Monday, October 31, 2011

Heaven's Eyes

Rev 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

Jesus is speaking here to the Thyatiran church of Asia. John's description of the Author of these words is the He is One of knowing and doing.

Jesus' eyes are like unto a flame of fire. This indicates that nothing escapes His all-seeing gaze. His feet are like fine brass, indicating that, in His purity and surety, He continues walking in the midst of the churches.

Notice what happens in our next verse, twice the Lord conveys that He knows the works of that church. "I know thy works...and thy works; and the last to be more than the first."

Is Jesus repeating Himself? Yes! The Greek word is "ergon" as in "ergonomic." It means exactly what you would expect "works" to mean, "deeds, doing, labor."

My studies of the Word cause me to conclude that when God repeats something, it is very important that we take notice and respond appropriately.

Consider it like this, “God knows your works, He knows your works.” Pretty emphatic, huh?

The works being observed by these flaming eyes of fire are the church's works of charity, service, faith and patience.

Charity = love in action
Service = ministry to God and to others
Faith = acting upon God's promises
Patience = performance under pressure

These are the types of works under scrutiny of Heaven's eyes. How does our church stack up?

Oh be careful little hands what you do
Oh be careful little hands what you do
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little hands what you do

Oh be careful little feet where you go
Oh be careful little feet where you go
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little feet where you go

Oh be careful little eyes what you see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

Friday, October 28, 2011

Preaching, Its Good For You!

1 Thess 5:20 Despise not prophesyings

God has chosen the foolishness of preaching to save the lost. Indeed, the preaching of the cross is foolishness to them that perish. So says I Cor 1:18, 21.

Indeed, preaching does seem a little crazy at times. A guy mounts the pulpit, delivers the Word with passion to groups of people, some very large groups, and they respond with “Amens!” Sometimes they stream to altars for prayer following said screeching. Then they shake the ministers hand on the way out of the church and tell him what a fine message it was. Most of the time, he actually gets paid for his holy rants, replete with hyperbole, poetry, tears and amateur comedy.

It is no wonder non church types just don’t get it. Hey, I am a preacher and sometimes I am baffled by God’s preferred method of deliverance of the Bread of Life.

In I Thessalonians, the Apostle, in 3 short words, warns that we not deride, despise or deny the process of God’s man thundering forth God’s Word.

Two of the commentators are worth reading on this verse:

JFB - - Do not suppose that ye have no need of continual instruction; without it ye cannot preserve the Christian life, nor go on to perfection. God will ever send a message of salvation by each of his ministers to every faithful, attentive hearer. Do not suppose that ye are already wise enough; you are no more wise enough than you are holy enough. They who slight or neglect the means of grace, and especially the preaching of God’s holy word, are generally vain, empty, self-conceited people, and exceedingly superficial both in knowledge and piety.

Matthew Henry - - Despise not prophesyings (1Th_5:20); for, if we neglect the means of grace, we forfeit the Spirit of grace. By prophesyings here we are to understand the preaching of the word, the interpreting and applying of the scriptures; and this we must not despise, but should prize and value, because it is the ordinance of God, appointed of him for our furtherance and increase in knowledge and grace, in holiness and comfort. We must not despise preaching, though it be plain, and not with enticing words of men's wisdom, and though we be told no more than what we knew before. It is useful, and many times needful, to have our minds stirred up, our affections and resolutions excited, to those things that we knew before to be our interest and our duty.

With that, we pray that each reader finds a Bible preaching church this coming Lord’s day and soaks in the Word as it is preached in passionate sincerity.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


John 21:24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they
should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could
not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

I have heard people say that this summation by the Apostle John could not be taken literally, it is just hyperbole.

But I know that all the things He has done, just in my life, would take several volumes if they were recorded and commentaries made. I suppose that I hardly know but a small percentage of what He has done for me.

Jesus has been very good to me and, I suspect He has been especially kind to you also. Perhaps, one day, we will get to read those volumes containing our own untold stories of His works on our behalf.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Oil Lamp Came On

John 20:4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. 5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

So, light bulbs hadn't been invented yet, so an oil lamp must have come on over John's head as the realization struck him about the Lord's promises of rising again from the dead.

The disciples just couldn't get a clue about the Lord's death and resurrection. The pieces of the puzzle puzzled them greatly.

The view of the empty tomb for the ladies, then John and Peter initially portended that the body of Jesus had been secreted away. This troubled them.

But finally, the realization washed over John that this is exactly what Jesus had been predicting all along. "Tear this temple down and I will raise it again in three days."

Don't be too hard on the learning disabled disciples. Every day, we Christians get frustrated at circumstances that are brought to us for our growth. We get angry over setbacks that are meant to protect us. We react faithlessly to events created to build our faith. We get bent out of shape by things intended to bend us toward the Lord.

Concerning our problems, the sun is soon coming up over an empty tomb. Our faith is set to evolve. We are being prepared to overcome. Yet, sticking our heads into the empty tomb, our understanding is still empty until an angel startles us to the reality that Christ is alive, God occupies the throne, peace is ours, we are sent out to minister to others of the risen Christ and that the Holy Ghost is within us.

The tomb is empty? That's not a problem but a promise. It is what God planned all along.

You are experiencing pain, confusion, bewilderment, setback, disappointment today, don't be perplexed. There is a plan and a reason. Soon the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place.

Christ died to rise again. John finally got it. Your problems come for reasons you cannot understand yet. But we are risen with Christ, we are more than conquerors, we have victory in Him. Soon the light bulb will come on for you and you will get it too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Even This Could Have Been Forgiven

John 18:19 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. 21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard
me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. 22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? 23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?

This slap in the face of the Savior, those who spit on Him, or mocked Him, those who gambled for His robe or drove the nails, it is hard to imagine, but Jesus prayed that they be forgiven for their ignorance. We don’t know if this man got his eyes opened the next day at Calvary, but he may well have.

I am not always as Christ like as I should be. I say let this guy burn, let ‘em all fry! But they really did think they were doing God a favor. Jesus said that they didn't know what they were doing. Forgiveness belonged to this man, if he would accept it. The same blood that poured from the Lord's body that would wash His sin away is the blood offered for you and me. The difference? His sin was in ignorance. Many of our sins are a slap in the face of the Lord, knowing full well we are breaking God's law!

Yet, God loves us, He forgives us, He shows mercy and grace. We are rotten to the core, yet we remain the apple of His eye!

Amazing stuff!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Powerful Words, Powerful Savior

John 18:4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? 5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. 6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. 7 Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.

When you think of the words of Jesus while He was walked this sod, many remarkable quotes come to mind. The Words from the cross are powerful, "Father, forgive them.", "It is finished." Etc.

And then, there are the many dynamic teachings from the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, "Ye are the salt of the earth" and "Ye are the light of the world.", Etc.

What He said to Nicodemus, the woman at the well and other individuals are incomparable.

But here is something said by our Lord, simple and powerful, that literally knocked the listeners from their feet.

Two words, add the italicized word and the phrase becomes a mere 3 word phrase. "I am he." The group went backward and fell to the ground!

We have to realize the makeup of the arresting party. Verse 3 tells us, Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.

Additionally, verse 10 tells us of Malchus, a servant of the high priest, and verse 12, which indicates a captain and officers of the Jews.

These were apparently all Jews, religious ones at that, and not a Roman among them.

Commentator Adam Clarke has this take on the incident: "Our Lord chose to give them this proof of his infinite power, that they might know that their power could not prevail against him if he chose to exert his might, seeing that the very breath of his mouth confounded, drove back, and struck them down to the earth. Thus by the blast of God they might have perished, and by the breath of his nostrils they might have been consumed: Job 4:9."

Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown, put this take on what was taking place, "they went backward (recoiled) and fell to the ground — struck down by a power such as that which smote Saul of Tarsus and his companions to the earth (Act_26:14). It was the glorious effulgence of the majesty of Christ which overpowered them.”

And Mayer adds, “This, occurring before His surrender, would show His power over His enemies, and so the freedom with which He gave Himself up.”

I would link this display of power with the awesome significance of the very words, "I am." Not a one of the arresting party was unfamiliar with their significance. Prior to this arrest, Jesus used those very words to incite, possibly some of these very Pharisees, to take up stones to take our Lord out of commission. John 8:58, 59.

In fact, the book of John is replete with the "I Am’s" of Jesus. (More than 30 times!) John is the only one of the four evangelists to relate this "I am he" narrative.

Calmet speaks fluidly of the connotation of Jesus' claim of being the "I Am." “I am from all eternity. I have existed before all ages. You consider in me only the person who speaks to you, and who has appeared to you within a particular time. But besides this human nature, which ye think ye know, there is in me a Divine and eternal nature. Both, united, subsist together in my person."

We may not know this side of heaven what supernatural forces accompanied Jesus' proclamation of "I am he." My mind recalls the dove and the voice from heaven which accompanied His baptism. I think of the voice that thundered and the bright light that blinded as Paul and his companions were knocked to the ground on Damascus Road. I consider also the transfiguration of Jesus before His inner circle of disciples. Perhaps some of these very phenomenon occurred in the Garden when He proclaimed "I am he." When He repeated the phrase a few verses later, no such knock down power accompanied it. (vs 8)

I long for coronation day when all believers of all ages will fall before our King in humble adoration. I imagine the Father proclaiming "This is my Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased." Not one of the sainted billions will be able to stay afoot. What power! What glory! What display of eternal domination will we witness on that glorious day?

At Jesus' words, the arresting group lost their bearings, went backward and fell to the ground. Then they came to themselves, garnered their "honor" and proceeded with their dark mission.

At the words of our great I AM in celestial environs, we will be completely arrested. We will fall prone before Him to worship without inhibition. On that day and forevermore we will ascribe to Him salvation, glory, honor and power. That will be our eternal mission.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Acts 19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

When I think of clueless, I don’t think about a movie starring a blonde girl who lacks common sense, but I think about the masses of ignorant people who are like lemmings running off a cliff into the ocean. They are getting their worldview from Hollywood, Nashville, 5th Ave., or CNN.

The Bible is jam-packed full of clueless people.
-I think of Samson! He should have known better than to mess around with heathen girls, than to get a haircut in the wrong barbershop.
-How about the whole world in the days of Noah? 120 years he told them to get right with God, 120 years they called Him a fool. Jesus says, “They knew not until the floods came and took them all away.”
-the best example of all would be the crowd that cried out for Jesus’ death. They were totally clueless. Then the Pharisees started milling through the crowd putting bugs in people’s ears, “When Pilate asks, shout out Barabbas’ name.”

If a person does not have a proper perspective of an event, they cannot rightly judge what is happening.

Cases in point:
*Occupy Wall Street
Some people are saying they support “Occupy Wall Street?”
Well, what do you support?
“They’re frustrated.” Who isn't?
“They can't pay the rent or their college loans.” Then, go get a job.
“They are protesting against the 1 percent.” What do you expect them to do, divide their money between you people?

*The fall of governments in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Yemen, (America?), etc.
*Rioting in Greece, and other parts of Europe.
*The breaking up of your family!
*The constant upheaval going on at your job and in your school Nobody trusts anybody. One department is against another, 2nd shift is against the day shift. The employees distrust the authority, and vice-versa.
*The same thing in our nation. People hate the politicians, the politicians disdain the people.

What, in Heaven’s name is going on? Nobody seems to know.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to any of it, unless you have the right perspective. A biblical one!

People are fighting and giving themselves to causes that are completely nonsensical.

You are not going to get the proper perspective from CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS or NBC, nor from Face Book. These are like the Pharisees inciting the crowd to proclaim, “Crucify Him” at the trial of Jesus. They are totally missing the point!

So, let’s get a clue as to what is really going on in these crazy days…

1. There is a spiritual warfare going on for the domination of souls, countries, the world.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Satan is pretty good at what he is doing. He is patient. He’s been at this game a long time. (the destruction of the nuclear family – took 70 years, but it was very effective.)
(the fall of America – it took about 100 years, but he is just about to get it done.)
(gay marriage, the legalization of marijuana, etc.)
However, he knows that time is very short, so he is stepping up his efforts, he knows his time is short.

God is not the author of confusion, so who is? Who is authoring all this craziness going on? The counsels of hell have hatched their plans to steal, kill and destroy. Jn 10:10. The enemy whispers and the masses pay heed!

2. The kings of the earth are conspiring together against God, Ps 2:1-3. There is a concerted effort by the true powerbrokers of the earth to establish a one world government apart from God. But, don’t worry, look at vs 4. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

3. PRIDE! Pro 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention:
Why are there wars? Pride. Why are there problems in your home? Pride. Families are breaking up because of pride. Churches split because of pride. All that strife down at work is because of pride.

Don’t be clueless. Know the wiles of the enemy. Avoid the traps he has set for you and your family, your church, your country.

Look to the Lord. Immerse yourself in the Word, pray, be filled with the Sprit. Renew your mind daily.

Don’t listen to the lying voices. The only reason anyone should ever watch CNN, etc. is to know what the enemy is up to. They are great at twisting, smoke and mirrors, distraction, etc.

Feed on truth! Don’t be willingly ignorant.
2Pe 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant…

One more thing that we must not be clueless about, Jesus is the answer! Jn 10:10, Jn 14:6. He is the only answer. The answer is not another pill, or infusing more money, or philosophy or any one of a million things. Jesus is the answer to every problem.

For your sin, He offers His salvation
For your sadness, He offers His joy
For your confusion, He offers His wisdom
For your turmoil, He offers His peace.
For your loneliness, He offers His presence.
For your lack, He offers His supply.
For your guilt, He offers His grace.

Now you don’t have to be clueless!

Friday, October 21, 2011

On the Way Out of Jerusalem

2 Sam 15:23 And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness.

John 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. 2 And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.

David and Jesus, 28 generations removed from each other, both found themselves retreating across the Brook Kidron by night.

*Both Jesus and his great grandfather left Jerusalem by night.
*Both retreated across the Brook Kidron on the way out of town.
*Both were being betrayed (in the most bizarre and undeserved manner) by someone close to them (David/Absalom, Jesus/Judas)
*Both would soon be accosted on the other side of the Brook, (David/Shimei,
Jesus/Temple guard, Pharisees and Judas)
*Both would return one day across that same brook, in glory and splendor as the undisputed king.

Psa 24:7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Promise of the Holy Ghost:

John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

When the Comforter is Come…

1. He will show the truth - Jn 16:13
2. He will glorify Jesus - Jn 16:14
3. He will testify of Jesus - Jn 15:26, I Cor 12:3
4. He will comfort the afflicted and persecuted - Jn 14:18, Acts 9:31
5. He will bring all things to our remembrance - Jn 14:16
6. He will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness and of Judgment. Jn 16:8
7. He will show us things to come - Jn 16:13
8. He will teach us all things - Jn 14:26, I Cor 2:13, Heb 9:8, 10:15
9. He will endow us with the spiritual gifts for service - Rom 12 & I Cor 12, Heb 2:4
10. He will fill our mouths with the right words - Lk 12:12, Acts 2:4, 4:8, 31
11. He will empower us for witnessing - Acts 1:8, 20:23
12. He will imbue us with power for preaching - Lk 1:67
13. He will baptize believers into Christ - Lk 3:16, Roms 6
14. He will lead and direct us into the right paths - Lk 4:1
15. He will anoint us for ministry - Acts 10:38
16. He will thrust laborers into the vineyard for the work of the Lord - Acts 13:2, 4
17. He will give holy boldness to speak that which needs to be spoken - Acts 13:9
18. He will fill us so that we may have joy and thankfulness - Eph 5:18-20
19. He will keep us from harm - Acts 16:6, 21:11
20. He will set pastors in their places of service - Acts 20:28, II Tim 1:14
21. He will shed His love abroad in the hearts of believers - Rom 5:5 (as well as righteousness, peace and joy) Rom 14:17, 15:13
22. He will wield His Sword in the hand of the believer to do spiritual battle - Eph 6:17
23. He will produce His fruit in us - Gal 5:22, etc., Eph 5:9
24. He will work through our consciences to do what is right - Rom 9:1
25. He will sanctify His servants - Rom 15:16
26. He will constantly occupy His temple, the bodies of believers - I Cor 6:19
27. He will cause believers and Christ to have communion together - II Cor 13:14
28. He will wash, regenerate and renew those who come to Christ - Titus 3:5
29. He will seal the believer until the rapture - Eph 1:13, 4:30

The lost live without the Holy Spirit. Their only interaction with Him is that He convicts them of sin. Believers have more to do with the Holy Spirit directly than with either other part of the Godhead. Jesus called Him Comforter for good reason. We are blessed by His comfort day by day. Thank the Lord for His Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Promise of Persecution

John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

The promises of God, are what every Christian clings to for hope and comfort. He promises us heaven, forgiveness of sin, every need supplied, grace greater than all our sin, the list is very extensive.

But here is a promise of Jesus for those who chose to serve Him and claim and proclaim His name - PERSECUTION.

The Greek word is "dioko" and it means that they will pursue the servants of the Lord and press them into suffering.

I don't suppose this is the ‘come on’ that we normally use to invite people to come to Christ. Imagine; "Hey, forget about forgiveness of sins and a home in heaven, focus on the fact that they might burn your house down, blacklist your business and take your kids from you. You could be hunted down, possibly jailed, tortured, maybe even killed! Now, what do you say, are you ready to trust Jesus?"

The fact is, it is a high privilege to suffer for His name's sake. Crowns await God's children who are persecuted for Him. Surely, none of us invite hard times or wish for heavier crosses to bear, but it would do western Christianity a world of good in that we would be driven to our knees, brought closer to the Lord and focus better on the work we are called to do if we were hounded by the enemy.

The truth is that many of the world's Christians are fully aware of the veracity of Jesus' promise of persecution. Perhaps those of us who live our Christian lives in relative freedom and ease need to bear the cross of praying diligently for those who are persecuted. We are the exception and not the rule. Perhaps the day is coming when all that will change.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Great Promotion

John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Everyone wants a promotion. In the job sphere, it means getting what you feel you have worked for and what you deserve. It means greater responsibility and a bigger paycheck.

In some spheres, promotion has nothing to do with money. For instance, in a church or another volunteer organization, there is no paycheck. Promotion means a greater amount of influence and satisfaction in results, as well as a lot more work.

But the promotion we talk about today is one of relationship. We have the opportunity to move from lost sinners, to sinners, saved by grace, the children of the King, to humble servants of the most high God, to friends of Jesus and finally, to kings and priests in the coming kingdom of the reigning King.

The promotion from children of the King to friends of the Prince comes about directly as a result of our obedience to His commands.

The command given in this instance is to love the brethren even to the point of laying down our lives for one another.

Pragmatically, this occurs by us simply putting others first. Paul told us to have the mind of Christ, Who laid aside His glory to come to this earth to give His life for us. We are to look primarily on the needs of others, not on the things we want.

As our walk brings us closer to the Lord, we will become more sensitive to the needs of others. We will sense their hurts and privations and minister to their needs.

Does our present ministry qualify us for a promotion to friendship with Jesus?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sapping Strength from the True Vine

John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. etc.

In our last blog, we talked extensively about saps, like those who betray the Lord. Today, we talk about the good saps, drawing upon the Lord for their spiritual strength.

We often find ourselves trying to tap into things other than the Lord for our strength. But we find out every time that, apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.

It is only when we branches are grafted into Christ, abiding in Him, drawing upon Him for power for daily living and witnessing, that we can be fruitful.

Jesus said that in Him, we can bring forth fruit, more fruit and much fruit.

Practically, we do this by:
1. Leaning on His Word - 3. We need to be reading it daily, meditating on it, claiming its promises, and obeying its directives.

2. Living in His Love - 9. We should be basking in the glow of His care for us, giving thanks for each benefit He showers upon us and freely sharing His love with others.

3. Learning to have His Joy - 11. We would be wise to employ His joy rather than look for worldly happiness. His joy is full, complete, overcoming and victorious.

What are we plugging into for our strength? The world, relationships, thrills, pills... all these fail. Christ, the true vine, provides a continuing supply of strength to His saps.

"Let emptiness remind you that true joy is found only through intimate relationship with Christ." - Dr. Stanley

Friday, October 14, 2011

What are We Doing?

I have recently felt a nagging burden that life's distractions are blurring our focus. We are extremely busy about things that don't matter at all. Someone said that the word BUSY could well mean Being Under Satan's Yoke.

Think about it, where do soul winning and missions land on your list of priorities? Are they even anywhere near the top 10? Does your effort, your checkbook, your prayers reflect that souls are important to you? The following paragraph by Spurgeon gripped me:

"How we fall short of having the passion we should. How would we react if we saw a huge line of blind men walking towards a thousand foot cliff, and one by one falling headlong onto jagged rocks below? Wouldn't we put ourselves between them and the cliff? Wouldn't we put our arms around them to hold them back? Wouldn't we implore them and scream at them to turn around? Yet we don't warn or plead with those whose fate is infinitely worse than that of those who would fall onto jagged rocks. Our passive preaching, and careful not to offend vocabulary betray our apathy and our unbelief. If we don't implore the world to turn from sin it's because we don't truly believe God's Word. We mustn't. We cannot be so deathly cold, so evil-hearted as to not care. We haven't let the reality of Hell sink into our minds and soften our hearts. The fact of its existence should horrify us beyond words, and then it should be reflected in our prayers and in our preaching." -Charles Spurgeon

Let's look for a soul needing Christ today and keep them from walking off the cliff.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

After Sipping the Sop, Satan Enters the Sap.

John 13:26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.

Judas, son of Simon the Pharisee, is a real study in zealous miscalculation.

Jesus was the real deal, he knew that for sure, or he would not have hitched his wagon to that star. He had been witness to his daddy's healing from leprosy and to the raising of Lazarus from the dead. When scores of people turned away from Jesus, Lazarus was among those who stuck with him, saying, "Where else can we go, you have the words of life?"

But Judas had his vices. He was all about sedition, but was short on devotion. He was more bent on finances than on fellowship. He was definitely attitudinally challenged. As it began to dawn on him that Jesus was concerned about a spiritual kingdom of the heart rather than a revived Jewish monarchy, he switched horses in the middle of the river. Barabbas began to be appealing to him while Jesus became appalling.

Once he got wind that money was being offered by the chief priests for the treacherous act of turning the Healer in, he saw an opportunity to do a little fundraising for the next anarchist he could get behind. And so, he went to the dark side.

The omniscient Savior knew what Judas was up to on his little sorties away from the group. The Lord let on to the band that He was about to be betrayed. Those sitting close by wanted to be clued in to who it might be. He gave this hint, when I break off a piece of bread and dip it in the gravy, the one I hand it to, he's the culprit.

As sin and death passed upon all men the moment Adam ate the forbidden fruit, so Satan fell upon Judas the moment he tasted the pan y salsa (pain au jus if you prefer the French). The sap ate the sop. There would be heck to pay for that last bite.

Crazy thing though. Every one of the disciples had their shortcomings. Looking around the table, each considered himself the likely candidate to fail the Lord. "Is it I?" they all questioned. Not a one of them had a clue it was the treasurer and the most zealous of all of them.

That same night as Judas betrayed Jesus, Peter would deny Him and James, Matthew and Jude would flee into the night to save their own necks. John was the only one who bothered to even try to stay faithful over the next 72 hours. Really, there were several saps that soaked the sop that night.

Hind sight! I can look back at that instance and swear my allegiance to the Lord, but, had I been there that night, I wonder how I would have fared and if I would been just another sap falling in to Satan's trap.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy are You if You Do Them

John 13:17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
This promise of the Lord comes during the Last Supper, prior to His betrayal, arrest and crucifixion. And here, Jesus is concerned with how His followers serve and their subsequent happiness.

He told them that if they would serve one another, as He had just given an example by washing their feet, and that if they would do service to their Master, they would find happiness.

Surely, there is joy, contentment and satisfaction in serving others. When we focus on ourselves we become concerned with our treatment, our advancement, our goals and our shortcomings.

Jesus is about to ultimately serve humanity by giving Himself for all. This was the joy set before Him (Philippians 2). Imagine if Jesus was only concerned with self throughout His passion. He would have put a quick end to the suffering by hailing 12 legions of angels. But instead, He chose to serve us by dying for our sins.

Let us take Christ's example and enter into service for others today.

OTHERS - by Chas D. Meigs

Lord, help me to live from day to day
In such a self forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for others.

Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true
And know that all I’ll do for you
Must needs be done for others.

Let self be crucified and slain
And buried deep – and all in vain
May efforts be to rise again
Unless to live for others.

And when my work on Earth is done
And my new work in Heaven begun
May I forget the crown I’ve won
While thinking still of others.

Others, Lord, others
Let this my motto be.
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Chief Priest's Duty is Never Done!

John 12:9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

Okay, so the religious crowd has it in for Jesus and His friends. The sooner they can dispose of this rabble-rouser, the better. The threats did thin out the herd a bit. Many of the ones who followed for the miracles did not sign up for martyrdom, so they skedaddled. Others came to Christ in droves because of Lazarus' resurrection from the dead.

Funny thing I see here, the chief priests are considering putting Lazarus to death because he had been raised from the dead! Such irony!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Like Father, Like Son? or Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary?

John 12:1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. 7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.

Do you remember when Jesus was invited to Simon's house for dinner? Simon was a Pharisee. As they ate, a sinful woman snuck in, approached the Lord from the back and began to wash His feet with her tears. Simon complained because He let this sinful woman touch Him.

Now the son is doing the griping because another Mary is wiping His feet with her hair. Dad complained about the type of woman, Judas about the waste of costly perfume. This family just can't be satisfied with how others worship. The Marys were just about as extravagant in their worship as anyone has ever been and the Iscariots were just about as cantankerous as could be about how someone else chose to show their love to the Lord.

Simon's pride was hurt, Judas' greed showed through. Both were rebuked by the Lord for their narrowness of comprehension and for their upbraiding of the ladies who truly "got it."

I come from a spiritual heritage which more resembles the Iscariots than the Marys. We tend to gripe about how everyone else shows their love for the Lord. We have our "prescribed" ways of doing things. Thinking and acting outside of the box to show appreciation brings fundamentalist consternation down upon the worshiper.

Our ilk frowns upon praise choruses. They believe the old fashioned hymns are what Paul and Silas sang in jail. As if "There is Sunshine in My Soul" would have been more appropriate than one of the Psalms which repeated the same 7 words 11 times, emphasizing trust in their Deliverer.

They think that the new song which believers will sing in heaven will be written in common time, sung in E flat major and will include a few old English words.

A lady walked into a church with “The Baptist Hymnal” tucked under her arm. After the service, she climbed all over the pastor’s frame for his use of praise choruses. He asked to see the hymnal. After looking through a few of the songs, he then said to her, “Funny, I see songs in here written by Lutherans, Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists and Anglicans. Every song we sang today was written by a Baptist. So, what’s your problem?”

And while we are singing that new song in heaven, there had better be no hand raising or none of that emotionalism which causes souls to cry tears of joy for what the Lord has done!

I wonder had Judas repented and trusted the Lord, would he have been able to enjoy heaven? Would Simon be moved with indignation or joy by the "holy, holy, holy" of the angels around the throne? I'll bet’cha Mary Mary (take your pick, the ones in the Bible, or the modern duo) will be glad to have the shackles off their feet so they can praise the worthy Lamb as He deserves to be worshiped.

Does your worship resemble that of the Iscariots or of the Marys?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Behold How He Loved Him!

John 11:5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

It became obvious, on so many levels, the love of Jesus for His friends, Lazarus, Martha and Mary. He groaned in His spirit, He was troubled, He wept openly.

When we hurt, God hurts. Jesus had a special relationship with this trio of siblings, but don't think for a moment that He doesn't hold you just as dearly as these three.

Jesus was more heart broken for those left behind to grieve than He was for His departed friend. He was touched by Mary and Martha's feelings of remorse.

The thing is, He knew what He would do. He knew that God was about to be glorified as Lazarus would be raised from the dead. But for right now, His friends were going through it and it caused Him to be sorrowful.

Perhaps today will be a tough one for you. Know that God has already begun to provide the silver lining to your dark cloud. In the meantime, He notes your distress and actually enters into your grief with you.

As a friend reminded me today, the Lord knows how to turn our problems into positives. When Jesus was lifted up on the cross, He stretched forth His arms and became a plus sign.

Whatever the negative in your life today, up to and even including death, allow God to turn the devil’s minus into a plus for you and Him. Behold how He loves you!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Celestial Ovine Rustlers

John 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know
his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for
they know not the voice of strangers.

In olden times in the Middle East, corrals were made by building stone walls
to enclose the sheep. The shepherd, or a keeper of the sheep would sleep in
the entry way of the sheepfold so that uninvited guests were kept out and
wandering sheep would not be tempted to stray.

When a flock was to be extracted from the corrals, the shepherd would come
to the door and call his sheep. They were well familiar with his voice and
would come at his call.

Here, the sheepfold represents heaven and the shepherd and the doorkeeper
represent Jesus.

Jesus is THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life. Nobody can come to the
Father except through Him. This is an exclusive and undeniable claim. He is
the only door to heaven, not one of many. His narrow way is the only path
that leads to life, there are not many roads which lead to the same place.

Righteous works, religion, good karma, a larger amount of good versus bad
in one's life, simple believe in a higher power, these all amount to nothing
more than putrid leper's rags when it comes to true salvation.

We are no good! Every one of us is a filthy sinner. Anything we might
attempt to do to get us into heaven, other than trust the Son of God Who
gave Himself on Calvary's cross, is tantamount to trying to crash the gates or
to dig under or climb over the fence into the sheepfold.

Sin upon sin! That's what trusting anything or anyone other than Jesus' work
for us on the cross amounts to.

No amount of charity work, contribution, church membership, confirmation,
baptism, catechism or meditation can buy one minute of heaven or purchase
one iota of forgiveness.

Quit trusting yourself or your religion and put your faith completely in Jesus to find your way through the door of the sheepfold. He is the Door as well as the Shepherd.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Seeing, Sin, Spoke, Spit, Sent, Sight.

Joh 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. 8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? 9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. 10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? 11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.

You got the outline, now the essence.

If anything, most blind men would desire their sight. Fanny Crosby was different. When asked what she would want, she answered other than to receive her sight, stating that she wanted to wait until she got to heaven, that way the first one she would see would be her Savior.

Perhaps, if this blind man had to do it all over again, he might have chosen something other than his sight, for his healing resulted in persecution, problems for his parents and expulsion from the synagogue.

In the end, this incident showed the Pharisees for what they were, blind sinners. And being called out by Jesus and shown up by a blind beggar was not something that they would stand for.

Never-the-less, the blind man received much more than he lost. He lost his membership in the synagogue. He lost his anonymity. He lost being able to be close to his parents. But he gained his sight, both physical and spiritual. Nice trade.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Reigning Grace

Rom 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Rom 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Rom 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Only the gracious God of heaven could withhold judgment as He has. I live in a town of a quarter of a million sinners, including the writer. God in heaven knows about each sin that will be committed in this town today.

Sin is the transgression of God’s holy law, whether in thought, word or deed. How many sins will be committed in Lincoln, Nebraska today? Millions! Day by day that number is multiplied. And then there are the neighboring towns and states, the country, the world. Each one of Adam’s sons and the daughters of Eve continue to chomp the forbidden fruit, driving the thorns deeper into the Saviour’s brow and the spear into His precious side.

I have got to be honest with you, if I had the power and even one person took my name in vain just a couple of times, I would think about retribution. More so, if someone murdered my son in the most horrible and demeaning of manners, and then went on in their sins without remorse, I cannot print here what I would wish for them.

Yet, God continues to extend the olive branch to us unworthy, wretched sinners. He built a bridge with 3 rusty nails and 2 pieces of wood. He is not willing that a single one of us would perish, but come to Him in repentance.

He offers total forgiveness, abounding grace and abundant mercy.

Only God! I stand amazed in the midst of an ungodly lot of blinded reprobates.