Archive for August, 2012

Living Without Shame (Romans 1:1-17)

August 31, 2012

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16

The name Lance Armstrong is a very familiar name to the sports world.  Especially to those in the sport of cycling.  From 1999 to 2006 he won 7 consecutive Tour De France titles.  However, this day he is facing the charges of taking banned drug enhancements. I do not know if he is guilty or not.  But I do know he is facing great shame.

This day, “All of us have those things that we are ashamed of.”  Things we did in childhood, things he did before being made new creations in Christ, and saddest of all, ‘things we have done after coming to Christ.’  However, we can live in peace and joy because our sins are removed by the blood of the lamb, I John 1:9.

This morning the Apostle Paul writes about “Not being ashamed.”  As a church we have begun a new book in our More for Christ readings. We will spend the next two weeks in the book of Romans.

Paul begins chapter one with a wonderful greeting as well with a wonderful stating of his purpose in writing.  As I read this chapter, I sought fresh eyes from the Lord.  As I read these familiar verses, I was amazed at how Paul was living a life without shame.  A life that magnified the gospel in which he was not ashamed.  Here is a simple outline to follow as well as and application to our lives in taking inventory:

1.  Paul is a servant of Christ Jesus, Vs: 1-7

Paul is called to be and Apostle and He is chosen to be and Ambassador of Christ.  All of this happened in Paul’s life because of grace.  This grave given changed Paul from a sinner to a servant.  His goal was to make Jesus famous in the world.

2.  Paul is serious about Christ Jesus, Vs: 8-15

God was witness to how serious Paul was in his service to God.  We see Paul’s seriousness in praying for the church in Rome.  We see his seriousness in proclaiming the gospel to everyone.  He was under orders and under obligation (I Cor. 9:16)

3.  Paul is simplistic in Christ Jesus, Vs: 16-17

In Paul’s viewpoint, the gospel is for everyone.  The gospel has the power to save anyone and God’s purpose in saving men is for His name to be made famous in the world.

All of this happens by faith as sinners follow Christ.  For me, the best way to live with shame is to by faith live as a servant who is serious about the simplicity of the Gospel.  Will you be perfect?  The answer is no!  But you will be progressing in Christ because this is the power of the gospel.  And oh, by the way, “You will not be ashamed.”

Behold, I am coming (Revelation 22:6-21)

August 30, 2012

“And behold, I am coming soon.  Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:7

“I can’t wait!”  This was the excited statement made by a little boy who had great anticipation for his birthday.  This was a day that had always brought joy to him.  Each birthday, his father would take him out to breakfast.  Just he and his dad.  Once they returned, his mother and siblings were waiting with presents. This was always a big day.  But the older he got, the less and less excited he was because he became used to anticipating many things and this cost him the wonder of this amazing day.

Brethren, as we come to the end of the book of Revelation, we find ourselves reading, Revelation 22:6-21, the best news we could ever read, “Behold I am coming soon.”  Jesus is coming soon and we will see Him.

Question, “Did that statement excite you?”  For me, I found great conviction in the fact that I say I am ready and I am rejoicing but the reality is, “I have a lot to do today, so I don’t have time to think about this being the day He returns.”

Here are the words that I placed in the entry of my journal this morning:

“Lord, I am amazed at how these words do not evoke, awe, amazement, and adjustment in my life. I read these words and my mind moves on to the days activities. Father, stop me in my tracts and help me focus on the deep abiding reality of this truth, ‘Your Son is coming soon and I will be standing before you. Soon I will be giving and account of how I lived my life.  Father, I love you and I am thankful for grace.  This day, I must give my best for this could be the last day!”

Brothers and sisters in Christ.  Do not waste this day.  Stand in awe of the fact, “He is coming soon!”  Strive to adjust your life to a total focus on bringing glory to his name in the world, Matthew 6:33.  Stay aligned with His will.

When this happens we can be as was the little boy.  We can say, “I can’t wait!”

Finally Home (Revelation 21:9-22:5)

August 29, 2012

“But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, bout only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Rev. 21:27

Through my adult years I have been blessed to call many different places home.  In college I truly called Lynchburg Va. my home.  In the first 12 years of marriage Sherry and I called two cities in Ky. home.  For 5 years we called Richmond Hill Ga. our home.  And now for the last 3 plus years we have called Louisville Ky. home.

I can honestly say, “Whenever we traveled abroad it was always a comfort to know that at the end of each travel was a home that was awaiting us.” This mornings, “More For Christ readings” gives the follower of Christ a wonderful reminder of the fact that a wonderful home awaits.

1.  We see the beauty of this home in Revelation 20:9-21

2.  We see the one who has made this home possible in Revelation 20:22-23

3. We even see those who have access to this home in Revelation 20:24-21:7

All of these visual aids help us to stand in awe of our great God and Savior.  But all of these visual aids also help us to strongly align with our great God and Savior.  The bottom line is this, “We are not home yet!”

I was reminded of this as I read a portion of the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus reminds us (Matthew 6:19-24) of both our homes here and our home in heaven.  In our earthly homes we at best are investing in things that are decaying.  In our heavenly home we are blessed with things that do not decay.

This very day, I must seek to focus correctly in how I conduct my life.  This very day, I must choose to invest either in my earthly home or my eternal home.  It seems to make sense to invest in the home where you will spend eternity?

So allow me to challenge you to invest in your heavenly home.  For me, that translates into  giving myself to a life of sanctification and a life of service to my King.  Spend some time discovering how this translates in your life.

The End and the Beginning (Revelation 20:11-21:8)

August 28, 2012

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.”  Revelation 21:1

This mornings More For Christ readings present to us and interesting oxymoron.  In these verses we see both the end and the beginning.  Notice the outline below:

1.  The end (The final day), Rev. 20:11-15

At the end of the 1000 year reign of Christ and Satan’s final judgment, we see the day called, “The Great White Throne Judgment. In this scene (The end) we discover three things:  A.  The Judge, here we see Jesus who is seated on a great (Authority) white (Just and pure) throne (Sovereign rule).  B.  The Judged, here we see all classes of people from the beginning of time to the end of time.  All stand before the judge. Their end has come.  C. The Judgment, here we see each person’s record speaking for itself and we see each person reward speaking for itself.  Every person, even the most moral and good person falls short of the glory of God.  The second death comes which is separation from God and eternal punishment in hell.  (This is the end).

2. The beginning (The first day) Rev. 21:1-8

John introduces us to a new heaven and a new earth.  We see God’s new dwelling (Tabernacle with men). We rejoice over the new distinctions.  In heaven and on earth there will be no sorrow, no sin, and no separation.

Question, “As you read these verses where do you see yourself?”  This is not a oxymoron.  This is a moment of clarity.  Those who are not followers of Christ come to and end.  Those who are followers of Christ are coming to the beginning!

This day I am encouraged to have peace in my trials because I know where my future lies.  This day I am challenged to share the gospel with urgency because I know that multitudes are  coming to the end and this could be the day.

Missionaries take heart the end is coming.  Keep on being faithful for many are coming to the end.  Plead with the world for they know not the end is coming.  Enduring suffering because your future is bright and the fight for men’s souls is worth all that we face.

Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11-20:10)

August 27, 2012

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a while horse!  The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.”  Revelation 19:11

I wonder, “Is he telling the truth?”  This was the question that was running through my mind as I heard John yell, “out!” as I served to him in a recent tennis match.  As I stared across the net, it was easy to see that John was not telling the truth.  His smile gave it away.  But with all of his zeal, he denied the wrongness of his call.  However, finally after much debate he said, “Okay, let’s play the point again.”

This morning we find a similar debate (War) between two opposing forces in Revelation 19-20.  We see Jesus who is identified as the Faithful and True one standing against Satan and the forces he has gathered.  Here is and outline to follow:

1.  The righteous judge who makes war, Vs:11-16

Jesus is the living Word of God who is the Captain of the Lord’s army.  We see the power of His wrath as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

In the interlude of this passage (Vs:17-18) we hear the righteous judge calling the vultures to prepare for the feast to come.

2. The unrighteous who make war, Vs:19-21

We see Satan/the Antichrist/ and the false prophet standing together with the armies of this earth.  They oppose that which is Faithful and True.  In this great battle, the feast is set for the vultures of the earth.  No one can stand against the Faithful and True one.

As chapter 20 begins we see the Faithful and True one binding Satan for a thousand years, Vs: 1-3.  We rejoice in the saints being able to reign with Christ, Vs:4-6 and we rejoice in Satan being defeated forever, Vs: 7-10.

As a follower of Christ, I am so blessed to be able to follow the one who is Faithful and True.  Many in our world are following another path and another person.  They are following the one who is the father of lies (The Devil).

Question, “Who are you following this day?”  Question, “Is your life characterized by truth or is it characterized by falsehood?”  Make sure you align your life with the Faithful and True one.  Because the fact is, you and I cannot redo life as John and I did with the one point in question.  This is all we have (this moment).  Please align with the one who is Faithful and True.

It is what we deserve (Revelation 16)

August 24, 2012

“For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink.  It is what they deserve.”  Revelation 16:6

This mornings More For Christ readings focus on Revelation 16.  In focus are the 7 bowls of God’s judgment.  I would encourage you to read them carefully.  Here is a summary of what you will find:

1.  Pain, Vs:2; 2.  Pollution of the seas; 3. Pollution of fresh water, Vs: 4; 4. Pain from the sun, Vs:8; 5. Destruction of world government, Vs:10-11; 6. Coming of the battle of all battles, Vs:12-16; 7. The completion of it all, Vs:17-21.

I again plead with you to slowly and with though to read these verses.  As you read them, it is my prayer that you will key in on the depravity of man.  In these verses we see how many is in rebellion against God.  We see how man is blind toward God and we see man receiving what he deserves.

Some would say, “This is all so cruel.”  But I would respond, “The God we serve has been offering man mercy for over 6000 years.  How could we say, “He is cruel.”  The Father sent the Son (John 3:16) do redeem us.  All that God has asked in return is that man would submit to His lordship.  But man has chosen for 6,000 years to reject His love and His leadership.  So there is coming a day when man will get what he deserves.

The bible is clear, “If we reject so great a sacrifice, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.”

So what is our take away as followers of Christ?

1.  We serve a great God of mercy and grace.  So praise him with all of your might.

2.  Ours is a society of blind rebels.  So proclaim the gospel so the world might come to our great God.

3. Ours is a life of grace.  We do not get what we deserve.  So let us serve him with all of our might.  

The Hour Has Come (Revelation 14:14-15:8)

August 23, 2012

“Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” Revelation 14:15

Imagine being on death row.  You look at the clock and suddenly you realize, “the hour of my execution has come.”  Imagine being a person who has been told that you only have a matter of weeks to live.  Suddenly there is a pain in your heart and you know, “The time of my departure is at hand.”  Still yet, imagine that you are driving on a local highway, you round a curve at about 50 miles per hour.  Coming your way is a semi that is in your land.  Suddenly you realize, “Your time has come.”

Question, “What do all of these things have in common?”  The fact is, in a moment these people will be standing before the Lord.”  Here in Revelation 14, the hour of judgment has come.  I want you to consider two things:

1.  The Son of Man is the Harvester, Vs: 14-16

Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, is on the throne and He is about to complete the task of judging the world, Revelation 15-16 will speak of this harvest.

2.  The Sons of Men are the ones being harvested, Vs: 17-20

Here we see the wrath of God being poured out against all the Sons of Men who are in rebellion.  We see the devastation of the Battle of Armageddon.  For 184 miles the blood of the battle flows up to the hight of the bridle of a horse.

Brothers and sisters, I am so thankful that followers of the Son of Man will be kept from such and hour because we have received the grace of God.  But there are multitudes who will come to that day rejecting grace.

Consider this fact: The person in jail, the person dying of a disease, and the person dying in a car wreck, will all stand before God at the judgment bar.  Every person who has every lived will stand before the Judgment bar of God.

Consider this fact:  This moment is all you and I have.  May we us it to engage those whose hour is about to come.  The old Hymn comes to mind; “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.”

Then I Looked (Revelation 14:1-13)

August 22, 2012

“Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 1440,000…” 14:1

Yesterday I received one of the funniest email links that I have every received.  It was entitled, “Accidental Voice Mail recording.”  The man’s whose voice that was recorded was from Dallas Texas.  He was driving down a crowded street while leaving a voice message for his work partner.  Suddenly he sees a wreck in front of him.  Suddenly he becomes a play-by-play announcer.  Apparently the man in one car got out to confront the two old ladies in the other car.  The driver proceeds to pepper spray him and then both ladies get out and beat him up.  The man on the phone is laughing so hard that you find yourself getting engaged in the laughing.

I truly laughed hard until the reality hit.  I am laughing about someone who is beating up someone else.  Suddenly conviction and heartbreak set in.  Oh, how easy it is for us to lose focus on the reality of man’s depravity.

This mornings More For Christ readings come from Revelation 14.  In this chapter we see the following:

1.  The Lamb and His message, Vs: 1-5

2.  The angels and their message, Vs: 6-11

They are sent to proclaim and eternal gospel.  They are also sent to proclaim a specific judgment.  Also we see the wrath that comes to those who follow idols.

3.  John and his message, Vs: 12-13

Blessed are those who follow the Lamb.  They will be blessed for eternity.

When I look at all of this, I rejoice and I weep.  I rejoice for the rest I will experience for eternity because of Christ.  But at the same time I weep for those who know not Christ.  For they will spend eternity never experiencing rest.  The smoke of their torment arises forever and ever.

Question, “How are you responding to what you see?”  Dear Father, “Help us to see as you see and help us to share and you want us to share.”

Who Can Fight Against The Enemy? (Revelation 13)

August 21, 2012

“Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” Revelation 13

For some of you the name Lolo Jones does not ring a bell, but for those who watched the Olympics her name stands out.  Lolo participated as a hurdler in this years games.  She finished fourth in her best event.  But this was the not the news I am referring to.  Lolo is a follower of Christ who has found herself in a place of great media craze as she has taken her stand for Christ.  Such media as the New York Times and Sports Illustrated have tried to degrade her stand on sex, moral values, and her stand for Christ.

Certainly Lolo is not alone in her stand.  There are millions of Christians whose daily lives are under the scrutiny of a darkened world and a diabolical enemy.  We see this enemy at work in chapter 13 of the book of Revelation.

I remind you that this chapter is on the heels of chapter 12 that speaks about our enemy being defeated. Some would consider this chapter to be an oxymoron, but it is not.  In chapter 12 we see and overview of our Sovereign Lord’s control.  Here in chapter 13 we find a description of our enemy. Here is and outline to follow:

1.  Our enemy is formidable, Vs: 1-4

2.  Our enemy is furious, Vs: 5-10

3.  Our enemy is focused, Vs: 11-18

Our enemy has two main ambassadors, “The antichrist and the false prophet.”  Both of these ambassadors have a two-fold Goal:  1) Magnify Satan himself.  2) Establish a one-world government.  As one reads the headlines and follows the trajectory of our world it is easy to see this coming into play.

But we who are followers of Christ find great reason to rejoice and praise our God in this time.  Maybe you ask, “How could you make such a statement?”  The answer is clear.  All that is happening in chapter 13 is by divine permission of God.  We see such descriptions as, “Given authority, It was allowed, and authority was given.”  These are subtile reminders that God is in charge.

Lolo Jones and every Christian who is suffering today can take heart that God is on the throne and he is working everything for his purposes.  Brothers and sisters rest your weary souls in the truth that our God is over all you are facing.  Rejoice in the truth that victory is and will be yours in Christ alone!

A Defeated Enemy (Revelation 12)

August 20, 2012

“Now war arose in heaven…” Revelation 12:7

This morning I arose to once again see the light of a new day.  A day in which I truly know that our God is firmly seated on the throne in heaven.  But here on earth it seems that things are not so easy.  There is the news of Syria’s wars and Iran’s plans for the destruction of Israel.  We see the war between opposing combatant’s for the presidency here in the US.  In Romania our partners in ministry are dealing with the corruption in government.  Finally our partners in Malawi Africa are dealing with economic chaos as well as families starving throughout the country.

These are only a few of the headlines on earth.  But in the midst of all of this we find awesome news from God’s Word.  We serve a great and mighty God who has already defeated our enemy.  Here is the outline from Revelation 12:

1.  We see a victorious Savior, Vs:1-6

John reminds us that our Savior came to this earth and faced and enemy who tried to divert Jesus from the cross. Once he could not accomplish this, he tried to destroy Jesus with the cross.  He did not realize he could not conqueror Jesus.

2.  We see a defeated enemy, Vs: 7-17

John records Satan being cast out of heaven.  Soon he will be cast into hell.  John records how Satan is conquered in our lives, “He is conquered by the blood of the lamb.”  

In all of this we rejoice.  But there is a footnote that we must read, “But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the Devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows his time is short.” 7:12.

Our enemy (though already defeated) is still fighting one last battle.  His desire is to destroy all who walk with Christ.  Until Jesus comes we will engage in battles with this enemy.  We have the assurance that victory will be ours in Christ.

Today, I challenge you to fight from a position of victory.  Trust in Christ.  Be encouraged in Christ.  Even when it seems as if all hope is gone, rejoice because the victory will be yours in Christ.