A different viewpoint (Psalm 6)

December 10, 2018

The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord accepts my prayer. Psalm 6:9

As I opened my Bible to Psalm 6, I was mindful of God’s graciousness in my life. I began to think about all the times the Lord has heard my pleas and all the times the Lord has answered my prayers (Vs: 9).  God is forever faithful.

The Psalmist knows this to be true.  Take a look at the last verse of chapter five:

For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
    you cover him with favor as with a shield.

David knows this, but in his present circumstance he seems to now have a different viewpoint.  He cries out to God, “I am hurting, please do not rebuke me in anger nor discipline me in wrath.”

In this chapter there are three applications for us:

  1. David’s hurt reveals his humanity.  There are moments when we struggle with the correct view-points in life.
  2. David’s humanity reveals his heart.
    1. David knows where his help comes from.
    2. David knows God is in complete control of his life, Vs: 3.
    3. David knows God loves him, Vs: 4.
    4. David knows only the living can praise the Lord, Vs: 5.
  3. David’s honesty reveals our need for honesty.

David admits to God, I am weary.  David admits to God, I am weak.  David cries out to God, I am waiting on you.

  • In honesty speak to the God who calls you to come to Him, Matt. 11:28-20.
  • In honesty admit to God your weakness in the battles you face, I Peter 5:5-7.
  • In honesty wait on the Lord, He will come through in your life, Isaiah 40:27-30; Galatians 6:9.

Brothers and sisters, I believe the Lord never intends for His people to be silent in their tough moments.  I believe half the battle is being honest with God.

Hear are God’s Words to us on this Monday:

Psalm 55:22 English Standard Version (ESV)

22 Cast your burden on the Lord,
    and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
    the righteous to be moved.

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Your old ways (John 21)

December 7, 2018

 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. John 21:3

Brothers and sisters, “I need time with Jesus!”  Question: Is this how you feel today?

As Peter considered the troubles in his heart and mind, his old  ways spoke up.  His old ways whispered, “let’s go fishing.”  In the moment it seemed like the thing to do because fishing was what Peter was good at before he met Jesus.  It was his old way.  Question, do you have any old ways?  Were there things you relied on to get you through life before you met Jesus?  Or maybe, you haven’t met Jesus and you are clueless about a new way of life.

Peter is a Christ-follower who is living with the sorrow of his temporary failure in following Jesus.  On this day recorded in John 21, Peter needed two things:

  1. He needed to be restored in his walk with Jesus.  This happens in 21:15-17.
  2. He needed to be reminded of God’s call on his life.  Jesus says, “You follow me.”

Brothers and sisters I need Jesus fellowship every day of my life.  I have an enemy who is always looking for a crack in my faith.  Satan is always wanting to devour my life and by the way Satan is always wanting to devour your life.

In this glorious scene, Jesus comes to where Peter is and Jesus does what only Jesus can do.  He restores Peter.  But even in the restoring Peter still has some old ways.  He turns and asks, What about John.

Peter would daily need to follow Jesus so that the pull of the old ways would not take him down.

On this Friday (or whenever you are reading this) I ask you, what are you feeling tempted to do?  Is it the old way or the new way.  Be assured if it is the old way, it is not of God.  Embrace a better way, Only follow Jesus!!!

Ignoring the label (Proverbs 15)

December 6, 2018

32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
    but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
33 The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
    and humility comes before honor. Proverbs 15:32-33

As he stood there, it seemed as if his spirit was crushed (Vs: 13).  He had been successful so many other times, but on this day, he stood there with tears swelling up in his eyes.  He could not figure out what had happened.  But his son knew what had happened. As he listened to his dads reasons, he knew it was time to tell him.

What am I writing about? I am writing about a senior adult father who has taken his medicine twice in the morning.  If his son had not come over the father’s house, he would have taken it a third time.  The third time would have killed him.

In this case, the wise older man was faced with a decision, would he ask for help or would he listen to his flesh that said, I know what I am doing.

Each of you who read this blog, must admit you truly have so many decisions to make in a days time.  As you are considering your choices, the enemy is doing his best to put his wicked choices in your mind and in your path.  As you consider your choices, even your flesh will betray you.

I am so glad to write that the wise older man looked at his son and asked, would you please help me with my medicine each week?

If we would only heed such wisdom.  Never let a crushed spirit direct your decisions.  Never allow pride to keep you from listening.  Never allow your stress to be your driver.

The Bible is clear, “submit to God!!!”

If Peter would have only listened. Tomorrow will tell the story of whether you and I listened this day.

The truest test (John 1)

December 5, 2018

 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”  John 1:26-27

As I sat there listening to this brother proclaim the Word of God I was in awe of his ability to preach. In another meeting I sat there listening to another brother proclaiming the Word of God and I was in awe of the God He proclaimed.

What was the difference between these two ministers?  It could have been me or maybe it was that one truly pointed his audience to his God.

When we read about the ministry of John the Baptist it is so clear that he serves an amazing God.  His entire ministry was filled with one message: “Behold the lamb of God.” 

As I sit here at my computer writing this blog I wonder if I preach this way?  I wonder if I live this way?  How does one know if they are lifting up Jesus?

  1. You are leading people to Him.
  2. You are more concerned about others walk with Him than with your own.
  3. You are happy as long as those you love are on mission for Him.

We see this not only in John’s ministry, but we see it in Andrews life.  As soon as he meets Jesus, he immediately tells his brother about Jesus.  When you see Andrew he is seeking to bring others to Jesus.

Father, lead all who read this to point people to Jesus!!!

 

Dude, what happened? (Acts 13)

December 4, 2018

13 Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem,  Acts 13:13

In Acts 13 we have both the story of Paul and Barnabas high moments and their low moments in ministry.  I am so thankful God records both so that you and I would not have the wrong impression of true ministry.

Often we read stories of the successes of people without considering their struggles.

I believe the following with all my heart: “Success comes only with struggle.”  Here is something else I believe with all my heart: “Success comes only with sacrifice.”

In Acts 13 we read of sacrifice:

  • The church in Antoich sacrificed their best preachers for the sake of the gospel.
  • Paul and Barnabas sacrificed in being persecuted from place to place for the sake of the gospel.
  • Jesus sacrificed in going to the cross for the sake of the gospel.

38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed[c] from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.

Brothers and sisters, I am glad others were willing to sacrifice for my success!!!

In Acts 13 we read a side-story of a young man, John Mark (Vs: 15,13) who wanted to be successful, but the sacrifice was too much in his early days of faith.  He goes home without success.  However in years to come, he would grow in his faith and he would become one who willingly sacrificed for His faith.

Brothers and sisters, what you are up against today?  What is it that you are wanting to run from?  The truth is, success only comes through sacrifice.  I find God’s Word to be the encouragement I need this day.  I pray it will be yours as well:

I Corinthians 15:58

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Moments that hurt (John 18)

December 3, 2018

 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed. John 18:27

The man stood at the front of the church waiting for his soon to be wife to come down the aisle, he said to God, “I want to get it right this time.”  This man was thinking about his first marriage which turned out to be a total nightmare.  By his own admission the man said, “it was totally his own fault.”

But this time around the man has surrendered his life to Jesus!

Brothers and sisters, do you have moments in your past that hurt? I know, in my life, there are hurtful moments I can talk about and some I cannot  talk about.  I really believe it must have been this way for Peter after the events in John 18.

I have written about this moment so many times in the past.  Each time I have always felt I had never gotten to the core of the matter. I wrote in the book Apprentice, “Peter is beyond his limits.  He needed to be alert to the devil’s purpose and he needed to cry out to God for mercy and power,” cited from Pg. 233.  But he did not!

Here is the core brothers and sisters: When you and I walk in the flesh we are certain to engage in many moments that will hurt.

Three questions arise from my studies this morning:

  1. How do I get beyond such moments?

God’s answer is clear, Lk 22:31-32 “Turn back to God.”  We do this through repentance, I John 1:9.  Yes, you can move beyond your failures with a genuine prayer of repentance.

2. How do I stay away from such moments?

Again, God’s answer is clear:  Submit to God’s leadership, James 4:6-7.  Stand behind God, John 17:12 “He guards us from the enemy.”  Walk in the Spirit daily, Galatians 5:13-16.

3.  How can I warn others to stay away from such moments?  I Peter 5:5-9.

In transparent humility be honest about your past.  Speak the truth in love with those who are headed to your old moments. Do not give up.  Jesus told Peter what was to come.  Peter did not listen, but later he did and his life was forever useful to God.

Brothers and sisters, what is our prayer today?  Mine is as was the man at the altar, “Lord, I want to get this day right.”

The danger of following at a distance (Mathew 26)

November 30, 2018

58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Matthew 26:58

I can still remember the strong warning from my grandfather.  He said, “Keith, do not get close to that mule, he will kick you.”  Brothers and sisters, those were the last words I remembered for a minute or so because I was presently already to close to the mule.

In Matthew 26 Jesus is warning the disciples of just the opposite.  They were about to move away from Jesus and for this moment in time they would follow Him from a distance.

Jesus tells the brothers, “You will each flee from me this night.”  

Peter, in shock, could never imagine such a moment.  Peter thought, Lord you must be thinking about these guys.  I know my heart.  I would never deny you.  But this is exactly what he would do on this dreaded night.

  • In Peter’s greatest spiritual fight, he ran from the fight.
  • In Peter’s greatest spiritual fight, he followed at a safe distance.
  • In Peter’s greatest spiritual fight, he fell hard before his enemies.

Is there anyone reading this today who has never ran, followed at a safe distance, and fell hard?  I am sure there are some, but I am not in the group.

On this Friday, I realize I need the Lord every moment of every day.  Years later, Peter would pen the following words in Scripture.  They help us to understand how we can follow the Lord up close, I Peter 5:6-11

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Here are five actions to take in your spiritual battles:

  1. Trust God’s Word concerning your life.
  2. Rest your weight on Him in every trial.
  3. Always be on guard for the enemies attacks.
  4. Fight your battles in faith.
  5. Prepare yourself for battles throughout your spiritual journey.

The “true” voice (Psalm 29

November 29, 2018

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. Psalm 29:3-4

Every day they fill our airways of communication.  We hear them on the streets and in our homes. They fill the night sky in villages around the world. Each day our minds are bombarded by their activity.

What am I writing about?  Answer, “the voices of people and the voice of the enemy, Satan himself.”

In Psalm 29 the author is singing the praises of one voice.  The voice which has given His people victory over their enemies.  This voice is none other than the voice of our God!!!

The Psalmist directs us to do the following:

  • To worship the voice of the Lord.
  • To listen to the voice of the Lord.
  • To obey the voice of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, this seems so easy in theory.  However, in practice this is much more difficult.  The difficulty is there because of the multitude of voices pulling at us from day-to-day.

Consider the following:

  • The power of His voice is strong, Vs: 3-9.  God spoke the world in existence.  He speaks life into all things.  He alone has the power of destruction.
  • The purpose of His voice is clear, Vs: 10-11.  He gives strength to His people.

Question:  Have you heard His voice today?

Here are 4 ways to hear His voice:

  1. We hear His voice as we read the Word of God (the Bible), John 1:1-5.
  2. We hear His voice through others, II Timothy 4:1 “Preach the Word.”
  3. We hear His voice through dreams and visions, Acts 2:23-28.
  4. We hear His voice through circumstances, Acts 16:9-10.

There is one word of warning here.  Ways 2-4 must always align with God’s Word.  This is how you know ways 2-4 are really from God.

Question:  Are you obeying what God has said?

13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.  Romans 2:13

Father Lead us to both hear and obey your voice today!!!

The story of a contented man (II Corinthians 12)

November 28, 2018

10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  II Corinthians 12:10

How could this be true of any man except Jesus?  How is it possible to live a life where you are not complaining,  not comparing, and not coveting?  God’s answer is one word.  The word is “contentment.”

We see contentment in Paul’s self description in our focal text.  As I read this text, I am drawn to the following facts about a man’s life who is content:

  1. His walk with God was very costly.  From the moment of Paul’s conversion, his life was spent in the cross-hairs of the enemy.  Check out II Corinthians 11:21-33.
  2. His walk with God was supernatural. Paul saw the Lord and heard from the Lord in supernatural ways.  He experienced visions and revelations from God.
  3. His walk with God was humbling.  God gave Paul a thorn in his life. Even though Satan used it, God was the author of the thorn.
  4. His walk with God was grace-filled.  Daily Paul experienced the sufficiency of Christ.
  5. His walk with God was Spirit-empowered.  Each day it was Christ’ power in him that gave him the power to do the work of the ministry.
  6. His walk with God was with a divine purpose.  His was Kingdom work!

Brothers and sisters, do you and I want to do Kingdom work in the power of the Spirit?  If so, we must be willing to count the cost.  The cost is hight.  We must walk in humble submission to God seeking His daily supernatural direction.  When one walks in God’s true grace, he or she is content because their days are full!!!

Here are encouraging words from Paul:

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13

Question: What have you and I learned in our walk with Christ?

Look, they are scattering (Zechariah 13)

November 27, 2018

“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered;
    I will turn my hand against the little ones. Zechariah 13: 7

I sat in the car with amazement.  I had never seen so many sheep cross the road.  There was so many that our car had to wait until they had all crossed.  I was even more amazed at how one shepherd was driving all of them.  It was as if they knew what he wanted.

Question: Does your life seem scattered today?  Could it be that you are struggling to follow the Shepherd (Jesus Christ).

The prophet Zechariah predicts a time when a shepherd would be struck by God and His flock would scatter.  Anyone who is a student of Scripture knows this is a prediction of the coming of the Lord Jesus.  We know from Scripture, Jesus did come, and we know God did strike Him on the cross.  We do know His disciples fled (We will see this Sunday morning).  But what we might not be familiar with is what follows:

In the whole land, declares the Lord,
    two thirds shall be cut off and perish,
    and one third shall be left alive.
And I will put this third into the fire,
    and refine them as one refines silver,
    and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
    and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
    and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

In these verses the prophet writes of the suffering that will come to the church and to Israel leading up to and during the Great Tribulation.  The Bible says, there is coming a day when the Lord will return. When He returns He will establish justice in the earth.

But before Jesus Second-Coming you and I will face days which demand our consistent listening to our shepherd.  In these days the Lord will refine His people for greater impact in the world.

I believe the Lord wants you to follow Him as those sheep were following their shepherd in the fields of Romania, with a trusting and obedient heart.

I leave you with the words of I Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.