Love Him How Much?

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (6) And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. (7) And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 6.5-7

I think most of us would agree that we are just one generation away from losing sight of who God is, and what He wants to do in the lives of His children and in the world. And why is that the case? Because for far too long far too many of God’s children have failed to pay heed to the words written above. I know these verses are written to Israel, but I also know that they are applicable to us in the 21st century. So, what is the answer ro this dilemma?

Children learn by what they see modeled more than what they hear said. Since that is the case, look at the opening words of v. 5: “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” I would say that is a rather life-consuming statement. Every element of my life should demonstrate to anyone watching that I love God – no questions asked. That requires focus and commitment.

In order for us not to miss the next generation, we must follow the instructions in vs. 6 and 7: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” (v. 6) If they are in my heart, I must believe them in order for them to be there. Then there must be a total commitment of effort to transmit that which is in our hearts to our children. When we are sitting, walking, lying down and rising up – that is pretty much all the time. Let’s embrace the task and do it well and do it with joy. Just my thoughts …

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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 …

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 …

Tell What You Know!

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; (4) Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Corinthians 1.3-4

I think everyone reading these words could say that we have been through a time of tribulation or trial and God has brought us through in a way that only He could. So the words of this verse could be addressed to each one of us. I believe they are. Paul speaks of God as “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort … ” Think about those two words mercy and comfort. How many times have we desperately needed mercy and comfort? And EVERY TIME we had the need, God was there and provided exactly what we needed. He comforted us is all our tribulation.

So what are WE to do? Paul told the Corinthians and us this profound truth: “that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble … ” Every day we encounter people who are in … trouble and they are in desperate need of someone to guide them. And then God puts you in their path. That is no mistake … that is divine providence. So what is it that we are supposed to do? We are to provide comfort to them with the “comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” Who else is better qualified to tell a prospective open heart surgery patient what he is about to go through other than one who has already gone through that surgery? That person speaks from experience. Who else is better equipped to tell a fellow believer that God is faithful and He will bring them through their tribulation, than one who has already experienced the faithfulness of God in a similar situation? Let us be faithful to the task of comforting others as God brings them across our paths. Just my thoughts …

Dinner with a Friend!

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3.20

For the theologians reading this, I want you to know that I know the context of this verse and that it was written to the church. But I want to look at it from the standpoint of an application for you and me.

Imagine for a moment that the crucified Christ is knocking at your hearts door, and you hear Him say, “It’s me, Jesus. Can I come in and have a meal with you? Let’s just talk.” When i think about having a meal with a friend, I think about the things we have in common and the kinds of things we can talk about. What would Jesus want to talk to me about? Maybe He would speak about the truth that His goal for me is to represent Him down here on this earth? What if He asked me, “How well do you think you are doing with that?” I would be embarrassed to say, “Not as well as I should.”

He might ask me what I needed to change in my life in order for the world to see His life in me. As I think about a question like that, I am reminded how many times a day I focus solely on what I want rather than on what He wants for me. I think about the opportunities I have missed to share my faith in Him with others who do not know who He is. Even by imagining a conversation with Jesus, I am convicted by the way I have lived my life for Him. How about you? Let’s determine that we are going to live in such a way that we have just had a conversation with the Savior, and He said, “Live well for me!” Just my thoughts …

What Kind of Day Is It Really?

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118.24

Have you ever awakened in the morning and lay there thinking, “Man, I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to face this day at all”? I must admit that I have done that on a number of occasions and then the Holy Spirit reminds me of this verse above. When I come to grips with the simple truth that “This is the day which the LORD hath made …”, then my view of the day ahead changes. I am forced to remember that He knows what is best for me. Frequently the Spirit reminds me of Jeremiah 29.11: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” I really like this translation: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV) When I remember that God always has my best interests at heart, it is easier to embrace the things that He allows to come into my day.

I think this next phrase is a challenge for many of us: “we will rejoice and be glad in it.” It is one thing to acknowledge that the day is one that God made. It is quite another thing to rejoice and be glad in it. What does that mean anyway? What is the opposite of rejoicing? There may be a number of words that could go there. If I am whining, I am certainly not rejoicing. If I am complaining, I am certainly not rejoicing. If I am criticizing, I am certainly not rejoicing. If I am dreading that which is to come, I am certainly not rejoicing. So, Jerry, are you saying that I must face each day with a pharisaical smile and act like nothing is every wrong? I am not saying that at all. I am saying that perhaps we should be saying to God, “What is it you want me to learn in today’s experiences” rather than, “Why in the world did you let that happen, God.” Just my thoughts …

Condemnation? No!

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. (17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3.16-17

One of the most favorite verses in the Bible is John 3.16. Children memorize it early on in their lives. Pastors preach from it. It is used in sharing the gospel with those who are lost. But we discover great truth when we link verse 16 with verse 17. We discover WHY the coming of Christ into the world was so important.

God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world … ” There are some who think of God only as a severe judge whose only purpose is to send men to a Christless eternity called hell. There are others still who say that God is such a God of love that He could never send anyone to hell. Neither of these assessments of God is true. If all men are going to heaven anyway, then why did Jesus have to die?

But here is the good news we all need to hear … Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to offer to all who would accept Him a ticket out of this world into an eternity with Him and His heavenly Father. This is how John says it: “that the world through him might be saved.” If men hear the gospel, and know why Jesus came, but they still refuse to accept Him as Savior, God has not condemned them to a Christless eternity. They have condemned themselves by refusing to believe the truth. But what about those who never hear, who never have an opportunity to accept Christ because they do not know who Jesus is or why He came? Then I believe their blood is on our hands as New Testament churches because we have neglected to take the gospel to the “uttermost part of the earth.” Of all the good news that will be shared at this Christmas season, let us go, and/or give, and pray that all the world may know! Just my thoughts …

 

Victors not Victims!

 

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15.57

We seem to live in a world in which people see themselves as victims in so many life situations. Just because we have a bad experience, or are born with a less than perfect body, or have less than a perfect marriage, or less than a perfect job does not mean that we are a victim. It simply means that life is not perfect – and no one has a perfect life.

What is Paul saying to believers here in this verse? His reference to victory is speaking of victory over death. That does not mean that we will not die, but that the sting of death has been conquered. That is one of the things Christ conquered for us on the cross. Of ALL the things that the death of Christ accomplished for us, the knowledge that the sing of death has been conquered is a wonderful truth. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (v. 55)

You and I must remember the words of 2 Corinthians 5: “We ae confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” If you have lost a loved one who is a believer., you know the comfort those words bring you.

But if you and I are victors over death, does that truth have any bearing on the rest of life? If death has been conquered, what else is there to fear? So often we are bound by fear when dealing with sickness and/or relationships. The simple truth of the matter is this, if God can handle death (the ultimate blow to life), then He can surely handle a terminal illness, a wayward child, a spouse who chooses to walk away, a job that may terminate tomorrow, or a problem with another believer that may seem unsolvable to us. Just remember that we are victors, not victims. Just my thoughts …

 

Life Is Short At Best!

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 forever. And this is the word which by the angel is preached unto you.” 1 Peter 1.24 – 25

I just turned 78 a few days ago. That probably seems old to some. But when I read these opening words, I am reminded again of the brevity of life down here on this earth: “all flesh is as grass … ” Look at the comparison Peter makes here between the grass that withers and the word of the Lord. “The grass withereth … But the word of the Lord endureth forever.” When we consider that all flesh is grass, that is referring to us. No matter how long we live, compared to the enduring word of God and the life we look forward to in eternity, this life is literally a “drop in the bucket.”

When you and I come to grips with the brevity of life, how does that affect the urgency of the gospel as it relates to this lost world? Does it somehow turn our focus from ourselves to the world that is rushing past us into a Christless eternity? If it doesn’t, it should.

Since this “word of the Lord endureth forever”, that knowledge tends to validate its authority and emphasize it purpose for our lives today. God’s plan has always been to get the message of the gospel to the whole world and when that doesn’t happen, it is not a reflection on Him, but upon His children who fail to carry out His plan.

So, in your mind, what is God’s plan for this world? Is it to leave thousands in darkness, never hearing the message of the gospel? Can you imagine them marching past the great white throne and saying, “No one ever came. We did not know you had a son named Jesus and that He died for our sins.” Oh my friend, we have three options before us. (1) We can go ourselves. (2) We can give sacrificially so others can go. And (3) we can all pray for the gospel to reach the untold millions who are still untold. 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 …