THE RIPPLE EFFECTS OF SMALL THINGS

“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”

Oscar Wilde

It is so difficult on where to start this morning as this is not only much to say, but more importantly much to perceive, give great attention of thought to, and especially meditate on. I must apologize ahead of time for my rambling thoughts, and it is my prayer that God would straighten this in your minds as you read for His glory.

Many times we think that we come across things by chance or luck, yet do not think it to be providentially or in Sovereignty place by God. If that is the case, then I dare say we have much of God yet to be known and missing out on many opportunities to know Him.  But before we get any deeper, I challenge you to think about; have you ever given thought to your thinking or your thoughts? I say all of us don’t and here’s why.

Many scientists have tried to quantify how people think and there are sciences that are dedicated to thought and behavior sciences, but quantifying thoughts has always been elusive. With that said, these are not “facts” but scientific opinions to kind of help with where I am going. I am not trying to deceive you, but prove a point. Ready? For sake of argument I am going to use a nice even number, 60,000. That is the middle of the road that some scientists believe how many thoughts (between 50,000-70,000) the average person has per day. Now if we divide that by 24 (hours in a day) that is 2500 thoughts per hour, and divide that by 60 (minutes in an hour) that’s 41.67 a minute, divide that by 60 (seconds in a minute) is .6945 thoughts per second. One of the fastest response times recorded was that of a human sprinter. From the sound of the starting gun to reaction time was 150ms  WOW!

Okay, I know, to the point already!

So the point of all of this is since we do not give much purposeful thought, capture one tiny piece of it, and meditate on it, I dare say we think very little of our sins against a Holy God either, right? I mean, after all, why would we want to waste our time on something like this? Because we greatly sin every day and they have eternal consequences! This all started because I have been reading and studying Genesis chapter 3, the greatest sin, the greatest most heinous crime ever committed and continues to be committed each day, and begin to see even more how great the value of Christs’ blood is, how much grace and mercy God gives us every moment of every day! Here in Genesis many think only one sin was committed but the eating of the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Oh dear reader, go, read Genesis 3:1-14 and ask God to give wisdom! Study other books like commentaries or listen to sermons on the subject for they are many! Like our federal headship of Adam and Eve, we give little no no thought to our many sins, not just a few, M-A-N-Y!!! sins Do you hear God calling us like He did them in the Garden of Eden?

Where are you? What have you done? Of course these questions are rhetorical to God, but should drive our wicked sinful hearts to our knees in repentance! There should be many tears that would flood our homes, and if sackcloth and ashes were still a thing in America we would be buried as Achan and his family were in Joshua chapter seven, where all of Israel stoned them and burned them with fire for not obeying God. We belong to each other, we need each other, and our actions affect one another (1 Corinthians 12:12). Achan’s sin had a profound impact on the whole community as our sin today affects the entire body of Christ! In our ignorance we follow man and not Christ as the Apostle Paul rebukes the church in 1 Corinthians chapters 1 and 3. Are we getting the point yet? And just because the word sins is plural, let us not be a prideful modern day pharisee in Luke 18:9-14  by saying something like “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, pedophiles , unjust in my social media posts, a user of pornography, or even like those around me, for I am far more superior. I fast twice a week from all worldly things and yet do not worship you all of the time; I give tithes of all that I get, although reluctantly and in a non-cheerful manner”

Friend, it would do us VERY well to humble ourselves quickly and take heed the admonishment that the Apostle Paul gives in 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” This is so important. so crucial to not only diminish our sinning, but more important how to wage war against our sin and strive for holiness in our living a God honoring life. The Apostle Paul eve repeats this again in Ephesians 6:12-18:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

Reader, Christ is coming again soon! Much sooner than we think! This time he is no coming so graciously against sinners as He did in the Garden of Eden, this time it is for Judgment, the question is, which side of the battlefield are you on? If you are Christs’, do not fool yourself by letting your guard down or be so foolish as to say you are without sin, for we ALL are, and we are told to confess our sins that we might be cleansed from ALL unrighteousness, and if we say we have no sin, we make Him out to be a liar and the truth is not in us; 1 John 1:9-10.

My prayer is that we all take this way more seriously than we do, but strieve not in the flesh, for it is weak. Seek the Holy Spirit to give supernatural power against sin, for it is far greater a foe that we give credit to, and we too are weak like Adam and Eve without God.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHAT GREAT A DISTANCE

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

Archimedes

I am super excited this morning to write on this devotional! Why? Because when you get to be my age and you learn something new, you learn to appreciate it more, especially when it is ordained by God! 🙂 However, I must apologize ahead of time for any rambling or disconnects, but shall do my best.

The quote above comes from Archimedes who was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer and considered to be the greatest mathematician of ancient history. However, it was another great Greek mathematician who discovered how to figure out the circumference of the earth. Can you imagine the knowledge between these two alone, the hours spent studying, the discipline, and the contributions to what we know today, long before any supercomputers or other modern day methods. So what do two dead Greek math geeks have to do with God and today’s devotional? When you think about it and put it all together, everything!

First off, I would like to give credit where credit is due, for this new found and heart changing view of sin and forgiveness goes to my previous Pastor from Grace Christian Assembly in Smyrna TN, Pastor Jim McClarty, and the wonderful sermon – Be The Christian Part 4 – The Benefits. The whole be the Christian series is fantastic and there is A LOT of other deep theological teachings and resources available on the rest of the churches web site as well.

Okay, so paraphrasing from Pastor Jim in part of this sermon, Pastor Jim mentioned that he was thankful that God allowed King David to understand the basics of geography, because King David mentions in Psalm 103:12 – as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Okay, as if that is not amazing enough in itself, here is the teaching part that blew my mind!

What we know now, King David did not know then, and that was how big the world actually is. Back in that time they did not know about the rest of the unexplored world that had existed like modern day North American and other continents. As the world was explored and developed over thousands of years, in 1909 the North Pole was discovered, and two years later, the South Pole in 1911. Now that you got a free geography refresher, have you ever wondered why there are not east and west poles (I’ll let you research that one for yourselves 😉 Okay, back to Pastor Jim’s preaching.

So If one were to walk towards the North Pole and keep walking, they would eventually be heading south. However, if one were to walk due east or due west, they would always remain going in that direction with no directional change end. One would always either be heading east or always west. Now when you put that together with what Kind David said in verse 103:12, we need a deeper and more impactful context. So Psalm 103:8-14

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

Look at all of these promises! Merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love! He does not discipline us forever, nor keep His anger. He does NOT deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our inequities! King David comparing the heights of the heavens to the earth (perhaps a conversation for another time) is how great the Father’s love is towards those who fear Him! Have you ever experienced such love on earth? I have experienced deep love, sincere love, but never perfect love, until knowing God’s love; for we are all sinners and incapable of such a love. Then we get to the east from the west portion, and speaks of how far He (God) removes OUR transgressions (sins) from US. This is something that we cannot do for ourselves, and why Christ came to die.

Even years later, the self-professed (at the time) chief of sinners, the Apostle Paul who says to His pupil Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:15 – The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Christ came! Christ came! CHRIST CAME!!!! to save sinners, came for all hear of His great salvation. Yet, hearing does not mean saved. A changed heart, a changed mind by God and for God, that puts faith in us to believe that Christ is the Son of God. The gift of repentance and confession that God shows us how sinful we are and the heinous acts we have referred to as “transgressions” that we commit against Him daily, and not only give little to no thought to, we definitely forget quickly how far those sins are forgiven and forgotten for those that fear Him.

May this be of encouragement for you to read and meditate on Psalm 103 today, learn to fear God, trust Him completely if you do not already, surrender all of yourself to Him if you have not already, for He is Lord of all! And if you are a Christian, give thanks ALWAYS!! God loves that His children are happy and well taken care of, but likes that He too is thanked and praised because of the blessings given as well.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

CHRISTIANS ACTING OUT – PART 2

If men's religion prevails not to conquer and cure the wickedness of their hearts, it shall not always serve for a cloak. The day is coming when hypocrites will be stripped of their fig-leaves.

Mathew Henry

The first part of this is taken directly verbatim from the Merriam-Webster Website

The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” The Greek word itself is a compound noun: it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.” That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.

The Greek word took on an extended meaning to refer to any person who was wearing a figurative mask and pretending to be someone or something they were not. This sense was taken into medieval French and then into English, where it showed up with its earlier spelling, ypocrite, in 13th-century religious texts to refer to someone who pretends to be morally good or pious in order to deceive others.

Many people who falsely profess to be Christians knowingly and intentionally carry around and play the part of a hypocrite, and sadly for many of years has carried over into the church. Many have become infectious with this great sin because we do not spend time with God! We do not pray as we should, we do not study as we should, we do not examine ourselves and confess the sins the Holy Spirit shows us and God’s Word tells us about ourselves, and that my friends is the worst of all the hypocrites! In all honesty, we all have hypocrisy in us in some way, shape, fashion, or form. Now that does not make it right, and I believe God allows some to help keep us humble, kind of like the Apostle Paul and the thorn in his flesh. However, we should not be wearing this as a badge of honor, we like Paul should be begging, crying out to God, to have our flesh crucified and our spirits buffeted by the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 12:4-6 –
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It’s part of the deal of being a Christian under the conforming and transforming power of God and His grace and mercy, it is part of the deal I am afraid, and we should lovingly praise and thank God that He is so merciful to us in that He could kill us instantly for such a sin if He wanted to. I mean if God killed both Ananias and Sapphira for grieving the Holy Spirit by lying about the sale of their land and keeping part of the money, how much more does the hypocrite deserve death a thousand times over!

The point is, let us become humble, loving, graceful, merciful as God has been to us. We are not judge and jury over others, and if we are about our own responsibilities, we will find that we do not have any time to worry about others sins as much as we do. Remember from Part 1, do not be a log inspector of your neighbors eye and be more of a speck inspector of your own.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

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

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

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