Archive for June, 2014

Its Free (Isaiah 62; Matthew 10)

June 30, 2014

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received with paying; give without pay.” Matthew 10:8

It was an amazing thing to be a part of.  Even though I have seen it many times before, it is always so amazing.  Yes, two Sundays ago I watched as God opened the eyes of two sinners to their need of Salvation.  It was amazing to see both their brokenness (over their sin) and their blessing (in being cleansed from their sin).

I was also amazed in that God had allowed me to be His mouth peace in sharing the good news of the gospel which is free to all who come to Jesus.  This Jesus is the one who has paid the price for our sins so that we could come freely to Him (Isaiah 55:1).

This morning you and I are reminded of these truths as we read the account of Jesus sending out the disciples on their first assignment in the gospel.  Here is what we discover:

Think it through:

I.  They were to deliver a message.

What was this message, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Jesus has come to bring not the kingdom to this world, but to prepare people for the Kingdom that is to come.

II.  They were given details of their mission.

They were reminded that the gospel was free, Vs: 18, but the mission would be costly.  God promises that He would provide for their needs.  But He also reminds them that not everyone will come to the free gift of salvation.

III.  They were challenged to be faithful in the difficulties of the mission.

They would face unfair treatment.  But they were to remain faithful because in the end they would be victorious in the gospel.  “You who endure to the end will be saved.”  

Our response:

Brothers and sisters, our response must be of surrender to the call of the gospel.  We have received the gospel and now we must freely give ourselves away so that the gospel will freely go forth (Vs: 37-39).

Certainly this is not an easy assignment for us.  But God has promised to be for us and to go before us (Vs: 40-42).  God has promised a great reward to those who freely give themselves to the gospel.

I want to challenge you to freely give yourself to God.  When you do so, you will be free to do the work that brings the greatest results known to man, “Salvation by grace through faith.”

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The Only Hope For The Wicked (Isaiah 59, Matthew 7)

June 27, 2014

“And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, declares the Lord.”  Isaiah 59:21

This past week I read the unnerving story of the wicked behavior of the former mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin.”  Ray was the mayor of the city during the cities most horrific days of enduring the aftermath of a hurricane.  He was convicted on Feb. 12 of 20 counts of fraud, bribery, and money laundering.  His actions could net him 20 years in federal prison.

Brothers and sisters, this mans story is indicative of the wickedness in our world.  One would think that leaders who have the people’s trust would live in right ways, but we forget that leaders are not our hope.  Our hope must be placed somewhere else.

Consider the following:

1.  The people in Isaiah’s day were enduring the onslaught of bondage because of their wickedness, Isaiah 59:1-2, 11-15

God was able to save them, Vs: 1, but they would not align themselves with God, so God placed them in bondage.

2.  The people in Isaiah’s day were given an encouraging option, Vs: 16-21

There would be a redeemer who would come, Vs: 20 (His name is Jesus).  Rom. 11:26

The Holy Spirit would come, Vs: 21.  He would empower them to live in a different way, Heb. 10:16.

Think it through:

The only hope for our world is Jesus!!!  We each amen this, but do we really live this way?  It seems that we often place our faith in people and in things.

The crucial moment of decision comes to our world every day, “But as many as believe on him, he gives them the right to become Children of God.”  

Our response:

In every wicked situation you face, the answer is Jesus!!!  This means, when you help a friend at work, you first must point them to Jesus.  This means, when you council with a person in trouble in their marriage, you first must point them to Jesus. This means, when you are dealing with rebellion in your children, you first must point them to Jesus.

Jesus is the only hope for the wicked (like me).

A Lesson about the small things (Matthew 6, Isaiah 58)

June 26, 2014

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith,” Matt. 6:30

Sometimes the smallest of things and the smallest of people can be used of God to illustrate great truth.  For example, In Matthew 6 Jesus is teaching His disciples about authentic Christian living.  In Vs: 25-34 we discover authentic Christian living includes being able to serve the Lord in an unhindered way.

Here is the deal, “If you are living in worry, you are hindered from Kingdom living.”

Think it through:

1.  There are those who can never focus on what God is calling them to do because they are always focused on their own needs and desires, Vs: 25

2.  There are those who can never walk in faith because they are always in the rocking chair of worry.  Always, there is something to do, but never getting anywhere, Vs: 26-28

3.  There are those who can never walk in faith because they are trapped in the passions of the world, Vs:30-32

4.  But there are many who learn to trust in the God who cares about the small things!

The fact is, the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, and the grass all find a gracious God who cares for them.  How much more does God care for you!!!

Our response:

This very day we should have great peace in knowing how much He loves us.  This very day we should reach out in faith to do the very things worry has kept us from for years.  May we learn to trust in God with all of our heart!!!  Yes, you can do God’s work with the assurance that all our needs will be met.

Going All The Way (Matthew 5; Isaiah 57

June 25, 2014

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. 5:20

As Jesus sits on the Mountain side somewhere beside the Sea of Galilee, he gives a message that will alter the landscape of the preaching in his day and every day since.  The scribes and Pharisees (Vs: 20) were teaching the law of God with a bend to make allowances for their personal bias.  We see 6 illustrations of this in Vs: 21-48.  Each time Jesus began with, “You have heard it said..”  Six times Jesus corrects the errors of these teachers who were changing the meaning of the law to fit their own sin.  But Jesus speaks in complete obedience to the law of God (Vs: 17-19)

Think it through:

“The condition of ones heart determines His or Her going part of the way or all the way in obeying the commands of God.”

Question: ”  What is the condition of your heart?”  Could it possibly be true that we deceive ourselves into believing that we are totally in line with the Word when we may not be?  Here is a simple check list:

1.  The heart must have the right attitude before God, Vs: 3-11

2.  The heart must have the right assignment before God, Vs: 12-16

3.  The heart must have the right alignment, Vs: 17-20

Our response:

Lord help us to align our hearts with you so that we will have the right attitude toward all of your commandments.

Your Included (Isaiah 56; Matthew 4)

June 24, 2014

“The Lord Hod, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered,” Isaiah 56:8

I had not thought of it is 35 years, but it came back to my mind in a fresh way.  There I was, an 8 year-old-boy standing on a dirt field with 30 or 40 other kids my age.  Our teacher chose two team captains and said, “pick your teams for the kick-ball game.”  My heart sunk because I knew what was about to happen.  I just knew I would either not be chosen or I would be at the end of the line.  There I stood in shame as player after player was selected.  Finally, it got down to me and one other kid. To my shock, my name was called.  Well at least I thought, I was not the last to be chosen.

Question:  “Do you sometimes find yourself, feeling as if you have no worth?”  Consider this fact, “You are loved by the Creator of the Universe.”  You are loved so much that this Creator sent His Only Son to purchase your freedom from sin and to purchase you a place on God’s team!!!

Think it through:

In Isaiah 56 the prophet is predicting the return of his people into the land of promise (Picturing for us the day when the Lord will call His people to their eternal home).  Here is how he described the moment, “For soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.”

In Israel’s mind she believed she would be the only one who would be saved.  But for those who were not Jews, there was good news, “By the blood of Christ you will be included.”  “But now in Christ you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ,” Ephesians 2:12

When a person is joined to the Lord he or she is redeemed and made righteous before God.  In this moment we realize, “No matter how small or great we are, God includes us in the family of God.”

Our response:

This day I am reminded that I have been loved by the King.  This day I am resting in the love of God.  This day I am resolved to tell others that God wants them to be included in His family!!!

The Gospel’s power (Isaiah 55; Matthew 3)

June 23, 2014

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the things for which I send it.” Isaiah 55:11

Here they were, 100 children that were coming to VBS for the very first time.  Our church was in many ways not ready for the extra 100 children that came last week.  But they came and our church did the one thing we knew to do, “We proclaimed the beauty and blessing of the gospel.”  In the end we saw the power of God as 30 children responded to the gospel.

Consider this fact, “The gospel never returns without results.”

Think it through:

This was an amazing fact that is communicated by Isaiah in chapter 55.  As you read this chapter you will once again be captured by the amazing prophetic understanding of Isaiah concerning the coming ministry of Jesus!!!  Isaiah once again looks ahead to Jesus ministry and shows us His wonderful covenant work.  Consider the following:

1.  God’s grace has always been free, Vs: 1-5

We are reminded that salvation is a gift that cannot be purchased with money.  Men strive to purchase things that do not satisfy.

2.  God’s grace always bears fruit, Vs: 6-11

God’s grace always reaches out to men and gives them the call, “To seek the Lord.”  Often men are confused about the call.  The Lord calls men in many different circumstances, but always the experience of grace comes in the same way.  Men are called to forsake their way and come to the Lord who will abundantly pardon.

Everyone who comes to Jesus, by grace, is changed by the Lord.

Our response:

The obvious response should be the same as the prophet Isaiah.  We must be giving the invitation for people to come to Jesus.  Here is the deal, “If we proclaim grace, people will be saved.”  If we practice grace, we will be changed.”

In the New Testament we see the struggle of so many of the Jewish people to understand this.  For example, in John 6 we see a great crowd following Jesus. John 6:27-35.  But at the end of the day, they did not want grace, they wanted something else.  God’s power to save was there, but men chose to follow a different path.  Today I pray that men and women the world over will come and accept the invitation of grace.  This is what I am going to give myself to in this day!!!

“Forever,” Revelation 22; Isaiah 52

June 20, 2014

“And night will be no more.  They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”  Rev. 22:5

Just how long is forever?  This question has been debated so many times, but the best description I ever hear was as follows:  “In the time that it would take a raven to carry all the sand from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean one beak at a time, this is how long one day will be in forever.”  This is an amazing fact considering that most of us are only living for the moment.

Consider John’s last recorded Revelation found in Revelation 22.  After God has redeemed the world through the removal of Satan and the removal of all rebels, we see the beauty of forever.

Think it through:

I.  John sees the river of life, Vs: 1-5

This river pictures the life given to us in Christ (John 7:37-39).  Those in forever have experienced the curse being removed.  Those in forever will live with all the accursed things removed.  This is truly eternal life.

II. John speaks of the coming of the ruler of life, Vs; 6-10

Before He comes those who think nothing of forever will be living in their evil state.  They will still be doing evil.  But those in whom God has brought to eternal life, they will do right!

III.  The right to life, Vs; 14-22

John reminds us that it is because of the blood of Jesus that we have been given the right to life.  In the forever we will be able to drink of the water of life, forever and ever!!!

This is an amazing reality to those of us who are dealing with the mortality of our flesh.  There will be no forever in this flesh. But praise be to God, there is forever in Christ.

Our response:

Cease making plans for the temporary and begin to daily live in light of the forever.

Getting your share (Revelation 20, Isaiah 50)

June 18, 2014

“Blessed and holy are the one who shares in the first resurrection!  Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a 1000 years.”  Rev. 20:6

Question; “When will you and I get what we deserve?”  This is an amazing question in light to what is ahead for our world.

Revelation 20 gives us three events that are still to come in our society:

1.  1000 year reign of Christ, Vs: 1-6

Satan will be seized and sealed (Will deceive the nations no longer).  The Saints will rule and reign with Christ for a 1000 years.  All those who have died in Christ will be raised to rule.

2. One last moment of rebellion against Christ, Vs: 7-10

Satan will be released to deceive the nations.  Satan will be released to be destroyed by fire from heaven.

3.  The Great White Throne Judgment of Christ, Vs: 11-15

All those who have walked on the earth, in every generation, will appear before the Great and Awesome God who is on the throne.  All will get their share of the fruit of their labor, “And anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Think it through:

Satan finally gets what is his share for what he has done since the beginning of time.

Sinners finally get what is their share for what they have done in living a life in rebellion against God.

These two thoughts alone cause me to ponder the why of my personal acquittal from getting what I deserve.  The fact is the one on the throne in Rev. 20 was the one who took my punishment on the cross! Here is how Isaiah described that moment in time, “He gave His back to those who strike, and His cheeks to those who pull out the beard,” Isaiah 50:6.

Brothers and sisters, we will never get what we deserve (our share) because we have been delivered from the wrath to come by the precious sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

Our response:

We must live as both a forgiven and focused people.  We should be joyous and holy in our character because we have been forgiven.  We should be intentional in our witness because all around us are people who are about to get their share of what they deserve.

“Maybe you are reading this blog for the first time and you are for the first time hearing about what you are going to receive in the future.  I want to challenge you to consider the cross and what it represents about your life.  I want to challenge you to consider Jesus who went to the cross.  I want to plead with you to surrender your life to Jesus.”  

A light to the nations (Isaiah 49; Rev. 19)

June 17, 2014

“I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”  Isaiah 49:6

In a recent article my missionary partner Brother Ovi wrote and article entitled, “The word as 100 people.”  You can find the complete article at http://www.mission2malawi,com

Here is an exert from the article:

“In June the world’s population passed 7,238,000,000 people.  To better understand the world’s problems we reduce the 7 billion to just 100 people.  50 men and 50 women who ages range from the following: 26 were ages 0-14, 66 aged 15-64 and 8 were over 65.  33 were Christians, 22 muslims, 14 Hindu, 7 Buddhists, 12 other religions, and 12 atheist.  13 have no access to safe drinking water and 87 have access.  48 live on less than 2 Us dollars a day.  1 lives in hunger, 15 are malnourished and 63 eat properly.  More than three-quarters of the population live in spiritual darkness.  The question is: “What do we do now?”

This brief article challenged me to the very core of who I am as a follower of Christ.

In Isaiah 49 we are reminded of the two glorious comings of Jesus Christ.

I. Isaiah prophecies of the first coming of Jesus in Vs: 1-6

Jesus came and suffered rejection and suffered the ruin of the cross for the nations of the world

II.  Isaiah prophecies of the Second Coming of Jesus in Vs: 6-26

One day the Redeemer of Israel will come and the nations of the world will bow before Him.  He will establish peace on the earth.  But until then He is building a place for us (Vs: 19-21).  Oh glorious day when the Lord returns.

Think it through:

We are living in a world of 7 billion people who are in between the first and Second Coming of Jesus.  The question that rings out is this, “What will we do now?”

Our response:

“Thus says the Lord: “In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you…” Isaiah 49:8.  

This verse is quoted by Paul in II Corinthians as his plea for people to come to Jesus in the now!!!

You and I must get the gospel to people now!!!  Each day hundreds die and face the wrath of God.  We cannot be idle and we cannot be about our wishes.  It is time that we realize God has called us to be a light to the nations.

 

One Last Call (Isaiah 49, Rev. 18)

June 16, 2014

“Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plaques,”  Rev. 18:4

I remember the moment so distinctly, “I was waiting in the airport for my connection flight.”  I was almost home.  As I sat there I found myself watching the people who were boarding the flight before me.  There were those who were anxious.  They were standing and waiting for the first opportunity to board the plane.  Still there were others who were comfortable waiting.  They knew the routine and they would respond when called.  However there was one person who seemed to not care about the boarding time.  They were so focused on going to the bar that they walked by the boarding gate and did not even hear the calls to board.  Finally the person got up and came to the gate.  But the gate had already closed.  They had been so locked into the moment of worldliness that they never heard the call.

As John records the account of the fall of the world system, it seems as if the people who are a part of the system are caught off guard at the last call.  Notice two things:

1.  In the last days the world system will be totally demonic controlled, Vs: 1-3

2.  In the last days the world system will be totally destroyed because of its corruption, Vs: 4-19

Think it through:

God is going to pay back the world for its daily rebellion, Vs:6.  God will humble a world that in its pride believes it is beyond the judgment of God.

John says this judgment happens in what seems be the span of one hour.  When this judgment comes the people will mourn and they will be at their wit’s end as what to do.

It was the same way with the guy at the gate.  He tried to make the attendant to open the gate.  But it was too late, the plane had left.

Revelation 18 helps us to see that there is coming a day when all that is wrong will be made right.  The question then comes, “What should be my response to all that I see?”

Our response:

We should rejoice for the day (Vs: 20).  Satan will be defeated.  The enemies of God will be destroyed!!!

We should reach out until the day (Vs: 21-23).  The people who are represented in these verses each have a soul that desperately needs the Lord.

I found myself ashamed at the airport because I remember thinking, “This guy got what he deserved because he ignored the calls.”  In that moment I was reminded of the grace of God in awakening my heart to His call.

“Lord, us me to be your mouth peace to give the call to all men to come to Jesus!”