Archive for November, 2019

What do you have? (Hebrews 13)

November 29, 2019

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5

Living in America has many advantages and disadvantages.  One of the advantages is in how many choices we have.  For example, one can find no less than 30 different types of shampoo on one shelf in Kroger.  But, this advantage can turn into a disadvantage if we have to have all 30 different types.

In Hebrews 13, our author addresses various practical applications of our faith.  For example: “Let brotherly love continue, do not neglect to show hospitality, and honor marriage.”

Then we come to verse 5.  In this verse the writer directs us to “be content with what we have.”

The word content speaks of being satisfied with what God has provided.  Question, what has God provided for His people?

  1. He has provided Salvation, Vs: 10-12.
  2. He has provided a new life and a new way to live life, Vs: 1-5.
  3. He has provided for every need we have, Vs: 5.
  4. He has provided the Holy Spirit to always be with us in life, Vs: 5b.
  5. He has provided shepherds (pastors) to guide us and protect us, Vs: 7, 17-18.
  6. He has provided stability in Himself, Vs: 8.
  7. He has provided Heaven, Vs: 13-14.

Brothers and sisters, when I consider what I have been given by God, I want to praise my Lord (Vs: 15).  I also want to share with others what God has provided for me (Vs: 16).  When God’s contentment floods our lives we are now able to focus on how He wants us to minister in this world (Vs: 21).

Here is what is so amazing today:  What God has provided for me, He also is able to provide for the whosever will, Rom. 10:13.  Thank you Jesus for all I have and all I will have in Heaven with You!!!

Being Grateful (Hebrews 12)

November 28, 2019

 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, Hebrews 12:28

Today, we as a nation pause from our chaotic lives to rest, reflect, and hopefully give thanks to the one true God who has given us all we have.

On November 11, 1620 the 101 passengers who had survived the journey to a new land stood on the ship that they had ridden on for what seemed like a lifetime.  As they stood there, 41 of the leaders signed a document that would both govern their lives as well as remind them of their purpose.  Take time to read the Mayflower Compact.  I have pasted it for you below:

We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc., having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

Notice the words, “for the glory of God, and the advancement of the Christian faith.”

Brothers and sisters, these were not the first people to bind themselves by compact to do the will of God.  The New Testament teaches us of a small group of followers of Christ who made the same compact in Acts 1-2.

By the time of the writing of Hebrews, the church was no longer a small group of followers.  The church was exploding with growth throughout the world.  The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 12 concludes with the admonition to give thanks to God for all His blessings.

One may ask, what blessings?  The writer points out two blessings:

  1.  The blessing of a kingdom.

God is giving His people a kingdom, we know this kingdom to be Heaven.  In this kingdom we will live among those listed in Hebrews 11.  Each of those had been called, as are we, to walk by faith.  In this kingdom we will live under the loving authority of King Jesus.  Oh, I have great reason to give thanks this day.

2. The blessing of a kingdom that will never end (be shaken).

This kingdom will stand when all others fail.  Brothers and sisters, Esau will not be in that kingdom and neither will those who cling to their sin instead of clinging to Jesus.

I pray each of you who read this will take time today to give thanks in a grateful way to the King who has given us all that we have and is making us ready for the Kingdom.

I also pray, if you have people at your table who know not Christ, that you tell them the wonderful story of Jesus!!!

Its still by faith (Hebrews 11)

November 27, 2019

40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Hebrews 11:40

As the writer of Hebrews continues to point his readers to Jesus who is our Great High Priest, we find a major moment in his teaching.  This moment was not only for their generation, this moment is for our generation.

Here is our review.  In chapter 10 the people of God were enduring times of suffering. The writer encouraged them by writing, “You have need of endurance.”  God was saying, do my will and you will receive what is promised (10:35).

Question:  How do you and I do the will of God?  The answer is what it always has been, “we walk by faith.”  Maybe it would be important to define faith at this point:  Faith is believing God will do everything He says He will do (being sure of this).  Faith is so believing what God says that you live as if it has already come to be (even though you have not seen it as of yet).

In Hebrews 11 we have read example after example of people who walked by faith.  Let me encourage you to take a deeper look at the chapter.  Let us for example, look to Abraham:

  • Abraham believed God-He left what he knew to walk by faith in a land he had never seen before.
  • Abraham believed God-He lived in tents believing this land would some day be his.
  • Abraham believed God-He looked beyond what was visible to a land that was yet to come.

Brothers and sisters, even though Abraham would own no land (except a burial plot) and even though he lived most of his life without an heir, his life illustrates true faith (11:13-14).

Here is what I am challenged to do by faith:

  1. I am challenged to be still before God.  I am to listen to God’s direction.  I want to hear from God.
  2. I am challenged to pay attention.  Abraham moved when God said, move.
  3. I am challenged to walk by faith.  Even when it seemed impossible, by faith he walked (II Cor. 5:7).
  4. I am challenged to hold onto faith.  When the storm rages (11:17-18) we hold onto the unshakable hand of God.
  5. I am challenged to claim the promises of God.  Some day I will live in that place where Abraham lives.

Brothers and sisters, just as it was with Abraham, so it is with us. Let us walk by faith.

Where were you on Sunday? (Hebrews 10)

November 26, 2019

25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

When I was a child, my parents taught me the value of church.  My parents both ministered at the church as well as were ministered to by the church.  Both mom and dad always placed the church as a top priority in their lives.  When one of them were sick, it was with the greatest of sadness that they had to miss church.  When their friends would miss church, mom would call and ask, are you ok, we missed you in church.  To my parents church was so relevant!!!

Question: how relevant is church in your life?

In Hebrews 10:19-25 we discover no less than six reasons why church should be important:

  1. Christ died for the church, 10:10,12-14.
  2. Christ has made a way for us to collectively worship God, 10:19-21.
  3. Christians find unique fellowship in church, 10:22.
  4. Christians need encouragement and we find it here, 10:23.
  5. Christians need partnership and accountability, 10:24.
  6. Christians need reminders of the urgency of our day, 10:25.

Without the church believers tend to drift away and end up drawn into sin.  Without the church believers let others die without Christ.  Such people live unproductive spiritual lives and they leave this world with unfinished business.

But if we see the value and if we embrace the church we will not shrink back (10:39).  The opposite will be true,  We will strive harder to walk the walk and do the work God has called us to do.

I look forward to seeing you in church this Sunday!!!

Out of our hands and into our hearts (Hebrews 8-9)

November 25, 2019

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people. Hebrews 8:9

According to Jewish law (The Old Covenant), every morning and every evening God’s people came to the first court of the Jews and offered sacrifices to the priest who would offer their sacrifices to God (9:22).  This happened day after day until Christ came.

The sad reality of the Old Testament is this: people’s hearts were not changed.  People simply carried their sacrifices in their hands but obedience was not in their hearts.  The people  would carry the 10 commandments in their hands but not in their hearts.

However, when Christ would come, things would change (8:10).  When Jesus came, He did not carry the blood of bulls and goats into the first court of the Jews.  No, Jesus went into the heavenly holy of holies to offer Himself as the sacrifice for our sins (9:11-14).  Jesus secured an eternal redemption.

Two theological truths:

  1. Sin which was covered in the atonement of the Old Testament has been cleansed by the atonement of the New Covenant (9:15).
  2. The law written on tablets taught by the Scribes has been fulfilled by Jesus so that they can now be written on people’s hearts (9:24-25).

Brothers and sisters, this is amazing.  You and I do not have to focus on trying to live by the letter of the Law (That would be a mishandling of God’ Word).  You and I have a new heart that has the Word of God written on our hearts.  We have a new spiritual GPS.  Now we do not have to worship we get to worship.  Now we do not have to read His Word, we get to read His Word.  We no longer are forced to share our faith, we want to share our faith.

Father, take your Word that I hold in my hand and place it in my heart.  Write on my heart your perfect will.  Lead me to walk in loving obedience.  Forgive me when my steps become sluggish, being weighed down with sin.  Daily I want to have a clean heart ready to be filled with your directions.  Lord empower me to carry out your will from the heart.

Still Considering Jesus (Hebrews 6-7)

November 22, 2019

26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens, Hebrews 7:26

On each page in the book of Hebrews we are being reminded to consider Jesus.  Awaiting for us to arrive in Hebrews 12 are these words, “consider Jesus, the Author (the one who brought our salvation into being) and finisher (the one who will bring our salvation across the finish line) of our faith.”

In Hebrews six, our considering of Jesus should lead us into Christian maturity (6:1).  Our considering of Christ is more than just a sampling of who He is and what the Christian life is all about (6:4-9).  The Christian life is all about being all-in with this God who never ceases to forget our labor for Him (6:11-13).

Day in and day out we are called to consider Christ.  He is greater than any figure in human history (7:1-14).

Here is something new to consider concerning Jesus:  As you and I consider Him, He is seated on the throne in Heaven considering us (Heb. 7:24).  The fact is His considering of our lives leads Him to always be before the throne of God the Father interceding on our behalf.

Oh what good news this is today.  You see, there are moments in my day when I fail to consider Jesus.  In those moments I am now open for Satan’s attacks and sin’s pitfalls.  But at the same time, Jesus is interceding for me, so that I would not fall nor flee from faith.

Brothers and sisters, let me challenge you to even more consider Jesus:

  • He is holy (without sin).
  • He is innocent (there is no scandal in His life).
  • He is different than you and I (His intercession is not based on prejudice, it is based on love).
  • He is enthroned in the Heavens (no one will ever take the throne, we are secure in Him).
  • He will be there for eternity (every generation can consider Jesus because He is the only one to be considered).

Brothers and sisters, let us this day and every day consider the one who is interceding for us.  If you are struggling as you read this, cry out to Jesus.  He is on the throne, doing His job for you.  He loves you and He has the liberation you need.

In the flesh (Hebrews 5)

November 21, 2019

In the days of his flesh, Jesus[a] offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Hebrews 5:7

As a Christian the last think I want anyone to say about me is, Keith is in the flesh.  Now, this demands some explanation.  The Bible designates our old nature as “the flesh.”  There are many examples of this.  Here is one from I Corinthians 3:1-3

But I, brothers,[a] could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 

The flesh describes the nature you and I are born with.  However, when Christ redeems us, we are given a new nature.  However, the old nature is still there. Here is how Paul describes this truth: Gal. 5:16-18

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Question:  Are you in the flesh or in the Spirit?

In Hebrews five our author is describing the differences between the priesthood of Aaron and the priesthood of Jesus.  It is clear, God calls His priest to represent the people before Him.  But it is also clear that only Jesus did not have to offer a sacrifice for His flesh because, unlike all other priest, his flesh was not made weak because of sin.  Jesus was not in sin.

Yes, it is true, Jesus in the flesh was different than you and I in the flesh.

This truth leads me to this amazing reality:  I live my life in the flesh (human being) but I do not conduct my life as a fleshly man.  I have the power (in Christ) to live in the Spirit (II Cor. 10:3-5).  I do not have to be defeated nor do I have to live out my life in the dungeon of spiritual poverty.  I can walk, talk, minister, and do battle as one who has overcome the flesh in and through Jesus.

So, how goes your life in the flesh?  Let it be a life of victory in and through our High Priest, Jesus!!!

Consider Jesus (Hebrews 3-4)

November 20, 2019

 Therefore, holy brothers,[a] you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, Hebrews 3:1

In their hour of need, the writer of the book of Hebrews challenged his readers to “consider Jesus.”   Websters defines the word consider as the process of thinking about something carefully in order to make a choice or decision.

This morning and every morning my mind awakens with many things on it.  If I fail to first consider Jesus, my day will quickly go off the rails of God’s purposes for my life.

In the chapters before us, we are challenged to carefully consider Jesus.  Here is what I carefully considered from our text this day:

  1. Jesus is the Apostle (set apart representative) who is our High Priest before God, 3:1.
  2. Jesus is worthy of all honor because He is the author and finisher of our faith, 3:2-5.
  3. Jesus keeps His people centered in a life of wholly following God the Father, 3:12.
  4. Jesus placed each of us in a family of accountable believers, 3:13-14.
  5. Jesus gives all who trust in Him, true rest, 4:5-10.
  6. Jesus is the living Word, 4:12-13.
  7. Jesus sits on the throne of grace ready to extend mercy and grace when we call on Him, 4:14-16.

Brothers and sisters, when I consider Jesus-I find my day goes so much better and I come to the end of each day knowing I can lay down in peace and rest because I considered Jesus throughout the day.

I leave you with this thought:  CONSIDER JESUS!!!

Its all under control (Hebrews 2)

November 19, 2019

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. Hebrews 2:8

With the most glorious of explanations the author of Hebrews lifts up Jesus as our faithful High Priest.  As we read together chapter 2, I cannot but help seeing Jesus seated at the right hand of God (1:3). The writer reminds us of how Jesus upholds this world by His power (1:3).

This Jesus is worthy of our praise. In chapter 2, the author warns his readers to not neglect (let it slip away) the truth of what we have heard (in our case read).  The fact is, God never changes and God never moves.  It is you and I who sometimes drift away from the shore of trust.

I see this so clearly this morning.  The Hebrew Christians were facing the storms of suffering (10:24-27).  It seems as if they were slowly drifting from shore.  Is there anyone who read this today, who feels the same way?

  • Stress always begins in the mind-fear replaces faith, dread replaces delight, and sadness replaces joy.
  • Stress drifts into ones soul-such a person begin to swim in the pool of anxiety.  Confidence is replaced by chaos.
  • Stress fills the body with pain.  Now the person has drifted out in the ocean of worry.  He or she is now struggling to stay afloat.

To such people the writer of Hebrews throws out the life line of Jesus.  He says, take hold of Jesus.  He is seated on the throne, 2:8.  Look to Him.  You need to know there is nothing outside of His control.

I know it may not look like it right now.  Life seems to be chaotic, but it is not.  You have drifted from the shore.

At this point, we must ask:  What should we do?

  1. We must force ourselves to look beyond the moment:

We are to look back to what Jesus has already done for us, 2:9.

We must remember Jesus has already been where we are now, 2:10.

We must remember we are not in this alone, 2:11-13.

We must place our trust in Him, 2:13.

2. We must focus ourselves in what Jesus is currently doing.

As you read this, Jesus is defeated the enemy, 2:14-15. Right now He is delivering people all over the world.

3.  We must swim back to the shore of faith, 2:17-18.

The very God who went to the cross, died in our place, rose from the dead, ascended back to the Father, and who is coming again has everything under control. All He asks us to do, “Put our trust in Him.”

I look forward to seeing you at the shore!!!

When you are left with nothing (Jeremiah 52)

November 15, 2019

“…The famine was so severe that there was no food for the people of the land.” Jeremiah 52:6

It is one thing to just have soup for a meal, but it is another thing to have nothing.  On my first trip to Malawi in Nov. 2013 many of the people in the village’s were without food.  I can still remember the hopelessness in the eyes of many.  Still to this day I carry the scars of that trip in my heart.  I truly have never been the same.  I can say without doubt, I have never been left with nothing.

As our team leaves Malawi today, I am filled with a pull between leaving and staying.  I hold onto the truth that God meets the deepest needs of anyone who follows Him.  I know it is the rebellion in people’s hearts that causes the poverty in this world and the devastation in this world.  Many children will starve today because of others who live for themselves.

The scene in Jeremiah 52 did not have to be.  Everything was taken away from the people as the leaders tried to slip away.  This day, 2700 years later people are still running away from the fallout of sin. Only the poorest have no where to go.

As our team boards our plane today, we leave having trained pastors and having plated churches that carry the hope of Jesus to the people here.  This day we head home to continue our work of preaching the gospel to the spiritually impoverished of our land.

I want to ask, will you help us either in the USA or here in Malawi?  We need you to become a part of getting this gospel to the nations.  If God is placing this deep in your heart and if you are tired of sitting on the sidelines, then now is the time.  Message me and let me connect you to making a difference in the world.