Archive for July, 2010

All Alone

July 30, 2010

I wonder, “What was your first thought when you read the title of this post?”  For some, it could be thoughts of how they are feeling about their life at this point.  This morning, I received the news about a pastor I knew years ago who had fallen from his place of service to God.  His life began to spin out of control for years and it ended three days ago alone in bed.  He was found two days ago.  Certainly we would say, “He died alone.”

But this is not what I am writing about today.  This morning’s devotion covers chapters 9-13 in the book of Hebrews.  Chapters 9 and 10 are so rich concerning the sufficient payment for our salvation.  In chapter 9 we read how the priest in the Old Testament offerend a sacrifice once a year on the mercy seat in the Holy Of Holies for both his sin and his people’s sins.  This sacrifice by no means removed their sin debt, it simply covered it.  The bible records in 9:7, “He went alone once a year…”

As I read those words, the joy of the Lord filled my soul.  Jesus Christ went to the cross alone for my sin and for your sin.  I praise the Lord that He only had to do this once and it was sufficient for my sin and for your sin, 9:26.

So, the fact is, he alone deserves the praise and honor for our salvation.  The glory is His, all alone!!!  I cannot get over this, I must not get over this.  The key to a surrendered life is to glory only in Him.  We must refuse to seek glory for ourselves in any way.  As we glory in Christ alone, the liberty of Christ is abundant in our lives.

Oh the richness of this truth.  God alone deserves our praise.  Brothers and sisters, as we praise Him we discover something wonderful. This God whom we praise alone never leaves us alone. “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you,” 13:5.

As we lift Him up, He leads us by still waters and He walks with us in daily life and He carries us through the troubled waters of life.  Jesus told His disciples, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am in the midst,” Matthew 18:20.

As Sunday approaches may we lift Him up alone and watch as His power is released in the church and most certainly we will not be alone.  Praise be to His name, ‘ALL ALONE.’

Amazing Love

July 29, 2010

This morning I opened the word of God and read the first 8 chapters of the book of Hebrews.  With each verse my heart continued to fill up with His love for me and my Love for Him.

As most know, last night we arrived late from a mission trip to Romania.  It was a trip that was filled with more than this post could hold.  One thing was for sure God was not only working through us, He was working in us.

Over the last 8 months God has been doing a work in my life that I did not know I really needed.  I have been challenged by the Lord in every area of my life.  In each area, it seemed as if God was placing His spotlight and forcing me to see what He already see’s.  Hebrews 4:13 reads as follows, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give and account.”

In these last 8 months I have been giving and account for 19 years of ministry and 36 years of being a Christian.  Much of what I have seen has been a reason to repent so many times.  So much of my life has been lived in pursuit of my wishes, my will, and my way.  But because of His amazing love, He has chosen at this time to awaken me to what life is all about.

I am to live my life for His glory and to accomplish His goals.  So I can confidently say, “I need nothing except the resources necessary to accomplish these things.”  I am at the place where I am honestly saying, “God I do not want to live another second for me.  I do not want to do anything but your will.”

This is a liberating place and at the same time it is a scary place because He is not finished with me yet. I have surrendered it all to Him.  So wherever He leads I will go.  If He wants me to be a Pastor of a local congregation, His will be done!!!  If He wants me to be a missionary on foreign soil, His will be done!!! If he wants me to serve in a public sector, His will be done!!!

As I write this I seek your prayer in this makeover as well as your prayer covering because the enemy will not sit by and allow this to happen without a fight.

I am so thankful that He has loved me along this journey.  Oh how I pray that you would experience His amazing love today.  Here is what the writer of Hebrews told us to do, “Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” 4:16.

Everything Has A Purpose

July 27, 2010

Do we really believe, “Everything has a purpose?”  Sometimes we say we do but do we really?  For example, “I spoke at an 8:30 Pm service out in a distant village from our team.  The service was over at 10 Pm and I was spent knowing the distance back to the place where I am staying. Before we left the head elder asked, ‘If we would please come by and have a meal with them.’  This was the last thing on my mind to eat at 10:30 at night.  But I knew that I could not refuse, so we went.”

The fact is everything I had preached was now being put to the test.  Would I be humble and go as I had preached or would I be selfish and come back and get the sleep I thought I needed?

As I read the little book of Philemon during my devotion time, I thought, “This is how both Philemon and Onesimus must have felt.”  Philemon was a slave owner and Onesimus was a slave who had run away and traveled to where Paul was under house arrest.  While there Paul leads him to Christ.  Paul writes this letter to Philemon requesting that he receive him back into his home.  Whatever the cost Paul would pay.

What a picture this is of Christ who frees us from enslavement of sin and offers payment for our sins to God.  Here is the verse that leaped off the page and into my heart, “For perhaps he departed for a while for this very purpose, that you might receive him forever,” Vs: 14.  WOW!!!

Everything has a purpose and that purpose is to accomplish the purposes of God, which has the ultimate goal of glorifying God!!!  I am so thankful that I went with this family because it was an awesome opportunity to fellowship with God’s people and to offer encouragement to all involved.  Most importantly we were able to glorify God in our time together.

I wonder, Do you praise the Lord for every circumstance?  Do you look for His purposes in every circumstances?  I encourage you to do so today because this could be the day that your trial accomplishes the greatest of things as you praise Him in the midst of the storm.

What Everyone Needs

July 26, 2010

The last 24 hours have been a blessing and also a cause for an even increased burden in my personal call to ministry.  I have been blessed with call of God to proclaim His word and I have been blessed with His empowerment do do this task.  As I read the book of Titus this morning this blessing was clear in Paul’s life, “But in due time has manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior,” 1:2.

I have also been blessed with His kindness in salvation and in the over and above supply of my needs.  This has never been any more true to me than it has the last 24 hours.  For example, after the evening service one of the deacons in the church, who I have grown to love so very much took us out for ice cream.  Afterward the guys wanted real food so we went into the old section of the city.  As we exited our cars we were meet quickly by children begging.  I found myself in a broken state.  It seemed as we sat down to eat in the square at an outside table that I could see them everywhere.  We ordered our meal and a child came up and the pastor gave him some money.  The waitress brought out bread and another child came up and we gave him bread.  Finally our meal came, and I had to pray to be able to even eat.  I only ate part of my meal because I wanted to give it away.  To which we did after we got a box for it and gave it away as we left.  Through the night I could see the children everywhere and I still see them this morning.  Ours is a world that is in desperate need.

I find myself saying, “God there is more you want me to do and there is more you want our church to do.  But how do I come to a place of understanding what you want me to sacrifice and how do I turn the cultue around at our own church?”  These are the weights that I must carry as God deals with my heart.

However the question for the hour is this, “What does everyone need?”  Do they need food?”  Certainly!  Do they need shelter?  Certainly!!  Do they need a safe environment? Certainly!!!  Do they need an education?  Certainly!!! We as a church must rise up and help in these areas.  However this is not the greatest need.

The greatest need is found in Titus 3:4-5, “But when the kindness and the Love of God our Savior toward man appeared.  Not my works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”  Here is what everyone needs!!!!

As we meet the needs of the world, we must never forget, we meet those needs because it is His kindness that causes us to want to be kind.  Man’s greatest need is not earthly substance but and eternal salvation that comes only through Jesus Christ!!!  Please pray that each of us would come to a surrender to God’s leading in this calling!!!!!

A Burning Question

July 25, 2010

This morning began with a time of reviewing for today’s message from Luke 10:25-37.  As I read the words of Luke 10:11, I found myself burning on the inside with a question, “The very dust of your city which clings to us we wife off against you.  Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.”

When I read the words, “The kingdom of God has come near you.” I seemed to feel the weight of what it must mean to have the kingdom of God come near but then to pass on by.”  If you are a follower of Christ, you know firsthand the joy of being a member of the Kingdom of God.  I cannot imagine living my life without Christ, but every day in our world, over 4.3 billion people are living without Christ.

Now here is the hard part, how many of us live our lives without letting others know that the kingdom of God is coming near them.  Just yesterday we drove by a man broken down beside the road, he didn’t know the kingdom of God had passed by.  We passed a man who was drunk and staggering down the road.  He did not know the kingdom of God had passed by.  Then we walked by a mother with her two young children begging and she did not know the kingdom of God has passed by.  Question, “Is it totally their own fault that they do not know, or could some of the blame be on us for not stopping and sharing the message of the gospel with them.

One thing is for sure, a little boy outside of a grocery store now knows the kingdom of God has come by because we stopped and shared Christ with this young boy.  As we left he was running by our window waving and knowing there were some people who loved him as Jesus representatives.

As you prepare for church today, ask yourself if you are telling others that the kingdom of God is coming near?  If not, what is the use in saying we are kingdom people if we are not living that way?  What is the use in going to church if we do not love and live out the kingdom life, I Corinthians 13.

Pray for our team that we would live and speak in such a way that people will know that “The Kingdom of God is coming by.”

Who Get’s The Glory?

July 24, 2010

This has been a wonderful few days of ministering with one of the young pastors on our staff.  Each day I have been blessed to work with Pastor Rich.  It’s easy to say, “I know someone,”  But it’s another to really know them.  I have been blessed this week to serve as a team with my brother and to offer support to the rest of our team.

As I read the book of Galatians this morning, I was pricked in the heart by the last verse of chapter one, “And they glorified God in me,” 1:24. Here the Apostle Paul reminded the church that a life that is surrendered to Christ is a life that brings glory to Christ alone.  I was convicted about how often I want the glory to be about me.  I am so thankful that God is changing my life as I draw closer to Him.

I look back over my life as see so many times when I struggled with God over who get’s the glory.  Brothers and sisters the gospel is always hindered when we are presenting two lord’s!!!  We must come to the place where we can genuinely say, “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me,” 2:20.

When you live the Christ life, He is lifted up and you are lifting Him up by serving Him in holiness and in humility.  Please pray that our team exhibits this character as we complete the last half of our journey.  Pray for Rich and I that those who come to hear us would only see Christ and that we would desire His glory alone.

We are praying for each of you, that in your individual lives, Christ alone would get the glory.

Sweat On The Bible

July 23, 2010

As I opened my bible this morning, I discovered that some of the pages were stuck together.  Upon further investigation I discovered the pages that were stuck were the ones I preached from last night.  I realized those pages were stuck together from my sweat. For 40 minutes last night the Lord poured out His word through this unworthy vessel.

As I read the book of II Timothy in devotion I was reminded of the need of spiritual sweat as a follower of Christ.  To become what God called us to be will require sweat on the bible.  Here is what Paul wrote, “Study to show yourself approved to God, a worker who needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” 2:15.

Any true servant of the Lord understands the analogy of sweat on the bible.  This sweat comes at various stages of our growth.  It begins as the sweat of the word, opens our eyes to our sinfulness, We cannot save ourselves, 1:9.  Christ shed His blood on the cross.  The sweat comes as we realize we need Him.  To repent and to surrender will cause one to sweat.

The sweat continues as we study the word in our sanctification process.  Daily we must labor in His word to discover how to walk this Christian path.  For me the sweat came in 2:24, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting others…”  In each of the actions on this list is great sweat.  The fact is, there are days when it will require great sweat.

Finally there will be sweat as we struggle against sin and Satan. Paul tells us in chapter three that perilous times will come.  Brothers and sisters it is here.  Our sweat will come as we stand against the forces of hell and the force of our old nature.

Then there will be sweat as we share the gospel with those around us.  “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution,” 3:12. It is not easy to live out your faith.  There will be moments of opposition from every corner and every angle of life.

However Paul reminds us, “Fight the good fight of faith and lay hold of eternal life,” 6:7.  It is worth it to sweat for Jesus.  It is worth it to sweat on one’s bible.  As I look at my bible this morning, my minds remembers standing in the pulpit of a church with no air conditioning with windows closes and temperatures in the 90’s.  I thank God that He used me in this moment.

I also thank God for the daily sweat of being in His word.  As I thumb through the pages I see the sweat and even know His word is doing a good work in me.  Oh how I pray that you will daily sweat your way through His holy and precious word.

A God Who Enables

July 22, 2010

This morning, I awakened to the noise of a busy city where 125,000 people live.  Here in Romania people are up and out walking and moving about the city very early.  As I watched the people, I considered where they were headed.  Even more so as Rich and I sat at breakfast, the eternal direction of these people occupied my mind.  “So many people walking and talking clueless as to where they were headed in eternity.”

I cried out in my spirit, “God help us to reach them this week.”  I also cried out, “God help us to mobilize your people to reach this nation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  This is both my prayer and my task for this day.  We will be preaching at a youth camp in the morning and also preaching at a crusade this evening.  Please pray for us.

This mornings devotions covered the book of I Timothy.  I was immediately engaged with Paul’s words in chapter one, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry,” 1:12.  Oh how thankful I am that our Lord has enabled me to preach His word to the masses in a foreign context.  In this context I am keenly aware of God’s enabling power in several areas of life:

First and foremost that He has saved me, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief,” 1:15.  I am overwhelmed that God opened my eyes to my need of a Savior and I am so thankful that He enabled me to believe in Him unto salvation.  Brothers and sisters, take time to praise him for allowing you to be exposed and to be enabled to hear and respond to the truth of the gospel.

Secondly that He is sanctifying me, “I obtained mercy, that Jesus Christ would show in me a pattern for all those who are going to believe,” 1:16.  What a blessing to be molded by God into His very image.  Here in this foreign context, it is easy for these people to spot that I am from a foreign land.  I wonder do they really know I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God and that I am an ambassador of a King, II Corinthians 5:19-20?  I am thankful that God enables me to be a light for Him.  I pray that when I am in a familiar land (USA) that the people will see in me that I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God.

Finally that I can praise Him, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen,” 1:17.  I could never praise Him enough for enabling me to praise Him.  I am so thankful that God is teaching me that all I am is because of His mercy and grace. May you and I live this day in praise for a God who enables us to live, breath, and have our being in Him.

Oh that multitudes would see and believe this, this day!!!

How Does One Gage Success?

July 21, 2010

Well, we finally made it to Romania and the mission is underway.  This morning we began the day with a devotion covering Luke 5 and Luke 9:57-62.  In this devotion we discussed the differences between, Jesus in the Bible and Jesus in the Bible belt.

For me the differences were significant.  The Jesus of the bible calls us to deny ourselves and to follow Him in surrender.  In Luke 9 Jesus is very pointed in asking those who wanted to follow Him to be willing to give us their homes, relationships, and even to be willing to give up everything that would hinder them from living a Kingdom centered life.  David Platt asked the question, “Is there anything worth giving everything for?”

The exact opposite of this is the Jesus of the Bible-belt.  This Jesus is a name it and claim it God.  We name what we want and we claim it in Jesus name.  This God is there for our needs, our wants, and our every wish.  By the way this God is not the God of the bible.

My Jesus invited me to come and dine at His table in submission to His will and work.  My Jesus invites me to “Launch out into the deep for a big catch,” Luke 5:7.  The deep is where self drowns and selflessness begins to surface.  The deep is the place where the big catch of hungry soul are waiting to hear the gospel.

With that said, “How does one judge success?”  The answer is simple but also very deep,  The answer is simply, “Forsake all and follow Him,” 5:11.  This has nothing to do with how many people we reach.  We must be serving the Jesus of the bible with a radical submission that says, “I will go anywhere and do anything no matter how great or how small for your kingdom work.”

This happened to us tonight as we visited a house church outside the city we are staying in. To our surprise no one showed up except one lady, Rich, myself, and our translator.  Now to the Jesus of the bible belt we would have been labeled a failure but I believe the Jesus of the bible gaged us successfully because we were obedient.

He always has a plan.  Because of the shortness of the service we were able to take a local pastor out to service and pour ours lives into him for about two hours.  I truly believe we encouraged him as we shared the very thoughts of this blog with Him.   Were we successful?  Make, because we shared with a pastor who serves over 400 people each week.

Let me encourage you to discover who the God of the bible is and let me encourage you to surrender your life  to this God and to get busy about His work no matter how great our how small in Jesus name.

Romania 2010

July 19, 2010

This morning I awakened with a great weight on my heart.  Within two hours I will be leading a team of 13 people to Romania.  I have made this journey many times.  Each time has presented its unique challenges as well as the undeniable power of God being exhibited in the lives of those who responded to the gospel.

As I prepare for this trip I found myself meditating on the word of God. This morning I read the book of II Thessalonians.  The words of Paul are my request from each of you who read this today, “Finally, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you,” 3:1.

I also wanted to spend a few moments challenging each of you to consider as David Platt writes, “Serving the Lord in a different context.”  I truly am convinced that every believer needs to at lead once a year to serve the Lord in a different context.  Maybe you would identify this context as, “A mission trip.”

This context takes many different forms.  First it should take the form of being on mission in your local community.  Let me encourage you to discover where people are in need in your community and respond to that need in Jesus name.  Secondly you should look around your state and again discover where people are in need and respond in Jesus name.  Then discover a context in your country where God can use us and go in Jesus name.  Finally you should discover where God can use you in a foreign context and go in Jesus name.

Only as we leave your comfort zone do we discover the ultimate fulfillment of two commands of Christ.  The first command is the command to forsake all and follow Christ.  As long as we focus on ourselves we miss out on the surrendered life.  The second command is the command to make disciples of all nation.  As a follower of Christ you and I cannot reason away why you should not serve in a foreign context.  There are 6.8 billion people in the world and 4.7 billion of these people are without Jesus Christ.

Imagine where these people will spend eternity if they die without Christ.  Certainly we cannot reach them all but we can reach many of them in Jesus name. So pray for our team as we follow the command of God to make disciples and we promise to pray for you as you consider responding to God’s call to serve in a different context.

Lord willing our next post will come from Romania!