Sunday, January 30, 2011

Same Voice–Different Command!

I am going to stand there in front of you on the rock at Horeb; when you hit the rock, water will come out of it and the people will drink." Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Exodus 17:6

The reason Moses did not go into the Promised Land was that he did, the second time what God had only told him to do once! When God tells you to do something do not assume that you are to do it again in a similar situation.

Striking the rock was not a principle, it was a one time command.
Followers of Jesus must learn to know the difference. You know the difference by listening to the voice of the Lord every time He speaks.
Just because the situation looks the same to you, don't assume that the will of God for your actions is the same.

The reason we err greatly in this is because it allows us a way to retreat from constant fellowship with God and still appear to be spiritual to everyone else.  The Voice of the Lord is something like a navigator on a long distance commercial airplane flight.  Everything may look exactly the same to the pilot, but the speed, altitude, and direction of the plane needs to be very different for this moment if you are to safely reach your destination.  Flying “by the seat of your pants” is not wise and doing spiritually never has a positive outcome.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Live for His Praise!

“On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart-by the Spirit, not the letter. That man's praise is not from men but from God.”

Romans 2:29

The first time I bought a pizza from a small locally owned pizza shop the cook put a phone number on the box and asked me to call him and let him know what I thought of the pizza.  He was certain that I would give him praise for the pizza, and I did.  It was indeed delicious although I think eating it for lunch would be safer.  It was very spicy!

All men want praise.  God created us with the need for praise.  Something deep inside my being is touched when someone praises me.

Wanting praise is not a problem. Wanting praise from men rather than God is a problem.  When you want praise from men you will do whatever it takes to solicit that praise.  But when you desire praise from God you will do whatever He wants so He will praise you.

The illustration may seem to be beneath a proper comparison, but my dog will obey me because I will praise her when she does.  Sometimes she obeys to get a treat, but my praise of her is important and should be the ultimate inspiration in her life.

Live to please God and He will give you everything you need in life!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Faith and Works!

You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

James 2:24

I believe James is telling us that we cannot separate Faith and Works.  Faith without works is dead and works apart from faith are just as lifeless.  What you believe and what you do are inseparably linked. 

But Romans 3:28 says:  “For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

Perhaps the apparent contradiction of these two verses can be resolved in the term “of the law” in the Romans passage.   When works, even works that God has commanded are separated from faith they are powerless.  Doing everything God has commanded without faith in your heart is useless.  But when you have faith you will obey His commands no matter how seemingly trivial they might be.

If you want to test your own faith, look at your works.  The sincerity of your faith is best judged by what you do.  It is easy to look at others and declare that their faith and works don’t match, but to look at yourself and make such a judgment is hard.  Perhaps the best way to do it is to start with your works and ask the question, “How does that come from my faith?”  If you can’t find a link back to your faith, then determine to eliminate it from your life.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Terrified of God!

“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!”

Hebrews 10:31

Are you afraid of God or do you fear Him? There is a great difference in the two. When you are afraid of God there is no relationship with Him. When you are living in fellowship with Him you fear and honor Him more than anyone.

An atheist spends his life trying to convince himself that there is no God. If there is no God then he would not have to be afraid of Him. But if there is a God and he denies Him then what? Every man and woman who has ever lived will be accountable to God in the end. No one will “slip through the cracks” of Hell and end up in Heaven by mistake. God is very interested in what you did with what He gave you. Don’t forget the basis of your salvation is Jesus’ blood on the Cross. Nothing you do can merit salvation, but God still has plans for your life and He desires that you walk in those plans.

“Today Lord, give me the wisdom to know Your plans for my life. Help me to think Your thoughts, speak Your Words and do Your deeds. Give me discernment so I can say yes to You and no to everything else. Let me be terrified only of not pleasing You.”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spiritual Mirage!

“The coming [of the lawless one] is based on Satan's working, with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders, and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. [They perish] because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved.  For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false,  so that all will be condemned-those who did not believe the truth but enjoyed unrighteousness”

1 Thessalonians 2:9-12

Do you love the truth?  The truth is not always pleasant, happy and comfortable.  The truth indeed can hurt.  The truth convicts and will bring judgment on false ideas.

The puzzling thing about these verses is that God who is by His very nature "Truth" sends a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false.  Why would God support falsehood with a delusion?  Remember that Jesus said that He was the Way the Truth and the Life.  So a rejection of Truth is a rejection of Jesus.  If you want to reject Jesus, God gives you plenty of "evidence" on which to base your stand.

God created the desert so that the hottest, driest, and most threatening desert will appear to have water in it.   It is called a mirage and God created the desert of death so that it will have the delusion of life.

When you wander into the desert of sin and reject the truth you will often see delusions that bring you hope for a little while.

The only way to get out of the desert is to repent and turn back to a life of loving the TRUTH.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It Is Not Foot Washing Without Dirt

“So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.”

John 13:14

The command of foot washing is to "do it" not to have it done to your feet.  We are called to be the foot "washer" not the foot "washee."

The only time I had my feet washed because they needed to be washed I was not aware that they were dirty. I was in Ethiopia when a very alert brother who was concerned with the cleanliness of the sheets on the bed I was about to get in approached me with a pan of warm water and a towel. 

It was not a ceremony, but rather a necessity. My limited experience with ceremonial foot washing is that it is humiliating for the person being washed. Necessary foot washing is not humiliating but rather a blessing. When my needs are addressed by a brother I am blessed. When I am encouraged to be part of a ceremony I am usually embarrassed.

Look for the feet that need to be washed and wash them. Recently a brother “washed my feet” by bringing me a load of firewood when I had none to heat the house. Even the time that Jesus washed the disciples feet was a time of necessity. Peter told Jesus to wash all of him, but Jesus refused because he was already clean. The bottom line is this: It isn’t foot washing if there is no dirt!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Your Name in a Book!

“And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Revelation 20:15

There was a marketing genius who came up with the idea of putting people's names in a book and then selling them a copy.  I think the name was "Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities." 

Almost 40 years ago I bought a copy because it had my name in it.  It was a great idea because the book was big and there were thousands of names and of course probably thousands of books sold.

The Book of Life is a book of names.  Only the Lord Himself knows how many names are in the Book of Life.  If your name is in the Book of Life then you will go to Heaven and if it is not written there you will be thrown into the lake of fire.

Frankly, it is nice to see your own name written in a book.  But the Book of Life is not available at your local Barnes and Nobles.  There are no libraries with copies of the Book of Life.

Jesus said that He was the way, the truth and the LIFE.  The only way to know that you are in the Book of Life is to be in Jesus Christ.  If you are in Christ then you are in the Book.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Time Before!

He also said to me, "Don't seal the prophetic words of this book, because the time is near.”
Revelation 22:10

What will be happening on the earth just before the return of Jesus?  The signs of the return of Jesus are not given so you can be "right" in predicting His return.  The signs are given so you can turn your heart to Him even more fully.

Without question we are nearer the coming of Jesus than any generation has ever been.  That truth is quite obvious, but everyone wants to know how near we really are.  I would simply ask WHY do you want to know?  Do you want to know so you can wait until the last minute to repent of your favorite sin?  Do you want to know so you can “get serious” with God just before Jesus returns?

If that is what your heart is doing as your mind searches for understanding then you will be sadly disappointed.  God knows what is in your heart and He will be perfectly willing to confuse your mind and keep you from going even deeper into self deception. 

Seeing the signs is a gift from God that will stave off the desperation that the whole world is beginning to feel.  Everything is going wrong everywhere.  Stories that would have been “big news” a year ago are now buried in the reporting because there are three or four bigger stories all happening at the same time.   

Is this the time before the End?  Indeed it may be.  So live as if the End will come today not tomorrow and let Jesus in to every secret place in your heart so you will be ready and waiting when the trumpet sounds!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Looking Like Jesus!

“Dear friends, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.”

1 John 3:2

When Jesus returns His children will look like Him!

Adopted children usually don't look like their parents.  Genetics itself insures that you will look like your birth parents, not your adopted parents.

The only way an adopted child can look like his non birth parents is to undergo major physical alterations.  I have of course never heard of an adopted child undergoing plastic surgery so he will look like his father.
But that is what happens with every Christian. 

When you were born again into the family of God you did not look like or even act like Jesus.  Now as a child of God He shapes you into the likeness of Jesus!  He uses every life experience to make you look like Jesus.  You will feel the glory of knowing that you are destined to live with God forever, but you will also know the suffering that was such an important part of the life of Jesus.

When a doctor says:  "This will hurt a little," you know that it probably will hurt a lot.  God never said that we will suffer only a little in this life.  And He never said it would not hurt a lot.  But He did promise to change us into the image of Jesus Christ!  Is that worth the pain?  Well, truthfully you can't be like Jesus without the suffering.

Let God cut away everything in your life that does not look like Jesus.  Then when Jesus comes you will be like Him!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

If I Loved the World!


Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.

I John 2:15

If you loved the world how would your life be different from the way you live it now?

If a man does not love his wife how is his life different from the man who loves his wife?  The answer to that question is very apparent.  A man who loves his wife spends time with her and spends his resources trying to please her.  He puts her needs above his own.

It is a good thing to love your wife, but it is not a good thing to love the world.  When you love the world you spend your time and resources trying to please the world.  You focus on the world and live your life so that you will be honored by the world.

Never forget that you can't love the world and God at the same time.   You will hate one if you love the other.  Don't just listen to what you say about loving God, look carefully at what you do.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Go with the Angels!

Then I heard another voice from heaven:
Come out of her, My people,
so that you will not share in her sins
or receive any of her plagues.

Revelation 18:4

How do you "come out" of a nation so that you will not share in her sins?  I have pondered this over many years and frankly, I still wonder what that really means.

If the nation in which you live is wicked, does God want you to physically leave that land?  If you were to ask Abraham’s nephew Lot that question what do think his answer would be?  If Lot had refused to leave Sodom after the angels warned him do you think that God would have repented from His plan to destroy the city?  Of course not.

When you live in a wicked nation it is hard not to share in her sins.  Our Supreme Court has decided, now for almost thirty years that it is alright to kill your baby before the baby is born.  This decision came at a time in the United States when God’s law’s about sexual relationships were tossed out and replaced with “anything goes.”  My own attitude has morphed over those years.  Yes I am against abortion, but I no longer see the need to loudly protest against it. I confess that I may to that extent be sharing in that sin.

There are of course many examples of our excesses and godlessness.  But I have not left.  This verse in Revelation is clear.  If I cannot come out of the land, then I must come out of the culture.  That is something everyone follower of Jesus can do.  When you only come out of the culture you will still share in the plagues that come on the land, but you may not yield to the temptations to share in the sins of the nation. 

The beginning step for coming out of the culture is to immerse yourself in the Word of God and let it establish your attitudes about everything.  Don’t try to think like the role models of the world.  Don’t listen to their advice or try to dress in their likeness.

All the while look for the angels and if they come to lead you out of the land, then go and go quickly!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Wrath of God


“So the angel swung his sickle toward earth and gathered the grapes from earth's vineyard, and he threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath.”

Revelation 14:19

When God is angry what can you do? God’s wrath is real and there is nothing you or anyone can do except make peace with God. If you have not made peace with God all of your attempts to avoid the consequences of His wrath will be futile. Wrath includes vengeance and God says that vengeance is His and that He will repay.

Your pride, arrogance and cunning will not even slow down the wrath of God. Your pleas for mercy based on your own good works will do no good at all. You and everyone else have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That is everyone except Jesus Christ. Jesus is a refuge inside of whom there is safety from the wrath of God.

When I come to Jesus His love puts me in a place where God’s wrath will not come!

The wrath of God is coming on the world and everyone who does not know and trust Jesus Christ!

Keep all of your senses inside of Christ and venture outside, not at all. Everything you need is in Jesus and outside of Him everything will burn!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Faith of Quietness


“The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet."

Exodus 14:14

One of the most difficult spiritual disciplines is being quiet during turmoil.  When troubles break out in your life and Pharoah and his army appear while you stand backed up against the Red Sea, being quiet is the last thing you want to do.

The quandary is this: Do I act in a way that is consistent with Scripture and what I believe God is telling me to do, or do I stand quietly and let the Lord fight for me?

The answer to that is this: If you have learned to hear the voice of the Lord well, then act according to what you hear.  If you still wonder whether or not it is God's voice then follow Scripture.  Scripture is God's voice and if you are true to that Word you will not sin against the Lord.

Remember, there are many men who have learned how to immitate a famous person's voice.  It is a great show to hear an impersonator.   Sometimes the only way to know for sure the person is an impersonator is to see their face and feel their touch.  Then you know if the voice is really that of the famous person and not a sound-alike.

As you listen to the voice of God keep your eyes on His face and let Him touch you.  Then you will know for sure it is the voice of God and not a deception.

Then you can be quiet while the Lord fights for you.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Result of Desiring Godliness


“But you have followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, and endurance, along with the persecutions and sufferings that came to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from them all.  In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

2 Timothy 3:10-12

Why does the world want to persecute those who want to live a "Godly life in Christ Jesus?"

What is threatening about a man or woman who is filled with the fruit of the Spirit and walks according to the Spirit's leading?

It is the classic struggle between light and darkness. One tiny flame dispels the darkness in a large room. Even a dim light is enough for people to see how to move about in safety. For darkness to exist at all it must extinguish all of the light. One spark can be the beginning of a large fire that dispels all the darkness.

One person seeking to live a godly life provides enough light for everyone around to see the truth. Godliness threatens the world like light threatens darkness. Persecution comes when darkness tries to put out the light.
As the children's song so appropriately says, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine."

Fan the flame because Jesus said "You are the light of the world!"

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sin is Evil!


But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!

2 Timothy 3:1-5

When sin abounds life becomes exceedingly difficult. In the wake of sin even the righteous suffer. Lot suffered because of the sin around him. The poisonous snake of sin always bites with venom after the temptation is successful.

A man never really comes to hate sin until it has wrecked havoc among those he loves. Love indeed opens your eyes and heart to the pain and nastiness of sin.

As you seek the Lord with all your heart don't be surprised by the turbulence. Sin, all sin is wicked and evil and destroys even the most beautiful among us. Never forget that when Jesus died upon the Cross he paid the price for the first sin of Adam and Eve as well as the one that is wrecking your life! Let the Cross do it's work in you!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Special Instrument for God!


Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver bowls, but also those of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.

So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

2Timothy 2:20-21

We are not saved by our own works. That truth is worth repeating in a world that establishes our value by what we do and how well we do it. 

There is profit however in  purifying yourself from things that are dishonorable.  Daily choices that shun unrighteousness open the door for you to be a "special instrument" which is set apart and useful to the Master!

So when you are confronted with a choice that gives you an opportunity to stay away from something dishonorable recognize that when you do God is presented with a special instrument through whom He can work!  It is indeed a very motivating thought.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Jesus Loves Me


21 And just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to anyone He wants to. 22 The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son,

John 5:21-22

Do you remember the verse that says "Love covers a multitude of sins?" It is 1 Peter 4:8.  My sins are covered by the Love of Jesus.  Since Jesus loves me, He has made a way for me not to suffer the eternal consequences of my sin. Jesus said that He is the way to the Father.  If you love the Son, the door to Heaven is opened wide so you can come before the Father forever.  If you reject the Son there is no other way to God.

So many people try to come to God without Jesus.   It cannot be done.   You will be blocked at every turn.  Coming to God with anything but the blood of Jesus will mean that you will be turned away from Heaven.  You can try to come with theological degrees, good works, your own righteousness, scriptural knowledge, and any of dozens of other good things that might please God.  But He will not be pleased because you come without the Son.

If you love Jesus and accept His sacrifice for your sins, God will accept you and by the power of the Holy Spirit change you into the likeness of Jesus Himself.  That is how it works.  Come to Jesus and He will bring you to God.  Reject Jesus and you will be forever separated from the Father!

Jesus simply says, “I love you, do you love Me?”

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Master’s Apprentice


Then Jesus replied, "I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way.”

John 5:19

Until you see what God is doing you will not be able to do what God wants done. That restriction even applied to Jesus. This simple rule applies in every area of life. If you want to be a great golfer you must watch great golfers as they play the game.

The fundamental definition of an apprentice is "someone being trained by a skilled master." If the apprentice does not watch the master work he will never learn the trade. Unless a man watches God work in the world around Him he will never learn to do the work of God in the world.

Turn your eyes on Jesus not just to see His glory, but also to learn how He works!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Fog of Jesus


When I think of God I stand surrounded by a mist in the fog. I can feel the mist and see the fog, but my senses can only lay hold of God by faith. I cannot put the fog in my pocket or take some home for later. I am limited and protected by His presence. God is the ocean in which I swim. I can only see a short distance before the reality of God engulfs my view of the world. Like Adam and Eve before the Fall, I am increasingly oblivious to the “knowledge of good and evil.” My goal for the day becomes touching the Face of God like an overly excited dog licking the face of his master who gets down on the floor after returning from work.

The limiting factor in going after God is the simple word “about.” Great institutions of higher learning have been set up to teach men “about” God. Knowing about God is not the same as knowing God! “About” is a body of knowledge or a list of facts that can be mastered or recorded and consumed without commitment. “Knowing” is a moment by moment relationship. I speak. He listens. He speaks. I listen. I think and He already knows what I am thinking before I tell Him. God thinks and more and more I know what He is thinking before He tells me. The man who does not know God would properly render a diagnosis of “insane” for every vibrant follower of Jesus Christ.

The goal is for God to offer me fruit from the Tree of Life in Heaven. My preparation is to be released from the effects of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Jesus came to wash me from the effects of that sin so that I can eat and live forever with Him. Remember the Fog of Jesus is your friend.