Give It Up!

“Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.” Proverbs 20.22

Doesn’t sound like much of a challenge for us, does it? But the first thought that comes to mind when I read this verse is an echo that whispers in the back of my mind that says something like this: “Don’t you let them get away with that. Stand up for your rights.” I’ve never lived during a time when slavery was legal and people were bought and sold in the marketplace. But I do know that slaves have no rights of their own. Their only goal in life is to follow the instructions of their master and let him take care of all the other necessities. In fact, this verse says, “he shall save (deliver) thee.” When a slave is purchased by a master, all his/her rights cease to exist. His master becomes responsible for 100% of the slave’s needs.
Do you think there might be less bickering, backbiting, and turmoil in our churches today if EACH ONE of us SURRENDERED our rights to OUR Master (and that must never be self) and gave up the right to get even? As you mentally walk through the pages of the Bible, you will notice that those who followed the Lord has less turmoil all the way abound when they SURRENDERED their will and rights to Him. It was when they insisted on having their own way – in everything – that things began to get out of hand.
Wouldn’t you like to go to Church Sunday knowing that no one there wants to “get even” with you? Wouldn’t you like to enjoy the peaceful harmony that comes when God’s people have REALLY stopped making life all about themselves and have said to God, “Whatever you want for me, Your will, your will I’ll obey …” Let’s accept the challenge and determine if someone is going to be out of sorts with God, it ISN’T going to be you! Just My Thoughts …

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JOY Can Be Lost – SALVATION Cannot Be Lost

“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” Psalm 51.12

There are some in the Christian arena who confuse the issue with which David deals here. As many may remember, this Psalm was written after David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba. David was already king of Israel. The ramifications of David’s actions could be long-lasting. Notice now the first phrase of this Psalm: “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation …” Give attention to the fact that David did NOT ask the Lord to restore his salvation – he never lost it. I know there are serious debates today in the world of theology and doctrine – debates that deal with the matter of eternal security. Here are some relevant questions that stem from this debate: (1) does it take a particular KIND of sin in order to be lost, once I am saved? (2) does it take more than one sin to be lost after I am saved, and if so, how many does it take? (3) if I sin and (as some suggest) lose my eternal relationship with God through Christ, does Jesus have to come back to earth and died again for my sin?
Take note of these scriptures: Hebrews 10.10: By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”; Hebrews 9.12: “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”; Hebrews 9.26: “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Here are three verses (from a pool of many) that tell us that Jesus Christ died “once for all” – He need never do it again.
David asked God for the joy that was crushed when he sinned. Any time we sin and fail to deal with that sin, our joy will disappear. You may FEEL lost but you are NOT. With confidence let us walk with our Savior today. When sin comes into our lives, confess it and forsake it immediately. Your JOY will be restored and your fellowship with God will be restored as well. Just My Thoughts  …

Let’s Get Real

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3.18

How easy is it to say to someone who has a need: “I’ll pray for you man” or “Hey man, God’s got this” or something that is a flagrant attempt at “spiritual sarcasm”. These words from the pen of the Apostle John have a magnetic pull to them. Some years ago I learned the words of a song that was sung by the quartet with which I served. The verse went something like this: “What you are speaks so loud, that the world can’t hear what you say. They’re looking at your walk and not listening to your talk …” Most of us have mastered the art of spiritual buffoonery and we can say something that sounds like a spiritual truth, but it is nothing more than shallow rhetoric.
You may be thinking, “What does this have to do with what John said?” In order for us to express the LOVE of God through our lives, there must be something done “in deed and in truth.” When you look at the way you respond to other brothers and sisters in Christ, are your actions consistent with John’s words here? Are you responding “in deed and in truth”? One of the things Jesus told His disciples in John 13.34-35 was the importance of love. Look at these words: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” His command left for us must be our chief concern. I encourage you today, brothers and sisters, to look at other Christ-followers with much compassion and let your love be displayed both “in deed and in truth.” Just My Thoughts  …

What Gives God Pleasure?

“The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” Psalm 147.11

I’m not sure how you view this verse, but I find myself asking the question; ‘Does the Lord take PLEASURE in ME?’ Since He takes pleasure in those who fear Him, what does that mean – to me; what does that look like in my life? I believe that I fear God in the proper definition of that word. I know I am in awe of ALL that God  has done in my life – not just in my recent past, but especially in my recent past. God’s very nature as my Heavenly Father has been displayed so powerfully. I could easily step back and look at my life and be paralyzed by the unknown future, but WHY? I have never known the future – it is just a little more complex right now.
What does fearing God look like in my life? I don’t get up each morning and pray, “Don’t kill me if I do something wrong today.” I do begin each day with a simple petition: “Father, let me live today in such a way that NOTHING of your kingdom work will be hindered because of me, and let the glory of your Son, Jesus, be reflected in my life.”
This verse closes with this beautiful prayer: “The LORD takes pleasure … in those that hope in his mercy.” If we do not recognize the hope that is found in mercy, we give God NO REASON to take pleasure in us. Let’s not consciously do anything today that would prohibit God from taking pleasure in us. Just My Thoughts  …

Fizzling Faith Isn’t Faith At All!

Dear Ones,

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) ” Hebrews 10.23

We live in a very volatile age spiritually. The city where I live is like almost every other city in America and in many foreign countries, in that  it has been inundated with false prophets spreading false religion. In fact, in some conversations with some of these “false prophets”, they are quick to tell me that some of their best workers have come from the ranks of Baptist Church. While that may be a bit inflated to fit their egos, our verse printed above tells us to “hold fast the profession of our faith without, wavering.” I wonder how many who are reading these words are able to clearly and confidently defend. If you have never had to defend your faith, you probably can’t.
Many professing believers, when asked by someone, “What do you believe?” come back with this simple statement that reveals volumes: “I believe what my Church believes.” The questions keep coming: “What does your Church believe?” “The Bible!” (Almost like EVERYBODY believes the Bible). Well, I guess that settles that. Say, I  have just one more question: “How does one get to heaven?” Listen carefully … Heaven is a REAL place and it DOES HAVE requirements for entering it upon death. The ONLY answer that will be received at the courts of heaven is this: “I have come by way of the cross.” When you have time read Acts 2.13-36. Peter so clearly identified the way into heaven: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (v.38). Remember, he is faithful that promised.) Just My Thoughts  …

Side Effects- Some we like. Some we don’t.

Dear Ones,  “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life….(6) Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22.4,6  The close proximity of these two verses seems to indicate (at least to me) the importance of their message. Solomon begins by giving anyone, who will listen, the keys to a fruitful life with the Lord.Those keys include (1) humility, and (2) the fear of the Lord, (3) honor, and (4) life.” Humility is a difficult topic to discuss with anyone – especially with a child. This text is not just between a parent and a child. It is between a righteous God &  the host of Heaven’s heaven. So the questions become: “WHERE do i want to live? HOW do I want to live life? ,  those kinds of questions work their way into the back recesses of our mind.) Are we beginning to see what GREAT these troubling issues are for even us today. Francis Schaefer’s book entitled, “HOW Should We Then Live?” speak to these issues.      When we come to v. 6, it seems once again that this verse draws our attention to several aspects of what was coming: (1) parents are trainers of their children and must bring focus and energy expended  on children. The need is exponentially linked. What I am about to suggest may sound like a fearful task for any adult, but trust me when I say that your children will learn most about God from you than from anyone else. Let’s not fumble the ball, but rather let’s practice being attuned to each anticipated encounter with God. If they see you learning through the way you live, Just My Thoughts  …  Pastor Jerry

The God Who Handles My Fear!

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56.3

Ever since my teen-age years, when I have faced a particularly tough circumstance in life, I have run to this verse and claimed it again and again. Today is one of those days. In a few hours I will be having open heart by-pass surgery. Many have asked me if I am OK. My response has been “I’m not worried, but I am scared.” There is a difference. In my heart of hearts I know that “God’s Got This!” I believe the outcome is in His hands. My doctor will not perform this operation in a vacuum – God will guide his every scalpel stroke and decision.
I know that many have had this procedure – perhaps many reading this now. So many have encouraged me with their stories of total recovery. I have been overwhelmed with the number of people who are praying for Carol and me. It literally spans the globe. As you can imagine, I will be out of commission for a few weeks. I don’t know when I can resume writing these daily “Thoughts.” Just know that I will be back as soon as possible. I have said to so many people, “If God hasn’t got this NOW, then He hasn’t had anything else in my life before this.” The goodness of God is only exceeded by His grace – and His grace is ENOUGH. As you think of it, remember us in prayer and I will give God the glory for your faithfulness to Him. Just My Thoughts  …

Sowing and Reaping Is Real!

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6.7-8

What a great tragedy we often see in the lives of some Christ-followers who want to go out and “sow their wild oats” and then pray for a crop failure. Remember, “whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap”. This principle has been true since the beginning of time. As long as my desires for life are controlled by MY spirit, I remain in a desperate situation, always wanting to “sow to the flesh.” It is only when I am willing to “sow to the Spirit” that I shall “of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
I don’t think any of us would PURPOSELY mock God, but there are times when our actions APPEAR to be contrary to what God wants for us, and His name is mocked in ignorance. Would it be a worthwhile task today to ask God’s CONTINUAL guidance in our THOUGHTS, our ATTITUDES, and our BEHAVIOR? The world will NEVER see their need of a Savior because of the way we are living until the way we are living does not mock God, but gives glory to His name. Such a lifestyle is a conscious choice that we must make daily. I pray the Holy Spirit will help you today to NOT sow to the flesh, but to sow to the Spirit and thereby give God the glory due His name. Just My Thoughts  …

The Ever Lasting Word Is Still Relevant

“For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: (25) But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” 1 Peter 1.24-25

Peter does a great job of contrasting the brevity of life with the unending truth of God’s Word. “all flesh is gras … “ It doesn’t take grass very long to dry up and lose its color. By contrast, “the word of the Lord endures for ever.” In the daily course of dealing with people, it is easy to notice so-called Christ-followers who want to treat the Word of God as though it is some ancient, outdated, irrelevant book that doesn’t really he any place in our lives today. I realize that is a pretty bold statement. And while most people will never say that out loud, they will live in such a way that their lives reflect that belief.
IF this GOSPEL is relevant enough to bring conviction to my spirit when I hear it preached, it is also relevant enough to speak to my day-to-day activities that are either controlled by me or by God’s Word and His Spirit. If there was any one of Christ’s disciples for whom these words are true, it was Peter. We all remember the times when he opened his mouth and firmly planted his foot there. But, when you come to Acts 2, the preacher of record in Peter. And with power he declares “the Word of the Lord (that) endures for ever.” The passage quoted above is taken from Peter’s first epistle. If you have not done so recently, I invite you to sit down and read 1 & 2 Peter and take note of the depth of truth that Peter declares. This is the same disciple who denied the Lord. But we observe a boldness in these two books that reflect Peter’s full acceptance of the Word of God as the ETERNAL Word of God, and that belief changed him. And it will also change you and me, if we will apply it. Just My Thoughts  …

The Choice IS YOURS!

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; ” Titus 2.11-12

There are some who view God as a despot sitting in the heavens waiting to catch people doing something evil and condemn them to hell. But THIS passage of scripture gives us a totally different picture of God. Observe: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to ALL men …” If God wanted to choose some for heaven and condemn the rest to hell, then this passage doesn’t make sense. The “grace of God” is for ALL people – not just a select few. Only a select few may embrace that grace, but that does not mean that God did not intend for all men to hear about it. The fact that our entire population has not HEARD of God’s Son and HEARD of God’s grace is NOT God’s fault. Jesus went back to heaven after leaving us (the church) with the Great Commission. It is NOT the Great SUGGESTION. It is NOT a take-it-or-leave-it idea. God does not have a “plan B” if we fail to reach  our world.
The very next verse then adds some words that apply to all of us: “TEACHING us that, denying UNGODLINESS and WORLDLY LUSTS, we should live SOBERLY, RIGHTEOUSLY, and GODLY, in THIS present world.” How many of the things that Paul names here are we consciously doing? One translation of this last phrase reads like this: “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.” A “self-controlled, upright, and godly life” is only lived by making a conscious choice to do so. We never do it by accident. Will you CHOOSE today to live a “self-controlled, upright, and godly life”? I pray that many will. Just My Thoughts  …