Friday, July 31, 2009

Faith and Stuff?

”God has given a lot of faith to the poor people in this world.”

James 2:5a

It does seem strange that faith is a gift from God. As a child I was taught that faith was a measure of how much I believe. I cannot find that definition in the Bible. Faith is the evidence of things hoped for and the assurance of things not seen.

The truth of James 1:5 is seated in the fact that possessions war against faith. When you have many possessions you thing you have little need of the Lord. When you have few possessions trusting Jesus becomes a larger part of your life.

So why do we spend our lives trying to amass the stuff that is poison to our faith?

Have you prayed for the Lord to increase your faith, and then the stock market takes a dive?

The flesh tells us in no uncertain terms that if we can lay up enough stuff on this earth we will have no need to depend on anyone for anything, including God!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Set Your Mind!

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

What is the difference in imagination and reality? If something is real, then we can see, touch, hear or otherwise perceive it with our physical senses. If we deem something to be imaginary it is because we cannot touch, taste, etc the thing we imagine.

But the most important things in life cannot be quantified with our five senses. Prove that you love me. Show me your sorrow or compassion. Can you measure desire or mercy? They are all beyond our ability to study with objective measurements.

So when I set my mind on “things above” am I simply daydreaming and using my imagination to escape the reality of this world? Someone years ago described it this way, “He is so heavenly minded, that he is of no earthly good!”

That philosophy will drag any follower of Jesus away from the peace of God which can fill his heart and mind. The truth is that it is only the “heavenly minded” that are of any earthly good at all! It is only when you focus your mind of heaven that you can be of true value to those who live on this earth.

“Lord, fill my mind with thoughts of things above. Show me what is going on in heaven. Give me a glimpse of Glory! Help me ponder the praise that is heard before Your throne! Make my imagination Your drawing board that I may see You more clearly today than ever before!”

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Garden of His Delight

The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

Isaiah 5:7

What does God look for in me and what does He find? Does God see in me what He desires or is it something else? When the plans for me were devised in the mind of God what role did He have in mind for my time here on earth? If God were to show me the “job description” for my creation what would it say?

The gifts that He gave me were not without purpose. The place He directed for me to be born was not without plan. The parents that were mine were not the random choice of God. It all makes sense to Him. The delight of a father for a child is the delight that God has for me. Here is where my mind cannot conceive of God’s ability. Even as God has plans for me and desires that I fulfill those plans He knows for certain the path I will take and the pain I will suffer because of my sin.

And yet God is faithful forever! He saw my sin from the beginning and made a plan to come as Jesus to personally pay the penalty for my rebellion against Him. The love of God for me is beyond measure or imagination. I joined the enemy and fought against all that was Holy and all the while God was planning for my return to the Father.

What can I say about God? I can praise Him and tell of His greatness forever and yet never even approach the truth of His Majestic reality. My ability to praise God is like a grain of sand on the beach of eternity. I say “God is great” but only see a slight glimmer of who He is. I see a shadow of His glory. A man could spend every waking moment of his life speaking praise to God and only touch the “hem of the garment.”

“Today Lord, in mercy and grace allow me to see a few more grains of sand on the beach of Your Glory. Open my eyes to a step of reality beyond the light of this world. “

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jesus Washes Robes!

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”

Revelation 22:14

Mankind lost the right to eat the Tree of Life because Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was a tragic loss and the altered nature they received was passed from father to son all the way down to my own grandchildren. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit it was necessary for God to separate them from the Tree of Life so that they would not live forever on this earth in their fallen state. Death came and cut short their lives.

Would it be safe to say that before the fall Adam and Eve had only knowledge of good and not evil? Before the fall they walked with God in the garden. Before the fall they had no inkling of embarrassment because of their nakedness. Before the fall their every thought was pure and holy and acceptable to God. With the forbidden fruit came the additional knowledge of “Evil.”

Knowing about evil never helped anyone escape its grip on their lives. Satan’s great lies continue today as we attempt to help people avoid destructive practices by educating them about such things as illicit drugs and sex.

Revelation 22:14 clearly says that the dilemma for mankind is that we wear filthy robes which keep us from eating of the fruit of Tree of Life. Sin has separated us from God. It is only when our robes are washed in the blood of the Lamb that we can have the hope of eating of the fruit of the Tree of Life.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil had the forbidden fruit before the fall of man and after the fall the Tree of Life has the fruit that we are forbidden to eat. Now we are not only forbidden to eat that fruit but we have no access to the Tree of Life unless our robes are washed in the Blood of Jesus!

The work that Jesus does in our lives is to reverse the effects of the fall. When we come to know Jesus we are ushered in to a relationship with God that is like the one Adam and Eve had before the fall. When this life on earth is over we will be given fruit from the Tree of Life so that we can live forever with Him. Praise His name forever!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Chosen Fast!

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?"

Isaiah 58:6

For many years I have tried to find a specific link between the struggle to free people who are oppressed and being Godly. Isaiah 58:6 says that loosing chains, untying cords, setting the oppressed free, and breaking every yoke is “fasting” that pleases God.

How can that be fasting? Fasting is an act of denying yourself from nourishment for a time to honor God. How can freeing the oppressed be fasting? The answer is simple. When I spend myself setting the oppressed free I am certainly denying myself personal pleasures and even needs for the sake of those in bondage.

This verse is justification of the entire “Freedom” focus that America has trumpeted to the entire world for many years! And the blessings we have enjoyed must have come from our fast from power and oppression. America could have conquered the world militarily and forced many lands to accept our rule. We did not and for that we should be praised.

The greatest bondage and oppression is not being imprisoned and controlled by an evil government. The greatest bondage and oppression comes directly from SIN. Sin controls those who practice it like nothing else in the world. Sin has arms that reach around you and bind you in every way possible.

It honors God when I am “fasting” in the pursuit of breaking the bonds of sin in the lives of oppressed people. There is only one way to break the bonds of sin. When a man comes to know and accept Jesus the chains of sin begin to fall away.

Fast the fast of Isaiah 58:6 and you will be nourished with strength from above!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bold Eternal Assumptions

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

2 Peter 3:10-13

Now, let’s see. God said that the earth and everything on it will be destroyed by fire. But I am going to “SAVE THE PLANET!” Global warming is child’s play compared to God’s fire. When the day of the Lord comes “the heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” Are there any volunteers who want to work on stopping the destruction of the earth when the day of the Lord comes?

I saw a grave stone that had a bold engraving which said, “We will always remember you!” I thought, “No you won’t because you will die just like he did and your body will be put here in the cemetery just like his.” Our lives are filled with bold eternal assumptions that have no basis in reality or even in possibility. We will not live forever here. We will not save the planet and we will not thwart God's eternal purposes. The only power we have, and that power was given by God Himself, is the power to reject or accept the purpose of God for our lives. Beyond that we are powerless.

If God decides to allow the population of the earth to be decimated by disease we will not discover a “miracle cure” to keep Him from letting it happen. If God decides to bring famine on the earth we will not find a way by our own creative genius to stop His purpose.

But the bottom line for me is this. I can choose to be part of what God is doing on this earth today, or I can choose not to be part of that. Those are the only two choices I have. And having those choices is a sovereign gift from God Himself.

We often try to change God and His purposes instead of letting God change us and use us according to His purpose. Today be part of what God is doing around you!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Final Preparations!

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

Daniel 7:13-14

When you have a great desire for something the time you spend waiting for it can seem very long. Everyone’s list of things they have deeply desired may be different but the need for patience is universal. A child desires to be a grown-up but must wait for that day to come. We all wait for Christmas, birthdays, celebrations, graduations, and all sorts of personal pleasures.

While you wait for that day to come you begin to think about it more and more. And as the day approaches your mind is dominated by the fact that the day will soon come. In the last days before a wedding the future bride and groom are literally consumed with final preparations for the wedding. Every waking and many sleeping moments are focused on that moment when they both say “I do” and begin their life as one!

Do you desire the moment when Jesus will return to earth? Do you really believe that the time of His coming may be very near? If you do, then let your mind and heart be dominated by the fact that the day of His return may soon be here. Make a list of those things you would like to do before His return and do one of those things today!

All of the things that you desire here on this earth may or may not come. They are not certain, but the Day of the return of Jesus is certain without any doubt. Jesus said “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

These may indeed be the “last days” before the Eternal Wedding of the Lamb. If you are part of the Bride then let yourself be consumed with desire for that Day and the final preparations!

Keep looking up! He will soon come!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Lord is Near!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:4-6

I haven’t heard it many times in my life, but occasionally someone will say “That was a beautiful prayer.” The compliment sounds sincere enough, but when you ponder the underlying meaning it is rather disturbing. Of course no one would know how beautiful the prayer was unless it was prayed aloud for others to hear. And then, how would they know whether or not the prayer was beautiful to God?

If you hear a man and his wife conversing with each other how can you tell whether the conversation is deep and meaningful or shallow and meaningless or even beautiful comments filled with little barbs?

The reality of relationship with God trumps everything else! If God is near and I know it then I don’t think about prayer, instead I PRAY!

There is an older gentleman who worships at our small church. His car license plate says, I PRAY, and he does. When he prays aloud in worship everyone can tell that he forgets that we are there and finds himself in the presence of God. It is very instructive and humbling. I have never thought of calling his prayers “beautiful.” He always kneels to pray and sometimes cries and often prays longer than most would dare.

When you know that God is near, you pray. When a startling event happens in the life of someone you will often hear them exclaim, “Oh God!” The momentous nature of the experience causes an eruption of the recognition of the presence of God.

When I recognize the nearness of God I will pray.

Years ago I was part of a regular prayer chain. I think my time to pray was from 2 to 3 am on Monday mornings. Frankly, it was hard to stay awake and pray. But if God Himself had knocked on the door and spent that hour with me, sleep would have been no temptation!

When it comes time to pray today, focus on the nearness of God. Or rather when you focus on the nearness of God it will be time to pray!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.

Revelation 18:8

The prophecy in the book of Revelation about “Babylon the Great” is frightening. It is the God predicted and yes God inspired destruction of a country that is called a harlot or prostitute. It must be a country that was created with allegiance to God and then turned away to follow other gods. It must be a country that trusted in God and then sold itself to the highest bidder.

The outward appearance of two married women cannot tell you which one is a prostitute. Their hair may look the same, they may be wearing identical dresses and they both may have glowing smiles. But the prostitute is the one who has been repeatedly intimate with someone other than her husband and she does so for personal financial gain.

In the United States of America, when someone says “I vote my pocketbook” they are saying that they will make choices about our country for their own financial gain regardless of principle or morality.

Could the United States be “Babylon the Great” of Revelation 18? I suppose we can only know that for sure if the country is at some point “consumed by fire.” The United States certainly can be described as one that honored God and then turned to other gods! Even the President proclaims to the world that we are not a Christian nation.

Then there is a call for God’s people to separate themselves from “Babylon the Great.” Revelation 18:4 says:

Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
"Come out of her, my people,
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;

How can God’s people “come out of” Babylon? The answer to that question is not easy. Most people do not have the means or ability to get up and move out of their country. The key to the admonition of Revelation 18:4 seems to be to “not share in her sins.”

Wherever you live and in whatever country you find yourself, make it your determination not to share in the national sins of your nation. Just because a thing is legal in your country, does not mean that it is not a sin in the eyes of the Lord! If you cannot keep from sharing in the sins of your country unless you physically leave, then leave. Leave like Lot did if you must. But leave. If you cannot leave, then trust the Lord who kept Daniel’s friends unscathed in the fiery furnace that He can keep you safe through whatever may come. Someone said that some Christians are delivered from the mouths of lions and others are delivered by the mouths of lions, but they are all delivered.

When a man turns his heart to Jesus he gives up his citizenship on this earth. Too many Christians are trying to maintain dual citizenship. Citizens of Heaven cannot belong to another country as well!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Place for Me!

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

John 14:1-3

People who lived through the “Great Depression” were permanently influenced by that experience. Most of those folks are now gone, but the lessons they learned still speak to us as we teeter on the edge of a potential worldwide financial catastrophe. We are all beginning to see the importance of many frugal things that didn’t seem so important just a few years ago. The “Great Depression” generation in our family learned to worry. In fact, if you did not worry about many things, you were tagged as irresponsible.

Jesus told me not to let my heart be troubled. That means I do not need to worry! In another place He said I should not worry about what I eat or drink. He also said I should not worry about what I am going to wear. He reminded me to look at the lilies and to consider them. If He takes care of the lilies then He is going to take care of me as well.

My newest granddaughter has been given the name “Lily.” I didn’t like it at first, but in light of Jesus comment about caring for lilies it is quite obviously a name inspired by heaven.

Lily is being cared for by God Himself! And if He takes care of Lily He will take care of me as well.

So today, I will take care of whatever I have opportunity to do and I will trust in God and not let my heart be troubled. A troubled heart is never a good thing.

When my grandfather left this world more than fifty years ago he came out of a coma long enough to declare, “There’s a wagonload of angels coming to get me, let’s sing praises!”

It is hard to worry and have a troubled heart when you see the angels. Let your mind dwell today on that which you cannot see. You cannot see the place that is being prepared especially for you, but you can think about the reality of that place. And you can think about the day which will come when you will be ushered into the presence of God and given the place prepared for you.

Trust in God and trust in Jesus and don’t let your heart be troubled!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Everyone is Religious!

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27

Everyone on earth is religious! We all “religiously” focus on something. Everyone has a passion for something and we religiously see to it that our passion is satisfied.

When you are religious you have a god. Your god may be pleasure in general or one specific form of pleasure that rules you life to the exclusion of most other things. Your god may be knowledge and education. It is very satisfying to know more than everyone else. Education and knowledge are common gods today. Whatever or whomever, your god will consume your life, thoughts and actions.

When you have a passion everyone around you knows about it because a passion is something that, try as you may you cannot hide.

When I am passionate about Jesus Christ what kinds of things will I do which will let people know about my strong desire for Him? Three things are mentioned in James 1:27. My “religion” will express itself in looking after orphans and widows (those are the helpless in society) and in keeping myself from being polluted by the world.

Many Christians worry about offending the world with their passion for God. They try to “become all things to all men” not in an effort to win others to Christ, but in an effort to save their own reputations. Concern for my own reputation is not a “fruit of the Spirit.”

In my passion for God I must focus on helping the helpless and keeping away from the world and its polluting influence in my life. If I fill my day with those endeavors I will find that God will be smiling when I see His face.

Here is the difficult word for today. Do you have a passion that is greater than your passion for God? If you do, you know what must happen to that passion, don’t you? If you have a love for a woman that is greater than the love that you have for your wife, you know what must happen to that love, don’t you?

Ask God to clearly show you if there is anything in your life that you have enthroned above Him. That is the passion that must go!

“Lord may my love for You grow today and my love for the world and the things of this world decrease. Help me to put to death any passion except my passion for You!”

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

God and Country!

By reading the Scriptures you learn how God wants you to behave, and you discover what is right.

Romans 2:8 CEV

A culture dictates the behavior of its citizens. There are some cultural standards that run through almost all cultures and some that are unique to one group of people.

This verse (Romans 2:8) clearly says that God wants a defining influence in culture. Of course there are cultural variables that are not essential. But there are aspects of culture that either violate or affirm the Word of God. And the ones that reflect God’s Word are essential. When a people turns to Christ it is their responsibility to adjust the standards of that nation to reflect the Word of God.

This is true of a nation, but it is also true of my life. When I read God’s Word and come to know how He wants me to behave, then I must adjust my actions to align them with the Word! If I do not, I live a life of internal conflict and am most miserable.

When I am at peace with the world, I am indeed in turmoil, no matter how quiet my circumstances. When I am at peace with God, I am truly at peace no matter how much turmoil there is in the world around me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sabbath of Rest!

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.
Exodus 31:15

In July of 2009 there were extreme orthodox Jews confronting police in Jerusalem because the Israeli government was not honoring the Sabbath. Of all the laws in the Old Testament this is the one that calls for seemingly the most inappropriate punishment. If you were caught “not resting” on the Sabbath it was “off with your head.” Isn’t that too harsh for simply doing a little extra work on Saturday?

If I were God, I would probably have set things up differently. I would have made the Sabbath on Sunday so Christians and Jews could honor the same day and not get confused as to which one really is the day God set apart as the Sabbath. I would have said that it is alright to work a little if you make an extra sacrifice or something like that. But I would definitely not have ordered the death penalty for anyone violating the “do not work” rule of the Sabbath. Of course I would have set things up differently, because I am not God.

The bottom line for me is that God clearly recognizes that there is a time for work and a time for rest and it is important that I do both. Don’t be shocked by this next statement, but I believe as a Christian there is no literal Sabbath day to honor. The Sabbath was on Saturday but most Christians honor Sunday and call it the “Sabbath” which it isn’t. The rule of no work on the Sabbath, if truly applied to Sunday would preclude paid clergy being called into action on that day.

But the God ordained principle of a time to work and a time to rest remains. It is true in whatever you do to earn money on which to live and it is true in your work for the Lord. There is a time to work for the Lord and there is a time to rest. If you rest during the time to work you displease the Lord and might be called “lazy.” If you work during the time to rest you violate His Sabbath principle.

The impact of violating this principle can be seen in the youngest child who refuses to take his nap. Later in the day there will be many problems because the rest was missed.

So as you listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit today, remember that sometimes He says “Do this,” or “Do that” and sometimes He says “Do nothing, just rest.”

God made you in His own image and He needed a DAY OF REST so don’t be surprised that you need one too!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pandemic of Repentance!

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”

Isaiah 30:15

The new word today is “Pandemic.” It actually sounds a little scary, but the reality of a Pandemic is truly frightening. When the Pandemic hits the infection rate soars beyond all ability to care for the sick. When diseases are somewhat isolated with relatively few victims there is a support system to care for the infected even if the disease itself is fatal. But when a Pandemic sets in most of those who fall ill have no one to care for them as they die unattended.

The devastation of a Pandemic puts everything else in life into perspective. Who cares about politics when most people are dying? Who cares about the economy when no one is left to enjoy the fruits of their labor? Who cares about freedom when no one will be left alive to enjoy it?

So we work diligently to avoid a Pandemic, and with good reason. Whatever needs to be done to stop the uncontrolled and deadly worldwide spread of disease is justifiable in the eyes of most people.

A Revival is the spiritual opposite of a Pandemic. A Pandemic brings death and a Revival brings life. A Revival spreads like wild fire. It enters the hearts of men in the most unlikely places. A Revival cannot be controlled by the normal efforts of Satan.

A Revival brings new life to old believers and new birth to non-believers. In a Revival there is so much new life and new birth that the churches overflow into the streets. The spiritual physicians cannot care for all the new babies. It is amazing. Satan’s greatest fear is that a Spiritual Pandemic will start in your heart and spread among those who are close to you. The Spiritual Pandemic will spread to the community, the state, the nation, and around the world.

How can it start in me? It starts with repentance! When I, as a believer repent I become infected with the righteousness of Jesus and I become contagious, very contagious!

That is why Satan works so hard to keep me from abandoning my secret sin. As long as I hold on to that sin, I will not be the one who ignites the Revival.

When there is a Pandemic of Repentance it is followed by a Tsunami of God’s Mercy and Grace! When that happens you can truly “Ride the Wave to Glory!”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fear Only God!

The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said:
"Do not call conspiracy
everything that these people call conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread,
and he will be a sanctuary;

Isaiah 8:11-14a

Children fear the wrong things. Children fear the dark, they fear imaginary threats, and they fear not having their needs met. Children weep and wail for reasons that can be amusing to their parents. Now parents are not being insensitive, but the old saying “don’t cry over spilled milk” must have had its origin when the glass of milk hit the floor and child began to bawl. If you are a parent, don’t tell me you have never had a chuckle over a crying baby.

Isaiah 8:11-14 warns God’s people not to fear the same things the people of this world fear. The list of fears in this world is long, including: Global warming, the Greatest Depression, Swine flu, tidal waves, hurricanes, anarchy, the collapse of the dollar, a stock market melt-down (again), unemployment, no medical care, and a thousand other really bad things all of which may indeed happen.

Christians are told to fear God not the tragedies that may come upon us in this world. The tragedies that will come on this world are temporary. God is permanent. The tragedies that will come on this world cannot destroy us if we belong to God. We may be tossed about by the wind, thrashed against the shore, trampled and beaten, but if we belong to God we will emerge on the other side of the storm to be with Him forever in glory.

Christians will suffer, but it is not the suffering they seek. It is the Lord Himself who will see them through the suffering. It is the Lord that they fear and long for at the same time.

A group of small children, may be afraid of the dark, afraid of the storm, afraid of the “face in the window,” but not afraid of the things that can really do them harm. It is part of the definition of being a child. That is why children must have baby sitters until they are old enough to fear the right things.

The world today is like those children who are afraid of Global Warming, afraid of an economic collapse, and many other things, but have no fear of the Lord who made them.

When all you fear is God Himself, you can rest in Peace that ultimately all will be well with your soul!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The First Step!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Psalm 51:3

The pages of history are salted and peppered with stories of great men who did really stupid and foolish things. Imagine what Adam and Eve had before the fall and what they gave up for one bite of the forbidden fruit. How much sense does that make? Their son Cain decided that killing his brother Abel would be smart. We know how that worked out.

If you want to start today and go backward the list is just as cluttered and maybe even more so. The Governor of S.C. is just the latest victim of colossal embarrassment because of sin.

Satan doesn’t tempt a man to commit some grossly immoral sin at first. He takes you one step at a time. You are not tempted to jump off of the deep end. You are tempted to put one toe in the water. It is gradual and before you know it you are in “over your head.”

King David was a man after God’s own heart. That was the way God described him, and yet when this man of God saw Bathsheba bathing he put his toe in the water of lust. “How could just thinking about it hurt anything?” Those must have been the words of Satan. As the king stood on his roof that day he turned his heart from God to his own desire. That was the first step of rebellion that ended in adultery, murder, suffering and pain.

The first step in any journey may seem unimportant, but without that first step you will never arrive at your destination. That first step is significant in both glorious and ghastly situations. I do remember the very first time I stood face to face with the girl who would become my wife. I was walking down the hall in the music department at the college where we both attended. The hall was narrow and I had to step aside to let her pass. It was so totally insignificant, except for what began to grow in my heart after that split second encounter. Now there are 19 grandchildren who are eternally grateful that my heart was turned toward their grandmother.

There you have it. The reason to say “no” to the littlest sin is that it may be the first step on the road to ruin. “Oh I will put my toe in the water and then get out before it gets too deep.” That may have happened and if so you should thank God you did not get swept away in the tide, but can you guarantee that the next time you step into the quicksand you will not be sucked down and destroyed?

If you are standing in the shallows of Hell thinking that at just the right moment you will turn around and call on God again, then be warned! Get out now. And if you are tempted to put even one foot in the world, DON’T DO IT!

It is a big deal, it is a very big deal!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

See the Lord!

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14

I can still vividly remember the frustration of being in a large crowd as a child and not being able to see what was going on. I was just too short to see over all the folks. When the gathering was informal enough it was sometimes appropriate for me to sit on my father’s shoulders so I could see what was going on. In fact, when I sat on my father’s shoulders I was taller than anyone in the room. It was great. I could see everything without obstruction.

Not being able to see is frustrating and for those who are going blind, a tremendous fear.

When someone is born blind and has never seen anything how do they understand things like color and sharp or blurred vision? I once asked a girl who had never seen if she wanted to be able to see and her answer was “No I have gotten along just fine without it until now and I don’t think I want to see.”

All men are born spiritually blind and until they encounter Jesus Christ “seeing” is just a concept other people talk about. They usually say the same thing the girl who was born blind said, “I have gotten along just fine without seeing until now and I don’t think I want to see.”

Jesus helps us to see everything differently but what does it mean to “see the Lord” Himself?

When I see the Lord my eyes are tuned to a different frequency, my heart is formed to different shape, my life is lived above the crowd. When I see the Lord it is because I am living a holy life. When I plunge myself into the world with its worries and corruption I cannot see Him.

When God made men and women he put in the heart of every man the desire to look at a woman. Satan has of course perverted that desire, but God is the one who created it in the first place. God’s purpose of that desire is fulfilled in the relationship of a husband and wife.

God also created all men and women with the desire to look at Him. Once you see the Lord, high and lifted up you will never be the same. And you will never want to stop looking. So if you want to keep seeing the Lord, be holy! Without holiness you will not see Him. You may look and look and long to see Him, but if you live in the corruption of this world you will not see the Lord!

Repentance is the first step in regaining your ability to see the Lord! Just do it!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Who Can I Hate?

And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

2 Timothy 2:24-26

Someone said that hate is like acid that eats the container which holds it. As a follower of Jesus I have been given no right to revenge. The Lord says that He will repay and that any vengeance needed will be met out by His hand not mine. In fact, He tells me that I must be kind to everyone!

That means when I am cheated I must be kind to the one who cheated me. When I am injured I must be kind to the one who injured me. When I am slandered I must be kind to the one who slandered me. When I am put in prison without real cause I must be kind not only to the prison guards but also to the one who put me there.

Have you ever heard a little child answer the question “Who do you love?” Sometimes the answer includes the words “I love everybody.”

As an adult you can easily see the childish folly in such a statement. Certainly, you can’t love everybody because you don’t know everybody. How can you love people you have never met and never will meet? You can’t love everybody, or can you?

Recently, I met a couple who are dear friends of a close friend of mine. I have heard about Joe and Lynn for years, but never met them. When I met them I realized that we had an instantly close relationship because of our mutual friend. My friend loves Joe and Lynn and so do I.

When Jesus hung on the cross it was because He loves me and every man, woman, and child who has ever lived! That includes everyone who has ever “done me wrong.” I cannot find a person on earth who is not loved by Jesus. If Jesus loves you, then I can as well.

Jesus loves me, and Jesus loves you. Jesus loves the best of us and Jesus loves the worst. If I have the love of Jesus in my heart there will be no room for anything else!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Jesus Covers for Me!

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.

Psalm 51:10-13

David’s sin was a combination of lust, adultery and then murder. It was awful. How a “man after God’s own heart” walked down that path is difficult to imagine, or is it? David like Adam and Eve before him listened to the “it’s not that big of a deal” statement from Satan. I mean what’s the harm in just looking? Actually it was not the looking, but the lingering look that was step one on the road to David’s sin.

David started walking down the road by listening to his own desires and not the Word of God.

Have you ever heard Satan say “it’s not a big deal?” I think that is his best enticement. He loves to say those words when you are confronted with the “forbidden fruit” in your life. The argument is the same whether you are embezzling fifty billion dollars or eating one donut you have committed not to eat. For a brief moment you put aside what you know to be true and right and step into the arena of rebellion by taking one bite out of the “apple.”

When a man realizes his sin the next step he usually takes is to cover up the sin. Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves. David tried to get Uriah to come home and sleep with Bathsheba so no one would know that the baby she was carrying was David’s. The “cover up” usually doesn’t work. It might work with other men, but hiding your sin from God is in the realm of the impossible. I cannot hide my sin from God. He sees my sin in all it’s ugliness.

Here’s where the Good News comes in. I cannot hide my sin from God. I cannot cover my sin, but Jesus can. And when I come to Jesus that is exactly what He does. Jesus covers my sin with His own blood!

Then He goes on to create a clean heart in me and renews a steadfast spirit in me. He keeps me in His presence and does not take His Holy Spirit away from me. Finally, He restores the joy of the salvation He has provided for me! Then I am free to speak His love to transgressors and sinners!

The next time you hear Satan say “It’s no big deal” do as Jesus did and say “Get behind Me Satan.”

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Look at the Bottom!

"I went there and saw the potter making clay pots on his pottery wheel. And whenever the clay would not take the shape he wanted, he would change his mind and form it into some other shape."

Jeremiah 18:3-4

The image is clear. God is the potter and we are the clay. There is no pot in all the world that ever made itself. Every clay pot yielded to the hand of the potter.

The question in my life is simple. Will I yield to the hand of the Potter today or will I choose not to take the shape He wants.

This may be much of an over simplification but after living more than half a century it seems the only choice any man has is to accept or reject God.

Every other "choice" is full of vested interests, physical desires, emotional fulfillments and a thousand other forces influencing our decision. But to accept or reject God is simple.

Recently, I read a sermon in which it was said that we should go back to God's original calling on our lives. And certainly there is truth to that statement, but there is more.

If I refuse to be made into one shape by the hand of God, Jeremiah says He will choose to mold me into another shape.

If you want to know who made a pot of clay you can usually look on the bottom of the pot and find the potter's name. Look at your heart and see if the name of the Potter is written on it!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Glow in the Dark People!

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Revelation 21:23-27

When Moses came down off of the mountain after meeting with God the Bible says his face literally glowed. I remember the fascination I had with the first wrist watch that would “glow in the dark.” When I exposed the watch to a bright light it would glow for a while so I could tell the time in the dark. The more expensive watches now have dials that are energized by a radio-active substance that makes the dial glow for years.

Followers of Jesus are like Moses and expensive watches. After you meet with God you will glow. Usually it is not a literal light, but it can be seen just the same. People will look at you and see on your face the joy and peace that comes from knowing God.

Not all watches have the phosphor that is needed to make them glow, but all men have what it takes so they can glow after they come to God through Jesus. After you meet with God and then go back and walk around in the dark everyone can see the glow. Those who are seeking God will be drawn to the light and those who are enemies of God will use the light to target you as His follower.

When the dial of my watch is glowing in the dark I can tell what time it is in total darkness. When my life is glowing with the light of His love men will be warned about the “times” even if they are in total darkness.

Jesus told me to let my light shine before men! My light comes from meeting with God. Meet with God and let Him recharge your light today!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

You are the Evidence!

The people kept thinking that Paul would either swell up or suddenly drop dead. They watched him for a long time, and when nothing happened to him, they changed their minds and said, “This man is a god.”

Acts 28:6

“Lord what do you want me to do today?” If Paul had asked that question on the day the ship wrecked on the island of Malta the answer would have been, “Pick up sticks for a fire and get bitten by a poisonous snake!”

God was glorified when Paul was not harmed by the snake. The people watching got it wrong at first. They thought Paul was a god rather than a servant of God, but he straightened them out on that.

Paul was not a snake handler. The Bible never says he picked up snakes and played with them to glorify God. It does say that he got bitten by a snake and that glorified God. When I try to prove to the world that God is with me I will ultimately fail. When God proves to the world that He is with me everyone will know that God is the power behind the things that I do.

The difference between those two things is very significant. In the first place I try to lay out the evidence to show the world that God is with me. I say look that this or look at that and know that God is one who is responsible. When God proves to the world that He is with me I don’t present the evidence, I am the evidence. It is not what I say about my life that shows His glory. It is my life itself that shows His glory.

If I were to declare to you that I was from Africa and am a member of the Zulu tribe how would you judge whether or not I was telling the truth. Well if you know anything about the Zulu tribe you would know that am too short and certainly too fat to be a Zulu warrior. I also don’t know how to speak the language. And when you look at my skin you know that the pigment I display is not consistent with being a Zulu. So you would know, even though I “witnessed” with fervor, that I am not from the Zulu tribe.

If I were a Zulu you probably wouldn’t need more than a word of confirmation to know that I am indeed a Zulu. I might only need to say the word Zulu and point my finger at myself and you would know.

As a follower of Jesus I may declare with great fervor that I am a Christian, but the proof is not in what I say, but rather in what the world sees when they look at my life.

Remember, you are the evidence!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Purpose of Work!

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-13

If you were reared in a “pick yourself up by your own bootstraps” culture and were taught the “Protestant work ethic” then you know how revolutionary it was to find out that my work has nothing to do with my salvation. I cannot earn my salvation. It is a gift and it depends on the mercy and grace of God, not on my effort.

The problem is that many of us decided that if my work was not the basis of my salvation then I might as well not work at all! Brother, did that miss the mark. My work may not be why I am saved, but it is the way God teaches, trains, and yes provides for my needs here on this earth. According to the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3 my work may not provide salvation but it does provide food to eat. In fact, he specifically says that a follower of Jesus who will not work should not be allowed to eat! Those are pretty strong words. What about compassion? Aren’t we supposed to feed the hungry?

Imagine a farmer with a son who refuses to go to the field with his father because working is not the basis of his inheritance. He might say, “Father I am so glad that I am your son and that I don’t need to work to earn the position of being your child. So I will just spend my time enjoying myself and never work with you or for you.”

That son would be in for a rude awakening. And yet many say to God by their actions, “Father I am so glad that I am Your child and that I don’t need to work to earn the position of being Your child. So I will just spend my time enjoying Your blessings and never work with You or for You.”

“Today Lord, show me the works that You have prepared for me. Let me labor with You and for You because I am Your child!”