Archive for August, 2011

Who Is He?

August 31, 2011

Recently as I was mowing the grass I noticed a man walking in our subdivision that I had not seen before.  Now this is nothing unusual because there are many people who walk through our subdivision. But for some reason this guy stood out to me.  It could have been because of his posture that seemed to be nervous or it could have been that he looked very unkept.  There are several other reasons that I could identify, but you get the point.

I honestly can say, I wanted to stop mowing and walk over to the man and ask, “Dude, who are you?”  But I did not and so the saga continues even to this moment, who was that guy.

In a much more significant way the world has been asking this same question about another guy.  This guy is none other than Jesus Christ.  This morning I was gripped by Jesus question to His disciples in Luke 9:18, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  As you read the Greek text it seems as if there is a natural flow in their response.  There is no pregnant pause nor is there time needed for thought because these guys knew what people were saying, “John the Baptist.  But others say Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen,” Lk 9:19. 

I wonder, if you took an informal survey of your community, workplace, or mission field, and asked, “Who is Jesus?”  How would these people respond?  I think you would be greatly shocked.  We live in a society that has a false view of Jesus.  There are many factors that have caused this fact.  For example, the church has taught more stories than they have truth.  Today people believe that Jesus is a good man who gives them all they want.  But the church has failed to teach about His deity, His holiness, His majesty, and His wrath against man.  This has left us with a Savior who really isn’t a savior.  Also the blame lies at the door of Satan who has infiltrated our world with false saviors who appeal to the flesh of man in that they have created gods that allow sin and magnify the flesh’s own ability.  The religions of the world are all about me.

However, Jesus is still who He is regardless of man’s opinion.  Here is Peter’s response to Jesus question: “though art the Christ the Son of the Living God,” Matthew 16:16.  Yes, Peter you got it right.  Jesus is the anointed one who came from heaven to be our Savior.  Yes, Jesus is the perfect Son of God, equal with God, who came to give His life as a ransom for man.  Yes, Jesus is the living God, resurrected from the dead so that we might have life in Him.

Brothers and sisters I want to encourage you to spend your life in pursuit of knowing Him.  Your faith demands such an effort and a lost and dying world is desperate to know the truth of who He is.  I challenge each who read this blog to step up the pace in your search.  May it all be for His glory, because who knows when someone will approach you and ask, “Who is He.”

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For Someone Else

August 30, 2011

Question, “Is it difficult to do things for other people?”  A recent survey indicated that people of all walks of life struggle with putting someone else’s needs above their own.  For example, you are travelling down a busy highway trying to get to a meeting and you have just a few minutes before the meeting begins.  In the other lane there is a car that is giving a signal that it wants to turn into your lane.  At this moment you have a choice, will you or will you not let them turn into your lane.  You quickly analysis the situation, if you slow down and let them in, it could cost you more time.  It you let them in it could mean that they make their appointment on time.  So what will you do?

As you think about your response, allow me to turn your attention to the word of God.  “Grace to you and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the Glory forever and ever. Amen,” Gal. 1:3-5.  

Here in Paul’s greeting we discover Jesus response to the Father’s leadership.  Jesus gave himself for our sins.  The scriptures are clear, “Jesus had no sin.”  The scriptures are clear, “Jesus paid a price He did not owe.”  The scriptures are clear, “We owe a price we cannot pay.”

So we can correctly say, “Jesus coming was for someone else.”  This someone else was you and it was me.  At this moment I join Paul in praising the Father and the Son.  But I also find myself asking the question, “Am I to follow Christ example?”  Here is Christ’s response, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another,” John 13:34.  

Certainly we cannot die in someone’s place to secure their salvation.  Only Christ could do this work.  However our work is to sacrificially put others before ourselves.  In doing so we become examples of Christ’s love for others.  “Bear one another’s burden’s and so fulfill the law of Christ,” Gal 6:2.  

This certainly is not always easy.  There are days when I become selfish and I become doubtful that putting others first is going to pay off.  If this is you also, take encouragement from the world of God, “Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season you will reap, if we do not give up,” Gal. 6:9.  Brothers and sisters stay the course, it will pay off!!!

Now, lets return to our choice of whether we let the person turn into our lane or not.  Let’s say you do allow them to turn in.  Several things happen. First there is the feeling of accomplishment as you really are following Christ command.  Second you discover the person is actually driving someone to the hospital who is about to deliver a baby. Finally, this person is actually a dear friend that you had been praying for to come to Christ.  Be assured God is at work in every opportunity to put others first.

Many Sleepless Nights

August 29, 2011

This morning the Lord awakened me very early.  As I made my way downstairs to my familiar place to meet with the Lord, I felt great tiredness from a night of little sleep.  As I began to read the word, I found myself drifting in and out of sleep.  I am sure many who read this find this scenario very familiar.  In this moment I began to pray, “Father awaken me to your word and your work for me this day.”  Suddenly heaven began to open as my mind and heard became alert and open to God’s word.

Each of the last 7 chapters of II Corinthians now held so much meaning for me. However there was one passage that stood out, II Corinthians 11:16-33. Here Paul reminds the church of all that he had faced in the gospel ministry.  Here is just one line, “Through many sleepless nights,” Vs: 27.  

When I read those words tears filled my eyes as I considered all those who lose sleep for the gospel.  Paul’s sleeplessness was not because of wrestling with God over unconfessed sin or an argument over direction.  His sleeplessness was not because he was at odds with others.  Paul’s sleeplessness was because of the gospel.

For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong,” II Cor. 12:10.  

Brothers and sisters, “Why do you and I have sleepless nights?”  Do we find ourselves awake because of our obstacles or because of our opportunities?  The fact is many stay awake because of the obstacles.  These obstacles can evidence themselves in such things as: “Worry, doubt, confusion, anger, disappointment, and physical problems.”

However what would our nights be like if we turned these things around and looked at them as opportunities?  For example, if we brought our worries to God, in the night, and entrusted them into His safe keeping.  In this moment we would discover, “His grace is sufficient.”

One of the wonderful blessings of life is to walk with God through sleepless nights.  In these nights I have learned so much about God’s character, God’s sovereign purposes, and God’s power.  In these nights I have discovered how God can use everything for the sake of the gospel.

So my challenge for this day is for each of you to embrace all the hardships you are facing with the mindset, “This is for the sake of Christ.”  Oh my brothers and sisters your life is about to take on new meaning that will be for His glory. True rest comes when we are at peace with God and at peace with all God is doing in our lives.

The Agony Of Confrontation

August 26, 2011

No one, in their right mind, loves confrontation.  Consider having to sit down with someone to point out error in their life is not a welcomed assignment.  But it is a much-needed assignment for the development of our lives as followers of Christ.

Consider the Apostle Paul, “For if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it-though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.” II Cor 8:9. Paul is here making reference to a previous letter, I Corinthians, that he had written dealing with the problems in the church.

Certainly Paul did not want to have to speak harsh words of judgment against this church, but it was necessary.  Brothers and sisters it is also necessary for us to both be confronted and  to confront sin.  When we have sin, maybe even unaware, we need someone’s loving confrontation so that we might be restored in our walk with Christ.  When others are in sin, we need to lovingly confront them so that they may be restored in their walk with Christ.

The Apostle Paul clearly understood this truth, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repentance.  For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us,” II Cor. 7:9.  Brothers and sisters there will always be agony in confrontation but be assured Godly sorrow produces repentance that will not be regretted.

So if you are a mother who is struggling with the daily confrontational grind with your children?  Take heart because God is in this and it will pay off in the end.  If you are a brother or sister in Christ who is being led to biblically confront a brother and sister, do it for the glory of the Lord.  If you have been confronted by another brother, seek to know what God is saying in this moment.

Finally, I think it is important that each of us have people in our lives who will always genuinely, gently, and graciously confront us with sin.  Unless we have those people in our lives we will become believers who never understand the true process of sanctification. Certainly this is not easy, but it is necessary.

Weekly I meet with people who confront me and sometimes I really don’t like it and there are days when I run from it, but I have to say, at the end it was worth the agony.  So be encouraged today in knowing that even in the agony of confrontation we find God at work for His glory and for our good.

Take Aim, Fire!

August 25, 2011

When I was a kid my dad would occasionally take me hunting.  On these morning trips he would encourage me, strongly, to do two things:  First, he would tell me to be extremely quiet as we walked through the woods.  That didn’t happen often as I often would be distracted as a kid and step on sticks.  Secondly, he would tell me to always take aim before I would fire.  However there was a great problem with this.  Seldom did the game we were after stand still so that I could aim.  So I would often shoot without aiming and just as you would guess I would miss.  It was a very hard deal to become disciplined to take aim while on move.

When it comes to our lives as believers we are always on the move.  And sometimes are decisions take place without the slightest aim.  Consider Paul’s words, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him,”  II Cor 5:9.  The goal of Paul’s life was to please the Lord.

The question that arises for this is simple, “How can we take aim when we are so busy doing life?”  Here is the answer from Paul, “For those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised,”  II Cor. 5:15.  When we live our lives in a surrendered state we are able to hit the target of living for His glory.

The problem for most of us is that we fail to daily surrender anew.  We approach the day in a frenzied pace without taking time to surrender.  Yes, even pastors fail in this area of life.  But it does not have to be this way.  If you plan to take aim, by arising along while before you approach the daily grind, you will be able to spend time with God in which you will be able to surrender every day.

When this takes place we are able to say with Paul, “Working together with Him,” II Cor. 6:1. I promise you that you will always hit the target when you take aim.  Oh how I hope you get this today because when you do the day will cease to be filled with failures.

Your life will not be easy but it will be effective because you are living for His glory.  This is your aim.  This is your all.  So take aim!!!

This Burden does not make sense

August 24, 2011

Yesterday, Sherry was talking with Beth on the phone when a burden came.  Beth is a Sophomore at Liberty University.  While they were talking the room where Beth stays began to shake and suddenly our daughter said to her mother, “Mom, I think we are having an earthquake.”  In this moment my daughter was faced with a burden.  She is the Spiritual Life director for her dorm.  Suddenly she had a group of freshman girls panicking. In this moment, she would have to rely on all she had been trained.  Thankfully no one was hurt and she got through.

This morning I thought out this incident as I read through I Corinthians 1:3-11.  The Apostle Paul writes about an earthquake in his life, “We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself,” 1:9.  The question that often arises in people’s minds is simply, “What was the burden?”  The fact is no one really knows.  However this is not the main point of the passage.

God’s desire is not that we would focus on the content of the burden but that we would focus on the chosen purpose of the burden.  This was so clear as I read the text, “But this was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead,” 1:9

Consider the following:  The number one reason why we do not understand our burden is because we fail to understand the author of our burden.  Paul reminds us that God is the author of His burden.  Notice what Paul writes about God, “He is the originator of mercy and He is the God of all comfort.”  Paul also reminds us that God is in authority in our burden, “He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us.”  We must remind ourselves that even though we have no power against certain burdens, He has all power.  Paul also reminds us that God wants our attitude to be of becoming a blessing for others in and through our burden, “We are comforted so that we might be a comfort to others.” This very day God is bringing you into a burden, through a burden, and out of a burden so that you might help others who are burdened.  Finally Paul reminds us that our purpose is to communicate to the world where our hope lies, “On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again.”  This very day God is using your burden as a mighty tool for the gospel.

I encourage each who read this blog to focus on the God of your burden who has far more planned for your burden that what you are realizing.  Look away from the distraction of what might happen or what could happen.  Enjoy this moment knowing that you are safe in the hands of a Holy God who has a great purpose in this burden.  Know that I am praying for you today!

Unbelievably Useless

August 23, 2011

Can you imagine someone describing your life’s work as, “Unbelievably Useless?”  These very descriptive words came to my mind as I read the following, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or clanging symbol.  If I give away all I have, and I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing,” I Cor. 13: 1, 3.

The fact is the church at Corinth was blessed with so much giftedness, but they were described as being unbelievably useless because they were using God’s gifts for their own personal gain.  As I walked through I Corinthians 13-16,  I felt this sickness in my stomach as I considered the why of all that I have been doing with what God has given me.  I felt such great conviction as I contemplated the sum value of my life’s work.

Question, “At this point, in your life, what is the value of what you have accomplished?”  This morning, I want to encourage each who read this blog to focus on becoming a I Corinthians 13:4-7 person.  Such a person models the love that Christ embodied while here on the earth.  Christ was passionately in love with His Heavenly Father.  Everything He did was out of obedience to His Father.  Christ passionately and sacrificially loved others by putting their needs above His.

Here is how Paul described this unbelievably useful life, “love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” 13:4-7.

Brothers and sisters this is how we measure true success in our lives.  This morning I want to encourage you to continue to Love God Passionately.  This morning I want to encourage you to Love Others Sacrificially.  This will produce unbelievable results as God is glorified in your life.

So, if you are a missionary on a foreign field and you feel that what you are doing in useless, look at the true fruit you are bearing and rejoice that you have the love of Christ residing in you.  Keep on live for Jesus and loving others.  The fruit will come in God’s time.

If you are serving the Lord on the home front, allow me to encourage you to keep on living for the Lord and keep on loving others.  The fruit will come in God’s time.  Some day I want to stand before the Lord that I love and know that what I did was for Love of the Father!

 

How Should You Respond?

August 22, 2011

In our culture it is very rare to receive a letter from someone.  I cannot remember when the last time I received a letter.  In this day and age every one emails, texts, or twitters.  But whether it is a letter, email, text, or twitter we have a big responsibility in how we respond.

Consider Paul in I Corinthians 7, “Now concerning the matter about which you wrote…” Apparently Paul had received a letter from this church outlining several problems that were in the church.  In each response Paul used a particular type of response that we need to model in all of our responses, “To the rest I say, I not the Lord.”  In these particular circumstances our Lord had not spoken to when He walked among men.  However Paul speaks to this particular circumstance under God’s inspiration.

In our lives we have a choice in our responses.  We can either respond with God’s word or with our word.  Recently I had to make a tough decision.  It was a decision that I could have chosen to make in great haste with emotion governing my thoughts.  But as I drove to the place where I was to make the decision, I chose to pray and to listen to the voice of God (through His word).  As I listened, my spirit calmed and I was able to think clearly without emotional attachment.  I am happy to say, by His grace, the decision turned out to be a God thing.

As I read through chapter 7 in the book of I Corinthians, I thought, “If those who read this chapter would only heed its word, how wonderful their relationships and responses would be.”  So on this monday morning, I ask, “What email, text, twitter, or circumstance do you have to respond to this day?”  Allow me to encourage you to stop what you are doing and lay your decision before the Lord.  Ask the Lord, how you should respond.  Listen for His response.  This response will always be consistent with His word.

By the time you arrive in chapter 9 you realize that this among many other Christian disciples must become a priority.  Here is how Paul described this, “But I disciplined my body and keep it under control,” 9:27.  May the Lord grant you the ability to live this way so that all of your responses would glorify God.   Have a great week in Jesus name.

 

Are You Ready?

August 19, 2011

It seems the harder we try the more our children sometimes seem to be slow about getting ready on Sunday Morning.  For example our oldest son often plays for the adult praise team, so that means he has to go with me early on Sunday mornings.  It seems like we play the same routine every week.  I get ready and I sit at the dinning room table waiting for Keith.  I find myself repeatedly asking, “Are you ready?”  To my surprise, last Sunday, he was ready to go before I was.  God still is in the miracle business.

This morning I found myself confronted with the same question that I ask Keith weekly, “Are you ready.”  The confrontation came as I read I Corinthians 3-7 in my quite time.  Chapter 3 begins with Paul confronting the church with the core reason why she was having so many conflicts.  “And even know you are not yet ready, for you are still in the flesh,” 3:3.  At this moment the question comes, “What are they not ready for?”

The church was not ready for the solid food of God’s word.  “Brothers I could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.  I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.  And even now you are not yet ready,” 3:1-2.

As I read this text, I asked the Lord, “What are those fleshly things that are keeping me from receiving all you have for me?”  Now do not become confused and think I was asking for the useless, temporal, trinkets of the world.  I truly want all His truth and I truly want to accomplish all His task for me in this life.  I want to know more and more of Him.

As I continued to read I discovered the fleshly things that keep me from being ready, “There is jealously, and strife among you, are you not in the flesh and behaving only in a human way,” 3:3. These believers had very little spiritual understanding because they were choosing to live in the flesh instead of living in the Spirit.

Brothers and sisters, it is impossible to be ready to receive the deep things of God apart from crucifying the flesh and walking in the Spirit.  Each day, I must make a conscious choice to choose God’s word over the fleshly things called extra sleep, Tv, and the things that occupy far too much time.  Each day we must bring every thought into captivity in Christ.  I cannot trust my feelings, my thoughts, and my wisdom.  I have to think biblically about every decision.  As I think biblically, I am submitting myself to God’s instruction.  When this happens I am submitting to the Holy Spirit because He is God’s representative here on the earth.

So today, I ask, “Are you ready for what God has for you this day?”  Oh how I hope so, because God has much for you.  Seek Him, enjoy Him, and grow in Him today!!!

Who Deserves The Credit?

August 18, 2011

Do you know of anyone who boast of their accomplishments?  If you do, chances are you do not like them.  The fact is I often struggle with wanting to take credit for good things and I often struggle with wanting to not take credit for bad things.

This morning I began a study of the book of I Corinthians.  If ever there was a church that was blessed, it was this church.  Here is what Paul said about the church, “In every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge.  So that you are lacking nothing in any spiritual gift,” 1:5,7. 

Question, “Who deserves the credit for what you have in your possession?”  I think you and I know the answer?  The fact is, all the good that we have comes to us as a gift from God.  Paul reminded the church, “The grace of God was given to you in Christ Jesus.,” 1:4.  This church needed to be reminded of God’s grace that had been given to them.

Brothers and sisters, when was the last time you told others of the grace of God that had come to you as a sinner?  When was the last time, when in a family get-together, you told your children of all of the blessings they have in Christ?  When was the last time you just spent your entire prayer time praising Him for what you have in Him?

The problem I have is that when I fail to give Him credit, I begin to take credit.  I was greatly convicted by Paul’s concluding statement in the end of chapter one. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  

This morning I want to encourage you to pause where you are and just say, “Thank you to Jesus.”  There is so much that happens in such moments.  First, He is glorified in you at this moment.  Second,  You are expressing humility and submission.  Third, you are being reminded that He is able to do even greater things in this moment.  Four, there is peace that comes in knowing your life is hidden in the hand of God.  Finally, the world around you will be able to see Christ.  Only in Christ is their perfection.

“Thank you Jesus for all that you are.  Thank you for rescuing me from a life of sin.  Thank you for going to the cross.  Thank you for changing my life. Thank you for my home and family.  Thank you for calling and equipping me to be a pastor.  Thank you for calling me to Kings Baptist Church.  Thank you for preparing an eternal home for me.  Thank you for all that I have now and forever in Christ.