Archive for June, 2012

A Cry From Hell

June 14, 2012

And He called out, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” Luke 16:24

One of the toughest challenges I face in teaching my youngest son the Word of God is before us this morning.  Here we have in our More For Christ readings, Luke 16:19-17:10, the tragic story of a man who is rich toward himself but bankrupt toward God.

As I will share this passage with John tonight in our devotion, I will face the challenge of having to describe hell.  I know John will ask, “What is hell like?”  My son is very literal so I know the challenge will be there.  However the greater challenge will be in helping John develop a heart for those who are headed there.

For a moment let’s consider what Jesus said:

1.  The scene on earth, Vs:19-21

We see two men with different stories.  One was rich and he fared wonderfully in this life.  The other was poor and he fared miserable in this life.  Jesus is silent about their relationship with him, but the text is clear.  The poor man was right with God and the rich rejected God.

2.  The scene in eternity,  Vs: 22-31

Again we see two men with different stories.  The rich man is now woeful and the poor man is now wonderful.  The state in eternity is because of Christ payment for sin.  Now the bible says, “The rich man was in torment.”  We ask ourselves, “Why was he in torment?”

a. He was in physical pain, Vs: 24

b. He was in mental pain, Vs: 25

c. He is in eternal pain, Vs: 26

d.  He has evangelistic pain, Vs: 27-31

This rich man was in torment and he was troubled because he knew he had wasted his opportunity to follow Christ while in his earthly state.  He was in eternal pain because their was a great gulf between heaven and hell and he could not cross and would spend eternity in hell.  He was in evangelistic pain because he could not warn his family.  They to were following his course in life.

This morning I realize I must share these facts with John so that he can both praise God for his salvation and he can proclaim the gospel to those who are on the same course as the rich man.  Brothers and sisters, the fact is, you and I need to both praise and proclaim the gospel this day.  Oh if we could hear the cries from hell, we would know the reality of this passage.

What Are You Hearing?

June 13, 2012

“He also said to the disciples, ‘There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions.”  Luke 16:1

One of the most subtile sins that I deal with on a daily basis is the sin of gossip.  I often find myself, in the flesh, wanting to hear and to share gossip.  It’s kind of like hearing a siren blaring from a fire truck or a police car and you want to follow to just see what is taking place.  Sadly enough at the end of the road is always heart ache and sorrow.

This mornings More For Christ readings, Lk 16:1-18 gives us not gossip but a real story about the life of a man who was embezzling from his boss.  This man was hired to mange the properties of a rich man.  Apparently this man was charging more than what was fair.  The news began to spread and it reached the ears of the rich man.  So the manager is confronted with his sin and is told that he is going to be fired.

Shockingly he becomes creative in his deception and rewrites all the bills for his clients and now they are only going to pay half (Actually what they owed).  He did this to gain favor in the sight of the people so that he would get help from them when he lost his job.

As you read Jesus story, it takes a strange turn when the rich man commends this manager for his shrewdness.  The passage becomes even more strange when Jesus says, “And I tell you, make friends for yourself by means of unrighteous wealth.”  

One might think Jesus is encouraging us to follow the path of this manager.  But this is not the case.  What Jesus is teaching is simply, “We should be wise with our resources for Kingdom advance. We must become a people who serve others with the resources God has given us.  In this way, people will see the gospel being lived out and they will be receptive to the Word of God.”

Brothers and sisters this causes great evaluation in my life. I ask myself, “What am I doing with all God has given me?”  What are others hearing about how I handle God’s resources?  How are people spreading the news about my life?

This day I do not want to be known as a shrewd man, but a man who is sold out to Christ purposes for my life.  This day my prayer for you is that people who hear and share the story of how God’s impact on your life has transformed you from a grabber to a giver.

I would like to suggest a great resource to you from the hand-writing of Timothy Keller “counterfeit Gods.”  

 

There Was A Man

June 12, 2012

“And He said, ‘There was a man who had two sons.'” Luke 15:11

Someone once said to me, “No two children are alike.”  After almost 19 years of parenting I can amen this fact.  Our children all have uniqueness’ in their lives, but they all have something in common, Jesus Christ.

This mornings, More For Christ reading, Lk 15:11-32, covers a section of scripture that is well documented.  This scripture allows us a front row seat into the life (parable) of a man who had two sons.  Both of them were unique and both had something in common.

1.  The younger son, Vs: 15-24

This was a very rebellious son.  Some might question when this came about in his life.  I can hear comments like, “He started to hang around with the wrong crowd and he became rebellious or he used to be a great kid but something happened.”  The fact is, he was born with a rebellious nature and in the course of time it took over.  So is the path of everyone without God and also those who chose to walk away from God.

This was also a reckless son.  He wasted all of his wealth on things that would not satisfy (At the end of the day he made his own choices).  Because of this rebellious and reckless life he ended up in ruin.  I cannot imagine how his father must have felt, but I do know that God would use this to help this young man to have a revelation from heaven.

In his ruin God awakened his heart to his state and he said, “I will arise and go to my father.”  In this moment I see a great need for young men to have a revelation from God.  May it happen, even this day!!!

As this young man comes to his father, he repents and he is restored by a merciful, loving, and forgiving heavenly father.  The last scene is worth going through all the other scenes.


2.  The older Son, Vs: 25-32

Here is the son who stayed at home.  He was not opening rebellious, but it became apparent that he was inwardly rebellious.  He was reckless on the inside because all he could think about is how he could not do what his younger brother did.  He inwardly wanted to do it and he inwardly wanted to get even with his older brother.  The hardness of his heart caused him to have no revelation and no restoration with his Father.

Question, “Where do you see yourself and your family in all of this?”  You could be in either place or have family in either or both places.  So what made the difference in these boys?  “THERE WAS A MAN.”

God the Father was the one who made the difference.  This was his son who told this parable.  He was on his way to the cross so that sons could be changed from a rebellious state to a righteous state.  So my encouragement to you is to simply hold on to Jesus and cry out to Jesus He will make the difference in our family.

Counting The Cost

June 11, 2012

“Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to mock him saying, ‘this man began to build and was not able to finish.”  Lk 14:29-30

A man gets in his mind that he wants a new car.  He immediately begins to search for the perfect car.  The car that is durable and has all the options that best suit his needs.  After much effort he comes to the final decision.  He goes to the dealership that has his perfect car.  He secures the deal.  Now he is on his way home, basking in the glory of the hard work he has done in securing the best deal.  He arrives at home to surprise his wife.  She looks at the car and turns and asks, “How much did it cost?”

In this moment, the man starts to lose confidence.  Suddenly he realizes there is one thing he had not done.  He had not counted the cost of owning this perfect vehicle.  His wife finds the paperwork and discovers both a high interest rate and 6 years of payments.  Most certainly this man had not counted the cost.

In a much more intense setting, Luke 14:25-35, Jesus speaks to those who would follow him about the need of counting the cost of following him.  Jesus teaches his followers about two particular things:

1.  The need for a single focus: Vs: 28-32

Jesus offers a comparison in the text.  One who loves Jesus must love him so much that it looks like every other relationship is hated in comparison.  Our focus is to be Christ first.  Jesus is not saying that we should no longer love our families and our friends.  Jesus is teaching us to have a single focus.  Christ first.  Someone once said, “If Jesus is not lord of all, he is not Lord at all.”

2. A structured focus: Vs: 28-32

Jesus helps us to see the need to structure our focus.  Daily we need to ask our Lord to help us to see the path to completion in our following of Christ.  Daily we need to ask our Lord to help us persevere even when life gets complicated.  Our enemy will see that life gets complicated.  We need a structured focus so that we can plan and persevere for the long haul.

Jesus concludes this section with a strong warning, Vs: 32-35.  Without a single focus that is structured solely on the path of discipleship, one will lose his influence for God in the place where you live, i.e saltiness.

Just like the guy who lost influence with his wife because he did not count the cost, so to have many believers lost influence because they did not think through their decisions in God’s family.

Father help us to count the cost and father help us to cling to the one who paid the ultimate price for our salvation.

Judgment and Mercy

June 8, 2012

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered this way?” Luke 13:2

There are some things that seem to be great paradox’s when I consider them.  For example when Paul writes, “Consider the goodness and severity of God.”  These things seem as if they are opposites but the Word Of God places them together.

Also there is the text before us in our More For Christ readings, Luke 13:1-21.  Notice with me the context:  Jesus is teaching concerning judgment (12:57-59).  As he finishes there are those who come to him with news of a recent event where Galileans were murdered by Pilate.  To these people, this was God’s judgment because they were sinners.  But Jesus response is simply, “There are not categories of sinners.  All are sinners and all are going to perish unless they repent.”

Here we see what some would consider a paradox. Jesus is speaking about the soon judgment of God but at the same time He is speaking about the mercy of God.  If a person repents they will receive mercy.  If they do not repent they will be judged. At this point there is a paradox.  But really there is not because the gospel reconciles judgment and mercy.

When a person recognizes the sinfulness of their present course of life and repents (Turns to follow a different direction).  This person embraces the mercy of God.  In God’s mercy our sin is judged at the cross.  Jesus in His mercy took our judgment so that we might have His grace.  In this moment Luke 13 becomes a beautiful two-sided gold coin that explains the riches we have in Christ because of both His mercy and judgment.

At this point, I have to move away from my laptop and just hold up my hands in praise.  At this moment I have to cease writing and get out of this office and tell someone about God’s judgment and mercy.  At this point I find myself getting excited about Sunday because it will be a day that I can praise him for his judgment and mercy.  Oh to God that this would be the path for every believer today.

Who Is This For?

June 7, 2012

“Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for all of us?'” Luke 12:41

At our house there are always wonderful smells of food around dinner time.  Sherry is a wonderful wife and mother.  Her cooking skills are amazing.  But there are times when her children get upset with her.  These moments often occur when they discover the wonderful smells of food are from the food that she is preparing for some family in our church or in our community.  In these moments their taste-buds are devastated because this was not for them.

As we pick up our More For Christ readings, Luke 12:41-59, Jesus has just completed the telling of a parable, a story with a spiritual meaning. The parable was about the readiness of servants.  The spiritual meaning is simply, “The Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect so always be ready.”

Peter’s question is legitimate. Who is this truth intended for?  The answer comes in the verses that follow:

This was intended for those who would be obedient:

Such people would hear and obey the commands of God.  Such people will be blessed when their master comes and they will be rewarded.  This is joyous news and it is accountable news.  Each of us who have heard and understand have been given very much and God says, “Everyone to whom much has been given, of him much will be required.”  

This was intended for those who would not be obedient:

These are the people who would fall into one of the following categories:  1) They heard and would not obey 2) They had not heard  3) They heard and decided to divide from those in their family who heard.

For those in these groups the coming of the Son of Man will be a dreadful day.  On this day they will be sentenced to eternity apart from God.  Because of their rebellion they will be punished for all of eternity.  I believe the passage is clear, their degrees of punishment will be different, but hell in its easiest place is still hell.

Question:  “I wonder, how many people will end up in hell thinking they were headed to heaven?”  The fact is there are many who have heard and they think because they are around the church that they are headed for heaven.  When in fact they are not in the church.

Still there are many others who find themselves in the place where they have never heard. Still yet they are without excuse, Romans 1:18-25.  It is to these people who you and I need to focus our energies.  We need to make them aware of what the Gospel teaches.  We need to become the aroma of life.

I challenge you this day to be about our masters business.  This could be the very day he comes for us and for all those who do not know him.

 

SPECIAL EDITION OF CONTINUING THE WORK

June 6, 2012

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”  Matthew 7:7-8

Hopefully the title of this post caught your attention today.  This was my prayer this morning. I am writing this post in hopes of gaining your participation in an upcoming mission trip.

This will be my tenth journey to the wonderful nation of Romania.  This year, I have the honor of traveling with the largest team ever to Romania.  Much has happened over these years.  We have partnered with Achim and Brenda Barbos who are missionaries to this great land.  I can truly say that I have watched God do amazing miracles through these two servants of God.  I have been challenged by their love and sacrifice for Jesus.

Brother Achims original vision was to see the orphans of Romania won to Jesus Christ.  I can still remember my first trip in 2004.  I remember the poverty and spiritual brokenness of the children.  I can still remember how the gospel did it’s work in those young lives.  I can remember coming home to our then church, First Baptist Richmond Hill, with a burden to rebuild the orphanage. Those wonderful people gave so sacrifically to see this happen.  Brother Achim lead the way with sacrifices of both his home and his business.

I can still remember his vision to see a Christian camp built for the Glory of the Lord.  8 years later, all of this has become a reality.  The teams I have led have become so involved in God’s work.  I have stood and watched God’s mercy at work in so many.

So now, I begin my tenth journey to this personal mission field.  This is my third year with my family at Kings Baptist Church.  I can honestly say, I have never seen a group of people any more committed to a place, a people, and a purpose than these people.  This year, our people worked very hard to raise the funds to purchase a bus for this camp.  By God’s grace this has become a reality.

Now, we position ourselves to travel once again.  We go armed with the gospel!  This is where you come in.  Each week you and I are connected through this blog.  Every week, I pray, you are being fed the word.  Your sacrifice is in reading through this blog.  Often with misspelled words and even lengthy blogs.  Thank you for your faithfulness.

However, this week, I ask that you sacrifice even more.  Two areas of sacrifice are needed: 1) Will you pray for our team:  July 16th-27th. Our team needs great prayer support:  1) Pray for safety 2) Pray that all luggage and supplies arrive on time 3) Pray that we arrive on time 4) Pray that we are healthy and filled with Jesus  5) Pray that the gospel would go forth  6)  Pray that we would be and encouragement to Brenda and Achim and to the pastors we will teach at the pastor’s school.  7) Pray that many will come to Jesus Christ  8) Pray that God would give financial partners to World Wide Orpan’s In Need.  9) Pray that revival would come to the nation. 10) Pray that God would call missionaries from our team. 11) Pray for a safe trip home.

Brothers and sisters we need your prayers.  This is priority one.

The second area is the area where you are being asked to give.  This year God has blessed us to be in a better position for this trip than at any other time in my ten trips.  But we still have financial needs:  1) We have a 1,500 dollar need for one pastor scholarship for the trip.  2) We have 700 dollar need for baggage fees for our supplies.  3)  We have 300 dollar need for purchasing frisbees with the gospel printed in the Romanian language.  4) We have a 500 dollar need for commentaries to be given to the pastors at the conference along with food for them.

If you could help in any way, we would say thank you.  Here is the mailing address for your help.  If you are going to pray please send us a note. If you are going to send a sacrificial gift, please do it today:

Kings Baptist Church

989 Kings Church Road

                         Taylorsville, Ky 40071

Personally I want to say thank you for all the years of partnership.  May God bless you and may God use you greatly in His kingdom work.

 

 

What Happened To Your Family?

June 6, 2012

“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  Luke 12:13

The moment could not have been, on this side of eternity, any sadder than when the man said, ‘My wife and I are no longer together.’  These words always send shock waves up and down the spine of any God-called pastor.  In my 20 years of ministry, it never gets easy and it never stops.

This mornings More For Christ readings, Lk 12:13-40, begin with a challenging question for Jesus.  Apparently there was trouble in the family.  I don’t know if the parents had died or if in the case of the prodigal Son, Luke 15, if the son’s were receiving their inheritance before their death.  One thing was for sure, “There was unhealthy conflict.”

Jesus responds with an illustration, Vs: 15-20 that illustrates the foolishness of humanity in striving and fighting to get what they want out of life.  In the end Jesus says, “Fool this night your soul will be required of you, and then whose things shall these be after you.” 

In Jesus teaching we see a much better way of living life than with struggling for the trinkets of life.  Jesus teaches his disciples, “To strive for true wealth in this life.”  You ask what is true wealth, “Seek the kingdom of God.”  One who seeks God’s kingdom will find his or her reward waiting for them in heaven.

This past week my wife and I celebrated 20 years as a married couple.  I can honestly say, the first few years were great and then came the hard moment.  In this moment we both had to either chose to chase our wishes or chase God’s wishes.  14 years later, we are so thankful that God taught us to seek the kingdom of God.

Now we have one daughter who has finished her sophomore year in college and one son headed to his senior year as well as a 10-year-old headed to youth group for the first time.  Now more than ever we need to seek first God’s kingdom because soon our family will be multiplied in the world.

Our belief that seeking God’s kingdom will pay off.  We know that God will do great things so that the word will ask, “What happened to your family.”  When they do we want to say, “Jesus happened to our family!!!”  Oh how I pray this for your family as well.

Possible Or Impossible?

June 5, 2012

“Woe to you lawyers!  For you have taken away the key of knowledge.  You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”  Luke 11:52

Yesterday, as I was studying, John came into my office with something that could be deemed as both possible and impossible.  Here was the scene.  John came into the office carrying what seemed to be a Lego box, later I was to discover that the box had a drawer that opened.  John simply said, “Dad open the drawer.”  After a few unsuccessful tries I deemed the challenge impossible.  But my viewpoint changed as John showed me the secret compartment that unlocked the box.  The fact is, this drawer could only be opened by the one who designed it.

As we open our bibles to Luke 11:45-12:12 we find the designer and purchaser of eternal life speaking.  Jesus is pronouncing woes on those religious leaders who are placing burdens on people that were hindering the gospel.  Because of their teaching it seemed impossible for anyone to have eternal life.  However Jesus leads us away from the impossible (12:5) and He leads us to the possible, “Do not fear those who kill the body,and after they have nothing more they can do.  But I will tell warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.  Yes, I tell you, fear Him!”

The word fear speaks of reverence and a healthy standing in awe of someone.  Heaven is impossible for those who fail to reverence and love Jesus.  But heaven is possible for those who turn to the Redeemer.  This day, I stand in awe of the one who died in my place.  He took my punishment so I could have His reward.  I fear him with the saints of old.

I stand, I stand in awe of you.  Holy God, in whom all praise is due, I stand in awe of you.

This very day there are multitudes who are living impossible lives.  They know not Christ and they know not their need of Christ.  They are headed to Hell and they are unaware.  This very day I challenge you to live out your love for Christ in front of them.  I challenge you to share the gospel with the multitudes.  This day the impossible can become possible because of Jesus!

The Struggle With Keeping One’s Room Clean

June 4, 2012

“And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put into order.”  Luke 11:25

It seems at our house that we have a problem with keeping one certain room clean.  Can you guess which room?  Naturally, if you know our family, the youngest son is always struggling with keeping his room clean.  This morning, I was reminded of this struggle at the beginning part of our More For Christ readings, “Luke 11:24-44.”  

Here we find Jesus giving and illustration of the need for His Lordship of our lives.  Without His Lordship we cannot possible keep our spiritual house in order.  Here we find the illustration of a demon that leaves a home and then returns with 7 other demons.  He finds the house swept and in order, but the house has not been filled so he comes back in as if he had never been gone and the state of the house is now worse than it has ever been.

In this moment we understand the truth that no one can keep their house clean apart from Christ?  Here is why:

1)  It was not clean in the first place.

Yes we can outwardly clean our lives, but inwardly it cannot be without the blood of Christ, Lk. 11:44.  

2)  It was not cleansed by Jesus.

There was a push to clean up but never was there a submission to the one who can cleanse us, Jesus Christ.

3)  It was not centered on Jesus.

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” Lk 11:28.  

The only way to have a clean slate with God is to be submitted to Christ cleansing and to Christ Lordship of your life.  When this happens you must then submit your life to the centrality of Christ.  Daily His word must be the pursuit of your life.  Each day, you come knowing that your life is in Him and the expectations are his and you live to fulfill his expectations.

Truly we have discovered with our son that his expectations for his physical room are different from ours.  His room exists for playing and putting together his creations.  In our eyes we want order and we want to see the room clean so that when he plays he is not killed by falling Lego’s.  So we plow on in his heart teaching him to trust in his parents wisdom.  This day, I am praying that God will continue to plow in our hearts so that we will submit to his Lordship of our spiritual house.