Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Hey Buddy – You Got A Light?

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” – John 3:19-20

It is not hard to read or hear about past and present wrong doings. Bad, harmful things perpetrated against other people because they are different, ethnically, nationally, the list is long. Those sins might be corporate – where many people participated – or individual – where it is just one person. I am not just talking to about the United States – I am referring to the entire world – both past and present.  The world be live in is broken – sin sick. When you consider politics, economics, or any other aspect of life on this planet we must always – always be mindful that – in large measure – it is the best people who live and do apart from God can do. Of course not everything is bad or harmful – but that does not excuse things that are.

Sad to say that there have been many things have done and many things are being done, corporately and individually, by those who profess the Jesus is their Lord. Actions that are justified by consensus. That it is really OK. Not because the Bible says it is but because people have agreed that it is.  Again – this is a problem in the world – not just in our country or community. 

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” – 1 John 1:5-6

You know, I write these devotions with one purpose in mind –  to encourage professing Christians to “be the light” and not walk in darkness (starting with me). It is a simple and repetitive message. But we have to be reminded – I have to be reminded - encouraged – challenged. I know that I don’t like to be reminded of where I have fallen short – it makes me feel bad – guilty even – doesn’t it you? No one likes that feeling – not when we are content with our sin. When we feel justified in doing what we are doing.

So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.’ Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight?’” – 2 Samuel 12:5-9

You know the story – David was living the “good” life but there was something not right – he was walking in darkness – even though God has shown him grace and mercy. Read Psalm 51 which is David’s response to that confrontation. Typically we don’t want to think about what we have done that does not honor God or fulfill the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:37-39) Instead we want to ignore it – or worse – convince ourselves that our sin was justified.  It never is.  The world needs to see the light. That light reflected in the lives of Christians who are walking in it. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is – what your natural heritage is – who says your ancestors were – what matters is that you have been born again – bought by the blood of Jesus – empowered by the Holy Spirit – and charged to be witnesses to a world that is going to hell in a hand basket. Where do you start?

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

That would be a good place to start –

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Oh How I Love Jesus – How Do I?

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. …... He also shall be my salvation, …….” – Job 13:15-16

I was thinking about how dedicated I am to my faith – to my Lord or not. What happened was, for whatever reason, I remembered Job and what he said as he faced his trials.  Basically, it didn’t really matter what misfortune came Job’s way – he would not forsake the Lord, his God. Job had a vision beyond life on this planet. He had a lot to be sad about – really to be mad about. He had not done anything wrong – it all started when God said, “Consider my servant Job.” And Satan was quick to point out that it is easy to be faithful when you are not facing adversity – but people are quick to abandon God when things go south.

I just watched a very sad documentary about a Vietnam veteran who ended up homeless. He, like so many other veterans from so many other wars bore scars that were not visible to a passer-by. Oh it would have been so much easier if his wounds were more obvious, if he had lost an leg or arm – but it was his soul that was wounded – even maimed. I can remember returning from Vietnam and being shamed by people for my service. Then when I returned from Desert Storm, I was hailed the conquering hero.  Americans love a winner and hate a loser. But Job had been a winner and then bad things started to happen – things that he had no control over and were not of his doing. He had every reason to be upset – to question God – and yet his faith held.  The strength and purity of Job’s faith was something that God knew and Satan did not. God knew his heart. Jobs deep love for God was independent upon his present circumstances.

Come to think of it, the same was true of Paul -

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:31-39

Is it OK with you if you must face “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword”? Or does that seem extreme and perhaps inconsistent with your view of what the Christian life is supposed to be like? Do you think that you would have a tough time holding on to your faith if you faced those kinds of problems perhaps because of your faith? Would your love and devotion for God hold – like Job’s did or would Satan be proven right? Questions I must ask myself. Is your faith dependent upon the crowds cheering for you on your return from the battle. What if you were instead cursed and rejected and accused of killing babies and being a drug addict – would you continue to stand for the Lord? Maybe that you are a hater and misguided embracing a lie and not the truth. I am certain that we would all like to think we would or could. Only you know the truth about you – well that is not completely accurate– God knows too. And still He loves you for the child of God that you are.

Peter didn’t do so well before Jesus was crucified – but he was a different man afterward – the difference was the anointing of the Holy Spirit – just like us. God told Joshua as Joshua faced the impossible …..

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

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Monday, June 28, 2021

Jesus Is Not In My Heart

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” – Hebrews 1:1-4

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2

There is also an antitype [compared to Noah’s family saved through the water] which now saves us—Spiritual baptism through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.” – 1 Peter 3:21-22

But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’” – Acts 7:55-56

So what is my point? I am certain that you are familiar with the verses I quoted – some if not all.  Not everything that is said or sung is Biblically accurate. “Since Jesus came into my heart …” is a phrase that is probably familiar.  There was no malintent when those words were penned by Rufus H. McDaniel and published in 1914, I am certain. Let’s look at a couple of those verses.

What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought, Since Jesus came into my heart;

I have light in my soul for which long I have sought, Since Jesus came into my heart.” (Public Domain)

Does this seem to be a trivial point?  I hope not. I am not arguing about how many angels can stand on the point of a needle – that argument may have never actually happened by the way – but making a point (pardon the pun).  I want to encourage you to be like the Bereans.

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” – Acts 17:10-12

When they heard Paul and Silas refer to the Word of God, they looked at the scripture themselves. We live in dark times. There are many who would lead you to belief that “Thus saith the Lord.” When, in fact, it was not said.  The world would have you embrace another Gospel. Satan sprinkles just enough Truth in his lies, to convince the “spiritually weak” that his lies are truth.  Read about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus put what Satan said in context. What Satan says through the culture seems reasonable to the reasonable man or woman – but it is merely a reasonable lie – a perverted truth.  But I digress – back to the heart.

But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” – John 16:7-14

Jesus is at the right hand of the Father and the Spirit was sent in His stead. 

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” – Ephesians 1:13-14

It is the Spirit of God that is in us.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” – 1 Corinthians 6:19

So what about Jesus and our hearts? We may surrender our hearts by faith to the Lord, but He is not in our hearts.

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

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Friday, June 25, 2021

Accused of Being A Jesus Follower

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me [Jesus] before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also.” – John 15:18-23

A dear friend of ours recently posted on Facebook that her granddaughter told her she was too Christian. Sadly, I think for most of us it would be easier to be found guilty of not being Christian enough. The post reminded me of John 15 (see above). Since the time I was born again in 1976, I have watched the shift in our country from – it is cool, even respectable, to be a Christian – to it is OK to be a Christian just keep it to yourself – to if you are a Christian there is something wrong with you and you are an inherently bad person because of it. 

So what has changed? Well God has not – Jesus has not – the Spirit has not – the world we live in has. It has become darker through rampant sin and the Light is hurtful to a sinners eyes. Have you ever been in a dark room and someone comes in and turns the lights on? You might have said – “turn the lights off!” Your pupils are dilated to allow you to see in the darkness and the shock of the light hurts your eyes. In a similar way – being around Christians – those who may be silent witnesses – they are not sharing the plan of salvation with you, but are living in a way that is obviously different from the way most other – normal – people live and speak and do.  He who hates Me hates My Father also” That is at the root of it all. Because people reject God – they reject those who represent the Father – that means the Son – and the Children of God.  (that is you and me).  

Being too Christian is not the problem – God in us is the problem.

I [Jesus] 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.’” – John 17:14-16

If it bothers us that the world finds our faith and belief in the Word as contemptible remember that it is not us but who we represent that is the source of the rejection.  If you can keep your light hidden and live like the world – embracing its truth (with a little “t”) then you can get along quite nicely. If you hide your light under a basket so you can get along with your lost friends, family, and neighbors then you can do that. But know that we have not been called to that way of living – that is not our purpose on this planet. If we consider ourselves natural first and Christian second then our struggle with sin will be compounded. I want to end this thought by reminding you of Peter.

And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, ‘This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ But again he denied with an oath, ‘I do not know the Man!’ And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.’ Then he began to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the Man!’” – Matthew 26: 71-74

When confronted by a culture that he born in to Peter denied his association with Jesus.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’” – John 21:15

If we love God then we can show it by being faithful to our calling. I know the pressure to conform to this world – it is real – it is full of emotion and fear of rejection. It will happen – it probably already has – the question for each of us is “How will we respond?” One last scripture reference.

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

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Thursday, June 24, 2021

What Does Love Look Like?

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13:6-8

I was talking with someone just the other day about a difficult time they are facing.  Their spouse is standing on the shore of the river Styx, if you will, waiting for the boat to arrive.  My friend is beside themselves. Their great love for each other is obvious and admirable.  The trouble they face is a chronic one – getting progressively worse. He is always on alert for any difficulties his wife might be having. The ambulance service knows the address well. His perseverance has taken its toll on him – emotionally – physically. 

I reminded him of the commitment we all make at the altar on our wedding day – richer – poorer – sickness and health – until death do us part.  He is living out that commitment – where so many others fail. To understand the deep meaning of a marriage relationship is to live it out just like my friend is doing. On the day of our marriage the thoughts of what he is facing today are not even on the horizon of our minds. All we hear is Good times – health – richer. We can’t imagine not being together. So many relationships fail because there is a lack of true love. Love is not merely an attitude or an elated emotion, and is often confused with lust, which it is not.  Love is lived out – it is sacrificial.

My friend is not a Christian, his wife is. Yet I see the nature of his love and marvel at its depth and purity.  I try not to “preach at” or throw scripture at people who are incapable of understanding spiritual truth. But even people without the Spirit of God can understand the words – just not the spiritual truth. I shared John 15:13 – No Greater Love – with him as I encouraged him in his dedication to his wife in these perilous times. I shared Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands giving themselves up for their wives – laying their lives down. I told him that I saw him loving his wife like that. He is committed to her but acknowledged just how difficult this journey is. Not that he wants to quit – but that his heart is heavy – his body is tired – he wants to “fix” it but knows he cannot.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’” – John 21:15

Jesus was telling Peter that love is more than an attitude – it is an action. Feeding His Lambs would mean that there would be a personal cost. A cost like “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) That is what love looks like. That is what I am seeing in my friend’s life. But there is one thing lacking. My friend is not a Christian and his wife is. So I asked him a question. I asked if he know that when his wife was just in the hospital – after years of fighting for her next breath – and sometimes it didn’t come – that she told him she wanted to go home. I asked him if she meant to her house or to heaven – he replied “both”. So I asked him if he thought he would also go to heaven – he hoped so – he thought maybe. That is point where I shared the answer of “What must I do to be saved.” I told him that he needed to make a decision and it was between him and the Lord. (I am not sharing all of our conversation – but only the high points) That I was available to talk anytime. Salvation is so personal – it is a transaction of the heart.  I know that from the time that my mom started sharing the plan of salvation with me in her letters she wrote to me while I was in Vietnam – until the day I yielded my heart in faith seven years later – she never button holed me – never preached to me – but she did love me and spoke to me when the Spirit gave me opportunity.

So why share this with you. Because I was reminded yesterday that we are all ministers.  We all are to show God’s great love and compassion towards other people. You never know when you are going to be given a spiritual opportunity to be a witness – but remember – we are ambassadors – representatives – we can’t save anyone – but God will use us as a spark to ignite the flame of faith in others. But the result is not up to us – as much as we might want it to be. We are not the Holy Spirit – but we can be and should be faithful witnesses.

Please pray for my friend and pray for his wife. You need not know who it is – God does.

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

You Are Not In Kansas Anymore Toto

Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:16-18

From now on – since I have been born again – I am to have a spiritual perspective. I used to think about verse 17 in terms of myself – but the context is how I should see every Christian – and non-Christian for that matter.  But we still live, act, think like we are still in “Kansas”. Like nothing has changed – really. When, in fact, everything has changed. Does my faith make a difference in my physical life – my everyday existence? It is supposed to.  I know that I write a lot about our relationship with God juxtaposed with our relationship with the world. That is because our new life is Christ is “juxtaposed” (great word) with our natural life as we live out our present existence.  We all must be reminded of who we are as born-again children of God and what the means in how we live day to day. How we see and relate to other people – Christian or not.

As far as we are to be concerned “all things are of God”. Now the world, that generally rejects the sovereignty of God in their lives – considers their lives to be their own – they will decide what is right and wrong – individually and collectively – not some “Creator God”. But our eyes have been opened by faith to a different reality. I nearly typed “new” but then remembered that God’s reality is not new – in fact it is the only one that counts – from an eternal perspective. He has ordered His creation and so long as it is in harmony – it works the way He intended. Enter Sin stage left.  People crave for harmony – peace – justice – contentment. What they seek can only be found by faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus will not stop wars – the evil deeds of men, but it will bring harmony – peace – justice – contentment to the ones who have that faith – who have become new in Christ. 

I have been talking to someone whose wife is struggling physically. I am pretty certain that he is not a Christian – but I also know that he never refuses prayer when I offer it.  I don’t know what keeps people from yielding to the tug of the Spirit – I suspect that he is resistant – but that is a battle of the heart that each of us go through – I am certain that if we were face to face that you could share your won skirmish with the Spirit of God. And the day that you yielded and raised the hand of your heart in surrender.  The battle rages all around us and there are so many casualties – hearts that turn away.  Do you see it in your mind’s eye? Do you feel it in your heart? Do you know someone – perhaps someone close – who refuses to surrender? Yes I am certain you do. 

We are not the Holy Spirit – but we can be and should be faithful witnesses. Not living like we are lost in our sin but like we are new creations showing the world what “right” looks like.  Bearing the fruit of the Spirit as a testimony to a world running pell-mell toward the gates of hell. We have a lone tomato plant that I have found needs to be cared for - watered - fed - the vines need to be "dressed". It takes work - effort - just like our spiritual lives if we are to bear fruit.

“ .. the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:22-25

Are you willing to be different? To live differently – to believe differently – to love differently?  To embrace the truth that you are no longer of this world and all that it embraces as right.  God has something He wants you to do. He wants you to be a witness for Him to a world that hates Him. God uses us to be a spark for the flame of salvation in the lives of some. To be living testimonies of the WAY and what it means to live for God.  God has something in mind for you.

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

There Is Something God Wants You To Do

 And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

I listened to a pastor share about his surrender to God’s call. He didn’t know exactly what the call was at the time except that it required him to stop trying to live his life on his own terms.  The Bible is full of examples of that same experience – Abraham – Moses – David – Joseph and Mary – the Disciples – Paul – and you. You were with me for a second there – in agreement with the names I was listing. Maybe until I got to your name. With each of those people – God intervened in their lives – they were going one direction – holding to a certain set of beliefs and then BAM! God shows up. If you are a Christian then it has happened to you as well. You have had a common experience with them. A moment of surrender of your natural life for a supernatural one.

At one minute you were like everyone else and then in an instant – when you yielded your heart, your will, your life to God everything changed. God said, “There is something I want you to do.” I have written about the general and specific will of God in times past.  As Christians we are all called out of our culture.

If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’” – John 15:19-20

Are you willing to be different? To live differently – to believe differently – to love differently?  To embrace the truth that you are no longer of this world and all that it embraces as right.  God has something He wants you to do. He wants you to be a witness for Him to a world that hates Him. God uses us to be a spark for the flame of salvation in the lives of some. To be living testimonies of the WAY and what it means to live for God.  God has something in mind for you.

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 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.  And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’” – Matthew 22:35-40

It does not matter if you are a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker – a teacher, a mechanic, a doctor, a lawyer or a stay at home mom – God has something He wants us to do. Don’t ever think that what you do does not have kingdom value – as a Christian you are first spiritual – everything you do is in that context.  God has something He wants you to do – but you don’t have to do it on your own. That was your old – natural – life where you were on your own.  Not any more my friend. He has given you His Spirit as your source of strength. Still wondering what He has for YOU to do?

“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

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Monday, June 21, 2021

Don’t Confuse Talent With Wisdom

The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, But the folly of fools is deceit. Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is favor. The heart knows its own bitterness, And a stranger does not share its joy. The house of the wicked will be overthrown, But the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” – Proverbs 14:8-12

People in the media, the entertainment industry (actors and musicians), and the sports industry have become oracles for the culture we live in. Making declarations of what truth is – what right is. It is a relative truth based upon the thoughts and desires of people – rejecting the notion that there was and is an absolute truth established by God at the point of creation that is unwavering – immutable. The generations may choose to ignore it – malign it – scoff at it – all in favor after following their sinful hearts – but truth does not change.

I marvel at how our culture hangs on every word of people who make acting like someone else their way of life. People who play “pretend” for a living. They are gifted at hiding who they really are as they act out characters that have been scripted.  We idolize singers and musicians, many of whom glorify the use of drugs as an enviable lifestyle. Athletes who have made their mark on the wall of fame because of their athletic prowess which has somehow given them credence in all aspects of life.  When, in fact, their opinions about the affairs of men and women are no more significant than yours or mine.  Our culture has no discernment to know what is real and what is not. What is right and what is not. What is truth and what is not. The media has become nothing more than a seller of elixirs that result in filling their coffers, doing nothing for the soul – all in the name of looking out for the interests of the public. There seems a way that is right to man – but its end leads to death.  We worship these people, talking heads, actors, singers and athletes, in our homes in front of our 50 in 4k UHD Smart spiritual gateways or our smart phone mobile temples. We adore them – imitate them – embrace their politics and morality. Oh you say “that is not me?” We Christians are guilty of “drinking the cool aide” with right along side those who do not profess the name of Jesus.  We sit for hours watching life being lived out that promotes all that we say is contrary to the Word of God and justify it be calling it entertainment. People are glued to their phones – where the next text message is more important than the person you are meeting face to face.  I am guilty of those things – and like most addictions – it is not so easy to let it go.  Not realizing that the thing that entertains us is like leaven in the loaf. That it is detrimental to our spiritual nature as we entertain – satiate – our old nature.  Using the excuse that it is “not so bad”. We glorify death because it is just a story – or the bad guys deserved to die.  We overlook sex outside of marriage portrayed in movies and on television as a necessary part of the plot. Like frogs in the pot – the water is coming to a boil and we are smiling and content all the while. May I suggest that there is another way for us. Another way to live …. Something else that we should focus on?

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9

Can your television – Facebook – or cell phone give you that opportunity? Oh you say “Sometimes.”  What percent of your time? Don’t answer that …. Maybe it is time for a change …. I used to have a card on our television that said “Guard Your Heart”. It is going back up as a reminder to be careful about what I expose myself to. Seem radical? Our faith is radical – at least as far as the world is concerned – but for Christians it is really our “new normal”.

My son [and daughter], pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. 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 ahead; 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 4:20-27

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Friday, June 18, 2021

The Challenge Of Rejecting The Reasonable For The Impossible

A.W. Tozer “I claim the holy right to disappoint men in order to not disappoint God.”

A friend posted that quote from A.W. Tozer on Facebook.  It pricked my heart and resonated with my spirit, so I thought I would share it with you.  Sometimes - perhaps often times - we are faced with a choice ... men or God - God's ways are not our ways - but we would like to change that. If what God asks you to do does not conform to conventional wisdom there are two possibilities - First - God is indeed at work or - Second - It's not God at all. You need the spiritual wisdom of God to know the difference - But nonetheless - when it is God - the opinions of men should not matter. Men will ask, "But what about .... ". But God will say "Go". He will say .. "sell everything ... pick up your cross .... love me with everything ... with your whole heart .... If you love Me, obey Me." Men will say – use some common sense – think about your future!  It's your choice who you obey. My wife and I choose God, knowing that the going will always require faith and “other-worldly” obedience.

It would be a wonderful thing if the world was in sync with God, but we know that is not the case.  Trying to find balance between the two is what most of us struggle with.  And it seems so reasonable to seek balance.  The problem is, that one will always go wanting because of the other. 

No one can serve two masters .. you will love one and hate the other” –  Matthew 6:24

If you turn to the world for answers when God has spoken and made His will clear, you will most often be tempted to disobey God to choose something more reasonable in the eyes of man.  Well-meaning Christians will speak to you about making other choices or at least delaying your obedience.  It is like the serpent in the Garden asking “Did God really say?”  [I am not calling my Christian friends serpents!]  Their counsel is well intentioned but, on the whole, seasoned with selfish motive.  Their arguments are logical, even reasonable, except for one thing.  God said “Go”.  Jesus asked his disciples “Where is your faith?” “Why did you doubt?”  Instead of looking to Him, they were looking at the natural laws .. the impossibility of the situation … fear and doubt set in.  In our life, personally, God gives and He takes away … It is not our lot to accumulate possessions, for long any way.  It is not a question of how much of the world and its relationships that you must lay down at Jesus feet.  The question is “Are you willing to lay down whatever is in the way of what God has called you to?”  Like Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me [Jesus] more than these?” (John 21:15)  Well …. Do You? When Peter said “yes” then Jesus said to Peter - "Show Me"

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Living Without Compromise – Possible But Not Probable

“…Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. 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 23:23-28

Jesus did not cut the religious leaders much slack – well actually none at all.  Those who had been set apart to point the people toward God and away from the world were, themselves, engulfed in the natural while having the outward appearance of being spiritually elite – living without compromise.  But God sees the heart of man and Jesus could see right through their charade. 

But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” – 1 Samuel : 16-7

Recall that Samuel was sent to Jesse to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel. Samuel was looking for someone who looked like King Saul – but God had someone else in mind. The “runt” with a big heart for God.  King Saul had a heart that was compromised – he did not love God with his whole heart. That is a struggle that we all have. David was not without sin – he was not perfect but he was repentant. King Saul did not repent but made excuses for his disobedience.

A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” – Proverbs 21:2

So it is with us.  We have to be careful about making excuses for what we know is sin. Living a compromised life is living without the power of God. When David came face to face with his sin, he repented. Read Psalm 51. The temptation is to stuff it and move on as if the sin was not there. Like the Pharisees. I can say that apart from Jesus, there is not one of us that is sin – compromise free.  Our lives are filled with course corrections. The great thing is that we can make them. For those without Jesus – their flight controls are frozen. One of the helicopters I flew in the Army was the Chinook – CH-47. The one with rotor blades on both ends.  You cannot fly that helicopter without the assistance of hydraulics. That helicopter has three hydraulic systems … oh caught myself – you don’t need to know how it works 😊  My point is that when all of the hydraulics fail you are at the mercy of the wind and gravity. You are just along for the ride or the crash more correctly.  Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that sin does not matter. That compromise with the culture and its definition of “right” does not matter. We have been called out to be salt and light – distinguishable to a world flying without hydraulics. Be alert to your tendency to fly off course and when you do – make the course correction. (1 John 1:9)

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Taking Off Your Sandals In God's Presence

“…having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus…” —Hebrews 10:19

“Our ability to approach God is due entirely to the vicarious, or substitutionary, identification of our Lord with sin. We have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.”  […] We have the idea that there are certain good and virtuous things in each of us that do not need to be based on the atonement by the Cross of Christ. … We have to realize that the identification of Jesus with sin means a radical change of all of our sympathies and interests. Vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute God’s interests in others for our natural sympathy with them.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

We must never lose sight of who God is.  You think, “Oh I know who He is.  He is the  ……. “ Yet we can become irreverent in our attitude and even references to God.  Have you ever heard someone call God “the man upstairs”?  Normally when I hear that I assume that the person is not born again, but that is not necessarily so.  When God spoke to Moses on the mountain …

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.” – Exodus 3:4-6

Why take off his sandals?  When you are in the presence of the Creator God, you must stand clean before Him.  Taking off his sandals represented all of the things that Moses had picked up from a sinful the world.  As Christians, we have access to the Holy of Holies – God’s presence through the blood of Jesus – the veil was torn.  But that does not mean that we can approach God with sin in our heart .. any way we want to .. like the relationship is up to us and not God.

Years ago it was customary for people to dress up in the “Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes” when they went to church.  It was akin to taking off their shoes in the presence of God.  Today – there is a casualness on church attire.  Shorts and flipflops are considered acceptable.  Having said that, the issue is not really about the clothes I wear to church, what is on the outside but my heart – you heart – on the inside.  Jesus said

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” – Matthew 23:25-26

A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” – Proverbs 21:2

I want to encourage you to consider how you approach God.  If you are going to talk with Him – your heart must be clean.  You should have a reverence toward Him.  Moses had to look away because of God’s glory.  I have a friend who stands in his bare feet when he preaches.  When I first saw that, I thought it was a little quirky.  But on reflection, it is actually out of great reverence toward God.  A reminder to himself and to those under the sound of his voice that what he is doing has eternal consequences as he is fulfilling his God-given purpose. It is a visual statement that he understands that he has a great responsibility to a holy God and must stand clean before Him.  Something every Christian should be sensitive to – every day of the week – not just Sunday morning.

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

How To Know When God Shows Up

 “When it pleased God…” —Galatians 1:15

“As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him— to give God “elbow room.” We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never expected Him to come? Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him. […] Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come in as He decides.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

Do you expect for God to show up for you, personally?  What does that look like in your mind?   A burning bush?  The Shekinah glory as a cloud or pillar of fire?  Or a still small voice?

And he [the Lord] said, ‘Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” – 1 Kings 19:11-13

If you are looking for God to show up .. He is already has.  When we gather to worship, we don’t have to ask the Lord to show up.  His Spirit is in each believer.  People may not be willing to admit it, but they would really prefer that God show up in the wind or earthquake or fire.

I was on staff with Promise Keepers for a time.  I attended the PK Pastor’s conference in 1995 in Atlanta.  There were about 40,000 ministers in the Georgia Dome.  We were asked to be silent and close our eyes to pray as a solemn assembly.  As we all prayed in silence, I peeked.  I confess it!  I was wondering how God would show himself in this glorious event. Perhaps the roof would open and God’s Shekinah Glory would once again appear.  As I looked up, I saw a single dove flying in circles above the crowd.  I closed my eyes, opened them again and the dove was gone.  So I thought – get a grip Charley, you were seeing things.  After the Amen … a man standing next to me said “Hey did you see that Dove flying over the crowd?”  Is it OK if God doesn’t answer your prayer in the way you would like but He assures you that He is still sovereign?  By the way, ever since, Doves have been following me around.  I won’t go into details … but it is not my imagination.  And I thank God for the reminder every time a dove shows up. 

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” –  Jeremiah 29:13

Have you ever known someone who was not really interested in you, but in what you could give them?  Why are you interested in God?  Is He merely a fireman, maybe a divine waiter, or is He the source of life?  He has already given you the greatest gift that can be given – eternal life in His Son.  He has sealed you with His Spirit.  He has blessed you with every spiritual blessing.  (Read Ephesians 1 and 2) That, my friend, is a reason to rejoice no matter what comes your way in this life.

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Monday, June 14, 2021

Sin May Promise Joy But Its Fruit Is Always Sorrow

 “‘You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I [Jesus] say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.  “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” – Matthew 5:27-32

When Jesus came – He did not make right living easier – in fact, He raised the bar on right and wrong. He took it from a list of 10 things to do and not do to a whole new level. He took it from the outside – observable actions – to the inside – the thoughts and heart of man.  Keep in mind that although the principles in the Bible apply to all human kind, it is a revelation to the children of God and is only “doable” by the power of God in us.  The Spiritual truth can only be understood by those who are sealed with the Spirit of God. Those who have the mind of Christ.

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. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:13-16

I am using the examples of adultery and divorce but they are only two examples of the nature of sin.  The sins of mankind are legion. The nature of sin is that it is a promise of joy and peace, but its fruit is sorrow and tribulation. There is always going to be a clash between the Lord’s design and man’s living.  It started in the Garden and persists to this day and will persist until Jesus returns.  Contrary to popular belief, people do not get better on their own. They can want to “give peace a chance” but when it comes down to it – peace does not have a chance in the natural world – sin gets in the way – every time.  I imagine when some of you read the reference from Matthew 5 – you have been affected in some way by divorce and be reminded of it. People get married for all kinds of reasons. Love, of course, is in the mix, but love in itself is not enough to overcome our sinful nature. I won’t pretend to understand all of the ins and outs of divorce, especially among Christians.  I do know what I have seen and personally experienced growing up in a divorced home. Everyone in the family is wounded by the divorce. But God is Jehovah Rafa – the God who heals. And he can bring healing.  My mom became a Christian long after her divorce – and she had a wonderful ministry and was a godly influence on many people. But those wounds become scars and the effects persist in the lives of those affected throughout their – my – lifetime. God forgives us (1 John 1:9) but does not necessarily relieve us of the consequences.  But I am reminded and am thankful that … His grace is sufficient. My point is don’t believe the lie that the “kids will be OK” as a justification for the rightness of choosing to divorce – even if the divorce is necessary. And it may be. But no matter, sin will bring you sorrow.  

Don’t confuse the temptation to sin and sin. The first leads to the second. Pastor Greg Laurie, when speaking of temptation and sin said “You cannot keep a bird from flying over your head (temptation), but you can keep it from making a nest in your hair (sin).” John cautioned us in that regard.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

You Gotta Have Faith – You May Not Know Before You Go

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and be…” — Matthew 13:31-32

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.’” – Matthew 17:19-21

“‘But if You [Jesus] can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’” – Mark 9:22-24

But He [Jesus] said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” – Matthew 8:26

I had a conversation with a friend recently who is struggling with discerning God’s leading. I sense that God is about to take him in a direction that is fraught with uncertainty and natural risk. By natural risk I mean that those things that we depend upon – like certainty of income – and a clear path to follow are two things that precursors for many to follow God. We want to know before we go. The idea of prostrating yourself at the foot of the Cross is a very lofty, spiritual thought. But – when you are faced with the reality of totally depending upon God’s provision – which you may not be able to see at the point where you begin the journey – well that is a horse of a different color!

I started this post with four verses that have to do with faith and the challenge of unbelief.  It is one thing to talk about faith and a wholly different thing to exercise faith.  Very often we are willing to trust God in eternal matters, but hesitate when we must trust Him with earthly ones.  Jesus made it clear that faith starts small and it takes deliberate effort for it to grow. Faith must be exercised to grow. Like the nation if Israel considering that there were giants in the land when they refused to cross the river the first time. They could trust God for some things – but their fear was stronger than their faith.  They lost sight of God and His power and His provision and trusted in their own – which was no match for giants.

The disciples in the boat – the same problem.  The man with the sick son – the same. My friend struggling with stepping onto the path that God has made clear – the same. Me at nearly 71 years old at a cross roads – again! The same. Perhaps you with something that is going on in your life. You may feel weak – vulnerable – at risk if you do what God has made plain to you. If you are a Christian then you are on a faith walk – or not. You may decide to not step into the river but to wander and wonder instead. The journey is full of uncertainty – opportunity to trust in your own strength and wisdom. Hearing God and knowing what He has said and still saying “Yes – but!”  I am not suggesting that you test God – but that you trust God. The essence of faith. Resist the temptation to cram God into your natural understanding and ways. Not possible.

Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.  ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.’” – Isaiah 55:6-9

Think about it – Pray about it - Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

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