Sunday, September 25, 2011
Looking for the Hand of the Lord
A couple of years ago, I met a man at the Forks Restaurant (Ukiah, CA.) Somehow, he was aware that I was a Christian and he said to me, “God saved my life one time.” During the Vietnam War he was a flight navigator and his plane was shot down. As it was going down, everything became like slow motion, and he heard a Voice that said, “I’m going to save your life today.” Everyone else in the plane died, but him. He said, “Do you think that was God?” I said, “I know it was! And, you know he saved your life for a reason! So, tell me, what have you done for Him?” He said, “To be honest, nothing.” I knew I‘d never see him again, so I said, “There’s no honor in that. If He saved your life, you owe Him yours…to serve Him.” He said, “I know it! And, I hope I will. Pray for me that I will before I die.”
Just because God touches people in significant ways…even to saving their lives…it doesn’t mean they’ll serve Him, or give their lives over to Him, or obey Him, or even look to Him for guidance. They want a Savior but not a Master!
Psalm 123:2- Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he has mercy upon us.
In some ancient customs, the servants were not permitted to look into their master’s eyes so they watched their hands to perceive their wishes. If the Master raised His glass, the servant was ready to fill it. If the mistress pointed to a comb, the servant was ready to fetch it. The eyes of the servants were focused on the hand of the Master, because with that hand the Master would either bless them or curse them…protect them or abandon them…promote them or demote them. Their life was literally in their Master’s hands!
Have you ever said to yourself, or somebody else, “Boy! I could really see the hand of God in that!” Well, what then? Do we have any obligation to God for the things He had a hand in? If He’s our Master, shouldn’t we be watching to see what His hand is doing so that we can react according? You may or may not know this, but, all Christians have a Master and He is not shy about communicating His wishes to us! If you are looking for the hand of the Lord, you will see it, and then you will know what you’re supposed to do to please Him.
Do you have a problem with that?
Friday, September 23, 2011
The Pen of a Ready Writer!
Ps 45:1, My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. NKJV
You are not the Writer, the Holy Spirit is. You’re the pen.
Your tongue is an instrument the Holy Spirit uses to communicate God’s word to the waiting world. It’s a living word. It’s a spoken word. It’s a word overflowing with goodness. It’s a saving message recited again and again from one generation to the next. The Holy Spirit is always ready save. He’s a Ready Writer. Your tongue is His pen.
What will He write through you today? He’s ready! Are you?
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Catch Your Breath!
Have you ever had the breath knocked out of you? It’s really scary! A million years ago, when I was playing High School football, I was running the ball off tackle, and the hole closed, so I cut back, got hit, spun and fell forward on my back with the ball tucked on top of me. Then, this big ol’ 300 lb. tackle, coming down the line, and lost his balance, and I could see that he was going to land on me! It was like slow motion! This 300 lb. bottom landed in a sitting position right on my stomach, and he pushed the football all the way through my spine and into the ground! That’s what it felt like! That football may still be there! All the air in my body shot out! I couldn’t breathe! I thought I was dying! One of our assistant coaches ran onto the field, and picked me up by my belt. Both ends (my head & my feet) were still on the ground. It was very unattractive, but I didn’t care! Air came sucking back into my collapsed lungs! Wonderful, fresh air! I could breathe again! I caught my breath!
It’s said that Football imitates life! If that’s so, on any given moment, you could get hit with a blow that knocks the breath out of you! It could be a physical blow (I’ve heard that a heart attack feels like you’ve had your breath knocked out!) But it could also be a domestic blow (like a divorce), or a financial blow (like foreclosure), or a material blow (like your car being stolen, or your house burning down), or a spiritual blow (a loved one backsliding, or getting an abortion). It doesn’t have to be a 300 lb. lineman. It could be a 100lb wife who tells you she doesn’t love you anymore. Or a 60 lb son, who steals something and gets sent to Juvenile Hall…but, whatever the blow is, it’s just as horrible as literally having the breath knocked completely out of you! It’s real!
Often, when people come to church on Sunday, they’ve had the breath knocked plumb out of them earlier that week! What they need is a Savior! And after Him, a cool, safe place, where they can go and catch their breath! A sanctuary where the One who knows what happened to them can help them catch their breath! Jesus is that One and the Church is that place! A place where they can rest, relax, revive, and just hold on to God for a few minutes until things get better! And that, beloved, is what the church is supposed to be!
Acts 3:19, Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
Do you know what an altar service is? It’s taking a minute to catch your breath…to refresh your spirit, before you go back into the heat of the world! It’s a pause that refreshes! If you don’t start doing that regularly, you are going to faint when trouble comes. So why not repent and convert so that these times of refreshing may come from the Presence of the Lord! Come and make an altar…come down here and Catch your Breath!
Friday, September 16, 2011
|Old tree-house at Disneyland|
A New Shoot springing from the Old Root!
Throughout His life, people were amazed at Jesus’ wisdom and knowledge. He had an uncanny ability to cope with anything life threw at Him. He was wise way beyond His years. This phenomenon is explained prophetically in Isa. 11:1, “Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot – yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.” NLT That is poetic! Jesus was a new shoot, bearing fruit, springing from the old, old Root.
Of course the old Root is God! John the Baptist said Jesus embodied the Presence of the Holy Spirit without measure (Jn. 3:34). Though completely human, Jesus was constantly tapped into the Omniscience of the all-knowing God. He had total access! He was a new Shoot springing out of the old Root!
By the way, when we’re born again, we embody the abiding Presence of the same Holy Spirit. We are tapped into the same old Root. We have access! People should be amazed at our wisdom and knowledge too, as well as our uncanny ability to cope with anything life throws at us; we are wise way beyond our years. We too, just like Jesus, are a new shoot springing from the old Root! PTL!
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
C. H. Spurgeon said, “Cling to the whole Bible, not part of it. A man can’t do much with a broken sword.” Likewise, our PCG Doctrinal Statement states that through both the Old Testament and the New Testament we are provided the “complete revelation” of God’s Word. Wielding only the New Testament is like trying to fight with a broken sword.
Have you ever put something together and had a part left over? If you throw that part away you may soon discover it is essential to the operation of your acquisition. Nothing works right without it. Likewise, if you throw away the Old Testament, your revelations will be incomplete, like a bike without breaks, or a water pistol without a plug. Everything leaks. Spurgeon was right, “Cling to the whole Bible, not part of it.” You can’t do much with a broken sword.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
ANYONE, ANYTHING, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE!
Jesus is able to save anyone from anything they couldn’t be saved from otherwise! He is not just the Savior from sin; He is the Savior from all troubles- domestic, financial, legal, and physical trouble. Jesus lives for that!
wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
There is no place I could go, this side of the grave, or nothing I could do, this side of the grave; that Jesus cannot save me from! Nothing this side of Heaven or Hell!
Psalm 139: 7-10, Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast.
So, if you need to be saved today from anything this side of Heaven or Hell, Jesus is able to do that for you today! Anyone from anything at anytime and anywhere! And that means YOU!
Friday, September 9, 2011
A Ratio of 17:1
There are 540 direct references to Heaven in the Bible, compared to only 32 direct references to Hell. That is a ratio of 17:1. That’s right! Seventeen references to Heaven for every one reference to Hell. Pretty lopsided I’d say.
Can you gather from this statistic where God wants us to go? Clearly He wants us to go to Heaven! The ratio, at the very least, is 17:1. We could say that God is 17 times more motivated to bring us safely to Heaven than to send our souls to Hell. God has 17 Divine muscles trained to save us for every one muscle forced to condemn us. God has 17 Divine nerves tingling with mercy for every one nerve firing with judgment. Pretty lopsided I’d say.
While this statistic does affirm the existence of Hell, it also affirms the fact that God does not want us to go there. He put eternity in our heart and designed us to perfectly adapt to the glorified living conditions in Heaven. Why? Because Heaven is where He wants us to go! The ratio is 17:1.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
The Ultimate Ulterior Motive!
The NLT rendering of Prov. 20:27 in enlightening, “The Lord's light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.” Hidden motives are ulterior motives. The word ulterior means something other than what is apparent. Often ulterior motives are selfish and dishonorable, but they don’t have to be. In the right circumstance they could be selfless and honorable.
We don’t usually think of Jesus as having ulterior motives. What you see is what you get. Everything is up front and transparent. But, consider two examples from John’s Gospel: John 5:14, Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." NKJV It seems clear, after the fact, that Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethesda in order to save him! Also: John 8:11b… And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." NKJV Again, it seems clear after the fact, that Jesus delivered the woman taken in adultery from her accusers in order to save her. In both cases Jesus’ behavior was selfless and honorable.
So, if Jesus ever had an ulterior motive (and it’s a big if), it was for one thing and one thing only; to save people! If Jesus ever healed someone, and He didn’t do it just to heal them; then He did it to save them. If Jesus ever delivered someone from a demon, and He didn’t do it just to deliver them; then He did it to save them. If Jesus ever rescued someone from trouble, and He didn’t do it just to rescue them; then He did it to save them. Every act is perfectly selfless and honorable, making salvation the ultimate ulterior motive. Paul said in 1 Tim 1:15, This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. NKJV O what a Savior!
Sunday, September 4, 2011
(Pictured above: one of the "many grandchildren" that came later!)
Don’t Rest Just Yet! (Labor Day, 1993)
“People who are dead are never weary…they don’t worry…they are not oppressed…they are free from duty, misery & bitterness.” – Job
A good as Job makes death sound; I’m still not interested in it right now! To pray for rest (in this context) is a death wish! God said in Genesis 3:19 “By the sweat of your face shall you earn your bread, until you return unto the ground…”
1. The bleary eye & weary arm are SIGNS OF LIFE!
2. The aching neck & the breaking back are SIGNS OF LIFE!
3. The smell of Watkins Liniment & Vicks Vapor-Rub is ELIXERS OF LIFE!
Labor is a part of the curse on LIFE! There is really only one way to escape work! John the Revelator said in Revelation 14:13 “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” I am looking forward to that rest…But, I am not interested in starting it today! SO, I WORK!
The “wicked” don’t even have this way of escape! Isaiah 57:20, 21, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” God will see to it! Do not begrudge the “wicked” their days off and their lil' vacations because the Bible says they are not getting any real rest anyway!
I enjoy a good night’s sleep! But, I always wake up feeling like I’ve missed something and I don’t want to miss anything, not willingly! This makes me think I still have a purpose here! Why shouldn’t I believe that? I’ve just seen the first of my MANY grandchildren! The process has just started! I still have ministerial aspirations!
a. I want to build another Sanctuary!
b. I want to operate a full-time staff of ministers!
c. I want to preach & teach the Gospel to people I haven’t met yet!
d. Like Paul, I MAGNIFY MY OFFICE (Romans 11:13) and I’m not ready to quit!
I’m glad to be alive! Therefore, I must accept both the good and the bad that comes with being alive! If I was dead, my problems would be somebody else’s problems! I don’t want that! Because I am alive, they are MY problems! I can live with that!
Even though we are not ready to die, God has still promised us some rest; which we should take full advantage of!
a. Rest for our souls! Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest …UNTO YOUR SOULS…”
b. Occasional rest for our bodies! Matthew 26:45…After he found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy He went away again and prayed a third time; then He came to his disciples and said, “Sleep on now, and take your rest…”
Jesus knew his disciples would need that rest to help them face the trial to come! Jesus knows the rest we have need of too! If you have gotten away from God, you have no rest! Return to the Lord and find rest!
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
God never worries about anything, because God is absolutely certain about all outcomes. He knows how everything begins and ends. He has never failed to rescue, relieve, save, deliver, or heal anyone or anything in all His creation that He promised to rescue. Ultimately, His will cannot be opposed. He loves what He wants to, and hates what He chooses to. He cannot be thwarted in all of heaven or earth. He saves by life or by death. He creates ways to escape from thin air; or not. He's absolutely sovereign! For God there is nothing to worry about. (It must be nice to be God!)
Because God loves you, He will give you His peace as a coping mechanism, when you don't understand...can't understand...what's happening to you. When you can't know what to do, or where you're going from here, or how you're going to live. When the unimaginable thing happens...when the inexplicable thing comes to pass...and you can't begin to imagine how things are going to turn out; even when you are totally confused, God (who isn't confused at all...who isn't worried at all) will give you His perfect peace; if you ask Him to.
When you ask: this Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect BOTH your heart and your mind. You will NOT lose heart, as you thought you would. You will NOT lose your mind, as you thought you must. "God if you don't explain this to me, I'm going to go crazy!" No you're not! The Peace of God penetrates confusion and dissolves it's impact! God is not worried, and His Peace, (when you have it) won't allow you to either! And, all you have to do is ask.
We always want explanations. But explanations are not always what is best for us. Explanations are not always the pathway to peace. In fact, explanations can break your heart and destroy your peace. So, God offers us a peace that surpasses understanding, with or without explanations; and that is a very special gift. I'll never forget what a grieving father and pastor said to me. He said, "Lonnie, I will never understand this. But, I believe with all my heart in the mercy of God, and I am just going to hold on to Him and trust Him to the end." When he said that, there was a peace about him that was unfathomable apart from the Presence of God. It comforted me (though he was the bereaved one)!
A few years ago, a dear friend of mine, Pastor Tom Wells took his life, leaving behind a stunned wife, son and daughter, parents and church. Tom had an incurable tumor in his head that was inoperable and unbearable. No one was able to measure his pain or imagine its outcome. When he couldn't take it anymore, and God didn't heal him, he left a love note to his wife and children and took his own life. For a short while, I was inconsolable, because I'd had a dream about Tom a few weeks earlier. I woke up from my dream, got on my knees, and prayed for him; but I didn't call! To be honest, after all these years, I still feel like I missed God; but God comforted me by telling me Tom's life was never in my hands. Tom's life was always in His hands. The decision, whether Tom lived or died, was God's decision, not mine. God didn't wake me up that night to save Tom's life. He woke me up to cry out to the Savior of Tom's life; and then leave it there. Our lives are in God's hands.
Another important point on this line of reasoning: When I cried out to God and said, "God I do not understand this!" God was neither offended nor surprised. God knew I didn't understand and He knew I was upset. In fact, the only time God might be offended or surprised by our behavior is when we don't cry out to Him when we're confused. Because God loves us so much, and because He's not worried about anything; God wants us to have His Peace that surpasses all understanding and protects our hearts and minds with or without explanations...if you will simply ask Him to. Won't you ask Him to?
Thursday, September 1, 2011
What God Forms, He Fills!
T. D. Jakes (“From the Cross to Pentecost”) said, “Whenever God forms a thing, He fills it.” He calls this a “life principle… that is as true for your life today as it was in His original creation.” Based on Biblical History, Jakes is right.
When God formed the universe, He filled it with stars. When God formed the sea, He filled it with fish. When God formed the earth, He filled it with plants and animals. And, when God formed man, He filled him with a personal human spirit.
But, when people are born again, what does God fill them with? Not another human spirit. He fills them with His Holy Spirit! He forms the image of Christ in them (2 Cor. 3:18), and then fills them with the Holy Spirit; making them a new creation in Christ! Wow! Every breathing Christian is both formed by and filled with the living Spirit of God. I like that!