Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Passing on stories from generation to generation is an important thing. It is how family history is preserved. It is how future generations learn. Sometimes the stories get passed on or the learning gets passed on without the explanation. Then it becomes a pointless ritual. Like the girl who was watching her mom fix lunch one day and she cut off the end of the roast before she cooked it. The girl asked "mommy. Why do you cut off the end of the roast?" The mom replied, "Because that's the way your grandma taught me to do it." Curious, the little girl took it upon herself to ask her grandma why she cut the end off the roast. She replied, "Because that's the way my mom taught me to do it." Not willing to settle for this answer, the little girl asked her great-grandmother why she cut the end off the roast. She replied, "Because my pan was too small and the roast wouldn't fit. So I cut the end off of it." A tradition had been passed on but perhaps not the right kind of tradition or for the right reasons.
We need to pass along the stories of our faith and the stories of God's working in our lives so our children will have a reference to draw from in their own lives. If they know that God provided for mom and dad in their time of need, they are better equipped to believe and depend on Him to provide in their time of need.
Make it your priority to pass along those faith stories to your kids and grandkids so that people yet to be created may praise the Lord.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Yesterday I was on the phone with a good friend who had been spending their quiet time contemplating the subject of "the desert". The question they asked was "What is the purpose of the desert in my life?" I've been thinking about that question ever since.
The bible is filled with stories of the desert. The best known story is the exodus. As Israel quickly approached the "promised land" one reason for the desert became known: In the desert we learn to depend on and listen to God rather than our friends, family or advisors. Because the Israelites hadn't learned to believe God's advice over their own common sense, they listened to the 10 spies and spent 40 years learning to be totally dependant upon God. The desert delayed their entrance, but it taught them the most important lesson in life.
Prior to this event, Moses had taken matters into his own hands and had killed a man. Because of his sin, he was forced to retreat to the backside of the desert for 40 years. Here we see another reason for the desert: The reality of my sin and the fear of the consequences cause me to retreat to a place where I can cry out for God's forgiveness. Moses knew what he had done was wrong, but he didn't feel remorse until he "got caught". That fact forced him into the desert where he obviously "dealt" with his sin with the only person who mattered: God.
Paul went to the desert after his Damascus Road experience to sort out what he had learned all his life about God and the law and his new experience with a very real Son of God. He didn't want to hear other men's opinions about the claims of Christ to be the Son of God. He wanted God to show him everything their was to know about Christ from the same Old Testament writings that Paul had used to condemn Christianity. It was in the desert that Paul received divine truth: divine truth that would form the basis for all his arguments in defense of Christ as the Son of God.
You may be going through your own personal desert. I can relate. The past six months of my own life have been a real "desert experience". I am learning that the real blessing, the real victory comes when we embrace the desert as an opportunity for God to deepen and broaden us. Praise God for the desert in your life. Let him teach you in ways on He can.
Monday, December 03, 2007
10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health.
11 "He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.
12 "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
Faith. We all have it, at least according the bible, but admittedly some people have more than others. It's of great importance to have faith, but even greater to have it in the right place. I have faith that the computer is going to work till I finish this devotion. I have faith that my wife and daughter will come home at the end of the day. I have faith that the brakes on my car will work when I need them. I have faith in a lot of things, but that faith is minor compared to the kind of faith that is being spoken of in this passage.
Faith in the name, authority and reputation of Jesus Christ is the kind of faith that changes circumstances. It is the belief that Jesus Christ really is the Son of God and that He died for our sins because He loves us and He presently intercedes on our behalf with the same love. If I were to go the Capitol building in Jefferson City and ask to speak to the governor, I would most likely be denied. Even if I told the receptionist that it was a matter of extreme urgency she would politely take my name and number and have someone get back with me. That's if I'm just "Scott". But if I came as an ambassador for the President of the United States and was carrying papers granting me the full authority of his office, I would not only get in to see the Governor, I would get the royal treatment. On my own authority, I'm not very impressive. But when I come on the authority of the Son of God, I gain great authority. If I can learn to accept that position and walk in it with quiet confidence, doors will open that had previously remained shut. Opportunities will avail themselves that before weren't even a dream.
Jesus said, "you believe in God. Believe also in me". Place yourself in the position of the subordinate to Christ instead of expecting Him to be yours. See if God doesn't do amazing things in your life.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
On the day that has been set aside in our nation to give thanks, I pray that today will be a wonderful day for you. We have so much to be thankful for! As I write this, I realize that life, with all it’s disparity finds each of us at different places. For some, you are celebrating the birth of a new child while others are mourning the loss of their father. Some are enjoying a year of prosperity while others are unemployed and struggling to get by. For many, today is a “family day” while others are alone or estranged from their families. For some, it is “easy” to be thankful. For others it may be very hard.
Paul encouraged us to remember that life, with its ups and downs, affects us all. We will all find ourselves in “good times” or “bad times” at some point in our life. Our thankfulness should not be controlled by the constantly changing circumstances of our lives, but rather by this one unchangeable truth: As Christians our sins are forgiven! We are in good standing with God. Not because of our goodness, but because of God’s indescribable gift! That fact remains the same no matter the circumstances of my life! That fact makes it possible to give thanks in everything. May this Thanksgiving Day be filled with peace and gladness in your hearts!
Friday, November 16, 2007
Proverbs 17:17 (KJV)
17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
It seems as though there are times when we get hit with seemingly one wave of adversity after another. You know what I’m talking about. A friend dies, or a pet, or something less tragic but still disheartening like the transmission goes out or the refrigerator quits. Have you ever noticed how it sometimes seems that these things come in multiples? It’s times like the ones I’ve mentioned and others that you may presently be experiencing, that we need each other. We need our friends; our brothers.
We are blessed to be a part of a congregation of believers and we need to leverage that blessing to its maximum potential. Friendships within the body of Christ are important for a number of reasons.
1. It gives us a support system when things go wrong
a. You and I need the prayers, love and support of other believers when things seem to be swirling out of control in our lives. We need that trusted friend or group of friends that we can confide in and share our burdens with. “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
2. It provides accountability
a. Even though my relationship with my friends may keep me from doing some things that are considered “fun” by a large segment of our society, it preserves my integrity with them and with my Heavenly Father. Being responsible or accountable to my friends around me helps keep me from straying from the path
3. It provides positive peer pressure
a. When I surround myself with a group of Christian friends, I am less subject to temptation and it becomes much easier to simply “be Christian”.
We are blessed that we have a group that we can call our friends. A friend “loveth at all times”. It’s really easy to take the low road and become critical or judgmental of others, but a friend loves when it isn’t the popular thing to do. A brother is born to be there during adversity. In the worldly culture it is common place that friends abandon friends when the level of adversity rises. But a true friend; a Christian friend, was “born” to stick with the brother during those adverse times.
Be blessed and be a blessing!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.
The Bible declares itself to be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. But how does that 'flesh itself out' in my daily life?
Simply stated, I can trust the instruction from the Word to guide my thoughts and actions throughout the day. For instance: "Is anyone out there suffering?" Well, according to the Bible, you must pray. The cure for suffering is prayer. We can suffer from any number of maladies, but the answer to all suffering is prayer. Whether the suffering is emotional pain from a broken relationship or spiritual suffering from unconfessed sin, God says the answer is prayer. Notice that it wasn't a simple 'suggestion' but rather a command, "he MUST pray".
What the bible is telling me is that my suffering can ONLY BE RESOLVED THROUGH PRAYER. If there were other 'options' available, the bible would have said, "Is anyone out there suffering? You might try praying." However, there are no other options to conquer our suffering other than to take it to the one who can put an end to suffering. We MUST pray. The suffering that is spoken of here is the kind of suffering that robs us of our peace. The reason we take our suffering to the Lord, according to scripture is that "the chastisement of our peace was upon Him". Jesus has already paid in blood to take away the suffering of His children.
Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. The direct opposite of having lost our joy is to be joy-filled. That's what the word 'cheerful' means. It means that my inner countenance is bubbling over with happiness. But why would the bible instruct me to sing when I'm cheerful? It is difficult to offer hope to others when you yourself are suffering. It is difficult to encourage someone else when your soul needs encouragement.
Colossians 3:16 (NASB95)
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
When I am singing, the bible isn't talking about just any old song. It is talking about spiritual songs that are born out of the "word of Christ". When I sing those songs, it not only continues to promote my cheerful heart, but it also instructs and admonishes those around me. Those songs serve as instructions for daily living.
So, If I'm suffering, I MUST PRAY. If I'm cheerful, I am to sing. In whatever condition you find yourself today, try the appropriate biblical response and see what great things God does in your life!
Monday, September 17, 2007
The pit represented sin. The slide down the slope into the pit was pretty easy and seemed to build up speed as you went. So it is with sin. The slide down the slope seems pretty slow and managable at first, but then it gets out of control.
Once you landed in the pit, you were covered with some really nasty, really smelly stuff. That's what sin does to us in the eyes of God. It makes us really dirt, really smelly and really unpresentable.
If you hadn't been in the pit, everyone really smelled bad to you. On the other hand, if you had "pit-stuff" all over you, you really couldn't smell how bad it was. After awhile you got used to it. Again, so it is with sin. It's easier for me to recognize sin in someone else's life than it is in my own because after I've worn my sin for awhile, I get used to it.
Finally, we hosed everyone off to get them clean again. That's where Jesus is so important. I was dirty and filthy in the yuck of my sin and Jesus came and washed it all away so I can stand before God "clean".
It may have seemed like a really dumb idea to some, but the spiritual application will really stick with the kids who participated.
Are you tempted? Well, if you’re human you are! I was reading my devotion this morning and this was the subject. We are all tempted in certain ways, but temptation in itself is not sin. Temptation is just proof that I am human. In one sense, we tend to think of temptation as “bad”. Temptation is really just a ‘short-cut’ to what I want to do or be in my life. It is Satan’s attempt to get me to take matters into my own hands rather than trusting God.
How are you tempted? The temptation that comes your way often speaks of something on the inside of you. What is truly in your heart is the area in which you are tempted. If I am tempted by sexual images or stories, I need to beware that the sexual desire within me needs to be tamed or it will lead me on a shortcut that will be harmful. Sexual desire in itself isn’t bad. God made us sexual beings. But that physical attraction is to be harnessed within the framework that God has provided, which is marriage. If I allow my temptation in this area to control my life, I am prone to look for short-cuts. And those short-cuts are generally sinful. Rather than cursing the temptation, I need to learn to understand that this is a spiritual condition; a heart condition. And as such, I need to treat it. I need to saturate it with the salve of the Word. I need to admit it to myself, rather than denying that it exists and learn to channel my energy in the direction that God has provided.
If I can view my temptation as a tool to gauge my heart, I can learn to diagnose my spiritual condition by the kinds of temptation I face. Then I can address those things with God; asking for His help in overcoming them. God’s goal for my life isn’t to rid it of all temptation. It is to carry me through every temptation.
Hebrews 2:18 (NASB) 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The Life of Contrast
2 Timothy 3:12 (NASB) 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Just for the record, I don't think "Rosie" is the anti-Christ! I just think she represents much of the mindset and heart that are spoken of in 2 Timothy 3. Paul wrote to Timothy and told him that a day would come when the majority of people would be selfish, greedy, proud arrogant, rebellious, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God. All of these attributes are referred to as "end-time", and would be evident inside and outside the church. Paul didn't say "brethren" would have these attributes, but "men", meaning in general "society". In fact, Paul goes on to say that if we desire to live a godly life we will be persecuted for it.
Now I don't now about you, but I don't really like the sounds of "being persecuted". Because we live in the times predicted by Paul, we don't want to do without or to sacrifice for our faith. But Paul said this would be our lot in life. Doesn't sound like a very effective recruiting method to me! It's almost as effective as Jesus saying "Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me". That doesn't sound very appealing either! Not to the natural man. But Paul goes on to tell Timothy that the key to successfully navigating these perilous times lies in the Word. Paul told Timothy to know the Word, stand on the Word, live by the Word, and preach the Word. He also told Timothy that just as God had delivered Paul in every circumstance, He would deliver us if we would follow his advice.
To that end, the first and most important command that we need to "live by" is this: Love God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, all your strength. Love God more than anything else in this world. Then, love your neighbor like you love yourself. This instruction from Christ will guard our hearts from the wickedness of the day in which we live and it will cause us to be different than the rest of the world.
For those who were interested, here's the link to the episode of "The View" when Rosie said that "Radical Christianity is much more of a threat to America than radical Islam".
Monday, September 10, 2007
Don’t forget the “Crud War” is this Saturday at 2PM. We need your ‘stuff’ to go in the pit. Also, kids, don’t wear anything ‘good’. It may be a real mess before we’re done!
September 10 -- MISSIONARY MUNITIONS
"When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee" (John 1:48).
Worshipping as Occasion Serves. We imagine we would be all right if a big crisis arose; but the big crisis will only reveal the stuff we are made of, it will not put anything into us. "If God gives the call, of course I will rise to the occasion." You will not unless you have risen to the occasion in the workshop, unless you have been the real thing before God there. If you are not doing the thing that lies nearest, because God has engineered it; when the crisis comes instead of being revealed as fit, you will be revealed as unfit. Crises always reveal character.
The private relationship of worshipping God is the great essential of fitness. The time comes when there is no more "fig-tree" life possible, when it is out into the open, out into the glare and into the work, and you will find yourself of no value there if you have not been worshipping as occasion serves you in your home. Worship aright in your private relationships, then when God sets you free you will be ready, because in the unseen life which no one saw but God you have become perfectly fit, and when the strain comes you can be relied upon by God.
"I can't be expected to live the sanctified life in the circumstances I am in; I have no time for praying just now, no time for Bible reading, my opportunity hasn't come yet; when it does, of course I shall be all right." No, you will not. If you have not been worshipping as occasion serves, when you get into work you will not only be useless yourself, but a tremendous hindrance to those who are associated with you.
The workshop of missionary munitions is the hidden, personal, worshipping life of the saint.
—My Utmost For His Highest
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Romans 1:15-17 (NASB) 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 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 to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."
This week I will start a new series on Sunday mornings by the title above. In that series I want to raise the question "Was the Cleaver household a true representation of family life in America?" I also want to look at the likelihood of having such a family in today's culture. To that end, I was reading a really interesting piece of sarcasm written by a "politically incorrect CPA" in Michigan. In her article from 2001 she writes,
After all, the Cleaver family, in all its straight-laced purity, could not accurately describe the typical American family, even in the times in which the TV show was produced. The Cleavers certainly don’t illustrate the family I grew up in. I do not ever remember Ward Cleaver yelling at the kids (he always spoke calmly), while I ALWAYS got yelled at. Plus, I never thought that anyone could have two sons and keep the kitchen appliances and the carpeting THAT clean. Now I realize it was all pure deception, probably on the part of some 1950’s right-wing conspiracy.
For my part, I want to say that I grew up in the 60's and 70's and I lived in a "Cleaver" home. My dad went to work everyday while mom managed the home. My parents always spoke calmly and the kitchen appliances and the carpet were "that clean". But more importantly, I grew up with a set of values that were instilled in me by my parents, not society. My character was formed by people who were actively engaged in my life on a daily basis.
When my father was my age, I was 13 or 14 years old. I can remember that every day after work, he would come home and we would sit down together at 5:00 for supper and then go out and work in the garden. When the chores were done, we would grab a ball gloves and my dad would work with me till we were both tired on my baseball skills. He would catch hundreds of pitches a week. I'm certain all this undue attention totally messed up my life.
Today, if you go to mighty-mite football practice or games, you will see a huge number of moms there to support their kids. But where are the dads? Are we too busy making a living for our family to live with our family? Please don't misunderstand me, this isn't an indictment on mighty-mite football dads. My real intent is to engage the question, "Can we have a Cleaver home in a Rosie world?"
If you want to read the entire piece from the Michigan CPA, the link the page is http://www.lewrockwell.com/decoster/decoster29.html
As for me, I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes and the righteous man shall live by faith.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
Luke 12:42-43 (KJV)
42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
If they put pictures by the words in a dictionary, and if you looked up the words "Faithful Steward", you would possibly see Fred Hamby's picture there. In obedience to the call of God on his life, Fred moved to Dora Missouri over half a century ago and started a church where he pastored till he was promoted home yesterday afternoon. During 50 years of ministry Fred had become the pastor to an entire community and to generations of families. His influence reaches far beyond what we can see today and I believe according to scripture "Great is his reward."
God honors faithfulness. He doesn't expect that we are going to be perfect, but He does desire that we be faithful to Him. I'm sure Brother Fred had his days when he didn't feel as close to God as he would have liked. I'm sure there were even days when he didn't serve God as he would have liked. But the undeniable testimony of the sum-total of his life is that he was a faithful steward. If scripture were still being written his name might very well be added to Hebrews 11.
Live your life so the preacher doesn't have to lie at your funeral. Be faithful in the place God called you. And in the field where he planted you, BLOOM. Learn to cultivate in your life a heart that is never too busy to hear from God, or plans that are so important that God can't "interrupt them". Every day of your life is both an opportunity and a battle. The opportunity is to bring glory to God through your life. The battle is a spiritual one in which Satan desires to use your life to trash God and bring glory to himself. We must make ourselves available to God's plan for our lives and the opportunities he gives us today. We must also daily put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand against the attacks and tricks of Satan.
Brother Fred leaves behind a great legacy and a huge testimony. They were earned one faithful day at a time. You and I can leave behind the same legacy by living today as a faithful steward. After a few days we've accumulated a week of faithfulness, then a month, then a year. But they were obtained by living faithful moments in a day. Just be faithful in the moments God gives you. Let your desire be the same as Brother Fred's: "I just want to hear God say 'well done thou good and faithful servant'." After all, is there any greater reward?
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Romans 13:11-12 (NASB)
11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.
12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
One evening last week I was on my way to pick someone up at their house to take them to church. As I was driving toward their house, I was on the phone talking to someone else. As we talked, I become focused on the conversation rather than my destination and totally forgot where I was going. Somewhere down the road I realized I had missed my turn, got my mind back on my task, turned around and finished what I set out to do. In the process I felt really stupid!
Sometimes our walk with Christ resembles what I just described. We know our "destination". We set out to live godly lives that will honor God, but somewhere along the way we get distracted and totally forget where we are going. We head down a wrong road, maybe even doing some wrong things. Wrong things, otherwise known as sin, will happen in our lives. The real test in our lives is what we do when we realize we've strayed from the path. If we turn around and get back on track, we may feel really stupid, but at least we're back on track.
Once I realized I had taken a wrong road on my way to pick up my friend, it would have been really stupid to have said, "Oh well. I'll just keep going down this road anyway." The difference between "feeling stupid" and "being stupid" is what I do when I realize I have strayed.
Maybe you have missed a turn or two in your own life. Maybe you have strayed from the intended path. May I urge you to "turn around" and get back on the right track? "The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."
Romans 15:13 (NASB)
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes you read a verse in the bible and it just "hits you". This was one of those times. As I read this verse this morning the wealth it contained just blew me away. Let me try to show you what I saw.
1. The God of Hope - For many of us there are times when our circumstances seem so insurmountable that we just can't see any hope. There is no possible way that a good outcome seems possible in our situation. These situations that seem "hopeless" are almost always beyond our control and we feel helpless as we watch them unfold. But God is the "God of Hope". Because God loves you, we can have hope for a good outcome even when it seems impossible.
2. Joy and Peace in Believing - When I can wrap my hands around the idea that God is the "God of Hope", and I can put my confidence in Him, it bring about two responses: "Joy" and "Peace". When I am focused on the dilemma at hand and the seeming impossibility of it, I have no joy. But when I realize that God is my hope and I can throw myself on His lap and trust Him, He brings joy into my heart. Not only that, but the gloom and despair that once dominated my very being is replaced with a calmness and peace in knowing God is in control and on my side.
3. Abound In Hope - Now, instead of being depressed and despondent, I "Abound In Hope". The picture is that I don't just have "a little hope", but rather, I am overflowing with confidence that my God really will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. It is a position of strength rather than a position of weakness.
4. By the Power of the Holy Spirit - This abundant hope isn't contrived or "trumped up", but it is securely anchored in the power of the Holy Spirit. It isn't my ability to believe, but the power of the Spirit of God in me that takes me to a new level in my walk with God.
You may be facing a seemingly impossible situation. It may have robbed you of your sleep, stolen your joy and stripped you of your peace. Read and re-read this verse until your hope is in God and God alone. Cast your care on him because He cares for you!
Monday, August 13, 2007
We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. God knew that before He ever accepted you as His child. Certainly, with sin must come true repentance and confession. Also, with sin must come consequences in our relationships on earth. But thanks be to God, our sins, all of them, are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. Even when you have messed up, God still has enough grace available to forgive. Remember.... He chose you!