Archive for June, 2010

It’s Not Easy

June 30, 2010

Certainly the title of this bog”Get’s your attention,” because there is so much about life that is not easy.  For example, trying to get service work on your car at a dealership can be a tough matter.  Not that I have spend a day in phone tag with a dealership.  Many things in life are not easy.

However this is not what the Lord dealt with me about this morning.  Todays readings were Luke 11-15, Romans 12-13.  The words of Christ were so fresh and so convicting today, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple,” Luke 14:27.

Certainly I have read this words man times and have preached from this text many times.  However today it took on the most intense meaning ever in my life.  Today I was challenged that following Christ is not easy.

Adrian Rogers wrote, “Salvation is free, but discipleship costs.”  Brothers and sisters, “has this been true in your life?”  I have discovered that often my walk with Christ has not cost because I have often put myself first, my relationships first, my comfort first, my agenda first.

God challenged me at my deepest point and said, “What is your faith all about and what do I mean to you?”  In this moment I did not like some of the things that I saw as I investigated my faith and my love for Christ.  I did not like that my faith was sometimes a convient thing in that I am blessed and I am honored for being a pastor.  I did not like that I sometimes love Christ in the morning but I forget Him during the day.  I did not like that I sometimes fail to love Him when life is hard.

I found myself falling into my grandfather’s recliner and crying out, “Lord I want to relinquish all of self and I want to love you as my Lord consistently every day.”  Oh how I felt the sweet hand of the Lord lifting me up and saying, “I forgive you, love me unconditionally and walk in holiness before me and in love toward those around you.  This is all I ask.”

I thought of Micah 6:8 at this moment, “He has shown you, O man, what is Good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

These things are not easy, when we live according to the flesh and we fail to live out our faith.  I want you to know that I am praying for you as you pray for me that we would live out Micah 6:8.

Here is how Paul described what I have written about today, “And do not ne conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” Romans 12:2.

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Blind Spots

June 29, 2010

It has been said, “All of us have blind spots.”  When I think of blind spots I immediately am reminded of my teenage years.  I was so excited about getting my driver’s license.  I still remember having to study and commit to memory all the rules of the road.  One of the things I had to memorize was, “Blind spots.”  These are the spots where you side-view mirrors do not show a car coming around you.

Through the years this has been invaluable to me because I always am aware that there are spots on the road that I cannot see and I must beware of them and I must be prepared to deal with these spots.

As I was reading Luke 6-10 and Romans 10-11, I was amazed at all the people who had spiritual blind spots.  For example, the disciples had blind spots and the religious leaders had blind spots.  In Luke 6, Jesus heads a man on the Sabbath and the bible offers this commentary, “But they, scribes and Pharisees, were filled with rage, and discussed what they might do to Jesus, 6:11.”

I am so amazed, “how could people be so blind to be filled with rage when Jesus worked a miracle?”  The fact is, I too have blind spots.  The blind spot is the wickedness of my own heart.  Daily I live with the reality that my old nature is seeking its own desires and wishes.  What makes it worse is when I fail to do anything about the blind spot.

In those moments, it’s just like changing lanes without any thought to the blind spot.  In those moments I am going to be run over by the enemy.  So daily I must be prepared for those blind spots.  Here is how Paul was prepared for those blind spots, “I die daily to self,”  I Corinthians 15:31.

In Christ we are prepared for those blind spits.    I wonder do you find yourself often crashing into rough times because you fail to check for blind spots?  If so, let me encourage you to daily be filled with the word of God.  When we are reading and heeding God’s word we are able to see and sidestep the blind spots in our lives.

Here is how Paul described this in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’  Oh how I pray that you admit you have blind spots and oh how I pray that you equip yourself in the word of God to be able to overcome your blind spots in Jesus name.

Sadly the religious leaders of Jesus day did not.  Here is Luke’s commentary, “But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves,” Luke 7:30.

No Regrets

June 28, 2010

Can you imagine coming to the end of your life and being able to say, “No regrets.”  This was much on my mind as I was reading Mark 6-16, Luke 1-5 and Romans 8-9.

I saw a contrast in the life of Peter and in the life of Christ.  Luke records how that even as a child, Jesus was obedient to His Father’s will.  “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business,” Lk 2:49.  We see this throughout Jesus earthly ministry.  As Jesus hung on the cross we remember His last words, “It is finished.”  Jesus had no regrets as the Perfect Son of God.

However there was Peter, “He had regrets.”  Mark records that after Peter denies Jesus three times, “He thought about it, and he wept,” 14:72.  Luke adds, “He wept bitterly.”

I wonder whom do you most identify with?  Sadly, for me, I identify more with Peter than I do with Jesus.  Why does this happen?  The answer is found in Mark’s commentary just a few verses earlier, “But Peter followed Him at a distance,” 14:54.

When the follower of Christ drifts from a passionate, separated walk with Christ he or she will have regrets.  We will be sidetracked by the enemy and we will become stale because we will seek to fulfill the wishes of the flesh.

Now here is where it becomes intense, “We just like Peter go into defense mode.”  We refuse to admit the state we are in.  We listen to our own heart that is deceitful above all things.

However it is the word of God that is our reminder as to who we are and to where we need to be in our walk with Christ.  His word is that mirror of my heart.

I thought of this yesterday as I had my picture taken for an upcoming class that I will teach in the fall.  When I saw the picture I thought who is this guy who’s hair is greying and who is this guy who looks like he has been in the race for quiet a while?  Suddenly I was reminded how much of my race is already behind me and I thought about those moments that if I could recall them I would do things differently.

But thank God I did not remain in the past.  I know that my regrets have been forgiven and removed by the blood of Christ.  I suddenly came to the present and I fixed my focus totally on Christ so that the rest of my race could be run without regrets.

I plead with those who read this today to confess the failures of the past (If you have not already)) and to commit to faithfulness in the present (If you have not).  I then plead with you to run with endurance the race that is set before you.  Run with joy, intensity, and rely on the mercy of the Lord.

Paul’s words to the church in Rome speaks so clearly about the need of mercy in our race, “And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory,” 9:23.

When Sorrow Is Not Enough

June 24, 2010

Have you ever asked someone to forgive you and they said no?  In such moments the trama of rejection is almost unbearable.

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot, “Has someone asked you for forgiveness and you responded with, “No.”   Now things seem a little different.  The first question left you feeling hurt and even a little angry.  But when you read the second question your feelings changed, or did they?

My readings for the morning were Mark 6-10  and Romans 7-8.  In Mark six I find the story of a guy who was sorrowful, but he did nothing about his own sorrow.  The guy I am speaking about is King Herod.  He was manipulated into taking the life of John the Baptist.  The bible records, “The king was exceedingly sorrowful, yet…”

As I read those words, it was clear sorrow was not enough.  The bible says, “Godly sorrow leads to a repentance that is not to be regretted.”  In this we discover why it is often hard to forgive or to be forgiven.

When we ask for or are asked to forgive, we are asked to judge or be judged according to what we say, but others are going to judge us and we them according to what is surrounding the sorrow.  Someone once said, “sorrow without a change is simply words.”  To say I am sorry without heading in a different direction is not sorrow.  This is simply a snow job that hopes to get out of the trauma of the situation.

I am so glad that Jesus was more than sorrowful for our sinful condition.  He came to this earth and paid the price for our sins so that we might be forgiven.  The fact is even with Jesus sorrow was not enough, forgiveness demands a cross.

To be forgiven a debt had to be paid.  Jesus paid it in full, Hebrews 7:26.  When we come to Christ we are forgiven not because of sorrow, we are forgiven because of His sacrifice.

In conclusion I have two questions for you, first, “Are you asking someone to do something they cannot do before you forgive them?”  The fact is they could never do enough to pay you back for all of your hurt.  Secondly, ” Could you ever pay back the people you have hurt?”  The fact is, if we are forgiven it will be because of their mercy and grace.

All we can do is ask for mercy and all we can do is give mercy and seek to be repentant which means to walk in a different direction.  All we can do is hope others will walk in a different direction.  The key to all of this is Jesus.

Paul writes in the book of Romans, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.”

More Important Than Me

June 23, 2010

I wonder, is there anyone who will read this today who struggles with “PRIORITIES?”  To be honest there are days when I struggle with who should have first priority in my life.  It seems the more I strive to walk with Christ the more that I realize how often I think about me first.

The importance of me shows up in every area of my life. For example, “for months we have been as a family looking for a third car because our precious daughter is going to college in the fall.  I confess it has been a tough journey because I struggled to not think about me first.  My vehicle is eight years old and we were going to buy an almost new vehicle.  The question came, “Who would get the new vehicle?” I must confess, Me fought for the vehicle.  But praise be to God, in the end, the Lord taught me of the value of “More important than me.”

If you could have seen the joy of my daughter when she received her car.  If you could have experienced the worship we had as we prayed together in her new car thanking God for all the blessings he has given us.

This morning I read the first five chapters of Mark and chapters 6-7 in the book of Romans.  Here is what John the Baptist proclaimed in the first chapter of Mark, “And he preached, saying, ‘There comes One after Me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.”

As I read this words, I realized how much John loved Jesus.  In John’s life Jesus was more important than he was.  I wonder is Jesus more important than you are?

The answer to this question cannot be entrusted to your heart to answer because as Jeremiah reminds us, “The heart is deceitful above all things.” The only way to truly answer this question is to look at the choices you make and to investigate who is always number one at the end of the day.

For me this is evidenced in my investigation of my check book, my daily planner, and how I use the talents given to me.  Friend, “Is there anyone more important than you?”

A life lived for self is a shallow life.  A life lived for others without Christ glory as a goal is a life lived to gain a name for self.  However a life lived for Christ that puts others first is a life that is fulfilling and will see fruit for the kingdom.

As I read Romans I was reminded, “The only way I am able to be freed from the bondage of me is in and through Christ!!!”

Here is how Paul related this truth, “For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,” Romans 6:7-8.

Words, something you cannot keep

June 22, 2010

How often in life have we said things in haste that we wished we could take back.  It is as if in our minds that things get on the tip of our tongue and we try to capture them before they slip out, but by this moment it’s impossible to stop because as a person thinks in their heart so they are.

As I was finishing Matthew, 26-28 and then moving into the first four chapters of Romans I felt the weight of words. Peter in Matthew 26 made a bold declaration, “I will never be made to stumble.”  He follows this up with a bold defense in cutting off a soldiers ear.  However within a few hours we see Peter now following at a distance from his Lord and then by the time we end chapter 26 we find Peter departing from the Lord in shame.

How could a man make a bold declaration of words and then end up departing from those words?  Why was he unable to keep those words?  Jesus gives us the answer, “The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak,” 26:41.  Peter wanted to keep his word but his old nature got the best of him.

I wonder is there anyone who reads this today who can say, “I have never sinned?”  I wonder is there anyone who can say, “I always say and do the things that God wants me to do?”  In case you are wondering, the answer is NO!!!

At this moment, I feel not only the weight of words but I feel the weight of sin.  I know that I say and do things that I should not.  This morning I limped from Matthew’s readings with the weight of the fact that Jesus suffering was because of my sin.

But I have good news, As I limped I turned to the book of Romans and discovered that my sin debt has been paid in full by Jesus Christ.  “We have the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ,”  Romans 3:22.

I am so thankful that Jesus kept His word in being the sinless sacrifice for my sins and for your sins.  I am so thankful that He has given me a new nature that is empowered by the Holy Spirit to live and speak as He would have me to speak.

As I read chapter four in the book of Romans, I encourage you to do the same, I felt the weight life because I realized it is not my words, nor my works that saved me.  It is His work alone.  I realized I must allow Him to work in me so that I can speak and act as I should.  Praise be to His name.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, ” But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justified the ungodly his faith is accounted for righteousness,”  Romans 4:5.

You can’t do it

June 21, 2010

Yesterday evening before church John and I were sitting at the table waiting to leave for church.  John proceeded to ask me a couple of riddles with the intention of getting one over on dad.  Here was his riddle, “If a plane crashed on the boarder between Canada and the USA, where would they bury the survivors.”  Now to an eight year old this was sure to stump daddy, but to his shock I could answer his riddle.

This morning I complete Matthew 15-25.  One of the things that leaped off the page was a rich man’s question to Jesus, “What good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life,” 19:16.  In Jesus response we discover the fact that he could not do it.  No matter how dedicated he was, he could not save himself.

To the world this might seem to be as confusing as the riddle was to John. In his mind he could not believe I would know how to answer his riddle.  And in the mind of humanity, it seems impossible for someone to get anything, especially eternal life, without working fo it.  But the fact is, all of humanity is in bondage to sin.  We cannot be freed from sin on our own.  This is why Jesus came to do what you and I cannot do.

Here is what Jesus said a few verses later, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,”  19:26.  No man can save himself, but Christ can save every man!

I wonder, when you encounter people do you sometimes think the person is beyond help?  Certainly I fail in this area.  I will see someone who offends me by the way they look or by the way they act and I fail to see them as Jesus does. In these moments I am setting myself up as God saying who is worthy and who is not worthy to be saved.

In those moments the Lord’s gentle rebuke comes, “You can’t do it.”  The fact is I wouldn’t do it if I could because my old nature is so sinful that it is condemn others when in fact I am just as much as sinner as they are.

Let me encourage you to remember the grace of God in your life. Spend some time praising Him for doing what you could not do.  Spend some time petitioning Him to touch the lives of people around you with the grace of God.  And finally spend some time this week proclaiming the message of His grace to the people you encounter.

Remember you can’t but He can!!!

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, ” Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will be no means enter the kingdom of God,”  Matthew 18:3

When Distractions Come

June 18, 2010

It has been one of those mornings for me.  A morning filled with distractions.  As I sat down to write this bog, my access to the account was denied.  The more I worked at getting on line the worse it became.  Suddenly I remembered the word of the Lord.

My devotions this morning covered Matthew 11-15.  In Chapter 12 Matthew shares the story of Jesus family coming to Him and wanting to meet with him.  Jesus was not distracted. Here is what He said, “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother,” 12:50.

The fact is Jesus was on a divine timetable and He was not going to be distracted by anything or anyone who would move Him away from the will of His Father.  Question, “Are you being distracted this morning?”  For me, I realized a sovereign Lord was all in my distraction.  While I was trying to get back into my blog site, I was working through emails and one came in from a discouraged brother.  Suddenly I realized the will of God was for me to be on my email site at this moment so that I coud give encouragement to a discouraged brother.  God is so awesome.  What I thought was a distraction was actually God moving me away from the distraction which was my own agenda instead of His agenda.

As soon as I responded to the email, I was able without a hitch to get back into my blog site.  For just a moment would consider the magnitude of what you have just read.  Our God has a divine plan for our lives.  Our God wants us to simply submit to His plan and to confidently trust in what comes our way without complaints or frustration.  Consider everything that comes from our Lord as being good for your life.

Ours is to simply be a life that is lived in faith and obedience to his every move in our lives.  Oh that we would come to a place of contentment with the will of the Lord.  When we come to this place we will be able to discern what is His will and what is Hells distractions.  Here is what Jesus said to His disciples, “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;” 13:16.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,”  Matthew 12:34.

A STOCKPILE CALLED SELF

June 17, 2010

When I was a kid I used to love to go to where my dad worked and watch as the coal would pile up as it came off a conveyer belt.  The pile would sometimes get as hight as fifty feet.  Often these piles would be left for a while.  The coal industry called this, “Stockpiling.” I discovered one of the reasons they did this was to simply keep the piles until the price and demand for coal went up so that they could receive a greater return for their investment.

As I was reading Matthew 5-10 this morning I was convicted by the following verse, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,” 6:19.

The Message translates the phrase, “lay up,” as “hoarding.”  Our Lord’s words forced me to take inventory of my stockpile of stuff.  I must admit that I did not want to sift through my stockpile of stuff.  As I did, I saw many things that I did not need and I saw many things in my life that needed to be cast aside.  For example, “Pride, and self-promotion, things that make my life comfortable and causes me to become complacent.  I saw a wondering eye that is easy attracted to things that benefit me.”

I next looked at the stockpile of my faith.  I found many good things, but in comparison to the stockpile called self, it was very small.

So what should I do and what should you do with the stockpile called self?  I believe the first step is to admit that we are are hoarders in the flesh.  The second step should be to pray for a heart change.  I am praying that I would fall so in love with Jesus that I would focus all of my efforts on building His stockpile.  Thirdly I must come to the place that I trust in Him to provide for what I need.

Here is what Jesus says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask,” 7:11.  Our God knows better than we do what we need.  I prayed this morning, “Father give me what you want me to have and don’t give me what I want to have.”

I encourage you to take inventory of your stockpiles today.  I also pray that you will follow the steps outlined today, in Jesus name.

I leave you with the precious words of Jesus, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,”  Matthew 6:21.

Christmas in June

June 16, 2010

Last night I had the honor of sharing the unadjusted Gospel with our children at VBS.  It was amazing to watch as each child was being touched by the Gospel.  After the gospel was shared each child had the opportunity to respond to Christ.  I do not know how many people responded as of yet.  But many did.

I had the personal honor to council with two young men.  I listened as both boys articulated what the gospel meant to them. One of the boys clearly understood but the other was confused and need’s further time to hear the word of the Lord and He needs for the Lord to illuminate his mind and heart about the gospel.

As I approached the word of the Lord this morning, I had in my heart last nights scene.  I read the first five chapters of the Gospel of Matthew.  As you know the Gospel of Matthew begins with the announcement that the King Is Coming.  As I read Matthews account, I was gripped with the truth of the gospel, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

As I read these words the truth of the Gospel rings out.  Jesus came so that we could be forgiven for our sins.  Adrian Rogers wrote, “Don’t get the idea that Jesus died to save you fro hell.  He died to save you from sin.  And if he can’t save you from sin, He can’t save you from hell.”  The true gospel clearly teaches that we are sinners and our greatest need is to be forgiven from our sin so that we can be in a right relationship with God.  When we receive Christ we are able to see correctly and we are able to live correctly and we are able to serve correctly and we are able to humbly walk with God.

So, Christmas in June came for some young people yesterday.  I believe God is leading me to share with each of you who read this blog to awaken to the truth of the gospel and to begin to pray for boldness to speak as we should.

I prayed yesterday morning that I would speak the true gospel to these children and I would not be prideful or would I be concerned with what men said.  I only wanted the King to be lifted up.  I plead with you to lift up our King.  In doing so, “It could be Christmas in June for many people this year.”

I leave you with the word of the Lord, “Whosever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Romans 10:13.