Archive for May, 2014

Finally, some good news (Revelation 1, Isaiah 31)

May 30, 2014

“Behold a King will reign in righteousness…” Isaiah 32:1

This morning I found the greatest of encouragement as I turned my Bible to both my Old and New Testament readings.  In both passages I was turned away from the bad news of this world to the good news that comes from the world above, “Mainly the throne where God is firmly seated!!!”

Question:  “How much bad news have you taken in this week?”  For me, it has been a lot.  Here is my assessment of what I have taken in, “We live in a broken world with broken people who have broken ways of living life.”  

In this moment we know that such thinking often will pull us down from the correct perspective of life.

This is why you and I must daily fill our minds with the Word of God.  God’s Word is life to us and in the context of Revelation one, “A blessing to all who read and obey what is in the word.”

Think it through:

In Revelation one we are reminded of three abiding truths:

1.  We are blessed to know that Jesus will soon redeem all the broken things in our world.

2.  We are blessed to know that Jesus has already redeemed us (Those who have responded correctly to the gospel).

3.  We are blessed to know that Jesus will soon return for us (Those who are His).

Because of this we can have a great response to all that is wrong in the world, “We can fear not…”

Our response:

We see the one who is firmly planted on the throne and we know that He is sovereignly in charge of the events of this life.  We can trust Him and we can truly give our world the good news they so desperately need.

So on this Friday, you have good news.  Believe it and share it with all you meet today!!!

Taking Your Stand (Jude 1, Isaiah 30)

May 29, 2014

“… I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”  Jude 3

Question, “have you found it necessary to stand up for your faith?”  The answer for me is a “Resounding yes!”  Our’s has become a society that is ever learning but unable to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For many years there was a great divide between the understanding of those who attended church versus those who did not.

However, the divide is no longer there in many churches today.  It seems as if many pastors and teachers have chosen to move to the secular viewpoints of life.  Today, we have churches and pastors who spend their time seeking to tear down what the Bible clearly teaches.  I often want to say, “Just turn in your Bible.”

It was the same way in the life and times of Jude (Half-brother of Jesus).  There were false teachers in his day as in ours.  Jude writes a compelling letter charging the church to “Content for the faith.”

Think it through:

Who are we to contend with, Vs: 4, 16?  We are to contend with false teachers who are leading people astray.

Why do we contend, Vs: 5?  People who do not believe will be destroyed forever in the lake of fire.

We see examples of this already taking place in history:  Israel in the wilderness, Angels who were cast out of heaven, Sodom and Gomorrah to name a few.

How do we contend, Vs: 17-23?

1.  We build up our faith (We study and grow in our walk with Christ)

2.  We pray in the Spirit (God must lead)

3.  Love must increase (We must grow in the love of God)

4.  We are looking for Christ return (He in mercy will some day return)

5.  Reach out to the Lost (Mercy, aggressive, and grace filled)

Our response:

We ask ourselves, “Can we do this?”  Our answer should be, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,”

Each day God gives us opportunities to share the Word of God.  I pray that each of us take those opportunities with the most serious of responsibility.  Unless we stand up there will be no one to take the stand for the gospel.

Life Beyond This Moment (Isaiah 29, III John)

May 28, 2014

“Therefore, behold; I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder….” Isaiah 29:15

If I could just get beyond this moment!  The grief of this moment was consuming the survivors of a recent tornado.  These survivors had much to thank God for, but in the moment, all they could see was what they had lost.

Question, “Are you struggling with life beyond this moment?”  Or maybe you are trying to help someone get beyond this moment in their lives?

Consider the people of Israel in the time of Isaiah.  Two things stand out in this moment in time:

1.  Their devastation stemmed from their polluted heart, Vs: 13

“Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, ‘Who sees us? Who knows us?'”

Here were a people who thought they had both covered their tracts (Vs:15) and had offered acceptable sacrifice (Vs:13).  But they were discovering that nothing is hidden from God.

2.  Their destruction stemmed from the throne room of heaven, Vs: 1-9

The sovereign Lord has seen enough rebellion and now it was payday.  “You turn things upside down!  Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me.” Vs: 16

Think it through:

The disasters in our world comes not as God’s problems but as ours.  We are living in an evil world with evil people who are doing evil things.  The disasters come as a result of a fallen world.

The truth is, “If this is all there is, we have no hope.”  But there is hope beyond this moment!!!

Isaiah looks ahead in time to the moment when hope would arise.  “The Holy one of Israel will come.”  This hope is Jesus Christ, Isaiah 61:1.  In His coming there would be hope, “In that day the deaf will hear the words of a book, and out of the gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.  The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exalt the Holy One of Israel.

Good news brothers and sisters, “The Holy One has come and He is coming again!!!”

Our response:

The one who came is calling all people to come to Him.  This is our first step beyond this moment.  When sin is removed, one can see clearly to the future.

The one who came is calling all people to serve Him.  This is our second step beyond this moment.  People who turn must in turn live for Him.

The one who came will someday come again.  This is our third step beyond this moment.  We must live with joyous anticipation looking for His return!!!

Losing what you worked for (II John 1, Isaiah 28)

May 27, 2014

“Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward,” II John 1:8

Last evening I encountered a person, while on visitation, who said, “You Baptist’s have sent many people to hell by your doctrine.”  In particular he was referring to the theological stand on God’s ability to keep saved those in who He saves.

I was reminded of the conversation as I came to II John 1:8.

This is John’s second letter by which he is still proving the need of true faith in Jesus Christ as both the Son of God and the Son of Man (coming in human flesh).

John is once again warning his readers not to listen to false teachers who would lead them astray.

Think it through:

I.  True followers of Jesus walk in truth, Vs: 4

Such people love His commandments and they love each other.

II.  True followers of Jesus war in truth, Vs: 5

Such people are so versed in the commandments of God, that they know false teaching and false teachers when they hear them.

Case in point, “The person I was talking too simply was off base in what they were saying.”  They were struggling to understand true salvation.  True salvation is a work totally of God (Eph. 2:8-9).  This work is so complete that the person who is saved will stay saved because God has transformed their lives in order that they might live in a different way (I John 3:2-3).

But what about those who leave and seemingly lose what they have worked for?  I remind you of John’s earlier words, “If they had been of us, they would have remained with us, but they went out from us because they were not of us.”  

We must be careful to understand true salvation.  But we must also be careful to understand true sanctification.  Once God places you in His family, you must both walk and war in your faith.

Our response:

“We will receive the reward for our work according to our labor,” I Cor. 3:8

This is how I know (Isaiah 27, I John 5)

May 26, 2014

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments,” I John 5:2

Question, “Have you ever tried to convince someone to change their mind about something they are convinced about?”  It is like trying to talk a lion out of its evening meal, “it’s not going to happen.”

Before us is John’s concluding chapter in the epistle of I John.  John has been writing (under the anointing of God) so that we might know that we have eternal life.  John is convinced about the things he is writing and no one could convince him of the opposite.

Consider with me three things that you and I can come to know in chapter 5:

1. We can know that we are overcoming the world, Vs: 1-5

John writes that we do not overcome through our might or through our wisdom.  We overcome through two things: 1. Faith in the Son of God, 2. Obedience to the commands of God

2.  We can know that we have eternal life, Vs:6-13

This eternal life happens through the work of the Living Word, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”   This eternal life is made clear through the written word, “These things have been written so that you might know…”

3.  We can know that we have answered prayer, Vs: 14-18

When we obey the commands of God because we know God, we are assured that God will grant our requests because we are asking according to the will of the one we are loving and obeying.  In this we know!!!

Think it through:

Is it possible to convince someone of the opposite view when they are convinced they are right?  The answer is yes, “if you can prove the opposite.”  Here is an example, “Someone who is being overcome by the world, hears the message of the gospel.  If they surrender their lives to Jesus, then and only then will they have the power to overcome the world.”

Brothers and sisters, I have seen this many times in my life.  This is how I know it to be true.

Our response:

This day I believe God is able to change men’s lives.  This is why I am approaching this day as one who knows, “Our victory is in Jesus and through Him, we can overcome the world.”  

From the pen of a man who was there (I John 1, Isaiah 23)

May 22, 2014

“This is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” I John 1:5

Last week I had the honor of ridding to a funeral with one of my deacons.  As we travelled, he shared stories from his life.  I found myself in amazement as he talked about being a military brat.  This now seasoned man of faith spoke with vivid memories of spending 1946-1948 in Germany with his father and mother.  He spoke of the devastation of the German people and the military trials that are famous the world over.  I listened with great care as he still remembered the great hurt of the people of Germany.

Question, “How much value do you and I place in the words of someone who was there?”  Today’s scripture is from I John 1.  These words come from the pen of a man who had first-hand knowledge of Jesus Christ.  He walked with Jesus and He ministered with Jesus.  Most importantly He heard the message of Jesus.

Now John is writing so that you and I might come to know the truth of who Jesus is.

Think it through:

1.  God is light

John is teaching us of both the deity and sinless purity of Jesus Christ.  John understood that Jesus was equal with God because He was and is God.  John understand by watching and walking with Jesus that he was sinless.  In this Jesus could purchase our redemption.

2.  In Him there is no darkness

The fact is, “humanity is born in the darkness and will remain in the darkness unless the light is given to them.”  John reminds his readers that Jesus is God and he has brought perfect light to people who are in the darkness because of sin.

Our response:

Because of what we have read, John challenges us to respond in both truth and trust.  In truth we must admit we are not God and we are not sinless.  We are in the dark.  We must repent of our sin before God.  In trust, we must believe His payment for sin is sufficient before God.  We must believe He has the power to wipe out the debt for our sin and that He will forgive our sin.

When we walk in truth and trust, we walk in the light as he is in the light.

This light is so strong that we will never leave or forget this light.  It was almost this same way with my brother deacon who had been so impacted by what he had seen.  May Jesus be even more impactful in our lives.

It’s all up to you (Isaiah 22; II Peter 3)

May 21, 2014

“The Lord of hosts has revealed himself in my ears: surely this iniquity will not be atoned for you until you die, says the Lord of Hosts.” Isaiah 22:14

The weight was more than I could bear, my flesh was making it worse as thoughts of what was ahead filled my every thought.  To make matters worse, the enemy was throwing every obstacle before my eyes.  In this moment I thought, “It’s all up to me.”

Question:  “Can you identify with the previous scenario?”  The fact is, many people find themselves enduring times of great mental, spiritual, and even physical suffering because they attempt to do life all by themselves.

Think it through:

Isaiah is writing about the weight that is about to be placed on Judah because of her desire to do life all by herself.  In this chapter we see the fall-out of such living:

1.  These people were trusting in leaders that would run away when judgment came, Vs: 3

A true person of God would do as Isaiah did in weeping over the sin and judgment of their people.

2.  These people were choosing to ignore the coming judgment, Vs:12

They focused on eating and drinking in the joy of the moment.

3.  These people would not be able (on their own) to atone for their sin, Vs: 14

It seems that no one understood what position they found themselves in!!!  It seems that no one was willing to admit they needed help from an outside source!!!

Brothers and sisters, it is much the same way today as we encounter people who place their hopes in things that place them in the position to have to make atonement for their own sins.

Here is the bottom line, “All will come up short.”

Our response:  

You and I must come to the place where we admit we are unmanageable in our own strength.  You and I must come to the place where we submit to Jesus Christ who is the only one who can atone for our sins.  He also is the only one who can give us the power to overcome sin!!!

Praise God, it is all up to Him!!!

Responding to bad news (Isaiah 21, II Peter 2)

May 20, 2014

“Then he who saw cried out; upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord, continually by day, and at my post I am stationed whole nights.”  Isaiah 21:8

Last week I read the story of a recent finding according to experts in the field of earthquakes.  Their prediction was simple this, “California will face an earthquake on the scale of at least 7.5 in the fifty years.”  The article continued with these words, “thousands will die,”

As I read those words, “the weight of the news became heavy on me.”  I found myself asking, “What should my response be to the news I had heard?”

In Isaiah 21 we find these beginning words, “The oracle (weight) concerning the wilderness of the sea.”

Isaiah is in the middle of his writings concerning the judgment of God upon the nations of the world.  As he writes we see the appearance of a strange word, “oracles.”  This Hebrews word speaks of a great weight on the person’s heart who is tasked to share this word.

Think it through:

1.  Isaiah is in pain because of this news, Vs:3

Isaiah openly weeps and is openly in mourning over what is about to happen to Babylon’s people.  Here me clearly, “Babylon’s people.”  God will judge Babylon and in Babylon are people.  Just like Isaiah you and I must know that God is going to destroy the evil system in our world (Like Babylon), Rev. 17-18.

2.  Isaiah is proactive because of the news, Vs: 8, 11-12

Isaiah does not just stand on the sidelines and watch as Jonah did (Jonah 4).  He actively engaged in the proclamation of the word of God.  This morning I want to join Isaiah by engaging my city with the gospel.

Our response:

This very day the news of God’s judgment could come true. This very day, God could return.  I must not be silent and I must not sit on the sidelines.  Help us Lord to engage everyone with the gospel while we have this day!!!

Now That You Have Escaped (II Peter 1, Isaiah 19-20)

May 19, 2014

“By which He has granted to us His precious and very great promised, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desires,” II Peter 1:4

Years ago I remember being introduced to the older movie, “The great escape.”  This movies setting was in a concentration camp in WWII.  The allied troops are planning a great escape.  The movie chronicles their efforts and their escape.  I wish the movie would have ended here.  But the movie continues by showing us how that almost all the escapes fail in their efforts.

This morning I was reminded of this movie as I read Peters words, “Having escaped the corruption that is in the world.”  In context Peter is writing to believers who have “obtained a faith of equal standing.”  

Two things stand out:

1.  They have been delivered by the power of Jesus, Vs: 1-4

2.  They were now being directed to live in the power of Jesus, Vs: 5-15

Think it through:

How many people seem to come to Jesus but then seem to never escape the corruption that is in the world?  Let’s get personal, “How often do we seem (who are followers of Christ) to get trapped by the corruption that is in the world?”  Could it be that we have the same problem as the prisoners of war in the movie The Great Escape?  The problem being, “They did not have a perfect plan.”

But on the other side of this we discover that our God does have a perfect plan.  He has given us His Word as the perfect guide for our lives.  Here is how Peter describes God’s Word, “As a lamp shinning in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart.”

Until Jesus comes, you and I have been given God’s full proof escape plan!!!

Our response:

It is at this point that we must apply what we have read.  In I Peter 1:5-9 we discover no less than 7 disciples that we are to daily dedicate ourselves to.  If we do, we will have success in our lives.

Your take away is to spend time in discovering what these 7 disciples require of your life.

Ps. I look forward to seeing my fellow escapees on the other side!!!

The Lord Has spoken (That’s enough for me) Isaiah 14, I Peter 2

May 15, 2014

“The Lord of hosts has sworn: As I have planned so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,” Isaiah 14:24

There are days when it seems that the voices in our world are anything but encouraging.  The voice of the news says, “there is unrest in the world.”  The voice of economics cries out, “Things do not look good.”  The voice of government cries out, “You can trust us.”  The voice of evil speaks, “We are in charge and you cannot stop us.”  Finally the voice of doubt whispers, “You will not make it.”

However, there is another voice that is crying out even louder.  It is the voice of God that says, “I got this!”  Brothers and sisters, “The Lord has spoken, and that is enough for me.”

Consider the Lord’s Word to Judah in Isaiah 14.  This word was delivered by the prophet Isaiah.  Judah was in exile for her sin, but God promised I will have compassion and chose you once again. 

If this promise was going to be realized, the oppressors of Judah would have to be removed.  This is exactly what God would do.  In Isaiah 14 God speaks directly to Babylon.  He makes two promises, 1. Death awaits, Vs: 5-9 2.  Death is assured, Vs: 11-17

Think it through:

Do you and I believe the Lord who has spoken?  As I look back through history, I have discovered that God has always accomplished what He has said.  This leads me to two gigantic truths:

1.  The God who speaks is the voice of assurance, Vs: 24 “The Lord of hosts has sworn: As I have planned, so shall it be.”

2.  The God who speaks is the voice of authority, Vs; 26-27 “His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?” 

Our response:

As we hear all the voices around us we can be assured that there is a great voice of assurance who speaks with authority.  We can trust Him.  We must turn to Him (Rev. 1:13-16).  We must daily listen to Him (Hebrews 2:1).

Let us proclaim with all the saints of old, “We trust in the Lord who has spoken!!!”