Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Are you causing someone to sin?

Luke 17:1 One day Jesus said to his disciples, "There will always be temptations to sin, but how terrible it will be for the person who does the tempting."

Let us pause here for a moment. Think about what the Lord is saying and how that applies to our living. We live in a constant sin-infested world. People everywhere are exploiting their sinfulness. Consider the things you watch on TV or in the movies. Have you given much thought to the judgment the people who glamorize sin will be under for exploiting it before others? God holds everyone accountable for their actions and if their actions cause others to sin, how terrible their judgment will be! The same principle holds true for what you read and listen to. We will always be tempted to sin, but for those who do the tempting, God will hold them accountable for it.

What about you? Are you causing others to sin by your actions or conversation? Are you a help or hindrance to others? The Lord will not ignore how you live and its affect on others.

Live out your faith carefully before man. Take responsibility for the way you influence others. If you are not helping to strengthen and build up the faith in others, you are tearing it down. You alone determine how you live. The Lord holds you accountable. All of us are either tempting others to sin or we are helping them to not sin.

Ask the Lord today to help you live a godly life at all times so that the world will see Christ through you. Ask Him to keep you from being the reason why others fall into sin. Ask Him to help you build others up instead of tearing them down.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Death is real. Are you ready?

Luke 16:22-23 "Finally the beggar died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Lazarus in the far distance with Abraham."

Death is real. Everyone will die a physical death unless the Lord comes to take him home without it. The Scriptures only tell us of two people who were taken by the Lord without death, Enoch and Elijah. The probability of your dying is very high. We don't usually dwell on dying until we are confronted by it directly. Death does not care who you are or what you have accomplished in life.

In our text today the rich man was a man who lived in luxury. We are not told how he got his wealth; all we are told is that he had it and was enjoying it. He was not concerned about being ready to die; all he cared about was his living in the moment. When he died, he went to hell, where the spiritually dead souls dwell. He was in great torment and when he caught a glimpse of Abraham, he called out to him in order to get some kind of relief. But, there was no relief to be had. He had made his life choice and now was paying the price for it eternally.

Lazarus, the beggar, on the other hand had prepared himself for death. We don't know why he was so poor, but he was. He ate off the crumbs of the rich man's table. He understood that there was more to life than the moment and he lived a humble life before God. When he died, he went to heaven where Abraham was. His faith was now real life. He lived amongst the saints in the presence of God.

Like so many, the rich man missed his opportunity to prepare for death. He squandered his life on the things of this world and his soul was in eternal torment because of it. Perhaps he had had many opportunities and thought he would have one more, but he didn't. Don't be like this man; seize the opportunity the Lord gives you to be saved while you can. You don't know when you will die; it could be today. Are you ready?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Looking good doesn't mean you are good.

Luke 16:14-15 The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, naturally scoffed at all this. Then he said to them, "You like to look good in public, but God knows your evil hearts. What this world honors is an abomination to God."

We live in a world where looking good often leads to popularity and money. Multi-billions of dollars are spent trying to make one look good to others and compared to others. The mindset is that if one looks good then he will automatically feel good about himself However, we know that it's just not so. No matter how pretty the outside is, if the inside is in a mess, the person will be a real mess. Appearances can only get a person so far. They can never fix what is wrong with the soul.

There are a lot of people in the church who work real hard at making good impressions on others. The mindset is that the more accepted they are by the majority, the more secure their place in the church is. And when the person is being supported by the church, appearances become very important to them.

It's easy to come across as being spiritual beings. We can easily fool one another about our relationship with God. We may be scholars of the Bible, good preachers or teachers, have persuasive personalities, popular in the church, powerful and influential, and still be far from the heart of God.

God isn't concerned about the things we see. He sees the heart. He judges the heart and when it is corrupt with evil, He rejects it. God does not mess around. If the heart is not right with Him, all the fluff that surrounds it is worth nothing and the soul will be condemned. Be sure your heart is right with God. Appearances and the things of the world all fade away, but the righteous heart endures forever.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Small things do matter.

Luke 16:10 "Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities."

How important is it that we obey God even in the little things of life? Jesus says that how we handle the small things determines how we handle the big things. A little white lie becomes a big lie so don’t do it. A little thievery becomes a big thievery so don’t get started. A little moral failure becomes a big failure so be careful not to even get started. Gazing on a little sinful behavior grows into an addiction. Boasting on one’s accomplishments turns into sinful pride. We cannot get away with compromise. Little sins turn into big sins. Never let down your guard when it comes to doing what is right before God.

If the Lord finds you faithful in the little things, he will give you bigger things to do. If you want to make a difference in the world for Christ, you must first let him make a difference in you. You cannot overlook this basic principle of faith. Trust is earned. The Lord will trust you with more when he knows he can trust you with little.

Pay attention to details. Do what is right before God in the little things of life and you will do what is right in the big things. The size of the responsibilities does not matter. What matters is the integrity of the heart that moves us to do what we do. Great is the reward for those the Lord finds to be faithful in the little things of life.

Friday, June 26, 2015

What the Gospel is all about.

Luke 15:31-32 His father said to him, "˜Look, dear son, you and I are very close, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!"

This is the story of the prodigal son. This is a wonderful picture of what the Gospel is all about: true repentance, righteousness, recognition, and remorse. In order for the heart to be right with God, true repentance must take place. There is a lot of what passes as repentance that is no real repentance at all. True repentance involves a recognition of one's sinfulness, sincere remorse for the sins committed, and righteous behavior that follows. Until we come to the awareness that we have indeed sinned against God, we will never have a relationship with Him. "I did it. I am a sinner. I am guilty as charged by God. I have no one to blame but myself. I chose to do it and I did it."

Remorse is true sorrow for what we have done. It is not lip service, but a heart grief over our sins. It is being ashamed of ourselves and sincerely falling at Jesus' feet and pleading for mercy. It is a sincere desire of the heart to not do it again.

Righteousness is what follows true repentance. It is acting and thinking in a right way before God. It is turning away from sinful habits and thinking and striving to be holy in all we do. It is a mindset that enables us to change and become godly before man. It is the natural outcome of true repentance. Unless there is an obvious indication that change has happened, the heart is still in sin. Everyone changes in different ways and at different paces, but everyone who truly repents changes.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Are you ready?

Luke 12:35-36 "Be dressed for service and well prepared, as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks."

Are you ready? Have you taken care of your soul so that at any given moment you would be ready to stand before God in judgment? Have you opened up your heart to the Lord and invited Him to come in? Are you careful how you live? Or, is there a sense of uncertainty about it all and you are afraid what it would be like to face God if you were to do it today?

It is very important that we ask ourselves these questions because we don’t know when it will be our turn to face God. No one knows if he will live beyond the moment. No one can be assured he will live a certain number of days. No one knows for sure when the Lord will return. The way things are looking, I believe the Lord is coming very soon.

In order to know for sure that you are ready to stand before God, you must live in readiness today. You must confess any sin in your heart that you have been letting lie there. You must seek the Lord out in His Word and in your prayer closet. You must be involved in Christian fellowship for the nurturing of your soul. You must be using your time and energy to serve the Lord and not yourself. You must live compassionately amongst men and strive to help others know Him too.

You must stand guard over your soul and resist the lures of temptation. You must take responsibility for your mind and heart and fill them with godly and not ungodly things. The more you do these things, the readier you will be for the Lord to come for you. You can look for that day with confidence or fear. Are you ready?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Real life is not measured by how much we own.

Luke 12:15 Then he said, "Beware! Don't be greedy for what you don't have. Real life is not measured by how much we own."

This truth cannot be proclaimed enough, especially in our day when so much importance is placed on materialism. We live in a world that is driven first by self-gratification. We are led to believe that it is ours to have and that we must have it. We excel in things that don't matter and care very little about the things that do.

Greed drives us and causes us to disregard God. He becomes nothing more than window dressing on our lives. We use Him to serve our needs. We want Him around to give our lives a semblance of respectability. We want Him more in the sense of fire insurance than we do anything else. We live for the things we can have and drag the Lord along with us.

Is it any wonder why God is such a problem for so many of us? We can't have it our way. The Lord will not live with us like that. He will only live with those who understand that our real need in life is Him and Him alone. Only those who know that God is Spirit and must be sought and worshiped in the spirit will have a personal relationship with Him.

Real life is measured by our relationship with God. All that really matters is how we are connected to God. All that is not of the spirit is going to vanish away someday. The spirit of man is eternal and we determine what kind of a life our spirits are going to live, both now and for all eternity. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and He will give you all that you need for life and eternity.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Religion vs. Relationship

Luke 11:52 "How terrible it will be for you experts in religious law! For you hide the key to knowledge from the people. You don't enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.".

I fear for many who "represent" God before man. So many hide themselves behind Biblical "knowledge" and have very little compassion for others. Many pride themselves in their knowledge or position in life. Many are driven to excel in how they are portrayed before others instead of before God. Many strive for academic knowledge at the expense of spiritual knowledge. Many seemingly know the Scriptures well; yet, they barely know He who is the author of the Scriptures.

It is so easy to hide ourselves behind the Scriptures and lose sight of how to live them. If that's not bad enough, these "leaders" in the church influence others and keep them away from God. Many hold the Scriptures in low esteem and offer people the wisdom of man instead of the wisdom of God. They confuse the minds of their people to the point where they don't know the truth and as a result, they don't know Jesus as Savior and Lord. They create religious people, but not a people with a relationship with God.

The Lord holds each of us accountable for how we handle the Word. We are to be learners of it, but more importantly, we are to be livers of it. What we know about God won't get us to heaven, knowing God will. Knowledge without the relationship is valueless and vanity. There is nothing more tragic than to get wrapped up in what we know and lose grip on Who we should know. The Lord desires a relationship with us, not a people who are religious fools. Religion will not get you to heaven, a life-changing relationship with Christ will. Don't let your religious thoughts keep you from Christ. Get to know Him well and he will teach you all you need to know. He is the way, truth, and life. He alone can get you to heaven.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The eye is the gateway to the soul.

Luke 11: 33-36 "No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, it is put on a lamp stand to give light to all who enter the room. Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight is shining on you."

A couple of things jump out at me from this text. The eye is the gateway to the soul. What we choose to gaze upon determines the condition of our souls. It does matter what we gaze upon. It does affect us whether we think it does or not. Imagery is captured in the brain and often comes back to haunt us later on. It is important that we protect our eyes from what we watch and read.

We have to be careful about the quality of light we use to guide us. We determine how pure our light is. If we allow sin to hang around it will dim our light. Sin is sin and any sin will affect the quality of light within us. The less sin we harbor, the more radiant our light will be. The more we radiate the Light, the more light we will shed on our world. The more Light we have, the more we will enjoy dwelling in the Light. A dim light may get us where we are going, but it won't keep us from seeing the pitfalls along the way. We can easily stumble and fall and even lose our way sometimes. Protect your soul and stay connected to the Light without any obstructions so that your light may shine brightly and be a floodlight on all around you.

One other thing, make sure the light you think you have is not really darkness. Sin is deceptive and often masquerades itself as light. Get into and stay into the Word of God so that you will be guided by Truth and not lies. The Holy Spirit will never lead you astray if you keep your eyes focused on Christ, who is our light, and stay in the Word which speaks to us of Christ and His way. Let Christ shine in your heart and let Him have access to every part of it. Do not try to hide anything from Him. The more you let Him shine in you, the more you will radiant Him through your life.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Faithfulness in Praying

Luke 11:9-10 "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find . Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks."

The key to answered prayer is faithfulness. We must never stop praying. So often, we take for granted that the Lord's graciousness towards us when we pray. We assume that all we have to do is utter a prayer and it's good enough. Jesus insists that we keep on asking, keep on searching for answers from God, and keep on knocking on the door of heaven in order to have our prayers answered. How long do we do it? As long as it is necessary. It may be that the Lord will give us an immediate answer, or He may not ever give us the answer we are seeking in our lifetime. The promise is that if we are faithful to pray for what the Lord has laid on our hearts to pray for, we will have what we pray for. He determines when the answer will come, not us.

Don't treat the Lord as if he were your magic genie, available on demand to grant you whatever your heart desires. He is your Lord and Father in heaven. He knows best what you need, when to give it, and how. He will not deny you things you pray for according to His will for your life and those whom you may be praying for. He may not give you what you are seeking in ways you may expect or want. He knows what is best and will not spoil you with those things that are not good for you. He will not give what is outside the scope of His goodness, holiness, or love.

If you desire what the Lord desires, you will have what you pray for. Jesus would not have said it if it were not true. Don't give up praying, no matter how long it takes or impossible it may seem for your prayers to be answered. Our role is to pray and let the Lord take it from there. When you pray, don't doubt. Believe the promise given and don't give up. It is our praying that moves God to act. It is not our wants that move God to action; it is our needs.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Details. Details

Luke 10:41-42 But the Lord said to her, "My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it--and I won't take it away from her."

Details, Details. Many of us are very concerned about the details of things. We get so wrapped up in them that we lose sight of the bigger picture and often fail to do well what we set out to do. Details are important, but when they become more important than the whole, we get into trouble.

What I believe Jesus is saying here to us is that we need to strive to be more a people of grace than perfection. When we insist that everything has to be done "just so" we are limiting what God wants to do in and through us. We must strive to do things right before God while still allowing for the fact that we are not perfect and never will be. We need to give ourselves, and others, permission to mess up.

Martha was so caught up in the doing that she missed the being. Mary was more concerned about Jesus and His presence. She understood that being with Jesus was all that mattered at the moment. Martha wanted to make sure that everything was done before she worshipped and all that mattered at the moment to Mary was Jesus.

Jesus made it very clear that Mary's way was the better way. We must learn to keep our eyes focused on the Lord. He is far more important than anything else we may think we have to do. The whole purpose of serving is to honor and glorify Christ. Don't get so caught up in the doing that you forget why you are doing it.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Living God's Way

Luke 10:29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?

An expert in religious law wanted to test Jesus so he asked Him what he had to do to receive eternal life. Jesus asked him what he understood the law of Moses to say he had to do. The man's reply was to love God with all the heart, soul and strength he had and to love his neighbor as himself. The man knew that he was not measuring up so he tried to justify his actions under the guise of not knowing who his neighbor was.

And so it is. It is one thing to know what the Scriptures teach, it's quite another thing to live them. Because we know we fail to live up to God's standards, we often try to justify ourselves before God. We convince ourselves that because we are "good people" we are good enough for God.

The expert knew the does and don'ts of how to live for God. He was a devout follower of the law and thought he had it made. He just knew that God was pleased with his efforts and would accept him into heaven. Imagine his surprise when Jesus knocked the props right out from underneath him. Jesus went way beyond where this man was in his understanding and living.

It isn't what we think we know that matters; it's how we are living out what we know that matters to God. If we are not applying to life the Word of God, we are no better off than this religious "expert." Saving faith is a life-changing faith and not just a mind-changing faith. Faith without works will certainly keep us out of heaven as well as works without faith. It's either God's way or no way.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pray over the harvest field.

Luke 10:2 These were his instructions to them, "The harvest is so great, but the workers are few. Pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest, and ask him to send out more workers for his field."

Are you praying for the lost? Do you know anyone who is not a Christian? Are you concerned about their soul? Do you care enough to take the time to pray? We need to pray for those who need a Savior. If you are not able for any reason to share with them the Gospel message, pray that the Lord will send someone their way who can and will. Pray that the Lord will raise up workers and send them into the harvest field. The need for workers far exceeds those who are laboring in the field. Pray.

Pray for those already working in the field that they won't get discouraged or too tired to carry on. Pray for them that they will remain faithful and not be swayed or overcome by sin. Pray that they will be encouraged and be bright lights where they are planted. Pray for those whom the Lord has given gifts for service that they will use their gifts and not be discouraged in doing so. Pray.

The harvest is so great, but the workers are few. If you can't join in the harvesting yourself, pray for those who can and pray that their numbers will increase. The souls that are saved may very well include those whom you are most concerned about. The harvest is great, the workers are few, and I fear, so are those who pray for the harvest workers.

Nothing of significance is going to change until we change and return to our knees before God. The day of salvation is now. Jesus is coming soon and then it will be too late. Pray and go into the harvest field now. Maybe the lost ones you have been praying for will be amongst those who will be saved.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Don't look behind you.

Luke 9:62 But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God."

I have never walked behind a plow in a field. While for most of us those days are a thing of the past, most us understand what it means to plow a field with a plow. It is not an easy way to farm a field. The going could be really tough. If the ground was hard, it would make the task even harder. In order to make progress, one would have to keep moving forward regardless of how hard it was. One would have to look at the bigger picture and be willing to sacrifice momentary comforts for the bigger picture. Plowing a field is always tough and sometimes the reward for the labor was not very big. Plowing a field was a necessary part of producing a crop. Yet, there was no guarantee that one would see the fruit of his labors.

When plowing a field, one must constantly be looking forward all the time. If you look back at where you have been, you would most likely get off track. Instead of accomplishing one's goal, a mess is usually created. Things might be so messed up that one may have to do things over again. Looking behind you prevents you from seeing what is ahead of you. Looking behind you can give you a false sense of what you have achieved. Looking behind you can cause you to be less diligent in your pursuit of what is ahead of you.

The Kingdom of God is for those who keep their eyes fixed on Jesus. It is for those who are pressing on no matter how rough it may get. It is for those who never lose sight of where they are going and who are doing all they can do to finish life strong. It is for those who persevere and do not give up when they are tired or when the going gets tough.

Forget what is behind you. Don't look back at where you have been. Don't pine for whatever is back there. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus, the author and finisher of salvation and you will not only see God, you will be rewarded with much fruit for your labors.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Count the Cost

Luke 9:51 As the time drew near for his return to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

I have always been struck by Jesus' determination to do God's will. He knew what awaited Him in Jerusalem. He knew better than what we do what price He was going to have to pay for our sins. He knew that this was something that no one could do for Him. He knew the full extent of the physical, and more importantly, spiritual suffering He would have to endure. He had counted the cost of His obedience to God's will, and determined that He would let nothing keep Him from carrying it out. Submission and obedience to God's will often comes with a price.

The Lord does not promise us an easy road to heaven. It is not a pathway to heaven that many can travel successfully. It is filled with a lot of trials and tribulations. There are many obstacles that must be overcome along the way. Satan will throw everything he can at us to hinder us or get us off the road. Many of us will suffer greatly for getting on board. Those who claim that accepting Jesus as their Savior will have an easy road to heaven filled with nothing but the blessings of earthly life do not understand properly Biblical truth. Those blessings may come our way, but then they may not. We don't get on board with Jesus for the "good life."

If we were more honest with people in our teaching and preaching perhaps there would be less people abandoning the faith along the way. We need to warn others that there is a price to pay and that we need to count the cost before we surrender our lives over to the Lord. It is the loving and merciful thing to do. We do well in telling people about the price to pay for continuing to live in sin, but rarely talk about the price to pay for living in faith.

Monday, June 15, 2015

As long as Christ is being lifted up, we are on the same team.

Luke 9:49-50 John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons. We tried to stop him because he isn’t in our group.” But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.”

We can be very fickle in our thinking sometimes. We somehow get the idea that we are the only ones that get it right. We want others to do things our way. We want others to know that we know what we are doing. We want to think that if others are not on the same page we are on that they are on the outside looking in.

Jesus makes it clear that we are not all the same. We don't all do things the same way. We don't have to belong to a particular church or group in order to serve the Lord. God blesses the ministries of all who are rooted in Him. What matters is not how we go about serving the Lord. We serve Him the best way we can in the best way we know how.

There is no one way to effectively serve the Lord. We should embrace all who are genuinely ministering in Jesus' name. If we don't think that what they are doing is right, let the Lord handle it. If Jesus is receiving the honor and glory, rejoice in what others are doing. It should never be about us or our particular church family. As long as Christ is being lifted up, we are on the same team and what is being done is good.

 Do not discourage anyone who is genuinely serving the Lord. Encourage them and don't undermine their work. Support them with love and in your prayers. Don't envy their work for the Kingdom. Don't hinder them in anyway. Give God the praise and glory for all that is being done in Jesus' name to reach the lost for Him.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Where is your faith?

Luke 8:24-25a The disciples woke him up, shouting, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" So Jesus rebuked the winds and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm! Then he asked them, "Where is your faith?"

Where is your faith? It's easy to find your faith when everything is calm and going your way. It's easy to find your faith when you are surrounded by like-minded believers. It's easy to find your faith when you are excited by something new the Lord has done for you. It's easy to find your faith when you are in your comfort zone. But, where is your faith when things aren't going your way, when life gets stormy and scary? There are times in life like it was for the disciples out on the stormy sea when everything seems like you are drowning. You may find yourself in over your head financially and there doesn't seem to be any way out of your storm. Maybe things are really bad at home and they are falling apart at the seams. Maybe your job is on very shaky ground. Maybe your storm is healthy issues. Or, perhaps you find yourself in way over your head due to sinful choices and you are hanging on by a thread.

When life's storms overwhelm and overpower you, do like the disciples did. They went to the Lord and cried out to Him for help. They knew that without His help they had no hope. They didn't know what He could do, but they believed He could do something to help them. Jesus heard their cry and quickly rebuked their storm and immediately there was a calmness, a peace.

 Jesus may not calm your storm, but He will calm you if you cry out to Him. He may not make your storm go away, but He will show you a way through it. He may not do just what you want Him to do, but He will work things out for your good in a way that glorifies Him.

Where is your faith? Do you believe Jesus can help you through your stormy life? Do you have enough faith in the Lord to trust Him to help you? Call out to Him today and you will find the peace of the Lord to see you through. Call out to Him and He will calm you and it will be good.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Let your light shine.

Luke 8:16-18 "No one would light a lamp and then cover it up or put it under a bed. No, lamps are mounted in the open where they can be seen by those entering the house. For everything that is hidden or secret will eventually be brought to light and made plain to all. So be sure to pay attention to what you hear. To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But to those who are not listening, even what they think they have will be taken away from them."

The purpose of lamps is to dispel darkness. They are there to guide through the darkness. They are there to protect us from getting hurt by things we might not otherwise see. They give understanding of those things which are around us. Lamps that are not functioning as lamps are not useful as lamps.
Lamps illuminate and applied spiritually means that what is in the soul will be revealed. For some, their day of revealing is going to be much sooner than expected. For others it won't happen until Jesus comes back to earth to take those who have a pure heart home to heaven with Him.

God illuminates the soul through Christ and His Word. We must pay attention to them so that we will have proper understanding of God and His ways. No one can understand spiritual truths apart from the illumination of the Holy Spirit on the soul. All who listens and believes will be given much understanding. For all who don't listen what they may have will taken away from them. This means that sin darkens the soul and what little understanding one may have will be squelched by sin and taken away from the listener.

Keep your light lit and shining brightly for all to see and never let it go out.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Standng on the Solid Rock

Luke 6:47-48 "I will show you what it is like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then obeys me. It is like a person who builds a house upon the underlying rock. When the flood waters rise, and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built."

Solid rock does not give. If a house is built on solid rock, you know that the foundation under it is not going anywhere. You know that when storms come, the house will not crumble. It would take an extra strong storm to harm a house built on a rock. Even if the house would crumble, the rock would not be moved.

Spiritually, Jesus is the Solid Rock. A life firmly built on Christ will not be moved or crumble when the storms of life hit. The way to make sure that we do not crumble is to flee to Jesus, listen to what He tells us to do, and then just do it. The reason why so many of us have so much trouble is that we don't flee to Jesus. Or, if we do flee to Him, we don't listen too well to what He is telling us, let alone obeying Him. Jesus does not give out bad advice. If we listen to Him and obey Him all things will work out for our good and He will be honored and glorified because of it. We tend to stay too busy to really listen to Him.

 We don't stay connected to Him well enough to hear what He has to say to us. We don't read the Word like we should so we can understand what He is saying. We don't pray much so we don't hear Him speak to our souls. We approach Him with an agenda instead of being still before Him and waiting in His presence like we should and need to.

We are our own worst enemy. We can avoid many of the pitfalls of our lives if we were to simply pause to listen to the Lord and then do what He asks us to do.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Matters of the Heart

Luke 6:45 “A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”

Some people are very good at masquerading what is in their heart. Some show all the signs of having a godly heart, but sooner or later they do or say something that reveals what their heart is really like. If a person's heart is really right with God, then it will be evident in the consistent living of righteous. Godly people simply do not do what the world does. They separate themselves from what is obviously sin. The good deeds that they do flow from a genuine heart of love for both God and man.

When people do what they want, when they want to do it, and how they want to do it, it is a strong indicator that their heart is not right with God. Sinful deeds and words flow from a sinful heart. God's children do not say and do what evil people do. Period. Those who do evil either never knew Christ in the first place or they have wandered away from Christ and His grace into the cesspool of sin.

It is the heart's relationship with God that determines behavior and talk. No one right with God will act like they don't know God. What comes out of a man is determined by who is in the man. We must always carefully stand guard over our souls so that what comes out of us and what we do are right before God and pleasing to Him.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Judge yourself before others.

Luke 6:41-42 "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, 'Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye, then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye."

We can be our own worst enemies. The Lord clearly tells us how to live. We are to treat one another with a godly love. We are to strive to live peacefully with each other, helping each other to become more like Christ so that together we may bring Christ to the world. We are to practice what we call agape love (see I Corinthians 13:4-8a) amongst one another so that our witness for Christ will not be tarnished. We, however, so often don't act like we should.

We are easily prone to judge others for what we perceive to be true about them and we criticize them, whether it's justified or not. We in essence play God with them. We think we can determine what is in their heart. Jesus forewarns us about what we need to do before we jump in as judges over others. We must first examine our own hearts and present ourselves honestly to God. We must not attempt to judge the motives of others with anything less than a pure heart before God. We must understand our own sinfulness and repent of it. We are in no position at all to judge someone else when we harbor sin in our hearts.

All of us are sinners and deserve to be judged for our sins. Yet, God is merciful and doesn't do that to us. Everyone should be treated in the same way we want to be treated by both God and man. Granted, there are times in which sin must be confronted and dealt with, but it should never be done with anything but love and mercy. The goal is always reconciliation and not alienation. Bathe all your attitudes and actions towards others first in prayer---for yourself and for others. Be sure your heart is pure before God before you sit in judgment over others.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Stop judging others.

Luke 6:37 “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven.”

If there is any one verse of Scripture that we mess up the most, it is probably this one. No matter how hard we try, we just can't seem to stop it. We judge and criticize others a lot. We seem to take delight in downing others for what they do wrong. Some of us are a lot better at it than others, but we all find ourselves doing it. We always want to make ourselves look better than others are, and judging and criticizing are the easiest ways to do it. Jesus warns us that when we do it, it all will come back to us. In other words, we will always find ourselves on someone else's agenda to down. Others can find fault with us just as easily as we can with others.

 It's a vicious circle we get ourselves into. Jesus tells us a much better way to deal with each other. We must learn to exercise grace towards each other when we mess up. Instead of getting on their case, we need to forgive them and move on. We know we all mess up; just accept the fact and don't make a big deal out of it. When we take the high road and forgive one another, God then exercises grace towards us and forgives us. Instead of strife, we now have peace.

Really, there is no other way to have peace with God and one another. We need to learn how to forgive and be forgiven. And the only way to really learn how to be forgiving towards others is to just do it. Don't make a big production over others' mess ups. Back off, let it go, forgive and move on. With practice, you actually can become pretty good at it.

Monday, June 8, 2015

How do you spend your Sabbath Day?

Luke 6:5 And Jesus added, “I, the Son of Man, am master even of the Sabbath.”

Who is Lord of our Sabbath? Think about it for a moment. Take a look at what you do on the Lord's Day on a regular basis. What you do says a lot about who is Lord of your Sabbath Day. Do you spend most of your time rejuvenating your soul or do you spend it exhausting your soul?

  The Lord instituted a day of rest for us in our week because He knows how exhausting life can be and our tendency to fill our days up with exhausting activities. He knows that we are prone to focus more on our activities than we are our souls. He knows that left to ourselves, we would not be spiritually refreshed enough to survive spiritually. So much of our spiritual struggles stem from our lack of proper attention to our souls on the Lord's Day.

 In order to get the most from the Lord's Day, we need to stop doing all the things we do the other days of the week. We need to refuse to use the day to "catch up" on all the things we do not find time for the rest of the week. We need to make a real effort at letting the Lord be our focus and purify our souls before Him. If Jesus is not the Lord of your Sabbath Day, you are missing out on the best of what the Lord has for you. You are depriving your soul of essential time with the Lord that you need for spiritual growth. You are depriving others of seeing you at your best instead of your worst. You are settling for far from the best of what the Lord wants to do in your life.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The old and new don't mix.

Luke 5:37-38 "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The new wine would burst the old wineskin, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be put into new wineskins. But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the fresh and the new. 'The old is better,' they say."

Two interesting observations come to my mind as I think about these verses. I have never really thought about it much before, but I think I can understand a little bit better what the Lord wants us to know by his using this illustration. You don't put your new self into your old self and expect it to survive. Our sinful nature will soon take over and cause our godly nature to be ruined. The two cannot co-exist. We cannot expect to live lives pleasing to the Lord and still live in sin. It simply will not work.

When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we take on His nature. We allow Him to remove from us our sinful attitudes and desires. We pursue a life of godliness and get rid of the old life as quickly as we can. You by nature like the old self better than the new self. Let's be honest. Sin is very pleasurable, for a season. There is an immediate rush in sin. We like the feelings that sin often brings to us. We don't want to give up those things that once brought us immediate pleasure. We are blinded by the moment and fail to grasp how not sinning can bring us greater joy and pleasure. It takes effort and determination to stay the course of faithful living. We are easily prone to wander away from it. We resist the changes the Lord wants to make in our lives. In order for us to keep our faith fresh and new, we must put on the new self. We must get rid of the old so that the new can flourish and grow. The new will be smothered and die if we don't.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Healthy people don't need a doctor.

Luke 5:31-32 Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor---sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think they are already good enough.”

Jesus did not come to help those who think they don't need any help; He came to those who knew they needed help. There are so many people in our churches today who do not think they need any help with their faith walk. They see themselves as being just fine and they will not listen to anyone who would suggest otherwise. They hear the Gospel preached and taught and it goes in one ear and out the other. They play the part of a Christian life well, but have closed their minds to the possibility that they have more growing up to do. The Lord cannot help those who won't admit or recognize the fact that they are not perfect and still need to learn much and grow more in their faith and understanding.

It is only when we see ourselves in need that we are able to be helped by the Lord. We must guard our minds and souls carefully in this area. We must always understand our need for God's help. We must be honest about our sinful shortcomings. We must be honest and humbled when we know we have sinned. We must be willing to admit that we are far from perfect. We must want to do better, to be better, in our walk with the Lord. Jesus won't waste time hanging around with those who do not see themselves in need of Him. Spiritual pride and self-righteousness are soul killers. If our hearts are right with God we will know that we are works in progress and never finished products.

 Our need for more of the Lord's holiness will never go away. We will never get to the point where we no longer are susceptible to sinning. We will never become so holy that Satan will give up on us and quit trying to lead us into sin. Until we get to heaven, we will always be in need of the Lord. We will always have to deal with our spiritual weaknesses. We will always need to be students of the Word and prayer. We will always have to be humbled in spirit before the Lord. We will always need more and more of Jesus in our lives.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Sometimes hard work does not pay off.

Luke 5:5 "Master," Simon replied, "we worked hard all last night and didn't catch a thing. But if you say so, we'll try again."

Sometimes hard work does not pay off. We can put all of our energy into a task and still not be rewarded for our efforts. Simon and his fellow fishermen had just spent the night fishing and didn't catch a thing. I have never fished for a living, but I have done a lot of fishing over the years.

Sometimes, the fish won't bite, regardless of how long you fish or how hard you try. Jesus told Simon to try one more time. Even though the fishermen were tired and frustrated at their lack of success, they obeyed the Lord. We must never give up doing what the Lord gives us to do. We may not get the results we desire, but we must remain faithful. We never know when the reward for our labors will come. We may see it in our lifetime and we might not. It is not up to us to determine the results or when it will happen. The Lord will reward our faithfulness in his perfect timing and way. If we give up too soon, we may hinder the work the Lord seeks to accomplish through us. Someone else may be rewarded instead of us.

Our lack of obedience will not keep the Lord's will from being done, but it will keep us from being rewarded for the accomplishment of the task. Simon did what Jesus told him to do, even though he may have thought there was no use to do it.. When he did obey the catch was so great that the fishermen could barely haul the catch into shore. Never doubt what the Lord can do through you if you are faithful to the end. Never quit doing what the Lord has given you to do. Great is your reward in heaven and perhaps even on earth.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

No prophet is accepted in his own home town.

Luke 4:24 "But the truth is, no prophet is accepted in his own home town."  

How true it is! I have been in the ministry for over 40 years of my life and I can testify to the fact that it is much easier to minister amongst a people who don't know you really well as it is to those who do. It's not too hard to understand why. Public figures have a certain image they portray. It is not usually the same image they have in their personal lives. When out of the public eye, we often act and speak differently. We aren't as careful in how we come across. Those who are a part of our personal lives see us as we are, warts and all. They judge us by how we live amongst them. They see us through different lenses than do those who follow us publicly. Therefore, it is harder for those closest to us to value our public ministry for what it is. The best way to win over those who know us best is to strive to live consistent lives before them as much as possible. We must always strive to be the godly character we portray ourselves to be in public. We must strive to keep our motives pure so that whatever we do in public will be for the glory of Christ and not our personal gain. We must always stay in a right relationship with the Lord so that we can be the godly people He wants us to be, whether we are in the public eye or not. It is not an easy thing to do, but it is the thing the Lord wants us to do. It is the thing we must do if we are going to please Him. In reality, there should be no such thing as putting on our Sunday best. If we strive to be righteous on Sunday and are not so careful the rest of the week, we are not right with God. If those who know us outside of church can't see the faith that those inside the church see, we are not right with God. We do not showcase righteousness; we live it every moment of our lives.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Worship the Lord and serve Him.

Luke 4:8 Jesus replied, "The Scriptures say, 'You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him.'"

Do you believe the Scriptures or not? Do we worship the Lord our God and serve Him only? We worship that which we give our devotion and energy to. We worship that which captivates us and drives our passions in life. We can worship our jobs, possessions, sports, people and ourselves. Are we captivated and driven by our love and devotion to the Lord? Is He the reason we look forward to living? Is He the reason why we do what we do in life? Do we really live for the Lord or is He more of an afterthought in our living?

Do we serve the Lord? If so, do we serve Him primarily or as an afterthought? Do we fit Him into our schedules, or does He drive our schedules? Do we give Him our time and energy when it's convenient for us to do so, or do we seek to honor Him in all we do in life? Do we allocate time for Him, or is all of our time His?

The Scriptures give us no slack here. It says we MUST worship the Lord our God and serve ONLY Him. If we fail to obey the Scriptures, it is sin. How are you doing? Do you need to get your priorities straight?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Life is more than the pursuit of earthly things.

Luke 4:4 But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say, 'People need more than bread for their life.'"

We act as if bread was enough. We spend our entire lives working for bread to sustain us. We make careers out of it. Everything we live for flows from our need for bread. We become so engrossed in our pursuit of that which sustains our lives that we confuse our need with our wants. We act as if nothing else matters.

However, Jesus reminds us that life is more than the pursuit of earthly things. Life is not just what we can provide for ourselves. Life is more than our temporary existence on earth. Life is eternal. From the moment of our conception onward, we have eternal life. The part of us that thinks, feels, and moves us into action, will never die. Whether we like it or not doesn't matter. We are souls in human flesh. Life is determined by the choices we make. Each decision we make regarding our souls is an investment in eternity. We choose whom we serve, where we will spend eternity, and how we will spend eternity.

He who squanders the opportunities Christ gives him to repent will suffer the most when he rejects Christ. And, He who serves Christ in love and humility will be rewarded the most. We need much more than what we can find in the world for life; we need Christ.

Yes, we need bread for our physical lives. We need to take care of our basic needs for life. But, do not neglect your most important need, a right relationship with Christ. If we are able to take care of everything you need for this life and lose your soul, you have lost everything. The most basic need of life is our relationship with God.