Archive for April, 2011

More Than Meets The Eye

April 29, 2011

Last night’s and this morning’s world news has been all but eclipsed by the Royal Wedding in England. I must admit that I was extremely disappointed by so much fanfare being paid to one couple when so little attention was being paid to the devastation of so many lives in our own nation.

The fact is, most of the people who have lost their lives will never get the press that the Royal Couple have received.  Please do not confuse what I have written with thoughts that I am against this young couple. I pray they see and submit to the gospel.  However my heart breaks for the mixed up priority system in our world.

This is never any more clear than in I Samuel 16.  The chapter begins with God telling Samuel to move forward and anoint the next king of Israel.  Here is what God said, “I have provided for myself a king among his sons,” 16:1.  God had ordained that one of the sons of a man by the name of Jesse the Bethlehemite would become king.

Jess had eight sons.  Seven of them pass in review before Samuel and each time the Lord said, “He is not the one.” Suddenly we ask ourselves, “where number eight?”  Surely, he would be in the processional.  But he was not in the processional.  He was still very young, a teenager, and he had much to learn.  However Samuel asks for him to be brought.

So what is the deal?  “For the Lord sees not as a man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart,” 16:7. This eight son would be the son that had a heart for God.  Outwardly, he was young, but inwardly he was far stronger than his older brothers because he had a heart for God.

Suddenly the reality of what I just wrote flows deeply into my mind.  How could such a boy have a different heart than his other seven brothers?  This, my brethren, is the very grace of God!!!  God had placed his hand of favor on David.  David would become king and in doing so he would give us a picture of a greater King who would come.

The world would not look on this greater King with favor.  The prophet Isaiah would write about him, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men…” 53:2-3a.  However the Father would look on Him and say, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”  The very Son of God came as prophet, priest, and king.  But the word did not see Him for who He was and still today the word does not see Him for who He is.

But praise be to God that He opened the eyes of David to see. Praise God that He gave David His Spirit, “And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that Day forward,” 16:8.  These were the things that were more than meets the eye.  Only God could do this.

Today, I am so thankful that God has opened my eyes and He is opening people’s eyes around the world to who He is.  This is what makes all the difference. Take heart my brethren.  You may never make this world’s front page, but you made news in heaven because you are loved by a King!  This is truly more than meets the eye.

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Here It Comes

April 28, 2011

This has been a week for many people who has been a roller-coaster of emotions.  I watched the news with a broken heart for all those who have lost their lives because of the devastation from tornado’s.  Here in Louisville Ky, we have been constantly awakened by weather alerts.  My precious wife has lost much sleep over the storms.  Just as she would attempt to go to sleep, another weather alert would come.

I was reminded of these things as I read the following, “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding, than a hundred blows into a fool,” Proverbs 17:10.  For some people a Godly rebuke is feared as much as a tornado.  For others there is no fear because they do not listen to any type of rebuke.

This morning as I read about the life of King Saul, I Samuel 9-15, I was reminded how this man was rebuked time after time, but it did not get through.  Here is what his own son said of him, “My father has troubled the land,” 15:29.  

Brothers and sisters, we trouble ourselves and everyone around us when we refuse to hear the gentle rebuke of the Lord.  The fact is, we all need rebuke because all of us fail and all of us are flawed.  We need God’s precious rebuke to be molded into the followers of Christ that we are called to be.

My prayer for my own life this morning was simply, “Lord, help me to never despise or deny your gentle rebuke. May I become a man of understanding through your gentle rebuke so that I can grow in the gospel.”

Maybe you are struggle with circumstances in your life?  Maybe you are upset with God or you are afraid of what is coming next? If so, I offer you the sweet advice of God’s word, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding,” 17:27.  Take Solomon’s advice, calm down and listen to God.

Our Lord loves us and would not allow anything to happen for our demise.  His love is for our deliverance and for our development.  So follow the word’s of a precious old hymn, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!!!”

It’s Empty

April 27, 2011

As the rain continues to pour down on the region of the country where I live, one thing is for sure, “If you have a rain barrel, it is not empty.”  However, in the place where I live there are a lot of empty things.  For example, I often encounter people who have given themselves totally to the pursuit of things that are wonderful to the eye.  However on deeper inspection and investment, they were empty on the inside.

It was this way for Israel in the days of the Prophet Samuel.  “Do not turn aside after empty things that cannot prophet or deliver, they are empty,”  I Samuel 12:21.  The nation of Israel had made up her mind that she wanted to be like the other nations of the world.  The Lord was their king, but now they wanted an earthly king.  In their eyesight was the ease they expected in having a king that would do everything for them, but the opposite would be true.  This king would demand everything from them.  At the end of the day they would regret asking for empty things.

The writer of Proverbs has something interesting to add here, “How much better to get wisdom than gold!  To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver,” 16:16.  Jesus went even deeper, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God,” Matthew 4:4.  

Only in Christ do we find true lasting pleasure.  This please is not in things, but in a relationship with God that begins with peace and grows with an every increasing understanding of His person and His purpose.

I found a great understanding in the commentary of Jim Reimann, on “The Devotions of Charles Spurgeon.”  “Yet as we grow in Him, maturing from newborn babies to seasoned saints, our requests of Him should mature as well.  What would we rather have, ‘The things of the world’ (I Cor 7:31) or ‘the love the Father has lavished on us’ (I John 3:1) and ‘God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding’ (Eph. 1:7-8).

The nation of Israel would waste its resources on the things of the word and find herself holding an empty spiritual account.  I find this scene so true in some many lives today.  I must confess that I fight this very thing in my own life.

It is so easy to look with physical eyes instead of looking with spiritual eyes.  Daily I must focus my full attention, not on the things of the world, but on the things of God.  When I do I discover the riches of the fulness of Christ.

Please take inventory of your life today!  After you take inventory ask yourself, “Is my life empty of full.”  If you answer is empty, be assured you are striving for the things of man.  If you answer is full, be assured you are striving for the things of God.

Here is your take away.  If your answer was empty, relinquish what you have been holding on to and reach out for God.  If your answer was full, rejoice in Christ and keep on reaching for Christ.

What Season Is It?

April 26, 2011

As a child one of my favorite cartoons was Bugs Bunny.  And my favorite episode was the episode where a lone wolf could not figure out what he was hunting.  He would for a moment get his mind straight about what he was hunting and then suddenly he was distracted from what he was hunting.

Notice the word of the Lord, “A word in season, how good it is,” Proverbs 15:23b.  Daily I am reminded of  the deep abiding value of God’s word.  His word has value in every season and in every circumstance of life.  For me, the word keeps me on track.

Question, “Do you ever get off track and forget what season you are in?”  Notice the powerful words from the pen of Charles Spurgeon, “Doesn’t your conscience confirm what is true?  Don’t you find yourself forgetful of Jesus?  Some earthly person has captured your heart instead, and you remain unmindful of Him upon whom your affections should be placed.  Your eyes are focused on some earthly business when you should fix your eyes steadily on the cross.  It is the constant turmoil of the world and the continual attraction of earthly things that turns a soul away from Christ.  While your memory all to well recalls a poisonous weed, it allows the ‘Rose of Sharon’ (Song 2:1) to wither,” Cited from Look Unto Me, April 26.

Spurgeon understood what Solomon understood, “Our hearts are prone to wonder from the God we love.”  As followers of Christ we must have in place something that will keep the Lord ever before us. This something is the precious word of God.  I want to encourage you to daily keep the word before you and daily keep the word flowing through you.

Solomon went on to write, “The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath,” 15:24.  Notice the word prudent.  We must be prudent in our striving to follow Christ.  We must do more than have good intentions.  We must do more than say, “I want to read the word.”  We must become people who in prudence, set aside time each day where we are alone with God.

Hear me clearly, “If you do not set aside time with God, you will forget what season it is.”  You will find yourself living like you did in previous seasons of life when you were without Christ.  If this is happening to you right now, repent and refocus by becoming prudent in your walk with Christ.  The words of Paul are resounding in my heart as I write, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Phil 4:13.

The Day After

April 25, 2011

This morning I arose with deeps thoughts concerning all the activities of yesterday.  What a wonderful day it was to be able to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection.  I thought about all the faces of people whom I had never met.  I thought about all those who heard the gospel, some truly hearing and some who just heard words.  I thought about so many other things.  However the one thought that continued to be in every thought was this, “What will people do the day after.”

This thought drove me to John 21, where Jesus appears to His disciples for the third time after being raised from the dead, Vs: 14.  If you know this scene, you know that in this scene Peter is restored to His position of Apostle.  For me there was something very fresh in the text.

Here is what Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.  This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God,” 21:18-19.  

Here we discover the truth that Peter would now live and die for the glory of God. I wrote in my bible, Peter finally gets it.  Here in this setting, Peter begins to understand what his life was to be about.  From this time for (The Day After) Peter would be God’s man doing God’s work for God’s glory.

I truly believe this is God’s desire for every person, the day after understanding the gospel.  But I wonder, “How many people never have such a day after?”  Many people will, by the end of this very day, have forgotten the tugging in their heart the day before.  Many people will have forsaken the commitment they made just yesterday.  Many people will now move onto the next event on their calendar.  However, not the disciples.  The day after and every day after, they would be serving the Lord.

Question, “What are you doing the day after the resurrection?”  May you and I live out the reality of the gospel every day.”  Peter would write the following as an older man who had experienced many days after, “Therefore brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these things you will never fail,” II Peter 1:10.

As followers of Christ, we must strive to live out what we know to be true.  So make this day after a day where you serve Jesus with you all for His glory.  You will be amazed how you days after will be lived if you simply strive in Jesus name.

Good Friday

April 22, 2011

This week I received an email from a wonderful spirit filled follower of Christ.  Here is the central part of the email, “Why do we call the day of Jesus crucifixion, Good Friday?”  Question, “How would you answer this question?”

As I arose on this Good Friday, this question was on my mind.  I quickly glanced at the headlines on Foxnews.com which included a story from Jerusalem.  Thousands of Christian pilgrims lined the streets of Jerusalem walking the Via Dolorosa which is translated the way of suffering.  Again I remembered the question, Why do we call the day of Jesus crucifixion, Good Friday.

Next, I turned to the Gospel of John, chapters 18-21, and read the story of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection.  I encourage you to read all of the gospel accounts of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection.  The scenes of the agony of the cross can be overwhelming.  It is understandable why people have such a question as did the person who emailed me.

I think about Martha who stood at the tomb of Jesus and wept.  She did not recognize the resurrected Lord and she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away,” 20:15.  One can still see the agony in her soul three days after His crucifixion.  Imagine someone going up to Martha on the day of Jesus crucifixion and saying, “This is a good Friday.”  It seems so cruel, so totally zero compassion, and I would add so totally right.

The fact is, this was and is not only a good friday, but it was and is the best friday in all of human history.  Because on this day, Jesus bore all the wrath of God against sin.  He became the substitute for your sin and for my sin.

It was a great friday because Jesus paid the debt to God, in full, that I could never pay.  When Jesus said, “it is finished,”  He had according to his own words, “Drank the cup of God’s wrath completely dry.”   On this day, I pray you pause and reflect on the greatness of this day in history.  I pray you focus on Jesus willingness to experience this day, “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross,” Hebrews 12:2.   I pray you have the opportunity to share with someone about the greatness of this day.

Was It Worth It?

April 21, 2011

In life there are times when people find themselves in what I call a locked in position.  You ask, “What is a locked in position?”  A person who is in a locked in position has made up their mind in a particular situation and they are going to do what they have locked into and you cannot change their mind.

For example, “A person has said, ‘I am going to leave my wife because I know there is much more love with another woman.’ Later, you meet the person and they are now saying, ‘What in the world was I thinking.”  In those moments I want to ask, “Was it worth it?”

In a much greater way I found myself asking Jesus this question in regard to the cross.  In my quite time, the Lord lead me to study all the passages in Isaiah that prophecy of the coming of our Messiah.  When I read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 the truth of Jesus being locked in to the cross was apparent.  I actually wrote over this section, “Was it worth it?”

Here is just a sampling of what Jesus went through, “As many were astonished at you-his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind,” 52:14.  “He was wombed for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”  

Here is one more verse for your consideration, “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hide not my face from disgrace and spitting,” 50:8.  These verses give us only a glimpse of what Jesus went through on the cross.

How could we say anything other than, He was in a locked in position.  But now the tough question comes, “Was it worth it?”  Maybe you ask, “Why would you ask such a question?”  May answer is simple, When I look at my life and how often I fail Him, I wonder was I worth what He went through.  The fact is, I had nothing of worth to offer Jesus, but He loved me anyway.

As I approach Easter, I cannot stop praising Him for being locked into the cross. This fact is woven throughout the Word Of God.  Isaiah 53: 10 reads, “He shall see his offspring and be satisfied.”  Our Lord was so locked in that He was dying in full knowledge of each of us.  But He did it anyway.

Jesus took us as we were and made us into new creations.  Here is how Paul describes this to the church at Colosse, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deed, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blames and above reproach before him,” 1:21-22.  

This is the power of the cross.  Thank you Jesus.  I know your answer came back to me.  Keith, yes it was worth it.  Praise His holy name.

Please Remind Me

April 20, 2011

My beloved wife often will say to me concerning something she needs to remember, “Please remind me.”  I must confess I often think, “How can I remind her of something that is not even on my radar.”  Usually when I think this, the Spirit of conviction comes and reminds me of the following, “What is important to the one you love should be important to you.”

This truth came into focus as I read II Peter in my quite time.  The Apostle Peter is addressing believers we are being mentally assaulted by those who are trying to tear down the gospel.  Notice what Peter writes, “I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by the way of reminder.” 1:13. At this point it is crucial that we be reminded of what he was reminded these first century believers.  “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty,” 1:16.

The church needed and always needs to be reminded of the gospel which is the message of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection.  As followers of Christ we are often challenged to stick with the gospel in our attempt to engage a lost and dying world.  For example, “People come to us for help with their marriage.  We listen compassionately to their situation and then the challenge comes. How do we give advice?  Do we focus on the gospel which says, “Man’s biggest problem is his sin nature and he must be redeemed.”  Or do we focus on trying to moralize the situation by saying, “If you would do this or if you would change this I think your marriage would get better.”  Brothers and sisters, the gospel is the answer.

We face the challenge in our encounters with our neighbors.  They share with us about the things they like, the thinks they dislike, and then the challenge comes.  They ask you, “what do you like and what do you dislike.”  At this moment the gospel can be in the forefront or it can be placed on the back burner.   Here is what Peter wrote, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people out you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God…” 3:11-12a

This world is coming to an end.  The things of this world are going to be destroyed.  At this moment it is crucial that we are reminded of the gospel.  Because of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection we have the salvation, eternal life, and heaven.  These are the things I like.  Sin, sorrow, and Satan will be no more in heaven.  These things we hate here.  This is the gospel.

Just as Sherry asks me to remind her of things she needs to remember, I need to ask my Father to remind me of the things I need to remember.  This is my prayer today. This is also my prayer for you today.

More Than I Deserve

April 19, 2011

This morning I found myself in a state of amazement as I read the book of I Peter.  In particular I was amazed at Christ work of salvation for me.  Here is how Peter describes this work in chapter one. “According to His great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 1:3.  Never has this truth been any more amazing than it has been today.

Truly I can say, “this is more than I deserve.”  Two words describe the why of His salvation, “Great Mercy.”  God loves us far more than we could imagine.  His mercy was great in coming and taking our place on the cross.  Yes, He died in our place.

As I continued reading through I Peter, I praised my Lord for His work on my behalf.  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness,” 2:24.  Yes, Jesus bore our sins.

If you want to really understand the greatness of His mercy, consider the following: “A man in China has appealed to the Chinese high court to overturn a death sentence handed down to him.  He was convicted of raping 114 women over a period of 15 years.”  Here is the deal, you and I would say, “he deserves to die.”  But consider this, “Jesus offers this man the same mercy he offers you and I.”  Jesus went to the cross for this man as well as for you and I.

Maybe you would respond, “He deserves to die.”  I would respond, “So do I, but for the grace and great mercy of God.” I praise God for His Great Mercy!!!

Let me encourage you, on this week of the celebration of Easter, to consider the great mercy that kept Jesus on the cross.  When I look at Jesus on the cross, I cry out, “This is more than I deserve.”  When I see the empty tomb, I cry out, “This is more than I deserve.”  When I look at my life today, I cry out, “This is more than I deserve.”  Some day in heaven, when I see the streets of gold, I will cry out, “This is more than I deserve.”

Today, spend time praising God for His great mercy.  Spend time progressing in your understanding of His great mercy.  And finally spend time proclaiming this truth to those who, like you and I, do not deserve the mercy of God.

Where Is The Bridle?

April 18, 2011

This morning I sat down to study one of my favorite books of the bible, “The Book Of James.”  Many times this book has brought clarity to my life in the midst of the darkest of storms. Oh how often I have been reminded that in every circumstance that God is sovereign, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials…” 1:2. James always calls us to remember God has a purpose in our storms.  And that purpose is to bring us to maturity.  Once we are in a place of maturity we realize the storms will bring glory to God as we walk through them by faith.  This is true joy.

However this morning, James taught me something very different.  “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless,” 1:26.   As I read this verse I thought, “Where is my bridle?”

Now, I do not know about you, but this an in your face question in my life.  The fact is, there are moments when I say things that I should not say.  In those moments, I should be asking myself, “Where is the bridle?” James continues this onslaught against me in chapter 3.  “And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body,” 3:2.  

In this verse we are reminded of the key to bridling our tongues.  When we are perfect we can bridle our tongues.  Now I know what you are thinking.  I cannot be perfect.  Certainly you and I will not be perfect in our lives until we meet Jesus.  But the word-perfect here is translated as mature.

The key to bridling our tongue is to be in a place of maturity in Christ.  When we are walking in maturity we are submitted to His leadership.  When this is taking place, our Lord is in control of our minds that in turn controls our tongue.

How does a person know if they are mature in their speaking.  Here is how your speaking will be identified, “The wisdom that is from above will first be pure, then peaceable, and gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere,” 3:17.  Does this sound like you when you are in a moment of struggle with your family?  Does this characterize you at work when relationships are strained?  Are these the things that come out when you have tried for and hour to start the lawnmower or you have tried to put the children to bed?

Brethren no one is perfect, but a mature believer brings every thought into the captivity of Christ who will bridle our tongues and will bring out words that redeem and refresh.  “Dear Lord, at the beginning of a new work week, bring each of us into a place of maturity so that we might give you the bridle for our tongues.”