize what was happening because they didn't understand the scriptures yet.  They were excited about what had happened, they were overjoyed that Jesus was alive.  And they wanted to know if the Kingdom was to be restored.  But he didn't speak of kingdoms in the 40 days He was with them.  He spoke of Power! Witness! Completeness!  "What you'll get is the Holy Spirit.  And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem,  all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world."  [Acts 1:8 Message]


And then He was taken up and a cloud received Him.  Then the angel asked why they stood there, that this same Jesus would come again in like manner.  There was a plan that would be complete when He returned.  But before He returned, there was something else in the plan.  That personal relationship with God, the infilling of the Holy Ghost!  They went to Jerusalem to wait for the promise because:  They agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer, the women included.  Also Jesus' mother, Mary, and his brothers.  [Acts 1:14 Message]


They responded to the promise of His power, His Spirit and His enabling.  The Easter message is great, He is risen.  But the message is more than that fact.  It is also a question.  Have you received the message in your heart?




April 9, 2017                                                                GOD IS STILL GOD

There has always been a certain mystery concerning God.  Paul even after his conversion cried out, (Phil 3:10 NKJV) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.  We know God is, we know that according to His word, He is an ABLE God.  We know He is the Great God and beside Him there is no other.  We know a lot ABOUT HIM.  However, it's in the midst of the trial, when questions come.  Or we don't know which way to turn that we cry in our frustration, WHERE IS HE?  We may find ourselves asking, IS HE GOD FOR ME?  We have seen many things, experienced others, but in our need we may wonder if we can really have what we see in scripture.  Can we have what others seem to have in their distress?  Let me answer simply, no matter what, GOD'S STILL GOD!


GOD DOES NOT CHANGE!

God is not affected by our mutability; our changes do not alter him.  When we are restless, he remains serene and calm; when we are low, selfish, mean, or dispirited, he is still the unalterable I Am.  The same yesterday, today, and forever, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  What God is in himself, not what we may chance to feel him in this or that moment to be, that is our hope.  Frederick William Robertson (1816-1853)  When Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, he met with the Elders from Ephesus.  In speaking with them he said:  And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.  [Acts 20:22-23 NKJV]   ​Paul who had seen many hardships was looking forward to even more, and also the uncertainty of what it would all mean.  It was a time of testing.  If you know you are going into a trial, why go?  It is in our nature to try to protect ourselves from difficulties and dangers.  But he was determined to go, why?  Because he 'knew' he was going in the will of God.  God had made a promise to him.  That promise had nothing to do with what the world threw at him.  It had nothing to do with those things that seemed to prevent him from accomplishing God's purpose in his life.  That is why he could tell them:  But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.  [Acts 20:24 NKJV]

WHEN DOES GOD CHANGE?


When does God change?  All but God is changing day by day.  Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)


​          When the storm is raging, the lightening flashing, God's still God.

          When the wind lashes and the thunder crashes, God's still God.

          In the turmoil and suffering, discouragement and trial, God's still God.

          In the sorrow and pain, helplessness and hopelessness, God's still God.

          Through the terror of the night and enemy of the day, God's still God.

          If persecuted, abused, hated or misused, God's still God.

          No matter who, no matter what, no matter when, God's still God.


​There may be a certain mystery concerning God, but you can KNOW, you can FEEL, you can EXPERIENCE God!  Whatever the world throws at you, you can say with Paul....None of these things move me....I know God is still God!!



April 2, 2017                                                       MORE THAN CONQUERORS


(Rom 8:37 NKJV)  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.


One popular Hee Haw sketch began with four men and a hound dog.  The men were sprawled on a front porch with the dog's snout lying on his paws.  Not only were they all bathed in an aura of dejected frowns, but they began to sing...Gloom, despair, and agony on me, Deep, dark depression, excessive misery.  If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.  Gloom, despair, and agony on me.


What followed were lyrics depicting the terrible state of their existence.  Of course it was a very funny sketch.  Possibly because the audience could relate in some small way to the attitude portrayed.  It's easy to look at life and wonder if ANYTHING is going to go right!  Our lives are more than providing for the necessitites.  There are good things we experience and there are things not so good.  Sometimes hard to put everything into perspective.  We know what we know, and we feel what we feel.  Nothing can change the TRUE FACTS of our lives.


It seems that each of us may have a choice.  We can choose to focus on our "despair and agony," or we can look to the poistive things of life.  Let me make a statement here.  No matter what we face, we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us.


We should have confidence in our relationship with Jesus Christ, for good reason.  But sometimes we seem to need to "look" for those reasons.  This is the subject of this portion of Paul's letter to the Romans.  In all THESE THINGS we are more than conquerors!  (Rom 8:28 KJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.


That's a great scripture.  In fact, it should be one of our mainstays.  Paul says, WE KNOW.   Knowledge is a wonderful thing.  Consider this.  We KNOW that the sun comes up in the morning.  But some mornings all we see are dark clouds.  It's storming, raining and the wind is blowing.  Still, we KNOW the sun is shining.  Yeah, we say, somewhere, but not here!  Then you get into an airplane and climb to 30,000 feet.  At some point, you break through the clouds into a wonderful world of bright sunshine.  It was there all the time, above the clouds you could see.  But you KNEW that.  So you considered the storm as a temporary condition because you KNEW the sun was still there.


Scripture is full of hopeless situations.  The prophet's servant looked at the army in array against the city and cried all is lost.  The army of God saw a single man, 9 feet tall and ran from his challenge.  The widow gathered sticks for her last meal.  Jarius followed the Teacher blindly when his daughter was pronounced dead.  And the enemy rejoiced when they laid Jesus in a borrowed tomb.  Hopeless situations, but everyone who looked and despaired did not KNOW God.


It was God who opened the servants eyes to see God's army surrounding.  God who took a young man and a sling to meet and defeat the challenge.  God who touched the meal and the oil and the widow ate throughout the famine.  God who said to the dead arise and presented the child to her father.  And they did not Know it was God manifest in flesh, the sacrifice for sin, that they laid in that borrowed tomb and God who came from the dead to let you KNOW he is in charge of everything in YOUR life!!!


We have FAITH no matter what comes or goes.  It is faith based on the fact of His purpose, love and devotion to us that carries the day!  Though we fight, it will be the good fight of faith.  Though we suffer, it will be the suffering of the righteous.  Though we see despair, it will not be defeat!


​For like Paul, we are PERSUADED that NOTHING can SEPARATE us from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus!



​ 



March 26, 2017                                                            MEASURE OF A MAN


(2 Cor 10:12 NKJV) " For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves.  But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."


I've often wondered just what kind of men the men of the Bible REALLY WERE!  From the pages of the Bible emerge men larger than life.  Men who called on the Name of Jesus in the time of adversity and were not only delivered, but through that deliverance caused men to believe on Jesus Christ.  Men like PAUL, and PETER delivered from the bonds of prison.  Men like JAMES who when faced with the difficult problem of the Gentile's circumcision was moved by a Word of Wisdom applying Old Testament scripture to declare that the seal of the covenant in this day of grace was not circumcision of the flesh, but the application of the Name of Jesus!  Everywhere I look I see these men of greatness overcome.


I do not say that there were no faults recorded, if we wish to dwell upon them we can.  PETER denied the Lord three times; PAUL persecuted the church; BARNABAS argued with Paul over taking John Mark on the second missionary journey, and parted company because of their disagreement.  THEY DEBATED OVER THE GENTILES.  We could cry FAILURE when Peter set himself apart from the Gentiles when the Jews came, and other weak points can be found.


               But in all this what is found is not DEFEAT, but FINAL VICTORY! 


​When Peter was confronted by Paul as being double-minded, Peter did not begin to hate, but writes of the Love he held for his Brother in Christ, that same Paul.  When they were WRONG,  they changed.  When they were RIGHT, they did not gloat.  When they made a mistake they corrected it.  When the work PROSPERED at their hands, they took no glory in it.  Men of greatness, men of power, men of personal integrity.  Great men, but still men.


What made them Great?  If we can find what they MEASURE up to, perhaps we can set goals at that same measure and be more like them.


To have the kind of contact with God that enabled us to see miracles performed by the power of God would be fantastic!


Could we find that measure in their own words?  Paul called himself the least, yet he was the instrument of God to write more books of the Bible than any other.  James, in speaking of the Apostles, said that they should not look at the men of the Old Testament like Elijah as something supernatural, that they were men of like passions as they were.  NOT THEN IN THEIR WORDS, FOR IN THEIR OWN THINKING THEY WERE NOTHING MORE THAN MERE MEN.  Prone to fail, prone to make mistakes, prone to their own desires.


Where then is the difference?  If we can but find it, to know it in our hearts and minds, to be able to practice that which made them great, could we not become what they were?


They were men, yes, just men, but they were touched by the POWER OF GOD!



March 19, 2017                                                                      DREAMS


I'm interested in your dreams.  Not the dreams of your sleep, even though they can be quite fanciful.  I'm interested in the dreams and ambitions you hold in you heart.  Everybody has a dream, something they want to see happen, something they want to become.  Dreams motivate us, push us, demand us to act.  Whatever your dream is, it will without doubt be a controlling force in your life!


Inventors dream and the world is never the same.  Their dreams are more than fanciful excursions on their beds at night.  It is said that Edison had failure after failure before he perfected any of his dreams.  The dream would not let him quit.  Would not allow him to consider the failures.  The dream forced him forward until he tasted sweet success.  The world is an easier place filled with light and music because he had a dream and was able to fulfill it.


I hope that each of us have a dream.  A dream to be and do better things for the Lord.  I dream of being a better preacher and pastor.  Do you dream of being better?  A better deacon, trustee, teacher, usher, janitor, saint of God?  Whatever your position in the kingdom of God, you can see your dreams fulfilled.  You can dream the dream of Jesus Christ, that His house would be full. That your friends and loved ones will find the plan of salvation.  You can expect the dream to come true.  You can dream about your situation, coming out of the trial, having complete victory over sin or disease or affliction.  We will achieve our dreams, but dreaming is not enough, we must also be doing.


As we move into the 21st century, the church should take note of the following:  "The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious."  [The Marketing Imagination]


God promised Abram that He would make him a great nation, but he had no son.  Abram said, "How shall I know that I will inherit it?"  So He said to him, "Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." [Gen 15:9 NKJ]  So he did as the Lord commanded.  He divided the sacrifices and laid each piece one against the other except the birds, he did not divide them.  And nothing happened!


All day nothing moved except the buzzards who came to devour his sacrifice.  They perched close by waiting for their chance to take the animals that he had laid on the ground in sacrifice to the Lord.  Each time the birds came he chased them away, all day long he worked on his dream.  All day he waited with hope.  Then when the sun was going down a deep sleep fell on him.  A great darkness descended on him and in the darkness the Lord spoke to him.  Then a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp passed between those pieces.  Abram was given a sign with the knowledge of his dream.


Becoming a better Christian does not always come easy.  Receiving the promises of God are not always automatic. . . You and I must work our dream!!!


It's the sacrifice that attracts the buzzards, not our talk or our looks or our dreams.  When our dreams and our salvation push us to sacrifice, then the buzzards will come.  Sacrifice gives off an odor that they can smell and are drawn to.  The enemy will come with temptation, discouragement, pain, loneliness and trouble.  The sacrifice is yours, get up and drive them away from your sacrifice!! You must preserve the sacrifice until the Lord comes to answer by fire!!


Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that if God called you to the place of sacrifice,  He has not forgotten you.  It may seem like the day is long and the troubling vultures are too much to bear, but remember, He has not forgotten you.


Do you dream to be a better Christian?  You can be, if you will work your dream!!




March 12, 2017                                                                        BARRIER


I want you to picture the largest crowd you have ever been in and multiply it upward.  From above it would be like a single living thing.  Going this way and that, flowing almost like a river.  In the crowd a single person is captured by the sheer size of the group.  Feel yourself being bumped over and over again.  Pressed from one side to another, moved, shoved and swaying as the crowd moves restlessly.  It's easy to go along with the flow, hard to go against the flow of the crowd.  Got the picture?  This is the way it was every time Jesus went out to minister.  People everywhere, crowds so thick that the disciples had to serve as a vanguard to break up the crowd so He could move forward.  Without them the crowd would have compelled Jesus to remain in one spot hemmed in by this mass of unmovable bodies.  Trying to pass through this crowd would be a chore to say the least.  To say it would be impossible would not be far wrong.  Most would look at the mass of people and just wait until it moved away before trying.


Every crowd has a purpose, a reason for being.  In most cases everyone is there for a single purpose, to see, hear and get close to the object they came to see.  In the case of the crowd Mark records, they were all trying to touch Jesus.  He was pressed on every side.  They did more than brush against Him, they moved Him this way and that.


(Mark 5:30 NKJV)  And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My clothes?"   The object of the question was a very sick woman.  In fact, she has tried everything.  She's been to every doctor she has heard of, spent almost everything she has.  For 12 years she has suffered with her disease and at the hands of doctors and quacks.  She has tried everything!  Then she heard about Jesus.  A man who has opened blind eyes, caused the lame to walk and the deaf to hear.  She wonders about her own disease, then wonder of wonders He is coming to her town.


She wakes up early crawling painfully out of her bed, dressing herself, weak from the loss of blood, dizzy.  Finally she leaves the house and makes her way toward the center of town and He is there.  But there is a CROWD!  How to get through, how to get to Him, that is the question.  She cannot stay here, she is weak and she knows that perhaps this is the last chance for her.  She tries to move forward, but the crowd is trying to get to Jesus as well.  They do not help her, they are a barrier.  Weak with pain, she pushes through, she must see Jesus.  Being shoved, cuffed, pushed down, but at every movement, every unkind word, every rough hand, she turns all to her advantage so that being pushed she is pushed toward her goal.  She falls, then crawls, between their legs, roughly picked up and thrust aside, but she falls forward until finally she can hear His words.  She presses with her last strength and sees Him.  In a last ditch desperation she reaches out her hand to the fullest extent and touches the hem of His garment as she falls into the dust!  Immediately strength fills her body!  The issue of blood dries up.  She is healed and she knows it!


The greatest barrier between some Christians and God's omnipotent power

is their own supposed strength.  Complete Book of Practical Proverbs, Wacky Wit and Zingers


What is it that stands between us and our God?  It could be many things and it would be impossible to name everything that could.  But it really doesn't matter what it is that causes us to feel frustrated to the point that we will not exercise our faith.  We need to begin!  To press forward toward the Lord, calling on His name.  When we feel fears or doubts or things come into our minds, we must think of them as the crowd and press on....Let them become nameless, faceless and press on!  Let us see only Jesus, the answer to all our needs, waiting to touch, willing to touch us!  Press on through all those things that stand in the way and we will begin to hear His voice, see His glory, and touch His power!  Then we will find the answer to our need.  A renewed relationship.  A powerful deliverance.  A loving friend!​

REMEMBER

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.--Augustine




March 5, 2017                                                                        BLIND FAITH


Here is a bit of wisdom from the sea:

"He who is enslaved to the compass has the freedom of the sea."

[Anne Ortlund, Fix Your Eyes On Jesus, p.111.]


(1 Cor. 7:22 NKJV} For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freedman.  Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave.


Everybody wants to be free.  Free to do what they choose, make their own choices.  What most people do not understand is that freedom does not change natural laws.  Nor the laws of God.  Like the compass, our obedience to God's law gives us the freedom to live an abundant life!  Life is filled with dangers and without direction we are lost, destroyed or cast away on some uncharted island.  Freedom without natural law leads to slavery of a different kind.  To ignore the direction of the compass may feel like freedom, but we can only lose our way.


Every action in life has consequences.  Good or bad, profound or indifferent, intentional or accidental.  We live by what we do.  Faith and Obedience are close kin.  It is not hard to make decisions based on things we can see.


It's the things that we cannot see that require faith!  BLIND FAITH!


What is blind faith?  In an abandoned house in Germany, soldiers found a Star of David scratched on a basement wall.  Under it they found this message:  I believe in the sun--even when it does not shine; I believe in love--even when it is not shown; I believe in God--even when he does not speak.  [Robert Schuller]


After Hurricane Andrew a News crew surveyed the damage.  In all the destruction they found one house standing.  "Sir, why is your house the only one still standing?" asked the reporter.  "How did you manage to escape the severe damage of the hurricane?"  "I built this house myself," the man replied.  "I also built it according to the Florida state building code.  When the code called for 2x6 roof trusses, I used 2x6 roof trusses.  I was told that a house built according to code could withstand a hurricane.  I did, and it did.  I suppose no one else around here followed the code." [from David R. Culver Wisconsin in Leadership '93]


I often wonder how God looks at our doubts or our inability to follow instructions.  Perhaps He is exasperated and wonders what must be done for us to simply act upon what He has said.  But I can't see the results of my obedience, we say.  Perhaps not, but do we really want something to force us into obedience?


I may not always know EXACTLY where He's going or what His purpose is, but I can always know He is leading and by faith, BLIND FAITH, I will follow because He is leading!  It's a simple matter, Obedience is ALWAYS better than sacrifice!



February 19, 2017                                                A WASTE OF TIME


A lot of time is spent waiting for something to happen in our lives.  We seem to be programmed to think everything will happen in the future.  To Children it's someday, I'll be big enough to drive, stay up late, vote or whatever.  To Adults it's someday my ship will come in, I'll make more money, I'll be a success.  The truth is, no one ever gets to the place where he can do exactly what he wants, and future success depends on what we do right now.


It is easy for us to feel that waiting is a waste of time.  We can wonder if what we are doing now can possibly ever be useful in our future.  How many children wonder if school is a waste of time?  Answer: all of them!  But so do Adults wonder if what they are doing now, making a living or learning a trade has any value for their future.  So, I wonder what we can honestly call a waste of  time.


In a lifetime, the average American will...

*Spend six months sitting at traffic lights waiting for them to change.

*Spend one year searching through desk clutter looking for misplaced objects.

*Spend eight months opening junk mail.

*Spend two years trying to call people who aren't in or whose line is busy.

*Spend five years waiting in lines.

*Spend three years in meetings.

*Learn how to operate twenty thousand different things, from pop machines to can openers to digital radio controls.


It is possible to waste time, be we don't have to.


Time is something we all have, and it is ours to use.  We can use time to our advantage.  We can prepare for a better future right now, in our present time, or not, it's really our choice.  I realize that there are some things that do waste our time, like opening six hundred pieces of mail every year.  And there are some things that seem to be a waste of time.  Just ask Moses about his 40 years in the wilderness, or Joseph about his trip to Egypt.  Of course, we can't ask them, but perhaps we can ask David.  In Psalms 144, the subject is a new song.  There David says:  Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle [Psalms 144:1 NKJ]  Where did he train?  Wasting his time watching sheep.  He didn't consider that time a waste of time.  He learned to trust in God.


Is our life a waste of time?  That depends.  Not on circumstances or outside influences, but on us.  If we are not learning the lessons of our trials, not learning to love the Lord, then our life can become full of wasted moments.  In the future you will need the lessons given to you today!  You will need to seize the opportunities offered.  Work toward the goal of the future.  God will use every scrap of our living to prepare us for the time of victory.


Remember:  He who neglects the present moment may throw away all he has.  [Complete book of practical proverbs, wacky wit and zingers]


THE SECRET OF YOUR FUTURE IS HIDDEN IN YOUR DAILY ROUTINE.


What we spend our time on.  Our thoughts on.  Our resources on, are what make up and develop our future.  Make sure you understand one thing.  We decide our future.  What we may think of as a waste of time will in fact be exactly what we need to claim victory.  When it comes to meeting God some day, the same thing applies.  If you are to be accepted by Him then, it will be because you have become His friend Now!  We are wasting our time if we grumble and complain.  We are using our time wisely as we seek the will of God and work the works of God today!





February 12, 2017                                                  WHAT INFLUENCE?


When we hear the word influence we think of getting someone to come around to our way of thinking.


We exert some 'force' upon them that causes them to see our idea or action as the proper one, in fact the only one.  The old saying that everyone has the right to be wrong doesn't actually apply.  We want them to think that we are right.  Now this is aggressive influence.  We set out to 'change' an opinion, or create a 'desire' in another individual.  But that is not the only way that we 'influence' others.


There is also 'passive' influence.  There is never a man so poor or unknown that he does not have an audience.  [Complete Book of Practical Proverbs, Wacky Wit and Zingers]  In other words, our words, attitude and actions have a 'passive' influence on those around us.  How much our 'passive' influence effects others usually depends on how close those people are to us.  It is also possible to become a 'role model' unknowingly.


One of the problems of influence is that we don't always "choose" where or from who that influence comes.  Notice a child that has problems dealing with relationships, authority and wise decisions.  Usually that child will attach themselves to someone who is NOT a good example.  Why?  Often because those we might consider "good" examples will not take the time or make the effort to be an example to him.  Writing someone off because they don't "fit" our idea of what is worthwhile is a mistake that costs us as well as those we ignore.


In this book 'How to win friends and influence people,'  Dale Carnegie dealt with the principles of relationship.  His underlying view was that we must 'thoughtfully' and 'considerately' approach others.


This would bring a positive influence.  High on the list of 'things not to do' is criticize, condemn and complain.  Again, things NOT TO DO.  On the other hand he encouraged us to "become genuinely interested in other people."


Paul approached it a slightly different way.  He considered it important to care for our attitude.  A right attitude toward God will control our words and actions as well as temper our attitude toward those around us.  He admonished us to:  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever tings are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.  The things when you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.  Phil 4:8-9


Words to live by.  It is hard to sell a product you do not use and a religion you do not live.  [Complete Book of Practical Proverbs, Wacky Wit and Zingers]


Where we go and what we do advertises what we are.  [Complete Book of Practical Proverbs, Wacky Wit and Zingers]  The 'bottom line' is that we all exert some form of influence, intentional or not.  If our influence is intentional, we must make sure our motive is pure and our object is right.  If our influence is unintentional we must endeavor to live a life that points to God.



​February 5, 2017                                                        STAY CLOSE


James 4:7-8 [NKJ]  Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.


Several boys were trying to learn James 4:7 during children's church.  The teacher wanted the boys to read the verse on their own but agreed to assist them with the harder words.  Brennan accepted the challenge and tackled the first word.  But instead of "submit," Brennan said "sidewalk."  

"Think of another 's' word, Brennan," the teacher prompted.

"'Cement' yourselves to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee."  Not a bad rendering.  -- Donna Holland, Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom"


When we were children and went to a strange place where there were a lot of people, our parents would tell us to STAY CLOSE.  When we were young we didn't realize why they wanted us to be close to them.  We had other things on our mind.  We wanted to EXPLORE.  We wanted to DO OUR OWN THING.  We wanted to BE WITH OUR FRIENDS.  The fact was that our parents continually CRAMPED OUR STYLE.


Let's face it, no one wants their friends to think that they are tied to Mom's apron strings.  So, when we were out of eyesight and thought they couldn't hear us, we became different people.  We explored our own desires and viewpoints.  They weren't there to monitor our thoughts or words, so we tried new ideas and sometimes new language.  When we were close they exerted an influence that could not be ignored.  When we grew up and had children of our own, we began to understand why they wanted us close.  When we were close they felt they could PROTECT us.  They didn't want us close just so we would stay out of trouble, or to deny us our individuality.  Being close allowed them to TEACH us.  To explain the workings of the world around us.  It allowed them to show us by EXAMPLE what it meant to be a responsible adult.  They also wanted us to GET TO KNOW THEM.  Being close allows us to really get to know the person we are with.  Knowing them allowed us to TRUST them.  They also wanted to GET TO KNOW US.  Who we are and who we would become.  They wanted us close because they loved us, and they actually wanted to be around us.


James said to submit to God, or as Brennan 'read' CEMENT yourselves to God.  The declaration is that the Lord wants us to STAY CLOSE.  Why?  For all the same reasons our parents wanted us close.  To PROTECT, TEACH, GIVE US AN EXAMPLE so we would GET TO KNOW HIM, and learn to TRUST HIM.   Oh, and one more thing, He wants us close because He loves us!


It is said that the mining method of the Egyptians was not to build great mines.  Instead they searched until they found a vein of gold and then they followed it.  Whatever direction the vein went, that was the direction they dug.  There is a lot to be said about that kind of mining.  The mine may not be straight, or even roomy, but the results is less digging and more profit.


It is very important that we STAY CLOSE TO GOD!  In the first place, we've never gone this way before.  There are dangers around us, and we don't understand the importance of our own actions.  Our tendency is to gravitate away from Him.  We become excited by the things around us.  Jesus says STAY CLOSE.  We hear Him, but there are so many things to capture our attention.  It's a choice, our choice how close we are to God.  David wrote:  I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.  [Psalms 16:8 NKJ]


It's a wonderful place, CLOSE TO HIM.  Where do you want to be?



January 29, 2017                                                     USEFUL TO GOD?


Audrey Mier wrote a compelling song that Andrae Crouch made well known. The refrain says:

                 To be used of God, to sing, to speak, to pray;

                 To be used of God to show someone the way.

                 I long so much to feel the touch

                 Of His consuming fire;

                 To be used of God is my desire.


This "desire" is a great ambition.  Ever wonder what it actually means?  When we consider useful things, we do not often wonder how those things "feel" about how we use them.  You don't look at a screwdriver and ask, "Will you be willing to turn this screw for me?"  No, you just pick up the screwdriver and turn the screw.  Why do you act that way?  It is very simple, that screwdriver was designed to turn the screw and it belongs to you.  It has a single purpose.  To help you complete tasks you have decided to do.


So when we consider being "used of God" we must consider that we are merely a tool that He has designed for a specific purpose, to do His will.  Oswald Chambers wrote:  The outstanding characteristic of a Christian is this unveiled frankness before God so that the life becomes a mirror for other lives.  By being filled with the Spirit we are transformed, and by beholding we become mirrors.  You always know when a man has been beholding the glory of the Lord, you feel in your inner spirit that he is the mirror of the Lord's own character.     


David declared in Psalms 40:8-9:  "I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.  I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness.  In the great assembly;  Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, You Yourself know. "      To be "used of God" is a "good" desire.


Still, the difficulty in actually "being used" of God rests in our inherent humanity, or as Paul told us that there is a war between the spirit and the flesh.  If I may look back to Mr. Chambers statement on this account:    The battle is lost or won in the secret places of the will before God, never first in the external world.  The Spirit of God apprehends me and I am obliged to get alone with God and fight the battle out before Him.  Until this is done, I lose every time.  The battle may take one minute or a year, that will depend on me, not on God; but it must be wrestled out alone before God, and I must resolutely go through the hell of renunciation before God.  Nothing has any power over the man who has fought out the battle before God and won there.  [Oswald Chambers] 


As Jacob learned through his night of struggle, the touch of God is a life changing touch.  We are never the same.  This is how we become "useful to God."  Through His life changing touch!            

   ​


January 22, 2017                                                                REWARDS​


A man joined a monastery.  One of the rules was you were only allowed to speak two words every 10 years.  At the end of the first 10 years he said, "BAD FOOD."  Ten more years passed and he said, "HARD BED."  Finally at the end of his 30th anniversary he thundered, "I QUIT!"  The brother in charge responded, "You might as well, all you do is complain anyway."  --selected


​ATTITUDE:  The way we think, feel and look at things determine what we ARE.  It also has a lot to do with the happiness we might or might not find.  Thirdly, it has a great deal to do with the condition of our souls.  Our attitude is so important that scripture deals with it over and over.  Sometimes it's called by name and sometimes it is slightly hidden to casual observation.  Proverbs abounds with the admonitions to keep our attitude in the right channel.  To think on right thoughts, shun evil lusts that destroy the mind, soul and body.


If we wrap our minds up in the desire for riches we forget the joys of the Lord and that is vanity.  Scripture tells us that whatever a man sows, that is what he will reap.  We are also told that we will stand before the great and just judge.  Now comes the connection.  That great and just judge will give to all of us REWARDS.  The rewards will not be the same for everybody because it is to be a RECOMPENSE OF REWARD.


​Webster states that RECOMPENSE means "To return in kind."  The reward that shall be given shall be based then on the TYPE OF LIFE we live.  It will show the ATTITUDE WE POSSESSED, the Love we have SHOWN FOR GOD AND MAN, and the WORKS WE HAVE DONE.  In other words, our reward will be in the same category as was our life.  


It is clear that we must be in a right relationship with God first.  Paul states that we build on the foundation of Jesus Christ, or upon that relationship.


Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.  14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15  If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  I Cor 3:12-15 NKJ


This is a very interesting principle Paul is writing about.  It is clear that no one can come to the LORD on any other foundation.  What Paul shocks us with is that we have the ability to build on that foundation as we might choose.  The building materials we use are of our own choice.  Precious things are used to denote SPIRITUAL materials.  The True Riches of God.  We know those principles, promises, prayers, right attitudes, humility, gifts and FRUIT.  Can it really be our choice to use these things to build our walk with God?  It seems so.  It is also in our power to use those things that are not precious, things of this world, not the True Riches of God, but the riches of men.  These things can go the gambit of carnal thought, ambition, selective dislike, pet bias, remembered hurts, desires, and anger.  Perhaps these things cannot be labeled SIN in the sense of that which will cost us our soul, but they are harmful to our relationship to God and to our fellow man.  They may be in our nature, but Paul makes it quite clear that they are CHOSEN by us as building materials.  It is in our power to reject them for materials of great and lasting value.  Our Choice!


Our lives, Paul said, would be judged by what we built on the foundation of Jesus Christ.  All things Carnal would be destroyed by fire, only the things of the Spirit would remain.


WHAT IS OUR LIFE MADE UP OF?  Everyday occurrences, trials, temptations, sorrows, pain and much more.  Our thoughts, attitudes and actions.  Remember, A RETURN IN KIND:  Sow to the flesh and we reap to the flesh.  Flesh sows to lust, lust to sin and sin to death.



January 15, 2017                                                       RENEWED MIND


The United Negro College Association ran a campaign several years ago with a simple statement:  A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE!   They were trying to make us aware of the need for everyone to be able to reach toward their full potential.  And solicit funds.  This is however a true statement, not only in the area of education and life, but of the spirit.  The mind is a garden that could be cultivated to produce the harvest that we desire.  The mind is a workshop where the important decisions of life and eternity are made.  The mind is an armory where we forge the weapons for our victory or our destruction.  The mind is a battlefield where all the decisive battles of life are won or lost.  [unknown]


The mind is the seat of reason.  Scripture sometimes uses the term HEART for that place in man where his personality resides.  It is in the mind, that intricate mysterious place, that all things begin and end.


In the final analysis what you THINK about something determines your position.

When the mind is made up it is virtually impossible to change it.  All of the sources of input may be there.  The eyes may see, the ears may ear, but if the mind is closed, there can be no change of opinion. [Prov. 23:7]  For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.  "Eat and drink!" he says to you, But his heart is not with you.


​This wonderful complicated resource can become our destruction or salvation.  All of us have exercised our mind after a confrontation with another person by rehashing what has happened.  Thinking of proper responses that we should have said.  Planning what we would say if given the chance again.  All of this effects us, not those around us.  In fact, events can be reshaped by our mind until we truly "believe" they happened as we imagined they did.  Be cautioned, that does not change the actual event, but as far as we are concerned, it happened just like we thought!


Our mind can also be a wonderful tool for good.  Knowledge can be placed in our mind.  We can remember the character of God when trouble comes our way.  Faith can be made stronger by our thought patterns.  Relationships can be strengthened by the way we think about one another.


Because all of this is true, the mind is the battle ground for our souls.  Satan knows how fertile our minds are.


                                                   A thought planted in the mind will grow.       

Eve allowed him to plant a thought....God is withholding something wonderful from us.  In a very short time sin came into the world through the field of her mind.  Justification is found in our mind.  We can convince ourselves that we are in the right, even when we "know" we are not.  Indeed, a mind is a terrible thing to waste!!!


Our old nature must be put aside, a new nature must take control.  A nature filled with the love of Jesus Christ, with the desire to please Him, and to accomplish His work.  And we are not, as Paul says, to walk as Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.  With our understanding darkened, ignorant of God, hardhearted, seeking lasciviousness or pleasures, working uncleanness with greed!


It is  the mind that maketh good or ill, that maketh wretch or happy, rich or poor.                 --Spenser                    


What do we think?  When covered by sin our thoughts are of the things of the flesh, selfishness, those things that oppose our well being.  But when the Mind of Christ is in us, our thoughts take a radical change.  We think what He thinks.  Our purpose is His purpose, our ambitions are His ambitions, our dreams, His dreams.  That New creature thought pattern becomes who we are.


It's in our mind, our thoughts, that battleground that determines our well being.  No wonder David cried:  Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.  [Ps. 51:10]




​January 8, 2017                                                                   SACRIFICE


(John 1:1 NKJV)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

(John 1:14 NKJV)  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.


In His willingness to become flesh, to live, to teach, to touch man, to suffer, even to die and rise again, THAT WAS GOD'S  GIFT TO US!!


WE ARE AMAZED BY IT.  It grips our hearts and love for Him pours out.  When we think of it, when we consider it, we feel so unworthy and helpless to return anything of value.  It is good that our thoughts cause us to desire to give something to Him, BUT WHAT?  A children's song tells us that the best gift we can give IS ME!  So it is, and so we desire to give, but how?  WE WORSHIP, PRAY, GIVE AND YET SOMEHOW OUR GIFT DOESN'T SEEM TO COMPARE TO HIS AT ALL.


Our love demands a total surrender, it pushes us toward the reality of a God led life and sacrifice.  And if sacrifice, what kind of sacrifice?  Of self, of desires. . of money?


It will not be through the conventional sacrifice made once by some action or object.  If not a sacrifice, what?  I believe it will be through consecration!  Consecration is much more than a word.  It is more than an EMOTION.  Words spoken in the heat of emotion are seldom valid to the heart of the speaker.


                                               Consecration is a form then, not of thought, or words, but of LIFE!


It is the life that is consecrated, not the physical life force, but the actions of that life.  Our speech, deeds, likes and even our desires are consecrated.  It is our LIVING that is consecrated to God.  EVERYTHING must become part of our consecration to God!  We cannot divide our lives into blocks where a certain time or place is given to God and the rest remains ours.  Consecration demands that we SET ASIDE OURSELVES FOR SERVICE.  God does not desire only tangible things from us, but our total selves.  It is true that tangible things take on a spiritual application when they are given through a consecrated life, but without the consecration they have no spiritual application.


 In a truly consecrated individual those things that are wrong,

or against God will be pushed out by the pressure of God's presence.


David said in Ps. 51:17 "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,  A broken and a contrite heart--These, O God, You will not despise. "  [NKJV]  Bringing one's self under the authority of God is the sacrifice God desires of us.


HIS WILL SUPERSEDES OUR OWN.​




​​January 1, 2017                                                                   NEW DAY


New Year's day.  What exactly does that mean?  Is it just another day?  If so, what is all the hype about?  Why wait up until Midnight to usher in this day?  I guess it's about hope.  No matter what the past year has been, good, bad or just mediocre, just saying, "It's a new year" seems to make a difference.


Tradition dictates that the New Year is a blank page waiting for us to write our story upon it.  All things are possible when we look toward a "NEW YEAR."  You may have some regrets and a determination to make the most of the "clean slate" a New Year offers, and that is all well and good.  However, I want to let you know that each and every day offers the same hope and opportunity!  Let me explain.


What is your past?  What is your future?  Your past is only memory and your future hopes.  If you wipe memory from your mind, you have no past.  If hope is taken from your heart, you have no future.  For this reason, we cannot live in the past among our memories, they no longer exist.  We cannot live in the future among our hopes, they have never existed.


I want to consider Jeremiah for a moment.  He had begun to write about his broken and shattered life.  It was not that these things were untrue, they were, and that is what made it so bad for him.  He writes of the troubles of a lifetime, the affliction that he has born and the pain that has been in his body. It is the utter and desperate sorrow.  What a picture!  How our hearts should be moved with compassion for him.  What terrible distress, and what self pity!  But then God enters, and the words change!  The Prophet wrote:  (Lam 3:22-24 NKJV)  Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed,   Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  "The Lord is my portion," says may soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!"


Suddenly the self pity is gone, there begins to dawn a new day for an old and foot weary solder.  Suddenly the sun of God's love begins to shine on the life of Jeremiah and all the things that are past are gone forever.  Everything is looked at with new feelings, for the new day has come, the Hope has been restored.  Why?  Because he realized God is a present help.  He had helped him through all of those things and was still with him to help him even in this time!


Each day is a New Day not bound by the past or influenced by the future. Each day is defined by this moment in time. Even God recognizes the uniqueness of each day.  The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalms 95:7-8 [NKJ] several times reminding us that it is TODAY that is vital to our relationship with God. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture,  And the sheep of His hand.  Today, if you will hear His voice: "Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,  As in the day of trial in the wilderness,


May I say it?  There is no other time in which we might be saved, only TODAY!  We being creatures of time have only time in which to prepare ourselves for eternity.  And time is the segment in which we move and know, that is the only time we have!  That makes the present pretty important.  It makes our decisions now pretty important.  It makes our actions now pretty important.  Those things become our future!


TODAY IS A NEW DAY, it is not found in the past or the future, it is found in the moments of now.  We cannot live in past regret, or even future dreams.  All we have is the Now.  If we allow God to "enter" our lives, everything will change. 


This is not a "New Year" stretching out 365 days, but one day.  This is the first day of the rest of your lie!  Make it count!



​​​​​​​​​​December 18, 2016                                                            THE GREATEST STORY


There are a lot of great stories, but the Christmas story is the "Greatest Story."  To call this one the "Greatest Story" might seem a bit presumptuous, but I assure you that it is.


So, what makes a great story?  I am an avid reader and I really enjoy a good story, so if not an expert, I think I can say I'm an educated amateur.  So, what elements are necessary?  First, it must have a plot.  There must be a message.  If we are to get past the first paragraph, it must have a beginning that captures our attention.  Then there must be some action involved.  A good guy and a bad guy always helps to move the story along.  Someone in distress that needs to be rescued by our "here" is necessary.  Finally, there must be a clear victor.  I don't know about you, but I really, really want to see the good guy win.  These are the elements that make up a "great" story.  So how does the "Christmas Story" stack up to this definition of a "great story?"


If this had been a "short" story, then the events concerning the birth of Jesus would in themselves make it a great story.  You have life size characters.  Mary and Joseph, willing to follow the voice of God.  Angels and Shepherds and don't forget the wise men who saw His "star in the east."  And the conclusion that this baby would "change the world."  Not a bad ending at all.  But His birth was only the opening chapter of the "Greatest Story."


How about this for conflict, a devil tempting Him to give up His purpose for a short cut to fame.  Three years of powerful leaders looking for every excuse to embarrass Him or worse to destroy Him.  But true to a hero's actions, He merely continued to touch the poor, heal the sick, restore the broken, teach the true meaning of God's love and oh yes....RAISE THE DEAD!  He is surrounded by multitudes, pressed by their needs and as one writer put it, He healed "all" who came.  Victory and fame in spite of those "evil" leaders who were trying to destroy Him.


Then it seems that the evil leaders win.  He is taken, beaten, humiliated and presented to the crowd.  To the people who had proclaimed Him.  To those who accepted His compassionate gifts of healing and hope.  And there in that moment they cry...Crucify Him...Crucify Him.  Even the hated Roman Governor realized He was innocent.  But mercy was not a hallmark of Roman rule and political expedience won over justice.


The darkest moment in this story was on a small hill where He was crucified between two thieves.  Now, you say, how can this be the "Greatest Story" if it ends in the hero's death.  That is a very good question and would be true if this were the end, but it is only the end of the chapter.  After three days the women went to the tomb to prepare His body.  But He was not there.  As the prophets had declared, and as He Himself had said, He came triumphantly out of the tomb.  He showed Himself to His followers, taught them final lessons and was taken to heaven before their very eyes.  Is that the end, you ask?  No, only the end of the chapter.


What makes this the "greatest story" is not only the events I mentioned, but that the story is still continuing, now, today.  We can be part of this story because He came to "seek and to save" those who are lost.  His Spirit still ministers mercy and grace to those in need.  His compassion never fails and neither has He lost His power.


Perhaps you agree that this is indeed the "Greatest Story" ever told.  If you do, I sincerely hope that you do not just "read" this story, but that you have become a part of His story.




December 11, 2016                                                              ADDING GOD


(2 Ki 12:2-3 NKJV) Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.  But the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.  


The turbulent years of the Kings of Israel are a study in human nature.  Each King was given the opportunity to lead the nation as he saw fit.  Truth to tell, each was a product of his upbringing and the environment around him.  Some did what was right in the eyes of God, but not fully, not like David who was God's friend.  One of the indications of acceptability was their attitude toward idols.  Over and over we are told that these Kings of Israel allowed the HIGH PLACES to remain.  The high places were a flaw in Israel's character.  Someone offered this thought about Carnal Christians:  Some people use their religion like a bus--they ride on it only when it is going their way.  {Complete Book of Practical Proverbs, Wacky Wit and Zingers}  To look at the HIGH PLACES for what they are would be to look at the nature of man to yield to the carnal nature of the flesh.  When they remain, man is not entirely pleasing to God.


[John 4:4 NKJ]  But He needed to go through Samaria.  I wonder if we can see the significance of Jesus' words.... He NEEDED to go through Samaria.  The woman at the well was waiting.  She did not understand the significance of pure worship.  Jesus explained that true worshipers worship in spirit and in truth.  It was not a divided loyalty.  It was not adding God to other thoughts or belief.  From Adam's fall, God has sought a pure relationship with His creation.  He looks at our human frailty and has mercy on us.  David said God's throne is between the cherubs.  The Bible only records one place where the cherubs are, and that is in the Holy of Holies as their wings stretched over the mercy seat.  Calvary was a direct result of the MERCY OF GOD to people who do not know how to approach Him.


                                               If God's throne is between the cherubs, then His throne is mercy!


When the rich young ruler came to the Lord, he was impressed at the words of Jesus, moved by the power of His message and the compassion he saw in the healing Jesus did.  Everything he saw made him think that this was the Messiah they had been waiting for.  Jesus also saw that this young man had a dangerous flaw.  He wanted to ADD GOD to what he already had.  From the beginning God let Israel know that He was a jealous God.  They could have NO gods before Him.  He commanded it.  God desires us to have the kind of commitment to Him that He has to us.  He was willing to suffer and die, to bring redemption to us.  He was willing to allow Himself to be misused.  He even allows each man to take what he offers and either accept or reject it.  There is one thing He is not willing to do.  He is not willing to be merely added to what we already have!


                                                                                 We cannot merely ADD GOD!


We should lay aside self, or God will lay us aside.  [Complete Book of Practical Proverbs, Wacky Wit and Zingers]  ​Paul spoke to us of becoming a living sacrifice.  We are to give all to the Lord.  Those things that are not acceptable, habits, thoughts, action and emotions are to be sacrificed, burned on the altar of repentance.  We are also to give those things that are acceptable, our prayer, study, witnessing and Christian attitude upon the altar of incense a sweet smelling savor.  He requires all of us, our sacrifice, complete.




December 4, 2016                                                                   LOOK TO THE HILLS


(Psa 121:1-2 NKJV)  "I will lift up my eyes to the hills--- From whence comes my help?  My help comes  from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth."


It is part of our human nature to want to CONTROL everything around us.  We want to be able to take charge and see results immediately.  It is very hard for us to wait.  Worse yet, to wait for things that we have no control over.  We fear failure in a success orientated world.  The TERRORIST can disrupt our lives, even though they may be half a world away because we cannot control the circumstance.  We are AFRAID, we are NOT IN CONTROL!  We seldom try anything if we aren't sure we can succeed.  As a result, we fail to begin those things we are capable of.  We allow pressure from those around us to stifle our dream, circumstances to stop our initiative and fear to halt our progress.  Why?  FEAR OF FAILURE.


We even allow some of this to enter into our walk with God.  It steals the unction of faith that we feel in the presence of the spirit of God.  When life tells us that what we feel in God is impossible, we tend to accept what we can see rather than what we cannot see.  The key is to know what God has said and hold on to that promise in spite of what we see around us.    What the world calls failure may be like tears.  A sign of weakness to people, and precious to the Lord.  Success or failure will not be judged on this side of the veil.  For no man knows God's purpose.  Stephen [Acts 11:19] looked like a failed wasted life, such a shame.  But to God his death was a precious necessity to the cause!


Missionary to China, J. Hudson Taylor, once said:  "I have failed, I am failing, I will fail, but Jesus never fails. "   He is also credited as saying:  "God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him."  We must look beyond the circumstances and the helpless feelings of our flesh.  WE MUST LOOK TO THE HILLS!


David understood where his strength came from!  He knew that he had been nothing, just a shepherd when the Lord found him.  In this 121st Psalm David reminds us that we must not rely upon men and means, instruments and second causes.  We must lift up our eyes above the hills; we must look to God who made all earthly things for our protection!  We must see all our help in God; from him we must expect it, in his own way and time.  This psalm teaches us to comfort ourselves in the Lord, when difficulties and dangers are greatest.  He is a wakeful, watchful Keeper; he is never weary; he not only does not sleep, but he does not so much as slumber.


David understood the power of God.  When he stepped out on the battlefield to fight Goliath, he went in the NAME OF THE LORD!  That was enough for him.  He needed nothing else.  The sling, the rock was incidental!  It was only a prop, God could have used anything.  David knew that God had the ability and the power, it was up to him to step out on the stage of time and be a vessel for God to use!  Nothing less, nothing more!  IS THERE NOT A CAUSE!  That is all that David needed to understand.  God could have him, his time, his hands, his abilities.  Nothing mattered except the cause of God!


Did you ever notice that David never describes his victory over Goliath in any of the Psalms?  We live in a time of superlatives--the greatest evangelist, the greatest preacher, the greatest theologian, the greatest actor--we desire dignity, position.  We want some title and to be addressed properly.  No wonder Christ cannot be seen.  Paul called himself  "the least of all the apostles."  Where is our pride?  Where is our meekness?  It's all right to acknowledge our weakness, our inclination to failure, what is not all right is to allow ourselves to merely lean on our own strength.  Nothing can be accomplished in the kingdom of God based on our abilities.



November 27, 2016                                                                 ASTONISHED


Have you ever given any thought to what God thinks?  Not what He has commanded us to do or not to do, I mean what He thinks about our actions and our thoughts?

 

Sometimes we find ourselves sitting around a table or in someone's living room just visiting with our friends and family in the Lord.  It seems natural that our conversations take a turn toward God.  We discuss God and His word.


I have found myself in some very far out conversations concerning God and heaven.  Wondering and trying to imagine why God has done what He has done and what heaven will be like.  Will we eat, have servants, what about our kingship or our priesthood?  What is the work that He has for us to do?  And other topics as well.  I am sure you too have found yourself in this type of conversation.


This wondering or imagining or searching is not wrong, but I have often wondered just what God thought of our feeble efforts to understand, to imagine what He really has in store for us.  I feel that He sometimes smiles or chuckles, pleased that we wonder yet amused at our efforts to understand.  His thoughts are not always amusement however, for His thoughts are determined by our actions.  SOMETIMES our actions cause anger, pain, even sorrow.  Even as He healed the multitudes, He wondered at man's unbelief. 


           And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him.  And Jesus said to them,

           "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"  [Matt. 9:28 NKJ]


His thoughts are centered around His people.  I can almost see Him sigh at times because of our astonishment at His power and His actions in our behalf.  We ask Him and do not expect an answer.  We are defeatists and cannot imagine that God would help us.  We fail to move in the will of God because we are afraid that He will not accept us.  When we find ourselves in this category we are among the ASTONISHED and in my mind's ear, I can hear God sigh!


Exasperation and disappointment are in that sigh.  To think that man who He has done so much for could think in his heart that God cannot or will not act on what He has promised!  Don't  be astonished that God will do what He said!


It is not a lack of ability on God's part that causes us not to receive His promises, but a lack of belief on our part.  Our carnal nature will always say, " I CAN'T!"  It is not our carnal nature that we are to believe, but we are to believe His promises, all of them!!!!  Nothing is too hard for our God to do!!!


There is no reason we should doubt God.  No reason we should be astonished when He moves in us or in our town or in our church, our families or our friends!  God did not promise these things just to fill pages.  He meant what He said and said what He meant.  We should EXPECT His promises to be fulfilled!


Whatever He promises to His children, whatever Covenant He makes with His people, He will fulfill!




November 20, 2016                                                 Iron CAN Swim


We are faced with many impossible situations in our lives.  Things over which we have absolutely no control.  Things that carry consequences that cause us physical or emotional hurts.  Frustration and disappointment come because we see no way out.  It is easy then to look at everything in light of the impossibilities we can see.  What to do, how to do it, when to act, and who to trust become a virtual merry-go-round of questions and feelings compounding the impossibilities of our lives.  If you feel or have ever felt like this, you are not alone!


The world is looking for answers as well.  The upsurge of physic expression and experimentation is one outgrowth of man's need to find an answer.  Scripture declares God's wondrous power from the Creation to the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  And yet how we view the Bible determines our ability to accept His intervention into the lives of men.


Our attitudes determine our actions, and our actions determine whether a situation is hopeless or solvable.  Who or what we turn to determines the outcome.  Do we turn to God or try to find the answer ourselves?


But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, "Alas, master!  For it was borrowed."  [2 Kings 6:5 NKJ]  There were two men involved, Elisha, the man of God, and an unnamed son of the prophets.  The story is simple, they had outgrown their facilities, and there was a need to build bigger.  They were all of a mind to work and picked a place down by the Jordan River.  Every one of them was responsible for a beam, or a part of the material.  They went down and began to cut down trees for lumber.  Each man doing his job.  One of the men had BORROWED AN AX to use in the work.  As he cut down a tree the ax head fell off into the water.   One of life's impossible situations occurred.  How do I return an ax I have lost?  I am responsible for it.  I cannot replace it.  My friend will not understand that I was trying to be careful, only that I lost his ax.  All of this can be seen in the statement of the man to Elisha. . .ALAS, MASTER!  FOR IT WAS BORROWED!


What was the difference between the young man and the man of God?  We might say one was a believer and one was not and we would be right, at least about the ax.  Both believed in God, but only Elisha believed something could be done about the ax.  Why?  He remembered what God can do.  The young man had seen God perform miracles in at least six impossible situations.  But now, today, all he could see was the loss of an ax.


Elisha merely remembered, and therefore, he KNEW something could be done in this impossible situation!  He cut down a stick, threw it into the water.  The King James says that the iron swam.  Imagine the astonishment on the face of the young man.  What he thought was gone forever, what he thought was going to cost him a terrible price to replace swam in the water.


We don't need to explain it, analyze it, tear it apart to see what ticks.  It is the hand of God.  If it was possible, we would just do it. . . ourselves, but it is not.  That's why we need the saviour.  That's why we need to remember the power of our God.


In life's "impossible situations," remember. . .IRON CAN SWIM!!




November 6, 2016                                                   CENTER OF YOUR LIFE


Death and sorrow will be the companions of our journey; hardship our garment; constancy and valor our only shield.  We must be united, we must be undaunted, we must be inflexible.  --Sir Winston Churchill, 1940


A journalist during WW2 wrote about the people of Britain.  He had observed them during the infamous blitz of London.  His book declared that while many things were missing during this time, life went on.  Every night the bombers came and they would have to spend the night in bomb shelters.  When the day broke the people would be back at their jobs.  Many would come to work having lost everything the night before.  Some would have lost loved ones.  The signs in those stores that remained was BUSINESS AS USUAL.


There was no moaning of their financial losses.  Millions of dollars would be lost sometimes in a single night, but there would be no mention of it.  They had lost the need for wealth.  No longer were their lives centered around the commerce of profit.  There was something else to occupy that position in their lives.


Perhaps we think it was SURVIVAL or FOOD, or HOLDING LOVED ONES TOGETHER, but it wasn't.  The SURVIVAL OF ENGLAND is what occupied the center of their lives.  All else was secondary.  Material, tears, blood and even life was given to preserve that country and this, the writer wrote is what made them invincible!


When God gave Moses the plan of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, He included the pattern of march and the pattern of encampment.  First, the Tabernacle was set up and around it were the Levites who cared for the furnishings with Aaron and the priests.  Then a little way off from the center of the camp on the East side was Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.  On the South were Reuben, Simeon and Gad.  On the West Ephraim, Manesseh and Benjamin.  On the North Dan, Asher and Naphtali.


In this manner, the Tabernacle was the CENTER of the camp.  All that was necessary was for the children to look the opposite direction and they would see the house of God.  When the Tabernacle moved, they were to move, when it stopped, they stopped.  Everything gravitated around the Tabernacle and this is what God planned.  He would be the center of His people!


Just as the earth travels around the sun and receives it's warmth, collect ultraviolet rays and indeed its life from it, so was man to revolve around God to receive from God his necessary life!  When God is the center of our lives, all things necessary to our living are met by His great power.  Israel fared well in the wilderness surrounding the Tabernacle of God.  They were fed, watered, clothed and protected because HE WAS AT THE CENTER!  Even in their disobedience He protected them.


Do you think that is what Paul had in mind when he wrote:  Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that.  We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord's coming is getting closer.  [Heb 10:25 CEV]


What is your life built around?  What is most important to you?  What is the one thing you cannot live without?  What is the center of your life?  Make no mistake, that thing you revolve around, put your trust in, expend your energy on and keep holy in your own eyes is the CENTER OF YOUR LIFE!  Family, job, friends, money, position--whatever it is, it is still the center of your life!


The man who has something other than God as the Center of his life says. . . It's such a sacrifice to live for God, I have to give up so much!!  It all depends on what the center of your life is.  When everything else is secondary it's not missed when lost.


Nothing was important to England except England.  They sacrificed the unimportant for the important.  If we are to be invincible in God, He must be the center of our lives!!



 October 23, 2016                                                              IF HE CAN!

 God can do anything!! Has there ever been a doubt?  He can save, He can heal, He can fill us with His Spirit.  God can do anything.  He is the first and the last, the fairest of 10,000.  There is no disease that He cannot cure!  No affliction He cannot reverse.  No problem that He can not solve!  There's no soul so low that He can't raise him up.  No demon He can not rebuke.  GOD CAN DO ANYTHING!  It is no wonder that the wind and elements obey Him, for He created them.  It is no wonder that the sun would stand still for Him, He placed it in the heavens.  It is no wonder that He can heal all manner of disease and straighten withered or broken limbs, for He is the creator of the body!  It is not impossible for the maker to repair that which He made.  If he made it, He knows all about it, and knowing, He is able to make it over again!


So, the question is not, IF HE CAN, but will it happen the way we want it to. The story of the Leper is recorded in three of the four Gospels.  There is something beautiful about the approach that this man had to Jesus.  I don't know what his circumstance was, how long he had been a leper, or what he had tried to do to become clean.


The Bible is silent about his past, suffering, and situation.  But when he came to Jesus, for whatever reason, he came with FAITH!  Something must have happened to make him KNOW that Jesus had the power to cleanse him from his leprosy.  He worshipped the LORD!  One of the Gospel writers records that he knelt down before the Lord.  He worshipped.  There was a controversy concerning who the Lord was, but this man did not concern himself with that.  He worshipped the Lord and

said. . . "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."  The response from the Lord was immediate, Jesus put out His hand an touched him saying. . . "I am willing, be cleansed."


The very attitude of the man was such that he gained the attention of the Lord.  Jesus, Mark says, had compassion upon the leper.  There was a response from the heart of the Lord toward this man who was covered with leprosy.  I thought about this, and prayed about it, and came to this conclusion.  Jesus was  touched by the faith that was displayed here, as He was touched at other times by the display of faith.  But here was something that was not really normal, something that touched Jesus in His compassion. The man came to Jesus with WORSHIP!  I pray, Lord, help me have pure worship before you.  Help me to come to you with worship no matter what the need that I have.  Worship coupled to faith touches the Lord of Glory.


If you can but believe all things are possible to him that believes!  Those were words of Jesus Himself.  Remember, it's not a question of IF HE can! The question is, do you believe enough to worship Him?






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