CULTURE is not our course!

JESUS CHRIST the same, yesterday, and today, and forever.~Hebrews 13:8

JESUS CHRIST the same, yesterday, and today, and forever.~Hebrews 13:8

If there is one thing a true follower of Christ can count on, it is that culture as a whole, will change and become increasingly bold and accepting towards sin as we draw closer to the return of Christ. it shouldn’t surprise us.  It shouldn’t scare us. It shouldn’t cause us to over react. It shouldn’t cause us to hate the sinner. Jesus told us that as the days draw closer to a close, sin will abound. Accept is as fact. It will happen and it will continue to happen until we see Him face to face!

2 Timothy 3:1-5 Tells us…But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Though once ourselves bound by sin, we now as followers of Christ, have been given the Holy Spirit! Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to live a life of freedom! In order to walk in this freedom we must remain people of prayer and continue to study God’s Word, which will increase our faith!

We read in 1 Timothy chapter 4 verses 4-16,  that as the Lord’s return draws closer, some people will abandon their faith in Christ and be seduced by the increase in sin.

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

We must be knowledgeable of the Word of God and diligent in obeying it so that when our culture continues to grow more and more accepting of things that are clearly marked sin in God’s word we will not get entangled in that sin but will instead  intercede all the more for those who are trapped in it and by it! Our motivation must be love. Love for the lost, love for those trapped in the bondage of sin and love for those who have been freed from it through Christ! WE don’t change when culture changes. We are to remain steadfast to the Word of God. If you find yourself more accepting of sin than you need to get yourself into the Word of God (your Bible) and realize how God sees it. Just because everyone else is doing it  or approving of it does not mean it will ever be okay in God’s eyes.  This does not mean we should battle the increase of sin in our culture with fighting words against those whom we want to see freed! Words spewed out in anger and bitterness will never draw anyone away from their sin and to Christ.  Instead we are to share Christ as Lord and Savior. Without salvation and the Holy Spirit, all of us are bound by our sin! It is only through Christ that we are able to be free and keep that freedom. Quarreling words over sin will never accomplish what Jesus Christ alone can accomplish once He has inhabited the heart of a new believer!

It is after we confess Jesus Christ as Savior that we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to turn away from sin. While we are still dead in our sin it will remain a lifelong struggle. So fighting with a sinner trapped in sin is futile. What they need to hear is the gospel message of salvation. Too often we want people to clean up their lives before they come to Christ when what they really need is the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to bring about real heart change!

We don’t serve culture, we serve Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, Our King of Kings and the true Holy One! He does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His opinions on sin don’t change. He will always detest sin. He willingly endured the horrific death on the cross to free us of it! He doesn’t take it lightly! It is Jesus Christ that the sinner needs! Whether they are busy hiding their sin or boldly flaunting their sin, Jesus Christ alone can free them of it. Just as He alone has freed us of our past sin and continues to intercede on our behalf before the Father. He alone can bring salvation and true freedom.

So as things grow darker in this world we live in, we are to remain true to the Word of God, which requires us to read it and know it. We are NOT to be influenced or transformed by what culture says is okay. We are to stay true to the course Christ has put us on. The course to take up our cross daily, and follow Him and as we do this we are to share the gospel with the messed up, broken and lost. Once they have given their heart to Christ, we are to encourage them in their faith through the Word of God and in prayer. That is our calling as followers of Jesus Christ.

So each of us needs to be prepared to willingly share the gospel with the lost where they are. Trying to get them to clean up first is futile and renders the cross unnecessary. God has provided a beautiful way of saving and growing up His church. Salvation through Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us over sin. We don’t need to improve on it. We just need to share it!

Every day is our FATHER’S day

I love the fact that regardless of whether we have a living father, a father engaged in our life, a father that cares or a father that doesn’t care for us now and perhaps never will, the one thing that every follower of Christ can be assured of is the love of a Heavenly Father.  His love knows no bounds. His love has been demonstrated to each of us who call Jesus Christ Savior and Lord in the most wonderful and powerful way possible.

He loved us when we were most unlovable. While we were up to our eye balls in sin, He saved us through the sacrificial death of His most precious Son!  That’s powerful love! That’s limitless love! That’s love that we should never take for granted! His love exceeds any possible love that an earthly Father could demonstrate because He was willing to send His perfect, blameless Son to a painful and agonizing death on the cross for you and I in order to restore a relationship with Him.

1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The incredible love and mercy God demonstrated to us and continues to demonstrate to us through Christ is too much for us to really fathom. Just as Peter points out, we have been given a new birth (salvation) and a living hope of Eternal life all because of God’s great love towards us!

We have no excuse to live a defeated life as a follower of Christ due to the less than perfect actions of our earthly fathers. We have been given restored relationship with the Creator of the Universe, the Father to the fatherless, the lover of our souls through Christ and we need to move forward in the freedom that comes with that.

We serve a living, loving and merciful Father who has provided us with salvation and the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk out  the calling He has for our lives in victory! So let us lay aside our self pity and excuses and let us move forward as we abide in Christ and obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. Let us be thankful every day that we have a Heavenly Father that loved us and continues to love us more than any earthly father ever could. Let us praise Him and show our devotion to Him by obeying His Word and living  a life of service to Him, through Christ.


What’s bubbling to your surface?

Each one of us lives out our story of faith. Every day we are faced to deal with situations and people that cause us to react. Our reaction tells others a great deal about our character. God has called us, through Christ, to be salt and light in an otherwise dark world. Do our words and actions demonstrate the salt and light of the gospel or do they demonstrate a heart of self pity and complaining?

When we are driving down the road and someone cuts us off, our reaction is a direct result of what is inside us. If we have been thinking throughout the day of how difficult life is, how hard we have it or how unhappy we are, our reaction will not be too sweet! What comes to the surface during a crisis or a sudden upset is what we have been telling ourselves right up to that point. What we feed our minds bubbles up out of our mouths!

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.~Proverbs 23:7

 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky  as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.~Philippians 2:14-16

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.~James 4:1-3

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him,  rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.~Colossians 2:6,7

As followers of Christ we too often react with criticism, negativity and self pity because that’s what we have been feeding ourselves in our thought life all day! What goes into our thoughts comes out of our mouth. If we want to react and respond as Christ would, we need to feed our mind and heart on His Word. We need to be in an attitude of praise and thanksgiving, even in the difficult times. Taking up our cross often involves difficulties and trying times.

When we find ourselves reacting negatively to people and things we need to readjust our heart! We need to spend time with our Savior and  get back into the Word of God. It is necessary. It is essential if we want to live as Christ has called us to live, loving Him and serving others, there’s no other option.

I am so thankful that when I screw up and get waylaid in selfishness, I can ask the lover of my soul to forgive me and get me back on track!  He longs for our fellowship and is willing to forgive us over and over again.  So if you have been complaining, griping or just responding with an ungrateful attitude to your circumstances perhaps it’s time you get on your knees before Him and ask for forgiveness. Ask Him to get you back on track with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving. Ask Him to illuminate the Word of God before you read your Bible and allow it to penetrate into your heart and mind. Allow the Word to conform you into the image of Jesus so that you too can be the salt and light this world of ours so desperately needs!

Life is but a Vapor

This past weekend we lost a dear friend. She had recently been battling cancer and lost her fight. In our minds and hearts we lost her way too soon. She was still young! We didn’t expect to lose her this soon! This morning I was reminded that there are no guarantees when it comes to our life span. We cannot possibly predict what the future may hold for any one of us.  I was hit in the face with this fact almost ten years ago when we lost our twenty year old son Daniel in a car accident. I was reminded of it again this weekend.

There is no certainty, no guarantees and no assurance that we will have another day, another week, another month etc. As much as we like to feel we have control over so much of our life, this is one area none of us can control completely. We can take care of ourselves and try and stay fit but even that does not guarantee longevity.  So what does this mean? Should we live our lives in fear or discouragement knowing just how frail life can be? Should we worry incessantly about what could happen? The answer to all three questions is a resounding NO!

We are to live each day as if it were our last, abiding in Christ and serving as we have been called. NO fear, NO terror, NO worry, just living out our lives with purpose each day as we walk close to the ONE who gives us purpose. Each day is a gift God gives us to walk close to Him and share the gospel with a dying world. As long as we are staying close to Him through our prayer life and increasing our faith through the reading of the Word, we will hear Him speaking to our hearts and leading us. That is how we are to live each day. Not worrying about tomorrow or what it may bring. Simply living each day with His purposes in our heart! When we need wisdom to do so we simply ask for it. He promises to give it to us liberally! When we stumble, we need to repent and get right back on track. Moving forward in the course He has set before us.

We run into the most trouble when we forget that we who follow Christ, have been called for a purpose. We have been bought with a high price, the price of His shed blood. We have not been called to ignore God’s purposes and live out our own plans. When we remember to whom we owe our life and redemption we live with His purpose in mind. We lose the need to control our future. James says it beautifully. James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit;” whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

None of us knows what the future holds. We do know that we have been given this day! This day to walk close to the ONE who saved us and called us. Let’s remember to seek His face today and fulfill the purposes He has for us! Not worrying about tomorrow, next week, or any time in the future!

Lord, forgive us for our arrogance in thinking we have all the time in the world to fulfill Your purposes. Remind us each day that we need to live close to You, seeking Your face and purposes for our life. Knowing that life is but a vapor! We may not have tomorrow but we have today!   We ask this in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Really? Peace & Joy during a storm?

There is only one way, we who are followers of Christ, can possibly have peace when we go through a storm in life. It is by believing in the depths of our being the truth that God is faithful to us and will NEVER allow us to go through more than we can bear. It is knowing with absolute certainty that NOTHING or NO ONE is able to cause us to lose our peace and joy if we put our trust in the ONE who is absolutely trustworthy. The reason we too often lose our peace when the storms come is simply because we have stopped believing that everything that happens to us has been allowed by the ONE who knows us best!  He who knew us while we were being formed in our mother’s wombs, knows what can be used in the transformation of our character from selfish, self absorbed individuals to sold out, Spirit lead followers of Christ.

The great preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon once wrote, “God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.” There is so much truth in this quote. Why does it often take afflictions, trials, storms to grow us up? Perhaps it is because when things are going smoothly we tend to forget the goodness of our God. We tend to fall back into the pattern of thinking somehow we have control over all our circumstances. We forget just how much we need to rely on and depend on the lover of our soul!  When difficulties enter our lives it usually doesn’t take us too long before we are back to crying out to God for His help.

God wants us to go through life knowing, really knowing and believing that ALL things work together to them who love God and them who are called according to His purpose. When we finally really get it, really believe it, than we are able to trust Him regardless of the battle, regardless of the size of our opponent and regardless of the severity of the difficulty. This is how we are called to live as followers of Christ. Not on a daily emotional roller coaster that is fueled by our emotions and insecurities. We are to live by the truth of His Word which tells us nothing can separate us from Christ or His love for us. NOTHING!  If we allow them, afflictions will teach us just how reliable HE really is. If we speak the truth of His word to our situation and believe it in the depths of our being, than we are able to maintain our joy and peace no matter how difficult or severe the trial is. The truth of this has been demonstrated through centuries by all those martyrs who have willingly given their lives rather than deny Christ. They believed the truth of His Word and they lived it! Their lives and even their deaths became a witness for all those around them, that God will give the grace and willingness to endure whatever may come to those who love Him.

If our love is conditional based solely on His gifts and blessings to us it is not really love at all. If we truly love Him and believe He is who He says He is and that He loves us enough to not allow us to endure more than we can bear, we will be able to go through ANY circumstance with joy and peace. 

 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”~Deuteronomy 31:6

I’m not for one second suggesting this may be easy. Yet it is possible. Not by mind over matter or wishful thinking but soley by knowing the truth of who HE is and how very much HE loves us. By knowing Christ’s promises are as good today as they were when He walked the earth.  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.~Romans 8:28  

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;  and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.~Romans 5:1-5 

Our confidence in these truths  grow as we spend time with Him daily in prayer and as we spend time reading our Bibles, the Word of God.

 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.~Psalm 145:18  

 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.~Colossians 4:2

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.~2 Timothy 3:16,17

 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”~Romans 10:17

None of us know when trials will come. If we stay close to our Savior and grow in our faith, knowing and trusting Him completely, when they come we will not be swept away. We will be able to stand and endure with peace and with true joy (not surface happiness) but true joy, knowing whatever He allows to touch us is going to work out for long term good!  He will continue to grow Christ like character in us as we go through the very things we wish to avoid the most.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.~James 1:2-4

Ultimately, Christ is preparing us to one day meet Him face to face and hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” My prayer is that we will cultivate a deeper, more sincere walk with our Savior and Lord and that we will hide the Word of God in our hearts so that when the storms of life come crashing in, we will NOT be troubled or dismayed. We will confidently rest in knowing even in this, we can joyfully trust Him!  He is still in control!

Put down the remote and take up the CROSS

I am certain that as long as Christ is not the focus of our lives, we will never accomplish what we have been born to do. HE can’t just be Savior without being our Lord! We must keep Him on the throne of our hearts every day. It is a new decision every I put myself on the throne and ignore Him in my decisions or do I allow Him to rule my heart.

Too often we want to live our Christian walk as spectators. Nowhere in the Bible did the disciples and followers have that as an option and still live a life that pleased the Lord. The Word of God is full of just how important it is that we follow, not observe, not sit back and enjoy, but follow our beautiful King…whenever and wherever He leads us! We must be prepared to lay aside anything that is keeping us from following Him. That may be a habit, laziness, idleness, lack in our prayer life, lack in our reading the Word, anything!

Matthew 16:24-27 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Matthew 10:37-3937 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Luke 9:61-6261 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

John 13:12-1712 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

All of these verses require action on our part. Not spectating but active involvement in following our leader, Jesus Christ. It is so critically important that we don’t get too comfy in our pews and watch others serve Christ. Rather, we need to daily ask God for direction in how we can best serve Him!

We are living in a world where there is hurt, suffering, poverty and pain just about everywhere you look. There is no shortage of places to serve. Let each one of us daily ask where we can be used.

As we wait on the return of our Savior and King, let’s be mindful of putting Him first. Above all else, He must be first. When we see Him face to face, let there be no regrets! Let us joyfully look into His face as we hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”


It’s the SAME Spirit!

We follow the same Jesus that the disciples followed. We are filled with the same Spirit that filled them. The words that Jesus gave to His disciples are words for us today. He didn’t say, “I am with you always, until the last of the 12 disciples dies.” NO. Matthew 28:18-20 says 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  He is with us always! To the very end of the age! The same Jesus, the same Spirit abides with us today! 

I believe we need to remind ourselves from time to time that the Holy Spirit that moved in the book of Acts is still moving today. It is up to us to make a daily decision to read the Word of God and listen to the voice of the Spirit to lead us. When we do we are able to do wonderful things for the Kingdom of God. When we don’t we are merely living out a fleshly existence with little to no fruit.

Once the disciples repented of their sins, made a decision to follow Christ as their Lord and were filled with the Holy Spirit they became power kegs for the Kingdom of God. They literally turned the world upside down with the gospel. First to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. We too have the ability to turn our world upside down with the gospel, if we yield ourselves to the purposes that God has called us to. First and foremost we must grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, and secondly we must obey the Word. Being fired up to serve God without knowing who He is or what He wants us to do is a waste of time. We must learn of Him and that comes through studying the Word prayerfully. We must also spend time with Him in prayer daily. The saying, “Seven days without prayer makes one weak,” is more than just a cute phrase. We can’t live out a life of faith on old studying habits. We must continually be in the Word and allow God to transform our thoughts and life by the washing of the Word over our hearts and minds.

Too often we are walking around weak and defeated because of our lack of studying the Word and inconsistent prayer life. There is no excuse for this. We have the same Spirit that led Jesus, Paul, Peter and multiple others that have accomplished great things for the Kingdom. It is time we got serious about allowing that same Spirit to lead us into the works God has called us to do. NOTHING good will be accomplished by trying to please God with our own thought directed efforts. He has called us to abide in Christ. Abiding requires spending time with Him.

The book of Acts is so full of wonderful examples of how the men and women of God allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them in what to speak, who to speak to, where to go etc. We to need to be led by the Spirit. We need to keep our hearts tender before God so we can hear the still small voice of the Spirit when He leads and then OBEY!  When we do we will have the boldness to share the gospel and therefore see souls won for Christ, we will see signs and wonders and we will be growing in our walk with Christ as we should. The Word of God doesn’t change. The Spirit of God doesn’t change. The purposes of God don’t change. As you read the following scripture remember, it is as relevant for us today as it was for the Apostles..

Acts 2:14-21 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.18 Even on my servants, both men and women,  I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Father God: Remind us that we your sons and daughters are to be led by the Holy Spirit. Give us a heart that longs to share the good news of Christ with those who desperately need to hear it. Keep our hearts tender before You so that we may yield to Your will and accomplish much for Your Kingdom.  We ask it in the beautiful name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.