Archive for August, 2020

Inescapable Truth (Matthew 24:32-25:46)

August 31, 2020

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46

Brothers and sisters at the end of Jesus Olivet Discourse there is unescapable truth. Jesus declares there are only two eternal destinations for all of humanity. You and I know there is Heaven and Hell at the end of the road for every person.

Brothers and sisters this is inescapable truth. However, not everyone knows this truth. There are many in this world who have never heard this before. But some day they will. Have you considered this inescapable truth?

Some people will discover this truth in this life.

Still others will discover this truth at the moment of their death.

Finally there will be a generation who will discover this truth at the Second-Coming of Jesus!

In our focal text Jesus teaches us many things about this inescapable truth:

  1. Jesus teaches us that the signs of His Second Coming are all around us, 24:32-35.
  2. Jesus teaches us that the world seems to have no fear of His Second Coming, 24:44.
  3. Jesus teaches us that these are the most crucial days in the history of the world, 25:1-13 (We must be ready).
  4. Jesus teaches us that every person is given resources that need to be used for Kingdom advance, 25:14-30.
  5. Jesus teaches us that every person will stand before God to be judged, 25:31-46.

Brothers and sisters the disciples must have been stunned by all they heard. If I had been there I would have been filled with so many questions. But for these men, there was no more time for questions. Within two days Jesus would be on the cross (26:1-2). Time was running out.

I wonder, do you get the unescapable truth: Our time is running out.

In this text I find no less than six encouragements for the Christ-follower:

  1. Pay attention to how Scripture is being fulfilled in our day (24:32-35).
  2. Live every day as if it is your last day on the earth (24:44; 25:1-13).
  3. Stay engaged in Kingdom Work (24:46).
  4. Use the talents you have been given to grow the Kingdom of God (25:40).
  5. Serve others as if you are serving the Lord (25:40).
  6. Reach as many people as possible with the glorious gospel before the end (25:41-46).

End Times Instruction (Matthew 24:1-31)

August 28, 2020

27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  Matthew 24:27

Brothers and sisters, I must ask this question. It is so on my heart today: When will it end? Now, I know you naturally ask, when will what end? Honestly there are two things on my mind:

  1. When will the injustices of our day end?
  2. When will the Lord return?

I have found that the Lord often has to place His people in crisis (I Peter 4:12-16) before we truly pay attention to what is really happening all around us.

In these last few months the chaos of lawless behavior among us has increased more and more. I know lawless behavior has always been among us, but now God is opening our eyes by placing it before us day after day.

Yesterday I watched a discussion between a Black Pastor and a White Pastor that clearly opened my eyes to the hurt of lawlessness among us. I truly get it. If I were a black American I would be hurting for all that is happening. Today I hurt with empathy and I hurt for the unrighteousness in our midst. The question is, when will it end?

In our studies for today, we go back to the day when Jesus came out of the Temple and made the prediction that the Temple would be destroyed (24:1-2). This prediction stirred the minds of the disciples to ask two questions:

  1. When will the Temple be destroyed?
  2. When will the end of the world come?

As you know, the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. And as you know the end of the world is still to come.

This morning we read Jesus response to their questions. In His response we find end times instruction. For me, these instructions give me a path to walk toward the end. Here is what Jesus instructs us to do as His people:

Jesus says, Make sure your focus is on who is coming-do not follow false Christs.

Jesus says, Make sure you stay focused on your assignment-the gospel is to be taken to every nation. When we become filled with anxiety we are crippled and we cannot carry out our assignment.

Jesus says, Make sure you are faithful to the end-that end either being your death or His Second-Coming.

Yes, times will become more and more lawless before His coming. I believe this could be the very season of His returning. If it is, we must be focused on His instructions. The church cannot sleep nor can the church ignore the times we live in. We must engage the battle and we must be willing to give our lives in the conflict.

This is our time. Let us rise up and be the church!!!

The Helper Has Come (John 16)

August 27, 2020

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you, John 16:7

As the Disciples continued to hear truth from Jesus it must have become more than they could handle. It was nearing midnight in that Upper Room all those years ago. Fatigue and fear would have been the enemy of these men as they sat with Jesus. In less than 50 days from that night, these men (minus Judas) would be tasked with Acts 1:8.

On this night in history, Jesus taught many things. In John 16 there are 5 promises made by Jesus. Take a moment and reread them. I have listed them below:

  1. Jesus promised to send a Helper, Vs: 6-9.
  2. Jesus promised He would die (they would sorrow) and He would return from the dead (sorrow turned to joy), Vs: 16-22.
  3. Jesus promised to answer prayer, Vs: 23-24.
  4. Jesus promised to return to the Father, Vs: 28.
  5. Jesus promised to give the Disciples peace in a troubled world, Vs: 33.

Question: Did Jesus keep His promises? Answer: Yes, in every one of those promises.

Question: Do these promises apply to our lives? Again the answer is yes!

Take a moment and read back through the promises above. I pray you have read them and I pray you apply them to your personal life. If you will allow me the honor, I want to illustrate for you how you can apply these promises to your personal life: The Bible says Jesus would send a helper (The Holy Spirit). The Scripture teaches us concerning the amazing help He brings.

It is the Holy Spirit that brings every repentant sinner to spiritual life. Jesus resurrection power is now in us through the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that leads us to know Jesus will for our lives. Through the Holy Spirit we know how to pray as we should. It is the Holy Spirit that directs us how to live. It is the Holy Spirit that speaks the peace of Jesus into our lives.

Please brothers and sisters, allow this truth to penetrate your heart, soul, and mind. Just like the disciples who long ago faced fatigue and fear, you and I live in a troubled world that sometimes causes us fear and leads us to be fatigued. The one sure protection from this world is to walk in the Holy Spirit’s direction.

I know I have given you these verses many times in our studies over the years. But they need to be written on the tablets of your heart again and again. They point us to the help we need:

 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, II Cor. 10:3-5

The Holy Spirit is your helper!!! Call on Him every day and begin every day submitting to His leadership in your life.

Do You Need Help (John 14-15)

August 26, 2020

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[e] anything in my name, I will do it.

Last Saturday morning I made the decision that I could not put it off any longer. One of my sprinkler heads needed to be either fixed or replaced in the yard. I truly sought the Lord’s help. I asked God to give me the ability to fix the problem.

An hour or so later I gathered what tools I thought I would need. I made my way into the yard and then as I began to work, my neighbor came out of his house and he asked, do you need any help? It was in that moment when pride rose up. I wanted to say, I got it. But then I remembered my prayer to God. My neighbor was God’s answer to my prayer.

In John 14 and 15 the disciples were troubled (14:1) about the events that were within hours of unfolding. In less than 24 hours Jesus would be in a borrowed tomb and they would each be in hiding. In their most crucial hour they needed help.

Brothers and sisters, if they would have only listened to Jesus teaching in these chapters, their immediate responses would have been different. From Jesus teaching I find there are no less than 4 things they needed in the hour of trial:

  1. They needed to place their faith in Jesus.

Jesus said, “Believe also in me..”

Did anyone need to hear this today? In such times as we are living in, we so need to be strengthened in faith. We need God every moment of every day.

2. They needed to position their focus solely on Jesus.

Jesus said: “Have you been with me so long and still you do not know me?”

Take time this day and ask Jesus the following questions: Who are you Lord? What is your will in this day, this week, this month, and this year?

Look closely at God’s promise: 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

3. They needed the person of the Holy Spirit. 14:24-27

They needed His presence, His peace, His power, and His viewpoint .

4. They needed a growing personal walk with Jesus, John 15.

Yes, the disciples had been walking with Jesus for over three years, but it was about to change. God was now going to reside inside of them. He would prune them through trials, tribulations, and great tests of faith.

God was about produce more and more fruit in their lives as they placed their total faith in Jesus. God was about to produce much fruit as they positioned themselves to listen to His commandments. God was about to produce such fruit through the Holy Spirit that would lead to many people coming into the Kingdom of God.

Just as God sent my neighbor as the answer to my prayer for help, God is sending help to you. I encourage you to be sensitive to His plan because it could be you are rejecting the very help He is sending you.

A Moment I never want to forget (John 13)

August 25, 2020

 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  John 13:1

It is so true that there are moments in our lives we would love to forget. Be honest, there are pictures from your teenage years that you would destroy if your parents would allow you to do so. Also there are moments in your memory bank that you would love to erase.

But at the same time there are moments you and I pray we never forget. I think about the moments when God has revealed great life-changing truth. Such moments impact us. It is these moments the enemy attempts to push out of our lives.

Whenever I hear John 13 or whenever I read John 13 one of those moments of great revelation comes to mind.

I hope you have already read John 13 this morning. If not, pause here and read John 13. Oh I hope you have read John 13, because if you have not, this will not be as impackful.

Brothers and sisters there are no less than 4 scenes revealed in this chapter:

  1. There is the scene of Jesus washing the disciples feet-In this Jesus was teaching these men to serve one another, 13:1-15.
  2. There is the scene of Jesus identifying His betrayer, 13:21-30.
  3. There is the scene of Jesus giving the disciples a new commandment, 13:31-35.
  4. There is the scene of Jesus sharing with Peter how he will deny Jesus, 13:36-38.

Each of these moments have extremely impact on our lives. But there is one moment for me that stands out. It is the moment when John informs us that Jesus was not only in the upper room, but that Jesus entrance into the upper room was all apart of his plan to reveal to the world His heart of love!!!

John comments: “He loved His own to the end.”

Brothers and sisters, John was reliving all the events of the upper room. Yes, John relates those events, but he also relives one moment that He had seen over and over. John saw the love of God.

In the course of one’s lifetime, there are many events that will stand out. I wonder, what is the one event or the one character trait that stands out above all others about you? For John it was the Love of God.

Later in John’s life the Lord gives John the task of writing three epistles known as I, II, and II John. Here is an exert from I John 2:7-9:

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.

What Jesus did before the disciples in John 13 was not new to Jesus. He had for all eternity been the God of Love. He still was and He still is today. However, for John it had all been new because He had never experienced it before.

The key moment is this: When Jesus called John into the light of His love, everything changed for John and it was still day-by-day changing!!! Here is what I take away from John 13:

Peter was moving toward the shadows of fear-the shadows lead to his temporary denial.

Judas never came out of the darkness-Satan would enter him.

Peter would come back into the light and do great things in the kingdom of God!!!

Brothers and sisters, if you and I will dwell in the light of Jesus every day, each day will be a day we want to remember!!!

What Are You Doing? (John 11)

August 24, 2020

 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?”

Oh this is hard to confess, especially on a Monday morning, but here goes: I sometimes question what God is doing. Oh, how I wish that I could end my confessional time here, but I have one more thing to confess: I sometimes give God advice as how to run the universe.

Brothers and sisters, just writing the previous paragraph seems silly when I think about it, but when you are in the moment what is obvious is not always so obvious.

It was this way with the disciples as they walked with Jesus in John 11. The news came to Jesus that His close friend Lazarus was very sick (11:1-2). The Bible records Jesus staying two days longer where He was.

Now, it does not make sense to me that Jesus would wait two days longer if He knew Lazarus was near death. However this was not the case. Lazarus apparently dies as news is coming to Jesus.

Here is what I love about Jesus: He is God and He knows exactly what will bring glory to Himself in the eternal plan of Heaven.

After two days, Jesus said, “Lets go…” But wait, the disciples push back. They are questioning Jesus wisdom. The people in Judea were already wanting to kill Jesus and it made no sense to go back.

But here is amazing truth: We cannot see like Jesus sees.

Pay close attention to what Jesus said:

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

In my mind I read the above verses like this: I know what I am doing. If you would just join me in the light you would see what is about to happen!!!

Brothers and sisters, with all my heart I want to join Jesus in the light. Why should we want to join Him in the light? Here are 4 reasons:

  1. He loves us and gives us grace in-spite of our foolish thoughts.
  2. He has all power over the darkness of this world.
  3. He leads us in kindness and mercy every day.
  4. He leads us to walk in resurrection power even through the valley of the shadow of death.

Last week I had one of those days when the weight of the world seemed to settle on my mind and heart. As I prayed, the Lord seemed to stop me and say, Keith I do not need your suggestions. I just need you to follow me.

I believe this is what God is calling you to this very day! Join Him in the light because He is the light (John 8:12).

Why Are You Still Here? (Mark 10)

August 21, 2020

 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, Mark 10:43

An elderly lady once asked me a very important question. Her question was familiar to me. Others have asked me this question over the years. The question brought humility to my heart. Here was her question: pastor why am I still here on the earth?

As I looked into the longing face of this precious saint of God, I saw a woman whose body was worn out. This lady was barely able to stand. She was losing both her hearing and her eye-sight. She had very little money and in the eyes of the world, time had passed her by.

As I considered her question, the words of Jesus came to my heart and mind:

 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,

I realized I was standing before a great lady in the eyes of God. This precious lady has served others as God’s ambassador since the day she received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. As I looked at her I realized I was not looking at a person who was feeling sorry for herself. No, this was a servant who wanted to know how she could serve God’s Kingdom purposes with what she had left.

Dear friends, this is what Jesus modeled for us when He walked among us (Mark 10:45).

In part of our Scripture reading for the day, Jesus was approached by James and John. These guys asked Jesus to grant them positions of honor when He establishes His kingdom. The other 10 disciples get all-upset because they didn’t want these guys to rule over them. Check out the story in Mark 10:25-42.

Jesus response to their question is amazing. Let me summaries what Jesus said in two points:

  1. Christians are to be different from the world.

God calls His saints to be servants of others. Jesus modeled this by serving and giving His life as a ransom for all people.

2. Jesus measures our success differently than does the world.

Jesus said; if we serve others for His glory we are successful in God’s eyes. Jesus said; if you lead people to follow Him, you are making an eternal difference in people’s lives.

As I looked into the eyes of that precious senior adult lady, I saw a successful woman. I thanked her for modeling a servants heart. I thanked her for the example she was setting before me.

But the best, in her eyes, was still to be said. I felt so impressed of the Lord to say the following: Dear sister, you may not be able to serve others as you used to do, but it could be that you can serve them in a way that will make an even greater impact.

I went on to share with her how she could engage in intercessory prayer for all the people she knew. Almost immediately she responded, “I am still useful for God.” Without a doubt as I write this blog she is now interceding for me.

Brothers and sisters, if you and I have a heart to serve we will never run out of ministry to do. Brothers and sisters, if you and I have a heart to reach others, we will never run out of people to reach.

What Did you Lose?

August 20, 2020

 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.  Luke 17:33

This past week several of my close friends had wedding anniversaries and some celebrated birthdays. I love when people post a picture of their wedding day, alongside of their announcement of how many years they have been married. I also enjoy seeing how they have changed over the years.

This morning as I worked my way through Luke 17, I was gripped in spirit by The Holy Spirit when I read Luke 17:33

 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 

Jesus deeply challenged me to look at my life from the point of my wedding day (when I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior). As I sat before the Lord it was as if Jesus was showing me pictures of where my life was each year on my spiritual wedding anniversary.

Brothers and sisters, there were years that I remembered with great joy and there were years that I remembered with great sadness. The problem was, in some years I lived for me and in other years I lived for the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, how much have you and I lost for the sake of Jesus? For me, the years in which I have given to the Lord have been years of joy, but the years I lived for me are still years of scars on my heart and mind.

How does one live his or life for Jesus? The answer is simple: Losers Gain. When we lose our life for Christ sake we gain. Here are three steps that will insure that you lose so you can gain:

  • Place your life totally in God’s hands. Bring all you have to the cross, Gal. 2:20.
  • Reject self-indulgence and embrace service to God, Luke 17:7-10.
  • Love Him more and more each day, Mark 8:34-38.

As one famous person said: “I regret that I have only one life to give to God.”

Faithful with what you have (Luke 15-16)

August 19, 2020

11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? Luke 16:11

A man was sitting in a cafe discussing life with his best friend.  As they continued in their conversation, they noticed a very well-known rich man entering the cafe.  The older of the two friends said, If I had his money I would really help other people.  There was a long pause and then the younger spoke words of wisdom.  He said,  let us just be faithful with what we have!

This younger man must have read our focal text for today.  If you have already read Luke 15 and 16 you know that Jesus was teaching in a series of parables.  These stories given by Jesus clearly were illustrating truth for our day.

In the first thirteen verses of chapter 16 Jesus tells the story of a plantation owner who fired his manager because the manager did not correctly manage his business ventures.  As the story develops the shock of what is about to happen to the manager shakes up the manager who now decides to act in very shrewd way that will ensure his own good fortune in the days ahead.  In a surprising turn of events, the plantation owner commends the manager for his actions in being shrewd.

One must be careful here not to get the wrong interpretation from the story.  Jesus is not saying we are to be underhanded as the world.  Jesus is saying we are to be faithful with what we have been entrusted with.

As those two guys continued to talk, at the cafe, the conversation continued around the subject of what each had been given by the Lord.  There were two statements they believed the Lord led them to.  I offer them to you:

  1. Use what God has given you for the sake of others.

Jesus said, “Make friends with the unrighteous.”  Jesus was a friend of sinners (Luke 15:1-2).  As we reach out to sinners and share with them God’s blessings the gospel shines into the darkness of their hearts.

2. Rejoice in knowing the rewards for faithfulness are greater than we realize.

The earthly influence and the eternal rewards that come to faithful people so illustrate what Jesus was teaching.

I want to challenge you to consider what you have been entrusted with.  I have been entrusted with faith, a wife and children, a calling, friends, co-workers, the nation that I live in, a church, and so much wealth.

In Jesus name, may you and I be found faithful with what we have been given.

What Have You Left Behind? (Matthew 19)

August 18, 2020

29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold[c] and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29

The young guy could not wait to get his bags packed and to launch out into the world.  As he hurriedly packed his luggage, his father offered his assistance by placing things in his son’s bag that he thought he might want.  But his son kept saying, dad I am all grown up.  I will not need these things where I am going.

Question:  Have you ever tried to embrace the future while holding onto the past?

In Matthew 19 we once again read the familiar story of the Rich Man who held onto his one idol above God.  He could not let go of his riches.  Out of that tragic scene there are two powerful truths given to Jesus disciples:

  1. With God anyone can be saved, 19:26.
  2. The reward for following Jesus is far greater than the trinkets we leave behind.

For a moment, let’s linger in the second truth.  Ask yourself, what have I left behind to follow Jesus?  Here are a few things I left behind when I first began to follow Jesus:

  • I left behind my sin and receive His salvation.
  • I left behind my prison and receive a palace from Him.
  • I left behind my past and received His forgiveness.
  • I left behind my sorrow and received His joy.

Oh, I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Often it seems that the enemy of God’s people attempts to turn us back to what we left behind by telling us that what we left behind was of more value than it really was.  The writer of Hebrews addresses this reality in 11:13-16

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Brothers and sisters when we you are tempted:

  • To go back-remember what you would give up.
  • To give up-remember what He has already brought you through.
  • To slow down-remember where you are headed.

I praise God for where I am now and where I am headed!!!!