RSS Feed

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Deepening Grace

The level of knowledge that we have about something either makes us love that thing or be indifferent to it. Take your spouse, for example. When you first met them, you did not know them and it was okay just going out or hanging out. As your relationship grew, and the closer the two of you became, and you spent more time together. Where you once did not know what made them tick, now you do. Now, you know their likes and dislikes. The more time the two of you spent together is in direct correlation to the amount of knowledge you gained about them.

This is how relationships work or do not work. This is also how our relationship with God works or does not work. Time equals understanding.

I love how in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (vs 11) As Paul (and ourselves) grew up, he gained knowledge and was able to discern what was expected of a man (or woman) and to adjust his actions accordingly. Having a deepened understanding of expectations in certain areas absolutely helps in bringing enjoyment to our adult lives, just as it does in marriages and our relationships with God.

We can only be close to God through the grace that He has poured out on us through His Son. God provided the way. He opened the door. He tore the veil. He made it so we could have a relationship with him.

God is holy. He is perfect, unblemished. He is so many things that we are not and never could be without Him. Another one of those things is: He is good. Jesus, the son of God, is described as a man who knew no sin (2 Cor.5:21) and even he says, “no one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

Good is a comparative term. When we herald that we are good, what we are actually saying is that we are better than most. Which is wrong on so many levels, one, being that our comparison is base on what we see or have experienced about other people in our circle. This is a biased judgment and its basis comes from other flawed people. Flawed people and things make for extremely poor judgment.

Let me ask you a couple of questions:

A. How would you stack up against the only man who never sinned? Against Jesus, who would not even let someone call him good?

B. Do you know what God’s Word says about people who choose to sin?

C. Are we so depraved and/or ignorant about what sin is?

In the book of Romans, Paul says, “that we all sin and that no one seeks God” (3:11 and 23).

Sin is anything that goes against what God says we should do. Lying, cheating, stealing are all example of things that have blemished us. Have you ever embellished? Well, that is lying. Have you ever used something without permission? That is theft. The list goes on and on, and we have all done these things. And because of that, we are dirty, we are blemished.

I have a perfect example of this. When I was a child, my parents would buy me new clothes for school or for times where play clothes were inappropriate. Now, there were times that I would wear these new clothes out to play and would get grass stains on them. Grass stains are horrible and are extremely hard – if not impossible to get out. These stains ruined many pairs of jeans and dress pants. And, it is not like I could bleach them in the knees to rid them of the stains because the pants were blue or black and not white.

Sin in our lives is exactly like that; it is a stain that we ourselves cannot remove. It is a blemish and according to God, blemished/dirty things cannot come before him. In fact, dirty and blemished things where disposed of. They would be taken outside of camp and burnt up.

God says that if we break his laws, we have become cursed and that cursed people will be hung on a tree (Duet. 21:23, Gal. 3:13).

However, thanks be to God! And the grace that He has shone us through Christ on the cross.

There is this Parable that Jesus told that brings all of this into perspective.

And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that Jesus was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now, when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he canceled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”(Luke 7:37‭-‬43)

Jesus goes on to say to Simon, “I entered your house and you provided me with no water to wash my feet and this lady has cleansed my feet with her tears and hair.” And why do you suppose that this lady did this act of love? It was because she knew what we need to know. She knew that only Jesus can redeem us. Only Jesus can forgive our sins. She knew that nothing inside of herself could make her right with God. She knew that without our only Hope it was hopeless. She would never be able to see God’s eternal rest without Jesus. She was destined for that dark place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. She was destined for hell. As are we without Christ.

So, here is this sinner crying on Jesus’ dirty feet. Now when I say dirty it is not like our feet when they are dirty. Sure our feet might smell or maybe even be black on the bottom from walking around barefoot. But that is nothing in comparison to the feet of people who wear sandals and whose only mode of transportation is walking. Sun and rain exposed feet. And to go further she then took her hair; that’s right her hair not a rag, and wiped clean Jesus’ now muddy feet.

I do not know about you, but I do not like wet gooey things touching my hands more less the little hair I have. But Jesus’ response to her was to tell her, her sins were forgiven. What grace, no lecture, no judgment, just grace.

Questions

1. Has there ever been a time where you were gripped by the greatness of your sins and the depth of the grace of God and that brought you to tears?

2. Has this ever happened to you while you were standing with brothers and sisters before the altar worshipping Yahweh?

Prayer

Oh, Abba Father, please forgive my blatant disobedience and may Your grace continue to ever change me.

In Jesus name, Amen

Cisterns

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Jeremiah 2:13, ESV

I am sorry I took so much time off from writing. I have allowed so many distractions to enter my life. Some good, some not so good. Sometimes, I just go through the motions. Perhaps, you know what I mean.

I have – more times then I would like to admit – just darted through God’s Word instead of actually meditating on it. I have been so repetitive in my prayer life at times that I feel that it may be bordering on vain repetition. Instead of just being still in the presence of Almighty God, I allow myself to get so busy that…well I push God aside, for other things; for cisterns and broken ones at best.

Here is the thing though, there have been times where I am bored and have filled that time with drinking from cisterns that contain things like: watching way too much tv, getting lost in video games, or spending all my time watching movies. And, it is not just limited to being bored, but also as a way of trying to sooth hurt in my life as well.

We can put so many other things in front (or in place) of seeking the Lord, and Israel did this as well. One of those times was when Jeremiah was a prophet, it was so bad that the Israelites were complaining that God wasn’t hearing their prayers or intervening on their behalf. But they, much like ourselves, had put distractions in their way; they had worshipped gods (idols) that weren’t gods. Gods, in no way, that had any power.

Does that sound familiar? We can correct this dilemma, though and scripture can help us. Pieces like Deuteronomy 6:5 give us a key to this lock by telling us that you “need to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Think about it, we love ourselves, right? We do whatever it takes to make ourselves happy, right? If there is something we want, we buy it or save up so we can buy it regardless of the circumstances. I used to think that because I worked hard anything I wanted should be mine. I made myself the king of my life and this brought a lot of hardship into my life emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Maybe you have been there? But, in doing this I failed to acknowledge the real KING of KINGS. In fact, I was so selfish that I put so much distance between God and myself, and this is exactly what the Israelites did.

As a group, we worshipped gods that aren’t gods. They worshiped Molech, Baal, Chemosh and Dagon – which is no different than us worshipping money, possessions, fame, and self. All of these things, by the way, are broken cisterns.

Challenge

Choose a piece of scripture, it does not have to be a big piece. Sit down with it, read it several times, see what some commentaries say about it, see how it relates to the people of the time it was written and then relate it to your own life. Then, ask God to use it in your life and mean it.

So, what can we do to change this? The answer is love the LORD more.

Questions

1. Are there some broken cisterns in your life that you lean on instead of leaning on God?

2. Are you serious about your walk with the LORD or are there some distraction that get more of you attention?

Squeezed!

Nothing in my mind is better than freshly squeezed orange juice, especially when it comes to breakfast beverages. I mean, who really wants concentrated juice anyway.

Another food that gives juice off when squeezed are Gushers. My wife loves Gushers. Gushers are these little gummies that are filled with sour juice. I do not like sour things; they make me feel as though I am being turned inside out.

I bring these things up as an illustration. Two things with very different tastes, which perfectly describes us and our temperaments, especially when being squeezed by things in our lives.

A lot of people can recite Galatians 5:22, which states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” But not many of us can recite Galatians 5:19-20, which are the fruits of the flesh. They are things like, “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, and things like these.”

Now, let me ask you a question: which of these two lists do you display when being squeezed? If I am honest, there are times while being squeezed, that I pour out the things of the flesh. Especially while being squeezed by people close to me, namely my wife, children or pets (which I feel horrible about). Traffic is another thing that squeezes a lot of people. Our tempers fly and we say things we hopefully don’t mean. How about you?

So, if we claim to be children of the living God, and by this, we are sealed by the Spirit then shouldn’t we be pouring out or displaying the fruits of the Spirit because he is living inside of us.

Jesus said that people would know that we are his disciples by the love that we show one another (John 13:35). And nobody (other than God) knows us as well as our wives or children; so let us not put into contention whom it is that we are disciples of.

Challenge

I love the book of James; he has so much to say concerning this topic. This week, read chapter 3 of James and meditate on what he says, then apply it to your life.

Question

1) How is your temper while being squeezed?

2) Would those closest to you question your walk with Christ (because of your temper)?

Intoxicated in Her

Be intoxicated always in her love.
Proverbs 5:19b.ESV

A couple of weeks ago and even now this piece of scripture hits me and hits me hard. As a husband, there are so many things that I struggle with and one of those things is letting God’s word run my marriage.
I constantly pray Ephesians 5 over my marriage. Asking our Father to help me in specific areas. Areas like loving my wife as Christ loves the church or in helping me in laying my life down for her in areas where it will create the most impact and lifts her up the most. However, this piece of scripture says something different. Solomon is instructing his sons here to be intoxicated in how their wives love them.
Wow, I fall short there! And not just some of the time. My wife; as I am sure your wives as well; desire true and lasting intimacy. They want us to desire them but not to just desire them they want us to be intoxicated by them and the love they have to offer us. I know my wife does.
But there is another reason Solomon is telling his sons to be intoxicated with their wives and that is to avoid the temptation of lust. If we are busy being caught up in all our wives have to offer and the love she shows us, our hearts, our eyes, and our thoughts will not be prone to wonder. And we will not notice the adulteress or how her lips drip with honey.
I know God is using this piece of scripture in my life and marriage, and I am glad that He brings it front and center, especially now. It has been a while since I felt this way about her, and I have let other things captivate that area of my life, an area that only God and my wife should occupy. In the past I have fallen prey to the Grass is Greener philosophy but with the help of God, I realize that the grass is greener where you water it. And since reading this piece of scripture my desire is to honor, God and love my wife in this way.

Question 1: Have you allowed something to rob you from being able to be intoxicated with the love of your wife? Maybe there has been resentment or an outside influence such as pornography or another woman. Confess this to her and recommit yourself to your marriage.

Question 2: What would it take to get you to fall in line with this piece of scripture and other pieces of scripture on marriage?

Challenge: Solomon challenges his sons to be,” intoxicated with the wives of their youth and to drink from their own fountains.” And as a brother, I accept this challenge and pass it on to you.

Prayer: O Abba, Father, you have blessed each of us with a princess from your kingdom and we are so grateful for this. In fact, Your word says that he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD, so please help us to Love our wives as you have loved us. Help us to cherish her and to be intoxicated with her. But most if all Help us to glorify You in our marriages. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen

Lines in the Sand

I love the old Bugs Bunny cartoons, especially the ones with Yosemite Sam. There is this one episode where Bugs and Sam are about to get in a fight and Bugs Bunny drew a line in the sand. He bets hot headed Yosemite Sam to cross it, and guess what? He did! And not just once. He crossed every line that Bugs Bunny drew with his foot until he stepped right off of a cliff.
I bring this up because a line has been drawn for us. One between life with God on one side and life without Him on the other. This line is called sin.
I love how Moses says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live (Deut 30:19).
Joshua said the same thing this way, “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”(Joshua 24:14‭-‬15)‬‬
Along the same lines, Paul said, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)
These men of God are all talking about this distinguishable line. We can see this line. It is present in every choice we make. We know exactly where sin starts, and we, like Yosemite Sam, cross it.
An example of crossing the line is lying to save our own skin. Yet before we lie to others, we often lie to ourselves first. We look at porn and tell ourselves that this is not hurting anyone but ourselves, when in fact it is hurting all of the important relationships in our lives. Starting with our relationship with God, then moving on to our wives and even our children.
Now each of us knows exactly where this line is. Instead of fleeing from sexual immorality, as Paul said, we inch closer to the line, step on it, or we cross it completely.
There are times when you’ll pick up your phone or game system controller and your tempted by the voice on the internet calling out and trying to entice you. Remember, “Her lips do drip with honey.” In those times, we need to choose to be as far from that line as humanly possible, or like Sam, we will step off the cliff and fall. The seductresses’ ways eventually lead down the Sheol!
Challenge:
So here is my challenge: The next time you are called from the other side of internet, walk away.
Questions:
Have you ever felt frustrated by crossing the lines of sin?
Are you to the point where you want help in staying away from the things on the other side of that line?
I bet your church has some gentlemen that can come along side of you to help, so remember what my brother James says,” Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed (James 5:16).

Sources
Bugs Bunny Rides Again is a 1948 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies short, released in 1948, directed by Friz Freleng, and written by Tedd Pierce and Michael Maltese. The short is both part of the Western and a parody of the genre’s conventions. Voice characterizations are performed by Mel Blanc

I am Scared

It is funny but the Freddy Krueger franchise and the original Poltergeist movie scare me. My wife would agree with the fact that I do not like scary movies, and there have been times when we will be laying in bed trying to go to sleep and my wife would start singing;

1,2 Freddy is coming for you,

3,4 better lock the door,

5,6 get the crucifix

Needless to say, it takes me a while to fall asleep after hearing her singing that song. ( Let me say that she doesn’t do this out of a malicious heart, but rather out of jest and I love her for it.)

Fear is a funny thing. People are fearful of losing their jobs, houses, their spouses, their children and even their lives, but people these days do not really fear God.

Jesus says in the Gospel according to Luke,” But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who after he has killed, has the authority to cast into hell. Yes, I will tell you to fear him!”(12:5)

I bring this topic up because it has been laid on my heart. A couple of days ago, as I was driving my daughter to college, Dennis Rainey was doing a brief commercial on the radio station I listen to, he was challenging the listeners to have a healthy fear of the LORD.

Now I love the LORD a lot, but if I am honest I have not loved him with my whole heart, and in some ways, I have definitely been more afraid of losing something or someone close to me than of having a healthy fear of our LORD.

And furthermore, I am a sinner. I am; at times; wilfully disobedient.

Do you know what that means? God sees everything. What does God see? EVERYTHING. So when you or I openly choose to sin we are saying that we are not fearful of God.

I love how in his book,”God Wrote a Book”, James Macdonald says this about fear: “Fear is the attitude of heart that seeks a right relationship to the fear source. When you have a fear of the LORD, you have something in your heart that makes you want to be in a right relationship with God.”

So here is the thing; in order to make sure that I am actively seeking to be in a right relationship with the Creator of everything, I have to throw away what I want to believe about God( which by the way could be construed as idolatry) and replace it with the truth.( from God’s Word) You know things like;

  • God is only loving, with, His love and kindness are meant to lead us to repentance. (Romans 2;4) In fact, Jesus’ says to the church in Pergamum (and to us through reading it)in Revelations 2:16, that unless we repent, he(Jesus) is going to come and war with us with the sword of his mouth. Now that is scary!
  • God accepts us, sins and all, with, He disciplines the ones he loves. (Hebrews12:6) And why does someone discipline you? He does because we are his children and he wants us to choose the right paths in our lives. Narrow path.

There are numerous other examples throughout scripture in dealing with who God is and how our relationship with him should actually be lived.

He says other scary things like:

“I never knew you, depart from me you workers of lawlessness.” Matt 7:23

He tells us that he is going to spit us out. (Rev. 3:16)

He says,” Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I say.” Luke 6:47

See as long as we choose to live a life filled with sin or a life defined by sin, we are opening ourselves up to hear Christ say the things above to us. I am not saying, however, that we can ever on this side of heaven be completely without sin but rather we can allow the Spirit to draw that sin out of us. And to help us choose Jesus instead of whatever we are choosing instead of him.

We seem to choose things in our lives to fear that really have no power over us. We fear losing things that we hold closest to us that have no bearing on our eternal future instead of putting our fear in not being in a prosperous relationship with GOD.

Prayer

Oh, Abba, Father help me to be in a right relationship with you. Help me to cling to the truths that bring eternal life and to shed the things in my life that bring separation between us. Help me to love you more, and put a healthy fear in my heart for you.

In the matchless name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

Bibliography

Freddy Kruger, Wes Craven, 1984

Poltergeist, Steven Spielberg, 1982

God Wrote a Book, James Macdonald, 2002, Crossway books.

If you like what you read please comment and share.

Bullies of the Bible part 5: Satan

Last year I started a post series entitled Bullies of the Bible. We left off with the Sinful Nature. And in my mind when it comes to who makes the top of the list of bullies from life and from the Bible it is almost a tie between the Sinful Nature and Satan. However if this was a horse race Satan would cross the finish line first, by a nose.

In the beginning before the Sinful Nature was yet born, Satan was already alive and wreaking havoc. It was Satan who deceived Adam and Eve in the garden; and from this deception Sin was born. Satan was the one who brought turmoil and despair into Job’s life. And if we think long and hard about it he is the one who is calling the Sinful Nature out in us. He draws out the Sinful Nature in our hearts much like we would use salve to draw out a deep splinter where we have one.

Satan has taken on many forms: from a serpent with Eve to an angel of the light in Job, or from a dragon in Revelations 12:7 to a lion in 1 Peter 5:8. So, whether he is Kaa from Disney’s the Jungle Book or Godzilla destroying Tokyo or even Scar from Disney’s The Lion King, he is definitely a bully.

Satan works differently from most other bullies. He isn’t interested in your lunch money or some other material thing you have, he is interested in you. He is seeking an army, a mighty army, with one purpose and that is to overthrow GOD (as if he could).

Satan wants your heart, no, your soul! He is a lion prowling around looking for souls to devour. And much like Scar, he is a liar.

Jesus says this about Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

As I said above, Satan helped usher in the Sinful Nature. He knows yours and he calls it by name. If you think about this, you know it to be true. And, why does he do this? Because if you are worthless to GOD (which is not true), then you are powerful to him. Which, by the way, is a lie. Also, Satan doesn’t share his imaginary power, he just deceives you to steal yours.

I love using examples, so here are a few:

Marriage:

God joined us to our wives or vice versa in our union with a portion of his Spirit.(Malàchi 2:15) And Paul tells us not to grieve this Spirit. (Eph 4:30)

Yet, we allow Satan to call the sin in us out when it comes to faithfulness in our marriages. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “That if we look at someone with lust in our hearts for that person we have committed adultry.”

Yet, here is Satan playing the adulterous woman, in my case anyway, that Solomon warned us about in Proverbs 5:3 saying, “For the lips of the forbidden woman drip with honey and her speech is smoother than oil.” He goes on to say that, “Her feet go down to death.” (v.5)

Why not Satan? I mean, as we have seen, he can be a dragon. Why not the forbidden woman? His lips drip with honey, his speech is smoother than oil. Remember, he is the father of all lies. And his feet go down to death, in the sense that the wages of sin are death! After all, he ends up in Hell and so do his followers.

Time, Money, Other important things

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

What is your treasure? What thing or things do you treasure the most? What does Satan tell you that you can’t live without? Is it Sunday sports instead of Sunday worship, is it prestige and power instead of being humble and serving? Is it loving thyself instead of loving others?

Can you see the difference? I point to these opposing things because either you are a disciple of Christ or you are bullied into being a disciple of Satan. And Satan’s bullying isn’t painful at the time, instead it may feel like intense pleasure. He uses our fleshly desires against us, he wants you to store up treasure here. He is always pulling us away from Christ.

In fact, we know this is true because Jesus says to those opposing him, “You are of your father the devil and your will is to do what your father desires.” (John 8:44)

GOD’s kingdom is one of serving others, Jesus said, “to be great in the kingdom of heaven you must be a slave to all,” Satan says to be great in his kingdom, you must be greater than all. Arrogance is one of Satan’s traits. (Ezekiel 28:17)

The Word of God is clear, however, on how to resist Satan, In James it says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”(4:7) However, this is hard so we have to ask God for wisdom to be able to see when Satan is attacking. And James has that covered as well. He says,”If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who give generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.”(1:5) Make sure to ask in faith though.(v6)

Prayer,

Oh, heavenly Father, I am sick of Satan pulling some of the strings in my life. And I would like to give you full control. I need your help and guidance in my life to be more aware of Satan’s scheming and to be able in those moments to submit to your lordship in my life. Please LORD help me to resist him.

In Jesus name, Amen!

Bibliography,

The Jungle Book, Walt Disney, Oct 1967

The Lion King, Walt Disney, June 1994

Godzilla, Ishiro Honda, 1954

If like what you read please comment and share!