Sunday, December 31, 2006

Whose chosen whom?


John 15:16
Ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you.

We get things mixed up in our lives too easily. We get the idea sometimes that we make our own choices as to our relationship with Jesus Christ.

The Lord simply sets that to rest. We did not choose Him, He chose us.

And there is great peace in that. It means that our choosing is as solid, as unshakeable, as eternal as Jesus Christ is.

It matters not what my emotions tell me.
It is of no consequence the direction my world takes


My relationship with Jesus Christ, my salvation is based only on choices that Christ has made and therefore my salvation is as certain as Christ is God.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

I would have told you


John 14:2 KJV
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

I see the loving concern of our Saviour in that He says, "... if it were not so, I would have told you..."
If there were no Heavenly home
If there were no place for the believer to go
If God did not desire us to be with Him
If heaven's splendors were not accessible to us
Jesus would have told us so

If there was no salvation
If there was no way to have our sins forgiven
If we could not possibly be reconciled to God

Jesus would have told us so

Christ's love for us is expressed in the fact that He has told us all the truth. He has not only told us what we want to hear, He has told us what we don't want to hear but need to hear, and He has corrected our thinking when what we thought has been wrong. Jesus did not allow His disciples to hold to cherished opinions not based in Scriptural fact. It was one of the things the Jews struggled so much concerning Him. He only gave them the truth. He refused to let them continue on in their delusions of right.

And it is one of the greatest reasons to trust the Word of God. If it were not trustworthy, Jesus would have told us so.

So
There is a way to be reconciled to God
There is a heavenly home awaiting the believer
There are mansions prepared for them there and
Jesus is coming again that where He is we may be also.

Jesus told us so.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The tough part of Christianity


John 13:17 KJV
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

If there is a portion of the Christian life that is the toughest, it is that faithful consistent growing in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

It is so easy for us to settle in to Christianity sort of like a man and woman might settle in to marriage; before the marriage and maybe in the first little bit of the marriage, there is of necessity the development of a relationship. You get to know what the other is like and you learn to deal with that, enjoying many things, and enduring some things. But then after a while some couples quit working on the relationship and just get on with life. Sometimes a married couple nearly ignores one another even though they live in the same home.

Christians can do that with their relationship with Jesus. At first, there is that time of getting to know the Lord.
You find out He died for your sins,
You learn enough of the Bible and of church life to figure out the big "do's and don'ts"
But then if we are not careful we might settle into a sort of happy medium with the faith where we now know the things we enjoy about being a Christian and the things we must just endure.

So I say again that the tough part of the Christian life is maintaining that frame of mind where we constantly grow in our relationship with the Lord. And as we grow in that relationship, the Lord teaches us new things.

Then comes the second part of the Christian life, simply doing the things He has taught us.

The tough part of the Christian life is not doing what Jesus taught us. Jesus said we are happy if we do them. The tough part is the relationship.

So I can tell if my relationship with Christ is right or not, most often, just by asking myself if I am happy doing what I know He has taught. If I am not happy, the answer is not to change what I do, it is to seek a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Apologies

Once again I find myself having to apologize. I was away from computer for a few days around Christmas.

Glorify thy name


John 12:28 KJV
Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

Barnes, "...There can be no doubt that when God says here that he had glorified his name, he refers to what had been done by Christ..."[1]

See in this passage both the desire of the Lord and the determination of the Father. Should not this be our foremost goal as well? Glorifying the name of the Father is more important than
Our comfort
Our happiness
Our reputation among men, even
Our life upon this earth


Glorifying the name of the Father should be more important to us than doing what we want with our lives, or having what we want in life.

If something glorifies God, we ought to do it regardless of the personal sacrifice and cost.

Jesus glorified the Father
Through the things He did in His life,
Through the words He spoke in this life and
Through the things He suffered in this life.

Then God the Father glorified His name once again through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

God will use us to bring glory to His name in what we do when we obey the Lord and through the things we suffer when we endure it with God's grace.


[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes (1798-1870)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Don't Let Go


Job 27:6 KJV
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.

Gill says of this passage, "Meaning not his personal righteousness, ..... Indeed the righteousness of his living Redeemer, which was his...."[1]

Job did testify of knowing His Redeemer (Job 19:25). So the sense of this passage is that Job would never allow himself to let go of the assurance that can come only through the Saviour. He understood he would sin. He realized that every man fails God. However, He also understood the concept of righteousness through faith. If that faith is placed in the Almighty, who cannot fail, then it is impossible to lose the righteousness which God imparts to a man through faith.

If we will hold on to that truth, if we will not let it go, that blessed truth will sustain us through the dark times we go through in life even as it sustained Job through his darkest days.
Regardless of what happens to us in the flesh,
Regardless of the accusations men may make concerning us
Regardless of our own sense of unworthiness

If our soul has been committed to His trust and care, all is well with our soul.


[1] E-Sword, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Why Do We Follow Jesus?


John 6:2 KJV
And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

When a person examines John chapter 6 as a whole he will come to see that the theme of the chapter is following Jesus. The passage begins with a great multitude following Him and ends with only 12 left following.

The multitude followed Christ because they saw His miracles; the 12 followed because He had the words of eternal life.

So the question must be asked; why do we follow Jesus? If we follow Him for what He has done and we hope He will do, it is likely we will turn away.
Turn away when He disappoints us in not meeting our expectations
Turn away when He offends us with a message we did not like


But if we follow Him because He is the only one who has the words of eternal life, likely is, we will still be following Him to our dying day.

To view the video version of this blog, click here: http://bit.ly/JciaKH

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Shall Come Forth As Gold


Job 23:10 KJV
But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

The more I read in the book of Job the more he looks like a lot of us (except for Job's testimony, which is so much better than any man I have ever known;
Job 1:1
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.)

Consider;
Job had been relatively successful and happy. He had a good family, good income and a strong testimony in his community.
Job's fall happened suddenly and without any reason that he was aware of.
Job's friends, while not turning against him, did lose respect for him. This is a man who was once considered a leader and who now is being rebuked by his own peers.
Job's case was such that even younger men felt like they could rebuke him.

At the time of Job 23:10, Job had no guarantee that his situation would reverse itself. All he knew at that moment was
That God is sovereign and right to do whatever He chose
That God knew Job's "ways"
That God had elected to try him severely

From there, Job spoke as a man of faith. His faith assured him that, once the trial was over, he would be better for it.

God is good to His people. His plan are for peace and blessing, not for our harm.
We may not be able to see why God would put us through what we are going through
We may not understand how God can possibly use these things for good
We may not be able to see when we will come forth as gold
But we can be assured that "...when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Seek Only Honor From God


John 5:44 KJV
How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

One of the most difficult things we face as we grow in our faith is not allowing our walk with the Lord to become a system of religion. Of necessity we must attend church, serve others, grow in both our knowledge of an skills in ministering. There must be time being taught and there must be time rubbing shoulders with those who teach. And as we do that we will gain a testimony and reputation among those we teach and those we teach alongside of. The problem comes when we become more concerned with our testimony among them than we do with our relationship with the Saviour.

And it is easy to do. After all, we hear their voices, we see their faces. They often have impact upon any future growth we have in the things of God. So it becomes very easy to seek their honor and to view that honor as being the same as honor from God.

But Jesus said the trap the Pharisees had fallen into was that they sought honor one from another and not from God only. And it was this very thing that kept them from believing Christ.

We must discipline ourselves to seek no honor and accept no honor except that honor God gives us. To do otherwise is to step into the trap that will eventually bring us where we won't be able to trust the Lord's leadership in our lives for fear of what the others will say. The only Person's opinion that should matter to us is God's.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Nothing to Draw With?


John 4:11 KJV
The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

The thing that makes the difference between the believer and the non-believer is that the believer recognizes that Jesus has everything He needs "to draw with."

I understand that the woman had not yet grasped the difference between Jacob's well there before her and the living water Jesus was speaking of; but that only emphasizes what I think is her problem at this point. She sees Jesus as just another man, perhaps a teacher, maybe a prophet, but certainly not Almighty.

Nothing to draw with?
He spoke the worlds into existence

Nothing to draw with?
He upholds all things by the word of His power

Nothing to draw with?
He is the eternal, self existent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God

Of course He has what He needs to draw with!

He can reach into the resources of glory and draw out the salvation of every soul who will come to Him.

The difference between the Christian who rests in Christ and the Christian who stresses in this life is found right here;



  • One sees Christ as fully sovereign and capable of reaching into the deepest wells of eternity to meet our needs and

  • The other looks at Christ as Saviour of sins, but nearly helpless against the forces of this world.

Look at Christ again.
He has not come to the well of our lives unprepared. He has everything He needs to reach into that deep well, and work all things together for good.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Thank you for praying


I want to thank those of you who had prayed for me last week as I went in for a heart catheter. I went to the hospital having been told that the bottom part of my heart was weak and they needed to do the catheter to find and, if possible, correct the problem without open-heart surgery. The cardiologist gave me the impression that, given my symptoms and family history, I might expect the open heart surgery.


So what a shock and even confusion I had when I woke up from the procedure to learn that my heart is the picture of perfect health! I feel like the disciples in Acts when they prayed for Peter's release from prison and Peter was released. They did not believe it.


I am still not sure if I should believe the doctor.

I have another test (an echocardiogram) scheduled in a couple of weeks; I think to try to confirm the results of the heart catheter. But it appears that God did exceeding abundantly beyond what I could have asked for!

Believing the Basics


John 3:12 KJV
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

Jesus' message of the new birth was both a basic, simple doctrine, and told in the simplest of terms. Who could not understand the concept of being born into this world? And, if one cannot put together how physical birth corresponds to the new birth, how is it ever possible to expect that they will grasp even deeper truths of the Word of God.

Yet Nicodemus did believe. He questioned, he even doubted, but he did become a believer. Those we think are getting nothing from the Word of God may be getting more than we could ever imagine! Not, of course, that Jesus did not know Nicodemus would believe, but that this passage is here for our benefit, that we would keep preaching the truth even when it appears the hearer is getting so little from it.

Check the video version of this blog.
http://bit.ly/IIifFN

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Away from the Desk Awhile


To give you a little fair warning, I will be away from the desk for awhile. I go in for a heart catheter test this week to find and repair a problem my pumper seems to be having.


If you think about it, I would not mind a word of prayer on my behalf.

What Sayest Thou of Thyself


John 1:22 KJV
Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

This may very well be a good question for every Christian to ask himself;
"What sayest thou of thyself?"
Are you the kind of believer that you know you ought to be right now?
Have you grown in the faith since you first believed?
Cay you say with Paul that you press toward the mark for the prize?
Is your testimony at work what you know it should be?
Would your family, if they were allowed to bear open all they know about you, give a report of godliness?
As you examine your heart before the Lord, is there any unconfessed sins or areas of worldliness that only you and the Lord know about?


"What sayest thou of thyself?"
Are you serving the Lord where God wants you and in the capacity He wants?
Are you genuinely walking with the Lord?
How is your prayer life?

"What sayest thou of thyself?"
Have those you know you should have witnessed to heard the gospel message?
Are there people going to heaven today that might not have had it not been for your influence in their life?


One day each and every one of us will give an account for the deeds done inour flesh, whether good or bad

Rom 14:12
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (KJV)

2 Cor 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (KJV)

If we were to stand before God today, "What sayest thou of thyself?"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Once it is Over, It is Over


Luke 24:30-32 KJV
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?


How fleeting are our opportunities with the Lord Jesus Christ. Sure, He returned, and it is true He showed Himself alive for 40 days; but each opportunity came and passed and eventually the opportunities to see Him as He dwelt among men was passed, gone, over.

Today we will have an opportunity to speak about the Lord and perhaps today Christ will manifest Himself in some great way in our services. It could be that only a handful of those who are here will recognize Him. It might be that none do, but whatever happens today for the glory of God is over once it’s over. We will never be able to recover this day's worship again.

May we, come with our eyes open, and our hearts warm, listening for the sweet voice of our Saviour.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sovereignty Demonstrated on the way to the Cross




Luke 23:28-31 KJV
But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
For, behold, the days are coming, in the which shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?


This whole text is intriguing to me, not just in the sense of what Jesus said, but that he had the composer, the wherewithal, and even the liberty of the Romans to say it.

The situation must have been energy packed, I imagine. It is, at least in my mind, difficult to see this as a slow paced chain of events. Once the order had been handed down for His execution, and having two others already scheduled for crucifixion, I expect that this whole series of events began to happen rather suddenly.

With the crowd pressing in on the prisoners, and with the soldiers compelling Simon the Cyrenian to bear the cross of Christ, the soldiers could not have been that happy about things. So for them to suffer Jesus to turn to the great company of people and speak to them at all is difficult to conceive in my mind.

And then Jesus, being
As weary
As beaten, and
As harried
As He must have been at that moment; for Jesus to speak words which are at the same time,
Compassionate
Prophetical, and
Intensely profound
This it tells me that Jesus is in complete control of this whole situation. On the surface this may appear to be a poor man being hurried to His death; but in reality this is our sovereign God tactically defeating the forces of sin, death and hell.

Thank God that He was willing to endure the cross for our salvation.

Friday, December 08, 2006

What Grace!


Proverbs 8:30-31 KJV
Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.


There can be little doubt that this passage is a portrait of Christ and His relationship with His Heavenly Father. It has been a blessing to me now for a few weeks to meditate upon the things that please God.

The Bible says God is delighted in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is His daily delight, and Jesus rejoices always before Him.

God delights in working alongside His Son, not only in the creation of the world, but also in the redemption of man. Nothing comes as a shock or surprise to the Lord and since God is sovereign, no one can make God do anything He is not pleased to do. Whatever God does is His pleasure to do it.

With that in mind, one could deduce that it was God's pleasure send His Son to this earth, and it was Christ's pleasure to die for lost sinners. God delighted in His sacrifice so we could be saved. Not that the experience was pleasant, but He was not forced to do it and was delighted to do it for the benefit of mankind.

What grace!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Unto God


Job 5:8 KJV
I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:

Someone described the book of Job as an intense argument between Job and his friends. As is the case with most arguments, both parties were in the wrong in some respects. Also both parties were in the right in many respects.

We might picture this thusly; Eliphaz has come down pretty hard on Job in the preceding verses. Now, with a little of the adrenalin worked off, and wishing not to condemn Job but to encourage him to make some things right, Eliphaz softens his voice and begins to plead with Job.

Eliphaz is certainly in the right in verse 8. Regardless of the cause for Job's condition (which Job rightly maintained was not because of some sin he had committed) the best course of action would be to "seek unto God and unto God... commit my cause."

Whatever our circumstances this one truth will take us far; unto God commit our cause.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Not Dead But Living


Luke 20:37-38 KJV
Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.

These verses came alive to me a few days ago as I was meditating on the Scriptures and considering the fact that I have to see a cardiologist in the next few days about some blockages....

It occurred to me no one who has died in the Lord is dead. God is not the God of the dead, but the living.
Abraham is not dead, but living
Isaac is not dead but living
Jacob is not dead, but living
Moses is not dead but living


Then I got to thinking about some dear friends of mine who have died.
Ed Jasper is not dead, but living
Bob Ochs is not dead, but living
Roy Cripe is not dead, but living
Ted Bellingham is not dead, but living
Pete Briones is not dead but living
Kathy Farinella is not dead but living
Heather Oliver is not dead but living
Ron Woods is not dead but living
Gary Prisk is not dead but living
On and on the list could go.

Some time ago a friend of mine, my age, had a heart attack and had a stint placed in his heart. He got out of the hospital concerned that he had not been faithful tithing and purchased a life insurance policy on himself naming the church as the beneficiary. At first I thought he was over reacting. He after all recovered nicely. I now understand his reasoning though. For many years now I have known that my family history made the likelihood of heart disease possible. I have joked around about it for the last 20 years. Having it now developing into a reality has sobered me up a little.

I know that doctors perform procedures to repair blockages routinely these days. I know I am in all likelihood going to be fine and live another many years. Still there it is very comforting to know that should I join the numbers who have already gone, I won't be dead, but living.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Charging God Foolishly

Job 1:22 KJV
In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Gill says, "...did not arraign his wisdom, nor charge him with folly; though there might be some things he could not account for, or see into the reasons of them, he knew the Lord could; he considered that he was a God of knowledge, the only and all wise God, and did all things after the counsel of his will, and to answer the best ends and purposes, and therefore he submitted all to his wisdom; nor did he himself speak foolishly of him, arraigning his justice and holiness, as if he had done wrong to him; he knew there was no unrighteousness in God, nor in any of his ways and works, and that he had a right to do what he would with his own, to give and take it away at his pleasure..."[1]

One of the most common things I think I have heard whenever I have attempted to use Job's story to comfort a hurting person is that Job was an unusual character and, "Just because God helped him through his troubles does not mean He will help me through mine." We are so prone to think of the Bible characters as somehow superhuman. But I can't help but think that Job was not much different than we are today, with the exception that he did not charge God foolishly.

What contentment might come to our souls if we could, like Job, "...consider that...God...to answer the best ends and purposes...." What God does is good and right and the very best, even when it seems to hurt us very much. Job did not accuse God of wrong in the troubles Job faced. He admitted not understanding and he got out of sorts with his misguided friends, but he never blamed God nor did he try to place any fault upon God for his troubles.

Lord, help me to be so wise.

[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sorrow to Joy

Esther 9:22 KJV
As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.

Sorrow to joy
Mourning into a good day

God is able to do above anything we could possible expect. I was thinking about Mordecai and Esther when the news came out that the Jews would be destroyed. Mordecai did what he could, he fasted and prayed and got in touch with Esther. Esther then did what she could; she asked her people to pray and she approached the king. But I wonder if either really thought the Lord would do what He did on their behalf. God not only destroyed their enemies but used the armies of Babylon to help them do it!

We sometimes face things that look unbelievably impossible. We do what we can do and we appeal to the Lord for the rest, but we often wonder if the Lord will do what we ask. Most of the time we must console ourselves in the fact that God will use even the bad things for good. Israel had to do that too, for seventy years of captivity and for nearly a year waiting to see the outcome of Haman's orders.

But praise the Lord that God has great things planned for His people. We may have sorrow now, we may have mourning today. But God will turn our sorrow to joy and our mourning into a good day.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Heart

Proverbs 3:1 KJV
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:

God wants us to keep His commandments not only in the flesh, but also in the heart. I am reminded of the story of the little girl standing in the car seat. Her dad tells her to sit down but she does not, her dad tells her again and this time says, "If you don't sit down I will stop the car and spank you." The little girl sits down and they continue on their journey. After a moment or two the little girl looks at her dad and says, Daddy, I am still standing inside."

Some people do the right things but they are still sinning inside. True worship begins in the heart and manifests itself on the outside. So I need not only to guard my heart but I need to watch my heart and be sure that my service of the Lord, my worship, my actions are a reflection of a heart that is right with God first. If my heart is right, the deeds on the outside will be fine.

Friday, December 01, 2006

His father saw him

Luke 15:20 KJV
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

As soon as the son began his trip home the father began His trip toward the son. We can never get so far from God that He won't immediately and compassionately come get us from whatever state we have fallen into, if only we will see that our sin is our own.

Gill says, "his father saw him; he saw him when in the far country, spending his substance with harlots, and in riotous living; he saw him when among the swine and husks; he saw him when he came to himself, and all the motions and determinations of his heart; he saw him in his progress towards him, and looked upon him with an eye of love, pity, and compassion, ...."[1]

See God watching this one through the whole process of sin.
See God painfully grieving over each wicked choice the son makes but carefully avoiding the urge to help him too soon. Then
See the Lord as soon as the son turns toward his father racing to the young man's aide and throwing His arms around him.

What a gracious God we have.

And what grace it compels us to have in response.
No sin is so grievous that we ought not forgive
No offense is so terrible that we should not forget
No act is so heinous that we ought not express compassion

If only the sinner will come to himself and confess his sins. We can help the one back who begins the trip themselves.

[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)