Archive for June, 2018

So what do you know? (Colossians 2)

June 29, 2018

that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Colossians 2:2-3

Years ago I used to own a gas station with my brother.  Often during the early hours of each day, the older men in our community would drop by.  Many times the guys would begin their conversation with a question.  I can still hear the question, “So what do you know?”

This was their way of asking, is there anything new going on in the community.  Each day, for many years, I have begun my day with Jesus.  I start my simply asking Him to open my spiritual ears and mind to what He is about to say to me through His Word.

To be transparent, there are days when I do not listen very well.  But when I do, I always come away with two things:

  1. I have full assurance of my faith.
  2. I have greater understand as to who Jesus is.

I was reminded of this by Paul in Colossians 2.  Paul’s great desire was to visit this church to encourage them to full assurance of faith in Jesus.  There are no less than 6 things we come to know about Jesus in this text:

  • Jesus is the author of all wisdom and knowledge, Vs: 3.
  • Jesus is fully God, Vs: 9.
  • Jesus is sovereign over the church and all of humanity, Vs: 10.
  • Jesus is the one who gives life, Vs: 11-13a.
  • Jesus is the one who forgives us of all our trespasses, Vs: 13b.
  • Jesus in the one who has defeated all of our enemies, Vs: 15.

Brothers and sisters, do you know these things to be true in your life?  If so, you are living in full assurance of faith and you are growing in understanding of Christ.

It is my prayer that you keep on leaning into God’s Word so that you might continue to have great things to share with others about who our wonderful Lord is.

For some of us, this is an awesome reminder of this truth: “He is all we need in every circumstance of life.”  Take time to find your answers in Him.  Take time to dump your stress-load on Him who is sovereign.  Give all of your battles to Him.  He is able.

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Making Peace (Colossians 1)

June 28, 2018

20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:20

One of the toughest assignments I have as a pastor is in trying to be the mediator between two people who are no longer at peace with each other.  Sometimes the more I try to farther the two people seem to get from each other.

Maybe you are in this same place today?  Or maybe you are yourself at odds with someone else?

What if I told you the answer for broken relationships is the gospel?  Someone might be responding, “It seems as if you say the gospel is the answer for every problem.”  If you did say that, you are correct.  The gospel is the answer for everything.

Before us this morning is Colossians 1.  Paul begins his letter by giving thanks for the gospel’s impact on the city.  The people had been transformed.  They were now being characterized by faith, love, and hope.

Paul prays for this church.  He asks for God’s wisdom to be poured out in their lives.  He directs them to walk in a manner of life pleasing to the Lord.  He prays for their spiritual strength to be increased.

Paul reminds the church of all that Jesus accomplished for them:

  • He qualified them to become joint-heirs with Him.
  • He delivered them from the authority and power of darkness.
  • He changed their eternal residence.
  • He purchased their freedom and their forgiveness.

These truths are so amazing in our Christian lives.  But how do they help us to help people to be reconciled?  Here is the answer, “A person must be at peace with God before they can be at peace with others.”

Think this through in terms of what we have read:

  1. When a person is at peace with God, he or she now has faith, love, and hope from Christ.  He or she has the capacity to love and forgive.  Now they can see a way through their impassable place.
  2. When a person is at peace with God, he or she has a different viewpoint of life.  The light of Jesus has replaced the darkness.  Now this person can live in the light and see the light of the breach they are in.
  3. When a person is at peace with God he or she is now different.  It is clear to the person he or she is out of fellowship with.  Often the issue will spiritually be resolved when both parties embrace the love and life of Christ.

So, if you are struggling to bring two people together, get the gospel in it and watch as He changes lives!!!

The Presence of the Lord (Exodus 40)

June 27, 2018

34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Exodus 40:34

Brothers and sisters, you and I have been given a gift that keeps on giving.  But so often we find ourselves forgetting this gift.  In these moments and sometimes seasons of life we stress and we search for answers with zero success.  All the while the answer was right before us.

What is this gift?  It is the gift of God’s presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit.

In Exodus 40 we are reminded of this truth as God’s people put together the Tabernacle.  When the Tabernacle was completed God glory came down and filled the place.  What a moment it must have been.

Israel was so blessed in every way.  She had the oracles of God, Romans 3:1-2;  she had the promises of God, Exodus 33:12-17; and she had been given the presence of God.

Question, how valuable is God’s presence in your life?

Here is how valuable the presence of God was to Israel:

  • She was directed on her daily journeys by God.
  • She had the honor of worshipping God.
  • She experienced conviction for her sin and cleansing for her sin in the presence of God.

This is what was taking place in Exodus 40 and this is what takes place in the believer’s life.  For Israel, there would come a day when she would lose the presence of God because of her constant rebellion.  The temple would be destroyed.  God’s presence was no longer with His people.  However, God promises (Haggai 2:1-9) to return.  We see this promise fulfilled when Jesus comes to the temple (Mark 11:14-18).

However the people reject Jesus.  But still yet Jesus goes to the cross, purchasing our forgiveness on the cross, Ephesians 2:16-21.  Now the presence of God dwells within His people, I Corinthians 6:19-20.

If you have been to the cross, His presence is in your life, Mark 8:35.  If God is not directing your life, you must ask, “Am I following Him?”

I praise the Lord for His presence in my life.  His presence has changed everything for me.  Feast on this truth as you read Ephesians 2:13-16

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 

Hope! Boy do we need it (Deuteronomy 18)

June 26, 2018

18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. Deuteronomy 18:18

The world around us is truly changing.  With the benefit of modern technology, you and I are able to look in on almost part of our globe.  As we look in, the news we hear is oh so discouraging.  It seems as if the darkness in our world is growing moment by moment.  In some parts of our globe it is as if all hope is gone.

Question: Do you stand in need of some hope today?

In our focal text, Moses is reminding Israel of the importance of leadership.  As he speaks to his people, we see three statements about leadership:

  1. God has chosen the priests and Levites to minister on His behalf in those days, Vs: 5.
  2. God had charged the leaders to reject the abominable practices of the nations they are conquering, Vs: 9-14.
  3. God is sending a leader greater than Moses, Vs: 15-19.

We know this leader to be Jesus Christ!!!

Think through these statements and discover the hope the world needs.  The priests and Levites were at best flawed sinners who at times were very faithful but at times they lead the people to embrace the abominable practices of the nations.  The Old Testament clearly reminds us of our need of a different priest.

This priest would have to come from another place.  This place was heaven and this priest’s name would be “Jesus Christ.”  2000 years ago this priest did come and He did for us what no one else could every do, “He was the lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world.”  

This hope we have is in the God who is always faithful.  This God has brought deliverance to all who believe in Him.  This God directs all who trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6) and this God is coming to deliver His people from this dark day.

This is where our Hope life.  I want you to consider what John writes in the book of Revelation chapter 5.

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Oh boy, this is the hope we have!!!

What is reasonable? (Romans 12)

June 25, 2018

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1

As I read verse one of our focal text I underlined the word reasonable. Even now I am looking at the word and I ponder the word.  I read the verses that follow. Suddenly I find myself wanting an audience with Paul.  If I could just speak to him for a moment. Paul I have one question: “What does God want from my life?”

Brothers and sisters, how would Paul respond?  Here is what I believe Paul would say in response, “Wrong question.  God does not want part of your life. He deserves all of your life.  This is only reasonable.”

Question: “Does God sometimes seem unreasonable?”

There are moments when we are pushed to the wall of obedience. In these moments we think, God is being unreasonable.  Brothers and sisters, the weight of Scripture teaches us of the extreme unreasonableness of such a thought.

We serve a God who has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness.  We serve a God who sent His only Son to give His body as a sacrifice for our sins.  Our God does not ask us to give our literally bodies as a sacrifice.  Jesus did this for us.  Our God simply asks us to offer our lives to Him in service.

Be assured this is only reasonable.

Take time this Monday to digest Romans 12 with a viewpoint of these things being reasonable.  I truly believed God’s Word and God’s work will take on new meaning in your life!!!

America, turn to God (Philippians 2)

June 22, 2018

 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

It seems as if our nation has come to a tipping point with all of its hate.  The sides are clear, they are right.  The sides have no compromise, it’s there way or the highway.

Question: Where are you in your thought process?

This morning I find encouragement in knowing I am a Christian.  As a Christian I find myself in a position of resisting the ways of man.  In Philippians two Paul reminds us of the encouragement we have in Christ.  Look at the encouragement in Vs: 1.

  • We are loved by God-this comforts us in a work where people hate each other.
  • We have been given the Holy Spirit.  We have power of discernment as well as power over the evil that assaults us and our nation.
  • We have been given affection. We care for people on both sides of the isles of hate, Colossians 3:12.
  • We are sympathetic.  We enter into the burdens of others with a desire to help, Galatians 6:1-2.

God has changed us so that we can be examples of change in this world. But the question is, do we have this mindset.  Those who touch the world for the better bow before this Jesus and they say, “Use me Lord for your glory.”

Brothers and sisters, Jesus is the hope of the world.  Instead of engaging in the debate as to who is right, we are called to have the mindset of submitting to a higher mindset.

The Bible teaches us, the Messiah who came and wore the crown of thorns is now seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven, Hebrews 1:3-4.  He is crowned as Lord of heaven and earth.  Some day He will return wearing the crown of our conquering King, Revelation 5:3-8; 19:11-18. He will settle the issues of men and nations.

The question for now is simple, “Are you bowing to His directions or to the directions of men?”

Here is a cry from the prophet Isaiah:

22 “Turn to me and be saved,
    all the ends of the earth!
    For I am God, and there is no other.
23 By myself I have sworn;
    from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
    a word that shall not return:
‘To me every knee shall bow,
    every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

Building on what you have been given (II Peter 1)

June 21, 2018

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[c] his own glory and excellence,[d]by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. II Peter 1:3-4

As we come to this text we realize Peter is coming to the end of his earthly journey, Vs: 12-14.  Peter’s teaching is not of His own views, Vs: 20-21, even though he has fully embraced the teaching, Vs: 17-18.  Peter pleads with us to pay attention, Vs: 19, to the truth of this life we have been granted by Christ.

This life we have been given, through Christ, leads us on a journey of godliness in the divine nature we have been given.  Question: How is your life being built up in this new life?

Before us are four truths concerning this new life we have been given.  These truths lead us to a strong desire to build on what we have been given:

  • This life we have been given is so radically different from the life we used to know, Vs: 3-4.

We were born in sin which bound us in the corruption of this world.  We were enslaved by the desires of the flesh.  But Jesus came to where we were enslaved.

  • This life is filled with promises, Vs: 5-7.

God promises true growth in godliness to all who seek to supplement their faith diet.  Take the time to list the 7 supplements God has given you.  Spend some time discovering the makeup of each of these supplements.

  • This life is intended to be fruitful, Vs: 8.

If you have this life (supplements) and if you are seeking to grow in these things you will always be effective.

  • This life can be overshadowed by your former life, Vs: 9.

If we fail to show up for work.  If we fail to stay at the work we will be forgetful.  But if we stay at the work we will be building our faith even stronger.

What amazing truth for us!!!  I praise God for the building that is take place. One of these days when our building is complete the Lord will meet us at the gate and say, “Welcome home my child.”

Brothers and sisters, keep on building for the glory of the Lord.

 

A Great Funeral Message (Psalm 49)

June 20, 2018

Man in his pomp will not remain;
    he is like the beasts that perish. Psalm 49:12

Through the years I have been asked to preach at the funeral services of so many people.  I always consider it a great honor to speak in such moments.  Sometimes people will ask, when I have the assignment to preach at a funeral in a difficult circumstance, “What are you going to say?”

Here is the answer I always try to give, “I am going to preach the gospel.”

Mark it down, a great funeral message is the gospel.  Here in Psalm 49 our writer gives us the gospel in his message to all people.  Yes, this Psalm is for all people whether high or low, rich and power.

The Psalmist is going to give the gospel in the form of a proverb. Keep in mind, a proverb is a short saying laid beside the truth with the goal of the listening being willing to work out the answer which is contained in the proverb.

Let’s work it out together:

  • No person can earn more days of life, Vs: 5-9.

Riches are wonderful but they cannot buy heaven and they cannot extend life.

  • Every person is going to die, Vs: 10-12.

The wise die, the foolish die, the young die and the old die, and sometimes people die before its time.

  • Some men foolishly overlook the truth of this proverb, Vs: 13-20.

Such people foolishly believe they are building a kingdom that will last forever.  Every foolish person will leave their kingdom behind. Every non-Christ follower is sprinting toward hell.

Brothers and sisters, this is the truth.  We have dug it out.  It is a bleak picture.  The truth is, one cannot understand the good news of the gospel until he or she has understood the bad news of life apart from God.

Here, now is the good news:

                                But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
                                for he will receive me. 

Jesus came as the one who broke into our life of bad news.  He became the payment for our sins.  He took my place on the cross.  I now can, through Him have eternal life, Daniel 12:2.  I, through Him live in a different way, Romans 3:21-26.

It is my prayer that you will be able to share the good news of the gospel will all people when they come to their time of trouble!!!

The mindset of the justified (Romans 13)

June 19, 2018

13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:13-14

Brothers and sisters, we have read this text so many times over the last 9 years of blogging together.  Each time we read it, our hearts are super convicted and we are sincere in our commitment to live out this text.  But, in my life, there have been many moments when I have forgotten my commitment.

How can we, this time, make our commitments stick?  Answer, “Our mindset has to change.”

  • Our minds find their change when they are transformed by the saving power of Christ (Romans 12:1-2).
  • Our minds focus on the change when we are exercising our faith in a disciplined way. (Romans 13:13-14).

Each day I must embrace this new mindset, given to me by God.  Each day I must resist the flesh.

Question: Do you have this in focus?  Do you and I have the mindset of the justified?  Below I have listed six markers from chapters 12-13 of someone who has the mindset of the justified:

  1. Our mind is seeking God’s path, 12:1-2.
  2. Our lives are being spent in serving in our giftedness, 12:3-8.
  3. Our hearts are focused on obeying His commands, 12:9-21.
  4. Our mindset is of respect to those in authority, 13:1-7.
  5. Our heart is focused on loving those around us, 13:8-10.
  6. Our entire being is waging war against the flesh, the devil, and the darkness of our world, 13:11-14.

This day I am convicted of my need to have each of these markers marked clearly in my life.  However there is one in particular I need to really focus on.  It is probably the same way with you.  This is why I want to challenge each of you to focus on your weakest marker with a renewed zeal to commit your marker to God’s discipline and God’s direction.

May this summer be marked by God’s marks on our lives!!!

Where can we find it? (Isaiah 55)

June 18, 2018

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1

This past week our children, while at camp, played a game which many generations have previously engaged in. This game is simply an old fashion scavenger hunt. Have you ever gone on a scavenger hunt?  Our kids broke into three groups and they were off.  After a few minutes one of the teams began to think, “where can we find these things?”

In the great scavenger hunt of life men and women are seeking to find one thing above all others.  Here is that thing: “satisfaction in this life.”  As I was studying, I came across an article by Michelle Stone entitled, The Pursuit of satisfaction.  Here is an exert from her article:

In a world of people who constantly want the next best thing, you find yourself slowly becoming them. I once told myself that I would never compare what I have now, to what I don’t; but like many promises I’ve made to myself — I broke that rule a long time ago. It wasn’t something that I tried to do. No one strives to never feel satisfied. In our human nature, it is coded in our desire DNA to always want to seek satisfaction. Whether it be physical, mental, financial, or social. We all strive to feel satisfied in ourselves, because at the end of the day… if you aren’t happy with what you’ve done, what are you? 

Question: Are you satisfied and if so, where did you find satisfaction?

The people of Israel were seeking to find satisfaction in the things of this world, Isaiah 55:2.  But what they discovered were gifts for their sinful flesh, which at the end of the day never satisfy and they plunged them into deeper and deeper pursuits of things that could never satisfy.

Isaiah invites his people and all people to a different pursuit!  We see this in 55:1.  This is what I call, “The eternal pursuit.”

When we embrace this pursuit, we discover the beauty of the satisfying relationship we have with the God of creation, 54:4-5. We recognize Jesus as the giver of life, John 4:23-25.  We turn away from the empty pursuits of men, 55:6-7.

Question: “Do you possess this satisfaction?”

Here are three keys to finding this satisfaction:

  1. You must recognize the things of this world will never satisfy, 55:2.
  2. You must recognize the giver of eternal satisfaction is Jesus, 55:8-11.
  3. You must relinquish this worlds pursuits and reach for what Jesus provides, 55:12-13.

Praise God brothers and sisters, I found this long ago in my life and after all of these years, He is still satisfying my life!!!