Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 31, 2011

"One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”  Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 1and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him."  Luke 5:1-11

"After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him."   Luke 5:27-28

Continuing on the theme of the sanctity of work, I remind you that many of the significant servants of the Bible were called by God while they were busy working. The Scripure references above affirm that. Remember that Moses was tending sheep when he saw the burning bush. God often met with David as he was tending his sheep. The angels appeared to shepherds in the fields announcing the good news of Jesus' birth. And, Jesus Himself, had a job as a carpenter until He entered His final three years of life and ministry.

I came across this article by a researcher named Craig Galati that explains why God calls busy people:

There is an old adage, “if you want something done, ask a busy person.” It certainly seems true that busy people do get things done, but I wanted to know why. I decided to poll a few people I know who are very effective in their work to find out.

Before I describe my findings, I want to establish a common definition of what I mean by a busy person. For the purposes of this article, a busy person is one who is sought after for his specific specialty because he does it well. He is the one who always has something to do and he is the one everyone chooses to help them when a task needs to be accomplished. He is not the unorganized, multi-tasker who swoops in with a flurry of activity but never really accomplishes much beyond creating chaos. The busy person I refer to is a performer and, because of his ability, is busy. He works on important things, not just busywork!

With that said, here are my findings:

Busy people are organized. It didn’t come as a surprise to that the people with whom I spoke, those who were busy and accomplished, were also very organized. Although there were a few exceptions to this rule, in most cases these busy people knew what they were working on, how long it would take, what resources they needed, when they needed resources, and they had a path to follow including contingencies. They spent the time necessary to plan an appropriate course of action. At times, these people didn’t appear to be as busy as the person next to them with the overflowing desk, but their workload and accomplishments indicated otherwise.

Busy people delegate. One of the ways top performers get things done is through timely and appropriate delegation. They have mastered the art of what and to whom tasks should be delegated. They also are accomplished in keeping track of the delegated work and provide support to their team. This keeps them from putting their team members in a panic or crisis mode and eliminates the need for micromanaging. I was told that when delegating, it is important to keep in touch with what the entire team is working on and ensure that all involved are communicating effectively among themselves.

Busy people spend time planning. The busiest people with whom I spoke were also the calmest. It was explained to me that one is not nervous working a well-thought-out plan. Busy people spend the time it takes to develop a solid work plan. When I asked how they were able to find the extra time it takes to plan, I was told that it didn’t require additional time to plan. The time it takes to plan is more than offset by the more effective use of time executing the plan. The high performers also explained that without a well-thought-out plan, people begin working on tasks that may or may not be relevant to the overall goals of the project. The plan is the key. Spending the appropriate time planning will ensure that the work meets its objectives, that tasks are sequenced well, and time is use effectively.

Busy people are driven. The busy people with whom I spoke were all very successful. I already knew that; they didn’t need to tell me. In fact, the busy people acted with a cool confidence that clearly told me that they knew they were successful and didn’t need outside recognition of that fact. They are driven by a need to succeed and to do a great job, and internal satisfaction is their reward.

The conclusion I draw to the adage, “if you want something done, ask a busy person,” is that busy people get things done because they are organized, driven and the are effective delegators. Most importantly, busy people get things done because they plan their work well to ensure its success.

I know you work hard and stay busy, but will you be busy for Jesus?

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 30, 2011

"To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”  Genesis 3:17-19

Is your work a job or a joy?

We established that work came from God. The first glimpse we get of Him in the Bible He is working! Creation was a joyful experience for Him but it WAS work! He found it necessary to rest on the seventh day.

After He created Adam the first thing God did was to put him to work in Eden, aka - Paradise. It is clear that work has a sacred aspect to it.

So, when did work stop being a joy and become a job? What changed that working became more of a pain than a pleasure?

Sin happened. Adam got on the wrong side of the Boss when he disobeyed God. Everything changed after that from a labor of love to labor. Because of sin his relationship to the Boss changed and his attitude toward his job changed and his motivation for work changed. That took the joy out of the job.

Before Adam sinned he worked to please the Boss. After sin he had to work to pay the bills. Before he sinned all of nature was working with him, but the curse of sin was that nature turned against him. Suddenly the earth was not as fertile and weed and thorns grew like wheat and corn once did.

If you have a hard day on the job today, you can blame Adam! He caused work to change from joy to a job. But rather than feel sorry for yourself, feel the sting of sin and determine to turn from it. Decide to get right with the Boss and put Him in charge of your attitude. Remind yourself of the sancity of work and do your job in a way that honors God. As you work to serve the Lord, the joy will return to your job!

Work at bringing the joy back to your job.

August 29, 2011

 "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."   Genesis 2:2-3

"The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."  Genesis 2:15

Maybe it is just me, but doesn't it seem a little strange that we would honor the Labor Movement in America by taking a day off of work?

In advance of the Labor Day week-end, I want to share some Biblical perspectives on work. Like every relevant thing that happens in your life, the Bible has quite a bit to say about work. For instance, our verses referenced above shows where work came from - GOD! God created work!

The very first time you see God in the Bible guess what He is doing - WORKING! If you don't think that creating the universe was work then explain why God set aside a day to rest from His work. Sure, God is different fom you, but the reason people generally rest is because they need a break from working.

Maybe you don't feel like your job is divine, but the concept of work is! Notice that not only did work originate with God, but when He placed Adam in Eden one of the first things He did was set him up with a job! He was to tend to the plants and animals that God had placed in Paradise. Talk about a dream job and a perfect work environment - move over Apple headquarters!

Work is worth celebrating! Maybe it would be more appropiately celebrated by actually working, but work is God's idea for His creatures! Work has God's seal of approval!

So, you may want to re-examine your attitude toward work in view of the fact that it is God's idea and His invention. And further, I had a college professor who proffered the idea that if you want to know what heaven will be like, look at Eden since it was the original paradise! There could be some validity in that view. It would be easier to make the case that it's true than to argue it isn't. Therefore, you can figure that there will be a job awaiting you in Heaven. Dying doesn't get you out work but it will certainly get you a better Boss!

Celebrate God's gift of work!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

August 28, 2011

"Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.  Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty— he is the King of glory.”  Psalms 24:7-10


A preacher got on the bus to go downtown. After sitting down, he noticed that the driver had given him a quarter too much in change. He wondered what he should do. After all, it’s only a quarter, he figured. By the time he reached his stop, he knew what he had to do. Telling the driver he had given him too much change, he gave the quarter back. The driver asked him, “Aren’t you the new preacher in town?” “Yes”, came the reply. “Well, I’ve been thinking about going to church but I wasn’t sure. So I gave you extra change to see what you’d do. I’ll see you Sunday.” THAT’S EVANGELISM! God’s glory was revealed through the simple act of doing the right thing.

Holiness is reflected by a lifestyle of worship. When you wrap your hrad around His wonder and when you wrap your heart around His will, it will show in your habits. Your life will be an expression of worship to Him.

“The King of glory” - must be lifted up in your life – allowing Him to reign

“The King of glory” – must be let in your life

“lift up your head” - rejoicing

“lift up your doors” - receptive

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:9-21



“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:1-2

Wrap Your Head Around His Wonder – “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”

Wrap Your Heart Around His Will – “Therefore, I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Wrap Your Habits Around His Worship – “this is your true and proper worship”

Holiness is being all wrapped up in God – WHAT ARE YOU WRAPPED UP IN?


When you are a Christian who has not been made holy you will be like I was when I had one foot on the deck and one on the boat. You have to get both feet in the boat, get on the dock or you will fall. You can't have one foot in your will and one in God's will.

Are you all wrapped up in God?

Is your head wrapped up in wonder for Him?

Is your heart wrapped up in His will?

Do your habits reflect His worship?

Friday, August 26, 2011

August 26, 2011

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty— he is the King of glory.” Psalm 24:1-10

As Wesleyans, we have a long legacy of holiness teaching, honoring holiness doctrine but unfortunately, not as much holy living as we would hope. I would love to see FredWes be used by God to restore the holiness movement to Wesleyanism.

Holiness means being all wrapped up in God. It means being totally consecrated, or set aside, to God. It means being sanctified or made holy by the cleansing of His blood and the infilling of His Spirit.

Over these next three days we will be studying the Psalmist's presentation of holiness in Psalms 24.


In 1961 A.W. Tozer was given the opportunity to speak to a group of ministers on a subject of his choice. Not surprisingly he chose to speak to them about the holiness of God. During that talk he said the following words: “I believe we ought to have again the old biblical concept of God which makes God awful and makes men lie face down and cry, ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. That would do more for the church than everything or anything else.”

The Wonder of a Sovereign Creator, V. 1-2

God is holy because He is sovereign. He is the beginning and the end and everything in between. He answers to no one and is worthy of wielding absolute power and authority because He is without sin, He has perfect wisdom, He has all-knowledge, and has perfect love. To say that God is sovereign is to say that God IS God!

The Wonder of a Supreme Controller, V. 1

This is, in a way, redundant, but also more specific to the application of God’s sovereignty. God could not be sovereign and not be in control. A couple of great verses referencing His control are Romans 8:28 and I Corinthians 10:13.

To say that God is in control refers to the ultimate outcome of eternity. He has given us a free will that allows you and me to be immediately in control of our choices and decisions.

Remember the first three Commandments. They have to do with the Sovereignty and the Supremacy of God:

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.   Exodus 20:3-7

The great Apostle Paul begins his incredible explanation to the Romans on the doctrine of salvation with this interesting reference:

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Romans 1:18-23

The great Apostle makes a direct link between sin and the refusal to recognize and live in wonder of the God of creation.

God is holy because He is the sovereign Creator and the Supreme Controller. Holiness is impossible without first acknowledging God as the Sovereign and Supreme ruler of the universe. There is no other god, therefore, He cannot tolerate worship or allegiance to any other god. Holiness is impossible until we acknowledge Him as the Sovereign and Supreme God.

God sets the standard for holiness because He has set Himself apart from any other! That is what sanctify means. God is holy because there is no one else like Him in power or in purity. The word “holy” and the word “God” are synonymous.


For further study:

(Turn back to Psalm 19 – God’s holiness is directly linked to His Sovereignty, which is directly connected to Him as Creator - also, quickly to Psalm 8 – Our worthiness and out hope of holiness are tied to God as Creator and Controller! One more – look at Psalm 14 – Our sinfulness is tied to our refusal to recognize God as Sovereign Creator)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25, 2011

"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:22

You have probably heard this: "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death."

The moral:

It doesn't matter if you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running.

No one enjoys being fearful, but fear is a powerful motivator. In our verse for today, the Psalmist offers some great advice, "Let your anxiety drive you to the Lord."

Recently there have been some anxiety-producing events. Last week it was the precipitous fall of the stock market. Events in the Middle East continue to escalate. Yesterday the earth shook in an area of the USA where earthquakes are rare. And this week-end a powerful hurricane has taken aim on the Carolina coast. How are you supposed to cope with these fearful developments?

"Cast your cares".

"Cast" in Hebrew means: to throw out, throw down, throw away, to hurl. It does not mean to take back what you have cast, nor to cherish, or keep - but to cast, toss, throw away from yourself.

"Cares" in Hebrew means: whatever is given by providence. That means every part of your personality, talents, thoughts, body, emotions, worries, burdens, joys, and gifts.

"LORD" as used here in Hebrew means - Eternal, Jehovah, self-existent. The One with no beginning and no end. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty." Rev. 1:8; 21:6; 22:13.

Piece all these truths together and you get: "Throw and hurl everything that has been given to you onto the Lord. Everything that has been given to you, you are to throw onto the Lord and not to take it back."

That is your part. If you will do your part, here's what God will do:

"Sustain" in Hebrew means: "To keep in and contain, To abide, remain with and reside, To receive, comprehend and guide, To feed, nourish, make provision for and provide sustenance for."

God makes this personal - "You" - means God is willing and able to do this for you, just the way you are. No changes are needed to come before the Lord God Almighty.

Putting this all together: The Lord Jesus Christ will do all these thing for the one who casts to Him all that they have been, are now, and will be. Every facet of your life must be given away for Him in order for your joy to be full. God Himself will nourish and help you through what you are going through, no matter what it is!

"Fall" in Hebrew means: "To waver, slip, shake, fall; To be carried, cast, be out of course, be fallen in decay."

Add it up like this: The Lord God Almighty will never ever cause the just, clean and righteous person to slip and fall or be carried, cast, or be out of course and be fallen in decay. The Lord God will keep His child, that means the one who trust in Him and loves Him and obeys Him in Spirit and in Truth, He will keep that child cared for and nurtured, steadfast in His Love and protection.

What kept you from sleeping well last night? What caused you to awake with anxieties today? You can carry that again today or you can cast it on Him. Your fears can drain you or they can drive you to Him.

Listen to the Psalmist!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 24, 2011

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.' God's Wrath Against Mankind The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." Romans 1:16-23

Remember the good news, bad news jokes?

Doctor: I have some good news and I have some bad news.

Patient: What's the good news?

Doctor: The good news is that the tests you took showed that you have 24 hours to live.

Patient: That's the good news? What's the bad news?

Doctor: The bad news is that I forgot to call you yesterday!

Doctor: I have some good news and some bad news.

Patient: What's the good news?

Doctor: The good news is they are naming a disease after you!

In Romans Chapter 1, Paul tells you about some Good News and some bad news. I suggest you pay close attention.

Before I pursue that thought let me call your attention to the fact that their is no such thing as "Neutral" news. There is "Good News" or "Bad News" and you are involved in one or the other.

The good news is that the "Good News" IS the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "Gospel" means "good news". Jesus came to bring good news from God for mankind. Jesus came to be the Redeemer that would take away the sins of the world.

Paul says that the Gospel is "the power of God for salvation". Salvation from what? Salvation from the bad news.

How does that work? What is that power?

The "Gospel" is the good news that there is a righteousness that can deliver you from the bad news. That righteousness is found in a Person, Jesus Christ. The "Gospel" is good news exposes the bad news and points to the way out. When you place our faith in that good news of God's righteousness, you enter into a relationship with Jesus that gives you His righteousness.

Part of having faith in His good news requires you to confront and confess the bad news in your life. As you cling to His righteousness and repent of your "rottenness", you enter into a personal relationship with God through Christ that gains you access to all His power and holiness! "Rottenness" is rooted in your refusal to believe the goodness and avail yourself of His righteousness. Bad news loves being rotten and revels in it.

The first chapter of Romans lays it out simply. There is good news about God's righteousness and bad news about our rottenness. It also clearly details the choices, the motives and the ultimate outcomes of each way. And it issues an ultimatum:

Live in righteousness or die in rottenness. Have the joy of knowing you are right with God or suffer the shame of rejecting Him.

August 23, 2011

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." Hebrews 11:1-3

To believe in creation requires faith. Accepting the evolutionary theory of origin also takes faith. Because faith is defined as "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see". Neither creationists or evolutionists have seen their "first cause" each is certain of its existence. Creationists put their faith in Scripture while evolutionists put their trust in science. Which do you think forms the best foundation?

Frank Crick is a Nobel-prize winning biologist who helped with the discovery of DNA. He is a man who has devoted his life to science and has invested great faith in it. Here is a quote from him relating to the origin of the universe, "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to almost be a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have to have been satisfied to get it going."

Science journalist and author, Charles Siefe observed, "It seems like a tremendous conincidence that the universe is suitable for life."

Coincidence? Miracle? Random chance occurance? What is the origin of our universe?

One thing is sure, the tolerance for error in the beginning of the universe was extremely slight. Astro-physicist, Lawrence Krause, for instance, wrote that if the force of gravity were changed by 0.0000000000000000000000000000000001%, both the planet Earth and the sun would be nonexistent.

Honest examination of the facts and the evidence and the mathematical probabilities strongly favor supernatural creation as the origin of our universe. But your final answer will come down to where you place your faith. And faith is based on what you hope to be true.

Evolutionists hope that God does not exist and that the universe spontaneously exploded into existence. Why would they not want God to be the Creator of the universe?

Again, I hearken by to my two main reasons offered previously:

1) They want to be in control of their own lives.

2) They want to sin without having any consequences.

If, as Scripture records, God is the Creator, then He is in control and we are accountable to Him. But, if the scientific theory of the "Big Bang" and evolution are correct, then their is no God and we are in charge.

That is the essence of sin. St. Paul expressed it this way:

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Romans 1:19-21

I would caution you against hoping God away from the creation process. If there is no God and if all that we see in our world and universe is an incredible coincidence, then where is our security? If it all came together via a random occurance of matter and energy, what is to keep it from all coming apart? How can you have hope in the midst of that uncertainty? If we can only be certain of the moment in which we live then what is the purpose of living? If we are gods, what has our diety gained us?

If you are trusting in science, has science ever been wrong? Are you sure that you want to pin your hopes on something as inexact as science?

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for...." Be careful what you hope for.

Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22, 2011

"If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles."  Matthew 5:41

I read this on ESPN written by the Rick Reilly. This is a touching story and a perfect picture of what a church should be - second mile Christianity.

They played the oddest game in high school football history last month down in Grapevine, Texas.

It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School and everything about it was upside down. For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through. Did you hear that, the other team's fans?

They even made a banner for players to crash through at the end. It said, "Go Tornadoes!" Which is also weird, because Faith is the Lions.

It was rivers running uphill and cats petting dogs. More than 200 Faith fans sat on the Gainesville side and kept cheering the Gainesville players on—by name.

"I never in my life thought I'd hear people cheering for us to hit their kids," recalls Gainesville's QB and middle linebacker, Isaiah. "I wouldn't expect another parent to tell somebody to hit their kids. But they wanted us to!" And even though Faith walloped them 33-14, the Gainesville kids were so happy that after the game they gave head coach Mark Williams a sideline squirt-bottle shower like he'd just won state. Gotta be the first Gatorade bath in history for an 0-9 coach.

But then you saw the 12 uniformed officers escorting the 14 Gainesville players off the field and two and two started to make four. They lined the players up in groups of five—handcuffs ready in their back pockets—and marched them to the team bus. That's because Gainesville is a maximum-security correctional facility 75 miles north of Dallas. Every game it plays is on the road.

This all started when Faith's head coach, Kris Hogan, wanted to do something kind for the Gainesville team. Faith had never played Gainesville, but he already knew the score. After all, Faith was 7-2 going into the game, Gainesville 0-8 with 2 TDs all year. Faith has 70 kids, 11 coaches, the latest equipment and involved parents. Gainesville has a lot of kids with convictions for drugs, assault and robbery—many of whose families had disowned them—wearing seven-year-old shoulder pads and ancient helmets.

So Hogan had this idea. What if half of our fans—for one night only—cheered for the other team? He sent out an email asking the Faithful to do just that. "Here's the message I want you to send:" Hogan wrote. "You are just as valuable as any other person on planet Earth." Some people were naturally confused. One Faith player walked into Hogan's office and asked, "Coach, why are we doing this?"
And Hogan said, "Imagine if you didn't have a home life. Imagine if everybody had pretty much given up on you. Now imagine what it would mean for hundreds of people to suddenly believe in you." Next thing you know, the Gainesville Tornadoes were turning around on their bench to see something they never had before - hundreds of fans. And actual cheerleaders!

"I thought maybe they were confused," said Alex, a Gainesville lineman (only first names are released by the prison). "They started yelling 'DEE-fense!' when their team had the ball. I said, 'What? Why they cheerin' for us?'"
It was a strange experience for boys who most people cross the street to avoid. "We can tell people are a little afraid of us when we come to the games," says Gerald, a lineman who will wind up doing more than three years. "You can see it in their eyes. They're lookin' at us like we're criminals. But these people, they were yellin' for us! By our names!"
Maybe it figures that Gainesville played better than it had all season, scoring the game's last two touchdowns. Of course, this might be because Hogan put his third-string nose guard at safety and his third-string cornerback at defensive end. Still.
After the game, both teams gathered in the middle of the field to pray and that's when Isaiah surprised everybody by asking to lead. "We had no idea what the kid was going to say," remembers Coach Hogan. But Isaiah said this: "Lord, I don't know how this happened, so I don't know how to say thank You, but I never would've known there was so many people in the world that cared about us."

And it was a good thing everybody's heads were bowed because they might've seen Hogan wiping away tears. As the Tornadoes walked back to their bus under guard, they each were handed a bag for the ride home—a burger, some fries, a soda, some candy, a Bible and an encouraging letter from a Faith player.

The Gainesville coach saw Hogan, grabbed him hard by the shoulders and said, "You'll never know what your people did for these kids tonight. You'll never, ever know."
And as the bus pulled away, all the Gainesville players crammed to one side and pressed their hands to the window, staring at these people they'd never met before, watching their waves and smiles disappearing into the night.
At FredWes we are committed to being used by God to transform people into winners. Second-mile Christianity does that because it is love that's to big to miss. Are you ready to love like that?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 21, 2011

Jesus did a lot in His brief three-year ministry. Do you want to know one think He never did? He never did a funeral!

As I am reading through John I am blessed as I am reminded of Who Jesus is! He is revealing Himself to His disciples and others who are paying attention. While they are hearing it for the first time, it is still good news of great joy as I reflect on it again. Thanks for joining me in this journey. I hope I have thrown a few blessings your way, too.

In Chapter 6 He fed the thousands with just a few loaves and a couple of fish and then revealed Himself as "The Bread of Life" and invites us to feed on Him!

In Chapter 9 He healed a blind man and introduces Himself as the "Light of the World".
Earlier  we reflected on the great truth of Jesus as our "Good Shepherd". We are well cared for! I quoted a friend who said, "When the Lord is your Shepherd the future is your friend!"

Each of those manifestations of His nature is significant. If only one of those was true it would be sufficient - BUT JESUS IS ALL OF THOSE! And more! Check out Chapter 11!

Jesus got one of those 9-1-1 calls. "Come quickly! Our brother Lazarus is deathly ill!" This plea came from His best friends, Mary and Martha. They lived in Bethany and it was a safe place where He could go and get ministered to. But He did something interesting - He headed the other way.

When I get one of those calls in the middle of the night I rush to the hospital or the home to bring comfort and support. Jesus didn't do that. He went back to Judea where He had just been rejected.

By the time He arrives in Bethany He is greeted by two grieving and disillusioned sisters. Martha greets Him with an accusation, "If you would have been here my brother would not have died!"

That certainly was true. But she was underestimating Jesus. Mary, Martha and Lazarus knew Jesus better than anyone and yet they underestimated Him. I have to admit that makes me feel better, because I am guilty of that.

Just when you think you know Jesus, He reveals something new about His nature. That is what He is about to do here. Mary and Martha knew what Jesus HAD done and defined Him in those terms. They were sure He could have healed Lazarus but they didn't reason that He could also resurrect him. How many times do I limit Jesus by expecting Him to respond in a predictable way? He is anything but predictble!

So, Jesus asked to be taken to the tomb. Mary and Martha are concerned because of the stench - he had been dead four days. They are thinking funeral, He doesn't do funerals. When He ordered the tomb to be open, they have "grave reservations". They are thinking about rotten odors He is thinking about resurrection! The tomb is opened and Lazarus is called forth. Since Jesus is Life, death has to obey! Lazarus comes walking out of the tomb! Jesus commands the grave clothes to be removed - Jesus is God of the living not the dead!

When He claimed that He is the "Resurrection and the Life" He meant it! Now we know for sure! As the Good Shepherd He give us "abundant life"! As the Resurrection He gives us eternal life!

So, what does this tell us about Jesus? He is bigger than life but also BIGGER THAN DEATH! He raised Lazarus from the dead (and others) before He submitted Himself to death on the cross. And when He rose from the dead, He conquered death for us! He truly became the "Resurrection and the Life"! Wow! What a Savior!

As one who still has to do funerals, I am thankful for the knowledge that Jesus is the "Resurrection and the Life". As one who has stood beside too many caskets and gravesides, I am glad I can point people to the hope of the "Resurrection and the Life".

Have you recently lost a dear one? Have you been overcome by the reality of death? Are you staring death in the face today?

I have good news of great joy! Jesus is the God of the living! There is no death in Him. When you live in Him you live in life! While in this life you live "abundant life" and then you simple move to REAL LIFE - eternal life!

So, welcome to life in a dying world! As you celebrate abundant life, breathe in a deep breath of His Life and live in hope of a life to come! Life is good! And it only gets better!

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 20, 2011

These days it seems fashionable to be identified as an atheist. Atheism has gained an exalted place in our modern culture because it is portayed as an intellectually superior philosophy. But is it really?

Here's what the Bible says,

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."    I Corinthians 1:18-22

The great British preacher, Charles Spurgeon once said, "There are no atheists anywhere but on earth. There are none in heaven, and there are none in hell. Atheism is a strange thing. Even the devils never fell into that vice, for 'the devils also believe and tremble' (James 2:19). And there are some of the devil's children that have gone beyond their father in sin. But when God's foot crushes them, they will not be able doubt His existence. When He tears them in pieces and there is none to deliver, then their empty logic and their bravados will be of no avail."

So, what do we need to understand about these who arrogantly deny the existence of God and who demean those who believe in Him?

1) Most of them carry spiritual and emotional baggage that are the real reasons behind their refusal to believe. Unfortunately, their reasons for not believing have little to do with God and much to do with misperceptions about Him. Perhaps they have been disappointed by faith or by a person of faith. Maybe they were hurt by a church or damaged by a parent who used faith to shield their abusive behavior. They project their disillusions onto God.

2) Atheism is often portrayed as the modern and trendy way to think and people of faith are belittled as archaic and backward in their thinking. The truth is that people have been rebelling against God and trying to rationalize Him away since the Garden of Eden. Unbelief is nearly as old as belief.

3) An atheist's claim that there is no God is intellectually dishonest for this reason, it is an attempt to make humans into gods. That, in a way, is the ultimate irony: atheists in their denial of God, cannot help but replace the truly omniscient God with a cheap imitation - themselves.

4) Also, his claim that God doesn't exist is intellectually inconsistent because the only way that could be true is if the atheist knew everything it is possible to know. Otherwise, it would be possible for God to exist but that He existed outside of his knowledge or beyond his ability to know. Since there has never been an oniscient human being, there has never been an honest atheist.

5) God believes in atheists even if they don't believe in Him and He sent His Son to die for them. So we should pray for them and reach out to them in love. We should live our lives in ways that make God seem real.

Lest we be too negative toward atheists, let me remind you that at times each of us behave as practical atheists. How is that? When we know what the Bible says and we fail to obey it, we are acting as though there is no God - or as if we are gods. Before we criticize or condemn them, let's repent of our own disbelief and rebellion. God help us, so we can help them.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 19, 2011

Can you be alive and be dead at the same time? According to Jesus, you can.

Reading in John 3 this I was reminded of an encounter Jesus had with a religious leader named Nicodemus.

Despite being a religious professional, Nicodemus recognized a spiritual void in his life. He didn't know what was missing but he knew Who to ask. He went to Jesus under the cover of darkness.

I doubt if he was prepared for what Jesus told him. "Nicodemus, you are alive but you're dead."

Confusing? It was for Nicodemus. He didn't get it.

Jesus clarified, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

Nicodemus still didn't comprehend, "How can I be born when I am old? There is no way I can climb back into my mother's womb!"

Now he was fully engaged! Jesus explained that just like we are born physically, we must have a spiritual birth as well! We are born into this life spiritually dead because of the sin nature we inherit from Adam. Spiritually dead means that we cannot connect with God because He is holy and He is a spirit while we are sinful and of the flesh.

As a religious leader, Nicodemus should have known that. But give him credit, he was teachable. When Jesus explained how he could become fully alive, Nicodemus discovered the great joy of being "born again"! He entered the Kingdom of God!

How about you? Are you fully alive - physically alive but spiritually dead?

It is time for a birthday, or a "rebirth day". Learn from Nicodemus. It is not about being religious it about being reborn. Stop trusting your goodness and your works and receive the "gift" of salvation - Jesus, the Christ!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 18, 2011

I don't know about you, but I don't always take disappointment well. When you have dreamed of something and strategized and sacrificed to make it happen - but God says, "No!", that's not easy!"

With that in mind I was impressed and inspired by King David when Nathan the Prophet told him that he would not get to build the Lord's Temple. David had hoped that his legacy would be building the Temple during his reign.

So how did he respond to this distressing news? Here's your answer:

"Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: "Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, O God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men, O LORD God. "What more can David say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant, O LORD. For the sake of your servant and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made known all these great promises. "There is no one like you, O LORD, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for himself, and to make a name for yourself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You made your people Israel your very own forever, and you, O LORD, have become their God. "And now, LORD, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised, so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then men will say, 'The LORD Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel's God!' And the house of your servant David will be established before you. "You, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. So your servant has found courage to pray to you. O LORD, you are God! You have promised these good things to your servant. Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, O LORD, have blessed it, and it will be blessed forever."
I Chronicles 17:16-27

Wow! That is character! That is commitment to the will of God!

How does your character measure against that of King David? How did you respond the last time things didn't go your way? What will you do next time?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 17, 2011

When I took a job selling cars the company sent me to a sales training class. One of the first things they taught me proved to be the most valuable - not just for selling but for the rest of life.

What was that? They taught me this premise, "A good deal is a state of mind." In other words, the job of a sales person is to convince a customer that you have given them a good deal. That is a corrollary of another popular saying, "People believe what they want to believe."

During my sales career I found that was indeed true. Some of the customers that I made the most money from were convinced that they had gotten a great deal, while some of the one who beat me down to the last dime where sure that I had robbed them.

I have found the same to be true in ministry. People believe when they and what they want to believe. Some people for whom God has done so much are the ones who struggle to believe. And then there are those who are so quick to embrace God and His Word without much coaxing.

In John 8, Jesus is confronting a group of religious people who are hard to sell. They are face to face with the Truth and they don't want to receive it. Their idea of a good deal doesn't match what He is telling them.

Jesus, as usual, nails the problem when He states, "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

In another place Jesus makes this statement, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."

Another thing they taught me at sales school was that most customers have already decided that they are going to buy a car when they leave home. What they are looking for is a salesman they can trust. They reminded us that we were selling ourselves as much as we were selling cars.

That is precisely what is happening in this encounter between Jesus and these Jews, He is telling them that truth is not a concept it is a Person - Him. If they buy into Him they will have the truth. It is not what you know ABOUT Jesus that matters it is knowing HIM and buying into HIM. The truth that sets you free is HIM! And they were staring right at Him.

When you are ready to buy into Jesus you will know truth. If you are ready to let Him transform your heart and mind you will sell out to Him. Then you will know that you have found a great deal!

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 16, 2011

“The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden as its gardener, to tend and care for it. But the Lord God gave the man this warning; ‘You may eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil for its fruit will open your eyes to make you aware of right and wrong, good and bad. If you eat its fruit, you will be doomed to die.’” Genesis 2:15-17

God has always demanded honor. After all, He IS God, what else SHOULD He expect? And God interprets honor in terms of obedience. If you claim to honor God but do not obey Him, He is not honored.

God created Adam in order to enjoy fellowship with him and God was honored through being in perfect relationship with Adam. Adam was honored through being the crowning touch of God’s creation. God further honored Adam by creating a companion for him. Adam and Even were to honor each other and together they were to honor God. When they did, life was………well, perfect!

We can see that honor is the foundation upon which healthy relationships are built. Is it any wonder that the wedding vows include the promise to “love, honor, and obey”? Honor and obedience strengthens relationship. Failure to obey dishonors a partner and weakens the relationship.

You can trace all of the sin and shame that pollutes human nature to the moment when Adam & Even dishonored God by disobeying Him with the forbidden fruit. They were urged to do so by the Serpent, Satan, the master of dishonor. He convinced them that they could disobey God without dishonoring Him. They were wrong! Dead wrong.

The immediate result of Adam and Even dishonoring God was their sense of shame. That was evidenced when they hid from God and made coverings for themselves. And as their ancestors, we inherited their shame and disobedient nature.

Does obedience really matter? It does if you want to honor God! You cannot honor God while you are disobeying Him. That is a devil of an idea.

You were created to honor God through obedience. Shame on you if you don’t!

The Deal: God is not honored by your good intentions, He is honored by your obedience.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 15, 2011

What a Savior we have!

In John Chapter 6 we see Him as the Bread of Life! He bids us to feed on Him.

In John 8 He identifies Himself as great than Abraham.

In Chapter 9 he presents Himself as the Light of the World and illustrates it by healing a blind man!

Wow! What a Savior!

Moving on to Chapter 10 he refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd. His description sounds a lot like Psalm 23!

As a pastor friend of mine once declared, "When the Lord is your Shepherd - the future is your friend!" Here's why:

He Leads Us!

A hireling or a sheep rustler drives the sheep, but the Good Shepherd leads us. He leads us into the safety of His presence! He leads us into the security of His pasture! He leads us into the abundance of His truth. He speaks gently to us and calls us by name as He leads us. Think of that, the Good Shepherd knows your name!

He Loves Us!

A hireling or a rustler has no regard for the sheep. They mean nothing to them. To them the sheep are a necessary inconvenience. They lead the flock only for their own personal benfit. So when the sheep are threatened, they will flee to protect themselves. But the Good Shepherd loves His sheep. He provides for them. He protects them. He prays for them. He will give His life to save them. Think about that! You are loved by the Good Shepherd!

He leads us. He loves us. And:

He Laid Down His Life for Us.

Verse 10 sums up the desire of the Good Shepherd and the destiny of His sheep:

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full!"

To quote my friend - "When the Lord is your Shepherd, the future is your friend!"

August 14, 2011

The word for today is "preparation". Are you preparing? Are you prepared?
Reading this morning in II Chronicles and in John 10 the importance of preparation became obvious. Preparation for what? Preparation for the presence of God.
Solomon is fulfilling his destiny and the dream of his father, David, by building the Temple of the Lord. The first five chapters of this book go into great detail - painstaking detail of all the people, the plans, the contributions, the materials, and the procedures that went into preparing for the building of God's Temple. Why all the attention to detail? Because they were preparing for the presence of God!
When the building was done and the details completed, the significant moment arrived when the Ark of the Covenant was carried into the beautiful new Temple. With great joy and ceremony it was placed in it's specially prepared place. Here is the dramatic moment:
"The priests then brought the ark of the LORD's covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and covered the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends, extending from the ark, could be seen from in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place. All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions. All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: "He is good; his love endures forever." Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God. II Chronicles 5:7-14
Wow! What a moment! How would you have liked to been there for that! All the hard work and planning paid off! It was well worth it!
In the second half of John 10, Jesus is being hassled by the religious elite questioning His miracles and his claims of being the Son of God. Despite ample evidence to the claims He was making, they refused to believe and continually challenged Him. Once they picked up stones to stone Him but He avoided them and later they tried to seize Him but He slipped away and got out of town.
The change of scenary made a significant difference. Here's the story:
"Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed and many people came to him. They said, "Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true." And in that place many believed in Jesus." John 10:40-42
In one place Jesus had nothing but resistance, but in this place He had nothing but results. What was that about?
Simple, it's that "P" word again - "preparation" ! John the Baptist had preached and taught and ministered in that area and prepared the way for Jesus.
It seems obvious to me that God honors prepartion.
We crave the presence of God but we don't like the hard work involved in the preparation. We show up at worship or LIFE group and expect the leaders to produce the presence of God. While it is their responsibility to adequately prepare, it is incumbant on each of us to show up prepared.
Preparation is hard and tedious - but the payoff is well worth it! What are you doing to prepare for God's presence?

Friday, August 12, 2011

August 13, 2011

How can a young man keep his way pure? 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. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." Psalm 119:9-16

If I have not yet made the case for the truth and reliability of God's Word, let me try one more time.

First, let's review. The evidence we have presented to this point:

1) Fulfilled Prophecies - every prophecy concerning Jesus was fulfilled completely.

2) Historical Accuracy - if measured by the same standards as other commonly accepted ancient documents, the Bible would fare well.

3) Miraculous Preservation - for ages the Scriptures have been under attack by kings, emperors, and czars. These tyrants have tried to destroy copies if the Bible, killed the people who printed them, and arrested those who possessed them. Still, the Scriptures not only survived, but remain a number one best-seller!

4) Unity of Structure - The Bible was written over 1,500 years by 40 different writers in three different languages on three continents and yet there is a single theme - the redeeming love of God!

5) The Influence for Good - It can easily be documented that everywhere the Bible has been honored and taught, the social climate and culture have been superior to non-biblical cultures. That has been true throughout biblical history. No other sacred writing has impacted history to a greater extent than the Bible.

So, faith in the Bible is well-founded. However, there is one more convincing and powerful proof for the veracity of the Word. What is it? It is the proof of a changed life!

When someone begins to study and believe and live by Biblical truths, that life changes dramatically. People who used to be hateful, suddenly become loving. Why? The power of the Word? People who once were very selfish, suddenly begin devoting their lives to serve others. Why? The power of the Word. The Word of God has tranforming power!

How can you see that power in your life?

Love the Word

Is the Word of God a controlling passion in your life? Do you love it more than life itself? Light the Psalmist, you should delight in His Word. When you do it will transform your heart and mind.

Learn the Word

The Psalmist hid God's Word in his heart. That takes time and effort and study. Read it. Memorize it. When you do it will transform your heart and mind.

Lean on the Word

What do you depend on when you have to make a tough decision? Where do go to find strength during a difficult time? When you need encouragement, where do you go to find it? Jesus leaned on the Word - even though He WAS the Word! When you lean on the Word you will find it transforms your life.

Live the Word

If you are a believer in Christ and a lover of the Word, I am guessing that you chose that way because of a significant person in your life who lived out the Word. For me it was a man named Ralph Westafer. He lived out the Word so well and with such passion that it was hard NOT to believe in the Word. I'll bet you know someone like that.

Will you commit to become someone like that?

August 12, 2011

"For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge." Psalm 51:3-4

Sin may be in but sin is serious - seriously destructive.
King David, one of the godliest men in the Bible, was overcome by a moment of lust and committed a heinous sin. Then he compounded it by having her husband killed.
Destructive. Despicable.
As we focus on the anguish of the King, we get a sense of the awfulness of sin. Here's how damaging it can be:
Sin Desecrates
David's sinful acts had wreaked destruction on the sacred trust he had with God and with Israel as the King.
Also, he desecrated his marriage as well as the marriage of Uriah and Bathsheba.

His lustful fling destroyed two marriages and an innocent loyal life.
Sin Alienates

David's flagrant disobedience alienated him from his good conscience. It set him at odds against what he knew was right and holy. His peace was gone. His joy was gone. His fellowship with God was badly strained.

Sin Humiliates

Once David came to his senses (willful sin is much like temporary insanity) he could hardly believe what he had done. This man who loved God so much had dishonored God. This man who held the Kingship in such high esteem had dishonored the throne. This man who revered the Army of God, had violated military honor by betraying one of his loyal officers.

Everything good and sacred to this Honorable man had been dishonored by his indulgent act. This was so opposite of what he desired and dedicated his life to, he could hardly believe what he had done. He completely humiliated himself and all that he loved.
Sin Separates

God is Holy. That means He cannot sin nor can anything sinful exist in His presence. We are sinners by nature. We are sinners by habit. Therefore, our nature is incompatible with God's nature and that separates us from Him. We can have no fellowship with Him. He is a stranger to Him and we to Him.

David, who had been chosen by God and had entered God's presence through obedience and imputed righteousness was now separated from God. How tragic!

Sin Complicates

God exists in unity with the Son and the Spirit. Three in one through the mystery of the Trinity. God exists in the simplicity of love, holiness, and eternity. He created man for a simple fellowship of love and creativity. Because He wanted man's freewill to matter, He gave Adam one option to obey - don't touch the Tree of Life. As long as he abides by that simple rule, he had a perfectly simple existence. But his willful rebellion against God immediately complicated his life. Humanity's plight became exponentially more difficult.

David's world became incredibly complicated by his sin. Yours will, too.

Enough already? Have I made my point? Sin is destructive.
Fortunately, God is merciful. Thankfully, a merciful God sent His Holy Son to assume the desecration, the alienation, the, the humiliation, the separation and the complications of our sins so we can know the holiness, purity and simplicity of living in His love!

That's serious!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11, 2011

"I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against God" Psalm 119:11

Americans like the “bottom line” so let’s get to the bottom line for this verse. How does that sound?

This little verse with a big message is, in fact, the answer to an important question posed in verse nine, “How can a young man keep his way pure?”

So, the bottom line is that everything we have studied so far only matters if you are interested in living a pure and holy life. Others need not apply.

David, the Psalmist declares that the reason he hides the Word of God in his heart is because he doesn’t want to sin against God. If sin doesn’t bother you the Word won’t matter that much.

Logically, if staying pure and holy in all your thoughts and actions is important to you then you will meditate and memorize the Word of God. Therefore, if you are not meditating or memorizing the Word of God it would indicate a lack of interest in holy living.

If you have filed your Bible in the “inspiration reading” section of your mind or if you keep it on hand as a reference book you are not that concerned about sin. Very, very dangerous!

Here in this last half of the verse, are contained two very important truths about sin. Before we wrap our consideration of this verse allow me to point them out.

First, he says that sin is a choice – “that I might not sin”

One of the main blessings of salvation in Christ is it can free you from the power of sin. You no longer have to live as a slave to it. The main message of the Cross is Jesus became the atoning sacrifice for your sins that you can be free!

Every sin is preceded by a thought. If you entertain that thought it becomes a temptation and when you dwell on that temptation it usually leads to sin. So, before you sin you have to run a couple of red lights. You sin because you choose to. For someone who claims to be a Christian, that is exceedingly dangerous.

Think about it. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness He had to rely on quoting the Scriptures He had hidden in His heart. If Jesus Who WAS the Word had to rely on the Word to resist sin, what makes you think you can ignore your meditation and memorization?

Second, he says that sin has a consequence – “against God”

When you sin it is against God. When you choose to sin you choose against God. When you refuse to humble yourself to the Word to meditate on it and memorize it you are choosing against God’s wisdom and truth.

I am not sure you want to do that. You probably don’t want to do that. You certainly shouldn’t do that!

You also sin against yourself in that your sin breaks your fellowship with God AND you are the one who will have to live with the consequences of your sin.

Sin complicates your life. Sin alienates you from God. Sin has consequences that you can choose to avoid. Why wouldn’t you? You can choose purity from sin or you can suffer the penalty of sin. It is all dependent on what you do with God’s Word.

That’s the bottom line.

August 10, 2011

"I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against God" Psalm 119:11

“ In My Heart”

God’s Word is light and life to those who believe. But it is only effective for those who know how to read it, study, it and apply it to daily living. The Psalmist knew how and it enabled Him to overcome sinfulness.

To hide the Word in your heart you need to know how to get it there. You don’t hide the Word by accident nor do you wake up one morning to find yourself Biblically literate. You can’t use your Bible for a pillow and hope it sinks in by osmosis.

How do I get it into my heart?


Now what does this meditation involve? The word "meditation" in Hebrew means basically to speak or to mutter. When this is done in the heart it is called musing or meditation. So meditating on the Word of God day and night means to speak to yourself the Word of God day and night and to speak to yourself about it.

Max Lucado says that meditation is essentially the same process as worrying and if you can worry you have the ability to meditate!

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” Psalms 19:14

"O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day." Psalm 119:97

"Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all". 1 Timothy 4:15

To meditate on God’s Word you must get alone in a quiet setting where you can read it and think about and pray and listen to the Holy Spirit. The goal of meditation is threefold:

1) To communicate with God

2) To convicted or inspired by it’s truth.

3) To conform your life to God’s truth.

Will you meditate on God’s Word so it can be hidden in your heart and revealed in your habits?


Another important aspect of hiding His Word in your heart goes beyond meditating and on to memorizing it – storing it in your mind. Don’t say you have a bad memory or that you can’t memorize! The biggest barrier to memorization is that “stinkin’ thinkin’”. Memorizing requires more time and effort than some want to invest in it, but everyone CAN memorize.

Here is the process you can commit to:

1) Read it

2) Repeat it – say it over and over and outloud.

3) Record it – write in on a flash card or record it on a CD so you can listen while traveling to work and back.

4) Recite it

5) Remember it – if you can recite it verbatim you have memorized it.

The word hidden in your heart and in your mind will enrich your life and elevate it beyond your wildest dream!

Something is written on your heart. Something will affect your thoughts and influence your behavior. If that “something” is not the Word of God you evidently have not been meditating on it or memorizing it.

If you find yourself worrying you probably are not memorizing and if you are not memorizing you have good reason to worry!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August 9, 2011

"I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against God"  Psalm 119:11

I am been around long enough to remember when a man’s word was his bond. Once a man made a promise he felt bound by his honor to make sure that promise was kept. Most deals in those days were sealed with a handshake. Few things were more disgraceful to a man than not keeping his word.

Don’t we long for those days? What has changed?

I’m sure I can’t account for all the changes but I do know that men were better at keeping their word when they were better at keeping His Word!

Why does His Word make such a difference? How does hiding it in His heart keep us from sin?

It Is His Will

If God is the Sovereign Creator, Ruler and Judge of the universe doesn’t it make sense we should care about what He cares about?
I think so!

And don’t you think that He would want us to be clear on what He cares about?

So, how do we know?

His Word reveals His will!

Long ago God spoke through His Spirit to forty men over a 1,600 year period to make known His will to His people.

It Is His Way

Not only does His Word reveal His will but it reveals His way. How does He operate? How does His will get expressed in His world?

The Word of God reveals that as well! It records His dealings with His people in ancient times, it reveals how He desires to love and be loved by His people, AND it gives a glimpse of how His love will be expressed throughout eternity.

It Is His One

John’s Gospel declares, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”

The most exciting fact about God’s Word is that it is not just words and concepts, but it is a PERSON! That Person is Jesus Christ!

When you read His Word and hide it away, you are having and intimate personal encounter with the Son of God Who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”!

Wow! How can I afford to not read His Word? Why would I not want to when I can know His will, His ways, and His One, by lingering in its pages!

What’s your excuse?

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8, 2011

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

This week we are doing our Vacation Bible School and so I thought I would focus on a verse that I first learned at VBS years ago. It is the next to last Psalm I will deal with as I wind down my "Summer In the Psalms" sermon series. That verse is Psalm 119:11, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

Over the next several days I want to break down this verse to examine every precious truth. First, says the Psalmist, "I have hidden......."

What does it mean to "hide His Word ?" How does one do that?

For the sake of brevity and simplicity, let me suggest three quick thoughts on those questions.

You need to have a priority!

Obviously, you can't hide everything so you have to choose what you will hide. You will hide what is most important to you and that will be based on your value system. Either intentionally or subconsciously, everyone has a value system by which they prioritize where they invest their time, their talents and their treasures. In this Psalm it is implying that you must make sure you value God's Word above all else! Are you?

You need to have a plan!

There is a word for things that get unintentionally hidden. We say they are lost! You do not want to lose the Word of God! So you must be intentional about how you plan to hide it! Since the Word of God is "living and active" you cannot hide it just one time and leave it hidden. You may do that to your Bible but you can't do that to the Word. Since the Word is contained in the Bible you don't want to hide your Bible. This Psalm tells you that you must have a plan to regularly, if not daily, hide the word. Generally, that means that you memorize it. Do you have a plan to memorize the Word?

You need to have a place!

Some people store valuable items in a safe deposit box at their bank. Others have a safe in their home where they hide their important papers or items. High priority valuables must be hidden in a safe place. A safe place to hide those things is part of the plan. This Psalm specifically says that the safe place to hide God's Word is in your heart! Of course, that doesn't mean your organ that pumps blood, but in your soul - the spirit and the will and the mind. Once you memorize something it is stored safely in your mind and is available to encourage your heart and direct your will. You have a place to hide God's Word. He provided it for you. Are you using it?

The Word of God is the most valuable and enduring possession you have. It is the only thing that can lead you to everlasting life. Because of that there is an Enemy who is bent on stealing it away from you!

You better have it as a priority and execute a plan to hide it in a safe place! This is a matter of eternal life or death!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

August 7, 2011

My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.  Proverbs 7:1-3

36 years ago today I was at the Northern Illinois District Conference at Camp Epworth just outside of Rockford, IL. I heard my name called over the camp public address system, "Phone call for Pastor Brad Snyder. Brad Snyder, phone call in the office." (Obviously, that was WAY before cell phones)

I hurried out of the meeting and moved anxiously toward the office. We knew our soon-to-be adopted baby was due anytime. Nearing the office I was hoping it would be THAT call. Sure enough, it was!
The child had just been born and it was a boy! Boy, oh boy! A boy! Perfect!

Most of what happened for the next hour or so is a blur. I know I had to go report to the proper officials and get excused from the rest of Conference, which I did. And then we had to pack up our stuff and load the car and make the four hour drive down to Marion, IN, where he had been born.

We packed, we loaded, and we headed south. Soon the joy was tempered by extreme anxiety as we awaited to receive the official word that the birth mother had officially signed off on her rights to the child. In, fact, the law in Indiana gave her up to a year to change her mind. As we drove we would worry awhile, pray awhile, worry some more and more a little more.

On August 10th, 1975, the longest seventy-two hour stretch in world history came to and end when we took the infant son into our arms. It was love at first sight - at least for us. He couldn't see all that well yet!

There wasn't much doubt what we would name him "Matthew" means "gift from God" and surely he is. So Matthew James Snyder came into our lives and took a prominent place in my heart - a place he still occupies today as a 36 year-old man and father of five.

Matt has always been one of those gifted people who can do everything well. He is a good husband, an outstanding father and very successful businessman. Sports came easy to him and he was one of the star players in whatever sport he chose.

Memories are flooding my mind right now and I won't bore you with anymore of them, but needless to say I am very proud and thankful for this gift God entrusted to my care 36 years ago today!

Happy Birthday, my son,  Matthew - "Gift of God"! My wish for you on this day is the same that Solomon expressed to his son centuries ago in the Proverbs, "My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart."