Saturday, December 12, 2009

G-d's 401K

In these tough economic times, many are struggling to juggle budgets and stay afloat financially. For some, they have lost much of their retirement income; for others, it's simply that the dollar just doesn't stretch as far as it did a short time ago. This creates a lot of uncertainty and stress---it's hard to know what to do when the horizon doesn't show much change for the better.

One thing is certain, and it's something we can count on: G-d is always in control and nothing takes Him by surprise!

This past year, the L-rd has shown me something that is so simple, so profound, yet most of us fail to grasp it. Why? Because it is just the opposite of what we are conditioned to do.

I'm not talking about prosperity, gaining riches, acquiring success according to the world's view. But I do know the L-rd's plan for meeting our needs. I believe with all my heart that if we follow G-d's principles, He will provide, He will bless. We can count on Him to be G-d in our lives!

In studying G-d's Word, we find that there are "opposites", or opposing ideas, throughout.

In Isaiah 55:8,9 the L-rd reminds us, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the L-RD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

The wisdom of this world has taught us to think and behave a certain way. We have, often without realizing it, absorbed and adopted worldly reasoning, philosophies and values that have had a deep-rooted and profound effect upon our behavior at the most fundamental levels.

I Corinthians 1:25, 27-29 illuminates the contrast between G-d's ways and the world's:

Because the foolishness of G-d is wiser than men; and the weakness of G-d is stronger than men.
But G-d hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and G-d hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath G-d chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in his presence."

Wow---G-d knows exactly what He is doing in making these choices and in establishing His ways! All is for His glory---man cannot share in that by any of his own cleverness or by contriving a "better way" to do things. One cannot expect success apart from doing things according to G-d's truths and His methods.

Here are some "opposites" in Scripture that illustrate this idea:

We must lose what we want to find: Matthew 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24

The last shall be first; the first shall be last: Matthew 20:16; Mark 9:35

The humble shall be exalted: Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14

Our liberty is used to serve: Galatians 5:13; I Peter 2:16

We are to love those who hate us: Matthew 5:43, 44

We are blessed when we are hated for the L-rd's sake: Luke 6:22, 23

Those who desire to be chief must be a servant: Matthew 20:26, 27

He that is least shall be greatest: Matthew 18:4; Luke 9:48c

To be honored requires humility: Proverbs 15:33; 18:12

In order to be strong, we must be weak: II Corinthians 12:10

And yes, even in the area of being blessed, the Scriptures instruct us that we must give if we are to receive!: Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35

Notice--we do not make arrangements with the L-rd that if He gives to us, then we will give to Him. We don't ask G-d to trust us and to take us at our word. It's the other way around!

The Bible clearly states, "Give, and it shall be given unto you....."!! G-d establishes the order. He wants us to prove Him in our lives. He wants us to take the step of faith in obedience to Him, learn to trust Him and take Him at His Word. He wants to prove to us that He will never fail in keeping His promises.

Malachi 3:7-11 explains G-d's plan so well:

"Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. "

Is that not how many of us find ourselves today? We have been living according to the world's rules and not G-d's principles.

"Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the L-RD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?"

Most of us don't realize what we've been doing; we think we've been pretty good Christians. Some of us....myself included.....have had no clue!! We may have been giving in the offering plate on Sunday, but we haven't realized the right way to view it or G-d's whole economy of working in our lives as a result!

"Will a man rob G-d? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee?"

I daresay that most of us would recoil at the thought of robbing G-d! We would never think to do such a thing. We'd never steal from anyone, much less G-d!!

"In tithes and offerings." This is G-d's answer to that question! Plain, simple, direct!

The tithe, G-d's Word tells us, already belongs to G-d. It is His! Our offerings are what we are to give above that, from our hearts, willingly, out of love for Him.

"Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation."

Are we there yet? Are you with me on this? Isn't this the truth? We can never seem to get ahead. Our whole nation is surely reaping this curse!

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the L-RD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

This is G-d's remedy for that curse! But it seems so opposite of what we naturally would do!!

If we are struggling financially, what do we usually do? We hold back, don't we? We hang on tightly to every penny and dime!

What do we put in the offering plate on Sunday? Nothing? [L-rd---I can't give---I don't have anything to give--I have to pay the water bill and the property taxes, and car insurance this week!] A dollar? Five dollars? Ten dollars? Do we merely "tip" G-d? [Well, as soon as I start making more money, I'll give more, we lie to ourselves.]

Did you know that every person who has ever told my husband (the pastor) that they will give the church a big offering when they get an expected large some of money has never done so? We literally cringe whenever anyone says anything like this, because their flesh is weak, and they don't follow through, and disaster always results for this person in time.

You cannot rob G-d; it's a serious thing to default on a vow to G-d.

"And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes....."

Have you been plagued by the devourer? Have you been throwing good money after bad? G-d says that we are to prove Him regarding our giving and see what He will do to take care of our needs!

Paul revealed this truth of giving and receiving to the Philippian believers. We all like to quote Philippians 4:19 whenever we are experiencing trouble of this nature: "But my G-d shall supply all your need...."

However, we ignore the previous verses that reveal the context and conditions for this promise.

Verse 15 reveals the issue: giving and receiving, namely in taking care of the needs of G-d's servant, Paul.

Verse 17 reveals Paul's motive for using this situation to illustrate this fundamental truth to these early believers: "I desire fruit that may abound to your account."

Paul was not being selfish here. G-d would supply his needs with or without these Philippian believers, but he wanted them to reap the rewards!

Verse 16 reveals that the Philippians sacrificed to give to Paul---"a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to G-d." They didn't give because they had a bunch of extra stuff or money that they could easily part with. They gave out of their own necessity!

Verse 19 is to reassure these believers that the result of their giving would not impoverish them, but rather, G-d would take care of all their needs.

Have you ever considered that there is a reason why G-d loves a cheerful giver?

The L-rd wants to bless us! He loves us, therefore He desires to be able to pour out His blessings upon us.

It's we, ourselves, that hinder the L-rd blessing us!!

II Corinthians 9:6-8 reveals a very profound truth: If we sow sparingly, we will reap sparingly. But the converse is also true---give bountifully and we will reap bountifully.

The L-rd does, indeed, bless us in proportion to our giving.

This isn't a "prosperity gospel" thing at all. II Corinthians 9:8 tells us that when we follow G-d's principle of giving, then He will make sure that we "having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work."

The purpose for which we need G-d's blessings to be poured out on us is not for selfish gain! It is to be able to serve G-d with liberty, without the constraint that lacking things brings. We want to be blessed in order to bless the L-rd by serving Him and being able to give more and more and more......with the result being that the more we give, the more G-d blesses us so that we can give even more and so on!

This way of thinking and living blesses others and blesses G-d! And in blessing others and G-d, we, ourselves, are blessed also.

The end all is not to GET something from G-d. It isn't to accumulate wealth or things to consume it upon our own lusts (James 4:3). If that is our motive, then we know why we ask and receive not!

Again, let us look at Malachi 3:10---

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the L-RD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

In other words, G-d is able to bless us so that all our needs are met. Why? Because in meeting the needs of G-d's work and His servants----"that there be meat in mine house", the windows of heaven are then opened to meet our own needs.

Just as in II Corinthians 9, we are told that G-d's blessing us is in order that we may abound to every good work----for HIS glory---yet we reap the rewards! It is to our benefit to be a cheerful giver!! G-d loves a cheerful giver so that He can pour out blessings upon us.

Isn't this so much better than our usual selfish, worldy-wise way of living?

Truly, this "opposite" is born out: It is more blessed to give than to receive!!

This is G-d's 401K plan for us. He wants to meet our needs, and when we do according to His methods, He will!

Because the greatest giver of all is our G-d!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Have you ever noticed something interesting about the word, "SIN"?

There's a big "I" in the middle of it!

Basically, sin can be summed up in one word: SELFISHNESS.

If you think about it, every sinful act, thought, desire, impulse is screaming with selfishness. It's what "I want", how "I feel", what "I think" that motivates a selfish person. and what is at the root of all this?

P-R-I-D-E! [Notice that there's a big "I" in the middle of this word as well!]

Pride and selfishness go hand in hand. Our pride leads us to believe that we "deserve it", so we indulge ourselves rather than submit to G-d. We serve ourselves instead of considering others and how we affect them.

Paul instructed the believers in Romans 14:7 that, "None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself."

What did Paul mean by that?

Simply this: We belong to G-d. If we live selfishly, we are sinning against G-d and against others as well.

How we live, the decisions we make, everything we do, affects our relationship with the L-rd. And with others. The verse after this one bears this out.

In these last days, we are finding that very few actually care how they offend a Holy G-d or how they affect others. Our churches would reflect a far different picture otherwise.

The Bible tells us in Galatians 5:13---"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."

All the works of the flesh that are listed in Galatians 5 are selfish. When we commit sin we are saying, in essence, that we do not have a regard for the L-rd and what He wants. Instead of our lives being a holy sacrifice unto G-d, which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1), we settle ourselves on the throne. Instead of living for His good pleasure, we live for our own.

What a pitifully poor way to live! Not only do we rob G-d of what is due Him, we deprive ourselves and others of so much. Little do we realize what we do.

Recently, I read an account of the earthquake that occurred in New England in 1727, and what resulted from it. You can read the account here:

The result of this incredible, massive earthquake was a great revival. The first thing the Christians did after their initial shock was to run to their pastors and churches! Unbelievers sought out the same.

Their homes and possessions were not on their minds---G-d was on their minds, and they knew their own hearts were not right with Him!

Christians repented of their sin and others came to know the L-rd. But, in time, after the initial fear of G-d waned, people returned to their old way of thinking and living.

Do we see that kind of revival happening today when disasters strike? Sadly, I think not.

Instead of trials and testings humbling us, we find that people's hearts grow harder. Pride sears consciences.

It's a sad commentary on these last days that even we believers are so self-indulgent, self-righteous, self-absorbed, so full of "I".

Our sinful human nature does not want to submit to the L-rd. It does not want to admit we have done wrong; rather, we want to transfer our guilt onto someone or something else.

Repentance doesn't come easily to us.

Proverbs 20:6 says that, "Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?"

Let's look at what the L-rd tells us will happen in the not-too-distant future:

Revelation 16:18-21---"And there were voices, and thunders, and lightenings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.

And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before G-d, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed G-d because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great."

It's rare these days to find that people have soft, humble hearts that say, "I have sinned!" "It's me, it's me, Oh L-rd, standing in the need of prayer!" So, it's easy to see that people will be that hard-hearted during the tribulation. Instead of their great suffering turning their hearts to G-d, they will curse Him.

The Bible tells us that before this takes place, in the last days, that there will come a falling away first (II Thess. 2:3). I think we are there.

A cavalier attitude towards sin is the norm these days: "Well, everyone sins." "We all do things wrong." "It's really no big deal." So, we give sin a pass in our lives. There is little or no regard for how the L-rd views things.

One way to prevent or remedy that in our own hearts is to get rid of the "I" and replace it with "O"!

Let us have none of self on the throne.

Rather than S-I-N, let it be the S-O-N Who rules our hearts!

Friday, September 25, 2009

What If......

Do you struggle with making decisions? I don't mean regarding what to have for dinner or which color to paint the bathroom, but decisions that impact your life and the lives of others?

Sometimes we feel that we're between a rock and a hard place in our lives to the point that we just freeze, and don't do anything. Of course, indecision is, in fact, a decision of sorts, too.

But, I think that usually, when we get paralyzed by the "what ifs", we fail to see the opportunity to walk by faith that the L-rd is presenting to us.

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. had a saying years ago: "Do Right! Though the stars fall, do right!"

Let's consider some "what ifs" that have gone before us.

What if Esther had not approached the King? She could have analyzed her situation for three days:

"If I go to the King uninvited, he could choose to behead me. If I tell the King that I'm a Jew and my people are to be destroyed because of Haman, he could decide that I am to be killed along with my people. If I misspeak, Haman could outsmart anything I do, and all will be lost anyway."

And on and on, she could have rationalized herself out of doing the right thing, which was to pray, trust the L-rd, and make her stand.

But because Esther didn't get bogged down in the "what ifs", she walked by faith, and was obedient to the L-rd, no matter how daunting the task and situation she faced. Because she was faithful to do the right thing, she saved her people from annihilation! Because of Esther, there are now many Sephardic Jews back in their homeland!

How about Abraham. Suppose he reasoned like this:

"Oh, I just don't know about heading out of here into the unknown! What if I get lost? What if I lead all my family into a situation that turns into a disaster and we can't get back home? What if my wife's family gets really upset with me? If this turns out wrong, they'll never let me forget it! What if I lose everything?"

Because Abraham didn't get bogged down in the "what ifs", G-d promised him a son and an uncountable number of descendants! If Abraham hadn't simply obeyed without doubting, he and his family would have been robbed of immeasurable blessings, and he would not have been "the Friend of G-d".

What if Nathan had said, "Oh---I can't tell the King that he sinned! What if he gets so angry with me that he has me killed for treason?" But because Nathan did what was right, G-d was able to restore David, a man after G-d's own heart!

You see......when we get bogged down by the "what ifs", we not only affect our own selves, but the lives of our family, and others in subsequent generations! We are so short-sighted sometimes, that all we see is the situation at hand and the obstacles inherent in it, but we fail to see the victory the L-rd will give us and the blessings that follow for us and our loved ones if we will just do right and obey by faith.

Does that mean that everything goes smoothly; that no one gets upset with our decisions or that relationships won't be affected? No. Sometimes there is a cost to following the L-rd. But it is minimal compared to the rewards; and much less than the cost of disobedience and a lack of faith.

What if? What if not?!

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to G-d must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6

Monday, September 21, 2009

How Do You Measure Up?

Paul loved Timothy as a son, and devoted two whole epistles to encouraging and exhorting Timothy in his ministry. One verse really stands out, and it's probably one you know very well: I Timothy 4:12 where Paul instructs Timothy to be an example of the believer in the following ways---in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Quite a list, huh? It follows that if Timothy was to be an example to other believers in these regards, the purpose of his example was that the believers should follow him, emulating his example, right?

How we behave and treat one another is very important to the L-rd; He would not have had Paul include this list in his letter to Timothy if it were not essential. In fact, throughout the New Testament, we are admonished regarding our behavior to one another as believers.

We live in an age where selfishness reigns. Society does that which is right in their own eyes, and we Christians are prone to "catch" that virus. Sometimes we just need to take stock and ask the L-rd to show us if we've caught that old "selfish" bug. Instead of
"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." as Phil. 2:4 tells us, we get so introverted and focused on our own plans and lives.....forgetting others and how we affect them.

As believers and members one of another---in the body of Christ---what we do or don't do does indeed, affect others in the body. If the hand or the foot isn't functioning as it should, it hinders and cripples the body. The L-rd does hold us accountable for how we function within the body of Christ as a whole, and within our local church body; how we behave towards one another as believers will be judged. Do we do our part to encourage, admonish, pray for, sacrifice, give, and love one another, or do we expect others to carry that load, and then blame others for why we aren't fulfilled as a member of the body?

Here are some's a good checklist for us to examine ourselves:

Romans 15:14, 30
I Corinthians 1:10; 11:33; 15:58
II Corinthians 13:11
Galatians 6:1
Ephesians 4:32
I Thessalonians 4:1; 5:12, 14, 25
II Thessalonians 1:3; 3:1, 6, 13
I Timothy 5:1-3
Hebrews 13:22
James 1:2, 16, 19
James 2:1; 3:1, 10
James 5:7, 9, 10
I Peter 1:22; 3:8
I John 3:14, 16

Here is what our Saviour said in Mark 12:30, 31:

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."

Wow---did you get that?! "There is none other commandment greater than these."

Pretty profound, huh?

What a difference we'd make if we really did what these verses say!

Friday, July 31, 2009

How Do We Know If We Really Love Him or Not?

How do we know if we really love the L-rd?

The "litmus test", if you will, is as Jesus instructed His disciples in John 14:15:

"If ye love Me, keep My commandments."

The L-rd reiterated this important injunction again in verse 21:

"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 to him."

That's pretty straight-forward, isn't it? Of course, the L-rd knows our hearts, whether we love Him or not. But He also knows that there will be evidence of our love! And too, how do we know that someone loves the L-rd, unless we see the evidence for it?

How is our love for our spouse, for our children evidenced? We desire to please them, don't we? We do things for them, care for their needs, spend time with them. We nurture those very precious relationships!

What if your spouse or children seldom considered you or your feelings in regard to how they lived or the decisions they made? What if they gave little notice or recognition for the things you did for them? Would you feel loved? Could they even convince you that they loved you?

When we see children neglected, we determine that they are not loved.

Contrast that with how we show our love for our L-rd!

How can we say we love the L-rd if we neglect Him, and neglect to obey Him?

Sadly, I believe most of us fall very
short in this area. We put more thought and effort into the pursuit of our own happiness than we do the L-rd's. Our prayer life consists of a request list pages long, while giving little thought to what we can do for His good pleasure!

We are such selfish creatures. But you know, the word L-O-V-E does not have an "I" in it!

The proof of our love for the L-rd is in our obedience to Him, denying ourselves!

Notice the very precious promise if we keep G-d's commandments, thereby loving Him:

We will be loved by the Father and the L-rd Jesus will manifest Himself to us.

Wow---did you get that? The more love we show the L-rd by our obedience to Him, the more He reveals of Himself to us.

But doesn't that make sense? The more love someone shows us, the more we want to be with them, and the more we are willing to be "vulnerable" and share ourselves with them---right?

Except, it seems, when it comes to the L-rd. He showers His blessings upon us---over and above giving us our salvation; He proves His love to us every day! But we go merrily on our way, oblivious to the things of the L-rd, so caught up in our jobs, duties, pleasures, that we have little time for the L-rd!

Are you getting as convicted as I am about now??

Later on in verses 23, 24, the L-rd continues to explain about this cause and effect regarding loving and obeying:

"....If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and my Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

He that loveth Me not keepeth not my sayings...."

Boy, the L-rd doesn't mince words---pretty clear, huh?!!

The L-rd Jesus is very clear in spelling out the fact that if we do not obey Him, we do not love Him.

But, hey----we can't obey God's Word if we don't know what He says in it!
Daily Bible reading---really taking time to hear from the L-rd---is essential in being obedient to Him!

In Matthew 7:16 Jesus advised His disciples regarding others who claim to be of G-d,
"Ye shall know them by their fruits."

Verses 17-21 expand on this statement:

"Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit;
but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit,
neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down,
and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Not everyone that saith unto Me, L-rd, L-rd,
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven;
but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

There is no middle ground, no gray area here. We know if we love the L-rd, and we know if others love the L-rd, if our/their fruit----the way we/they talk, the things we/they do, the beliefs and attitudes we/they have----line up with G-d's Word!

If someone loves the L-rd, they will be living and obeying G-d's Words.

It's as simple as that!

Do We Love Him?

"Do you l-o-o-v-e me?"

"Do I what?"

"Do you l-o-o-v-e me?"

"Do I love you?
With our daughters getting married
And this trouble in the town
You're upset, you're worn out
Go inside, Go lie down!
Maybe its indigestion."

"Goldie, I'm asking you a question....
Do you love me?"

"You're a fool."

"I know....
But do you love me?"

"Do I love you?
For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?".................


"I know...
But do you love me?"

"Do I love him?
For twenty-five years I've lived with him
Fought with him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that's not love, what is?"

"Then you love me?"

"I suppose I do."

"And I suppose I love you, too."

So goes the conversation between Tevye and his wife, Goldie, in The Fiddler on the Roof.

This reminds me a little of the conversation between the L-rd and Peter in John 15:21-17.

Our L-rd had just dined with his disciples.....a close-knit group, especially after three years of following the L-rd together and going through the events of the crucifixion and resurrection. I'm sure it would be an understatement to say that the bonds that were forged went very deep and lasted a lifetime!

The L-rd Jesus put Peter on the spot:
"Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these?"

Peter answered the L-rd, "Yea, L-rd; Thou knowest that I love Thee."

Jesus' reply to Peter: "Feed my lambs."

But, Jesus pursued this questioning further---
"He saith unto him a second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?"

Peter's answer the second time:
"Yea L-rd; Thou knowest that I love Thee."

Jesus answers, "Feed my sheep."

The L-rd was not finished with His questioning of Peter's love for Him. Remember that Peter had earlier denied the L-rd three times. It was three times that the L-rd questioned Peter if he loved Him!

"He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"

"Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me?
And he said unto Him, L-rd Thou knowest all things;
Thou knowest that I love thee."

Should it not, would it not it grieve us, too, if the L-rd had to ask us three times if we loved Him??

Jesus did not come up with a third option for Peter.
"Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."

During the '70s, the big word in our society (other than "peace") was LOVE, sometimes written, LUV.

"What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of....", as the old song goes....

Churches picked up on that mantra, and soon the age of "easy-believism" burgeoned forth! Fewer pastors preached on sin, leaving behind the Ten Commandments (no wonder they were driven out of the schools!), giving way to sermons on social change and "loving" your neighbor. Holding hands, swaying to "Kumbaya", lots of hugs and shallow relationships.....this was the stuff of the 70's.

If anyone made doctrine an issue, they didn't have "love". Doctrine wasn't important....truth was cast aside in the name of "love". "Everybody get together. Try and love one another right now." That was the ultimate goal of the church in those days.

The focus was man-centered. Loving your fellow man, of course, would lead to pleasing your fellow man and all that implies. Somehow, though, the L-rd was relegated to second place in all that euphoric celebrating of "love".

What Jesus specifically told His disciples was explicitly ignored!

If you will recall, He reiterated to them the teaching of the First Commandment:

"The first of all the commandments is,
Hear O Israel; the L-rd our G-d is one L-rd:

And thou shalt love the L-rd thy G-d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

There is none other commandment greater than these."..............Matthew 12:29-31

How are we to really love others if we do not love the L-rd FIRST?! Sadly, I think our priorities get reversed. We love ourselves first, our families, our friends, and the L-rd is worked in there somewhere.

Do we l-o-o-v-e Him?

To be continued.......

Friday, June 12, 2009


"And the L-RD said unto Samuel.........they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them." I Samuel 8:7

Rejection is something that cuts to the heart. I think all of us have experienced rejection at some point in our lives. It is human nature to want to be loved, accepted, have our opinions considered and valued. Rejection hurts.

Our L-rd understands rejection.

Consider these Scriptures:

I Samuel 10:19a---"And ye have this day rejected your G-d, Who Himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations...."

II Kings 17:15a---"And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He testified against them; and they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the L-RD had charged them, that they should not do like them."

Isaiah 53:3---"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not."

Jeremiah 8:9---"The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the Word of the L-RD; and what wisdom is in them?"

Luke 17:25---"But first He must suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation."

Mark 12:10---"....The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner...."

Those of us who are trying to do right and live for the L-rd are going to suffer rejection! If people reject the L-rd, they will reject us as well. We are in good company if we are rejected for doing right, and for speaking the truth of the Scriptures.

The thing to remember, though, is what G-d reminded Samuel----that the people were not rejecting him, but they were rejecting the L-rd G-d, Jehovah!!

And so it is today as well.

All of us who are saved are called of G-d to something. We may not all be in "the ministry" in an official capacity, but we are all called to be witnesses of the Truth. We are all called to be separate from the world and to live for the L-rd in whatever capacity He deems to use us.

The problem is, that so many, many of us who call ourselves Christians have not grasped that; or we do not want to acknowledge it.

Instead of fearing G-d, and living accordingly, we fear the world and its rejection of us!

Hey--it's OK to be rejected by the world! It's far better to have favor with G-d!

But, sady, I think more often than not, we are like those in Samuel's day who:

...followed vanity and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the L-RD had charged them, that they should not do like them."

That the Word of the L-rd is constantly being rejected by Christians is evidenced in the lives of us who claim to be believers!

Whether we realize it or not, most of us are Christians of convenience. Our priorities are self-centered, not G-d-centered. We are in the Word so little, that the enemy has blinded our eyes to our malnourished condition.

Look again at the above Scripture---the Israelites went after the heathen that lived around them even though G-d's command to them was to not do like them. They hated G-d's prophets and persecuted them terribly. But it really was G-d Whom they hated and rejected!

Just for the sake of consideration, let's observe what the heathen do today. You fill in the blanks here.

Now, think about the average Christian life today.

Are we doing any different than the heathen around us? Most of us today have a very cavalier attitude toward many things that the L-rd holds sacred:

* Meeting together on the first day of the week---this wasn't a duty or obligation of drudgery---this was the highlight of the week for the early believers! Hebrews even commands us to meet together even more often in the last days!

* Considering our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit----yet we abuse it with various substances and adorn it with pagan symbols and worldy attire that screams out anything but "Holy unto the L-rd"!

* Speaking things that bring reproach upon the Name of Christ, whether foul language, inappropriate joking, hateful things from our hearts, deriding those who try to do right.

* Aligning with causes and others who hate G-d and His laws in the name of tolerance.

* Participating in activities which draw our hearts away from G-d, and set us up to stumble.

We attack those who step on our toes spiritually. Pastors who preach against sin get maligned as too old-fashioned. Bible teachers who warn against worldy alignments are labeled as judgmental and unloving.

People flock to churches that provide entertainment and feel-good messages, while Bible-preaching churches find that Christians---even their own members---cannot endure G-d's Word because it is esteemed so little.

Those who would not think of missing work or being late Monday through Friday find it difficult to arrive for a 10:00 am Sunday School class.

Please, let's be honest with ourselves and with the L-rd, and repent----for the time is truly at hand, dear Friend.

Paul said, "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" Paul knew well how the Israelites treated G-d's prophets. He knew that the same held true for him. He reminded those Christians in the book of Galatians that they were not angry with him, but with the Truth of G-d's Word!

The Bible warns us of the consequences of this kind of rejection! Something we seldom consider. If we did, perhaps we would conduct our lives much differently.

I Samuel 15:23---"Because thou hast rejected the Word of the L-RD, He hath also rejected thee from being king."

II Kings 17:20---"And the L-RD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of the spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight."

Jeremiah 6:19---"Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it."

To whom much is given, much is required!

Those of us who have been so blessed, should remember from Whom those blessings flow!

Our blessings are to be used for the L-rd, not squandered on our own lusts.

Those of us who have been given and entrusted with much need to remember that we also have much to lose, as did Israel!

Hosea 4:6---"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...."

This lack of knowledge was without excuse. The Israelites had the Scriptures and the Prophets of G-d. It wasn't that they were deprived; it was a lack of their own choosing. They heard the Words of G-d, but didn't listen.

Isn't this like so many of our churches? The Word of G-d is taught and preached---but where are G-d's people? Whether they are elsewhere physically or mentally, they are rejecting G-d's Word. But we, too, are without excuse!

The Israelites, G-d's chosen people, rejected the Word and refused to heed and obey it. Let's look at the rest of Hosea 4:6:

"....because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee....seeing thou hast forgotten the law of they G-d, I will also forget thy children."

Oh the consequences of rejecting G-d's Word in our lives!! Not only did the L-rd reject His own people.....but He also forgot their children!!!

How many of us have prayed for our children's salvation, and then prayed for G-d's favor upon them as they grow up? As parents we all want our children to be happy, do right, have G-d's blessings. But, this doesn't happen because our children are so wonderful, and cute, and bright, and talented, and precious to us!

G-d's blessings upon us and our children are a direct result of how we respond to His Word.

Do we treasure it? Not as some sentimental good-luck charm, but as the true, Holy, powerful Word of G-d?

Do we read it? Do we heed and obey it's precepts and teachings? Do we make it our very life?

We would do well to consider what the L-rd says in Revelation 3:15, 16:

"I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."

We are today, in this Laodicean age, lukewarm Christians. We want to ride the fence. We want the blessings of faithfulness without being faithful. We excuse ourselves and rationalize our behavior. A dangerous thing.

We reject the teaching and the preaching of the Word, perhaps without realizing that we are doing so. But the end result is the same.

Why do we do this? Because we despise G-d's Word and do not esteem the L-rd as we should. Our flesh wants to be pampered and to have the favor of the world. How unlike Moses we are! Hebrews 11 reminds us this of Moses:

"Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of G-d, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.

By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible."

When the time comes that we must either stand up for our faith and take rejection and even persecution, or do what is convenient, rationalizing our motives, just what do you think we lukewarm Christians of today will do?

We must examine our hearts! Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not eat of the king's meat. When the time of temptation came, Daniel withstood the temptation. He had already purposed in his heart----he didn't wait to make up his mind when temptation was thrust upon him.

G-d knows the truth of our hearts. After all, He is the One Whom we will stand before and give an account. We may fool others and even ourselves, but we cannot fool G-d!

If we are Christians who are on the fence, neither cold nor hot, going through the motions, not really in the battle contending for the faith alongside our other brethren, we are, in fact, rejecting G-d's Words. When the time of testing comes, we will be no different than the Israelites, offering up their prophets to the enemy, and trying to blend in with the heathen.

We need to remember Who we are rejecting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Are you sleepy?

I Thessalonians 5:6---"Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober."

Most would agree that we live in uncertain times. Not only is our economy in flux, but so are our laws by which we are governed! Not only in our own country, but in nations around the globe.

As someone once said, "The times, they are a changin'."

Normally, most folks resist change when it's thrust upon them. But it seems that many folks these days are hardly aware enough to resist the changes we are facing on the world scene! They just seem to go along with things as if everything is going to remain the same, and the status quo will be maintained.

Unfortunately, the church, the body of Christ, is caught up with the rest of the world in this strange malaise. Our eyelids are growing heavier and heavier; we struggle to stay awake to watch and pray, to stand and obey.

Remember when our L-rd Jesus Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane? He told his disciples to, ".....tarry ye here, and watch with me". What did they do? Not being able to stay awake, they slept!

The L-rd had been warning them recently about his death. He had tried to prepare them. But it just didn't sink in. Even though the L-rd had been their constant Companion for three years, they seemed clueless regarding His ultimate mission. They didn't sense the importance and significance of His request to watch with Him. So they slept.

It's interesting that we are commanded again and again, throughout the Scriptures, to watch!
Now, I ask you, How can one watch if one is asleep? Do you think a sleepy watchman is a good watchman? What happens when a guard falls asleep while on watch duty?

The consequences of sleeping on duty are serious, and the punishment also. The enemy is allowed to creep in and attack, wreaking havoc, gaining ground. A guard who falls asleep on duty is derelict in his responsibility which is a betrayal of his fellow-soldiers! His self-indulgent behavior risks the well-being and very life of his compatriots.

Are we not told that we're to be good soldiers of Christ? Yet, we sleep on.

I Corinthians 16:13---"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."

Colossians 4:2---"Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving."

II Timothy 4:5---"But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions...."

Not only are we to watch, for our own sakes----but we are to watch for the welfare of others, also.

Friends, we have a responsibility to be watchful for one another. Yet, what troubles me is that oftentimes there is such little concern for others within the body. Many of our congregations name our prayer requests in church each week. But how many of us really carry those requests with us throughout the weeks and months, faithfully bearing each others' burdens? We may take up space in a pew, sing a few hymns, listen to a sermon, but are we really part of the fellowship? Do we care for one another as the Bible instructs us?

Love is an action verb! The disciples said they loved the L-rd. He asked them to watch with Him....but they slept.

We say we love the L-rd. But are we any different in our behavior? It's one thing to say we love the L-rd, another to live it. We say we love one another, but do we demonstrate that love? Are we more concerned for others than ourselves?

We are also to watch for His appearing!

Are we asleep when it comes to that, too? I fear that many of us who call ourselves Christians think little about the L-rd coming in the clouds for us. Why, if more of us had that on our minds and hearts, wouldn't we see more faithfulness in church? Wouldn't we see more unselfishness among the brethren? Wouldn't we be living as if the L-rd were coming back any minute?

Instead, we are so caught up in this world system. Our jobs and pleasures and various other time-consuming (or wasting) activities consume our thoughts and energies. Meanwhile, we barely make time in our week to worship and think upon G-d and His Word. We are more busy earning a living, spending money, entertaining ourselves, being sidetracked by the enemy, that we, in all honesty, do not give the L-rd the priority He should have in our hearts and lives.

Not only do we suffer the spiritual consequences of that, but so do our families and churches.

No.....we indulge ourselves in sleep. Even though the L-rd has been trying to warn and prepare us.........we sleep on our watch.

Revelation 3:3---"Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know the hour I will come upon thee."

I Peter 4:7---"But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

On One Condition.......

How many of us parents have used that phrase with our kids? When they want to know if they can do something or have some treat, we reply, "On one condition.......that you clean your room first." Or...."On one condition......that you eat your veggies first." fill in the blank! :-)

Oh yes, any of us who are parents or teachers of children are well-familiar with that phrase.

Did you know that G-d uses conditions in dealing with us?

How often have we quoted the Scripture, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."? We quote that, claim that, and practice that, but most of us ignore, forget, or don't realize that we are omitting a major component of that instruction!

Yes, Friends.......I'm here to tell ya-----"Resist the devil and he will flee from you.....on one condition......

Let's look at James 4:7 in its entirety to discover that missing piece: "Submit yourselves therefore to G-d. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

What does it take to really submit to G-d?

Well, the verse prior to James 4:7 says this: "But He giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, G-d resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." order to submit to the L-rd, we have to humble ourselves. When we humble ourselves---put down our flesh, our pride, our self-will, stop demanding to have our own way---and really submit to G-d, then He will give us the grace to do right, to resist the devil.....and then the devil will flee from us.

Do you think the devil is going to flee just because we say so? No. He will flee when he realizes that we mean business with the L-rd: that we have died to self; that we stop being rebels; that our hearts are submitted to the will of the L-rd; that we get rid of the pride and stubbornness in our hearts. When we do that, the L-rd is good to give us the grace to be able to resist the devil.

Not in our own strength or in our own flesh, but in G-d's power. The devil knows the difference! He will flee when we stand in the power of G-d's might, as it says in Ephesians 6:10!!

You see, the armor listed in Ephesians 6:11-17 is G-d's armor----not our own!

Verse 11: "Put on the whole armor of G-d....." Verse 13: "Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of G-d...." Both verses tell us that putting on G-d's armor---His whole armor--- enables us to stand. We cannot stand---we cannot resist the devil---without G-d's whole armor on!

There is nothing having to do with our flesh: our talents, good looks, polished manners, clever thinking, IQ, etc. that will enable us to win that spiritual battle!

But did you know.....before we can put on G-d's armor, we have to take some things off!?

Romans 13:12 instructs us, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light."

Ephesians 4:22, 23 commands, "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after G-d is created in righteousness and true holiness."

Colossians 3:8-10 also commands us to ".....put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him;"

Colossians 3:12-15 continues in this same vein: "Put on therefore, as the elect of G-d, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forebearing one another, and forgiving one another.......And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness."

Submitting to G-d is the act of putting off the old man----the flesh, with the sins of the flesh---and putting on the new man.

Doing that is an act of our will.

It's a choice.

It requires, first, a decision of our heart, then the action of our will.

When we do that, the L-rd sees that we mean business.......and the enemy does too!

Once we have put off the filthy rags of our old man, then we can put on G-d's armor, and stand, having done all to stand, in resisting the devil. And he will flee from us!

Our walk has to match our talk. We can know all the right things to say; we can even mean well. We can fool ourselves, and maybe even fool others; but we can't fool the L-rd and we can't fool the enemy.

We need to remember that!

In the end, it's humbling ourselves before G-d, truly submitting to Him in putting off our old man and our wicked, willful flesh so that we can put on G-d's whole armor that will help us win the victory.

Yes---on that one condition----we can resist the devil and he will flee from us!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Does the L-rd Hear Your Cry?

Why is it that when we really pour out our hearts to the L-rd, it's usually in a time of crisis or need? Any other time, we tend to bring the usual requests before the L-rd, hopefully remembering to also thank Him for answers to prayer and blessings He brings our way. We even become quite adept at "Nehemiah" prayers as we hurry and scurry here and there in our busy day-to-day lives.

But, do we truly, honestly have a heart-to-heart, one-on-one with the L-rd on a regular basis? Sad to say, I think for many, if not most of us, it's usually just when the trial and test of our faith comes that we get down and serious about talking with the L-rd!

Did you know that communication with the L-rd is a two-way street?

G-d desires to speak to us, too. Every day. He desires more than a quickie devotional read out of a paperback, or a perusal of a Psalm. The L-rd wants our hearts---He desires fellowship on a regular basis; a time when we are quiet before Him. Psalm 46:10 commands us to, "Be still and know that I am G-d:".

How can we truly get to know G-d----our Creator, Savior, Redeemer, the One we will be living and reigning with for eternity----if we do not take time to be still and listen to Him?

I know we live busy lives! I work full time, help my husband in the ministry, take time for family things, try to keep up with the housework (help!)---so I understand the time constraints, the weariness of the flesh that so many of us struggle with. It's a battle!

Hey---of course it's a battle, sisters!! Any time the Word of G-d is at the heart of a matter, it's gonna be a BATTLE!! How does G-d speak with us----usually, I mean? Through His Word, right? Yes, I know the Holy Spirit does speak to us in a still, small voice at times....but usually by bringing the WORD to our minds. That's why Scripture reading and memorization are sooooo important!

And that's why our flesh and the enemy fight it so hard!

How can the Word of Life come to our minds and hearts at crucial times if we do not spend time in the Word to get to know it......and to get to know G-d? Did not Jesus say that He is the Word?! Do you want to really get to know G-d, draw close to Him, know His heart for you?

Get in the Word!

Job said that he, "....esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."!! I bet Job found those words to be nourishing and healing and sustaining during his sore trial.

Jeremiah said, "Thy words were found and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by thy Name, O L-RD G-d of hosts."

David devoted his longest Psalm (119) to the Word of the L-rd.

Yes, when we are in fellowship with Him, the L-rd wants us to "come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" as it says in Hebrews 4:16.

But He also wants to speak to us, as well.

How can we please the L-rd in being obedient to Him if we do not know what He wants us to do, and how He wants us to behave? We won't know unless we get into the Word and find out!

The Jews of Zechariah's time knew what G-d expected of them. They had the Law and the oracles of G-d. But they ignored G-d's Word and commands. They knew G-d's character, His holiness, His demand for obedience and truth.

But they got comfortable----as we tend to do, too. They became prosperous. They liked the things of the world, and got so busy with all of those enticements and demands upon their time, that they spent less and less time at the Temple, hearing the Word. When they heard the Word of the L-rd from the mouth of the prophets G-d sent to them, they had little regard for it.

In time, G-d's people became much like the people of the world around them, becoming entrenched in the idolatry of the we do, too. We don't even think about the fact that all that we strive for and work for and lust after is idolatry, but it is. All "the rudiments of the world" as the Bible calls it, squeezes out what little time we have to read the Word and pray.

And then sometimes we wonder if the L-rd hears our cry!

Zechariah 8:13 is a warning that should wake us out of our spiritual malaise and smite our hearts:

"Therefore it is come to pass,
that as He cried, and they would not hear;
so they cried, and I would not hear,
saith the L-rd of hosts;"

May it not be so with us, dear friends!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Are You Practicing Witchcraft?

"For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." I Samuel 15:23a

The L-rd sure does have a different view of things than we do, doesn't He? We tend to make light of our sin; justify it; excuse it; call it "a mistake"; show it in a positive light. Take stubbornness, for instance. Don't we tend to think of that as a strength of character? If someone is stubborn, we generally define it along the line of tenaciousness: they aren't easily swayed or moved, something we tend to think of as an attribute. A stubborn person can have many good qualities, but as Proverbs 16:2 says, "All the ways of man are clean in his own eyes; but the L-RD weigheth the spirits."

The Bible is clear to remind us that G-d's ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not like our thoughts: "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isa. 55:9

In G-d's eyes, stubbornness is a wicked sin---akin to idolatry! If we think about it, that makes sense.

Stubbornness is saying that we think we know best; it isn't just a matter of being tenacious. Stubbornness digs in the heels, and is not reasonable, even when proved wrong! Stubbornness is like the proverbial donkey---it wants his own way, to do his own thing; disobedient!

Stubbornness prevents us from having an open mind and heart to the will of G-d. Stubbornness says MY way, MY opinion, MY will, MY decision.....stubbornness is very willful. Do you see the relation of stubbornness to idolatry when we put it in this context? Remember the discussion about pride being the same as idolatry? G-d says that stubbornness is as idolatry because of the prideful component inherent in the sin of stubbornness.

Stubbornness isn't something to brag about; it isn't to be worn like a badge of honor. If we have a heart to please G-d, we will want to repent of and root out this sin in our lives. When we see a stubborn streak in our children, we need to deal with that, and teach them that it is sin.

Rebellion is kin to stubbornness. G-d says it's as the sin of witchcraft. We wouldn't even think of dabbling in that wickedness, yet, we may be steeped in it within our hearts!

G-d does know our hearts.

Saul, King of Israel, was guilty of the sins of witchcraft and rebellion---and this was before he sought out the witch of Endor!

When the L-rd, through the prophet, Samuel, confronted him about his sin in I Samuel 15, Saul justified himself: "Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the L-RD, and have gone the way which the L-RD sent me..."--vs. 20. In vs. 21, Saul further insisted that it was all "to sacrifice unto the L-RD thy G-d in Gilgal."!

Oh boy---don't we do the same thing at times?! Justify a wrong attitude or justify doing something we know is not what the L-rd would have us to do by insisting we really did do the right thing, and even had the right motive! Why--we did it for the L-rd!! Doesn't that make it right?

G-d's ways are higher than our ways......Samuel rebuked Saul in vs. 22, 23---"Hath the L-RD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the L-RD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams."

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the L-RD, He hath rejected thee from being king."

What a sad, pitiful moment in the life of Saul, the first king of Israel! To be rejected by the L-rd! Too little, too late, Saul then admits his sin and seeks pardon. But G-d knew his heart.

Saul was sorry he got caught. Right up until the time Samuel pronounced G-d's judgment upon him, Saul insisted.....stubborn, rebellious man that he was.....that what he had done was not so bad, he had even done it for the L-rd (so he said, anyway)! Only when he was told the consequences of his wicked disobedience in rebellion and stubbornness did he try to make amends. But G-d would have none of it.

Friends, the L-rd does not take our rebellion and stubbornness lightly. These sins will destroy us; G-d will not use us because He cannot trust us to obey faithfully.

We need to ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate our hearts and show us if we harbor the sin of witchcraft within us.

May we truly pray with King David,

"Search me, O G-d, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psa. 139:23, 24

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Members one of another.....

Romans 12:5---"So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."

Are you bought with a price, washed in the Blood? Do you know that you matter? Do you realize that you are needed? Do you have a sense of belonging? Are you aware that you are an integral part of a LIVING BODY of believers? Are you fulfilling your calling in a local church body?

I think that most Christians do not understand the responsibilities and privileges of being part of the body of Christ.

As the above verse states, every ONE of us are members one of another. We BELONG to each other! We are part of a LIVING BODY----a living organism! The church is not a mere organization---it's a living, breathing organism. If believers would only get a hold of this truth, I think it would revolutionize local churches.

As we know, the body of Christ is made up of believers who have repented and trusted Him as Savior. Each believer plays a unique role in the body. Paul, burdened that the baby Christians in Corinth understand the importance of their place in the body, explained this to them in I Corinthians 12.

Verse 12---"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ."

OK----so let's break this down: There is ONE body of believers. That body has many members. Many members, but ONE body. We, being many members, but one body, make up the body of Christ.

Paul reiterates this in verse 14---"For the body is not one member, but many."

Paul is trying to get the Corinthian folks to understand how the body functions. Is the body made up of one part (member), only? No, of course not. The body would not be able to function without the various members, just as our physical bodies cannot function as just a head or an eye or an ear.

But how do most churches function? Sad to say, most churches struggle, disabled and limited by non-functioning members. They are trying to get by one-handed, hopping on one foot much of the time.

Evidently, the church in Corinth was not functioning as it should either; everyone going their own way, and doing their own thing, rather than working together and functioning as a unit--as a body.

Paul asks them in verses 15-17---
"If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?"

It doesn't matter what we think---truth does not depend upon our opinions or ideas or how we feel---regardless whether we recognize what our function is, we still remain part of the body. G-d holds us accountable! We need to find out how we fit within the body, and then perform our function. If G-d has called us to be a foot, though we do not obey that calling.....we're still a foot---albeit a lame one!

Notice, that we do not decide which member we are----that's G-d's business! Verse 18 says, "But now hath G-d set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him."

Remember, we are here for His good pleasure and for His honor and glory. The L-rd knows how to gift us and use us best, and He wants to use each one of us----He sets "every one of them in the body" as it pleases Him to do so. So, it isn't we who decide whether we're an eye or a foot or a mouth----G-d chooses our function as a member. But, it is our responsibility to faithfully execute our function in the body!

And herein lay the problem in Corinth---and in many of our churches today:

Paul addressed the reluctant body parts. Let's look at verse 19---"And if they were all one member, where were the body?" Hmmm.....sounds like everyone was wanting to be the head or the eye or the mouth, but no one wanted to be the hand or the foot! Or, it could be that only one person was functioning as a member, and everyone else just warmed a pew! That's a pretty sad body, wouldn't you say?

Paul reiterates in verse 20, the truth that the church is made up of many members, but is one body. We all know that when Scripture says something repeatedly, we best take note and heed it!

Paul now proceeds to come at this lesson from a different angle: Verse 21---"And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you." Ah---no room for elitism here!

Have you ever tried to function within a church body where someone thought they were the whole body in and of themselves? They have to do everything, be everything, insert themselves everywhere? No one can do what they can do or as well as they can do it? No one else's help is wanted; other members are marginalized.

So, oftentimes a church either struggles with a lack of functioning body parts, or with a body part (s) trying to be something they are not! Either way, that church body is not pleasing to the L-rd!

G-d's intent is that the body should be healthy, with every member (body part) fulfilling its function, working together to glorify the L-rd. Verse 25 admonishes us, "That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another." In other words, there should be no conflict in the functioning of the body. There is no room for pride or contention, for laziness or slacking, for selfishness or lack of love.

I Corinthians 12:26 sums it up well: "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it." It doesn't matter whether we are the mouth or the hand or the eye or the ear-----we are part of the whole body. If the head is hurting, the hands, feet, eyes, ears---all will hurt with it, and should compensate and work together to help the head. If one member is blessed, then the other members should recognize that blessing and be blessed for that member as well.

Friends, the church is not an inanimate organization that is established for our use, at our convenience, and for our own purposes.

WE----as a body fitly joined together---ARE the church!!!

We need to "discern the body".

Christ died and shed His precious Blood for the church! He instituted the church as the organism through which He works. The gifts which He bestows on each one of us are to be used within the body of Christ for His glory, not be to selfishly used for our own enjoyment and edification.

Edification---a good Bible word! We are commanded to edify one another. How can we possibly do that, if we are not fulfilling the function G-d has assigned to us within the body? We cause the body to be anemic and disabled if we are awol or derelict in our duties as members of the body!

It's been said that there is no perfect church, and if one should find it, not to ruin it by joining it! But, we can reach for what G-d desires, as Ephesian 4:16 describes: "From Whom [Christ] the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." This is the ideal for the body of Christ and every church!

Do you think your church is lacking in some way? Is your church healthy and growing? Are you doing your part to function as the member G-d has called you to be?

Let us remember and heed what the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write---"....for we are members one of another."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Got Pride?

Pride---it's what goes before destruction!

We all know that it caused Lucifer's fall. Throughout the Old Testament, G-d warns, rebukes and punishes Israel for the sin of pride. Because of the sin of pride, they go their own way, refuse to be instructed by G-d's prophets, and even justify their sins, claiming innocence of any wrongdoing! Pride is a wicked, heinous sin in G-d's eyes. Why, then, is it strangely absent from the Ten Commandments?! Or is it??

If we study the sin of pride, we see some interesting things. For one thing, we know that G-d sure hates this sin!

Proverbs 6:16-19
spells that out very clearly: "These six things doth the L-rd hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." Notice that pride leads the list!

Proverbs 8:3 further reiterates how G-d hates the sin of pride: "The fear of the L-rd is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." Notice the progression of sins......pride starts in the heart, and the rest follows!

Pride is the forerunner, or the root of the other sins. What causes us to lie? Pride. What causes covetousness/jealousy? Pride. What causes murder? Pride. What causes selfishness? Pride. What causes a "sorry ol' sister" to spread gossip and sow discord in a church? Pride. What causes stubborness and rebellion? Pride.

So you see, the Ten Commandments deal with sins that are the embodiment of the evil, pride, with idolatry at its head.

What was the one sin of which Israel was so often guilty? Spiritual adultery, right? They went whoring after other gods---which we all recognize as idolatry. This violated the first two commandments: 1. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. 2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image....

Isn't it so true that we often fail to recognize idolatry in our own hearts? We think because we don't worship idols of wood, clay or stone that we don't practice idolatry, when in fact, we are saturated with self-idolatry!

Pride, dear friend, is nothing more than self-idolatry!

Pride is an integral part of our culture! Aren't we "proud to be an American"? We're proud of our children and grandchildren. We're proud of our heritage. We're proud of our accomplishments. We throw that word around without even thinking about what we're saying. Pride has come to mean something good in our eyes. We're admonished to "take pride in our work". Children are encouraged to do well in school so that they're parents will be "proud of them".

Pride has infiltrated our relationships and way of life like a toxic ooze. Marriage conflicts, petty grudges between siblings and coworkers, competition and rivalries within churches----all are a result of pride. Proverbs 13:10---"Only by pride cometh contention...." Down deep in our heart of hearts, we must think we are better than the other person to behave this way. Criticizing someone else to make oneself look better is a result of pride. Unforgiveness or refusal to apologize for a wrong done are a result of pride.

No, my friend, self-esteem is not the underlying problem of our society. Pride is!

Oh, pride is so wicked! Our enemy is full of pride and seeks to entrap us in its clutches. Pride is bondage! It keeps us from loving the L-rd as we should, and from loving others. It hinders us from victory over sins with which we struggle ! It destroys us from the inside out.

Nowhere in the New Testament do any of the writers say that they are proud of anything or anyone. But Paul does use another word that has a different connotation and emphasis: that word is "glory".

Paul said in Romans 15:17--"I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to G-d." Paul said on more than one occasion that he gloried in his infirmities; he gloried in them that the power of Christ might rest upon him (II Cor. 12:9). Paul gloried in the Cross: Gal. 6:14---"But G-d forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our L-rd Jesus Christ...."

Pride, being a very selfish sin, puts the emphasis on our own selves, on our own benefit. When we glory in something, we rejoice because of it pleasing the L-rd, and benefiting others; we enjoy the benefits ourselves as well, but it isn't because of anything on our account.

All that we have, all that we are, all with which we are blessed is not from anything of ourselves for which pride should play a part; everything comes from the L-rd: James 1:17---"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

Got pride? There is a remedy with which our generous Heavenly Father also provides a blessing:

Isaiah 57:15---"For thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, Whose Name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."

Matthew 23:12---"And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Are you Insured?

Times are tough, no doubt about it. There is no guarantee than any of us, who are still employed, will retain our employment. Those on unemployment know that those funds have a time limit. We've already seen that many folks who thought that they were well prepared for their retirement years are having to start over. And, yet another concern in this economically disastrous climate is whether we have enough insurance to cover various catastrophes.

Let's face it, we have become accustomed to the luxury of security, and we've seen what a false security it is! We, as Christians, have taken on the trappings of our modern cultural thinking, and are finding ourselves overcome by insecurities and fears because of misplaced faith!

While it's good to prepare for the future---even the Scripture admonishes us to do that---our trust and faith must not be in temporal fixes, but in our L-rd to care and provide for us! We do what we can.....and trust the L-rd.

Isn't it true that whenever we run into trouble, we turn to the promises of G-d? Sadly, for most Christians, trusting the L-rd is not part of their daily walk with Him. If we're honest, our trust, on a day-to-day basis, often has been and is in our paychecks, bank and savings accounts, and insurance policies. If there is a breach in any of these walls we've erected for our own security and protection, then we run to G-d, and attempt to cash in on some spiritual insurance!

Well, please allow me to continue with the insurance analogy, for lack of a better illustration, OK?

In order to have insurance, you have to first be approved and accepted, right?
Once you pass muster, then you are required to pay a premium in order to receive coverage---OK so far?
When a catastrophe or need occurs, as long as we've maintained coverage, we can file a claim on that insurance policy, and receive benefit to cover that situation.
As long as we are covered by this insurance, we can have peace of we're told.

Now---for the spiritual application-----you knew I'd be going there! :-)

First, we need to examine our hearts---whether we be in the faith! II Cor. 13:5 We first must be sure we belong to the L-rd and are part of His family in order to be covered! John 1:12

Do we pay a premium, though? Not for our salvation----that is paid for, in full, by the Blood of Jesus Christ---Titus 3:5; Eph. 2:8,9; I John 1:7

However, there are conditions in Scripture that must be met to receive various blessings. For instance---David said that if he regarded iniquity in his heart, the L-rd would not hear him--Ps. 66:18. If we want fellowship with the L-rd, then we must come to Him with a clean heart. We are admonished to delight ourselves also in the L-rd and He shall give us the desires of our heart ---Ps. 37:4. Then vs. 5 goes on to say further that we should commit our way unto the L-rd and trust in Him, and He will bring it to pass.

G-d's promises have conditions! I think that, as Christians, we get very lackadaisical and ride along in life thinking that just because we're Christians, the L-rd is going to take care of everything for us. Then when trials come---we panic! But that is for another blog!

We are also told in Scripture that we must seek first the Kingdom of G-d and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto us---Matt. 6:25-34. What things is this passage talking about? The things we depend upon to live in this earthly life---food, clothing, a means to live and survive. there is a condition to G-d supplying these needs!

You see.....we do have insurance, but we have to be paying our premium, so to speak, in order to realize the benefits we have! If you want to file a claim on G-d's promises, you must fulfill the requirements G-d has!

Those who know the L-rd in an intimate way----who walk daily with Him, and see His care and provision through life, know He is faithful, have peace of mind and heart that He will take care of them. And that, dear friend, is the key!

Please carefully read Matt. 6:25-34. What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of G-d and His righteousness? What does it mean in Psa. 37:4 to delight thyself also in the L-rd? We must, dear friend----we must---focus on knowing G-d! We must seek after Him and let Him change our hearts and lives to be conformed to the image of His Son! This will change our priorities, our outlook, our behaviors! In order to know G-d, we must be in His Word---not just a verse or two a day---but we must immerse ourselves in the Word---it is what washes us, instructs us, reproves and rebukes us, cleanses us. When we know the Word, we will know how to please the L-rd, and our lives and actions will reflect that.

One last thing that applies to the current uncertain atmosphere we find in our world. We all love to quote and rest in the promise of Philippians 4:19----"But my G-d shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." But, you know, we take this verse out of context and then we wonder why G-d doesn't meet all our needs when we run into trouble!

Let's go back up a few verses in this passage. In verse 10, Paul alludes to this Philippian church helping him during a time of great need. In verses 14 and 15 Paul further commends them, telling them that they've done well in caring for him in his affliction, and that they were the only church who met the needs of his ministry at that time. Paul makes it clear in verse 16 that these Christians in Philippi took care of his needs over and over again.....they were consistent and faithful in their giving!

So, who was Paul in relation to the Christians in Philippi that they should care for Paul as they did? Paul, along with Silas, established this church on his second missionary journey. This church consisted of believers who had been won to the L-rd by the ministry of Paul and Silas and Timothy. Once this church was established, they left this work in the hands of Luke. The Philippians loved Paul as their pastor and father in the faith. They communicated their love for this faithful servant of G-d by sacrificially supplying his needs.

Notice that Paul did not rebuke them for it; nor did he refuse their gifts of love. Paul recognized that the L-rd used these believers to supply his needs, and he was most grateful for it. Even further, Paul commended them for their giving to him, saying that they had "done well". And, lest there be any misunderstanding, Paul gives this disclaimer in verse 17---"Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account."

What is the Scriptural principle that Paul is teaching here? That those who give to meet the needs of G-d's servants will have fruit deposited in their account that they can draw upon for the L-rd to supply in their own time of need!

What is the status of your account?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What's your purpose?

Is your purpose in life to be the best wife, mother, sister, soul-winner, employee----or you fill in the blank---that you can possibly be?

Do you set high goals for yourself, and work hard to attain them, believing that achieving them is fulfilling your destiny?

What would you say if I told you that none of the above is why we are here on this earth?! Would that surprise you?

Well, believe it or not, but it's true---nothing on the above list is the reason why we are here!

Yep, that's right! Phil. 2:13 says, "
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. "

II Thess. 1:11 also states,

"Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:"

In fact, the first chapter of Ephesians reiterates over and over that we are to be "to the praise of his glory".

Our sole purpose, then, really and truly, is to live for HIS glory and HIS good pleasure.

Kinda changes things, and gives us a whole different perspective on things and the circumstances we face in our day-to-day existence, doesn't it?

If we would really take hold of this truth, I think it would transform our thinking and our very lives! Everything we do would take on new significance!

We would truly live Col. 3:17: "
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to G-d and the Father by him." and I Cor. 10:31: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Wow---I don't know about you, but this truth really puts into perspective these Scriptures:

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." I Cor. 6:19,20