Archive for September, 2018

Being Sure (I John 2)

September 28, 2018

29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. I John 2:29

He stood there for what seemed like an hour, but it really wasn’t.  Finally the owner of the business where he was standing asked, “are you going to do it or not?”  The guy responded, “Getting a tattoo is a life-time commitment. I want to be sure.”

Question: do we usually consider the long-term impact of our decisions?

In I John 2 we find strong encouragement to really understand the impact of Jesus in our lives.  John writes:

Christ-followers should not want to sin, 2:1.  However, if they do, they have both an advocate (defender) and one who pays the price for their sin (propitiation).

Christ-followers have clear marks of true salvation within them:

  • There is confession of sin, repentance of sin, and submitting ones life to the Lordship of Christ, 2:1-2.
  • There is a new desire to obey God, Vs:3.
  • There is a clear lifestyle of keeping His commandments, Vs: 4-5.
  • There is an obvious following in Christ’s footsteps, Vs: 5.
  • There is growth in loving others, Vs: 7-11.
  • There is growth toward Christian maturity, Vs: 12-14.
  • There is a loss of love for the things of the world, Vs: 15-17.
  • There is the Holy Spirit’s conviction, direction, and empowerment, Vs: 18-28.

As I read back over this list there is this strong longing to do the will of God.  But there is also this reality that is hard to write down but I must. “Many people say they belong to Christ, but the tattoos on their lives show nothing different from the world.”

So, I must ask, are we sure we are His?  If we are marked by Christ and His Word, we can be sure we are his!!!  Today seek to focus on a life-time of being marked by Christ.

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Passing our days (Titus 3)

September 27, 2018

 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. Titus 3:3

The people on the island of Crete were famous for passing the time with lying, evil acts, gluttony, and laziness, 1:12.  But when Paul came with Luke, Timothy, Silas, and Titus the gospel made impact.  This is the heart of Titus 3:4-6.

After some time Paul left Titus on the island of Crete to continue the work.  The book of Titus is God’s Word to this preacher for a people who used to spend their lives passing their days in sin.

Here is a list of sinful activities they used to engage in:

  • Foolishness
  • Disobedience
  • Slaves of passion and pleasure.
  • Living with hatred and envy.
  • Living a life of wickedness in the heart.

But now that Christ has come in, they are passing their days differently:

  • They are obedient to the laws of the land.
  • They are speaking kindness.
  • They are respectful to all people.
  • They are devoted to good works.

Brothers and sisters, this brings me to a question:  How do you and I pass our days?

Many people profess Christ on Sunday put pass their days as a before Christ person during the week.  Let this not be among us!  Let us be challenged today to make sure our walk matches the Word of God.  James has much to say about this in James 1:19-25

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:19-25

Why? (Romans 14)

September 26, 2018

 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 14:7-8

Yes, it is Wednesday brothers and sisters.  You know what we do on Wednesday evening.  Yes, we go to church.  This is what we do.  Question, “Why do we go on Wednesday?”

Now this is a different twist on Wednesday evening events.  Most of us go because this is just what we do.  But the generations that are coming forward want more than this is just what we do.  They truly want to know the reason why.

In Romans 14 Paul gives one reason for the why we do what we do.  Here is it, We live for His glory.  Or we live for His will to be accomplished in our lives.

So, we go to church on Wednesday night because it helps us to grow in our knowledge of who Christ is.  It helps us to gather with brothers and sisters to be encouraged and to encourage others.  We go to church because it is the place we bring those we have invited to come to Jesus.  When we gather, the why is before us.

I want to challenge you deeply today to consider the why of everything you do.  Take the time to look up three verses:

  • II Corinthians 5:15
  • Galatians 2:20
  • I Peter 4:2.

Now that you have read them, write down your reasons for why you do what you do.

Question:  Are you happy with what you have written?  If so, give praise to God.  But if not, cast off the things that are no longer fitting in your why category.  Replace them with why things for the glory of God.

Give, Give, Give, and more giving! (Exodus 30

September 25, 2018

16 You shall take the atonement money from the people of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may bring the people of Israel to remembrance before the Lord, so as to make atonement for your lives.” Exodus 30:16

Everyone moved into place.  It happens every week and it was just as it was before until something happened.  What happened?  The Lord reminded each of us of what God gave to us.  The Lord had given to every believer the gift of His Son (Romans 8:31-32).  Suddenly the offering changed because we were not just placing tithes and offerings in a plate.  We were remembering what the Lord had done for us!  We were giving to the God who had given everything to us!!!

In Exodus 30 God pauses in the midst of His directions to His people concerning the building and the functions of the Tabernacles to share about a special offering.  The offering is the “Census Offering.”  This offering was to be given by the adults who were twenty years old and above.  It was a half of a shekel.

Why the offering?  It was a reminder of God’s atonement of the people from their slavery.  Everything they had accumulated and everything they were was simply because of His atonement for them.

In chapter 38:25-31 the people carry out this offering.  They give 301, 175 shekels.  This equated to 7544 pounds of silver.  The people were giving to the God who had made atonement for them.

Today in a much more significant way we give to the Son of God who has made atonement for our sins on the cross of Calvary (Hebrews 9;9-13).

For me, this Tuesday takes on new meaning as I know all I am and all I have are gifts from my wonderful God.  This is why I give and this is why I make sure I live in a way that affords me the honor of giving.

Here is Paul’s teaching on this great subject:

II Corinthians 9:6-15

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[d] will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency[e] in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
    his righteousness endures forever.”

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they[f] will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

A New Old Commandment (John 13)

September 24, 2018

 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

Warning, enjoy it while you can, because it will be replaced soon.  Imagine if a product had the previous sentence as its slogan.  No one would advertise their product this way.  However, the truth is, most products do fall under the slogan, enjoy it while you can, because it will replaced soon.  So goes the industry of our day.

Brothers and sisters, I sometimes believe the church has also embraced this slogan for our faith.  Here is what I mean:  This week we study a passage and boy it is new.  Next week we do the same and it is new and fresh.  But for some reason we fail to carry with us what we studied last week.  We cast it aside for the new.

Was this the way Jesus taught us?  The answer is obviously “no.”

Jesus taught us to embrace the new as we carry the old with us.  Now we are not talking about the old life.  We are referring to what we learned last week (old) and what we learn today (new).

God teaches us to build upon the foundation of Christ (I Corinthians 3:11-12; Acts 4:12).

Consider our focal text:

Look at Jesus foundational teaching from John 13:

  • Jesus loved His own to the very end, 13:1.  Many rejected Him, John 1:11.  But Jesus still reached out in love, John 1;12.
  • Jesus served everyone, 13:14-16. He washed the feet of the disciples as our illustration of showing hospitality to all people.
  • Jesus taught His disciples, 13:17.  His teaching comes to us in what we know as the Bible.

Now here is where it gets amazing for me.  If you are hearing this for the first time, it is new.  If you are hearing this for the one hundred time, it is old, but it is to be new because you are being called back to a foundational truth.

Let us embrace the love of God as our foundation and then let us grow in the love of God as we study His Word every day.  Then we can serve others, reach others, and teach others as we let the world know we are His disciples.

Here is how John put it many years later:  I John 2:7-8

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because[a] the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.

I am still amazed (Luke 20)

September 21, 2018

15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  Luke 20:15

In life there are things that amaze me over and over. For example, I am always amazed when I am traveling how some people refuse to believe speed limit signs apply to them.  I recently was passed by a guy on the road who was totally driving crazy.  I said to the person in the car with me, “Someone is waiting for him down the road.”  Sure enough, about five miles down the highway, a policeman had pulled this guy over.  Some things still amaze me.

In a much more profound way Jesus amazes me.  No matter how many times I read His Word I am amazed at who He is and what He did for me!

I am amazed again, this day,  as I read Luke 20 on this Friday.  Here are religious leaders who have been given ever advantage (Read Romans 2).  They had heard the prophets, they had heard John the Baptist, and they had the Word of God.  But still yet they rejected Jesus.  I am amazed.

Despite all of Jesus miracles and all of His teachings, they rejected the Son of God. I am amazed.  But greater still is my amazement as I read the parable of the Wicked Tenants.  Jesus knew these people were going to murder Him, but He still came and He still ministered.

Here is why I am so amazed, “Jesus loves the world with the same love He loved His own people.”

This truth challenges me to the depths of who I am.  I know this day I am loved with an unconditional love.  This day I know I am valued if the entire world hates me.  This is a love that gets me through the moments when I miserably fail God.  I am still amazed at His love for me.

This truth drives me to love others despite how difficult they can be. I sit here writing before daylight.  It is so dark outside.  I also know it is so dark on the inside of so many people’s lives.  But God’s love can bring light (John 8:12) to every dark place and every dark heart.  So I am driven to love like Jesus.

Question: “Does His love still amaze you?”

Here are part of the lyrics of a song that has greatly impacted my love:

Your Grace Still Amazes Me
My faithful Father, enduring friend
Your tender mercy is like a river with no wind
It overwhelms me, covers my sin
Each time I come into your presence I stand in wonder once again
Your grace still amazes me
Your love is still a mystery
Each day I fall on my knees
’cause your grace still amazes me
Your grace still amazes me
Oh patient savior, you make me whole
You are the author and the healer of my soul
What can I give you lord what can I say
I know there’s no way to repay you only to offer you my praise
Your grace still amazes me
Your love is still a mystery
Each day I fall on my knees
Cause your grace still amazes me
Your grace

 

Hating the Truth (Jeremiah 37:15)

September 20, 2018

15 And the officials were enraged at Jeremiah, and they beat him and imprisoned him in the house of Jonathan the secretary, for it had been made a prison. Jeremiah 37:15

How would you respond if someone said to you the following, “You do not desire to know the truth.”  This is exactly what Jeremiah said to the king of Judah no less than three times in these chapters.  Now, he did not say these  exact words, but what he said proved the truth of the statement, you do not desire to know the truth.

Brothers and sisters we are truly living in a day (in many places) where people do not desire to hear the truth.

Consider yourself in Jeremiah’s shoes.  Here are so facts about his life:

  • He was a friend to his people.  He wanted the Lord to bless his people.  But they could not be blessed unless they repented and obeyed the Lord.
  • He had been chosen by God to speak to his people.  We see this back in Jeremiah 1:4-5; 17 “dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I have commanded you…”
  • He was hated because he spoke the truth.
  • He suffered greatly because he spoke the truth.  He was beaten and thrown in prison only to be released and then thrown into a cistern and left for dead.
  • He was faithful to the truth.
  • He was delivered and continued  to minister among his people, 39:11-18.

Brothers and sisters, do people need the truth?  The answer is obviously yes!  The harder question is this, are we willing to go through what Jeremiah did so that some will come to the truth?

I can only speak for me. I am willing even if only one comes to Jesus.  Maybe you are facing a Jeremiah moment today at work, at home, or in class.  Take heart, God is for you! Be encouraged, the Word of God never returns void.

Here are the words of Paul to Timothy, feast on them today:  I Timothy 6:11-16

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before[d] Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Why will you not listen? (Psalm 81)

September 19, 2018

Oh, that my people would listen to me,
    that Israel would walk in my ways! Psalm 81:13

It seemed as if he was paying zero attention to what I was saying.  The more I pleaded in the message the more he seemed to ignore what I was preaching.  I had honestly given up, but when the invitation was given, here this man came almost running down the aisle.  I thought he was ignoring the message, but in truth he was fighting through whether he would listen or not listen to God.

In Psalm 81 it is clear, the people are not listening to God.  In Psalm 80, the man of God is crying out to God to listen and to restore the people.  But in Psalm 81 we discover why God has not answered his prayer.  Even though the Psalmist is listening to God, the nation is not listening to God.

Think through this reality.  The people refuse to listen to the one true God who did the following for His chosen people:

  • He frees them from bondage as slaves, Vs: 6-7.
  • He taught them to listen to Him, Vs: 8.
  • He commanded them to have no other gods, Vs: 9.
  • He joyously offered to meet their every need, Vs: 10.

But instead of listening and obeying, they stubbornly thought they knew a better way, Vs: 12.

This is why their story stinks. This is why their history includes year after year of tears upon tears.  Sadly on Judgment Day, Revelation 20, these people will be without excuse.  They would not obey, Vs: 13.

Question:  What will be the story told of our lives at the end?  Will our story stink?  Will our story be of tears upon tears? Or will our story be of faithfulness to God.

The Bible is so filled with truth:

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
God will always be faithful to those who listen to Him.
Here is God’s promise:
13 Oh, that my people would listen to me,
    that Israel would walk in my ways!
14 I would soon subdue their enemies
    and turn my hand against their foes.
15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him,
    and their fate would last forever.
16 But he would feed you[e] with the finest of the wheat,
    and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
If we will listen to God and obey God (Matthew 6:33), He will direct us in Kingdom Success!!!

Tears and more Tears (Psalm 80)

September 18, 2018

You have fed them with the bread of tears
    and given them tears to drink in full measure. Psalm 80:5

As Psalm 80 begins, I find myself gripped in the clutches of a scene of brokenness and heartbreak.  I don’t know if you can relate to this or not, but I have in my mind many scenes of moments when people were weeping tears upon tears.

I remember it with a mother who’s 18-year-old son died of an overdose. I remember it with a family whose daughter had committed suicide on the freshly covered grave of her best friend.  I remember it when a 25-year-old grand-daughter accidentally over-dosed.  Even now having just received news of one of Sherry’s brothers sudden death, I feel tears upon tears falling from my face.

In Psalm 8o it is clear the people are responsible for their own tears.  These people known as the Northern Tribe of Israel are facing the wrath of God being carried out through a foreign power.  Notice what the Psalmist does:

  • He cries out to God to save His people, Vs: 2.

In God’s power He can save.  If He is for them, life can turn around.

  • He remembers the goodness of God, Vs: 8-11.

Even though they deserve judgment, the Psalmist knows of God’s goodness in forgiving those who repent.

  • He longs for the coming of the Messiah, Vs: 14-19.

The Messiah did come, 700 years later.  But the nation rejected Jesus as their Messiah (John 1:12).

Now, 2100 years later people are still crying tears upon tears because of the brokenness and hurt in this world.  The question is, where will be turn?  For me, I will turn to the Lord who saves!  He is a good God who came to be my Messiah!!!  These are words that dry my tears and comforts my heart in troubling times.

The Words of John 14 are so true in this moment:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

This Stinks (Isaiah 5)

September 17, 2018

He dug it and cleared it of stones,
    and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
    and hewed out a wine vat in it;
and he looked for it to yield grapes,
    but it yielded wild grapes. Isaiah 5:2

It started out wonderfully, but then things began to stink!  Yes, it was going to be a nice after dinner time for our family to sit on the deck and just talk.  But when I looked over in the corner of the deck it all changed.  Our nice and wonderful (not really what I said) cat had killed an animal and had left it for our inspection.  It was apparent that no one in a few days had noticed this gift.  All was well until I took the shovel to pick it up.  Quickly everyone vacated the deck.

Isaiah five is a stinking chapter in the Bible.  Here is the deal.  When God gave Israel their assignment to love Him and to make Him known in the world, it was a sweet-smelling moment.  But over time Israel failed to fulfill her assignment.  She produced what Isaiah calls, “Wild Grapes.”  This description in the Hebrew is “what you produced stinks.”

Why was this the case?  Isaiah tells us in this chapter:

  • Israel took advantage of God’s blessings.
  • Israel was ignorant of where the blessings came from.
  • Israel was active in sin, deception, and evil.
  • Israel was arrogant and unwilling to listen.
  • Israel was corrupt in every way.

Bottom line:

for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
    and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Vs: 24

They were a stench in God’s nostrils.  But God would give grace after judgment.  The Day of the Lord would be followed by His restoring His people to the land.

When I read this chapter, I realize our nation is living in the same ways.  The only hope for avoiding judgment is for an awakening in our nation.

Question:  Are you and I a sweet-smelling aroma to God or are we a stench before God?  If you have surrendered your life to Christ and if you are walking in purity before Him, you are a sweet-smelling aroma.

Here are three goals for our week together:

  • Daily remove any stench that might get on you, II Corinthians 7:1; II Timothy 2:19.
  • Daily offer the world a different smell, II Corinthians 2:14-16.
  • Daily share why there is a difference in your life, Philippians 3:19-21.