Wednesday, October 31, 2012

God feels pain……..

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.

So he began teaching them many things.  Mark 6:34 NIV

We must avoid at all costs two mistaken ideas of God, prevalent in our times; first, that God is above pain and second, that God is below manipulation.

The Bible makes it clear that God is not above pain, yet the impressions I get from some fellow Christians is that God is as impervious to pain as He is to sin.  Wrong!

The two are not synonymous.   God feels pain deeply.  He can be “grieved,” “wearied,” “sorrowed,” and everything else that represents distress over disobedience in His children.

What about the pain of Calvary, the pain not only of the Son but also of the Father?

It was there the blood of God was shed. (Acts 20:28)

God suffers pain only in contact with sin.  The closer the person is to God, the sharper will be the pain in the heart of God over any sin that may appear in him.

One of the “groanings” of Jesus was over the betrayal of Judas, one of the twelve disciples. (John 13:21)  He wounded Jesus far more deeply than he wounded himself, so I have the capability of wounding and hurting the One who is everything to me.

In my trifling with sin, I may not realize how deeply I stab the heart of Him who bought me at so great a price.

God is not the distant, sterile judge we often make Him out to be.  If He is that to us, then we have a sadly inadequate and insufficient view of sin.   If I have a permissive view of sin, then God’s pain becomes a mere trifling irritation that is easily shrugged off.

To see what sin is, I must see Calvary, for there God took its odious, repulsive measure for all eternity.  To see what salvation from sin is, I must see my living Intercessor who is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” and who provides a throne of grace where my sin burden is dealt with until His……and my……pain is gone.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Gethsemane Disciple……..

May the God of peace,
who brought back the great shepherd of the sheep,
our Lord Jesus, from the dead by the blood of the eternal covenant,
 equip you with every good thing to do his will,
by developing in us what pleases him through Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory forever and always. Amen.”    Hebrews 13:20-21 CEB

Gethsemane not only shows me how to overcome fear, but how to succeed in my Christian walk. 

In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed a prayer, “Not My will, but Thine be done.”  On Calvary, Jesus shouted in triumph, “It is [satisfactorily] finished [completed].”  (Luke 22:42, John 19:30)

It was in Gethsemane that Jesus sowed the seeds of victory on Calvary.  I will be faced with countless Calvary’s and the only way I can prepare for them is to go through Gethsemane.

I must be a Gethsemane disciple.   Gethsemane was not an isolated experience for Jesus; He went there “as was His custom.”  (Luke 22:39)   Spiritually, His whole life was a Gethsemane; He was constantly facing the enemy’s alternatives, He was continually deciding to do the Father’s will.  

The more selfish a person is, the less he will experience Gethsemane.  He has no crisis, no agony, and therefore no victory.  

Believers who live in the atmosphere of Gethsemane constantly reap victory.

Gethsemane divides disciples into three groups:  those who decide to ignore God’s will, those who decide to consider God’s will and those who decide to DO God’s will.

Victory comes only to the one who chooses to enact God’s will!

I can avoid Gethsemane if I choose to do so, but I cannot avoid Calvary.  The tragedy is that if I avoid Gethsemane, I will be in poor condition to face my Calvary.

The glorious sequence of “Calvary, resurrection and ascension” starts in Gethsemane.

Lord, let me say honestly, “I’ll go with You through the garden!”

Then Jesus will respond by saying, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.”  Rev. 3:21 NIV

Monday, October 29, 2012

Conquering Fear…..

“Then those who hate me will turn back when I call. I know that God is for me…..  In God I have put my trust.   I will not be afraid.    What can man do to me?     Psalm 56: 9,11 NLV

I must learn the lessons of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed the most significant prayer that any person can pray, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”  (Luke 22:42 KJ)

One of those lessons is what to do about fear.

There is no doubt that Jesus shrank from the prospect of becoming sin for us.   The “agony” and the “sweat… drops of blood” were symptoms of an inward turmoil as He faced the awesome forces of the infernal on Calvary. (Luke 22:44)

It is no sin to be afraid.  There is no “Thou shalt not fear” commandment.  It is useless to try to get people to stop being afraid.  After all, is not fear a part of our preservation?  Do not animals protect themselves by being afraid?

Jesus in Gethsemane showed me what to do about fear.  I should not reject it, but conquer it!

Fear cannot be conquered unless we engage it and enter into combat with it.  Jesus felt turmoil at what He saw on Calvary, and even He asked His Father to remove the source of that fear.  

But when He learned that the Father was unable to remove the cross, for our salvation, Jesus promptly yielded His will to the Father’s and put His trust in His Father in the very midst of His fear.

He was heard because of “his godly fear” and was saved “out of death” and out of its fear. (Heb. 5:7)

That is my remedy for fear, one beautifully expressed by the psalmist:”When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee.”  Psalm 56:3

The moment I feel fear, that should be the signal to trust and once I put my trust in God, I must dismiss my fear and calmly move forward.  That is what Jesus, my perfect example and pattern did!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Christianity is not a religion……

Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.   But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep.    My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.              John 10:25-27 NLT

Jesus told Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God."

What do you mean born again?  Simply to receive Jesus Christ and allow God to make of you a new creation, born eternally into the family of God.  Nicodemus came to Jesus and he had a lot to commend, he was a religious man, he was THE teacher in Israel......THE teacher.

But Jesus looked at Nicodemus as if to say, ‘you have done everything there is to do religiously, Nicodemus, now forget it all, go back and be a baby, and be born all over.’  It wasn't enough to take another step; he had to start from the beginning.

Matthew 10:32, "Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father."  If you're not willingly and openly proclaiming Christ here, then He will not openly proclaim you there.  Instead He says, "I never knew you."

Now we come to one of the most important concepts in all of Scripture, the word "know."  This is a very important concept.   What does it mean for God to know somebody and not to know someone else?  Now we know it does not mean that He's not aware of someone.  We know it does not mean He's saying I don't know who you are. Not at all, He knows who everyone is.  He's got everyone's hair on their head numbered.  He knows when a sparrow falls.  He knows everything there is to know as far as awareness is concerned.

Well then what is He saying when He says I never knew you?  II Timothy 2:19 gives us the key because it says this, "The Lord knows them that are His."

Now what does that mean?  The word "know" in Scripture implies a unique love relationship.  In Amos 3:2 God says, "Israel only have I known."  Now is Israel the only nation God knew about?   No, He knew about everyone. What was He saying? He was saying with Israel I have an intimate relationship.

We have an intimate love relationship with God, it's a fantastic thing.  And it's illustrated beautifully for us in the words of John where he points out the fantastic truth of this relationship by recording the words of Jesus; John 10:14 “I am the Good Shepherd,"  and...”I know My sheep."   

Now in your mind substitute the word “love” for every time the word "know" comes up.  I'm going to write it with the word “love” instead of the word “know”; "I am the Good Shepherd and love My sheep and they love Me.  As the Father loves Me, even so I love the Father and I lay down My life for His sheep."

 Look at verse 27, "My sheep hear My voice and I love them and they follow Me and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.  My Father who gave them to Me is greater than all and no man is able to pluck them out of My hand.  I and My Father are one."

Do you see the beauty of the love relationship we have with Jesus?

Do you see the intimacy of it?

In Romans 11 the Apostle Paul says, "God has not set aside His people Israel whom He foreknew."  God has a predetermined love relationship with you if you're a Christian.  

Did you know that you were in Christ before you were ever created?  In the counsel of God it was foreordained by God's sovereign act of His will that you should be a child of God.

You have a predetermined love relationship with God, just like Israel did and does. When God says I know My sheep, when Christ says I know who you are, that means you and I have an intimate love relationship with Him.

But to those who do not have that love relationship, He says, "I never knew you." They had no such relationship as a sheep and a shepherd, as a bride and a bridegroom.

To be outside that special love relationship is to suffer for He says, "Depart from Me."  The saddest three words in the Bible.

What a tragedy.  Nothing is sadder than that.  The harsh words in Matthew 25:41 again reiterated, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

How sad it is that the final picture of judgment is a picture of sadness.  The final picture of judgment in the Bible is a tragedy, as the unbelieving of all the ages are brought before God, Jesus Christ reiterates the condition for the Kingdom, to do the will of God.

Christianity is not a formality.

Christianity in the modern term is not a religion it is a personal love relationship with Jesus Christ.

Do you have that love relationship with Jesus?



Saturday, October 27, 2012

“A form of religion………….”

A lot of you are going to assume that you’ll sit down to God’s salvation banquet just because you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives.   Well, one day you’re going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you’ll find the door locked and the Master saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not on my guest list.’

 “You’ll protest, ‘But we’ve known you all our lives!’ only to be interrupted with his abrupt, ‘Your kind of knowing can hardly be called knowing.  You don’t know the first thing about me.’

 “That’s when you’ll find yourselves out in the cold, strangers to grace.  You’ll watch Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets march into God’s kingdom.  You’ll watch outsiders stream in from east, west, north, and south and sit down at the table of God’s kingdom.  And all the time you’ll be outside looking in—and wondering what happened.  This is the Great Reversal: the last in line put at the head of the line, and the so-called first ending up last.”                                        Luke 13:24-30 MSG

God has set in order the requirement for entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven.  It has nothing to do with a building it has to do with having a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Calling Christ Lord or anything else is not enough it is doing the will of God.

So Jesus announces the condition for the Kingdom.  

First of all, in Matthew 7: 21 we saw the condition for entrance.   In verse 22 we see the cry of those who were refused entrance; "Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name and in Thy name have cast out demons and in Thy name done many wonderful works?"

When Jesus in judgment says not everyone that says "Lord, Lord," all of a sudden there's an outburst, there's a plea from the hearts of these people and they cry out and they say we've done all these things.

 Many people are going to go to heaven, perhaps with nothing to show but simple faith in Jesus Christ.  But many more people are going to go to be turned away, eternally disappointed because they thought their religiosity was enough.

 Millions of people depend on their morality, their good deeds, their baptism, their church membership and/or their religious feelings. There will be many church workers in Hades, there are going to be many pastors, apostles, prophets, and teachers there, too, sad to say and I'm sure there are going to be many there who are going to say to Jesus, "Lord, it's us, we prophesied in Your name."  But Jesus will tear off the sheepskin and lay bare the ravening wolf.

That's exactly what He's been talking about in Matthew 7: 15 -20; false prophets…..those who claim to have reality and have it not.  

What a picture it is.

The false revealed.

Luke 13:25-28: "When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late.  You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’  But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’   

Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from.  Get away from me, all you who do evil.’

 “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out.”

 Another illustration of that same day; those who are cast aside because all they had was the “religion” of Jesus without the reality of a relationship with Him. How sad to see them outside crying to gain entrance.

I'm reminded of those people in Noah’s day that must have been doing much the same thing when they were banging on the doors of the ark trying to let Noah know that they finally believed what he said was true.  They were crying out and banging on the door wanting to come in and they could not.

Do you have only a form of godliness?

 Do you know the Lord personally?

Friday, October 26, 2012

“We know You,…. Lord, it’s me……….”

“Set the trumpet to your lips! [The enemy] comes as a [great] vulture against the house of the Lord, because they have broken My covenant and transgressed against My law.

Then they will cry to Me, My God, we [of Israel] know You!   Hosea 8:1-2 AMP


Hosea gives us another illustration in the eighth chapter in the first two verses. Hosea's people were just about at the bottom historically.

Israel had really hit the skids and by the time you get to Hosea's prophecy he is ranting and raving about their lack of knowledge.  He says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."  

He likens them to the early morning dew that evaporates. They don't have any substance to them. They have neglected God. They have forsaken God. They don't even go near the house of God.

By the time we come to chapter 8: 1- 2 we have a very interesting statement. Hosea paints the picture of a vulture. It has the warning of a vulture swooping over the house of God.  And it symbolizes the fact that with all of the religious activity in Israel, with all of the things that were going on by way of performance; the real truth was that the place was dead and it's evident because of the vulture that's swooping over it. There was nothing but dead carcass.

Israel forsook God's temple as a scene of a relationship to God and the scene became a tragedy, a picture of a flying vulture speaking of the fact that judgment was coming and then Hosea goes on to prophesy that Israel because of her neglect of God will be crushed.

Israel was still religious.

Israel still had religious feelings.

The Israelites still went through some of the motions but they were dead.  There was not a reality to their religion only a formality.   And then in Hosea 8:2, you know what they said?   When the judgment call comes from Hosea they said this, "My God, we know You."  

Just like Matthew 7, "Lord, Lord, it's us."  What do You mean judging us, the Jews said in Hosea 8, “we know You, it's us.”   “My God,” they cry out, “it's us.”

What a tragedy.

At that point, that particular generation of people had set aside their relationship with God by their own desire.

Well, we can see that it's not those who wish to enter the Kingdom who get in necessarily.  It's not even those who ask to enter that get in necessarily.

It's not enough to ask, it's not enough to wish; what does it take to enter the Kingdom of God?    Obedience.

God has set certain rules for entrance to the Kingdom, they must be obeyed or there is no entrance.  You may want to enter but unless you come by the way of Jesus Christ you cannot enter, all your religious operation and all the formality that you go through is meaningless.

Peter said in that great sermon in Acts 4, "Neither is there salvation in any other for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved."  There is no other name than Jesus Christ.

It is only through a personal relationship with Jesus that you or I or anyone else will ever know the Kingdom of God.   It is not through our religious emotion.   It is not through our sanctified feelings.   It is through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

Lip service is no good, there must be obedience.   In the statement, "Lord, Lord," you get the idea of some kind of surprise, don't you?  Like they're shocked!  "You mean we're not even getting in?"  But listen to Jesus in Luke 6:46, you remember what He said; "Why do you call Me Lord, Lord and do not do the things I say?"

God has set in order the requirement for entrance to the Kingdom of heaven.  It has nothing to do with a building it has to do with having a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Calling Christ Lord or anything else is not enough it is doing the will of God.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

“I know you not…….”

“Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do.   When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God's message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!’  Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!’”   Matthew  7:21-23 GNT

In Matthew 7:21 -23 we are taken to the final judgment.  We are at the Great White Throne and we are seeing some of the people who are confronting Jesus at that time.  

They are saying unto Him, "Lord, Lord, here we are, we are the ones who were religious people."  Peter calls this day the day of the judgment of ungodly men and the phrase that he uses, "ungodly men," may seem like a very difficult phrase in view of the fact that these are religious people.

There is an awesome silence at this judgment.  Then the silence is pierced by the words of Jesus as He says in verse 21, "Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do.  

 Here we have the condition for entrance to the Kingdom.

What is that condition?

How can a man enter the Kingdom of God?  First of all, it's not the ones who say, "Lord, Lord."  But it's those who do the will of God.

In Matthew 25:1 -13 we have a very interesting story of the ten virgins.  They were invited to the feast.  Five of them came and they were prepared by…...”bringing oil and having it in their lamps.”  The other five were foolish and they were not prepared.

Matthew 25:11tells us the door was shut and the five who were unprepared are on the outside and do you remember what they said?    They said, "Lord, Lord, open to us."  And the Lord of the feast says, "Verily I say unto you, I know you not."

Interesting, isn't it, that they were invited to the feast.  They had heard the gospel; in a sense symbolically they had heard the proclamation, "Come to the feast."

 This is an illustration of God's call to the world. They were even prepared to the extent that they had their lamps. They even had the right clothes on. They even arrived at the meeting house.

But they were not prepared, or ready therefore they were not allowed in. Sadly, their cry was the same as it is in Matthew chapter 7, "Lord, Lord, open to us."  

But He says it is not those that say, "Lord, Lord," but those that “do My will.”

What a solemn warning.

At the end of that parable Jesus says, "Watch therefore for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man comes."



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Playing Church……. Part II

Playing Church…….   Part II

“I tell you, No; but unless you repent (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally.”    Luke 13:5  AMP

“Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.   There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.”    Hebrews 10:26-27  NLT

If you have truly been adopted into God's family and the Holy Spirit is living inside of you, there should be some evidence of that in your life and not just a matter of meaningless words.    

Matthew 7:16-20 gives us a guideline as to evidence of Jesus in our lives; “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.   Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  

A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.   A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.

So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.  Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”

The heart of a man and a woman is evidenced by what they do, not by what they say.

A person’s actions are evidence of what they truly believe but for the one who claims Jesus as Savior their actions should reflect the life and teachings of Christ.

In short, if you love Jesus Christ, you will do what He says.  When you do what He says, He and the Father abide in you.   If you don’t, well, you don’t love Jesus.      (I John 2:3-5)

If you act to please your sinful nature, the results will be destruction.  When you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life.

We are commanded to do good for the time is approaching when we will reap a harvest.  Do not give up.    Keep persevering for the cause of Christ.

What does all of this mean?  Quit playing the game of church.

If you are going to claim the name of “Christian” or “Little Christ”, then act like it. Let your life reflect what you believe.

If you do not actually believe it, quit being the hypocrite.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Playing Church…….

Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven.

Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name?

And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].”   Matthew  7:21-23 AMP

"I never knew you: Depart from me."  Can you imagine standing before God and hearing those words?

Can you imagine the fear and terror that would grip your heart when you realize that you were never saved after all?

Sadly, I believe that many people will die and will be told those words by Jesus.

These people are those who have a false sense of security as far as their salvation in concerned.  These people mistakenly thought that they had a "get-out-of-hell-free card," but they are playing a dangerous game when it comes to matters of their eternal destination.

What a shock it will be for many!

What am I talking about? I am talking about those people who somewhere along the way got the notion in their head that to make it into heaven, all they had to do was say some meaningless words.

It is as though people believe that all they have to do is recite a few choice words and now they are “saved."  And then the mentality of some of these people become, "Hey, I can do whatever I want --– lying, cheating, hating, living with unforgiveness, addictions, greed, jealousy, cursing and belittling others.”

Why?   “Because I said the magic words, and I am now”saved.”"

Well, being saved is not just having an emotional moment when the preacher gives the altar call.   Being saved is not something you "get," as though you can pick up a carton of "saved" from the store and then just go home and put it on a shelf for emergency use only.

How can you say, "Jesus, come into my life and be my Savior and Lord," or whatever the words were, and then continue on willfully living a life of sinful rebellion?

 Friend, if you have no interest in pleasing the Lord, following the Lord's commandments, walking in obedience, developing a relationship with the Lord, or turning from your sins, you are probably not saved!

Some have said the words, but their actions show that they meant nothing.

So why would someone deceive himself or herself into believing that saying a few quick words at an altar call is any indication that they are saved?

 Yet many do just that.  If you are truly saved, there should be some indication of that in your life.  We cannot add to what Jesus did on the cross, but if Christ is your Savior and Lord and the Holy Spirit is living inside of you, that should manifest itself in some way, shape, or form.

 You should have a desire to do the will of your Heavenly Father.  You should love Jesus' more than sin.   You would crave His Word.  You would hate sin. You would not see salvation as something that gives you a license to sin.

Lastly, the Church as a whole has failed many people who have come to the altar to be introduced to Jesus and seek forgiveness.  

They become a prideful number.  Something to brag about next week!   Many Pastors say the same words over and over without explaining what it means and what to expect.

There is no discipleship, mentoring or information given to the new “converts” explaining what their altar experience is all about and that they will experience warfare.

 Spiritual warfare?  “What is that?”

Surprisingly, many people do not know or understand the spiritual battle that is taking place over their decision to follow Jesus. 

They are left to the “wolves” to figure out what they did and to either make it or return to their old way of life.

Sadly, many churches are caught up in numbers.   They like to brag about how many were saved the week before or during their “revival”.

 What happens to these people?

Where are they?  

Why do we see them return to the altar time after time?

Granted there are people who truly want to be born again and there are others who just play the game.   They want to look holy and act self-righteous while living in disobedience and sin. 

But I believe there are genuine people who want to have a love relationship with Jesus but don’t know how.   They are led to the altar and left there to be slaughtered by the enemy!

The Church is just playing church!


Monday, October 22, 2012

“I never knew you…….”

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!”                     Matthew 7:21 – 23 NIV

Of all the scripture that comes to mind, perhaps the saddest and most fearful of all is the very words of Jesus Himself found in Matthew 7: 21–23.  Here, Jesus tells us that at the second coming, there will be some people who will fully expect to ascend to heaven with Him in the clouds of glory, but they will be left behind.

Make no mistake about it; there will be people on the Day of Judgment that are going to be expecting to go into heaven, yet instead of inheriting the Kingdom, they are going to hear those saddening words of Christ; “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”

There will be deacons, prophets, apostles, Sunday school teachers, elders, pastors, TV evangelists, along with countless others even church members that will be turned away---- all because they lacked one very necessary qualification; they did not truly know the Lord and so He will be forced to say to them, “…depart from Me, for I never knew you.”

The people who Jesus will say He “never knew” will be those who never felt the need to truly “know Him,” they did not have a relationship with Him, yet these are people who “think” they are going to heaven!




Sunday, October 21, 2012

“Lord, Lord……”

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and yet don't do what I tell you?

 Anyone who comes to me and listens to my words and obeys them—I will show you what he is like.   He is like a man who, in building his house, dug deep and laid the foundation on rock.  The river flooded over and hit that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.

But anyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a man who built his house without laying a foundation; when the flood hit that house it fell at once—and what a terrible crash that was!”   Luke 6:46-49 GNT

Could you imagine the difference Christians could make if they made the commitment to be fully available right where they are, right where they are placed?

Many Christians spend time wishing they were in a different place or in a different position instead of making the commitment to be fully available right where they are.  God has placed us where we are for a reason and when He is Lord in our life we are fully available to Him for whatever purpose He may have for us.

Jesus asks the question, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and then do not do what I say?  (Luke 6:46-49)

This question is a question that lands with a punch.  It’s a hard hitting question that leaves an impact.

It seems like maybe He was trying to say, “Why do you act like we are close?  

Why do pretend to have this deep relationship with Me and then do NOT do what I say?”

You see this was a question for those who claimed to follow Jesus yet their actions showed differently.  But maybe it was also for that person in the crowd who really did believe in Jesus yet they had not fully surrendered.

For someone to call Christ “Lord” implies that He has dominion or control over your life; that you have surrendered yourself to Him.  And let’s face it, there are a lot of people in the church that will call Christ, “Lord”, and then go out and live life by their own control and their own way.

You may allow the Lord to be Lord over areas you are comfortable with but you just ignore the areas you are not.   You trust the Lord in some areas and you want to control Him in other areas.   You don’t trust Him enough to totally surrender yourself, loved ones or circumstances to Him.  You live in fear that He may not do things the way you want therefore you refuse to surrender and remain in control. 

Sadly, you say you trust Him and try to convince others you are living by faith when you cannot convince yourself.   You live in denial because you want things your way and believe if you try harder or prayer more or fast more, God will be persuaded to give in and do things your way. 

This is religious spirits operating to keep one in denial, selfishness and in control of their life all the while assuring them they are in an intimate relationship with God.

All across this country in churches today you will find people who are doing that very same thing.  They will go to church and they will refer to Christ as their Lord.

But they have areas in their life that go against everything that Jesus stood for.  I imagine that Jesus would ask them that same question today, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?”

The fact is, either He is Lord over all of your life, or He isn’t Lord!

Matthew 7:21 says, “Not everyone who says to me, ’Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

A life surrendered totally to what He wants is what makes Him Lord in our life.

In verse 49 He says, “But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.  The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

 Knowing Jesus’ teachings and commands are not the answer for what we need. 

Obedience is the answer; putting His Words into action.

You see it’s plain and simple. When you live your life with God’s Word as your foundation for everything you do then no matter what comes your way you will be able to stand up under it.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Desires of Our Heart……

“……..And afterward I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.    Joel 2:28  AMP

Is it wrong for a disciple to long for the “desires of [his] heart”? 

This is what God promises those who “delight” in Him. (Ps 37:4)   I believe that when a man delights in God, the Lord opens his spiritual eyes to “visions” and “dreams” that would be unheard of in his natural state.  (Joel 2:28)

Those desires are not implanted by God for disappointment.    The only time a disciple cannot realize his heart’s desires is when he seeks them by his own efforts.

God has plans for every one of His children that are far beyond the stretch of their imagination.  They are plans for “welfare” and “hope,” not “calamity.”  (Jer. 29:11)

A man’s desires come from within the man himself, while God’s desires for a man come from without.   They are implanted in him by a new relationship with God, but in such a way as to assure the believer that his desires are indeed his own.

God will never allow my divinely planted dreams to be thwarted.  That is why Abraham went back down Moriah’s hill with Isaac, why Nehemiah found favor with the king and why Simeon and Anna were allowed to live so long.  

I must strongly resist the notion that it is wrong to have dreams, wrong to let my heart desire.   A man without divinely implanted longings does not know much about the Spirit of God.

The impediments such as sickness, suffering, imprisonment, fear and death no more affect my desires than a feather can affect Gibraltar!  Who can say no when God says yes and who can deny a dream when God has determined that it will be realized?

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.   Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.   Jer. 29:11-12 NASB

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nail prints in the Heart……..

He suffered with them in all their troubles, and the angel of the Lord saved them. In His loving-kindness He paid the price and made them free.

He lifted them up and carried them all the days of long ago.”  Isa. 63:9 NLV

The strength of my devotion to Jesus is not measured by my speech, but by my sufferings.  

When Paul urged the Colossians on to great zeal for God, he did not argue; he pointed; “Remember my bonds [prison chains],” he wrote to them.  (Col. 4:18KJV)

If his suffering for Christ could not convince them, nothing could. 

Would Paul himself not know what started him thinking about Jesus Christ---Stephen’s speech or his death?  (Acts 7:60-81)

Paul has left us many memorials of his devotion to Jesus----letters, travels, sermons, miracles------but he left nothing greater than his chains, the symbol of his sufferings for Christ’s sake.

The measure of a person’s devotion to any cause, right or wrong, is the depth of the suffering and sacrifices he is willing to undergo for it.   That is why Paul could say, “I bear on my body the brand marks of Jesus.”  (Gal. 6:17)

What scars do I bear for Jesus?

Scars are not an end to themselves, but signs of an inward commitment.  I must not seek scars of the body, but seek scars that are more important, scars of the spirit.

The scars of the spirit are the sacrifices of self-dependence and self direction that I make for Christ’s sake.   Whether or not I ever wear physical scars for Jesus is not essential; it is absolutely essential that I wear spiritual scars for Him.

I think it is safe to say that chances are there are very few to none who have nail prints in their hands.  However, it is more important to know:  Are there nail prints in your heart?

Paul rejoiced in his scars, because then, he said, “The power of Christ may rest upon me.”  (2 Cor. 12:9-10)    He was willing to trade scars for the privilege of bearing fruit.

So will everyone who follows the Lamb wherever He goes.

“Listen, then, and learn what the parable of the sower means.   Those who hear the message about the Kingdom but do not understand it are like the seeds that fell along the path. The Evil One comes and snatches away what was sown in them.  

The seeds that fell on rocky ground stand for those who receive the message gladly as soon as they hear it.   But it does not sink deep into them, and they don't last long. So when trouble or persecution comes because of the message, they give up at once.

   The seeds that fell among thorn bushes stand for those who hear the message; but the worries about this life and the love for riches choke the message, and they don't bear fruit.

  And the seeds sown in the good soil stand for those who hear the message and understand it: they bear fruit, some as much as one hundred, others sixty, and others thirty.”     Matthew 13:18-23 GNT

Fire and a hammer……………..

My message is like a fire and like a hammer that breaks rocks in pieces.”            Jer. 23:29 GNT

The Bible is not only my source of comfort, but it is also my source of bruising.

“Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?” Jer. 23:29 KJV

If I have never felt the scorching of the Bible’s heat or the shattering of the Bible’s blow, I am not making much progress as a disciple.  The Bible is a sharp instrument; it pierces, divides, discerns and reaches into the depths of my personality, down to the thoughts and motives of my heart. (Heb. 4:12)

I must beware of the man who preaches a sugar-coated faith.   Faith in God is not an Aladdin’s lamp that grants my every wish.  I must avoid, as I would the plague, the man who preaches “Peace, peace,” continually.  

There are times when the Bible will not give me peace; times when to comfort and assure me would be absolutely damaging to me. 

 How can I sin and not feel the burning fire of the Word?

The false prophet is easily discovered.   He is the man who offers nothing but sugar-coated preaching, peace, joy, security and tranquility.   He does that, of course, because it is what people crave; it provides him a ready audience and a guarantee of success.

A counselor who offers me a rosy goal but never mentions the painful, torturous road to it is not my friend.   Jesus is my true Friend.  He offers me a rewarding future, but “with persecutions.”  (Mark 10:29-30)

He wants to deliver me safe, sound, pure and holy.  That is why His Word must sometimes make me ache with soreness and weep with bitterness.   He knows where it all is leading……to maturity in Christ!

I respond with Mary’s sincere humility: “Behold, the bond slave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word,” for “my soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”  (Luke 1:38, 46)

 “Truly, I love your commands
more than gold, even the finest gold.
 Each of your commandments is right.
That is why I hate every false way.”   Psalm 119:127-128  NLT

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Troubler………..

Lord, I know that you defend the cause of the poor
and the rights of the needy.
 The righteous will praise you indeed;
they will live in your presence.”   Psalm 140:12-13 GNT

As a disciple of Christ, I must understand that God will appoint a “troubler” for me.

King Ahab said to Elijah, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?” (I Kings 18:17)  Elijah was Ahab’s troubler, his thorn in the flesh.   Yet, whether he knew it or not, Elijah was Ahab’s best friend.

Our troubler may be anyone---- a spouse, a boss, a neighbor, a pastor, a child, or a friend.   Who he is is not as important as what he is.   He is God’s appointed messenger to teach us God’s secrets, sometimes painful secrets about our walk with Him. 

Our troubler has a special responsibility to us and we have a special responsibility to him also.

The worst thing I can do to my troubler is to ignore him; the second worst thing is to enter into conflict with him and seek to grind him into the dust!  Those are two natural reactions because my troubler is a threat to my ego and pride; nevertheless, to indulge in those kinds of responses is really to hurt myself far more.

Not all my growth in grace results from positives, such as sermons, books, and conferences.   Some of it results from negatives, like an explosive quarrel, a thorough humiliation, a sharp conviction of sin, or a daily exasperation.  

That is where my troubler comes in.   He drives me to the end of my pride, loftiness, self-sufficiency and right into the waiting arms of Jesus.  Instead of lashing out against my troubler out of sheer desperation, I should repeat, “My troubler, my joy; my troubler my joy!” 

That was David’s attitude toward Shimei, the man who cursed him to his face.  He said, “Let him curse, for the Lord has told him.  Perhaps the Lord will…..return good to me instead of his curing this day.”  (2 Sam. 16:11-12)

The Lord will repay me with good for all the Shimeis I may meet along life’s journey.

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.”   Psalm 27:13-14 NIV


Saturday, October 13, 2012

God’s Multiplication Power……….

Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes…”  Isa. 54:2 AMP

I must learn never to measure God’s resources by mine!

Someone has said, “Little is much when God is in it.”   One of Elisha’s friends, a widow, had only one jar of oil.  (2 Kings 4:1-7)    Instead of telling her to conserve it, he ordered her to do exactly the opposite; pour it out.   Instead of coming to an end of her supply, she continued to pour out a multiplying stream of oil until at last she ran out of containers.   Then it stopped!

How God enabled that oil to multiply is beyond me, but so is much that exists in the spiritual world.   This much is true: how long would the small jar have lasted if left to itself?  

How long would the widow have lived, left to herself?  

How long would any of us last spiritually, left to ourselves?  I think this is where I so often fail.   I see the massive needs all around me and without the multiplying grace of God, I end up broken.

God begins with my small jar, but He does not stop there.  He adds His amazing multiplying power to my words, thoughts, prayers and service until I can hardly recognize myself in them. 

As with the widow’s oil, Someone has taken over and the cup has become a barrel.

Is this not the story of Scripture?   Abraham’s “dead” body---and God;  Moses’ shepherd rod----and God; David’s sling shot---and God; the boy’s small lunch---and God; the twelve disciples---and God!  It is the “and God” that makes all the difference!

If there is any failure, it is in this: I do not give God a chance with what I have.  

But if I do, God becomes my great enhancer and multiplier.  My anchor is God’s own promise: “The smallest one will become a clan and the least one a mighty nation.  I the Lord, will hasten it in its time.”  (Isa. 60:22)