Friday, October 30, 2015

October 31, 2015

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the worlds were formed at God's command, so that what was seen was made from that which was not visible."Hebrews 11:1-3

I have been talking about courage. What is it and how do you get it? Hebrews 11 answers the courage question more clearly than anywhere else.

Faith is the core of courage and it creation is the foundation of faith because once you believe He spoke the universe into existence you have to believe He can do anything! When you believe that you are ENcouraged! You find the courage you need!

The writer Hebrews declares that truth and then he illustrates with the stories of faith heroes who found courage in God!

In my last post I shared the story of Noah who showed incredible faith and courage because He believed that the God Who created the waters could summon up enough water to cover the earth and if He could do that, He could also help Noah build an ark! Noah took courage and God made Him a ship builder!

Moses was another one mentioned in this hall of heroes!

Image Moses standing with the Red Sea in front of him and the Egyptian army riding down behind him and millions of panicking Hebrews in between. What would he do? What would you do? That's right! He called out to God!

When God answered He told Moses to hold his rod above the sea and He would do the rest. That would require a lot of courage! The people where already turning against him and were at the point of rebellion. What if he lifted the rod and nothing happened? He would be lynched!

If he hesitated too long the Egyptian army would be upon them and the slaughter would begin!

No pressure!

I can only imagine what must have been going through his mind "if God can speak through a burning bush, and if He can defeat Pharaoh with His plagues, and if he can sustain millions of people in a desert then God can open this sea!" So he reasoned "If God did THAT He can do THIS!" He was ENcouraged and lifted his rod!

Go had led Moses there and he had faith God would lead him through!

Do you find yourself in a hard place!

Does there seem like no way out?

Take a deep breath. Use that breath to breathe out a prayer. Remember Who God is and what He has done for you before. Declare that if He did that for you He can also do this!

If he led you to this He will lead you through this!

Be ENcouraged!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

October 30, 2015

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so what is seen was not made out of what was visible." Hebrews 11:1-3

Have you ever wondered how these great heroes of faith found the courage to attempt these great feats let alone accomplish them?

Verse one tells us the "secret". They believed that the best predictor of what God would do in the future is what God did in the past! That was the "substance" or the "platform" or the "foundation" what they dared to hope for!

When faced by an overwhelming challenge in life, these faith heroes drew courage from knowing what God had done for His people in the past and reckoning that He could do it again! And the big thing that God had done in the past was Creation.

So, when Noah was called by God to build this mammoth  boat to save himself and his family from the flood here's what I think He must have done. I believe he came to a faith point where he said, "This is such a big job called has called me to that He is going to have to help me!" And then His faith arose and He said to himself, "If God did that (Creation) then He can surely do this (The Flood). From that realization he found courage to begin building and then continue showing up to work for the next 100 years.

What do you need courage to do right now?

Where will you find it?

You factor faith forward!

You ask yourself, "What has God done before?"

Then ask yourself, "Is God still the same today as He was then?"

Then determine, "Is this something He wants me to do?"

Finally, like Noah, you can reason, "If God did that then, and if God is still the same as He was then, and if this is something He wants me to do - THEN IF HE DID THAT HE CAN DO THIS!

That's what those first three verses of Hebrews 11 means - faith reasons that the best predictor of what God CAN do is what He has done before!

Or put it this way, if you look at His credentials, and then if you trust His character you will find courage!

The substance of faith in God is the evidence from His past faithfulness and courage factors it forward!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October 29, 2015

"He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up." Mark 4:2-4

When someone who is in authority says, "Listen!" you should listen. When that person commanding you to listen is Jesus, well..............!

After He called the crowd to attention He began telling the parable about the sower and the seed. Sowing is how they planted seed in those days. First they would plow the soil of their field and then walk across the field and back tossing the seeds onto the soil from their hand. I assume the more experienced a sower was the more accurate his tossing of the seed, but still there was seed that landed in unintended places. In His parable the Master made each place represent a different type of hearing heart and the seed represents the Word of God.

Some seed landed on the path. The path would be the equivalent of a sidewalk today. It was where everyone walked when they passed by that area and because it drew so much traffic the dirt was packed down hard. So hard was this packed down soil that seed landing there had no chance to put down roots before a bird swept down to snatch it. Any seed that landed on the path was wasted seed unless you were a bird.

A heart becomes hardened just as a path gets hardened, by the pressure of constant use. When a heart frequently hears the Word but never listens to it that heart becomes hardened. The Word of God never has a neutral result. When the Word is heard and obeyed it becomes soft and molded like clay. But if the Word is heard and deliberately disregarded or disobeyed that heart becomes hardened.

My mother tells me I earned my first spanking when I intentionally disobeyed her. I was three years old at the time and loved to crawl into the cabinets under the kitchen counter and play with her pots and pans. She gave me stern orders to not do so again.

One day she couldn't locate me and began to call out my name. As she continued to call with no response her level of concern increased. Just as she was about to panic she heard a clank in the area of the lower cabinet. Opening the doors she saw me sitting under there playing with her pots and pans.

Relieved but angered, she sternly rebuked me, "Bradley, didn't you hear me calling you? I have been calling your name for quite awhile now!"

According to her my response was, "I hear you - but I pay no attention!"

She got my attention! She warmed my cold, disobedient heart from the backside up!

What is the condition of your heart? Are you obeying God's Word? Are you hearing but paying no attention? Do you listen to what He says to you? Are you yielding to conviction or are you resisting it?

Once a heart grows hardened it is hard to change. It is a dangerous condition to allow.

When you hear God's Word today - will you listen?

October 28, 2015

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. 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

Faith is evidence of things not seen.

How can something unseen be considered evidence?

If you present evidence in a court of law it must be something that is visible and tangible but faith requires believing in the invisible.

Or does it?

What if the evidence of what is unseen is found in what has been seen? 

Look at verse three, "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so what is seen was not made out of what was visible."

The foundation of faith is the fact of Creation. All you have to do is look out your window to see the beauty of the Fall colors or look across the room at your beautiful child and you have all the evidence you need.

All the beauty and grandeur of our planet and our universe is ample visible evidence any thinking fair-minded person should need. The beauty, order, vastness and precision of the universe demand a verdict. Did this all happen by some random chemical, geological or astronomical fluke? Or, is it the result of a Wise, Loving, All-Powerful and Everlasting God?

Look at the abundant evidence, research the various explanations and make your decision. Whatever you decide will be an expression of faith. One form of faith will be extremely limiting because it rests on a foundation of a chance occurrence. How much confidence can you have in chance? 

The Biblical form of faith, the Hebrews 11 and Genesis 1 sort of faith, has unlimited horizons because it believes the same God who spoke the universe into existence from nothing has the power to do something to meet needs today!

This is how the Heroes of faith developed their faith and courage! They believed the God who did that (Creation) could do this (lead people through the Red Sea, build an ark or kill a giant)! 

So faith arises from:

1) A conviction of God's credentials as a Creator.

2) A confidence in God's character - He never changes
3) A commitment to the cause of pleasing God
4) The courage of knowing God has called you according to His will.

So faith is "the evidence of things not seen."

Do you see it?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October 27, 2015

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for....." Hebrews 11:1

So, according to this phrase from Scripture faith is the substance that leads to hope.

Okay, so what is it that faith hopes for?

"And faith is the substance of things hoped for anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6

Pleasing God is the primary hope of faith! You cannot please God without having faith and without living by your faith!

And quite honestly, you cannot enjoy the pleasure of knowing God unless you have faith that pleases Him! 

Hope then becomes both part and proof of the substance of faith! When you have hope you know faith is active in your life!

Abel's desire to please God led him to present an obedient sacrifice to God. Cain wanted to please God without faith. Abel found hope while Cain found hatred.

Abraham walked by faith because he hoped to please God and because He had hope God would keep His promise. We know that he DID please God and God DID deliver on His promise to Abraham. His hope inspired his faith and his faith sustained his hope!

Noah's faith was inspired by the desire to please God and the hope of saving his family from God's judgment. He pleased God, found that God REALLY is the rewarder of those who seek His will! Noah's hopes were rewarded by the substance of his faith!

Moses initially hoped God would NOT call him! But the need to please God allowed God to plant hope in Moses' heart. History records that Moses pleased God more than any other human being other than Jesus.

The primary substance of faith is the hope of pleasing God! The reward of faith is receiving hope from God!

What are you hoping for?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

October 26, 2015

"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 transforming 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?

October 24, 2015

"Now faith is the substance...."  Hebrews 11:1

What do you think of when you hear the word "substance"?

What is your favorite substance?

When I think of a substance I think of something you can see or touch. You can measure a substance by the ounce or the pound or the inch or the foot or the year or the gallon. You can't buy a pound of faith or a gallon of faith. You can't get faith by the inch or the foot. So, how can faith be a substance?

The word translated "substance" comes from the Greek "hupostasis" which means "a placing or setting under, a substructure or foundation." This word appears elsewhere in the New Testament as "confident" or "confidence" (2 Corinthians 9:4; 11:17; Hebrews 3:14).

So, faith is a "foundation" or faith is a "platform". Now that makes more sense doesn't it?

Bible Scholar and Commentator, John Ritenbaugh writes, “In the phrase "faith is the substance of things hoped for," Paul is not really defining what faith is, but rather he is showing what faith does in an operative sense: Faith undergirds what we hope for. Substance means "that which stands under." Faith is the foundation for what we hope, the foundation for our relationship with God and everything that it implies within His purpose. Faith is the very beginning of everything that really matters spiritually.

By saying that it is the "evidence" or "assurance" (the word can literally be translated "title deed," but "assurance" seems to be the best all-around word) of things hoped for, the author comes much closer to defining what faith is. In its simplest form, faith is merely belief. As our understanding becomes more complex and operative, when we begin to put faith to work, it becomes "confidence," and finally, in its best form, when it becomes fully operational, it is "trust." This trust, this full measure of faith, is alive and works within our relationship with God.”

That almost sounds like Forrest Gump doesn’t it? Remember? “Stupid is as stupid does!”

In Hebrews 11 Paul is saying, “Faith is a faith does!”

So, in practical terms here is how it works, I choose to believe what God says and I act according to that belief. My behavior demonstrates my belief even though the foundation under the behavior IS THE BELIEF!

The substance of faith for me, the believer, is my belief in God. But the substance of faith for others is my behavior which demonstrated my belief.

No wonder this entire “faith” chapter of Hebrews 11 is filled with thrilling examples faith exploits by heroes like Abraham, Noah, David and Moses!

Will you add your name to this great “Hall of Faith” list!

Will you give substance to your belief today by faith-filled living?

October 25, 2015

"I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time. Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”  Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.  The waters saw you, God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed. The clouds poured down water, the heavens resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron."   Psalm 77

It seems that a young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you see?" "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked. "What’s the point, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity--boiling water--but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water. "Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

One reason I have chosen to spend this Summer in the Psalms is because the Psalms deal with the gamut of emotions that you and I face in everyday life! This Psalm, for instance tackles discouragement in a very true and transparent manner.

In the dangerous and difficult world where we live, you can easily become discouraged. You may be discouraged by someone else, you may be discouraged by yourself or you could be discouraged by God - or even all three!

So, how can you deal with discouragement in a way that changes the water?

I have given you five ways of dealing with discouragement when it shows up uninvited at your door. Let me remind you of those:

1) Devotion Not Emotion, vv, 1-7

2) Perspective Not Panic, vv. 7-13

3) Certainty Not Speculation, vv. 13-14

4) Recommit Don't Quit, vv. 11-12

5) Declare Don't Despair, 14-20

Discouragement is a big tool in the enemy's arsenal and he will attack you with it early and often. He intends to use it to cause you to feel like giving up. If you don't handle it it can lead to depression. But, if you learned to handle discouragement and learn to use it to draw closer to God, the enemy will be less likely use it against you! So, if he tries to use that one weapon against you I have given you five to defend yourself with!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October 22, 2015

"Now faith is....." Hebrews 11:1

Here at the beginning of this 11th Chapter the Apostle is addressing some issues these Christians were having with their faith.

Paul reminds them that faith is an issue of belonging. Under the pressure and pain of persecution you can lose sight of Who you belong to. In Chapter 10 verses 19 through 23 he reminds them they belong to God and should draw near to Him.

You were made to belong! The need to belong is a powerful human need. Belong to God satisfies that need like nothing else.

Are you longing to belong? Put your faith in Jesus and confess your need to belong to Him.

Faith is a belonging issue and it is also a believing issue. 

In 10:23, Paul urges, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful."

How can you be in relationship with someone unless you believe in them? 

One thing you need to believe is that God believes in you!

Faith belongs. Faith believes. Faith behaves.

Faith is a private, personal spiritual decision. It is subjective and it is internal. So, faith must be demonstrated in the behavior of those who claim to believe. For faith to be real the behavior must match the beliefs.

Paul devotes the last twelve verses of Chapter 10 and all of Chapter 11 discussing and demonstrating how faith should behave. Chapter 11 hails the exploits of those who became exemplary models of faith because of how they behaved in obedience to God.

You cannot read through Hebrews Chapter 11 and doubt that they had faith. Their historic and heroic deeds demonstrate their belief!

Faith belongs!

Do you know for sure you belong to Jesus?

Faith believes!

Have you placed you faith in Jesus and confessed Him as your Savior?

Faith behaves!

Do your attitudes, your actions, your associations and your announcements give evidence of your belief in Jesus?

October 23, 2015

"Now faith is....." Hebrews 11:1a

I have already established that faith exists in the now. The faith I had when I began writing this article is of little consequence at this moment. Faith is based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and relationships are dynamic not static.

So, there is no doubt that "now" faith is what changes the world because now faith brings God's presence, God's power, God's purpose, God's peace, God's perspective and God's passion to your life!

Now that I have reiterated the importance of "now" faith I want to add another truth about it. "Now" faith is powerful because it bridges past victories to a future vision!

How do I know what God can and will do in the future?

I only know what He will do because I know what He has done and I know His character and nature has not changed. Isn't it true that the best predictor of what someone will do is what they have done in the past?

When it comes to developing a vision for my life or for my ministry I do it by using my "now" faith to factor God's past performance forward to a new project. 

I know what God CAN do by knowing what He HAS done! Faith believes that because God has done it before He can do it again!

Isn't that the main truth that drives Hebrews 11? Abraham had faith God would use him to build a great nation because he knew what God had done in days gone by. 

Noah had faith to build an ark to save his people from a flood despite never having seen rain not having built a boat. Where did that vision come from? Where did he find that faith? 

He believed what God could do because he believed what God had done. Faith allowed him to believe God could do it through him! Noah's "now" faith led him to connect his past faith to a future vision. And, it was his "now" faith that gave him the strength and stamina to go to work on the ark every day for over a century!

"Now" faith is powerful in the moment because it is anchored in past victories while anticipating future vision!

If you are struggling with a vision for future blessings spend time reflecting on past blessings!

October 21, 2015

"Now faith....." Hebrews 11:1

These first two words in this great chapter give significant insight into this critical aspect of spirituality.

Faith is a "now" issue!

That is true because faith grows out of a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ and relationships exist in the "now". Yesterday's faith won't help you today. 

Hebrews Chapter 11 is a primer on faith and one of the primary truths about faith is that it exists in the moment. It is a "now" experience.

Abraham had a "now" faith! His hope was in a future promise but his faith was in a daily walk with God.

Noah had a "now" faith! His hope was in a very large ship he would build to some day save his family but his faith was found in a daily relationship with God.

So it is with every saint in this prestigious list of faith heroes! Each of them whose faith we honor now had a faith that was founded in their now. Faithfulness develops moment by moment and obedience by obedience and step by step.

God meets us in the moment. It's all we have. When we meet Him in the moment and we surrender to Him in that moment He gives Himself to us in that moment! It was what Abel, and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and David and Joseph and all the other faith heroes are remembered through the millenniums because of the faith they had in the moments. Faith is a "now" issue that leads to forever results!

How is your faith right now?

What are you doing now?

Monday, October 19, 2015

October 20, 2015

"Now faith is....." Hebrews 11:1a

These three words form a powerful transition from a rallying cry to a reality check.

In the 10th Chapter of Hebrews the Apostle is writing to encouraged the believers to persevere in their pursuit of their faith. This the well-known "forsake not the assembling of yourselves together" speech. Reading the second half of Hebrews 10 really sets the context for Chapter 11. To a people who are needing to recapture their courage the Apostle reminds them that "faith is" the core of courage!

These three words remind us that faith is possible!

So, faith is possible by virtue of the fact that it is impossible to NOT BELIEVE. It takes faith to disbelieve! Many would argue that it takes more faith to disbelieve something than it does to believe in something. The crucial question is where will you direct your faith?

These three words remind us that faith is powerful!

Everyone believes something and what you believe determines how you think about yourself, about others and about life. What you believe shapes your actions and your attitudes. 

Because faith shapes your actions and your attitudes it has the power to shape your life. Where you find yourself today is a function of what you believe. If you want to change your outcome you will need to change your outlook.

These three words remind us that faith is personal!

I can't have faith for you and you can't have faith for me. We may encourage one another in our faith but each of us must decide what we will be believe, who we will believe and how we will believe. Faith is a personal commitment to believe in a personal God and His righteous principles.

Faith is a hugely important issue because "without faith you cannot please God".You can choose to please God with your faith and I can choose to please God with my faith because faith is personal!

You will have to decide for yourself but as far as I'm concerned I'm very glad that "Now faith is.....!"

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October 19, 2015

"Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.  Psalm 1:1-2

I found this article that describes well the spiritual progression expressed in verse one: walk, stand, and sit.

"From birth there are distinct phases that mark the normal development of a human being in terms of their ability to move. At first we are completely helpless and need to be carried and supported as our bones, spine and muscles strengthen. Soon we learn to hold up our heads and push ourselves up, eventually to a sitting position. After this we build up the courage to pull ourselves up to stand and in short succession we, with faltering steps, learn to walk and then run.

Perhaps it is a coincidence that the order in Psalm 1 is opposite to that of positive, healthy development of a human in the physical world. Perhaps it isn't.

In the physical, so in the spiritual.

In Luke 10:39 we read that Martha ‘…had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said….’.

Sitting is not a bad thing, if we are sitting at the feet of Jesus.

In Ephesians 6 the church in Ephesus is encouraged by Paul to, ‘… put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes...’ (Eph 6:11)

Standing is good, if we are standing girded with the full armor of God.

Earlier in Galatians Paul wrote “…This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh….” (Gal 5:16)

and in Ephesians:

“… As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received…” (Eph 4:1).

(It is a commonly known fact that here, and elsewhere in Ephesians, the verb ‘live’ is actually the Greek verb normally translated ‘walk’ as reflected in the King James Version).

“…I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called…” (Eph 4:1)

“…And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour...” (Eph 5:2)

“…For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…”(Eph 5:8)

So let me ask you what is your spiritual posture or condition today?

Are you sitting at the feet of Jesus or in the seat of scoffers?

Are you standing in the full armor of God or in the way of sinners?

Are you walking in the Spirit or are you walking in the council of the wicked?"

My prayer is that your delight “…is in the law of the LORD…”, that you will be “… like a tree planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither….”

That whatever you do prospers. (Psa 1:2-3)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

October 18, 2015

"I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint."  Psalm 77:1-3

This week begins the fourth week of my "Summer in the Psalms" series of messages. I will be camping out in Psalm 77 all week. This Psalm is timely and insightful because it shows how to battle discouragement.

Christians are not immune from discouragement and may, in fact, be prone to discouragement for several reasons:

1) We tend to care more than other people
2) We tend to care more about other people
3) We have intimate knowledge of a God Who has the power to "fix things" but sometimes doesn't
4) We are under constant attack from the Enemy who continually attempts to discourage  us
5) Faith is a journey that doesn't have clear mile markers and progress can be hard to measure
6) There is a constant dynamic tension between the work of grace God has accomplished in our lives and the awareness of how much more growth needs to happen - this "holy dissatisfaction" is necessary but hard to manage.
7) We are called to accomplish a task that is never completed and often overwhelming
8) We hold ourselves and our leaders to a high standard and therefore, are often disappointed

I could go on, but I think you get the picture!

Psalm 77 is a Psalm of Aseph. Who was Aspeh?

Aseph was one of the three musicians who worked for and with King David. He and his cohorts were responsible for developing inspiring worship to maintain the spiritual climate of God's nation and His people.

Sort of a big job, eh?

If Christians are prone to discouragement (and they are) how much more so for the "point people" who serve on the front lines of ministry?

Discouragement not properly handled will lead to despression. Over the seens I have seen many good and effective ministry people knocked out of the game by perpetual discouragement that morphed into depression.

Before I depress you with these thoughts, let me get to the good news! Aseph discovered how to work through discouragement before it became depression.

Read and meditate on Psalm 77 and see if you can find out how he did it. See what the Spirit says to you.

That is what I will be sharing throughout this week in my preparation for Sunday's message. But here's a hint - devotion has to trump emotion.

Be encouraged today!

Friday, October 16, 2015

October 17, 2015

“The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.Proverbs 28:1

When I played baseball I was a good contact hitter. I had a wide stance and a short quick batting stroke which meant I hit a lot of line drives and seldom struck out. In fact, during my first two years of college ball I didn’t strike out at all. I didn’t hit any home runs or many extra base hits either.

Going into my senior year I decided I was going to start swinging for the fences. Sure, I struck out a few more times but I also got more extra base hits!

I share that to say this, how can you be a Home Run Kid if you don’t swing for the fences? As I close out this series on Raising Home Run Kids I am going to challenge you to raise kids who live out their faith boldly in a rapidly deteriorating culture.

How can you raise kids who swing for the fences unless you are willing and ready to go deep as a parent? You must be willing to swing for the fences with three bold parenting decisions. Tomorrow I will share those in greater detail and share practical suggestions to help you with those decisions.

Solomon says that “the righteous” are bold as a lion. What does he mean by that?

Here are a few thoughts on boldness.

Those who are righteous have the peace of God. If He has made you righteous you have made peace with your past through His forgiveness and grace. You can also have peace in the present because He is with you! And you can have peace over your future because He has said He will be with you always!

The righteous can be bold because they have the presence of God! When you have His presence you also have His power, so why fear?

When you are righteous you can claim the promises of God. You know what God has done for His righteous people in the past and His Word promises what He will do for His righteous today and tomorrow! You can live with courage when you trust His promises!

Righteous people have the partnership of other believers! Everything that righteous people have individually they also have corporately as they worship, fellowship and serve together! We have each other’s back and God has all of us covered! Why should we fear?

To Raise Home Run Kids who swing for the fences, kids who are bold as lions in believing and living their faith it will require bold parenting on your part and bold pastoring on mine.

I pledge to live righteously before you and before them. I pledge to call you to righteousness through the Word in my preaching and teaching and leading.

Together, let’s help them to know the peace of God in a world of strife and turmoil!

Together, let’s cherish and nurture God’s presence in our lives in everything we do at FredWes!

Together, let’s help them know the promises of God through the Bible and by making bold decisions based on God’s promises for the church and in our individual lives!

Let’s make bold decisions that will show our kids what happens when we trust God courageously and He comes through in supernatural ways for His glory at FredWes!

You can’t have a Home Run Life or Home Run Kids if you aren’t swinging for the fences!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

October 16, 2015

“The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.Proverbs 28:1

It takes three courageous decisions by a parent determined to Raise A Home Run Kid. Those three decisions are:



We have taken a look at the first two, today we will look at the third decision:


You can choose if you want to be courageous or cowardly and if you want to raise courageous kids or cowardly kids.

“Boldness” = increased capacity for courage

Actually, if you make the first two courageous decisions you are 2/3 of the way there because fearful parents carry the load for their kid. By carrying the load for your kid you diminish his capacity to cope with his world. In so doing you erode his confidence and project your fear upon him.

However, if you have the courage to allow your kid to carry his own load and if you assure him you will be there when  he gets over-burdened you are instilling confidence in him. Your confidence in him will be transferred to him.

The “RIGHTEOUS” are bold as lions!           

What does it mean to be “RIGHTEOUS”?

The righteous are those who have trusted Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and who have received salvation. Receiving the gift of salvation makes you right with God through the atoning sacrifice of Christ.

Why are the righteous bold?

·         They have God’s peace
·         They have God’s presence
·         They have God’s purpose
·         They have God’s perspective
·         They have God’s power

Knowing Christ and what He has accomplished in the past will give your child boldness in trusting Him for the future!

When my boys were small and just beginning to be interested in baseball they wanted me to teach them to bat. So I took them to the ball field with their bat and as many baseballs as we could find. My boy would take the bat and step up to the plate and I would lob a ball to him. Now I was capable of raring back and firing fastballs past him all day long. But I wasn’t trying to teach him how to swing and miss, I wanted to teach him to HIT the ball so I had to serve it up to him down the middle of the plate so he would experience the thrill of connecting with the ball. Each time he hit the ball he would get more excited and want to hit it harder. I wanted my boys swinging for the fences!

How can your kid be a Home Run Kid if he doesn’t swing for the fences?