Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Dwelling Place

Christ’s righteousness dwells in you. It is through Him that we choose to do right from wrong; that we choose to love instead of hate; that we choose to help instead of ignore. Some days are rough. Some days we do not feel like acting in a manner becoming of God; but those are the days God uses us the most. It is easy to represent God when life is good. It is easy to celebrate God when we are on top. But God needs us to show the world that even though times are bad; even though tragedy has arrived; even though the storms are raging; we know He is God. We know He is on the throne. We know He is in control. The only way to do this, is to be in His presence.

Psalm 91, “1He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 9Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place . . .”

It is God’s desire that we make His presence our dwelling place, that we stay encamped around Him, and from that we are equipped to be married, raise a family, work in our church, work in our community, and serve others. Wherever we are, we are in His presence. Whatever we do, we are in His presence.

God has no restrictions on where He can be or where He can go. He is not limited by past or worry or boundaries. By allowing His presence to dwell within you, you will be under His shadow and in His protection.

Today, spend some quiet time with God. Ask Him to fill you with His Holy presence. Remind yourself through out the day of your special bond with God. Keep Him front and center. Dwell with the Most High.


Truth or Consequences

There is a dangerous myth floating around. What side you believe is the difference between life or death for you. It is the belief that there are no eternal consequences for our actions here on earth. It is a cultural crisis imposed by a nonchalant, politically correct, live life my way attitude. For the most part, people believe God exists, the crisis comes when we live as if He doesn’t exist.

Life without consequences is a life filled with selfish desires and chaos. There are consequences for everything you do – good or bad. No action occurs without some reaction. Newton’s third law of motion, “When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.” In other words, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Don’t fool yourself, what you do today will have a consequence tomorrow.

The greatest tragedy is the consequence of not following and believing in Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal Savior. It is extremely clear in John 5:24-25, Jesus tells us, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; He has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”

There is a religious teaching which indicates one need only pray the sinners prayer. Understand, Jesus makes it clear in His word, when you are saved, you are a new a different person. Don’t be fooled by thinking because you said a prayer you can continue in your sinful lifestyle. The consequence will be as Matthew wrote in 7:22-23, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'”

People fall short in their definition of “believe.” Jesus’ definition of believe is doing what He tells us to do and living as He instructs. Matthew writes in 19:17, “‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.'”

I struggle with the shock some are going to experience when they realize Jesus did not know them. It is senseless to come to the end of your life and hear those words when Christ makes it very clear how to know Him. Consider today your relationship with Him. Do you read and study His word? Do you practice daily following His guidance and His laws? Do you communicate with Him through prayer and worship? If you answered no to any one of those questions, today is the day to make the change. Start living your life on the path to eternity.

 


God is…

I saw a familiar bumper sticker from years back the other day. It read simply, “GOD IS LOVE.” Amazingly, it prompted me to research and delve once more into who God is according to Jesus, His Son.

The Character and Integrity of God according to Jesus.

1. God  is dependable. Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

2. God is a giver. Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”

3. God is merciful. Luke 6:35-36, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

4. God is faithful. Luke 12:29-32, “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His Kingdom and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom.”

5. God is good. Luke 18:19, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good except God alone.”

6. God is to be respected. Luke 12:4-5, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear; Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.”

7. God is just. Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

8. God is trustworthy. John 14:1-2, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”

9. God is forgiving. Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

10. God is LOVE. John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Today, reflect on who God is to you and how He participates in your daily life. Pray and ask God to help you to know Him as Jesus has described Him.


Like Father, like Son

Have you ever looked at the relationship Jesus had with His Father? We read throughout the New Testament of Jesus’ devotion to prayer (Mark 1:32; Mark 6:45-46; to name a few of the scriptures); but, what of His relationship with God? What does He tell us about His Father and how should we use His relationship with God to benefit ours?

John 5:23 says, “that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”

In using logic the converse of the scripture would read, “whoever does not honor the Father does not honor the Son…” The relationship between Jesus and God is like no other relationship – deeply devoted and infinitely intertwined. And even with the words Jesus told us in scriptures about His relationship, we realize there is so much we cannot and do not understand; but a relationship with God without Jesus or vice versa cannot exist. For one is highly dependent upon the other.

John 5:19-20, “Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does. Yes, and He will show Him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.'”

When Judas had left, in John 13:31-32, “… Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will glorify the Son in Himself, and will glorify Him at once.'”

And the one we must fully follow, John 14:31, “…the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what My Father has commanded Me…”

It is easy for us to misunderstand or almost dismiss the relationship between God and Jesus because of the Trinity – God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit. Because it is impossible to fully grasp the concept of this coequal relationship, we tend to overlook the loving and unique relationship Christ had with His Father and its importance in our lives. I do not pretend to understand the Trinity. I do not know any theologian who does and if he did, I would question his credentials; however, I do realize there is much to be learned from Christ’s obedience to God, God’s laws, and God’s influence over His life. Christ is our living example of what God expects from us and how we must live our lives. Christ lived in perfect unity with His Father, so closely related that Jesus tells us that anyone who has seen and heard Him has seen and heard God. Jesus’ ultimate desire was to please His Father; glorify His name; and serve God’s Kingdom.

John 12:44-45, “Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.”

Today, evaluate your relationship with the Father and the Son. Do you obey God’s laws and follow His direction in your life? Do you recognize Christ as your Savior and ultimate Judge over your life? Do you realize that you will not get to God except through Christ? Ask God to help you develop the relationship with Him that He desires.


Do you believe this?

Revelation 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Who can claim to be first and last? The Beginning and the end? Who can be a King and yet a servant? The light of the world? Who can be the Son of God and the Son of Man?

It is a great deal more than I can wrap my small brain around; but, I realize if you or me made such statements, we would  be strapped in a straight jacket and hauled off. Interestingly, the people who heard Him treasured His teachings. The authorities were scared of Him because they knew He had power. Men left their jobs and lives to follow Him. The difference between you and me saying such things and Jesus saying such things, is Jesus Christ could back it up. He spoke with wisdom and authority and He had tremendous confidence. He could heal people; raise people from the dead; He knew things about people that were impossible to know; and the greatest of all miracles, He arose from the dead.

In John 6:33-35 Jesus tells us, “‘For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ 34 ‘Sir,” they said, ‘always give us this bread.’ 35 Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'”

In this scripture Jesus explains that He is to our souls what Bread and Water are to our bodies. He is the nourishment we need to sustain our spiritual life. We can add to the list of who Jesus said He was, Bread of life and Living Water.

There are three conclusions which can be reached from what Jesus told us about Himself with only one true conclusion. First, some could say Jesus was a con man – but then how many con men are willing to die for their lies? Isn’t it the objective of the con man to “get away with his lies?” Second, He could be classified a “mad man;” but do mad men have a grasp of reality? He had such a capacity to love others and He had tremendous wisdom in dealing with every day life and the people in it. A mad man could not have inspired so many people from all different walks of life. And third, the most believable of conclusions to reach, is Jesus was exactly who He said He was.

John 11:25-26, ” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Today, praise Jesus for who He is. Praise Him that the King of all kings, and Lord of all lords; the Bread of Life; the great I AM, loves you and wants a personal relationship with you. Confirm to Him that you believe in Him. Today, be excited that you belong to Him and rejoice in the power of your Savior.


Walking the tightrope

Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”

A record 13 million viewers sat riveted to their televisions or computers around the world as Nik Wallenda walked across the Grand Canyon. As he took each step, I couldn’t help but hear Proverbs 3:6 in my head, “acknowledge Him…acknowledge Him.” If you were one of the 13 million spectators, you are very much aware of the acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as Nik walked the tightrope. Every balanced step he would announce, “Thank you Jesus. I praise you Jesus.”

Now, I don’t blame Nik Wallenda at all because if I were him, I’d be praying the same thing at that very moment too; but, God doesn’t just need to hear it when we are an Empire State Building high with no safety net balancing on a cable. And as I sat there and watched the phenomenal skill and talent of this 34 year old man, I thought about my walk with Jesus.

In reality, every step we take should be an acknowledgment of Christ’s power in our life; His control; His guidance; His authority. We should be Nik Wallenda’s on the ground, “Thank you Jesus. I praise you Jesus.” How many of us, however, go about our business, doing our daily routine, without even a second of acknowledgement for our Savior.

If we walked daily like Nik walked on that cable, can you imagine what God could accomplish through us?

If you want direction for your life; if you want a surefooted step; if you want God’s plan and purpose for your life, acknowledge Him. Call out to Him. Glorify Him through your daily efforts. Identify your Savior in your every day tasks. “…and He will direct your path.”


Is God pleased?

Hebrews 13:16, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

As a boy growing up in the church my father pastored, I remember well a particular lady who was  best known for her 7 layer caramel cake. Any covered dish lunch or funeral, there was one constant, Miss Agnes’ cake. There was however a unique characteristic many people didn’t know. Miss Agnes was a giver. I once heard her explaining to my dad a particular gift she had made for my mom and him. Any gift Miss Agnes gave meant something to her. She would never go out and just buy something; she either made it or it was something that meant a great deal to her.

Once I heard she gave her father’s pocket watch to a young man she had witnessed grow up and because he meant so much to her, on his graduation day from high school, her gift to him was the watch. With tears in her eyes, she explained to him how much it meant to her and therefore, how much he meant to her. He understood the sacrifice with which she offered it to him and he vowed to always treasure it.

When I read this verse from Hebrews, I think of her example. It isn’t telling us to give out of abundance, it is telling us God is pleased when our giving is a sacrifice. The definition of sacrifice is a loss or something that is given up. It isn’t a few extra dollars in our pocket or a couch we wanted to get rid off. God is asking us to share with others as a sacrifice on our part – that’s what pleases Him.

I often hear people say, “If I had money, I’d be the nicest rich person!”

While it sounds good, the truth is, if you won’t share the little you have, you aren’t going to share the abundance.

Your time is a sacrifice. When we serve others with our talents and give to them time we could be doing for ourselves is a sacrifice. My question to you today, “What are you sacrificing for others in order to please God?”

Take the time today to evaluate your giving. If you struggle in this area, ask God to help you. Start looking for ways to serve others in your community, church, neighborhood, and home. Open your heart to the possibilities and begin making a difference in God’s Kingdom.