Archive for November, 2021

For the Sake of Something Far More Important (I Corinthians 9-11)

November 30, 2021

2I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. I Corinthians 9:23

Last Friday I wrote the following in my personal journal: “God I must ask, what is the most important thing I can do today in your Kingdom?” The Lord’s response was right in front of me. God said, live your life for the sake of the gospel. As I considered this truth, I realized I would have to give up other things I had planned so that I could live for the sake of something far more important.

Today’s Scripture readings help us to grasp this truth. I Corinthians 9 begins with Paul’s defense of his ministry. Paul was being accused of profiting from the ministry. In Paul’s summary defense, he proves that he was within his rights to receive a salary for the work he was doing. However, Paul surrendered his rights to do so because of something more important. Paul knew he would hinder the gospel by receiving what was fully his right to do so. He understood that by listening to these people, he was winning the right to win these people to Jesus.

Question: do you and I always know what the greater purpose is in what we face each day?

I must confess there are days when I chose the lower purpose and sacrifice the greater purpose. We see in our Scripture text for today that Paul firmly understood and applied the truth of the greater purpose:

  • Paul’s goal was to preach the gospel, 9:16.
  • Paul’s fruit was in the souls that he reached, 9:22-23.
  • Paul’s impact resulted in God being glorified, 10:31.

Here is a good rule of thumb. If your goal is preaching the gospel that results in the fruit of salvation which gives glory to God, then you are living your life for the sake of something greater.

2 questions:

  1. What are you willing to give up so that the greater purpose is served?
  2. How can you help others to grasp this truth?

This New Life we have been Given (I Corinthians 5-8)

November 29, 2021

20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. I Corinthians 6:20

Brothers and sisters, we have so much to praise our Lord for. I am so thankful for the previous few days with family and friends. I am so thankful we have the love we have for each other. I truly know, without God’s gift of a new life, I would not desire such gatherings and I would not be a contributor to such a life.

I give praise to the God who brings to path a new life for all who come to Jesus.

This days readings remind us of all that Christ did so that we could be given a new life:

  • Jesus went to the cross-endured both physical and spiritual suffering so that we could be saved.
  • Jesus endured the wrath of God so that we could go free.
  • Jesus paid the price for each of us. We are new in Him.

This past week my dad reminded me of how this new life changed his life. As I listened, I want to scream out, praise the Lord who bought our family with the price of His own Son-Jesus Christ! Jesus blood washed us clean (Isa. 1:18) and Jesus power made us new creations through the Holy Spirit.

If you are a Christ-follower, you know these things to be true of your life!!

But there is something else, I want to place before you on this Monday. What is our response to this new life we have been given? Better worded, What are we doing with this new life we have been given?

In I Corinthians 7 we find what our answer should be: “Only let each person lead the life God has assigned,” (7:17).

Brothers and sisters, those words from Paul must be the desires of our heart. When they are, we live a life that is Christ-centered and Christ successful. Oh how I pray that we can sit with others and tell them about the life God has blessed us to live.

2 questions:

  1. Who is really in charge of your life?
  2. In what ways can you give witness to God’s new life at work in you?

He Is Faithful (I Thessalonians 1-5)

November 26, 2021

24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. I Thess. 5:24

What a wonderful reminder from the Apostle Paul on the day after Thanksgiving. Yesterday, I was reminded of this truth as I was blessed to sit around a table with two families that have lived their lives under the covering of God’s faithfulness.

Can you give witness to the faithfulness of God? The Apostle Paul certainly gave witness in his letter to the church in Thessalonica. In each chapter we find examples of God’s faithfulness. Below I have given you a sampling of God’s faithfulness:

  • God is faithful in delivering people from the wrath to come, 1:10.
  • God is faithful in calling people into His own kingdom, 2:12.
  • God is faithful in establishing their hearts blameless in holiness, 3:13.
  • God is faithful in giving the church the Word of God, 4:1.
  • God is faithful in preparing His church for His Second-Coming, 5:23.

Brothers and sisters, God is faithful in these ways and a thousand others. Please take some time today to contemplate His faithfulness in the years of your life! Please take some time today to praise Him for His faithfulness.

Here is one more thing to focus on today: How can we be as faithful to Him as He has been to us?

Father, lead your people to be faithful in all things as Children of the Day and no longer children of the night!

There is another King (Acts 17:1-18:18)

November 25, 2021

 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” Acts 17:7

In the early days of the church and its mission to fill the earth with the good news of the gospel, we read of their success as recorded in the book of Acts. As chapter 17 opens we are told of Paul’s missionary travels to the city of Thessalonica. Paul was only there for a short time (17:1-8) but his ministry had impact.

The Bible records how the Jewish people organized a mob to attack Paul and his team. However, they came to the wrong house. Paul was not there. This was the home of Jason who was hosting many brothers in Christ. This mob seized the brothers and dragged them to the local authorities making one claim: These men are not worshipping Caesar. These men have a different king!

Question: Who is king of your life?

On this Thanksgiving Day, 2021, I give praise to God that Jesus is my king!

I confess, He has not always been my king. There was a day when I was king. But praise be to His name, there came the day when God opened my heart and mind to the mess I was about to make of my life and also the mess I was in. On that day, God led me to vacate the throne and invite Jesus to occupy the throne of my life.

Question: Will the people, you are with today, know who is king of your life?

In Acts 17, the mob knew that these brothers were followers of king Jesus.

If you want others to know that Jesus is king, here are four thanksgiving disciplines to live out:

  1. Live as one who’s life is totally in the hands of God, Phil. 3: 12-14.
  2. Live as one who’s wealth is totally in the hands of God, II Cor. 9:6-7.
  3. Live as one who’s words are totally in the hands of God, I Peter 3:15.
  4. Live as one who’s future is totally in the hands of God, II Cor. 5:9 “It is our aim to please the Lord.”

Enjoy your day as one who is following King Jesus!

Set Free For a Purpose (Galatians 4-6)

November 24, 2021

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Years ago, I became friends with Bill. Bill was in his early sixties when I met him. He and his wife moved to our church to become servants with us in ministry. This brother was sold-out to God. As he neared the age of retirement it was his ambition to retire and serve the Lord full time. I can still remember the daily fire in him to live the rest of his life for the purpose of God.

Bill understood that he had been set free for a purpose.

As we conclude our two-day journey through the book of Galatians, we are reminded that Paul was seeking to lead the church in Galatia back to its purpose. They had been set free to serve the Lord, but they were being pulled back into the old ways of life. Paul writes, if you do this, “Christ will be of no advantage to you, (4:2).

Brothers and sisters, just like Bill, we have been given advantages. Here are 7 advantages from todays readings:

  1. Freedom from sins grasp (5:1).
  2. Status as sons of the Father (4:1-7).
  3. New creations (6:15).
  4. Power to live in the Spirit (5:16, 22-25).
  5. Love that cares for others (5:14; 6:1-2).
  6. Eternal life (6:8).
  7. Members of the Household of Faith (6:10).

Question: Are you taking advantage of these gifts from God? Bill did. He understood that God had set him free for a purpose and that purpose was to live his life for the glory of God for the sake of the souls of all people.

Sadly, Bill did not live very long after retirement. God took Him home one day with a heart-attach. Bill had completed his journey.

You and I have one day before Thanksgiving Day. I pray we will live it well and if we arrive at tomorrow on the earth, may we take advantage of all that God has given us to carry out our purpose.

How is it going? (Galatians 1-3)

November 23, 2021

Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[j] the flesh? Galatians 3:3

I love when God reconnects people who have not been together for a long period of time. The conversation usually begins, after a heart-felt greeting, with both people asking how the other person has been and how are things going. For me, personally, I cherish the stories of how God is working in someone’s life.

According to Scripture, the church at Galatia began their journey of faith being birthed into the Kingdom of God, through Jesus Christ and given new life by the Holy Spirit.

Here are a few selected verses from Galatians 1-3:

 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 1:4

2I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 2:20 

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 3:13

Oh, what an amazing story of the beginning days in the church at Galatia. But then the story changed. The people were being told that they needed to obey the Law to be right with God. At that point the stories would begin to be about what they had done, instead of what Christ had done.

Paul’s teaching to this church was to correct their error and return them to the truth that it was by faith that they began and it would be by faith and submission to the Holy Spirit that they would continue.

This week, you and I will have opportunity to connect with people we have not seen in a while. The question is, what what will you say? I am looking forward to telling others what God is doing in my life and in the world.

If you are feeling as if you have hit a wall in your journey, it’s time to recall who saved you and how you were effective in the past. I believe, God wants to do a work of spiritual awakening in your life. Still for others, there may be fear as you considered what you will say to others this week. May we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to walk in victory!

Embracing the Truth (Acts 15-16)

November 22, 2021

So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily. Acts 16:5

It’s on every page in the book of Acts, the church of Jesus Christ was being strengthened in the faith and increasing in numbers of people who were being saved. Brothers and sisters, I just can’t seem to get beyond this. As you know, I have for the past week been lingering here in our blog posts.

As I consider the church, I do not want miss out on or mess up what God is doing in His body called the church. Here is what I can’t get over: The church is alive!!!!

Take a moment and say this out loud with me: The Church is Alive.

Now, I know you might not feel that way in your church, but it is true. I wrote this down in my notes in my journal: “The church is alive in good times and in hard times. The church is alive when it’s easy and when it’s not so easy.”

In Acts 15 and 16 we this truth being lived out:

  • In chapter 15, a group of well-meaning believers endangered the truth of the gospel by attempting to add the necessity of circumcision to the presentation of the gospel. These misinformed believers really thought that a person could not be saved apart from this act. If you read the chapter in its context you realize how God blessed in the midst of conflict. Peter spoke up in their counsel meeting and said:

 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

In conflict, the church alive thrived!

  • In chapter 16, Paul and Silas faced conflict as they were imprisoned for the gospel. But again God blessed in the midst of conflict. Paul’s words to a jailor were on point when he said:

3And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.

Praise be to the name of Jesus who worked mighty in His church. They were alive.

Question: Is your church alive? Maybe I should have asked, does each church member have life? I have discovered that a church alive will flourish in any season of ministry.

On this Monday of Thanksgiving week, I am so thankful for the alive church!!!

2 questions:

  1. Do you feel life inside of you?
  2. Is it time to stir up your faith to again be on fire for God?

What are we doing in the Church? (Acts 11-12)

November 19, 2021

 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” Acts 11:17

Yesterday, we ended our Continuing the Work blog with a question still to be answered. The question was, does God still work today as He did in the days of the book of Acts?

This question has been so much on my mind in these days. Since yesterday I have fasted and spent time by myself with God and with an open Bible. Here is my conclusion and answer for our question:

God has not changed and God still works as He has always worked.

Brothers and sisters, consider Acts 11 and 12 with me as proof texts:

  • In Acts 11, Peter shares the story of how God opened the eyes of Cornelius and his entire family. The Holy Spirit brought them to new life.
  • In Acts 12, Peter was delivered from prison and sure death because of a miracle of God.
  • In Acts 12, wicked King Herod was eaten by worms when he took glory to himself that belonged to God alone.

These proof texts plus countless examples in our day are certain proof that God does not change. He still speaks and He still saves. So the next question must be: why does God seem silent in some churches and why does the enemy seem to rule in some cities?

I must confess, the problem lies within the Body of Christ. We see this in Acts 11-12. Here is what I mean:

  • Peter was criticized by Jewish believers for sharing the gospel with Gentiles.
  • The people who prayed for Peter’s deliverance did not believe it when he was delivered.

Here is truth:

  1. Miracles happen when people believe.
  2. God speaks when people are willing to obey.
  3. God transforms when people are willing to be transformed.

My prayer to God was as follows, this morning: “God, forgive me for standing in the way of the message and the miracles you want to do. I know I am not powerful to stop you, but I know you stop blessing when I have unbelief and when I am seeking to be in charge. God I am listening this day as one who believes and is waiting to carry out what you say.”

Brothers and sisters, I believe Awakening is on the way. Be on who believes and obeys what God says.

2 questions:

  1. Have you been standing in the way?
  2. Will you follow the way?

When the Lord says, “go.” (Acts 9-10)

November 18, 2021

15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Acts 9:15

Does our Lord still speak personally to His chosen ones? Does the Lord still have specific places where He calls specific people to minister?

In complete honestly, these questions are on my mind almost daily. Each time I read the book of Acts I find myself longing for God to speak to me in the same ways that He spoke to the church in the book of Acts. Here are four examples of what I am referring too:

  • God spoke to a disciple by the name of Ananias. God said, go to a terrorist and minister to him, Acts 9:10-19.
  • God spoke to Saul and said, go to the Gentiles with my Word, Acts 9:15-31.
  • God spoke to Cornelius and said, go to Peter and he will come and tell you My Word, Acts 10:30-34.
  • God spoke to Peter and said, go to Caesarea and proclaim My Word to Cornelius household, Acts 10:1-20.

Brothers and sisters, in each of these encounters God spoke personally. He spoke in ways that we think crazy today. For example, “the Holy Spirit spoke directly to Peter.” We also read that Cornelius said, “A man in bright clothing spoke to me.”

Does God still speak this way? If He does, then why are we not hearing or why is He not speaking directly to us? I must know the answers to these questions. My heart and mind are about to explode with the pressure of wanting to know.

Here are three questions I have on the table before the Lord:

  1. Am I listening to You God?
  2. Do I long to really hear Your voice above all others?
  3. Am I longing to live out His Kingdom purposes?

These questions are in play for me today. Stay tuned until tomorrow to discover His answers.

The Execution of a Preacher (Acts 7-8)

November 17, 2021

59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  Acts 7:59

How would you feel today if you opened your email and a friend from your church had emailed you this shocking news: Our pastor was executed last night because he was preaching. For me, I would first be heart-broken and then I would want to know what was being doing about this wrong.

In the book of Acts, we read the story of how one of the deacons (Stephen) was executed because of His stand for Christ. The enemy meant this for evil, but it turned out for good as the church realized it was time to take the gospel beyond the city walls in Jerusalem. Acts 8 reveals to us that wherever they went, they preached the gospel.

I want you to know that no matter how many times I read this narrative, I find myself challenged deeply to be a bold witness for Jesus.

I truly believe this text is timely for you and I. In one week, most of us will be making our final preparations for Thanksgiving. For some of us we will be traveling to meet with family. For some it will be getting ready to host people. Still for others it will be in getting together with friends.

Here’s where my heart is today. For some of us there are obstacles to overcome. It could be that you are feeling the pressure of opposition. In your mind you think, if I share my faith I could be executed at the table with people who just refuse to listen. I get it and I feel the pressure as well.

Consider this: Stephen simply shared what the Holy Spirit placed in his mind and heart. As he shared God was for him and Jesus even stood in the throne room showing His approval and His power at work in Stephen. I want you to know that God is with you and God is for you.

Consider these practical ways to bring down the walls in your gatherings next week:

  • Ask ahead of time to lead the prayer at the meal (Prepare ahead of time what God wants you to say).
  • Fast and pray a couple of days asking God to open doors for loving conversations.
  • Practice sharing the gospel in front of a mirror. Brush up on the Romans Road.
  • Make up your mind that your response to any statement will be love.

If Stephen could go out the way he did, surely you and I can go through Thanksgiving in a powerful way.

2 questions:

  1. Are you feeling the pressure as you anticipate Thanksgiving?
  2. Have you considered the opportunities that await you?