Saturday, August 31, 2013

September 1, 2013

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13
Paul is teaching us how we can make sure our salvation works for all our days on planet Earth. His key thought is "obedience IS the work of salvation because it allows God to work out the completion of your salvation"!
If you want your salvation to work:
Obey faithfully!
Obey fearfully!
AND obey fruitfully!
You know salvation is working out when His will and His purpose happens through your life!
You know your salvation is working out when God is pleased by your obedience.

Salvation works when you are committed to obeying His will and purposes. It doesn't work when you disobey. It is that simple!
When you are committed to obeying His will and purpose your life will bear spiritual fruit. When disobey his will and purpose there will be not fruit.

Charles Finney noted this about obedience and sacrifice, “Revival is nothing more or less than a new obedience to God!”      
“Joy is the byproduct of obedience”  - (Unknown)
D. L. Moody has expressed it so well: “. . .Joy flows right on through trouble; joy flows on through the dark; joy flows in the night as well as in the day; joy flows all through persecution and opposition. It is an unceasing fountain bubbling up in the heart; a secret spring the world can’t see and doesn’t know anything about. The Lord gives His people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to him”
Patrick Morley’s book “Walking with Christ in the Details of Life.” It is a book of meditations that includes one called “Revival: The Gospel of Addition.” In it, he said the following, “The American gospel has evolved into a gospel of addition without subtraction. It is the belief that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior… A changed life is one that has added Christ and subtracted sin, that attracts a world weary of worn-out words. Obedience is the proof.”
"Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late - and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been TRYING TO SUBSTITUTE PRAYING FOR OBEYING, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience."
A.W. Tozer
You are more likely to OBEY YOURSELF INTO PRAYING than you are to pray yourself into obeying!


Friday, August 30, 2013

August 31, 2013

"......continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling...." Philippians 2:12b
The work of salvation is obedience!
Obedience allows Christ's work of salvation begins in your heart when you obey His conditions for salvation.

Once you have salvation you must obey faithfully!

Not only should you obey faithfully but also obey fearfully!

Romans 3:16-18 – Characterizes disobedient people:

·         "Destruction and misery are in their ways”:

·         And the way of peace have they not known:

·         There is no fear of God before their eyes. "
I hope that doesn’t describe you this morning.
The best reason for obeying God is out of love and a desire to please Him. But an equally effective reason is fear of what happens when you don't obey God, as these stories illustrate.
Charles Swindoll once talked with General Charles M. Duke, a former astronaut who went on the Apollo 16 mission to the moon. I asked, “Once you were there, weren’t you free to make your own decisions and carry out your own experiments. He smiled and said “Sure, if I didn’t want to return to earth!” He went on to describe the intricate plan, the precise instructions, the essential discipline and the instant obedience that was needed right down to a split second. He explained how they landed with sixty seconds of fuel remaining. Talk about being obedient! (Charles Swindoll, Strengthening Your Grip).
Their obedience to the plan allowed the plan to work! The slightest act of disobedience would have doomed the mission and them!
Consider the truths of these quotes:

“If God be God over us, we must yield him universal obedience in all things. He must not be over us in one thing, and under us in another, but he must be over us in everything.” - Peter Bulkeley, Leadership, Vol. 9, no. 1
Obedience doesn’t allow you to decide what you will and won’t obey. The Words of Christ are not suggestions or advice: they are commands! (Water Buffalo Theology)
How's your obedience?
Are you obeying fearfully?
How is your salvation working out?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 30, 2013

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." Philippians 2:12-13
In our last post we dealt with what seems to be a paradox in this verse - you are to work out your salvation but it is God who works in your to do His will.
But since the same word is used for "work" in each phrase, it actually clarifies the fact rather than clouding it. Clearly, obedience is the work of salvation because obedience allows God to finish His work of salvation in you!
I want to challenge you with three ways you must obey. The first way is:
Obey Faithfully, V. 12a - "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence....."
Obedience is the practical expression of faith. You come to salvation by obeying the claims of Christ as presented in His Word. So, if obedience is essential to beginning your salvation doesn't it make sense it should be necessary to continue growing in that relationship?
Here are several stories that illustrate the necessity of continual obedience.
A wealthy businessman, who was well known for being ruthless and unethical, told Mark Twain that before he died, he wanted to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He said that when he got there he wanted to climb to the top of Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments, and there read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top. “I have a better idea,” replied Twain, in his typical wit, “You could stay in Boston and keep them.”
Eugene Peterson in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction writes, “It is not difficult in our world to get a person interested in the message of the Gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest. Millions of people in our culture make decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to have been born again, but the evidence for mature Christian discipleship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier Christians called holiness.”
Arabian horses go through rigorous training in the deserts of the Middle East. The trainers require absolute obedience from the horses, and test them to see if they are completely trained. The final test is almost beyond the endurance of any living thing. The trainers force the horses to do without water for many days. Then he turns them loose and of course they start running toward the water, but just as they get to the edge, ready to plunge in and drink, the trainer blows his whistle. The horses who have been completely trained and who have learned perfect obedience, stop. They turn around and come pacing back to the trainer. They stand there quivering, wanting water, but they wait in perfect obedience. When the trainer is sure that he has their obedience he gives them a signal to go back to drink.
How's your obedience? Are you faithfully obeying God and His Word?
Will you be obedient today?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 29, 2013

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.  Philippians 2:12-13

The whole gospel is expressed in these two verses—in a nutshell. But for many Christians it has been and remains a tough nut to crack. That’s because of its paradoxical nature—two truths that seem to conflict with each other and yet are inseparable.
But we are all familiar with this paradox if we’ve studied our Bibles carefully. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that “For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of works; it is a gift of God.” On the other hand James 2:18 says “Show me your faith without works and I will show you my faith by my works.

Probably no truth of the New Testament is as difficult to grasp as this. It seems contradictory. On the one hand, salvation is all of God, a sheer gift that cannot be earned. On the other hand, salvation is something we work at, we have a role to play in it.

Throughout Christian history, and still today, this paradox has given rise to two opposite and equally mistaken interpretations. The pendulum swings between two extremes.

Many of these people, maybe like many of us, have wrongly divided verses 12 and 13 of Philippians 2 and pitted them against each other—emphasizing one to the neglect of the other. Either verse 12 is underscored with human beings contributing to our salvation with good works or verse 13 is highlighted with God doing everything himself.
What many don’t see is that Philippians 2:12-13 isn’t about initial salvation—conversion. It’s about the Christian life after conversion—about maintaining a healthy relationship with God as a converted believer.

That’s where Philippians 2:12-13 comes into play. It answers that crucial question in a paradox but not a contradiction.
A clue to why the message is not a contradiction lies in the Greek words translated “work” in English Bibles. Work out your own salvation,” it says, “for God is at work in you….” The secret is that in the original language, these are two different words, not one. We just don’t have two different English words to translate the two Greek words, so most English translations simply use “work.”
But that’s confusing because it makes the passage sound like it’s contradicting itself—verse 13 sounds like it’s contradicting verse 12. But it’s not.
The Greek word translated “work” in verse 12 is one that means “continue a task; carry it out to completion.” The Greek word translated “work” in verse 13 is one that means “provides the ability and means, the energy.”
So let’s read the passage with the Greek in mind: “Carry out, continue your task of salvation with fear and trembling, for God is providing all the ability, means and energy….”

Now the light is dawning. The passage’s meaning is clearer. When it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship with God, we do something and God does something. We are not puppets, being micromanaged by God. We are responsible people in a personal relationship with a personal God. But, on the other hand, we are weak and God gives us everything we need to maintain a strong, healthy relationship with him.
So, the supposed paradox becomes a clear spiritual principle summarized in this concise statement: OBEDIENCE IS THE WORK OF SALVATION BECAUSE IT ALLOWS GOD TO WORK OUT YOUR SALVATION!
How is it you understand that obedience is so important to obtaining salvation suddenly becomes optional to maintaining it?
The key to maintaining the joy of your salvation is the same one that allows you to enter into salvation - OBEDIENCE.
Have you lost the joy of your salvation?
Does something seem to be missing in your spiritual walk with God?
Is that "something" that's missing - OBEDIENCE?


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 28, 2013

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name," Matthew 6:9

The Lord's Prayer may have been the first "grown up" prayer you learned. It was for me.

But I didn't learn that it was far more than just a prayer but rather a pattern for prayer and a new way to understand my relationship with God!

Recently I have been studying this important teaching of Jesus and discovered four great purposes for prayer:

1) Worship
2) Will
3) Wants
4) Warfare

In a previous post I shared how prayer is an essential part of worship because prayer connects you with the Person of God.

This morning I want to show you a second aspect of prayer as worship - it brings you into God's presence.

The last couple days of our vacation we were hosted by some very dear friends. You probably have friends who seem like family and that is who this precious couple is to us. Time with them refreshes us because we enjoy each other's presence so much. We want to bless them and they are committed to blessing us.

Jesus, in John 15 shared some of the blessings of living in the presence of God:

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15:1-11

Prayer brings you into the presence of God. Prayer enables you to remain in the presence of God. In His presence good things happen:

You will bear His spiritual fruit

You will have power in prayer

You will know His love

You will live in His joy

According to Jesus, prayer should be thought of as worship because it connects you with God's Person and brings you into His presence!

Will you enter His presence today?

August 27, 2013

"Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

"Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14 (Amplified)

Holiness is hard!

Look at the two main verbs in this verse "strive" and "pursue". Those are extra effort type words. They require energy and determination - and desire.

What is holiness and why is it so hard?

Well, the "what it is" is "why it is" so hard.

Holiness is consecrating yourself to God, as the Amplified renders it. Consecrate means that I set myself apart from my selfish desires, my selfish ambitions, my sinful past and give myself completely to God for the purpose of being made holy by Him. You or I cannot make ourselves holy, we can only repent of our sins and renounce sin to give ourselves unreservedly to God so He can make us holy by the cleansing of His blood and the indwelling of His Spirit.

Holiness refers to the condition of your heart in relationship to God. Holy people love God with all their heart and all of their mind. Holiness allows the Holy Spirit to take up residence in your heart empowering you to overcome temptation and sin.

Holiness purifies your motives so that whatever you do is fueled by love (for God and for others). Holiness is being able to fulfill the Great Commandment by loving God and loving others as yourself.

In this verse holiness is equated with peace. You cannot be holy with God while you live in turmoil with others.

So, holiness is difficult because it requires being reconciled on two levels of relationship - holy with God and at peace with men. That doesn't happen automatically. It doesn't happen accidentally. You have to "strive" against your selfish nature and you must "pursue" God's nature.

But holiness is necessary and required of those who desire to see God - Who also happens to be holy.

Holiness really matters! Does it matter to you?

Are you pursuing holiness?

Are you making every effort to live peaceably?

Are you prepared to see God?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 26, 2013

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16

Why are my sins important to anyone else - unless I happen to sin against them? James seems to indicate that my sins could be a problem to you and and yours to me because the church is a body - The Body of Christ!

I guess the first question to ask is, "What is the Church?"

As I mentioned, the church is the Body of Christ, but the name for the Church in Scripture is "eklessia". It literally means "called out". The Church is the Body of the "called out ones".

Called out from what? Called out to what?

Good questions!
Being the Body of Christ you can easily reason that the Church would be called out from sin. Don't you think that is reasonable? So, if you are called out from sin and you continue to sin how does that impact the Body? If I continue to sin or if I sin against you, doesn't that impact the Body?
Being the Body of Christ you can also logically assume that we are called out to God. I mean, who is it that would call us out of the world other than God? So, if the Church is called out from sin and to God, how do you think sin affects that?
Being the Body of Christ we are called together. You are called out and I am called out and together we are the Church. So, if we are called out together how does sin impact that relationship? If I sin against you doesn't that create some stress or tension in our relationship? Of course. And vice versa.
Think about what sin does. Sin separates us from God. How can that be good for the Church that is called out by God for God?
Sin also complicates. Once Adam and Eve sinned their lives got immediately complicated. Sin harms relationships, impairs judgment, stirs up guilt and alienates us from God. How does complicating life enhance the Church? It doesn't!
Just those two problems caused by sin are damaging enough to the Church to make the case that sin needs to be dealt with within the Church if the Church is to fulfill its mission as the Body of Christ called out of the world.
James prescribes drastic action to deal with sin. Confess them to each other and prayer for each other. When you know what my sins are and I know what your sins are then I can pray specifically for God to strengthen you. I can also do something else significant, I can hold you accountable. You can hold me accountable. We will each know how seriously the other is dealing with our sins. Transparency and accountability are effective weapons against sin in the church. If I am intentionally standing against my sin and you are standing with me against my sin, doesn't it make sense that I will be stronger in resisting sin?
Sin prospers in the darkness but whithers in the sunlight (Sonlight) of truth. James says expose it to the light of truth and shine the searchlight of accountability on it and you will be healed! When you are healed and I am healed guess what happens to the Church? Health!
Disease develops in the darkness but health happens are in the light of truth.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

August 25,2013

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins." James 5:13-20
Some incredible things start happening when God's people begin understanding that prayer is a RELATIONSHIP not just a RESOURCE! Big changes happen when you understand that GOD IS your resource and not just the provider of them. You enter into a relationship with Him not to get something FROM Him but to get everything IN Him!
There is more good news! Can you handle that?
Look at what you get when you enter into a healthy relationship with God through prayer:
Personal Prayer - "Is anyone of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise." V. 13
James, in his final words, urges believers to live in an intimate relationship with God that is characterized by continual prayer. When you are hurting, pray! When you are happy, pray! No matter what is going on in your life share it with God. Center your life, your loves, and your longings on Him.
That is the foundation of a healthy relationship with God which is the foundation of all other healthy relationships.
Powerful Prayer - "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." Vv. 14-16
People who are in healthy personal relationship with God have a great opportunity to live in heal thy relationship with each other. That is God's great ambition for us within His Church. And when healthy people come together to call upon their God and agree according to His Word in behalf of one another - powerful things happen! Healthy things happen! In fact, health happens!
For my entire life I have heard this portion of Scripture referred to as a prescription for physical healing. Now I understand it is, indeed, that. BUT it is significantly more than that! It is the path to health!
A healthy church fellowship arises from healthy believers living in intimate relationship with God. When they come together to call up Him for a commonly agreed upon need, powerful things happen! Healthy things! Not only healing but health happens!
What do I mean by health? I refer to James' counsel to "confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed". That sounds good doesn't it? That is a great promise on its face, but it is so much more than a one-time healing it is a prescription for ongoing health for individuals and for the church body! This is talking about two powerful spiritual disciplines - transparency and accountability. When practiced within a church prayer becomes power and the church becomes healthy!
James is advocating that we not settle just for physical healing but that we press for spiritual health. He expresses his belief that unhealthy spiritual and emotional issues contribute to many of our health problems. We do this by being transparent enough to confess to those in spiritual authority the sins that hold us in bondage. He tells us that when we do this and when we pray for each other for these sins healing and deliverence happens. Not only are we healed but we become healthy!
Prevailing Prayer - "Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins." James 5:17-20
One of the most revered men among the Jews was Elijah. Rightly so! He was a powerful prophet who was mightily used of God and who was rewarded with one of the awesome exits any human being has experienced - remember the firey chariot thing?
Who can forget his great victory on Mt. Carmel? James reminds us of how he caused a 3 1/2 year drought that led up to the victory on Mt. Carmel. He was one of the supernatural visitiors who appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. This guy was special!
But James is saying we can be special too if we do the hard work of having a healthy relationship with God - a personal relationship and powerful relationship together. The reason that is true is because we serve the same God Elijah did. The same power is available to us if we will seek God and godliness has he did.
Elijah's passion was to call sinners back to God. In particular, he wanted to call the people of God back to their God. Everything he did was for that purpose. The dramatic events on Mt. Carmel we for that end. And that is the point of what James is saying here, "We need the spirit of Elijah in prevailing prayer for lost or straying people!" That prevailing prayer can only happen when God's people in God's Church will enter into healthy personal relationship and into powerful healthy fellowship and then God will encourage them in prevailing intercession for the lost!
That my friends is a healthy church! That is what I envision. That is my passion. That is better than healings and it will become a healing place!
You, my friend can be as powerful as Elijah! If you want to......

Friday, August 23, 2013

August 24, 2013

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles," I Corinthians 15:3-7

Death is a big enemy that creates some gigantic fear in us mortals. I think I was about 30 years of age when I first came to grips with my mortality. Before that time the idea of dying really didn't stick with me. Dying was something that happened to other people - older people. I had three young children that I wanted to see grow to adulthood and I couldn't bear the thought of my life ending before they were grown. As I recall, the idea of death and dying haunted me for several weeks until I worked my way through that fear.

Are you familiar with that fear?

One of the truths that helped me deal with this horrendous fear of dying was the knowledge that even though death is bigger than life, God is bigger than death!

How did God conquer death? Through a death! Yes, a death! The death of His Son, Jesus Christ. And even more, God defeated death by a resurrection from the dead! The Jewish religious leaders arrested Him on trumped up charges, made those stand, beat Him savagely, and then killed Him on a cruel cross. Jesus did die. But three days later he was back to life! Through His resurrection from the dead, Jesus proved that God is bigger than death! He died to take away the sin and shame so you can be free from from the fear of death! BUT THEN He rose on the third day - came back from the dead! When Jesus walked out of that garden tomb on that first Easter Sunday, He conquered death! Forever! Death could not hold Him and neither can it hold those of us who follow Him and are called by His name.

Is a death a big fear in your life? And if that fear is robbing you of your peace about dying, remember the resurrection! Remember the love that motivated Jesus' life, His brutal death, and His marvelous resurrection! In other words, remember that God is bigger than death or any of your fears about dying!

Knowing Who Jesus Is and what He did to conquer death should be enough to help you conquer your fears about death. That is the power of faith! Are you going to choose to believe your fears or will you believe in a God Who has proven He is bigger than death.

So, God destroyed the power of death by allowing His Son to be unfairly mobbed and murdered. He affirmed that He is the source of the life that dwells within you by raising His Son from the dead! And the Bible tells you that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you through His Spirit!

His life in you through faith, is stronger than death that is working in you! And His life through you will raise you up to eternal life!

Do you have that life? Don't die with out it!

August 23, 2913

"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.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August 22, 2013

"Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath." Romans 12:14

Getting a grip on grace requires releasing grudges. Let's talk about how that happens.

Here's a story to help illustrate this truth:

An interesting system has been used for capturing monkeys in the jungles of Africa. The goal is to take the monkeys alive and unharmed for shipment to zoos of America. In an extremely humane way, the captors use heavy bottles, with long narrow necks, into which they deposit a handful of sweet-smelling nuts. The bottles are dropped on the jungle floor, and the captors return the next morning to find a monkey trapped next to each bottle.

How is it accomplished? The monkey, attracted by the aromatic scent of the nuts, comes to investigate the bottle, the nuts, and is trapped. The monkey can't take its hand out of the bottle as long it's holding the nuts, but it is unwilling to open its hand and let them go. The bottle is too heavy to carry away, so the monkey is trapped.

You hold onto a grudge out of a desire to get even with someone who has hurt you or wronged you. But in the attempt to do so, and even in the desire to do so, you are trapped by your own devices. Just like the monkeys, your stubborn refusal to release the grudge keeps you trapped like them. And like them, all you need to do is let go.

But in fact, it is more than letting go, it is grabing something else - GRACE! You release the negative so you can possess the positive. Grace is an incredible gift that is yours for the taking, but to take it you need a free hand. If I held out a gift to you, I could offer it but it would not be yours until you received it. You have to reach out and receive it with open hands.

Grace is a gift that must be received freely and once received it must be passed on to others. You cannot do either if you are trapped in vindictiveness and resentment.

Spring the grudge trap and escape to the freedom of grace!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 21, 2013

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" John 14:6

Let's take it head on. The thing that is most offensive about our faith in this age of relativism and diversity is the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ.

Honestly, we don't even like to think that our neighbor, Bob, who is so kind and helpful, who is a model husband and father, who volunteers in the community and coaches little league is going to die and go to hell if he does not trust Christ for salvation.

If that thought is hard for us to handle, imagine how it sits with an non-believer.

No wonder we will be challenged in our belief that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Expect it. Prepare for it. Brace your faith for the attacks.

How can I do that?

Consider Who it is that make the exclusive statement, " one comes to the Father except by me."

Jesus said, "I am...."

Where have I heard that before?

God said to Moses, "I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' "

When Moses asked for credentials to use when he went to face a powerful skeptic, God simply said, "I AM WHO I AM". God is the Eternally Present, Eternally Powerful, and Eternally Personal God. Jesus is His Son. We either believe that or we don't. If we believe it, then we must stand on it. The only way to stand against relativism is with absolute truth.

By the way, how did that work out for Moses?

If God is Who He says He is, and if Jesus is His Son, then what He says must be obeyed. Even if it offends people. Even if it doesn't "feel right" to us.

Moses prevailed over Pharaoh because He believed God and obeyed Him, even though what God told him to do didn't always "feel right".

Here's your challenge today: Will you be right or will you "feel" right.

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 20, 2013

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21
Do you like fruit?
I love fruit! This time of the year I especially love ice cold watermelon!
Most people I know love fruit and I did some research online to discover America's favorite fruit. What would you guess as the favorite fruit of Americans?
My research indicates that apples are the favorite fruit of the average American! Bananas were a very close second, however!
Maybe this question will be a bit easier! Which do you like better, life or death?
I knew you would say that! Everyone I know prefers life over death and that one isn't even close! No contest!
Notice that the second part of this verse states that you will eat the fruit of your tongue. Another way to say this is "actions have consquences". Or, "what you say is what you are".
Words have power and part of that power is manifest in how your words come back to impact you! If you speak words of life you will enjoy the fruits of life, but if your words are deadly you will suffer the fruits of death.
Perhaps you have observed a person who continually speaks hurtful and harmful words and wonders why his life is so depressing. He doesn't get it that you will eat the fruits of your tongue. He misunderstands the power of words.
Do you get it?
If you want to enjoy better fruit, sow words of life!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 19, 2013

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21

The Navy has a slogan that it lives by, "Loose lips sink ships."

You have probably heard that before. Obviously, it means saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person could tip off the enemy on the location of a ship so they can sink it.
In relation to our key verse, I am concerned that loose lips, or angry lips, or careless lips will sink ships - but not the ships that float on the sea carrying cargo or passengers. I am more concerned about these ships: relationships, fellowships or discipleship.
Your tongue has power to speak life or death into your relationships.
The most important and intimate relationship between a man and woman is marriage. Marital love is based on mutual trust and respect. Foul language, hateful words, hurtful words, angry words or continual criticism can erode the foundations of a healthy relationship.
Another very significant relationship is the parent-child relationship and again, hateful, angry or disrespectful words from a parent or a child can do serious damage to this relationship.
A careless and uncontrolled tongue can sink relationships. You do not want to sink this ship!
I have seen the damage a hurtful tongue can do to the fellowship of a local church. It might be gossip, it may be rumors, or it could be a vicious lie that sets people against each other within a church fellowship. Whatever form it takes, loose lips can sink the fellowship of God's people.
Discipleship is a third vital ship that can be sunk with careless speaking.
Discipleship means following Jesus in faith so you can live like Him and love like Him. A disciple of Jesus speaks words that honor and please Him. A Christ-follower must speak truthfully and gently and kindly and speak words that build up and edify other followers of Christ.
No disciple of Jesus should be characterized by harsh or hurtful words. A loose tongue can certainly sink discipleship.
Words have tremendous power. They speak life or they spread death. And life, not death, should characterize these "ships" - relationships, fellowship and discipleship.
How are your "ships"?
Are they "ship shape"?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August 18, 2013

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21
Roanoke, VA, like Fredericksburg, has an interstate highway that runs through the heart of town.
Recently I read an account in the Roanoke Times that demonstrated the power of words. A desperate and distraught young man was perched precariously on the edge of a bridge over the highway. He was threatening to jump onto the road below and into the passing traffic.

A man driving on I-581 saw what was happening and pulled his car off onto the shoulder and parked it. Running back to the bridge he shouted up to the man on the bridge and was able to engage him in a conversation. While some passer-bys yelled for the man to jump, this good Samaritan offered he words of hope and encouragement. After 45 minutes of urging he convinced the potential jumper to climb down from the bridge and receive some psychiatric help.

The power of hopeful words! They are life-giving and this story proves it!

As followers of Christ, we have a relationship with the Living Word!

As followers of Christ, we have the presence of the Holy Spirit, the One Who inspired the Word!

As followers of Christ, we are students of the Word of God and have it hidden in our hearts.

So, we can confidently say that His Word gives us life!

Therefore, speaking hopeful life-giving words should be natural for us!

Is that true of you?

Will it be true of you today?

You never know when your words of hope might talk someone off the edge of despair.