Archive for November, 2018

The danger of following at a distance (Mathew 26)

November 30, 2018

58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Matthew 26:58

I can still remember the strong warning from my grandfather.  He said, “Keith, do not get close to that mule, he will kick you.”  Brothers and sisters, those were the last words I remembered for a minute or so because I was presently already to close to the mule.

In Matthew 26 Jesus is warning the disciples of just the opposite.  They were about to move away from Jesus and for this moment in time they would follow Him from a distance.

Jesus tells the brothers, “You will each flee from me this night.”  

Peter, in shock, could never imagine such a moment.  Peter thought, Lord you must be thinking about these guys.  I know my heart.  I would never deny you.  But this is exactly what he would do on this dreaded night.

  • In Peter’s greatest spiritual fight, he ran from the fight.
  • In Peter’s greatest spiritual fight, he followed at a safe distance.
  • In Peter’s greatest spiritual fight, he fell hard before his enemies.

Is there anyone reading this today who has never ran, followed at a safe distance, and fell hard?  I am sure there are some, but I am not in the group.

On this Friday, I realize I need the Lord every moment of every day.  Years later, Peter would pen the following words in Scripture.  They help us to understand how we can follow the Lord up close, I Peter 5:6-11

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Here are five actions to take in your spiritual battles:

  1. Trust God’s Word concerning your life.
  2. Rest your weight on Him in every trial.
  3. Always be on guard for the enemies attacks.
  4. Fight your battles in faith.
  5. Prepare yourself for battles throughout your spiritual journey.
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The “true” voice (Psalm 29

November 29, 2018

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. Psalm 29:3-4

Every day they fill our airways of communication.  We hear them on the streets and in our homes. They fill the night sky in villages around the world. Each day our minds are bombarded by their activity.

What am I writing about?  Answer, “the voices of people and the voice of the enemy, Satan himself.”

In Psalm 29 the author is singing the praises of one voice.  The voice which has given His people victory over their enemies.  This voice is none other than the voice of our God!!!

The Psalmist directs us to do the following:

  • To worship the voice of the Lord.
  • To listen to the voice of the Lord.
  • To obey the voice of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, this seems so easy in theory.  However, in practice this is much more difficult.  The difficulty is there because of the multitude of voices pulling at us from day-to-day.

Consider the following:

  • The power of His voice is strong, Vs: 3-9.  God spoke the world in existence.  He speaks life into all things.  He alone has the power of destruction.
  • The purpose of His voice is clear, Vs: 10-11.  He gives strength to His people.

Question:  Have you heard His voice today?

Here are 4 ways to hear His voice:

  1. We hear His voice as we read the Word of God (the Bible), John 1:1-5.
  2. We hear His voice through others, II Timothy 4:1 “Preach the Word.”
  3. We hear His voice through dreams and visions, Acts 2:23-28.
  4. We hear His voice through circumstances, Acts 16:9-10.

There is one word of warning here.  Ways 2-4 must always align with God’s Word.  This is how you know ways 2-4 are really from God.

Question:  Are you obeying what God has said?

13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.  Romans 2:13

Father Lead us to both hear and obey your voice today!!!

The story of a contented man (II Corinthians 12)

November 28, 2018

10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  II Corinthians 12:10

How could this be true of any man except Jesus?  How is it possible to live a life where you are not complaining,  not comparing, and not coveting?  God’s answer is one word.  The word is “contentment.”

We see contentment in Paul’s self description in our focal text.  As I read this text, I am drawn to the following facts about a man’s life who is content:

  1. His walk with God was very costly.  From the moment of Paul’s conversion, his life was spent in the cross-hairs of the enemy.  Check out II Corinthians 11:21-33.
  2. His walk with God was supernatural. Paul saw the Lord and heard from the Lord in supernatural ways.  He experienced visions and revelations from God.
  3. His walk with God was humbling.  God gave Paul a thorn in his life. Even though Satan used it, God was the author of the thorn.
  4. His walk with God was grace-filled.  Daily Paul experienced the sufficiency of Christ.
  5. His walk with God was Spirit-empowered.  Each day it was Christ’ power in him that gave him the power to do the work of the ministry.
  6. His walk with God was with a divine purpose.  His was Kingdom work!

Brothers and sisters, do you and I want to do Kingdom work in the power of the Spirit?  If so, we must be willing to count the cost.  The cost is hight.  We must walk in humble submission to God seeking His daily supernatural direction.  When one walks in God’s true grace, he or she is content because their days are full!!!

Here are encouraging words from Paul:

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13

Question: What have you and I learned in our walk with Christ?

Look, they are scattering (Zechariah 13)

November 27, 2018

“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered;
    I will turn my hand against the little ones. Zechariah 13: 7

I sat in the car with amazement.  I had never seen so many sheep cross the road.  There was so many that our car had to wait until they had all crossed.  I was even more amazed at how one shepherd was driving all of them.  It was as if they knew what he wanted.

Question: Does your life seem scattered today?  Could it be that you are struggling to follow the Shepherd (Jesus Christ).

The prophet Zechariah predicts a time when a shepherd would be struck by God and His flock would scatter.  Anyone who is a student of Scripture knows this is a prediction of the coming of the Lord Jesus.  We know from Scripture, Jesus did come, and we know God did strike Him on the cross.  We do know His disciples fled (We will see this Sunday morning).  But what we might not be familiar with is what follows:

In the whole land, declares the Lord,
    two thirds shall be cut off and perish,
    and one third shall be left alive.
And I will put this third into the fire,
    and refine them as one refines silver,
    and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
    and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
    and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

In these verses the prophet writes of the suffering that will come to the church and to Israel leading up to and during the Great Tribulation.  The Bible says, there is coming a day when the Lord will return. When He returns He will establish justice in the earth.

But before Jesus Second-Coming you and I will face days which demand our consistent listening to our shepherd.  In these days the Lord will refine His people for greater impact in the world.

I believe the Lord wants you to follow Him as those sheep were following their shepherd in the fields of Romania, with a trusting and obedient heart.

I leave you with the words of I Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Behold, the Lord God comes (Isaiah 40)

November 26, 2018

Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
    and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense before him. Isaiah 40:10

Oh, my friend, the words of Isaiah in this chapter are right on time for my life and more importantly, for the world.  As I write I know that poverty still plaques our world. Many of my brothers and sisters are starving around the world.  As I write I know that perversion still has its grip on people’s hearts.  As I write I know it is the pride in men’s hearts that keeps them from crying out for help from the only place where help comes.

The words of Isaiah both challenge and encourage us in this world.  Isaiah’s day was much the same as ours.  The nation between Isaiah 39 and Isaiah 40 have gone into captivity at the hands of Babylon because of her own sin.  Israel was to blame for her own sin (Vs: 2).

But in the greatest demonstration of grace, Isaiah calls out to the people to take heart because there was coming a deliverer whose name is Jesus, (Vs:3-5).   Isaiah also looks ahead to the Second-Coming of our Lord, (Vs: 9-11).

Brothers and sisters, who is this God?  It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, (Vs: 22).  Nothing can stop this God.  Brothers and sisters, behold our God!!!

Isaiah closes the chapter by asking and answering two questions.  Here are the two questions:

  1. Do you know this God?
  2. Have you heard about this God?

To those who answer yes to both questions there are three truths given:

  1. You can trust this God, Vs: 28b-31a

The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

2. You will triumph over your enemies by the power of this God, Vs: 31.

3. You will testify of who He is, Vs: 31

they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

Brothers and sisters, we serve a God who teaches us to share our resources with those who are hurting, to do battle with the forces of hell, and to give testimony to all in this world.
This task becomes your passion when you behold God!!!  I pray this week will be filled with days and nights of beholding God.

God’s answer for our Spiritual Black Fridays (Psalm 145)

November 23, 2018

Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
    on level ground! Psalm 145:10

It is a dreaded day for those of us who do not like to shop in the first place.  It is the day of the year, now expanded into an entire weekend, where people try to do all their Christmas shopping for those they say they love and maybe no longer do after what they have to go through to get the 10% savings.

In life people often have days which look like Black Friday.

David was in a season of life which was spiritually like Black Friday.  Psalm 142-143 are intended to be read together for the complete picture of what he was facing.

David is hiding in a cave on the run from King Saul (Psalm 142).  He calls to God because God knows all about him and his circumstances (142:3).  David feels as if he is in a prison (142:7).

David knows not to plead as one who is totally innocent (143:2).  In this circumstance he is innocent, but he knows he is a sinner who stands in need of the mercy of God (Romans 3:23; I Corinthians 4:4-5).

David pleads for God’s mercy!  He considers God’s work in the past. He understands the kindness and goodness of God.  He knows the Lord will bring him out.

Question: Do you believe God is the answer for your Black Fridays?

If so pray like David:

  • Lord, May I know your love every morning.
  • Lord, deliver me from my enemies.
  • Lord, direct my steps.
  • Lord, bring me out of trouble.
  • Lord, I am your servant.

On this Friday, pray this prayer and experience God’s deliverance from your Black Friday!!!

Celebrating the “No Longer’s” (Revelation 22)

November 22, 2018

22 Then the angel[a] showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life[b] with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:1-5

Brothers and sisters, I could not help it, I had to put all five verses in the blog today.  The above verses offer us the greatest of encouragement concerning the things of this world which will not longer be when Jesus takes us to heaven.

Think about this for a moment.  Imagine being able to look at something that bothers you and to be able to say, “You will no longer be with me in heaven.”

Look the list below of the no longer’s that will be:

  • There will no longer be death.  The River of Life runs constantly from the throne of God.
  • There will no longer be any hurt. All nations will be healed.
  • There will no longer be any darkness referring to sin.

Think about the many things that fall in this category: Animals will no longer have a killing instinct.  Nature will cease bearing thorns. The sun will no longer burn or destroy.  Earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes will no longer be.  Physical decay will be no more.  All the evil of humanity will end.  Cancer and disease will be no more.

  • There will be no longer a broken relationship with God. He will walk with us, we will see Him forevermore.
  • There will no longer be a need for the Lord’s Supper.  He will always be with us to worship.  Every moment with Him will be our reminder.  The gospel will have been completed with Jesus Second-Coming.

Brothers and sisters, these truths lead me to three life changes:

  1. I now live with hope of what is coming and what will be no more.
  2. I now live with intentionality knowing Jesus could return today.
  3. I now live with urgency knowing that my fellow human beings have only this moment to come to Jesus!!!

It’s Supper Time (I Corinthians 11)

November 21, 2018

 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. I Corinthians 11:20

The above words speak to the truth of the early afternoons at my parents home when I was a child.  My dad got off work at three each afternoon.  No later than four-thirty our family would sit down to supper.  There was no television watching, no texting, nor was there shoveling in our food to get onto other things.  It was supper time and supper time meant family time.

As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, there were many problems in their church.  One of those problems is clearly outlined in our focal text.  The church was coming together with the purpose of observing the Lord’s Supper.  But what was happening was not the Lord’s Supper.  The people were drinking and eating as if it was the evening meal.  Others were being pushed aside in the line.  Because of these actions in breaking the unity of the church, God was inflicting judgment on the people.

Brothers and sisters, God intends for the Lord’s Supper to be a special time when His people gather together without distraction to sit down at the table with the following goals:

  • To remind the church of Lord’s Work on the cross in our behalf.
  • To remind the church to give praise and thanks for His atonement for us.
  • To  energize the church to share the message of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection.
  • To unify the church in love and fellowship at His feet.
  • To remind the church of the Lord’s Second-Coming.

As I look forward to this Sunday and all that it will mean at the table of the Lord, I am thankful for Paul’s reminder.  Let me encourage you to prepare yourself for supper time this weekend.

 

Being Thankful (Joshua 5)

November 20, 2018

10 While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. Joshua 5:10

As I sit down to write this blog I want you to know I am thankful for water.  You ask, what does this have to do with our reading for today?  My answer comes to you in context of what I just finished doing.  I just finished my morning run and at the end of a run, nothing tastes any better than cool water.

Brothers and sisters, why is it that we are only thankful for those things in the moment when we are using them?

For most of us, the answer is simple.  We are each so busy that we do not have the time or energy to be thankful beyond the moment.  Consider this, if we could only have in place things that would remind us to be thankful.  I believe this would be an amazing help.  I want to be thankful to God and to others.  I know you do as well.  I also know God wants us to be thankful.

In Joshua 5 the Lord placed things before Israel so that she would be reminded to be thankful.

  • Each male was to be circumcised as a reminder of the covenant they had with God.  You and I have a circumcision in our hearts.  We are daily reminded of how God has brought us near Him by grace (Ephesians 2:8-16).
  • Each year they were to celebrate Passover which reminded them of the Lord’s deliverance.  We are to observe the Lord’s Supper as our reminder of what the Lord has done for us.
  • Each day the people were to follow God’s leadership because He was their warrior leader.  Each day you and I are to spend time in prayer knowing our Father is in heaven and we are to honor His name!!!

I find it so simple, but so profound for so many.  If we would daily spend time with God in prayer and Bible Study and if we would mark our calendars and guard our calendars to make sure we are in church each Sunday, we would be a thankful people.

Scandal in the group (Luke 22)

November 19, 2018

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. Luke 22:3-4

As the news spread throughout the city of Jerusalem, it must have sent shock waves into the people who were following Christ.  The news was clear, “Jesus pastoral team falls apart.”

How could this be?  Answer, Sin!

The twelve began to follow Jesus over three years earlier.  But from the beginning one was not all-in.  His name was Judas.  We all know the story of his betrayal.  But how did he arrive at this place?

  • He was never a genuine follower of Jesus.  He liked the group but was never in the group.
  • He wanted the blessing of being in the group.  He became the keeper of the money and he often stole from the group.
  • He was a pawn in the hand of Satan.  John 13:3 “The devil put it in his heart to betray Jesus.”
  • He gave himself over to Satan, “Satan entered him.”

Brothers and sisters, are there sins in your life that you are harboring?  Are there sins you think are really not that damaging?  Be assured, what is secret sin here is open scandal in heaven.

Even the smallest of unconfessed sins will become instruments in the hand of Satan.  Unconfessed sin becomes festering sin which in turn leads to fatal sin to all who are around you.

This weekend we will observe the Lord’s Supper as a church.  I challenge you to be ready by being fully repentant before the Lord.

I Corinthians 11:23-33

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.[h] 31 But if we judged[i] ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined[j] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.