Archive for September, 2019

Taking God Seriously (Proverbs 1-2)

September 30, 2019

If you turn at my reproof,[a]
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
    I will make my words known to you. Proverbs 1:23

If there is one thing I have figured out about myself it is this; I need the help of God.  It is also true that I need the help of others.  However, others help is only beneficial to me if they are sharing the wisdom given to them by God.

Question:  Have you figured out that you need God?

The write of the Book of Proverbs begins his writing by teaching us the importance of knowing and obeying God.  Here is what he wrote:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

It is the foolish person who lives his or her life without God.  But it is the wise person who loves and obeys God which is the essence of what the writer means when he writes, “The fear of the Lord.”

When you and I love God and obey God, His wisdom comes flooding into our lives.  Here is how Solomon helps us to process this:

  • God exposes wisdom to us, Vs: 2a.  Suddenly we realize His wisdom is all around us, 1:20-22.
  • God empowers us to apply wisdom, Vs: 2b.  Victory becomes a part of our lives, 1:8-9.
  • God encourages us to receive wisdom, Vs: 3.  We are called to take it seriously, 1:23.
  • God exhorts us to pass on His wisdom, Vs: 4.
  • God expands our wisdom, Vs: 6.  Every day God offers us what we need, Vs: 33.

How amazing this truth really is.  To think that the Creator of the Universe would share His wisdom with us floods my heart with love and praise!

But consider this, for those who do not take seriously His wisdom, or they turn away from His wisdom, or even worse they reject His wisdom (1:29), such  people will eat the fruit of their ways (1:31).  Such people die for lack of truth.

Let us take God’s wisdom seriously.  Here is God’s promise:

for wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 discretion will watch over you,
    understanding will guard you,
12 delivering you from the way of evil,
    from men of perverted speech, Prov. 2:10-12

 

Words of Encouragement for the church ( I Peter 5)

September 27, 2019

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5

It’s really hard to give words of encouragement to people if you really have no clue of where they need encouragement.  You and I can offer general words of encouragement such as God loves you, I am praying for you, and you look nice today.  But to be specific we need details.

Now there are many reasons why people keep the details to themselves:

  • We might be afraid that someone would use our weak moments against us.
  • We might not even know how to put into words what we are dealing with.
  • We might be unfamiliar with opening up.

Peter seems to be indicating the problem could be pride.  Let me tell you, this is the core of my problem.  Until I come to a place of hearing God’s words of encouragement I will never seek for others help to be encouraged.  Here are God’s Words:

  • HUMBLE YOURSELF

God intends for His followers to surrender their lives to Him which means you and I place all our eternal hope in Him.   God also intends for His followers to submit each moment to Him.  This means you and I give every circumstance into His hands, trusting His outcome.

  • CAST YOURSELF

Again we place every problem (source of anxiety) before the Lord.  We mean they are all in Your hands Lord.

  • BE SOBER-MINDED

We are to pay attention to what is important and what is happening in the bigger scheme of things. We have an enemy who is a roaring lion.  This means he is not devouring but is deceiving.  I am not afraid of a roaring lion.  I am afraid of a devouring lion.  Satan always works in deception.  You and I overcome him with sound truth from God.

  • BE FIRM

In faith we are to take up the shield of faith.  We are called to resist the enemy.

  • LOOK FORWARD

God will direct us to places (after we go through trials) where we are restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established.

Brothers and sisters, when we put these words of encouragement together we find a process of life that brings us into a mature place where we are the militant servants of God winning every battle and casting out the enemy.

Lord, lead us to receive Your Words of encouragement and to give Your Words of encouragement.

Insults (I Peter 4)

September 26, 2019

14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory[b] and of God rests upon you.  I Peter 4:14

There was anger in his voice as he approached me. The guy was mumbling something, but I could not make it out.  Finally I heard him say, “I do not have to put up with insults.”  My first response was to calm him down.  My second action was to find out what happened.

Once calmed down the person said, the person insulted his sports team.  Brothers and sisters, now I got insulted (just kidding).  Sadly, most of the times our feelings of insults come from things that really have little significance in life.

However, what Peter is writing about has great significance.

Question:  Are you easily insulted or are you one to easily insult others?

The Bible teaches us to not be insulting to others, I Cor. 10:32

The word insulted is translated as “reproaches in the KJV.”  This word is translated as ridiculed in other places.  Here is the deal: Peter is teaching us how to handle circumstances when someone is ridiculing us and insulting us because of our faith.

Peter says, we are blessed if the Jesus is us is being insulted.  By their insults the insulter is giving you assurance of true faith and confidence that His light is shining from your life.  You are being insulted for the name of Christ.

So what should our response be?

  1. Do not allow the insults to catch you off guard,
  2. Allow the insults to be your platform for the gospel.
  3. Don’t respond too insults with insults. (Vs: 15)
  4. Do not allow the insults to discourage your faith.  (Vs: 16-17)
  5. Trust God with the insult and live out your faith doing God’s will from the heart (Vs: 18).

Our world has far too much useless (sports teams) and harmful (issues that count) insults as it is.  Let us, as Christ followers, be influencers for the glory of God.

The Gospels Impact in the Home (I Peter 3)

September 25, 2019

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, I Peter 3:1

I hope you noticed I underlined the first word in Vs: 1.  When Peter uses this word, he is connecting us to the previous chapter where he writes of the gospel’s impact on our lives.  If the gospel is truly having impact, it will be seen the clearest behind the closed doors of your home.

Peter illustrates this by giving us examples from both the wife’s and the husbands viewpoints:

Notice what the husband will see when the gospel impacts his wife, 3:1-6.

Peter is clear, the gospel will even reach a lost husband when his wife lives out the gospel behind closed doors.  Here is what he will see in her impactful silent witness that cannot be silenced:

  • A respectful wife who loves and affirms her husband.
  • A pure wife who lives a righteous life.
  • A wife of internal beauty that affects how he sees her on the outside.
  • A wife who is anointed by God with His adornment.

As the men stand here in awe of what Peter has presented, we notice Peter moving to the second illustration:

Notice what the wife will see when the gospel impacts her husband, 3:7.

Again Peter begins with the word, “likewise.”  which means he is to be doing everything the wife is doing, ( is this fair?  This is the price of leadership) plus he is to do the following:

  • Seek to understand his wife’s life.

Daily we are called to seek God’s wisdom, see our wife’s value, and learn how to love her as Christ loved the church.  We are called to honor her worth and show her her worth in Christ.

  • Protect her and shepherd her.

Men are good at protecting their wives from danger of storms, snakes, or dogs.  However, the tougher matters of spiritual warfare and leadership in the home, the man often falls asleep on the job.  Where are the God-men today?  God has called us to faithfully follow the leadership of the Great Shepherd in pastoring our home.  The truth is, our wives and our children are on loan from God and some day we will answer to God.

Dad, our effectiveness outside the home can only be if we are effective inside the home!!! Mom it is to be the same in your life.

Question:  Has the gospel had impact on your life?  yes, no, or maybe?

Wherever you find your answer today, let the gospel do its full work so that you can say, “Yes, Yes, Oh Yes!!!”

Living as a Servant (I Peter 2)

September 24, 2019

16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants[d] of God, I Peter 2:16

As I begin to write this blog, I want you to know that I was intending to write about, “Putting away.”  God’s Word was strong concerning our need to put off the person we were born with and put on the person Jesus died for.

But as I was opening my Bible to actually hold down my journal, my eyes caught Vs: 16 and in particular the words, “living as a servant.”  I wonder, how many of us got up this morning and reported to Jesus as His servant?  I wonder, how many of us came before the Lord and simply said,  I am here to serve, what are my assignments for the day?

My confession is, I began my day with a quick prayer, asking God to open my mind to the Scriptures.  He did and I grew in my understanding, but even then, I did not spend my prayer time as a servant.  I spent my prayer time seeking answers from God (this was very much in His will).  But I forgot to receive my assignments.

A servant is one who reports for duty with a willing heart and an obedient mind.  A servant is one who thinks not about his own will but is solely focused on the will of his or her master.

I believe it is God’s will for my life to put off the ways of my life before Christ and I believe it is the will of God for me to put on the ways of life given to me by Christ at my new birth.  Deeper still it is the will of God that I put zero conditions or limitations for God’s access to my life. I have been bought with a price, I am to glorify God with my whole being.

So, let us say to God together, We are reporting to You oh Lord, for duty.  What is your assignment for our lives today.

The narrative of our lives (I Peter 1)

September 23, 2019

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action,[b] and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I Peter 1:13

Things just seem to have a way of turning our own plans upside down.  For example, you plan to take the day off to do the things you have been putting off.  But something comes up or suddenly you are needed in a different place. You can fill in the blank of the things you would do if you had a day off.  You understand where I am coming from.

The question is, how do you and I respond when things come up?  How we respond can be crucial to those around us. Peter writes to encourage elected Christ-followers to walk as obedient children through the things that happen to mess up our days off.

There are so many themes in this amazing book.  In particular we see Christ who died on the cross as our ransom.  We see Christ who was raised from the dead so that we could be raised from the dead.

The theme that stuck deeply in my heart this day was the theme of various trials (1:6-8).  Trials take on many shapes and they each demand our attention.  Peter writes that each of these trials prove the genuineness of our faith.  There are three observations that I want to make from the text:

  • The cross of Christ gives us insight to our battles.  1:13 “We have to be ready for action every moment of the day.”
  • The cross of Christ gives us confidence concerning the final outcome.  We have full hope.
  • The cross of Christ gives us our Standard Operating Procedures.  We are to walk in obedience as holy servants of the Lord.   As we do this we learn to cherish every person.  We no longer look at them as interruptions in our lives. They are our opportunity to serve the Lord.

Here was my prayer after reading chapter 1, “Father, I not only accept Your change of plans, I stand ready to carry them out as one who is honored to do so.”

As long as you live (Psalm 116)

September 20, 2019

Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:2

Have you ever made the following comment:  “As long as I live I will not forget….”. I can honestly say, I have said this hundreds of times in my life and I am sure I have forgotten many of those I will never forget moments.  But there is one thing, I am sure I will never forget, unless I lose my mind.  I will never forget the GOODNESS OF GOD!!!

In Psalm 116 we get a front row seat as the Psalmist recounts for us some of the things he never wanted to forget.  Here is a sampling of what he remembered:

  • The Lord delivers from eternal destruction, Vs: 4.
  • The Lord delivers from pain and anxiety, Vs: 2-3.
  • The Lord is gracious, righteous, and merciful, Vs: 4-5.
  • The Lord protects the simple, Vs:6.

These are just a few of the many things the Psalmist remembered about His God. Question: what has God done in your life that you never want to forget?  Take a few minutes and make a list. Do not go any further reading until the list is complete.

Did you make the list?  If you did, the rest of the blog will lift your spirits not matter what you are facing today.

Remember the Psalmist said, “as long as I live I will…”

Out of what he remembered, he wrote down 5 actions this lead him to do:

1. I will worship you every day-I will celebrate your goodness, Vs: 13.

2.  I will fulfill my commitments to the Lord, Vs: 14.

3.  I will joyfully live as His servant, Vs: 15.

4.  I will give thanks in prayer throughout each day, Vs: 17.

5.  I will live out my faith openly before others, Vs: 18-19.

Brothers and sisters, as long as you and I live we must remember because when we get into present storms we need the remembrance of who He is so that we will have faith in the eye of our present storms!!!  As long as I live I will remember…

What’s in the books? (Rev. 20-21)

September 19, 2019

”And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” Rev. 20:12

Back in January, I sensed the Lord was urging me to spend this year, in my quiet times, reading through His Word without the aid of any study notes.  Brothers and sisters, the last nine months have been life-changing. One of my favorite verses in these months has been, Isaiah 45:22 “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth.  For I am God, and there is none other.”

For over 2000 years the Church has been proclaiming this message.  In the last nine months I have been learning so much about the “I Am.”  One of the many attributes I have over and over studied is the justice of God.  Every day God has reminded me of this truth: He always does what is just.

We need to know this as we come to Revelation 20.  Before us is our just Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We see Him ruling for a 1000 years. After these years have ended, the unjust one is released from the pit. We notice his soul purpose is to lead those who became unjust in the 1000 years into a war to take over the just throne of God.

But, praise God, it will be to no avail. Justice always triumphs over injustice. The flames of the just one will consume the unjust ones and the power of the just one will overcome the epitome of injustice.  Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

Now that the unjust are removed, we see clearly the throne of the just one who will sit in judgment of the entire earth.  We see all people from all history (who rejected Jesus) standing before His throne to be judged by what was in the books.

What is in the books?  Our answer comes from the books themselves.  Here are the possible books there:

  • The Lambs book of Life
  • The Word of God.
  • The book of conscience, Rom. 2:15
  • The book of words, Matt. 12:36-37
  • The book of secrets, Rom. 2:16
  • The book of public works, II Cor. 11:18
  • The book of life, Rev. 12:1

Brothers and sisters, there will be no way to lie out of what we did in our lifetimes. It will be absolute justice on that day.

Today, I am so thankful that, God awakened me to the truth that I could settle out of court!!!  When Jesus first came, it was for the purpose of paying the price for the unrighteous, I Peter 3:18.  All who surrender their lives to Him find forgiveness and eternal life.  In Christ we settle out of court (I John 2:1-2).

The books are clean for the Christian.  This is the power of the blood of Christ.  When I read Revelation 21, I can say, by grace I am going to live over there.  At the same time I am called to share with those who are not at present going to live over there.

A lost world knows what’s in the books.  But they do not know about the one who came so that they can be saved (Isa. 45:25).  Let us plead with them to settle out of court.

Self Examination (II Corinthians 13)

September 18, 2019

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?  Unless indeed you fail to met the test.” II Cor. 13:5

I am really good at examining other people’s faults.  Over the years I have all but profected the art of examining others.  To top it off, I enjoy making myself look better by putting down others.

Brothers and sisters, who would admit they had the above life?  This is exactly how some in the church at Corinth were living their lives.  They were examining (testing) others faith without even a consideration to examine (test) their own.

Paul’s writing in our focal text confronts such people.  His confrontation was not out of frustration or from even being judgmental.  Paul was concerned for their souls.

Paul wanted to know and he wanted each Corinthian to know whether Christ was in them or not.  This is why God calls you and I to a daily self-examination.

Brothers and sisters, I want to daily self-examine my own life.  Here are 8 self-examination questions and Scriptures for you to look up.

1. Who is the boss of your life?  Galatians 2:20.

2.  What is the standard by which you judge your life?  Heb. 4:12.

3.  What is the goal of your life? Col. 3:17, 21.

4.  What is your philosophy of self-examination?  Matt. 7:1-5.

5. Who is in charge of your money?  Matt. 6:21.

6.  Who do you always talk about?  Rom. 1:6-17.

7.  Do you ever experience the discipline of the Lord?  Heb. 12:5-11; I Cor. 11:32.

8.  Is your life more righteous or more unrighteous?  I John 3:4-10.

Brothers and sisters, self-examination is an amazing tool from the Lord.  When a person correctly self-examines, he or she has no time to examine others because you are growing in God’s making you into what He desires you to be.

So, lets drop the others examination and spend our lives in self-examination for the glory of God!!!

Accepting Your Circumstances (II Corinthians 12)

September 17, 2019

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

In Luke 8, Dr. Luke recounts for us the story of a woman whose circumstances were extremely difficult (Luke 8:42-48).  For 12 long years she had suffered from a rare disease.  For 12 painful years she suffered from both physical and emotional pain.  She went to every doctor she could, it bankrupted her, and what did she end up with?  She grew worse from their treatments.  The question came, what more could she do.

In our focal text, Paul has a rare disease that we are not told about it’s nature.  I think it must have been an eye disease (Gal. 4:12-16).  Paul did not limit his efforts for healing into  a doctor’s hands, he also came before the Lord on three occasions.  Each time the Lord said, I am not going to heal you now because I am working in you through your disease.

How could it be possible for God to be at work in such a disease?

  1. God was teaching Paul humility through this.
  2. God was showing Paul how sufficient He (God) was in his life.
  3. God was being glorified by all who saw God at work in Paul’s life.

After the third time, Paul makes a decision.  He accepts his circumstances as being from God and for God!!!  After this decision Paul came to a place of contentment.  He was not able to both work and walk with God apart from fear, doubt, argument, and distrust.

All of that was over. Now we see a man who is both courageous and a conqueror for Jesus!

Now the Lord may do for you (and I hope He does) what He did for the woman in Luke 8.  When she touched his garment she was healed by faith.  However, would you and I be content if He did not?

The fact is, every true believer will be healed of all our infirmities, either here or when we cross over to Heaven.  However, I believe those who follow Him in the fellowship of His suffering find the greatest of contentment.

Praying for your journey today!!!