Archive for September, 2011

“Genuine”

September 15, 2011

The world we live in is filled with masks and disguises.  How often do we find ourselves being shocked at the things that are revealed about not only people but products. For example, a certain product has been know know to cause cancer.  A leader who seems to be genuine is discovered to have a double life.  Recently, while watching Fox News, a political analyst said, “A certain candidate is doing well in the polls today, but his enemies have not been able to sling dirt as of yet.”  It was as if this analyst knew there would be some dirt in this person’s life.

So, in a world of masks and disguises, who can we trust?  Here is what Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser,” John 15:1.  Jesus speaking of Himself said, “I am the genuine deal.”  Brothers and sisters in Christ, what an amazing statement.  Our Lord is genuine.  We do not have to worry about digging up some dirt in Jesus life.  Peter writing about Jesus said, “He was holy, harmless, and without spot.”  Paul wrote about Jesus, “He who knew no sin.”  The fact is our Lord and Savior is genuine.

However the question that came to my heart and mind this morning is simply this, “How genuine am I in my faith?”  In this moment it would be easy for me to go down the track of self-improvement or to go down the track of trying to make myself suffer so that I could be genuine.  However, my heart and mind were kept in check by the word of God, “whoever abides in me and I in him, he is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:5.

The Word Of God teaches us that our genuineness comes from being “In Christ” alone.  Our genuineness comes from Christ alone.  It is His grace that has redeemed us from the curse of the Law.  It is His grace that has ransomed us form the penalty for our sin.  It is His grace that has freed us from our state of depravity.  It is His grace that has made us new in Christ and it is His grace that causes us to be genuine in our walk with Him.  Finally it is His grace that helps us to daily understand that our lives are to be lived in genuineness for His glory.

By this my Father is glorified, so that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:8.

When we live genuine lives the world sees the goodness of God within us.  Yes, the world will always be able to bring up dirt from our past.  But praise God, we are not living in the past.  We are living in the present of a forgiven life that is marked by a genuine change because of Christ.  Praise be to His name this very day.

It Smells Different

September 14, 2011

Those who know me well know that I often struggle with different types of smells.  There are times when I smell things that my wife does not.  For example, she will sometimes respond to my asking about a smell, “I don’t smell anything.”  At other times, she will then be made aware of a smell such as something spoiled in the fridge. Then there are times when we as boys, “Smell up the house.”

This morning I was reminded of this very subject as the Apostle John recounted the story of Jesus in the home of Lazarus in John 12.  Here we find Jesus, along with his disciples, gathered with a close family.  We know them very well.  There is the brother, Lazarus who has recently been raised from the dead.  Then we know the two sisters, Mary and Martha.  This family loved Jesus.

I imagine as one entered this home, the fragrance was different.  One could sense the love and fellowship that Christ brings into a family’s life.  On this particular visit, Mary does something amazing.  We actually could say, “She did something very costly.”  Mary owned  a very expensive bottle of perfume.  The value was as much as one years wages.  When Jesus sat at her table, she opened the bottle and anointed his feet and wiped his feet with her hair.  Here is John’s commentary, “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume,” 12:3.  

As I read this text, I could almost smell the love. I honestly found myself inhaling thinking I could smell the fragrance.  Here we have before us a simple scene of love for our Lord.  Now, at this point I feel compelled to ask a question, “How do things smell in your life and mine today?”  Are you filled with love for God?  If so, your smell is so different from the environment you live and work in. Now, it may not seem significant to you, but people are noticing your smell.

Here is how Jesus described this to his disciples one chapter later, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 13:35.   When we have God’s love flowing in us and from us, His fragrance will fill the world around us.

Now here is where it get’s really personal.  Our common enemy, knows this and he does everything he can to get you to stink up the place where you live and where you work.  Think about, what has already been thrown at you today, “People who have a negative smell, circumstances that offered you the opportunity to love or to become angry, and personal struggles that sometimes linger and become stagnate.”  These are only a few of the multitude of things that can destroy the fragrance of Christ in our lives.

I want to encourage you to do several things today: First, spend sometime smelling around in your life today.  Open God’s word to Matthew 5-7 and allow God to inspect your life.  Second, call someone you trust and ask for an honest opinion about how you smell.  Third, confess what smells bad as sin and commit yourself to loving Jesus as you should.  Fourth, forgive those people and those circumstances that have left you with the smell of bitterness.

Oh how I hope your day ends with the smell of God’s love!!!

 

Listening To The Right Person

September 13, 2011

Wow, “Who’s telling the truth?”  This is a question all of America should be asking during these tough economic times.” But even deeper than this, “Where does the truth really come from and how should the truth affect us?”  The Bible teaches us that truth is contained in a person, Jesus Christ. Here is what Jesus said, “I am the way, The truth, and the life, no man comes unto the father but by me,” John 14:6.  

When a person listens to Jesus, he or she is listening to the right person.  However, when we listen to the wrong person our lives can be greatly hindered.  A recent New York Times article reported on the adverse affect of the news on Americans.  The article identified an alarming increase in stress, anxiety, and mental breakdowns among people who have become engrossed in what the news media is saying.  One lady who was interviewed said, “I have stopped sleeping at night.  I used to sleep eight hours a night, but now I toss and turn all night worrying that I might lose my job and then my home.”

Maybe, you find yourself listening to the wrong person or persons?  If, so allow me to encourage you to cease listening to the people around you and begin to listen to Jesus.  Here is what Jesus said in John 10, “When He has brought out His own, He goes before them and the sheep follow him, for they know His voice.”  Why would they follow His voice above all others?  “I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep,” John 10:11.

The fact is, no one else is worthy of following.  All the leaders before us, including myself, have failed and will fail.  Truth is not contained in humanity.  Truth is in Christ.  We follow Christ.  He is one we listen to and He is the one we follow.  Who else, “Leads us out, protects us as the door, provides for us as our Shepherd, died in our place as Savior, and is preparing for us a home in heaven?”

This very day, I proclaim to the world that I am listening to the right person, Jesus Christ!  I say with Martha, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world,” John 11:27.  

Oh brothers and sisters the key to your success in this day and in every day is in listening to the right person.  Now the question that comes to my mind is this, “If I fail or if I find myself discouraged I must ask, who was I listening too?”  The fact is, listening to anyone above Christ will lead to failure.

This day, I encourage you to cease listening to yourself and others who are not being led by the truth.  I encourage you to dig into God’s word and listen to what you read.  Then you will be assured of listening to the right person.

Determining what you need

September 12, 2011

This morning’s headlines were once again filled with the debate about how to turn our national economy around.  Once again Democrats and Republicans line up on different sides of the aisle in their viewpoint on how to turn us around.  At the same time this morning’s headlines in heaven reads as follows, “Jesus is all you need!”

The fact is, since the fall of man, the headlines in heaven has always been the same, “Jesus is all you need.”  However, most who have lived on this earth have rejected this fact.  The truth is, the majority of humanity has always rejected this truth.

Question, “Is Jesus all you need?”  Certainly most who subscribe to this blog would answer yes. But practically do we apply this truth to every area of our lives. Consider the following illustration from John 6.  Jesus has been actively engaged in ministering to multitudes of people.  There is a large crowd coming to Jesus.  Jesus sees the crowd and then turns to His disciples and says, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat,” 6:6.  At this point, it would have been good if the disciples would have responded, “You know oh Lord, for nothing is impossible with you.”  However they did not respond this way.  The disciples respond, “A year’s salary would not be enough to buy bread.”

I am always amazed when I read this story.  Here the creator of the universe, the Savior of the Word, the God of all power was before them and they failed to ask for His provision.  At the same time, I see myself in this passage.  How often do I fail to turn to God with all my need.  It is as if I have spiritual brain freeze.  I find myself trying to determine what I need when I should be spending my time praising the one who knows my need and is going to meet my need, even if it has to come through a miracle like the feeding of the five-thousand men.

How often do we find ourselves looking at life through the lens of a world view that says, “I must have what the world says I must have to be successful.”  How often do we find ourselves battling fear, depression, and anxiety because we are not in possession of what the world says we need to have to be successful.

I want you to know that all you need is Jesus.  I want my family to know, all we need is Jesus.  Here is what the disciples said at the end of John 6, “Lord, to whom else would we go?  You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God,”  6:68-69.  

Today, determine to rest in Jesus.  He is our source of provision and He is our course of peace as we walk through this troubled world.  Oh how I pray you place everything in His hands today.  He who never slumbers, sleeps, or slips is able!!!

How Did We Miss It?

September 9, 2011

To the shock of his wife, a humbled husband walks into the gas station to ask for directions.  He returns to the car and asks his wife, “How did we miss it?”  As he asks this question, he is pointing directly across the road to the theme park they had driven by at least three times.  Question, “Have you ever missed something that was right before your eyes?”  My wife says, “This is a problem with all of the male species.” Personally, I do not have a clue of what she speaks of.

This morning, I found myself asking the disciples in John 4, “How did you miss it?”  Let me back up a moment and set the scene for you.  Jesus and his disciples have come to a town in Samaria.  It is noon and Jesus is tired, so he sits down by a well.  What takes place next is a wonderful encounter Jesus has with a woman who is a five time looser.  She has been married and divorced five times and now she is living with a man.  She comes at noon to draw water because no one else would be there.  The respectable women would come in the morning and in the evening to draw water.  To her shock, this man (Jesus) speaks to her.  By the end of the conversation, this woman is drinking from the living water of Christ.  Check out John 4:1-26.

Vs: 26 begins as follows, “Just then His disciples came back.”  The fact is they had missed the entire conversation.  I wonder how many times you and I miss out on God’s sovereign encounters?  What is the cause of our missing out?

“Look the fields are already white unto harvest.  Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so the sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I send you to reap that for which you did not labor.  Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” John 4:35-38.

Could it be that we as followers of Christ have missed it when it comes to understanding God’s global process of reaching people with the Gospel?  I often think so, “Certainly God is the only one who can open a man’s eyes to his sinfulness and his need of a Savior. Certainly God is the only one who can save a man from his sinfulness. And certainly God is the only one who can sanctify a sinner so that he is made ready for heaven.”  But at the same time, God intends for His people to be the one’s who carry this good news to the world.

There are many times when believers miss out on sharing the good news because they spend their time talking among themselves about the good news.  There are many times when believers miss out because they fail to see their responsibility to communicate the good news to those who have never heard.  Often we fail to ask God to give us the strength to share the good news.

This day, I do not want to miss out on what God is doing.  It is my prayer that I would invest in a fellow believer and together we would communicate the gospel to others who have never heard.  God help Sherry and I to meet someone who we can share you with today.

Dwelt Among Us

September 8, 2011

The title of this mornings blog might seem a little strange to those who are not familiar with the word of God.  However I could not think of anything any more descriptive than the word of God when it comes to today’s topic.  This morning we are considering Christ’s incarnation.  By this we are referring to “Christ coming to dwell on the earth as a man.”

Here is how John describes this, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth,” John 1:14.

This verse brought fresh tears to my eyes as I contemplated the magnitude of Christ dwelling among us.  When I consider the fact that the Perfect Son of God came from the Fathers side to become a willing substitute for sinners on the cross, I am amazed.  Without his coming, I would still be standing under the wrath of God.

Think with me about all the great people who have dwelt among us.  There have been some great people.  For me, I look to great preachers such as Luther, Spurgeon, Whitfield, Moody, Graham, Falwell and Rogers.  Still yet there have been many other great people who have and some still dwell among us.  In my mind, one of those great people was President George W. Bush.  I can still invision our president standing in the midst of the 9/11 rubble with rescue people all around him.  In that moment our president was truly dwelling among us.

However, all of these great people who have dwelt among us could not save us.  There was and is only one Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.  This very day, I praise Him for dwelling among us.  This very day, I am thankful that He awakened my heart and mind to the truth that He is the person Son of God who became man to take away my sin debt.  This very day I am pleading that this gospel would be proclaimed throughout the world.

Here is what Jesus said about the gospel, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him,” John 3:36.

Brothers and sisters this is the message we must take to the world.  And the only way we can do this is by dwelling among the people groups of the world.  This very day I plead with you to dwell among the people

Setting The Example

September 7, 2011

This Sunday night our president will attend a 9/11 remembrance service at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. This service is labeled as a service that is to be interfaith based, which means that people of many faiths will have a part.  However Fox News revealed this morning that Evangelicals will be left off the program.  The President of The Southern Baptist Convention has officially asked the president to turn down his invitation.  But the question remains, “Will he turn down this invitation?”  Truly this is an opportunity for our president to set an example.  Please be in prayer that our president hears from God.

In life, seldom do we find someone who always sets the right example.  Certainly I have failed from time to time in setting the example that I should.  However, as a follower of Christ, I find great encouragement in the example of Christ.  This morning I was amazed at Christ example during the last week of his life leading up to the cross, Luke 21-24, and then his example in the 40 days after the resurrection.

Here is just one encounter Jesus had during those days.  “A dispute arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.” Lk 22:24.  Notice Jesus response, “Let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves,” Lk 22:26.  Jesus was instructing the disciples concerning true greatness.  The one who is truly great is the one who puts others before himself.

Be honest, how often have we heard this truth?  The fact is I have heard it many times, but the question is, “How often have I submitted to what I have heard?” Notice what Jesus says, “But I am among you as the one who serves,” Lk 22:27.  Our Lord and Savior not only instructed us about life, He set the example of how to live life.

I must be honest, I found myself crying out to God to help me to be a better example in living out the word of God.  Daily, I find myself in a battle between the old Keith and the new Keith.  I find myself at times even not wanting to set the example.  Those moments usually come when I am tired and when I have failed to spend the proper time in prayer, praising God for all He has done for me.  However when I spend time in prayer and in the word, I have an example before me and I have energy within me to be the example He is calling me to be.

This very day, I am praying for those who from around the world are seeking to set the example for others.  I am praying that each will be empty of self and that each would be filled with the Spirit.  Oh how our world is desperate for people to set the example of godliness in a godless world.

Headed For A Plane Crash

September 6, 2011

In the midst of all the tragic things going on in the world, two in particular caught my attention.  Both were involving planes.  First was the tragic death of a pilot in Alaska who got to close to another plane being flown by his girl friend.  His plane hit her  plane’s wing and both plane’s went down.  The woman was able to land her plane but the man lost his life as his plane spun out of control to the ground and burst into flames.  Second was the death of a passenger who was ridding on a 11 hour ride to New Zealand. This man died from choking on a piece of meat during the evening meal.  His girl friend said, “One minute we were kissing, holding hands, and laughing, the next he was dead.”

Certainly both of the these people did not begin their day thinking this will be the last day of my life, but it was.  Both were doing things they had done many times before. However neither knew they were headed for a crash.

Consider Jesus words in Luke 17, “Temptations are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come…Pay attention to yourselves!  If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him,” 17:1,3-4.

These words confronted me with the present responsibility I have in dealing with temptation and forgiveness.  Every believer is called , on a daily basis, to be a light to the world and to be an equipper of fellow believers.  Here Jesus speaks about the judgment that will come to the follower of Christ who fails to follow this path.  Such a person is described as putting something before others that would hinder their either coming to Christ or their growth in Christ. We are to never place a temptation before people that would cause them to stay away from or to drift from God.

Brothers and sisters how long has it been since you were convicted by this fact?  As a follower of Christ I must be reminded that every moment is important and every decision is important.  If I just live life thinking about me, I am headed for a plane crash.  When Jesus uses the word, “Woe,”  He was speaking about the swift and judicial judgment of God.  Friend I do not want to face such judgment. This day I want to examine my mission and my motives in all that I do so that they would be for His glory.

If these words were not enough, we next find Jesus dealing with forgiveness.  As a follower of Christ I am to forgive all who ask for forgiveness.  Truly I am headed for a plane crash if I fail to forgive.  The number Jesus gives is a metaphor for being willing to forgive as many times as necessary.

If you and I fail to do this, we will crash and burn in our faith.  Our lives will turn into a flame that burns brightly with bitterness and a lack of blessing.  In such moments the world will not see Christ and many of the people who looked up to us will be tempted to turn away.

If you are like me, these words came at a moment when I needed them for my own life and I needed them for those I will encounter today.  I say with the apostles, “Increase our faith,” Lk 17:5.  

What Is In Your Eye?

September 2, 2011

In the Joseph household four out of the five family members wear glasses.  Actually 1 out of five wear glasses.  The other three spend most of their time wearing contacts.  Recently someone said to my oldest son, “you need glasses.”  He responded, “I already have glasses.”  To which the person responded back, “I do not believe it.”

This morning I found myself being reminded of that conversation as I turned to Luke 11.  Jesus is speaking to large crowds who are looking on.  These crowds had different perspectives based upon what was in their eyes.

Here is what Jesus said, “Your eye is the lamp of your body.  When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness,” Lk 11:34.

The ESV Study Bible offers the following footnote, “An eye that is healthy describes a spiritually healthy way of looking at things.  A bad eye, or evil way of looking at things, results in a life full of moral and spiritual darkness.”

So the question for us is simply,  “What is in your eye?”  The answer to this question can be clearly seen, pardon the pun, in the way we live our lives.  When we do the wrong thing we cannot place blame on the wrong thing itself.  We must place the blame within ourselves because our eyes were unhealthy and we choose to do the wrong thing.

Maybe you ask, “How did I develop such a condition?”  Here is the answer, “You were born with such a condition.”  We were born in darkness.  Sin was our master and sin was the desire of our lives.  But when Christ came in he gave us new eyes as He opened our eyes that we may see wonderful things from him.

But we must be aware that we do not automatically now see everything with healthy eyes.  We must fight the old eyes.  “Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.”  

Daily we must work at submitting to Christ and we daily seek to fill our eyes with the things of God.  As we do we will walk in paths of righteousness.  If you find yourself failing today, confess your sin of looking at the darkness and then return to the light for His glory.

 

Taking Off The Mask

September 1, 2011

This morning I found myself, very early, looking into the mirror and to my shock, I looked rough.  Through the night I had tossed and turned as I talked with the Lord about all of today’s wonderful opportunities.  So this morning, in the mirror, it was clear that I had been busy in the night.

I wonder, “How can you and others tell what is really going on in your life?”  This morning Jesus made a bold declaration to the thousands that were gathered around him, “Nothing is covered up that will not be known.  Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops,” Lk 12:2-3.  

Jesus was declaring that there will be a day, judgment day, when everything we have been doing and the why will be brought out into the open.  When you drill down you discover Jesus is actually saying, “Someday the mask will be taken off from those people who were living in hypocrisy.”  Brothers and sisters in Christ, I do not want to wait until that day.  I want to know this day if there is anything in my life that is hypocritical.  I want to know if my heart is deceptive in any area of life.  I want to know if there is anything I am doing for me instead of for Him.

Without a doubt you feel the same way.  But still yet the question comes, “How do we get the mask off?”  The answer comes, surprisingly enough from Jesus half-brother, James. “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22.  R. C. Sproul writes, “True hearing of the word must lead to Godly action.”

James continues to write, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  Then he goes away at once forgetting what he was like,” James 1:24.

Brothers and sisters we must daily spend time in the word of God.  As we do, the Lord shows us the masks we are wearing.  But that will not be enough, we must take off those masks by carrying out what the word teaches.  Here is how James describes it, “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing,” James 1:25.

This is the key, we must become followers of Christ who act in obedience to what we have read.  In doing so we take off the mask and we put on the robes of godly living.  Oh how I hope you take off the mask today.

Dear Lord,

Help me to see all the masks in my life.  May I spend more time looking into the word and may you give me greater understanding in the word.  Father, may I truly act upon your word with total obedience so the light of Christ may shine for your glory today.  Do this also in the life of everyone who reads and heeds this blog today.  In Jesus name.