Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Welcome to the perfect church...well sort of"

Revelation 2:1-7

The Church of Ephesus sounds like the perfect Church, when you read Revelation 2. They practiced good deeds, hard work, and preserved through some rocky times (Revelation 2:2). They found no pleasure in wickedness and tested those who claimed that they were apostles (Revelation 2:2). Even when they faced persecution because of their belief in Jesus they meet the challenge head on without wavering in their faith (Revelation 2:3). They even hated heresy and spoke out against it (Revelation 2:6) However the Lord had one charge against them, they were lacking in love (Revelation 2:4). They possessed all the attributes of a good and Godly Church but they were lacking in love, they failed to love those who seemed or were un-lovable. And God called them to repent of this and learn to love again (Revelation 2:5). If they did not turn and repent God promised to remove the Church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:5). But God calls out to the people in the Church of Ephesus and tells them to take heed to what He is saying. And not only take heed but actually do what God is telling them (Revelation 2:7)

When I hear are see people teach heresy and lead others astray all in the name of God it bothers me. I get upset when I see Pastors, Evangelist, Bishops, Deacons, Prophets, Christians, etc. twist the Word of God and confuse others. It rises up within me a righteous anger. But I am careful that my righteous anger does not turn into bitterness and hate. I cannot lose my love for them no matter what they do. God makes it very clear in Revelation 2:1-7 that we are to continually love those who teach false doctrines and lead others astray. The teachings of the Nicolaitans was heresy. It displeased God and brought no honor to his name. But God reprimanded the Church of Ephesus for not loving them. The Church's doctrine was sound and deeds were good but they lacked love. 

So I continually ask myself am I loving those whose teachings are false, who I know are hypocrites, who I see leading others astray? God makes it very clear in His Word that we are to love everyone rather they are friend or foe, God tells us to love them (Matthew 5:44, 1 John 4:7). And God also makes it very clear in His Word that if we do not love them, then we do not know God and are not considered a child of God (1 John 4:8, 20-21). So I have learned that I must love those who teach incorrect theology and do not rightly instruct the Word of God. I am not found of their choices and angered by their sin but I will love them and show them love. I will not speak ill of them or make it my mission to ridicule them publicly as if to make a spectacle of them. Because love covers any amount of sin (Proverbs 10:12). I urge you to search your heart and repent of any hatred you have towards someone you know is leading others astray. Remember it is okay that you disagree with their teaching and angered by their sin. But is not okay to hate them, God tells us to love just as He loves...and that love is unconditionally. 

Stay focused you can do this!

In His JOY!

"I would like some revenge and make it cold"

Proverbs 20:22, Isaiah 40:31

"Revenge is a dish best served cold", it's a saying that many of us live by.  Because when we become subject to unmerited pain we want to see justice for our grief, we want to see someone fall and come to their ruin, we want the peace back that they took from us.  But is it ever enough?  Are really truly satisfied when we take vengeance on someone-else and see them come to ruin?  The true answer is no!  We will never be filled with satisfaction from the demise of an individual.  Yes the pain may have ended and justice given but our feeling of wholeness will never be met and our need for vengeance will continue.

The Bible tells us not to repay evil but instead wait for the Lord and allow Him to deliver us (Proverbs 20:22).  This not a promise of justice and it is not a promise that we will see the one who wronged us humiliated but it is a promise of deliverance.  It is a promise that whatever situation I am in God will rescue me.

What ever has happened I know that He will redeem me and set me free once again.  But God tells me to wait on Him.  The promise of waiting is knowing that in Him my strength will return and I live to fight another day (Isaiah 40:31).  Because the fight of it all does take its toll on us and the Lord knows it (Isaiah 40:30).   But if we choose not to wait and seek after revenge we can look forward to falling into the trap we set (Proverbs 26:27).  So I choose to wait.

What about you?  Are you seeking vengeance or mercy?  Love or hate?  Bondage or deliverance?  Death or life?  The devil or Jesus?  If your choice is to get revenge you will never be free, but if it is to wait for the Lord you will enjoy freedom. (But this only works for those who believe and confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior, to you it is foolish jargon.  But trust me it is truth.  You have to willing take the chance and find out for yourself.) Stay focused you can do this!

In His JOY!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Try not to act like Ham...and I don't mean the meat!"

Genesis 9:18-28

Ham, Noah's son, discovered Noah laying naked in his tent (Genesis 9:21) Apparently Noah had too much wine and became drunk (Genesis 9:20-21) but never the less Ham saw Noah in his tent bare. Ham decided to go and tell his brothers of their fathers shame (Genesis 9:22). When Shem and Japheth heard what Ham had told them they took it upon themselves to cover their father's naked body with a robe (9-22-23). When Noah sobered up he discovered what Ham and done and He cursed him (Genesis 9:24). Wow! Sounds like something you hear about on
about on a talk show. But it does make me think. When I catch someone I love, my family especially, in sin what do I do? Do I go and tell the rest of the family in the hopes to embarrass them or do I try to take care of them?

Ham could have easily helped his father, instead he choose to tell others of his father's poor decision and humiliate him. Shem and Japheth choose to tend to their father but this does not mean that they were condoning Noah's Sin. I think of my "crazy" family (brothers, sisters, in-laws, wife, kids, cousin,etc.) and how many times I choose to humiliate them for their sins and not help them. Not very Christian of me is it? No and for that matter when we catch anyone in sin we should not look to make a mockery of them, no, instead we should follow the example of Shem and Japheth and help restore them. And just like Shem and Japheth we are careful that we do succumb to the same sin. Galatians 6:1 makes it very clear this is what the Lord will have us to do (Galatians 6:1, you should read it). I am not saying a curse will come upon us like it did Ham but I am saying it is clear when we expose the sin of someone else for the purposes of humiliation, gossip, or whatever it does bring honor to God. Instead it brings shame on ourselves.

Let's all take a self inventory and see if we are helping those in sin or are just mocking them as a public spectacle. Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!

"Is your church in Laodicea?"

Revelation 3:17-20

The Church in Laodicea was sure of their spiritual status. Confident that they were doing the Lord's Will and bringing honor to His Name. However God was not pleased with their current direction. In fact he had a harsh message for them. He told them that they where lacking (Revelation 3:16). Their lifestyle was as tasteless lukewarm water. The Laodicea Church saw their personal property as a sign that they were living a righteous life. Because all their needs were meet (Revelation 3:17). But God revealed to them that they were in need, poor, blind, and naked in His Eyes (Revelation 3:17).

But once again God shows us that He is Good and He is Good. Because He tells them to buy His Gold, to wear His Garments, and to allow Him to open their eyes. His Gold is Jesus, it is a treasure that cannot be corrupted by humans hands or stolen. So they should seek the true treasure, pursing temporary wealth we never lead to true JOY! So their hearts should turn from the perishable riches and long for the true richness of knowing Christ ( Matthew 6:19-22, 33-34).

The Church was blind but if they make God their treasure and seek after Him he will bring true eyesight. God would give them the clarity they need to see the truth. Because the devil brings confusion in the church but God is not a God of confusion but of order (1 Corinthians 14:33). God will bring wisdom to those who ask and believe (James 1:5:) . So in the midst of blinding confusion they can seek after the Lord who will show to them the truth of His Word.

And the good news is that God in the midst of all this we wear the Righteousness of Christ through God's Grace, Mercy, and Love. So we do not need to fear He took our filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and clothed us in His Righteousness (Romans 3:22-24).

The Church of Laodicea was delivered this message because God loved them. It was not said to hate, condemn, or to ridicule. The Heavenly Father saw a church wandering off the path and desired to bring them back to Him. So I ask you or the Churches in America acting as the Church of Laodicea?

If so let us repent and come back to God. He is waiting (Revelation 3:19-21). Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

"Are you King Herod?"

Matthew 2:1-12, 16-18

At the time of Jesus Birth, some wise from the east came to Jerusalem seeking to find Him. They desired to worship Him (whom they called King of the Jews) and inquired of King Herod (the king appointed by Rome) as to the whereabouts of the child ( Matthew 2:1-3). King Herod along with all of Jerusalem panicked at this news (Matthew 2:3). The king gathered his advisers around him and asked where the child was born, they told the king Jesus was born in Bethlehem. And even gave him the scriptural reference. They explained to the King that this child was to rule over the Jews and be Shepherd to God's People (Matthew 2:5-6). He then met with the wise men and told to go and find the child so he may worship him as well. Although his motives were to kill the child and stay ruler over Jerusalem (Matthew 2:16-18). The wise men however just wanted to worship Jesus and at the very sight of Him their hearts burst with JOY ( Matthew 2:9-12)!

When Herod found out that there was a new king and ruler of Jerusalem, he allowed his pride to get the better of him. He could not bow his knee to another king. He was unwilling to relinquish his power and authority to someone else. His pride blinded him to the truth. Jesus was not here to take his throne, influence, power, or authority. On the contrary Jesus here to give him eternal life and take away his sins (John 1:29, John 3:16). He concept of the purpose of Jesus was misunderstood and his advisers did a poor job of explain the purpose of Jesus. If he had accepted Jesus in his life, Herod would have come to know the same JOY! that wise men experienced when they worshiped Jesus. The awe and amazement of Jesus would have transformed his life and outlook. But pride brought all this to a stretching halt.

What about you? Are you refusing to accept Jesus because of your pride. Are you saying to yourself "Nobody rules me, I'm the boss of my life!" Funny how we will submit to people who pay us, people who have authority over us, or even people who we fear. But we won't submit to Jesus. All we are doing is recreating what Herod did and missing out on a "golden" opportunity. We must cast aside our pride and accept Jesus. It is a choice you will never regret. Stay focused, you can do this!

In His JOY!


Philippians 2:1-11

I want to preface this by saying being obedient to Lord is only possible through the power of His Spirit.

Obedience to the Lord is something we all should seek to do.  We should want  to please God with how we conduct our lives and the contents of our hearts.  But sometimes we are obedient to God because we are seeking the reward of obedience and not to please Him, this ought not be.  Seeking a blessing because of your obedience is not true obedience rather is trying to bribe God. And God cannot be bribed (Deuteronomy 10:17).  It's like saying "God I will read Your Word if you give me a new job."  It just does not work.  Not only is this selfish it is prideful because we are telling God we will do His Will only if He fulfills our desires.

When we read Philippians 2 we find Paul discussing humility (Philippians 2:1-6).  When we arrive to verses 7 through 11 Paul focuses on the life of Jesus an example of humility. Jesus willing appeared as a slave as opposed to appearing as a royal king (Philippians 2:7).  But He humbled Himself more still  by becoming obedient until death  (Philippians 2:8).  Jesus was not looking at what God could do for Him or what God would reward Him with.  Jesus was only concerned about doing God's Will.  He just wanted to please His Father.  He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that Lord's Will be done despite how He felt (Matthew 26:39, 42).  Jesus only wanted to please Father and do His Will because His love for God outweighed the desires of to do His Will.  This is how we respond in regards to God's Will.  Obedience should come from a heart that wants to please God and not from a heart that seeks rewards.

The true blessing in obedience is being obedient and not the reward to come.  When we focus on the reward we will only have peace and joy when we get the reward we want.  But if we the reward of our obedience does not meet our expectations we can easily become bitter and anger at God.  Although our bitterness and anger stem from our selfish heart.  We are simply mad because we did not get what we wanted so now we are throwing a tantrum like an undisciplined child.    But when we focus on pleasing God our joy is complete because we know we have pleased the Father.   God did reward Jesus for His obedience (Philippians 2:9-11) but that is not why Jesus did it.  He died for us and was obedient until death so that we may come to know God and be forgiven for our sins.  It is my prayer that we can model this in our walk with Christ.  That we will walk in obedience to God not because we want something in return but because we simply please the Lord.  Stay focused you can do this.

In His JOY!

Monday, February 4, 2013

"Looking for stuff in all the wrong places"

Matthew 6:25-34

Everyone is looking for something. Some of us are pursing concrete things look money, friends, or objects. Others are looking for more abstract things like peace, wisdom, or love. Life tends make the pursuit of our happiness hard to get. We get money but it is never enough. We find true love only later to have our hearts broken. We obtain friends but death, life, and problems separate us. We become wise but soon our wisdom becomes outdated and we other consider us to be fools. We get cars and houses but they become either too small or break down. We find peace but it is only temporary. This is the problem when your pursuit of happiness is for concrete and abstract ideas that will not stand the test of time.

These pursuits cause us to compromise our beliefs, morals, and values. Leaving us feeling empty and unfulfilled so end the pursuit of one thing and go after another one. The more we pursue them the more and they take away from us. What we lose is never replaced and what we thought we gained only last for a moment. If we are willing to lose our life and accept Jesus we will gain life in Christ (Matthew 10:39). So this is an exchange and not a sale of our inner most being. This world would have sell your very soul and gain nothing in return (Mark 8:36).

You want peace you can have it in Jesus (John 14:27). You want real love, you have it in God (1 John 4:8). You lack wisdom, Jesus will give you what you need (James 1:5). As for those concrete things, the Lord you need such things. But He desires for you to seek after Him. And He promises He will take care of you and provide for your needs (Matthew 6:25-34). These promises and guarantees are for those who would dare to believe and put their faith in Jesus. So I ask you would you dare to believe?

Stay focused, you can do this.

In His JOY!

"Am I the youngest son"

Luke 15:11-32

Sin has no conscience.  The devil loves to tempt us to sin because when we are in sin we do not care who we hurt, what we do, or how often we sin.  All we care about it is the instant pleasure that sin offers us.  It leads us down a road of self destruction while all the time deceiving us.  We think we are embracing freedom and self expression but this is a lie.  Instead we are embracing bondage and promoting the devil with our sinful acts.  When we are deeply rooted in sin it becomes increasingly hard to hear God's Voice.

I am reminded of the prodigal son, he requested all of his inheritance from his father  (Luke 15:11-12).  The son received all of his inheritance and instead of remaining with his father he sold his share of the land and spent it all of reckless living ( Luke 15:13).  He did not care to how this made his father feel nor did he care what shame it brought to his family.  His only motivation was to enjoy the pleasures of life with his great wealth.  But in the end he gave his wealth to the world and gained nothing in return.  So it is safe to say that he obtained all the pleasures of life but lost his soul (Mark 8:36).  At his lowest moment he came to realize his need for help.  He had gotten himself into situation that he could not get out of.  The only one that could save him would be his father.  He needed a Savior because his sin had cost him everything (Luke 15:14-19).  He determined in his heart to return to his father as a slave and not a son.  His father saw him in the distance and rapped his arms around him.  His father returned his son to his former glory and threw a feast in his honor (Luke 15:24-20).  In anger the oldest son berated his father on why a feast was never given in his honor but the father simply replied you could have asked at any time for a feast at it would have been done but he should rejoice that his younger bother has returned.  (Luke 15:25-32)

Much like the youngest son we tend to get involved in sin and do not care who we hurt.  We spend all on money on sin.  We spend countless dollars at the strip clubs, on profane music, drugs, or alcohol.  We get deeply entrenched in sin and we don care how it destroys our lives.  Our families suffer and we suffer as well.  When others try to warn us and speak truth in our lives we take offense to it as opposed to accepting the truth and changing.  But God who loves us and cares for us knows how to get out attention.  He allows us to get to our lowest point to get our attention.  The prodigal did not realize his sin until circumstances put it in front of his eyes.  He could have been bitter and lashed out at God, blamed his father,  or even sinned some more.  But instead he took responsibility and repented of his sin. Godly sorrow lead him to repent.  When sin is brought in front of your eyes what do you do?  When poor choices cause horrible circumstances do you take responsibility or do you blame the devil and say "It's only a storm?"  or "This to shall pass?".

i implore you to look at your life and do a truthful self evaluation.  Are you growing in your spiritual walk or are you chasing after a secret sin?  Are your circumstances a direction effect of your sin?  Is God trying to get your attention or are you to focused on sinning to pay attention to truth?  Where you in your Christian Walk?  Are you living with the Father or are you in the city in sin?  This is my prayer, that we all truthfully answer theses questions and if we are far off that we would return to the Father and glorify His Name!

Stay focused you can do this.

In His JOY!