Friday, February 22, 2013
I was watching a well known prophecy teacher on television this past week and was surprised to see how far down the prophetic timeline that we seem to be. It seems that world events are chugging right along, just as the Bible says they will, to their God ordained conclusion. You know Jesus said that we as believers should work while it was still day because the night was coming when no one would be able to work. With that in mind, I was doing the treadmill thing last night at work, thinking about what I might write on today. As I labored on that confounded machine a word crossed my mind. Cultivate. I don't believe the word is mentioned in the KJV; at least I couldn't find it. At any I looked it up in the dictionary and here's what it said.
Cultivate- To improve by labor and attention. To promote or improve the growth of a plant or a crop by labor and attention.(Dictionary.com)
You know the day may well be approaching that the only spiritual strength available to you and me will be our PERSONAL relationship with the Lord Jesus. If the truth were known that is much the way it is today isn't it? We've taken God out of the schools, we've taken Him out of government and through various types of legislation we are trying to remove Him from the pulpit and the home. Amen?
I remember my good buddy remarking many times
"Mama and daddy can't find God for you. You can't serve THEIR God, you have to find God for YOU and He's got to become YOUR God." We have to CULTIVATE our own relationship with The Lord Jesus. Somebody else's just won't do.
3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, "Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear."
Matt 13:3-9 (NASB)
Verse 7 is where the danger lies. Look down at verse 22 of the same chapter.
22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
Matt 13:22 (NASB)
You know how it goes don't you? Get up, go to work, come home, run any one of the hundreds of
undone errands, fix dinner or buy it out because you're too exhausted to cook, clean the house, and finally some time late into the day or night have a little time to yourself, go to bed. Repeat. Does this strike a familiar note? Yeah, I understand. Add to that the "things" we all so desperately desire to have and Voila! We are (as they call it in the restaurant business) IN THE WEEDS! If you look back on that typically ordinary day, only one thing is missing. GOD!
We've ALL been on that treadmill. Thr pressures of just making a living these days are enormous. I have friends that work two jobs and still struggle to make ends meet. No one is immune. It's tough out there! But, if we can just find a little time for God. If we can find some time to cultivate our relationship with Him, it will pay great dividends. Some years back, while enduring the cruel mockings of my two best friends(you know who you are) I planted a garden. It wasn't a vegetable garden but a Japanese garden.
I took some uncultivated ground and dug and hoed and weeded etc., etc., until I had created a nice little garden. Despite the snickering of my above mentioned friends(you know who you are) I enjoyed the fruits of my labor. But, eventually I started neglecting the garden and almost immediately it was overrun with weeds. I use this example only to shame those who exposed me to their taunting.(Big Smile) I'm rambling now so I'll close. Brothers and sisters, in this world gone mad it's easy to neglect our time with God. Not on purpose, no,no,no. But, just from the demands made upon our time and our lives; and, before we know it, we're in a crisis and can't find God. Ya feel me? Spend some time with Him. Cultivate that relationship. It will produce some good fruit.
1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
Psalms 4:1 (NASB)
Friday, February 15, 2013
Bought With A Price
20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Cor 6:20 (NASB)
Paul must have wanted to drive this point home because he mentioned again in the next chapter.
23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
1 Cor 7:23 (NASB)
Bought with a price. This isn't one of those feel good verses is it? It makes me squirm a little bit. It speaks of ownership. As a matter of fact in a previous verse (6:19) Paul says that we are not our own. Paul, on numerous occasions, goes as far to say that we are bondslaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. That doesn't echo of political correctness does it? In essence it is saying that when we sign on to God's program, He owns us lock, stock and barrel; to be used by Him for His sovereign purpose any way He sees fit. That would seem to answer a lot of the "why" questions(not all, but a lot) we have about life.
21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
Romans 9:21 (NASB)
That being said let me get down to it. I labored for many years under a delusion of what success really was. Truth be known it was so ingrained within me that I still from time to time wrestle with my sense of "success" in this life. In reality, my battles have not been with my crowning successes, on the contrary, it is a sense of failure that has haunted me. Ever feel that way? Can't see the great things God has done in your life?No, no, it's the shortcomings and failures that glare back at you. Yeah, I feel ya. You know in our world success is usually measured in material wealth or in accomplishment. It seems that in ministry it's all about numbers. Better programs, bigger buildings, more people, you know what I mean? In the world, success and with it self worth is graded by you know...cha ching...who's got the most bling! Amen? He who dies with the most toys wins!! I believe God does the grading on a different scale. It's not about success, it's about FAITHFULNESS. Yeah, I know..it's taken DECADES for that to get down into my soul and I still deal with it. Remember our verse? Bought with a price. God uses us,you and me, for His purposes, whether the world puts a successful tag on it or not. Let me tell you something(and me too!smile) Our circumstances, our ministries, our lives may not measure up in the world's eyes. Heck, they may not measure up in OUR OWN EYES! But, if we are faithful to God's call, no matter what it is; if we are following His path as best we can, then we are measuring up in HIS eyes!
3 But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.
1 Cor 4:3-4 (NASB)
Let me give you an example from Scripture of an "unsuccessful" ministry. Turn with me to Isaiah please.
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" 9 He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.' 10 " Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." 11 Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolateIsaiah 6:8-13 (NASB)
You know Isaiah boldly answers God's call. "Here am I. Send me!" That's the way it is with us sometimes isn't it. We're going to jump right in and save the world. Then reality sets in. Look at verse 9. Isaiah basically was told that his ministry, his God called, God ordained ministry was going to be a.....FAILURE! Isaiah you're going to minister to people that will not understand, they will not perceive. They will be insensitive, dull and dim. Hmmm. I can hear Isaiah now. " Jeez Louise, this isn't going to be much to write home about. No entourages flying about. No great audiences filling up auditoriums every where I go.Hmmm...I don't know about this??" Once he gets the big picture, he asks God a question, "Lord, how long?" God's answer in so many words,"..for the rest of your life"
God has a purpose and His purpose is sovereign. It can't be thwarted. You remember that soul that you gave an encouraging word to last week? That was just as important(maybe more so) in God's eyes as that mighty preacher who ministered to thousands. That child or parent or neighbor that you helped will receive the same reward as Billy Graham or T.D.Jakes some day. Your circumstances may not be what you desire. People may look at you like you are a nobody. You may even feel like a nobody, but, just take a page from Isaiah. I'm sure he felt like a failure when the people rejected him. But, he was able to trust that God had His back and would keep and protect him through it all. Well, look where his messages and sermons ended up! Amen!! Keep on keeping on. Be encouraged. You and I are where we are for a reason and a purpose. We are bought with a price.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Psalms 23:4 (NASB)
Friday, February 8, 2013
Why Am I Like This?
Well, the Super Bowl is over and my team lost. So, I will be on football withdrawal until next August when the only team worth watching, The Big Orange kick it off again! That being said, have you ever asked yourself the above question? You know how it goes, you will do something dumb or you will slip up and do something you shouldn't and before long you'll be kicking yourself and asking yourself the above over and over. Right?
I had conversations with two different people this week and they both posed that same, identical question. Exact same words.. everything alike. WHY AM I LIKE THIS? Both were beating themselves up over the fact that they had fallen short this week. How could I be so stupid? I can't believe I did that! Sound familiar? It certainly does to me. All I could say was "Welcome to the club." I have said this before and I will say it again. The truest words ever spoken to me outside of Holy Scripture were these,"There are two kinds of people in this world, the caught and the uncaught, everybody's guilty." You know it's at these times, when we've failed, that the devil will perch himself on our shoulder and start whispering in our ear. Many a time I have sat and not only beat myself up but have listened to the enemy agree with me by telling me how sorry I was and how could I call myself a Christian and do something like that. Amen? As I sat and listened to these folks this week, my mind went to the seventh chapter of Romans:
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
Romans 7:14-25 (NASB)
This passage of scripture is my message today. That answers the question why we are like we are. Allow me a couple of observations before I go. The devil will tell you that God doesn't love you, and you're not really saved etc., etc., blah, blah blah. But, the Bible says that if you believe in the Lord Jesus you are saved. The problem of yours and everybody else's sin, past,present and future was dealt with at Calvary. The Lord Jesus Christ paid the price for every sin that you and I have ever committed or will ever commit.Amen? IT IS FINISHED. PAID IN FULL.
30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, " It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
John 19:29-30 (NASB)
Your eternal life is just that.. ETERNAL. Never ending. God doesn't take it away ever time you or I fall short. Keep that truth in your heart. Read the last two verses of Romans 8. Sin is not even mentioned. It has been dealt a death blow through the Cross. BUT, there is a battle raging within your body. Read Romans again. Your flesh is waging a war against your spirit and your mind. That's how the enemy slips his two cents worth in. he will tempt your flesh and do nothing but accuse you. But, listen to me God is not waiting on you to screw up so He can zap you. On the contrary, He wants us to lean on Him and yield to Him in our times of weakness and He has said He will deliver us from ourselves. It may take a while but if we will continue to trust Him we will get there. But, and let this sink in. He loves you and is not condemning you when you fail.
1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1 (NASB)
No ifs ands or buts. Its that simple. NO CONDEMNATION!
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; 3 Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Psalms 103:1-4 (NASB)
Friday, February 1, 2013
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
Psalms 119:105 (NASB)
We had a quiz in my class yesterday and above the groans of all in the room, I heard Josh(a young classmate of mine) boom out "I don't have a prayer!" Well, after the quiz we were allowed to grade each other's paper and just as Josh said, he didn't have a prayer!(smile) So, as the class progressed, the professor, stressing over his students' poor performance I imagine, asked a question. Rather straightforwardly he asked us what was giving us problems. Josh immediately spoke up and answered, "I'm just not very good in language." Our professor, trying to encourage him replied "that's not true" and so the banter went back and forth for a couple minutes before Josh was asked point blank "What's giving you trouble? Show me in the book." At this point Josh sheepishly replied "I can't, I don't have a book." The professor replied very calmly and cooly "Josh, how do you expect to learn French if you don't have a French book?" That interchange reminded me of something I had heard over the last few days. A big time, respected man of God recently said on his show that the overwhelming majority of American christians were biblically illiterate. Now, I don't know whether that is true or not and I don't have the right to scold anyone for their Bible reading habits.Amen? But, allow me to share some of my thoughts with you today. O.K.?
You know there are a lot of voices in the world today. Political voices, economic voices, cultural voices but no where and I mean NOWHERE are there more voices than in the religious arena.Those voices come in all sizes, shapes and persuasions. You feel me? You know I used to put a lot of stock in revelation, prophecy,words of knowledge and such. Not so much anymore, BUT,understand that's just me. God can speak anyway He wants to. For example, He spoke to a man through a donkey one time(Numbers 22:28). Another time He spoke by a supernatural handwriting on a wall(Daniel 5:5) God can choose to speak in any way and at anytime He so desires. That being said, with all the voices flying about these days it pays us to "test the spirits."
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1 (NASB)
How does one go about testing the spirits? The best and in my opinion, the ONLY way is to see if they line up with what God's Word says. You have to read the Book. Amen? You have to study God's Word.
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
2 Tim 2:15 (NASB)
I like the KJV better here.
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Tim 2:14-15 (KJV)
You see in the old days God spoke through the mouths of prophets, holy Men of God; but, today He has given us a more sure word of prophecy:
19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
2 Peter 1:19 (NASB)
What the Apostle Peter is saying here is that these written words, these scriptures are based on eyewitness accounts.(vs.16) They make the prophetic word more sure. But, look at the middle of that verse, " to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place,"
You see the only way to discern these voices is to "pay attention" to the Book. If the words of any voice, my voice included, do not line up with God's Word..reject it. It's that simple. The only way to find guidance for your life is to read the Book. But, you know something? There's another, even better benefit to spending some time in The Book. It get's us alone with God Almighty. It helps us to tune in to what He is saying in our personal lives. He can speak to us generally through His written word but He can also quicken our spirits when we come across a verse meant specifically for us, at that very point in time of our lives. You know what I mean don't you? You know how you will read a verse and you get a stirring in your inward parts. You 'know that you know' that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you through His word. No one has to tell you, YOU KNOW IT! Amen? That's what I'm talking about and that is what gets us talking and listening to Him.God sent and still sends preachers to speak and teach and preach His word. O.K.? BUT, He also wants to speak and teach and preach to us PERSONALLY. He wants some one on one. His will is revealed in His Word. You gotta have the Book
Brothers and sisters these are troubling times... Dark, perilous, sinister times. Deceivers, counterfeits and abusers ABOUND. It's a mark of the days in which we live. There's only ONE safe harbor for your soul...it's the Lord Jesus Christ. But, in order to hear and learn about Him. In order to be comforted and encouraged by Him. In order to know Him.. you gotta have the Book.
3 For what does the Scripture say?
Romans 4:2-3 (NASB)
39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;
John 5:39 (NASB)