To Whom Are You Looking!

 

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (34) Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. ” Matthew 6.33-34

How can such a simply declaration of truth be so difficult for us to believe and put into practice? I’m sure we have all heard this verse quoted or we have read it many times over. Yet we continually trouble ourselves over the things of the morrow. Don’t forget these words: “for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” The counsel Jesus gives His followers is this: “seek me today, now … I am here. Let me add the things you need to your life today. Remember, I will also take care of tomorrow when it gets here.”

Let’s go back to the opening words: “Seek first … ” The biblical protocol for dealing with any issue is found in these words. Seek God first. The reason that is so important is because it changes our focus from our problem to the only One who can solve our problem. It may seem like I hammer this concept a lot in my blogs, but it is such an all-important concept.

It may help us to take note of what “all these things” are. “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or Where withal shall we be clothed.” (V. 31) (I might also add, Where shall I live?) The totality of the needs of your life and mine are held securely in the hands of this loving God who has promised to meet our needs, no matter what they are. Remember that not one of your needs is bigger than your God. He made the universe. He made you, and He will handle your need. Just my thoughts …

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Let God Do It!

The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14.14

Why is it so difficult for us to let God fight our battles for us? At what point in our rational thought processes do we think we have more power than God, or we know more about our enemy than God, or we can win this battle without His help?

The picture here is one of impossible odds if God doesn’t show up. Israel has left Egypt and Pharaoh decides he has made a mistake in letting his 2 million slaves go, so he sets out after them. When he catches up with them, the children of Israel are up against the Red Sea with no way known to them to cross it. In the verse preceding this one we read these words: “And Moses said unto the people Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever.

Man, we have a hard time standing still, don’t we? In v. 12 the people said, “Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.” Here is an attitude of utter helplessness. But God … “The LORD shall fight for you … ” Israel needed to believe it and we need to believe it. Never mind HOW God is going to do it. We simply need to believe that He IS going to do it.

Here is the hard part: “ye shall hold your peace.” Just shut up and let God be God. He does that far better than you and I ever could. These are just my thoughts …

Mercy Is NOT Overrated!

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51.1-2

When I read this account of David coming to God and pleading for mercy because of his actions with Bathsheba, I am reminded of what you and I enjoy in our walk with God in this age of grace. God’s mercy is already ours because of Calvary. THAT act of mercy guarantees the ongoing extension of mercy to us throughout our earthly lives.

David describes God as a God of lovingkindness. It would be difficult to separate the gift of mercy and the quality of lovingkindness. You and I are certainly the recipients of God’s lovingkindness. We both know that we have not done anything to earn it but we could not live without it.

As we continue reading David’s words, he asks to be “washed” and “cleansed”. Washing is that which is necessary when something that is supposed to be clean is dirty. For example, we need to wash our hands before we eat. We use the word “cleanse” when we are talking about cleansing a wound. We want to make certain that everything that needs to be removed from the wound has been removed.

How should you and I look at these requests of David? We can be thankful that he came to God and did what he needed to do in order to maintain his fellowship with God. We can also be thankful that washing and cleansing are somethings that are provided for us in our salvation experience. After we are saved, when we sin, we don’t need to be saved again but we do need to confess our sin in order for our fellowship to be restored. Let’s be grateful today for what we have in Christ. Just my thoughts …

What a God! What a Gift! What a Sacrifice!

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

Before I had graduated from Bible College, I was called to serve in a church in Arlington, TX. I was the music director (we call them worship leaders today [lol]). Shortly after arriving there, one of the teachers of the 2-year-old children came to me and said, “Bro. Burton, I would like for you to visit my class this Sunday and hear something from my 2 yr. olds.” I said, “I will be there.” When I walked in, she said, “Children, let’s show Bro. Burton what we have learned recently.” And they began reciting John 3.16 – perfectly. Not only was she proud of them, but I was so thankful that they learned this powerful truth at such an early age.

How do we measure the dimensions of the word “so” here in this verse? The love of God for this world was not greater than His love for His Son, but He loved His Son so much and knew that NOTHING else but His perfect sacrifice could satisfy the righteous demands of the law to completely pay for the sins of the world. Such great NEED and such great DEMAND could only come together in the place we call the “place of the skull.” What the Roman government thought they were doing was putting to death someone who kept the multitudes stirred up. But what they were really doing was carrying out God’s plan to give “his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God planned it. The Roman government thought they orchestrated it. God the Son willingly carried it out, and God the Holy Spirit became a reality to believers as a result of it. Oh my dear friend, God GAVE. Have you RECEIVED? Just my thoughts …

Free Grace for the Unworthy Sinner – Me!

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

You’ve heard the expression, “I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?” That is what we are looking at in these two short verses. The bad news is that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God … ” Although each one of us knows that he is a sinner, if this were the only piece of information we received, there would be no hope. To know that I am a sinner identifies my condition before God, but there is absolutely no indication of where I can turn to remedy my situation. This little phrase, “come short” quite simply means to “miss the mark.” If you and I are standing on the edge of a cliff, and the distance to the other side is only 20 feet, we may reason within ourselves that we can make that jump. But if I jump and only make it 10 feet and you jump and make it 19 feet, guess what? We both missed the mark. My grandfather used to say that “almost” counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

The good news is found in v. 24: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Don’t you love the ring of the words “justified freely”? God says to us that our condition is hopeless if left up to us, but He is willing to justify us freely – how – “ by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” God says, “I will take care of everything, if you will let me.” This is such wonderful news for us to be able to share with those whom we know who are NOT justified freely by His grace. They just need to know how much God loves them and what He will do FOR them if they will just allow Him to do it. Just my thoughts …

There Are Times When a Lamp Is No Good!

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119.105

This entire Psalm 119 is anchored in the truth of how valuable the Word of God is to God’s children. For example: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119.11) V. 9 immediately preceding this verse says: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” These are just brief references to add weight to what v. 105 has already said.

It is far too easy to just say, “Man, these are really cool verses. I really need to pay attention to them.” Paying attention is not the same as acting on what we know. I can pay attention to a stoplight that is red but go right on through it, because I did not act on what I learned about that light when taking drivers education. There are far too many times when we seem to KNOW so much better than we DO.

Let’s give serious consideration to what the Psalmist tells us here in v. 105. God’s Word IS a lamp to our feet. Whether or not we pay attention to what that lamp reveals to us is something quite different. One summer I was walking from my aunt’s house in Georgia down to a pond they had on their property. The path was OK but it could be dangerous so I was told to “be careful” and watch where I was going. A few feet from the house I entered a wooded area and was watching the path ahead when I saw a rattle snake crawl under a rock just a few feet from me. I didn’t stand there and weigh whether or not I could run fast enough to get past that rock before the snake might come after me and bite me. I turned around immediately, went back toward the house and found another path that was clearly much more open. I took that path without incident.

The Lamp of God’s Word is MUCH MORE effective than that, if I am willing to hide its words in my heart. The choice is mine. How much do I WANT to know and how persistent will I be in learning it? Let’s follow the “light” our God gives us. Just my thoughts …

What Was Mine Became His!

Who his own self bare our sins I his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2.24

This opening “Who” here is a direct reference to Christ, who is mentioned in previous verses. The encouraging truth for us here is that He (Christ) bore OUR sins in His OWN body on the tree (cross). While this death was substitutionary, it was none-the-less a death that I should have suffered, BUT He took it for me. Because of His death, we are now rendered “dead to sins.” The only problem for so many of us is that we STILL live as if we are under the control of sin. 2 Corinthians 5.17 says: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” If old things are passed away and all things are become ne, why do we still want to hang on to the detrimental things of the past that create failure after failure? Paul writes in Romans 6.6-7: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Now folk, that is either true or it is not! We need to LIVE like it is true because it is.

Just an observation about these last words: “by whose stripes ye were healed.” Some may want to apply these words to physical healing, but if that is the case, then why isn’t every true believer free from ANY kind of physical malady? I believe the healing here is what God does to my spiritual life because of what Christ did to give me a spiritual life. Just my thoughts …

Christ Jesus Came Just to SAVE Sinners!

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1Timothy 1.15

Sometimes when I read this verse, if I am not careful, I get caught up in the statement that Paul gives about himself. He said that he was the chief of sinners. I do not want to quarrel with him about that. He knows his past better than I do. But I do want my focus to remain on the main thought of this verse: “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …

On my two visits to the Holy Land, I will quickly admit that some sites spoke to my heart more than others. Among those sites were two in particular: Golgotha (the place of the skull), which was the place of the crucifixion, and the Garden Tomb that is still empty. Each time I saw them, they were both stark reminders of WHY Jesus came to this earth in the first place. He did not come to work miracles, even though He did a number of them, He did not come to be a phenomenal teacher, even though He was the best that ever was. He did not come to die as a martyr, even though that was something that was talked about then and is still talked about in some circles today.

It can’t be made any clearer than this: “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners … ” No matter what else seems to be of major importance in my life today, I must NEVER forget that Jesus came to SAVE sinners. I am one of those sinners, but there are so many more who have NEVER even heard that Jesus came, must less that He came to die for their sin. I don’t want to ever lost sight of WHY He came and my responsibility to this lost world BECAUSE He came. Just my thoughts …

Simple Observation! Powerful Truth!

Wherefore thou are great, O LORD God: for there is none like the, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” 2 Samuel 7.22

Most of us would NEVER publicly challenge this first statement about God, but how many times have we LIVED like there was someone or something greater than our God? God has just spoken to David in such a remarkable way and promised him a great future for his son Solomon. And David’s response was this: “Wherefore thou are great, O LORD God … ” Only God could have MADE and KEPT the promise He had just made to David. Think about this! How many promises has God MADE to you and KEPT? If you are like me, you can’t count them all. They are more than memories … they are milestones in our walk with God.

there is none like the, neither is there any God beside thee … ” Do you see it? None like thee? “neither … any … beside thee … ” Not only is there NO OTHER God LIKE this God. There is no other look alike or want-to-be god who is ANYTHING like our God! Are you feeling special yet? David was!

Now for David’s closing thought: “according to all that we have heard with our ears.” Nathan, prophet of God, had just finished talking with David ABOUT God. David had seen and heard God work in his life and the life of his family so many different times. He had just been reminded one more time of Who God is and What God could do. When you and I are careful to watch what goes on in our lives day-by-day, we cannot escape seeing the hand of God at work over and over. It is SO important for us to do what David did – share with all who would listen and read, what God had done and was doing in his life and in his kingdom. Let’s be ALL ABOUT that sharing! Just my thoughts …

 

 

 

It’s Up to Us!

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3.15

The practical truths spoken in this verse are well worth our consideration. “let the peace of God rule in your hearts … ” I don’t know that I have ever met a follower of Christ who did not want “the peace of God” in his heart. For many of God’s children, they believe that this “peace of God” is something that God has said we CAN have but they don’t know WHERE to find it. Paul tells us to “let” the peace of God rule in our hearts. It sounds to me like whether or not God’s peace rules in our hearts is up to US and not God. If that is the case, what is the problem?

In John 14.27 Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Once again, peace is something Jesus gives us. Why then do so many still not have it. I believe Paul gives us the answer in Philippians 4.6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Can I put this in the simplest possible terms for us to understand? Paul says, (1) pray about everything, (2) worry about nothing and (3) transfer control of everything to God, AND in return God will give you His peace. I don’t really believe that needs to be explained, just believed and practiced.

In closing, Paul says, “and be ye thankful.” Oh that this would be the daily trademark of our walk with God – thankful hearts. Just my thoughts …