Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Upholding Zion’s Cause!

For the LORD has a day of vengeance,
a year of retribution, to uphold Zion's cause.
Isaiah 34:8

It is hard for some Christians to believe that God would still fight for the Jewish people since they have, for the most part rejected Jesus. How can God not reject them since they have rejected His Son?

The answer to this question is easy for any parent who has ever been rejected by a child. Rejection is not countered with rejection. Words of denunciation are not responded to in kind. Instead there is pain and hope at the same time. Maybe someday this rebellious child will turn back to the parents who gave him life in the first place!

And so is God with Israel. The “forever” promises that God made to Abraham have not been erased from the Book! God’s faithfulness does not end when our faithlessness begins.

It is the same with God and me. When I accepted Jesus Christ I was “born again” into the family of God. As a child in God’s Kingdom I am both the object of His love and His responsibility to correct and train. When I become a “prodigal” God does not erase my name from His family. When I am rebellious I do not cease to be His son.

The sad truth for the people of Israel today is that there is no salvation outside of the Blood of Jesus. Rejecting the Son of God includes the choice to be eternally separated from the Father. But His love even for those on the road to destruction is not diminished.

Years ago I saw some graffiti on a wall that I have never forgotten. The words were simple and yet profound. They said this: “Christmas is the birthday of the oldest living Jew!” Jesus Himself was a Jew!

Remember the words of Isaiah 34:8. “For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion's cause.” God is still concerned about and will uphold the cause of Jesus’ human family!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Full Meaning!

“Don’t suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to do away with them, but to give them their full meaning.
Heaven and earth may disappear. But I promise you that not even a period of comma will ever disappear from the Law. Everything in it must happen.”

Matthew 5:17-18

When we label the Bible as “Old” and “New” Testaments we inject them with meaning that comes from our dictionary, not from scripture itself.

Jesus spoke of this issue when He said “don’t suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets.”

As a child I viewed the Old Testament time as “God’s rough draft.” He tried the Garden of Eden and that didn’t work out too well. It seems He planted one too many trees in Eden. It all went downhill from there and with the exception of Noah and his family, God wiped out the entire earth. Later God confused languages and scattered the people around the earth after they started building the Tower of Babel.

Finally, Jesus came and paid the price for our sins and brought all who would believe in Him back to God.

But the Old Testament was not God’s failed attempt. His purpose and plan were fully formed even before Adam and Eve took the fatal bite of fruit!

The New Testament was not God’s second attempt to bring man into fellowship with Him. The New Testament is the culmination of God’s purpose with man on this earth.

If a man took all of his money out of one bank and walked across the street to open a new account would he say: “I’m opening a new bank account so I will not be putting any of my “old money” in the new account. That money was in the old account and so I will just throw it away.”

Only a fool would say such a thing.

The treasure of the Old Testament is given its full meaning in the Glory of the New Testament. Jesus gave the Law and the Prophets their full meaning!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pretend Worship!

“The soldiers knelt down and pretended to worship Him!”
Matthew 27:29b – Contemporary English Version

The New Testament reveals things about worship that are worthy of  imitation but not the “pretend worship” of the soldiers as they mocked Jesus on the way to the Cross.

This is indeed a strange scene. Why would the soldiers even bother to “play” with Jesus like a cat would play with a mouse? There is no indication that the Roman soldiers had sensed any offense from Jesus.

Perhaps this scene occurred because of our need to be taught that there is a thing called “pretend worship.”

Pretend worship happens on the road to putting Jesus back on the Cross! Pretending to worship is one of the greatest temptations of a human. When other things are more important than Jesus, we pretend to worship Him. The opposite of “Pretend worship” is a totally encompassing experience that removes every competitor from the race. Falling down before Jesus is the natural response to seeing Him. If I worship Him in Spirit and in Truth I am captured by the experience.

Worshipping Jesus is the highest privilege of humanity. Time stops when I am standing exposed before the Creator of all the Cosmos and beyond. I cannot hide my imperfections from Him. He is the Great Physician and only when I show Him my wounded and “sin sick” heart can I know His healing touch!

“Lord, heal me. Let my corruptions be made incorruptible by your eternal power. I run to You Lord with my weaknesses and fears. You are the only one who can help. I fall at Your feet to worship You because Your feet are holier than the purest and most holy thing on earth!”

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The God of Today!

See, the day of the LORD is coming
—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
and destroy the sinners within it.
The stars of heaven and their constellations
will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
and the moon will not give its light.
I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
I will make man scarcer than pure gold,
more rare than the gold of Ophir.

Isaiah 13:9-12

As a very young boy one of the lessons I learned at church was this: “The age of miracles has ceased.” It was important to teach me this “truth” to keep me from following some charlatan pretending to be a “man of God.” If I knew that there were no miracles today then I could keep to the straight and narrow and not be bothered by false claims of God’s power.

I later learned that every age is an “age of miracles.” God does not show His power on Sunday but not on Monday or Tuesday. His power is not tied to a clock or a calendar and men and women of faith have seen Him work in miraculous ways since the beginning!

Another lesson I learned at church was more subtle. “God doesn’t punish us here on earth for our sins. God only punishes sinners by sending them to Hell when they die.” That lesson means that when you curse God you do not need to worry about lightning or any other kind of revenge from God. Of course, the Bible does say that God is very patient and “long-suffering,” but it never takes God’s wrath out of the picture here and now.

Isaiah 13 clearly speaks of God bringing judgment on this earth to a sinful people. God is still involved in the affairs of men! He brings blessings and He brings wrath in response to sin. If God only punishes in Hell after this life is over then we must come up with an alternative explanation for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

If you take away God’s Miracles and God’s Wrath from the world today, then you can muddle through life without being bothered by God. But men and women of faith cannot do that.

God is not only the God of yesterday and the God of tomorrow; God is THE GOD OF TODAY! Today God brings miracles and today God brings wrath! Look for both!

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Master!

“Some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.”

Galatians 2:4-5

When we think of slavery in America we are reminded of African tribal wars, slave traders, vastly overcrowded boats, and Southern plantations. We also think about the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. We do not think of spies. I can’t remember hearing about the use of spies to promote slavery.

The Bible says that there can be spies in the Church who have the purpose of taking away our freedom and making us into slaves. How do you recognize a spy? If you do, then they are no longer a spy! Spy’s who are recognized are unable to do their work.

When my father was a boy there was no such thing as a driver’s license. If your legs were long enough to reach the pedals you could drive a car. His great grandson who bears his name wishes that were still the case. The freedom for anyone to drive is now limited by a law. The law says you must qualify for a driver’s license if you want to drive a car. The law limits freedom.

Spies in the Church bring laws that take away freedom. Paul said that giving in to those laws compromises the “truth of the Gospel.” He said he did not give in to them.

What’s the harm in a few laws brought by spies? The harm is that we become slaves of those laws. Slaves are only effective servants for their own master.

If you are a slave of Jesus you are truly free. If you are a slave of the laws brought by spies you cannot be a slave of Jesus. Slaves have only one master!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thief in the Night!

     Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
     But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-5

A “thief in the night” came to my house almost forty years ago. He came, found the things he wanted and left without disturbing our sleep. But after we found the evidence of his intrusion my sleep was disturbed for many subsequent nights. I would dream about waking up to find him coming through my window.

Before the thief came I slept well. It was only after, that I was literally upset to the point of occasional panic.

The Bible says the return of Jesus will be like a “thief in the night.” The world sleeps peacefully unaware that everything is about to change forever. Are there signs that Jesus will soon come? Of course there are. There are many signs that clearly fulfill Bible prophecies about the time prior to the return of Jesus. The signs are not going to be recognized by those who have no faith, they are for the faithful.

When you go to the airport to meet a loved one returning from a long trip you stand and watch the horizon waiting for the plane. You know the plane is coming and you know your loved one will be on the plane, but you never know the exact moment of touchdown until it happens.

We stand at the end of the runway looking for Jesus and we know that the “signs of the times” scream “the Lord is coming.” We do not know the exact moment Jesus will return, but the turmoil of the times clearly heralds His coming!

For the skeptics I ask this question: If we are wrong and this time only looks like the time just before the return of Jesus what harm is done by expecting Jesus to appear? Is this a sin? Expecting Jesus on a day He does not return is not a tragedy. Not expecting Jesus on the day He does return is the ultimate tragedy.

Wake up and look up!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tested by Praise!

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but man is tested by the praise he receives.

Proverbs 27:21

The “Wisdom of Solomon” lives on after thousands of years because that wisdom originated not with a man but with God Himself. God created humanity and then established the boundaries of wisdom and foolishness according to His Sovereign design. The whim of God is the bedrock of truth.

Through the vessel of Solomon God says that a man is tested by the praise he receives. How is praise a test? We all delight in and are encouraged by praise. But praise can be a great test and one that is easy to fail.

Praise is a test when we begin to believe the words that go beyond the truth. When I think of myself more highly than I ought to think I am guilty of failing the “Praise Test.” Believing the praise that is heaped upon you can be the very essence of certain failure. Praise can give you the confidence to step off the ladder when there is no safety net.

Praise can lead you to trust in yourself instead of trusting in God! That is the biggest problem with praise. So the answer to the dilemma of praise is this: When praise comes your way, point to the Lord and direct the praise to Him. The truth of course is that God is responsible for anything you have done that is worthy of praise and He can handle the praise.

When you praise anyone other than God it is misdirected praise, and when you receive praise without passing it on to God it becomes a great test in your life which is easy to fail!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Deaf to God!

The Lord, the LORD Almighty,
called you on that day
to weep and to wail,
to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth.
But see, there is joy and revelry,
slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep,
eating of meat and drinking of wine!
"Let us eat and drink," you say,
"for tomorrow we die!"

Isaiah 22:12-13

My father was deaf in one ear. It was a handicap, of sorts but a useful excuse when he didn’t want to hear what was being said. I have an undiagnosed level of hearing loss myself and so I can emulate my father in that area.

When the communication is negative and I don’t like its demand on my life I can simply choose not to hear and go on living the way I want.

Many followers of Jesus are deaf to the calling of God in their lives. They have serious intellectual discussions about “hearing the voice of God” and all the factors involved. It is a deep subject for those who choose not to hear. But for those who open their ears and hearts to the voice of the Lord it is simple. God speaks and I listen! Then I do what He says! The problem is not God’s inability to speak clearly to my life. It is not my lack of understanding of His Word. I simply choose to be deaf when it comes to the voice of God unless I hear Him speak of peace and joy and blessings! When He mentions those things and especially prosperity I perk up my ears and pay close attention until God begins again to speak of suffering.

Isaiah 22:12-13 speaks of God calling people to “weep and wail, tear out their hair and put on sackcloth.” But the people instead “Party” even though they see the destruction that is coming on them.

As the plane goes down the passengers pray instead of party. Only a fool celebrates when faced with certain calamity.

God is speaking today! Are you listening?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Conscientious Objector?

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”

Colossians 3:5-6

When I was young I considered myself a “conscientious objector” when it came to war. I could not imagine a reason why I would take someone else’s life. But when I married and assumed the responsibility for protecting my wife from any attackers I became open to the possibility that there could be exceptions to my rule. Then with the birth of our first child I was completely converted into a “vicious warrior” when it came to protecting my little girl! Any enemy of my little girl was an enemy of mine and would suffer the consequences even if that meant they had to die in the process. It was quite a change in my heart.

Today there are many “spiritual conscientious objectors.” They cannot imagine a reason why they would kill anything that belongs to the earthly nature. They refuse to strike a fatal blow at sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Somehow they believe they can negotiate a peace treaty with these enemy combatants and be able to co-exist with them while living a life that is pleasing to Jesus.

Do you remember the story when King Saul disobeyed God’s instruction to kill all the Amalekites?

“Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely.” I Samuel 15:9

God was not pleased and Saul lost the throne.

Are you trying to spare the things that God has said to put to death? Are you afraid to kill the things that belong to your earthly nature? Killing the earthly nature takes place in your own heart. It is there you put an end to the enemy by putting it's forces to death.

When you take aim at your earthly nature be sure and “shoot to kill!”

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Look for the End!

Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?"

I answered, "Sir, you know."

And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Revelation 7:13-17

Hunger, thirst and scorching heat are some of the things that followers of Jesus experience in this life but will not experience in Heaven! The appreciation of joy and peace on this earth is based on the obvious contrast between bad times and good times. You enjoy health after you have experienced sickness. You enjoy wealth after you have walked in poverty. You enjoy a beautiful spring day after a long hard winter. So how can we enjoy Heaven forever without the bad times to make us appreciate the good?

I think I have just stepped in to the “that question is too deep to ponder” area. But consider this.

When you are at the pinnacle of peace and joy in this life something always comes and takes you away from that place. It may be sickness, sorrow or even death. But it always comes. Then by trusting God you climb back out of despair to share the joy of the Lord and live in His strength. In Heaven nothing will ever come to steal away your joy and peace. You will never experience again those things that came as the result of sin. Your joy and peace will never, never end! Hallelujah!

How can this truth help me now?

When you can’t see the end of suffering the burden is very hard to bear. But when you can see the end you can hang on waiting for deliverance. When tribulation and suffering come look for the End and hang on tight to Jesus! He is coming and we are going! Don’t let go and don’t despair. The Eternal Daybreak is almost here!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tangled Line!

They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.
2 Peter 2:19-20

I am old enough to have gone fishing while using a fishing reel that was not “tangle proof.” You never know exactly how it happens, but you cast out the line and it abruptly stops because the fishing line is “tangled up” on the reel. So you must spend precious “fishing time” carefully tracing out the confused and frustrating mess of line before you can return to the joy of fishing! Some modern fishing reels are designed to minimize the possibility of becoming tangled.

Jesus Himself compared the work of His disciples to fishing. He told them that they would fish for men. I know that the early disciples did not use rods and reels to fish, but I believe the comparison is still valid. When you are fishing for men and you become entangled in the corruption of this world your ability to fish stops until you escape!

It is just like fishing for fish. I am having a fine day casting out into the water where the fish are waiting to be found when suddenly my line become tangled and fishing is over until the line is untangled.

So when you look at the corruption around you and you hear Satan tell you that “a little taste of the tree won’t hurt” then be warned that becoming entangled in the world will halt fishing for men!

Slaves of depravity cannot catch men for Jesus!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thirsty Again!

He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
like a river it flowed in the desert.

Psalm 105:41

The Bible tells the story of Moses and two rocks. Moses struck both rocks with his staff and missed going in to the Promised Land because of it. God told Moses to strike the rock the first time, but the second time he was only to speak to the rock. He did not. Moses struck the rock again and God was angry!

I believe this story is telling all of us about Jesus. Jesus is the Rock! When we were dying of thirst God allowed Jesus to be struck by dying on the cross and Rivers of Living Water came forth to save us from eternal death!

Now when Living Water is needed, and we all do every day, we must speak to the Rock not crucify Him!

“Lord, I am thirsty again. You filled me yesterday with the water that quenched my every desire. But now Lord I need that Water again. Without that water I cannot live. Without that water I am in anguish. Without that water I am the most miserable of all men. But one drink of the Water that flows from You and I can soar with the eagles and sing Your praises like an angel. I am drying up like a desert. Without that water I will soon be dead! Let the banks of Your River overflow and flood my life with Living Water! Amen”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Don’t Walk RUN!

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

I am always intrigued by a prison escape movie. They are especially “fun” if the prison is so tightly guarded that no one has ever broken out. Then comes your favorite star with a well crafted script and he is seen planning and executing the “perfect” prison break. In a movie like this you must watch every scene and listen to every word or you may miss a pivotal moment in the plot.

Jesus came to “set the prisoners free.” All men and women are tightly held in the prison of sin and death. But when they encounter Jesus he provides a way out. He not only provides a way out of sin and death but also shows us how to escape temptation.

When I am bombarded with temptation Jesus shows me a way out. The Bible does not say that Jesus pushes me out or pulls me out. Jesus shows me the way! Without that “way” I am without hope of standing against temptation. But with that “way” I can walk or run away from temptation!

The best example in the Bible of how to escape temptation is the story of Joseph running away from Potiphar’s wife. Joseph, at the pinnacle of the temptation did not reason with it or even argue with it. Joseph ran away!

So when Jesus shows you the way of escape from the “sin that so easily besets you” don’t walk, RUN!

Monday, September 14, 2009


The godly have been swept from the land;
not one upright man remains.
All men lie in wait to shed blood;
each hunts his brother with a net.
Both hands are skilled in doing evil;
the ruler demands gifts,
the judge accepts bribes,
the powerful dictate what they desire—

they all conspire together.
The best of them is like a brier,
the most upright worse than a thorn hedge.
The day of your watchmen has come,
the day God visits you.
Now is the time of their confusion.

Micah 7:2-4

The story about the frog cooking in the pot is very old, but it is also very contemporary. If the heat is turned up slowly enough the frog doesn’t jump out of the pot. The frog sits in the ever warming water until he is cooked and dead!

The heat has been turning up ever so slowly in the U.S.A. The godly have been swept from the land by the flood of unchecked evil. Some have been swept completely away and others drowned but all who remain are soaking wet sitting in a lifeboat hoping for rescue! If you live in this country you have been corrupted by evil.

We love to point the finger at those who are more corrupt than we are and declare that everything would be fine if they would just repent and turn back to God. “Self Righteousness” is despicable even if everyone is guilty of it. Almost hitting the target is just as much a failure as missing the mark.

“Lord, show me today how I have been corrupted. Let me see myself not as others see me, but as You see me. Let me not be swept away in the flood of corruption that is sweeping across this land. Give me the courage to confess to You the sin You reveal!”

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Baptism of the Wicked!

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, 'This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.
Exodus 9:13-16

God “raised up” Pharaoh for the purpose of showing His own power so that everyone on earth would hear the name of the Lord. Pharaoh was not a nice man. Pharaoh did not fear God. Pharaoh, in fact rejected God at every turn even when the plagues from the Hand of God were severe. But in all of this, God was using Pharaoh in a mighty way to show everyone His own power!

Do you see any Pharaohs in the world today? Do you see any leaders that refuse to acknowledge the power and purpose of God in the world? Are there those who would remove God’s influence in the affairs of men? Is there wickedness in high places?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then what must we do in opposition to such evil? Some would say we must debate with evil. Debating with the forces of evil is a contest that only evil wins. Others say we must vote evil out of office. The corruption now rampant in the world precludes fair and honest elections. Evil will win again if we only try to vote it out.

The answer is this: We must march to the shore of the Red Sea and wait for the wind of God to part the waters. Then without fear we must walk on the dry land between the parted waters. Evil will follow but at that point its fate is sealed. After you cross the Red Sea then you can look back and praise the Lord as the waters wash over those who oppose God! It is a baptism of the wicked by the Hand of God and that baptism cleanses the land of evil!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Moral Orbit!

"This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Disaster! An unheard-of disaster is coming. The end has come! The end has come! It has roused itself against you. It has come! Doom has come upon you—you who dwell in the land. The time has come, the day is near; there is panic, not joy, upon the mountains. I am about to pour out my wrath on you and spend my anger against you; I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will repay you in accordance with your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that it is I the LORD who strikes the blow."

Ezekiel 7:5-9

The most amazing experience for an astronaut in orbit must be weightlessness. Floating around and being able to “fly” from room to room is literally the stuff of dreams. With space flight we temporarily suspend the law of gravity by moving away from the earth and into orbit. The experience of “getting around” the law of gravity is by all reports great fun! I must confess I would love to do that myself. But there is a serious implication for all of us.

Humanity spends much of its time and energy attempting to suspend not the physical laws of God but rather the moral laws of God. We use technology to eliminate the consequences of sin and even provide educational programs to teach young people how to sin without any negative impact on their lives. We believe that getting around God’s moral laws is “the stuff of dreams.”

So like the astronauts we “float around” for a time untouched by moral law and think that we have defeated God at His own game! The only difference is that unlike astronauts who are able to land softly and safely after a space flight there is no soft landing after “going into moral orbit!”

Friday, September 11, 2009

Journey Through Eternity!

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.

Revelation 22:1-3

In Jakarta, Indonesia there is a river that flows in the middle of one of the main streets of the city. It has been almost forty years since I have seen that river, but the memory of it is still vivid in my mind. The river was as dark as mud and smelled like an open sewer. I can still see a man on the bank of the river with a toothbrush using that water to clean his teeth. It was shocking to say the least!

In Heaven there is a River that flows in the middle of the great street of the city. I have never seen that River, but a vision of it is vivid in my mind. The water in Heaven’s River is as clear as crystal. On each side of that River the Tree of Life grows with new fruit for every month of the year. When I go to Heaven I will have the right to eat the fruit from the Tree of Life!

Eating the fruit of the wrong tree is the wrong choice that put all of mankind in the terrible “fix” we have been in since the time of Adam and Eve. After they ate the wrong fruit death came to dwell with men and all the frustrations and suffering of the “Curse” filled our lives with pain.

In Heaven I will be allowed to walk up to the tree of life and take a bite from the fruit that will sustain my life forever!

The best comparison in today’s world is when I consume the bread and wine of the “Lord’s Supper.” That bit of food represents the Body and Blood of Jesus which sustains my life and gifts me with  forgiveness and salvation.

Today let yourself ponder your first bite of the fruit from the Tree of Life! The piece of fruit you will eat may be hanging there right now waiting for you to arrive in Heaven and begin your journey through eternity!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Like a Child!

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Matthew 18:2-6

When I was a little child I was the perfect example of what Jesus was talking about when He said we must become like little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Now I’m not bragging because you were the perfect example also.

That was the time when I would look at the world around me and see no evil. I assumed that everyone had good motives and could be trusted to always tell the truth. I believed that no one would choose to do me harm and so I could sleep peacefully no matter what was going on around me.

The next stage in my development was to trust my father. As I grew a little older I did begin to see bad things in the world and even bad people. But I knew, without a doubt that my father would protect me from all that. I knew that no one could harm me because my father was constantly watching over me and would care for my every need.

Then came what some have called the “age of accountability” when I chose to leave the safety of my father’s care and “see the world” for myself. Like every other person who has ever lived when I did that I sinned and fell short of the Glory of God!

So now Jesus tells me to become like a little child. I must become like I was before I took the plunge into the rebellious world of sin! Of course, I can only do that by the power of Jesus. But it does help me to remember what it was like before I was daily bombarded with the temptation to sin.

When I was a little child I was a “believer.” I believed the things that I was told and did not subject them to scrutiny and discussion. I could not imagine that the things that I was told were lies so I accepted them without question. You see, when I question what I am told I am putting the speaker on the witness stand and cross examining him so I can uncover any lies. To do that with another man is necessary, but to do that with the Word of God is blasphemy.

Satan’s plan is to make me a little child when it comes to his word and a skeptical adult when it comes to God. But Jesus wants us to be just the opposite of that. Be a little child when it comes to God and His Word and be skeptical of every word that comes out of the mouth of the world!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fear God Now!

Psalm 64 (New Living Translation)

1 O God, listen to my complaint.

Protect my life from my enemies’ threats.

2 Hide me from the plots of this evil mob,

from this gang of wrongdoers.

3 They sharpen their tongues like swords

and aim their bitter words like arrows.

4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent,

attacking suddenly and fearlessly.

5 They encourage each other to do evil

and plan how to set their traps in secret.

“Who will ever notice?” they ask.

6 As they plot their crimes, they say,

“We have devised the perfect plan!”

Yes, the human heart and mind are cunning.

7 But God himself will shoot them with his arrows,

suddenly striking them down.

8 Their own tongues will ruin them,

and all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.

9 Then everyone will be afraid;

they will proclaim the mighty acts of God

and realize all the amazing things he does.

10 The godly will rejoice in the LORD

and find shelter in him.

And those who do what is right

will praise him.

When little boys argue one of the supporting points is often the size, ability and even ferocity of their fathers! “My dad can beat up your dad,” might be one favorite line of the debate. And if you are a father with a small son you know in your heart how far you would go to protect and defend the life and even the honor of your son.

There is built in to every man a militant nature especially in defense of his own children.

So what about God and His children? Will God stand by forever and tolerate the abuse of His children? Will God never take revenge on those who do harm to His own family?

The quiet patience of God is perceived to be a lack of power or ability. Men see God not as a sleeping lion, but as a “stuffed animal” incapable of going on the offense.

Be aware that God is a “lion,” but He is not sleeping. And just at the right moment His power will cover the earth like a flood of revenge on those who reject Jesus. There will be no place to hide and there will be no excuse.

All men will fear Him then, except those who fear Him now! The LION is awake and ready to roar.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Modest Proposal!

5 Finally these men said, "We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God."
6 So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: "O King Darius, live forever! 7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions' den. 8 Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed." 9 So King Darius put the decree in writing.
10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

Daniel 6:5-10

The first thing Daniel did when he learned that it was now illegal to pray was to go to his room with the windows open and pray in plain view of everyone!

It would have been so simple to curtail his public prayer times for thirty days and then who would know he was violating the law in private? All Daniel would have to do is pretend that he was obeying the law and there would be no lion’s den for him. Didn’t Jesus tell us not to pray in public, but to go and pray secretly to our closet? So why did Daniel put his whole life on the line by being openly disobedient to the law?

The difference is this: When you pray in public with the purpose of being seen and receiving the praise of men you miss the whole point of prayer. But when you pray private because you fear what men will do to you if they see you pray, you deny the power of God to protect and save you from their evil designs!

In a very real sense in the United States of America there is a “law” today that says you cannot pray in public. We are prohibited from praying to God in schools, at sporting events, public meetings and even meals if the gathering is related to any public entity.

Daniel has not been our example. Daniel stands today and points his finger at followers of Jesus and says, “Don’t you trust God?”

God saved Daniel from the den of lions and God still saves His people when they put their trust in Him.

So I would make a modest proposal. Let us do as Daniel did and blatantly disobey the law (it is not a written law) that says we cannot pray in public. If those who follow Jesus begin to pray in public, not to be praised by men, but to praise God and challenge the effort to stop us from calling on the Name of the Lord, Daniel’s story will be repeated!

Remember, the only way to be saved from the mouths of lions is to get thrown into the lion’s den!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Salt of the Covenant!

Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.

Leviticus 2:13

Our local discount club sells a plastic bag of 1200 individual salt packets for $1.87! That is about as close as “here have some salt for almost free” as you can get. Salt is an essential part of our diet and especially our taste buds. Salt brings out the flavor of food.

But when you leave out the salt as you prepare a meal everyone will notice!

The Bible tells me to add the “salt of the covenant of God” to all my offerings. What could that really mean? I might say: “We don’t do sacrifices anymore so this does not apply.” Perhaps it applies even more. Today the things that I give to God are not burned on an altar. The money, time, effort and all other resources I give to God are used to bless others. If you went to Church on Sunday and the offering plate was taken to the front and all the money burned on an altar, how much would you contribute? Did it cross your mind that if we did that we would all pay by check?

That which we offer to God becomes a blessing to others. But do you include the “salt of the covenant of your God” with the offering? Do you proclaim that God has an agreement and relationship with you?

There is perhaps the paramount temptation for followers of Jesus. When I make some sacrifice that benefits others do I point to God as the one who should receive the glory for my work? Or do I simply accept the thanks and praise of others?

Remember when someone called Jesus a “good teacher” he immediately pointed out the Goodness of God rather than accept the compliment.

As you go through this day and bless those around you don’t forget to include the “salt of the covenant of your God!”

Sunday, September 6, 2009

After Life Stories!

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:27-28

I am a firm believer that “after death” experiences are either “a bunch of hooey” or something worse. Death is not something you do more than once. Either you died or you didn’t. It is one or the other. There is no one who is “mostly dead” or “partly dead.”

The Bible tells of some people who really did die and were raised to life again. The list is not long. It includes a lady named Dorcus and Lazarus, the friend of Jesus. These people were dead and they did come back to life. There is not one word of comment in the Bible or in history as far as I know about their “after death” experiences.

So why today do we hear about “tunnels” of light and other memories people had while they were “dead?”

The truth is that as human beings we are already dead, spiritually dead. All of life here on this earth is an after death experience for those who don’t know Jesus. The cause of death is sin and the plight of man is that all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God!

I believe that today’s “after death” stories are Satan’s attempts to remove the fear of death so men will not turn to Jesus even on their death bed. Even as the thief on the cross turned to Jesus as he was dying, while breath remains a man can accept Jesus Christ! Over the centuries many men and women have done just that as they faced certain death.

To me the most exciting stories are not “after death” stories, but rather “AFTER LIFE STORIES.” These are the stories of men and women who have been raised to walk a new life with Jesus! By the way, after life stories all have a happy ending!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Do You Stink?

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

2 Corinthians 2:15-16

Why do some odors seem offensive and others attractive? How do you describe a bad smell? Almost forty years ago I was driving very late at night on a trip when I saw a dead skunk in the road. I was getting really sleepy and thought “I’ll just breathe in the bad smell and maybe it will help wake me up.” When I took that breath the odor was so strong that my head jerked like it had been hit with a hammer! It was staggering. I pulled over on the side of the road until I could get over the shock.

Strong offensive odor would make a great weapon. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the following quote: Almost sixty years ago, the US developed a nauseating 'bathroom odor' chemical for use as a weapon. But according to the Army, the old malodorant will not work outside of the US and Western Europe, because "it was found that people in many areas of the world do not find 'fecal odor' to be offensive, since they smell it on a regular basis."

If you are not a pig farmer, then visiting a pig farm can be an “I can hardly stand it” experience. But the pig farmer smells “pure gold.”

Isn’t it amazing that the Bible says that when God smells us to Him it is the aroma of Christ and when the world smells us it is the aroma of death. It is the same odor, but “a good smell is in the nose of the smeller!”

Don’t get angry at the world for being offended by your fragrance. The odor is not what they are used to smelling. It is to them the smell of death. But when a man accepts Jesus Christ then he is changed completely, including his nose! The man who turns his heart to Jesus will be attracted to the aroma that was offensive before.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Child of Abraham!

Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Galatians 3:6-9

My wife and I have been blessed with six children and now nineteen grandchildren. Four of our six children were adopted and the other two were birthed by my wife. One lesson in which we have been well schooled is that regardless of the path a child takes to come into our home his or her standing as a child in this family is equal and without discrimination.

I believe that adopting children is a great way to learn more about the family of God. When we believe in Jesus Christ we not only become Children of God, but also according to Paul in Galatians we become children of Abraham. So when God promised that His blessings would extend to Abraham’s descendants He was talking about me!

For years I have secretly wished I was a Jew. I know that may sound strange, but there is something amazing about the fact that God has chosen one race of people to be His family. The story of the Bible of course totally revolves around Jews and how God worked with them and used them to bring Jesus to the earth as my Savior. I thought it would be wonderful to discover that my ancestors were Jewish. I know this may sound odd since there is so much anti-Jewish sentiment in the world today, but I really would like to find that I am a blood relative of Abraham!

Well, according to these verses if I believe God I am a child of Abraham. I am not pretending to be a child of Abraham. I am a child of Abraham.

Now, that I know that I am a child of Abraham and of God Himself, I should look at the Will and see what He has in store for me!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

White Hats!

Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.
"They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

Malachi 3:16-18

There was a time when it was easy to see the difference between the “good guy” and the “bad guy” in a movie. The good guy not only wore a white hat, but he did not get drunk and shoot people unnecessarily. The bad guy wore black and did the other things that identified him as a “bad guy.” It was also true that no matter how hard the struggle the “good guy” would always win. What we saw depicted on the silver screen was how GOOD would overcome EVIL.

Then came the “Johnny Cash Revolution” where the good guy would also wear black. (Please understand I am not saying something bad about Johnny Cash.) When the good guy could also wear black then it became harder to tell the difference in “good and evil.”

Now, there is no way to tell the difference by outward appearance between the good guy and the bad guy. In fact, today in the movies the “good guys” are the same as the “bad guys” with perhaps one honorable motive around which a story is built.

Malachi says there is coming a time when we will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. There will be no confusion. None of the wicked will be wearing white hats or riding white horses!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Am a Lily!

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Luke 9:25-26

Many years ago I heard a very rich man say that “Money is not a blessing from God; rather it is an awesome responsibility.” The man who made that statement had plenty of money and he loved the Lord so he really did know what he was talking about.

The list of people who have become rich by buying a ticket and winning the lottery is not impressive. I have never heard of someone winning the lottery and then being praised, respected or otherwise honored for it. In fact becoming rich by winning the lottery brings with it lots of troubles, temptations, and lawyers! I have heard of untold numbers of people who without the benefit of riches lived praiseworthy lives and were respected and honored by others.

So why is the life goal of many people simply to “make a million dollars?” Actually in today’s economy the goal would be more like fifty million. Inflation even impacts our greed doesn’t it?

We want to become rich because we believe that money will keep us secure and provide for us the things that we need. We believe money will take away the uncertainty in our lives. There is a long list of other lies that Satan has spread about money.

The Apostle Paul once said that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil! Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

The truth for me as a follower of Jesus Christ is this: My bank account is in heaven. Everything I need will be supplied by my Father and His hand will sustain me in every trouble. His riches are unlimited and He even clothes the “Lilies of the Field.” The lilies don’t work and yet God provides for their needs.

I then work, not because I am providing for myself and my family. I work because there is work that God has prepared for me to do and I must be about my Father’s business. God is responsible for providing for my needs!

God will not lay me off or fire me and His paychecks are never late and they never bounce.

No follower of Jesus is ever “out of work.”