Archive for December, 2011

A God Of Detail

December 30, 2011

When you go out to war against your enemies. and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”  Deuteronomy 20:1

Through the years I have watched in amazement in how some events work so smoothly and others were a train wreck from the beginning.  It has been my experience after those events that most of the credit for the success and failure of those events hinged on either great preparation or the lack thereof.

As we approach the end of the year (Only two days left).  I wonder, “how successful were you in this past year?” The fact for many of us, is that we failed to prepare for many of the things we did this year!!!

This morning, I was reminded how our God never is caught off guard.  He is The God of Details.  If you don’t believe me, just scan a few chapters in the book of Deuteronomy.  In particular note chapters 19-23.  After reading these chapters I wrote in my daily journal, “Lord, I am amazed at your wonderful limitless ability in every detail of life.  No wonder Isaiah proclaimed, ‘Wonderful counselor.’  This day, may I be mindful that all wisdom comes from you.  May I be mindful that I must talk over every day with the one who created the day.  Thank you Lord for allowing me to gain your wisdom by grace.”

As we come to the end of the year, it is important that we focus on what God’s direction will be for the coming year.  The angel Gabriel said to Mary, “Of his kingdom there will be no end.”  As we listen to the wisdom of our Lord we realized his wisdom will last forever!!!

So, as you face challenges I encourage you to share you circumstances with a God who is filled with the details of your circumstances as well as being filled with the details of how to be successful in all the details of your life.  Trust him with every detail and you will be amazed at how your life will change.

 

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As We Have Opportunity

December 29, 2011

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith,” Gal. 6:10

This morning, I found myself confronted with a reality that comes very timely for me.  Here is what I was confronted with, “For there will never cease to be poor in the land.  Therefore, I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to the poor, in your land.” Deut. 15:11.   

Reason would argue, “If people needing help never ends, then what is the use?”  Such a question is asked by many people in the world.  Question, “How would you answer such a question?”  Certainly we can and should respond, “I can’t make a difference in everyone’s life but I can made a difference in many people’s lives.”  This is a great answer.  However, could I possibly suggest an even better answer?

Lord, you have created me and you have selected for me many opportunities to make a difference in Jesus name.  So please teach me to be mindful of the opportunities you give me.”

This morning, I was lead to pray this way because of my readings in Galatians 6.  The first ten verses can be broken into two points:

I.  A description of the people we have opportunity with:

1) People who are caught in trespasses, Vs:1.  These are people who are sinners and their guilt has left them broken.

2)  People who are burdened, Vs: 2.  Something has left their life out-of-place and they need help.

3)  People who are bearing a load, Vs: 5.  Every child of God has issues of life that give us opportunity to help.

4)  People who are ministering to others,  Vs: 6.  This very day, God has placed others in your path who have ministered to you.  Now is your opportunity.

I. A description of the proper way to help:

1)  Resist the flesh-do not spend your life on yourself.  Invest in others.

2)  Reside in the Spirit-do not walk in the flesh (Old Nature).  Walk in the new nature (Spirit-filled).

3)  Reach out in grace-the world around us is facing abuse after abuse.  Some is inflicted by others. Some is inflicted by self.  Either way, the aroma of Christ is a welcomed and eternal gift from heaven.

This very day, opportunity is all around you.  Cease the opportunity for the glory of Christ with the confidence that you have been called to make a difference.

AT The End Of The Year

December 28, 2011

“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year.” Deuteronomy 14:22.

Most likely when you read the title of this blog you thought, “The subject is going to be about finishing well at the end of 2011.”  If you thought this, you are correct.  However there is usually a part of our finishing well that we often overlook.  The part I am writing about is, “Tithing.”  Most people do not have on their radar, making sure they have tithed correctly at the end of the year.  But some people do.

Personally I check my tithing record at the end of the year because I want to make sure I honored the Lord with my first 10 percent of income.  This year, as is the case in our family every year, has been a great blessing to us.  We have seen the Lord do many magnificent miracles this year. God has provided every need and has provided far more.  We have been on an overseas mission trip, given above our tenth to many fine groups that are sharing the gospel around the world.  We have watched our church stay in the black in an economy that is anything but in the black.  We were even able to take two family vacations this past year.  (We were so blessed).

So how could we not give back to the one who has given so much to us?  Moses in Deuteronomy instructs the people concerning their year-end giving.  When the harvest came in, they were to give the first 10 % to the Lord as a testimony to the fact that he was the giver of all they had.  This was a sacrifice of praise and a sacrifice of proclamation to the world that God was their source of all things.

Question, “does your life reflect praise and proclamation in the area of giving?”  The fact is, the only way you will know is if you examine your accounts to even know.  This is easy for those who are poor, all you have to do is check one account and you will know what you have given.  However it is much different for someone who is rich.  Such a person can give large amounts and still not give a tithe as they should.

I want to ask each of you to consider, ‘Your finances at the end of the year.”  Have you and I given to God what He requires and have we given to God even more because we love Him?

My wife and I can both testify of the great blessings in becoming a giver for the glory of the Lord.  So, why you still have time, catch up and experience the joy of giving to the one you love for than anyone else.

The Right Type of Friendships

December 27, 2011

You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,” Deuteronomy 13:10.

What you have just read might seem to be extremely hard words?  However, in context they make complete sense.  Moses is instructing the nation of Israel concerning how to approach the conquest of the land.  He has already spoken about the danger of idolatry in the last part of chapter 12 and the first part of chapter thirteen. He has warned the people to be careful in their dealing with prophets.  There would be those prophets that would be false and they were, “Not to listen to the words of that prophet and they were to put him to death.” 13:3,5.

The fact is we must be careful with those we listen to.  Recently I have been reading a book on the global church.  The author shared about and African pastor who was struggling to be successful with his congregation.  When asked why, he responded; “My messages are being compared with a certain Tv preacher from America.”  “My people are saying, ‘they enjoy his messages more than mine.'”  The problem was, the man they were listening to was a false prophet and anyone not wanting to deal with their sin would love such preaching.

This morning I want to encourage each of you to pay close attention to those you consider friends in the ministry.  It is vitally important that our friendships (Church) always teach the truth of the word of God.

It is also vitally important that our closest friendships are guided by God’s truth.  Here in Deuteronomy 13 Moses gives this warning, “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘let us go and serve other gods, … you shall not yield to them.”

Often we fall into the trap of valuing our friendships more than we value the truth of God’s word.  I want to challenge you to always gage everything based upon the truth.  Maybe even now your heart breaks as you consider a friendship vs your service to God.  The question you must answer is this:  “Is this the right kind of friendship?”

You can be assured it is a right friendship it if causes you to want to live for Christ, love His church, and lead others to Christ.  Cultivate such friendships and get away from those that do not.

Remember the Requirements

December 26, 2011

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?”  Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Recently my daughter was sharing with Sherry and I about a particular scholarship offered at her college.  She said there were 15 requirements that must be met for the scholarship.  After listing some of the requirements, I thought, “Beth does not meet these requirements.  Especially the one that stated, the applicant must be from Alaska.”  Suddenly Beth broke out in laughter and said, “I applied anyway.”

Without a doubt she will not get the scholarship.  Now in a much more serious manner, God laid out for Israel, in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, His requirements for a successful life in the Promised Land.

As one reads this text, he or she must read what comes before and what comes after to clearly understand the implications of God’s requirements.  These verses actually come in the midst of Moses exhortation (9:1-11:32) to the nation concerning her future.  Very quickly Moses reminds Israel that God is giving them the Promised Land, not because they were righteous, but because He loved them.  The fact is, they were unrighteous all along the way.  Moses comments about their unrighteousness, “You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you,” 9:24.  

The fact is, God challenge to Israel was to change her way of living.  Unless she began to meet God’s requirements, the blessings of the Promised Land would be forfeited.

These chapters remind us of God’s grace in His love to unloveable people.  God’s amazing love came to us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).  These chapters also remind us of man’s inability to carry out the requirements of God without His empowerment.  Israel’s heart was not different.  Yes she experienced victory for a period of time, but her heart remained unchanged.

Question, “has your heart been changed?”  Your answer will only be yes if your heart has been circumcised.  How does a person know it there heart has been circumcised?  Just as circumcision is an outward sign.  So to will there be outward sins of an inward change.  Consider Deuteronomy 10:12-13, 1) A person’s life will be lived with the desire to honor God (Fear).  2) A person’s life will be characterized by obeying God (Walk).  3)  A person’s life will be marked with the love of God (Love).  4)  Finally, a person’s life will be identified by their life of service to God (All your heart).  

This day, I pray you will look at the requirements and you will remember that it is by God’s grace and by God’s power that you are able to both understand and carry out God’s requirements.

Merry Christmas To All!!!

December 25, 2011

For unto you is born this day in the city of David, A Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 1:12

The King Is Coming

December 23, 2011

“And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Lk 1:33

It’s hard to believe, but in two days we will be celebrating Christmas.  It seemed just yesterday we were putting up the tree and the lights in anticipation for Christmas.  But now, it is here, the day we celebrate the coming of a King.

But, I must remind you, this is no ordinary King.  This is God’s Son,  the one in whose rule will never end.  This morning, I think it is important that we think not only about the celebration of His first coming, but that we celebrate the fact that He is coming again.

33 years after Jesus first coming, He went back to heaven.  Those who saw his ascension heard the following proclamation given, “This same Jesus that was taken up from you will return in like manner.” Acts 1:11.  

Notice the word’s “Like manner.”  These words speak to us about his coming back in bodily form.  They do not speak to us about his coming as a humble baby that would grow into a man.  They do not speak to us about His coming to take away the sin of the world.  These were things that characterized His first coming.

When Jesus comes again, He will come as King.  Isaiah 9:7 proclaims; “He will rule with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore…”

Jesus will come in like manner so that we can see Him, but His position will not be of a servant, but as a king.  The world will bow before Him.  Some will bow in love and so will bow out of fear.  The question that comes to mind is simply this, “How many of our family members will be ready to meet the king?”

In our busy preparations for Christmas, we forget that this could be the day, moment, or year that we actually stand before the King.  I find myself greatly convicted that I must be about my Master’s business of proclaiming, “The King is coming.”

This very day, I challenge you to add to your last-minute list:  I will proclaim the message that He is coming again.  Those who truly are possessed by the love of Christ are compelled (II Cor. 5:14) to tell others about Christ.

Please Pay Attention

December 22, 2011

And now, O Israel, listen to the statues and the rules that I am teaching you,  and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” Deuteronomy 4:1

There are moments in my son’s life when I wonder, “Does he ever pay attention?”  Example, “Recently, I asked him to do what was an easy task.  15 minutes later he was off doing something else.  I asked, ‘John, did you complete the task I gave you?’  He responded, ‘What task?'”

Brothers and sisters how often does God speak to us through His word, through preachers, or through some circumstance that drives you to the word, and we don’t even hear?  In Deuteronomy 4, Moses is clear concerning Israel’s path to a life of fulfillment.  She was to listen-obey-live-and possess.

Simple is it not?  Just listen, then obey, and you will live in the place where I will place you.  Or maybe it is not so simple, “If you add or take away from my word…”  If we do not listen correctly we will be doing things God does not desire,

Listening correctly is crucial to our lives.  Think about all the things that keep us from listening correctly:  1)  A polluted heart-in such moments we hear what we want to hear.  2) A bitter heart-in such moments we cannot hear because we are out of fellowship with God.  3) A boastful heart-in such moments we are not listening.  We are trying to dictate to God.  4) A idolatrous heart-in these moments we are serving other Gods.

I wonder, were you convicted by any of the things you just read?  Certainly I was convicted as I walked through Deuteronomy 4. Each of these distractions were listed.  However God has the answer of how to pay attention:  “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget, the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart…” vs: 9.

Daily we must guard our heart ( Proverbs 4:23) so that we stay focused on listening to God.  Never cease paying attention to God.  Never allow false Gods to creep into your spiritual ears.  Open his word and listen!  Oh what glorious news you will hear for your life.

40 Years Later

December 21, 2011

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you.  I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” Isaiah 46:3-4

There are moments when it seems that life is screaming at us, “Give in or give up.” Certainly many who read this today either are facing such times or you know someone who is facing tough times.  In these times we are desperate for truth!

Consider the truth of Isaiah 46:3-4.  Isaiah portrays God as a Father who created Israel and who carried Israel throughout her life.  This is well portrayed in the first four chapters of the book of Deuteronomy.

As one reads these chapters he or she might wonder, “Is this how God cares for his people?”  The fact is, Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness, walking or “Traveling around Mount Seir,” 2:1.  During this time God “carried Israel, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place,” 1:31.

As Israel approached the Promised Land, it was God who was giving them grace as He carried them along.  When Israel refused to obey God (Chapter 2) it was God who gave great grace in carrying them through their judgment.    Finally after 40 years it was time to go into the Promised Land.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, look at your life and consider all that God has carried you through.  This very day, you would not be here without God’s grace in your life.  Certainly this exercise will give encouragement, no matter how long you have been in your wilderness.

Once you consider God’s carrying, at least two things happen:  You gather strength in the now based upon where you have been. Check out Deuteronomy 3:27.  You grow in strength as you realize it is Christ in you that makes all the difference.  Paul understood this, “For when I am weak, then I am strong, for His grace is sufficient for me…” II Cor. 12:9

Your life and my life are a result of grace.  This grace is so clearly seen in looking into the hands of the one who has carried up through life.  Brother and sisters we can trust in the hand of Christ:

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.” Psalm 138:7

The Souls Of Men

December 20, 2011

“Let him know that whoever brings a sinner back from his wandering will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”  James 5:20

Yesterday I had an opportunity to meet a young man in his twenties.  He was sitting in the booth behind me at lunch.  Keith had just left to go to work and I was finishing up my last bite of food when the young man commented about a football player being interviewed on ESPN.  I turned around and made eye contact with a young man who was full of life, hope, and dreams.  Our conversation began with where he was from and continued with where he was headed.  Finally the conversation turned to things of eternity.  Here was his confession, “I am a Jew who attends synagogue worship on high days.  But I confess that I do not faithfully attend.”  He went on to say, “He believed many religions were wonderful and he supported them all.”

In this moment, my heart sunk because here was a wonderful young man who was doing what James described, “a person who is wandering.”  My heart sunk even lower as I found myself, pushed for time because I had a hospital visit to make.  I left this young man with the following words, “I thank you for it was through your people that our Messiah came.  Please allow me to help you in any way I can on your journey.”

I don’t know how God will use this encounter, but I pray He will use it to open the door for the gospel.  The fact is, I believe every day is ordered by God with the intention of bringing glory to Him.

I want to challenge every follower of Christ to do the following as we approach the day we celebrate the coming of our Savior:  1) Brush up on your knowledge of the Gospel.  Spend time reading through Romans and spend time reciting a gospel presentation.  2) Ask the Lord to give you opportunity to share the gospel.  In this busy season there are many who will be willing to spend a few moments with a kind person who is filled with the love of Christ.  3) Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.  Divine appointments could be before you this very day.  4)  Celebrate Christ with brothers and sisters in Christ.  Many in the family of God are discouraged this season.  As you celebrate Christ, they will be encouraged as they look to the God of hope.