Sabbath. (Genesis 2)

July 23, 2018

I am writing this from my bedroom floor on Sunday night. This blog will be arriving in your email inbox sometime on Monday morning. I just finished reading Genesis 2 again and I feel like I am ending another weekend without a Sabbath.

Have you ever felt like this?

If I am honest, most of my weeks I enter feeling unrested from the last week. I wake up on Monday morning feeling tired and wishing I would have had an extra day on the weekend to recover from the last week. However, I have no excuse! I have had long weekends before, and sadly I end up not actually resting on the extra day I was given. I instead fill it with a variety of different things that I do not seem to get done in the middle of the week.

Look at when the Sabbath was first instituted in Genesis 2:1-3:

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation. (ESV)

The first three verses of Genesis 2 are bringing to a close the Creation account from Genesis 1. God has just created the world and all that is in it in six days. Now we have reached the seventh day. If we really think about it, God did not have to rest. He is God! When Genesis 2:2 speaks of God “resting”, it is not implying that He was weary from His work. Instead, it is portraying a rhythm of work and rest for the follower of Christ to pattern their life around.

Are you honoring God’s pattern of work and rest in your life?

Do you have a healthy rhythms of work and rest established in your life?

I have learned that I not only enter a week unrested and tired when I do not honor God’s pattern of work and rest in my life, but I also greatly dishonor God by my lack of a Sabbath. Without realizing it, my lack of a Sabbath says that I am not finite. When I do not prioritize taking a Sabbath, I am saying that I do not need the rest that comes from a Sabbath. Not only does taking a Sabbath allow me to receive the rest I need, but it also is an act of worship to God. Taking a Sabbath communicates that I am dependent on God and that I trust Him to provide for me.

I am going to plan my week this week around my Sabbath. I pray and hope that you will, too.

Please remember to keep the team of 10 in Romania in your prayers. Pray for them to have strength as they are entering their second week of ministry. Pray for the churches they just spoke in on Sunday to have fruitful ministries. 

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It is real. (Revelation 14)

July 20, 2018

If you are anything like me, Revelation can sometimes seem overwhelming. I find myself sometimes getting stuck in the weeds of its theological dilemmas and the multiple schools of thought on what will the Second Coming of Christ be like. I wonder who exactly are the 144,000 witnesses and what scholar has the best interpretation and view. While there is significant purpose in determining one’s view of the end times and informing one self on what Scripture says regarding it, I sometimes think we miss a simple, but important point that Revelation makes:

Heaven and hell are real. 

All of this book is written because of the reality of heaven and hell.

Christ is going to return.

All will one day be made right.

We will be restored to the Father in a new heaven and new earth. 

But judgment will take place when He comes.

And some of the people you may know may not spend eternity with you.

What will you do about the people you know that may not spend eternity with you? Does someone specific come to mind now? If no one comes to mind, you may need to expand your reach and meet some new people. There are still a lot of people that God desires to spend eternity with Him, and you are His instrument to tell them.

It is not too late. If you are reading this now, you still have time.

How will you be His instrument today?

How will you today tell someone about the reality of heaven and hell?

How will you today share with someone that you want to spend eternity with them?

I am so encouraged to share with you that I got the chance to FaceTime with my Dad for a brief moment yesterday. He shared that around 50 individuals have come to know our Savior this week! My Dad and the team in Romania are getting to experience being God’s instrument of salvation. Why don’t we join them? I’ll do it from where I am in Virginia. And you can do it where God has planted you.

Imagine the harvest that could come if we all stepped out to plant the seeds of our faith. 

Please continue to pray for the team in Romania. As I shared above, there have been around 50 new brothers and sisters come to know Christ! Pray that these new believers are met with men and women who can disciple them. Pray for many more to come to know Christ, too!

Pray your unbelief away. (Matthew 13)

July 19, 2018

As I write this, I am in one of my favorite spots. I am sitting in a beautiful old prayer chapel. This place has been one of my favorite spots to go to over the last few years to meet with Jesus and listen for Him to speak.

I came here tonight though with a heavy heart. There are so many people who are hurting around me. I feel so sad and burdened.

I have a friend who came close to ending her life this week.

I have another friend who is having to watch her grandmother go through the aging process. She is physically caring for her grandmother and she is hurting because death is scary.

My sweet six year old I nanny fractured his wrist today. I held him while he cried out in pain. I held his sister when she was scared because of his tears.

I have another friend who is facing tremendous financial stress. She is facing losing her apartment and she literally needs a miracle.

Why are so many people hurting? Where are you, God? Why can You not heal my friend’s grandmother? Why did Callen have to go through the pain of a fractured wrist? Where were you when my friend wanted to take her life? Why are you not giving my friend the money she needs?

Isn’t it funny how all it takes is sitting in God’s Presence, and actually speaking out loud all the things that are trapped in your heart and mind, for your faith to start waking up again?

I find myself repeating now, “I believe You are the God of miracles.”

If you are hurting and wondering when God is going to show up in the midst of your situation, make the time to be with Him. You might literally have to make the time. I had to tonight. I just left the hospital where I was visiting my friend, who by God’s grace did not take her life. I came straight to this prayer chapel, despite knowing I “did not have the time.”

If you are wanting for your prayer to be answered or your miracle to come, please do whatever it takes to make the time to sit with God. I wholeheartedly believe that sometimes I do not hear from God because He does not have enough time or space in my life to speak. 

Please do not take what I am saying wrong. I am not saying that God is not all powerful and mighty. I am not saying He is limited by our time and space continuum. But what I am saying is that He has given you and I a free will. And we make the choice how much time and space we give Him to speak.

So again. Please make the time.

Read Matthew 13 when you come to Him. If you are hurting or worried or scared, it will remind you of the hope you have for heaven coming one day.

If you are okay (and it is okay for you to be okay!), still read Matthew 13. It will give you a sense of urgency to share the Gospel because there IS a heaven. And we who believe in heaven should desire that all men come to join us there.

If you think of it, please pray for my people I mentioned in this post. There is power in prayer and I believe that man’s words in prayer reach the heart of God!

Please know that I prayed for you as I wrote this. I prayed for you as I sat on this old wood floor in the prayer chapel. As I prayed, I did not know your burden, but our Heavenly Father did.

Matthew 13 ends with the sobering reality that Jesus could not perform His mighty works in Nazareth because of their unbelief. The Holy Spirit will not force miracles on a audience who does not believe. 

I decided tonight that I am not going to miss out on God’s mighty works in my own life or in the lives of my people because of unbelief. I am praying that same thing for you, too.

Please continue to pray for my Dad and the other nine brothers and sisters in Christ ministering in Romania. As they continue to minister at the two separate camps, pray that they are sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. Pray they respond and share the Gospel despite language barriers or cultural differences. Pray for protection for those who are battling sickness and strength for those who are tired. 

It is not just what you do that matters. (Luke 12)

July 18, 2018

Sin.

How do you define it?

Some describe sin as “missing the mark.”

Others say it is doing what God has said not to do.

Both of these are not wrong or incorrect. In fact, they are very accurate. However, sin is much more than this.

What is described above is a sin of commission (“doing what God has said not to do”). This is how we mainly think of sin. But just as serious is the sin of omission (“disregarding what God has said to do”). A sin of omission is hearing God’s command and then choosing not to do it.

We see this at work in today’s reading in Luke 12, specifically in verses 45-48. Jesus tells the parable of the faithful and unfaithful servant. One servant is diligent and does what he knows is the will of his master. The other servant delays following the will of his master, and as a result reaps the consequences of his disobedience. Look specifically at verse 47:

And that servant who knows his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. (ESV)

Did you catch it? The servant knew his master’s will. He knew his master’s will and chose not to get ready. This servant willingly chose to disobey. He heard a command given to him and chose not to do it. He disregarded what was asked of him.

Look at what James, the brother of Jesus, said in his letter:

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17, ESV)

It is sin to know what is the right thing to do and to choose not to do it.

One day before the Lord, believers will not only stand accountable for their actions, but also their lack of actions. 

A person’s actions matter. But what one does not do also matters. 

Right now, what are things in your life that God has called you to do that you are not doing?

Do you think of it as sin to not do what God has asked of you?

I am praying for you today. I am praying you not only refrain from all that God has not called you to, but I am also praying you step into all that He has asked of you. Do not forget that it is not only your actions that matter; it is also what you do not do.

Please remember to continue to be praying for my Dad and the other 9 individuals in Romania. Today they will begin work in two separate camps. Pray that the Gospel is shared through them despite language barriers and cultural differences.

 

Stay. (John 6)

July 17, 2018

Will there ever be a time that it will not be worth it to keep following Jesus?

There have been a few times for me this summer that I have felt discouraged in following Jesus. These times have centered around how I felt like I was missing out. I have felt like all my waiting has been for nothing. I have wondered if my pursuit of holy living was worth it when all I felt was lonely and misunderstood by others.

Following Jesus is hard. He asks a lot of His disciples.

When many of His disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray Him.) And He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him. (John 6:60-66, ESV)

Previously before this passage Jesus had just given a shocking speech. (See John 6:52-59) Many of the disciples who had been following Jesus at the time misinterpreted Jesus’ statements. Michaels’ commentary on John notes that “the difficulty may not have been that His (Jesus’) words were obscure or difficult to understand, but that they were all too clear.”[1]

Jesus knew the hearts of the disciples around Him. No words needed to be spoken to Him (look at John 6:61), and yet He still knows the status of everyone’s hearts. He responded and asked them what “offense” did they take to His Word? Better translated, what is it that “makes them stumble”or be “tempted to run away from any commitment to Him”? [2]

Is there anything that would make you stop following Jesus?

What if you never receive what you have been waiting for?

What if you lose everything you have?

Those who did not stay with Jesus did not fully and truly believe where Jesus had come from. They also were following Jesus because of the benefits they may have first received from Him, healing or the multiplication of food. If one actually believes in Christ, resurrection will occur. Life will enter the dead body. It happened with some of the disciples in John 6:

So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69, ESV)

These twelve disciples realized that there was no one else who could give them eternal life. The disciples knew that despite the suffering that may come, no fellowship with the Father can occur without following Christ. There was no going back now.

This reminds me of Paul:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11, ESV)

The disciples who chose to walk away from Jesus were only looking at what they thought they were losing in following in Christ.

The twelve disciples (and Paul and many others too!) looked instead at what they would lose if they DID NOT follow Christ.

Despite my times of discouragement this summer, I have grown deeper in my confidence that following Jesus is always worth it. I have been walking with Him for far too long to go back now. I have realized, just like Peter, that He has the words of eternal life. Nothing is better than that. I praying today that you realize this, too.

Please remember my Dad and the team of 9 other members who are on mission in Romania. As you read this blog today, the team should be coming close to ending their travel to Romania. Be in prayer for them as they will immediately begin to do ministry. Pray for strength in the face of exhaustion and protection over their bodies.


[1] J. Ramsey Michaels, The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010), 406.

[2] Ibid.

Continuing The Word alert!!!

July 16, 2018

Good morning again, everyone.

I wanted to take this moment with you to tell you about a Continuing the Work change for the next two weeks.

As many of you know, I will be in Romania for the next two weeks with an awesome team of missionaries serving the Lord through camps, pastors conference, and church ministry.  While our team is away, I am honored that my daughter, Beth will be writing our daily blog for us.

She did this last year and everyone loved it.  Beth has just received her Master of Divinity Degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.  Beth is a director at Beckon of Hope in Lynchburg Va.

Please pray for her and please lean in because you are going to be amazingly blessed!!!  I will be reading along with you in Romania.

Please pray for our team as well!!!

Boy, does He ever care (Matthew 18)

July 16, 2018

14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:14

Take a moment on this busy Monday and consider how much God cares for you!  I can truly write, “I have never known a love like His love.”  Each day I live in the reality of the encircling of his love.

Consider, in Matthew 18, the great love of God for the Apprentices.

Jesus has spent the last three years plus training the apprentices for the ministry they would have.  God had given them the honor of being the lead team for the founding of the church.  In this chapter we find no less than five lessons for these men.  Here they are:

  1. The apprentices needed to understanding true humility, 18:4.
  2. The apprentices must be careful to live without offense, 18:8-9.
  3. The apprentices must never forget the need to reach out to the straying brother and sister, 18:10-14.
  4. The apprentices must learn how to lead the church in discipline, 18:15-20.
  5. The apprentices needed to discover the impact of mercy, 18:21-35.

I pray you take time to read through these today and also that you would take notes of how each of these spoke to your life.  For me, the third lesson pricked my heart deeply.

There were over a hundred names that came to my attention this day as I left my desk and came to the church office.  Each of these names represents a person in our church who has not been in Sunday School for the last month.

God strongly reminded me, these people needed to be reminded of how much God loves them.  I want to encourage you to plan some visits this week.  Take time to remind others of what you know. “God loves them!!!” Take a moment and send a text or an email.  Give someone a call in Jesus name.

 

 

Who is an heir (Galatians 4)

July 13, 2018

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6

Oh how I pray for the truth of Galatians four to get deep down in your soul.  The Apostle Paul is writing about a saving faith (in Christ) who makes us sons and daughters of God (3:26).  This new life relationship sometimes is not connected to where we live each day.  Here are some examples:

There are born-again believers who spend long period’s of time in emotions of feeling unloved.  Still many others get bound up in the prison house of no hope. Finally, there are those who are desperately trying to earn their way to heaven.

The question that comes is this, “Do believers understand what it means to be an heir of Jesus?”

The problem comes when we equate where we are in this moment to where we will be in eternity.  Paul begins chapter 4 with the analogy of a son who works right along side of the servant.  He looks as if he is in no better position while they work.  But all along the way he an heir as a son.  Someday it will all be his.

Brothers and sisters, consider the glorious Savior who loves you!  Consider His coming and dying in your place, Vs: 5. You and I are highly loved.  Consider what we have been given now.  We have the Holy Spirit with us and empowering us.  We have a Father in heaven who is for us.  We have an inheritance awaiting us being prepared by Jesus.  Certainly we have hope.  Consider all of this which has been prepared.  We do not have to work for it.

For me, being an heir changes everything.  I pray this Word from the Word encourages you in your walk with Christ today.  We are heirs of the kingdom which is coming!!!

Uncovering the truth( Matthew 23)

July 12, 2018

33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Matthew 23:33

I don’t know about you, but I have basically ceased watching any USA news cast.  Each day reporters bombard us with their spin on what is the truth in constant politics.  Is there anyone who just reports the news?

In the times I have turned the news on, I have found the biggest drawing card in their minds is, “Uncovering the truth segments.”  But it is  often anything but the truth.

As we come to Matthew 23 Jesus is uncovering truth.  This truth is concerning the religious establishment of His days on the earth.  For the past three years, these leaders have opposed His every move.  Within three days Jesus will be on the cross.  But here for the last time Jesus speaks of their lives.  It is truly a moment of uncovering the truth:

  • Jesus uncovers the truth of their desire for self-exaltation, Vs: 1-11.

In His kindness, Jesus gives us the cure for such a life: “Become a humble servant of others.”

  • Jesus uncovers the wickedness which lead to their eternal judgment, Vs: 12-36.

Jesus points out the woes of their wickedness:

  1. They kept people from embracing the Kingdom of God.
  2. They proselytized many people, making them even more under the wrath of God.
  3. They were blind guides.
  4. They were not teaching justice, mercy, or forgiveness.
  5. They were focusing on external living.
  6. They were making others believe they were right with God.
  7. They were murdering God’s messengers.

In this moment I have to sit down and reflect on the uncovered truth.  But even more I find myself blown away with the amazing grace of Jesus in that He is not attempting to get even or to destroy the religious leaders.  Jesus  uncovers the truth of who they are for the purpose of their repentance.  Jesus wanted all men to not perish.

We see His great love in Vs: 37-39.  The cross is our greatest story of God’s unveiling truth.

All men are sinners.  All men need a Savior.  Jesus is this Savior!!!

If this truth is before and after every uncovering of truth in people’s lives, there is great hope for the world!!!

A different viewpoint (I Corinthians 10)

July 11, 2018

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. I Corinthians 10:31-33

This morning I must confess, I am in a season where the Lord is challenging and ever-changing my viewpoint.  No, I am not theologically changing my views in regard to salvation.  Jesus is the only way.  No, I am not changing my views concerning the Holiness of God.  He is even more holy in my eye-sight today.

What I am changing is this, I need Him more and more every day.

God has called His people to live lives of example before the world.  For this to be, we must have hearts and minds solely committed to Him!!!

Here is where my viewpoint is changing.  The older I get the more I realize how much my heart can deceive me.  The children of Israel were this same way as they lived in their lives in the wilderness (this is Paul’s reference in 10:1-8).  God was not pleased with the idolatry in their hearts and He was no pleased with the wickedness in the lives.

It would be so easy for us to say, “we are better than they.”  But Scripture gives us a strong warning to not think pridefully about our own lives.  If this is our viewpoint, we are headed for a hard fall.

Each day we must have the viewpoint of allegiance to God.  We are to be united to Him (Vs: 14-22). When we live this way, our viewpoint becomes clear:

  • We exist for the glory of God.
  • We exist for the good of others.

This is the change I am seeing in my life more and more, but with still oh so far to go.

“Father, search my heart.  I do not want any idol in my heart. Father, strengthen my heart to only seek to do your will and not my own.  Father, make my heart sensitive to You. I want to do your will in this day!