Archive | November 2015

Bright Light

John 1:6-9 – “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

Yesterday was our final lesson in Sunday school on Bible heroes. I can’t believe that November is coming to an end and we will soon be starting another year. Man, time flies! But I digress…

We studied about John the Baptist yesterday. What a great study. The focus of the lesson was the fact that John was a reflection of Jesus. He wasn’t the the Light, rather he was a reflection of the Light.

Have you ever been outside when the moon is so bright that you could drive your car with no headlights? The moon, in and of itself, has no light, no brightness within itself that would make it illuminate. It reflects the sun. The sun will shine on it at just the right angle and the sun is what gives the dark moon an amazing light.

This is the same way we are supposed to be in our walk with Jesus. He never asked us to be Him exactly. He did not ask us to be a mirror of Him and reflect Him perfectly. He is, however, asking us to reflect His Light.

Just like John, He is asking us to spend time with Him, to learn from Him and to get to know Him in an intimate way. And then, along the way, He is asking us to shine His Light into the lives of those around us. We don’t need to hound them. We don’t need to badger them. We don’t need to intimidate or otherwise scold them. We need to reflect Him. We need to live in such a way that we shine His light and show His love.

Today is a new day. You have a choice to make today – are you going to be a bright shining light for Him or are you just going to be a glimmer of hope? Both are good but would you rather have a spotlight when it’s dark or a pin light to light your home? When it is dark, I want the biggest and brightest light I can find. Friends, the world is dark and getting darker. We need that big, bright Light.

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And so it begins….

Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

And so it begins – Black Friday is upon us. The stores are packed. Credit cards are being pushed to the limit. People have been out for hours buying stuff. Lots and lots of stuff.

Why? Why are we so focused on getting and giving big elaborate things to people who will probably never be satisfied with what they get? I sound like a Scrooge, don’t I?!

But let’s not look at the “what” that we give but rather let’s look at the “why”. Do you give people things because you have to or because you want to? I mean, really, stop and think about it for a minute. Think about all the people on your list this year. How many of those do you get gifts for because you feel that you have to to keep peace in the family?

Jesus is reminding us here that what you use to measure out with, that is what you will be given back. So, if you give out of necessity, you receive with the same spirit. Is that the way that you want to receive things, out of a sense of duty? I want to receive in the spirit of love and the desire to show it.

That’s the thing about Jesus, He doesn’t give to us out of duty. He always gives to us out of love and the desire to show it. He wants to give us so much that He has to press down the blessings and give them to us running over. There is no duty attached to His giving. He owes us nothing because He gave us everything.

So today, and this weekend, as buying for Christmas gets into full swing, look at your motives. Determine your reasons for giving to each person on your list. Find the gift that will say exactly how you feel about them – or at least try to do so. Giving should be an expression of love, not a duty.

Prep work

John 14:2-3 – “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

It is the day before Thanksgiving. I have been preparing food and cleaning house the last two days. Actually I’ve been encouraging my children to do the bulk of the cleaning since they are out of school all week. It has been beautiful getting a hand with the cleaning! But I digress…

As we use this day to travel, prep food and plan our get together with our loved ones, we also need to use this day to prepare our hearts for the true meaning of the day – being thankful.

I was listening to the lessons on Sunday night when I caught a listen to this – Jesus has been preparing Heaven for us for nearly 2000 years. Just think about that for a moment – 2000 years of prep work! That’s crazy! John caught a glimpse of this prep work and he recorded it in Revelation 21:18-19a – “And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones.”  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Heaven is going to be way more beautiful than we can truly imagine.

So, what does this have to do with Thanksgiving, you might ask. In these verses from John, I find three things I am thankful for – 1. Heaven is real, 2. Jesus is coming back to get me and take me there and 3. Jesus always keeps His promises.

My grandma went to Heaven on Thanksgiving day 1999. I will never forget that as long as I live. What a great way to spend the day – suddenly surrounded by all your loved ones who had gone on before you. And to see Jesus on Thanksgiving. How amazing!

So today as you are prepping the food and power cleaning the kitchen, remember to prepare your heart. Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and a time to slow down and count our blessings. Make a list if you have to, but whatever you do and however you choose to spend the day, please, remember Jesus and His sacrifice and His promises – and say “thank you”.

Standing in the ashes

I Corinthians 3:12-15 – “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

Last night, we had a missionary come and speak at our church. He made this statement that really touched me (he said he had heard it from one of his teachers when he was at seminary) – “One of these days, I fear we are going to find ourself standing in ashes.”

Now, I know that sounds grim, but think about it for a moment in regards to the verses above. There will come a day when all of our actions, words and thoughts will be tried by fire. The motive and desire behind each of these will be examined in the Living Fire of God’s Word. Yikes. All I can say is yikes.

So very often I do things off the cuff and don’t even think about how or if they will effect me eternally. It’s just a silly little this or a quick little that – but all of those little things can effect me in a big way. Sometimes it’s the culmination of little things that build upon one another and then one day you find them crumbling ontop of you. Your attitude is in the toilet and life feels bitter. That, my friend, is a recipe for ashes.

Thankfully, Paul reminds us that we can’t lose our salvation in the midst of all our failures. You see, in the midst of the trying by fire, we will escape because of the blood of Jesus Christ. However, that doesn’t mean that we may or may not find ourself standing in ashes.

I want to go through the fire and find treasure left over. Pure treasure that I can give to Jesus as a thanks for all He has done for me. I know that they could never be enough and that they will earn me no favor but nonetheless, I want to give them to Him.

It’s Thanksgiving week. Many of you will be prepping food to offer to your loved ones. You will be cleaning house, making plans for get togethers and preparing for the Christmas season. Now is the perfect time to put into practice the desire to serve with a pure heart. It’s a great time to store up treasures in Heaven rather than holding onto things that won’t last.

‘Tis the Season

John 13:34-35 – “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

I saw this on social media the other day.

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It really touched my heart that this young woman was willing to stand up and stand out. She was willing to show God’s love in her actions, regardless of the words came out of her mouth.

There has been a big hoop-la about keeping Christ in Christmas. And I totally agree. But just because someone takes it off of their cup doesn’t mean that I can’t celebrate it.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrations of the heart. It is a time to honor and glorify God for the abundant amount of blessings that He has poured down upon us. And if we recognize them as celebrations of the heart, we will be inclined to fulfill the commandment given in these verses. We will find ourself showing love to one another, being kind and doing so with a pure heart. Then, and only then, will others be able to see that we are celebrating those blessings that we certainly do not deserve.

By this time next week, you will probably be like me – fat and happy from the delicious meal the day before. Leftovers will gladly be on the menu and the shopping will begin in full force. But let’s not forget why we celebrate these two very important holidays. And let’s not let those who choose not to see God in everything ruin the spirit of the season with their negativity. Give them some tinsel and kindly say “bless your heart” and mean it. Because truly, these people who would take Christ out of Christmas and blessings out of Thanskgiving, need Jesus in the worst way. And it is our job to show Him to them.

Working

Hebrews 4:10-12 – “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

“I want to take a closer look at one of these verses.                        For he (the person) that is entered into his (Jesus’s) rest, he (the person) also hath ceased from his (the person’s) own works, as God did from his.”

What does this and the rest of the verses mean for you and me? You cannot work for your salvation. It just doesn’t work that way. There is nothing that you or I could ever do to earn our way into Heaven. We have too many things tainting our motive. We have pride, apathy, sympathy and the such ruining our ability to do things with a completely pure heart – at least on our own.

However, we are supposed to work. We are supposed to do things to serve God. We work because of our salvation, not to earn it. Our work, the things that we do in service to God, should prove our salvation and love for Christ. We shouldn’t be working to stack things in our favor so that one day God will let us in!

So, how do we know when we are getting it right? Is there any way to know when we are serving and working for the right reasons? Yes. It’s called reading God’s word. You see, that book is alive. Oh, I’m not talking about some weird, wacked-out book that is going to bite you on the leg if you don’t strike the spine. No, I’m talking about a Living Book that has the ability to be used to convict one of sin that is impeding blessings and success.

This Word is a gauge. This gauge tells us when our works are being done selfishly and/or wrongly focused. However, this gauge cannot and will not work if you don’t use it. You can’t expect the vacuum cleaner to get your floors clean if you don’t plug it in and use it. Just having it in the house is not a way to get your house clean. The same is true for your Bible. Just having it in sight will not make your life and your decisions honor and glorify God.

So let me encourage you today to get involved in your Bible. Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ and the only way that you will truly find out about Him is by reading about Him. You won’t know when He shows up on your doorstep if you haven’t read about Him and seen Him in your heart. Let His word show you where you can make improvements and what you need to get rid of in order to serve Him fully.

Being Daniel

Daniel 1:8 – “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”

Yesterday in Sunday school, we studied about Daniel. We learned about Daniel’s character traits that enabled him to withstand the insanity of the position that he had been placed in.

But I want to look at something a little bit different about Daniel. As I was studying this verse and thinking about it more after class was completed, I saw something more than a guy choosing not to eat from the king’s table.

Daniel had decided in his heart that he was going to follow after God’s commands. He knew what God required of His followers. He knew that the things the king was offering them was against the Law he had learned to love. So, he decided he would stand firm in what he knew was true and right. But then, check out the end of the verse. He had to ask permission to be faithful to God.

Oftentimes, I find myself gung-ho and ready to go, ready to serve God and do whatever it is He wants me to do. And then I go out into the “real world” and find challenge after challenge. I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to cause a fuss. I don’t want to rock the boat. So what do I do? I throw in the towel before the fight gets started.

It is all well and good to determine in your heart that you are going to follow after God. But until you decide to stand firm and chose to rock the boat a little, all you are giving God is lip service. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak.

I have no idea where you are at in your walk with Christ. I have no idea how willing you are to stand firm. But we all can determine in our heart to follow after God’s truth and commands. However, it is of no consequence until we decide to that we are going to stand firm, no matter what. True, you might have to let someone know that you need to do things a bit different. That’s okay, it gives you the opportunity to share the truth of the Gospel with someone.

God blessed Daniel and his companions when they chose to follow after God (check out the rest of the book of Daniel – there are some amazing stories of God’s faithfulness). God will bless your efforts and decisions as well. Now is the time to “practice what we preach”. Now is the time to let everyone around you know that the opportunities are dwindling. Let me challenge you to change the world around you this week. God will certainly bless your efforts.