Archive for April, 2018

How is it working for you? (I Kings 18)

April 17, 2018

 And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.”  I Kings 18:42-43

A friend had made up his mind to lose weight.  He had been on this weight loss program for more than a month when I talked with him.  I asked, “How it is working for you?”  The brother responded, “Not to well, I have gained six pounds.”  In my shock I asked, “What happened?”  His response sticks deep in my mind, “I was hungry all the time so I ate more than usual.”

Could it be that some plans really turn out differently than we planned? Question:  What is your plan for your life right now?

The prophet Elijah had a plan.  It is a simply plan: “Obey God.”  It is a complex plan: “He had to obey God.”  It was a powerful plan: “He obeyed God.”

This is what we see in His life.  Think about how God said, “obey.”  In chapter 17 Elijah was told to confront wicked king Ahab.  He did in 17:1-6..  God provided for his every need, 17:7-15.  It was a powerful plan as God worked a miracle for food and a miracle of raising the dead.

Thing about what it cost Elijah to obey.  He spent over three years on the run from Ahab, 18:1-14.  But it was an awesome time of God daily working in his life.  There were times when it was just Elijah and God.  But the fire fell from heaven when Elijah prayed.  The rain fell from heaven when Elijah prayed.

Question:  How long has it been since the fire fell (Holy Spirit filled power) and the rain fell (Revival) in your life?

The half-brother of Jesus had something to say about this:  James 5:16-18

 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.[b] 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

God plan for your life is this:

  1. Hear God’s command to obey Him.
  2. Step out in faith and commit to obeying Him.
  3. Live in the power of the Holy Spirit as you obey Him.

Behold, an amazing word (Malachi 3)

April 16, 2018

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.  Malachi 3:1

The prophet Malachi is writing to a wicked people.  A people who have called evil good and good evil (2:17).  The people were wicked in every way including robbing God of tithes of offerings (3:9-10).  The people accused God of unfairness (3:13-18) and they were secretly saying, what is the use in serving the Lord.

To these people Malachi writes, “Behold.”

This is an amazing word, it speaks of something that is worth our full attention.  The word cries out you need this!

What did they need to behold? Two things:

  1. The Lord was sending a messenger to prepare the way.  R.C. Sproul comments: “This would be the last of his kind.” Cited from Pg. 726, “Reformation Study Bible.”  This one would be like Elijah the Prophet, Matthew 11:10.  This is John the Baptist, 4:1-5.
  2. The Lord would then come!  John 1:29; I Peter 1:18-23!

You and I know this has already taken place.  We see it in the rear view mirror of the gospels.  But there is more to Malachi’s prophecy.

This Lord who was coming is still to come again!  When He comes:

  • Israel will be purified, 3:13.
  • Evil and evil people will be judged, 3:15.
  • The righteous will be rewarded, 3:16-18.

Listen to me brothers and sisters.  Behold this truth.  Jesus is coming again.  We must be ready and we must know that God is calling us to make sure our families are ready.  We must make sure our friends are ready.  We must make sure everyone is ready because Jesus is not coming to die on the cross again. He is coming to rule and reign forever!!!

Who is willing (Isaiah 1)

April 13, 2018

“Come now, let us reason[c] together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you shall eat the good of the land; Isaiah 1:18-19

It was about this time last year when I witnessed a sight that I cannot get out of my mind.  Pastor Cary was working with our students in the gym.  It was an evening of truth or dare.  The students were asked to engage in games that required them to each strange things, including worms.  I was amazed at who was willing and who was not willing.

As we come to the last day of our readings for this week, we are in Isaiah 1.  The prophet of God begins with a bold proclamation:

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
    for the Lord has spoken:

The prophet says, I am telling you what the Lord has said.  Here is what the Lord said:

  • The nation has rebelled against God, Vs: 2-4.  They despised the Holy One of Israel.
  • The nation was about to be ruined because of their sin against God, Vs: 5-6.
  • The nation is in a religious nightmare, Vs: 7-15.  They are coming to worship filled with iniquity. 
  • The nation is told to repent, Vs: 16-20.

If the nation would repent they would be redeemed and restored to a place of favor before God.  But the question was, were they willing?  The answer came, they were not willing.

You and I know, Jesus was willing to come to a rebellious world with rebellious people to purchase their redemption, Romans 3:21-26.

What I take away from today is twofold:

  1.  I live in a nation that is just like Israel.
  2. I am called to be an Isaiah to proclaim the truth of the gospel with the world.

 

 

Making a stand in an evil day (Ephesians 6)

April 12, 2018

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:13

One of my favorite classic movies is The Battle of the Bulge. The movie tells the story of Germany’s last attempt to attack in WWII.  At first it seemed as if the offensive would be a success until the Allied army puts it heels in the ground and would retreat no more.  There is one line in the movie that I always claim when I read Ephesians six.  Here is that line: “stop retreating make stand.”

Brothers and sisters, this is exactly what Paul is saying in chapter 6 of the book of Ephesians.  This is Paul’s call to spiritual warfare.  This call is not to be taken lightly nor entered into haphazardly.  Some people do not even realize there is a spiritual war taking place.  But be assured, there really is a war in the heavens.

The Apostle Paul gives us 5 Standard Operating Procedures which will lead to our making a successful stand in the evil day we live in:

  1. Surrender your life to Christ, Vs: 10. “Be strong in the Lord.”
  2. Seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, Vs: 10. “In the power of His might.”
  3. Put on the entire armor of God, Vs: 12-17.
  4. Pray in the Spirit at all times, Vs: 18.
  5. Stay spiritually alert in each moment of your day, Vs: 19.

The Words of Jesus recorded in Mark’s gospel speak volumes here:

32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake.[a] For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants[b] in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows,[c] or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” Mark 13:32-37

When these S.O.P. become a stable part of every day, you will be victorious in this evil day. So, I say to you: “Stop retreating, make stand!”

The needs around us (Luke 10)

April 11, 2018

33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. Luke 10:33

Everyone knows, surely they do?  Everyone knows there are needs all around us.  But do we really?

Luke 10 begins with Jesus appointing 72 men to be His set up team to prepare the way to each place He would come to minister.  These men went two-by-two so that they would mutually support each other and to be able to give witness of what happened.  As they went the following took place:

  • Some people would not repent, Vs: 13-16.
  • Some people did repent, Vs: 17-20.
  • Some people resist repentance by seeking to justify themselves before God, Vs: 25-28.

It is to this third group that Jesus addresses as he speaks to one man.  He tells him a story.  Here are the facts of the story:

  • We see a man who is in great need, Vs: 30.
  • We see two men who ignore the need, Vs: 31-32.
  • We see one man who compassionately cared for the man’s need, Vs: 33-35.

At the end of the story Jesus makes a bold statement: “You go and do likewise in showing mercy.”

Brothers and sisters, without God’s mercy being cultivated in your heart and mind, you will never see the needs around you.  This was so brought to my mind and heart as we did follow-up visits on Monday night.  All of our visits were great, but one now plagues me.  We went to a home that was at best a fire-trap.  As our team left we each felt the weight of their need.  I am now praying, “God show me how to meet the need.”

This very day, I promise you, there are people within sight of your church steeple who have the greatest of needs.  I pray you both see the need and meet the need because of the mercy of God.

A great charge and challenge (II Timothy 4)

April 10, 2018

18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. II Timothy 4:18

Sometimes people’s words to us can cut like a knife, especially when those words are coming from the negativity of someone’s heart.  But the words before us this day are not negative, they are God-inspired words to both a young pastor and the entire church (4:22).

Paul is writing the last words he will ever write in Scripture.  This is the last time God will inspire Him to write His Word.  Paul is very pointed in what he writes.  Two things stand out to me this day:

  • Paul is giving us a charge.  This charge is easy to understand.  Here it is, “Preach the Word.”

Remember, this is not just for Timothy it is for the entire church.  We are each called to preach (proclaim) the Word of God when it is popular and when it is not popular.  The Word has such power.  With it we reprove people (protect them from sin).  With it we rebuke people (We turn them around from their path).  With it we exhort people (We challenge them to serve the Lord).

Paul’s gives us a footnote here:  “When we do this we will go through suffering.”  But the suffering is worth the success that is coming.

  • Paul is giving us a challenge.  The challenge is also easy to understand.  Here it is, “Fulfill your ministry.”

Every believer has specific places where he or she is called to do ministry.  Paul challenges us to do it with a sober mind.  He challenges us to do it with an enduring heart.  Paul challenges us to be engaged in soul-winning.  He concludes this challenge with a strong push for each of us to stay in the race and finish the race of our ministry.

As I sat back in my chair and considered these things I thought: Every step of the way the Lord had walked with Paul.  Every step of the way Paul was successful in giving glory to God.

Then I prayed, Lord lead me to trust in you every moment of my journey.  I know you will see me safely home.  Guide me, direct me, love me, and us me until there is nothing left.  Father I love you for making your aim for my life clear.

I pray this day you hear God’s challenge and God’s charge. I also pray you make it your aim to obey the charge and fulfill the challenge.

Where is He? (Philippians 4)

April 9, 2018

Let your reasonableness[d]be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand, Philippians 4:5

The parents were visibly shaken as they approached me.  The father said, “Pastor Keith we cannot find our son.”  Immediately I wondered if our nursery had misplaced a child.  But that was not what happened.  The parents had picked up their child, but for some reason they let him wander off in the church.  The mother was crying until someone said, “We found him.” Suddenly fear was replaced with thankfulness.

All these years later I still remember the fear in my brother’s eyes.  Question, are there times when we have the same fear when we think God has left us?

In Philippians 4 Paul gives some directions to the church that are so needed in our day.  Here are three of them for your reading:

  • Paul directs the church to rejoice in the Lord, Vs: 4.
  • Paul directs the church to reasonableness of faith, Vs: 5.  This means to rise above offenses and to rise above conflict.
  • Paul directs the church to recognize the Lord is at hand, Vs: 5-6.

It is to this third direction that I want you to focus.  When Paul writes, “The Lord is at hand…” He could be referring to either the Lord’s Second Coming or the Lord’s every abiding presence.  Or it could be both.

Let’s consider this in line with our topic of the Lord’s presence with us at all times.  The Lord’s presence leads us to the following:

  1. We know we are always able to talk with him in prayer, Vs: 6.
  2. We know we can have peace in any circumstance because He is with us, Vs: 7.
  3. We know we can be positive because God is going to work it all out for His glory and our good, Vs: 8-9.

This is so amazing.  No matter where Paul was or what was happening in his life he was content in knowing the Lord was with him and the Lord was at work.  May this be the case in our lives on this Monday!!!

What did you fall into? (I Timothy 6)

April 6, 2018

. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  I Timothy 6:9

As this guy approached our group there was an oder coming from him that was terrible.  guys began to gasp for breath and quickly moved away from the guy.  As we were leaving we asked, “what did you fall into?”  His response, I ran across a skunk and he left his mark on my life.

As Paul concludes his letter to Timothy it is clear the gospel has left its mark on Timothy.  He is a man who has discovered the following, “godliness with contentment is great gain.”

But he also received a strong warning from Paul, “if we have food and clothing, we are to be content.”  

Question: “Are you content this day?”  People who struggle with contentment often fall into patterns that end up being their ruin.  The opposite of contentment is dissatisfaction with life.  When this is happening you will desire things in which you think might make you happy.

Paul warns us that these desire are a snare.  Once you are snared you are trapped in reaching for senseless and harmful desires that will lead to your demise. This is the path of a dissatisfied life!!!

But the opposite is a life that is content with what God has provided.  The question comes to me clearly at this point: “What does my life look like when I am content?’

Vs: 11-16 give us characteristics of such a life:

  • You are pursuing righteousness, Godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.
  • You are fighting for eternal things.
  • You are confessing Christ before the world.
  • You are living in light of His second coming.
  • You are praising the one who saved you.

Brothers and sisters, it is my prayer that God brings each us to this place of godliness with contentment!

Paul’s Viewpoint (Acts 14)

April 5, 2018

27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.  Acts 14:27

This past week I got to go with the brothers to see the movie “The Apostle Paul.”  I was pleasantly surprised at the accuracy of the movie.   There was one theme that stood out to me throughout the movie.  It was Paul’s viewpoint.

As we come to Acts 14 we clearly see his viewpoint.  Paul’s viewpoint was simply this: no matter what battle he faced, he understood it was ultimately a battle for the gospel!

Take a moment and allow this viewpoint to sink in.  Every battle was a battle for the gospel.  

We see this so clearly in Paul’s first missionary journey:

  • We see it in Iconium where Paul with boldness shared the gospel, Vs: 3.
  • We see it in Lystra and Derbe as Paul continued to proclaim the gospel, Vs: 7
    • Paul rejects the worship of men.
    • Paul confronts the people for worshipping vain idols.
    • Paul teaches them of the kindness of God.
    • Paul is stoned, but he revives and continues to preach the gospel, Vs: 21.

Brothers and sisters, do we have any battles before us today?  If so, what is our viewpoint.  I believe we must share Paul’s viewpoint if we are going to be successful in true battles.

Here are three helpful truths for our understanding:

  1. There is a battle raging for the souls of men.
  2. You will face trails as you battled for the souls of men.
  3. You will be given the strength to endure for the sake of the gospel.

Take a few extra moments this morning and ask the Lord to give you a vision of what is taking place behind the scenes of your battles.  Ask the Lord to empower to tear down every thing that has been lifted against God and against you!!!

Jeremiah’s faith for his hometown (Jeremiah 32)

April 4, 2018

27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

Oh how awesome it would have been if Jeremiah could have once again visited his home.  But his present circumstances prevented his travel.  What was his present circumstances?  He was under palace arrest for his prophetic preaching in the city of Jerusalem.

What was he preaching?  “Though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed.” 

How deflating this must have been for the armies of Jerusalem standing on the wall looking out at a sea of military assault led by Nebuchadnezzar.  God had said, they were going into captivity because of their constant rebellion against God, Vs: 23-24, 29-31.

To captivity they would go, but there was hope beyond this moment.  God had told Jeremiah, “I will bring your people back to this land, Vs: 31-34.” 

But to look at the opposing army did not give much hope that this could be.  Maybe there is a circumstance you are facing that looks the same today?  Allow me to encourage you to have the same faith as did Jeremiah.

Jeremiah so believed in God’s promise that he bought a piece of property, redeeming it for his family.  In doing this Jeremiah was giving evidence that he believed in the promises of God!

Brothers and sisters, his faith was well-founded because nothing is impossible with God.  70 years later the people of Israel would be allowed to return home.

Read the next sentence carefully: “Sometimes it takes the faith of the few to move the feet of many.”

I want to challenge you to put all your faith in God’s hands.  Live your life knowing He is in charge of all things, times, and tasks.  Allow God to do the impossible in your life.  Claim the truth of Psalm 121:

121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.