Monday, March 31, 2014

April 1, 2014

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:1-3

In this very well-known and well-loved portion of Scripture Jesus shares a secret for how to overcome anxiety: TRUST!

It is hard to trust and be troubled at the same time!

What troubled the disciples in this instance was the news that Jesus was going to be leaving them.

That is easy to understand!

Who isn't troubled by the thought of losing someone very dear to them?

I find that troubling. But I refuse to let that troubling thought overwhelm me. I will choose to trust Him in my anxious thoughts!

Here's why I know I can trust Him.

I can trust Him because he cares for me!

How do I know He cares for me?

In the context of these statements Jesus is staring at the shame and suffering of the cross, but rather than being concerned for Himself he cared for His disciples so they would not worry.

If He cares like that, I will trust Him with my troubles!

Not only does He care for me, He prepares for me!

In these verses He promises to go and prepare a place for me in "His Father's House". I like that! I like thinking about Heaven as "the Father's House" and I like that Jesus is preparing a place JUST FOR ME!

If He prepares for me He must really care for me! I can trust Him with my troubles!

Why should I let my troubles overwhelm me when I can trust a Savior who cares for me and prepares for me?

Do let your heart be troubled!

March 31, 2014

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."  Matthew 7:21-23

This is one of the tough and troublesome sayings of Jesus.

Before we wade into tackling this troublesome theme, let's set the scene.

Jesus is teaching on the Kingdom of God and painting word pictures to illustrate it. This new Kingdom will be a spiritual kingdom based on a new faith relationship and not on religious practices.

He warns of false prophets who were prevalent then and would multiply exponentially as the end of the age approaches.

Prior to this statement, Jesus has presented Himself as the door to the Kingdom. There is no back door or side door into the kingdom, only the main Door - Jesus! If you want into the Kingdom you enter through Him!

Paradoxically, the way through the Door to the kingdom is to open the door your YOUR soul to Him! The Kingdom consists of those who live in a dependent faith relationship with King Jesus!

The struggle has always been between religion and relationship.

Religion rests on the premise that you can keep rules and perform rituals to earn your way into God's favor. Honestly, Jesus mentions some impressive works performed by these professed followers - prophecies and signs and wonders!

How many signs and wonders have you performed? How many have you witnessed?

Can you understand how people can be fooled?

Relationship rests on the promise that God has already provided a the way into the Kingdom for you. He has accepted you, just accept Him!

Religion says, "It's about what I have to do!"

Relationship says, "It's about what He has already done!"

Trust His provision and reject your puny efforts. Stop trying and start trusting!

One more thing!

How powerful is the Name of Jesus that even religious people can claim the name and drive out demons! 

So, how much more powerful should we be who rest in relationship with Him?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 30, 2014

"The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?  When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.  One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.  For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD. Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek.  Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.  I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”  Psalm 27

How you can tell when it's going to be a rotten day:

You see a "60 Minutes" news team waiting in your office.

You call Suicide Prevention and they put you on hold.

Your birthday cake collapses from the weight of the candles.

Your twin sister forgot your birthday.

Your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a group of Hell's Angels on the freeway.

Your boss tells you not to bother to take off your coat.

The bird singing outside your window is a buzzard.

Your income tax check bounces.

You put both contact lenses in the same eye.

Your wife says, "Good morning, Mike", and your name is George.
There are times in our lives when our world comes crashing down on us; if anything can go wrong, it will. When life seems to be going in a downward spiral, you’re at the end of your rope and you can’t tie a knot to hold on - fear often takes hold of us. Fear traps us in the belief that nothing will ever improve, that we are ensnared and will never escape. When life gets us down, fear fills the void left by hope.

Fear is not the domain of the timid, but swells over all of us no matter how brave we may appear to be.

We fear losing our health, our wealth, our family; our friends. We fear losing the promotion or even the job. We fear growing old, but even more, we fear death.

On his return visit to many parts of the world, Herbert Hoover was asked by a reporter what, in his judgment, was the prevailing mood of the peoples in the lands he had visited. "The dominant emotion everywhere in the world is fear. This applies to every part of human activity; finance, industry, farmers, workers, thinkers, and government officials."

One of the things that makes the Psalms so helpful is the Psalmist is so honest and vulnerable. He shares his battles with fear as a fellow struggler not as some super-spiritual hero above the fray.

The reason that this 27th Psalm is such a favorite is because David is candid about his own fears but also confident that his faith gives him courage to overcome those fears. Fear didn't have the last word in his life and it needn't have the last word in yours.

He overcame his fears with two powerful resources - the presence of God (seeking His face) and the peace of God (standing in His grace). You have those same two resources available to you in abundance!

Having fear is not a sin. Letting fear have you is. 

Getting fearful is not sinful. Giving in to your fears is.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

March 29, 2014

"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11

How do you become spiritually pure and remain so?

It takes a decision!

It takes a desire!

And, it takes discipline!

What is discipline?

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." II Corinthians 10:5

Discipline is bringing your thoughts into alignment with the Word of God.

Discipline requires you to put off some things- things like impure thinking and evil doing.

Anything that is condemned by the Word must be put off.

Discipline requires you to put on some things - things like obedience and humility.

Anything that is commended by the Word must be put on.

Discipline may require you to perform surgery.

Jesus was so serious about His followers living pure lives that He said to pluck out your eye if it is causing impurity or cut your hand off if you can't keep it from evil!

Discipline requires pure surrender.

The best way to control your mind and body is to surrender them God to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.

God is serious about purity!

Are you?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 28, 2014

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:9-11

Being pure is difficult for those of us who are morally and spiritually impure by nature.

First, it takes a decision to live according to the wisdom and truth of God's Word.

Also, it takes a desire to live pure. Verse 10 says – I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.”

A young man came to a priest and asked him, "How can I find a faith that is real and meaningful?"

"Come with me," replied the priest.

The young seeker followed him until they came to the bank of the river.

"Follow me into the river", said the priest as he waded into the water.

When they were both about waist deep the priest grabbed the young man by the shoulders and forced his head under the water. He held his head under the water as the young man fought to come up for air. The struggle continued for nearly a minute until the priest released the young man and he came up gasping for air.

"What are you doing? Are you crazy?" protested the young man.

"No," said the priest calmly. "I was simply answering your question."

"You almost drowned me! How is that an answer?"

"Young man, when you want to seek God and desperately as you wanted to get air, you will find Him in a real and satisfying way!"

The priest made the point that desire for God leads to discovery in God.

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled."

You will never find spiritual purity under you have a sincere desire for it.

In the forests of northern Europe and Asia lives little animal called the ermine, known for his snow-white fur in winter. He instinctively protects his white coat against anything that would soil it.
Fur hunters take advantage of this unusual trait of the ermine. They don't set a snare to catch him, but instead they find his home, which is usually a cleft in a rock or a hollow in an old tree. They smear the entrance and interior with grime. Then the hunters set their dogs loose to find and chase the ermine. The frightened animal flees toward home but doesn't enter because of the filth. Rather than soil his white coat, he is trapped by the dogs and captured while preserving his purity. For the ermine, purity is more precious than life. 
Do you desire purity more than life?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 27, 2014

Things that are pure have greater value.

Some people measure purity by the gold standard. The gold standard is measured in the amount of pure goal in relationship to the impurities in the amount measured. For example, 24 karat gold means that measure of gold is 99.9% pure gold and one particle of impurity. 18 carat gold is 18 parts pure and six part impurities or 67% pure gold. A twelve karat piece would be 50% pure or half gold and half impurities.

So even the finest gold isn't entirely pure!

The purity of a diamond is always determined using a magnification factor of 10. There exist several categories of purity (listed in a decreasing order):

Pure:  no impurities are seen
VVS:   extremely small impurities, only identifiable by professionals
VS:   very small impurities, hardly or not identifiable by non-professionals
SI:  impurities visible to non-professionals
Pique:  the impurities are visible, even without magnification

So a pure diamond is a possible, though rare!

The more pure a diamond or gold is the more valuable it becomes.

The same goes for the people of God! The more pure they are the greater their value to Him!    

If you could be more pure and therefore, more valuable to God, why wouldn't you it?

Becoming pure requires a deliberate and difficult process.

So, how do I become pure?

Psalm 119:9-11 speaks directly to that question – “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”


“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

Purity is a pure heart!

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8

Purity is pure thoughts!

Purity begins with a DECISION, Verse 9  asks How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.”

No one accidentally swerves his way into becoming pure.

No one will wake up one morning and discover to his surprise that he is pure.

If you are to be pure you must make a decision to become pure and then day by day, decision by decision choose to remain pure "by living according to your word." 

Purity comes down to just that - deciding to obey the Word and to obey His will every time you are faced with a decision. For example, take Jesus:

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we areyet he did not sin." Hebrews 4:14-15

Jesus may have had the advantage of being born pure, unlike you or me. But, just like you or me He had to decide EVERY decision of EVERY day to stay pure. As this Scripture says, he decided NOT to sin. 

Because He chose EVERY time to remain pure in thought and motive and action He was able to pay the penalty for all of us who are not pure and who struggle with the decision become pure.

But because He did, and because you can - YOU MUST.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March 26, 2014

"How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word."  Psalm 119: 9 (NIV)

"How can a young person live a pure life? By obeying your word." Psalm 119:9 (NCV)

"How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed and keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to it]." Psalm 119:9 (AMP)

Where does the notion of purity come from in an impure and imperfect world?

Is purity even possible in an impure world?

What is the standard of purity or how is it measured?

Who determines what is pure?

Some people measure purity by the gold standard. The gold standard is measured in the amount of pure goal in relationship to the impurities in the amount measured. For example, 24 karat gold means that measure of gold is 99.9% pure gold and one particle of impurity. 18 carat gold is 18 parts pure and six part impurities or 67% pure gold. A twelve karat piece would be 50% pure or half gold and half impurities.

So even the finest gold isn't entirely pure!
The purity of a diamond is always determined using a magnification factor of 10. There exist several categories of purity (listed in a decreasing order):

Pure: no impurities are seen
VVS: extremely small impurities, only identifiable by professionals

VS: very small impurities, hardly or not identifiable by non-professionals
SI: impurities visible to non-professionals
Pique: the impurities are visible, even without magnification

So a pure diamond is a possible, though rare!

I did some research on the standards for water to be determined pure but it was sort of disgusting so I quit.

The really good news is what the Psalmist declares - purity is possible for God's people!

Since God sets the standard for personal spiritual and moral purity and since He is pure and perfect in every way, when you know Him purity is possible!

Over the next few posts I will show you how it can be possible for you!

Here is a hint - Bible.....

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 25, 2014

"Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”  Matthew 9:2

When Jesus says you are forgiven, you are forgiven! The fear of disappointing God resides in the fear that God hasn't or won't forgive you. Perhaps you have played fast and loose with sin and abused grace. That is not good. It is unwise. It will give the devil a field day for condemning you and accusing you.

Don't confuse your own guilt and feelings of condemnation with God's failure to forgive. Listen to Jesus' words to this fellow who apparently was so consumed with guilt that he was literally paralyzed. The Master looked at him and said with authority, "Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven." And then to demonstrate His power to forgive AND to prove that He had forgiven He then healed the man!

If you fear that you have disappointed God and He won't forgive you, consider this sampling of His promises throughout the Word of God:

“Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2

“He who believes in Him is not condemned.” John 3:18

“We are delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son He loves.” Colossians 1:13

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” I John 5:13

“If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” I John 3:20

“If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” I John 1:9

"as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."  Isaiah 43:12

"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12

"Then he adds:  “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2

Never sell God's grace short nor the power of His forgiveness! He has given you faithful, fearless friends to help you deal with your fear of disappointing God. AND, He has assured you of His amazing grace that forgives you of your sins and lifts the weight of guilt from your conscience!

Could this be what John meant when he wrote, "Perfect love casts out fear"?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 24, 2014

"Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”  Matthew 9:1-2

As with most things involving Jesus, they are amazing at several levels. So it is with this story. Not only does Matthew record it here, Luke also was inspired to write it down in chapter 5 of his gospel.

This morning I want to focus on a powerful weapon God has given us to overcome fear. It is on display in this story. What is it? Faithful, faith-filled, fearless friends!

Here is a man who badly needed an encounter with Jesus but because of his physical limitation was unable to get to the Master. We find out in the story that not only was he sick, he was a sinner. In fact, as you read this account it seems to imply that his sickness and his sin were related.

This poor man was blessed to have some friends who believed in him and believed in Jesus and made sure that their friend would get to Jesus. They had faith but they were also faithful and put feet to their faith.

We don't know how far they carried him but it really doesn't matter! The fact that they carried him to the place where Jesus was is impressive. Even more impressive is how they climbed up to the roof, tore a hole in the roof and lowered him down to where Jesus was! Wow! They were fearless!

Matthew and Luke both mention that it was THEIR faith that impressed Jesus, not necessarily the man's faith! He may have been faithless. He could have been fearful. We don't know - but it really didn't matter! He had friends who did!

Jesus forgave this man and then healed him, because of how faith-filled his friends were! Do you have friends like this? Are there people in your life who will make sure you get to Jesus when you can't get to Jesus? Do you have friends who are faithful to you when you have lost faith in yourself? Do you have friends who are faith-filled when you have lost faith in Him? Do you have fearless friends who encourage you when you are overcome with fear?

This man did! I hope you do, too. I hope your church is populated with people like that. I hope you have friends in your fellowship who are so committed to you and so committed to Jesus that they will carry you to Him and rip off a roof if they have to! I would like to think there are some people at FredWes who are like that.

Let me ask you a more important question, "Are you a friend like that?"

One of the inspiring truths that emerges from this amazing account is the power of friendship and what a strong resource faithful friends can be for helping overcome fear!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 23, 2014

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." I Thessalonians 5:11

Do you find encouragement from your marriage?

Are you breathing courage into your spouse by the way you treat them?

Marriage is intended to be the most "encouraging" human relationship you have, second only to your walk with the Lord.

Definitions of encouragement :

1. give somebody hope or confidence: to give somebody hope, confidence, or courage
2. urge somebody to do something: to motivate somebody to take a course of action or continue doing something encouraged me to finish the course
3. foster something: to assist something to occur or increase encourage new solutions to traffic problems

How do you encourage someone? What should you do to breathe courage into a spouse?

Allow me to suggest several things:

1) Pray

Pray for and with your spouse. Let them hear your supplications and intercessions for them.

2) Obey

Know what the Bible requires of you and lovingly invest that into your spouse.

3) Play

Have fun with your spouse. Do things with them that they enjoy. Laughing together is one of the best things you can do. Laughter and joy knit your souls together.

4) Display

Show you love in every action and attitude. Express your affection and devotion daily.

What will you do today to make your home like the "Home On the Range"? You know, "where never is heard a discouraging word......"