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.