Tuesday, July 31, 2018

All Things Work Together For Good

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:28-39

I happen to be old enough to remember when cakes were baked from scratch. No, I am not older than Betty Crocker! But I have watched my mother put together a cake batter by mixing a bunch of ingredients that if eaten individually were awful - raw eggs, vanilla extract, flour, butter, etc. But somehow, when they were added together and beaten with a Sunbeam Mix-Master and placed in a hot over for 45 minutes - SOMETHING CHANGED! When it came out of the oven it was a delicious desert! And that was BEFORE the frosting!

When I read Romans 8:28 I hearken back to my mother mixing the batter. Individually bad tasting ingredients poured into a bowl, beaten up, shoved into a hot oven, and transformed into something tasty!

"All things work together for good" - the verse tells us. It does not say that "good things work together" it tells us that "all things" work together. That means that some unpleasant things and some bad things that happen to us can work out for good through the power of God. He has the wisdom and the power to make a masterpiece from our misery.
Do you believe that?

What is that masterpiece? What finished product does he desire? "He predestined us to be conformed to the likeness of His Son". 


Would it be worth it to you to experience some difficulties and unpleasant experiences if it would shape you into the image of Christ?

That sounds like a "good thing" to me! 

What are some other "good things"?

1) God Is For You!

Of all the people you would love to have on your side - God is the main One because if He is for you - who can be against you?

2) Inseparable Relationship With God!

Talk about security! You cannot be more secure than knowing that you cannot be separated from God. NOTHING can come between you and Him - not DEATH, not DEMONS, not POWERS - NOTHING can separate you from Him! So for anything to get to you it must come through HIM!

3) You Will Be More Than A Conqueror!

What is more that a conqueror? What does that look like? 

It is one thing to conquer, it is quite another thing to keep conquering and live as a conqueror. And God promises to make you "MORE than conquerors"! I like that! The only thing better than a win is a winning streak!

God wants to put you on a winning streak! How does that sound?

Perhaps life is pouring a lot of unpleasant stuff into your life right now. Maybe you are under the Mix-Master at the moment. Has your life been shoved in the oven and the temperature dialed up?

Be encouraged! God is stirring your life to produce something more beautiful than you have ever imagined!

And for frosting, He will throw in some Christ-likeness!

Monday, July 30, 2018

July 31, 2018

"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." Romans 7:14-23

A funny thing happens when I am preparing to hit my tee shot and looking down the fairway I see a water hazard. If my last thought is, "Don't hit it in the water!" Guess where the ball goes?

It is the same thing that happens when someone tells you, "Don't do that!" It makes you want to do it!

That is the nature Paul describes in Romans 7. He makes the argument that knowing the law causes you to break the law because the law says what you can't do. The does and don'ts in the law runs afoul with your rebellious sinful nature. His basic argument is "the law can't save anyone." It can't save the pagan (7:7-14), nor can it save the one trying to live by the law (7:15-22), nor can it even save the man with a new nature (7:23-25).

This explains why you or I cannot save ourselves. We cannot manage sin. We cannot regulate sin or control sin. We cannot escape the power of sin.

Paul describes it this way, "You are married to sin. Like a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives, so you are bound to sin as long as it lives in you."

Says who? Says the law!

Living with sin is like living in a bad marriage. You can't be happy and you can't get out. The Christian can be the most miserable because there are two natures warring within. He is double-minded and unstable.

So, what's the answer? Death of that tyrant is the only way out.

How many times have you heard someone try to justify their own goodness by claiming that they "keep the commandments"? Maybe you have said that.

How many religious people try to save themselves by doing good works? The hope is to tip the moral scales in their favor by doing more good things than bad things. Is that you?

A desperate problem requires drastic action. Your sin nature has to die. The spiritual nature must live and grow. Nothing else will work but complete surrender to the Holy Spirit of God.

Are you ready to empty yourself to be filled with Him?

July 30, 2018

Read any good books lately?

I am reading one right now - Romans! This morning I am in Chapter 6. To summarize it I would say, "If you don't die to sin - it will kill you!"

Here's the skinny.

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." Romans 6:1-8

"What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:21-23

Paul lays it out pretty clearly and simply here, doesn't he? You can live in sin and die, or you can die to sin and live forever! You can live in sin and be a slave to sin or you can live in the righteousness and holiness of God and be free.

He even tells you how to do it! 

Baptism is the key!

The sacrament of baptism is the symbolic act of dying to sin, being buried under the waters, and then rising to new life in Christ. Baptism is identification with the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

Baptism allows you to fully appropriate the grace of Jesus Christ. When you die to selfishness and self-will (which is the root of sin), then you live in amazement over the mercy and grace of God toward you through Jesus. When you live as a slave to your selfish desires you will abuse the grace of God - using for your selfish ends as a license to sin. That is despicable!

If you have been baptized as a believer and yet you still are giving yourself as a slave to sin, you are abusing the grace of God. You made a public vow before God and the church that you died with Christ and identified with His resurrection. How can you then still live for selfish goals and desires?

The grace of God is the gift of life given to those who are dying to have it! Grace is the gift of freedom for those who have died to sin. Is that you?

Are you living up to the commitment you made at your baptism?

Then die to sin before it kills you!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

July 29, 2018

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned - for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was the pattern of one to come." Romans 5:12-14

Many present day philosophies and worldviews claim that people are basically good and that bad or immoral behavior is the exception. The implication of the "people are good" worldview is that good people don't need a Savior.

History would call that notion into question.If you examine the atrocities perpetrated by people within the last century, you find a huge number of murders. Adolph Hitler killed 6 million Jews prior to and during the second World War. Joseph Stalin killed 20 million Soviet citizens between 1929 and 1939 because they were not politically correct. Mao Tse-tung killed 34 to 62 million Chinese during the Chinese civil war of the 1930s and 1940s. Pol Pot, the leader of the Marxist regime in Cambodia, Kampuchea, in the 1970's killed over 1.7 million of his own people. These do not include all the people killed in "legitimate" wars.

Some might object to this analysis, since they could claim that these atrocities were perpetrated by only a few individuals. However, these individuals could not have done anything if they were not backed by others, who agreed with their "values." The vast majority of Germans willingly followed Adolph Hitler and gave their consent to his policy to get rid of the "Jewish problem."

You may further object by saying that I have chosen extreme examples that in no way apply to you or anyone you know.

Let me ask you this, "Have you ever entertained hateful thoughts toward another person?" If so, Jesus said you are guilty of murder. "Have you ever allowed yourself to have lustful thoughts toward a member of the opposite sex?" Jesus says you are an adulterer.

Here in these few verses, St. Paul challenges any notion of people being basically good - "even those who did not sin by breaking a command".'

One of the basic doctrines taught in this great Book of Romans is that we are not sinners because we sin - but we sin because we are sinners by nature.

Fish swim. Dogs bark. Birds fly. People sin. We are all slaves to our nature. You can no longer change your sin nature than a dog can become a cat.

What can transform your nature? Only something - or Someone - supernatural. Someone like Jesus, the Son of God.

When you get tired of lying to yourself about your goodness or when you get sick of your badness, Jesus is patiently waiting to save you from yourself.

Friday, July 27, 2018

July 28, 2018

"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, July 26, 2018

God's Promise To Spiritually Desperate People

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God." Psalm 42:1

You have been there. So have I.

On a hot summer day after exercising or working in the yard, you feel like you are dying of thirst. You can't get to the 'fridge fast enough to crack open a bottle of water or a sports drink. And when you do - ahhh, the relief! The cool feel of the liquid down your parched throat and on your tongue is immediately refreshing. You thirst is slaked and your strength returns.

The Psalmist parallels that physical experience to a spiritual need. He says that he has the same desperate thirst for God as when he longs for a refreshing drink of cold water. His soul "pants" for God.

He was in the heat of a spiritual battle. He was opposed on every side. The heat from the battle was exhausting him and he was about to faint. His need was critical to the point of desperation.

When was the last time you were that desperate for God?

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

God promises to respond to spiritually desperate people.

And I want you to notice that the Psalmist was not just talking about a drink of water, he was talking about "streams" of water. That is significant for several reasons.

First, a stream flows from a source. It always flows down from a source that is higher than us.

Second, since a stream flows, it is constantly fresh. Unlike a pool or a pond where water collects and stands, a stream continually refreshes itself.

Third, a stream is a steady and reliable source of refreshment.

Fourth, it is an unlimited supply of fresh cool water.

Are you getting thirsty?

Science says that about 60% of our bodies are made of water. So God built us with a big need to be hydrated with water.

Spiritually, the same is true. Our spiritual life and growth are highly dependent on His living water. You can say that we need to be hydrated or "high-drated" - or "He-drated".

Are you desperate for God? Is your soul panting for Him? What are you thirsting for?

When you have the thirst, He has the stream.

July 26, 2018

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." Psalm 46:10-11

Here's a pop quiz: "I have learned more about life through: (A) Listening (B) Talking.

Yea, me, too.

Maybe God was giving us a hint when He created us with two ears and one mouth. Unfortunately, listening doesn't come naturally to us - talking does.

I think that what the Psalmist is telling you is the same thing my Mom and my Kindergarten teacher taught you - "be quiet, pay attention and keep your hands to yourself". Great advice!

Apply that advice to this Psalm and I think it works pretty well. "Be still" means essentially that. Be quiet before the Lord, look at His Word and listen to His Spirit, and keep your hands off of what you want God to do. That sounds like it might work!

Here's what's in it for you if you can take the advice you got from God, Mom and Miss Jenny:

You will "know that He is God".

It is one thing to know that in your head and quite another to know it in your heart and spirit. Nothing gives you more confidence and boldness than knowing that God is real in your life.

You will see Him exalted in your life and in the world. In other words, when you confidently know Who God is and He becomes real TO - He becomes real THROUGH you. That is how He exalts Himself through you. When He exalts Himself through you He begins to become real to others through your life!

You will know that the "Almighty" is with you.

How great is it to know that God is with you! And as Romans tells us,"If God be for us, who can be against us?"

You will know that He is your "Fortress".

I like the sound of that, don't you? He is a FORTRESS - that's strong! He's strong!

Be quiet before God! Pay attention to God! Keep your hands to yourself! He will make it worth it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

July 25, 2018

"How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever? Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!" Psalms 74:10-11

There are a number of reasons why the Psalms are among the most revered and beloved of the Sacred Writings. Chief among those is the fact that they are so honest. The Psalmist struggled with the same emotions, frustrations and doubts as we do. But, unlike us sometimes, he was honest about them.

In my reading recently I was in Psalms 74-76. Psalm 74 captured me today because in it he is struggling with the silence of God. He was not seeing God work as He had worked in former days. Knowing that God could come against their enemies and God could defend their cause, he couldn't understand why God was not moving.

There was no problem recounting the many deeds and exploits of God in times past. He lists them and longingly wishes to see God manifest His power and glory again.

Have you ever been there? Is that where you find yourself now?

What do we do when we don't see God move? How are we to behave? What are we to believe?

First, I would state this confidently, God is always doing more than what we know in ways that we do not see. He is a powerful, holy God Who cannot be denied. He cannot be idle. Situations and circumstances change whenever He shows up. As Charles Spurgeon once said, "When I can't see God's hand, I can trust His heart." Be sure that God is working even when you are seeing visible evidence.

Second, I have found that when God is not obviously working FOR you, He is certainly working IN. In the final analysis, which really matters most? Is it more important for God to change your circumstances or is it more important that He changes you?

Third, what develops faith better, seeing God work wonders or believing in Him when you don't see Him working? The Children of Israel saw God move regularly on their behalf but did they develop great faith? Faith is the "substance of things hoped for the evidence of things NOT SEEN."

Finally, would you rather know God's hand or would you rather know His heart? In Psalm 103:7 there is an interesting statement, "He made His ways known to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel." Would you rather know what God can do, or would you rather know Who God is?

Don't let your faith be defined by what you see and feel, let it be shaped by what you know - of God, His Word, His nature, and His amazing grace!

July 24, 2018

"When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed."  Psalm 126:1

Most of us start off life with a dream of making a good life and making a difference by:
A few are able to shape their reality into that dream. Most don’t. Their job becomes a nightmare or their marriage turns into a nightmare and before they know it they are looking for a way to escape reality.

Dreams have two main purposes: 1) To escape reality (Disney World) or:  2) To shape reality.

For most of us life is spend dwelling between the dreams trying desperately to keep the dream alive so we can survive the nightmare.

The dream of King David and King Solomon had brought such joy and prosperity to God’s people as they turned the nation back to God and then built the Temple. But when God’s people turned away Him and rejected Him the dream came crushing down when the Babylonians took them into 70 nightmare captivity. During those long years held captive in a foreign land, they struggled to keep the dream alive.

And suddenly, the dream was revived in a way that seemed like – a dream!

So, when you are dwelling between the dreams and your life has become a nightmare – when it has taken you captive – when it has been a long time since you have seen God move in your behalf – is there a way to keep the dream alive?

Learn from this Psalm:

REALIZE - You Can Live In Freedom, V. 1

While they were longing for the freedom to return to Jerusalem so they could worship God, God sent the Persian army to take their captors captive! They could be as free as they would allow themselves to be!

Did they forget how Joseph found freedom even as a slave in Egypt?

Did they forget how Daniel maintained his freedom even when held in captivity or thrown into a lions den!

They were in captivity but they chose to live in freedom. They realized that God was in control and no one could put them in spiritual or mental bondage.

Has a career setback taken you captive and your dream job is a nightmare?

Has your dream marriage become a nightmare….?

Has a financial setback turned your dream retirement plan into a nightmare?

Have you been taken captive by a troubled teen?

Maybe your dream house is so far under water that it has turned into a financial nightmare?

You see God moving and doing miracles in other places and over bigger situations than yours, but it is not happening for you. You are hanging on by the only fingernail that you haven’t chewed off in anxiety.

What do you do? How do you keep life from taking you captive and crushing your dream like a coke can?


1) If you belong to God, He is in control of you and your captivity (Ro. 8:28)

God had allowed the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and capture them because of their sin and disobedience. And in time, He took their captors captive and set them free!

2) If you belong to God, He has taken your captor captive – you are free!



Sunday, July 22, 2018

July 23, 2018

“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed.” Psalm 126:1

Sometimes we fall captive to what my John Maxwell calls, “destination disease”. That may have been the case here in the 126th Psalm. Sure, they had suffered 70 years of being held captive by the Babylonians but I think the greater captivity was in their spirit where they longed for the days when they could worship God in a certain way at a certain place.

It seems they had forgotten that though they were restricted to a foreign land, their God wasn’t. He was longing to meet them right where they were. It seems they failed to remember that Abraham had worshiped God in his travels and Moses had worshiped God in the desert. They failed to miss His presence because their experience with Him was mired in the past.

Because of this “destination disease” they almost missed the wonderful new thing that God was doing! As they longed for God to restore them back to the sacred soil of Jerusalem to rebuild their Temple, God sent a captor to take their captor captive! Cyrus the Great and his Persian army overwhelmed the Babylonians and God put it on his heart to “restore the fortunes of Zion”!

Are you suffering from “destination disease”? Are you held captive to notions that worship has to happen in a certain way at a certain place? Are you holding God captive to your traditions and your comfort zone? Are you missing a new thing God is doing because you are locked into the old? Are you waiting for Him to show up or are you seeking to find Him where He is?

God has called us to freedom! God has sent Jesus to take our captor captive! Even when the circumstances of life take us places we don’t want to be , we should live in spiritual freedom! We should meet Him where we are! We should not look for God in old places and retreat to comfort zones, we should expect God to do knew and wonderful things for us!

Tradition can be a wonderful thing but it can also inflict us with “destination disease”. Be thankful as you remember what God has done in past places and in past ways, but also realize that He is doing something new! Remember the past and respect the past but don’t retreat there! Live in His freedom! Live in His freshness! Right now! Right where you are!

July 22, 2018

“I cry to you, LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Psalms 142:5

It amazes me how many Christians are looking for the fast, flashy, quick-fix, five-step formula to spiritual maturity. If there is something that looks like a sure short-cut, they are on it.

Before I get off this topic of commitment I want to assure you that there is no short-cut or superhighway to becoming a spiritual giant.

Don’t get caught up in these shallow stupid fantasies of the flesh. The only way to spiritual maturity is the way David did it – commitment. Commitment was the one constant of his life. It didn’t matter if he was caring for sheep, confronting a giant, cowering in a cave, conquering enemies, or wearing a crown he was fully committed to His God.

You will have to be committed in the mundane tedious tasks that meet the needs of others when God calls you to that. There will be some giant risks you will be called to confront and some giant-sized spiritual enemies you will have to defeat. There will be lonely difficult times when you will feel like you are trapped in a cave and no one cares – even God. Every one of those challenges will require a commitment to keep chasing and embracing God. David had his cave and Jesus had His cross and so will you!

But, the fact is you will be committed to something. Everyone is! And whatever you commit to will cost you – ultimately it could cost you your soul.

Do you need to renew your commitment to obey and follow God? 

Have you been thinking about bailing on your commitment? 

Where is your commitment being tested? 

Usually when it feels like you want to get out it is time to get back in.

Jesus proved God’s commitment to you. David showed us what it looks like. 

It’s your move!

Friday, July 20, 2018

July 21, 2018

A few insights regarding the nature of commitment from Psalm 142.

The Psalmist found himself trapped in a cave primarily because of his commitment to God. Sometimes commitment seems like a trap because when you commit you eliminate every other option. Jesus' commitment led Him to a cross. If you are a committed Christian there is a cave or a cross in your future.

Also, his commitment was tested the longer he remained into the cave. He cried out and complained to God but never caved in on his commitment.

Because he endured the pain and loneliness of being trapped in a cave his commitment became stronger and he found a measure of contentment. Here is how the Psalmist found some contentment in the cave:

He Clarified – Where is my focus?

I think the key to contentment is focusing on what you love rather than on what you lack. If you obsess over what you do not or cannot have you will naturally stir up discontentment. Rather, concentrate on what you DO have in the One you love - God. The fact is that when you have God and His love you have all you need!

He Confessed - "I cry to you, LORD; I say, 'You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.'"

Anytime you may feel your commitment wavering and you are tempted to doubt, confess your faith and confidence in the Lord! It will always work! There is tremendous strength in positive confession.

He Committed

Another good practice when it comes to keeping commitments is this - when you feel like getting out of your commitment - recommit! When loneliness and discouragement and the pain of being trapped in your cave weakens you so you are tempted to quit, renew your commitment! Tell God, "I will love you in the cave!"

Learn from David and also from Jesus. Consider this - "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  Hebrews 12:3

When Jesus' commitment led Him to the cross He stayed focused on the One He loved and the joy of pleasing Him! That's how you find contentment in the cave!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

How Is Your "OQ"?

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." James 3:1

Jesus told a story one day about two men. One of those men He referred to as "foolish" and the other he called "wise". Other than the fact that Jesus said it (and if Jesus calls you a "fool" you are one) what separates a wise man from a foolish man?

In Jesus' little story it was the men themselves who differentiated themselves by their actions. The "foolish" man built a house on a foundation of sand. While it was cheaper and easier to build on sand it was also short-sighted. When the first big thunderstorm of the season blew through with its torrential rains and winds the house crumbled as its foundation washed away. The "wise" man build his house on a solid foundation of rock. It is more difficult to chisel through the rock and anchor a foundation there. But the painstaking effort and expense paid off when that storm blew in and washed his neighbor away while his house stood strong.

According to Jesus, wisdom is not a matter of what you know but what you show! God is not interested in theories, He wants transformed lives. He wants obedience. He wants you to build your life on the foundation of a personal relationship with Him.

As the brother of Jesus, James echoes the same truth in his writings. He says, "You can't claim to be wise and act like a fool!" If you act foolish you will be judged as a fool. It is that simple.

Do you want to be wise? Build on a proper foundation. This verse tells you that you need understanding. You must understand truth from error. You must understand the importance of obeying God and living according to His revealed truth in the Word. The foundation of your life must be built on His truth and His commands and His will. You must know it and then show it.

If understanding is a key to wisdom, and it is, then humility is evidence of a wise heart. Humility is the by-product of obedience. You cannot be proud and obedient at the same time. Likewise, you cannot be wise and proud.

Intelligence can be measured by an IQ test. Can wisdom be measured?

James would say, "Absolutely!" In this third chapter he lays out an "OQ" test -an obedient quotient. The wise man passed his "OQ" test, the foolish man failed his.

How is your "OQ"?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

July 19, 2018

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Psalm 23

Here is the testimony of one satisfied sheep! The source of his satisfaction? A very good shepherd!

When was the last time you felt satisfied? What would it take to satisfy you? What would have to happen? What would it take? Do you even know?

How did it happen for this sheep? How did he become so satisfied?

The Present Care of His Shepherd

This satisfied sheep had a shepherd who cared for his every need. The shepherd provided for his physical sustenance by leading him to lush green pastures where he can graze to the full. The shepherd provided for his emotional security. Sheep are not built for swimming. They are terrified of rapidly moving water. Should a sheep fall into the water and his wool become saturated, he become seriously top-heavy and sink beneath the currents. But the good shepherd knows that and intentionally leads the sheep away from the swift streams to the quiet waters.

And, the good shepherd protects the safety of his sheep. He guards them with his rod and his staff. The rod is the weapon used against would be predators and the staff is used to steer a wandering sheep back to the safety of the flock.

If you are not sure what it would take to satisfy you, think about these three things: having a shepherd who provides for your sustenance, your security and your safety. That worked for this shepherd, what would that do for you?

The Promised Care of the Shepherd

The satisfaction this sheep is experiencing is attributable to the care he is presently receiving from his good shepherd. His physical needs, His emotional needs and his spiritual needs are all being met. That's helpful today, but what about tomorrow? Can I continue to count on my shepherd?

The fact is, when the Lord is your Shepherd, the future is your friend! He promises to care for you in the future just as He currently cares for you!

"You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

This satisfied sheep shows you that if you can find contentment in your Shepherd with His current care, you can have confidence in His continued care in days to come.

Want some satisfaction? Follow the Good Shepherd!