He IS God – REALLY!

“Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.” Isaiah 48.17

Once again, the practical aspects of God’s Word are reflected in this verse. Observe: “I am the LORD thy God …” These words addressed to Israel in the Old Testament are still true for God’s people in the New Testament. The emphatic “I am …” emphasizes God’s desire for us to KNOW exactly Who He is. Inherent in WHO He is are the holy attributes that declare what He can DO. I think it is intriguing to notice the TWO things God chose to highlight. He said: (1) I am the LORD thy God, which teacheth thee to profit …” God is in the business of blessing His people because He ALWAYS wants the very best for us. Is it possible that there are times when we are blessed by God and our next reaction is one of “personal” accomplishment – and it wasn’t us at all, It was God? I think so.
But there is a second thing mentioned here: (2) I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.” In addition to God’s blessings, we also receive clear-cut direction from God so that we know what our next step should be. I frequently hear believers say, “I just don’t know what God wants me to do next.” Can I suggest that we should continue in the path He has already made clear until He makes clear a DIFFERENT path? That doesn’t mean that we always understand completely  what God is doing, but it does mean that we are willing to follow what we KNOW is best until He shows us another path. I will confess that there have been times in my walk with God when I faced uncertainty about the next step. But in those times, I received fro God’s Holy Spirit a peace that kept me on the right track until God’s NEW direction became clear. Just remember, “I am the LORD thy God” and embrace all that can mean to you. Just My Thoughts  …

Condemned? Not Now!

“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3.18

With such a cacophony of religious sounds crying out for our attention today, it is critical that we learn to apply truth where untruth wants to abound. In John chapter 3 the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus and the additional thoughts that John records are enough to settle any argument about who is saved and who is not. Most of us can quote John 3.16 and explain the “gospel in a nutshell” pretty easily. But we must not stop short of vs. 17-18: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” God’s purpose is sending Jesus was never condemnation, but always redemption. I think the most troubling thing for me is the response to the gospel that goes something like this: “That seems too easy. I’m just going to do my best and God will understand.” My response has always been, “The only thing God will understand is whether or not you have a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ.”
Look at John’s words here: “he that believeth not is condemned already”. The unsaved person in not GOING to be condemned. He is ALREADY condemned. And why? “because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Christians, let’s be clear with the gospel. We don’t have to “explain” it. We just need to “tell” it. The Holy Spirit will always do His part. Just My Thoughts  …

Keep Priorities Straight

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” Ephesians 5.25-26

Let’s skip the customary application of these verses – you know, the husbands love your wives part – and concentrate on Christ’s love for His church. Sometimes I believe we Christians treat the local church in a somewhat flippant manner. Here is what I mean. We go to church when nothing else gets in the way. As long as there is not something else to do, we will make the effort and go to church. It is almost like we simply RESIGN ourselves to going because that is what we are supposed to do. But if Christ loved the church and gave himself for it, what is wrong with making my local church a matter of utmost importance in my daily or weekly schedule? When we examine WHY Christ loved the church, we discover that he wants to “sanctify” it. What does that mean? The word “sanctify” means to “set apart” In essence Jesus is saying, “I want my church to be DIFFERENT from the world in which it exists.”
But there is more. He also wants to “cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” Once again, what does that mean? The two processes of “sanctifying” and “cleansing” are closely linked together. The Word of God is a cleansing agent for us when we read it, obey it and apply it. You can be certain that Christ’s love for His church is of such great importance to Him that He is THRILLED when His children WANT to be in His house and WANT to be set apart from the world and WANT to be cleansed from the sins that will hold us back. Take a close look at YOUR attitude toward Christ’s church and make certain that He is THRILLED because you WANT to be there when it meets. Just My Thoughts  …

How Do Others View Our Lives?

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. ” Hebrews 12.11

I spoke a few days ago about “chastening.” I thought a follow-up might be in order, since this is an area where most of us struggle to understand what God is doing. I’m sure you have heard the expression, “Things are not always what they SEEM to be!” The writer here in Hebrews writes: “no chastening … seems to be joyous, but grievous.” As a child, I don’t ever remember receiving correction that was “joyous. But it was necessary. I don’t ever remember correcting my children and afterwards saying to my self: “WOW that was fun.”
Take note of these words: “afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness …” One translation puts it like this: “it yields the fruit of peace  and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” I don’t think any of us would reject a life that is the fruit of peace. Peace reigns supreme in our hearts when we surrender our chaos to God. All of us prefer a life of peace that exhibits righteousness (right living) to a life that is characterized by turmoil and discord. The author goes on to say that those who are “exercised thereby” or “trained by” the discipline we experience will then begin to manifest or display the life of peace and righteousness. Let’s learn from God today and watch Him manifest Himself in and through us with a life of peace and righteousness. Just My Thoughts  …

It’s A Battlefield …

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6.12

It seems that when some people come to Christ for salvation, they seem to think that all their troubles are over and life is going to be a pretty easy journey since they have received Christ. The Bible does not teach that and if we tell people that when we are sharing Christ, we do them a disservice.
The truth of the matter is expressed here –  the Christian life is a battle. Paul is preparing young Timothy, as well as you and me, for the battles that lie ahead. What does it mean to “lay hold on eternal life”? Paul wants us to claim the promises God has given us in connect with our new life in Christ. How do we KNOW what those promises are? We must take the time to read God’s Word and allow Him to reveal them to us. Then Paul reminds Timothy that he has been called to eternal life. God has issued a call to everyone to come to Him to receive eternal life. The tragedy is that so few respond to God’s offer of mercy and grace. Paul then how he knows Timothy has laid hold on eternal life: you “have professed a good profession before many witnesses”. Our new life in Christ OUGHT to be on display before others so they can see the difference Christ makes and thereby want to have what we have.
Let’s not live today carelessly but rather live in such a way that our “good profession before many witnesses” will be a beacon of light to this lost world. Just My Thoughts  …

Chastening Is a Must!

“Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; (13) That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.” Psalm 94.12-13

Most people look on discipline (or chastening) as something undesirable, but the psalmist does not see it that way. He sees chastening as a confirmation that we really are God’s child and chastening is just one more proof. In fact, he says “blessed is the man whom thou chastenest …” Not only is chastening a blessing, but the effort God puts in to teaching us “out of (the) law” is equally important for us. I like learning new things, but even if I didn’t, it is important that I give time to learning about God from His Word. How else am I going to know WHO He is and HOW He operates?
The next verse gives us additional truth. One of God’s purposes in all that He does in our lives is to give us “rest from the days of adversity.” Each one of us encounters “days of adversity” and we often struggle with the WHY and the HOW LONG will this last. This REST is the result of the “chastening” and the “teaching” mentioned in the previous verse. The reason for our “rest” is found in this last phrase: “until the pit be digged for the wicked.” We must never think that God is overlooking the behavior of the wicked. He has not and He will not. The time will come when they will encounter God for the last time and be judged for their lives. Let God do whatever He needs to do in your life today that He may give you rest “from the days of adversity.” Just My Thoughts …

Two Very Simple Steps

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5.24

The depth of this verse is so easy to miss if we simply gloss over it, just because we have read it before. Jesus is the One speaking. That gives profound significance to that which follows. Salvation in this verse is clearly a two-step process: (1) hear the word that Jesus is speaking, and (2) believe on the One Who sent Him. You can’t help but notice, when reading John’s gospel, there was a lot of “unbelief” among the religious leaders who seemed to encounter Jesus on a regular basis. Jesus’ words were and are simple – “hear” and “believe.” How many of the things that Jesus said are you struggling with from the standpoint of “believing” them? He only needs to say something ONCE for it to be true.
Now notice the result of those two steps of “hearing” and “believing.” The one believing receives everlasting life. Don’t gloss over that term. God takes our spirit and redeems it to give it everlasting life, not everlasting condemnation. The very next statement says, “shall not come into condemnation.” Do you realize the “shift” in position when we are no longer “condemned” but we not have “passed from death unto life”?
The words of Jesus ALWAYS ring with truth. Those of us who have heard and believed need to take the challenge of sharing with those who do not know what we know about “everlasting life.” Let’s find a way to do it today! Just My Thoughts  …

Everybody Knows! Really?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ” John 3.16

I was privileged to enter full-time ministry in March of 1960. I remember walking into the first church in which I served and being met by the teacher of the 2-3 year old children. She said, “Would you like to hear these children quote a Bible verse?” and I said, “Yes!” Immediately they began with, “For God so loved the world … “ If I could see a show of hands of those reading these words who learned to quote this verse as a child, I suspect there would be a lot of hands in the air. But I hasten to ask, “Have we become SO FAMILIAR with these words that we gloss over them and the power of god’s message here has lost its impact?”
Love, flowing from the heart of God, took Him from the comforts of Heaven to a weary hillside just outside the gates to the city of Jerusalem. There, hanging nearly naked, body covered with bruises and stained with blood, God the Father witnessed His “only begotten Son” dying slowly while a crowd of onlookers watched. Suddenly the skies went dark and the crowd heard the words, “IT IS FINISHED!” God sent His Son to GIVE His life so that sinners, like you and I are, could have “everlasting life.” Do you know someone who does not KNOW about God’s Son and His sacrificial death to purchase their redemption? Is it worth YOUR time to look them up and tell them your story of redemption? Thank God for this “gospel in a nutshell”! What a privilege we have to share it with others. Just My Thoughts  …

Sinners NEED Redemption!

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3.23-24

Have you ever talked to someone who did not think he or she was a sinner. it quickly becomes an interesting conversation. To them sin is characterized by what some would call the “big and bad things” – like murder, robbery, and so on. Since they claim to never have done any of these things, they are not sinners. But the words here of the Apostle Paul are unequivocal when he states: “ALL have sinned …” If I am unwilling to acknowledge the first statement as truth, I am in no position to claim what is promised next: “”Being justified free by HIS grace …” The truth of the matter is that I cannot “justify” myself about anything. If I am not justified FREELY by His grace, I am not justified at all.
Let us consider this last statement Paul makes: “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” What does it mean to “redeem” something? One of the meanings is “to absolve from blame.” When Jesus Christ “redeemed” us, He absolved us from the blame associated with our sin. Even though I am GUILTY of my sin, I will NEVER have to pay the price for my sin – because He did it for me. THAT is genuine REDEMPTION! May we revel in the truth that even though we ARE sinners, we are REDEEMED “freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Just My Thoughts  …

Time Is Precious – Guard It Well!

“Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: (25) Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.” Proverbs 22.24-25

The longer I live, the more I encounter people who have a “built-in” anger that never goes away. When you speak to them, the words that come out of their mouths may be TRUE, but they are so HURTFUL it is difficult to process them. What little bit I know about anger continually reminds me that “anger is a choice.” That simply means that I must CHOOSE to be angry – either with someone or with some circumstance that is past. IF it is a CHOICE to be angry (and it is), then we also have the CHOICE of choosing NOT to be angry. Solomon’s words here are words of caution, to be sure: “make NO friendship with an angry man …” If I spend my time around NEGATIVE people, before long I find myself THINKING like they think their negativity has rubbed off on me The same is true if we choose to spend our time around angry people. Solomon tells us that there is a consequence when we choose to spend our time with angry people. That consequence is that I will “get a snare to (my) soul.” I have enough trouble keeping my soul unencumbered with the cares of life itself. I certainly don’t need to allow someone else to contribute to the process.
Let me encourage you today to make wise choices for the use of your time. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in discerning where and  how to spend your time. Just My Thoughts  …