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