As long as you live (Psalm 116)

September 20, 2019

Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:2

Have you ever made the following comment:  “As long as I live I will not forget….”. I can honestly say, I have said this hundreds of times in my life and I am sure I have forgotten many of those I will never forget moments.  But there is one thing, I am sure I will never forget, unless I lose my mind.  I will never forget the GOODNESS OF GOD!!!

In Psalm 116 we get a front row seat as the Psalmist recounts for us some of the things he never wanted to forget.  Here is a sampling of what he remembered:

  • The Lord delivers from eternal destruction, Vs: 4.
  • The Lord delivers from pain and anxiety, Vs: 2-3.
  • The Lord is gracious, righteous, and merciful, Vs: 4-5.
  • The Lord protects the simple, Vs:6.

These are just a few of the many things the Psalmist remembered about His God. Question: what has God done in your life that you never want to forget?  Take a few minutes and make a list. Do not go any further reading until the list is complete.

Did you make the list?  If you did, the rest of the blog will lift your spirits not matter what you are facing today.

Remember the Psalmist said, “as long as I live I will…”

Out of what he remembered, he wrote down 5 actions this lead him to do:

1. I will worship you every day-I will celebrate your goodness, Vs: 13.

2.  I will fulfill my commitments to the Lord, Vs: 14.

3.  I will joyfully live as His servant, Vs: 15.

4.  I will give thanks in prayer throughout each day, Vs: 17.

5.  I will live out my faith openly before others, Vs: 18-19.

Brothers and sisters, as long as you and I live we must remember because when we get into present storms we need the remembrance of who He is so that we will have faith in the eye of our present storms!!!  As long as I live I will remember…

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What’s in the books? (Rev. 20-21)

September 19, 2019

”And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” Rev. 20:12

Back in January, I sensed the Lord was urging me to spend this year, in my quiet times, reading through His Word without the aid of any study notes.  Brothers and sisters, the last nine months have been life-changing. One of my favorite verses in these months has been, Isaiah 45:22 “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth.  For I am God, and there is none other.”

For over 2000 years the Church has been proclaiming this message.  In the last nine months I have been learning so much about the “I Am.”  One of the many attributes I have over and over studied is the justice of God.  Every day God has reminded me of this truth: He always does what is just.

We need to know this as we come to Revelation 20.  Before us is our just Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We see Him ruling for a 1000 years. After these years have ended, the unjust one is released from the pit. We notice his soul purpose is to lead those who became unjust in the 1000 years into a war to take over the just throne of God.

But, praise God, it will be to no avail. Justice always triumphs over injustice. The flames of the just one will consume the unjust ones and the power of the just one will overcome the epitome of injustice.  Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

Now that the unjust are removed, we see clearly the throne of the just one who will sit in judgment of the entire earth.  We see all people from all history (who rejected Jesus) standing before His throne to be judged by what was in the books.

What is in the books?  Our answer comes from the books themselves.  Here are the possible books there:

  • The Lambs book of Life
  • The Word of God.
  • The book of conscience, Rom. 2:15
  • The book of words, Matt. 12:36-37
  • The book of secrets, Rom. 2:16
  • The book of public works, II Cor. 11:18
  • The book of life, Rev. 12:1

Brothers and sisters, there will be no way to lie out of what we did in our lifetimes. It will be absolute justice on that day.

Today, I am so thankful that, God awakened me to the truth that I could settle out of court!!!  When Jesus first came, it was for the purpose of paying the price for the unrighteous, I Peter 3:18.  All who surrender their lives to Him find forgiveness and eternal life.  In Christ we settle out of court (I John 2:1-2).

The books are clean for the Christian.  This is the power of the blood of Christ.  When I read Revelation 21, I can say, by grace I am going to live over there.  At the same time I am called to share with those who are not at present going to live over there.

A lost world knows what’s in the books.  But they do not know about the one who came so that they can be saved (Isa. 45:25).  Let us plead with them to settle out of court.

Self Examination (II Corinthians 13)

September 18, 2019

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?  Unless indeed you fail to met the test.” II Cor. 13:5

I am really good at examining other people’s faults.  Over the years I have all but profected the art of examining others.  To top it off, I enjoy making myself look better by putting down others.

Brothers and sisters, who would admit they had the above life?  This is exactly how some in the church at Corinth were living their lives.  They were examining (testing) others faith without even a consideration to examine (test) their own.

Paul’s writing in our focal text confronts such people.  His confrontation was not out of frustration or from even being judgmental.  Paul was concerned for their souls.

Paul wanted to know and he wanted each Corinthian to know whether Christ was in them or not.  This is why God calls you and I to a daily self-examination.

Brothers and sisters, I want to daily self-examine my own life.  Here are 8 self-examination questions and Scriptures for you to look up.

1. Who is the boss of your life?  Galatians 2:20.

2.  What is the standard by which you judge your life?  Heb. 4:12.

3.  What is the goal of your life? Col. 3:17, 21.

4.  What is your philosophy of self-examination?  Matt. 7:1-5.

5. Who is in charge of your money?  Matt. 6:21.

6.  Who do you always talk about?  Rom. 1:6-17.

7.  Do you ever experience the discipline of the Lord?  Heb. 12:5-11; I Cor. 11:32.

8.  Is your life more righteous or more unrighteous?  I John 3:4-10.

Brothers and sisters, self-examination is an amazing tool from the Lord.  When a person correctly self-examines, he or she has no time to examine others because you are growing in God’s making you into what He desires you to be.

So, lets drop the others examination and spend our lives in self-examination for the glory of God!!!

Accepting Your Circumstances (II Corinthians 12)

September 17, 2019

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

In Luke 8, Dr. Luke recounts for us the story of a woman whose circumstances were extremely difficult (Luke 8:42-48).  For 12 long years she had suffered from a rare disease.  For 12 painful years she suffered from both physical and emotional pain.  She went to every doctor she could, it bankrupted her, and what did she end up with?  She grew worse from their treatments.  The question came, what more could she do.

In our focal text, Paul has a rare disease that we are not told about it’s nature.  I think it must have been an eye disease (Gal. 4:12-16).  Paul did not limit his efforts for healing into  a doctor’s hands, he also came before the Lord on three occasions.  Each time the Lord said, I am not going to heal you now because I am working in you through your disease.

How could it be possible for God to be at work in such a disease?

  1. God was teaching Paul humility through this.
  2. God was showing Paul how sufficient He (God) was in his life.
  3. God was being glorified by all who saw God at work in Paul’s life.

After the third time, Paul makes a decision.  He accepts his circumstances as being from God and for God!!!  After this decision Paul came to a place of contentment.  He was not able to both work and walk with God apart from fear, doubt, argument, and distrust.

All of that was over. Now we see a man who is both courageous and a conqueror for Jesus!

Now the Lord may do for you (and I hope He does) what He did for the woman in Luke 8.  When she touched his garment she was healed by faith.  However, would you and I be content if He did not?

The fact is, every true believer will be healed of all our infirmities, either here or when we cross over to Heaven.  However, I believe those who follow Him in the fellowship of His suffering find the greatest of contentment.

Praying for your journey today!!!

Truth from the Ditch (II Corinthians 11)

September 16, 2019

14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, II Cor. 11:14

Earlier this year, while in Malawi, Missionary Ovi carried Michael Colwell and myself to one of the villages where we have an orphanage.  It was at the end of the rainy season.  The pastor said to Ovi, “park here, it’s too wet over there.” Ovi responded, “I think we can make it.”  What happened next, let me say, concluded with us being deep in a ditch.

Brothers and sisters, there are moments when life decisions can land us in the ditch.  At other times it can be the attack of the enemy as it was with Paul in II Corinthians 11.  The enemy was filling false apostles with power and influence to turn people away from Christ.

I have read this text many times, but today it spoke deeply to me. I realized, in the ditches of life, God often speaks the loudest.  As Paul defends the gospel and his ministry in the gospel we find two great truths:

  1. Satan wants to lead Christians away from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ, Vs: 3.

The enemy knows he cannot possess our souls, but he can pollute our success and can get us off onto other courses of life.

2.  Satan disguises himself as a minister of truth, Vs: 14.  He has ministers throughout our land, who teach people a false gospel that makes them twice as much ready for Hell.

These truths from the ditch lead me to put in place the following when I hear and encounter people who proclaim what they say is truth:

  • I refuse to listen to anyone who pollutes the Word of God, Gal. 1:4-6.
  • I set my mind to listen to His Word, Col. 3:1-2.
  • I test everything I hear by the Word, I John 4:4.
  • I walk alongside and serve in churches that are faithful to the Word, Heb. 13:11

Let me tell you about my life (II Corinthians 10)

September 13, 2019

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. II Corinthians 10:3

As a pastor I am daily blessed to meet many people.  Sometimes I find myself wondering about the lives people live behind the closed doors.  It is not a condemning thought that I have, but a concerned thought process.  I am always wanting to help people to be able to live in private an even better life than they live in public.

Question:  How is your life behind the closed door?

For the Apostle Paul, his life was always on display before his world in that day.  People were consistently forming opinions about his life.  For example, II Corinthians 10:3 “some of you suspect us of walking according to the flesh.”  There were those who believed Paul was not who he said he was and there were those who were saying, he will not be so bold when he comes in person.

Brothers and sisters, please do not live your life based on the views of media, the masses, or those who would mess you up.  Allow the Lord to direct your life.

In 10:3-6 Paul gives us a behind the closed door sneak peak at his life.  Paul lets us up close.  Two things I take away from his behind the closed door confession:

  • Every day Paul faced a battle with an entrenched enemy.

Paul was tearing down strongholds.  Every day the enemy came at him with arguments, men’s opinions, and wrong thoughts in his mind.  But every day Paul won the battle.  You ask, how did he do so?

  • Every day Paul fought the enemy with the eternal Word of God.

It was the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17-18) that struck the enemy in his entrenched stronghold.  Every day Paul went to the Word of God and wielded it to break apart the enemy.   God’s Word gets to the heart of the matter (Heb. 4:12).  God’s Word is a light and lamp in our dark moments (Ps. 119:105) and His Word is life (John 10:10).

At the end of each day Paul boasted in the Lord’s victories in his life (10:17).

Brothers and sisters, we need God’s Word entrenched in our lives behind the closed doors of life!!!

  1. If you are losing the battle in your mind behind the closed door-take your mind captive to God’s Word.
  2. If you are losing the battle in your family behind the closed door-wield the Sword of the Spirit.
  3. If you are losing the battle with men’s opinions-search God’s Word for the answer.

Why so much? (II Corinthians 9)

September 12, 2019

11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God, II Cor. 9:11

Several years ago, a very committed Christ-follower, came to me to ask about having a clothing drive for the children of Africa.  The person asked, how many sets of clothes do we need to get for each child?  This was a very well-intended question.

In Malawi the children are often considered very blessed if they have two sets of clothing.  If they were to receive 10 sets of clothes they would not know what to do with them.  The question would come, why so much?

In America, we for the most part are totally the opposite.  We are building bigger closets and we are renting storage units at a larger scale than ever before.  I wonder if the Lord asks, “why so much?”

In II Corinthians 9 the church at Corinth had been richly blessed by God.  What was God’s intention for such blessing?  We see the answer in 9:11 “God intends for us to be generous in every way which produces thanksgiving to God.”

The church had good intentions with what they had been blessed with.  But for some reason, they were still holding onto what they had been blessed with.  Paul challenges the church to open their hands, their minds, and their hearts to the very purpose of why they had so much.

Today, I want to ask you, why do you and I have so much?  Even more personal, I want to ask, what are you and I doing with what we have?

Personally, I was reminded by God: Keith everything I have blessed you with is for the purpose of blessing others!!!  God intends for Keith Joseph to be generous in every way.

Does anyone remember the lyrics to the song, “Thou art Worthy?” They came to mind as I went to God in prayer this morning.  I offer them to you.

Thou Art Worthy, Thou Art Worthy, Thou Art Worthy Oh Lord; To Receive Glory
Glory and Honor
Glory and Honor and Power

For thou hast created, hast
all things created, Thou
hast created all things. And
for thy pleasure they are
created. Thou Art Worthy
Oh Lord

For thou hast created, hast all things created, Thou hast created all things. And for thy pleasure they are created
Thou Art Worthy Oh Lord
Thou Art Worthy Oh Lord

This morning the Lord challenged me to do three things out of what I have read:

  1. Make a list of all that is in your keeping.
  2. Surrender everything on the list back to God.
  3. Prepare yourself to come into the greatest season of joy you have every had as a Christ-follower.

Brothers and sisters, can I challenge you to do the same.

Where is the Proof? (II Corinthians 8)

September 11, 2019

24 So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men. II Corinthians 8:24

Two young boys were standing on a basketball court.  Actually they were standing at half-court, when one said to the other, “I make a shot from right here every time I shoot.”  The other boy wisely considered the boasting of his young friend.  Finally after a few seconds, he responded with a powerful statement, “Prove it!”

In II Corinthians 8 Paul comments the church at Corinth for excelling in many areas of their walk with Christ (Vs:7), but there was one area where they still needed to prove their faith.

Apparently one year earlier (II Cor. 9:4-5), this church had told Paul of their desire to give for the relief of a famine that had come to the church in Jerusalem.  Their desire so moved Paul that he began sharing their story with other churches.  Their story had stirred other churches to not only desire to give but to give.  Paul shares their stories in 8:1-5.

But the church at Corinth for some reason had not followed through.  Paul writes:

10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have.

Notice the word matched.  It is Paul’s way of saying “prove it.”

Question:  What would have been keeping this church from completing what they said they wanted to do?

  • Was there a short-fall in their budget?
  • Was there selfishness in their hearts?
  • Was there fear in that they would not have enough for themselves?

Brothers and sisters, we cannot speak for the church, but we can speak on two levels:

  1. Jesus was our example of giving:

 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Our Father gave His best and His best was Jesus! Jesus held nothing back. Jesus payment for our sins cost Him His very own life.

2. The churches in Macedonia teach us how to prove our faith.

and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. II Corinthians 8:5

When you and I give ourselves to the Lord, giving becomes grace giving.  We are giving out of a heart that has been changed by grace.  A have to becomes a want to for the glory of God and for the good of those who need God!

Today, let us not talk about grace giving, let up prove our hearts by doing it!!!

Godly Grief (II Corinthians 7)

September 10, 2019

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. II Corinthians 7:10

Have you ever heard something about a friend that troubled you?  Maybe it came to you in the wrong way, via gossip, but still yet it was true.  If this has happened to you, you understand the position it puts you in.  The truth is, you struggle to know what to do.  Here are somethings that swirl around your mind:

  • You don’t like confrontation.
  • You are not sure if it is true.
  • If it is not, you could damage your friendship.
  • You really don’t love your friend.

It is the last one that really hurts.  Prov. 27:6 “faithful are the wounds of a friend.”  Prov. 17:17 “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for days of adversity.”

The Apostle Paul loved his friends in the church at Corinth.  This is why he confronts them concerning sin back in I Corinthians 5.  Now he receives word that his brothers and sisters have repented (Vs:8).

Two things stand out to me:

  • Paul is very open concerning the emotion of confrontation:

Paul must have wondered if he had been too hard.  He must have wondered if his relationship with them had been severed.  Paul wondered if they received his confrontation as he intended.

However, Paul did not wonder if he did the right thing.  Paul knew that sin could not go unnoticed and unchallenged.  He did the right thing.  Now Titus has returned with the good news, “Godly grief did its work.”

  • Paul invites us to learn the lesson of confrontation.

Follow the path:

  1. Truth led to conviction.
  2. Conviction led to grief (sorrow).
  3. Grief led to repentance.
  4. Repentance led to restoration (salvation and fellowship with God).

Paul has zero regrets for his confrontation with his friends.  It was the truth that set them free. Now the church had the greatest of earnestness to live for God.

This very day, for the sake of your love for God and your friends, you must confront them with their sin.  I know the front end is hard for you, but consider the latter end from the start.  It will give you the confidence you need.

 

As dying, yet we live (II Corinthians 6)

September 9, 2019

as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed;  II Corinthians 9:6

I could hear the sadness in my Fathers voice at the first word of his voicemail to me.  One of his nephews had passed away at the age of 52.  One could say, and many have, death is as much a part of life as is living.

Spiritually speaking, this is even more true. As we come to II Corinthians 6, Paul makes mention of this in regards to his ministry, “as dying, and behold, we live…”

As the chapter begins Paul was reminding the people that he was laboring together with the Lord proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is calling people to be saved.

As he reminds the people, he is led by the Spirit to write about the integrity of his ministry.  Paul writes, we have placed zero stumbling blocks in the way of people being saved.

Next Paul takes a few verses and lists some of the highlights from his  ministry.  These highlights help us see the great value of dying and living:

  • The rhythm of trials, 4b-5.
  • The rhythm of spirit-filled ministry, Vs: 6-8a
  • They rhythm of ups-and downs, 8b-9a.
  • The rhythm of contentment, 9b-10.

Paul understood what you and I desperately need to understand.  Without the moment-by-moment rhythm of dying to self and living to Christ we cannot possible be of value in our walk with Christ.  Paul spoke of dying daily to himself, I Cor. 15:31.  Paul spoke of being crucified with Christ, Gal. 2:20.

Today, do you need to get back in rhythm with God?  If so, focus on dying to self and living to God!!!  May this be our anthem in these days of service to our God.