CHRISTIANS ACTING OUT – PART 1

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? - Mathew 7:2-4

Jesus Christ

Oh my oh my!!! Which thread to being unraveling this morning! One of the most sorrowful things I have ever heard this side of heaven as a Christian is people will not come to church because it is full of hypocrites! OH HOW SAD AND TRUE THIS IS AND SHOULD NOT BE! I promise if you were to think about and examine ourselves daily as we are commanded to do, and were honest with ourselves, it would not take long to smell the stench of hyprocrisy on our pristine worldly “Christian” image. Oh how we love to me speck inspectors instead of log lookers! Do you think I am kidding? Look at the following and see if any of this describes you? Again, examine your life, your actions, your attitude, and especially think about how you show yourself to others. Sure, the world is going to accuse us and condemn us, but what about our Christian brothers and sisters, the ones we will be with for eternity? The world should not be our primary concern, for the world hates us (the Christian) and loves its own.

Romans 2:19-24 – And if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

As if this is not enough to start to make us feel ashamed (and I pray it does Christian, because many of us need to be broken and thrown down off our high horses!) This is from my study time this morning and oh what conviction it brings we we ask God to show and reveal our many sins to us. Ask and ye shall receive!

1 Peter 2:1 – So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

One simple yet so powerful, so convicting sentence that consists of only 15 words!

The beginning of the sentence we are commanded (actioned with a verb) to do something, we are to put away, but not only that, in other areas of scripture, we are to continually strive against and to crucify our flesh and sins, and the only way is by the power of the Holy Spirit, anything less will not do and is more than likely hypocrisy. Look at the Apostle Paul’s words asking a the question…you who…do you? I promise you Christian brother or Christian sister, we sadly DO DO THIS! How do I know, well, based upon statistically data alone, by people who willing participated in Christian survey’s and said how much time they spent in the Word of God or praying, or worshiping God, it is a pretty good indicator to make an assumptive guess. However, I have also seen it with my own eyes, because I have seen and I know me! I also know that I have been the speck inspector and not looking at my own log.

But but but…. Yeah, truth hurts, doesn’t it.

Hate looking at and loathing your own sins, don’t you? You hate not being able to maintain your own little perfect life that you “think” you have control over but don’t. You find it easier, maybe even take great joy in pointing out the faults in others all the time because you don’t want to deal with you! But God… He does!

Let me give you a small, but crucial piece of advice if I may. If this is you, REPENT and fully submit your life to Christ whom you profess now, and be NOT like the world, but whom God is trying to make you to be, and that is molded in HIS IMAGE!

In the verse in 1 Peter 2:1 the Holy Spirit makes God point VERY clear as He inspired the Apostle Peter to repeat the word all three times and then conjoining each point with the word and four times. However, even before this verse, back in Chapter 1 of 1 Peter verses 15:16 he says “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Holiness this side of heaven is NOT perfection and is not possible this world, but we still strive in the Spirit of God by submission to Him, to desire to be holy, to be obedient, and that the world will know that we are Christians not by our words or even by our actions, but how we carry ourselves in our conduct overall. So many Christians today miss these crucial points because we are too busy being like the world! We slander other Christians because we are the perfect Christian, but they are not. They are the ones that envy, we do not, and they are definitely the slanders, because such words would never leave our holy lips. HOGWASH!! And this is what the world sees when it comes into the church, people acting just like they already act, so therefore they automatically think they are a Christian because we are all the same!

Does this not concern you? Does it not make you sad or mad that you and I act this way at times? Dear Christian, I do not say these things lightly or to condemn, rather to encourage us to run to the cross, run to those whom we have offended and to confess our sins one to another, so that we might be healed and the body as a whole strengthened! That is my hope and prayer, that we would repent of our worldliness, we would correct one another in grace and love, that we would be accountable, that we would sharpen with the Word, that we would burn with a passionate fire of the Holy Spirit within and say no to sin and foolish decisions and that God would grant great revival in the church for His glory. That droves would go out into the world and preach the Gospel, and thousands would be saved by Him, and that the number of Gentiles that only He has Sovereignly appointed to be saved would be so that Christ would return for His bride! God’s will be done, but we in the mean time, we too are commanded in many things to be about the Father’s business.

Are you?

#ToGodBeTheGlory

IT’S NOT JUST THAT EASY

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. - Matthew 7:13-14

The image above (minus my handy dandy “not” art work) was on a t-shirt by a famous Christian t-shirt company years ago, and sadly I used to own that shirt back when I was the “hip” Christian. Now I am all for using t-shirts or other means for the Gospel and get people to ask questions, but make sure it 100% focuses on making God the main thing, and not you. I also remember churches that put on their marquee signs “Christianity, so easy a caveman can do it (puke!)” These things greatly diminish who God is and makes His grace cheap. And if being saved is so easy, then why kill your only Son with such a horrible death!

Sadly this has been going on week in and week out for years in many of our churches!

Man (gender neutral) by nature, have the innate tendency to fully depend on and trust themselves once they get to a certain age. Out ability is to grow in self-confidence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency so that we can have self-worth. MAN, that sure is a lot of self pride!

One of the biggest, most silent, devious, diabolical, wicked, evil and very little contested things in the church as a whole today, is Easy Believism. Easy believism means up have the ability to decide to become saved, that God’s grace is made cheap by you bypassing His will and whom He has elected (chose) to reveal His will to, all because you heard about how bad hell is, or how great He will make your life more meaningful, or some other reason. Easy believism is also man manipulating man, to get him / her to do something in response. If you have been in church for some time or many years, you may have experienced the whole show of “With heads bowed and eyes closed, if there is any one here who does not know Christ, raise your hand. Walk the isle, say a prayer, sign a card.” You know the routine, right? Just because your name is on a card and some membership roll of a church DOES NOT make you a Christian in any way, shape, fashion, or form; Christianity is NOT that easy!

I have been listening to a wonderful series by my previous Pastor when I lived in TN, Pastor Jim McClarty of Grace Christian Assembly on the Christian life, and this message here, “Be the Christian” (nice shameless plug, huh 😉 which EVERY Christian needs to hear! One of the heavy hitting parts of the sermon is when Pastor Jim reminds the hearer that Jesus Himself says to His disciples in Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. He wants me to do what! Yup, give up your life! Get over yourself, your pride, your self-sufficiency, your self-glory, your self-righteous, and follow me (Christ). Can you even begin to imagine what this nation would be like if Christians actually…. well, lived like Christians.

There are many other heavy words in the Bible for the Christian to do, for example; strive, struggle, sacrifice, be salt, be light, be a witness and a testimony for Him, walk in the Spirit, take up your cross and follow Him. Those certainly are not words of easy! God wants up to give up the things of this world, and trust Him in all things and give our lives (His really) back to Him in adoration, love, prayer, trust, faith, communion, service, and relationship.

I am one of the blessed ones that God revealed Himself over time. For in my earlier formation years, I too went through churches that their main theology was man centered, grace cheapening, theology lacking, and the like. Even though I was a member, I do not know how many times I went to the “alter calls” to be prayed over, but was not discipled for many years (and honestly still really have not), but by His true grace, removed me from such false gospel teachings!

Christianity is anything but easy and is very very narrow minded to the world! Remember in the opening, Jesus Himself said that the gate is narrow and the way to life (that is eternal) is hard. We in the western culture have had it far too easy (well most of us) for far too long and have come to expect much gain with little to no effort, and that is the same we expect from God. And times right now are beginning to get more difficult and fearful, and could possibly get much worse, and worry is setting in for many. If we who are professing Christians would read our Bibles, we would know that life has never been easy, and that trusting God in faith is key to dying to self and believing Him. In doing so, we become less fearful of this world and look more to the promised eternity to come. But the question you need to ask yourself and be completely honest, as your eternity does depend on it!

Has God called you, rasied you up from the dead sinful flesh, crucified on the cross of Calvary, and given you a heart to follow, honor, and glorify Him in ALL things? Or are you doing it all on your own? Again…

Hebrews 9:27 – And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE

Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands
As darkness pulls the strings

From the song Slow Fade by Casting Crowns

I am going to warn you ahead of time, there is going to be an attempt at A LOT of terminology this morning to hopefully giving us a greater insight as well as learning about one of the greatest gifts, yet least used gifts, giving to His children. Probably too early for this, and not enough coffee, but here we go!

Let us first define clearly some of the words we are going to use as their definition can at times be wide, but this time will be narrow and fine pointed.

Hate – To express or feel extreme enmity or active hostility; to hate someone with great intensity.

Sin – An offense against religious or moral law. An often serious shortcoming; transgression of the law of God; to commit an offense or fault.

Practical – Of, relating to, or manifested in practice or action : not theoretical or ideal; being such in practice or effect. Capable of being put to use or account.

Discern – To detect with the eyes; to detect with senses other than vision. To recognize or identify as separate and distinct. To come to know or recognize mentally. To see or understand the difference.

So why these words for our foundation? Well, today, we want to learn (or learn more deeply) to see things as God sees them, and we can begin to do so if we use the greatest gift outside of salvation in Christ, and yet so few Christians do or pray for, and that is the gift of discernment. Now all people, in general (unless there is some major mental capacity of not being able to understand) were created to know the basics of right from wrong, and more importantly (hopefully) reinforced those values. For example, studies have been done in villages and tribes who did not know God or His Word, yet knew it was wrong to kill or steal, and their laws were much more strict and immediately enforced compared to western culture!

So today, we want to not only see with our eyes, but feel within our Spirit, what sin is against a Holy and Righteous God, and why it should matter. This is also one of the proof positives of the true Christian, and the fruits that are shown to others that they are God’s (You shall know them by their fruit).

Now in the Book of Proverbs, chapter 6, my heading says in about the middle, “Practical Warnings”. Remember from our definitions above, practical, and warnings should be pretty self explanatory. What we are about to get into is some of the harshest language in all of the Bible, must of which is clear to understand to the eye, but we want to discern with a heart like God’s!

Proverbs 6:12-19 –

A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,
13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger,
14 with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;
15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

The emphasis will be on verses 16-19, but I included 12-15 because it shows us who does such things and to stay away from them. You know ” Do not be deceived, Bad company corrupts good morals” 1 Corinthians 15:33

So it starts 6 things God hates, and all seven are an abomination to Him! Now if God hates, that cannot be good, and is a hatred that many of us cannot even begin to fathom because we do not have a proper view of His attributes of Holiness, Righteousness, Justice, and Judgment. Many think of God as love first, that He just sweeps sin away like some mystical maid cleaning up something like spilled milk. A true Christian could not possibly see sin in such an arrogant an dim manner! We should hate sin, our sin as He does! Yet, we hate others sins more than our own and pass judgment on them more than ourselves, and this should NOT be!

So what does this abomination mean? Something regarded with extreme disgust and hatred; loathing. Basically beyond just mere hatred.

So God inspires the writer of this proverb to go right for the jugular (metaphorically of course) to show us the reader one of the top things God hates; haughtiness – pride. The definition of haughty is – Blatantly and disdainfully proud : having or showing an attitude of superiority and contempt for people or things perceived to be inferior. Yet the author uses eyes right behind haughty, telling us when we not only look down in disdain, pride, and arrogance, we are judging others. Don’t we Christians do a lot of that? People might not be as spiritually superior as us so we do not associate with them? 

The others are pretty self-explanatory, but still deeply think and meditate on them, praying that God will give us deeper discernment on these matters of our hearts, for they hinder us greatly from loving and ministering to others!

The last one says “One who sows discord among brothers”. What does discord mean?

Discord – A lack of agreement or harmony; active quarreling or conflict resulting from discord among persons or factions. Some synonyms include; disharmony, division, schism, strife, disunity.

Now this is where discernment (great wisdom from above) is greatly needed in the church. Why? Because people assume when others come into the church, that automatically qualifies them to be called brethren (a brother or sister in Christ). The Apostle Paul even gives warning in Galatians 5:14-15 – For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

May this give us ALL something to think about and pray about, that God would again give us wisdom from above, to use the discernment He wants His children to use, and let us honor Him by using this great gift in our lives to see ALL sins, not just these 7 (although they are very serious) to be honest with ourselves and ask for the Holy Spirits help to rid ourselves of anything that is impure and give them up for God’s glory. And in return, may He gives us a happier life in Him and less of this world!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

THE MIRROR OF PERFECTION

THE MIRROR OF PERFECTION

It's hard to see your own face without a mirror.

Phil McGraw

Have you ever wondered what life would be like without mirrors? Me either… That is until recently. Take a think for a few moments, with deep intention and reflection (pun intended) on where we would be without mirrors and the importance of them. I mean after all, we probably think of more important objects in our lives, ones that have deep value, significance, meaning, purpose, value. Things like a car, a house, our cell phones, even the clothes we wear. Are you starting to see the bigger picture yet (okay okay, I’ll try to stop with the puns, but I won’t pinky swear 😉 All of the objects I mentioned might give a glimpse to others a reflection of who you are, but many times they do not show who you truly are. And that is where the importance of a mirror comes in.

I once read (but I do not remember where) that the laver mentioned in Exodus 38:8 where the basin and stand that were made from the bronze from the mirrors of the women who were ministering in the entrance of the tent of the meeting. Now glass mirrors had not yet been discovered or invented, and so they used pieces of metal to make mirrors back in their day, and have been discovered as far back as the Egyptian period. Which would make sense, and the Egyptians back then wore lots of makeup and jewelry, and spent much time preparing themselves for the day, even more so than women of today!

Now these mirrors were flawed in many ways. 1) they were just pieces of metal, so there were scratches and other flaws in the metal. 2) there was no curvature to them to give a good perfect reflection so they would only get a glimpse as to how they looked.

But let us go back to my opening question, have you ever thought about what life would be without mirrors. Well, for one, many of the photographs we have come to love and cherish might not exist. For inside the modern day camera were perfectly aligned mirrors that would capture the image through the lens and shoot it on to the film. There would be much of the universe in space that we would know nothing about, because of no telescopes. It would be hard to drive a car. I am sure you can think of many more. I even remember once of a little pocket mirror that gave out at school pictures in grade school to make ourselves look nice.

Ah, look nice. That sounds nice doesn’t it. We want to look out best, perfect, see what flaws we can hide from others. Enter the vanity mirror! Yup, like many other things in life, mirrors can be of use for good things and for bad, but the greatest mirror of all, people hardly ever use, and the mirror is the mirror of perfection, the Bible, God’s Word. Two of the most well know verses in the Bible when it comes to mirrors are:

1 Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

James 1:23-24 – For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

The Bible says very little about mirrors, but these two verses speak volumes! Me personally, I did not like to read God’s Word because I did not want to see myself the way I was. I already knew how much of a sinner I was and did not want to see or hear over and over how wicked, depraved, wretched, and sinful I was. However, the more I embraced that reality, it also allowed me to see the reflection of God more clearly in His mirror of perfection. His mirror daily removes my vanity, His mirror daily reminds me that I am made in His image, and one day will be perfected in glory like Him, sinless, perfect, because of His righteousness and not my own. Being in His mirror of perfection daily reminds me that I have many flaws and live in a not so perfect world, but being a representation of Him, I can (and should!) reflect His glory. Being in in His mirror of perfection daily gives me hope as I see each day passing by, I don’t have to be perfect in this world, that my physical looks keep changing, and learn to embrace those imperfections so I can embrace them in others as well, allowing me to love them, show them grace and mercy, walk with them in their trials and tribulations. Which is what James is saying, if we hear the Word of God only, and not Doers of the Word.

Do yourself a big favor today. Set aside a good amount of time for prayer and for looking in God’s mirror of perfection. Ask Him to show your flaws and to see through them. Ask Him to show you your sins and embrace them so you can confess them and seek to be forgiven and cleansed from all your unrighteousness. Ask Him to reflect Himself in you, and that too would be the radiance of His glory to a darkening and dying world. And above all, ask Him to remind you daily of what you look like when you use the world as your mirror instead of His mirror of perfection, in that you would give up more of the world to spend more time with Him.

The words from the now famed hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus remind me much of the dark mirror of this world, and the light reflected therein by Christ.


O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the savior
And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.

Helen Lemmel, the writer of this hymn, wrote over 500 hymns, taught music, and eventually succumbed to blindness, and yet, I have a great feeling she still praised the Savior all the day long. And so should we, for we have a God who is greater than all of our circumstances and problems, so look daily into the perfect mirror so you too can have this peace that surpasses all understanding!


#ToGodBeTheGlory

THE SWEETNESS OF THE WORD OF GOD

THE SWEETNESS OF THE WORD OF GOD

Meditates ~ hagah – to murmur or mumble “Meditation is to the soul what ‘digestion’ is to the body. It means understanding the Word, ‘chewing on it,’ and applying it to our lives, making it a part of the inner person.”

Have you ever heard the saying “Honesty is the best policy”? Probably been awhile since you have heard that, right? Take some time to research where that came from some time, some thing that we all need to work on. But you might be thinking, what does that have to do with today’s devotional. Well, that is a rabbit trail for another time perhaps, but for today’s lesson, we need to learn to be very honest with ourselves when it comes to taking care of us spiritually, and to do so, we are going to have to be honest with ourselves, REAL honest!

Like many of you reading, I do not do the best job of taking care of myself in the physical sense. I consume more sugar than I should, eat more bacon than I probably should, let’s not even talk about the coffee intake (oh yeah, be honest with ourselves, sorry), very little physical exercise, poor sleep, and the list goes on. Does that sound like someone you might know? Unfortunately, bad habits like these carry over into other areas of our lives as well, especially our spiritual ones, you know, the one that we are supposed to be spending time with God spiritual life. Strike a spiritual nerve, kind of like a cavity on a physical tooth? Yup, me too, and that is why we are going to talk about changing those spiritual habits today!

Let’s start by asking ourselves a simple honest question, again, truthful. By being truthful God will show us our sins and heal us as well as help be honest with others (okay, enough of that rabbit hole 😉

What was the main topic of the last sermon you heard? What were some of the sub-points of the main topic? Like many others, most of the time we do not remember or can recall, and if we do, it is not for a very long period of time. We might be more worried about where we are going to go eat after church, or rush home to catch up on the big game, or some other thing of the world that wants to distract us from God’s Word. This is why proper meditation is needed. You want me to do what? Bend into all sorts of crazy positions that will take a team of doctors to untie me from, no thanks! No silly, that is NOT Christian meditation, and sadly many Christian not only meditate in the wrong manner, but have brought the worldly type into the church!

Christian mediation is a verb, more specifically an action verb, and it means to contemplate, think deeply about, study, wrestle with, ponder. So why is this so important to our spiritual life? Well, if it is anything like our physical life, we are in deep trouble! You know when we eat a poor diet like lots of sugar or saturated fat, what do we feel like? Sluggish, sleepy, lethargic, lack of focus, etc. Yup, that is the same way we are going to feel when we take care of (or lack thereof) ourselves in the spiritual manner.

When we do not digest the Word of God, we might as well be eating dirt and gravel and try to get through sinful dark world! Look back in my life, I cannot tell you how many times I said things like “God why did you do this to me” or “why were you not there when I needed you” You know, blameshifted our problems on to God, just like our federal parents Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. In reality, it is all us (I know I know, honesty!), because we never give much thought, if any, to what we were spiritually fed.

Just as bad, we also have a problem on the other side of the same coin, and that may be we had a poor teacher. Oh sure, we have some preachers who have the latest tips on how to be a more hip, cooler Christian by getting fired up over the entertainment the service opened with, maybe a mention or two of God’s Word, and spoke with great passion and eloquence, but all it was was sugar. Like our physical selves, you are going to have a quick high, and then…. CRASH!

This is why it is important we have a solid diet of God’s Word, that we have some substance to chew on to get us through life, and those tough times, the trials we all go through, and God’s Word tells us about and how to get through them. When we have the solid Word of God in us, it stays there when we meditate on it, we we are praying it, when we are preserving in it. Sadly though, many churches do not give much meat of God’s Word, and worse, some barely give any milk, and what they give is not of much spiritual nutritional value and spoils quickly. But again, we can blameshift (which is a sin by the way) the situation to our church or someone else, or we can be accountable to God for the Word He Himself not only inspired to be written down, but allows this nation to be free to study and talk about Him, and we waste those opportunities too! Imagine how different this world would and could be if the over 200 million professing Christians in this nation were reading, meditating, praying over God’s Word!

Hopefully I have given you much to think (meditate) upon and that you will work on changing your spiritual diet! We ALL have room for improving upon and growing in maturity in the Word of God. He is not going to force us to do it, but we also need to take accountability for ourselves and what we eat, just like we do physically. The question is, will you?

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.2 And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. 3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. - Habakkuk 2:1-3

The Prophet Habakkuk

I have written these past few days on Psalm 1, and spoken of both the blessed person and that who is wicked. This morning as I was reading some commentary on Psalm 1, I came across some interesting points to help drive these points home, and hopefully give you, the reader, some things to ponder for your own walk with God. We are going to look at two different viewpoints from two different prophets, Habakkuk mentioned in the opening quote, and from Elijah in 1 Kings. I will use Habakkuk to set the stage and Elijah and Psalm 1 to bring it all together.

Have you ever finished watching the evening news with all the violence and injustice in the world and in frustration asked, Why isn’t God doing something? Why do the wicked and the dishonest people prosper. Why do they get elected to the White House? Well, that is not a new feeling. A prophet named Habakkuk felt that way around 620 B.C. and wrote a book about it.

Habakkuk’s name means to “embrace” or “wrestle.” As is usually the case, his name has something to do with the message of the book. I think it relates to the fact that he was wrestling with a difficult issue. If God is good, then why is there evil in the world? And if there has to be evil, then why do the evil prosper? What is God doing in the world? We discussed a similar thought coming from the Israelites in Zephaniah 1:12. They said God did not do good or evil. They thought God was not involved and so continued in their sin. Habakkuk is one of the good guys. He fears God and does what is right, but it is getting him no where. (Taken from Bible.org – https://bible.org/seriespage/8-habakkuk)

Here is also an outline we can use as we read for ourselves the Book of Habakkuk.


Title (1:1)

Habakkuk’s First Complaint: Why does the evil in Judah go unpunished? (1:2-4)

God’s Answer: The Babylonians will punish Judah (1:5-11)

Habakkuk’s Second Complaint: How can a just God use wicked Babylonia to punish a people more righteous than themselves? (1:12;2:1)

God’s Answer: Babylonia will be punished, and faith will be rewarded (2:2-20)

Habakkuk’s Prayer: After asking for manifestations of God’s wrath and mercy (as he has seen in the past), he closes with a confession of trust and joy in God (ch. 3)
(https://www.biblestudytools.com/habakkuk/)

So how does all of this matter between the Book of Habakkuk, Elijah, and Psalm 1? Patience dear reader, patience!

So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” – 1 Kings 18:42-22

Two things I would like to point out in these verses in 1 Kings. The first being at the end of verse 42 “And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees.”

Not only did this prophet know what it took to be alone and away from the world and the problems therein, but Christ Himself, the GREAT Prophet, Priest, and King do likewise. Many times He would seek to get away to be with and commune with His Father (and ours who are truly saved), should we not be doing likewise if we are following Christ? The prophet Elijah also submits himself humbly. Not only did he bow his knees, but put his face between his knees. Could it be that he was so ashamed of his sins and that of his countrymen Israel? If so, when we seek God, should it not be the same for us, that we humbly submit and not hide our sins, rather our faces from He who is Holy?

The other part I want us to see and mediate upon is that at the end of verse 43 and the first part of verse 44 “And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”

It has been said that at times, the number 7 mentioned in the Bible is referenced as that God is communicating the idea of divine completeness, perfection, and wholeness by means of the number 7, and I do believe this one of those times that God used Elijah to teach his servant how to look for God, wait on God, and that things happen in God’s timing.

Okay, great! So how does all pertain to Psalm 1?

Well, as we saw the past couple of days the compare and contrast of the blessed man and the evil man, we can conclude the following. The blessed man knows God for that is from whom all blessings flow, and he desires to spend all his time with God, not because of worldly blessings, but spiritual, whereas the wicked man is not interested at all in the things of God, but the things of the world are his false god.

2) In both Habakkuk and 1 Kings, we see there are times of properly questioning God, seeking His will and wisdom in what is going on in His creation, and waiting on His timing in all things, especially when it comes to; reading, knowing, and understanding His Word.

Let us learn from these two prophets and see what it means to truly be blessed by God! Are there times of struggle, doubt, fear, anxiety, anger, disappointment, regret, etc. You bet!! But I dare say it is because we do not know God, trust God, spend much time with God, pray to God, etc. For it is these doings that bring peace by God, through God, and for our comfort. So the question still remains, are you spending time with God during these difficult times in the world today, or do we start out in frustration like Habakkuk did? Thankfully there is daily grace and mercy, that we can turn from our doubts and fears because of the world, and trust God, who is Sovereignly in control.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

ARE YOU BUSY?

ARE YOU BUSY?

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. - Matthew 11:28-29

Jesus Christ

I’ll tell you probably the one thing I hate the most as a dog, is having to be on some sort of restraint much of the time. I go outside, and I am either on a leash or on my running chain, both of which seem to hold me back, you know what I mean? I mean, c’mon! I want to be free! I want to do what I want, go where I want, and answer no no one!

Unfortunately there is much truth to this for the Christian as well!

The Bible is VERY clear in that every human being will serve one of two masters, and only one of two, and will be under that masters yoke. But before we look at these two yokes, let me ask you a eye opening question and be honest with yourself. Are you busy?

Being busy in the right way and capacity can be a good thing and lead to a productive and happy life. However, it is one that also needs to be watched closely; with discernment, concern, and especially wisdom through God’s Word! Why? Because we can also become busy with the wrong things, motives, and tendencies.

Now I want to offer this disclaimer here, this is probably more so for me than it is you, but again, only you can decide for you, but be honest with yourself and with God.

Now days in many families both parents work, some 60+ hours a week, maybe even both. Then there is sports, all of this entertainment on TV, summer camp, sports camp, run here run there, juggling schedules, and them come Sunday, too tired to go to church because we are run down. We are worn out because of all of the chasing of the world instead very frequent periods of rest in God’s Word and prayer. And when when are priorities are not correct, bad things tend to happen. But this acronym really says it all!!

B.U.S.Y – Burdened (some others say Busy) Under Satan’s Yoke!

Is that really where we need to be Christian, under such a burdensome yoke?

Even Jesus Himself was tempted as such and under the great burden of no food or water for 40 days while in the wilderness and Satan tries to tempt Him and give up His Kingdom.

Matthew 4:8-10: –

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

So here Jesus gives us the great example of who and what we should be following. We should also see, Satan tempted Jesus with the whole world (which was foolish on Satan’s part for it was all Jesus’ already anyway), isn’t that what He still tries to do today. Here are some examples of what to look for to determine what Satan is not only tempting us with, but probably already controlling us with!

1) Keep the Christian busy with non-essentials
2) Tempt them to overspend and go into debt
3) Make them work long hours to maintain empty lifestyles
4) Discourage them from spending family time together
5) Overstimulate their minds with Television and computers so they cannot hear God speaking to them.
6) Make sure married couples are too exhausted for physical intimacy, so they will be tempted to look beyond their marriage for fulfillment elsewhere.
7) Make holidays features like Christmas (santa), Easter (bunny) , Halloween (yuck!) the focus for bringing people into the church and focus more on that than the real reason, Christ!
8) Keep glamour models on the covers of magazines and other advertisements so they stay focused on outward appearances. That way they will be dissatisfied with themselves and/or their mates.

In turn, these and MANY other sins that beset even the best of Christians, need to not only be watched for, but prayed against as well, and I believe that is why many Christians are nominal at best these days, because they are burdened by the enemy and the things of this world instead of the blessings under the yoke of Christ, God’s Word and direction, and a Holy Spirit filled life.

In closing today’s devotional, look at these 12 things that make up one entire problem, and that sadly is the utter DESTRUCTION of a Christian.

  1. Defiled him/her to disqualify him/her to Worship (walk) with God. By doing so, they will quench, and even grieve the Holy Spirit.
  2. Deceive their thinking.
  3. Disinterest the Christian in Spiritual things and matters.
  4. Divert the Christian (his/her) direction in holy living.
  5. Dullen (his/her) heart and mind towards the things of the Gospel of Christ
  6. Dilute the Christian (his/her sharpness and passion) towards God and His Word.
  7.  Destroy the Christian his/her effectiveness for the Gospel of Christ
  8.  Detain (make a prisoner of) the Christian (with unequal yoking to a non-Christian, job, etc.) thereby giving up his/her freedom in Christ.
  9. Depress or discourage the Christian – Rob him/her of their joy in Christ.
  10. Make the Christian doubt – Plant seeds of doubt and dismay in their minds and hearts, thereby crushing their faith
  11. Make the Christian disobey the Lord. Without following Christ they will follow their way which is the wide road that leads to destruction
  12. Destroy the Christian – Suicide, self-harm, harming others, imprisonment
My prayer and hope is that everyone will find something in here that God uses to speak to them before it is too late. Hear Christ again this day!
 
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matthew 11:28-29
 
Turn back to God, your first love because He first loved us, so much, that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ), that whosoever repents and believe on Him (that is He paid the price for your sins) shall not die (spiritually), but have ever lasting life (eternity in heaven with Him!)
 

#ToGodBeTheGlory

THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN

THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN

If you will not have death unto sin, you shall have sin unto death. There is no alternative. If you do not die to sin, you shall die for sin. If you do not slay sin, sin will slay you.

Charles Spurgeon

Look at the image above to see what I did intentionally. Do you see it? Some may not because of many reasons; colorblindness, hard to see, have issues with contrast, and so it is with the Christian and sin. We are easily deceived! All one has to do is examine oneself in the light of the scriptures to see how true it is! So much so, we have become calloused, unconcerned, ignorant, and lacking of wisdom against it!

One of the saddest things to see in the Christian community and in the world overall, is that of sin; the lack of seriousness against it, the lack of fighting against it, the lack of doing anything against it, and the worst of all… turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to it.

Many today say that sin has been defeated by God, and therefore there is no cause for alarm. Yes, that is true, but that is still to happen in the future. My friends, sin is alive and well in the world! For Satan is still the one who has the power for a time to continue to deceive all. Before we go any further, let us define the three main words in this writing; sin, deceitfulness, and transgression.

A transgression of the law of God. A vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God. an often serious shortcoming. An offense against religious or moral law. an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible. Sin is normally referred to in the verb form (as it is an action that is done or performed). Can you already see and feel the seriousness of sin, just in its definitions?

Deceit (or deception) means the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid, the act of deceiving.

Transgression means: infringement or violation of a law, command, or duty, in this case, God’s law(s).

1 John 3:4 puts all of this into prospective that is very easy to understand “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”

Are you still not getting the point, that sin is serious business and very few Christians today take it seriously if at all?  Many have seared their consciences against God and His law(s) and have become His enemies without even realizing it, and yet God has allowed them to do such!

Some of the high points from Romans 1:18-32:

18-22 – For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools

24-25 – Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.

26-27 – For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28-32 – And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

One does not have to look far to see what I am clearly pointing out in God’s Word, but more importantly, in those who “profess AND confess” to be Christians! So what can be done and how can a sinful person or Christian be under grace? Hebrews 3:13 gives us a great start in the right direction.

“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Let us get the whole context before we break down the main point of verse 13.

Hebrews 3:7-13 –

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’ 11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

So we are to exhort one another daily. To exhort someone takes effort, it takes courage, above all, it takes love. For exhorting means to incite by argument or advice, urge strongly, to give warnings or make urgent appeals.

Here are some very common examples that many of us know, and many of us have also not listened to wisdom. “Do not text and drive”! “Just say no to drugs! These are exhortations done in concern of dangers and the outcomes that take place when warnings (exhortations) are not heeded to. Now let’s take a look at one of the greatest exhortations of the Bible that just about every Christian is (or if not, needs to be) familiar with, Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The death here referred to is far greater than just a physical death, it is an eternal death, one that without the precious blood of Jesus Christ paying for our sins, and walking in the newness of the free gift of grace, it is nothing more than sheer hypocrisy to the world, and an absolute disgrace to the Gospel!

Take time today to do a word search in your Bible on the word sin. Read the book of 1 John, for there is LOTS of spiritual truth that also speaks of our topic this morning. I will leave you with one of my favorite and very sobering quotes when it comes to sin. It comes from the puritan writer and Pastor John Owen.

“Be KILLING sin or it (sin) will be killing YOU!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHO DO YOU TRUST?

WHO DO YOU TRUST?

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

Corrie Ten Boom

Suffering is not fun! I know suffering, because that is what I was doing before that nice lady rescued me from my demise. I was neglected, malnourished, unloved, no one cared. All I was good for was to be raised for money for drugs and eventually be sold into slavery of being a bait dog for dog fighting.

Christians were made for suffering! Rather we like to believe that or not is between you, God, and His Word. If Christians were not made to suffer, we would have the good life with no problems whatsoever. Snap our fingers and God would give us our hearts desires. Glory be to God that He does NOT operate that way as so many false converts make Him out to be.

This mornings readings were in the books of First and Second Peter, and boy you want to talk about some suffering! We are even told beforehand that they will come in and during our lives. Now these words the Apostle Peter was writing to the persecuted Jewish, but is for our benefit as well. For we are one people under one God.

1 Peter 1:6 – In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.

More importantly, we are not to be worried or focused upon these trials and tribulations (some say easier said than done), this is why we need to daily be dependent upon God for ALL things! We need to be in is Word, we need to be in prayer, we need to be seeking always to do His Will and honor Him, and we cannot do this if we do not fully trust God.

Many people struggle with this concept because they are trusting in who they might refer to as a “someone” or a “something” because they d not see God, they do not audibly hear God, and they may not be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. When one comes to faith, these are the things, the signs they do trust God, because they are given peace and hope by the Holy Spirit, words that comfort us that we do not have to worry anymore. We learn to trust a Savior who suffered far greater than any of us ever will. If we cannot trust in God, then there is no hope for us some day.

We need to get out of ourselves, our mindsets, our thoughts and learn God’s will, and yes, we will suffer, some greater than others. But when we think of suffering, we always think of the worst right away, but when we realize it is for our benefit and God’s glory, it is worth it. Say for a (bad) example, we quit using media. The suffering would be withdraws at first, but the benefits would be more time with God and less stress of the things going on in the broken world.

I leave this with you today. I highly encourage us all to read all of the book of 1 Peter, and ask God to show us how to live for Him, honor Him, suffer for Him, glorify Him. Ask Him to purge the things, the cares, the concerns of this world from us and that we seek to do His will and walk in the ways of holiness we are called to do in 1 Peter.


#ToGodBeTheGlory

HUMILITY AND TEACHABLE MINDS

HUMILITY AND TEACHABLE MINDS

We must yield ourselves to the word of God,
with humble and teachable minds

Matthew Henry

These past few days we have talked about hearing and obedience and how my humans, er, I mean owners, have been working with me to become obedient to their requests of living in their home and being a profitable family member. Unlike people, I am not gifted with the level of knowledge and intellect that people are, however, I too am trainable.

When we think about obedience, being trained, being disciplined, what are some of the first things that come to mind?

Well, for some of us disciple may have a negative connotation as to disciplined may have meant spanking, being put in time out, or something to that extent. But if discipline has had a positive influence on our lives, it has brought us strength and power in a certain area of our lives. Maybe we played and instrument, and by hours of practice (discipline) we grew into a proficient musician that may have gone on to become a professional musician. Or maybe we spend a lot of time in the gym, training (discipline) for a sport and went on to be a professional athlete. The point is understanding that discipline can and should be seen as both a positive and a negative in our lives.

There are quite a few of us who have either read or read the famous proverb in Proverbs 22:6 – Train (that is discipline) up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

But what about some of the ones that sound more negative (by our standards) and yet are meant for our good and a positive outcome of correction from our sins

Deuteronomy 8:4-6 Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. 6 So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.

Even worse, later in this very same book in chapter 21 verses 20-21 it says about the rebellious son (gender neutral) “20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”

Can you imagine if this was still practiced at churches in America today hoe many folks probably would not go?

But, in love, we are always to be corrected of our sinful ways, that is the whole point of properly disciplining or being disciplined. Why?

Psalm 58:3 sums it up quickly “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.” Like it or not, by default we are ALL born into sins and a sinful world because of the fall in the Garden of Eden.

Look at what Proverbs 13:24 says “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”

Disciple (although not pleasant at times) is absolutely necessary to a Godly living, God honoring, Holy Spirit filled life, and there is no way that we can do it ourselves. We must humbly submit ourselves to God, crying out to Him to have mercy on us and not discipline us with His wrath, but with the correcting rod of His Word, and the only way to receive that, is by daily spending time with God in His Word and by prayer.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Do you want the righteousness of God? Do you want to honor God? Do you want a life to the fullest they way He intended it to be? Then we are going to have to learn humbly and through the discipline from our sins, that His grace would shine upon us, and in turn give Him all the praise, honor, and glory, due Him.

#ToGodBeTheGlory