Archive for the ‘General’ Category

A Two-Way Street

January 6, 2019

The Bible is a conundrum, a riddle. It is its own witness, yet it claims that two witnesses are needed to verify truth. The reality is that the Bible can only be “proved true” if one believes that the God of the Bible is real, for He is the Witness that makes all the claims of the Bible true.

There is no way to intellectually argue a person into faith in God. A person must be open to the idea that he doesn’t have all the facts and is willing to be open to God revealing Himself to him. Then, God must do exactly that! The Christian faith is built on an event, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and an experience, when He introduces himself to a person. Christianity is a relationship with the Heavenly Father, through the Son (Jesus), by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is His Story on paper.

People who neglect the Bible ignore the fact that it was first spoken by God and then written down by the listener (the writer). Jesus IS the WORD and is the action and the power behind every spoken word of God. Therefore, the Bible is the living Word of God, as stated in itself in Hebrews 4:12.

To read the Bible for facts and history is good, and science is proving everyday the wonderful truths-with incredible accuracy-of God’s creation and involvement in our world. But, the greater reason to read the Bible is to interact with God. Since Jesus is our Savior, Intercessor, and Friend, and the Holy Spirit is our Counselor, Comforter, and Guide, we an speak to them interchangeably without any disrespect to any of them. They are 3-in-1.

Once a person comes to believe the validity and authority of the Bible, he can begin to trust its claims as truth. He realizes that anything that sets itself up in opposition to it is a lie and a deception of the enemy, Satan. He also realizes that no only does he have incomplete knowledge–of everything–but, also, that anything learned outside of God’s word, that which contradicts its truths, has been deviously engineered to hoodwink all who hear it.

Further, the more he doubts the world’s claims, the more dependent he becomes on the Lord and His Word for truth. Hence, the hunger and thirst of which the Bible speaks in Matthew 5:6. Now, through faith, he has sweet fellowship with our Lord and experiences all the benefits of a relationship with Him: Abounding love, inexpressible joy, peace that passes all understanding, grace beyond measure, and a hope in heaven where we will spend eternity with our Lord and Savior, our Redeemer, our Victor, our KING!

On a personal note, the daily walk and interaction with Him is enough for me. If there were no afterlife, following Christ is still beyond compare to any pleasures this world has to offer–even in the face of persecution and physical deprivation. His presence in my life IS Heaven!

The reality of the truth of the Bible is that God is knowable, and He wants us to know Him. The realness and closeness of our relationship with Him is what is attractive to people who are searching for truth, for family, and for something to believe in beyond themselves. Our relationship and fellowship with Him and, therefore, with each other (His Body) is what attracts searchers to Him. So, let’s start digging into His Word and discover HIM!

Proverbs 19 12-19-18

December 19, 2018

Is the future of our friends and family on our hearts and minds? Are we frustrated with how to share with them?

5 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free. Pr 19:5

We do not want to share wrong information with them, so let’s look at the Scriptures and see what it says about salvation:

3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

Jesus declared— that’s major! So, there is evidently something that has to be done in order to have salvation. Being born into a Christian home doesn’t cut it; being raised in church doesn’t either (it usually makes it worse!). We must be born again. How?

… 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

We find that we must do something in order to be saved. Is it works? No. Believing doesn’t count as a work. It’s the foundation for all we do. Jesus tells us in John 6:29 that the work God requires is for us to believe in the one He had sent. Why do some people believe and some don’t? Most of it lies in the following verses:

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” Jn 3:3,16-21

Let’s pray that God will shine His light on our family and friends; pray that they will turn from their sin and believe.

Proverbs 18 12-18-18

December 18, 2018

Calling on the LORD in times of trouble is a lot easier when we have been meeting with Him regularly during good days.

Proverbs 18:14 A man’s [human] spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?

We tend to have a “go-to” method for dealing with stress. Some people use exercise; some people use alcohol to unwind (careful with this one; using mind-altering drugs is dangerous: If we turn to them when times are bad, THEY WILL TAKE OVER!), while others lose themselves to video games or tv in general. Some people like to go out; some want to hole up and read. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these unless we are ignoring time with our LORD. HE wants to be our go-to Person when times are good AND when times are bad. We need to establish a rapport with Him and a routine so that when bad times come, our routine is set.

Note: If we have a propensity to over-do in any of these areas of stress-relief, it will be better if we find something else to use. We know our weaknesses, and setting guard rails is the mature thing to do.

Proverbs 14:10 Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.

It seems that God reserves our deepest emotions for Himself–which makes sense since He’s the only One who knows our hearts. He really is a friend who “sticks closer than a brother (v24).” Let’s make sure that our default is set to go to Him. He WANTS us to!

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

From “JESUS CALLING” by Sarah Young, December 18:

“An ongoing problem is like a tutor who is always by your side. The learning possibilities are limited only by your willingness to be teachable. In faith, thank Me for your problem. Ask Me to open your eyes and your heart to all that I am accomplishing through this difficulty. Once you have become grateful for a problem, it loses its power to drag you down.”

From December 17:

Facing the emptiness inside you is simply the prelude to being filled with My fullness. Therefore, rejoice on those days when you drag yourself out of bed, feeling sluggish and inadequate. Tell yourself that this is a perfect day to depend on me in childlike trust.”

Proverbs 17 12-17-18

December 17, 2018

“Just try harder.” How? We’re giving it all we have! It’s time to call for help: Holy Spirit, help us!

Proverbs 17:14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

Understand that I am having to practice what I preach–and lately have been somewhat unsuccessful. Whether it’s a change in medication, the season, the weather, age, expectations–the “why” is not as important as the “what shall we do about it?”

When we feel overwhelmed or blindsided is a great time to call on the LORD for peace, direction and strength. Come to think of it, when we feel on top of the world and in control is another great time to call on the LORD in gratefulness and thanksgiving. Jesus is wanting us to lean on Him ALL THE TIME, not just when we think we need Him. It’s a relational thing. To be filled with the Spirit is to be empty of self. Easy to say, but hard to do. When we are feeling confident enough or worthy enough to call on Him is when we are most apt to trust in ourselves rather than Him. When we are feeling our worst is when we NEED to call on Him, but now we feel unworthy, or our feeler is stuck and we can’t let go of the ugly feelings inside.

Research shows that it takes our bodies TIME to get past the physical reaction (chemicals released within us). What do we do? I am employing (or bolstering) these guard rails in my life:

  • Let go of expectations and any entitlements I might have; I don’t have special rights!
  • Cut people some slack; we have no idea what their life is like or what they are experiencing.
  • When I feel annoyed or frustrated, immediately step back mentally and emotionally.
  • Ask the LORD for gentleness, patience and self-control. We need a download of His LOVE!

Keep in mind that our testimony is at stake. In order to keep our moral authority, we must be on-target morally. I know that I never have the right to be ugly to anyone. I wish I could just throw a switch and be done with it, but I can’t; my flesh won’t let me. I see more each day why the Apostle Paul took a dimmer and dimmer view of himself:

(Early in his ministry)

1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

(In the middle of his life)

Ephesians 3:8 Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

(Late in life)

1 Timothy 1:16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Jesus has unlimited patience available to us if we ask for it and are willing to do whatever it takes to use it. Let’s keep on striving toward the goal set before us: To Be Like Jesus!

Here We Go a-Caroling

December 16, 2018

If you go caroling this season, I thought you might like to have some music by which to sing.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bbo0entjkmf4r39/AAAJcZ3wydfclmKnSTfiDxHia?dl=0

This link included traditional carols from the Baptist Hymnal with full orchestration and four-part voices.

It also includes the music without the voices, as well as a split-track version for the seriously musical (and picky).

Enjoy spreading the Good News!

Proverbs 16 12-16-18

December 16, 2018

With age is supposed to come wisdom–how? When we keep doing the same things the same way?

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.

I have written a great big “IF” in the middle of this verse. It now reads,

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor IF it is attained by a righteous life.

Bryan, my pastor, has a favorite quote: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.”

There are several great people in the Bible who did great things for God, but went on to commit great sins that had lasting effects: Noah’s drunkenness, David’s lust, Solomon’s idolatry, to name a few.

What about us? What will keep us on “the straight and narrow,” moving “higher up and further in?” We must make sure of these things:

  • We must stay in the Word! God uses Scripture to reveal His will and His wisdom to us.
  • Accountability! No one is immune to temptation and deception.
  • Keep from getting an attitude of entitlement. Humility is key.
  • Know our weaknesses. We KNOW where our temptations lie; stay away from them. We must safeguard ourselves from them.
  • Know that God never quits teaching us. There are always lessons to learn. We never get to coast…
  • Our lessons get harder. Sometimes, it’s an age-old lesson with which we struggle; sometimes it’s the next step in a line of lessons. It may even be something new!
  • Because of our influence in our families, our jobs, and our churches, our successes and failures affect a lot of people. Consider this position as both an honor and a responsibility.

And you thought our lives would get easier the older we got…NOT!!! The bright side is that our walk with the LORD grows deeper, more intimate, and even transcendent (we begin to look forward to being with Him on His side of life).

Let’s finish well.

Proverbs 15 12-15-18

December 15, 2018

Whoever said, “God won’t put on you more than you can bear,” didn’t know what he was talking about.

Proverbs 15:13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

The quote is probably a misconstruction of 1 Corinthians 10:13,

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Temptation is different than circumstances. Since God allows everyone to choose right or wrong, we live with the consequences of our choices and other people’s bad choices. Our circumstances can, indeed, be dire, but God has given us a wonderful gift: we can take refuge in Him anytime, anywhere. We can experience His peace, His love, and His protection from the temptation to give up, give in, and sometimes even to fight back.

Psalms 18:2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalms 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging, we will not fear!

Our happiness comes from a joyful heart. We get a joyful heart by rejoicing in our God, His salvation, His comfort, His presence, and His protection.

Psalms 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad [happy]; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Let’s let our faces know how happy we are in the Lord. People need some joy and hope out there!

What Christmas Means To Me

December 14, 2018

Christmas is about Christ’s coming. Well, let me tell you about when He came to me.

When I was a young boy, a strange thing happened to me one Sunday morning. As I was sitting in church, I found myself enthralled in what the pastor was saying. There seemed to be a voice inside of me that was agreeing with what he said. I sat up and took notice!

I had grown up in church, so I knew many of the stories of the Bible. I had sung the songs of Christ’s birth, had made crafts depicting events from His life and ministry, and I had always heard of His death and resurrection, but that’s all they were–stories. They weren’t real to me. I’m not sure what the preacher said that morning, but I do know this: The Holy Spirit placed in me an awareness of my need for Jesus in my life. All of a sudden, those stories became real to me! He had spoken to me!!!

Later that week, I asked my mom what I needed to do to be saved. She instructed me to get alone with Him and ask Him into my life. So, I went to my bedroom and knelt down. I told Him I was a sinner (I wasn’t real clear what that meant; I just knew that it was between Him and me, and I wanted it out of the way); I asked Him to forgive me (which I found out later that He already had), and to come into my life and be my Lord. I assumed that He would be like another parent to me–which is absolutely correct!

A neat thing happened next: I saw out of the corner of my eye someone standing there smiling at me. When I turned to look, no one was there (I suppose I caught my guardian angel not being careful…). The sense of Jesus coming to live in my heart was warm and light. I have felt it all my life, although it is sometimes keener than at other times. He still speaks to me. In fact, He is always speaking to me! If I am not hearing from Him as I read the Bible, then I am not paying attention. He speaks to me when I drive (which can be quite convicting), He sings with me as I sing, and He sings over me as I sleep (He told me so in His Word). He is all the time whispering to me things like, “I love you with an everlasting love,” and, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” He also tells me, “Be strong and courageous; am I not with you always?” And the one I love to hear the most is, “My peace I give you.” Having Jesus in my life gives me a joy that nothing in this world can touch!

The day Christ came into my life is a microcosm of Him coming to earth. He came so that I could be reunited with the Father, which He achieved by dying on the cross in my place–and then rising again to give us victory over death! The price has been paid, and Forgiveness is offered to everyone; all a person has to do is receive it by placing his life into His capable hands.

So, Christ’s coming, both to earth and to my heart, is what Christmas means to me.

Proverbs 14 12-14-18

December 14, 2018

Do we give God any opportunity to work in our lives? Are there areas where we say, “Don’t touch!” to God?

Proverbs 14:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

In our lives, how much do we get right? If you’re like me, I think I should be rewarded when I am patient and hold my temper and my tongue. Really? Being patient should be a by-product of being a child of the King. As we walk with Him, we become like Him. He is patient, therefore, we become patient. Why should we be rewarded for doing what we should be doing all along? Jesus told this parable:

Luke 17:7-10 “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

Becoming like Him is hard work. We say we love Him, but are we willing to “put in the hours?” I know it’s intimidating, especially when we know that we will never be “perfect” this side of heaven. Just remember two things:

  1. Jesus loves us and is crazy about us! He loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us as we are. Gratitude and humility are the keys to enjoying God.
  2. Our memories will oppose us in our endeavors to become like Him. They return unbidden to remind us of what we were and what we have done–and of what we are capable of doing. The best weapon against them is PRAISE. In our praise, we proclaim Who He is, we tell of His mighty deeds, we thank Him for all He has done for us, and we pledge ourselves anew to Him, His kingdom, and His work.

It’s okay to feel unworthy. Just remember that HE doesn’t think we are!

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Let’s rejoice today in such a great Savior!

Proverbs 13 12-13-18

December 13, 2018

What comes out of our mouths both influences how we feel and reveals what we are thinking. Subdue that tongue!

Proverbs 13:2 From the fruit of his lips a man [person] enjoys good things, but the unfaithful have a craving for violence.

What good things come from our mouths? Praise, thanksgiving, blessings, encouragement, forgiveness, humor, singing, instruction, correction, training, etc.

What harmful things can come out of our mouths? Cursing, foul language, gossip (talking about things that are none of our business), slander (spreading false information), lies, spiteful statements, whining, faithless comments, rude comments, bitter talk, destructive criticism (which is a redundant statement, for there is no tearing down in order to build back up), fightin’ (divisive) words, etc.

As we can see, it’s a lot easier to talk negatively than positively. What does God instruct us to do?

Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

What did King David do?

Psalms 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalms 40:3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

Psalms 71:8 My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.

Psalms 71:15 My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure.

Praise is our best weapon against using our tongues for evil. If we fill our mouths with praise, then our hearts will fill with love for Him. Likewise, if we love Him with all our heart, then our mouths will fill with praise.

May these verses be said of us:

Psalms 17:3 Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.

Psalms 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Let this verse be our mantra today:

Psalms 34:1 I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.