Monday, December 30, 2013

Selective Hearing 12/30/2013 (rp)

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,"
2 Tim 4:3

The apostle Paul gave this great warning to his young protege, Timothy. Though it is a message to ministers even to this day, it is likewise a message to all believers. In fact, the men of God have always been unpopular among some. Noah, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Jesus, among others, come to mind as those whose message was not welcome.

Now as then, people do not want to hear the things of God that are contrary to the sensual way they wish to lead their lives. Whether it involves worshipping other gods, indulging in immoral lifestyles, failure to obey or consistently indulging in a variety of temptations, most have no desire to hear that they are wrong and that their habits are outside the will of God.

This is a big enough problem but it multiplies exponentially when we warp the worship of God around our indulgences. Whether this is building a religious organization around something God condemns or simply hiring a preacher that only talks about the "good and happy stuff," the issue is the same.

Beloved, all of God's word is for us. Through it, He blesses us and chastises us. He does both of these because He loves us. We need to hear that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. We also need to hear that we were lost because of sin. We need to hear that all of our needs will be supplied. We also need to hear that it is more blessed to give than to receive. We need to hear that we should love each other. We also need to hear that we should love our enemies.

Let us always pursue the whole will of God and not just the parts that we want to hear. The soundness of the doctrine (teaching) is in its truth and its completeness.



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Advent 12/24/2013 (rp)

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." Isa 9:6

It is this, a scripture that is among the greatest and most important prophecies of all time, that heralds the coming of the Messiah: the Savior of all mankind. During this time of year, more than any other time of the year, most of the world turns it's thoughts to the birth of Christ.

Beloved the goal is not to debate the timing of the birth of Christ. The bible gives us clues that it probably did not occur during the winter, but does not reveal to us the date or time of his advent. This being the case, it can only be taken that the information is not critical to our salvation or our relationship with the Lord. The relevant issue is that he was born. His birth and life, death and resurrection fulfilled all scripture.

Beloved, regardless of when we mark the time of his arrival, we should always celebrate the fact and more importantly, the result, in our hearts. He came that we might have life and that more abundantly. He came to seek and save the lost. He came to feed, heal and teach. And he came to prepare us. He came to love.

This (and all) season(s), let us give glory and honor to God for his bountiful gift of the son.



Monday, December 23, 2013

Customized "Faith" 12/23/2013

"As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore."  John 6:66

Jesus had attracted quite a following of people from all walks of life.  Some were attracted by his teaching, others by the miracles they saw or heard about and still others by the miracle of his feeding 5000 with 5 loaves and two small fish.  As he moved from place to place, the people sought, found and continued to follow him.  When Jesus addressed them, he began making the case for belief.  There were those who were attracted to him for the available benefit, but not all accepted him as the Son of God.

The people charged that they knew God because of the miracle of manna that was given to their ancestors.  They demanded additional miracles that would no doubt benefit them as the recent feeding had done, to prove his claims. Jesus responded that he was himself the bread from heaven that brings life. Further, if they did not believe this and therefore eat of his flesh and drink of his blood, they would have no life in them.  At this very difficult saying, many ceased to follow him.  It should be stated that Jesus was not being literal but was speaking of believing and accepting him wholly and without reservation.

Beloved, far too often, we practice ala carte religion.  We select the different aspects of the faith that we like and agree with and ignore, explain away or reinterpret that which is not consistent with what we think or who we are. When challenged by the truth of the whole word, we continue on in some mutated form of Christianity (which is not Christianity at all) or leave the faith altogether.  It is a sad commentary that there are those who are attracted to the Lord because of his many benefits but willing walk away from him because of their unwillingness to accept who he truly is and what he says.

We can, however, find kinship with true believers.  When Jesus was left standing there with just the twelve apostles, he asked if they were planning to leave as well.  "Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.  We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God,'” John 6:68-69.



Friday, December 20, 2013

The Difference of Light 12/20/2013 (update)

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Titus 2:11-13

More and more it seems that the "battle lines" between Christianity and secular society are being drawn. Views that used to be held by the majority have reversed polarity and now stand opposed to many traditional Christian values.  Worse, there are those who place a foot on both sides of the line, claiming Christianity on one hand but adopting worldly views and behaviors on the other.  Though this may be distressing to some, let it be known that there should be a difference between those who are the children of God and those who are not.  That difference should be able to seen in behavior and readily apparent to all who observe carefully.  This is not to say that we are "better" than others who don't share our faith or that we should walk around evaluating one another, but that the things we choose to say and do should be indicative of our membership in the family of God and its inherent beliefs.  Regardless of what was thought about Jesus, the fact that he healed the sick, fed the hungry, preached love, reached out to the poor and hopeless, and helped those in need (rather than judge them) was undeniable to all who observed him.  One need not necessarily have believed in him to be benefited by him.  Even his enemies dealt very carefully with him so as not to incite an insurrection against themselves by the recipients of his goodness.

Beloved we are called to be the presence of the Lord on earth.  Jesus has said to us and of us, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;  nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" Matt 5:14-16.  The light that comes from him yet shines through his own is to be a beacon to those who are seeking love, truth, peace and salvation.  Let us not ever send mixed messages.  Let us not equivocate.  Let us not be confused with those who do not know God.  We should strive to be different because, through His grace, we are different.  Let that difference attract others even as it did when The Light shone among men.



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Prayerful Parenting 12/19/2013

"Then Manoah entreated the Lord and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom You have sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born.”  Judges 13:8

The angel of the Lord appeared to a barren woman by the name of Zorah to inform her that she would give birth to a son.  There were three peculiar things that would set the young man apart.  First, he was to be a Nazirite from the womb.  This meant that he was dedicated to the Lord and required that certain restrictions, such as prohibition against alcohol and avoidance of proximity to the dead, be observed throughout his life.  Second, he was given a particular purpose in life.  The angel said to Zorah, "...and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines,” Judges 13:5.  Lastly, the Holy Spirit was to be upon him (Judges 13:25) and would manifest in ways that cause us all to know his name to this day.

Unfortunately, Zorah's husband, Manoah, was not present to hear this unfathomable news.  Upon hearing his wife's report, he immediately prayed to the Lord for the return of the mysterious visitor that he might inquire as to how the child should be raised.

Beloved, how striking it is to have the presence of mind to seek the face of God about the raising of our children.  To be sure, we are grateful to be granted such tremendous blessings and some of us even dedicate them back to Him.  But how often do we ask for God's direction in raising them?  Each of us has a godly purpose in life though even into adulthood, many of us do not realize this fact or do not understand what that purpose may be.  In truth, we may never understand the full ramifications of our presence on the planet. Nevertheless, if we pray for guidance in raising our children and "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4), they will be more likely to discover and live out their purpose in Him.  In so doing, we may better realize our own.

We have much to pray about in this life, but there is little more important than prayers rendered on behalf of our children and our parenting.  They are not just the next generation of our individual families, but they are the next generation of God's children.  And with all of the adversaries of righteousness that we and they must face, it is critical that the people of God are as prepared and fortified as possible.

By the way, the identity of Zorah and Manoah's son?  His name was Samson.



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Forgiveness Day 12/17/2013

"You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family." Leviticus 25:10

As we enjoy another joyous holiday season, our thoughts become more altruistic in nature and often our actions are not far behind. During Thanksgiving, many assess their lives and take stock of all they have for which to be thankful. As Christmas comes into view, our thoughts turn to our Lord and Savior, Jesus and all he stands for. We think of peace, harmony, unselfishness, service, gratitude and giving. And as New Year's Day approaches, we think of celebration, resolution and hope for a blessed new year where, ostensibly, things will be even better than they were over the past year.

Beloved, it has occurred to me that we are missing a holiday. Would not this season be perfect for a Forgiveness Day? While most of us our feeling and exemplifying our best selves, forgiveness of others would be a perfect addition. Think about it. When Jesus was teaching the apostles to pray, included were the words, "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," Matthew 6:12. In fact, a closer look reveals that forgiving others has benefits for those who forgive. Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven," Luke 6:37 (NIV).

Well it turns out that there is a precedent of sorts associated with a forgiveness holiday. In the Jewish tradition, it was called the Year of Jubilee. Concisely put, it took place the year after 7 periods of 7 years each. Though one of the major features was to allow the land to rest from farming for a year, it also involved forgiving debts, the releasing of slaves and the return of (traditional tribal) properties to those who may have sold them. Of course not all of the tenants apply to 21st century American culture but the concept can easily be borrowed to establish a day of forgiveness for the disputes, offences and wrongs for which we sometimes grudgingly hold others captive.

Again, this holiday season brings out the best in us. Let us not leave unconsidered and unaddressed what could be one of our worst traits. And while it is doubtful that a national holiday will be established around this concept anytime soon, none of us are prevented from creating and celebrating Forgiveness Day in our own hearts and minds. In fact, we could celebrate it everyday...



Monday, December 16, 2013

Living By Faith 12/16/2013 (rp)

"All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth."  Heb 11:13

One of my most fond memories growing up was going on family vacations.  More to the point, it was the anticipation of going on family vacations.  Once Dad would announce that we were going to Disney or Six Flags or wherever it happened to be that year, the excitement was immediately established and continued to build over time until the day came.  I remember talking about it...a lot!  I told all my friends and teachers, my sister and I chattered with one another constantly and I'm sure I bugged my dad quite a bit about the details, timing and what all we were going to do when we got there.  And of course my behavior was extra good because I in no way wanted to jeopardize that which was to come. I enjoyed that feeling so much that I've built it into my own parenting.

Beloved this is the way we ought to feel about heaven.  More to the point, we should literally vibrate with the excitement associated with one day meeting the Lord face to face.  The Old Testament saints did not have the same advantages that we have today.  The coming of the Savior was still in their future.  As we wait for the second coming, imagine what it must have been like for them to look for the first AND, ultimately, the second.  Nevertheless, they lived faithful lives, anticipating that great day that remains yet in all of our futures.  Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses' parents, Moses, Rahab and so many others served God through faith.  In other words, faith provided the "substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen" Heb 11:1.  They are thus memorialized in the "faith hall of fame."

If they had enough love for and faith in God to live godly lives in anticipation of their great reward, should we not much more?  Be encouraged my friends.



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Have Faith 12/11/2013

"'But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!' And Jesus said to him, ‘If You can? All things are possible to him who believes.' Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, 'I do believe; help my unbelief.'” Mark 9:22-23

Imagine the absolute agonizing exasperation of a father concerned about his severely afflicted child. As it happens, this man had a son who was demon possessed. Further, it was the reported that the demon, "makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out," Mark 9:17-18. Seeking to find help wherever it might be available, the man took his son to Jesus' disciples but nothing they did prevailed. The hurting father then turned to Jesus.

Nowhere is it recorded in the bible that this man was a follower of Christ. Of a certainty, there were doctors, healers and prophets in those days, each with at least reputed ability, but nothing we know indicates that this man associated Jesus with being the very son of God. Perhaps this is indicative of the impertinent (from our point of view) yet understandable way he said to Jesus, "if you can do anything." Among other things, Jesus prime mission on the earth was to teach and to heal. A crowd being present, he took the opportunity to do both. The lesson was one of establishing and building faith. In so many words, Jesus related to him that all things are possible through belief. From this challenge can one of the most profound statements in all of Scripture: "I do believe; help my unbelief."

Beloved, we all have gaps in our faith. Few if any of us can truthfully claim 100% steadfast, constant and absolute faith. This becomes remarkably clear when we are challenged by pain, broken relationships, job terminations, failing health, the loss of loved ones and other traumas. It is then that we wonder if God has abandoned us and perhaps whether he exists at all. Most of us come to our senses, but the unbelief is still there. In times like these, we must do as this grieving father did. Go to our Lord, seek his favor and believe. And for the gap between 100% faith and wherever we may be at that moment, let us seek fortification for this also.

Upon this man's confession, Jesus healed his son, instructing the demon to leave and to never return. Know that Jesus' ability is not contingent upon our belief. After all, he created the universe without our endorsement. Yet he desires faith and through it, gives us the power to accomplish great things in his name. Have faith.



Monday, December 9, 2013

Words to the Beloved Update-Final 12/9/2013

Dearest Beloved,

It brings me great pleasure to share with you that Words to the Beloved, the book whose parent is this very blog, has successfully been released. This past Saturday, December 7th, friends, family and loved ones gathered at the O'Fallon Church of Christ to launch the book.

I must say that it was quite a humbling experience to have so many well wishers take time out of their busy schedules to come and spend a couple of hours with us. There was food, fun, Christmas music and fellowship. It really was a great time. If you were there, you have my heartfelt thanks for sharing this life achievement with me and Michelle.

Now that "The Word" is out, it is my prayer that it will accomplish the work for which it was designed: " be the perfect companion to assist you in your devotion, supplement your study, bolster your faith and help you spend time with God at work, home or school."

If you are interested in obtaining a copy, it can be acquired at,, and various other online outlets.

I pray that it will be a blessing to your life.



Here is the link to a few photos I hope you will be able to access:!/lee.lewis.7509/media_set?set=a.10152077045104049.576434048&type=3

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Almost There 11/27/2013

"When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.'” Mark 12:34a

It was typical in Jesus' time and culture to argue and debate the interpretation of Scripture. As one who was not educated in the rabbinical schools of the day, yet teaching as one who had authority (Matthew 7:29), it is not in the least surprising that the teachers of the law would contend with Jesus. One of their number came upon just such a scene, noticed how well Jesus was handling himself and asked him which of the commandments was most important. Jesus replied that loving the one true God with everything we have and loving others as ourselves was more important than (and in fact summed up) all of the other commandments. The lawyer agreed and said that these commands were more important than all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices, which ostensibly were done as both giving to God and as making amends for sin. Jesus complimented his response and encouraged him.

Beloved, what amazing words to hear and contemplate that we are not far from the kingdom of God. In the lawyer's case, it was clear that he demonstrated an awareness of the truth and an acceptance of it even though those like him questioned the validity of the messenger. But nearness to the kingdom is not acquisition of it. What do any of us still lack? It is submitted for your consideration that in this case, there can be no separation between the message and the messenger. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me," John 14:6. The scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and teachers of the law wanted God but not the only path to Him in existence, Jesus. They seemed to prefer hanging on to their own human wisdom and traditions rather than humbling themselves to accept he who was sent to and for them, the house of Israel, first(Mark 7:27). Even as we attempt to serve God and lead Christian iives, what might we still be hanging on to that represents the difference from being "not far" from the kingdom and being seated in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6)? Let us think on these things.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Under Attack 11/26/2013

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25

As I was driving home yesterday, I heard an ad that touted a service for the godless, atheist and agnostic. It seemed to be about some sort of directory. I do not remember a lot about the ad because it spun me off into a thought process. We who are a nation formed under God have long since begun to reject Him. Further, those who serve Him are increasingly falling under persecution. Of course we continue to be known largely as a "Christian nation," however, it is a form of Christianity that is becoming increasingly distant from the Bible. Those who adhere to the apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42) are coming under increasing pressure for doing so.

Beloved, it is during these times that we need God even more, and we certainly need each other. We need not cower in corners at the rising tide of society's intolerance for religion. In fact we must plant our feet and move against that which threatens to destroy godliness. We have the Lord, we have the truth, we have the numbers and we must have the will. We must not remain quiet while Christian values are being assaulted and diminished every day. More, we must strengthen and encourage one another against the sometimes overwhelming pressure to give in to secular humanism and debauchery.

Make no mistake. We are under attack in every way imaginable. Let us close ranks with God and with each other. The victory has already been won.



Monday, November 25, 2013

Think to Thank 11/25/2013 (rp)

"Then Jesus answered and said, 'Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?'  And He said to him, 'Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.'”  Luke 17:17-19

There were ten who were suffering from leprosy who, against all social and legal conventions of the time, put themselves in proximity to Jesus and cried out loudly for relief of their suffering to the only one who could provide it.  Jesus heard their cries had mercy on them and gave them instructions on how to become cleansed.  Once accomplished, just one returned to give thanks while the others went their merry way.  The one who returned was not one of God's own but a Samaritan, a traditional adversary of God's people.

Beloved how often have we found ourselves in the most heartfelt and desperate need?  Be it physical, financial, psychological or relational, we have all been there at one time or another.  We all know what it is like to need relief from an affliction, malady or situation.  We then, like the lepers, cry out for help.  We may pursue our own means but sooner or later we get around to the Lord, placing ourselves at His mercy, begging for assistance.  He is faithful and just and hears our cries to which He always responds.  This can be said with confidence because none of us is suffering from the same malady as yesterday.

Since He comes to our aid just as Jesus came to the aid of the lepers, let us not be as those who went their merry way.  Let us be as the one who came back, threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him.  Remember that this man was not of the people of God.  May it never be said that those who are the children of God are less praising and thankful than those who are not.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Words to the Beloved Update III 11/20/2013


I won't bore you with all of the ins, outs, backs and "forths" of getting a book published.  Suffice it to say that it reminds me a lot of what Michelle and I went through bringing children into the world (and yes of course she went through more than I did).  Suffice it to say that the baby has finally been born!

I received the author's copies yesterday and am now rejoicing that I can finally hold in my hands what God placed on my mind and heart more than three years ago.  You will find, faithful reader, that you are part of the story.  Here is an excerpt from the book's introduction:
I must tell you, faithful reader that this started out as a God and Lee thing. It was an opportunity to avail myself of His knowledge and to open myself up to really being taught by Him.  By forcing myself into the Word and into prayer on a DAILY basis, my hope, trust, and prayer was to become closer to Him and to better perform His will. Though, like Paul, “I count not myself to have apprehended…”Philippians 4:13a (KJV), there has been growth through His admonition, teaching and nurture.  Since I have not yet apprehended completely, again, like Paul, “I [continue to] press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:14 (KJV).
As I journeyed, it occurred to me that others might benefit from this very personal walk.  I then decided to make it available to all who desired it. Rather than just sending it to people, I informed the congregation I serve that the Daily Devotional was available on the blog that had been established for it.  Those who were interested were added to the distribution list and began receiving it via email every Monday through Friday with the exception of holidays.
After a while I began to receive quite a bit of feedback that let me know that I was not alone on this journey in pursuit of discovery, revelation and spiritual maturity.  It turned out that there were and are many on the narrow path striving simply to know God better and to be more like His darling son Jesus. It seems that as He deals with me, He likewise, speaks into the heart of those who came along side. Furthermore, many of the “beloved” began distributing the Daily Devotional to family, friends, and acquaintances. Some of those to whom it had been distributed asked to be added directly to the distribution so that they could receive it right away.  Still others began publishing excerpts into their weekly church bulletins. It truly seemed that God’s word was not returning to him void (Isaiah 55:11).

As you can see, this has truly been a journey.  I thank you for your companionship, your prayers, your interest and your support.  It has been a lot of work, but everything worth doing or having is.  I thank God for His surpassing goodness and I thank him for you.

To obtain your copy, please visit (official release on 12/7/13).  It is also available on and  If you obtain it from either of the latter, your feedback would be greatly appreciated.



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Follow the Leader 11/19/2013

“'Watch me,' he told them. 'Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do.'" Judges 7:17

The story of Gideon is famous because God once again proved that he could do everything with almost nothing. You will recall that God instructed Gideon to whittle down a gathered force of 32,000 men to 300 in order to fight 135,000.

For many reasons, Gideon is an example of a great leader, though not everything he did was positive. God selected him from all of the people of Israel despite him being the least in his family, who themselves were of the weakest clan (Judges 6:15). Gideon also put God to the test in his famous request to keep a fleece dry while the dew wet the surrounding ground and then again when he asked that the dew wet the fleece while the surrounding ground was kept dry. Even on the eve of the great battle, God told him that if he was afraid to go to battle that he should sneak into the enemy camp and listen to the things they had to say. Even though the Lord had sent home 22,000 men for being afraid, Gideon took Him up on his offer and went.

Beloved, despite what we might consider as negatives or challenges regarding our leadership, we would do well to have Gideons lead us. Consider the following:

  • Gideon was selected by God and was not a man who desired fame, fortune, attention or power.
  • Gideon was a thoughtful and careful man who wanted to be sure that it was God who was leading and directing him.
  • Gideon followed God's instructions to the letter.
  • Gideon did not share his own thoughts, ideas and philosophies with his followers, but the word and the instruction of God.
  • Gideon did not sit back and direct others but lead from the front and by example.
  • Gideon had great compassion for his people.
  • Gideon was a regular guy who, with the help of God, rose to the task and saved a people.

Let us be sure to seek leaders with these qualities. Further, let us seek to be great followers of God's leaders, not because of the individuals themselves but because of the God we all serve.



Monday, November 18, 2013

Be Encouraged 11/18/2013 (rp)

"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;" 1 Pet 1:6-7

There is not one among us who does not at one time or the other experience problems, difficulties, tragedies and loss.  Issues come up in personal relationships, work situations, neighborhood interactions, finances and even misunderstandings among those with whom we worship.  Speaking of worship, there may even be times that we are subjected to persecution because of our beliefs.  None of us should be shocked by this.  In fact this situations should actually encourage us and give us cause to rejoice.

Beloved, as Christians, we are called upon to be a different type of person with different beliefs, hopes, dreams, perspectives and certainly different responses to trials and difficulties.  Our savior has taught us by his word and his example that life and reality are bigger than our current circumstances. There is an entire eternity before us against which many of the things we endure today diminish into triviality.  We are sons and daughters of the living God!  That must mean something to us and by extension, those who come into contact with us.  We must look at these events, situations and circumstances as simply faith builders (our faith being more precious than pure and refined gold).  Think about it this way: there is not a single situation out of which God has not delivered you or is not currently in the process of doing so.  Not one.  When he delivers us, our faith that he will do so the next time and the time after that and the time after that grows.  We will eventually come to rely on him completely and begin to accept trials with joy, knowing that God has us now as He always has.

There is one more thing that helps us grow into this mindset and this truth: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" 1 Pet 1:3-5 (emphasis mine).  We have every reason to be encouraged, even in the midst of the worse life has to offer.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Just Believing 11/12/2013

"Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, 'Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.'” Luke 8:50 (NIV)

There was once a man named Jairus who the Bible describes as a synagogue leader. His responsibilities would have been to conduct services, select participants and supervise the worship. In Christianity, the equivelant might be a worship leader, deacon or even minister. In any case, Jairus had a daughter who was very near death. Knowing of Jesus and his capabilities and knowing that he was in the area, he ran to him, fell at his feet and begged him to come to his home and save his daughter.

As a parent, I do not have to imagine what Jairus was going through. I remember writing in my daughter's baby book as she lay in my arms just days old that it was my job and my promise to love her and protect her from all threats. I found out as Jairus found out that you can't protect your babies from everything. I found out that there are things for which there is no defense. I found out what it is like to see her lying in bed and praying that God would just let me trade places with her, knowing all the while that it was nothing more than a desparate father's wish and that it could never happen. I know what it is like to be utterly helpless and reduced to wracking sobs. But like Jairus, I also know what it is like to have hope and faith in Jesus.

Beloved, there are so many things that are beyond our power to affect. We wonder why these things happen while struggling to hold on to God with everything we've got. Our faith is stong but it is SO hard and it hurts so much. It is particularly hurtful to have to stand by and watch someone we love struggle in their affliction. Jairus was told that his daughter had died and to stop "bothering" Jesus (Luke 8:49). But praise God, Jesus said to not be afraid and to just believe. Jesus went to his home and healed his daughter.

My name is Lee and I am the worship leader at the O'Fallon Church of Christ. I humbly solicit your prayers for my daughter who is hurting, for her mother who is hurting, for her siblings who are hurting and for her father who is hurting. I am at Jesus' feet, begging for him to fix my little girl. I believe in him. I believe him. And I believe he will.



Monday, November 11, 2013

Being Like God 11/11/2013

"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matt 5:44-46

One of the greatest things about being a Christian is the incredible amount of examples that have been left for us by both our progenitors in the faith and the Source of that faith Himself. It is counter intuitive for us to love our enemies, yet Christ has said that it is exactly what we should do. While we might feel justified in striking back when someone offends us, we are given the example of God providing for all, whether they love Him or not.

Beloved, our greatest goal is to emulate God in all that we do and all that we are.
This is not a message about loving our enemies per se, but aspiring to the highest ideals of morality, goodness and righteousness. It is easy to focus on one thing and to try to be "good" at it, but in circumstances like those, we become unaware of the blind spots we have in other areas. If we focus on being godly in all of our being, that godliness will grow and flow into all that we think, say and do. With time and practice, we will be transformed into the likeness of God and loving enemies would be the easiest of all things. Let us fervently pursue what we claim.



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wake Up! 11/7/2013 (rp)

"These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead." Revelation 3:1 

Early in the book of Revelation, the Lord writes letters to seven congregations.  Interpretations of these letters range from them being specific messages to specific and actual churches to being metaphors of the state of "the church" through the ages.  Without regard to where one stands on this and many other controversial issues involving Revelation, there is still a word from God to be heard by each of us.

In the case of the letter to the church at Sardis, the Lord has an indictment.  It is stated that the church enjoys a reputation for things that are no longer the case.  In short, he describes them as being dead.  Of course there would be no need to write a letter to those who are not alive to read it.  What is meant is that the "life" has gone out of their worship and their relationship with God.  Whereas they were once known for the fire and passion associated with Christian living, there is no longer anything observable that can substantiate this image.

Beloved, we must not only be aware of this pitfall in our congregational life, we must be aware of it in our personal lives.  Reflections of our individuality can be seen in our corporate settings.  Each must consider what is being done or what is failing that would cause the Lord to describe us as being dead.  Are we attending worship regularly?  Our we studying the word daily?  Are we giving like we should?  Are we putting others before ourselves?  Are we sharing the gospel with the people we meet? We then must look at our congregation and make the same evaluation. 

Jesus has given us a twofold solution to this critical problem.  First he says, "Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God" (v. 2).  As long as we have life, we are not dead yet, however, the first step in correcting a problem is to recognize it.  Waking up involves a sincere and honest self assessment.  Secondly he says, "Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent" (v. 3).  We must be willing to turn from our "dead" ways, remind ourselves both of what God had done for us and requires of us and get to work.  If we our successful, the Lord has promised that he will never blot out our names from the book of life and will acknowledge our names before God and the heavenly host.

Wake up!



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Which is the Real You? 11/5/2013

"Do not eat the bread of a selfish man,or desire his delicacies; for as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, 'Eat and drink!' but his heart is not with you.  You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments." Proverbs 23:6-8

We are all familiar with people who say one thing yet mean quite another.  Perhaps we are those people ourselves from time to time.  The thought process of today's Scripture is that in an effort to be well thought of, a person may display hospitality and generously invite someone to their home and offer them their finest.  All the while, however, he or she is focusing more on the inconvenience and the disappearing of their goods.  With every bite, the cost is added up and held against the guest.  Therefore, the true measure of a person is not as much what they say or do but what is in their heart.  Further, what is in the heart will eventually be revealed.

Beloved, no one enjoys a two-faced person.  They are inconsistent and insincere in all of their ways.  They cannot be counted on to be truthful and they operate from questionable motives.  The point here is not to root out and expose people with these characteristics.  They will eventually do that themselves.  Our goal should be to constantly self-examine, ensuring that we are not guilty ourselves.  We are members of the body of Christ and should conduct ourselves as he did without guile on our lips or malice in our heart.  We are called upon to be tender, loving, sincere and caring for others more than for ourselves.

Let us consider the words of the prophet Isaiah as we interact with one another: 
"He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity,
He who rejects unjust gain
And shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe;
He who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed
And shuts his eyes from looking upon evil;
He will dwell on the heights,

His refuge will be the impregnable rock;
His bread will be given him,
His water will be sure."

Isaiah 33:15-16



Monday, November 4, 2013

(Don't) Leave Us Alone 11/4/2013

"Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ' Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." Exodus 14:12

After 430 years of crying out to God for relief from the brutality and imprisonment of slavery, in His own time and in His own way through His chosen agency, God responded by freeing His people from Pharaoh's grip. As it would happen, Pharaoh experienced a bit of a change of mind and famously came after them. It was in the midst of this perceived threat (and I say perceived because God was with them) that the Hebrews apparently changed their minds and decided that slavery was not so bad after all.

Human nature can be both amazingly wonderful and tragically flawed. We have the strength, intelligence and fortitude to go from building the pyramids to going to the moon, but often times lack simple patience and faith. How could it be that the people, after crying out to God for so long, lose sight of His chosen deliverer, the miracle of the plagues (particularly the last one), be allowed to leave with the plunder of all of Egypt and think that all estimated two million of them (or even one of them for that matter) would be destroyed in the midst of God's hand? It is fascinating that not only do we want to be delivered from our negative circumstances, but that we want it done in a particular time frame, by particular means, in a particular manner. Otherwise we throw up our hands and seek our own means or reconcile ourselves to our situations. In other words, we sometimes would rather enjoy the "luxuries" of slavery than the "inconveniences" of freedom.

Beloved, faith is believing and trusting God. It means that when we pray for deliverance, we leave the who, what, why and where to Him. And if we happen to look out the window and see a threat coming our way, let us look away from that threat and look back at God. He is in control and we are not. And if the day would ever come when we could determine the conditions and features of our own deliverance by dictating them to Him, who then would be God?

Consider this wise piece of advice: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV).



Friday, November 1, 2013

Good News and Better News 11/1/2013 (rp)

"So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." Heb 9:28 (NIV)

It is difficult for any human being to look upon Jesus' suffering on the cross as good news.  The gospel account is actually quite horrifying and humiliating.  Nevertheless, without it, humanity would be doomed to an an irreversible destruction. It is only because of our Savior's great sacrifice that we can be reconciled to the God who made us.

The one thing that mitigates the sorrowful treatment of God's son is the fact that he took up his life again.  With resurrection power, he arose and walked out of his borrowed tomb to verify the truth of his words and spread the good news of their meaning.  Having completed his work on earth, he returned to the heaven from which he came and now sits on the right hand of God.

Beloved, all of this is as if a cure has been discovered for a terrible disease to which we are all subject.  The goodness of the news does not reach its zenith until we are ourselves inoculated.  This will take place when the same Savior who rose into the clouds comes back in those clouds and reaps the harvest of all he has planted on earth.  That is when good news will get even better.

Let us be sure that we are part of that harvest.  Though he will return for those who are waiting for him, remember that we must be prepared in our waiting.  As the wise virgins had their lamps filled with oil, ready for the bridegroom to arrive despite not knowing the hour, we too must have our lives in order.  Only then we will be able to take advantage of the best news possible: the announcement that it is time to go home.



Thursday, October 31, 2013

A God of Second Chances 10/31/2013

"Then Samson called to the Lord and said, 'O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.'” Judges 16:28

This simple passage of Scripture does not readily reveal the profound impact of repentance and the amazing forgiveness of God, but careful study of the story and the man, Samson, will leave the fervent seeker awestruck, humbled and grateful.

In those days, the people of Israel were in a retched cycle of being blessed by God, turning their backs on Him in favor of other gods, being subjected by force to the whims of other nations, crying out to God for relief and being rescued by Him. On this particular occasion, the people had been under the subjugation of the Philistines for 40 years. God, in His infinite mercy, sent his angel to a woman named Manoah and, among other things, instructed her that she would bear a son and that through him, Israel would begin to be "saved from the hands of the Philistines," Judges 13:5. This was the beginning of the story and purpose of Samson.

Now the rest of his story is well known. He was born a Nazirite (one who is particularly dedicated to God, typically by vow and the observance of certain habits and restrictions), grew in supernatural strength, became a judge of the people and famously fought and defeated the Philistines on numerous occasions. It is also well known that Samson was a very flawed man. He had habits and desires that were not in keeping with his calling. He frequently made mistakes in judgment and failed to comport himself at some critical times and was known to visit prostitutes. He is perhaps best known for his involvement with the treacherous Philistine woman, Delilah. It is to her that, despite proving herself unworthy of his trust on at least three occasions that might have resulted in his death, he reveals the secret of his strength resulting in the breaking of his Nazarite vow and the loss of his power.

Beloved, it is easy for us to sit in judgment of Samson. We ask ourselves how he could have been so stupid, thereby inferring that we could never be guilty of such transgression and lack of good decision making. But is that strictly true? Has not God created each of us for His own glory? Has he not instructed us in His ways and given us a mission to do battle with the enemy? Have we not been distracted by the perceived benefits of that same enemy and actually done business with him? In some ways, times and situations, we are all Samson.

That said, we serve the same God as Samson. When he had come to fully understand the error of his ways, he remembered his purpose, he remembered his God given ability and he remembered his God. Through His amazing love and forgiveness, God came to the aid of Samson, even as He had to the people of Israel through Samson, and strengthened him for his original intended purpose. God never forsakes us. It is we who leave Him. But just as the father of the prodigal son, He constantly awaits our return and receives us when we come. All praises to Him for being a God of second (and third and fourth and fifth...) chances.



Monday, October 28, 2013

Words to the Beloved Update II 10/28/2013


I promised to keep you updated on the progress of the book so here is the latest.

We have set an official release date of December 7,2013. This will also be the date of our book release celebration to be held at the O'Fallon Church of Christ located at 8576 Veterans Memorial Parkway, O'Fallon, MO, 63368. You are all cordially invited to attend. Soon, e-vites will go out and there will be an event set up on Facebook to announce the event to the rest of the world (who are NOT a part of our devotional group). I know, however, that some of you are located great distances from this address and would not be able to attend.

For this reason, I am also pleased to announce that a home on the web has been developed for Words to the Beloved. The book's website can be located at On the site, you can find a synopsis, an author profile and book excerpts. You can even pre-order from the site. The book also has a social media presence. Check out!

Through the grace of God, things are coming right along. My next update will be to let you know when I actually have books in hand from the publisher. As always, thanks for your prayers and your support.

Your brother in Christ,


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trials and Love 10/24/2013

"Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, 'Abraham, Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am.' He said, 'Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.'” Genesis 22:10-12

It is well known that God promised Abraham a legitimate son through whom nations would be built long before He delivered on that promise. It is also well known that Abraham was 100 years old when the child was born thereby proving the hand of God in his life. One can only imagine the overwhelming love Abraham must have had for his son Isaac. Contemporary parents are head over heels after nine months. Abraham must have been out of his mind with adoration for his child. Can it be at all imagined what it must have been like to hear God tell him, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you,” Genesis 22:2?

Beloved, as was the case with Abraham and many others we read about within the pages of inspiration, God tests us. Through these tests, it is not He who learns things about us (He knows all) but we learn things about ourselves. More specifically, it is through our trials that we can see where are love truly is. When the night is darkest and our health is failing, a loved one is hurting, our finances are flagging, our relationships in trouble and our hope threatened, to whom do we turn? Do we seek the face of God for our relief or do we become angry with Him for allowing the situation to occur and seek other means of relief and resolution? Could any of us have done what Abraham did in Abraham's circumstance?

As much as he loved his son, Abraham loved God more. If you are anything like me, the words "how," "what" and "why" come to your confused mind when you consider how Abraham could have done such a thing even if he had 26 children. The word of God contains the answer in Hebrews 11:19: "He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type." Abraham loved, trusted and believed God so much that it did not enter his mind that he would not walk back down that mountain without his beloved son (Genesis 22:5). Through our trials, whatever they may be, let us prove to ourselves that God is first in our lives.

As an epilogue, consider the fact that Moriah is likely the place on which Jerusalem was built. That being the case, the same mountain on which Abraham offered his son was the same place God gave His. Like Isaac, Jesus even had to carry the wood. When the scripture mentions that Abraham received Isaac back "as a type," it means that it was a foreshadowing of us all receiving Christ back from the dead through the power of God that we all might live, and that the promises to Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3) would find their delivery. What an amazing display of love.



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Three Pointing Back at Me 10/23/2013

"Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 'Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.' And He answered and said to them, 'Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?'" Matthew 15:1-3

As a young man, I once heard a person say, "I want to be careful about pointing fingers because every time I do it, I find three pointing back at me." Initially, I thought the idea of people standing around pointing at one another was a useless exercise in rudeness. It was not until much later that I was shown the architecture of the hand while pointing the index finger. Indeed, the other three fingers were pointed in the opposite direction.

Jesus' adversaries were always looking for a way to entrap and discredit him. They used every means possible to accomplish their goal. When they could not get at him personally (and make no mistake, it was always about him personally) they would use someone like the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-12) or even his apostles. In this case, they accused the apostles of violating their traditions. By extension, they claimed the guilt of Jesus because he was their teacher.

It must be noted that these traditions were not spiritually binding but had become religiously and socially binding because of the adversaries themselves. They were the people in charge of a religion that ruled local society. Yet Jesus was able to counter by pointing out their failure at upholding what should have been their priority (obedience to the word of God) in favor of their traditions. Specifically, he pointed out their violation of God's commandment to honor father and mother by withholding support of their parents with the excuse of saying their resources were dedicated to God.

Beloved, when we point an accusing finger, there are two things we must consider. First, what is the spirit that motivates us to do it? Are we approaching a person who has violated God's command in privacy and in love that they might recognize, repent and renew or are we simply scandal mongering out of our own spiritual immaturity and failure to love? Second, have we given thought to our own shortcomings? In the previously mentioned incident involving the woman caught in the act of adultery, the accusers wanted to stone her. Jesus famously invited everyone who had no sin to go right ahead. Note that he did not stipulate adultery as the sin, but sin of any type.

Does this mean that because we are all guilty we should never say anything to anyone to help them when they have stumbled? Absolutely not. The Bible says in Galatians 6:1 (NIV), "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted" (emphasis mine). When we point with one finger, let us all be mindful of "the three pointing back at me."



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Evidence of the Unseen 10/22/2013

"Now Elijah said to Ahab, 'Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower.' So Ahab went up to eat and drink. But Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down on the earth and put his face between his knees. He said to his servant, 'Go up now, look toward the sea.' So he went up and looked and said, 'There is nothing.' And he said, 'Go back' seven times. It came about at the seventh time, that he said, 'Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.'” 1 Kings 18:41-44

God had placed the land of Israel into a great drought due to the wickedness of the people, most notably Ahab, the king. If you have ever heard of Jezebel, she was his wife and was responsible for contributing to the king's idolatry, killing the prophets of God and building a group of priests dedicated to a pagan deity. In a great showdown between the One True God and the pagan deity, Baal (the pagan deity) was shown to be non-existent and God was shown to be alive and supreme through the obedient work of His prophet Elijah. Subsequent to this, all of the failed prophets of Baal were destroyed thereby resulting in God relenting from withholding the rain from the land.

Hebrews 11:1 famously says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen" (KJV). In a conversation with Ahab after all was said and done, Elijah said that he heard a major thunderstorm. The fact that his servant scanned the horizon six times before so much as seeing a tiny cloud seems to belie this. But does it?

Beloved Elijah had the ultimate trust and faith in God. He had seen Him work in his life too many times to deny or doubt anything He said. To him, the word of God became as fact even though something He said may not yet have come to pass. We must also take the word of God as fact. When He tells us that He loves and cares for us, we must accept it as we do that of a loving parent. When He tells us that He sent His only begotten for our reconciliation, we must treat it as if we witnessed it ourselves. When He tells us that we have been saved from destruction, we must feel as secure as we do in our comfortable homes during a storm. And when He tells us that heaven will be our home, even though others may not yet see it, we must know it as a foregone conclusion.

Torrential rains came just as God promised and Elijah said. The land was replenished and the people were saved. Believe God. Nothing and no one in life is more true.



Monday, October 21, 2013

"Words to the Beloved" Update


You may have noticed that I have been absent from our devotional for the past couple of weeks. This is the result of two things. First (and simply put) your brother became a little fatigued. There has been much to do in multiple areas of my life (including most importantly, service to the Lord), which prompted me to put the devo on hold.

Second, I have been hard at work on the soon-to-be-published book, "Words to the Beloved." You may remember me mentioning it to you earlier this year.

It has been an amazing journey to put the work together. With the help of a number of very good friends and supporters (not the least of which is the lovely and talented Michelle Lewis), the book has been brought to the brink of release. I have been provided with a proof from the publisher for final edits. I anticipate getting it back to them this week. Soon afterwards, they will give me an expected date of release of which I will inform you immediately.

I solicit your prayers in this endeavor, not that it will sell tons of copies or that I will become famous (neither of which is the goal nor likely to happen) but that God would be glorified by this small effort and that others may be encouraged and led to Him and His word through it.

The devotional will resume tomorrow.

Your brother in Christ,


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Follow His Lead 10/2/2013 (rp)

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Psa 23:1

So begins one of the most beautiful and well known passages of scripture to be found within the pages of inspiration. Though we may know the words by heart, do we understand their meaning? Written by one who himself was once responsible for tending sheep, the correlation is more powerful than the words themselves.

We, analogized as sheep throughout scripture, have a need to be led. Even with leadership we tend to wander off and must be retrieved for our own good, lest we fall into peril, even death. We depend on the Shepherd to show us the safe and right way to go. This is in opposition to being driven like cattle. We do not respond well to being pushed from behind, but led from the front.

Our Shepherd likewise provides for all of our needs. This is accomplished because He knows what we need and knows how and where to lead us to obtain what is necessary for the extension of our lives. He provides things that we, in and of ourselves, would not be able to acquire.

What a wonderful Shepherd we have. He has said, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." John 10:14. If we would but follow where He leads, we will find ourselves in the ultimate eternal pasture.



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Where is God? 10/1/2013

"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success." Josh 1:8-9

It is no secret that we are all at differing levels of spiritual maturity and that over time, those levels change. Most are desirous of attaining a higher understanding of God and wish to know more about His will for our lives. We often reach for Him to help us along the way or simply to have a closer walk but find Him just beyond our grasp because He is not in humanoid form addressing us directly. We then sometimes wonder, "Where is God?"

God is all around us and speaks to us constantly. We suffer from a constant state of not being able to see the forest for the trees. Our lives are filled with the clutter of politics, entertainment, workplace intrigue and other day to day distractions and responsibilities. Moreover, we are force fed so many things through every pathway into our brains and bodies. In short, we cannot find Him because we are not putting enough effort into the search and we are allowing the volume of everything else to be too high.

Beloved, there are three things we can and must do to achieve a closer walk with the Lord. First, we must pray for it. God has told us to make our desires known to Him and that when we do, we would find a listening ear. Further, James 4:8 says, "Draw closer to God and He will draw closer to you." Second, study the Bible every day. It represents the best source of information available to know who God is and what He expects from and gives to us. It is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). He literally speaks to us through His word. Finally, seek Him with your whole heart in everything you experience every day. With a foundation of prayer and Bible study, you will then begin to see the awesomeness of God materialize before your very eyes. When you look for Him earnestly, you will begin to see His word and His very person manifesting itself in conversations with others, circumstances and situations, and even in nature. For an example of this, read the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34.

When you do these things, you will see more and more that God is indeed all around you everyday in every way. When you realize this and begin to commune with Him on this basis, you will be on the fast track to spiritual maturity and you will be amazed at the things you will come to see and understand that have been right in front of you the whole time. What a lovely tree filled forest we live in.



Monday, September 30, 2013

Going to Hell 9/3/2013

"Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it." Isa 5:14 (KJV)

On the tiny western Caribbean island of Grand Cayman exists Hell. To be sure it is a real place. More specifically it is a town named Hell. Interestingly enough, it is quite an attraction for cruise ship passengers and other tourists. In fact, it is a mandatory stop on most tours about which the guides enthusiastically remark, "Today I'm going to take you to Hell and back."

When you visit there, you find that there is a post office, a gift shop and a rock formation that gives the place its name. There is also a "Satan" who runs the store which sells all manner of t-shirts, hats and other tourist baubles.  He runs around in horns, a tail and a tuxedo jacket and happily interacts with all of the visitors.  Of course there are numerous sayings and jokes that turn on the word hell such as, "What in Hell do you want?" or "I guess its time to get the hell out of here." You can even send friends and family post cards from Hell and receive a passport stamp saying that you have been there. No thanks.

Beloved, I guess the place is all in good fun, but I could not bring myself to join in because I know something of the real hell. This area is named such because of some pretty creepy rock formations that definitely put one in mind of the place, but the formation is easily explained, not threatening to anyone, not hot, and you can come and go as you please. The bible is replete with warnings about hell and advisements to do all that can be done to avoid it. Sheol, Tataurus and Gehenna are some of the biblical words used to variously describe it but you might more readily recognize it as "the lake of fire," "the pit," "the second death," "outer darkness," and a place of "weeping and gnashing of teeth." Trust that it is the last place you ever want to be and nothing about which to trifle.

The one thing Hell in Grand Cayman has in common with the real hell is that there is an acknowledgement of the saving power of Jesus . I'm sure that everyone who will ultimately find their eternal home there will have no doubt, albeit too late. To quote Joshua, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," Joshua 24:15.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Living Your Giving 9/27/2013

“A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.   Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury;  for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.’”   Mark 12:42-44
While many expositors of the Word have used this passage to prompt their congregations to give and that generously, the thought I would like to share this morning has not as much to do with financial contributions as giving our all to and for the one who gave his all for us.
When you consider the poor widow, what do you think?   The fact that she is a widow tells us that she is in a perpetual state of loss.  She is described as basically being down to her last cent.  This tells us that she either had no children or the children she had were not willing to support her.  Perhaps she had a way of making money or survived on the kindness of others, nevertheless, it was everything she had.  Lastly, she was willing to give it to the Lord.  We know that she appeared at the temple to pay her temple taxes as was the custom for the Israelites, but to her, it seems the ultimate demonstration of faith, obedience and love.
Beloved, when we think of our Lord, what is his worth to you?  It is well known that he, as an absolute expression of love, left heaven and gave his life for us, but what are we willing to give to express our love for him?  To be sure, we are unable to earn the great gift that he gave, but we are by no means prevented from demonstrating love and faith toward him and expressing ourselves by giving ourselves.  You see we were bought by his blood, but must still voluntarily give ourselves to him.  This can certainly be expressed in our financial contributions, but is exponentially better shown in our manner of living.  Our attitude and actions should be consistent with this:
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom 12:1-2
What is the biblical meaning of sacrifice but the giving of life?  It is what he did for us.  Let us be willing to give our living for him.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Beeseeching God 9/25/2013

"Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" 1 Kings 3:8-9

After the death of his father, King David, Solomon was enthroned as king in his place. It is said of Solomon that he loved the Lord and walked according to his statues and commandment just as his father before him had done. As a result, God appeared to him in a dream and instructed him to ask for whatever he wanted. As king, there were many things that it would be expected that someone in his position would request. Among these were riches, wives, the disposition of enemies, the enlargement of territory and more. Instead, Solomon famously asked for understanding.

Beloved, when you pray, what do you ask of God? So many of us treat God as some sort of genie in a bottle. We feel that if we pray earnestly enough, our wishes would come true. How many people do you suppose pray that God would grant them the Powerball Lottery winning ticket?. How many pray for the outcome of sporting events? With what other relative frivolities do we approach God? Solomon prayed for the ability to do the will of God. Should that not be our guide? Of course God lends his ear to the lamentations of heart and has instructed us to bring our supplications to Him with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6), however, note how He responded to Solomon’s prayer:
  • Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days. If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days. 1 Kings 3:11-14.
Let us carefully consider our God, our prayer life and our supplications.



Monday, September 23, 2013

Confidence in the Face of Challenges 2/23/2013

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

It was after the passing of Moses that leadership of the people of Israel was charged to Joshua. Imagine how daunting a task it was to cross over into a land promised to them over 400 years before. The land was filled with people who were pretty attached to it and the Hebrews had been directed by God to remove them. Speaking of the Hebrews, Joshua also had the responsibility of leading them knowing that they had proved themselves to be unfaithful stiff-necked grumblers who, at times, seemed as though they would do anything but what God commanded.

Nevertheless, God both encouraged Joshua and promised to be with him when he said, “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go," Josh 1:7-8

Beloved, the same God that was with Joshua is with each of us today. We all face daunting tasks, trials, tribulations, discomforts and challenges. These things are as certain, as it has ben said, as death and taxes. Knowing that God is with us should give us all of the encouragement we need to persevere on our journey to the land He has promised us. Let us be sure to adhere to His word, not turning to the left or right from it, and look forward to success.



Friday, September 20, 2013

Something Greater is on the Way 9/20/2013

"And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body." Romans 8:23

I do not know about you but I am the type of person that always tries to have something to which to look forward. I remember how excited I would get as a kid when Christmas was around the corner or the time for the cross-country family vacation to Disney was near. I am sure I drove my parents to distraction talking about it. Interestingly enough, whenever something tough would happen, I would always think to myself that it did not matter because something big and good was coming. I am not the least bit ashamed to say that I still plan big things and still use the thought of them to get me through the tough times. Though trips and holidays are still a part of that thinking, over the years I have discovered something much greater.

Beloved, though we as Christians may not regularly think of it this way, there are unimaginably great things in store for us in the Lord. It is of first importance to know that through the agency of Jesus, we have been made members of the family of God. Evidence of this is that we have been given the Spirit as earnest in anticipation of receiving the full reward promised by God (Ephesians 1:13-14). As members of the family, we, through the grace of God, become entitled to big things including the ultimate excursion of all time! We need to know that our accommodations are even now being prepared and that at the proper time, we will be collected by our Savior (John 14:2-4). We can take heart that free transportation has already been arranged (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Lastly, what awaits can scarcely be described but we have surely been told about some of what we can expect (Revelation 21:1-7; 10-27; 22:1-5).

My encouragement to you today and all days is to keep an eye toward heaven and always keep your hand firmly clasped to His. Though the trials and tribulations of life come and go, let us all take heart that whatever circumstances in which we may find ourselves today do not represent the end. Something greater is on the way.



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Compassionate Word Choices 9/19/2013

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29

There are times in all of our lives that we need someone with whom to talk. Whether we are in the depth of sorrows or the height of celebration, we have a basic human need to interact with others. The question we must ask ourselves concerns whether we do the right thing when we receive the call.

The book of Job, among other things, is a great study about dos and don'ts when coming to the aid of another. Upon hearing of his great tragedies, Job's three friends came to his side. It is recorded that, "Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great" Job 2:13. This was a very large "do" at the time. It was exactly what Job needed. Many times people who are suffering just need to know that someone cares, but they also need time to mentally and emotionally process the things that are happening to them. A lot of talk can be distracting and do more harm than good.

Of course the other side of the story (and an Olympic level "don't" in Job's situation) is that when his friends did begin to speak, they said the wrong thing. In fact, they actually got in trouble with God: "It came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, 'My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has,'" Job 42:7.

Beloved, caring for one another in a time of need can be a delicate and challenging thing. We do not always know what to do or what to say. It would be easy to proceed as we think we might like for someone to do if we were in that situation, but one never knows what is needed until those conditions actually arise. Even then, everyone is different. The bottom line is that we must use care with the things we say. If someone finds themselves in trouble, the last thing they need is an indictment. There will be a time for loving and gentle admonishment, but in an acute situation, love, comfort, companionship, reassurance and tender words are needed. Better said, "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person," Colossians 4:6.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Keep Your Feet (Don't Stumble) 9/17/2013

"But Peter said to Him, 'Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.' Jesus said to him, 'Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.'” Matthew 26:33-34

Imagine what it must have been like for Jesus to be experiencing his last night before being hung on a cruel cross and dying. Spending time with his inner circle, he had just partaken of what we know as the Last Supper and informed them that one of them would betray him. Subsequent to this, however, he told them that they would all fall away (or stumble). He quoted Zachariah 13:7 which states, "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered." We all know that it was Judas that betrayed the Lord but what of those who stumbled? What does it even mean to stumble? And why was Peter pointed out in particular?

The simple truth is that most of us avoid trouble at all costs. Jesus was considered to be and treated as a criminal and the apostles were his closest associates. On that same night, while in the company of some of them, he was arrested, beaten and taken to trial. That is most certainly trouble. As it was predicted, the apostles, with the exception of John, all scattered. Peter in particular followed Jesus to the trials at some distance but did in fact deny him three times when people recognized that he had been one who walked with Jesus. It is also known that the apostles did not busy themselves carrying out the training and mission they had received but instead hid, returning to their prior vocation as fishermen. This is stumbling.

Beloved, we must ask ourselves if we ever stumble in our faith and purpose. Though Jesus is no longer physically being dragged through the streets and falsely accused, his cause is still under indictment by some. When atheists attempt to legislate the Lord out of our lives, do we make our voices heard? When we are attacked for our stance on God ordained relationships do we hide and cower? When Satan tempts us personally do we give in or tell him to go away? The potential to stumble most surely continues to exist among the followers of the Lord. Even the most ardent, such as Peter, can find themselves out of position. We therefore must guard against the impulse to flee the one who left heaven to seek and save us. Let us not stumble but let us keep our feet.



Monday, September 16, 2013

Would You Be Great? 9/16/2013

"The Lord said to Gideon, 'The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’" Judges 7:2.

These days we are our own biggest fans. Everything we have, we earned and therefore deserve. Many times we are even squeamish about accepting help from others when it is probably in our best interest to accept it. We are dyed in the wool "pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps" people. The interesting thing about this thinking is that it leaves no room for the recognition of God's grace in our lives.

Due to an amazing pattern of rebelliousness and idolatry, the people of Gideon's time were in need of someone to deliver them from their enemies. Rather than the biggest most powerful and ferocious person around, God chose Gideon, who, by his own admission was the least in his family, who were the weakest in the clan, which was of the smallest tribe (Judges 6:15). God was not looking for someone formidable, but was looking to express His own power through the meekness of an individual.

Beloved, far too often we fail to give God the glory. We are much too interested in our own fame, fortune and abilities. We are preoccupied with being well thought of, praised and deferred to by others. Interestingly enough, Jesus, in response to two of his apostles desiring to have preeminence over the others said, "...whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;" Matthew 20:26-27. Otherwise put, serving others in all humility rather than self is the path to greatness in the Lord.

When we give God the glory and allow Him to use us, His greatness will be seen through the greatness He has brought about in and through us.