Archive for October, 2018

The Stabilizer (Psalm 102)

October 31, 2018

  but you are the same, and your years have no end. Psalm 102:27

Question: “How are things in your life today?”  I sometimes find people who are shocked when I ask them this question.  It seems as if they are shocked that I would seek to know such intimate details of their lives.  But even more shocking is when reality hits the person about how unstable their lives are in the moment.

Most of us are unwilling to admit that we go through seasons of unstable circumstances.

For example, the Psalmist writes about such a season.  Here are two truths from his life:

  • The circumstances in his life are unstable.

His writings reveal a life of mental and physical pain.  He is under the discipline of a righteous and just God who is afflicting him as he writes.  He does not question God because He knows God is right in His judgment.

The writer is pouring out his heart to God in his unstable moment.  He knows God will hear.

  • The God over his life is the stabilizing foundation in his unstable circumstances.

Beginning in verse twelve we see the stabilizing character of God:

  1. He is enthroned forever, for all generations.
  2. He is a God of pity.
  3. He appears in His glory.
  4. He regards the prayers of the destitute.
  5. He hears the prayers of the unstable.
  6. He sets them free.
  7. He is always the same.

As I look at the character of God I always find my life becoming stable because He is the one stabilizing force in this world.

The Bible teaches us to look to Him and live.  No matter how unstable your circumstances are today, place your full weight on Jesus.  He is a rock you and I can depend on, stand on, and walk on.

Here are some stabilizing verses for our day:

Hebrews 13:8

. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 

James 1:16-18

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.[d] 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

 

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Please, not now Lord! (Revelation 16)

October 30, 2018

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God. Revelation 16:1

A young man, in love with Jesus prayed the following prayer; “Lord, I want you to come and Lord I want to go to heaven, but not right now.”

If you had been in the room when the young man prayed this prayer, how would you have responded? Maybe you would have responded by saying, how selfish or maybe how short-sighted.

What would you say, if I told you I prayed this prayer this very morning?

The truth is, I did pray the above prayer this very morning.  The reason for my prayer is found in Revelation 16.  Before us is the prophecy of the Day of the Lord.  The prophet Zephaniah prayed this prayer in his three chapter book (3:8).

John sees seven angels each caring a bowl that contained the wrath of God which the angel would symbolically pour out representing the complete wrath that was coming on the earth.  As you read this chapter I want to point you to two reasons why I prayed as I did:

  1. These judgments will be global in their devastation.

With each bowl the judgment gets worse.  The judgments begin with pain being inflicted on all men.  We then see all life in the sea destroyed.  This is followed by all fresh water being destroyed.  Next is the suns rays burning humanity.  We then see the kingdom of the Antichrist falling.  But instead of repenting the world despises God.  In judgment six we read of the entire world coming to do battle against God.  Finally the last and global judgment will be at the Second-Coming of Christ.

Brothers and sisters, this will be a time like no other and the world will not recover.

2. These judgments are coming to nations that have never heard the gospel.

This very day I can honestly say, I am crying out to God, please wait!!!  We have more work to do.  Yes, it is true we have not reached the ends of the earth.  If the Lord returns today, well over half the world’s population would die without ever once hearing of the good news of the gospel.

For the sake of others I cry out, please wait Lord!!!

For the sake of others I cry out, please mobilize your church with an urgency for the gospel and begin with my church Lord.

Why so long? (II Peter 3)

October 29, 2018

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. II Peter 3:8

To the little boy it seemed like hours since his mother placed the cookies in the oven. Every few seconds he would ask his mother, “are they finished?”  Finally after what seemed like an eternity to him, but only twelve minutes in real-time, the cookies were finished.

In our lives it is often this way.  We find ourselves in places of craving, places of urgency, places of desperation, or places of impatience.  In these places we cry out to God, “how long?”

Through the last twenty-one hundred years of church history there have been many times when God’s people have read II Peter 3 with a heart that is crying out, “how long?”

Certainly our day is no exception.  We are living in a nation that is both in self-destruction mode as well as self-deception.  We are destroying the moral fiber of our nation and no one is willing to take the blame.

But be assured there will be a day when we will all come before the judgment bar of God.  You ask, how do you know this to be the case?  The Bible tells me so!  Peter points us to two realities that confirm the coming judgment of God.

  1. God has already once before, in the days of Noah, judged the word for its sin, Vs: 5-6.
  2. God is patiently holding back judgment until the set day of His Second-Coming, Vs: 7-9.

Maybe you are thinking, “if this is true, then why has He not returned?  Why so long?”

Here is why, God does not want any man to face eternity under His wrath!!!  Yes, it is true, God desires all men to be saved.

How can self-destructive and self-deceived people come to the knowledge of the truth?

You and I are called to live a life of holiness before the world.  You and I must be willing to live among such people sharing the hope of the gospel with all people.  You and I must start living as if this world will not last forever.

How long Father?  His answer, “until our work is done.”

Settling the issues (Luke 21)

October 26, 2018

14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer,  Luke 21:14

It was obvious the sports team had issues, but their individual talents always pulled them through in tough games, until that is when they entered the playoffs and faced off against a team that really played as a team.  The longer the game went the more the team with issues fell apart.  By the end of the game, the players with great individual talents were ashamed and looked like little kids playing against giants.

The Apprentices of Jesus had been playing on Jesus team for over three years.  Within a matter of days they would find themselves in a place where they all ran from Jesus.

But here in Luke 21 Jesus is preparing them and Jesus-followers from all ages to settle their issues before the tough times came.  Here are four issues every believer needs to settle before they enter the playing field of daily life:

  • The issue of fear.  Jesus taught these men not to fear what was coming.  He would be with them.
  • The issue of what to say.  These men needed not to stress about what to say when the game was on.  He had prepared them and He would fill them with the Holy Spirit.  They would speak the words of God.
  • The issue of attitude.  Jesus did not intend for these men (Vs: 28-29 to become distracted, discouraged, or disengaged with the world.  They will be His lights in the world.
  • The issue of  having a game plan.  The Lord gave clear directions of how to prepare for the game (Vs: 31-32). They were to stay awake.  The were to be engaged with what was happening in the world.

Brothers and sisters, each of these issues need to be settled before you begin your day.  If you have not settled them, fear will grip you before you even begin.  Your spiritual tongue will be silenced or tied in knots.  Your attitude will be to stick your head in the sand and let others make the differences in the world.  You will come home at night having accomplished nothing for God’s glory.

Brothers and sisters, let us settle the issues now before the Lord before we begin our day.  Here are encouraging words from God’s Word:

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? I John 5:1-5

By whose authority (Revelation 6)

October 25, 2018

Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” Revelation 6:1

In times of chaos anarchy usually rules the day.  Maybe there are things in your life that feel this way today? If so, take heart in Revelation 6.

For those who are wise, he or she will look to establish order in the mist of anarchy.  We see the wise in Revelation 6 calling out to God in the midst of what seems to be chaos.  Here was their cry:

10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

These saints of God understood who was in charge.  Brothers and sisters, do we really believe God is in charge?  Here before us we see the beginning moments of the Great Tribulation Period.  Some might think the powers of evil are in charge, but this is not true.

Consider who is saying, “come.”  It is the chosen Angels of God who summon the seal judgments to come forth.  Notice closely:

  • We see a world leader (the Antichrist) released to conqueror the world with deception, Vs: 2.
  • We see chaos and hatred released from within man himself, Vs: 3-4.
  • We see economic chaos released upon the world, Vs: 5-6.
  • We see war, famines, and pestilence released upon the world, Vs: 7-8.

Brothers and sisters, this is what happens when God removes His good hand from the world.  God allows men to have their way.

One would think, when this happens, the world would turn to God in repentance and surrender.  But even in the midst of a massive shaking of heaven and earth the leaders of the world continue in their rebellion against God.  Verse seventeen causes me to shake in fear for my fellow-man:

“for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Brothers and sisters, by whose authority do you and I live in this world?  With all of my heart I am seeking for God to be the forever king of my heart. This is my prayer for all who read this today.

How is this going to play out? (Daniel 12)

October 24, 2018

” I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?” Daniel 12:8

In times of uncertainty the wise and caring person will want to know how will things play out?

Daniel was a wise and caring servant of the Lord.  He along with thousands of other Jewish men had been taken captive and forced to live in a foreign land.  For seventy years God blessed him with wisdom (he could see into the future) and with a loving concern for his people and for all men.

Here at the end of his life (Daniel 12) God gave him a vision of “A Time of Trouble.”

According to Mark 13:19; Revelation 16:18, Daniel is able to see the Great Tribulation Period of seven years that will usher in the Second-Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Daniel sees all the dead coming out of the graves.  Those who are Christ-followers are being raised to eternal life and those who rejected Jesus are being raised to eternal destruction.

Daniel could not understand what he was seeing.  He wanted to know because he cared about others!  Read the last sentence again.  He wanted to know because he cared about others!

Daniel was not concerned about his own life.  He was ready to meet the Lord and he knew he would forever be with the Lord in heaven.  His concern was for wisdom to help others.

Brothers and sisters, you and I have the benefit of what Daniel did not. God has given us the book of Revelation.  We know how it is going to play out in the end.

We know the outcome for the world is total destruction and we know the outcome for those who reject Christ.  They will experience eternal destruction away from the presence of God.

Yes, all those who are indifferent, morally neutral, and pagan will be judged by God.

We also know where we will be for eternity.  Here is what Jesus said in Luke 21:34-36

34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

We know how it plays out in eternity, but how is this playing out in us for this day?

Brothers and sisters, I want to be wise and caring so that I can help others.  This is my heart cry for all of God’s church today.  Let me ask you, “How will it play out in you today?”

What will happen if I die in my sins? (John 8)

October 23, 2018

24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” John 8:24

Last week Sherry, John, and I took an afternoon and traveled down to Warm Springs Georgia to visit Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home which he called, “The Little White House.”  There was one part of the visit that stands out to me.  On the last day of his life in 1945, he was sitting in his familiar chair having his portrait painted.  The lady who was painting his picture said, “the last thing the president said to me was this, ‘we only have about 15 more minutes to paint today.'”  She went on to say, “In fifteen minutes he was dead.”

I think it is true that most people live life without much thought about death.  Certainly I do not live every day thinking about dying because I have already received Jesus eternal life insurance policy which He purchased by His blood on the cross.  I have resurrection power within me because of Jesus resurrection.

In John 8 Jesus faces a crowd who wanted Him dead.  The scene in Vs: 1-11 speaks to the evil in their hearts.  Out of that scene Jesus speaks amazing words:

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

The truth is, these leaders were born in spiritual darkness, they were living in spiritual darkness, and they were headed to a living hell in spiritual darkness.  They did not have to continue in the darkness, Jesus was there!  He could and would set them free if they would only ask.  But they continued in darkness.

It is true, when they died, they died in their sins.  Because of their spiritual condition at death, they could not enter heaven.  Hell was their just place because of their rebellion against God.

Today more than ever you and I need to make sure where we are with God.  Is there unconfessed sin in your life?  Confess it today and turn away from it.  Are there people around you in whom you know are not right with God?  Call out to them and reach out to them because you certainly do not want them to spend eternity in eternal darkness.

A Spiritual drought (Jeremiah 14)

October 22, 2018

Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain?
    Or can the heavens give showers?
Are you not he, O Lord our God?
    We set our hope on you,
    for you do all these things. Jeremiah 14:22

The nation of Israel was experiencing a time of physical drought in the days of Jeremiah.  The description of the drought given in verses one through seven is vivid and devastating to consider.  The question comes: why is this happening?  Our answer comes from verses seven and ten.

  • Israel is a back slidding people.
  • Israel loves to wander from God.
  • Israel has no moral restraint.
  • Israel has lying prophets who love to follow their lies.

Here is the truth: The spiritual drought led to the natural drought!  This was God’s judgment for Israel’s sin.  God will consume them with the sword, famine, and pestilence.

Jeremiah knows why the nation is where she is.  He pleads with God to forgive and restore (Vs:20-22).  Jeremiah sets his hope on God.  But there is a problem here.  God will not restore those who will not repent!

II Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and repent…”

2700 years later I sit here at a McDonald’s listening to guys at another table discuss the problems of our nation and I am reminded, what happened to Israel is coming to our nation. The same characteristics they possessed, we posses today.  Unless we repent judgment is sure to come, I Peter 4:15-18.

We must ask ourselves, what can we do?  Allow me to suggest 6 things we must do:

  1. We must personally repent of any backslidding in our own lives.
  2. We must join and remain faithful in churches that are holding up the truth of the gospel.
  3. We must pray for the personal repentance of national leaders and pastors who have slidden back.
  4. We must vote by what the Bible says.
  5. We must pray for awakening in America and around the world.
  6. We must share our faith with all people by presenting the gospel through truth and through acts of kindness.

These things can lead us to a spiritual awakening!!!

For the sake of others (Titus 1)

October 19, 2018

Paul, a servant[a] of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, Titus 1:1

A group of young pastors were participating in a panel discussion concerning the call to the pastorate.  The question was asked, why did you become a pastor?  There were many different responses, but only one rated huge applause.  Here was the pastor’s response: “I looked high and low for the best employment and I discovered the pastorate was the only job I could get where I only had to work one day a week.”

We laugh at this response, but quickly the laugh’s stop when we consider the shape the church in American is in today.  Maybe there should be pastor’s who think differently about the call to pastor.

The Apostle Paul felt differently about his call as he wrote to Titus.  He gave Titus strong warnings about those who would destroy the church.  Paul gives four characteristics of such people:

  1. Insubordinate-they did not follow the directions of our Lord.
  2. Empty talkers-they do not preach the Word of God.
  3. Deceivers-they have a large following.
  4. Defiled-sin has so deadened the conviction of God that they are defiled in conscious and mind.

Paul tells Titus to strongly rebuke such people.  Brothers and sisters, we see such teaches on TV today and our rebuke will be to turn them off. Our rebuke would be to not buy their books nor attend their conferences.

Paul teaches us how to turn the tide in America.  We are to do as he did and as the early church did.  They raised up true leaders who have four characteristics:

  1. They care for the flock.
  2. They teach correctly God’s Word.
  3. They compassionately share God’s Word with a lost world.
  4. They  have the character of people who are pursuing God.

Brothers and sisters, such leaders are in our Sunday School classes sitting in Preschool rooms, infant rooms, children’s and student class rooms; College and Career; Young Adults, Medium Adults; and Senior Adults.

For the sake of others, let’s get busy turning our nation around!!!  You can do it.  They are beside of you and maybe you are one yourself!!!

The musts of leadership (I Timothy 3)

October 18, 2018

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach I Timothy 3:1-2a

Brothers and sisters, where would the church be today without godly leadership?  When I think back to those developmental years of my life, I have to say, “God gave me godly leadership.”

I think of pastors like Eddie Follower; James Allan; Jed Limbaugh; and Butch Pennington.  I rejoice for godly deacons like Clarence Engle; Chris Maggard; Mr Adams; Phil Bentley; and John D. Harrison.

God has been so good to me. Each of the above men, and so many more, were certainly not perfect but they were powerful examples of men who passionately pursued God. I saw in them men who were meet the standards set by God.

The 14 qualifications given by God set the standard for all time as to what godly leadership must be like.  I often walk through these standards for both accountability and accuracy in leadership.  I am humbled that God has placed me alongside so many who have this vested call in my life.

This month is Pastor Appreciation month, so I want to challenge you to three things which are a must in a pastor’s life:

  1. Pray for your pastors.
  2. Come alongside their leadership and work with them for God’s glory.
  3. Ask the Lord if He is calling you to this good work of being a pastor.

I want to conclude today by saying what an honor it is to be the pastor of FBC Jackson.  I have never been loved the way I am loved here.  Our team of leaders are blessed more than we deserve.