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Biblically Based

Hear the Word of the Lord!

Listening to God

I often hear people ask,”How do I know the Lord is speaking to me?” One of the greatest benefits to being a child of God is being able to hear God speak to us personally. There is no possibility of hearing God speak directly to us without a saving relationship with Him. Notice that I said being a child of God. There is no personal relationship with God without knowing Him as our heavenly Father. And that relationship is only possible through a personal relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.

When you receive a phone call from a friend, how do know if its not a friend or family member playing a joke on you? Very simply it’s because you know them. You know them because you’ve spent time with them. You know how they talk or you know their mannerisms. You know the expressions they use, the tone of their voice, their inflection. It all comes with knowing them over the years. That’s the way it is with God, You know Him by His character, His nature, His interests, His joys and His hurts. You know Him by the way He interacts with your life. God is always inviting you to know more than just His voice. In fact, He invites you to know Him. What an opportunity to be close to God!

I’m reminded of the opportunity the prophet Elijah had in his encounter with God. It happened to be the lowest time in his life. In the book of 1 Kings 19:9 Elijah had come to a cave and decided to hide there and the word of the Lord came to him and He said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Exhausted and feeling sad, he replied to the Lord in verse 10 that he had done his best to obey Him and said,“the sons of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, torn down Thine altars and killed Thy prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

Elijah was ready to call it quits and the Lord gave him a command that blew him away! He said in verse 11, “. . . Go forth, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” As he obeyed what the Lord told him, the Lord was passing by. But before Elijah could step out of the cave a horrific wind hit the side of the mountain shattering the rocks. The Lord wasn’t in the wind or even the fire that rained from heaven after that. I’m sure Elijah wondered what would happen next, a volcanic explosion!

But, instead in the still silence, Elijah heard a gentle whisper. He knew it was the Lord. He got up and stood at the opening of the cave and hid his face with his coat. At the end of verse 13 the voice of the Lord came to Elijah again and asked, “What are you doing here Elijah?” Elijah responded the same as he had earlier and God gave him instructions in verses 15 -18 that he wasn’t the only one refusing to worship idols. There were 7,000 others who had not left God to follow Baal.

Notice that God whispered. To hear someone whisper, you need to be near him or her. Whispering doesn’t work very well if you’re speaking to someone who’s standing on the other side of the room. You see, God doesn’t want a long distance relationship; He wants a close, intimate one.

What you need to keep in mind is that God speaks in many different voices and if we have that close intimate relationship with Him, we know when it’s God speaking to us. The best way to hear God is to spend time reading His word, the Bible.

Do you have that kind of relationship with God? Do you want to have that intimate relationship with Him? You can and I can show you how. Just leave me a comment and I’ll be glad to tell you how.

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Two Different Christs?

DiscipleshipBanner“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance.” (1 Peter 1:14)

A fellow student I worked with while attending Bible college was deep into evangelism and enjoyed sharing Christ regularly and at any opportunity that presented itself. Oftentimes he was quick to share with me the experience he had in sharing Christ with someone on the streets. It could have been the night before or a couple of days prior. Now, I enjoy sharing Christ also and love to hear testimonies about how someone came to know Jesus. However, my friend seemed to think it was rewarding to sort of brag about having led someone to Christ. I can understand his desire to share his evangelistic moments.

I have often wondered how many people have actually progressed from accepting Christ to discipleship. There is a misconception that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need Him as our Saviour and that we have the right to postpone our obedience to Him as Lord, as long as we want to!

I believe this misconception has sprung up naturally from a misunderstanding of what the Bible actually says about Christian discipleship and obedience. It is found in nearly all full gospel literature.

I think the following is a fair statement of what I was taught in my early Christian experience and it certainly needs a lot of modifying and a great many qualifiers to save us from being in error:

“We are saved by accepting Christs as our Saviour;

We are sanctified by accepting Christ as our Lord;

We may do the first without doing the second!”

The truth is that salvation apart from obedience is unknown in scripture. Peter makes it plain that we are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience.”

It is a tragedy that we hear, “Come to Jesus!” Then later we hear, “Take Jesus as Lord!” The fact that we hear this everywhere does not make it right. To urge men and women to believe in two Christs is bad teaching for no one can take either or one without the other. We’re not saved by believing in an office nor in a work.

I have heard well-meaning workers say, “Come and believe on the finished work.” That work is not going to save you. The Bible does not tell us to believe in an office or a work, but to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Person who has done that work and holds those offices.

Peter’s emphasis is on obedience among the scattered and persecuted Christians of his day.

The important thing to me here is that Peter speaks of his fellow Christians as “obedient children.” He did not command them to be obedient. On the contrary, he is assuming that they are believers, and therefore they are also obedient. So, as obedient children, they would do what is necessary.

I submit that obedience is taught throughout the entire Bible and that true obedience is one of the toughest requirements of the Christian life. Apart from obedience, there can be no salvation, for salvation without obedience is a self-contradictory impossibility.

If God had made us humans to be mere machines we would not have the power of self-determination. But since He made us in His own image and made us to be moral creatures, He has given us that power of self-determination.

We do not have the right of self-determination because God has given us only the power to choose evil. Seeing that God is a holy God and we are moral creatures having the power but not the right to choose evil, no man has any right to lie.

Oh, we have the power to lie but no man has the right to lie. We have the power to steal—I could go out and get myself a better coat than the one I own. I could slip out through a side door and get away with the coat. I have that power, but I do not have that right!

More to the point, we only have the right to be good—we never have the right to be bad because God is good. We only have the right to be holy; we never have the right to be unholy. If we are unholy we are using a right that is not ours. Adam and Eve had no moral right to eat of that tree of good and evil, but they took it and usurped the right that was not theirs.

So how can we insist and teach that our Lord Jesus Christ can be our Saviour without being our Lord? How can we continue to teach that we can be saved without any thought of obedience to our Sovereign Lord?

Suppose I were to slip into a hospital and tell the staff, I need a blood transfusion or perhaps an X-ray of my gall bladder. After they have ministered to me and given me their services, do I just slip out of the hospital again with a cheery “Goodbye”—as though I owe them nothing and it was kind of them to help me in my time of need?

Now, that may sound like a grotesque concept to you, but it does pretty well draw the picture of those who have been taught that they can use Jesus as a Saviour in their time of need without owning Him as Sovereign and Lord and without owing Him obedience and allegiance.

The Bible never in any way gives us such a concept of salvation. Nowhere are we ever led to believe that we can use Jesus as a Saviour and not own Him as our Lord. He is the Lord and as the Lord He saves us, because He has all the offices of Saviour and Christ and High Priest and Wisdom and Righteousness and Sanctification and Redemption! He is all of these things and all of these are embodied in Him as Christ the Lord.

My friend, we are not allowed to come to Jesus Christ as shrewd, clever operators saying, “We will take this and this, but we won’t take that!” We don’t come to Him as one buying furniture for a house and declare, “I will take this table, but I don’t want that chair,” as though we are wanting one Christ over a different Christ.

Absolutely not! It is either all of Christ or none of Christ! To the world—a Christ who does not need our apologies, one Christ over another Christ, one Christ who will either be Lord of all or who will not be Lord at all!

Therefore, one who accepts Jesus as Saviour must also accept Him as Lord!

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is almost upon us. What do we usually do on this weekend? We go to the lake and swim or ski or fish or just camp out and have fun. Many people visit cemeteries and leave wreaths or flags at the graveside of family members who served our country and gave the ultimate sacrifice. These men or women who sacrificed it all for us deserve the respect of our remembrance of them and what they did.

Memorial DayI had the opportunity to work at a funeral home and cemetery and guide people to the graves of those who have served. Each time I did, I paused to remember them as well. After all, I served in the Armed Forces also during the Viet Nam war and lost friends I served with. So, it is with honor that I stand at the graveside and bow my head in silent prayer as flags were placed near a loved one. It is my hope to get to visit the Viet Nam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. before I die and see the names of those I knew.

While others are using the weekend to have fun with families, I do not hold that against them. I do however wish I could see families pause at a special time and give silent time to remember those who fought and died. Wouldn’t it be nice to see those who have fun take time to recognize the men and women who fought for that freedom?

Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War. It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women who died in any war or military action.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. The current name for this day did not come into use until after World War II. Decoration Day and then Memorial Day used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week, on which it fell. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends. This meant that that, from 1971, Memorial Day holiday has been officially observed on the last Monday in May. However, it took a longer period for all American states to recognize the new date.

 

I Love You Mom!

This year Mother’s Day will be on Sunday May 13, 2018. Although my mother is no longer living with us and is at home with our Lord in Heaven, not a Mother’s Day goes by that I don’t think of her and also my wife. Even though my wife is not my mother, she is the mother of my children. So, with that being said, Happy Mother’s Day Mom and my dear sweet wife Deanna. I love you both so much.

Mothers-Day-ImageIn 1868, Ann Jarvis, mother of Anna Jarvis, developed ‘Mothers Friendship’s Day’ along with a committee in order to bring families together after they had been separated by the Civil War. Her daughter would push her agenda forward over the years in honor of the legacy she was leaving behind.

Over the next few decades, the holiday was not an official one but there were small celebrations of it. However, Ann Jarvis died on May 9, 1905, prompting Anna Jarvis to establish Mother’s Day along with the help of Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker.

The first official celebration of the holiday was on May 10, 1908. The next year, the holiday was widely celebrated in New York and it continued to grow after that over the years.

Make an effort to call your mother, send her a letter or perhaps even get together this Mother’s Day. I am thrilled to be with my wife this Mother’s Day. Even though you are not my mom, I still love you as the mother that you are.

Much love and many hugs and kisses! emoji kisses

 

God Knows, Even Before We Ask!

Yes, you are right. God does know what we need, before we even ask. God tells us in Matthew 6:8, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” But in the next verses He tells us to pray for our needs. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 God commands us to pray continually. That means to pray a lot!

Praying Man

Prayer is God’s way for us to receive what we need from Him (Heb. 4:16). He tells us the reason we don’t have what we need is because we haven’t asked or because we are asking selfishly (James 4:2-4).

We also need to pray because we have an enemy, the devil, who wants to rob us of the good things God wants to give us. Prayer is God’s way to stand firm against the devil’s tricks (Eph. 6:18).

When we pray with thanksgiving  God chases away out worries and fills our hearts and minds with His peace (Phil. 4:6-7).

Isn’t it wonderful to know that God wants us to talk with Him and tell Him our needs? We all need to spend more time in prayer! I’m also glad that God knows what my needs are before I ask. That assures me that He is watching over me while at the same time knows what I need.

 

Do You Know the Time?

watch

While waiting for my flight in the airport one day, I was reading from a book and I noticed a gentleman sat down a couple of seats from me and within a few minutes he leaned over toward me and asked, “Pardon me sir, do you know the time?” Without giving it a second thought, I simply looked at my watch and said, “It is nearly time!”

Now, I know that wasn’t what the man wanted to know and I quickly grinned and gave him the correct time. He looked at me somewhat puzzled. I’m sure that the man had no idea what I was referring to. I was referring to the time our flight would begin to board.

But what if I had told the man that yes, it was nearing the time God would call us home. Now I would certainly be concerned if he had asked the question and given me the same answer. In this day and time, you never know what could happen. The man could have been a terrorist and was planning to bring destruction to the plane and everyone on board.

My point is very distinct. The psalmist says in Psalm 31:15, “My times are in Thy hand…” Oh how true that is! On the negative side, this certainly would be a disastrous situation if it was a terrorist. My time could nearly be up. On the positive side, the man could be looking for an opportunity to start a conversation leading up to sharing the gospel with me.

Honestly, time is critical. Acts 1:7 says, “. . .it is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” We never know when that time will happen. What we should know is whether we are prepared for that time when it comes. Are you ready to go, if God is calling you home? If you’re not ready, you can always ask me how you can be.

Good Friday?

Good Friday Image

As we approach this Easter Sunday, I hear the question, “So why do we recognize Good Friday if Sunday is the day Jesus rose from the grave?” And that is a great question. Friday was the day Christ was crucified. It is important because that is the day Jesus took our sins to the cross and He paid the price to redeem us. He was crucified on a hill called Golgotha just outside of Jerusalem. Not only did He go to the cross, but He was nailed to the cross at His wrists and His ankles with large spikes. He was given a crown of thorns as a means of mocking His kingship by the Romans. Jesus was tortured by whips and humiliation and made to carry His own cross to the hill. Suffice it to say, His death was a cruel death. And to make matters worse, He had done nothing wrong other than tell people how they could have eternal life.

The ‘Good’ in Good Friday comes from old English when Good meant Holy. So you could call Good Friday, ‘Holy Friday’. Many people in different countries celebrate the anniversary of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, and death on the Friday before Easter Sunday.  This is an observance that involves people fasting and praying.

We celebrate on Friday that Jesus died for us and then on Easter Sunday we celebrate the risen Christ. But on Monday it’s back to normal. The Apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:21, “…Christ also suffered for you…”  Easter gets tucked away in our minds and we don’t think about it again until the following year at this time.

An old prominent African-American preacher named S. M. Lockridge (1913 – 2000) known for his dynamic passionate and fervent sermons preached a sermon entitled “He’s My King!” A few years later the author and speaker Tony Campolo continued the message with his own sermon called, “It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming.” The narrative of Jesus crucifixion is one of betrayal.  Denial. Cowardice. Envy.  Hate.  Brutality.  Suffering. Despair. Defeat.  Death.

Yet, Christians celebrate the cross because the story does not end on that fateful Friday. It does not end at the cross.  The irony of the cross was the very instrument Jesus’ enemies used to defeat Him, but it became His greatest victory.  Little did they know when Friday ended what would happen on Sunday to change the course of the world’s history. Regardless of today’s problems. Challenges.  Or defeats.  Just remember that Sunday’s coming!  And that you will enjoy the privilege of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

I know it’s Friday.  But thanks be to God that Sunday’s coming!

From the S. M. Lockridge sermon, “It’s Friday. Jesus is buried. A soldier stands guard. And a rock is rolled into place.  But it’s  Friday. It is only Friday.  Sunday is a comin’!”

A View Into Heaven

Acts 7.56

I don’t think I’m alone when I often imagine what heaven actually looks like. I hear of people who have dreamed of heaven. I hear of people who have been on their death bed  and have had visions of heaven. Some talk about the streets of gold, while others talk of seeing their parents or grandparents who have gone on to be with the Lord. The older I get, the more I think about heaven.

Here is my happiest feeling, I know I will be in heaven when I die. How do I know that? Jesus clearly tells me in His Word in John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

Stoning of Stephen as he envisions Jesus standing at the right hand of God

We all would love to get a peek into heaven. Go ahead and admit it, you know you would like to see into heaven. When Stephen was being stoned to death, God allowed him to see into heaven and what he saw was Jesus standing at the right hand of God. This is a simple confirmation of Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18, “. . . All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Jesus has the power to allow Stephen to look into heaven. The Bible usually represents Jesus seated at the right hand of God after His work is finished on earth.

What a rush of strength Stephen must have had as it appeared Jesus rose to His feet as He saw His servant’s need and was preparing to come to his aid and welcome him into heaven.

That’s what I envision of Jesus too! He is standing there waiting to welcome me home. The wonderful part is this: He is standing there waiting for you also to welcome you home, if you know Him as Lord and Saviour. To God be the glory and praise!

Faith?

Faith is the substance

Just what is the Christian life all about? I suppose the easiest way to explain it to a non-Christian is that it is a life of faith in Jesus Christ. To the non-Christian, the way to live the Christian life is by utilizing the choice God gave you when you were born and accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior by faith. And once you become a Christian you live your life knowing that Jesus has saved you from a life of eternal hell. So how does one know someone is a Christian? This is one of the hardest things to understand nowadays. How do you know someone is a Christian? Have you ever wondered what the visible manifestation of faith is? In other words, how can others see that someone is a Christian?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16, “Let your life shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (NASV) Jesus is the Light of the World, and at salvation, we become children of Light. You see, with Jesus living in us, our character, attitude and words change. When we accepted Christ, He gave us the good work we are supposed to do. Our job is to follow Him and do the work He gave us to do. And how do we know what that work is?

Growing in Faith Together

The life of Christ is the life we are to follow. Jesus performed many good works during His life here on earth. Every good work that He did was because it was God’s will for Him. As a Christian, this should also be our goal as well. How do we know what that is? Simply put, He gave us a guide, the Bible, which lays out the path we are to follow. And if we follow that guide the Lord will be glorified through us.

 

Fascinating Animal!

Leaping Squirrel

Sometimes when I’m daydreaming or thinking and looking out my window oftentimes I see squirrels running along the top of my fence or running along a branch in a tree or just leaping from one branch to another. I could sit and watch them for quite a while if I let myself do it. But when I’m thinking about what my next blog will be or what the Lord is going to lay on my heart, I catch myself watching the squirrels play.

Squirrels Playing

It seems that squirrels are always busy doing something whether it be looking for something to eat or finding nuts and looking for a place to store them in a tree or in my yard. Nevertheless, they rarely stay in one place for long, without a care in the world. Wouldn’t it be great to have nothing to care or worry about? Is the life of a squirrel something we really want to pattern our life after?

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they?” (NASV) God loves His creatures enough to make sure that they are fed. Even though they do not sow, reap, or labor, they still must search out food in order to survive, but not to worry; our “heavenly Father feeds them.” Even though we are “of more value than they,” animals do have value to God.

God gave animals the instinct to survive in this world. God gave us knowledge and a mind to choose what we will do to live and survive in this world. Even though this world is a cruel world and occupied by cruel and wonderful people, He also gave us a mind, and with that mind we are to use it to make choices. With that choice, God showed Adam and Eve what to eat and what not to eat. Since the beginning of the world, we have been making choices. I chose to accept Christ as my Savior back in 1984. It was then that I realized after 37 years, that I had been living my life as though I knew what was right.

God showed me that I was NOT living a life worthy to Him. I was much like the squirrels. Oh I realized I had to support the family I had, but it was more about me and my family. I realized I was destined for a life in hell if I did not put my faith and trust in Christ and accept Him into my heart as Lord and Savior. You see, this is why God gave us a mind. We must make the choice!

How about you? Have you made the right choice for your life? Are you living your life without a care in the world? Jesus said it so simply in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”(NASV)  You see, only you and I have that ability to know where we will spend eternity. The squirrels weren’t given that choice, but God says we don’t have to worry about them because He will take care of them. God’s purpose, when he created us, is for us to have fellowship with Him. He made that opportunity as simple as putting our faith and trust in Him. If you’ve not made this choice today, won’t you do it now? All you have to do is recognize that you are destined for eternity in hell without Him and you need to ask Him into your heart right now and mean it.