Thursday, April 9, 2020

What Does It Take To Get Someone’s Attention

“…. sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear" – 1 Peter 3:15

Watching the news yesterday, the Franklin Graham representing the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, shared the Gospel message and encouraged the listeners to pray the sinner’s prayer. Honestly I was surprised  because it was in stark contrast to what I normally see on TV – which is reflection of a culture that, on the whole, has drifted far from God. A culture that has been turned on its head because of COVID-19 and yet holds a disdain for anything to do with Jesus.

So to hear Franklin Graham speak about God’s love, Jesus sacrifice and the way to salvation was refreshing and, at the same time, quite like having someone shine a bright light in your eyes in a dark room.  Whenever there is a disaster – there are those who wonder if it is the judgement of God – an urging to respond to God – like the 10 plagues in Egypt.  Some wonder if we are in the last days – suspecting that Jesus return is imminent.  I wish I could confirm one or the other – but I can’t.  But I do know that when the feeling of being in control has been taken from the grip of those who think they have control, even if they are just hanging on by their fingertips – fear sets in – quickly. But with that fear, hardened hearts are sensitized to things spiritual. That is why Franklin Graham was on prime time TV. 

Listen – people will not hear the message of salvation anywhere but from the Body of Christ.  This is a time to be salt and light.  It is not the time to retreat within the walls of the local church fortress and close the gates. But a time to be ready to be a witness – not just with words but by the way we live our lives and respond to the same trouble everyone else faces.  My calling, and perhaps yours, is not to be like Franklin Graham – I have not been given the gift of evangelism – but I do have the responsibility of being a messenger of Hope – and ambassador for Christ – and so do you.

So be alert – be spiritually prepared – prayed up – tuned in – simply to be a witness when people ask for the reason for the hope that is in you.  Our responsibility is to lift Jesus up – it is the Holy Spirit’s job to bring the conviction that leads to salvation. 

I [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” – 1 Corinthians 3:6-7

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Are There Skeletons In Your Closet?

He [the Lord] asked me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' I said, 'O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.'" - Ezekiel 37:3

Is there something in your life that you have decided is broken beyond repair? Something that you have given up hope that it will ever change. Not something about someone else – but something about you.  With respect to something that is typically not a good thing, I often hear people say – “Well that is just the way our family is.” As if to say – “There is nothing I can do about it – it is the way I was raised or it is my DNA.”  You might feel helpless and hopeless.

Perhaps it is a persistent sin – a sin that you cannot just seem to shake loose from.  Stuck on you like glue. You hate it.  Paul talked about his struggles in Romans chapter 7.

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do….. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Romans 7:14-15,22-25

The solution to whatever it is that you think won’t ever change is not trying harder – it is “faithing” harder – trusting in God more and us less. Like Ezekiel – we are looking at something that is beyond the realm of possible – but it is not impossible for God. I am thinking – Ezekiel looked that the bones and knew that they were the bones of dead men – long gone.  God looked at the bones and He was and is the Creator God who formed man from the dust of the earth – spoke the universe into being – how difficult would it be for Him to raise up that which was thought impossible by men?  That which you have decided is impossible?

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

That is the God who saved us. That is the God we serve.  There is nothing impossible for Him. That thing that you struggle with – give it to the Lord.  Stop trying to fix it yourself. I know that all of us have “dead bones” in our lives. As a Christian you are living a life of new possibilities – where the impossible is now possible but only by faith. I was just reminding a pastor friend in Jacmel, Haiti – Bondye kapab fé sa – God can do it! Whatever it is.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, April 6, 2020

What Do You Have To Offer

And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, ‘Look at us.’ So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’” – Acts 3:2-6

The first orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti I was asked to build was made from shipping containers.  The picture shows the dining facility which was a container under a roof on a cement pad.  The reason John Turnbull, Pastor Doug Moyer (sitting) and I had t-shirts on our heads was because we were doing a skit for the orphans about the lame man at the gate (Acts 3). I thought of this skit when I started to formulate the devotion for this morning.  John and I were Peter and John, but John was not John, John was Peter. Confusing?

When the lame man was at the gate he had no expectation of ever walking – let alone leaping or running. No, that was not to be his lot in life. Instead, his life - every day- was somehow getting to a place where he could beg for money so he could survive. You have seen people like him, I am certain – they have their spot along the road – you see them day after day – most of them have no hope of their days ever being any different. No hope for the future – for a “normal” life. You meet people like that every day – people who have no hope of their lives ever being better than they are. A life full of stress over a litany of troubles. Normally we don’t make eye contact with people we suspect might want something from us. If you look a beggar in the eye that normally means you intend to give them something – money or food – so you don’t unless you do – intend to give them something that is.

So this lame man looked at these two guys hoping for a coin or two. Peter fixed his eyes on him – remember – this was after Pentecost – Peter was a new Peter – filled with the Spirit of God – just like you and me. What Peter had to offer was not a coin – but a new life of hope – a new lease on life. The man expected a coin but instead Peter said “Rise up and walk!”

And he (Peter) took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” – Acts 3:7-10

This healing gave Peter the opportunity to lift up the name of Jesus (you can read the rest of the story in Acts 3).  And so do we.  We pass by spiritually lame people every day.  Oh, most often we try not to look them in the eyes. That is because we are looking at our human abilities and so avoid reaching down with our hand.  It was not Peter that healed the man, but God through Peter. In the same way, it is not you and I who save people – it is God through our lifting Jesus up – sharing the Gospel that the spiritually lame might be healed.

And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.’” – Matthew 11:2-6

What do you have to offer a crippled world – a world that seems to be imploding? Jesus. The world, the people you meet can rise up and walk in the name of Jesus. So let your light shine – even in the midst of this pandemic.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, April 2, 2020

What Is Truth

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.” – John 18:17-38

Pilate was about to deny the Truth, who was a king – in the spiritual sense, and the truth that He had nothing worthy of going to the Cross. We so often struggle with understanding the truth of situations we find ourselves in.  We see life in one way but the truth is, from God’s perspective, something entirely different.

And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’.” – Matthew 8:24-26

The disciples were certain they knew the truth, they were about to die.  Some of them were seasoned fishermen who had spent their lives on the water.  They knew full well what storm like this one could to and what they had to do to survive, and they had done everything they knew to do – dug deep – but to no avail.  They were going to do.  But Jesus asked why they were afraid and told them they lacked faith.  Lacked faith? I am certain they were soaking wet from the waves crashing over the sides of the boat. It sure felt like they were done for.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

Placing your trust in what you cannot see.  Trusting what is in direct contravention to human wisdom and life experience. From a human perspective – it is madness – from a spiritual perspective it is the very foundation of our finding salvation and eternal life.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

I am certain those are verses that you are very familiar with – have heard perhaps hundreds of times.  If you are a Christian your exercised faith to become one, a Christian that is. And it is the same faith that we must exercise as we face the trials and tribulations in this natural life.  Do you recall when the man asked Jesus to heal his son?

And he said, ‘From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’” – Mark 9:21-24

Perhaps you believe, you have faith, but you need help with your unbelief, your weak or faltering faith. This is not a criticism, but an encouragement to seek out the One who is the Way and the Truth and the Life – Jesus. Like with the disciples and the man – you may have done everything you know to do, but it was to no avail. In this desperate hour I urge you to “Look Up” – remember Whose you are, What He has promised and Who He is.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Challenge Of Not Being Under Your Circumstances

Not that I [Paul] speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13

Have you ever asked someone how they are doing and they said, “As well as I might expect under these circumstances.” The question is for all of us who are joint heirs with Christ – adopted sons and daughters of the Creator God – “What are you doing ‘under’ your circumstances?”

What Paul was telling the Philippians and us is that what is happening in the natural – although it may not be a good thing – should not dictate our contentment – our confidence in the future.  Living our lives with spiritual understanding – facing what this natural life brings – good and bad – with the knowing that God is sovereign.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

There is not one thing that we should be anxious about – our future, our finances, the well-being of our family – whatever might raise its head like a poisonous snake and threaten to undo us.  How we respond to life is a function of the quality of our relationship with the Father – Our success with being content in all things – with not being anxious is determined by the quality of our faith.

In the Army we said that a unit “Fights the way it trains.”  When we are not in battle, we are preparing for battle. I remember, as a second Lieutenant – a butter bar – called that because of the gold bar that signified that rank – I was assigned as a scout platoon leader in an Armor (tank) battalion. The job of the scout is to find the enemy and report.  That means you are on the “pointy” end of the spear.  I would talk to the platoon about the importance of being proficient in what they did – so they would not be a casualty because of their incompetence.  I would talk to them about the Vietnam war – the end of still fresh in the minds of many.  My boss talked to me and told me to stop talking so much about war and death. That our unit was not high on the list for deployment.  We were, after all, a FAD (Force activity designator) 2 unit – meaning we would not be the first to deploy if a war with the Soviet Union broke out. I told him that the Russians did not have FAD-1 and FAD-2 bullets. Their bullets didn’t care who they killed. And the lesson I wanted to teach my troops was that people die in wars – that we might well because of the mission scouts had – which meant that we needed to be really good at what we did – we needed to train the way we would fight.

So – why did I share that story? Because in the same way – as Christians – is we neglect our faith – when the battle comes – whatever form it may take – and we are not ready – we will be in trouble.  We will be just like those who have no faith. If your focus is on the world – circumstances that seem overwhelming – threatening like that venomous snake – and not on God – you are in trouble spiritually.  But you don’t have to be.

If you are home – which most of us are – what are you doing with your time? Bing watching Netflix? Glued to news reports about COVID-19? Stressing over your future. I am not suggesting that you deny reality – COVID-19 is real – Layoffs are real – financial stress is real – but so is the overcoming faith that Paul wrote about – that Jesus spoke about. Jesus asked of His disciples – “Why did you doubt?” He said, “Oh you of little faith.” These were the men that walked beside Him – that personally saw what He did every day. And still they struggled with trust and faith. Do you remember the story about Thomas, the Doubter?

“Then He [Jesus] said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” – John 20:27-29

That would us – we were saved by grace through faith – not by sight!

Some trust in Chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God!” – Psalm 20:7

Remember that and rejoice in spite of the circumstances that might rage around you! Look up

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Stacking Stones – Remembering God’s Faithfulness

In these uncertain times – it is good for us to remember God’s faithfulness in the past.  These are three examples from the Bible. After defeating the Philistines and ending the oppression of Israel –

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” – 1 Samuel 7:12

After 40 years in the desert and finally crossing the river they had refused to cross because of fear and lack of faith –

And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: ‘Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe’, and command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’” – Joshua 4:1-3

Israel defeated Amalek –

And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword….. And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner” – Exodus 17:10-13, 15

In each of these stories, God showed His faithfulness to those He had called.  They marked the place and the time and remembered the Lord.  In the study, Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby calls those “Spiritual Markers”.  We all have them. Times when God did something significant in our lives – live altering – when He revealed Himself to us.  I want to encourage you to reflect on those times in your life when God revealed Himself in a supernatural way.  I will share a few of ours as a “starter” for you.

September 1976: While at Fort Knox, Martie and I visited my parents, attended church with them, heard the Gospel and prayed to receive Christ. While we were at Ft. Knox we met three other Christian couples.  All three couples eventually left the Army for full time Christian service.  We spent the best part of the next 15 years moving and discipling adults wherever the Lord planted us.

February 1992: After Desert Storm in 1991, I returned to Ft. Rucker, AL. I had the distinct impression that I was to leave the Army. It was as if God was saying through His Spirit, that I was sacrificing my family for a career. Although I was very successful, by Army standards, our family was struggling.  We chose our family.  We decided that it would be best for our family if we left the military before retirement and started a new life in Alabama. 

September 1993: I attended a Promise Keeper Conference in Boulder Colorado which led to my eventually quitting my job as a government contractor and serving on staff with the Promise Keepers Ministry as the state manager for Alabama and Mississippi.  I served in that capacity for almost 2 years and then returned to contractor work. 

August 2005:  The Elders at Gateway Baptist church met (it was my first meeting as an Elder).  Hurricane Katrina had made landfall and we discussed how the church might respond.  Pastor Alan arranged for the Red Cross to conduct a training class on Thursday night and Friday morning, we headed for Mississippi.  On the way, our destination was changed from Pascagoula to Ocean Springs.  Our mission was changed from helping in a shelter to opening and running a shelter. 
After 2 weeks in Ocean Springs, Martie and I knew that the Lord wanted us to stay, we just did not know how or where.  A friend from Christian Appalachian Project who was providing volunteers in Ocean Springs told us about Waveland, Mississippi.  Our hearts resonated at the sound of the name of the City although we had never heard it before.  We just didn’t know how we would get there.  After 6 weeks in Ocean Springs, we knew that our time there was about to an end when Pastor Jay Wolf, from FBC Montgomery came to the shelter to talk to us about helping start a volunteer camp in Bay Saint Louis, right next to Waveland.

December 2005:  Martie and I both felt that the Lord was leading us to start a separate ministry for people who were falling through the cracks. In January 2006 met with 5 couples in Montgomery and shared our vision with them.  They all agreed that we should move forward and start the ministry.  We talked about what we should call it.  My mom told me that their ministry to teenagers in the 70’s was called Pathfinder and maybe we should call it that .. so we did.  In April 2006 we moved to Waveland and started Pathfinder Mission. 

February 2010: We sensed our time in Mississippi was over.  Several friends – who did not know each other – talked to use on different occasions about going to Haiti. A year later, we were living in Haiti building an orphanage.

August 2017: In the Sunday School class I was teaching, I was asked when we were going to Texas to help with the recovery from Hurricane Harvey,  I said, “We are not – we don’t chase storms, we follow God.” Not long after, Martie told me that she sensed that we were supposed to go. A month later, we were in Texas, and still are.

There are many more spiritual markers – God-events – if you will, that I could share. But I think you get the idea.  We are by no means super-saints.  We are just like you.  So I know that if you will think about it, you will recall times when God has revealed Himself to you – brought you to a place that required faith on your part that changed the course of your life. 

Remember and rejoice!

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Church Building Is Closed, But the Church Is Still Open For Business

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” – 1 Corinthians 3:16

Our routine of attending worship service on Sunday’s has been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Like many, we are watching the pastor preach over the internet or perhaps have switched to another pastor on television.  Of course we need to hear the Word preached.  Preaching is part of the Body life.  Unfortunately, it may be one of the few times during the week that many Christians are exposed to the Word of God.  Some may see this as a problem, but I want to suggest that it is an opportunity.  I think that this season is an opportunity for Believers, who perhaps have relied too much on the Pastor and the collective church for their connection with God, to reconnect with the One Who called them to salvation.  I believe that this is an opportunity for the members of the Body to be strengthened and not weakened.  And the result will be a stronger Body of Christ – a brighter light – a more relevant testimony.

Someone once said, “Without a test there is not testimony.” This has certainly been a trying time – uncertainty seems to prevail. But only if you let the circumstances of this world be the measure of your confidence and trust.  This is a test of personal faith that we are facing.  There is a word – synergy – that I see applies to the Body of Christ – the Body of Christ that is spiritual – reflected by the physical in church congregations – large and small – and individual Christian groups of perhaps two or three.  The definition of synergy is “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.  Paul wrote quite a bit about the gifts – attributes of the Body and how important each one is.  Each part must be spiritually healthy to fulfill its purpose in the Body.  Oddly, I think that this time of separation is a time for spiritual reflection and an opportunity to draw close to the Lord.  The result will be a brighter light – a bolder witness – a stronger corporate, local church.

I am not ignoring the reality of the toll the COVID-19 virus is taking on the health and lives of people.  The toll it is taking on the financial well-being for the people in our country and countries all around the world. But I want to encourage you to not lose hope in this difficult time. Instead redeem it.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God." – Psalm 43:5

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. …. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” – James 4:7-8,10

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Spiritual Reason In The Face Of Fear

I have been watching our country shift economic gears with amazement and pride.  It is reminiscent of the re-tooling of America in response to the WW2.  People and business making significant changes in their daily lives and what they produce to help counter the threat that looms over them.  Today it is COVID-19, then it was Germany, Italy and Japan.

We are not used to lines outside of stores - food and supply shortages - being limited on where we go, who we go with and when we go. The previous generations knew that life well.

There is a lesson in all of this. So many live for today with the expectation that our tomorrows will be the same. If we can learn anything from this, my hope is that we will appreciate that life is more uncertain than we have been taught by our culture. That we must take time in this pause in our routines to consider what and who we place our trust in, which dictates how we live our lives.

"And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’" Luke 12:17-20

Since you have some time on your hands - perhaps you should consider your priorities in the life you have been given. Be careful about "drinking the media's Kool-Aide".  They have an agenda, be it left or right, but it is jaundiced so you must cull out the good from the bad.  Don't focus solely on social media - national news - but focus on what you know to be good.  I am typing this during my self-quarantine. Be socially responsible - but, at the same time, be spiritually responsible. As Christians, we have a responsibility delegated from God to be light in darkness - to be a source of hope in what seems to be hopeless - to be confident in the face of uncertainty - to be an ambassador of faith in a world full of fear.

In other words, to be like Jesus. 

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Friday, March 27, 2020

Trusting God No Matter What

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” – Job 13:15

Have you ever faced something in your life that seemed like it should not happen to you or to someone care about? Have you ever asked – “Why Lord?”  Of course you have. It is part and parcel to the human condition.  The condition of our salvation is not that God promises that we will never face hardship in this life.  Jesus was crucified. As far as I know, all of His disciples – the writers of the New Testament met with violent deaths. Job didn’t understand why bad things were happening to him, but whatever might befall him, he refused to abandon his trust in God.

I was talking to a homeowner about the passing of his sister and how his mother, still living, was struggling with the loss of her adult child. He had lost a son some time back.  I shared 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 with him.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Many Christians live under the illusion that they will never face hardship if they are right with God. Not true –  you know that all too well.  Our challenge is to not abandon God in the midst of it – but to draw closer to him as the God of all comfort.  God will use the bad in this life for good. He will use those that the bad things happened to for good – for ministry – for His glory. Lazarus is another example of that. My friend can speak into his mother’s life in a way that no one else can – as God brought comfort to Him with his loss of his son, so God through my friend can bring comfort to another – in this case his mom.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Did you catch that? We will have tribulation but can find peace through Jesus – the overcomer. 

So, turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

COVID – 19 will be no less real – your other problems in this life will be no less real – but they will dim as you focus on faith and the One who saved you for eternity.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Understanding the Divine Design - A Word About God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit

“God [the Father], who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” – Hebrews 1:1-2

I have noticed, as I have listened to people speak about the Bible and pray, that many people mix the Father, Son and Holy Spirit up. An example is when they refer to attributes of the Father and attribute them to Jesus. Certainly Jesus said that He and the Father are one – but not.  Jesus would not pray to himself, would He? Or people will pray to the Father and thank Him for his sacrifice on the cross – as you know, it was His Son, Jesus, that the Father sent to redeem the world.  So why talk about it? I guess it is like the wife cooking a wonderful meal and the guest thanking and praising the husband for the delicious meal. Certainly the husband had a role in providing the money through work to buy the food that the wife cooked. The Bible says the husband and wife are one – but they are also separate. 

I am not trying to explain the Trinity – I would not be so bold – but I am saying that we need to understand that the Father, the Son and the Spirit have different roles in the Divine design. The Father sent the Son and then sent the Spirit when the Son returned to heaven.

But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” – John 15:26-27

The Father speaks to us. In the past through the prophets and other means – a burning bush. In the Gospels through Jesus. After Jesus’ ascension – by the Spirit through the Word, prayer, circumstances and other Christians. 

Does that seem like a trivial thing to you? I don’t think it is, actually.  Jesus came to bring glory to the Father.

“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was..” – John 17:1-5

The Father has given the Son authority over all flesh and by Jesus we have been adopted as children of God, the Father.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” – Ephesians 1:4-6

And the Father has sealed us with the Holy Spirit – Who abides in each Believer.

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” – Ephesians 1:11-14

While you are “staying at home” perhaps you can meditate on this for a moment or two.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Is God’s Word Enough?

“And Jesus said to him, ‘ I will come and heal him.’ The centurion answered and said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’ When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!’” – Matthew 8:7-10

“Do you believe that what you believe is really real?” That is a quote from the Focus on the Family Study – The Truth Project. For the Centurion, he did not need Jesus to come to his house to heal his servant.  Merely speaking was sufficient.  The Centurion (a centurion was a military commander who had 100 men under him – there were 60 centurions in a legion – so 6000 men in a legion) He had great authority behind his commands to his men.  I have commanded hundreds of soldiers - I understand the power of that kind of authority. 

Please allow me to digress on the point of Jesus authority for a moment …

But Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?’” – Matthew 26:52-54

When Jesus was arrested He said the Father could send 12 legions – 12 x 6000 or 72,000 angels to defend Him. But, instead for our sakes, He did not but like a lamb to the slaughter, endured the cross. Do you understand the authority of Jesus?

When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.’ For He said to him, ‘Come out of the man, unclean spirit!’ Then He asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And he answered, saying, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.” – Mark 5:6-10

Jesus had authority over the demons – there were 6000 in the man – and He cast them out with a word.  Do you understand the authority of Jesus?

So – back to point. The Centurion understood authority and he believed that what he believed about Jesus was really real.  He had great faith. He was convinced.  That is not something we can figure out on our own.  Who Jesus was and is must be spiritually revealed by God and in that revelation, we must believe.

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’” – Matthew 16:12-17

People were guessing at who Jesus was – John the Baptist, Jesus cousin – Elijah – Jeremiah – one of the other Old Testament prophets. But Peter knew who Jesus was, but only by spiritual revelation.  Spiritual understanding comes by spiritual revelation. So back to the point of this devotion.  God’s word is spiritual revelation of Truth. It requires faith – like the Centurion’s to live by faith and walk in Truth. God does not have to prove Himself –– if you will but believe that –  His Word is enough.  What impossible circumstance are you facing today? His word is enough!

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

God’s Provision And Your Purpose

“I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.” – Psalm 37:25

That was King David who wrote that. I just shared that verse with a good friend who asked me how we were doing – not just in the face of COVID-19, but with life and living in general.  I told him that “I live and do and serve like I am not getting older confident that God will always provide somehow.”  God doesn’t promise us plenty – but He does promise enough. One thing about doing what we do, we have the opportunity to see people who are in great need – live uncertain lives.  As much as I would like to, I can’t help every one that I meet.  The question always is – “Lord, do I help this one?”  I have often told people that Jesus did not heal everyone – but what He did, He did to bring glory to the Father.

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does.” – John 5:19-20

God has a divine purpose for each of us. We should live and breathe for His glory – just like Jesus. Our country – the world – has just had the rug pulled out from under it. In the midst of the turmoil there is a light that is shining – God is at work in the midst of all the confusion.

I visited a family yesterday – the wife had renal failure, a kidney transplant and now lung cancer. But she is hopeful.  We are doing work on her home.  There are yet some things that must be corrected. She called me on Sunday afternoon and I had gone there to see what must be done.  I assured her and her husband that all would be well.  (BTW, Their nephew is joining the Marines. I gave him a Marine’s Bible I had from the Campus Crusade (now CRU) Military Ministry. It so happened that I joined the Army on March 23rd, 1969 – 51 years ago yesterday – wow!) At any rate, as I was about to leave the husband said “Pastor would you pray for us?” I must tell you that I don’t promote the idea that I am a pastor – although that is what the Haitians called me – and what a number of people here call me – not because of any formal training – or because I pastor a church – or that I tell them that I am a pastor, but because of God’s anointing.  God reminded me of that yesterday. Of course we prayed. 

So what has God purposed for you to do? What is your anointing? What do you see God doing that you are to do – just like Jesus did? Like Rick Warren began in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, “It is not about you.” What is it about? Your life in the context of God’s blessing and God’s calling.  The world needs to see Jesus in you. Today.