Archive for August, 2014

If you believe in the Bible, you believe in Jesus.

And if you believe in Jesus, you’ve got to believe the Devil is real.

That means that spiritual warfare is real since Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy.

If we’re going to survive spiritually in the cosmic conflict between good and evil, between the magnet of God’s will and the malicious scheming of Satan, we need to take seriously the call to prepare ourselves for spiritual warfare.

That means learning the Bible and having its truths ready for application when spiritual turmoil comes against us.

Paul told us that the Bible is our sword, needed for rightly dividing truth from falsehood.

Jesus showed us during His time in the wilderness that scriptures aptly spoken can rebuke Satan and even cause him to flee.

The Old Testament book of Nehemiah reminded me this morning of who important it is for us to be armed in the conflict against evil.

Nehemiah was writing of physical weapons when he described those rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem many years after the exiles’ return from Babylon. But the principle clearly applies spiritually.

“The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon.” (Nehemiah 4:16)

In all that you do to set a good example of faith in front of family, friends, acquaintances and strangers — even during the difficult times — please make sure that scripture is never far from your mind and that every action and word is guided by a biblical principle.

Even if you’re not quoting scriptures right and left.

Let the words of Colossians 3:17 guide you — “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

With this principle in mind, we’ll be ready for anything.

As always, I love you

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The Apostle Paul gave me a good reminder this morning.

“My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.” (I Corinthians 4:4)

Sometimes we listen to the voice of warning that speaks to our consciences — the voice of the Holy Spirit — and we stop before crossing from temptation into sin.

Sometimes, sadly, we ignore that voice after concluding that the warning doesn’t apply to us because of some exclusion we’ve concocted.

Hello, sin.

But our guilty conscience seems dead asleep.

We don’t feel guilty.

Yet we are.

King David found out the hard way that a conscience can become blinded by selfishness and do no good to protect the soul from racing off a cliff into sin.

Thank God that God didn’t give up on David and sent the prophet Nathan to help restore the catatonic conscience of the king.

The fact is that we can’t trust our eternal status to how we’re feeling in our consciences.

We’ve instead got to trust the Spirit to convict us of our sins as we measure our lives against the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.

We’ve got to stay in the Word and in prayer so that we retain sensitivity to God’s voice.

Yes, we’ll always be able to find others whose sins appear worse than ours, people whom we believe are more deserving of punishment by God rather than ourselves.

But we’ll never live up to the perfect example of Christ and that’s why we’ll always need God’s grace.

Let’s let our consciences be our guide without letting them become our god.

We are to listen to our consciences but only as we are certain that they are listening to the Lord.

As always, I love you

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Christians wanting to share their faith with very intelligent people sometimes fall into two categories.

Either they become intimidated because they feel intellectually outgunned and might not hold up during a theological debate OR they become overconfident and start trying to persuade with their own wit, wisdom and charisma rather than than relying on the Holy Spirit to do the persuading.

God wants all people to understand and embrace the Gospel as their bridge to salvation and service in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, so we know that really smart people need to hear the Gospel.

But if we think the approach to them is to based on making it “smart and sophisticated” enough to be worthy of their elite status, then we are mistaken.

The power is in the simplicity and potency of God’s grace toward sinful man. That’s it.

The Apostle Paul demonstrated this in the passage I read this morning from my One-Year Bible.

“When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.” (Ephesians 2:1-5)

I’ve fallen into the trap at times of thinking that I’ve got to sound really smart when talking about the Gospel with really smart people.

There’s a much better way to explain The Way.

God is perfect. Jesus lived without sin so that He could take my place on the cross, a place I deserved because I don’t live without sin. No matter how smart I try to become.

Without Jesus, I have no hope of eternal life.

It’s that simple.

Even the “braniacs” know the soul is eternal. It’s hard-wired into them by God via His creation of their soul (Eccles. 3:10).

They know they sin. We can help them know the Son.

It’s not rocket science.

And that’s a good thing.

As always, I love you

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There are times in our lives when we make biblical decisions that are really dumb.

And costly.

I’m not talking about choices made in alignment with the precepts of the Lord but instead decisions similar in prideful foolishness to those made by Bible characters.

Scripture is filled with examples of bad decisions. That’s actually one of the reasons that we can trust the integrity of the Bible. Other religions’ dogma manuals don’t describe the failures of the religion’s heroes, calling into question the objectivity of the writings.

When we read of the sins of one usually faithful Bible character after another, we sometimes see ourselves.

Adam and Eve believed the lie that God was lying and they suffered as a result.

Of course, we still suffer today from their sin.

Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samson, David, Solomon …. the list goes on of people who were famous for their biblical lives yet flawed in their conduct.

The common threads? Their good choices were made by asking God first and their bad choices were made without asking God first.

There is a cost to not asking God in prayer if we should do certain things.

Today’s reading in the One-Year Bible provides another confirmation of this truth.

Judah’s King Josiah picked a fight with Pharoah Neco that he should have avoided.

But King Josiah didn’t pray about it first.

HUGE mistake.

King Josiah lost his life because he didn’t pray to God for direction.

You can read about it by clicking here.

This was so sad, so unnecessary.

King Josiah had just led his people in a thrilling time of national revival and one would think that praying to God would have been the first thing the king did.

But perhaps overconfidence took over and Josiah ignored King Solomon’s timeless warning recorded in Proverbs 16:18:

“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.”

Listen, it doesn’t matter how satisfied we feel with our faith and personal competency with the challenges we face in life. If we don’t pray for wisdom, leading and strength — if we try to handle things on our own because we think we know what’s best — bad things will eventually happen.

Judah suffered terribly after Josiah’s debacle and ended up destroyed with many dead and others enslaved.

Let’s pray first before significant decisions, OK?

The cost of not doing so is too high.

As always, I love you

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I really miss bring able to run whenever I want.

It’s not for the lack of wanting to exercise but instead because of damaged cartilage in my knees.

For a guy who ran competitively through high school and college, this is a disappointing status. But I have many other blessings so I’m more than grateful to God for the memories of what used to be running-wise.

I was reminded of my past and my present yearning during my Bible reading this morning.

II Chronicles 30 contains an interesting reference to the use of runners to spread the call for revival in the nation of Israel, even though Hezekiah officially reigned in Judah, the southern kingdom during the centuries of a divided Israel.

King Hezekiah had been inspired by the Lord to resume the passover celebration and he wanted to quickly get the word out to all the Hebrews, regardless of past hard feelings between the southern and northern kingdoms.

Check out the message Hezekiah sent through men not on fleet horses but men relying only on their pumping legs….

“At the king’s command, runners were sent throughout Israel and Judah. They carried letters that said:

‘O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he will return to the few of us who have survived the conquest of the Assyrian kings. Do not be like your ancestors and relatives who abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and became an object of derision, as you yourselves can see. Do not be stubborn, as they were, but submit yourselves to the Lord. Come to his Temple, which He has set apart as holy forever. Worship the Lord your God so that His fierce anger will turn away from you.

‘For if you return to the Lord , your relatives and your children will be treated mercifully by their captors, and they will be able to return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful. If you return to Him, He will not continue to turn His face from you.’” (vv. 6-9)

Wow. Men selected to run from town to town to town with messages from the King who had been inspired by the Lord.

This wasn’t a time for walking. Time was of the essence to lead the people into national repentance and worship and restoration.

Some people did respond, fortunately, but most didn’t.

“The runners went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun. But most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them.”

This reaction wasn’t the runners’ fault.

The runners did what they were called to do.

Listen, you and I aren’t called to carry the message of the gospel via running legs. But we are to view the call to connecting with God as a top priority.

Sure, many will make fun of our faith, but that reflects on them, not on us.

The big crowd of people who eventually gathered in Jerusalem for the passover wouldn’t have been there if the runners had quit at the first towns that laughed at them.

They kept running. They didn’t even lose some of their motivation and simply start walking from town to town.

The runners played a huge role in the national revival that followed.

Just like we read in Hebrews 12:1, let’s keep running the race of faith and testimony.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”

You probably won’t physically run to help a discouraged, disgruntled or discombobulated person today with words of scripture and actions of Christlike love. But I do encourage you to proceed with haste because we’re called to build bridges with people who need spiritual restoration.

Yes, some co-workers or relatives might laugh at our beliefs and self-sacrificing practices. But others might listen and join us. Just as with the restored passover celebration in Hezekiah’s day, it will be an awesome experience when some to whom we “ran” join us in worship and personal consecration.

As always, I love you

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