ARE YOU INVITED?

REVELATION 19:9: “And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” NLT
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OBSERVATION: Have you been invited to the greatest celebration of all time? Are you prepared for the banquet to end all banquets? Are you dressed and ready for this event?

It was the day of our wedding. The bride and the bridesmaids were busy with their activities and preparations. I was hanging out with my best man and groomsmen counting down the time to the biggest event in my life. It seemed surreal and the clock moved slowly as I waited for the big moment. Then, suddenly, we are in a race against time! One of the groomsmen did not have any black socks!

We got into our car and raced around trying to find a store to get a pair of socks. Suddenly, the clock began to race towards the big event. After all, whoever heard of a groomsman in a tuxedo with a pair of white athletic socks?! We finally found a pair of socks and drove back to the hotel. We did one final check to make sure that everyone had the right apparel and was ready for the wedding celebration. I will never forget that wonderful day and the race against the clock for a pair of black socks!

I wonder if we are ready for the greatest wedding celebration of the ages. It is the wedding of Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church. This is not limited to a denomination. The Church is the Body of Christ which is composed of all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. You cannot see the true Church in its entirety. Yet, Jesus knows those who are His and He is preparing His bride for this great day!

The angel proclaimed to John,

  • “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”

Today, at this moment, the invitation to this great wedding feast of the Lamb is still an open invitation. Anyone can accept this invitation by giving their life to Jesus Christ. Yet, when the celebration begins it will be too late to change your mind. Jesus warned about this in many of His parables. In one parable Jesus spoke of the 10 women who were invited to the wedding feast. Five were prepared and had extra oil for their lamps. Five were foolish and did not have enough oil. Here is what Jesus said.

  • “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.” Matthew‬ ‭25:10-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Today is Thanksgiving. Most families will gather together around a table filled with a bountiful feast. They will eat, give thanks, and celebrated God’s faithfulness in their lives. Yet, there will be others who will be isolated and alone. They do not have a loving family to be with. They may not even have a home. Their experience will not be one of celebration but of sadness and loneliness.

The wonderful thing about God’s banquet is that it is open to everyone who will accept the call! God’s banqueting table is not for the rich and successful. God’s banqueting table is for those who acknowledge their deep spiritual need and how poor in spirit they really are. When we come to Jesus Christ we are fully pardoned from our sin. We are given a new heart and life. And, we are clothed in His righteousness so that we will be ready for the wedding feast of the Lamb!

  • “Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.” Revelation‬ ‭19:6-8‬ ‭NLT‬

This Thanksgiving, if you can be with your family and loved ones, rejoice and give thanks to the Lord for His many blessings. If you are alone and feel left out, know that the Lord is always with you and there is a day coming when you too will be seated around the great banqueting table! If you are unsure whether you have been invited, you can find assurance in your heart right now! Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. Open the door by repenting of your sin and placing your faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord!

  • “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

In Jesus Name!

Posted in Revelation | 2 Comments

WHY I LOVE THE CHURCH…

I JOHN 5:1-5: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” NLT‬‬

OBSERVATION: What do you think about the church? Do you attend church regularly, or have you given up on the church altogether? Have you been hurt by the church? Can one simply believe in God and leave the church out of the picture? I want to take a few moments to address these questions and tell you…

WHY I LOVE THE CHURCH!

I will never forget my experience with the church growing up. We went to church every Sunday. I also went to a parochial school and attended chapel every Wednesday. My father loved the church. Me, not so much. As I grew up I witnessed examples of hypocrisy, gossip, and what I called the Sunday smile. When I became a teenager I did not want to have anything to do with the church.

I have met so many with a similar opinion of the church. When they look at the church, as an institution, all they can see are the failures of broken people. Like me, they use these failures as an excuse to dismiss the church. I used to say in my defense – “I believe in God, but I don’t need to go to church!” Many boldly claim that they are with God all the time and worship Him in the mountains, the golf course, or the beach.

WHO NEEDS THE CHURCH?!

The real answer is – WE ALL DO! If it wasn’t for the church I would never have discovered that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was a loving, healthy church, that modeled personal faith and invited me to be a part of God’s wonderful family. Something wonderful happened when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I began to see others through His eyes. I began to see that the church was not a building or an institution. The church was God’s family! John reminds us when he writes,

  • “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too.”

There is an old Christian song by the group Love Song that became popular during the Jesus Movement. It was titled – “Little Country Church.” Here is an excerpt of this song.

They’re talkin’ ’bout revival and the need for love
That little church has come alive
Workin’ with each other for the common good
Puttin’ all the past aside
Long hair, short hair, some coats and ties
People finally comin’ around
Lookin’ past the hair and straight into the eyes
People finally comin’ around
And it¹s very plain to see
It’s not the way it used to be.

I grew up in a loving family. Yet, it was not a perfect family. There were times when my parents fought. There was the usual sibling rivalry. My dad worked too much and I never really had a relationship with him. If I wanted to make a list of everything that was wrong with my family I could make a long list. It would also include everything that was wrong with me. Yet, there was one thing that made our family a true family.

IT WAS LOVE!

When we look at the church we can look at it through our eyes of hurt, disappointment, and distrust – or we can see it as God sees it. When God looks at the church He sees children, teenagers, young adults, and adults who were lost in their sins but are now redeemed through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. He sees sheep that are in desperate need of a shepherd.

GOD SEES HIS FAMILY!

So here is the bottom line. I cannot love God if I don’t love His family. To dismiss the very people He died to redeem is to dismiss God. You cannot love God and hate the church. The church cost God everything!

  • “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.” Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭20:28‬ ‭NLT‬

God purchased and redeemed us from our sin and adopted us into His family through His own blood! The Father gave His only begotten Son to die in our place. The church costs God everything! And, He continues to watch over the church as He prepares her to be His spotless bride!

  • “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” Ephesians‬ ‭5:25-27‬ ‭NLT‬

Will God succeed? Is the church still relevant today? Should I reexamine my opinion of the church in light of these truths? Rest assured, God only has one plan. His plan is to reach this broken world through His church. And, His plan will succeed!

  • “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭16:18-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Finally, we cannot walk in victory in this life without the church. There are no Lone Rangers in the Kingdom of God. The Bible was not written to me as an individual (although it always speaks to me individually). The Bible was written to God’s people. The Bible was written for the church. And, it is in the context of loving God’s people in the church that we find the strength and support to walk in Your healing, victory, and love in this life!

  • “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”
  • “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews‬ ‭10:23-25‬ ‭NLT‬

Lord, help us see the church through Your eyes. Give us a love for Your family. Forgive us for hiding behind a TV screen or neglecting the church altogether. Help us rise up and walk through the door of the church once again, ready to give, to serve, to worship, to forgive, and to love!

Help us love Your church as much as we love You!

In Jesus Name!

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DIVORCE, MARRIAGE, AND THE DAY OF THE LORD…

MALACHI 2:13-16: “Here is another thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, “Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” NLT
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OBSERVATIONS: What do divorce and marriage have to do with the Day of the Lord? Can these two things tell us how close we are to the coming of the Lord and the final judgment? These are interesting questions to ponder.

I grew up in a different day. While the world was in turmoil during the 1960s, there was peace and tranquility on Meadow Falls Drive. Our neighborhood was one of the old-fashioned ones where the entire street knew each other. Divorce was almost unheard of. Families were secure. And, a child was safe to play outside, even after the street lights were off!

Something took place during the 1960s that began to change everything. It was called the sexual revolution. It was the first floodgate that the enemy opened up to begin to destroy the family unit that was still strong. Suddenly, divorce began to increase and was regarded as a necessary evil to allow individuals to pursue their desires rather than to fulfill their covenant. The greatest victims in this tidal wave were the children and our society!

(Note: In the 1950s 20% of marriages ended up in divorce. There has been a steady increase in the divorce rate over the decades. The current rate is almost 50% of all couples who get married will end up in divorce.)

Why did the enemy target the marriage covenant in such a vicious way? By breaking up families he was killing two birds with one stone. First, he was destroying the very foundation of our society and culture. Second, he was thwarting God’s purpose for marriage – to raise up a godly generation.

  • “Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.” Malachi‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭NLT‬

As marriages began to break up all around us we witnessed an increase in disrespect and rebellion among our youth. With the family unit broken children no longer had the security of a loving mother and a faithful father to guide them. Left to themselves they were open prey to the enemy’s attacks. As families broke apart, as children and teenagers rebelled, the very fabric of our society began to weaken and crumble. As the family goes, so goes the nation!

The final attack of the enemy was against marriage itself. God created marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman – for life. This was not just an Old Testament concept. This was God’s intent from creation!

  • “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Matthew‬ ‭19:4-6‬ ‭NLT‬

The Biblical definition of marriage stood for thousands of years. I never thought I would see the day when it would be attacked and overcome. Yet, today, our culture has redefined marriage, sexuality, and the family. They have bought into the lies and deception of the enemy and applauded and celebrate those who reject God’s plan for marriage. Divorce continues to be rampant and now, with regards to marriage, anything goes!

Why is this such a big deal and what does this have to do with the Day of the Lord? Marriage is not just a covenant between one man and one woman, it is also a picture of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His church.

  • “As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians‬ ‭5:31-33‬ ‭NLT‬

The outright attack against the very definition of marriage goes far beyond the onslaught of divorce that was aimed at the family. The redefinition of marriage, orchestrated by the enemy, was a direct frontal attack on the Lord Jesus Christ and His church. It was like an eighth-grader defacing the yearbook picture of someone they hated. It is the final attack on the very foundation of society that God ordained.

The book of Malachi speaks to the nation of Israel, the coming of the Messiah, and the ultimate Day of the Lord (day of judgment). It reaches the immediate future and the end of the age. It was a strong warning to those who received it 400 years before the coming of Christ and a sobering wake-up call for us today. Malachi speaks of Messiah’s purification of Israel’s worship and then of the coming judgment.

  • “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Malachi‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

These words immediately follow the Lord’s admonishment for their disregard of the marriage covenant. It was just not divorce but their utter contempt of the importance of this covenant.

  • “You have wearied the Lord with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. You have wearied him by saying that all who do evil are good in the Lord’s sight, and he is pleased with them. You have wearied him by asking, “Where is the God of justice?” Malachi‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As we see a great falling away from the church today, one of the center focal points of this is the definition of marriage and personal sexuality. The sanctity of marriage was the last bastion against the flood of evil. The family stood as a solid bulwark against the enemy’s designs. Now, churches and denominations are embracing the enemy’s lies and deceptions. They rejoice in their wokeness and ask – “Where is the God of justice?”

The Day of the Lord is fast approaching. Yet, for the believer, who clings to Jesus Christ, who honors the truth, and upholds the sanctity of marriage, there is a tremendous promise!

  • “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” Malachi‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As we see the Day of the Lord approaching, we can be assured that our Heavenly Father will spare us as a father spares an obedient child. The true church, comprised of all who place their faith in Jesus Christ, will hear the trumpet call when we are gathered together with Him in the rapture. I believe with the redefinition of marriage, the last domino has fallen. It is time to look up for our redemption is closer than it has ever been!

Lord, as You tarry, and as I look for the day of redemption for the redeemed, may I honor both the covenant of marriage and family. May I boldly stand up for the truth of Your Word and in love call those who have wandered away back to Jesus Christ and the truth that can set us free! Guard, protect, and bless all the marriages and families who are committed to serving You!

In Jesus Name!

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WHAT KEEPS MY PRAYERS FROM BEING ANSWERED?

I PETER 3:10-12: “For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.” NLT
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OBSERVATION: What keeps my prayers from being answered? Have you ever felt like God was listening to everyone else’s prayers but not yours? How can I experience a breakthrough in my prayer life knowing that God is truly listening and attending to my prayers?

In this day of digital everything, most young people do not even know what a transistor radio is. As a young boy growing up it was the greatest invention I had ever seen! Imagine, a small, battery-powered box, the size of my hand, being able to go anywhere and play music from a radio station. Suddenly, I was able to take my tunes wherever I wanted. You could listen to your favorite music while playing basketball or when you went to the beach. What could be better than this?

These small marvels were great until they faced their one deadly foe – static! Everyone who owned a transistor radio will remember turning the dial to tune in the station and remove the static. Sometimes it was as simple as turning the dial. Other times it was because you had moved outside of the radio signal of the station you were listening to. Either way – static ruined your music experience. The luxury of satellite streaming radio would be decades in the future!

Sometimes I have felt that my prayer life is like my old transistor radio. When I pray, many times I feel the presence of God and know that He is listening to my prayers. Other times I have felt like my prayer life was lost in the static and God seemed very far away. As I have grown in my faith, and as I have meditated on God’s Word over the years, I realize this one important truth.

GOD NEVER MOVES – I DO!

Sometimes the static is merely the stress of everyday life. I do not take the quality time I need to quiet my heart before the Lord and truly listen to His voice. I allow the static of life to drown out the still small voice of the Lord. I have found that if I do not start my day in meditation and prayer the static only builds as I go through the day. If I wait until I am exhausted from the day to spend time in the Word and prayer, the static never seems to go away.

Another type of static is when there is sin in my life. It may be a sin that I am aware of or a sin that I am unaware of. In either case, God always wants to deal with the sin in our life. He wants to reveal it so that we can bring it to the cross and be cleansed and forgiven. Our Heavenly Father is always trying to keep our line of communication open. We must develop a sensitive ear to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and repent when He prompts us to!

Peter reminds us,

  • “For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”

There are two exhortations in these verses. The first is the call to turn away from evil and do good. This is more than simply coming to the Lord each day for His cleansing and forgiveness. It is also the redirection of our life in seeking His righteousness and pursuing what is good. Jesus said, “…Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9). To do good is to seek the Kingdom of God and to be a peacemaker. It is to walk in God’s forgiveness and to extend this same forgiveness to others!

The second exhortation is a reminder of God’s promise. God is always attentive to the heart that is seeking Him. To seek the Lord is more than just shooting a prayer toward heaven. It is tuning our hearts and lives with His. It is removing the static from our lives so that we can hear His voice. When we do this we are assured that He is listening. His heart is always attentive to our prayers.

Of course, the opposite is also true. We can either remove the static from our lives or choose to live in the static. If we continue in sin, if we harbor unforgiveness toward others, if there is discord in our marriage or relationships, we are turning up the static. It is not that God cannot hear us. The truth of the matter is that we cannot hear Him! God is waiting for our repentance so that He can restore us. We have to turn the dial of our hearts away from our sin and back to Him!

  • “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ‭‭I John‬ ‭1:8-9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Lord, this morning, allow me to hear Your still small voice. Search me, know me Oh Lord. If there is anything in my life that would hinder me from hearing Your voice, reveal that to me and forgive me anew through the blood of Jesus Christ my Lord. Tune my heart to Yours. Remove the static from my life!

In Jesus Name!

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WHY I TRUST THE BIBLE…

II PETER 1:20-21: “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” NLT

OBSERVATION: Do you believe that the Bible is God’s Word or that it is merely a book of religious rules and practices that were written by men? Is the Bible divinely inspired or just the creation of men who wanted to deceive the multitudes? Can I trust the Bible as God’s definitive word for His creation?

I want to share with you three simple reasons that I trust the Bible. I trust it as God’s definitive revelation of truth for His creation. I trust it as divinely inspired by God and not merely the creation of men who wrote down myths and legends. And, I trust it because it has changed my life and continues to do so as I meditate upon its truth each and every day of my life!

REASON 1:

I love Peter’s exhortation in his second epistle. Doubt had already begun to spring up in the new believers. Spurious letters to the churches had already started to circulate and cause confusion. Peter reminds them of the first reason I trust the Bible. The Bible was not a creation of man’s imagination. It was the divinely inspired writings of eyewitnesses of God working in history and in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

  • “For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes”. 2 Peter‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬
  • “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” 2 Peter‬ ‭1:20-21‬ ‭NLT‬

Some may object to using Scripture to prove its own veracity. Yet, the historical record confirms these verses. Each book of the Bible was written by eyewitnesses of God’s glory. The Old Testament was written by prophets who were moved by the hand of God. It accurately recorded God’s active role in the history of mankind. The New Testament was written by eyewitnesses of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were so convicted by what they saw that they joyfully were martyred for their faith.

The Bible is a compilation of 66 books, written over a span of 4000 years, in different countries, cultures, and languages, by over 60 different authors. And, yet – the Bible is in complete harmony in its revelation of God and His plan of salvation for mankind.

There is no book in human history that can make this claim. This alone speaks of the divine origin of this remarkable revelation of truth!

REASON 2:

The second reason I trust the Bible is that it is profitable! As God’s Word it holds the truths and keys to life. It reveals the nature of God and the call of man. Its principles have withstood the test of time and stand as relevant and true as when they were first written. The Bible is the living, powerful, and active Word from God’s heart. It is inspired and profitable in every way!

  • “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

REASON 3:

The third reason that I trust the Bible is because it has changed my life. I was given a Bible when I was confirmed at the age of 13. I still have this Bible and cherish it very much. However, for years I would pick it up and try to read it. It seemed just like words on a page that I could not understand. When I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ something remarkable happened. The book that seemed just like words on a page suddenly became alive! As I poured over its pages the truths that I discovered began to change my life!

  • “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Peter‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭NLT‬

The anger that I could not escape was washed away as I grew in the Word of God. The ability to walk in peace and overcome the temptations I faced grew as I daily abided in God’s Word. I found that His great and precious promises were transforming my life. They changed me from the inside out. I learned about the true nature of God, the power of His grace, the wonder of His forgiveness, and the assurance of His unfailing love and faithfulness. No other book could produce this profound change. Only the living and abiding Word of God could do this!

  • “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I trust the Bible because it…

  • Is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit!
  • It is profitable for all of life!
  • It dramatically changed my life!

Lord, I pray for anyone reading these words, who is questioning the truth and veracity of the Bible. I pray that You will open their spiritual eyes and their rational minds to discover that they too can trust the Bible. It truly is the living, active, divinely inspired, life-changing, profitable word from our Creator for every aspect of life.

I pray that you too will trust the Bible as God’s Word!

In Jesus Name!

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FAITH WAITS!

I PETER 5:6-9: “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.” NLT

OBSERVATION: Do you have difficulty waiting? Does your faith weaken when it is put to the test of time? Do you find yourself questioning God’s timing for your life? Are you tempted this very moment to take matters into your own hands? If you have identified with any of these questions these verses from I Peter remind us…

FAITH WAITS!

Everyone has worries and concerns that they carry in life. There is the present battle of life and the hope for the future. We have prayers that seem to remain unanswered and concerns that seem to grow with the passing of time. What do we do amid all these struggles?

  • “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

Peter calls us to humble ourselves before God. Yet, he is more specific in this exhortation. We are to humble ourselves under the mighty power of God. Humility is understanding our personal limitations and God’s ultimate power. When we place ourselves under His power we are assured that at the right time God will lift us up!

Therein is the call to faith that waits. This is the part that I personally struggle with. I am conditioned by the instant culture in which I live. I want fast food, the fast lane, the shortest distance between two points. I don’t want to wait for my hamburger and I surely don’t want to wait for God’s answer to my prayers! Yet, humility, true humility, is ultimately a call to faith. When I humble myself under the mighty power of God I must also realize that,

FAITH WAITS!

Faith waits for God’s – “…at the right time.” It surrenders the wheel of our lives to God’s faithful care. It confesses that He is in charge of both the answer and the timing. And, it keeps surrendering through the process. In this process, we have a great and powerful promise!

  • “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

God knows how hard the process is for us. Yet, He wants us to grow in faith and trust. He has purposes that supersede our immediate needs. And, in the waiting, He offers to carry the weight of our burden during the process. Why does He do this? It is because He cares for us. He loves us. He died for us. He has promised never to leave or forsake us. What a wonderful love! What a powerful love! What amazing grace!

Yet, the enemy of our souls knows our weakness. He does not want us to abide under the mighty power of God. He delights in seeing us burdened down in worry and care. This is why Peter exhorts us,

  • “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.”

The enemy wants to pick us off at every turn. He wants to whisper in our ears – “God doesn’t really care! If He cared, then why are you still waiting?” Satan loves to push the easy button. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “If the enemy cannot keep us from walking with Jesus he will try to get us to move ahead of His timing for our lives.” When he comes in like a roaring lion with all of his accusations, we must remember…

FAITH WAITS!

How do we resist the devil? How do we stay alert? How do we stand firmly against his attacks? We remain strong in our faith. In context this means that we remain humble, placing our lives under the mighty hand of God, casting all our care upon Him, and waiting for His – “…at the right time.”

Oh, how many times have I missed the mark by rushing ahead of God’s timing. How many lives have I seen that have been shipwrecked by stubbornly rushing ahead of God’s will and pursuing the wrong path? God has given us His provision of grace and His promise. Yet, it takes faith to resist these temptations to take a shortcut around God’s timing and will. It takes…

FAITH THAT WAITS!

As we walk through these times of waiting, we are not alone. This is the call of every son and daughter of God.

  • “Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”

And, here is one truth that I have learned over the years. It is easier to wait for God’s timing within the family of God than it is to try and do this alone. We need each other. We are called to gather together to support and encourage each other. The call to humble ourselves before God is not just an individual call – it is a call to the entire Body of Christ. It is a reminder to all of God’s people that,

FAITH WAITS!

Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times when I have rushed ahead of Your timing and right into the lion’s roar. This morning I humble myself under Your mighty power. I cast all my cares upon You anew. I rest in Your faithfulness and perfect timing. And, I walk in the safety of the family of God as I do!

In Jesus Name!

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THE ORIGIN, THE EVIDENCE, AND THE AGENT OF OUR SALVATION…

I PETER 1:22-25: “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” NKJV

OBSERVATION: When I think of my salvation, do I understand the full impact it is to have on my life? Am I merely saved so that I can go to heaven? Did I have anything to do with my salvation? Do I have any role to play in the salvation of others?

As we ponder these questions we need to understand three important things that pertain to our salvation. They are,

THE ORIGIN, THE EVIDENCE, AND THE AGENT!

Peter gives us the answer to all three of these in the first chapter of his first epistle. Our salvation is fully a gift from God. We brought nothing to God that would redeem us from our sins. Our good works could not redeem us. Our offerings or acts of worship could not redeem us. The only thing that could redeem us is the precious blood of Jesus Christ!

  • “…Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” I Peter‬ ‭1:18-21‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Anything we have to bring to God is corruptible. This is why Jesus became a man and walked among us. He came to be the perfect, spotless, Lamb of God. He came to bear our penalty for sin and offer up His own blood, once and for all, for our redemption. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, raised Him up, and glorified Him so that our faith in hope would be in God alone. Salvation is a work of God’s grace and mercy. Jesus Christ alone is the origin of our salvation!

From this indisputable fact, Peter pivots to consider the evidence of our salvation.

  • “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart…”

I believe Peter was recalling Jesus’ words when He said,

  • “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” ‭‭John‬ ‭13:34-35‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Love for others, especially for the brethren in Christ, is the evidence of a redeemed heart. Jesus said it would be the distinguishing evidence of being a child of God. Peter goes on to exhort us all to grow in our love for one another fervently with a pure heart.

When we are first born again we are like small children. Small children are fully unaware of race, political differences, or socio-economic strata. They will easily and quickly embrace and befriend any child they meet. We are like this when we are born again. We are overcome with the love of Christ and begin to overflow in our love for one another.

As we continue in our walk of faith we can return to previous patterns of our old life. Just as a child’s view of others can become corrupted by what they are taught, so a believer’s sincere love for the brethren can be tainted by gossip, taking on offenses, and unforgiveness. It is any wonder why the enemy tries to sow discord among the brethren. He is trying to erase the very evidence of our salvation! We need to grow in our sincere love for one another.

The last thing Peter reminds us of in this first chapter is the agent of our salvation. Jesus is the origin. Love is the evidence. What is the agent?

  • “…Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”

We did not just wake up one day and find that we were born again. We heard the word of truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit breathed upon the Word of God and we believed. As we embraced the Word of God we were born again by the Holy Spirit. We became the recipients of the wonderful gift of salvation that was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ!

This is where we have the privilege of participating in God’s wonderful plan of salvation. We could not offer anything to God to purchase our salvation. However, we can offer the Good News of Jesus Christ to others so they too can be born again by the incorruptible seed of God’s Word! In fact, if we do not take the Gospel to the world, how will anyone be able to receive the incorruptible word that can save their souls?

  • “For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher (messenger)? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:13-15‬ ‭NKJV

As I think of these three things, the origin, the evidence, and the agent of salvation, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and God’s call. God did not save me simply so that I could go to heaven. God saved me, filled me with the Holy Spirit, and called me to proclaim His Word, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to others so that they might also believe and receive eternal life.

This responsibility, this privilege, this call, is not that of the pastor or evangelist alone. It is the call of everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord. We have been saved so that we can extend the life-saving, incorruptible, Word of God to others. This is the supreme expression of God’s love working through us!

  • “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” ‭‭II Corinthians‬ ‭5:20-21‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Lord, help me to be filled with Your love in such an overflowing way that I am compelled to be Your ambassador, pleading with others – “…be reconciled to God!”

In Jesus Name!

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HOW TO RESIST THE DEVIL…

JAMES 4:6-10: “And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” NLT
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OBSERVATION: How do I resist the devil? How do I receive God’s generous and overcoming grace? In this day of great spiritual warfare, when the enemy seems to be winning the war in our culture, I must know how to position myself for victory over the evil one!

Since I committed my life to Jesus Christ I have been involved in churches that believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, but who have differed in their approach in how to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, especially in the area of spiritual warfare. Some try to dismiss the reality of spiritual warfare, while others put on warpaint (so to speak) and began to verbally rebuke the devil around every corner.

How do we resist the devil?

I am so thankful for the book of James. This section of his letter gives us insight and great hope in our battle against sin, self, and the enemy of our souls. As we study these words carefully we will discover how we can resist the devil and position our lives for God’s overcoming grace in our lives. We can learn how to walk in victory without all the theatrics that so many times accompany this subject.

The first thing I notice as I study these verses is that the command to resist the devil is sandwiched between two important exhortations. The first is,

  • “And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God.”

This is the foundational principle in resisting the devil. We cannot resist the devil if we are walking with pride. Pride is a tricky thing. One of the key ways it creeps into our lives is through the misunderstanding of our authority in Christ. When we begin to think that Christ’s authority is resident within us, as if it has now become my authority, I am setting myself up for spiritual pride.

The first step to resisting the devil is HUMILITY!

Humility is realizing who we are and who God is. We have been given the privilege of walking in the authority of Christ. Yet, this authority always remains His and never becomes ours. We are always fully dependent upon His grace and power. We are allowed to partner with Him, but we never can live without Him. The minute we convince ourselves that we have the authority we have relinquished the privilege of walking in His authority. It is then that we become an easy target for the devil.

The second step to resisting the devil is REPENTANCE!

I find it enlightening that James does not teach us to get in a shouting match with the devil. May I suggest that Satan loves it when we get preoccupied with his name? Satan is a bully. Jesus Christ is our elder brother who has won the victory over this bully. It is when we run to Jesus, through repentance, that we find ourselves in the place that will always make the devil flee!

  • “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”

The context of these verses is James’ admonishment against the worldliness that had crept into the church. This friendship with the world had begun to move them away from God and painted a red target on their back for the enemy. The only way they could stand against the devil was to…

STAND BEHIND GOD!

Repentance is more than just an action. Repentance is a way of life. It is daily turning from sin, self, and the world and turning toward God. As we come close to God, through Jesus Christ, in true repentance, God will always meet us with forgiveness, cleansing, and His overcoming grace! As we stand behind God there is nothing the devil can do to us. He has only one response left. The devil will always flee!

THIS IS HOW WE RESIST THE DEVIL!

Lord, this morning I ask you to cleanse me of any spiritual pride. I confess that I am constantly in need of Your forgiveness, cleansing, and grace. I run to You, Heavenly Father, through the blood of Jesus Christ. As I come to you, resist the devil and make him flee! May I walk in humility, repentance, and the fear of the Lord each and every day!

In Jesus Name!

Posted in James | 1 Comment

LET’S REEXAMINE OUR WORSHIP…

AMOS 5:21-24: “I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” NLT
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OBSERVATION: Is my worship pleasing to the Lord? Is the worship of my church pleasing to the Lord? Have I focused more on the style and presentation of worship than the heart of worship? Is it possible to exchange the presence of God for the emotions of activity?

We need to rediscover the message of the Old Testament prophets today. There is a danger of repeating the past if we don’t understand it. We can become so focused on the love and mercy of God that we never consider His holiness and justice. Like Israel, we can find ourselves taking comfort in our acts of worship and completely miss the heart of God.

When did worship become identified with our activity more than with our hearts? When did we begin to need special lighting, dramatic multi-media, and smoke machines to create an atmosphere of worship. Have we exchanged the Shekinah glory of the Lord for manufactured smoke? The nation of Israel did exactly that. They continued to take comfort in their outward expression of worship as their hearts drifted further and further away from the Lord.

We need to rediscover God’s heart today. We need to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. We need a reformation of both our hearts and our worship. The words below can be as true of our worship today as they were of Israel’s worship when Amos spoke this word from the Lord.

  • “I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps.”

In the very next chapter, we also read these words.

  • “You sing trivial songs to the sound of the harp and fancy yourselves to be great musicians like David.” Amos‬ ‭6:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

David was known as a man after God’s own heart. He was not a perfect man but he was an honest man. When he fell into sin, David did not hide behind his harp. He repented and cried out to God. David realized that the very presence of God was at stake.

  • “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Psalms‬ ‭51:10-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

David’s concern was losing the presence of God. He cried out for forgiveness and pleaded – “…and don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me.” David knew that his worship was unacceptable if his heart was not right before God. The call to repentance is the same today as it was in David’s and Amos’ day. Without repentance, there can be no worship!

The Lord speaks through Amos to us today.

  • “Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”

Instead of what? Instead of our polished worship services. Instead of our false security in going through the motions of worship. Instead of clinging to our convenient truth more than surrendering to His eternal truth. Our worship is not acceptable if our hearts are not right before God. A heart that is saved by grace through faith will manifest itself in a mighty flood of justice and righteous living.

  • “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭NLT‬

Worship brings us to the throne of God, through the blood of Christ, to find grace and mercy in our time of need. Grace and mercy never leave us in the same condition. They cleanse and empower us to live for Christ. They are not an excuse to continue in our brokenness. Grace and Mercy are the empowerment from the Lord to walk into our healing and to fulfill His will in our lives.

True worship, the worship God desires, has nothing to do with what we do. It has everything to do with who we are!

Lord, create in me a clean heart this morning. May I rend my heart and not my garments. May I allow you to plow up the fallow ground of my heart and plant Your seeds of righteousness. Grant me the grace and mercy to live in the fulness of Christ in me, the hope of glory! Let me worship You today in spirit, truth, and in my actions!

In Jesus Name!

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DO YOU NEED WISDOM?

JAMES 1:5-8: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” NLT
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OBSERVATION: Do you need wisdom? Do you need direction in your life? Do we ever come to the place in life when we always know what to do? What a wonderful promise to know that when we need wisdom God is always ready and willing to give it to us!

What is wisdom? Wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective. It is seeing life through the prism of the eternal. It is having the veil removed so that we can see the next steps in our lives clearly. We all need wisdom. We never outgrow our need for wisdom. While we walk this earth we should daily ask God for wisdom for the day and our future.

When we moved to Florida we bought a golf course home on the 14th fairway. My office window faces the location where most people’s first tee shot hits. The 14th tee is set behind a large water retention sand trap. Golfers have to shoot over this trap and many times they don’t know where their ball has landed. This is where my viewpoint is unique.

Many times I see the ball land near the bushes that surround my house. I know where the ball is because I have a different vantage point than the golfer who is several hundred feet away. As their golf cart approaches, I see the search begin. All the time I know where their ball is. They search and many times they even leave without ever finding their ball. I have quite a collection since moving to our home in Florida.

Imagine if they simply stopped to ask – “Have you seen my ball?” They would be asking for wisdom – seeking direction from someone who has an entirely different perspective. We are like the golfer frantically searching for their ball. All the while our Father God looks down upon our life from His heavenly perspective. He sees our past, present, and our future clearly. All we have to do is simply ask Him for direction.

Is it really that simple?

There is always a prerequisite for receiving something from God. This prerequisite is faith. Faith is exercised when we realize that we do not have the answer and place our hope and trust fully in the Lord!

  • “But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.”

Notice the emphasis in James’ exhortation. “…Be sure that your faith is in God alone!” This means that we cannot come to the Lord for wisdom when we are unwilling to listen to it.

After Babylon conquered Judah and exiled the majority of the population, a small group of poor farmers was left to care for the land. Among them was the prophet, Jeremiah. Soon, others gathered with them. However, one day, Gedaliah, the appointed governor, was killed. Many of the leaders feared the reprisal of the Babylonians and wanted to flee to Egypt. They came to Jeremiah and said,

  • “…May the Lord your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.” Jeremiah‬ ‭42:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The Lord spoke to Jeremiah and gave His instructions. The people were to remain in Jerusalem and trust the Lord to provide and protect them. When the people heard this they quickly did an about-face. It was not what they wanted to hear. They rejected God’s wisdom and did not obey. They stubbornly traveled to Egypt and outside of God’s favor and protection.

Faith calls us to listen. Faith calls us to obey. We cannot seek God’s wisdom as a rubber stamp to do what we want to do. When we come to God for wisdom we must be willing to trust in Him alone. We must be single-minded, fully surrendered, ready to obey. The Israelites who asked Jeremiah to seek God’s direction were double-minded. James reminds us what we can expect when we are doubleminded.

  • “Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”

God’s wisdom is always the best expression of His love and provision for our lives. Let me share one last example. In 2018 we listed our home in Texas for sale in October. We were moving to Florida in January of 2019 and wanted to sell the home before moving. The home was not selling. We began to seek the Lord for His wisdom.

In my devotions and my prayer life, I felt the Lord directing us to keep the home and lease it for a period of time. This was a financial stretch and required faith. Yet, my wife and I knew that the Lord was directing us in this way. When we decided to do this a full-price offer came in on our home.

Now we had to see if we would trust in God alone!

We did lease the home in obedience to the Lord’s leading. It was a struggle at times, but God always provided. We needed to sell it before the end of three years for tax purposes. It is now 2021 and our home is under contract. The amount that we sold our home for just three years later is substantially more than what it would have been in 2018. This additional amount is God’s provision for our retirement! What a wonderful blessing it is to walk in the wisdom of God.

This morning I can look back at the wonderful provisions of receiving God’s wisdom in our life. Yet, I also am looking forward and need new wisdom for the pathway and challenges that lie ahead. What a joy, what a comfort to know that I can simply come to my Heavenly Father each day and ask for His wisdom in Jesus’ Name! He never grows tired or weary in answering the prayers of His children!

Lord, this morning, shine the light of your love and grace upon my pathway today. Grant me wisdom to see today’s challenges through Your perspective. And, when I hear You say – “This is the way, walk in it,” may I answer in faith through obedience.

In Jesus Name!

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