Archive for March, 2011

The Life Of A Partaker

March 31, 2011

“For you are all partakers with me of grace.” Phil 1:7. As the Apostle Paul begins his letter to the church at Philippi, he is particularly thankful for this church.  This church more than any other were partakers of life with him.  For example, “Yet it was kind of you to share in my trouble,” 4:14.

As I read through the book of Philippians I found myself being challenged by this deal of partaking.  Here is what I mean, “To partake with someone else is more than just sharing a moment with others.  It means you enter into life with the person and you actually live life with them.”

As Paul writes to this church he says, “We are partakers of grace together.” Brothers and sisters we are in God’s family by grace.  We are allowed by His grace to be in fellowship with one another.  Question, “How seriously do we take this responsibility?”

Paul took this very seriously.  Notice several things:  His daily prayer for those who were partakers with him. Always in every prayer of mine.”  His daily partnership in the gospel with those who were partakers with him. “Partners in the gospel from the first day until now.”  The daily provision for the partnership. You provided for my need.” Finally, His daily principle of humility in the partnership. But in humility count others more significant than yourselves.’

I truly believe the key to effective partaking of life with fellow believers is seen in the principle of humility.  How long has it been since we considered others more significant than ourselves?  I was deeply challenged by this.

Daily we get so wrapped up in what we need.  Daily we get so wrapped up in why others do not seem to be partaking in what we are wrapped up in.  I consider it a high and holy honor to be a partaker of grace alongside other believers.

So let us commit ourselves to the life of a partaker.  Engage in praying for your brothers and sisters all over the world today.  Seek people to partner with in God’s family.  Ask the Lord, how you can be a source of provision for others in God’s family.  Finally develop an attitude of genuinely thinking of others as more significant than yourself.

By the way, “This is the very path Jesus took as He walked among us.”  For example as we approach Easter, Jesus instituted the “Lord’s Supper,” as a reminder of His payment on the cross for us.  Every time we Partake it is a clear reminder of our commitment to partake of the life of grace.

My God grant you the understand to carry this out today.  May God grant you the persistence to do it again tomorrow and every day after.  Praise be to His name alone.

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The Best Use Of Our Time

March 30, 2011

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil,” Ephesians 5:14-15.  Time is a precious gift from the Lord. This truth came resounding into my soul this very morning.

As I approached my quite time with the Lord, I found myself very tired and to be transparent, “distracted.”  My assignment was Ephesians 4-6, Psalm 147, and time on my knees with the Lord.  But I just could not get it together.  So for about 15 minutes I read and got nothing and I got nowhere.  But suddenly I was reminded, “Look carefully.”

How easy it is to get so busy that we fail to take inventory in our lives.  There are two areas of life in which we must daily take inventory.  First, we must ask ourselves, “What pleases the Lord.” “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in his steadfast love,” Psalm 147:11. When our ways please the Lord, he will empower us with His favor to accomplish the task’s on our to-do lists.  Daily we must seek to figure out the difference between what is His list and the other list we carry around, called peer pressure, self pressure, and sinful pleasure.

Second, we must Get everything in the light. “Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. But when anything is exposed to the light, it becomes visible.” Ephesians 5:10,13. As you and I walk in newness of life we will have everything in the light.  God’s Spirit directs us through His word to know what to do and when to do it.

I confess there are moments when everything is not in the light.  I want the light when I am in a tough spot.  I want the light when it is time to make tough decisions.  I want the light to do ministry.  But there are other times when I do not want the light.

For example, “There are moments in my day when I want a little bit for me, or I want to be left alone to make my own decisions.” In these moments I waste God’s time and my time.  And I also waste the time of those that I am to be investing in.

So this morning I came back to what I knew to do.  I stopped thinking over my day and prayed, “Lord, I bring everything before your light.  Show me what is pleasing to you and show me what is not pleasing to you. Dear Lord, do not allow me to leave anything in the dark.  Lord, I promise to take off my schedule those dark things and I promise to guard the things in the light.”

Oh my friend, “the weight lifted and the wealth of joy came because this is the day the Lord has made and now I can rejoice in it because the light is own.”  Father, I pray for all who read this today.  May they experience the joy of the journey with you.  Help each to make the best use of their time today, for your Glory alone!!!”

A Gift For Someone Else

March 29, 2011

Imagine that you received a wonderful gift in the mail.  Quickly you open the gift and it is the most amazing gift you have ever received.  It is exactly what you need.  You wonder, “How did this person know exactly what I needed?”  You enjoy the gift day after day.  Finally after about a week you get a letter from that same person.  The letter simply reads, “The gift you received is for someone else.”  Suddenly you are no longer so thankful.  Why would someone do such a thing?

By now you are wondering, “What is this all about?”  This morning I had the blessed privilege of reading the first three chapters of Ephesians.  The Apostle Paul is writing to a wonderful church that had received the most wonderful gift, “The gift of the Gospel.” The great Apostle writes about this gift, “But God who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved,” Ephesians 2:4-5. No gift could ever compare to this gift.  This gift is the perfect gift for every person.

However the gift is not exclusively for you alone.  I was gripped by this truth in chapter 3 when Paul wrote, “Assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you,” 3:2. Paul was a receiver of the gift of God and God had given him the assignment to share the good news of this gift with the world.  God made sure Paul understood what an awesome responsibility He really had.

Brothers and sisters, as you and I enjoy the gift of grace, let us be aware that God has given us this gift and we must be seeking for others to have the gift.  Now this both an amazing and agonizing task.  It is amazing in the fact that God would allow former dead people (Ephesians 2:1) to share in such work.  But it is also agonizing because so many people are still dead and they are delighting in their dead state (Ephesians 2:1-3). It can be agonizing in trying to get the gospel to hardened people.

But the agony sometimes takes on a different form.  There are moments when we really are afraid to share the gospel and it is agonizing.  There are also moments when we become distracted from our stewardship as we allow the things of the day to take over.

In each of these moments we wonder how can I get this gift to others.  But God has the answer, “Now to Him wo is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,” 3:20. Our God has the power, all we have to have is a passion to be obedient to give His gift.

Thank you Father for the gift of salvation.  Thank you Father for giving me the assignment to share about your gift today.  Thank you Father for making a way for it to happen in Jesus name.

The Reason

March 28, 2011

Imagine the perspective people have who truly believe, “There is a reason for everything.”  This was brought in full focus for me this morning as I read through the book of Galatians.  Here is what Paul wrote, “You know that it was because of a bodily aliment that I preached the gospel to you at first,” 4:13.  Apparently Paul had an illness that kept him in Galatia longer than he imagined. But he knew God had a reason and the reason was for the furtherance of the gospel.

Question, “Do you believe God has a reason for everything in your life?”  Now be honest, do you really believe this?  For example, “If you deal with a physical problem that causes you great pain every day.  Do you really believe God has a reason?”  Now let’s add something else to the equation, “The reason is always for His glory and for your good!!!”

This statement is easier to make when you go through a short trial, but when the trial is extended it is not so easy.  I think about the fact that Paul would always deal with some physical problem.  However he held on to God’s reason, Romans 8:28.

How was Paul able to do this and how can we do this?  The answer is the very theme of the book of Galatians, “Faith!”  We must place all of our faith in God.  We must believe He knows what He is doing.  He knows the reason and that is reason enough for us to trust Him.

The Psalmist wrote, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable,” 145:3. I truly believe every thing has a reason because our great God says so.

So what should our response be?  We should walk by faith.  This faith demands a disciplined lifestyle that trust the reason when we cannot understand and when we cannot see the end of the journey.

Please be encouraged today, in what ever place you find yourself, “God has a reason.”  Here is what Paul encouraged the Galatians to do, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we faint not,” 6:9.

Please pause in what you are doing or what you are going through and simple say, “Lord I trust you and I am going to be patient and I am to be at peace for I know you have a reason.”  Brothers and sisters, this very truth gives us a reason to be at peace in the midst of every storm!!!

Traveling Together

March 25, 2011

Really, “Is a dog man’s best friend?”  Recently John and I were somewhere and we were doing something totally unrelated to a discussion about a dog.  However in the middle of what we were doing, John speaks out, “I want a dog.”  This has been a constant theme of his life recently.

For some reason, he like all other children, crave having their own dog.  When I think about a dog I think about my childhood.  We had small dogs and one in particular comes to mind.  He would never fight another dog unless we were with him.  If we were with him, he would tackle any dog no matter the size.  It seemed as if he felt great confidence if someone was with him. So I guess, “To him, man was dog’s best friend.”

So, if John were to get a dog, he would be traveling together with, maybe, his best friend.  Certainly by now you are wondering, “What is this all about?”  My answer is simply this, “Humanity is always searching for something or even someone to share life with.”

This was clear in my heart as I began a study of the book of Joshua in my quiet time this morning.  Here was a new leader who had traveled together with the old leader (Moses) who is now gone.  Certainly Joshua had a lot of experience under his belt.  But his assignment was overwhelming, as is much of what we face in life.

Chapter one is filled with God’s assurance that He would travel together with Joshua, “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” 1:9. If this were the only verse we had in describing God’s relationship with his people, it would seem as if there were no requirements for traveling together with God.

However nothing could be any farther from the truth. God told Joshua, “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to the Law of Moses.  Do not turn from it to the left hand or to the right hand, that you may have good success,” 1:7. Our Lord was making it clear to Joshua that he must submit to His leadership in His life.

Never become trapped into believing that walking together means that you lead or you have an equal say so in how your life is to be lived.  As a follower of Christ we must follow Christ!!!  The Apostle Paul discovered this reality, “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in or that I might preach him among the gentiles…” 1:16.

Paul knew that it was Christ who selected him and saved him for His purpose.  This is what traveling together really means.  Think about our illustration, “John want’s a dog to pour his life and love into.  Whereas God wants to pour his life and love into us.  Our only task is to simply choose to follow.  When we follow we become the team member who is to carry out the perfect plan of God.

Travel with Jesus today.  It is the journey that you will never regret.  All for His glory.

 

What I Needed To Hear

March 24, 2011

It is morning, but you do not feel refreshed.  The night was spent with your body in reverse and your mind in overdrive.  You needed rest but you could not get your mind to lay your troubles and questions down.

Does the scenario before you seem familiar? Mostly likely it is this way for many who read this today.  I think it must have been that way for Peter in John 21.  Peter rises with several of his fellow disciples and says, “I am going fishing.”  Maybe he was trying to clear his head or maybe he was just going back to what was familiar.  Either way, he was trying to find answers.

It was the same way for the Psalmist in Psalm 143, “Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails!  Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit,” Vs:7. Here the Psalmist needed to hear how he was to proceed further.

I am sure it was the same way with Abraham.  Hebrews 11 speaks of Abraham, “Seeking a homeland by faith.” This man of God was walking totally by faith and not by sight.

Each of these men lived at different times, but their situation was the same, “God what should I do.”  I was amazed as I studied, the answer to their situation was the same.  God alone was their source of truth.  Each of these men chose to place their faith in God alone.

Now, we turn our attention to our day and our situations of life.  Are we in need of daily instruction?  The answer is yes.  Are we in need of daily faith that will allow us to lay things down so we can rest? The answer is yes.  Are we in need of daily having great faith with our finances as well as with many other things?  The answer is yes.

Allow me to encourage you to place all of your faith in God.  Follow the Psalmist method of discovering what you need to hear, “Let me hear you in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.  Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to you for refuge!  Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good spirit lead me on level ground,” 143:8-10.

These words washed over my soul this morning as I cried out in faith to God, laying all before Him.  I felt His sweet Spirit filling me with peace and with a perspective that trusts His grace for this day and for the next day.  I realized I do not need to know what tomorrow holds as long as I can trust the one who holds tomorrow in His hands.

Oh how I pray you can sleep well tonight because you are resting in the arms of the Lord.  This my brethren was what I needed to hear.  Praise be to His name.

Does Anyone Care?

March 23, 2011

“Does anyone care?”  This question has undoubtedly been asked innumerable times in the history of our world.  Most likely it is being asked by some who read this blog today.  I wonder, if the children who have been left orphaned in Japan are asking this question today?  I was reading their stories this morning and I came away with a broken heart.  The headlines read, “Foreigners looking to adopt need not apply.” The fact is the people in Japan look down on the thought of their children being adopted.  They so believe in their heritage that they know someone in the near family will adopt.  But a deeper investigation still showed that many children will be orphaned and without a doubt they will have moments when they wonder, “Does anyone care.”

I wonder how Jesus must have felt in John 19 after he had been beaten by Pilate’s soldiers. A crown of thorns were placed on his head and they placed on him a purple robe. They brought Jesus out before the crowd and Pilate said, “Behold the man.” Here the perfect Son of God, who came because of His love for humanity, stands as the Second Adam.  But instead of people saying thank you, they cried out, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

As I read these words, I reflected on how much Jesus loves us and how committed He was in making atonement for our sins.  Even though no one in the crowd cared, He cared for all of humanity.  I am so thankful He cried out, “It is finished.” Brothers and sisters victory is ours because of the cross.

But there is something else we see here.  In Jesus suffering He is able to identify with each who suffer.  For those who know Christ there should never be a moment when you ask, “Does anyone care?”  Look to the cross and you come away knowing He cares.

I believe the Psalmist understood God’s care in Psalm 142. “With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.  I pour out my compliant before him; I will tell my trouble before him,” 1-2.

Here the Psalmist proclaims, “Lord I need help. Lord, you alone extend help (Mercy).  Lord, here is why I need help (There is no one who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul). Lord I know you will help and I thank you (You are my portion in the land of the living. Attend to my cry for I am brought very low).

I praise His name because He cares.  This morning I am so thankful as the song writer wrote, “There are no orphans with God.” No matter what you are facing today, you must be reminded that you can crawl in God’s arms and be comforted because of Jesus. Here is how David closes Psalm 142, “For you deal bountifully with me.” PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!!!

 

The Reason Why

March 22, 2011

Recently I was reading the story about the young man who committed murder in Tucson Arizona.  The judge in the case has now ordered a mental evaluation in hopes of answering the question as to the reason why this young man committed such crimes.  As I read this story I was reminded of how we as people are always looking for reasons to get out of admitting the real reason why we sin.

Jesus in John 16 is preparing the disciples for the moment of the cross.  He also is preparing them for their moment of cross bearing.  “They will put you out of the synagogues.  Indeed, they hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.  And they will do these things because they have not known the Fathers, nor me,” 16:2-3.

Jesus wanted the disciples to understand the reason why for what they would face.  The people who would abuse and even murder some in their group had no connection with God.  They were sinners in rebellion against God.  This is why they acted in such depraved way’s.

Brothers and sisters, “This same truth holds as the reason why for every sin committed in the world today.”  The answer to humanities problem is not social reform, or more laws that give us gun control. The answer to humanities problem is Jesus.

At the end of chapter 16 Jesus described what this looks like, “In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.” 16:35. In Christ we have peace with God because our sin-debt has been paid.  In Christ we have the peace of God in knowing that He walks with us through every circumstance of life.  In Christ we have the power of God to overcome the sin nature.  God has given us His Holy Spirit.  “The Spirit Of Truth will guide us in all things,” 16:13

This morning, I praise the Lord that I am not what I would be because of Jesus.  This morning, I praise the Lord that He is making me into who He wants me to be because of Jesus.  Here is part of Jesus prayer for us, “Sanctify them in truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world I send them into the world,” 17:17-18.

This very day you and I have the opportunity to engage the world by living a live of holiness.  Be assured they will want to know the reason why you are being kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving of their wrongs.  In these moments we must cease our opportunity to tell the reason why.  “The reason is Christ alone!”

What Should I do?

March 21, 2011

This morning I read two things that left me with one burning question.  The first thing I read was Gods Word, John 11-16, Malachi 1, and Psalm 140.  John 11 tells the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  John 12 begins the narrative of Jesus last week leading up to the cross.    Jesus teaching in these chapters are amazing.  But still yet, the question remained for me!  Here is the passage that is in question, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Whoever loves his life looses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves me, he must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also,” John 12:24-26.

A question leaps forth from my heart and mind as I read this text.  Maybe you don’t see it yet?  If not, allow me to share with you about the second thing I read this morning.  I read an article from the IMB website with the headlines, “Should I go or should I stay.”

Missionaries in Japan are being told to leave their homes and travel at least 50 miles away from the nuclear station in question in Japan.  One missionary said, “My family is saying, come home to America. But how can I leave the place God has called me to serve?  I feel the gospel is now in a place where it can finally be heard.”

Again I ask, “Do you see the question?”  For me it is clear, “Am I willing to die so that I can live?”  Jesus taught us the importance of dying to self so that we could live unto God.  This missionary in Japan is carrying out Jesus command by dying to self, knowing that he could actually lose his life, for standing for the gospel.

This question raised a flood of things in my heart.  I examined my motivation for why I do ministry and why I do not do ministry.  I found myself asking, “Am I really dying to myself?” The Christ life is a life that is always dying to self and is always striving to live unto Christ.

I truly believe we must settle the issue of what should I do.  If we do not, we will always be asking, “What should I do.”  And as we continue to grapple with our answer, we continue to live unto self and self never gives forth the light of the gospel.  People are dying without Christ while we are deciding what we should do.

Jesus has already told us what we should do.  It is our responsibility to submit and carry out His orders.  Jesus said to His disciples, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them,” John 13:17. May His blessings be on our lives today!!!

An Issue Of Character

March 18, 2011

This morning’s Fox News headlines included the story of 123 men who are consistently placing their lives on the line.  They are called the suicide 50 even though there are 123 men.  These men are the ones who are trying to repair the damage at the nuclear facilities in Japan.  When asked, “Why they were willing to expose themselves to radiation that most likely will cost them their live?’  They responded, “We have lived our lives and we want others to be able to do the same.”  Certainly these men are exhibiting great character.

In life, every decision me make and every deed we do ultimately comes as a result of our character.  For example, consider Jesus.  His decision to come to this earth was solely based upon his character.  “You know me, and you know where I came from? But I have not come of my own accord.  He who sent me is true, and him you do not know,” John 7:28-29. As the perfect Son Of God, Jesus came in obedience to His Father’s will.  This was His character.

Consider, our enemy, who is Satan. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies,” John 8:44. This is his character.

Satan hates the child of God and he hates humanity.  This comes out of his devilish character.  Jesus loves the child of God and he loves lost humanity. This comes out of his character.  One seeks to destroy lives and one delivers lives.

Now here is where it is very important, “When we were born we did not have the character of Jesus.  Our character mirrors that of Satan.  We cannot change our character on our own.  Here is where Jesus comes in. “If the Son sets you free you are free indeed,” Joh 8:31. Jesus delivers us from the bondage of sin.  We can have His character and we can walk in newness of life because of Jesus.

Now certainly these 123 men in Japan have high hopes of protecting the people from radiation expose and oh how I pray God grants them success.  But they cannot save these people from themselves.  Only Jesus can.

I challenge each of you who read this today to test your character. Pray the prayer of David in Psalm 139:23-24.  As you do, “You will discover what’s in your character.”

Heavenly Father, may we evidence the character that has been given to us by Christ.  May others see Christ in our character and may they desire to come to Christ.  May you be glorified in and through us today.”