Friday, July 29, 2011

Sleeping in Worship-7/29/2011

"And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead." Acts 20:9

Beloved, this started out as a light hearted tale of the dangers of falling asleep in church. At some point, we have all done it or been dangerously close to doing it. My mind raced with all of the things I've seen from the pulpit when people fall asleep, such as snoring and startling oneself awake, heads bouncing from nodding, mouths hanging open, etc.

It then occurred to me that there are larger issues. Are we sleepwalking through our spiritual lives? Are the things that God is trying to show us being missed because we are dosing? As it was with the disciples in the garden, are we leaving the Lord hanging?

It is interesting to note that the young man in the window who was evidently a Christian and was there to hear a word from the Lord not only fell asleep but fell to his death. What a great tragedy to think that we can lose consciousness of the word while literally listening to the word and fall away to our ultimate death. I guess it is not so funny after all. Let us remain focused and diligent in our Christian lives. Let us not come this far by faith and come up short.

Of course I can almost hear someone responding, "Well if the long winded preacher wasn't preaching all night the poor child would have never fallen asleep!" I guess that's sort of funny.

No it isn't.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Apathy-7/27/2011 (rp)

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth."
Rev 3:15-16

Contextually the Lord is sending a message to the church at Laodecia who apparently had some problems with their conviction. Three things jump out here: the Lord has a desire for us, our condition is less than desirable and there are consequences.

First, notice how the word says that he wishes that we were hot or cold. The word wish (or "would" in some versions) comes from a Greek word that involves a desire that is not likely to ever be met. The Lord knows that there are those of us who will remain non committal to him and to the faith. You'll recall in Noah's time, this was true as well.

Then, it is interesting to note that Jesus would rather that we were cold or hot. While one would think that the Lord would want us all to be "on fire" in the faith, Jesus seems OK with some being cold. Make no mistake, God would have all men to be saved. There are times throughout scripture when the Spirit inspired writers to use extreme examples to make a point. The point here is that it would be better even to be cold than to be lukewarm. With the cold, at least it can be said that there is no guile or hypocrisy.

Finally, it is this desire to sit on the fence, hang out in the middle of the road and failure to make a choice for against the cause of Christ that does not make him angry, but in fact, makes him sick. Beloved this is a significant charge that we all would be well advised to examine. Are we playing Christian or being Christian? Are we feigning love or loving with fervor? Do we mean what we say or are we merely going through the motions? Think hard. The Holy Lamb of God has said that he will vomit those out who are guilty of spiritual apathy. Separation from God is the very definition of hell. Again, think hard. Are you harboring a spirit of apathy?

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Death Where Is Thy Sting?-7/27/2011

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake." Phil 1:21-24

Let us be frank. In our western culture, death is a very scary subject. In normal fleshly thinking, there are no positives associated with it outside of praying for its onset for the purpose of relieving extreme suffering of the elderly or injured. We are filled with dread at the very thought of it. Many of us know what it is like to experience the effects of it when it happens to loved ones. It represents the great unknown. No one has gone through it and come back to tell the rest of us exactly what, if anything, happens.

Paul had a different view. As he sat in prison, contemplating both his fate and the motivations of those who preached the gospel, both out of faith and spite toward him, he indicated he was looking forward to it. Unusual? Not really.

Beloved, Paul understood that the lives we know are mere dress rehearsals for eternity. Even before he became a Christian, he was zealous for God and pursued his convictions vigorously. Once he met Christ, he became redirected:
  • "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." Phil 3:8-11
Paul did not have a death wish but a life (resurrection) wish. The ultimate desire for the Christian is to be with Christ. This he considered gain.

But he also knew that as preferred as that existence would be, he had work to do on this side of life. Christ had commissioned him to carry forward the gospel, to be a counselor to young-in-the-faith Christians, to bring light to the Gentiles. This is what was meant by "to live is Christ."

Despite its unknown nature, death is not to be feared. For the Christian, it represents great gain.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Living Your Christianity-7/26/2011

"...fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith." 1 Tim 1:18-19

There are those who wear Christianity as a banner, announcing to the world that they are set apart believers in Christ Jesus. Others, carry it quietly within themselves, piously humble, understanding the privilege and allowing it to direct their course. Still others hold it out in front of them as a shield, using it to deflect all accusations. Finally, some accept it as a calling for their own lives and use it as a motivator to call others to a relationship with him who is the author and the finisher of our faith.

Beloved, there will always be a diversity of views about and uses of Christianity. Rather than set ourselves up as judges of one another's faith, we must focus on our own motivations and actions. Paul encouraged Timothy to not neglect the gift that had been given him by God, but to use it to correct error, encourage others and to remain steadfast. His words reveal that this is no walk in the park. There will be challenges to our faith...if we are living it properly. When they come, we are to hold on tight to him who called us.

Sadly, there are those whose faith has little depth. You have seen those who have made their confession, been baptized and then never seen again. One of the great tragedies of spiritual life is witnessing those who knew enough to come but lacked the fortitude to stay. For this reason, we must do all we can not just to remain wrapped in His will ourselves, but to encourage others. It is through this that Christianity finds it's highest expression.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, July 25, 2011

But If Not-7/25/2011 (rp)

"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." Dan 3:17-18

In this passage of scripture resides the story of three of God's men who, though part of the captivity in Babylon, were given positions of authority and responsibility by the king. Subsequent to this, the king erected an image and directed everyone to fall down and worship it at the appointed time. Shadrach, Meshac and Abed-nego refused.

Beloved, God is not in the wish fulfilling business. He is neither fairy, leprechaun nor genie. He is the sovereign Lord, creator of the universe and He does what pleases Him. God has a plan not just for all of us, but for everything in creation. We may not understand why things are the way they are or why certain things happen, but we must know that He is in control. The Lord says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares 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." Isa 55:8-9

We, however, are charged to be in the faith business. Even though we may not be able to "see the big picture" or know what is coming around the next corner, we must trust that God does and keep ourselves firmly within the center of His will. This can be challenging due to the many things we experience in life. Neighbors, friends, family, co-workers and bosses can push us to our limits, but it is important that we think beyond our present circumstances and sacrifice neither our faith nor our obedience. We are to strengthen ourselves in the Lord.

Shadrach, Meshac and Abed-nego knew that if they did not comply with the king's command to leave the will of God, they would be subjected to the flames of the furnace. They stood their ground. They remained faithful. They were preserved and even made to prosper. God is so good is He not?

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, July 22, 2011

Closer Than You Think-7/22/2011 (rp)

"And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace." John 1:14

This verse establishes two critical truths about our Savior; Jesus is Divine and Jesus is simultaneously human.

Jesus' divinity is clearly established in a number of scriptures, however; nowhere is it more clearly stated than in John 1:1. Although this fact is foundational to our Christian belief, how is it that we lowly, dirt made creatures can ever hope to be in communion with the Creator of the universe and all it contains? Paul writes in Col 2:9 that " him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." I don't know about you but that is an awful intimidating thought. I suggest that it would be for anyone. Nevertheless, if Jesus was Deity only, there would have been no perfect and atoning sacrifice for us and therefore no hope of salvation. This brings me to the second truth and the point of this message.

Jesus was also fully man. John indicates this by saying not only was he flesh, but he lived with them and they were able to see, observe, hear and touch him (as was also indicated in 1 John 1:1-4). This was critically important to establish because there was operating at the time, a sect of individuals known as the Gnostics that questioned the existence of Christ or at the very minimum his humanity as it relates to him being flesh and blood. They maintained that nothing made of matter could be divine, but only inherently evil, therefore Christ was not a man. Clearly, if this were the case, he could never have been the atoning sacrifice and again we'd fine ourselves with no hope of salvation.

Christ indeed suffered. More importantly, he didn't suffer for the sake of suffering, nor did he suffer for himself. He suffered for us, 1 Pet 3:18. Now this is very important. Jesus being man suffered both as a man and for mankind. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb 4:14-16.

This has all been said to remind us that Jesus, now at the right hand of the Father in His Deity knows all and loves completely, but that as the Son of Man, knows intimately all that we endure and is our very present help in a time of need. Jesus our Savior; he is closer than you think.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Watch Out-7/21/2011

"It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them." Luke 12:37

With all that vies for our attention these days, it is easy to become distracted. We scurry through our lives attending to matters of great importance at times and of no consequence at all at others. Some of these things are necessary to life and others place our mortal souls in jeopardy. The Lord, however, promises blessings upon those who prioritize those things with eternal ramifications.

Beloved, to be watchful is to be prepared. It is nothing short of both anticipating his coming being ready for it. Jesus says, "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken through. Therefore be ye also ready; for in an hour you think not, the Son of man comes." Matt 24:43-44 How many of us have had something stolen or vandalism done and wished that we had been there when it was about to take place? While it may not be practical stand guard over our homes and property 24 hours a day, we can certainly be diligent over our spiritual lives at all times.

The reward for this steadfastness is vast. We will experience nothing short of being collected by the Lord and then served by him. Rev 3:20 says that whosoever opens the door when he knocks will feast with him. That is one meal, one existence and one eternity to which we should all aspire. The price has already been paid. We just have to be ready.

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Pause for the Cause-7/20/2011

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Prov 15:1

It is not reasonable to expect that we can go through life without running afoul of others. Whether it be our fault or theirs, it is not unusual that the temptation to exchange harsh words with another happens from time to time. Wouldn't it be great if we all had a pause button to stop any given situation in time, in order to think about our next word? In the heat of the moment we may strongly desire to engage in verbal battles that will let another person know exactly with whom they are messing. Inflamed passions cause our defenses (and offenses) to fly to the forefront of our minds and tongues. But what about the pause button?

Taking time to consider the ramifications of our next statements can go a long way in helping us determine the best course of action. We can ask ourselves, "Am I wrong? Is this my fault? Does the person have a point?" If we are the aggrieved, we can likewise consider, "Can a lesson be learned or taught here? Is this an opportunity to establish or enhance a relationship? Is this an opportunity to win a soul? How can I please God with my response?"

Beloved, we are called upon to be people of a gentle nature, loving our neighbors as ourselves. We are representatives and children of the Almighty. The whole of the faith is judged by what can be seen in us. To be sure, it can be a heavy burden but it is made light by the Lord. As long as we conduct ourselves according to His purpose, we know that all things will work together for good. This knowledge should help us engage the pause, circumspectly consider the entire situation, think beyond ourselves and the moment and respond in a godly manner. A gentle treatment has the power to diffuse the most difficult of situations.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Do You Do?-7/19/2011

"And whatsoever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Col 3:17

Early last century, a study was done at the Hawthorn Works factory just outside of Chicago. The goal was to determine which, if any, lighting level was most conducive to increased productivity from the workers. Productivity seemed to increase whenever changes were made regardless of whether the lighting level was raised or lowered. Production decreased when the study concluded. What became known as the "Hawthorn Effect" shows that people improve or modify aspects of the behavior when they are being evaluated...or watched.

Beloved, Christians are called on to be their best at all times, not so much because God is watching, but because we desire to do His will. We are nothing short of His representatives. We are His children. We should always be on our best behavior, do our best work and be our best selves because of this simple fact.

The simple fact is, however, that we are being watched. People with whom we come into contact are constantly evaluating our behavior in terms of our claims. They are quick to assign labels from "religious" to "hypocrite," all from their observations. And as previously mentioned, God is always aware of even our internal intent. We must conduct ourselves in a godly fashion in order to win others. It was through watching someone that your beloved became a child of the King. When God saw this, He accepted me.

So when you are in traffic and get cut off, what will you do? When you see a person in need, what will you do? When you find a lost wallet, what will you do? When Sunday morning comes around, what will you do? When you do not want to go in to work but your health is fine, what will you do? Let us be productive while the lights are on (it is day), for night comes when no man can work.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, July 18, 2011

Mmm Mmm Good-7/18/2011 (rp)

" As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:"
1 Peter 2:2

With a new baby in the house, it is easy to find resonance in this scripture. The little ones have neither the ability nor the desire to eat a big juicy steak or a quick burger at the local fast food franchise. As newborns, they need one thing and one thing only for their nourishment. They need milk.

Milk, particularly mother's milk, provides them with ever nutrient needed to facilitate their growth and development. It has properties that help them to resist illness and build up their immune systems. It is nothing short of the perfect food. If you have ever seen one of the little ones go after it, you will know that their desire for it is strong and seemingly continuous. Before, long, their weight and vitality begins to multiply. Lastly, the feeding is an incredible bonding experience between mother and child.

As Christians, we too need spiritual food. Our food is the word. Like milk, it is the perfect food for us. It promotes spiritual growth and helps us increase our resistance to sin. There is nothing in it that is not needed and none of it should go to waste. We are to crave the word, needing to access it frequently lest we begin to perish, or worse, seek junk food creeds and catechisms that will ultimately destroy us. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for the righteousness found therein. This hunger brings us ever closer to our Lord.

Whether we come into contact with the written or spoken word, the scriptures are vital to our Christian lives and good for our souls.

"How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
Psalms 119:103

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, July 15, 2011

The Unpopularity of the Faith (Part III)-7/15/2011

"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." Deut 6:6-7

There are unfortunately many times when the unpopularity of the faith finds its most significant expression among our own children. As we teach our kids everything they know about life, from their first steps and words, to avoiding electrical sockets and hot irons to looking both ways when the cross the street, to how to deal with heartbreak, we spend a significant part of our lives preparing them to live theirs. Naturally when we attend worship, we bring them along, send them to their classes, take them to vacation bible school and work side by side with them on church work days or visiting the sick.

Somewhere along the way, however, the world intrudes into this idyllic existence. They discover that there are people out there that are their age that do not necessarily share the same beliefs with which they were raised. They discover that there is music out there that attracts them despite their questionable lyrics. There is alcohol, cigarettes, coarse language, drugs, sex and homosexuality. And because their friends and what those friends think is cool becomes more and more important in their lives, an erosion of everything we have tried to teach them about God and righteousness begins to erode. It is then when the kids begin to question the existence of God, not because He is not real, but because in their minds, He stands against everything that has become increasingly important to them.

Beloved, many parents are experiencing these very things every day. Some even try home schooling in order to limit outside influences but have found that Satan is pervasive, persistent and patient. There are three things we must remember. First, give your children the best biblical and spiritual foundation possible. Ensure that they develop their own relationship with God and that He is much or more a part of their reality as your love for them. From this they will never depart. Second, guard them as much as you can. Watch TV, listen to music, read books and pursue other entertainment and activities with them while teaching them what is acceptable and good and what is not. Third, understand that the world will break in. Just remember your own youth and the first time you tried ________. It is absolutely inevitable. And lastly, stay with your child through their mistakes and experimentation. The purpose is not to approve what they do, but to love them. Constantly encourage them toward the faith and constantly remind them of the spiritual and biblical lessons with which they were raised. Remind them that God is and that He loves them and that you do to.

Heartbreak is an unavoidable hazard of parenting, but we can mitigate the loss of our children to Satan by following these steps. Certainly others involve seeking the counsel of your trusted clergyman, fellowshipping with other parents and families and always, always, always seeking the Lord in prayer. Our children are truly under attack. Let us protect them with the same vigor that we always have against all threats. God will help.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Unpoularity of the Faith (Part II)-7/14/2011

"'Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.' But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property." Matt 19:21-22

People resist or outright reject the faith for a variety of reasons but primary among them is the belief that there is too much to give up. The uninitiated and uninformed feel that the Christian life is too restrictive and does not provide the latitude to indulge in certain popular activities and habits and be true to the faith at the same time. To this the response must be that the same is true with almost anything. We cannot wear pajamas to work. We cannot watch watch personal DVDs during class time at school. We cannot legally drink and drive. We cannot walk into a store and leave with whatever we want without paying. As members of society, we all agree to have certain liberties suspended in order to maintain a life style that is reasonably safe and orderly.

Christianity, among other things, is about safety and orderliness in this life and the next. The rich young ruler came to Jesus looking for heaven. Clearly he recognized the benefits, but the view of salvation's surpassing value was obscured by the vision of giving up earthly things. What good is it to gain (or maintain) the whole world and lose one's very soul? The argument that "he who dies with the most toys wins" is ridiculous and points to our lack of vision and prioritization. The goal of life is to live...eternally!

Beloved, it is incumbent upon us to educate the masses about the benefits of serving God. Restrictions on sexual sin free us from the consequences of diseases, ruined relationships and unwanted children. Restrictions on alcohol usage free us from the disease of alcoholism and the deaths associated with drinking and driving. Prohibitions against lying, cheating and stealing make us better as individuals and contribute to a better society. Attendance at worship contribute to us getting to know our Creator and our fellow man, thus preparing us for the heaven that nearly everyone, regardless of religious participation, desires.

Gal 5:13 states that we have been called to liberty. Let us accept and enjoy the freedom that comes from a relationship with Christ. We may find that the only thing we are truly giving up are the things that contribute to our demise.

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Unpopularity of The Faith (Part I)-7/13/2011

"'Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?' And they took offense at Him." Mark 6:3

No sooner than you turn to God and begin living a life according to His calling will you notice not everyone shares your new found faith nor is overjoyed at your conversion. Initial reactions can go from "Great!" to "Hmmm." Over time this can migrate to everything from ambivalence to hostility. Why? It is because there is a difference between those who serve the Lord and those who do not. 1 Pet 2:9 refers to Christians as a peculiar people. This means that we are a purchased possession of God and have obtained His grace and mercy. Others do not understand this because it is not a part of their lives. Jesus said that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not comprehend it. It is not unusual for people to become hostile toward that which they do not understand.

Beloved, if you find yourself at odds with your friends and family over your faith, do not think it strange. Those who knew Jesus, knew his family and watched him grow up had no love for him once his ministry began. He said, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and among his own relatives and in his own house" Mark 6:4.

Do not be discouraged when those close to you do not support your faith. Be encouraged that you are both in excellent company and a member of the ultimate family with Almighty God at its head. Rejoice also at the fact that your first opportunity to add to that great family is close at hand. What a blessing it is to lead friends and loved ones to salvation. God would have all to be saved, even those who do not initially share your faith. Though your efforts will not always be successful, know that God knows your efforts and will reward them.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tear the Roof Off-7/12/2011

"Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying." Mark 2:4

Human beings are amazingly resourceful and resilient. There are ways found to do just about anything. We investigate, analyze, solve, plan, execute and evaluate. Most every problem that faces us is eventually solved. We then pass along the solution to others and set ourselves to tackle the next obstacle.

As Jesus was in a home sharing wisdom and knowledge, a few friends desired to see him in order to obtain healing for one of their number who was afflicted with a palsy. He was unable to get himself to Jesus. When they arrived and could not gain entrance because of the crowd, they put their heads together and found a way to get to the Lord.

Beloved, we should all use the resourcefulness that God gave us to get to Him. It was all to easy for humankind to leave Him. From that very time He has been making ways for us to be returned, reconciled and reunited. Having been advised that there is a way, we must overcome all obstacles to get to Him. We find ways to accomplish so many things that do not contribute to our salvation. Why not do similarly for that which does?

It also seen in this passage that there was an effort to deliver someone who could not deliver himself. The Christian must be willing to overcome obstacles to getting others to Christ as well. Once we have been saved, it becomes a priority to conduct others to salvation as well. Through their own circumstances, they may be hindered from seeking and gaining him on their own...perhaps as some of us may have been.

Let us tear the roof off if we must, but let nothing stand between us, our duty and our Lord.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, July 11, 2011

You and the Word-7/11/2011 (rp)

"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deut 6:6-9

The word of God is to be everything to the Christian. According to Heb 1:1-2, God previously educated us though prophets who spoke to the heads of families who in turn, taught their families. In these last days however, He speaks to us through His word. Make no mistake, the primary way we can get to know our Father and His will for our lives is to consult His word.

Though no book can possibly contain Yahweh, all we need to know about Him is contained therein. That word, devinely inspired by Him, is to not only to become a part of who we are, but to be constantly on our minds and hearts. We are to teach it to our children.

God's people have always pursued a tradition of passing down knowledge and information. Is that tradition still intact with us? Before you say yes, ask yourself when was the last time you sat down and spent time studying His word for yourself. Yes, we go to worship services and attend bible classes but do you "talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up?" When is the last time you actually conducted a study with your family or your friends?

Beloved, learn God's word for yourself. After all, it was provided specifically for you.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, July 8, 2011

Know It For Yourself-7/8/2011 (rp)

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Acts 17:11

In this day and age of skepticism, fact checking has become the national pastime. During the coming election season, cable news networks and internet sites will be buzzing 24 hours a day checking, verifying, rechecking and reverifying claims and statistics by those who are running. It seems that we don't want to take anyone's word for anything and that we want to know it all for ourselves.

Why is this mentality so prevalent regarding all things secular, but so noticeably lacking in the spiritual aspects of our lives. Put another way, why do we not study our bibles (more)? It has become our habit to be lazy when it comes to the word. This leads to biblical illiteracy. The end result is that we rely totally on what we think and what we are told rather than what we can learn for ourselves. In fact, we are more likely to look into the church finances and demand an accounting for every penny, than to spend an hour studying the holy writ of God.

Beloved, Heb 9:27 states, " is appointed unto men once to die and then the judgment." Our entire lives will be judged by the things found in the word. Does it not make sense to be as familiar and compliant with the bible as possible?

It is good to have knowledgeable men of God as preachers and teachers, but even they (we) will be judged out of the book. When it comes to your eternal soul, it is best to know it for yourself. Judgment will not be like an IRS audit at which you can call your tax preparer to come and answer questions on your behalf. We will all stand for ourselves. If we are wise, we will stand on the word.

For this reason, Jesus has said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." John 5:39

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Protect Your Birthright-7/7/2011

"But Jacob said, 'First sell me your birthright.' Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?” Gen 25:31-32

Esau was the first born of his father, Isaac. The culture in those times gave the first born son certain rights and privileges that superseded that of all of the other children. He would typically become the heir and thus receive the vast majority of his father's possessions upon his death.

Esau had just come from the field where he presumably was working. Due to hunger he described as putting him into proximity of death, Esau willingly sold his birthright to his younger twin brother for a bowl of soup.

Beloved, through baptism, we have been born into the family of God. We have been made joint heirs with Christ, Rom 8:17. This is the most wonderful, yet costly gift we can ever receive. It is available nowhere else. It is of such surpassing value that it will literally determine our eternity.

Esau sold his inheritance for the temporary relief of hunger and pleasure of eating. He is described as having despised his birthright. For how little are we willing to sacrifice our inheritance in our daily lives? For what whim or temporary pleasure are we willing to jeopardize our birthright? We must place it within the safety deposit box of sanctity and literally guard it with our lives because once it is gone,it is gone forever.

Loving Like Jesus


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Help For Your Unbelief-7/6/2011 (rp)

"Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief." Mark 9:24

Jesus' disciples had just failed at casting a demon that caused convulsions out of a young boy when the desperate father came to the Lord and asked him to do something if he could. Jesus replied that "all things are possible to him who believes."

Having faith in anything we cannot see with our own eyes and touch with our own hands can sometimes be difficult. As long as we are clothed in flesh, we will always be subject to its limitations. Matters of the Spirit do not come natural to us, yet as a moth to a guiding light, we are drawn to them.

We seek the Lord in all of his glory, wisdom, benevolence and love while sometimes doubting his very existence somewhere within ourselves. We sometimes think, "After all, it is possible that he exist(ed) but are all the things recorded about him literal and true? Can I really look forward to a heaven where I will see him or will we just cease to exist?"

If these thoughts sometimes float through your mind, don't be too hard on yourself. John the Baptist was once described by Jesus as the greatest man that ever lived. Consider this: "Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?" Matt 11:2-3. John had seen with his own eyes, touched with his own hands, saw the Spirit descend on him like a dove, heard the voice of God acknowledge and identify him and he still had questions!

Surely if Christ's forerunner needed reassurance, we ourselves might have the same issue. In response, the Lord sent word back to him that was not a rebuke, but an assurance. He told John's followers to tell him what the Lord had been seen doing, not what he said.

Beloved, should your faith ever falter, consider the things the Lord has done in your life. Remember the prayers that have been answered. Remember the healing you have experienced. Consider the meals you have never missed and the children that make your heart swell. Most of all, remember the quiet times when it was just you and him. Remember what that communion and that peace felt like. It is still there. Always there. He is help for your unbelief.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Freedom in Christ-7/5/2011

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." Rom 8:1-2

Many are familiar with the apostle Paul's mea culpa in which he admits that, "The good which I would do, I do not: but the evil which I would not, I practice," Rom 7:19. The truth is that we are all guilty of sin and trespass against the God who made us. No matter how clean and innocent we may delude ourselves into thinking that we are, none can escape the fact of what the greatest gospel writer freely and publicly admits.

Fortunately for us beloved, that is not the end of the story. The good news is that those who have named the name of Jesus have been freed from the spiritual consequences of our shortcomings. This freedom is not obtained through our own efforts but the efforts of our savior. Many at that time were advocating a return to the observance of a legalism they felt would earn them heaven. In fact this was never the design of the law nor a possible outcome. The law was presented to mankind to point toward the need of a savior, Jesus, through whom redemption is available.

Though we must continue to deal with the earthly consequences of our actions, God has delivered us from the threat of everlasting punishment through His son. Let us busy ourselves praising Him for His loving kindness and sharing the good news of freedom's availability to all who are spiritually incarcerated.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, July 1, 2011

Word is Bond-7/1/2011

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." 2 Pet 3:9

We put a lot of stock into what people say when it comes to things they say they are going to do. Failure to deliver on promises or just plain lying are some of the biggest offenses we know and can tend to label a person for life. We also put a lot of effort into making sure that those things are done. Today there are lengthy contracts, the legal vocation, notarizations and sworn testimonies to keep people honest and provide for remedies if they are not. Seldom will we take people at their word on important matters.

Beloved, we must always strive to be people of our word because we serve a God of His word. Jesus said that we are to live lives that are credible enough not to have to make promises that are based on the surety of things that are beyond us but to instead let our yes be yes and our no be no, Matt 5:33-37.

As Christians, we have faith in the promises of God. We have that faith because He has never lied and has always done what He said that He would. We have that faith because we earnestly desire the day that we will shed our current circumstances in favor of being with Him for all time. This He has promised and will do. Let us do likewise in all things.

Loving Like Jesus,