Monday, August 31, 2015


Rom. 1:25 Instead of believing what they knew was true about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies. So they worshiped the things God made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever. Amen.

It's all about the choices we make. We choose to either believe God or we choose to believe the lies of Satan. There is no other option. We either believe God or we believe what Satan says. Period.

God has made it very clear in creation, His Word, and the lives of His children that what He says is absolute truth. Choosing to not believe it does not change it. God gives us the freedom of choice and when one deliberately chooses to believe in Satan's lies, he falls quickly into a very deep sin pit. Instead of worshiping God, he worships the things God has created or provided for him. Believing lies, he lives without hope beyond what this world has to offer. He forever searches for peace that never comes. He never finds satisfaction that his soul needs and craves.

There is no room in the soul for anyone but God. He will not tolerate a crowded soul. We either let Him live in us and rule us, or we let sin invade and infest the soul and keep us away from God. God will not stay where He is not wanted. And, God will not stay when He is treated as a second-class citizen, one who really is not important to us.

Satan wants us to believe that God doesn't have to be the all consuming presence in our lives. He wants us to believe that there is room in our souls for God and the world. He wants us to believe that God is not a jealous god and that He will put up with our divided loyalties. Satan is a liar. God will not be mocked. He is either our Lord and Savior or He isn't. If He is, then He will have rule over all our soul and not just what we want to give Him.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Rom. 1:18-19 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts.

We say we believe this, but I do wonder if we really do. Our actions often betray our beliefs. Think about it. We are often far more sin tolerant than we should be. We excuse sin far too easily, both in ourselves and in others. We act as if sin is not that big of a deal. We act as if God will not judge us for our sins.

Yet, the Scriptures clearly teach us that sin is taken very seriously by God. It pushes us away from God. God will never tolerate sin in His presence. When we sin, we alienate ourselves from God and we stay alienated until we confess our sins to Jesus and seek His forgiveness.

Sin left unattended will fester and grow in us. It is like cancer and it will make us an evil and wicked people. We cannot stop sin from growing in us on our own. We must have Christ's help. Without Christ's righteousness, we are helpless sinners.

Do not believe the lie that sin does not matter. God will show His anger from heaven against all who sin against Him. The day is coming in which the full fury of God's wrath will be released on earth. Jesus is coming to take the church out of the world and when that happens, there will be nothing to restrain sin. Things will get very ugly very fast. Don't mess around with sin. When we confess our sins to the Lord, He will faithfully forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Sin will not go away on its own. We need Jesus.

God has made sure that we can't plead ignorance. He has placed within us a sin sensitivity. We know what is right and wrong and no one can claim innocence because they didn't know they were a sinner. God will hold each of us accountable for the knowledge that we have and what we do with it.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Rom. 1:17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life."

We tend to get this verse wrong. We start out on our journey with God by faith, but then we get the idea that we have to take over and work our way into heaven from there. We tend to want to make ourselves righteous instead of trusting Christ to be our righteousness. The Good News makes it clear that it is God who makes us righteous, not ourselves.

Salvation is proven by our works, but it is never achieved by our works. Christ alone is our righteousness. He alone can make us pure in heart and keep us pure. He alone will get us to heaven. The sooner we believe and accept it, the sooner we will live in victory and peace.

When we try so hard to be pure before God on our own, we struggle mightily. We are weak in the flesh and cannot overcome sin without Christ's help, no matter how hard we try. We are no match for Satan or his demonic force. We can live in victory when we live and trust in He who has overcome Satan. Only in Christ are we able to relax and live in peace. It is by faith alone that we receive eternal life and it is by faith that we will see our faith give way to sight in heaven. From start to finish, we are righteous before God in Christ alone.

Friday, August 28, 2015


Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes---Jews first and also Gentiles.

Are you ashamed of the Good News? Before you answer that, think about it for a moment. How well do you show Christ in you? How well do you share the Good News with others? When was the last time you actually talked about your faith with someone? Do the people in your life know you go to church and are a part of the life of the church? Do you make your commitment to Christ and His church more important than all the other commitments in your life? Does admitting you are a Christian embarrass you or make you uncomfortable when you are not surrounded by other Christians?

Good New! You have within you the power of God and it is at work in you! You are not the same person as you once were because God has the power to change you. You do not have the same goals in life because the power of God has changed your way of thinking as to what life really is all about. You are not wandering around aimlessly through life because the power of God has given you a reason to live and a reason to die. The power of God is actively at work saving and transforming your life for the glory of Christ.

As a child of God you are part of the kingdom of God and it will never die or be defeated. You belong to He who has overcome the world. You belong to the Ruler of the universe! Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! He is the great, I AM. He is the source of all life. He is the reason life exists and is the reason why all who believe in Him will never die. If you are not ashamed to admit that you are a part of His family, let your life show it. Let all who will listen hear you say it. Let your words and your actions let all in your world know that Jesus is Savior and Lord.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Rom. 1:11 For I long to visit you so I can share a spiritual blessing with you that will help you grow strong in the Lord.

I admire the heart of the Apostle Paul. As he thought of the church at Rome and wrote this letter, his longing was to visit them so that he could share with them a spiritual blessing. He wanted to help them on their journey of faith. He wanted to help them understand better the ways of God so that they would grow strong in the Lord.

The church would be in much better shape than she is today if this would be the heart of every church leader. In fact, if we all had the same spirit, most of the problems in the church would not exist. We should desire for one another spiritual growth. The longing of our hearts should be to help each other in our spiritual journey.

In order for us to have such a heart of love, we need to be a people of grace. We need to not let our hang ups with one another drive a wedge between us. We need to be able to overlook our differences for our mutual good. We need to be quick to forgive and strive to forget the things that upset us. We need to stay focused on Christ as the head of the church and quit trying to be the head ourselves.

In order to have such a heart, we need to take care of our own souls. We need to seriously develop within us hearts of righteousness. We need to never stop growing in our faith. We need to never stop learning how to better life in and for Christ. We, nor the church, will ever get any better than we are until we do.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Acts 24:25 As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified. "Go away for now," he replied. "When it is more convenient, I'll call for you again."

The Apostle Paul was making his defense before Felix and the Roman counsel. He spoke clearly of life and the hand of God in it. He shared what the Lord had done in his life and how those who were against him were defying God's obvious witness. Paul gave a very clear message on the righteousness and self-control only found in the living Christ. He warned those in attendance of God's impending judgment.

Felix took to heart what Paul said and it terrified him. He knew enough about what Paul was saying to know that it was all true. He also knew that his own heart was not right with God. The Holy Spirit had gotten to him and he was very troubled. Like the Gospel song puts it so well, "Almost persuaded now to believe; almost persuaded Christ to receive."

Yet Felix did not embrace Christ. He put it off for some more convenient day. I remember what it was like being in Felix's shoes. I did not always respond to the urging of the Holy Spirit. I, too, believed but wanted to commit myself to the Lord when it was more convenient for me to do so.

We are not told if Felix ever had another opportunity to be saved. I hope he did, but the chances are good that he probably didn't. Or, if he did, the chances are good that he did not sense the urging of the Spirit again like he did that day.

We don't know how long we will live. We don't know how many more opportunities we will have in life to come to the Lord. We don't know if we will ever again feel the persuasive voice of God calling us into fellowship with Him. If you do not know Jesus as your Savior, accept Him now. Some more convenient day may never come for you. Today is the day of salvation. Don't let it pass you by.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Acts 20:28 And now beware! Be sure that you feed and shepherd God's flock--his church, purchased with his blood--over whom the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.

Paul was giving his farewell address to the elders of the church at Ephesus. He had spent considerable time at the church preaching, teaching and disciple making. He had poured his heart into the church and knew that this was going to be the last time he would be with them. He had a deep love for the church and wanted them to do things the right way.

Paul knew that without strong leadership there was the danger of the church slipping backwards. He warned the church elders to do their job, to feed and shepherd the flock. No church will stay on track with the Lord and have an impact on her community without proper nourishment and guidance. Every church needs leaders who take serving the Lord seriously, who take their faith seriously.

Paul reminded them that the church was not theirs. Jesus purchased the church with His shed blood at Calvary. Jesus alone is the head of the church. No one individual or group of individuals run the church. When man takes over the controls of the church, bad things happen. There is the danger of false teaching taking root. There is a huge pride issue amongst the leadership. There is power issues. There is the danger of controlling who may, or may not, serve in the church beyond what the Scriptures teach.

Paul also reminded them that their roles as leaders in the church was by God's appointment and not man's. If church leadership is determined any other way, problems generally arise. Church leaders should only be approved after waiting on the Lord. There should be adequate time for the church to discuss and pray over potential leaders. There should be clear guidelines and expectations spelled out. No one should be allowed to serve in leadership in the church who is not spiritually qualified to do so. When we do things God's way, good things happen.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Acts 20:24 But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus--the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love.

I really like this statement by the Apostle Paul. It is a real challenge to me. Do I really consider my life to be worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work God has assigned to me? I have always lived my life striving to do what God has given me to do every since I gave Him all of my heart. For me, life simply is not worth it if I am not doing with it what God wants for it.

In order for this statement to be true of any heart, we must first know what it is that God wants us to do with our lives. I have heard so many people over the years who never have seemed to have settled this issue for their lives. It's really not too hard to know what God wants you to do. It begins with a fully surrendered heart before Him.

A fully surrender heart is one who holds nothing back from the Lord. It is one who sees himself as God's and not his own. It is one who is willing to do anything or go anywhere the Lord wants him to do with no strings attached. Anything short of a fully surrendered heart and it becomes very difficult to discern God's will for one's life.

The main thing we are all called to do is to tell others the Good News about God's kindness and love. The means to do that will vary, but the mandate is the same. We are to tell others about God's love and saving grace. Each of us has a mandate from God to be His ambassadors. We are expected by God to let our lights shine in the world and to influence the world for Christ. If you are not doing that, you are living in disobedience to God; you are not doing His will for you. Make the most out of your life and make it count. do all that the Lord has given you to do, be a voice for Him in the world.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Acts 20:22-24 "And now I am going to Jerusalem, drawn there irresistibly by the Holy Spirit, not knowing what awaits me except that the Holy Spirit has told me in city after city jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus---the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love."

Paul was saying his goodbyes to the elders of the church in Ephesus. He knew that this would be the last time he would see them on earth. He knew that what lied ahead of him in Jerusalem was not going to be good for him. But, he also knew that God was leading him there. Paul understood the dangers and they did not bother him. He valued the opportunities to be a witness for Christ more than he did life itself.

We fight for life. We do everything we possibly can do to make sure we can still live. We don't want to die and often fear it. We associate death with the end of all living instead of its beginning. We don't want to let go of what we know and enter into the unknown. However, Paul had a different perspective on things.

Paul understood that death was a stepping stone to life. He knew that on the other side of life lived Christ and all who die in the faith. He did not fear death; rather, he welcomed it. Far more important to Paul was seizing the opportunities he had to serve the Lord by telling others about Him. He was far more interested in living each moment for Christ than dwelling on his uncertain future on earth.

Are you more concerned about your dying than you are your living? Don't squander your life away worrying about when you may die. Instead, serve the Lord. Occupy your mind with the things of God and you won't have time to dwell on that which may frighten you. There is so much that you can do for the Lord. Don't waste your time on those things beyond your control. Treat each day as the Lord's Day and serve Him well. If you do, there will be peace in the valley of the shadows of death for you.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


 Acts 17:11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth.

As a preacher this verse has always been a challenge for me. I want people who listen to me and read what I write to always evaluate what comes out of me in light of what the Scriptures teach.

It is easy to let others do the thinking for us. It is easy to believe what someone says just because they are supposed to know what they are talking about. It is easy to believe someone because of who they are in the world. It's easy to believe those who speak eloquently. It is easy to believe those who use the Scriptures to make their points.

Yet, we should never accept what we hear and read unless it is backed up by the Word of God. We should do our own studying and thinking of the Word. We must be careful as well that we don't take things out of context when we do our studying. Scripture always backs up Scripture. If the rest of the Scriptures do not support our conclusions, then we need to change our thinking.

Like the Bereans, we need to have open minds. We need to always be willing to change our understanding if the Spirit of God gives us new insight and greater understanding. We must always read the Word with an attitude of learning what God is saying. We also must not accept what someone says if it is not supported by the Word of God. A wrong interpretation of the Word is false teaching and must be corrected when it is brought to light.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Acts 16:6-7 Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had told them to go into the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not let them go.

Paul and Silas were on the road serving the Lord. They were going from place to place preaching and teaching the Word. They were doing it because the Lord had clearly shown them that they were to do it. They went where they knew the Spirit was leading them to go.

It is important that in our service to the Lord that we remain sensitive to the voice of God so that we will be in the right place doing the right thing at the right time. So often, we plunge ahead like a bull in the china closet. We often make the decision as to where we will be and what we will be doing. I suspect that there are far too many people in the church who are busy doing the work of the Lord without being sent by the Lord to do it. Are you sure that what you are doing is the Lord's leading on your life and not your own?

Paul and Silas were so in tune with the Spirit that when He prevented them from going where the Lord didn't want them to go, they recognized it and didn't go.

It is important that we don't force doors open that the Lord has shut. There are good reasons why sometimes the Lord says no. We must be humble and wise enough to listen to God's nos. Far too often we stubbornly push our way ahead. The result always is that we hinder or damage the cause of Christ.

Are you doing what the Lord wants you to do, or are you doing what you want to do and then expect Him to put His stamp of approval on it? Only when we align ourselves up with God's will are we able to be who He wants and needs us to be in His work on earth.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Acts 11:15 "Well, I began telling them the Good News, but just as I was getting started, the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning....."

Here Peter was in Cornelius' house. Everyone there had been waiting for Peter to arrive. They were waiting to hear the Word of God from Peter. Before Peter got into the Word, he shared with them his personal testimony of how God had spoken to him in a vision. Peter's personal testimony was enough. He barely got started sharing the Good News and the Spirit of God came upon those gathered and overpowered them.

I wonder what it would have been like to be in a service like that. The people were ready and waiting to hear from God. They were focused on the message and not the messenger. They did not want to be entertained, they wanted to hear from God. I wonder what would be different in our churches today if everyone were to be as anxious to hear from God as Cornelius and his family were?

Sometimes our personal testimony is enough. Peter did not wow the people with his knowledge or understanding. He just told them about his encounter with Jesus. Knowledge and understanding are important, but sometimes we let them get in the way of our worship. God doesn't need what we know to do what He desires to do in someone's life. He just needs us to be willing to be real about what God has done for us. We need to be careful that we don't allow our minds to crowd out our hearts when we talk about Jesus. I fear that in so many cases, we speak from our heads and not our hearts.

If you want to see God in action, let him first move through your heart.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Waiting to Hear from God

Acts 10:33 "..So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now here we are, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you."

This is the account of Cornelius and Peter. The Lord had just spoken to Peter about getting rid of any prejudices he had about who could or could not be saved. Cornelius was amongst those whom Peter would have denied access to grace before God had spoken to him. God had been working on Cornelius and his heart was hungry for the Gospel. God had told him to send for Peter and he did. When Peter arrived, Cornelius and his household were ready and waiting to hear from God.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we too were sent to a people who were ready and waiting to hear from the Lord? But wait a minute, Jesus said that the harvest field was ripe and ready for the harvesting. There are people all around us who are ready to be told about God's love and saving grace. All we have to do is to go into the harvest field to find them. And if we can't go for some reason, we are to pray that the Lord will send laborers who can go. We don't go and expect them to come to us, but it doesn't work that way. The Lord sends us out, not in. We are to bring them in, and you can't bring them in unless you first go out. If we are not reaching out with the Gospel in their world, we are not functioning in God's will.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we, who already are believers, would have the same spirit as Cornelius? I wonder what would be different in our homes and churches if we were to eagerly wait before the Lord for a message from Him? When was the last time you were ready and waiting to hear from the Lord? Would He have something important to say to you? There is only one way to find out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How attuned are we to the Lord?

 Acts 8:30-31 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah, so he asked, "Do you understand what you're reading?" The man replied, "How can I, when there is no one to instruct me?" And he begged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.

There are several things that jump out at me from these verses. Philip was an early church leader, an evangelist. He went from town to town telling others about Jesus. Philip was tuned into opportunities to be a witness for the Lord. He was prompted by God to approach this eunuch who was in his chariot, reading from Isaiah. Philip didn't know him, but he understood that this man was searching for understanding about God.

It causes me to pause and wonder how attuned we are to the Lord. Are we aware of those about us who are searching for the Lord? Are we busy telling others about Him? Or, are we so caught up into living that we don't seize or take the opportunities the Lord gives us to be a witness for Him?

This man did not know the Lord, but he was looking in the right place; he was reading the Scriptures. There is no better place to look for the Lord than in His Word. We need to do it for ourselves and we need to encourage others to do it as well. God does not hide himself in His Word; they testify of Him from beginning to end.

This man did not understand what he was reading. He was reading from Isaiah and he invited Philip to sit down with him and help him to understand. It's not always that easy; in fact, it seldom is. But, Philip was ready. He was well-versed in the Scriptures and could explain to the eunuch what Isaiah had written. We discover that as Philip explained Isaiah's prophecy to him, that the eunuch believed and was baptized.

May the Lord help us to be equally well-versed in the Scriptures so that when we have the opportunity we too can readily be a witness for Him. Someone's soul may very well be in the balance. Study well the Scriptures so that you can be a workman that needs not be ashamed when someone searching for Jesus crosses your path.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Church's First Martyr

Acts 7:55 And he told them, "Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God's right hand!"

Stephen was being stoned to death because of his stand for Christ. He had just witnessed to God's past and present workings amongst God's people. He was a strong follower of Christ and unashamed of it. He was recognized in the church as a godly man and servant of the Lord. He was not popular among those who would not accept Christ as being the promised Messiah.

As he was dying, Stephen looked up to heaven and he saw Jesus. This was the first, and only, recorded instance where we find Jesus standing in heaven. He normally was sitting at His rightful place at the right hand of God on His throne. I believe that the Lord was giving Stephen a standing ovation for being the first martyr of the faith.

I wonder how many of us are being honored in heaven today because of our faith. I wonder how much honor we are being given in heaven. In order to receive honor from the Lord, we must live honorable lives before Him and man. If we live consistently lives of righteousness, it honors the Lord. If we are not ashamed of the Gospel and our Lord and witness for Him whenever we have the chance without regard for the consequences, we are honored in heaven. If we live holy lives, we are being honored in heaven. If we live solely by faith, we are being honored in heaven. If Jesus is Lord of our lives, we are being honored in heaven.

We may not get a standing ovation from the Lord, but we will be greeted at heaven's doors by our Lord and He will say unto the faithful, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter now into the kingdom of your Lord." If the Lord finds us faithful, great will be our reward in heaven.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Obey God or man?

Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John replied, "Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard."

What do you think? Do you think God wants you to obey Him or man? The answer is obvious; we must obey God. The problem comes in when what God dictates conflicts with what man dictates. The two often do conflict and to not obey man can create some very difficult, and even bad, consequences. If we truly want to honor and please the Lord, we must be willing to face whatever consequences our obeying God would create. We have to answer to God on Judgment Day, not man.

Rarely do we find that man's ways are fully in line with God's ways. The mind of man does not always comprehend the mind of God. The heart of man is not always in line with God's heart. Thus when laws are made by man, there is bound to be conflicts. It is our responsibility to develop Biblically minded minds so that we can recognize when man's laws are not in agreement with God's laws. We must be into the Word of God consistently enough to recognize when we must disobey man's laws in order to obey God's laws, regardless of the consequences it may cause. What happens when we become Biblically minded is we become so enamored by Christ that we cannot disobey God.

Are you to the point where you just can't help yourself, that you just have to obey God? Is your faith such a part of you that you do not compromise God's laws for anyone, regardless of personal cost? If not, get into the Word of God until it gets in you and takes hold of you. Get into your prayer closet until Christ rubs off on you. Live life to the fullest in Christ and you won't be able to stop telling others about the wonderful things Christ is doing in you.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Being of One Heart and Mind

Acts 4:32 All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own, they shared everything they had.

I can only imagine what it must have been like in the early church. I have been in the ministry for over 40 years and I have never been in a church where all the believers were of one heart and mind. In today's church, it would be practically impossible for this to happen. We can't come close to being of one mind on what we believe, let alone one in heart. Often in the local church there is a huge difference in what people really believe and how they live out what they believe.

It is common for people to be upset with each other, often times over the smallest of things. We just can't see to get over the hump of agreeing to disagree agreeably. We want everyone to see things as we do and when they don't, we get upset and pout. With so many church choices available, it's not very hard to find another church to fellowship and worship in.

Before we can be of one mind, we have to be of one heart, and that is where we mess up so much. In order to be of one heart, we have to focus on the same thing, Christ. There has to be one agenda in the church, the exaltation of Christ in all we do. We have to want to honor and glorify Him more than anything else. We must set aside our own agendas and submit to the Lord's. We must be willing to work together for Jesus' sake instead of trying to promote our own churches.

I believe that one of the primary needs of the church today is to strive to become of one mind and heart before Christ. Can we change the church? Perhaps not. But, we can let the Lord change us so that we will do our part. We can strive to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Bold Faith

Acts 4:13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men who had had no special training. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.

This verse has always challenged me. I want to be like Peter and John. I want others who see and know me to know that I have been with Jesus. I want to be so connected to the Lord that there is no mistake about it in how I live.

Notice that it wasn’t their education that made Peter and John stand out. If anything, there lack of education would be noticed. They were ordinary men, fishermen by trade. They had no pedigree that would get them noticed. They would have been scarcely noticed, especially by those who were educated and in seats of authority. Peter and John were just common people, just like most of us. Yet, there was something quite noticeable about them.

Peter and John stood out from the crowd because they oozed the life of Jesus. They were not impressed by the Jewish leaders. They did not hold back their witness because of who they were with. They boldly proclaimed Christ to all they could. Why? They were passionately committed to Christ. They knew He was indeed God who had come in human flesh. They knew that He alone was the way to heaven and they were driven by their compassion for the lost. They had the heart of God for others and were not willing that any would be lost. They boldly proclaimed the Gospel message so that as many people as possible would hear it and perhaps be saved.

Are we as driven by our love for Christ as Peter and John were? Are we telling as many people as possible about our salvation? If not, why not? Isn’t the soul of man far more important than anything else in life?

If you find yourself not caring enough about the lost souls of others, I implore you to fall on your knees before God and stay there until he changes your heart.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Witnesses for Christ

Acts 1:8 "But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere---in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.."

Sermons have been preached on this verse. Whatever may be said has probably already been said many times. However, there are a couple of things I would like to remind us of today. One, is that the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives affects our lives. There is power from God that comes upon us when He is in us. This power has a two-fold effect on us: it moves us into godliness and it moves us into action. You cannot have Christ without His Spirit and you cannot have His Spirit without changing.

Another thing to note is that we are witnesses for Christ whether we recognize it or not. If you are a child of God today, your life is a witness for Him. Your life reflects His life. You are either a good witness or a bad witness, depending on how you are living.

People are noticing what kind of a witness you are. It begins at home and spreads out from there. The lives you interact with are being influenced either for or against Christ because of you. You can't avoid it.

If you want to make a difference for Christ in the world, it first begins at home with those who know you best. The farther away from home you get, the less likely it is that others will know you well and be affected by your living. However, you influence the most those who are watching you live out your faith in the daily grind of life.

The Spirit of God is at work and wants to help you be a good witness for Christ. Are you co-operating with Him?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Being One in Christ

John 17:20-21 "I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father---that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me."

It is Christ's prayer for us that we would all be one in Him. Christ does not want His children fighting amongst themselves. He does not want them to live in isolation from one another and competing for the lost. Christ does not want any of His children lording it over others. He does not want any of them to become proud of their position in life or to think that they are better than others because of what they may or may not understand about the Scriptures. Christ does not want any of His children to be judgmental or jealous of others in the family.

Jesus prayed for us so that we would all be one in spirit. He wants us to get along and to support and encourage one another as we serve Him. He wants us to rally together in Him. It does not mean that we can't have our disagreements, but we can learn to agree to disagree agreeably so that we can work together in the harvest field for His honor and glory.

The household of faith is easily divided. We must strive to fight the temptation to let our differences keep us from fellowship and fruitful service together. Jesus is praying for us. Will we let Him have His way with us?

What do you need to do differently in order to be a part of the solution instead of the problem? How might you be a part of the answer to Jesus' prayer?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Praying in Jesus' Name

John 16:23-24 "At that time you won't need to ask me for anything. The truth is, you can go directly to the Father and ask him, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven't done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy."

We can go directly to our Heavenly Father and ask Him anything. We do not need anyone to do it for us. We have equal right and access to God as anyone else on earth does. God has an open door policy and the welcome mat is always out.

Jesus did away with all that kept us from going directly to our Father. He made us righteous through His shed blood at Calvary and all who let Him into their heart are able to approach God with confidence and boldness. God answers the prayers of the righteous.

When we pray in the name of Jesus, things begin to happen. The name of Jesus is the most powerful name in all of creation. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Before Him every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth. He holds the key to life and death. He created all things and all things were created for Him. He is the indwelling fullness of God. He is the only way to God. He is absolute truth, righteousness and holiness. He is the only source of eternal life and without Him the soul faces a godless eternity in hell.

When we submit to Jesus and obey Him, God answers prayer. He works all things out for our good according to His will for us. He gives us much joy and peace as we pray and trust Him with our needs. In Jesus' name bow before our Father in heaven, wait before Him, and pray. He will take care of you and supply your every need. You have His word on it.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Remain in God's love.


John 15:9-10 "I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey me, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father and remain in his love."

Can anyone really know just how God loves Jesus? All I know is that God is perfect in love. We can't grasp how it is to be loved perfectly because we fall so far short of it. We can grasp a little bit of what God's love is like when we observe how Jesus loved His disciples. When we follow the lives of Jesus and His disciples over the span of the three years they were together, we see unconditional acceptance of them and a willingness to sacrifice himself for them. Jesus did not love them only when they were agreeable and supportive. He loved them no matter how they messed up or struggled in their understanding of Him.

Jesus reminded them to remain in His love. It's so easy to wander away from His love. Whenever we start doing our own thing instead of what God tells us to do, we wander from His love. Obeying the Lord is the key to staying in His love. We can't say that we love Him when we don't do what He tells us to do.

Jesus submitted himself to God's will. In everything He sought to do what God sent Him to do. He expects us to do the same thing. We must submit ourselves to God's will for us always. We must be willing to go, do and be what the Lord wants of us. If we really love the Lord, it is the way we will live.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Staying Connected with Christ

John 15:7-8 "But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father."

Two things must happen on our part in order for God to do His part when we pray. First we must stay joined with Christ and secondly, the Word of God must stay in us. I think it would be well for us to consider how we might not stay connected with the Lord and keep His Word in our hearts.

We lose our connection to Christ when we take our eyes off of Him and start focusing on the world or people. When we become captivated by what is around us instead of Who is over us, we get into trouble. It takes determination and concentration to keep Christ in our lives. It doesn't just happen. We have to work diligently and hard to keep from being drawn away from Him.

We lose our connection as well whenever we fail to exercise our spiritual disciplines. In order to think and act Biblically we must stay in our Bibles. We must read it and meditate on it regularly. We must not let anything rob us of our needed time in the Word. We must make our Bible time and prayer the main priority of our days. When we don't the world draws us away from the Lord and fills us with its ways of thinking and living.

Jesus promises us that when we keep our souls connected and well fed, we can ask the Lord anything and it will be granted to us. This is true because when we are properly connected, we will ask according to His will and not ours. We will want what the Lord wants. We will desire to please Him and will want to see His will done on earth, even as it is in heaven. And, when all this happens, it brings much glory to God, our Father.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

"Apart from me, you can do nothing."

John 15:5-6 "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing. Anyone who parts from me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned."

Jesus made a very strong statement here. He said that anyone who parts from Him is thrown away and cast into the fire. Why would He make a such statement if it weren't true? It is not for me to try and figure out those who would depart from Him. All I know is what the Word says. If anyone chooses to abandon their relationship with the Lord, they are no longer His children. Those who part from Him are useless and they wither away and die.

On the other hand, those who remain in Christ produce much fruit because Christ is in them. We don't always see the fruit we produce, but He does. Sometimes others can see what we can't see. And, sometimes we are able to see some of the fruit we produce. If we are in Christ, we gladly do what we can and let Him be honored and glorified through us. We don't focus on the fruit; we focus on Him. It doesn't matter how much we see. It doesn't matter if we see any at all. All that matters is that Christ be seen in us.

Be assured; if you are living in Christ you are producing much fruit. Your life matters and what you do through Christ matters much to God. Remain faithful to Him. Continue to live in Christ and great will be your reward in heaven. Apart from Christ, the soul will spend eternity in hell with all those who reject Him as the resurrection and life.

Friday, August 7, 2015

"Remain in me and I will remain in you."

John 15:4 "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me."

When I read this verse, the word that jumps out at me is remain. Jesus said that in order for Him to remain in us, we must remain in Him. I know there are different understandings of what this is saying, but taken at face value the message seems to be very clear. We must remain in Christ.

Why would Jesus command us to remain in Him if there wasn't a possibility that we might now? Staying in Christ is a decision we must make daily in our lives. We must knowingly choose to live in relationship with Him. We must strive to live lives that are pleasing to Him. We must understand that apart from Him we are spiritually dead. We cannot remain in fellowship with Him on our own. Without a heart connection with Christ we will stumble and fall into sin.

Apart from Christ, we cannot produce anything good; we cannot do anything that is pleasing and acceptable to God. Apart from Christ, we will produce no spiritual fruit. Period. We will produce fruit if we are living in Christ and if we aren't living in Christ we will be rejected by God.

In order for us to remain in Christ, we must feed our souls consistently with the Word of God and spend time alone with Him in prayer. We must be worshipers of Him and we must be servants of Him. We must strive to apply to our living what we learn from Him. We must desire Him more than anything else in our lives.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Pruned to Produce

John 15:1-2 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more."

This statement by the Lord has always challenged me. I take it for what it says and it should cause us to stop and take a serious look at ourselves.

God, our Father, is the gardener. It is His to keep the vine (us) pruned and productive. He carefully examines us and when He finds those who produce no fruit they are cut off. However you take it, it challenges me. God says what He means and means what He says. Therefore, I have to conclude that if we don't produce spiritual fruit, we are cut off from the fellowship of God.

Now, what we have to consider is what is the fruit we are to produce? We look at Gal. 5:22-23 and we are told what a person should be like when the Holy Spirit is in control of them. Paul says that we who are in Christ have the Spirit as well and therefore we must show the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit we are to produce is for the glory and honor of Christ. We are to be like the Lord and it must show in how we live and talk.

Those of us who do produce fruit are pruned by God so that they will produce even more fruit than they now do. We need to constantly work on being better than we are in Christ. We need to strive to grow in faith and knowledge.

Bottom line is, we are not saved to sit. We are to be actively serving the Lord. We are to honor the Lord in all we do. We are to live for the Lord and not ourselves. We are to listen to the Word, learn the Word, and live the Word. If we don't do these things, God will not let us hang around with Him. He will cut us off and make room for those who will live for Him.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

God loves all but does not dwell in all.

John 14:23-24 Jesus replied, "All those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and live with them. Anyone who doesn't love me will not do what I say. And remember, my words are not my own. This message is from the Father who sent me."

You can say you love the Lord all you want, but if you don't obey Him, your words are nothing but hot air. If you obey the Lord, you will be loved by our Father in heaven and He will dwell within your heart.

God is love and He loves all, but He does not dwell with all. There is a difference in how God interacts with us when He lives in our souls. There is a kinship that those who don't have a relationship with Him can never know. There is a depth of love that the world can only dream about. There is understanding of God and life that is withheld from those who do not have Christ in them. Notice Jesus says WE will come and live with them. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all dwell with those who are His.

It's not very hard to tell who does and does not love the Lord. Those who do what Jesus says live differently than those who don't. They do not participate in what the world participates in. They talk differently and act differently. When they speak of the Lord it's in words of respect and endearment and not disrespectfully and disdainly.

Jesus made it clear that what He said is from God and not His own words. Jesus never spoke out of turn. He always spoke God's mind and heart, for He is God.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

God made us with a need for love.

John 13:34-35 "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

Everybody talks about love; we either have it and want everyone to know it, or we don't have it and want everyone to help us find it. Love is important for our well-being. Those who are deprived of it suffer greatly and usually take out their frustrations on others. Many do not know how to handle being loved later on in life when they are denied it early in life. Many are so starved for love that they behave out of the normally acceptable standards of social behavior in order to find it.

God is love and made us with the need to love and be loved. He showed us how to love by sending Jesus into the world to be our Savior. Our Lord showed us how to love others. He touched so many lives wherever He went. He healed those who reached out to Him, both physically and spiritually. He taught love. He equated love with the identifying characteristic of His disciples.

We are to love each other in the same ways we are loved by God. In order to do that we must first know what it is to be loved by God. We can't act towards others in love if we don't experience first God's love. And, if we don't act towards others with godly love, we are not His disciples. We prove our love and relationship with God by our love for one another.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Darkness is coming.

John 12:35-36 Jesus replied, "My light will shine out for you just a little while longer. Walk in it while you can, so you will not stumble when the darkness falls. If you walk in the darkness, you cannot see where you are going. Believe in the light while there is still time, then you become children of the light."

Darkness is coming. God doesn't promise to always shine His Light on the world or our lives. He is very patient and will let Him shine as long as He can, but there will come a day in which His patience with us will end. He doesn't want any of us to die in our sins, so He continues to let His Light shine. The issue then is how we respond to the Light. Some of us walk in the Light, while others choose to walk in the darkness. In the darkness you will never keep up with or follow those who walk in the Light.

Some are standing around in the glow of the Light, waiting to get on board. What they fail to accept or acknowledge is that the Light is not standing still with them. The Lord is always on the move and the longer we stand around, the dimmer His light is. We can wait around to longer and no longer see the Light.

The assumption is that the Light will always be there for us to come to whenever we want to. He won't be. The Lord is always on the move and only those in step with Him will be able to stay out of the darkness. He is moving towards Judgment Day. The Lord is leading His children forward, preparing them for their encounter with God. Only those who are in the Light will be ready.

Walk in the Light while you can. Don't let the Lord move on without you. Don't be among those left behind because they are in the darkness and can't find their way. It's not too late, but it soon will be if you delay. Don't let the darkness snuff out any light you may have.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Do you like your life?

John 12:25 "Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who despise their life in the world will keep it for eternal life."

Do you like your life? Do you like yourself? If you could, would you change anything? Before you answer the questions, take a look around you and compare yourself and life with others. You will discover that there are those who have it a lot better than you do and there are those who have it a lot worse. No matter what you may think of yourself or life, there are many who would gladly change places with you. It is human nature to be dissatisfied with the way things are. It is something that only the Lord can change in us.

We are confined to this world. This life is the only life we know. We are ingrained with the thought that our contentment and happiness is based on how we fair in the world. We live to accomplish or attain what the world offers. Most base their self-worth by what this life is.

Jesus makes it clear that when we base our worth on what this life is and live for what the world can offer us, we will lose what life really is. Real life is eternal; it is the spirit of man that matters. We are more than flesh and bones; we are spiritual beings and we will live on forever after we die. When we invest ourselves only in this life, we will spend eternity in hell. Those who ignore their souls will pay a huge price for it in eternity.

Only those who value their souls and invest it in Christ will escape hell and be in heaven after they die. We must not cling to the world, but cling to Christ if we want to go to heaven. We must hate what the world offers and love what God offers. We can't have it both ways. Those who are in Christ are sold out to Christ. They live for Him and Him alone.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Jesus is Lord of life and death.

John 11:44 And Lazarus came out, bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him go!"

Lazarus came out---not Moses, Elijah, Abraham, Levi, David, Joshua, Joseph, or any other who had died and was put in the grave. Lazarus came out. Why? Because Jesus had called his name. Jesus knew whom He wanted to see and called him. He has the authority over both life and death and if He had not called out specifically Lazarus's name, a multitude of others would have come out from the grave.

By all rights, Lazarus would have been awful to be around by now. His body would have started to decay and the stench would have caused people to leave. He was wrapped in his grave clothes which would have caused people to run and hide. After all, wouldn't you have been a tad bit afraid if someone you knew had suddenly stood before you after he had died four days before and was in his grave clothes? When was the last time you had gone to a graveside service only to have the deceased open the casket and stand before you?

Jesus told those gathered there to unwrap Lazarus and let him go. Lazarus was no longer among the dead because Jesus had given him life, just like He does to all who accept Him as their Savior. Lazarus was no longer subject to the illness that had killed him, Jesus had healed him and made him whole, just like He does to our souls when He heals us. Jesus set Lazarus free, just like He does for you and me.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!