COMMANDMENT WITH PROMISE…


Spiritual Blog - Command

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 some time back.   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 always “obey them.”

My maternal grandfather lived to be almost 101 and one of the things 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 passed from this life at 95, so I have and have had visible examples of people fulfilling this commandment and longevity.  I do believe longivity is included in this commandment and know 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 and 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.

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!

REAL FREEDOM…


Spiritual Blog - Freedom

John 8:31-33, 34-37 – “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.  35 ” The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.  36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”  NASU

On the Fourth of July we, in America, celebrate Independence Day and reflect on Liberty and what it means.  We are cognizant of oppression and express gratitude to all who served and sacrificed to bring or preserve Freedom and Liberty.  It is a day of reflection, introspection, honor, thanksgiving, and remembering or should be.  It is both a joyous and solemn day.  It is a time for festivities and a time for deeply personal and national introspection.  It is a time to give thanks to God for our Freedom naturally and a time to focus on what Real Freedom really is.

Here in this passage, our Lord identifies True Freedom.  It comes from and can only come from God.  It has nothing to do with whether you live under oppression or even if you are in chains it has to do with the heart, the mind, the soul, and the spirit.  Jesus said “IF” and that is an undeniable qualifier.  “IF you continue in My word, THEN  you are disciples of Mine; AND you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” [Emphasis mine.]

The If, Then, and And of the Gospels are important!  So many times, we run across that very situation and fail to read it all and apply it rightly to our lives.  There is commitment involved with continuation on the path of righteousness and as a result, we are recognized as Disciples of Jesus, and as a result, we taste and experience True Freedom.  Without Him, there is no real Freedom because if we are living in sin we are the slaves of sin and outside the family of God.

Jesus identified that “if the Son makes you free, you will be Free Indeed.”  The words “Free at Last” could be rightly applied to this passage and the condition of our hearts once we have accepted the Gift of Salvation from our Lord Jesus Christ through our repentance.  The Cross is the most beautiful picture of Freedom because it was there that Jesus paid the price for our Freedom.  It was there that He bought us back from the dominion of the devil and opened the door for us to be transferred into the Kingdom of God – Free at Last!

I hope that you know Real Freedom today and as you go through this day you go through it with a consciousness of that Liberty and Freedom that only comes through Jesus Christ.

Blessings abundantly as you celebrate our Freedom in Jesus!  Have a Great Day!

NO GREATER LOVE…


Spiritual Blog - Love

John 15:13 – “A Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” NASU

Jesus went on to say in the next verse “You are My friends…”  He laid down His life for us.  As John 3:16 tells us His act was an expression of LOVE both by the Father and the Son so that you and I could have access to the Eternal Presence of God.  What Amazing Love!

To lay down one’s life for another is the highest tribute that could be paid to the individual who has been died for.  I know what it is like to have someone step in front of danger to protect you.  I have experienced that kind of love and commitment and it forever changed me in ways that I am still discovering.  I have heard family members pray to God to allow them to suffer the disease and death that was coming to their loved one.  Why did they do it? Was it out of some false sense of nobility and self-sacrifice?  No, it was out of LOVE!  They loved enough that if it were possible they would step in and take the death that another was facing.  Jesus did that for us.  He went to the Cross and paid the penalty for our sin, a penalty that He did not deserve or merit in any way but He willingly paid our debt out of LOVE!

When I consider what God has done for me, how could I not Love Him?  How could I not serve Him?  How could I reject Him?  When I came to Christ and received Him as my savior I went through a period of days and weeks in which I was the most condemned and miserable person on the planet.  I knew I was lost and that is the first step to receiving salvation. You cannot help a man be found that does not know he is lost.  I knew that I was headed for hell and believed the lie that I had done too much to be forgiven.

I won’t say as I heard a person testify in church, “Lord, I’ve broken all the commandments.”  No, but I had done far more than my youthful years should have.  I had survived Vietnam and was struggling with who I was, where I fit, and what I was to do in life.  I found that nothing satisfied me, for very long not money, not job, not relationships – NOTHING!   Then I fell under such conviction and my heart so condemned me that I despaired of life itself but can honestly say I did not consider suicide.  Now, admittedly, had that state of mind continued for a long period of time that would have produced those kinds of thoughts, but thank God I did not go that long.

Through the encouragement of a person who loved me in spite of my meanness I read Proverbs 3:5-6 after midnight on a Saturday night in Palestine, Texas and as I read that passage the light came on and I knew that I could be forgiven.  I experienced God’s forgiveness and love and the world lifted off my shoulders and I felt like I could float in the air.  That was the most incredible night of my life and I have been thanking God for over forty years for that love, mercy, forgiveness, grace, and pardon.  It was LOVE that lifted me.  LOVE spared my life.  LOVE rewrote my life.  LOVE transformed me for the vile creature that I was to a born-again child of the King!  I AM SAVED!  Hallelujah!

If you are struggling right now, know that God loves you enough that He was willing to allow His Son to die on the Cross for you.  Jesus loves you enough that He was willing to endure the Cross.  So, instead of reaching for the bottom lift up your eyes and allow the Holy Spirit to minister the Love of God to you right now!

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

CLANGING AND BANGING…


Spiritual Blog - Noise

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 – “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  8 Love never fails…” NASU

 

The most important thing in our Christian Life is Love!  Love for God and love toward our fellow man.  We may be the most eloquent of speakers, have the greatest insight, and manifest incredible gifts but without love, the Bible tells us we are nothing more than Noise.  Some of the things Paul lists as having but not having love seems almost impossible to me but I conclude that while he may not have been speaking literally but metaphorically I will accept that it is possible that one might manifest these things and not have love.  In that case, that individual would be quite the show but nothing more than “rain on a tin barn.”  All foam and no beer, as a friend mine likes to say.

I know some people who are incredibly generous and truly orators but in private I know them to be lacking greatly in the arena of Love both for God and man.  Paul tells us in verses four-eight something about Love.  It is patient, kind, not jealous, does not brag, is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly, is not self-centered, not provoked, does not harbor grudges or rejoice in unrighteousness.  Love seeks truth, bears burdens, believes in people and God, has hope, and endurance.  Then he tells us the most powerful thing of all – – Love Never Fails!  I hear people talk about “falling in love” like love was a mud puddle.  Love is not something you “fall into” but something you make the choice and grow into.  I love my fellow man, not because I fell in love with them but because I love God and loving God I make the choice to love my fellow man.

So if you are finding yourself deficient in any gift that you once operated in or in an area of spirituality that you believe you should have more proficiency in check your Love Quotient.  How is your heart in that regard?  Turn to the LORD and ask Him to send forth the Love of God so that it is spread abroad in your heart and as it spreads “in” your heart it will flow out of your heart into your life and touch others.

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

PRAYER IS NOT PERSONAL P.R.


Spiritual Blog - Prayer Effect

Matthew 6:5-8 – “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.  8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”  NASU

 

There is far more here than I could address in multiple devotionals, so I am selectively drawing on the thought that Prayer is not designed to be your personal public relations vehicle or tool.  This and other passages in the Holy Scripture regarding prayer, is why I do not like to broadcast what I am praying.  I am more than willing to ask for specific prayer and even willing to acknowledge specific prayers that I am offering but by and large when I pray I go into the prayer closet, shut the door, and engage in a private conversation and entreaty with God about particular needs.  I don’t like long prayers in public and personally prefer spontaneous prayers to those that are written and read for the purpose of being noticed.  However, there are times when forethought and preplanned use of words is incredibly beneficial.  I don’t mind men not noticing my prayer so long as God does.  After all, I am not praying to men I am praying to God and He doesn’t need to be impressed with my eloquence or words.  He is looking beyond all that directly at my heart.

Jesus cautioned us about using meaningless repetitions and being incredibly wordy in our public prayers or even our private prayers.  If you and I sat down and I wanted to ask something of you I would not ramble on being repetitious and verbose I would come to the point and in as simple language as possible tell you what I desired.  I believe you would do the same with me. Yet, when we go before the God of all creation many change the inflection of their voice and attempt to impress God with their eloquence or words.  He’s not impressed!  He created language and knows it far better than any of us, even the most eloquent and educated of us.

When we go before God we would do well to remember that He already knows what we need and our petition is not one trying to convince Him of the merits of our petition but aligning our hearts and thoughts with His word and will.  It is allowing God the opportunity to be God in our situation.  Jesus said the Father who sees what is done in secret will reward us openly.

Therefore I suggest that we not attempt to use prayer as a P.R. tool but as a means of communication with God in an honest and heartfelt manner.  Come before Him with humbleness of heart, and true thanksgiving and watch Him be God in your behalf.

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

CHANCE OF A LIFETIME – Part Two…


Spiritual Blog - Lifetime

Matthew 8:28-34 – “When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way. 29 And they cried out, saying, ” What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them. 31 The demons began to entreat Him, saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32 And He said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters. 33 The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. 34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region.”  NASU

 

Last time we began to examine this event and saw that the entire city had come out to meet Jesus and see the supernatural occurrence.  I’m quite sure they were apprehensive and probably fearful as well as curious.

WHEN THEY SAW JESUS, THEY REALIZED THAT HE WAS DIFFERENT.

The presence of Jesus always brought light into the darkness and caused men to realize their sinfulness.  His Holiness made them uncomfortable and it still does. I have no doubt that they conjured an image of Him in their minds as they came to the scene, but He was not what they expected.  Their curiosity morphed into fear, trepidation, and the conviction they were feeling made them incredibly uncomfortable.

Remember what the soldiers said to the rulers who had sent them to arrest Jesus.  They came back in John 7:46 and said, “…never man spake like this man…”  We have never heard anything like what He is saying, and we recognize a power in His words and an authority we have never witnessed before.  I have little doubt they came expecting to see something spectacular and watch the show.  They were not expecting the moral and spiritual demands that His presence brought into their midst.  The holiness of Jesus touched them and when God comes into the presence of sin, sin is made incredibly uncomfortable.

I suggest that it is impossible to come into the presence of Jesus and go away the same as you came.  You may not accept Him, but you are impacted eternally.  His presence brings the holiness of God into whatever situation He enters.  Jesus’ presence made them uncomfortable and they reacted as carnal sinful man often does in the presence of God.

THEY ASKED HIM TO LEAVE. 

Their actions suggested that they preferred hogs to liberty.  They did not give Him the opportunity to teach them the truths of God and bring to them the Light of God’s Love, their fear and focus on the material drove them to reject Jesus.  They were uncomfortable in His presence and His presence represented a loss of economic gain, so they asked Him to leave.

Jesus brought disorder to their order.  He brought the abnormal to their normal.  If He remained in their midst there would be some changes required and they did not want to leave their comfort zones and their way of life.  His presence brought conviction to their hearts.  Conviction will either break us and bring us to Jesus or prompt us to build a wall, a barrier and reject Him.  He had come to bring Liberty to this people and they missed the opportunity of a lifetime!  They turned Him away.

I suggest that they are not very different from people today.  Jesus has come time and again to people only to have them refuse to open the door.  He stands at the door and knocks today as He did then.  How often do people do what these people did and ask Him to “leave their coasts or region.”  They were like the person that told me, “Preacher I cannot accept Jesus because if I do I will have to stop doing what I like to do.”  What he meant was, “I enjoy sin and don’t want to stop.”  The Bible tells us that sin is pleasurable (Hebrews 11:26).

Jesus has come to us today the only question is “What Will We Do With Him?”  He has come to Save, Heal, Deliver, and bring us God’s Abundant Life.  He has come to provide whatever we need.  Opportunity is knocking at our door today.  The only question is “What Will We Do With Jesus?”  My prayer is that each of us will say, “Enter Lord Jesus.  I receive You and want to Live in Your Presence.”

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

CHANCE OF A LIFETIME…


Spiritual Blog - Liftime

Matthew 8:28-34 – “When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way. 29 And they cried out, saying, ” What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them. 31 The demons began to entreat Him, saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32 And He said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters. 33 The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. 34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region.”  NASU

 

It is an interesting journey to consider how many times, in the Word of God, people encountered Jesus only to turn Him away and lose their “Chance of a Lifetime.”  I can only imagine how the heart of God was grieved each time.  That grief was compounded as city after city and group after group rejected the offer of the Lord Jesus to experience God’s Abundant Life.

The very presence of Jesus spoke of the Abundant Love the Father had and has for the world.  John 3:16 is pounding in my ears as I consider this reality.  That truth was demonstrated and evidenced in the very person and presence of Jesus.  God is Love and Love was walking in their midst and yet they turned Love away, time and time again.

In this incident, we find Jesus had just ministered to several different and difficult cases bring the miraculous into the midst of those observing.  He had healed the Lepers, the Centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, and had quieted the storm on the sea.  His followers were observing and amazed at the great power of God in the person of Jesus.  Now, He and they have come to the country of the Gadarenes and is met by two demon-possessed men.  Mark only identifies one, but Matthew tells us there were two.  These men had been bringing terror into the hearts and lives of those around them.  They were violent and dangerous.

The demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God and knew they were powerless in His presence because of His faith, not simply His divinity.  They requested, and Jesus granted that they enter the herd of hogs in the area and cast them out.  The keepers of the hogs went to the city and reported what had transpired.  They told of the exhibition of supernatural power and divine authority they had witnessed.  I’m sure they were saying, “Something miraculous has transpired come and see.”  Talk about advertising, eye witness testimony!

THE WHOLE CITY WENT OUT TO MEET JESUS.

According to the biblical account, there were about 2,000 hogs lost in this occurrence but two souls (human beings) had been liberated from the power of darkness.  One would think that even with the financial loss they would be ecstatic about the two men but as the story progresses we find that mammon was more important the people.  Is today really, that much different?

Imagine this scene.  The Messiah had come to their country.  Talk about the opportunity of a lifetime.  Unfortunately, they did not come to see a savior they came to see a sign.  They came out of curiosity.  They came because of carnal greed and concern for their livelihood.  Their focus was not salvation.  They came out of curiosity, question, and concern for their way of life.

I have noticed in my years of Christian service that if something supernatural transpires people will drive hundreds of miles to see what has happened.  It does not have to be a miracle, it may be an act of incredible evil through the demonic, but the interest and curiosity are peaked, and people come in droves.  People are naturally “sign seekers” and “supernatural hunters.”

What an opportunity this city had.  The entire city was on the scene and Jesus was in their midst.  This is an opportunity to hear the Messiah speak and work miracles in their midst.  This is their Day, their Opportunity.  The question is what will they do with Jesus?

I apologize for putting you on hold, but I will pause here and pick this up in the next devotional and deal with the squandering of the greatest opportunity of their lifetime.  I will ask, “What were they thinking?”

Until the next time, I pray that God will go with you and bless you richly!  Have a fantastic day!