Take As Directed

Take As Directed

If you are a Christian and attend a church that boldly preaches the Word of God, then you have heard this over and over again – “You gotta read the word!”  And about now you might be thinking “oh no, not again”, but there is just no getting around it if you desire to please God and live a fulfilled, balanced and overcoming life.  Hearing the Word preached from the pulpit on Sunday mornings is great and maybe you even take in an extra dose midweek.  But, just like medicine, you can’t just take it every few days and expect it to work for you.  Below is II Timothy 3:16-17 printed in several versions of the Bible and it stresses to us the importance of the Word. It would not be wise to take medicine without reading the dosage directions.  It’s not wise to enter a contract without first reading it.  And it’s not wise to go through our Christian life without reading our manual.  Read the scriptures below and see that God just wants to thoroughly prepare you for this life!

 (NKJV) – 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

(NLT) – 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

(AMP) – 16 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), 17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

(MSG) – 16 Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. 17 Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

What A Ride!

What A Ride!

Mother’s Day is a wonderful occasion.  It’s a time for each of us to honor and remember our mother and the huge influence she has been in our life.  And, as a mom, memories and thoughts come flooding back to us as we reflect over the years.  If we are truthful, we would say that being a mom is like being on a perpetual roller coaster.  There are those wonderful highs that each of us experience as we raise our kids and watch them achieve each milestone along the way.  There are all the “firsts” that you’ve possibly recorded in a memory book but most certainly are etched in your mind forever.  Then, realistically, there are the lows that come in the form of tears, anxiety, and even heartbreak as you watch your child go through things you’d give your life for them not to have to experience.  Sometimes the world deals them a dirty blow and other times it’s just bad decision making.  Either way, you’d take their place in a heartbeat to protect them from the lows.  And, most likely, that roller coaster ride will continue until you take your dying breath because that’s how long your love for your kids will last.  So this Mother’s Day I offer a prayer for each mom.  And the prayer I would pray is the same thing that Solomon asked of God when God told him to ask for anything he wanted.  I pray that God would give you all the wisdom and knowledge you need for the job –  wisdom for training up your children, wisdom for decision making, wisdom for advice-giving, and wisdom in knowing what to pray for over your children. God knows exactly what your children need and I pray that He imparts that to you because sometimes you should act and sometimes you should just pray. I pray that God gives you the wisdom to know the difference. May this Mother’s Day bring you joy and blessings and wonderful memories!  You deserve it all because you are a blessing!

7 On that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?” 8 And Solomon said to God: “You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, O LORD God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. 10 Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?” 11 And God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life–but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king– 12 wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.” 2 Chronicles 1:7-12 (NKJV)

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.” Proverbs 31:28-29 (NKJV)

O Wretched Man!

O Wretched Man!

“O wretched man that I am.  Who will deliver me from this body of death”!  This was the apostle Paul’s exclamation in Romans 7:24.  Paul was teaching about wanting to do what is good and right yet not doing it and knowing what is wrong but doing it anyway.  How many times have you found yourself in the very same predicament?  We, who are born again believers in Christ, are new creations through Christ.  We have a new nature in us, God’s nature.  Well, if we have God’s nature in us, why do we sometimes desire to do what is wrong or not do what we know is right? The answer is because that new nature that we have dwells inside a body that is fleshly and carnal.  Prior to accepting Jesus as Lord, we had a sin nature (thanks to Adam), which lived quite compatibly inside our carnal fleshly bodies.  There was no conflict there because we were free from the obligation to do what is right. But when we were born again in Christ, we were instantly given a new nature – God’s nature, or the awareness of what is good and right.  But unfortunately, the house it dwells in, having been dominated by that old sinful nature for so long, is still the same.  It is now in need of training!  But we know that any training period involves pain and even setbacks. And through this training period (which, by the way, will last until Jesus returns), our carnal flesh will continually war against our new Godly nature. It can be extremely difficult and frustrating.  But, as Paul continues to teach on the frustrations he is dealing with, he answers his own question – Jesus will deliver him!  And even better, in the beginning of the next chapter he tells us that those who are in Christ do not have to face condemnation!  Allow Jesus to see you through this training process.  Allow the Holy Spirit to help.  And the next time you feel you are being pulled in opposite directions, you know that there is therefore now no condemnation!

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. Romans 6:20 (NLT)

20 As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. Romans 6:20 (MSG)

24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:24-25 (NLT)

1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (NLT)

Which Robber are You?

Scripture tells us that Jesus was crucified along with two criminals.  And we know that one of these men ultimately realized that Jesus truly was the son of God by addressing Him as Lord and asking Jesus to remember him when He entered His kingdom, while the other man mocked him along with the soldiers.  But scripture also tells us in Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32 that, at some point, both of these men mocked Jesus. So why did one of these criminals come to the truth of who Jesus was and the other did not?  We must remember that this entire crucifixion took several hours.  And these men were exposed to the ridicule and humiliation that Jesus endured.  And they both were witness to Jesus’ supernatural response of love and forgiveness toward His tormentors.  At some point in our lives in our fallen states, each of us comes to a place where we are introduced to the love and forgiveness that Jesus has to offer.  And we then have a decision to make.  We except Jesus or we reject him. The penitent criminal did at first mock Jesus – until he witnessed the overwhelming love Jesus had even toward those who crucified Him and His willingness to ask the Father to forgive them.  He then acknowledged his guilt, acknowledged who Jesus was and asked for His mercy. Much in the same way we all did when we first accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  The other criminal, being exposed to the very same Jesus, remain hard hearted and defiant.  Each chose a different path for themselves.  Maybe you are at that point of decision in your life.  Jesus’ love and forgiveness are offered whole heartedly to you no matter what is in your past.  How will you respond?

Matthew 27:44 (NKJV)
44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.

Mark 15:32 (NKJV)
32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.

Luke 23:40-42 (NKJV)
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

John 3:16 (NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

No Greater Love!

No Greater Love!

This Sunday we celebrate what is certainly the most significant event in Christian history – The Resurrection of Jesus Christ!  Jesus’ victory over death was our victory! But Jesus paid a horrific price for that victory.  During the hours leading up to and including His crucifixion, Jesus experienced mind numbing torture, ridicule and abandonment.  And according to His prayers to the Father in the garden, He was agonizingly aware of what was approaching for Him, asking God if there was any other way to accomplish His plan.  Yet, Jesus’ ultimate desire was God’s will to be done no matter what it meant for Him.  And indeed, He fulfilled that plan. He was our substitute. He bore our sins and our sicknesses with every lash and every nail.   There is no greater love than this.  God’s love extends to His followers and His ridiculers alike because God so loved the “world”.  Even the thief on the cross was embraced by the love of Christ. Our prayer for you this Easter is that you realize and experience the boundless, life-changing, unconditional love of Christ!

42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42 (NLT)

3 He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. 4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Isaiah 53:3-5 (NLT)

13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 (NLT)

43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43 (NLT)

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NLT)

Entering His Presence

Entering His Presence

Pastor recently preached a sermon where he spoke about how Moses and the Israelites had to prepare themselves to come into the presence of God. They consecrated themselves for two whole days!  Today, we don’t really give much thought about getting ready for church except maybe what we are going to wear.  Consecration, or setting ourselves apart, has more to do with the heart than the outward man. After consecrating themselves for two days, God showed up in an awesome way.  I wonder how many church-goers even expect God to show up in a service. They look forward to seeing friends and family, but do they look forward to being with God?  Do we come into our services with hearts that are ready and looking forward to an encounter with the Almighty?  Most of us are just thankful we got the family there at all, and if we are on time before the first song begins, well, that’s an added bonus.  This Sunday, especially since we are nearing the celebration of the Christian’s most important day, the Resurrection Day, set aside time to prepare your hearts.  Think of all that you can be thankful for by what Jesus accomplished on the cross for you and let that be at the forefront of your heart. Know that God wants to meet with His people. Enter into His presence with a heart ready to worship the King of Kings!

10 Then the LORD told Moses, “Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing. 11 Be sure they are ready on the third day, for on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch. Exodus 19:10-11 (NLT)

16 On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled. 17 Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently. Exodus 19:16-18 (NLT)

Is Holiness Lost?

The story of Uzzah in the Bible is one that many people often think unfair.  King David was bringing the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem and it was being carried on a cart pulled by oxen.  One of the oxen stumbled and Uzzah put his hand on the ark to stabilize it and upon doing so was struck dead. Without knowing any of the back story, this would seem severe and unfair. But David should have known that the ark was to be carried on the shoulders of the priests (the Levites), specifically the sons of Kohath (Kohath was one of the sons of Levi).  It should never have been placed on an oxen cart and it definitely shouldn’t have been touched. The ark has spent the previous 20 years in the home of Abinadab, Uzzah’s father.  Could it be that Uzzah had become casual about its presence? Had he gotten so used to it that he no longer held it in the esteem it deserved?  The ark represented God’s presence.  “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.”  If we come near to God, we must always remember He is holy!  There is a loose and casual attitude today among Christians regarding God. The holiness factor of God is being lost in many of our services and churches – God is our buddy, our pal.  An attitude like this pulls God down to human level.  We must be careful to treat the presence of God with the reverence and respect He deserves.  He may be a friend and a daddy to us, but above all He is Holy!

9 And when they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. 10 Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. 1 Chronicles 13:9-10 (NKJV)

15 And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is set to go, then the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them; but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These are the things in the tabernacle of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry. Numbers 4:15 (NKJV)

3 And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’ ” So Aaron held his peace. Leviticus 10:3 (NKJV)

Greasy Grace

Greasy Grace

Continued …. Some in the church today would have you believe that God’s grace means that He overlooks sin in our lives.  We can live our life any way we want because that’s what His grace is for.  So this week let’s take a look at a couple of Biblical instances that would show us that, although His love for us never ceases, God doesn’t accept sin.   Judgment may not be immediate, but it will come.  First let’s look at Cain.  Both Cain and Abel presented sacrifices to the Lord.  God accepted Abel’s but God did not accept Cain’s.  Why?  There has been much debate and speculation about why.  Some say it was because Cain’s was not a blood sacrifice.  It may very well be as simple as the attitude in which it was presented.  Was it the best they could offer? Whatever the reason, Cain’s was unacceptable to God. But God gave him a way out, which Cain refused.  And his punishment was severe.  Then there is Moses.  God chose Moses to lead the Israelites out of their slavery in Egypt.  God gave the 10 commandments to Moses.  God spoke to Moses in the burning bush.  The Bible says that God knew him face to face and God Himself buried Moses.  Yet, as a punishment for disobeying God just one time, he was forbidden to enter the promised land.  Seems pretty severe for one wrong.  In fact, no one from that generation was allowed to enter the promised land as punishment for their disobedience to God.  If Moses couldn’t get away with just one sin, what makes us think we can?  Don’t fall for the “greasy grace” theory, that God accepts whatever you do. As we said last week, the wages of sin is death – always.  God is looking for a repentant heart – one who is willing to acknowledge sin and turn from it.  Cain wouldn’t do it.  Will you? 

Inside the Tent of Meeting, the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Exodus 33:11 (NLT)           

The LORD buried him in a valley near Beth-peor in Moab, but to this day no one knows the exact place. Deuteronomy 34:6 (NLT)         

But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” Numbers 20:12 (NLT)

3 When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD. 4 Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, 5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift.  This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. Genesis 4:3-5 (NLT)              

You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Genesis 4:7 (NLT)

10 But the LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11 Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. 12 No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.” Genesis 4:10-12 (NLT)

Does Love Mean Acceptance?

Does Love Mean Acceptance?

Love and acceptance – Sounds very Biblical, doesn’t it?  In fact, this is a teaching that is rapidly gaining momentum in Christian circles today.  Pulpits are proclaiming it loudly  because who doesn’t want to hear that God accepts them just the way they are, sin and all?  And it also fits nicely into mainstream thinking today, if it feels good, do it.  But is this what Jesus really taught?  Is it true that God accepts whatever you do because He loves you? Is this what unconditional love is?  For certain, God does accept us just as we are when we first come to Him.  God would never turn away anyone who turns to Him with a pure heart no matter what state they are in.  But the question is, does He expect us to stay there?  After all, the Bible says “for whom the Lord loves, He accepts,” right?  No!  The Word says “for whom the Lord loves, He chastens.” As a parent, do you accept everything your children do?  Do you overlook their disobedience, rebellion and outright defiance to your word just because you love them?  A good parent would always corrects their children when they do wrong or are heading down the wrong path.  Does this mean they don’t love their kids?  Certainly not!  In fact, it would show a complete lack of love and concern if a parent overlooked their child’s bad behavior.  God has warned us in His Word where a life of disobedience or sin leads.  The wages (your take-home pay) of sin  is death.  And that is the devil’s ultimate goal for us.  The devil wants you to embrace the teaching that God accepts your sin because he knows  it will ultimately lead to death.  Stay tuned!  More on this next week!

 for whom the Lord doth love He doth chasten, and He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth;  Hebrews 12:6 (YLT)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 (TLB)

Remember, You Reap What you Sow!

I was recently on a tour with 20 other people. And we had a guide who was absolutely wonderful. He was very knowledgeable about the area we were visiting and, with our jam-packed schedule, he did his best to allow us to get in as many sights as we could every day. Keeping on schedule, of course, required the cooperation of the group, which meant following the rules and time frames set by the guide. Everyone in the group was very cooperative – except for a few. And the surprising thing to me was that the “few”, who always seemed to push the limits, were ministers! They were ordained ministers who seemed to want to take as much time as they wanted and several times ignored the limits set by the guide. This, of course, then took away from the amount of time we had for the next stop on the itinerary. Submission sometimes is a tough pill to swallow, especially for those who are many times the ones in authority. But it is those in authority who ought to be the example setters. The “do as I say, not as I do” example is shameful. Anyone, who is usually in a position of leadership, when they are not acting in that leadership position, should be the first to submit to rules set before them. Jesus was always submitted to the Father. He only did what His Father told Him to do. These ministers would be wise to remember – you reap what you sow! ‘

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, Titus 3:1 (NIV)

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42 (NLT)

But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10 (NLT)