Tuesday, June 30, 2020

No Jesus - No Peace - Know Jesus - Know Peace

“He [Jesus] left Judea and departed again to Galilee.  But He needed to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” – John 4:3-9

We normally focus on the woman at the well in these verses. But I want to focus on the phrase “For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans”. I was told once that Jews would not travel through Samaria they held so much disdain for the people.  The trouble between the Jews (inhabitants of the Judah, the southern kingdom) and Samaritans began immediately after the division of the northern kingdom (Israel) and Judah, the southern kingdom (Jerusalem), as Samaria was the capital city of the northern kingdom (with Jeroboam as her first king). Rehoboam assembled an army to make war against Israel to reunite the kingdom, but God intervened through His prophet Shemiah (1 Kings 12:21-24). The animosity was passed from one generation to the next.  The divide between the people was great – and seemingly impossible to resolve.

Ethnic groups, people of different nationalities continue to struggle with division, hatred even.  My point is that as bad as that problem us in this country, it is not isolated to this country. It is born out of the sinful nature of man. And, since its source is sin, the only solution is spiritual. I remember a line in “Ground Hog Day”, when the weather man and the director prayed for world peace right before they drank in a bar. That really seems so antithetical as I type out those words. World peace is a pipe dream. That will only happen when Jesus returns. Until then, the sinful nature of man rules the nations. Peace and conflict ebb and flow through generations. The lack of physical conflict does not mean that there is not hatred abiding in the hearts of men and women.  People are mistreated because their faith is different, because their customs are different, because their skins is a different color – because they are not like the ones who oppress them.  Often, their only choice or to conform or die. The extreme is sometimes they are not given that choice to live. That is called genocide. Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a people—usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group—in whole or in part. It is happening in the world today.  If they can’t make you like them, they will do away with you. 

That is man’s solution to the problem of people being different.  Peaceful coexistence is a myth – apart from some intervention. Force will not change a person’s heart, but it can change their behavior. There is a saying, “You can make me do it, but you can’t make me like it.” In a simple sense like making your children clean their room or saying they are sorry to their brother or sister.  Laws carry a consequence for not obeying them – at least that is their intent and result if applied fairly to all. But that doesn’t happen either, does it?  But the intent of laws is to control behavior – wrong doing – protect the public interest. But laws don’t change hearts and really limit behavior for some.  That is one reason why the prisons are full.

So what to do. God chose to intervene. To not change behavior first with laws but to change hearts first. Hearts that would want to adhere to what is right and good because they want to, not because they have to.  He sent His Son to establish a new order of things where people loved Him and others more than themselves.  Where they did not demand that people must be like them physically, culturally, ethnically, naturally but that they would be bound together through their spiritual commonality. Their faith in Jesus. Having the same Spirit. So how did that work out? Not perfectly. The problem is that those same people still struggle with their old nature – their sinful nature. People – Christians – still struggle with separation in the Body of Christ because of the natural that rails against the spiritual. 

Does that mean that all is lost – that it is hopeless? By no means! What it means is that the Church must recognize the problem and repent. Both the Samaritans and Jews. Their must be a heart change. The country is looking for a social change.  Some are turning to violence to make people change their minds. It will not change hearts. As a society that rejects God for the most part, it can only treat the symptom not the illness.  And what is the role of the Christians in this country? Repent and show the world what “Right looks like.”  Not by self-effort, but by the power or the Spirit – through unity and love. Not because we have to but because we want to.

if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

That verse has been used to apply to our country – but I think it is more appropriately applied to the Body of Christ. Only the Spirit of God can bring unity in the Body of Christ, and that can happen only when Christians rend their hearts and yield them to the Spirit. Stop making excuses and repent. There is a song by the Beatles that goes, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” I would change that to “All we are saying is give JESUS a chance.” We are not going to change the world – that is not our job – our job is to let the light of Christ shine through our lives and relationships and lift Jesus up.

Peace I [Jesus] 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, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

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

Monday, June 29, 2020

Holding On To The Old – Resisting The New

"But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their [the Jews] heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

It can sound so presumptuous to say that we have a greater spiritual revelation – those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus the Messiah. The truth of the matter is, that we do. There are those who struggle in their quest to know the creator God – Jew and Muslim, who both look to father Abraham but they both reject the idea that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6) acknowledging the Jesus did exist but relegating Him to the place of teacher or prophet – but certainly not God incarnate.  It is that veil that is removed – the veil that makes us spiritually blind and lame. It is that revelation that brings about spiritual transformation. Recall when John the Baptist confronted the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism …..

do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” – Matthew 3:9-11

The promise given to Abraham was a spiritual promise – not a natural one. But it is in our nature to try to understand what the Lord reveals to us in the natural sense.  That is at the root of the health and wealth Gospel.  Your physical and financial condition are not indicators of a heart right before God. There are many people that are physically healthy and materially wealthy that are not spiritually healthy and wealthy.  Jesus did not come to reveal the way to greater earthly treasure.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

When the veil is taken away – the kingdom of God is revealed. We were blind but now we see.  Jesus said that our entire focus, our priority should be on loving God – devoting our lives to God and then that devotion will reveal itself by our love for others and the lack of love for the things of this world. Our struggle is that our tendency is to want to do both.  Accommodate our old nature and its devotions and be devoted to serving God at the same time.  We doubt that devotion to God alone is sufficient for us to get along in this life. But what is really going is that we do not want to give up our dependence upon the things of this world.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” – James 1:6-8

Jesus challenged those who came to him wanting to know how to find eternal life or wanting to follow him.  He saw their hearts and the devotion in them and knew that their hearts were divided.  That they wanted the benefits of being a child of God while they enjoyed the devotions that they had in their natural life. Even our natural devotions to our families. The fifth commandment says to honor your parents. It is called the commandment with a promise. But that honor cannot be greater than the honor we give to God.

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. …. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.’” – Luke 14:25-27,33

 Our love and devotion to our family looks like hate when compared to our love and devotion to God. 

Then another of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’” – Matthew 8:21-22

Or how about this one. 

So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother.’  And he said, ‘All these things I have kept from my youth.’ So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.” – Luke 18:19-23

Jesus addressed the last six commandments with the young man, how we relate to other people – but the young man was lacking with respect to the first four – the first four enable us to accomplish the last six.  (See Exodus 20:3-17 if you need a refresher) He loved money and the natural life it provided for him.  More than he loved God.

In the same way – our temptation is to love what this natural life has to offer – the values taught by man that are contrary to the Word of God. We are very likely to ignore the spiritual in favor of yielding to the natural. We who have had the veil removed though salvation by faith in Jesus, must resist the temptation to re-hang the curtain so we don’t have to bear the presence of the Spirit in our lives.  What old things are you holding on to? What new things are you resisting because of your worldly devotions. We all do it. God knows it. Yield to the Spirit and let Him do His work in your life. You are not a failure – it is part of the spiritual transformation in every Believer’s life. We are not perfected, but don’t be satisfied with your imperfection.

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

Friday, June 26, 2020

Close Enough Is Only Good For Horse Shoes and Hand Grenades

“ Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.’” – Matthew 22:36-37

Ever played horse shoes? You get one point for being close to the stake, two points for a "leaner", the shoe leaning against the stake and three points for a ringer. With hand grenade - say an M-26 fragmentation grenade - the effective bursting radius is 3 meters. If you within 9 feet when it explodes, you are going to get hurt.  That is what is meant by close enough.

Looking at my own life, I see a constant struggle in my heart with being Close Enough.  The struggle is doing what Jesus said to do. Love God with “all”.  It is so much easier to love God with “some” There are so many things that vie for a place in my heart. Most of them not inherently bad but things that would nudge God out of His rightful place. Righteousness as defined by me.  So long as I am willing to embrace my old nature – those things that would demand my devotion and trust – I am settling for a new life that is Close Enough. I may even prefer that others ignore that and consider me to have “arrived” spiritually, when I have not.

I can compare my new ways – caused by my conversion or by my own will – to my old life and think – “you’ve come a long way baby!” Perhaps even find a reason for personal pride instead of giving the glory to God. If I should want to compare myself to other men, I might be tempted to be impressed with myself. Others might and do praise me for what I have accomplished. But man’s praise can prove to be lethal to a right heart before God.  It can whittle away at your devotion to God and you can begin to think too highly of yourself. I have known people that crave words of affirmation from others.  I watch their expressions when they are praised by others. There is nothing wrong with recognition. But there is something that is spiritually deadly when we need men’s praise to have a feeling of worth.  Each person is so important to God that He sent Jesus to die for them.

“… they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” – John 12:43

Every Christian is far from perfect in their flesh, but stand perfected spiritually before God, the Father because of Jesus.  The organization I work with, Houston Responds, has a campaign called “Far From Finished.” It has to do with encouraging the local churches to help the thousands of families that still struggle with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda. But I think that “Far From Finished” is an appropriate description of where all of are in our faith walk and sanctification as well – the process of being conformed to the image of Christ.

Don’t be satisfied with Close Enough.  So many are.  They are satisfied with being saved and sitting in the “cheap seats” in heaven, but God intends for you to be sitting in the best seats. It all depends upon you.  If your spiritual life seems to have run out of gas (or oil) then it is not because God has forgotten about you.  It is because you have chosen to embrace the world. You have decided that Close Enough is Good Enough.  I can encourage you to press on but you have to decide to take the next step and not be satisfied with Close Enough.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Purpose Of Christians Gathering

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

COVID 19 has changed the ebb and flow of our society.  Things that we used to do, places where we used to go – that has all changed. We used to think it strange when women in other countries walked around with their faces covered up to their eyes and now it is a common sight. You can’t even enter some places of business without a masks on you face. Church doors were closed. Do you remember when you are a child and were taught to fold your hands and say “Here is the church and here is the steeple, open doors and see all of the people.”?  For a few months when the doors were opened, there was no body home at the church.  Because the Church had left the building. Now most are looking through the windows – streaming services over the internet.  It can become so much like another television program. Even Zoom meetings lack the relational connection that you have in physical meetings.

For many Christians, the highlight – perhaps the only day of the week that they figuratively light their spiritual lamp is on Sunday, when they gather.  God created us to be relational. We are wired to want to be around other people. For probably 99% of us, living in isolation has a dilatory effect on our spiritual stability.  We are told to love one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, lay down our lives for one another. That is not just about having an attitude but personal relationship.

Having “me:” time with the Lord is important. In fact, personal interaction with the Lord must be the starting point, foundation, of personal interaction with others.  We should not get the cart before the horse – where our spirituality is solely dependent upon being around other Christians. But it is critical to your spiritual health.  I remember hearing a story about Chuck Colson.  Chuck Colson, “Once known as President Nixon's "hatchet man", Colson gained notoriety at the height of the Watergate scandal, for being named as one of the Watergate Seven, and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for attempting to defame Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg. In 1974 he served seven months in the federal Maxwell Prison in Alabama, as the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate-related charges.” (Wikipedia) Chuck was born again in 1973 before he went to prison, and while in prison conceived the idea of a ministry which would be called Prison Fellowship which has become an international evangelical Christian ministry.

The story goes like this.  Chuck and another man were chatting in Chuck’s home.  The other man said “I don’t really need to be around other Christians – I am fine with it being just me and Jesus.” Chuck didn’t say anything, but walked to the fire place and took and ember out with the tongs and stared at it. Still saying nothing. After a few minutes of silence, the ember’s glow grew faint until it was gone. Then Chuck said, “That is what it is like when a Christian is removed from the fellowship of other Christians. The fire goes out.” He was not saying that we lose our salvation. He was saying that there is a synergy, a spiritual dynamic, created through the gathering of Christians.  One that you cannot duplicate or derive any other way. 

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:19-20

I have quoted verse 20  many times in support of the idea about fellowship and prayer. But actually the scripture in its context has to do with dealing with a sinning Christian.  As Christians, as temples of the Holy Spirit, we take the Spirit wherever we go – by ourselves or with others.  Whether there is a spiritual dynamic in being with other Christians depends upon the condition of our hearts.  I can put a heater in a cold room, but if the heater has no flame, the room will remain cold – and so will the heater.

My point, there is more to it than merely coming together. Our hearts must be right before God.  The assembling of Christians can be like going to a filling station – where cars that are low on fuel can be refueled.  It can also be like a car repair shop where cars that are in disrepair and be repaired. I am not advocating that you ignore the dangers of assembly when COVID is back on the rise. I am reminding you of the importance of Christian fellowship – something that God intended at the point of creation.

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Spiritual Snippets from Chapter 3 Verse 16

I shared chapter 12 verses 1 and/or 2 with you yesterday.  It was a bit long – I also post this on Facebook and I know that some Facebookers don’t like long – no apologies – The great thing is you can always stop reading and scroll to the next post that catches their eye.  I am really not posting a copy on Facebook for the masses, but for some who may need to read something that might inspire them, stir their spirit, remind them of who they are in Christ and Who they are to reflect to the rest of the world.

So today – I want to share a number of 3:16 verses from various Books in the new testament.

John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” – Luke 3:16

John the Baptist baptized people as a sign of their personal repentance from sin – their decision to turn away from sin.  But Jesus came to baptize with the Spirit of God – “You must be born again”. I repented by faith and was saved by faith, sealed by the Spirit – it was not an earthly act of faith – like a new year’s resolution – but a heavenly one – eternal – spiritual.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

He that has the Son has life, he that does not have the Son does not have life – eternal life.  God, the Father, sent Jesus, the Son, to redeem us. But we must receive Him by faith. There is no other way. People can deny the Truth, but that does not change the Truth.

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.” – Matthew 3:16

Jesus was the first born among many Brethren. Was it necessary for Jesus to receive the Spirit in the same way that we do? The Spirit descends upon us on the day we are born again and empowers and seals us, adopting us as God’s own children.  Jesus had to face everything we have to face.  I don’t pretend to understand the deep spiritual aspect of what God did through Jesus and how exactly He did it – but I believe it by faith.

Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter” – Mark 3:16

When we are saved we are made new – old things have passed away - like receiving a new name or identity.

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.” – Galatians 3:16

The promise was through Isaac but it was a spiritual promise that could only be fulfilled through Jesus – and we are part of that Promise.

“that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” – Ephesians 3:16

We live our new life by faith in the power of the Spirit. When we forget that – our old nature rises to the surface

Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.”  – Philippians 3:16

To be of the same mind means that we will be united in purpose and deed. What unites us if the Spirit of God.  As a friend of mine used to say, “When the ‘I’ in UNITED gets out of place, it becomes Un-Tied.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” – 2 Timothy 3:16

The Word is “God Breathed”, the same word used for the Spirit of God.  The Word is spiritual manna – read or heard – it sustains us – feeds our spirit – enables us.

For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there” – James 3:16

The world is in turmoil and moving away from the precepts of God every day at what seems to be an accelerating pace.  Confusion and evil are a natural consequence of this falling away.

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.”  – 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Know Jesus – Know Peace – No Jesus – No peace

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” – 1 John 3:16

Do we consider others to be more important than ourselves? Do we have compassion for others – even if personal gain is replaced with personal loss and sacrifice?

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” – Revelation 3:16

We cannot ride the fence with our new life in Christ on one side and our old life on the other – with our hearts hopping from one side to the other – picking and choosing what parts of the Bible we want to believe and obey – choosing what parts of our old nature we want to hang on to.  Do not deceive yourself into thinking that somehow God winks His eye and overlooks your sin. Don’t treat sin as if it is of no consequence – like some sin is tolerable from God’s perspective – it is not. 

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Something About The First Verses Of Chapter 12

“I urge you therefore, [brothers and sisters], by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  – Romans 12:1-2

I have noticed in my reading of the Word of God that there are some significant verses that rest on the same chapter and verse of certain books in the Bible. I can be a little weird sometimes – in fact one granddaughter said I was the king of the planet weird.  That may help you gain insight into how my brain works! At any rate for the next couple of days, I want to share a few with you. Today it is the first couple of verses in chapter 12 of Romans, Hebrews, and Luke.  My hope is that it will cause you to consider your new life in Christ in a deeper way – perhaps for the first time and for most – as a refresher.

To start, to bring context, I must deviate slightly by quoting John 17:14-17.

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” – John 17:14-17

To begin – we must remember that we have been called out of the world.  Our tendency is to first identify with our natural selves – who we  are nationally, ethnically, regionally, economically, or even denominationally.  In the context of our natural distinctives. It is natural for us to do that. Consider who I am naturally before I consider who I am spiritually. It is an indicator of our hearts devotion. A validator of the struggle that the books in the New Testament, in specific, the epistles – letters to the churches address.  Some people speak and teach the word of God as if it is merely a story about people in some other place and time.  In fact – it is a book of lessons for all generations.  Lessons that describe the nature of man and the struggles that Christians will endure in every generation until Jesus returns.

In John 17, Jesus, in His conversation with His Father, the One who sent Him to save those who would be saved by their choosing, Jesus said that we are not of this world.  Do you believe that?  Do you live like that?  Are your devotions to God and the Saints – no matter who they are  - what color they are – how poor they are – what language they speak – or – are your devotions to the natural. Do you believe that you have been sanctified by the Word of God and sealed by the Spirit of God? Set apart in the world to be a testimony of the Grace and Mercy and Power of God? That is the context in which you must consider the verses I am about to share.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

As Christians we will struggle with the temptation to sin – to return to that which is natural for us – we run this race – live this new life by the power of the Spirit and a submitted heart. We have to keep our focus on our faith in Jesus and not on the world around us.  This world of ours is in turmoil.  It is not the first time nor will it be the last.  Christians have been, are and will be complicit in the sins that rage.  Why? Because they choose to embrace the world – and often use the Word of God to justify what they do.

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” – Luke 12:1

Some Christians and evangelical denominations embrace the natural and justifying it by corrupting the Word of God. Just like the Pharisees.  Great wrongs – social injustice has been condoned and encouraged by those who call Jesus – Lord thinking that they were justified and acting righteously.  But what they did was from the flesh.  From their sinful nature.  And when confronted with the truth, by the Spirit in their hearts – many seek to resist the Spirit – ignoring the reveled truth and justify their actions rather than confess their sin and repent. Remember, the Pharisees crucified Jesus and felt justified in doing so. Religion, without God, is dangerous, malicious, and dividing.

I urge you therefore, [brothers and sisters], by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2

Living the Christian life, successfully, requires a daily – perhaps minute by minute – effort. The influences of the world and our old nature are constant – they never let up. Like leaven in the loaf – yeast – is starts in the hearts of each of us and then spreads. We must rededicate ourselves every day as living sacrifices to God. And what does that mean? To abandon our devotion to the natural and embrace the Truth – God’s intent for mankind – what we can only find in this world by the supernatural – by faith with hearts fully devoted to God.  That means rejecting our natural affections – nationality – race – economics – what the world has declared to be right that is contrary to the Word of God. 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:24-35

We would like to change the world – but that is not going to happen. We will not eliminate the effects of sin – only Jesus’ return will do that. So long as there are those who reject God and embrace their sinful nature – there will be injustice.  The world wants peace.  The world wants justice.  The world wants harmony and equality.  If that was achievable by human effort – Jesus could have stayed in heaven.  But it isn’t and He didn’t.  The world is socially and morally corrupt. The world needs Jesus – but wants what He has to offer and not Him.    So what should I do as a Christian? Reveal the glory of God through my transformed life – how I live and how I love. By demonstrating unity with other Christians that defies the failures of the natural world and peoples. It is all about Jesus and all about Grace.

The next day John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” – John 1:29

The world needs to see Jesus in us individually and corporately, so God will be glorified and that some might be saved.  Let your light shine.

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Christian’s Role In A Crazy World

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven..”  – Matthew 5:11-16

I have been writing a good bit about the social upheaval around the world and the importance of unity in the Body of Christ, of late.  Jesus said that we are to be salt and light. What makes the salt – salty and what makes the light – bright is not what is happening – around it – but what is happening – in it. If we look at the world and allow the world to influence us –  our attitudes – our behavior then we are just like the world – there is no difference. We make decisions about what is right and what is wrong – what is truth and what is not based upon what the world does and says.  If we look at the goings on in the world and draw conclusions about our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we have made a tragic mistake.

If I decide that my attitude toward a Christian is based upon what the lost do – I have misled myself and sinned against another Christian.  If I don’t see other Christians in the same light that God see me – I have missed the essence of the faith. We are all made one by the transforming power of the Spirit of God and faith in Jesus as the Way, Truth, and Life. If we see other Christians in any other way, then we have a carnal understanding of who we are in Christ.

Our unity is to be a testimony of our spiritual nature, salvation in Jesus and the power and glory of God. Our unity should defy the division that is so rampant around us outside the Body of Christ and not reflect it. Failing to preserve unity in the Body, the salt loses its saltiness.  The light is dimmed to almost being put out.  It does us no good to stand with the world against what is wrong with this world if we cannot stand with each other. We want to stand with those who are clearly carnal in their belief and separated from God, yet we cannot stand with each other. Think about that!

Don’t watch a world in turmoil and draw conclusions about Believers – brothers and sisters in Christ.  The lost have no hope – they are grabbing at straws, lashing out at injustice – and their response unrestrained quickly evolves to chaos. I do see the light of Christ on display around our country – it is a testimony of our faith – but we cannot fix a world that is headed for destruction, although we might influence it with the fragrance of Christ – God sent His Son to save all – that in knowing that only some would be saved. Not by His choice, but by man’s choice. For most people seeking answers, it is anything but Jesus. For Christians it is only Jesus.  The answer found in changed hearts and not restrained or placated anger.  Eventually suppressed anger will find its way to the surface. It may be because of an unwarranted death – perhaps a pandemic – economic turmoil –  what ever the “trigger” might be – the revelation is unresolved anger and fear.

Don’t expect the world to embrace Christians when they have already rejected Christ.  What does salt and light look like? What does the world need to see?  What it has needed in the past and will need in the future. Unity when there is every natural reason to not be united.  Love when there is every natural reason not to love. Peace when there is every natural reason …. I think you are getting the idea. Joy, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control…. All of that from the power of the Spirit of God in us and hearts fully submitted to Him. A testimony of the power of God in the life of a human being in spite of what is happening around them

Should Christians be involved in social activism? I think so, but always, always in the context of who they are in Christ and with a demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit. Should they protest against injustice – yes – but in the context of who they are in Christ and with a demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit.

I can do nothing spiritually right if my heart is not right, spiritually – if my relationships in the body of Christ are not right. If I try to do good in the power of my flesh – out of the strength and wisdom of my natural self – my old nature – I am not longer salty – the light of Christ no longer shines – I am just another voice in the crowd. Paul wrote that we are to .. 

Bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

But the law has two parts – first, and most important, love God with every fiber of your being and then second – love others. If there is division in the Body then we have not accomplished the first so we should not even try to accomplish the second.  And if you are thinking that disunity in the Body does not affect you – you don’t understand how the Body works.

But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:24-26

Change in the world begins with a change in the heart.

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Sin Of Not Caring

"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.”  – Luke 10:31-32

 I read a post this morning asking why Christians who are white should ask for forgiveness for sins against people of another skin color – including Black that they did not commit. I don’t think the point is that they, me included, are being asked to repent of those sins. What we are being asked to do is repent of the sin of “Not Caring”.

 There has been great injustice done to people of color (any color than white) since, well since there were people of different colors. A struggle for racial or color dominance. If I think less of you then I can somehow raise myself up by standing on your back.  Not everyone felt that way or feels that way. But what is more common is the sin of not caring.  We may not participate and feel somehow superior to those who do, but, at the same time, it doesn’t directly affect us so it is not our problem.  That may be the prevalent thinking in your circle of relationships – but it is not Biblical.  The priest and the Levite – both spiritual to some extent, espousing God’s tenants in word, failed to demonstrate them in deed.  They didn’t care about the man in the ditch – even though he was the same color.  They didn’t care.  They didn’t have time. It was not their fault that he was in the ditch. That he had been mistreated. 

 Bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

 So you might ask, like the lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor – my one another?”  In an attempt to justify not caring. So Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, recorded in Luke 10. For Christians, the problem that has been revealed is one of not caring. Not embracing other Christians because they are different.  They are saved by the same Jesus – but they are different – and persecuted.  They are laying in the literal ditch and the churches that have Christians that are predominately white, walk on by, just like the priest and Levite.

I am using the term “Christians who are” out of deference to something I heard Pastor Tony Evans say.  “To say Black Christian is incorrect. You see Christian cannot be modified with an adjective.  All Christians are the same.  There are Christians who have different shades of skin color, live in other countries, speak in different languages, practice different styles of worship – but that does not modify their nature or their spiritual ethnicity.” (loosely quoted)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28

“….. since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” – Colossians 3:9-13

Something I noticed when we served in Haiti.  Some Christians who were white would spend a lot of money to come to a nation that is comprised of at least 95% black people.  They came to share the Good News and rejoice when even one would be saved in their sight. And yet these same Christians would return home to their churches who were waiting anxiously to hear the report of ‘Victory’. These same churches that were not willing to cross the road in their own towns and cities to help the man in the ditch. And were not sorry that the man was in the ditch.  Do you see an inconsistency there?  Please do not interpret my words to mean that there are no Christians who are white who don’t care, who are not like the Samaritan who showed compassion. Because there are … many .. thousands.

As I told a friend the other day .. like Elijah, you may think that all is lost, but God is saying there are thousands who have not bent their knees to the sin of not caring that you don’t know about.

What you see happening in the world and in the Body of Christ has a spiritual root. It is a result of the sinful nature of man. It can only be resolved through repentance for the Church and salvation for the lost in this world.  But it will not be eradicated until Jesus returns. For the Body of Christ to be what God intended, there can be no “sin the camp.” And there is. Lord help us!

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

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

Monday, June 15, 2020

Some Christians Are Just Wearing The Jacket - Appearances Can Be Deceiving

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”  – Matthew 23:27-28

After I returned from Vietnam in 1970, I started classes at a local Junior College. I became involved in an organization named Chi Gamma Iota or XGI. It was an on-campus organization catering to students who were veterans.  Most had served in Vietnam. You may recall that the Draft was in effect so there were a lot of veterans going back to school.  While in Vietnam, I was assigned as a radio operator to the Military Assistance Command - Vietnam (MAC-V) , Advisory Team 68 on the Vinh Long Province in the Mekong Delta. Each unit has a distinctive patch.  So – when I saw a guy standing in the hallway wearing a fatigue jacket with the MAC-V patch on the right shoulder ( the right should patch indicates the unit you served with in combat), I approached him. “What team were you with?”, I asked. He looked confused. He responded, “I don’t know what you mean.” “I mean what MAC-V advisory team were you with in Vietnam?” To which he replied, “Man, I wasn’t in the Army, I bought this jacket at the Salvation Army store.” I was surprised and dismayed.  That jacket and that patch meant something – it was something that bound people together through a common experience.  He was an imposter.  He thought the jacket was cool – I thought the jacket was a declaration of who he was.

So why am I telling you that story? Because it reminded me of why there is such turmoil in the Body of Christ. Why the light of Christ that should be burning brightly in a world that is desperately trying to keep from drowning is so dim. For many Christians – “just wearing the jacket” is enough for them. They never actually serve.  They never actually go beyond the safety of their religious space.  They have never deployed to a combat zone.  They hold on to their biases and fears but want to appear to be the “good and faithful servant” to the world – but more importantly to their other Christian friends.

My goal is not to be harsh or berate Christian, but to being understanding about why the Body of Christ is fractured and largely impotent.  Oh, I am thinking about a number of military analogies – but  I will not go there.  But I will share what the Apostle Paul said

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure  hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” – 2 Timothy 2:2-4

We are so busy living our own lives, drawn to those who live like us, look like us, do what we do, drive what we drive, play like we play, that we ignore the plight of other Christians that are not like – do not look – do not live – do not speak – like us. In that regard we are merely wearing the jacket – and feel righteous and justified with ourselves. And if we are not certain -  well we just ask someone who is wearing the same jacket. Unless that person is someone who has worn that jacket in the spiritual battle that rages around us.

Do you hear God speaking in the midst of the turmoil in this country?  Look past the press – the Facebook posts – and try to see what is behind all of this.  People are desperate for change.  The Church is on this planet to show the world that Jesus is the answer – but in large part – the church is indistinguishable from the culture it has been called out of.  Salt that has lost it’s saltiness.  What Jesus was accusing the scribes and Pharisees of. Jesus said:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” – Matthew 5:13

Embrace your calling.  Embrace your mission.  Embrace your brothers and sisters in Christ – not just in thought but in deed. Embrace your new life in Christ.  Yield your heart and life to the Lord. Stop walking on the other side of the road. Let your light shine!

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

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

Friday, June 12, 2020

A Transformed Life Through Faith In Jesus

"If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. Old things have passed away and, behold, all things are becoming new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

Watching as our back yard is being transformed, I see the transformation as an analogy to my new life in Christ.

The yard started out as a mess. Overgrown with a stagnant pond - hidden under the growth.

But then something happened. A new owner took claim to the property (in my case Jesus Christ). He took over and things began to change - the old was passing away and all things are becoming like new.

But there are still weeds that are poking their heads up now and again (the old nature and temptation to sin) that must be resisted and defeated by the new owner.

So when I look at my back yard and see a picture of me, I praise the Lord for the change I see. How about your life? Is there cause for praise?

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Accommodating Sin Is Like The Frog In The Pot

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness ….. and do not give the devil a foothold.”  – Ephesians 4:17-24,27

The Bible is clear about how we, as Christians, are to conduct ourselves.  What we are supposed to embrace and what we must reject. And that, by the power of the Spirit of God in us and not because we decide to live rightly and obey the Word of God because we will try harder and will do our best to resist the temptation to do otherwise.  Living in this world among those who are not born again means that every day we are faced with what that world deems right.  Not everything is wrong, but that is the point.  There is just enough of what seems right to draw us in. To give the devil a foothold in our lives. In other words, to accommodate sin a little bit. And then a little bit more until we are “cooked” living just like we would have apart from Christ. Justifying the way we live and what we embrace as being “OK”. Not really that bad. Yet, in our heart, there is a tugging of the Spirit of God – reminding us of the life we have been called to.

Martie and I like to watch British television.  In particular, crime shows.  Something we have noticed.  As time passes and the series and episodes progress, the profane language and explicit sex and nudity increases.  We cannot abide by it so we stop watching.  Like the frog in the pot, the carnality increases little bit by little bit. The change is almost imperceptible .. like the frog in the pot .. at the beginning, it is comfortable .. not really all that offensive.  Like the analogy goes, if you toss the frog into boiling water he jumps out. But, if you put the frog in cool water and then slowly turn up the heat, he will cook. It is the same way with the temptation to embrace our old nature and what the world deems as right and acceptable.

I recall years ago when our children were small.  Mandi brought a friend home and they wanted to watch a video.  I put the one they wanted to watch in the VCR player (remember those?) and they settled down in front of the TV.  Suddenly Mandi’s friend jerked back and gasped. It alarmed me and asked her if she was OK.  She said she was. The only thing that could have alarmed her was what they were watching. I rewound the tape a few minutes and listened. One of the characters had used God’s name in vain. I have never heard it before even though I had watched the video with the children many times.  That rating would make you think it was safe for young ears, and for that matter Christian ears.

What was the problem? For context, I was in the Army at the time.  I listened to profanity every day. Profane words were part of the Army dictionary.  Although I  did not use them myself, I heard them and then filtered them out so I didn’t hear them anymore. So long as I didn’t use profanity myself, no harm no foul or so I thought.

 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29

So long as I didn’t use those words myself, I was good to go.  That is until my insensitivity tossed my daughter’s young friend into a verbal pot of boiling water. I have not forgotten that to this day. I was responsible for her hearing what she heard. Trivial you think? I had violated her parent’s trust that she was playing in a safe place with a child whose parents were Christians.  Does that seem trivial to you? If so, you should be concerned.

Listen – we all are hammered, day after day, by the influence of the world.  Like water pounding on a rock, slowly, imperceptibly wearing the rock away, day after day. It seems not so bad .. until the water has come to a boil.  We must guard our heart. We taught our children the song – “Oh be careful little eyes what you see, little ears what you hear, little tongue what you say, little hands what you do, little feet where you go” … as if that only applies to children .. it applies to all of us … if we are born again, we are children of the Most High God .. we must not forget!

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight head; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” – Proverbs 4:23-27

Be alert. The Bible is full of these admonitions. God does not waste words. He inspired the writers for a reason. Because we need to hear them – to read them – to embrace them – to heed them. The world says – to prove that you are a “good and acceptable” person you must embrace sin. But God says ….

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 5:8-11

Let your light shine!

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

How To Respond When You Are In A Crisis Of Belief

“‘Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ So He said, ‘I will certainly be with you.’”  – Exodus 3:10-12

God, in His wisdom, has chosen to use those mortal men and women who are called by His name to be His voice and a light to a world that is bound for hell.  He chose Moses, to speak for Him and provided Aaron to help him.  When God is going to do something in our lives – through our lives for His glory and the good of mankind – He uses us.

I have shared this before – and I will probably more times in the future – God speaks to us by the Holy Spirit though prayer, the Word, circumstances and other Believers.  I believe that God is speaking to us now. Through all four methods.  He is speaking to us about unity in the Body of Christ.  He is making evident those things that divide us. It is never good that divides Christians – it is always sin.  Tolerated or ignored, but sin nonetheless.  So it brings us to a crisis of belief. We must come under conviction that individually or corporately we have sinned. Sin that we are aware of, but since it does not directly affect us, we pretend it is not sin – or at least not so bad that we must do something about it.  Sometimes God whispers and sometimes He shouts.  I think He is shouting now. 

The question is why? I think it is because He is about to do something and He is calling the Church to repentance, be united in purpose and witness. To be right with my brothers and sisters, I must first be right with God. Consider Matthew 5.

 You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:21-24

 The man had humbled his heart before God and was then reminded of an offense with his brother.  God said, first be reconciled, then offer your sacrifice.  And what might that sacrifice be?

 that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2

 What is God saying to you in the midst of all of the turmoil caused by COVID 19 and the racial unrest?  Do you sense that something is not right spiritually? I hope so.  The idea of unity is not new. The idea of loving your Brother and Sister in Christ as being part of the same eternal family is not new – it is the second greatest commandment and proof that we are, indeed, Jesus disciples. It is proof to a lost world that there is a God in heaven, because what the world fails to achieve , the Church is able to achieve through faith in Jesus and the power of the Spirit.

 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” – Romans 1:28-32

Do you see what is happening around you in those verses? The world says – to prove that you are a “good and acceptable” person you must embrace sin.  God says that there are “none righteous”, “all have sinned”, bound for eternal separation from Him and you can only be “truly good” if you are born again. 

 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.’” – Mark 10:17-18

 Listen for God’s voice in the midst of the social and spiritual calamity that surrounds us.  Dr. Henry Blackaby said that know what God is saying is not the problem.  Obeying what He has said – that is the problem. 

Let your light shine!

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

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

There Will Be No Heaven On This Earth

"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  – Revelation 21:1-4

 I think the hope of all people would be to live in a world like that. Imagine no wars, no crime, famine, pandemics, pain.  We would not need a police force.  We would not need hospitals or doctors or nurses. No more death or heartache. There would be no need for food programs or non-profits.  I don’t pretend to understand it, but I do long for it. But, sadly, that is not going to happen on this old earth.  We can strive for it – and people do. We can try to make up for it, and people do.  But what we do is only a band-aide.  It is not permanent. Martie and I go from place to place, from time to time, helping who we can by God’s provision.  But each period of ministry is just that – a period of time.  The only permanence that we might influence is the spiritual footprint that we leave.  Individual lives changed for eternity.

As the Body of Christ, we can point people to the “new world” that John wrote about in Revelation.  But it is God that will usher it in – not man.  Generation to generation the only thing that really changes are the clothes we wear, the things we make.  The heart does not change – generation to generation – the heart of man does not change. Sin reigns on this earth. That will not change until the Lord returns.

Sound dismal? Hopeless? It is apart from one thing.  God sent His Son – His name is Jesus!  Although man must live in this sin-filled world, we don’t have to live like the sin-filled world.  We have a new life in Christ.  We don’t have to live under our circumstances, we can live in spite of our circumstances by faith. Although the world may continue to struggle, grasping for an answer – maybe if we do this or perhaps if we do that – things will change – it is futility.  (Hey why don’t we eliminate the police forces) Man cannot devise a solution to overcome the effects of Sin. Only God can do that.  Jesus is the answer for the world today! And forever.  Changed hearts are what is necessary – I can’t change my heart or your heart – only God can.

 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3

The world tolerates the Church so long as the Church does not get in the way of the world having its way. On the whole, the world rejects the sovereignty of God. It craves the peace of God but does not want it on God’s terms. The other day, I was asked to pray for peace – the only way peace can be enjoyed is through revival and awakening – but even then it will only be for some for a period of time and then like a vapor in the wind – it will vanish.

My goal is not to depress or discourage you, but to quicken you spirit and for you to understand how important you presence as a Christian on this earth is. As a light your purpose is to draw others to the Cross.  To give them a glimpse of what a right world and right relationships should be like – can be like.  But this world, as a whole will never be like that. Woe to us if we have put the fire out.  Woe to us if the same sin that troubles the world runs rampant in the Body of Christ – the very thing that is supposed to be a testimony of love and unity and peace is absent - impotent. Instead the world sees division, schisms, hatred. Instead of seeing a reflection of Christ and the world to come, it only sees a reflection of itself. Woe to us Church. 

 Perhaps that is what is happening now – the Spirit is stirring the Body of Christ to repentance.  Not just white Christians – but all Christians. The world needs to see Jesus and we are the only way that will happen. So time to stop making excuses and look to heaven.  As a friend would often say – it is all about Jesus and all about grace. And to quote the opening line in the Purpose Driven Life, “It is not about you or me.”

Let your light shine!

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