Saturday, February 18, 2012

Switching to Wordpress

Hi Everyone!

I am switching my blog to Wordpress...I hope you like the change:

Stop by and say hello over there.

God Bless!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Message of the Bible in a Nutshell

What's the problem?
Romans 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(There is no confusion that we are all sinful and have no righteousness of our own as far as God is concerned)

Ephesians 2:1-5  And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved
(We are by nature children of Wrath, not children of God. We either WERE spiritually dead or we ARE spiritually dead. If you ARE spiritually dead the Wrath of God will be poured out on you for all eternity; you must be made spiritually alive; you must be born again)

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(By Grace you have been saved through Faith; there is nothing you can do to earn it or deserve it. Yes, you will do good works after you are born again; however, good works and religious activity will not earn you favor with God if you are not born again. When we are born again we are a new creation, we will desire the things of God and we will desire to please our Daddy)

2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
(When we are born again we will be obedient to God.  Our desire to please God; to live, talk, and think in a manner pleasing to Him, will be as much a part of us as breathing in and out. This is not sinless perfection; but it is not willful disobedience either. God has some very strong language for the willfully disobedient)

1Johnn 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

The Message as Never Changed
(The message of repentance has never changed; God is the same yesterday, today and forever)

Matthew 3:1-2 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Matthew 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Luke 24:44-49  Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
(Jesus began His ministry with the message of repentance and before He ascended back to Heaven He instructed His disciples that this is what they are to preach as well)

Acts 3:17 "And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,
(God’s Word makes it clear; before you heard the message of repentance; before you were presented the true Gospel you sinned out of ignorance; but now that you know the Truth you are faced with a decision: turn from your sins and ask God to forgive you, surrender your life to Him and live for Him OR be willfully disobedient)

Acts 2:37Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
(Our response when we hear the bad news; which is, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and there is nothing you can do to earn or deserve redemption and eternal life; should be the same as their response in Acts 2:37: “What shall we do”. Can you hear the panic in their voice? Can God hear the panic in your voice?)

Ephesians 5:-1-8 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

1Peter 4:1-5 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
(Friends and family will not act favorably when you start living for God instead of living for the world….will that stop you from living for Him? Do you love the world more than God? Do you love acceptance from the world more than eternal life?)

1Corinthians 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(Yes, we are all wicked! But when we surrender our life to Jesus Christ He cleans us up with His Blood and we no longer live for the passions of our flesh, we no longer practice sin. Notice how His Word says, we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God; we are not justified by a priest, a prayer, being a good person, mission trips, or doing good works)

So, what happens after we die?
Hebrews 9:27-28 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
(NO PURGOTORY! Die-Judgment; nothing in between. Notice He says “bear the sins of MANY”, not ALL…not all will receive Him and repent.)

(Paul didn’t just say “he wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel”, he walked it out until they killed him for it. This is the same Paul (used to be Saul) that had all the power and influence a person could want, he killed Christians, people looked up to him, he had the best “worldly” education; yet he gave it all up when Jesus saved him)
Romans 1:16-32 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32  hough they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

(All this should leave you first feeling helpless; but then hopeful when you give your life to Jesus. If it all sounds like foolishness; that is not surprising either; the Gospel is foolishness to those that are headed to hell)

1Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

(On the other hand; if you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, if you have come to the end of yourself and instead want the redemption that comes only through the Blood of Christ; not from religion or works of your own; repent and put your trust in Jesus Christ. When you flee to the Cross of Christ you will not only find Him waiting, you will find Him willing to make you a child of God)

1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Ephesians 1:5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
(Just because you were born in to a certain religion or blood line does not condemn or save you; your sin condemns you and your faith in Jesus Christ saves you; that is what it means “not of blood” – There is nothing you can do to earn it or deserve it; that is what it means “not of flesh” – Salvation is entirely a work of God; we can do nothing, He does it all, He gets all the glory; that is what it means “nor of the will of man”. Today if you hear His voice; if you feel Him calling you home; do not harden your heart, we are not guaranteed tomorrow)

Hebrews 4:6-7 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, "Today," saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."

All of this is very overwhelming when you first hear it; many would prefer to walk away from it; this response is no different when Jesus taught these things when He walked the earth:
John 6:60-68 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." 66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" 66 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,

(“many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him”; when we consider that the non-believers are not saved, and those that are counting on their religion will not be saved, and those that might claim Jesus as their Lord, yet practice sin are not saved; it is not hard to see where Jesus is coming from when He says what He did in Matthew 7)
Matthew 7:13-29 "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' 24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it." 28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

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

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jesus' last instructions

As parents we want what is best for our kids. We will often share stories and teach them things in hopes that they will retain the lessons when making the tough decisions in life. I recently told my daughter, “if I am hit by a truck tomorrow and you forget everything I have ever taught you, please remember to seek Jesus Christ and His Truth that is found in His Word.”

Unfortunately many of us didn’t have Godly parents to teach us the things of God or even some of the most basic things that would have been helpful to navigate through life. But, fortunately, we have a Heavenly Father that has made all things known to those who diligently seek Him, those that are willing to listen to His Word.

The most important thing that needs to be known to all people is the last thing Jesus told His disciples concerning you…yes you! He had you and in mind when He gave instructions to His disciples.

Just days after He was brutally beaten, mocked, spit on, and crucified; Jesus rose from the dead and walked, talked and taught many people. He reminded His disciples of things He had already told them; He reminded them that the writings of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms pointed to Him and to this very period of history.

Luke 24:44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."

Immediately after Luke records this statement from Jesus, He gives us this amazing bit of wisdom:

Luke 24:45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

I have heard the difference between knowledge and wisdom explained this way; “knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put tomatoes on fruit salad.” To have knowledge of the Gospel, in other words, knowing what the Gospel says, is one thing; but to have the Godly wisdom and understanding of the Truth can only be given by God. To go from a head knowledge of the Gospel, to true saving faith needs only travel 12 inches (from your head to your heart); but only God can bring you that 12 inches. As we see in verse 45 of Luke 24, God opened their mind to understanding, and it is no different for us. If God doesn’t open our understanding, the Gospel remains foolishness. Some people will openly proclaim it to be foolish, while others will proclaim their faith, but foolishly remain disobedient to God.

Here’s the wisdom of God that Jesus told His disciples to bring to the whole world:

Luke 24:46-47 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Verse 46  happened just like Jesus said it would, and just like the prophets said it would hundreds of years before; Christ suffered and rose from the dead on the third day. The disciples began verse 47 and it is continued to this day; repentance and remission of sins is being preached in His name.  Remission of sins means to get forgiveness and pardon from your sin; and repentance means to turn from your sin and turn to God and serve Him only. This same message is given all throughout God’s Word:

Acts 5:31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

If we do not believe we are sinful; or we do not believe we need to be forgiven and pardoned of our sin; why would we think we need to repent of our sin? Unless you are broken over your sin and see its depravity you will not seek the Savior. As we see in Acts 5:31, it is Jesus that gives us the ability to repent and if you do not see evidence to repentance in your life you should be concerned. Until you are broken and surrendered to Christ He will not grant repentance

2Timothy 2:24-25 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,

2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

If you follow my blogs you know this has all been discussed before; but here is an added piece of the puzzle you must consider.

Jesus explains a parable in Luke 12 that speaks of disobedience; He is speaking of the disobedience of those that know better. In other words, He is speaking of those that know the Truth, they would even say they belong to the Master, yet do not do His will. He tells this group that they will be with the unbelievers. We know that unbelievers will be condemned forever for rejecting Jesus Christ; but did you know that Jesus said that the willfully disobedient will be among them in their condemnation?

Luke 12:42-47 And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

Do not be deceived by this world and false teachers who say we are all children of God and we will all go to Heaven when we die. If that were true, why would God speak of “becoming” children of God? Why would He speak of “adoption” if we are already His children?

John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

Ephesians 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

Paul is talking to believers in Ephesians and he gives us amazing encouragement in speaking of our adoption and inheritance; however, within the same letter, he gives a very strong warning to the disobedient:

Ephesians 5:1-6 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Do you worry?

Every year over 140 billion dollars is spent on mental disorders; 42 billion dollars of that money is spent on anxiety disorders alone. The research is overwhelming that point to the danger of these medications. When you look at the dollars and the dangers it makes you scratch your head as to why these medications continue to be pushed on our society. Do you think it might be greed on the part of big pharma?....OK…..OK….I am not going to get “conspiracy theory” on you….not because the facts speak for themselves, but because at the end of the day the only thing that matters is what God has to say.

But, let’s first look at the definition of anxiety:

ANXI'ETY, n. angzi'ety. [L. anxietas, from anxius, solicitous; L. ango. See Anger.]

concern or solicitude respecting some event, future or uncertain, which disturbs the mind, and keeps it in a state of painful uneasinerr. it expresses more than uneasiness or disturbance, and even more than trouble or solicitude. it usually springs from fear or serious apprehension of evil, and involves a suspense respecting an event, and often, a perplexity of mind, to know how to shape our conduct.

I think we could safely conclude that anxiety is basically rooted in a fear of something. Fear of relationships. Fear of family safety. Fear of illness. Fear of finances. The list goes on, and there are all kinds of fears that can keep us in bondage making it nearly impossible to think rationally. In some cases the fear is legitimate, and in some cases the fear is irrational; but in all cases worry doesn’t help. It seems like an, impossibility that a person would not worry about something, but I am not talking about “no worry”, I am talking about what you do with the fear/worry when it surfaces? God says to be anxious for nothing, but instead do what?...

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

So not only are we not to worry; but instead pray…we are also to do something else:

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

If we make a conscious decision not to worry, but instead pray the moment fear and anxiety start of rush in; and rejoice in the Lord with thanksgiving for what He has done in our life and the blessings He has poured out; that in and of itself would be awesome. But, just like God does everything else, His good is beyond anything we can imagine. Look at what He promises if we rejoice in Him, pray continually and cast all our fears upon Him:

Philippians 4:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

HOW AMAZING IS THAT!!! Anxiety is the presence of fear. Peace is the absence of fear. When we abide in Christ He gives us His peace, which surpasses ALL understanding. Have you ever seen someone going through an amazingly difficult and stressful circumstance and they seem to be unaffected? People that know the persons situation scratch their head in confusion as to why this person isn’t “losing it”. The peace of God is confusing to the world…it surpasses ALL understanding.

I will never forget an experience I had about 5 to 6 years ago. There was some events taking place in my life that seemed devastating at the time. There was a long time after that that I unknowingly didn’t laugh much at all. The only reason I know that is because my wife still remembers the date that I laughed and smiled because, as she said to me in that moment, “I have not seen you do that in over a year.” Although I wasn’t aware that much of my joy seemed to be missing, I do remember an experience I had in my truck. My wife and I were on the deck talking about these things that were going on and I just needed to be alone, I was breaking down (nothing to do with her by the way). So, I just started driving and going through bouts of bitterness, self-pity, and anger as I drove. All of a sudden a peace came over me. I can’t explain it, but it was awesome. I remember shortly after that my mom called (she is the classic worry about everything mom). She was expressing her concern for me, etc. and I said, “mom, if I ever doubted that I belong to God, I don’t anymore. He has given me a peace I can’t explain.”

The funny thing is, I didn’t know Philippians 4 at the time, at least not enough to remember it. I didn’t consciously say, “oh that’s right, if I don’t worry about this, He’ll give me His peace.”  I didn’t know enough to do that; but I did know enough to call out to Him. Even though I called out in confusion, anger and bitterness; I still called out to Him.

There is no doubt that God allows trials in our life to test our faith. I am a firm believer that, in that testing, He wants to see whether you will seek first the wisdom of man, or Him. He may direct us to “someone” that can help us; but the question is, are you seeking Him first.

Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Nothing is impossible for God. If you are born again, there is no reason you should not be seeking Him first in all things. God loved you enough to pursue you when you wanted nothing to do with Him, do you think He loves you less now that you are His? Walk in Him, Abide in Him, Surrender to Him…He can set you free from the bondage of sin....that includes fear…remember, perfect love casts out fear:

Colossians 2:6-8 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

1John 4:17-18 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Hebrews 4:9-16  There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why these verses?

As a New Year’s Resolution I issued a challenge of memorizing a verse a week from the Word of God. I just posted verse #4 on my Twitter (which is where they will be posted every Monday):

You will probably notice somewhat of a pattern now that we are in week 4:

First, God created everything and everyone…so He makes the rules:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

We cannot breeze by the very first verse of the Word of God; let that soak in for a little bit. GOD, the CREATOR, created ALL!! I don’t care if you are a scientist, philosopher, intellectual, or a skeptic….if your eyes are not opened to this Truth; how can you receive the rest of God’s Word?  The very foundation of knowing God hinges on having the knowledge that He is the giver of Life…every breath you take would NOT be so if it not for the grace of God and His will. You will not breath another breath of life if it is not in God’s will that you do so….WOW!

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The first verse of John is talking about Jesus, the Son of God. When we talk about God we cannot be generic in the way God is shared with the world. We cannot pray in such a generic fashion that could be easily applied to any religion in the world. Unfortunately, the name of God has come to mean “whatever you want it to mean”; but be assured, there is only one God of the Universe, Creator of all things. In addition, God manifest Himself in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is God and if you are wrong about Jesus, it doesn’t matter what you are right about.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Although it is right to say there is only One True God, we also need to be aware that God exists in “three Persons”; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I don’t think there is any doubt that this is hard for anyone to get their mind around. One of the simplest examples I’ve heard that allows us to get a little closer to grasping this is: “The sun exists with three distinct characteristics, heat, light and radiation. The same is true with God, who exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Jesus makes clear who He is in John 14:6.  He also makes it clear how to get to where we want to go. The Father is in Heaven, whereas the Son of God left His Heavenly home to come here, the Father stayed. Jesus is saying in this verse; I know you want to go to Heaven, and I love you so much that I am telling you that there is only One Way, and I am that Way. Jesus is saying without Me, you will not inherit eternal life, without Me you will not know the Truth, without Me you cannot go to Heaven.

If we believe all the above to be True, then obviously there will be a sense of urgency and desire to know what Jesus taught. After all, if He is the only One with the Truth, I want to know how to be saved, and I want to know what He wants from me.  Don’t misunderstand, when I say “what He wants from me” is NOT implying that we can earn our way to Heaven. Eternal Life is a free gift, given by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ. That being said, Jesus gives us plenty of “trail markers” so we can be sure we are on the narrow path, leading to the narrow gate; and staying in His will for our life. He gives us these “trail markers” because there are many things that will keep us on, or drag us back to the broad road that leads to hell.

Matthew 7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What will be your legacy?

A couple years ago I became aware of YouTube and I was amazed at the wealth of information and amazing preaching that is out there. A short time after I began this, seemingly obsessive, video watching period I connected with a couple, Jeff and Caroline, from New Orleans that love the Lord and both have been gifted with bringing the Truth in their own unique way. It was about this time that Jeff presented a YouTube challenge, which was, one video a day for the entire year of 2010; reading, preaching, and/or teaching God’s Word. It was an amazing blessing and I became friends with them and a few others involved in the challenge. I know it seems strange that we consider ourselves friends even though we have never met face to face; however, I talk to them via cell phone and email more than  most people I have known my entire life. There is something about a mutual love for Christ that connects people in a deep way.

Jeff was recently diagnosed with some heart problems. Like most people that receive difficult medical, potentially life threatening, news;  he began to contemplate death in a little more “intense” way. Part of that intensity was considering what he wanted his legacy to be; and he sent a request, for all who are willing, to share what legacy they want to leave behind. That is the focus of this post.

Before I get started on the legacy I want to leave behind, I would first like to share a very cool example of the impact of a legacy. In February of 2011 my father-in-law died of cancer. He was more than just my father-in-law; he was one of my best friends. Buck and I would go on golf trips together, just the two of us. Up until I hurt my back, we golf together almost once a week. He was an amazing man; giving, loving, kind…he was one of those guys that make most of us look bad in the way he was always there when someone was in need. Not only was he willing to do anything for anyone; he would do it with a smile on his face and would make you believe there is nothing else he would rather be doing.

Within a few weeks after Buck died, my sister-in-law text my wife to ask if they could use my suburban to drive to Florida (from Minnesota). The fact that she text my wife and not me, and that she text and not called is a testament of the reaction she would have expected from me. It was the day before they were leaving and while they were packing it became apparent that there was no way they would get everything in their vehicle, so it left them no choice but ask for my vehicle. I don’t know who was more stunned:  me, my wife, or them when I immediately said, “yea, no problem.” In those weeks after Buck died I thought about him almost constantly and everything seemed to be filtered through, “what would Buck do”…that’s why I said, “yea, no problem.”  The problem was, my Suburban was way overdue for an oil change, the tank was empty, and it was filthy. The next morning when I was leaving for work (they were going to be leaving that afternoon); I was pulling down the drive way and I could almost hear a voice say, “what else would Buck do.” I can’t explain it, it wasn’t audible but it was clear in my head, more so than before. And I immediately said aloud to myself, “He would get the oil changed, fill it with gas, and wash it”…so that is exactly what I did. It felt great.

That is a legacy worth leaving…Buck was an amazing man that made others better by knowing him.

I understand that getting the oil changed, putting gas in and cleaning my own vehicle isn’t Nobel Peace Prize material, but it is a far cry from the person I used to be. I used to be a polar opposite of legacy I want to leave. It reminds me of Romans 6:

Romans 6:21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.

There are SO MANY things of which I am now ashamed. I was selfish, self-centered, arrogant, prideful, mean, violent, unloving, unfriendly, self-seeking, and I was almost completely without joy in my life. Some reading that might be wondering, “why is he using past tense”. I will be the first to admit that I am still not all that I want to be, but He who has started a good work in me will continue it.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

The day I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, He immediately gave me a new heart with new desires:

Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

So in short, what do I want my legacy to be? First and foremost, I want people to say, “he loved Jesus and wanted to glorify Him in his life.” Second, I want people to say, “he always told the truth.”

I was blessed by my son a couple years ago (when he was 7) and he has no idea how much he blessed me. I can’t remember the question, but both my kids asked me a difficult question for a parent to answer. I have always told my kids straight and never assumed they were too young to understand; and in this case, whatever the answer was, Nathan replied, “dad, we always know that you will tell us the truth.” That was so AWESOME!! It gave me a great opportunity weeks later when I talked to Paige about another matter. I won’t get in to the whole story, but ultimately I was able to tell her, “if anything happens to me, above all else, above all the things I have taught you, I only want you to be sure to remember one thing, ‘seek God and the Truth found in His Word, and trust in Jesus.’”

I would also love to leave a legacy of being that guy that would do anything for anyone; loving, giving, and kind. This legacy would glorify God and ironically it is all the virtues I used to think were silly and weak. Praise God that He has changed me, just like He promised He would. He set me free from the wretch I used to be, and above all else, He set me free from sin and death.

1Timothy 2:3-7 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.