Archive for July, 2017

What we have in Jesus (I Corinthians 1)

July 31, 2017

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge, I Corinthians 1:4-5

It was getting very dark in Malawi.  Our day was complete.  We were back at the Hope For the Future house.  We were taking showers when it happened.  The electricity kicked off.  We checked the breakers and we looked upstairs where brother Ovi lives.  He had electricity.  We wondered, “Why did he have electricity and why did we not?”  The answer was simple. In Malawi you have to prepay for your electrical usage.  At the mission house there were two separate meters. The bottom line was this: Our prepaid electricity had run out.

Question: Will what we have in Jesus ever run out?

Paul begins his letter to the Corinthian church with wonderful truth concerning what we have in Jesus.  There are two things we have in the first 10 verses:

  • We have salvation in Christ, Vs: 1-4.
  • We have every spiritual gift in Christ, Vs: 5-9.

Paul answers our question in verses 8-9 of this chapter:

 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Because of who Jesus is we will never run out of salvation and power to do His work.  This is so empowering to my life today.  Because of Jesus prepayment for our sin we will be sustained guiltless to the end.

Brothers and sisters, feast on these truths as you live out this day.  The Lord has work for you to do in His power.  The Lord has a life for you to live in His power.  Rejoice that you are His and reach out believing in greater things because of what He has done for you.  Nothing is impossible with God.

Whose voice will prevail (Luke 23)

July 27, 2017

23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.  Luke 23:23

They were loud, they were demanding, and they prevailed.  The previous sentence would be an appropriate commentary concerning the attitude of the crowd gathered before Pilate on the day of Jesus crucifixion.

The people in the crowd seemed sure of what they were demanding.  With each cry their voices got louder and louder.  Can you hear their cries, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

Pilate pushed back with, “this man is innocent.,” but to no avail.

So the Son of God, the Son of Man, our Messiah went to the cross.  Question: “Whose voice prevailed?”

Was it the voice of the religious leaders who were according to Matthew’s account, “stirred up the crowds?”  Was it the voice of Satan who was energizing the hate in the crowd?  Or was there another voice?

I believe the voice came from somewhere else.  It was the voice of God from eternity past (Ephesians 1:4).  The voice that said, “I love you enough to go to the cross,” John 3:16.  It was the voice of an obedient Savior who was willing to lay down His life for us.

18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:18

Often people read Luke 23 and feel sorrow as they believe Jesus was the victim of the cruelty of men.  It is true Jesus suffered at the hands of evil men.  But the greater truth is this, “The voice of the Sovereign Lord was in complete control.”

I want to challenge you to read chapter 23 once again with the view of God’s voice being in charge.

I also want to challenge you with this thought: “in the midst of your busy day with competing voices, listen for the voice of the God who is unstoppable!”

The night of all nights (Luke 22)

July 26, 2017

69 But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God. Luke 22:69

To borrow a line from the famous “Band of Brothers” miniseries: “Tonight is the night of all nights.”  Our Lord and Savior has been on a long and laboring journey.  Thirty three years earlier Jesus left the glory of heaven to enter the arena of our broken world.  He has now come to this night.

Here is what is taking place:

  • The trap has been laid by the Devil: “Judas has agreed to betray Jesus.”  Vs: 1-6.
  • The time of the year is the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Jesus as the Son of God is now becoming the Passover Lamb, Vs: 7-13.
  • The time will be memorialized by the “Lord’s Supper.”  Vs: 14-23.
  • The team of disciples will be reward for their faithful service. Vs: 24-30.
  • The team will in this night fall apart. Vs: 31-62

Satan is given permission by God to test (trouble) all the disciples.  All of them will fall away with Peter being the worst in denying the Lord three times.  But there is amazing good news in this night:

  1. Jesus intercedes for the disciples and today He is still interceding for us.  Hebrews. 7:24-25.

This good news lifts my spirits when I have those dark nights in my life.  Yes, at all times our Savior is interceding with God on our behalf.

2. Jesus prayer in the Garden reminds us of His total commitment to our salvation.

No amount of darkness could keep Jesus from winning the victory for us!!!

3. Jesus proclamation before those who were His accusers causes me to leap with joy.

69 But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.

Our Lord humbled Himself and carried the cross. When the night passes and the morning dawns, Jesus will climb Golgotha’s hill.  He will die on the cross and descend into the grave.  There He will lead captivity out of prison.  Three days later, the dawn of a new day will come as Jesus defeats hell, death, and the grave.  He will arise to die not more, I Corinthians 15:20.  This Jesus is now ruling.

No matter how dark the night may become,  He is interceding and He is leading us to victory!!!

I challenge you to daily enter your garden of prayer and cry out to the one who is on the throne interceding for you.  I challenge you to trust in the victory that is coming to your night!!!

A glimpse at the future (Luke 21)

July 25, 2017

27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:27-28

One of my favorite movies is entitled “The Patriot.”  The movie is about the struggles of the Revolutionary war.  One of my favorite scenes is when Mel Gibson joins in son in going to battle.  They are together standing in an abandoned house.  Suddenly they hear cannon fire.  They both run to the back part of the upstairs and look out the window to see two armies marching toward each other.  Gibson looks at his son and says, “War is not glorious.”

The glimpse of the future given by Jesus is not glorious for those who reject Jesus.  But for those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior, the future is glorious for us.

As your read Luke 21 you quickly discover Jesus teaching in the direction of a glimpse into the future battles that are coming:

  • There will be great destruction of life, Vs: 5-10.
  • There will be great persecution of the church, Vs: 11-19.
  • There will be a complete assault on Israel, Vs: 20-24.
  • There will be both natural and political devastation, Vs: 25-26.

When I think about these things, I find myself initially feel both heartbreak and fear.  But a deeper looks brings me to a place of clarity and peace.  I have clarity of the battles that are coming and I have peace because my Redeemer is coming!!!

Here is how Paul directs us concerning this glimpse: Romans 8:23-25.

23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Each day we are to keep one eye on our work and one eye on heaven.  This is what Jesus is directing us to do each day.

Father I pray for the wisdom to have an obsession for the work of the gospel.  Each day I pray for the strength and wisdom to work and wait for the Lord’s return.

What about the renters? (Luke 20)

July 24, 2017

And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. Luke 20:9

By this moment in Jesus earthly ministry we realize the battle has begun.  The forces have come out into the open against Jesus.  Despite their efforts the enemies of Jesus cannot defend themselves from the arrows of truth shot at them by Jesus.

In this chapter I want us to focus on verses 9-18.  Here we read a story well thought through and delivered by Jesus.  The story is about renters.  In this setting, we see the renters are those the Lord has leased the perfect land for producing a harvest.  The owner gives the renters the key to the property and takes a leave so they can work for a harvest, but instead they decide to raise who they want to raise and to do with the fruit as they wish.  But enter side-door the owner.

The religious leaders understand the parable.  They know God created the property.  He assigned the renters.  He expected a return from Israel.  But instead he received a rebellious response.

When the time came for the harvest there was no harvest.  So God sent His Son.  The response was, “Crucify Him.”  The result, “judgment for Israel and life for all who would believe in Jesus.”

Here is what I take away on this Monday morning:

  • Lord, I want to bear a maximum amount of fruit for you.

I want to be able to present the fruit to You God on the day I meet you.  May each day be lived for your glory.  The truth is we are only renters or tenant farmers of what You have given us.

  • Lord, may I work the field with zeal knowing you always bear fruit.

Brothers and sisters, work the field where you live today because you are only a renter of all that belongs to God.  And some day He is coming to take account!!!

Who will love Zacchaeus? (Luke 19)

July 21, 2017

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” Luke 19:5

Luke 19 is very timely in our teams lives as we prepare for round two of camp.  My the time you read this blog, it will be Friday and we will have spent two days with the students of FBC Jackson.

This very text was before me as I shared in devotion with the staff.  The chapter begins with Zacchaeus story.  Here was a guy who was economically prosperous but spiritual impoverished.  In this moment of his life he wants to see Jesus.

Think about this truth:  Here is an economically prosperous guy sitting up in a sycamore tree trying to see Jesus.  No one in the crowd would allow him to stand up front in the crowd because no one liked him.  No one wanted to help the guy who was crooked.

But shock of all shocks, Jesus came to where he was and stopped.  He looks up in the tree.  He tells this man to come down!!!

Jesus filled with love (John 3:16) and focus on redemption (Hebrews 12:3) reached out to Zacchaeus.  Even though he knew who he was, His love and focus led him to call this man.

This story is amazing as we see true joy coming to Zacchaeus life.  Finally something more valuable than silver.  Finally something with eternal value.  Everything changed for Zacchaeus.

Question: “Are there an Zacchaeus’ in your life?  Here was my prayer to God this morning:

“Father cleanse my heart and focus my mind to do your will.  May I love all students as you love students.  Lord open their hearts and minds as you did Zacchaeus’.  Father this is their chosen time.  I pray for all who read this blog to be challenged to love Zacchaeus.”  

“10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Losing heart (Luke 18)

July 20, 2017

18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. Luke 18:1

There they were locked in mortal combat.  The blue against the red.  Both teams needed to win the tug-of-war event to secure the victory.  It was clear from the start that the blue had little confidence.  They were outnumbered and over powered.  One kid said, “this is a hopeless event.”  Such is the life at Children’s Camp!!!

Life sometimes can seem a lot like the camp illustration.  In those moment we can easily lose heart.  Jesus here offers us the simple but powerful answer for our losing heart moments.  He says, “exercise believing prayer.”

Believing prayer places three things in our spiritual tanks:

  • Believing prayer gives us a Godly persistence that merits Godly results, Vs: 1-8.  True faith has results.
  • Believing prayer leads to a Godly perspective that merits a righteous life, Vs: 9-14.  Such faith understands the mercy of God.
  • Believing prayer helps you to live with Godly passion.  This passion merits a harvest of souls, Vs: 15-17.

This day you and I will face moments when we could and might possible lose heart unless we are focused on a life of prayer.  In this context it is so cool to see how a blind beggar employed believing prayer.  The result was a miracle from God.

As I write this blog I have completed a few weeks of major mission work with our church.  I still have 4 days to go.  I feel the weight of it all, but I am not losing heart because I know there are blind beggars that are in my path and I know the power of God is able.

So instead of losing heart I am gaining heart as I anticipate what the Lord is going to do.”  

Talking about temptation (Luke 17)

July 19, 2017

17 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin[a] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! Luke 17:1

The beginning verses of chapter 17 hit me like a wave crashing into my body from the ocean.  I leaped back to my spiritual feet with praise to God for never once being a God who would tempt us to sin.  God is incapable of sin (James 1:13-17).  But when it comes to Keith, I am capable of sin.

Jesus in the most direct way begins the chapter with both a truth and a warning.

The truth is this: “Temptations are a common occurrence in a broken world.”

The warning is this: “Judgment will come to those who are the source of others temptations.”

Thing through this for a moment.  Have you ever been the source of someone else’s temptations?  At first thought you and I would respond with “no.”  But with a deeper look into our hearts we discover a “temptation making factory.”

Each week we may say something that hurts others.  In that moment the person could be tempted to respond in hurt or to hold a grudge that becomes a sinful stronghold in their lives.  Yes, they have their own responsibility for their sin, but according to Jesus we have a part to play.  Each day the Lord is calling us to die to the old man so that the temptation factory stays out of operation.

Before we finish for the day, lets consider the opposite side of the coin.  What happens when people sin against us?  Jesus has a direct answer for us:

We are to handle temptation in the correct way:

  1. We are to rebuke those who sin.
  2. We are to restore those who repent of their sin.
  3. We are to repeat the process over and over.

So no matter which side of the temptation you find yourself on, please follow God’s path to overcome and to lead others to overcome temptation!!!

Why go to camp? (Luke 16)

July 18, 2017

The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abrahams side.  The rich man also died and was buried.  Luke 16:22

How could it be possible that an entire church staff would leave their church weekday responsibilities and travel three hours away and totally host a camp for children and students?  The how is simple, “We believe God wants all people to be saved.”

This week I am serving with our church staff in the hottest week of the year.  Every human thought would be to get out of the heat.  But there is something that drives us to stay in this heat.  You ask, “What could it be?”  The answer, “The fires of hell drive us to stay in the heat of Georgia weather.”

Jesus in Luke 16 is dealing with the same religious crowd that has been trying to stop the ministry of Jesus.  In this chapter Jesus reveals their love for money.  How they were living was an abomination before God.

To clearly illustrate the direction of their lives Jesus gives a parable that is very familiar to us.  This parable illustrates for us two paths in life.  The path to heaven and the path to hell.  The rich man was on the path to hell.  Sadly he arrived right on time.  AT the same time the poor man was on the path to heaven. He also arrived right on time.

Take time this week to write down what you know about heaven and hell.  Last week in Honduras I preached this  passage in a three-point message entitled: “Hell “yes” or “no?”

Jesus teaching helps us to clearly see the path to hell which is paved with both easy and exciting living.  But the end of the path is not what one the rich man expected.

Jesus teaching helps us to clearly see the pain of hell.  Hell has both torment (extreme) and anguish (eternal).  Jesus speaks of the flames.  The word for flame speaks about the blue part of the flame wick is the hottest.  ”

Jesus teaching helps us to clearly see the people of hell.  People in hell are not all bad people.  There are many good people in hell.  But the fact is, they rejected Jesus.  Because of this rejection they are now residing in hell.

That last sentence leads me to go to camp.  The go into our city, to go into our county, state, nation, and the world.  People need the Lord.  The only way people will come to know the Lord is if you and I share the Lord.

So go ahead, “Get out into the heat of life” and rescue those who are headed to a greater heat the heat of hell!!!

Not Your Choice. (Luke 15)

July 17, 2017

The best teachers always repeat things. In Luke 15, Jesus gives three parables that hold similar themes and applications. All three parables were addressed to the Pharisees and Scribes gathered around Jesus at the time. If you are not familiar with all three of the parables, I would almost bet that you at least know the last one Jesus gives. The parable of the Prodigal Son is one of those familiar passages of Scripture that many know, even if they have not spent much time in the Word. It is kind of like Psalm 23 or Jeremiah 29:11 in that many know it, but do we experience the depths of its application like we should?

If you are anything like me, you may have heard quire a few sermons or teachings or even read books about this parable. I do not assume that I’ll add anything profound to your understanding of this parable. But what I do hope is that you’ll see something really humbling that God showed me in this story a little less than a year ago.

Both brothers in this parable attempted to settle things in their mind regarding their situations. However, neither of them had the right to be making the choices they were. Let me explain.

The Prodigal Son

This son decided to take his inheritance early, left his father, and ended up losing all he was given. He was lonely, hungry, and ashamed. As a result of all of this, he says this: I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” The son knows he did not just sin against his earthly father, but also against heaven. But look at the father’s response:

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

The father disregarded the Son’s claim to his new identity because it was not his choice whether he was a son anymore or not.

I do not know where you are in your life or your walk with Jesus. You may feel like you have made too many mistakes or been away for too long. Please hear me when I say: It is not your choice whether you are a son or daughter of your Creator. He chose you and no matter what you do, He will always want, love, and accept you. It is not your choice whether you are still a son or daughter.

The Older Brother

His story is completely different. This brother was faithful. He was obedient. He followed the wishes and desires of his father, unlike his younger brother. However, one day he comes in, after I am sure a hard day’s work, and sees a celebration being thrown like he has never maybe experienced. The worst part is that it is for his unfaithful, irresponsible brother. The older brother gets angry. Look at verse 30: But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him! The older brother will not even acknowledge the prodigal as his brother. Just like the younger brother, the older brother made a choice he had no right to do.

If you and I are honest, there are people in our lives that frustrate us when they get their extra doses of grace or celebration. If you are anything like me, you might get discouraged and upset when a prodigal gets their celebration when you have been nothing but faithful and have not received the same fanfare. It is not our choice whether someone gets welcomed into the Kingdom or celebrated for returning. Instead we should be quick to rejoice with all of heaven over a prodigal coming home. Isn’t this exactly what Jesus was saying in his other two parables, too?

So I do not know where you are today. You may be more in the spot of the Prodigal Son or maybe with the older brother. Either way, know what is not your choice to make.

I am praying for you this morning.

– Beth

It has been an honor to write for my dad this past week. Please be praying for him now as he serves at FBC Jackson’s children and youth camp! Please pray for strength!