The Next Generation (Psalm 78)

July 19, 2019

that the next generation might know them,
    the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children, Psalm 78:6

Last week I found myself at almost a loss of hope for the people on the island of Utila because of the generations of darkness I experienced.  But as I considered the hopelessness of the place I was reminded of the eternal hope in Christ that comes to all who receive Him.  34 children prayed to receive Christ last week. Out of those 34 if 10 are serious they can turn the island upside down for Jesus.

Question:  How did life become so dark for those people?  I do not have the for sure answer for them, but we do have the path before us in Psalm 78 that ensures the truth of the gospel going forth to all nations.

In Psalm 78, the author calls for all people to listen and then to share what they hear.  The Psalmist informs his readers about the glorious truth of who God is. Here are a few characteristics of God that we find in this chapter:

  • He is a merciful God.
  • He is a mighty God who does marvelous deeds.
  • He is a God who directs His people.
  • He is the Shepherd of His sheep.
  • He is the judge of all the earth.

Brothers and sisters, these characteristics alone are enough to reach the world.  Recently I heard a dad say to his son, “I will get to it son, just not today.”  Truly good intents are nice but good intentions alone without follow through leaves people in the same condition we find them in.

Here are five actions we can take to ensure the next generation receives the good news of Jesus Christ:

  1. Dig deep in God’s Word every day seeking to know who He is.
  2. Delight in teaching the next generation about God.
  3. Dedicate yourself to mentoring the next generation in how to live with and for God.
  4. Dedicate yourself to be an authentic witness before this generation and all those generations to come.
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What Suits You? (II Timothy 4)

July 18, 2019

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, II Timothy 4:3

No matter where you are from or what you have or what you don’t have, you each have different likes and dislikes.  For example some people like fish to eat and some do not.  Question: when it comes to those who teach God’s Word, what suits you?

As Paul writes to Timothy, it is with the understanding that there would come a day when people will no longer like the authentic teaching of God’s Word. Paul writes, it will no longer suit them.

When people don’t like something they disregard it.  If it is food they simply don’t eat it.  If it is theory they simply reject it and if it is God’s Word they simply change it to suit their own desires.

I wonder, are you looking for pastors who will teach the Bible to suit you?

Paul challenges Timothy to preach the truth of God’s Word with accuracy. Paul wanted Timothy to know there would be seasons when people would like the Word and then there would be seasons when the Word would not suit them.

Brothers and sisters, God has not called you and I to follow teachers that suit us.  We are called to follow teachers who are faithful to accurately teaching God’s Word.   I want to be taught not what suits me but what will save me.  I want to be taught not what pacifies me but what purifies me. At the end of the day I want to know that I have been taught the Word in the way that leads to acceptance before God when He returns (Vs: 8).

If you have been blessed with a pastor who preaches accurately the Word of God, let him know how thankful you are for his faithfulness. Pray daily for Him and partner in getting this accurate gospel to the nations.

God’s Directions For Difficult Days (II Timothy 3)

July 17, 2019

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  II Timothy 3:1

Question:  Are you living in difficult days?

In II Timothy 3 Paul gives us distinctive characteristics of the difficult days that are coming just before the Lord’s return.  I want you to see the characteristics, I have listed them from the NLT:

” For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.”

Just reading the list makes my insides tremble.  Brothers and sisters, we are living (In America) in such days.  Paul warns the Christian (3:12) that he will face days of persecution.  Paul informs us that people will go from bad to worse (3:13).

To be totally revealed, Paul is painting a terrible picture of difficult days.  However, you and I do not have to fear because God has a plan for His people:

God has called His people to avoid those who live like the Devil, Vs: 5b.

Such people should not be in our inner circle.  Such people should be avoided at all cost.  If such people are in your family, prayer is needed and power to overcome is needed.

God has called His people to follow Godly examples, Vs: 10.

There are many people living for the Lord.  One must find a Bible-believing and Bible practicing church that you can plug into.  My church family has always been my closest family.

God has called His people to immerse themselves in Scripture, Vs: 14-16.

Allow the Scripture to be your guide in these difficult days.  Replace fear with faith in God’s work revealed in His Word.  Focus on His training manual to strengthen your faith muscles to live this life.  We can run and not be wear with the Lord (Isa. 40:30-31).

Yes, these are difficult days, but they are days of delight because soon the Lord will return.  But until then, avoid, partner, and immerse yourself in Scripture for to this you and I have been called.

Civilian Pursuits and Youthful Passions (II Timothy )

July 16, 2019

 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. II Timothy 2:4

Paul’s letter is entitled, “To Timothy…”  Timothy is a young pastor serving in the city of Ephesus.  Timothy has the distinction of being mentored by the Apostle Paul.  Paul’s relationship was so intimate with Timothy that he thought of him as his “child in the faith.”  Paul’s ministry to Timothy was filled with both example and instruction (1:12; 2:2).

As a young pastor, Timothy would need to draw from what he had learned from Paul as he engaged in difficult days in ministry. Paul challenges Timothy in chapter 2 to not get hooked (caught) into the pursuits of the world. Timothy is a soldier in God’s army who was called to carry out God’s directions.

Paul also challenges Timothy to flee youthful passions.  What are youthful passions?  These are the (Lusts, KJV) of the old nature. Oh how often I have meet people who have never been told to detach themselves from their old life.  Many people claim loyalty to Christ but at the same time have a belief system that is a combination of faith and flesh.  Such people cannot be successful until they flee the lusts of the flesh.

Here is the deal:  God has called His people to heavenly pursuits and holy passions.  If Timothy was going to reach his city and if he was going to lead his church, he had to daily reject the pursuits of the world and the passions of the flesh.

Brothers and sisters so do you and I.  Father, you are the Lord of my life. I am reporting for duty today.  I will pursue what Jesus died for!  I will pursue holiness as your servant.

Worth the wait (Hab 3)

July 12, 2019

In chapter three, Habakkuk the prophet is going to see the Lord in a way that changes His perspective from chapters 1 and 2. We first met Habakkuk when he was questing God about a wicked nation and His people. But now we see Habakkuk’s waiting and pleading before the Lord being rewarded by God revealing Himself.

Verse 2 says “O, Lord, I have heard the report of you and your work, O Lord, Do I fear.”

Verse 3 says, “His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. His brightness was like the light; rays flashed for his hand; and there he veiled his power.”

What sticks out to me this morning in this chapters in the last three verses. In the midst of rebellion and the prophet asking questions to God about His workings in the midst of world powers through countries Habakkuk finds His answer that He was looking for in chapters 1 and 2.

He was struggling with what seemed like God’s distance and apathy of His people in the midst of the covenant He had made with them. He was questing God and asking, “where are you” in all of this? This is a very real question that many people have asked. As I read this chapter a childhood friend will lay to rest His young wife today. After their second child, they found cancer in her body. To a world that does not know Jesus and is only living for the here and now, it looks as if cancer has won. A young 27-year-old women with 2 sons has left this earth but because of Christ she is in the presence of almighty God and completely restored!

As I spoke with the husband of this girl a couple of days ago what he said was eye opening, “In her fight she never complained, she never gave up and said, if this cancer can bring one person to God it will be worth it.” The husband’s perspective has forever been changed by His wife’s remembrance of God’s faithfulness to fulfill what He said He would do in Christ.

Habakkuk ends the book with these verses, let them sink deep into your soul this morning,

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

Any trial that leads to a glimpse of God, it worth it all!

Nate

An Honest Question (Hab 1-2)

July 11, 2019

As I read Habakkuk this morning I am reminded with a question that I was asked yesterday while at a children’s theme park. An older man was asking me, “what I thought about the condition of our country and Christianity.” I told Him that although it may “seem” like Christianity is losing its footing in America, our God is reigning and has not changed and this gives me hope for the future generations to see a purifying of the church.

Fast forward to this morning’s reading and Habakkuk is asking similar questions to God. God used the Assyria to punish Israel for this disobedience and now He was going to use the Babylon’s to punish Assyria and Judah for this obedience. In the midst of this transition the prophet Habakkuk is asking God the question, “how can God use a wicked nation to carry out His plans?”

We know that God is light. (1 John 1:5)

We know that God is working all thing for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

We know that God’s way are higher than our own. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Have we not experienced these questions before in our heart? Why do the wickedness in our day continue to persist and even sometimes grow? Why do your people seem as if they are losing the battle against the evil one?

Look at God’s response to the prophet! He reminds Habakkuk that if he does not understand the workings of the Lord, “wait for it” (2:3) He reminds the prophet that the “righteous shall live by faith.”

In a world that seems as if the wicked are prevailing and the righteousness are losing, behold take courage in know that the this is not our home. As I spoke with that man yesterday about the condition of our country and Christianity I reminded Him that for the Christian this is not our home and if you know the bible we understand that although wickedness will increase the promise is not for this life in Christ, but for the one to come.

The promise is that God, is working in the midst of the darkness ready and willing to bring people out of the darkness and into the light if we will be faithful to share about His Son Jesus Christ! To spread the promise of the hope to come!

In the midst of your day, whatever trouble you meet, take heart in knowing for the child of God, He is not wasting a thing you go through, but he is preparing you for an enteral weight of glory!

Nate

When I Restore (Joel 3)

July 10, 2019

In chapter 3, Joel finishes this last chapter reminding His people that the Lord God is going to fulfill what he promised to them and judge the enemies of Zion once and for all.

As you read this morning your quickly brought to these verses, “For behold, (look) in those days and at that time, when I (God) restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I (God) will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scatererd them aong the nations and have divided my land”

This chapters quickly reminds me of the faithfullness of our God, who is the final Judge of Justice to those who have persectued His people from every generation. The Bible gives us a picture of the treatment that the people of Israel where enduring.

v.2-“they have scattered my people”

v.3-“cast lots for my people”

v.3-“traded a boy for a prostitute”

v.3-“sold a girl for wine and have drunk it”

God says that for those who have done this, “I will return your payment on your own head swiftly and speedily.” God says that I will bring them to the Valley of decision, and judge the nations.

But for the people of God look at the faith promise we cling to today, “But the Lord is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.” The prophet Joel looks forward to the times when our God restores eveything. We know that Christ tho, waiting for His final return has already starting restoring us to the image of our Creator by making peace by His cross. We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that is going to lead us today in order to lead people who do not know him to a decision about the return of Jesus! May we be faithful to believe the promises of God with obedeince today!

In Christ,

Nate

 

 

The Day of the Lord (Joel 2)

July 9, 2019

 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.  Joel 2:31

Each of us have days marked on our calendar that we look forward too.  I think about a date in a short period from now when our entire family will be together.  As I write this I am a few days ahead of you (in writing) and I am trying to catch my breath from one mission trip and repacking for another.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve along side of our church family in impacting nations.

But to be revealed, I am really looking forward to that date on the calendar when I will be with my family.

Question: Keith, do you feel the same way about the day the Lord has on His calendar?

This was the question the Holy Spirit put before me as I read Joel 2.  Honestly, when I read this chapter the last thing on my mind was the Day of the Lord.  I was just trying to get my eyes open and I was just trying to get awake.  But when I read about the Day of the Lord suddenly I was very much awake and I was very much aware of the fact, this could be the very day.

Joel two begins with the sounding of a Trumpet (We will talk about this Sunday at FBC Jackson).  This trumpet was to make the people aware that God’s army was coming to inflict judgment on Israel.  When a people reject God and refuse to repent, judgment will come.

There is good news wrapped in this judgment:

12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
    and he relents over disaster.

While on this Mission Trip I want to make people aware of the coming day of the Lord.  I want to make people aware that no matter where they are in life, God says, “come home.”

Joel two also reminds me of God’s blessings in my life and in the life of the Church (2:28-32).

The Lord has given His Holy Spirit to all those who believe.  In Him we have new life (Titus 3:5) and in Him we have the power to know the signs of the times as well as the power to present the gospel and the power to overcome the enemy.

So, I now find myself wide awake in knowing the Lord could come today and if He does I want to be ready.  And if He does not, I want to rise tomorrow in the power of the Holy Spirit with a discerning eye to the times.  I want to place on my calendar what God has on His and I truly have joy thinking about the coming day.

God help all who read this to hear the trumpet call to alertness and activity in spreading the good news of the Kingdom!!!

Passing the night (Joel 1)

July 8, 2019

Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests;
    wail, O ministers of the altar.
Go in, pass the night in sackcloth,
    O ministers of my God!
Because grain offering and drink offering
    are withheld from the house of your God. Joel 1:13

Question:  Have you ever been been apart of a true revival?  Last Wednesday night at Student Camp I came face to face with what could become a revival.  As I prepared earlier in the day to preach, I sensed the hand of God heavy upon me.  As I stood later that night to preach it was obvious that God had gripped the hearts of the students.  About half-way through I could tell that God was saying to them, its gut check time.  When it came time to give the invitation, grace fell in the place.  The invitation was for over one hour without anyone having to keep it going.  This could be the beginning of a great move of God.

Brothers and sisters, what was taking place in Joel one was the exact opposite of what I just shared.  In Joel one the prophet describes (Vs: 2-11) his city being in ruins after the invasion of a foreign army.   Everything the people valued was devastated.

Notice Joels directions:  The ministers were to do the following:

  • They were to go before God in mourning and they were to spend the night in prayer.
  • They were to call an assembly to gather the people to repent, pray, and seek the forgiveness of God.

Why was Joel giving these directions?  Joel not only saw the devastation in his day but God had shown him the prophecy of “The Day of The Lord.”  Joel looks into the future and he calls for the people to repent.

Brothers and sisters, the Day of the Lord will come (I Thess. 5:1-5; Matt. 24-25; Rev. 4-19).

Before it comes, how will you and I pass through our days and nights?  As I stood watching the Holy Spirit work in the invitation, I was reminded of all the hours of prayer and all the hours of studying and all the hours of sowing seed.  Now it was paying off.

The Bible says, “Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we faint not.”  Galatians 6:9

Brothers and sisters, let us not give up!  Let us get up and get on our knees before God and pray for the harvest to come (Matt. 9:37-38).

 

What are you giving? (Exodus 25)

July 5, 2019

25 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. Exodus 25:1-2

Yesterday we celebrated Independence Day in America.  Early yesterday morning while I was running just before day light, outside our Hotel, Missionary Ovi texted me with a fireworks display.  I thought how cool.  We really do have much to celebrate.

Still our nation enjoys God’s favor even though we have drifted far from the shore of obedience.  As I sit here writing, I think about all the brave men and women who have died in defense of our freedom.  The fireworks goes off and we admire their beauty.  Brothers and sisters, an even greater display is the display of sacrifice (giving).

In Exodus 25 God instructs the people to give as their heart directed for the building of the Tabernacle.  It was not as if they had nothing to give.  God had favored them in the eyes of the Egyptians to receive all kinds of goods from them.  They had in their possession gifs to give.  Not only that but they were the ones who would be blessed by the fruit of the giving.  God was using the gifts for their benefit. This is an amazing God.

Why would they do?  In Exodus 35 they gave not only what was needed but they gave even more than what was needed!!!  They gave so much that God said, stop giving.

This Friday morning as I try to prepare for another day of ministry, I feel His warm touch. I hear the Lord whispering,  I have given you what you need for this day.  Follow me and I will do great things in your life.

Brothers and sisters, what an amazing God we serve.  This amazing God gave everything to us:

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. II Corinthians 8:9

On this Friday I ask, what will you give to the Lord?