MAKE ME LIKE JESUS…


Spiritual Blog - Jesus

Psalm 25:4-5 – “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.”  NASU

Have you ever prayed, “Lord, make me like Jesus”?  Maybe you have even prayed, “Lord, make me like Jesus no matter what it takes.”  Have you ever prayed for patience?  I remember once, praying for patience and it seemed that everything that could go wrong went wrong for about a week. I finally in desperation complained to God in my prayer and said, “Lord, what is going on?  I need help.”  I heard that quiet calm voice inside say, “I’m just answering your prayer.”  As I was about to protest and ask, “What Prayer?” the Holy Spirit said, PATIENCE!

I was asking for God to give me, as a gift, Patience.  It is not a gift, but a learned quality and He was giving me opportunity after opportunity to learn and demonstrate patience.  Since that time, I have been very careful in how I word my prayers and requests to the Lord.  His answers are not always the way we expect them.  I wanted something easy and learned, once more, that life is seldom easy.

The Bible tells us in Psalm 103:7 that God “made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.”  The acts are the outworking of what has happened, the ways are the whys it is done.  God was teaching Moses His whys not just his whats.  He was developing in Moses the qualifications and qualities of leadership.  In teaching him the Ways of God, he was transforming his heart and bringing him to a new level of trust.  That was a quality demonstrated repeatedly in his dealings with the nation of Israel.  That spirit of trust and obedience helped keep the nation for totally straying off course.

Knowing God’s ways will enable us to take our stand on solid ground spiritually and will become a hedge about us to keep us from getting off course.  What are the paths of God?  The saying that was made popular a few years ago is applicable, WWJD.  What would Jesus do?  It is the cry of my heart to know God in a deeper measure and with a greater understanding than I have ever known.  I want to dwell in His presence and hear His heart in all things.  I want to know, in a greater measure, truth, His truth.  I want to be a spiritual sponge and drink in as much of the water of life as He will pour upon me.

The Psalmist asks for three things that he understands will produce life, peace, contentment, joy, and enable him to live victoriously. He asks, “O LORD; teach me Your paths.”  Let me comprehend the path of life you have ordained and desired.  “Lead me in Your truth…”  Pilate asked, “What is truth?”  Jesus said, “Father, Your Word is truth.”  We know that Jesus is the Word of God and our Lord declared, “I am the way, the life, and the truth.”  God’s truth will liberate us like nothing else and that freedom is complete freedom.  He also asked, “Teach me.”  Whatever I need to know, teach me.  Let me gain a comprehension of Truth and Your ways so that I might teach others.

He concluded with a commitment saying “Lord, you are the God of my salvation and I recognize my need for Truth, Your Truth, to know your ways, to understand your paths, and purposes so I will wait all the day!”  I will be like the deer that pants for the water brooks, I will WAIT FOR YOU!  I will cause my mind and my spirit to be still in your presence and LISTEN!

So, I pray, “Lord, make us like Jesus and let us be lights shining into the darkness.  God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!”

 

 

 

JOHN’S MESSAGE ON TOLERANCE…


Spiritual Blog - Tolerance

2 John 7-11 – “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”  NASU [Emphasis mine]

This is more than a message on tolerance because we are to Love, everybody.  Yet, there are multiple warnings in Scripture about avoiding those who promote false doctrine and practice evilI’ve been castigated by well-meaning believers who tell me that no matter what a person believes, so long as they are sincere I should tolerate them.  Let me address that in two ways:

  1. According to the Constitution and Bill of Rights of these United States of America, Everyone, has a right to believe what they choose. They are free to practice their religion without interference from the government.  Of course, limitations might be imposed if their practice becomes a “Jones’ Town and Jim Jones” type cult that endangers the lives of multitudes of people.  Otherwise, they are at liberty to practice their religion.  So, in that sense, I tolerate Everybody although I may Totally Disagree with them and want nothing to do with them.
  1. Spiritually, biblically, and from a Christian perspective this passage will not turn me loose and demands that I adhere to “sound doctrine” regarding Jesus and His coming in the “flesh” and all that goes with that in the purchase of our redemption from sin. Oh, I’m well aware of the perversions that have been put out there such as “Jesus Christ Superstar”, the false theories that Jesus had sexual relations with Mary Magdalene and did not die on the Cross but was quietly eased out of the country and lived and raised a family in the European area.

Notice verses 10 & 11 in this passage and their unmistakable message to the follows of Christ.  If you are “in” Christ and believe that Jesus came in the “flesh”, lived a “sinless life”, gave his life a ransom for “whosoever will”, rose on the third day and is ascended to the right hand of the Father making intercession for us, and will come again to receive us unto Himself for Eternity, then this is a message to you.  If any group comes to you with another message that dilutes, perverts or denies that truth as presented in the Bible then John tells you how to respond.

  1. Do not receive that person into your house. (That is important because the custom in that time was to entertain strangers and wayfarers as a way of life always showing kindness and generosity). 
  1. Do not give him a greeting. (That goes directly to something that every Hebrew and then most Christians understood that comes directly from Numbers 6:22-7:1 – “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:  24 The LORD  bless you, and keep you; 25 The LORD  make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD  lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’ 27 “So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.” NASU)

If you remember what I presented on “The Blessing” it was important in the life of every Hebrew and thereafter many of the 1st Century Believers to have some speak the Blessing upon them when they greeted each other.  Here John is advising us to follow the directive of Psalms 129:8 – “Nor do those who pass by say, “The blessing of the LORD be upon you; We bless you in the name of the LORD.” NASU

There are many cults and false religions in the world today and from time to time some of them make their way to my front door.  I follow this passage and usually attempt to witness to them about Jesus, The Christ, the Son of the Living God and when I do they run like scared jackrabbits.  I would be the first to acknowledge that I do not know ALL TRUTH as far as interpreting the Bible, but I do know HIM who is TRUTH!  Therefore, I say without shame that I am a “follower of Christ” and believe that He “came in the flesh” and is truly the “Only-begotten of the Father” who died for my sins and through Him, I have Life Eternally!

I encourage you to make 1 Peter 3:15-17, a foundational principle in your life: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” NKJV

This is my prayer for you: “May the Lord Bless you richly as you go through your day in Him and give you a spirit of meekness and gentleness that exudes HIS LOVE so that all whom you encounter see Him in you.”  I do not suggest that you be mean, rude, or vicious but I do suggest that you KNOW what you believe and stand by those convictions without wavering!

May the Rich and Bountiful Blessings of Our LORD be upon you this day and every day!

COMMANDMENT WITH PROMISE…


Spiritual Blog - Honor

Exodus 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” NKJV

The event that prompted this devotional article was in a store the other day.  I had the misfortune of being behind a young woman in the check-out line that had a brat in tow.  That child was not only demonstrating incredible unruliness but disrespect to a level that caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand up, but I held my tongue.  The mother was clearly distraught and struggling with the cost of what she had in her basket.  I know that from her appearance, and what she said to the child.

The child was demanding several items that she had not put in the basket and she calmly tried to explain that it was not something that they could afford at this time and since it was near time to have lunch he could have no candy.  He threw a fit and said, “You b**** you are just no good.”  My face obviously turned red in indignation (righteous or not).  I had to restrain myself from speaking but I did and prayed silently for the mother and the child.  She had tears well up in her eyes but did not move with anger toward the child.  Her approach was to attempt to ignore his ranting which was becoming noticed by people in our line and several lines over and I could tell others were having the same reaction as I.

I will confess that if that had been me with one of mine when we got out of the store if we made it that far he would have experienced the board of correction on his backside.  Criticize me if you desire and think less of me if you will but I believe that there is a time for corporal punishment and that was one of those.  I cannot imagine ever saying anything like that to either of my parents.  It would not have been tolerated and I had enough respect for them to never go there.  Oh, there were times they made me angry and I totally disagreed with them but I never failed to “honor them” and “respect them” even if there were times when out of their sight I did not “obey them.”

My maternal grandfather lived to be almost 101 and one of the things that he instilled in me from the earliest memories of him was that you “respected” and “honored” your parents.  My parents taught me the same and my dear mother lived well into her 90s, so I have and have had visible examples of people fulfilling this commandment and achieving great longevity.  I do believe that God honors those who honor their parents.  I realize that some have had parents that are completely dishonorable yet still gave them honor as the parent.  I am not suggesting that you blindly obey whatever is said by a person of that ilk but you can give them honor without allowing them to negatively shape your life.  But to call your mother a “B****” is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!  That mother and child both needed help.  The child needed someone to get his attention and explain right and wrong and the mother needed guidance in giving “tough love” and “discipline” to that unruly child.  If she and her husband fail to do so that child is being abused in a way that is even worse than some physical abuse and I do not condone or tolerate that.  In today’s society parenting is difficult, especially in public because if she did what was needed she would likely have incurred the ire of some governmental agency.  But, that child needed some tough love and discipline!

Children – Honor your father and mother.  Parents – Teach your children discipline.  Family – help the younger parents be able to provide consistent, godly, discipline and in so doing you are LOVING THE CHILD more than you will possibly ever know.

May God be with you as you go through your day!

PRAISE THE LORD, I See the Light…


Spiritual Blog - Light

Psalm 18:28-30 – “For You light my lamp; The LORD my God illumines my darkness. 29 For by You I can run upon a troop; And by my God I can leap over a wall. 30 As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”  NASU

No, I am not talking about the Hank Williams song but about the declaration of the Psalmist and the cry of the heart of the seekers of God.  I don’t know about you, but I have had times in my life when I could not see my hand in front of my face, so to speak.  It was bleak, dark, and there was no indication that God was even hearing my prayers.  I needed direction and encouragement but during that dry spell there was no word, no encouragement, and the door was swung wide for depression and discouragement to walk in.

During those times, something would transpire to cause me to see a flicker of light breaking through in the darkness.  It was almost like Elijah praying for rain and the servant reporting there is a cloud the size of a man’s hand.  That was no indication, in the natural, that rain was coming, but Elijah, in faith, declared, “Go tell Ahab to get moving lest the rain stops you.”  What rain?  The rain he could see in his spirit through the light of God. The darkness was being penetrated by light, the light of the Lord.

The Psalmist declared, that God was lighting his lamp.  That is interesting because he did not say, that God was giving light, but that God was putting light into his lamp.  That indicates God was taking what was in him and his light would then light the darkness for others.  This so emboldened the Psalmist to joyfully declare, “For by You I can run through a troop; and by my God, I can leap over a wall.”  Wow!  That is boldness and confidence.  That is the product of God’s Light breaking forward in his heart and spirit.  As he could see, he could do.  As he could hear, he could say.  No enemy was sufficient to defeat him because of the Light of God illumining his darkness.

What is your darkness?  The Bible tells us that we are to “seek first” God and His kingdom and when we do, He will provide whatever we need.  Too often, when the enemy surrounds us with his attempts at instilling fear and doubt we need the Light of God to illuminate our darkness.  His light gives us confidence and boldness.  His light provides a peace that the world cannot understand and cannot take away.  When you know that darkness cannot stop you there are a Confidence and Boldness that becomes a Holy Boldness.

Why is this comforting?  Because we know that God is BLAMELESS in all His ways.  His Word is tried and proven.  His word never fails to accomplish everything He purposed for it.  It never returns to Him void or without success.  It is also comforting because we realize that He is our Protector and a Shield for us.  He is our Refuge!  I suggest that you read Psalm 91 every day for the next week and allow the Holy Spirit to infuse it into your heart and spirit.  You will come forth with a new confidence and boldness. You will walk with a new anointing.  You will refuse to be defeated.  Praise the LORD, I see the light!

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day!

 

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO FORGIVE – Myself???


Spiritual Blog - Forgive Sel.PNG

1 John 3:20 – “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”  NKJV

I have said, and heard others say, “I can forgive others, but forgiving myself is hard.”  Why is that?  What are the root causes of this phenomenon?  I will brave dark and troubled waters in this devotional and hopefully help myself and others to deal with this real problem.  It is a very real problem!

With the myriad of passages from God’s Word that speak of forgiveness, why would forgiving ourselves be a problem?  Considering 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  In Matthew 6:14-15 we discover that if we forgive others God will forgive us, but if we refuse to forgive them, He will withhold forgiveness from us.  Colossians 3:13 teaches us to be patient and longsuffering with others forgiving just as Christ has forgiven us.  Romans 8:1 declares that those who are “in Christ” are free from condemnation.  Ephesians 4:32, speaks of putting aside bitterness, anger, clamor, slander, and malice and exhibit kindness to others and forgive, just as God in Christ forgave us.  Proverbs 19:11, admonishes us to be wise through patience and demonstrate our character through forgiveness.  Those are a few of the many verses that speak of forgiveness.

Therefore, we know that God’s Promise is to Forgive and the powerful promise in 1 John 1:9 cannot be dismissed.  Although forgiving ourselves is not specifically addressed with chapter and verse in the Bible, it is there.  I am convinced there are some culprits at work in stealing our Peace and Joy through the failure to forgive ourselves.

God is not a respecter of persons and if His provision of Grace, Mercy, and Forgiveness is not extended to some but withheld from others.  No, if we repent, ask His forgiveness, and turn from our sin, He has promised to forgive and never hold that against us again (Jeremiah 31:34).  Why then is it so difficult to forgive ourselves?  I believe there are several factors and one of the is TRUST.  Don’t boil the oil yet and turn me off.  If we truly TRUST God’s Promises and Provisions and believe that He has forgiven us, what is the problem?  The problem can likely be found in the fact that we either are not sure that He has forgiven us or in PRIDE.

Salvation cannot be earned.  It is not deserved.  You do not earn enough brownie points to become a member of the beloved, the family of God.  It is GRACE, through Faith and the Gift of God.  If Salvation could be earned it would not be Grace and Jesus would not have needed to go to the Cross.  It cannot, and we know it, preach it, testify of it, and hopefully believe it.  But, yes, I have put ‘but’ in the mix.  But if we have a latent tendency to believe that we must ‘work’ to please God and ‘earn’ his favor we will find it difficult to forgive ourselves.

Pride comes into the equation when we say or think, “I know better. I should have done better. I expect better from myself.”  That’s Pride.  That’s attempting to ‘earn’ your forgiveness and salvation.  That is making it more about you and me than about God and His incredible longsuffering and mercy.  It involves enacting a different set of standards or rules for ourselves than for others.  That is Pride because you just elevated yourself above others and said in that mindset, “I Am Better Than They.”  Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  When we fail to forgive ourselves, we open the door for self-destructive attitudes and actions.  We open the door to Phariseeism and become as the publican in Jesus’ parable, beating ourselves in the chest and declaring our goodness.

Wait, Roy?  How can I be self-righteous if I am failing to forgive myself?  It is because we are pridefully elevating ourselves above others and in a very real sense stripping God of His demonstration of mercy to us.  Some that I have encountered who cannot forgive themselves developed a self-destructive mindset, a haughty spirit, and lived in the total absence of Peace!  In forgiving ourselves we demonstrate to those under our influence that anyone can make a mistake and sin, but when we do we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous and HE FORGIVES!   We demonstrate our TRUST in Him and His Promises.  We demonstrate HUMILITY, not arrogance and pride.  We show them that failure in one thing is not defeat, but a temporary setback.

When we learn to forgive ourselves and fully Trust God’s Grace and Promises we find new doors for helping others.  Let me give you a prayer that I saw some time back and ask that you read it and if it resonates with you embrace and incorporate it into your life.

“Dear Heavenly Father, I understand that there is nothing to gain by holding myself in unforgiveness and there is everything to gain by releasing myself from unforgiveness and beginning the process of healing. I want to move forward and make a positive difference in the future. I confess the ungodly accountability, self-abasement, and the vows I have made to never forgive myself. Because Jesus died for my sins, I choose to forgive myself–to no longer punish myself and be angry with myself. I forgive myself for letting this hurt control me and for hurting others out of my hurt. I repent of this behavior and my attitude. I ask for Your forgiveness and healing. God, help me to NEVER again retain unforgiveness of myself or others. Thank you for loving me and for Your grace to move forward with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

God bless you and may your day be full and productive in Him!

 

 

HAVING THE GOODS…


Spiritual Blog - Walk the Walk

Acts 3:4-10 – “But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” 5 And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene — walk!” 7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. 8 With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10 and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”  NASU

 Of the many thoughts that arise within my heart and mind when I read this passage this thought surfaces, “If you call attention to yourself you had better have the goods or the anointing to back it up.”  This is a marvelous story or account.  This is a beautiful testimony of the power of God, the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and the miraculous healing of a man who had been lame from birth.  That is a feel-good story that everyone should rejoice over.  But there is another underlying reality that I wish to address.

Think about the situation in which Peter and John found themselves.  There were hundreds and maybe thousands of people milling around.  Peter and John were going to the temple at the time of prayer. They would have been part of a very large crowd of people.  Many who were in that crowd were not believers in Jesus and would welcome any opportunity to not only reject the claims of the Christians but to imprison or exterminate them.  They were not conducting a church service in a congregation that was sympathetic or open to their words or deeds.  If they blew this, they were in deep trouble.

Peter fixed his gaze on the lame man who had been relegated to begging for his sustenance.  He was to be pitied and although often looked down on if someone harmed one such as he, they would suffer a severe penalty.  Peter’s words could have been considered, “hate speech” and “taunting” when he insisted that the lame man, “Look at us!”  The man’s heart probably leaped as he anticipated something wonderful in the form of a gift.  Why would anyone demand that he look at them if they were not going to make a special contribution to his plight?  Then Peter gave a heart-crushing declaration, “I do not possess silver and gold…”  WOW!  First, the man’s heart leaps for joy then falls to the lowest possible position as he heard that declaration.  What kind of cruel person are you, Peter, that you would taunt this poor man this way?

Peter went a step further and said, “but what I do have I give you…”  What do you have Peter?  You have encouraged his anticipation then crushed his hopes and now you suggest that you do have something.  What do you have?  That’s when Peter made a faith declaration.  A declaration and subsequent action that would get him killed or imprisoned if he failed.  He said, “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – WALK!”  That declaration would have earned him ridicule but he exposed himself to possible stoning when he reached out and seized the man by the hand and jerked him to his feet.  Peter, if he falls on his face, as the crowd expects, you are in serious trouble.  The miracle took place and the Power of God surged into his ankles and feet and he stood and leaped with excitement and joy.  A miracle had transpired, the anointing of the Holy Spirit was demonstrated and this man, lame from birth, now walked.

This man went with them into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God!  This got the attention of everyone and as a result, many turned to God.  I commend Peter in this he not only called attention to himself by his words and actions, but he also produced the goods.  He placed himself on the line based on his faith and confidence in the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God.  He was following the directive of the Lord in His commission of his followers.  Peter’s faith and courage allowed him to risk failure.  God honored his faith with the anointing of the Holy Spirit and a confirmation of His Word.

When was the last time you placed yourself at risk by standing on the Promises of God and obeying the Commission of our Lord?  I am not suggesting that you jerk people out of wheelchairs or off sick beds, but that you open your heart to God’s miraculous and become willing to say and do whatever He directs by the Holy Spirit.  On something less dramatic, “When was the last time you opened yourself up to tell someone about Jesus?”  What you have is what you can give and what you are to give.  So, let’s give and share this Salvation with the lost.

God bless you as you follow His guidance on this day and enjoy His blessings!

HOPE AGAINST HOPE…


Spiritual Blog - Hope

Romans 4:18-25 – “In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.” 19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22 Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”  NASU

The words of verse eighteen have long been a source of incredible encouragement for me.  I don’t know about you, but I have been in situations where my hope was so strained that I felt I was hoping against hope as I prayed and sought the answer.  I knew that I knew that I had heard from God but everything in the natural seemed the reality of that word was impossible.  There were times that I felt I was going against the current, swimming upstream against rushing waters, and all alone in my position.  Those were very difficult times and possibly even more difficult than when I had an active enemy fighting against me.

I recall one situation in which the church I was leading, with my agreement, we were making plans to build a Family Life Center with a gymnasium.  There was excitement within the church and the anticipation of this new step was favorably received by most, if not all the church.  Then, the LORD threw a monkey-wrench in the plans, at least from my perspective.  We were in a revival and had a planned business meeting to have an official vote on the proposal for the new structure.  As I prayed prior to the Sunday service, the Holy Spirit arrested me, and I wrote down about three-pages as to why this decision was wrong and that we should build a new sanctuary instead.  Among the other things I sensed in my heart was the message we were conveying to the community and the lost in our actions.

Please understand, I was not opposed to a Family Life Center with a gym. I loved and love athletics and recreation.  Our softball team on which I played was playing in two leagues.  I loved golf and played basketball whenever I had the opportunity.  The church knew of my love for hunting and fishing and all outdoor activities.  So, this was a departure and a shift that would blindside them and could cost me the favor of the entire church.  I went to the church board prior to the service and read my notes to them.  They were in shock. Stunned, they said, “the only thing we can suggest is that you tell the entire church what you just told us.”  I did and asked the church to delay any decisions for thirty-days.  There was rumbling and grumbling in the congregation and there were others who were confused but willing to pray.  I was risking everything in going against the expressed desire of the majority.

Immediately after the service, there was an effort to get up a petition to have a vote on removing me from being their pastor.  One of the most influential men in the church told that resistance, “No!”  He told them, “I trust God and I trust the pastor.  If he is right, God will change our hearts and if he is wrong, God will change his.”  I did not find that out until after the month had passed. Therefore, I spent thirty-days with both a sense of inner confidence and trepidation as to what the outcome would be.  I felt, at times, like I was hoping against hope.  I had stepped out on the directive of God and knew that my minister there was possibly in jeopardy.

At the end of thirty-days or about four-weeks later we met, and God had turned the hearts of the people and they voted unanimously to build a new worship center.  I dropped another bombshell on them telling them the second part of God’s directive.  We were to build the church debt free.  We planned to receive an offering in another, thirty-days and I told them I believed God for an amount that I am sure shocked them.  During that month, the Holy Spirit began to move on hearts and people came to me stating they believed God was going to give us more than I had projected.  He did and then in ninety-days, we received another offering and paid the debt in full for the new sanctuary.  My hope was confirmed and although there were times, I almost slipped in my confidence, the Holy Spirit helped me stand in Hope against Hope and see His directive become a reality.

I encourage you to never give up the Hope of what God has Promised you and Spoken to your heart.  Rejoice in the Lord and in the Power of His Might.  Have a fantastic day!

THE IMPORTANCE OF THANKSGIVING…


Spiritual Blog - Thanks

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  NASU

Today is Thanksgiving Day in America.  The day that was initially set aside for giving thanks for our blessings.  It was originally celebrated in 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts when the colonist and the Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest.  Various colonies celebrated various dates to commemorate the remembrance of God’s Blessings on them.  It wasn’t until 1863 during the Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that a national day of remembrance would be held in November each year.  Presidents Washington, Adams, and Madison all designated days for thanks during their presidencies.

In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Lincoln’s date up one week from the fourth Thursday to the third but in 1941 Roosevelt signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.  Thus, we began or made official a federal holiday designed to remind every American of our historic blessings and urged everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status to Give Thanks. This holiday has morphed into a commercial event and many simply see it as an extended weekend where there is an overload of football and food with no real thought as to the Giving of Thanks!  That is tragic.

Paul urged the Thessalonians to develop an attitude of gratitude in which they were in a continual state of rejoicing and prayer.  He coupled with those directives that they were to “give thanks in everything” and if you will allow, “for everything.”  No, I did not say that we are to desire difficulty or disaster but in the midst of every event in life, we are directed from the Holy Scripture to BE THANKFUL and GIVE THANKS!

I am reminded of a story that I heard some years back that might be beneficial in helping us recognize our blessings and open the door to the development of an attitude of gratitude.

Two friends, Bob and Jake met on the street of their town and Bob said to Jake, “Jake, I am having the worst luck.  My car broke down and it is going to cost over a thousand dollars to repair.”  Jake nodded and said, “Could have been worse.”  Bob, took that as an encouraging word and went on his way.  The next week they met again at the coffee shop and Bob said, “Jake, my luck is going from bad to worse, the pipes burst in my house and flooded everything.  It will cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair and I’ll be out of my home for several weeks.”  Jake nodded and said, “Could have been worse.”  Bob, again took that as a word of good advice and went on his way.

In a couple of weeks, they met again, and Bob said, “Jake, things keep getting worse all the time.  Not only did my car break down and cost me a lot of money, then my house flooded and cost me a fortune and displaced my family.  Now, my boss told me that they are phasing out my job and at my age, it will be almost impossible to find suitable work.”  Jake nodded and said, “Could have been worse.”  Bob, grew angry and said, “Jake you keep telling me that, but I ask, “How could it be worse.”  Jake said, “It could have happened to me.”

Every event in life is viewed from a particular grid and perspective.  If we look at things as happening to us we turn our focus inward and find it difficult if not impossible to be thankful.  We open the door to depression, discouragement, and despair.  Self-focus is the enemy of Gratitude and Thanksgiving.  If we view the events of life as opportunities for God to demonstrate His love, power, and purpose and rather than looking at the matter with a “woe is me” attitude we look upward things change.  No, the situation is still the same, but we are different, and in our difference, we can truly Give Thanks in Everything!  It is in that state of mind and attitude of heart that we open the door for the Blessings of God to flow.

It has been said that if one focuses on what they have they will want more.  If they focus on what they do not have they will grow bitter.  If one focuses on God and others we find that no matter how difficult our situation is, there are blessings we have overlooked.  Helen Keller once said, “It has been said that life has treated me harshly, and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human experience have been withheld from me…if much has been denied me, much, very much, has been given me.” She developed an Attitude of Gratitude.

 I encourage everyone to remember the quote of Benjamin Franklin, “For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, For the want of a shoe the horse was lost, For the want of a horse the rider was lost, For the want of a rider the battle was lost, For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost, And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.”

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  May the rich and bountiful blessings of the LORD come to you this day and may your heart be warmed by His presence, peace, power, purpose, and love.  God bless you!

 

WHAT IS TRUTH?


Spiritual Blog - Truth

John 18:38 – “Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”  NASU

When I consider this passage and examine it, a thought immediately comes into my mind.  That question is, “What is the truth according to us?”  We have heard much about a woman’s truth or their truth as juxtaposed to The Truth.  Although our truth or the truth as we see it, understand it, believe it may or may not be The Truth, it is still what we believe.  If ‘our truth’ is not The Truth our belief in what we believe makes it difficult if not impossible to see The Truth.

I see this as a tool of the devil to deceive and imprison people in their own minds and thereby prevent them from the freedom that is afforded in God’s Truth or The Truth.  Jesus spoke incredibly powerful and liberating words in John 8:32, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  The freedom that is in Truth is one of the most liberating forces on Earth.

Jesus had been brought before Pilate by the Sanhedrin and the Jewish Orthodoxy of His day.  He was challenging their truth (religion).  Those in power were far more interested in protecting their position, place, and power if not their purse than they were about finding Truth.  Their man-made regulations had replaced the veracity of Scripture and they had long ceased searching for the Truth that Jesus spoke of in John 8 or anywhere else.  Truth, to them, was what they believed.  Their doctrine was truth and anything that challenged or questioned their beliefs was deemed demonic and to be destroyed.

Many cannot fathom the reality that we ‘know in part’ and none of us, individually, has full knowledge or revelation of All Truth.  They see their doctrinal views as being complete.  They believe that if you do not ascribe to their brand of Christianity you are outside the family of God or are second-class Christians, at best.  That is tragic because we are taught in Scripture that we (individual Christians) are members together forming the Body of Christ.  We need each other and just as the natural body cannot function as it is designed without the other members of the body.  The hand needs the foot, and the mouth needs the lungs.  The eye needs the ear and the lungs need the heart.  Our bodies function as designed when each individual member contributes its skill and function to the process.  That is also true in the Body of Christ.

None of us are at the same level of spiritual development and understanding.  As I’ve said before, “We are not at the same level of light.”  By that, I mean we are not at the same maturity or understanding.  That is why if I can incorporate what you understand with what I understand and you with me we both are stronger.  Truth is like a diamond.  It cannot be fully comprehended by viewing it from one side.  As you move around the diamond you discover different facets and if taken separately each facet of dimension becomes The Truth but it isn’t, it is a part.  However, if we view the diamond from above we can observe all the sides and have a full appreciation of the diamond.  That’s how it is with Truth, we need a heavenly perspective to fully understand.  That is also why we are ever learning and always growing and developing in our Christian experience.

In Scripture, we are told in John 1:1 that Jesus is the Word of God the incarnate living word of God.  In John 17:17 the prayer of Jesus reveals that God’s Word is Truth, therefore, the answer to Pilate’s question is Truth is Jesus and/or God’s Word.  However, the question we should be asking is “What is truth according to us?”  Are we aligned with God’s Truth and are we willing to relinquish our grip on what we believe to be truth when He expands our understanding and exposes any deficiencies in ‘our truth?’

My simple prayer is, “LORD, help me to be a seeker of truth.”  The longer I live and walk with my Lord Jesus Christ the more I realize that I do not know everything and often feel like I do not know anything.  I have learned a lot in my almost 50 years of ministry but with each passing day and each divine appointment and encounter, I realize how much larger than I His Truth really is.

So, I ask you to ask yourselves, “What is Your Truth?”  If you are required to define your truth to your neighbor or anyone, what picture do they receive?  May we never be so arrogant or prideful that we believe that only our truth is The Truth and the Complete Truth.  May we be like sponges and growing plants always longing for more.  I believe a truth revealed in the parables is apropos here.  In Luke 12:48 we find a powerful revelation that “to whom much is given, much is required.”  Also in Matthew 13:12 we find that “whoever has more will be given.”  Most of the time we equate that to money or talents but could it not apply to knowledge and the understanding of truth?

May God help you become a diligent seeker of His Truth!   I pray that your day will be filled with His wonder and your mind filled with His truth.  God bless you!

BOTH LORD and CHRIST…


Spiritual Blog - Lord and Christ

Acts 2:36 – “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ — this Jesus whom you crucified.”  NASU

I don’t know about you but every time I read that verse it leaps off the page and into my spirit and I then pause to meditate on it.  Peter was addressing the Jews and attesting to the truth that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb of God and the Son of God.  He addressed the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  Then he makes this incredible statement that Jesus was “both Lord and Christ.” 

I’ve heard many preachers lament that too many have made Jesus Savior but not Lord of their lives.  There is some validity in that and it is possible to believe that He is the Messiah without fully coming to terms with His Lordship in our lives.  I had a preacher tell me that a “Carnal Christian was an Oxymoron.”  He insisted there was no such creature.  I did not want to argue but thought about the many people that I have encountered and even the times in my life when I named the Name of Jesus but allowed the flesh to direct some attitudes and even actions.  If there could be no place for a Christian to drift there would be no place for chastisement and correction from our Lord through the Holy Spirit.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve been taken to the woodshed before by the Spirit of God and corrected.

What I want to focus on is not Carnal Christians but the distinction between being Lord and being Christ.  Both are the same person but two different aspects or dimensions of His ministry, position, and person.  Peter tells the hearers that the Father made or gave Jesus both distinctions and functions.  So, I believe the examination of the distinction is worthy of consideration.

LORD – – If you examine the language and search for understanding as to what this word implied and contained you find some interesting and revealing things.  The word “lord” properly denotes “proprietor, master, or sovereign.”  Peter is affirming that God has elevated Jesus to the position of King and in that has given Him dominion in the heavens or as we might better understand, “ruler of all things.”  Everything is in subjection to Him and one day will bow before Him in full recognition.  John 17:2 makes that clear saying, “For you granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to those you have given Him.”  Paul reaffirms that in Ephesians 1:21 saying of Jesus that God had elevated him, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”  That is amazing!  He is LORD of LORD and KING of KINGS.  We belong to Him.

CHRIST – – This word refers to the ministry of Jesus as Messiah.  Peter is informing them that they have crucified the Hope of the Nation and the world for that matter.  He is Messiah.  He is Savior.  Jesus is the ONLY way to God and therefore the ONLY way to heaven.  There are not many roads to Salvation.  Jesus made that perfectly clear in John 10:9 when He declared, “I am the door.”  In John 14:6 He expanded that reality saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  In Acts 4:12 we discover there is salvation in no other name, “for there is no other name under heaven given among me by which we must be saved.”  Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.  His blood was made in atonement for our sins and in His sacrificial death He bought us back from the legal control of the devil.

As Christ, He is my savior and as Lord, He is my sovereign and I serve Him.  He can only become my Lord after He becomes my Savior.  I enter his house through repentance and faith and I serve Him through obeying His commands, directions, and demonstrating His person and love.  If it is possible to get to heaven without truly following Him as Lord and getting in as some have said, “by the skin of our teeth” I would hate to stand before Him without any fruit.  I do not work to be saved but I long to do His will in this life and my daily prayer is, “Father hallowed by thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven and let it be done in me.  Let me manifest your person and work the be both a vessel God can use and a laborer in the harvest field of God.  Make me like Jesus.”  I am not trying to make a deep theological argument about Lord and Christ but trying to urge you to seek Him as not only Savior but also as Lord in your daily life.

May the Lord bless you richly as you manifest Him to others today!