Friday, December 20, 2013

We Are To Be Faithful

Luke 16:10-12
We Are To Be Faithful

     “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”

     Jesus tells us that the whole world belongs to Him, and that we are to be faithful stewards of what He has given us to work with until the day of His return. I would like to take a few moments and ask us to think about some questions.

          1. Some examples of being faithful with money.
          2. Some examples of being faithful with our property.
          3. Some examples of being faithful in our friendships.
          4. Some examples of being faithful with our talents which bring people to Jesus.
          5. Some examples of being faithful with our time.

     Take a few moments to think about how each of these things can best be used in the service of Jesus. I find that the parable of the prodigal son in chapter 15 of Luke gives us a good illustration of how we are to view our lives as Christians. Just imagine that after the father has shown so much love and grace towards his unfaithful son, that the son starts to take his fathers love for granted and starts to steal from his father again or to try and make a profit for himself off of his father’s goods so that he can pursue the things that got him into trouble in the first place. It would be a great crime against the love his father had shown him. We also must not misuse the grace that our Heavenly Father has had towards us and use His blessings for things that got us into trouble before as well.
     Now that we have looked a little into being faithful let us look at the warning Jesus gives us. He says that if we are unfaithful in a very little thing that we will also be unfaithful in much. How many times in a day do we let ourselves get away with little things? It turns out that much of our character is developed by the little things we do or do not do. Let’s just say that a Mom asks her son to take out the trash, the son says yes and then puts it off for a later time and then completely forgets to ever take it out. Jesus says that how we deal with such a small thing is how we will deal with big things. I’ve been the son who has put it off before and I’m sure many of you have been the mother who has asked. Our integrity is built by such small stepping stones and they really matter as we grow up. I know that we all hope for the best as our kids grow up and that someday they will become “responsible”, but how they live now will not be easy for them to overcome when they are older, the same as a tree that is growing crooked and at a young age can be straightened with guide wires. However, when it is fully grown it will be impossible to straighten if it has been left to itself with no guide wires.
     These are all good things to ponder. We must consider all things to belong to God and that when He comes He will give us what will be ours if we have been faithful with what is His.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Lost Coin

Luke 15:8-10
The Lost Coin

     “What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

     Are you earnestly looking for the lost coin? Jesus defines the coin as a sinner and that finding that lost coin is to see a sinner turn to repentance. Heaven puts great value on that coin saying that the angels rejoice over each one that is found. This is a convicting word for us as Christians. If all of heaven has put such a great value on that lost coin should we not be in complete unity with this desire. Should we not be pursuing the lost with the great desire to rejoice with all of heaven’s hosts over each one? Our hearts should be burning within us to be searching for them and yet we have to ask ourselves if we have even noticed that we were missing a coin. All of heaven is watching for that one sinner who turns to repentance, should we be doing less? To any Christian these should be stirring words that cause us to look into the practical application of doing this.
     The woman began by lighting a lamp and then swept the house carefully until she found it. How do we apply this? First let me say that if she was not focused on finding the coin she may never have found it, for if she was daydreaming or wishing she was somewhere else or to preoccupied with other chores, that coin would have either taken forever to find or perhaps never been found. But that coin meant the world to her and she searched earnestly until it was found. So also with us, if we do not pursue that coin with our whole heart and just casually search the floor without really paying close attention we will also not find it. We cannot pursue the coin casually just hoping to possibly come across it while we do other things. Jesus’ example of being a fisher of men is a good description. A fisherman would not go out fishing and hope his net might fall overboard and possibly while it was down there, catch some fish. It takes a determination and physical labor to cast those nets and bring them in otherwise you will catch nothing.
     Let us look at the other point which is that she first lit her lamp before searching. These are not ordinary coins but sinners in need of repentance that they might turn their hearts back to God. The light is Jesus, and His words expose our sinfulness and bring us to repentance. Many times in the Old Testament a priest finds the laws of God that have been left neglected and buried for many years and brings them out and reads them to the people and exposes how far from God that they have strayed; whereupon there is much heart distress over what they have done and they make a recommitment to obedience to God. God’s light is powerful and always brings conviction of sin. It is only under His light that the lost coin will be found.
     So I just want to leave us with these convicting words. What is the net that you personally are casting, and where are you casting it? Each of us needs to ask ourselves these questions every morning so that when Jesus returns He will have found us faithful stewards of His talents. God bless each of you today and May He bless each of us with much fruit for our labors.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

God’s Blessings Come With Giants

God’s Blessings
Come With Giants

     Here is a very interesting thing that God has been opening up to my understanding over the past week. Question, Why is it that so often when we go to God with a prayer request that is very important to us, we seem to get the opposite thing we have asked for? Maybe we are praying for the salvation of a loved one and we go to God with His promises about answering good requests like this, and instead of seeing some good sign of change in their life, they suddenly hate us, or ignore us, or never have time for us anymore. Or perhaps God seems to have promised us some good thing and instead of seeing an answer we come against a wall of impossibility or great discouragement. We all have many things we are seeking God for and we give Him His promises that He doesn’t give a stone instead of bread or a snake instead of a fish (Matt. 7:9-10) and yet, very often, it feels like we get the stone instead. So we grumble at God and get mad at Him and use these unanswered things as an excuse to go back to the world and our old lives because God hasn’t fulfilled all He said He would. We get mad at God, is all it really comes down to.
     Why is this? Why do these things cause us to turn back from serving the Lord with our whole heart and allow selfishness and rebellion to grow in our hearts against Him?

               A Gift

     When we think of a gift (Which is what God’s answers to prayer really are) we think of someone wrapping a present and giving it to us and the only part we have to do is to open and enjoy it. This is our concept of a gift. Well, God’s gifts seem to be more like if we picked out a really wonderful Bible for a child and then told him that he had to buy it himself but that we would give him a job so he could earn the money for it. It’s a gift picked out by us and made possible to earn for by us, but requires effort on the part of the child in order to receive the gift. God’s gifts are real but they require work from us. The work part, however, is not normally in our concept of what a gift is. But the gift is not less valuable because we have to work for it. God still chose it for us but He will not raise spoiled children. He wants appreciative children who will understand the value of the gift. How many times do we hear about someone who won the lottery or inherited a large fortune and they either die of a drug overdose or wish they had never won because of the devastation it brought to their family and also how quickly they became broke again? This is not how God would have us to turn out.
     The children of Israel crossed the Red Sea and the desert and when they got to God’s blessing for them they found giants and enemies and tall fortresses! God! This is not the gift You promised! Our children will be slaughtered! Better to have died in Egypt then die here instead! If this is Your blessing we wish we had never followed You! They went back into the wilderness and died. God then raised up their children to enter the land instead.
     So we see, God’s blessing came with giants. God’s blessing came with work. Work that God promised He would make them victorious in and they would indeed posses their own land flowing with milk and honey that would belong to them forever. However, they had to fight for every inch of ground. Sometimes battling in the mountains, sometimes battles on the plains. Sometimes battles with huge walls, sometimes battles with enemies to numerous to count. Each one a promised victory, but different from the last battle and requiring new faith in order to overcome the fear of the enemy. Here is the scary part. Any city they did not go up against, God left in their midst. He did not defeat them if they did not go up so these parts of their blessing were lost. They had God’s promise of victory if they had had courage but if they didn’t go they didn’t receive it.
     God’s blessing was no less a blessing because His people had to work for it. This lesson gives us a new courage and expectancy that the giants and sudden discouragements are not a sign of God’s failure to answer our prayers, but rather, that His gifts are also a job and will end in the fulfillment of all that He has promised us. This renews our courage so that when we set off with God’s promises in our hand for any area of our life and we immediately meet with things that are so discouraging that we might say in our heart, God has let me down, God has not answered me, God misled me, we can say, “God’s blessings come with giants.” God is accomplishing at least two things in this way. 1. He is training His children to be bold and courageous, like Himself, and 2. He is ridding the land of actual enemies who have been oppressing people for many years. If you have been praying for the salvation of someone, that person is in complete bondage to the devil and when you set them free by not giving up in prayer, you don’t know how many others you are setting free at the same time. Jesus says that we will bear 30, 60, and 100 fold when we start to serve Him. Everyone you set free sets others free!
     Arming ourselves with this understanding will help us to be courageous instead of discouraged and grumbling against God. So many times when we set out to pray and be a soldier for Christ, the devil just whispers something in our ear about something God hasn’t done for us and so instead of our prayer time being a time of victory over the devil we immediately turn on God and fight Him instead over all that He has failed to do in our lives! We are constantly turning on our own commander instead of fighting for Him! That is a very real truth and one of the reasons the body of Christ is so ineffective against our enemy! Working for the gift God gives does not lessen or devalue the gift. So be courageous and full of joy as you seek the Lord in prayer. The giants will be part of the promised victory and others will benefit by every answer to prayer you receive!         God bless!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

To Be A Disciple Of Jesus

Luke 14: 26-35
To Be A Disciple Of Jesus

     “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him. Saying,‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace. So therefore, no one of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
     The first verse speaks volumes. As I have been dwelling on these verses for the past week God has been continually bringing them to my attention each time that I begin to pray. I find my heart is full of its own desires and rather than being fixed on Jesus and His good purposes for my life, I would get tangled up in a battle of wills, my will verses God’s will. I will not say that my desires were necessarily wrong but they kept me distracted from enjoying God’s company and delighting in His plan for my life. Many times Jesus says to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all other things will be added to us. He says this because He knows that the Devil will keep us at the door of God’s throne room by too much emphasis on our own cares and worries and desires so that we won’t be able to get past them and actually enter in and lay them at His feet. Jesus very much desires that we would give all of our relationships and desires to Him and seek Him first above all else. He wants us to delight in His company and just spend time with Him. After which He will take care of all that we need above and beyond our highest expectations.
     So now we start to understand why Jesus has to speak so strongly about our family and friends and our own lives. We need a strong word so that we will stop our arguing with Him and start enjoying His love. He really really loves us and He has a wonderful plan for each of our lives, but we won’t accept it from Him while we are arguing with Him and fighting with Him over all the things He allows to happen to us. 
     Jesus continues on to say that there is a cost to being His disciple, a cross to bear and that we must spend some time counting it so that when the troubles and trial come upon us we endure them patiently without complaint If we have counted the cost than we will have embraced the commitment to serve Him no matter what. Jesus does not try to gloss over the hardship we will have to endure but He does say that His burden is light and His yoke is easy. If we have put Jesus above all others in our lives than we will not fall away when disaster comes upon us.
     This leads me to what Jesus says about salt which is that if it loses its saltiness it is good for nothing. And what does this mean? It means that if we are walking with our eyes fixed on Jesus abstaining from the earthly lusts which were ours in our ignorance than Jesus is going to use us for His work, but if and when we take our eyes off of Him and look back again at past desires for the things of this earth we immediately lose the conviction and saltiness of Christ in our testimony and our lives become compromised with our old sinful pursuits. This happens on a minute by minute basis for when we become partial to the things of this world we lose our voice to speak against it. I deal with it all the time. The Devil continually tries to entice me back to my old sins and if even for a moment I begin to harbor those desires again in my heart The Fire of the Lord grows dim in my life. And trust me, the farther you come in your walk with Christ, the more God is making use of you to the people around you and in equal proportion the enemy is trying to make you fall back into sin so that he might also drag down all those who are looking to you for Godly support. To keep our lives pure from immorality and selfish ambition is to remain salty and to show partiality to these same areas is to lose our saltiness.
     So let us pursue Holiness and Righteousness with our whole heart and walk in the love and strength of our Lord Jesus Christ in Whom is found all that we will ever need both now and for eternity.     God bless you all!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Heart That Is Grateful

Luke 14:16-24
A Heart That Is Grateful

     But Jesus said to him, “A certain man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, Come for everything is ready now. But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, I have bought a piece of land and I need to go and look at it; please consider me excused. And another one said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused. And another one said, I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come. And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame. And the slave said, Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room. And the master said to the slave, Go out to the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For
I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.”
     I would like to talk about what it means to compel men into the banquet that our Lord has prepared, but first we must take some time to consider why there were empty seats at this banquet to begin with. Jesus says that there was a guest list for which the banquet was originally prepared, not strangers, but people who knew the gentleman who had prepared the dinner. Why did they decline to attend the banquet at the last minute when everything was finally ready for them? Let us examine their excuses. 1. I have bought land and want to go and look at it. This man’s life was caught up in the excitement of being the proud owner of a new piece of property and he was much to excited about going to see it that he couldn’t possibly make it to the banquet. 2. I have bought five yoke of oxen and am going to try them out. This man has just invested a lot of money in his business venture and is anxious to get to work and make some money. Buying five teams of oxen would have been very expensive, but they would be capable of covering many acres at a time, thus able to earn more money. This man refused because he was more excited about his business plans than he was about the banquet. 3. I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come. Oh how love makes one blind! He was to busy with his new marriage and establishing his new home to possibly have time to attend the banquet to which his neighbor had gone to so much trouble over.
     These three examples have a couple of things in common. First and foremost is a lack of gratefulness for the one who had gone to such great lengths to prepare the feast. The second was being so caught up in there own pursuits that they would not let go of them in order to attend. How many times does Jesus ask us to stop what we are doing and spend time with Him and instead we find ourselves to busy with our work, our pleasure, or something just coming up. How many of us consider that in Isaiah 58:13-14 God tells us to turn our foot from doing our own pleasure on the Sabbath and to spend time with Him calling the day our delight, the Holy day of the Lord and that He will bless us mightily for doing so. And that Keeping the Sabbath Holy is one of the Ten Commandments. How many things do we do on the Sabbath that are not spending time with Him. How many things do we do on that day that are for our own pleasure or earthly gain? The Devil works overtime to keep us from truly honoring God’s Holy day. He makes all the sporting events to be on that day. He makes it the day to wash the car. He makes it the day to catch up on our sleep or our cleaning. He does everything but let our hearts be truly focused on God in a serious way. However, in Deuteronomy God promises that if the people will truly honor His Holy day than He Himself will make sure that their children love Him and grow up partaking of His righteous blessings.
     Why don’t we give our whole heart to God especially on the Sabbath? It is because we have not understood and appreciated the banquet that even now our Heavenly Father is preparing for us. Jesus gives us a word of warning here, saying that just because we were originally on the guest list does not mean that we will taste of the dinner He has prepared. He wants Hearts that desire Him and Hearts that are grateful as we see further on. The ones that He says to compel into the dinner have no other pursuits. They are the blind and lame and crippled. Theirs is a grateful heart. God very often needs to shake us up and give us a lameness in our body just so that we will be able to attend the feast without the worldly pursuits being able to keep us from coming. God has to pry our hearts off of this world so that we might be saved. In His mercy He is willing to do this for us, for who can let go of the pursuits of this world without His help?
     So I want to encourage each of us today. Let go of the world. Hold on to Jesus. Love Him with your whole heart! Do not hold any of it back or reserve it for some other love. A good illustration is when the Philistines captured the Ark and brought it into the temple of their god and in the morning their god was on its face before the Ark. So they stood it back up and the next morning it was in pieces before the Ark. If you have brought God into your heart be prepared for your idols to fall before Him and if you put them back up be prepared for them to be smashed in pieces!
     We all try to include God with our other pursuits and they are continually being thwarted and broken. Put God first and let Him fill your temple with every good thing that He Himself will provide. It is God and God, there will be nothing else! I have tried to put my idols up many times and each time I do they are harder to put back together until I finally give up because of the futility of battling with what He has brought down.

     Our God is an Awesome God!  He is the Only Way, the Truth, and the Life! All He does is amazing! Let us give Him all of our heart and hold nothing back!     - God bless!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Faithful Steward

Luke 12: 40&42-43
The Faithful Steward

     40- “You too be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” 42&43- And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?” “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.”
     Do we need any stronger word to be spoken to us in regard to being prepared for Jesus’ coming? He is speaking directly at us. Which of us can think we are exempt from the words, “YOU TOO”? That means all of us. If Jesus says that it will be an hour that we do not expect then it will be an hour that we do not expect! 
     If we think of ourselves as guards on watch duty and every day from 9 in the morning until 5 in the evening we are at the wall to watch for incoming armies it would be wonderful to think that they would only attempt to attack during those hours so that we could take the rest of the night off! But that is not how they operate! They seek for a time when we are not watching! But let us consider another scenario. You are on the night shift and you get tired of standing so you pull out a rocking chair, the air gets cold so you start a little camp fire, your eyes get tired from endlessly looking out into the dark at nothing so you pull out a book to read, you are technically on duty but you might as well not be because your completely lost in the comfort of your surroundings. In this state of comfort the enemy could walk right up to the gate and you would not even know it in spite of being on the wall. I say all of these things to warn us as Christians that if we call ourselves Christians it means that we have chosen the duty of being soldiers for Christ but if we have surrounded ourselves with every worldly comfort and pastime then Jesus will come upon us while we are unaware even though we could technically say that we were on the wall waiting for Him. In Luke 13: 24 Jesus says, “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” That narrow door means to take our call of salvation seriously and not treat it as though we were already in heaven! We are on earth and have a responsibility that needs to be carried out. If the soldier on the wall falls asleep and does not warn of the approaching army then it is his fault that the fort has been defeated by the enemy! He has let his comrades down and has to live with many regrets, if he survives the attack.
     So Jesus says, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?” That is us! We are all stewards for each of us has a Bible and if you have a Bible you are responsible for sharing It’s words with others. That Bible that sat on the shelf for the last 40 years in our room will convict us into the dust when we stand before Jesus empty handed and try to tell Him that we didn’t seem to have any talents to work with. To have a Bible is to have no excuse before God. We had His word, why did we not treat it like the air we breathe? Why did we not crave its truths and love its testimonies of those who were faithful to follow Him? Why did we not seek the wisdom found in it for every aspect of our lives? One preacher I read about would not preach on any book of the Bible until he had read it through 50 times! In China they get a Bible and take the pages out and pass them around to each other taking turns until they have memorized what they have that they might not forget the words of God. We take the Bible for granted over here! Oh! Let us love and cherish God’s word and eat it like food! Let us not run from our accountability to It’s words, but love the accountability as we love our own lives!
     Jesus says to feed our brothers as faithful stewards of His word. How do we do this? Consider the illustration of an apple tree. It feeds off of minerals in the soil that are inedible to us and yet vital for our existence and produces a fruit which we can eat, made up of those minerals! God designed it so beautifully that rather then make us eat pieces of rust to get the iron our bodies need He gave us an apple! The inedible made edible! So we must eat the word of God daily that we might produce fruit in our lives that others can eat. - If we write we can write edifying things, -if we play the guitar we can write worship songs, -if we like to clean we can seek out people who need help in their homes and share an uplifting verse with them. If we turn off our worldly entertainment and feed our minds on the riches of God’s word our lives will not be able stop the fruit that will come pouring forth from them and giving life to all who come into contact with us!
     May God fill us with a fresh desire to read His word and to live by His commandments? Let us be found at His return having been faithful with the stewardship that He has left us to do.              God bless you all!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Be Ready To Open The Door For Jesus

Luke 12:35-38
Be Ready To Open The Door For Jesus

     “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight. And be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come and wait upon them. “Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.” - Jesus

          - What does it mean to be dressed in readiness?
          - What does it mean to keep your lamps alight?

     To be dressed in readiness requires us to be wearing our servant’s uniform which means that we are not to be dressed in our pajamas! It means that when Jesus arrives we don’t want to be in the middle of some sinful desire or a pursuit of an earthly ambition. We want to be found doing His housework, His chores, His duties, all the things He left on the list before He went away, and even more than this He will be returning from a great celebration and we should be desiring to do something extra special as a surprise for Him! To be dressed means that our thoughts are continually on maintaining His house.
     -Evangelizing, -Training our brothers, -Living by example, - Spurring one another on to greater works for God. These things should cause us to be dressed for action 24 hours a day. We are to always be on duty. 
     To keep our lamps alight means to be spending time with God. When we sit at God’s feet He renews the oil in our lamps. Every time we sit in God’s presence He is actually transforming us and renewing us like water to a tree. Sometimes it can take half an hour of just sitting still before Him, just to clear our minds from the panic and stress of the day. But after that half hour His peace fills us to overflowing and we are filled with His oil. Verse 32 is a wonderful word to dwell on as we pray for His peace. “Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” –Jesus   These are wonderful and gracious words from our dear Savior who knew how much we were going to need them. I just love Him more everyday for His thoughtfulness in leaving me with words like these. Jesus we love you so much!
     I just want to finish with what Jesus says in verse 40. “You too be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” When Jesus says that it could be the second or third watch it means that it will be quite late and will be hard for us to remain alert. And let us take warning from the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 for it says that there will be a great shout or wake-up call and it will be to late for those who have no oil to be able to get any! At the shout it is already too late. The Bridegroom arrives and the five without oil are still seeking it when He comes and takes those who are ready. The oil is found by putting aside everything that seems important in this world so that we might spend time with God, and like that parable tells us, the five who had oil could not give theirs to the ones who didn’t have any, just as I cannot give any of you the time I spend with God, I can only direct you to seek Him earnestly. My time with God only fills my lamp! It is impossible to fill your lamps with my oil. And oil cannot be had casually from God, it takes spending a lot of time with Him. If you wait for the shout you have waited too long to seek Him earnestly! There is not enough time at that point and you will be left outside the gate. He says that at the shout all will wake up, some will be ready and some will not. I earnestly entreat each of you; do not wait for the shout before you start seeking Him with your whole heart!
     Now is the time to take our salvation seriously and to keep each other alert. May God bless each of us with an awakening before it is too late!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Lord Looks At The Heart

1 Samuel 16:6-7
The Lord Looks At The Heart 

     Then it came about when they entered, that he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” But the Lord said, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 
     To preface this, God has sent Samuel to anoint the next king of Israel after Saul had sinned against the Lord, and Samuel does not know that it is David who will be king, only that God has chosen one of the sons of Jesse. 
This message holds a wonderful truth for us to grab hold of today. God had singled out David to have the high honor of not only being the next king, but also to have Jesus born into his family and he was chosen, not by his appearance but because of his heart. It says in the Bible that David was a “Man after God’s own heart.” 
     So the question for today is, “Do you love the Lord with all your heart, and need Him to be your strength and support in all that you do?” So often, we find, that we are just a hopeless mess. We’ve made a mess of our lives. We’ve made the wrong choices that lead us into sin, tragedy, loss, and despair and we think, “What is there in me, that would make me worthy to be rescued and helped by God?” We must realize that all our accomplishments and talents, or lack thereof, were not what God was looking for when He picked David, we find that it was his humble heart that recognized it’s need for God’s help and strength. 
     Do we think we are strong? Do we think we can make it on our own? Do we have a life that looks like it’s got everything going right? These are the false qualifications that the world looks at in order to be counted worthy of more good things. But God does not see it that way. The only people He can truly call His own and bless with His help, are those who have lost their “self reliance attitude” and have let go of trying to make their life appear to be perfect in every way, and have recognized that they really do need God’s help. They have let go of their pride and have realized that on their own they have continually chosen wrong and with those choices, suffered all of the consequences that went with them. And they are tired of trying to hold “Life” together on their own and are ready for help. 
     This is the foundation for the grace and support and promises of God to begin. He does not look at your appearance or at how well you are doing. He looks at your heart and says, “Is this person ready for My help.” And by ready I mean, longing for an end to the messes you have made of your life and wanting a way out. You see, until we are ready to let go of “our way” of doing things, we are not ready for His help. 
     Where is your heart right now? Is it tired of the endless and stressful consequences of the choices you have pursued and followed after? Or is it happy with your life the way it is, stress and all? God allows us to run on until we are tired of our choices that we have made without Him, and then, when we have lost all confidence in ourselves, and are no longer full of “self-confidence” and “self-reliance”, then we are at the place where we are ready for Him and are ready to be someone that He can begin to bless. David was at this place. He knew He needed God for every act of courage and that God was his strength and support for every trial and temptation. He was not full of admiration at his own abilities. He trusted in God fully for all his help. 
     So we also do not need to be anything that the world would look at as admirable or as someone who has really made a success with his life. All we need is to be humble and know without a doubt that without God, we always give in to sin, we always make a mess of our lives and choose the things that make our lives miserable and fall apart. We need God! We need His help! We need Him to rescue us from our sinful desires! We need His strength and his support and for Him to be in all the decisions we make every day! When we have no doubt that this is the truth, then we to are ready to be called out by the Lord into positions of honor. 
                               ~ Rejected by the world but blessed by God! ~ 

     Let us be encouraged today! We do not have to be important in appearance in the eyes of the world, to be highly favored by God.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Spoiling Our Eyes With The Riches Of Christ!

Luke 11:33-36
Spoiling Our Eyes With The Riches Of Christ!

     “No one after lighting a lamp puts it away in a cellar, nor under a peck measure, but on the lampstand, in order that those who enter may see the light. The lamp of your body is your eyes; when your eye is clear; your whole body is also full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you may not be darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it shall be wholly illuminated, as the lamp illumines you with its rays.” - Jesus
     Let us begin with a one simple definition for what the light is that we are to put on the lampstand. There are two parts. One is the written word of God and the other is the fruit of Godly men who have been obedient to His word. If therefore we keep the word of God and the works of Godly men and women closed and in some corner of the house we have not put God’s lamp on the lampstand in our house. We have the light but we have covered it up. If we have covered it up –what is the light that we have put in its place? If for twenty three and a half hours a day we are most likely not reading our Bible, what have we put in its place?
     What do you do with your time every day? How much of what you put in front of yourself all day long actually causes you to think of Jesus? Do you think of Him? Do you think about what He would have you doing for Him today? Do you reflect on how your character is like His or not like His? Putting these thoughts in front of you during the day is to put God’s lamp on the lampstand. But if you put down your Bible in the morning and turn on your favorite non-Christian radio station or your favorite TV show or start reading the magazine you picked up at the grocery store, this is placing an ungodly light upon the lampstand. Jesus says that the eye is the lamp of the body. The body is filled with the light that the eye sees and if the eye is subjected to God’s light all day long then the body will be full of light all day long. But if the eye is subjected to other things no matter how short that period of time may seem, the body will be filled with darkness!
     Jesus concludes with saying that the entire body is affected by what it sees. It is either full of light or oppressed by darkness and He says to be careful that what you fill your sight with is not darkness.

                    (Application and perspective)

     Philippians 4:8
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”
     Often we talk about the light that comes to us as being how we view it. We say that it is our understanding, or our perception of the circumstance. This is true, “understanding” is a lamp that the body uses to see by, but if the eye is only subjected to seeing what is wicked then it does not give the understanding anything to compare its wisdom to. Therefore, good and holy things must be placed in front of the eyes that the understanding might have something to build upon.
     The eye needs to be fed and spoiled with the riches of Jesus and His words! There can never be too much of the Light of Christ in our eyes! We all know that a child can easily be spoiled by continually giving him gifts of whatever he desires. – This is our chance to be spoiled with the riches of the wisdom of Jesus, spoiled with what can only make us better! Let us spoil our eyes with continually placing Him in front of us all day long! Let us partake of His wisdom and never be satisfied. Truly He is the only one who can satisfy us and at the same time leave us desiring more of Him! All things have a beginning and an end, but not Jesus; there is only a beginning with no end!
     So let me encourage each of you today to spoil your eyes with the light of Christ. Place Him before you all day long. Get into His word whenever possible. Read stories of His faithful missionaries. Write out memory verses and take them with you to work. Turn off the TV and spend that half hour with Jesus! Ask Him what you can be doing for Him. Be faithful with the little He has already given you and He will make you faithful with much!
                      God bless you all!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Luke 11:4

     “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves do forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” –Jesus

     Forgiveness from the heart is a special thing, it is to be a reflection of the forgiveness that God has had toward us.

                        “He who is forgiven much, loves much.”

     Forgiving others who have hurt us or stolen from us or said sharp words toward us or spread false rumors about us, is not an option. Jesus does not say that it is good to forgive if you can, but that, as God has forgiven us so must we forgive them.
     There are two requirements that I can see right away that are needed for this to take place. One is a real understanding of how much God has forgiven us of, and the other is a real love for our neighbor, as Jesus said, we are to love our neighbor as our self.

     1. The real understanding of what God has forgiven us of. This is not just a matter of saying that our sins are so bad that Jesus Himself had to pay the penalty for them with his death, which is true. But it is coming to understand just how corrupt each of us really are. It is understanding how sinful and selfish our motives are and how truly mean and spiteful we can be, particularly when someone gets in the way of something we want. We are capable of lusting and coveting with our eyes while at the same time maintaining an outward, seemingly selfless friendship. It’s amazing how we are always able to defend our motives no matter how much they might be hurtful to someone else. However, even more than these things, is how capable we are of hurting our Heavenly Father! We mistrust His motives toward us, suspecting Him of treating us how we treat others. We have a corrupt nature and so we suspect Him of all manner of evil, not understanding what pure and unselfish motives really are. They are like another language which we will never learn how to speak unless our Heavenly Father will teach us. God forgives us continually while we are constantly hurting Him with our thoughts and our actions.
     It is amazing how quickly we just assume that God will have grace towards us, as though we deserved it! We don’t. We assume that He simply understands and won’t take what we are doing the wrong way or have to punish us. But let someone do something that hurts us and we never put the best motives on their actions, in fact, very often we take offense at things that didn’t even happen. A look or a shrug, talking, or not talking, we quickly assume that what they did or didn’t do was meant to hurt us. Yes, we are quick to assume that others will forgive us and at the same time we are slow to forgive them.

     2. Real love for our neighbor. Real love for our neighbor is to always love them no matter what they do that hurts us. Unselfish love is the only thing that can accomplish this and unselfish love is a gift from God. It is not something we have unless He gives it to us. I want to encourage each of you to read some stories from the organization called Voice of the Martyrs. Pastor Richard Wurmbrand demonstrates amazing unselfish love in action. His life is a testimony of real love for those who tortured him day and after day for holding on to Jesus. It makes our fights and disagreements with each other and our neighbors (this could be anyone), look like nothing in comparison.
     We all have such shallow and surface love unless God gives us one that is deeper. Let us pray earnestly for God’s love, and let us pray earnestly for one another. God generally seems to teach us true love through real trials. He doesn’t test our love on situations that our shallow love can overcome. They will be trials and challenges that require constant prayer and time in God’s presence to be able to overcome. So let us keep each other in prayer! We will need each others support! God Bless!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Choosing The Good Part

Luke 10:41-42
Choosing The Good Part

     But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered by so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her.”
     Jesus is addressing Martha who is rushing around the house trying to take care of all the pressing concerns of running everything and taking care of her guests. This is a very good lesson for me today and I’m sure you can all relate to it as well. I feel all the pressing concerns of staying alive in this world and trying to take care of my needs and it seems like an endless losing battle and I turn around and see someone just sitting at Jesus’ feet letting go of the stress of this world and I complain to Jesus and say, “Lord there are too many things going on in my life that need to be taken care of, I don’t have any time to spend with You.” And Jesus says, “Mary has chosen the good part, and it shall not be taken away from her.”
     Lord, this is such a comforting word from You. That if I stop and sit at Your feet and stop worrying about the world I will have chosen the better part and it shall not be taken away from me in spite of the impossibility of even having a moment to sit down with You. Lord this is such a comfort to my soul! So here I am sitting at Your feet desiring to learn from You, and to just enjoy Your company! Lord You are the Beauty of the Ages! Your wisdom and love are beyond my comprehension and yet You speak to me in the simplest of ways! Lord I love You and want to be like You. Do not let this portion be taken from me.
     “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” -Matt. 6:33-34
     These are good verses for all of us. Jesus tells us that Mary chose the better part and that there is truly only one thing that is important and it is found by sitting at Jesus’ feet. The concerns of this life will keep us going in endless circles and will continue to do so until we stop and spend time with Jesus. Getting our lives in order will never be finished as long as we live so learning this lesson early in life will be a great blessing to us! And Jesus reassures us saying that this blessing will not be taken away from us if we will do it. Hallelujah! Let us all pause and take a moment to pray and seek out His Company.
     Lord give us rest from our fears and concerns this day! Lord help us to seek the safety of Your Company. Lord we are torn from Your side by an endless gale (strong wind) of worldly distractions and fearful necessities! Lord we seek You out this day and desire to sit at Your feet. Lord fill us with Your peace and speak to us with Your gentleness and wisdom. Amen.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Go Forth In Boldness

Luke 10:18-20
Go Forth In Boldness

     “And He said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning, behold I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven. And whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” -Jesus, (Luke 10:8-9)
     Jesus is talking to the seventy disciples He was sending out to preach the Gospel. And when they returned He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” What an amazing testimony to the authority Jesus gave to His disciples! What a testimony to the authority He gives to us! The disciples returned saying, “Even the demons are subject to us by Your Name.”
     We are soldiers for Jesus. But how is the battle to be won? Jesus says that all who believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Our desire is to see men believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God. Authority over sickness and demons is a way to make things better for the people we desire to help, but it is their belief in Jesus that we are after. These things are tools for the greater work of belief in Jesus. It is Belief in Him that saves their soul and no amount of healing can actually redeem them. “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”-This is our message. Jesus follows up with, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
     We must boldly move forward as those seventy disciples, bringing the Kingdom of God near to all men. Jesus has given each of us great authority to be used for the validation of the truth of what we speak, that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus’ disciples were just regular men who at that time hardly new the truth of who Jesus really was, yet they were able to destroy the Devil’s kingdom! “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” So also can we who have hardly even started down our own road as a Christian! We are able to destroy the Devil’s kingdom and all of his fortresses! He is no match for the power of God, and Jesus has told us to go forward in His power and rescue the lost from the power of sin. The Devil trembles before the smallest Christian for he cannot stand against them when they seek God for the downfall of his kingdom.
     Sin holds all men captive and looks daunting as it invades our cities, and towns, and schools, and homes. But it is a lie meant to keep us cowering in the corner or hopelessly mired in it’s enticements so that we do not try to stand up against it. Gideon took a band of three hundred men with no weapons against an invading army as numerous as the sand. He won! The enemy was scattered! Joshua went against the city of Jericho with an army of men blowing trumpets. The walls fell! No siege or siege weapons! Victory belongs to our God and we are in His army!
     Let us be bold and go forward in victory today! God bless you all!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Light Your Lamps

Luke 9:57-62
Light Your Lamps

     And as they were going along the road, someone said to Him (Jesus), “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say goodbye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
     All these examples speak of the seriousness we need to have with regard to our walk with Jesus. The first man says, “I will follow you.” And Jesus says – count the cost. For you will no longer have a place to live. The second man is invited by Jesus who says, “Come follow Me.” But the man has responsibilities that weigh on him which he cannot shake and the job is not a sinful one – going to bury his father. But Jesus says, - any distraction no matter how important will keep you from ever going down the road of truly committing to follow Him. The third man says, “I will follow You but let me go home and say goodbye.” Nothing seems wrong with this request but to Jesus it seems to be one of the most fearful setbacks for a man and He says, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Jesus knows the seduction of our old life and that if we go back we are letting go of what is Holy and Righteous for what is worthless and the worthless will consume us before we ever get another chance to answer the call to follow Christ.
     So the question is, “Where are you today?” Do you desire to have Jesus and still hold on to your old ways? Scary! Have you counted the cost that a commitment to Jesus truly requires? Are your obligations to the world more pressing then going out and proclaiming the Kingdom of God?
     We are all guilty of looking back! We are all unfit and have turned back from the plow. This is indeed scary! Which one of us can honestly say that there is nothing that we love in this present world anymore, for our hearts are in heaven with Christ? I can’t remember at the moment but I believe it was Charles Wesley who said, “I have long ago lost interest in the world, and it has lost interest in me.” Can we say the same? Are we One hundred percent sold out for Jesus Christ? We have all been called to be disciples. We are not called to be Christians, but disciples of Christ. A disciple works for Christ and lives for Christ and knows everything about Christ that can be learned here on earth. A disciple is one who is devoted to his teacher. We have been called to be “On Fire” for our dear Savior not merely asking to be saved and then going about life as usual. We are to be transformed and glowing with the light and love of Jesus Himself!
     Let us no longer mix with our old lives but let us come out and be lights set on a hill! Rise up Christian brothers and sisters – Rise Up! Light your lamps! Refill your oil! Wake your neighbor! Behold the Bridegroom is coming let us go out to meet Him! Jesus does not want a dead church, but one that is alive and desires Him more then life itself! Let the old pass away! Let the dead in your life bury their own dead – But You – Come and follow Him! We are all in this together and must wake each other up! Be on the alert and be found in readiness for His return!
     God bless you all and may He give each of you His oil in abundance this day!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

“Getting Saved”

Luke 7: 47-50
“Getting Saved”

     “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” And those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
     Question - In the words of Jesus, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” what is she saved from? Answer - She has been saved from her sins. Her past sins, and Jesus says they are many, have been forgiven her and her faith has saved her. Question - What did her faith do to save her? Answer - Her faith brought her to Jesus feet with a repentant heart. She believed Jesus was the Son of God and that He had the power to forgive her sins.
     We speak of the words, “Getting saved” all the time but those words are full of deep and convicting meaning. I would like to convey the meaning of “Getting saved.” “Getting saved” is the result of distress and grief over our sins that we have committed. “Getting saved” is understanding that we have broken the laws of our Great and Mighty Creator and now deserve the consequences for our actions. “Getting saved” means understanding that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and has the power to forgive our sins that we have committed against God. “Getting saved” means that when we have poured out our hearts to Jesus in grief for our sins, that he doesn’t turn away from us but says, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Being saved is to be saved from sin. Having eternity in Heaven is the fruit of being saved from sin. We must be saved from sin in order to enter into Heaven.
     Now let me bring us back to the words Jesus spoke earlier in these verses. “For this reason I say to you, her sins which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Our love for Jesus is in direct proportion to how much we feel we need to be forgiven. If we love Jesus much our sins were deeply evident to us. But if we love Jesus little it means that we are largely ignorant of our sinfulness in God’s sight. A heart in agony over sin is one who has truly seen Jesus. A heart that does not see him does not feel the same remorse for sin. If there is no remorse than neither is there forgiveness for forgiveness is freely given by Jesus to those who repent of their ways. True remorse demonstrates its truth by walking away from the sinful lifestyle it was living in and into obedience to the laws of God. A heart that repents desires to do what is good.
     So this is our calling. Once we have seen Jesus and met with Him we must become a visible representative of who He is so that not only will our words speak of Him, but our lives will reveal Him to those who have not seen Him yet. We are to become like Jesus in every way that everyone might see Him through us.
     May God continue to reveal Himself ever more closely to us that we might not forget His mercies towards us and return to our old sins. We have much work to be done. Let us be about our Heavenly Father’s business!         God bless!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Firm Foundation

Luke 6:46-49
A Firm Foundation

     “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood rose, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built upon the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”
     What a storm each of us can expect in our lives if we call upon Jesus to be our Savior! He has promised that we will go through a storm (or many storms) in order to find out if we are actually doers of His word and not just hearers, and to be able to take down a house it must be a fearful storm indeed. I think the word of council here is that we must quickly go about checking our foundation to see if it is safely built on the Rock. We must look closely at our lives and at Jesus’ words to see if we are living by them in every area of our lives. A good concise outline can be found in the earlier verses of this chapter. In verses 20-45 Jesus gives us a close look at how we are to treat one another.
     (-Giving to those who ask, without expecting anything back. -Loving our enemies. -Doing acts of kindness to those who persecute us. -Not judging or condemning. -To pardon one another. -To give freely to those in need. -To be joyful when people persecute us for our love and commitment to Jesus Christ. -To be bearing good fruit.)
     How are we doing? Can any of us honestly say that at any moment day or night we would willingly do any of these things for someone, be they friend or enemy? Or do we say in our hearts, “I will give as long as I can be sure there is enough left for me to not have to go without what I need.” Or, “I can love this person as long as they never do such and such a thing to me again,” or “As long as they apologize then I will forgive.” We all want to add our own “clauses” to the deal. We do something as long as it works for us and doesn’t interfere with our own lives. Jesus does not say that these things are optional. He says, “If you hear these words of Mine and act upon them,” then you will weather the storms that He allows to test you.
     Fortunately there is good news! The good news is that Jesus has made a way for us to be able to accomplish all of these things! Hallelujah! And it doesn’t involve making demands upon your heart to truly love this or that person! It doesn’t involve making yourself want to give your last dollar to a poor man! It doesn’t involve making yourself bear good fruit! There is no way we can make our heart want to do any of these things! We must go to Jesus and have Him give us a new heart, one that does love to do all these things. We must go to Jesus and ask Him for a heart that loves to do all these things and when we receive it all the things Jesus has told us to do will come naturally and easily. We must have a heart of love and compassion given to us by Him. We must have a heart transplant. Our job is to go to Jesus and ask Him for a new heart.
     We ask ourselves, “Is it really so simple?” Jesus said that we must become as little children to begin to understand the ways of God. A little child automatically knows he must ask his parents for the things he wants, for he is dependent upon them for everything. Our old heart is not capable of the love and duty that Jesus says we must be doing in order to survive the storm. We can beat it to death and still it will not love with true Godly love. We must ask Jesus for a new one. Simple, and yet it truly is the only way to begin securing our foundation for the trials ahead.
     The new heart that Jesus gives us does truly love our enemies. It does not even need to be told to love them, it already does. Our new heart does not need to be told to give without needing to be repaid; it loves to give this way! All these things that Jesus has required will take no effort; we will automatically start doing all these things. Don’t get me wrong, the Devil will tempt us to give up doing these things so there will still be a struggle. However we will have a natural desire and ability through Jesus to start doing all of these things and indeed, our doing them will be a sign that Jesus has given us a new heart!
     So let us not yell and scream at our old heart for not doing what it never could do, but let us sit quietly at Jesus feet as little children and ask for a new heart from Him. God bless you all and may He give each of you a fresh joy without measure and may others see that joy and find the Eternal Wellspring of Life through Jesus Christ! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord for His mercies are new every morning!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hold On To Jesus With All Your Heart!

Matthew 7:21-23
Hold On To Jesus With All Your Heart!

     “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

Let us step into heaven for a moment...

     Imagine that you were taken up into heaven and into a grand hall where God was having a counsel meeting with some of His angels and you overhear their conversation and hear your name mentioned. This of course makes you listen closer to what they are saying. You hear the Lord say, “Tomorrow is the final day I’m keeping the door of salvation open for ______ (insert your name) and if he chooses his desires for the world which he has continued to hang onto ever since I began reaching out to him and sending people to both encourage him and instruct him, then I am going to give him what he actually wants and let him have the world. I’m going to remove what remains of his conscience and let him enjoy his remaining years on earth with no fear of the consequences. I’ve created him with intelligence and have promised him My help if he wants Me, but I will not override his decision. No one has to love Me, it is a free choice to do so. I will regret his choice, but I will not stand in the way of it. If he wants Me he will have to take hold of Me with both hands and make this a two way relationship. If he wants Me he has to begin being earnest and not passive towards Me. He must begin showing outwardly that he is beginning to love Me as much as I have loved him, and have demonstrated this outwardly through the death of My Son and from My continuous efforts to move in his life and wake him up.
     Can you imagine what this would do if you suddenly realized that your halfhearted attempts to be a Christian really weren’t pleasing the Lord or warming His heart? He loves you with a depth and passion that you can’t measure! Making a halfhearted effort toward Him might even hurt His heart more than no attempt at all. God desires a love for His Son that is real and full of our heart, mind, soul, and strength! God is not coming to collect a bunch of inactive blobs as a bride for His Son. He hasn’t gone through all the trouble of making a way for our salvation, then standing at our door to help us get out, only to find that many just feel like they should be carried into heaven with no effort on their part at all! In No Way does Jesus deserve a bride who is too lazy to even get out of their bed of earthly comforts and distractions to go to the door and let Him in. Tell me! How much more do we expect Him to do!? He has already paid a dear price for us and then worked tirelessly to get our attention! At what point do we begin to understand the gift God has given us in His Son Jesus and not take Him for granted by the casualness with which we treat His salvation? At some point if our hearts and our actions do not grab hold of Him with earnestness, He will turn away because we have hurt Him deeply, and what more is there for Him to do? He did everything right up to the point of carrying us to heaven but he won’t make our final decision for us. We have to love Him enough to go with Him of our own free will. He wants a friend and companion, not a forced slave or robot. He has done everything and will see us safely to heaven if we truly want Him. But if we truly, in our hearts, don’t want Him, He will not make us love Him.
     We need to take the gift of salvation seriously. We are so ignorant of the magnitude of the gift that we trade Him for the most worthless things of this world. The Devil fools us with garbage and like Esau, we trade our birthright for a bowl of lentils.
     1 Peter 1:13-16 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior; because it is written, you shall be holy, for I am holy.
     2 Peter 2:20-22 For after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them then the first. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to it’s own vomit, and a sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”
     What do you think playing with the world does to the heart of our Heavenly Father, when we say we belong to Him but continually choose this present world over Him? We are constantly choosing this world’s music, this world’s movies, this world’s video games, this world’s goals, this world’s pastimes, this world’s pursuits, this world’s friendship and approval over the things that please the Lord and are in obedience to His commandments. God is not fooled in regard to what we really desire and He really will give us what we want even though it breaks His heart to see our choice. If we really don’t wake up and realize what He is offering we will find we have traded Him for this present life.
     God desires a bride who appreciates the gift of His Son and will cling to Him with all their heart and never let go for any reason, and nothing can take them, or distract them out of His loving arms! They only want Him! Matt 13:44 “Like a treasure hidden in a field.” May we value our Savior for His real worth which is beyond compare and not as Judas did at 30 pieces of silver. This is not only a test for how real our own walk is with the Lord, but also a call and a challenge to reach out to all of our friends and neighbors who we have the chance to wake up and encourage on a daily basis. None of us know when the end will come in this life but one thing we know for sure, eternity is real and will be upon us before we know it!  God bless you all, and may we not take for granted the gift God has offered us in His Son!

     2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Tree Is Known By Its Fruit

Luke 6:43-45
A Tree Is Known By Its Fruit

     “For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit: nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which is in his heart.” -Jesus
     Jesus tells us here that what comes out of our mouth is what is in our heart and if our heart is pure then good things will come up out of our lives, both from our mouths and from our actions.
     I have a question. Why does it seem like sometimes both good and bad things come out of us. Some times we are full of love towards people and at other times we can think incredibly harsh thoughts about those same people? How come it seems like we are able to produce both good and bad fruit? Here are my thoughts on this subject. It seems to me that Jesus’ words in verse 45 give us a clue. He says, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good.” Jesus is talking about our heart. Now if our heart is set on Him and our desire is filled with the longing to be with Him and serving Him then what comes forth from our mouths will be good fruit. Our heart is on Him and our actions towards others will be inspired and motivated by Jesus Himself for we are in love with Him and it has become our desire to do His will. We desire Him to have complete control of all that we do.
     Now if for a moment we take our eyes off of Jesus and we look to someone or something else to be our joy and excitement such as a wife or job or house or car or entertainment, then the fruit of that love will come out of our mouths and actions. Whatever it is that fills our hearts with the desire for it, that is what comes forth from our lives. Or if like Peter we step out of the boat in the middle of a raging storm to walk across the water to Jesus and we, like he did, take our eyes off of Jesus and look at the wind and the storm we will rapidly sink beneath the waves. How easy it is to be like Peter and to take our eyes off of Jesus. It is incredibly easy to look at the storm instead of at Jesus and lose all hope of rescue. Also, how easy it is for the Devil to use something we desire to tempt us to take our eyes off of Jesus to seek after it. (It is even more cunning when he uses things that are lawful to us by God’s rules.)
     Our lives bear the fruit of what we desire and pursue. We must be careful that if there are things here on earth that we want, that we are careful not to set our affections on them more then upon Jesus. Our desires must be set on Him and for all other things we must wait patiently to receive them from His hand. He is the giver of all good gifts and will be faithful to give them to us, and as Hudson Taylor that wonderful missionary to China said, “If it truly is a good gift then God will give it and if it is not a good gift, why want it?”
     We will bear the fruit of what our heart desires and if we truly desire Jesus there will be no lack of good fruit coming forth from our lives. If we turn from that desire for Him even for a moment we allow ourselves to plant seeds that will bring up bad fruit out of our lives. We must quickly turn from these things and fix our eyes back on Jesus and pray that He will uproot all of the bad seeds that we have planted that they may not grow in us. We must strive to keep the weeds pulled from the garden of our hearts that the soil may always have plenty of room to produce good fruit.
     May God bless each one of us this week and may He fill our hearts with a renewed longing to be close to Him and to have our lives full of good fruit.