Sunday, March 7, 2021

If We Have The Son, We Have Eternal Life

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” — 1 John 5:10-12

John made it pretty clear didn’t he?  If we have the Son – if we have placed our faith in the work the Jesus did on the Cross them we have eternal life.  I think it is important for us to remember that truth – every day. It should change the way we see things, the way we do things, the way we love things. I listened to a sermon about this subject today.  It was like hearing the song Jesus Loves Me – so simply and yet so profound.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” – Romans 10:8-10

Confess and Believe – so simple – but that is only the beginning. The is the start of our new life – the beginning of a journey that will end in Heaven.  Do you believe that? I hope so. You know, I write these BLOG posts with the hope that the Spirit of God will use them to stir your heart to pursue God and His righteousness through Jesus by the power of the Spirit and the revelation through His word. I heard a pastor’s prayer, “I’ve got nothing to say, Lord let me get out of the way!” That is how I feel about what I write.   

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” – 2 Corinthians 2:9-14

God uses His Spirit to teach us – to reveal deep truths to us – spiritual truths that can only be understood by the power of His Spirit.  He uses His children to communicate those truths and then the Spirit of God to illuminate the truth and confirm it in our hearts.  Of course the natural man cannot understand them because he lacks the Spirit of God. Pretty simple.

That is it for today. Yield your heart to the Spirit of God – receive His teaching as it was intended – to conform you into the image of the Son. To cause your light ot burn brightly in a dark world that is in desperate need of a Savior – even Jesus Christ.

Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Friday, March 5, 2021

God's Peace What It Is And What It Is Not

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled…” — John 14:27

“Whenever we experience something difficult in our personal life, … Our attitude must be one of complete reliance on God. […] God’s mark of approval, whenever you obey Him, is peace. He sends an immeasurable, deep peace; not a natural peace, “as the world gives,” but the peace of Jesus. […] If you are acting on your own impulse, or out of a sense of the heroic, to be seen by others, the peace of Jesus will not exhibit itself. […] Any problem that comes while I obey God (and there will be many), increases my overjoyed delight, because I know that my Father knows and cares, and I can watch and anticipate how He will unravel my problems.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For Hid Highest

What is your expectation of God with respect to your faith and everyday living?  Do you think that God is obligated to make certain that you do not have to endure hardship?  That nothing “bad” will happen to you or the ones you love?  No injury, no heartbreak, no death, no failure, no loss?  That is a problem.  The Bible does not promise that … God’s theme song might be “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden!” In fact Jesus said (John 16:33) “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.” Our peace is in Jesus – supernatural peace … peace in spite of the circumstances you find yourself in this world you live in .. a world full of sinners.  Peace is a fruit of the Spirit .. in spite of your circumstances … Because of your spiritual perspective you see life, as it happens, differently. Oh, you wanted to avoid experiencing anything unpleasant and was hoping that your rebirth would provide that for you.  Sorry!  But that does not mean that you can’t experience joy while your feet are still on terra firma.  Joy, another fruit of the Spirit.  Are you hoping the world will somehow get better over time?  Not going to happen.  Sin begets sin.  Hurt people hurt people.  The answer is Jesus.  He is the Hope of Heaven.  James said (James 1:2-4) “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Look!  All of us have experienced and are experiencing difficulties in this life.  God showed His grace and mercy by sending a Redeemer – Jesus. And then He sent a Spiritual Helper – the Holy Spirit. And through Jesus, He established the Church.  Let your light shine. The world wants to snuff out your candle.  To replace Jesus with its god – money. Let your light burn brightly.  Let people know that our Redeemer lives! He is Jesus the King.  He is the Christ.  The Son of God.  Who takes away the sins of the world.  Shout hallelujah! And thank God for His wonderful gift … (Ephesians 2:8-9) “…saved by faith … it is a gift from God” Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Good Samaritan Wore A COVID Mask

Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.” —Luke 10:30-33

Did you know that you don’t wear a mask to protect yourself but to protect others? It’s true! If you have the virus there is about a 90% chance that you won’t give it to the people around you. If both have masks it increases to 95%.  Why I am writing about this in a devotion? Our second daughter drove in from Atlanta for my wife's, Martie, birthday.  We were talking about her work when she told me that the company she works for has a policy that that all employees must comply with CDC guidelines for COVID at work or they will be fired. One of her coworkers told her that the only reason he wears a mask is so he doesn’t get fired. He is not concerned about anyone but himself. I asked her if he was being beaten and robbed in an alley, would he think it was alright if she walked by saying, “It is not my problem”? That is when the Good Samaritan popped into my mind.

The very ones who you thought would have had compassion towards the man in the ditch did not – they were only concerned about themselves. They could recite scripture from memory to impress others with their spirituality, but when it came to applying it to their lives? Well, it was all about them – everybody else was on their own.  They were not about to have their life interrupted by someone else – they had problems of their own and were not going to be inconvenienced for the good of someone else.  I have listen to people rant about wearing a mask. When you boil it down – it is the same as that parable. As a Christian, why would you not wear a mask for the good of others? Probably the first reason is that you don’t really care about others – you just don’t want to be inconvenienced. Oh, that would not be your go-to reason – but that is the essence of the reluctance.

For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:43-45

My goal is to encourage you to have spiritual perspective on your life and those things that are happening around you. I hope I have today. It is all about loving your neighbor – bearing one another’s burdens – laying your life down for others. The elementary things of our faith that get lost in everyday living on this planet.

Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

You Don’t Have To Accept The Sin To Love The Sinner

If we walk in the light as He is in the light…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” —1 John 1:7

“The evidence that I have been delivered from sin is that I know the real nature of sin in me. […] And it is not until we truly perceive the unrivaled power of the Spirit in us that we understand the meaning of 1 John 1:7 , which says, “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” This verse does not refer only to conscious sin, but also to the tremendously profound understanding of sin which only the Holy Spirit in me can accomplish. I must “walk in the light as He is in the light…”— not in the light of my own conscience, but in God’s light. […] On the conscious level it produces a keen, sorrowful knowledge of what sin really is. The love of God working in me causes me to hate, with the Holy Spirit’s hatred for sin, anything that is not in keeping with God’s holiness. To “walk in the light” means that everything that is of the darkness actually drives me closer to the center of the light.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

People often mistake freedom from sin with freedom to sin.  Another mistake we make is thinking that “hating” sin means that we must hate the person who is sinning as well. We throw the baby out with the bath water, if you will.  Then on the other hand, the temptation is to embrace the sin as well as the sinner. That, it seems, is the easier path that many Christians travel.  Particularly if they struggle with their own sin.  If we love our culture.  If we embrace what our culture offers or promotes as truth and right, even though the Word of God says it is a lie and wrong, then that is exactly where we are.  It is not a function of what we have but what has us.  Listen, freedom from sin is not freedom to sin.  It is really not OK.  The problem is, so many “Christians” are in love with the world and the things of the world.  If we look at other Christians and not Jesus, we can find justification for what we do and don’t do very easily.  We are not to love our neighbor and then love for God will result.  It is the other way around.  Love God and then you will love others because of our love for God and His love for us.  (1 John 4:19)

Jesus was called a friend of sinners and was criticized for it by the religious elite.  The same ones that Jesus said were “whitewashed tombs filled with dead men’s bones.” I want you to think about where your heart is and where your priorities are.  Jesus said to the adulteress that he did not condemn her but that she should go and sin no more. He called her to repentance.  That is loving her and hating her sin.  It is an attitude of love that dwells in the heart that loves God.  Loving God and not loving the natural world is not an option, it’s a command.  Just like the fish swimming in the sea, we can live our lives in a sinful world and not have what is in the water change us inside. Think about Jesus eating dinner with sinners and tax collectors – the very ones He came to save. Oh, but that was Jesus you say – that is not in my power to do that. You are correct. But the power to do that is in you if you have been born again by the Spirit of God through faith in the One who did.  And if in the oft chance that you think I am making this up – read this

I (we) have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” – Galatians 2:20

Oh – it is possible but only by the power of Jesus in us – the world needs to see Jesus and the way it will is by seeing Jesus expressed by the way we live our lives.

Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

How To Survive A Disaster Or Two

I [Jesus] have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”” —John 16:33

So just when you thought 2020 was over and there might be light at the end of the COVID tunnel and it was not a train – you discover it is a train – called URI.  There was no diverting it to some other path.  All we could do was watch and wait.  Some people prepared – some did not.  Some people left – some people stayed.  It didn’t matter what anyone did, really – the winter storm was following its course and there was no stopping it.  Leaving destruction in its wake, the storm has moved on – like so many natural disasters – we would like it to be a memory – but the aftermath is still fresh – painful for many.  And the thing is – there are more storms coming – maybe not this winter, but they are coming – of that you can be certain. I told someone the other day that Martie and I have traveled to places that have suffered from Mother Nature’s wrath, but now that we are in Texas, the storms come to us.

Jesus is the source of peace in the midst of trouble.  Not FEMA. Not a Red Cross shelter. Not even a hotel far from the path of the storm.  Not alcohol. Not Denial. Not medication. Only Jesus.  That, my friend, is a spiritual truth.  The world will offer everything but Jesus.  I am currently running a warehouse that is supplying emergency food, water and plumbing supplies to the survivors – we don’t call them victims any more – not sure why.  The house will be comfortable when we are done, but it’s just a house.  Helping with the homes is a concern – restoring water, but the main concern is the hearts of the people who will live in the home.  When Peter and John were stopped by the lame man at the gate of the temple .. he was asking for money – a material solution to his plight – and certainly he needed food and money to buy it.  But Peter said (Acts 3:6) “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.” The man had a physical problem – but underlying that was a spiritual problem that needed a spiritual solution.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” – James 1:2-4

Your faith will be tested if you have a faith to be tested.  We may offer help with rebuilding to those who have no means to change their circumstance, but more importantly we offer Hope through faith in the One who is the source of all Hope. 

We are all going to face problems in this life – COVID – URI – the next Hurricane – or some other malady.  The question is, “Where will we turn in those times of need and uncertainty?”  Here is a thought ….

(Psalm 121)

I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, He who keeps Israel; Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.

The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in; From this time forth, and even forevermore

Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Monday, March 1, 2021

Jesus Saves Us - The Spirit Empowers Us - Our Faith And Obedience Enables Us

 Abide in Me…” —John 15:4

“In the matter of determination. The Spirit of Jesus is put into me by way of the atonement by the Cross of Christ. I then have to build my thinking patiently to bring it into perfect harmony with my Lord. God will not make me think like Jesus— I have to do it myself. I have to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). “Abide in Me”— in intellectual matters, in money matters, in every one of the matters that make human life what it is. […] Am I preventing God from doing things in my circumstances by saying that it will only serve to hinder my fellowship with Him? How irrelevant and disrespectful that is! It does not matter what my circumstances are. […]It is unnecessary to change and arrange my circumstances myself. Our Lord’s …. never chose His own circumstances, but was meek, submitting to His Father’s plans and directions for Him. Just think of how amazingly relaxed our Lord’s life was! [….] You say, “Yes, Lord, just a minute— I still have this to do. Yes, I will abide as soon as this is finished, or as soon as this week is over. It will be all right, Lord. I will abide then.” […] In the initial stages it will be a continual effort to abide, but as you continue, it will become so much a part of your life that you will abide in Him without any conscious effort. – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1:13-14

The Holy Spirit enlivens your new self toward God.  You put your faith in Jesus and God puts His Spirit in you.  The very same Shekinah Glory that led the Children of Israel in the desert … the very same that resided in the Holy of Holies in the temple.  Now you are the temple … and that Spirit leads you, or will if you will follow.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Think about how amazing that is.  Now think about the reverence that you show with respect to that amazing fact of your new life in Christ.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was some physical – visible change when you accepted Jesus .. .when you were born again by the Spirit? A daily reminder every time you looked in the mirror.  Like Oswald Chambers wrote – it requires deliberate action on our part.  

How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’” – John 3: 4-8

Nicodemus didn’t understand because even though he was a teacher of the precepts of God, he only had a natural understanding of the facts he was teaching.  Be careful that you don’t make the same mistake.  The Spirit of God will give you understanding but only if you seek it.  If you rely on yourself and your culture you will miss it and struggle in your Christian life.  Think about it.

Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Friday, February 26, 2021

Taking Another Look At The Good Samaritan

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’ So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’  And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.’ But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” — Luke 10:25-29

I was talking with a friend the other evening about the parable of the Good Samaritan. I am certain you are familiar with it.  The focus of our conversation had to do with serving in response to the call of God alongside people who are not “children of the King” – Christians. The second greatest commandment that the lawyer quoted says to love your neighbor. The lawyer, I surmise, was wanting to justify not showing the love of God to people that were not of his ilk. So Jesus used the example of the Samaritan – a people that the Jews despised.

In this parable, the Samaritan was the one that was kind to the Jew who had been beaten and robbed when other Jews walked by and offered no assistance. From the lawyers perspective, the priest and Levite, the religious ones, would have been the ones who would be most inclined to show love to a fellow Jew – but not so. No, it was the one who was despised and had no reason, other than his compassion for another human being, to help the man lying in the ditch. And not just to help, but to sacrifice personally his time and money to see that the man was properly cared for.

So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’” – Luke 10:34-35

Then Jesus asked the question, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (v36) The lawyer answered, “He who showed mercy on him.” (v37) Here is where we, so often, make a left turn in our thinking. Remember we started off with the question, “Who is the neighbor I am supposed to love?” The focus was not on the Jew in the ditch, but on the Samaritan whom the Jews despised. The point was and is that we should love others and demonstrate that love by showing mercy to others. That is how we fulfill the second greatest commandment. The priest and the Levite failed miserably but apparently felt justified before God and their fellow Jews. The parable really had nothing to do with the Samaritan – but to make the lawyer aware of the bias in his heart and lack of love for others. Remember my conversation was about serving alongside people who do not share my faith. That is not what the parable is about and, in my view is a mis-application.

Are non-Christians capable of showing compassion toward their fellow man? Of course they are. Are Christians capable of being dispassionate toward others, even other Christians? Absolutely – that is what keeps the Body of Christ divided. Should Christians and non-Christians be yoked together in spiritual service, in my opinion, no. We must not be unevenly yoked with non-believers.  (2 Corinthians 6:14) Can Christians work alongside non-Christians while having no spiritual expectation of those who are not inhabited by the Spirit of God? Yes, I think so. But it is all about context. A little leaven affects the whole loaf. In your desire to be inclusive, you must be very careful that the very spiritual work God has put your hand to do is not undermined by the influence of those who reject your faith. Should you show love and compassion towards others – WDYT? 

Our capacity to love like God loves flows out of our love for God.  Our ability to love others – our neighbor – is a reflection of our heart for God. Our unwillingness to love others – to show mercy is a reflection of our lack of love for God. For many Christians, we can’t get even get past the fact that there are other Christians, who are not like us – worship like us – sing like us – preach like us – live like us, but are saved like us. That they are part of our spiritual family. So we just walk on the other side of the road – seeking to justify ourselves like the lawyer tried to – and failed.  

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Stop Looking At The Waves!

 “ And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’  So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” — Matthew 14:28-31

You are most certainly familiar with this scripture.  We all marvel at Peter’s passion and identify with Peter’s humanity.  Have you ever been called out of the boat? The Lord asks you to do what is impossible – counter intuitive.  A seemingly impossible task – that stretches and stresses our faith and fuels our desire to focus on the wind and waves and not the One who has called us out of the boat!

I find myself out on the sea in the middle of a storm – once again. Facing a situation that seems impossible – daunting – racked with opportunity to fail. Such is the nature of our life in Christ.  We live in a world of impossibilities. Or maybe we think possible but not probable.  We doubt our ability to do what we know we are to do.  That boat may have been rocky but at least I could stay dry and safe.  Oh, I could share other stories in the Bible about people who found themselves in impossible situations and then God showed up. But not until they exercised faith. Peter may have know all about fishing, the sea, boats, and then WHAT!!! God says do the impossible – walk on the water. Contrary to the laws of nature. But it is the Law-Giver that has called on us.  The creator of all that we know and see and what we don’t know and don’t see.  I am humbled and amazed that God would use us for His purposes and ultimately for His glory.

So what about you? It is not like God has asked you to solve world hunger. Perhaps your call is small in the world’s eyes, but it requires faith and obedience which are BIG in God’s eyes.  In my experience it is natural to understand the magnitude – which is relative to each Christian, and feel uncertain – perhaps incapable of what it is the God has called you to do and be.  Courage is not the absence of fear – it is action in the face of fear. And so it is with faith.  Let me leave you with two of my favorite verses to contemplate and perhaps embrace.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:8-9

Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Monday, February 22, 2021

I Know God Loves Me But Do I Believe It?

…“I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. … I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,  But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes” —Job 42:2, 5-6

I listened to a great message on Job yesterday.  One that caused me to think about my faith and my faithfulness. There is so much about God that I do not understand. So many aspects of God’s nature and His expectation of this child that is contrary to that nature of my flesh and its desires. It is a daily struggle isn’t it? We were watching a movie based upon the movie, Robinson Crusoe, that was made in 1954. In one sin, Friday asked Robinson Crusoe, “If God loves us why does he permit sin in the world?” First I thought, that line would never make it in a movie today! But then my mind went back to the sermon. I can reason Friday’s question – consider it in the context of what I have heard and what I had read myself in the Word. But, that is not really the issue. The issue is – do I trust God with a spiritual truth that I don’t fully understand – trust Him enough to walk in that truth and not manufacture some pseudo-truth and makes me more comfortable. Am I willing to obey even if I don’t have a full understanding.

Faith and obedience are matters of the heart not the mind. Job had challenged God as if to say “God do you know what you are doing?” “God are you really in control?” Or like the question of the Serpent in the Garden, “Did God really say?”  This is at the root of the reason for the great falling away from the Scripture in the Body of Christ today is that very thing. What is that, you ask? When we believe that we know what is right and God does not.  When we look to the world for answers with respect to morality and what is right and wrong. When we are selective about what we accept as truth from the Word of Truth and reject those things that we don’t understand of agree with.  We are very much like Job in that sense. This is not so much an accusation but a warning and an encouragement. This is not a new issue – it started in the Garden and has prevailed – even in the times when some of us thought were better days for the Body of Christ – particularly in the United States.  Since the Garden there has been leaven in the loaf. I will quote again from the Truth Project – Focus on The Family – “Do you believe that what you believe is really real?” Do you believe that the Bible is God’s revelation to man? The proof of our belief is in how we live and love not in what we say.

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:21-22

Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Who Do You Love More? Your Life Will Shout It Out.

 …they went forth for His name’s sake… —3 John 7

Our Lord told us how our love for Him is to exhibit itself when He asked, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:17). And then He said, ‘Feed My sheep.’ In effect, He said, ‘Identify yourself with My interests in other people,’ not, ‘Identify Me with your interests in other people.’ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 shows us the characteristics of this love— it is actually the love of God expressing itself. […] Faithfulness to Jesus Christ is the supernatural work of redemption that has been performed in me by the Holy Spirit— “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 5:5). And it is that love in me that effectively works through me and comes in contact with everyone I meet. […] The key …… that he is (that we are) attached to nothing and to no one except our Lord Himself. It does not mean simply being detached from the external things surrounding us. Our Lord was amazingly in touch with the ordinary things of life, but He had an inner detachment except toward God. […] (Our) duty … is to concentrate on keeping (our souls) completely and continually open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. The men and women our Lord sends out on His endeavors are ordinary human people, but people who are controlled by their devotion to Him, which has been brought about through the work of the Holy Spirit.”Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” –  Psalm 37:4

That verse can be taken two ways.  First, if you pursue God then He will give you anything your little heart desires.  Second, if you pursue God, He will make His passion, your passion.  He will change your “wants” to those things that reflect His will and purposes.  That is what Jesus was telling Peter.  “If you love Me, then pursue those things that I pursue.  Do what I say to do, even if it makes no earthly sense.” What makes missionaries distinctive from other Christians is that they visibly place less value on earthly comforts and relationships than they do on the call of Jesus on their lives to pick up their cross, abandon the things of this world, and follow Him.  To feed His sheep if you will.  But that call is not limited to missionaries – it applies to all Christians. The thing about a shepherd, when everyone else is at home sleeping, he is standing guard over the flock. I am typing this while sitting in a house in Texas far from lifelong friends and family.  My point?  God has called us to this place from the place He had sent us before - and before that - and .... When He calls, you must be willing to lay what is comfortable and familiar, down.

From time to time when I tell my wife that I love her, she will say “I love you more.” Then I say “No, I love you more.” And we go back and forth several times with that.  But where is the proof of that love? The proof of love is not words, as affirming as they might be. Ephesians 5:25 says this, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.”  Do you love God enough to give yourself up for Him? (Romans 12:1-2)  – your hopes, your dreams, your comfort, your secure retirement, your family holidays, your friends the list goes on ….. 

The theme of the Bible is that God is supreme and deserves our total devotion … like David, we must love God with our whole heart. (1 Kings 14:8).  Listen, men, you won’t love your wife that way (Ephesians 5:25) if you first don’t love God that way. (Matthew 22:37-39). And you won’t love God that way if you are unwilling to lay your life down. Think about it. I want to encourage you to examine your heart – your motives for withholding love and devotion to God and, if necessary, get your heart right with God. Then let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Danger Of Getting The Cart Of Forgiveness Before The Horse Named Repentance

 Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation…” —2 Corinthians 7:10

Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin (see John 16:8). And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person’s conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not that person’s relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God— “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight…” (Psalm 51:4). The wonders of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven person who is truly holy. He proves he is forgiven by being the opposite of what he was previously, by the grace of God. Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, “I have sinned.” The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it. Anything less is simply sorrow for having made foolish mistakes— a reflex action caused by self-disgust.[…] The foundation of Christianity is repentance. […] If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.” – Oswald Chambers – My Utmost For His Highest

I am in the process of writing a treatise on forgiveness. (I had to look the definition of treatise up) The supernatural act of forgiving.  There is a progression that leads to forgiveness.  As Christians we sin.  We come under conviction. That conviction produces godly sorrow which leads to repentance. Repentance leads to forgiveness and restoration.  Think about that.  Granting forgiveness without repentance is called enabling the sinful behavior.  Even though you will be tempted, don't give someone a "pass" because you feel sorry for them.  That means you don’t love them enough to get to the point of repentance which brings healing and restoration.  Think about the parable of the prodigal son. (Luke 15:11-32)  What is the remarkable point of that story?  God is the “father” and we are the “wayward son”.  The father loved the son, but did not go after the son to convince him to come home, even though I suspect the father knew where the son was and what he was doing. The father waited for the son to be convicted, to repent of his sin and return to the father seeking forgiveness.  The son did not even imagine that he could be restored as a son.  The best he hoped for was to be treated like a hired hand.  An evidence of a broken and humble heart.  Every day, the father looked to the hills in the hope that his son would repent one day and return.  He loved his son.  He loved him enough to let the process take its course … even though the father hated what his son was going through.  The father knew that until his son’s heart was changed, there could be no restoration.

That is true for us as well.  We are commanded to forgive, but we must be careful that the forgiveness is not misapplied … and abused.  That means we must exercise spiritual discernment and emotional restraint.  We must be ready to forgive, as we have been forgiven. (Ephesians 4:32) But remember, the benefit of forgiveness, which is restoration, comes after repentance and not before. We can still love, like the father, but the relationship and trust is restored through the act of true repentance. Someone saying “I am sorry” is not the test of repentance – changed behavior is. If you act on someone merely saying "I am sorry" without demonstrated repentance, you might be disappointed when they do it again - and again - and again. Our salvation is a picture of how we are to respond to one another. Don’t confusing not loving with no forgiving. Not holding a grudge against someone – which is a love issue - with forgiveness – which is a trust issue.

Think about it. I want to encourage you to examine your heart – your motives for withholding love and, if necessary, get your heart right with God. Then let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

Have you ever heard the expression  - Giving credit where credit is due? Normally the phrase is used to raise an awareness of a contribution or act performed by someone whose praises were yet unsung.  Most everyone wants to know they have value and are favored by others.  In a world that is dominated by “bad news”, where the acknowledgement and even glamorizing of the evil that prevails, to hear of good things is rare.  Micah 6:8 asks this rhetorical question and then provides the answer.

What does the Lord require of you, O man. But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8 

Walking or living humbly is what I am addressing this morning.  It is OK that people recognize your achievements, your character, your acts of kindness.  As Christians, we are to walk humbly.  To walk humbly means to live with an awareness that God is the source of all good things.  If you or I have any ability, it is because God formed us that way.  We may nurture that ability and apply it with good works, but its source is God. 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

Now and again, people may want to recognize you for your good works.  I know they have me and it always makes me uncomfortable frankly. The natural world has no spiritual discernment, so they see acts of kindness made by Christians and non-Christians as having the same root.  For you to give God the credit.  For you to give Him the glory. The world might well think, “isn’t that special!” All the while thinking that you are showing false humility. To give God the credit when you are praised is not false humility.  It is the real deal - acknowledging the One who is behind it all. 

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” – Psalm 96:3

As Christians, we have the amazing opportunity to see God at work.  People may marvel when the work is done, but without spiritual eyes, they will not have understanding that what they see is God at work through His children.  The accomplishments will seem like an amazing coincidence.  Or perhaps that act of an amazing person.  When in fact it is because of an amazing God. The only thing we can take real credit for is saying "Yes" to God and taking the step of obedience.

The bottom line on the bottom line is this.  Be careful that you don’t rob God of His glory. Give all glory to Him.  Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel and Christoph Graupner would signify that their magnificent works were produced for the sake of praising God with the phrase “Soli Deo Gloria” – To the glory of God alone. That desire should be at the heart of every act – everything we do.

That phrase is one of the 5 Solas of the Reformation. 

Sola Scriptura  - “Scripture Alone” : The Bible alone is our highest authority.

Sola Fide - “Faith Alone” : We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.

Sola Gratia - “Grace Alone” :  We are saved by the grace of God alone.

Solus Christus – “Christ Alone : Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.

Soli Deo Gloria – “To the Glory of God Alone”  : We live for the glory of God alone.

Does that describe you? I want to encourage you to examine your heart – your motives for withholding love and, if necessary, get your heart right with God. Then let your light Shine Bright my friend and give God the place and glory He is due.

And now you know why I end every devotion with the following phrase.

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