It’s All About Obedience!

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him.” John 14.21

Have you ever heard a fellow believer say something like, “I wish I could just see God working in my life. I feel like He has just left me all alone”? When I hear something like that, and then read a verse like the one above, suddenly a number of questions arise in my mind. For example, the things that Jesus asks of us in this verse are relatively simple: (1) we have His commandments, (2) it is up to us to keep them (and I am ot talking about the 10 Commandments), (3) we know that God the Father loves us, and (4) we know that God the Son lives us.

Now what? Jesus clearly says, “I … will manifest myself unto him.” Is that difficult to understand? God just told us through His Son that we would be able to see Him at work. There was no hesitation here. God was not stuttering. So if we don’t see any movement of God in our lives, what kind of conclusion must we draw? Have we not done what we know we ought to do according to the Word of God? After all, we have the commandments or instructions that Jesus gave to all His followers. They are recorded in His Word.

It is my belief that He will never show us something additional to do until we do all that we have been told to do in His Word. So I need to read and obey His Word. Until I have done that, I have no reason or right to complain. Have we neglected to love God in our daily living? Our love for Him is a reflection to the world of His love for us and they need to see that our love for Him is real. So let’s re-read this verse and ask God’s Holy Spirit to give us direction in obeying what we know and doing what God expects. Then we can expect to see God “manifest (Himself) unto (us).” Just my thoughts …


No Searching Even If I Try!

Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.” Isaiah 40.28

How much do we really comprehend about God? The Spirit’s question here is piercing: “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard … ” We have heard so many things about God. But the truth is that many of them are not true. We have heard that God does not care about us. We have heard that God does not love us. We have heard that God punishes us arbitrarily. But none of these things that we have heard are actually true.

So what is true? “ … the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary … ” This God is everlasting. This God is the Creator of everything we see. This God NEVER gets tired, nor does He ever grow weary. So, what is it that makes Him so special? Here it is: “There is no searching of his understanding.” Have you ever thought that you had God figured out? “At last, I can make some sense of who he is, what he does, and how he does it.” Only to discover that you don’t have ANYTHING about Him figured out. The key here is the concept of understanding. We always seem to think that if could only understand why God does some of the things He does, we would be OK.

When I was eleven (11) years old, my mother was killed in a car wreck. I was in the car and was uninjured. There were several other family members in the car who were injured but all of whom recovered completely. Only my mother was killed. How many times do you think I have wanted to understand why that happened? Would understanding bring my mother back? No! Would understanding fill the hole that still exists in my heart? No! I cannot search God’s understanding and find out any more than I already know about this event. Here is what I know. If God had not taken my mother when He did and in the manner He did, I would not be the person I am today. Whatever ministry and influence I have had are the result of learning to deal with what I could not understand but could trust that God understood what I needed and allowed it to happen. Just my thoughts …

How Healthy Is the Fruit?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5.22-23

When I think of fruit, I think of something that is the by-product of a natural process. For example, you expect to apples from an apple tree. The apples are the by-product of planting and nurturing the tree. So when Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit, this fruit is something that should be a supernatural by-product of the Holy Spirit residing within us. Here, then, is my question. Why is it that so many of God’s children are failing to manifest this fruit of the Spirit? That is not intended to be a judgmental statement, but an observation after serving in public ministry for nearly sixty years.

IF the fruit of the Spirit is love, why are our churches at times filled with so much contention? Why are we as God’s children so bent on getting our way in our church when the Spirit is supposed to be the one in charge of our church and us? Could it be a failure on our part to yield to His control … His leadership … His purpose for the New Testament Church? I certainly think that is worth considering.

I am not going to parse each of the other eight elements of the fruit, but I would like to loo at two of them: (1) meekness and (2) temperance. Meekness is the demonstration of a humble spirit, even though we have a strong temperament or personality. I view Joseph, Mary’s husband, as a man of great meekness. It would have taken a man of great inner strength to go through the experience of marrying a woman who was already expecting a child. Yet his outward demeanor was one of great meekness.

Finally, we live in a world that has such a lack of temperance or patience. We seem to want everything done right now. It is our way or the highway. But why? Isn’t it ok if God’s timing is not the same as ours? I want to learn to trust His judgment – mine is seldom perfect. Just my thoughts …

Do You Have a Grace-filled Heart?

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3.16

What does life look like when one allows the “word of Christ (to) dwell in (them) richly in all wisdom”? Can I suggest that some things in life will change? For example, when the “word of Christ” becomes a controlling truth in life, the way one thinks will change. We will no longer be obsessed with our own thoughts, but will rather have “the mind of Christ” (Philippians 2.5), which is certainly different than our own.

Once our thinking changes, then our behavior changes. Why? Because as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. People cannot see our thoughts. But they can see our behavior and when that behavior glorifies God, they see it. When that behavior does not glorify God, they see that as well. In addition to thinking and behavior, what else can be affected by “having the mind of Christ”? I submit to you that our attitude will change – toward life in general, toward other people, toward the circumstances that occur each day … the list could go on an on.

The remainder of the verse teaches us what the fruit of the word of Christ welling in us looks like. I know that some people say they don’t have a good voice for singing. It is not the voice that is all-important here but the attitude of joy that others can see. If my heart is filled with grace, that will be reflected in every other area of my life. What happens in my heart is up to me. I must either give God total control, partial control, or no control. Once “the word of Christ dwell(s) in you richly in all wisdom”, it is easy to give God total control. Just my thoughts …

Two Powerful Words!

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12.2

Two interesting words: conformed and transformed. We live in a world that almost demands conformity to its standards: (1) look like us, (2) talk like us, (3) act like us, or we will make you pray. But the truth of the matter is, this world is NOT our home, we are just passing through. Our allegiance is to the people we call family and the place we call home. Some of us live in a part of the US where people of different religious persuasions dress differently from the rest of us. They are not embarrassed. They dress like the rest of their families. They don’t care what anyone else things. They refuse to conform to the world around them. That is what Paul is telling us in this verse.

This word transformed calls us to a different standard. If we are going to be different, then we are going to have to think differently. How do we think differently? We must renew our minds. That may be a totally new concept to some. Here is what it involves. Since the day we were born, we have been collecting data and storing it away. We never really forget anything. After a while our mind becomes so filled with information that some of it get pushed deep into the recesses of our memory. Satan sees to it that the stuff he wants us to remember stays in the forefront. The only way to overcome his stuff is to bury it, override it with the truth of God’s Word (Philippians 4.6-8). When we do that, then this last phrase becomes a reality: “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” I believe all of us want to know God’s will. We must remember that it is found in the pages of His Book. Just my thoughts …

Which Law Controls You?

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. ” Romans 8.1-2

No condemnation … I wonder if we grasp the powerful truth in those two words? Those who are “in Christ Jesus” are not condemned. What does that mean? The condemnation that we were once under has been removed by the death of Christ on the cross – He was condemned for us. He took my place. He died my death so that I might be “free from the law of sin and death.

Romans chapter 8 is the gemstone of this book. There are so many truths for us to glean here. We must not gloss over them as we read. Read slowly and grasp what you can then read it again. Paul’s instruction in the second phrase is needed: “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Once we come to know Christ, we are instructed to not give in to the dictates of the flesh but to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow the instructions He gives us. Here is a significant truth. The Holy Spirit will never force us to do what He tells us. He will speak to our spirit and it is up to us to respond positively or negatively. He never has total control of our lives unless we surrender that control to Him.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus – how many times have we read that and just kept on reading, never considering its implications? This law provides so much more freedom for us that the law of sin and death. One provides freedom and the other provides death. I choose freedom in Christ. How about you? Just my thoughts …

He IS Awesome!

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.” Psalm 27.4

In this verse we get a glimpse into the heart of the psalmist David. What was it that David was longing for? I don’t believe he wanted to sit in some building 24/7 just to say he had been with God. We must remember that the Holy Spirit had not yet come to indwell believers. That didn’t occur until the Day of Pentecost. So David’s heart cry was to spend as much time with the Lord as possible.

If God gave you a 3×5 card right now and said, “Write on this card your heart cry”, what would you write? Is it your “one thing” to live your life in the knowledge that God IS with you and IS watching you and DOES want to lead you in every next step? My wife and I read a devotional this morning that talked about “doing the next right thing.” The concept is certainly not new, but it was refreshing to be reminded of this truth found in Psalm 119.105: “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light unto my path.” Sometimes we become so obsessed with where the path is leading that we stand paralyzed, begging God to show us everything. We don’t NEED to know everything. We just need to know the next right thing – the next step God has for us.

David was so enamored with who God is that His only desire was to take the next step with God. Look at this phrase: “to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.” Are you enamored with who God is and will you simply do the next right step with Him? That is my prayer for you today. Just my thoughts …

Why? Because He Said!

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2.10

Most of us love to quote Ephesians 2.8-9 because of the tremendous good news found in them. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.” But verse 10 is no less important in God’s scheme of things. He saved us to keep us out of hell and to give us eternity with Him in heaven. But while we are down here on this earth, He has a plan for us too. “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works … ” I think it goes without saying, but for those who may have a question, we are not saved by our good works, but we do good works because we are saved.

We are the product of God’s handiwork and I have taken as one of my maxims in life that God doesn’t make junk. God fashioned you and me to do good works for Him because we are in Christ. Being in Christ carries privilege with it but it also carries responsibility. “We are not saved to sit down and sit but to get up and git.”

This is all part of God’s plan: “which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Doing good works is not just an option for us. It is part of God’s ordained plan for us. He has ordained us to good works. He has purposed that our lives would demonstrate our love for Him because of our good works for Him. So can I implore us all today to remember that “we are His workmanship” and as such we are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” so let’s be about His business while we are still living down here on earth? Just my thoughts …

Not a Bad Job and the Pay Is Out of This World!

For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84.10

Where do you find contentment? Is it in stuff? Is it in a place? Is it with a certain person? The psalmist seems to say here that he finds contentment in God’s house serving God and His people. He certainly doesn’t want to find his contentment “in the tents of wickedness.” So when he says that “a day in thy courts is better than a thousand … ”, what does that mean? A thousand what? A thousand days spent in some other court. The psalmist says, “Look, I go to other courts when I must to accomplish what I must, but when I have a choice, I want to spend my time in God’s court.” In the times of the kings, when a person was able to spend time in the king’s court, that was a special privilege. It is a privilege given to God’s children for us to be invited to spend our lives in His court.

But let’s look at another aspect of truth found in this verse, the aspect of service. “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God … ” A doorkeeper – that is an arena of service for God. I am afraid that far too many of God’s people come to His house each Lord’s Day with nothing more than a desire to occupy a space in a seat or on a pew. But is it appropriate to say that God intends for each of His children to have an area of ministry or service for Him? I certainly think so. And can I say that serving God is a choice, but it must be one born out of our love for Him and not a sense of duty to Him. Let’s spend this day in the Lord’s court serving Him in the place where He shows us to serve. Just my thoughts …

Wear It Proudly!

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, (12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6.10-13

Reading these verses is almost like reading a page out of a war manual that is used to train someone in the military in preparation for battle. The practicality of what Paul writes here cannot be overlooked by any believer. This is for you. This is for me.

So, let’s see if we can make some rather obvious observations. (1) Our strength to fight our enemy is found in the Lord and not in our own ability, no matter how gifted we may be: “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (2) Our enemy is not someone imaginary. He is very real. We must be able to “stand against the wiles of the devil … ” (3) God has provided every piece of armor that we will need in this battle: “Put on the whole armour of God … ” (4) Our enemy does not take the for that we would imagine that he would: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Every where we turn in life, our enemy is there to confront us and his form is described in the verse above and he is not always easily recognizable. Finally, (5) we must use the armor that God provides. Nothing else will work: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

This battle is not a game. It is very real. We are most foolish if we think we can win a spiritual battle with our own creativity and strength. Let’s draw on Paul’s wisdom and take every precaution necessary to be victorious in our battle with the Evil One. Just my thoughts …