Sunday, July 31, 2011

Without the Power!

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News about Jesus kept spreading. Large crowds came to listen to him teach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus would often go to some place where he could be alone and pray.

Luke 5:15-16

Have you ever been terribly disappointed by the food in an otherwise perfect restaurant? The atmosphere was right, the service was unsurpassed, the prices were great, but the food was not good. In fact, the food was awful! That eating place will provide you with a memorable first visit, but you probably will never go back and try it again.

Large crowds of people came to Jesus to hear His teaching, but also to be healed. If Jesus taught but did not heal how successful do you think He would have been? The large crowds would have quickly dwindled into only a few who would go out to hear Jesus proclaim the Good News!

You may have the message so perfectly honed that you can deliver it in mere moments. But if there is no hard evidence of the power of God in your life the Good News will be filed in the "Nice Words" drawer.

How did Jesus touch the power of God? I believe it was when He was alone in prayer. There is no record of a "Prayer Meeting" with Jesus in their midst. It is moving to hear the prayers of other believers and of course it strengthens my faith. But, hearing God's answer to my prayers as He speaks to my heart is far more empowering.

Many followers of Jesus and even some churches are like a five star restaurant with bad food. All of the externals are there, but the power of God is not among them!

The only way to change that picture is to spend time alone in prayer!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Follow Jesus in the Valley!

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“The Lord’s Spirit
has come to me,
because he has chosen me
to tell the good news
to the poor.
The Lord has sent me
to announce freedom
for prisoners,
to give sight to the blind,
to free everyone
who suffers,

and to say, ‘This is the year
the Lord has chosen.’ ”

Luke 4:18-19

Jesus read these words from the Book of Isaiah and then claimed that He was the one Isaiah was talking about. Jesus did everything that God planned for Him to do while He was here on this earth. There was not a day when Jesus got ready to sleep and pondered the "regrets of the day." Jesus was not a robot, He simply made the right choice every time He was presented with options and opportunities.

As I live my life today and strive to be like Jesus, avoiding sin is only step number one. Of course, I cannot sin and be like Jesus at the same time, but there is more. To be like Jesus is to make every choice of the day according to the will of God. Ask yourself, what is God's will that I do, or say, or think in this situation? Truly being like Jesus involves the mundane moments as much as the times of elation and glory!`

The question is not "what would Jesus do." The question is: "What is the Holy Spirit leading me to do, think or say at this moment?"

If you only do the Will of God on the mountain peaks of life, you will be a very sad follower of Jesus. If you learn to follow Jesus in the valley, the mountain tops will be easy!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Deserted by God!

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About noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until around three o’clock. Then about that time Jesus shouted, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?”

Mark 15:33-34

In the darkest hour for Jesus, as He hung on the Cross, He yelled at God about being forsaken. So if I am to be like Jesus I may indeed feel like God has deserted me in the middle of my darkest hour, as I bear the cross He has given to me.

Jesus lived with a continual sense of the presence of God in His life. He was aware of the Father all of the time until He came to that moment on the Cross. So for Jesus, not feeling the closeness of God was shocking.

I believe that Jesus was feeling the separation from God that we feel when we sin. Jesus did not sin, but He died for the sins of the whole world. Jesus died because of sin and God turned His back on Jesus as He does on all sin. God does not fellowship with sin. The most apparent impact of repentance in your life is that you once again feel the presence of God.

If you don't feel the presence of God in the middle of your cross, it does not mean that you are embracing some sin in your life. It may simply mean that God is allowing you to become through that experience more like Jesus.

So when you feel like God has deserted you, check to see if there is sin in your life that God is refusing to fellowship. But if that is not the case, then cherish that suffering as another way to become more like Jesus!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jesus Will Always Remember the Nails!

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They nailed Jesus to a cross and gambled to see who would get his clothes.  It was about nine o’clock in the morning when they nailed him to the cross.

Mark 15:24-25

It was about five o'clock last evening that I stepped on a nail shaped piece of metal and pushed it into my foot more than an inch. It came close to going all the way through. I am a believer that every experience in life, including the very unpleasant ones helps me make sense of life itself and especially of Jesus.

Off and on over my now 65 years I have sincerely wanted to be like Jesus. I want to speak like Jesus, trust the Father as Jesus did, see God's power unleashed in my wake as I walk in faith, and generally come to understand Jesus as I live my life. I never thought that part of that could be impaling my foot on a large nail-like spike!

When I stepped back and put my foot down on the spike it poked a hole in my new eight dollar rubber shoes. Then I could feel it going into my foot. Amazingly, I do not remember feeling any pain when it went in. But when I attempted to take my foot off of it and could not, I began to frantically call for my wife. She stepped on the rest of it while I tried to pull it out. After several frustrating and painful attempts my foot came free from the rusty spike.

As I write this I am less than 12 hours into the ordeal and experiencing more pain that I expected.

Here is the bottom line. Being like Jesus is not just the sweet, loving and beautiful stuff. Being like Jesus includes the incarnation where He humbled Himself and lived among us, and being like Jesus includes unexpected and unwelcomed pain, both physical and emotional.

If all goes well as my foot heals, the pain will go away and I will be able to walk once again without assistance, but I will always remember feeling that spike go into my foot! Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven and His wounds have healed, but Jesus will always remember those nails going into His hands and feet! But when Jesus was nailed to the Cross, it was not an accident!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Air Support from God!

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Israel, no other god
is like ours—
the clouds are his chariot
as he rides across the skies
to come and help us.

The eternal God
is our hiding place;
he carries us in his arms.
When God tells you
to destroy your enemies,
he will make them run.

Deuteronomy 33:26-27

One vivid memory I have of September 11, 2001 is that after the attacks there were no airplanes in the skies of the United States for at least the rest of that day. You could look up and see no jet trails. Airport landing strips busily received all the planes in the air and then there were none.

One of the overwhelming strengths of the United States military is its ability to provide "air support" for troops on the ground. When soldiers are outnumbered and even out gunned, one heavily armed attack helicopter can quickly change the odds dramatically. If fighters on the ground call for air support and the request is denied the results may be tragic.

When you are fighting on the ground and you see no evidence of air support it can be frightening and even fatal.

As soldiers of Jesus Christ involved in the Battle of the Ages against principalities and the powers of Satan, we must always look to the skies for AIR SUPPORT from God Himself. God rides across the skies to come and help us! When you are discouraged, attacked and tempted call for AIR SUPPORT from God!

And when you call for help from God, He is never late, never out of ammunition and never defeated by the Enemy!

When you call on God for help make sure that you are fighting for God and not against Him!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Now is the Time of Worship!

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“The Lord told Moses to say to the people of Israel:
Offer sacrifices to me at the appointed times of worship, so that I will smell the smoke and be pleased.”

Numbers 28:1-2

What time does your church gather for worship? The standard Sunday morning hour, at least in the United States is 11 AM. When someone is not able to be there on Sunday morning they might say, "I wasn't able to worship this week." Even some, maybe many who sit in the pews on Sunday morning do not worship God while they are there.

My dictionary defines worship as it relates to God and to other men. I think we have petrified our worship of God into a ritual action or a set of words that we say, and call it worship. However the definition of worship when it comes to other men may still have the living meaning.

Worship: "To love, admire, or respect somebody or something greatly and perhaps excessively or unquestioningly."

When you worship God according to that definition, worship regains it vitality and reality.

The time to worship God is every minute of everyday, including while you sleep.

Here is a worship challenge: As you wait for the return of Jesus, worship Him excessively! Be the one who is truly guilty of being so Heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good! God will be blessed!

Monday, July 25, 2011

God is the Guardrail!

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“Offer praise to God our Savior because of our Lord Jesus Christ! Only God can keep you from falling and make you pure and joyful in his glorious presence. Before time began and now and forevermore, God is worthy of glory, honor, power, and authority. Amen.”

Jude 1:24-25

I am afraid of heights because I know that if I stand on the edge of a cliff without a guardrail, long enough I will make a misstep and fall. All it takes is one second of inattention and I am tumbling to my destruction! Guardrails are my friend. Without a guardrail I must stay far away from the edge!

In the deeper reality of life itself, God is the guardrail. Without God and His protection and intervention in your life you will fall to your destruction. It is not that most men will fall. The Bible clearly says that "all" have sinned and fallen short of God's Glory.

If you are playing on the edge of life, believing that you will not fall, you are tragically mistaken. Of all the people who have ever lived only one Man has lived this life without sin! All the others fell off of the cliff. That Man is Jesus.

Here is the deal. You can trust yourself and join the rest of fallen humanity for an eternity of suffering, or you can trust Jesus Christ and be lifted to the heights of Heaven forever!

It is the deal of a lifetime, but the second you leave this life, your fate is sealed. And don't forget, since God is the guardrail you can safely lean on Him!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spiritual Hoarding!

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We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God’s own power, when we learned that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness. God made great and marvelous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. Then we could escape our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world.

2 Peter 1:3-4

There are two basic provisioning problems in life. The first is not having everything you need and the second is when you have more than you need. Not having enough is the problem of poverty, and having more than you need can become the problem of compulsive hoarding. These folks fill to overflowing their living spaces with stuff that they believe they will need and can't bring themselves to give up. In extreme cases hoarders live in squalor and filth, barely able to maneuver around their possessions.

I usually call my wife to see if there is anything she needs which I can stop at the store and get on the way home from work. The old saying "Bringing home the bacon" is about the fundamental task of making sure you have what is needed in life. Having more than you need can quickly become a burden.

There are issues of provisioning in your spiritual life as well. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and believe that you don't have enough to live your life for Him, you are wrong. You may think you are poor, but you are not. As a Christian, there is also the temptation to become a spiritual hoarder. You go to conferences, read the latest books and make sure your theology is honed to perfection. You do all this to the point of beginning to ignore the Bible and the daily walking out of the Truth you find in God's Word.

Satan is not threatened by Spiritual Hoarders, whose lives are immobilized by all the piles of "good" stuff that keeps them from living as Jesus did in the world. The successful Christian life is not the one who has more Spiritual stuff stored away. The successful Christian life is the one who can escape evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world because God's nature has become a part of it!

Spiritual obesity occurs when you eat the food and then don't work with the energy that comes from that provision. When you come across some tasty morsel of Spiritual reality in the Bible, ask God to show you how that truth can be used in your walk with Him today!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Joy of Jesus!

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“Everything will soon come to an end. So be serious and be sensible enough to pray. Most important of all, you must sincerely love each other, because love wipes away many sins.”

1 Peter 4:7-8

According to the dictionary an apprentice is "someone being trained by a skilled professional in an art, craft, or trade." An apprentice learns by watching the Master work. Like an apprentice, followers of Jesus are allowed to watch Him work in their lives and the lives of others. It is an unparalleled opportunity to become more like Jesus.

Jesus’ love for me as He died on the cross wiped away my sins against God! That is the heart and core of what Jesus came to do. Without that expression of love for me I would still be lost and destined for Hell.

Now, here is the amazing part that we so often miss as Christians. When I sincerely love my brother and forgive his sins against me I can experience the Joy of Jesus as He did that for all of us!

So when your brother sins against you don't become upset and critical. If you do that you will miss the whole point of being an apprentice of Jesus. When your brother sins against you, rejoice and ask how you can sacrifice yourself for him as Jesus did for you!

For the time you have left before everything comes to an end, be "serious and sensible enough to pray" and sacrifice yourself to wipe away the sins of your brothers!

Then each day, as you wait for His return you will look more and more like Jesus!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Which Rule to Follow?

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“You will realize that while you were following the laws of nearby nations, you were disobeying my laws and teachings. And I am the Lord!”

Ezekiel 11:12

The teaching was simple and it began when I was a small child. Here it is: "The only time you disobey the law of the land in which you live is when it contradicts what God tells you to do in the Bible."

The problem with that teaching is that most people do not know the Word of God well enough to be able to make that judgment about the laws of their land.

With the thousands, and I'm sure millions of laws in the congregation of nations there must be many of them that directly oppose obedience to God.

When you spend time in exposing yourself to the Bible and it's teachings a tension of loyalties develops that pulls you away from either God or men.

Here is the easy solution that most people choose. They decide not to know the Bible very well, because what they don't know can't convict them of their sin!

Spending a lot of time reading the Bible will bring to the surface those pesky little verses that directly condemn some action or activity that you thoroughly enjoy. Why "clean up your act" since God will forgive you anyway?

How far can you stay away from the Heart of God and still avoid Hell on the day of judgment? That is a game with no winner. It is foolishness on steroids.

Instead, live your life as an adventure to see how close you can get to the Heart of God. Embrace God's Word and reject every law of man that even comes close to contradicting that Word. Insist that your leaders write laws that are consistent with the Word of God!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How Smart is God?

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I was still being held prisoner in the courtyard of the palace guards when the Lord told me:
I am the Lord , and I created the whole world. Ask me, and I will tell you things that you don’t know and can’t find out.

Jeremiah 33:1-3

How smart are you? Is your IQ (Intelligence Quotient) above average? Parents like to brag on their children's intelligence. But when the IQ is far above the norm there are usually other problems that make it difficult for the very smart person to get along well in society.

How smart is God? I know that may sound like a silly question, but an honest answer can impact your life in many ways. Almighty God created everything and He knows everything. God doesn't ponder over difficult questions in the cosmos, because God is the author of the answers to all the questions!

Now let's get down to the answer you need to the unsolveable problem in your life. You've tried everything you know to try, maybe even for years and nothing works.

These Words from Jeremiah echo in my ears as they bounce around in my mind, "Ask me, and I will tell you things that you don't know and can't find out." Try it and see what happens.

If you are still not ready to present your "big issue" to God for His wisdom I would challenge you to do this: Randomly pick something about which you are ignorant and ask God to enlighten your mind about it. Then listen for His answer. It just may be the beginning of an amazing dialogue with the Creator!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Attacking Jerusalem!

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“Every brutal nation
that attacks Jerusalem
and makes it suffer
will disappear like a dream
when night is over.

Those nations that attack
Mount Zion
will suffer from hunger
and thirst.
They will dream of food and drink
but wake up weary and hungry
and thirsty as ever.”

Isaiah 29:7-8

A father will defend his child even when the child is not doing things that are right. A father's love is a mighty arm against those who would destroy his children.

Somehow the United States seems to have decided that it is appropriate to become an enemy of Israel.  We justify it because we think some policies of the current government in Israel are not right.

The foolishness of standing against Israel is extreme. The man who attacks grizzly bear cubs will face the consequences, and they will not be pretty! The country that attacks Israel is asking for a response from God Himself.

If the Bible is simply a book of fairy tales and history lessons, then go ahead and take on Jerusalem! It will fall like a dying and rotten tree in a storm. But if the Bible is the Word of God, then attacking Jerusalem would be like a dog biting the wheels of a speeding Greyhound Bus. The dog does not win!

Standing against God and His Word will turn the American Dream into the American Nightmare! Even foolish children don't jump off a cliff because the fall looks like fun!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jesus Speaks to Storms!

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Suddenly a windstorm struck the lake. Waves started splashing into the boat, and it was about to sink.

Jesus was in the back of the boat with his head on a pillow, and he was asleep. His disciples woke him and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re about to drown?”

Jesus got up and ordered the wind and the waves to be quiet. The wind stopped, and everything was calm.

Mark 4:37-39

When I was a little boy I learned a lesson that has served me well for many years. I could be calm and peaceful if I was holding on to, literally clinging on to my father. Life could rage around me, but as long as I was in his arms there was no need to fear!

The lesson was simple. When the rough waters come in this life, and they always do, hold on to God, the Father! When, as the old song says, "Sorrows like sea billows roll" hold on to Jesus!

Jesus was sleeping in the boat and the disciples foolishly thought the boat was going to sink and drown them all, including Jesus. The headline would have read, "Jesus came to die for men's sins, but instead He died in a tragic boat accident on the lake in a bad storm!" How foolish?

Look around at the storm that is raging in your life and then look to see if Jesus is in your boat. If He appears to be asleep, that's OK. The ride may be rough and it may look as if all hope is lost. But if Jesus is in your boat you can be at peace.

There is no storm that can continue to lash out at your life after Jesus tells it to be still!

The world itself was spoken into existence by God Himself and your life storm will cease to exist when Jesus tells it to.

The "Peace that passes understanding" comes quickly to my heart when Jesus talks to my storm!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Shared Suffering!

“We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives.”

2 Corinthians 1:5

Shared life experiences produce lasting memories. If you were to recall the wonderful times of your life, I would guess that none of them were when you were alone. The complexity of human relationship begins with a simple "good morning," and can progress to complete oneness between two, otherwise individual human beings.

When two strangers suffer together an amazing thing happens. Two people, caught in an elevator for a few hours will by necessity develop a bond that would never have been there otherwise. There are many stories of two strangers who suffer together and "fall in love" in the process. Shared suffering filters out the petty grievances in life. Shared peace and prosperity does not do that. No one wins the lottery and is drawn closer to the ones he loves because of that "blessing." In most cases the blessing becomes the source of trouble and strife.

So if you desire to draw closer to and become one with Jesus Christ, then be prepared to share in His sufferings. If you are being persecuted as a follower of Jesus remember that through suffering your love for Jesus will blossom and grow! Embrace the pain of suffering with Jesus.

It is a simple fact that when you live your life like Jesus did in the world, you will suffer like Jesus did! If your life is at peace and harmony with the world, wake up and step out of the boat into the storms of life with Jesus!

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

When God Gets Angry!

 

“That terrible day has come! God and the Lamb will show their anger, and who can face it?”

Revelation 6:17

Annoyed, upset and angry. That is usually the progression in humans. We have many annoyances in life. Every day there are plenty of things that are not the way we want them to be. If we are able, we fix those things that are not right. Then come the things that we can't fix and they cause us to be upset. Finally, there are the things that stubbornly refuse to be fixed and we become angry. Psalm 37:8 warns me that anger can lead to sin! So I work diligently to avoid becoming angry.

What about the anger of God? The anger of God does not lead to sin. God cannot sin, but He can be angry. Man's sin annoyed and upset God. Sin sets itself against the will of the Almighty. God "fixed" the problem of sin with the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross! But for those who refuse to be fixed by the Blood, there is the prospect of the anger of God.

Anyway you look at it, the anger of God is not nice. If you want to touch the hem of the garment of Hell, go to the dentist and tell him you want nothing to keep you from feeling the pain. For a short while you can "embrace the pain" and tell yourself how strong you are, but then the drill hits a nerve and you scream out and begin to writhe in the chair. In the dentist's chair when you scream he stops drilling, but in Hell your scream will not stop the pain. The bottom line is this: Hell is not a pretty picture.

There is only one place where God will never get angry at you. That place is in the arms of Jesus. When you let yourself be put completely under the Blood of Jesus Christ, there will be no Hell for you!

As with any child, the fear of the Father can play an important role in motivating obedience.
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sovereignty and Choice!

“We may make a lot of plans,
but the Lord will do
what he has decided.”

Proverbs 19:21

The free will of man and the Sovereignty of God are two pieces of a puzzle that never seem to quite fit. God is in control of everything, but man can make choices for which he is held accountable.

When you see that God will do what He has decided, it is easy to come to the conclusion that there is no need to pray. But when you see the awful trouble you will get into if you aren't alert and diligent in making good choices and doing right things, then you become earnest in your efforts to serve God and call on Him!

Like the wind that blows freely and often unpredictably all over the earth, man can roam within the boundaries of this life. The boundaries for the wind and for men were set by God.

In some ways the freedom of man is like the freedom a prisoner has to move about within his cell. That is his appointed space and he cannot move outside of it.

Man's free will was sovereignly appointed by God. Free will allows man to touch the walls of God's Sovereignty, but not to move outside of it. When men attempt to move outside of the space given by God, He will confuse their speech and tear down their "Tower of Babel."

The victorious and powerful Christian life is when I choose to submit my free will to God's Sovereignty. Then the walls of my prison cell vanish and I am released to soar with Jesus for all of eternity! That is a choice you will never regret!

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Running After a Mirage!

Why should fools have money
for an education
when they refuse to learn?

Proverbs 17:16

Going to school does not mean that you will receive an education. Learning must be supported by an attitude of willingness. In fact, the educated man is not the one who has memorized a lot of factual information. The educated man is the one who knows how to wisely use that information. Foolishness and real education are not compatible.

A major flaw in the western world education system is that we are providing money for an education for people who refuse to learn. It would be like buying airplane tickets for people who refuse to fly.

My grandmother always said that some men with doctor's degrees were simply educated fools! Education without wisdom always produces pride, but never righteousness.

So how do you add wisdom to your education? The answer is simple and profound at the same time. Like a filter removes the impurities from polluted water, when you filter your education through the Word of God the truth comes through and the lies are removed.

Unless you do that you will be like a thirsty man in a burning desert running after a mirage. It looks like water, but never quenches your thirst.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Plant Before You Build!

“Get your fields ready
and plant your crops
before starting a home.”

Proverbs 24:27

God fearing men and women who pioneered the western United States in the 1800's used this verse as a guide when they found the place they would call home. You can spend a winter in a cave or a makeshift shelter, but you can't spend a winter without anything to eat! The Book of Proverbs is filled with very practical advice for living.

I heard of a man who had memorized the entire Book of Proverbs. According to the story this man could not speak two sentences without quoting something from Proverbs. It is just one example of how the Word of God can speak to your life in every situation.

I would challenge you to test it for yourself. Take the day of the month and turn to that chapter in Proverbs. There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs. Read that chapter slowly, and honestly ask yourself the question: "Is there anything in those words that is helpful or instructive for me?"

The Bible is a deep well of wisdom. If you open your heart and drink deeply from that well you will become wise beyond your fondest imagination!


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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Reasons Not to Follow Jesus!

“You people aren’t faithful to God! Don’t you know that if you love the world, you are God’s enemies? And if you decide to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”

James 4:4

There is a deadly counterpart to racial prejudice. It prefers someone simply because they share your skin color or ethnic background. Of course, it is wrong to separate ourselves from others based on ethnicity or skin color, but it can be very dangerous to join ourselves to others only on the same criteria.

Prejudice pulls people apart for incredibly insignificant reasons. Conversely people ban together for equally petty justifications. If you drive a "Harley" motorcycle you probably don't get along with those who drive Hondas. If you drive a Jeep you find that Jeep owners always wave at each other when they meet on the road. This example list could go on almost forever. It is a list of small reasons why people prefer or hate each other! You will find that you can't reconcile two groups of people who are and have been sworn enemies while they cling on to their prejudice.

When it comes to the world and God there is no reconciliation outside of Jesus. Jesus came to save you out of the world not to save the world in its fallen condition.

Even as you can't be a member of a Harley motorcycle club and drive a Honda, you can't be a friend of the world and God at the same time. This life is your one and only, God given opportunity to make that choice.

If you have chosen not to follow God, what is the reason? Also, if you have chosen to follow Him I would ask you why? If you choose to reject God, and He has given you that right in this life, I would simply encourage you to find out who He is. Don't reject Jesus for some silly and insignificant reason.

If you choose to accept Jesus, do it because God loves you and desires that you love Him too!
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Real Men Cry!

When Jesus saw that Mary and the people with her were crying, he was terribly upset
and asked, “Where have you put his body?”
They replied, “Lord, come and you will see.”

Jesus started crying, and the people said, “See how much he loved Lazarus.”

John 11:33-36

Do you ever feel like it is "un-Christ-like" to express truly human emotions? Here is Jesus caught up in the most overwhelming of all human emotions. Jesus is crying! One of the most blatantly false, but commonly held beliefs is that "real men don't cry!"

Jesus was a man, a real man, and when he was confronted with the weeping of those who loved Lazarus, Jesus began to shed tears as well!

The Creator of all things made for Himself a human body in the form of a man. He put that body on and lived among us as a Real Man with all the feelings, pain, joy, and sorrow. Jesus loved everyone who had ever or will ever live. God Himself was walking around in flesh. And God was crying with us!

Later in the Book of Romans the Bible tells us to cry with those that cry. "Real Men Do Cry!" It's just another way to share in being like Jesus.
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Plastic Flowers and Fruit!

“Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me.”
John 15:4

If you cut off a branch from an apple tree with the beautiful blossoms in full bloom, it will look great for while in a vase full of water. The blooms will remind you of Spring and the wonderful ongoing process of life that insures a future for every tree in the garden. But the branch which is cut off from the tree will not produce fruit. There will be no apples if you cut the branch from the tree.

This is the lesson Jesus is teaching in this verse, but He is not talking about vines or trees and fruit. Jesus is talking about your life and the fruit that will come if you stay connected to Him.

It is like a vase full of flowers. They won't last long because they have been cut off from the source of their life.

Here is the secret to being a beautiful and fruitful Christian. Stay in daily, and yes moment by moment contact with Jesus. Let nothing cut you off from His power and strength in your life.

By the way, just in case you were wondering, Jesus does not like Plastic Flowers and Fruit!
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Slavery is Alive!

“The poor are ruled by the rich,
and those who borrow
are slaves of moneylenders.”

Proverbs 22:7

Slavery is still in full blossom in the world today. Yes I know it exists in its' traditional form in some parts of the world, but there is a universal form of slavery that touches almost everyone in the capitalist world. If you are a borrower then you are a slave, but also if you are a money lender you are functioning as a master!

Is slavery wrong only if you are a slave or is it wrong to be the master as well?

In American slavery, which ended about 150 years ago there were masters who truly believed that they were not wrong in owning slaves. The struggle to end slavery was not convincing slaves that it was wrong. The struggle was convincing masters and the society that supported them that to enslave other men and women was not morally justifiable.

In a couple of minutes or a few paragraphs I certainly can't discuss the theological significance of slavery.

But I can give you one encouragement. Even as you strive not to be enslaved by anyone except Jesus Christ, work to order your life so that you are not enslaving anyone else except as you introduce them to your Master.
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Saturday, July 9, 2011

New York vs. New Jerusalem

Then I saw New Jerusalem, that holy city, coming down from God in heaven. It was like a bride dressed in her wedding gown and ready to meet her husband.
Revelation 21:2

I assume the "York" referred to in New York City is York England. If it is the similarities are small and the differences are stark. But whatever the "Old York" was it doesn't even begin to compare with New York.

I truly believe New Jerusalem will be the same when it is compared to Old Jerusalem. Jerusalem now is impressive and extremely important in world history. Without Jerusalem nothing on earth would be the same as it is today. But when "New Jerusalem" comes down from God in heaven, you had better "HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT." No one will have ever seen or even thought of anything like that city will be!

This life is like a huge jigsaw puzzle. We rummage through the thousands and yes millions of pieces, trying to make sense of it. We may see how some of it fits together, but in the end only God can put it together so that everything makes sense.

Instead of struggling with your own confusion, ask God to show you how your life fits in to His plan.

Your New Life will be as different from your old life as New Jerusalem is from the old one.
In the puzzle of life God doesn't want any of the pieces to be lost!

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Friday, July 8, 2011

The Perp Walk of Shame

“Children, stay one in your hearts with Christ. Then when he returns, we will have confidence and won’t have to hide in shame.”

1 John 2:28

The "Perp Walk" is an unofficial humiliation of a person accused of a crime. Forced to walk in public, accompanied by guards and usually handcuffed, it gives photographers an opportunity to get pictures for their stories about the criminal proceedings. Usually, the pictures show a man or woman trying to turn away from the cameras to hide their identity. In our society the Perp Walk is perhaps the highest way to shame a person.

When Jesus returns there will be many who will want to hide in shame. They will suddenly discover that the Bible stories are all true and that Jesus is indeed the only way to Heaven!

If you don't want to go to Hell and experience eternal damnation and shame, then stay one in your heart with Jesus. Hold on to Jesus with all your might and let Jesus hold on to you.

Here is one way to judge yourself. Do you "set your heart" on things that Jesus loves as well? If Jesus were here in the flesh would He enjoy that movie with you? Did Jesus have an attitude like the one you have now?

Are you one in your heart with Jesus? If you are, then you will never have to hide in shame!
If you need to clean out your heart like you would clean out your closet, then by all means do it today!

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lot’s Wife and Daughters

“Lot went to the men who were engaged to his daughters and said, “Hurry and get out of here! The Lord is going to destroy this city.” But they thought he was joking, and they laughed at him.”
Early the next morning the two angels tried to make Lot hurry and leave. They said, “Take your wife and your two daughters and get out of here as fast as you can! If you don’t, every one of you will be killed when the Lord destroys the city.”
Genesis 19:14-15

The story of Lot's family is sad indeed. He lost his wife as they were leaving Sodom when she looked back and became a block of salt. His daughter's fianc├ęs refused to come with them and were destroyed by the fire that fell on the city.

I think it is worth noting that as far as I can find the Bible does not give us the names of Lot's wife or his daughters.

Lot's daughters are mentioned again after they left the city and decided to get their father drunk so they could get pregnant by him. Still they are not named.

I suppose the names of Lot's wife and daughters would have attained a "Jezebel" status and been forever avoided by parents who were picking children's names.
 
The point is this: The sins of Lot's wife and daughters were, looking back at the life you are leaving by the power of God and then conceiving human and ungodly solutions for problems.

In a sense the names of Lot's wife and daughters are the names of all of us. Who has not looked back longingly at sin for even a moment? Who has not substituted your own schemes and plans for God's intended miracle?

Finally, don't be like the men who were engaged to Lot's daughters. They thought the warning about God's judgment on Sodom was a joke.

Here is what some think is a joke today. Jesus will soon return and everyone will stand in the day of judgment before God Almighty. It is not a joke, but it will bring great joy if you are ready for His return!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Good and Evil!

“Lot lived right and was greatly troubled by the terrible way those wicked people were living. He was a good man, and day after day he suffered because of the evil things he saw and heard. So the Lord rescued him. This shows that the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their sufferings and to punish evil people while they wait for the day of judgment.”

2 Peter 2:7-9 

It brings me great joy to see the beauty of God's creation. Seeing a beautiful sunset strikes a chord in my heart that makes me sense the harmony of heaven in everything that God made! I am astonished at the Grandeur of the simple closing of each day on earth! Each day's end is a masterpiece of art that cannot and will not be duplicated. Each original "painting" is created and displayed for only a few minutes and then is gone forever. What a joy to see the beauty of the earth, touched by the finger of God Himself!

But then there is the other side of beauty. Beauty and righteousness go hand in hand, but so do ugliness and evil. I get no joy from seeing that which is ugly or evil. When a child is abused there is no "look at the bright side" to make me feel better. Evil is not cute and it is not a game. It is not something to indulge in like you would a banana split.

God knows how to rescue and He knows how to punish. Don't be fooled, God will not be mocked. You will reap what you have sown. As you walk in the garden of this world today, sow good seeds, not evil ones. With Jesus in your heart the harvest will be wonderful, like a beautiful sunset at the end of the day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Never Stop Praying!

“Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people. Pray that I will be given the message to speak and that I may fearlessly explain the mystery about the good news.”

Ephesians 6:18-19

"Never, never, never, never give up!" These words of Winston Churchill were part of the determination that proved victorious in World War II. Giving up is quite different from being defeated. Defeat is not the same as surrender. That war was won because the forces allied against Hitler refused to give up.

A more important variation on Churchill's words is this: "Never, never, never, never stop praying."

We find ourselves praying “about” our battle with Satan. Prayer is not commentary on the battle, prayer is the way to arm believers so they can engage the enemy in spiritual warfare and in a real sense in prayer the battle is waged. When you enter the battle on any other level you will be battered and bruised if not seriously injured. But when you pray in the POWER OF THE SPIRIT all Hell comes to attention and prepares to run from the massive flood of righteousness that will soon come it's way.

When you quit praying you become like a soldier with no supply of ammunition. You will soon run out of what you need to defeat the enemy.

Just as one side in a war hopes the other side will run out of ammunition, Satan hopes you quit praying. When it comes to prayer, JUST DO IT!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Your Story in a Book!

I also saw all the dead people standing in front of that throne. Every one of them was there, no matter who they had once been. Several books were opened, and then the book of life was opened. The dead were judged by what those books said they had done.

The sea gave up the dead people who were in it, and death and its kingdom also gave up their dead. Then everyone was judged by what they had done.

Revelation 20:12-13

If your name is not in the Book of LIfe then it is in the other books that tell about what you have done in life. When a man or woman comes to Jesus and accepts His sacrifice for sin then the Book of Life is where you will find their name. If your name is in the Book of LIfe then your deeds will not determine your eternal destination. The Blood of Jesus is the basis for your eternal status with God!

But those who refuse to accept Jesus are apparently judged by the things that they do here on earth. Do they go to heaven because of their good works? Certainly not, but seemingly how they live here on earth will impact their eternal status in their separation from God.

Because of Jesus you can be sure that your name is written in the Book of LIfe, not the other books!

I have no way to prove this, but I believe that the Book of Life will not simply be a list of names. I think it will be the complete life story of each person who is named in the Book. Granted it will be a big book with lots of pages and chapters, but what a wonderful thing that we may be able to read the Book of Life for all eternity!

Remember how you live your life today is a page in your life story. Choose Jesus and your story will be told in the Book of Life!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Let Jesus Calm Your Storm!

There were flashes of lightning, roars of thunder, and the worst earthquake in all history
Revelation 16:18

An outstanding fireworks display is awesome. As the bombs explode in the air there are always "oohs and aahs" from the crowd. But I am far more impressed when I see lightning and hear thunder. I have learned not to be upset watching God's fireworks display, but when it gets too close and the thunder is deafening I do begin to pray.

And when the "bad weather" includes a tornado warning even those who jeer at God the most run and hide from the power of the storm!

Many of us taunt God like a rodeo clown with a bull. Then they run to try and escape the fury of God when they find themselves in His path of vengeance.

They pursue God, but like a storm chaser looking to see how close they can get without being harmed.

If you are following the storm of God for the thrill, you had better stop.

God creates storms and He calms them.

If you are on the sea of life and the storm is raging there is only one solution to your problem. Jesus is walking on the water near your boat. Invite Him onboard and let Jesus calm your storm. He has done it before thousands of times and He is wanting to do it for you!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Armed and Dangerous!

The Lord says:
“My thoughts and my ways
are not like yours.

Just as the heavens
are higher than the earth,
my thoughts and my ways
are higher than yours.

“Rain and snow fall from the sky.
But they don’t return
without watering the earth
that produces seeds to plant
and grain to eat.

That’s how it is with my words.
They don’t return to me
without doing everything
I send them to do.”

Isaiah 55:8-11

Politicians are frequently criticized for having words without deeds. They make promises without any intention of keeping them. All they want is your vote in the next election so they can keep their job, or should I say so they can keep their pay check. Cynicism runs deep when it comes to politicians in the United States. When the people of a nation ignore the words spoken by their leaders and dismiss them as irrelevant if not evil then that country is in for deep trouble. The bottom line is simply that in our country it is now redundant to say that a man or woman is a "lying politician!"

The Words of God are very different. They are not like ours. God's Words don't simple reflect reality, they establish it. Truth is a product of the Word of God. It is easy to see this when you look at the time when God created our world. He spoke it into existence. Nothing that we now see existed until God declared it so. This is a mystery, but one that is examined by those who are part of that very mystery themselves. We were formed by the very Word of God and then struggle and ponder whether or not He really made us!

So, when you speak a Word that was originally uttered by God Himself, you become a link in the chain of how that Word goes about accomplishing everything He sent it to accomplish.

The Word of God is an unlimited arsenal in the Cosmic War between Good and Evil. That's why it is banned from many government offices, schools and workplaces. When someone opens a Bible and begins to speak the Words, a battle begins and there are casualties!

When you memorize the Word of God you become "Armed and Dangerous" in the battle against Satan!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Re-Created by the Creator!

If you are thirsty,
come and drink water!
If you don’t have any money,
come, eat what you want!
Drink wine and milk
without paying a cent.

Why waste your money
on what really isn’t food?
Why work hard for something
that doesn’t satisfy?
Listen carefully to me,
and you will enjoy
the very best foods.

Pay close attention!
Come to me and live.
I will promise you
the eternal love and loyalty
that I promised David.

Isaiah 55:1-3

What I really need is something that money can't buy. If I was the richest man in the world I could not purchase peace in my heart and peace with God. As I struggle to pay the bills and "keep my head above water" financially I can have total serenity and sleep like a baby. On the other hand, I can have more money than anyone would ever need and have inner turmoil while I am awake or while I am asleep.

There is an old hymn that begins, "Just as I am, without one plea." When you come to God you must come just as you are. If you hope to come to God tomorrow you will find that tomorrow is always a day away. If you hope to clean up your life before you turn your heart to Jesus, you will never be convinced that you are clean enough to come. If you wait for any reason, you will always have justification for waiting just a little longer.

True love is never forced on another. True love is freely given and freely accepted. I may love someone with all my heart and still be rejected by the one I love. Jesus loves me and He loves you with all His heart. He doesn't care what we have done. He took the punishment that I deserve and gives me eternal glory with Him that only He deserves. If you think your life is too big of a problem for Jesus to handle, think again. The Creator of everything that there is has offered to Re-Create you into His own image. Let Jesus begin that work in your life today. Even you will be amazed at the changes He makes in your heart, mind and body!

There is nothing more beautiful than a life, restored into the likeness of Jesus Christ!