Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Take Heed

1 Timothy 4:16
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Knock, knock, knock... "Hello, I'm the pastor of the church up the street. I was wondering if you have ever accepted Jesus as your Savior?"  "Oh yeah, I've done that...I've been baptized and joined the church when I was younger" was the response he received. The preacher was wanting to make sure with a few more questions and the man answered again in a firm voice, "I told you that I've done that!"  

Can I tell you this morning if you have "done that" it shows by you "still doing that".  The Bible says we should take heed. To what? First of all to ourselves. We should examine ourselves to see if we are in Christ or not. Second it says we should take heed to doctrine. We should give priority to the word of God and what it teaches us. Then what? Thirdly we should "continue in them". After we have examined ourselves we should learn of God's will for our lives and walk in His will. Way too many are saying one thing but then walking in a totally different way. They say, "been there, done that". But that are not doing it!  

Why should we do these three things? The answer is right there in the scripture. "For in doing this thou shalt both save thyself..." Our salvation is not a thing we did in our youth, it is God reaching in grace unto us. It is a decision we made to follow Jesus Christ in our lives for the rest of our lives. When we have Christ, we live in Christ. Not one day a week but everyday, all day, forever. Then lastly, we do this for the saving of those that hear us. Our lives as Christians should be reflections of Christ. The reason people don't want the Christ you're sharing is because they can't see the Christ your sharing in you. 

So take heed of yourself, to the doctrines of scripture and continue in them. Why? For your salvation and the salvation of others. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

An Opportunity To Go Further

Philippians 1:12
But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

Through shipwrecks, prison shackles and beatings, Paul endured a whole lot of suffering during his ministry. It seems Paul suffered more during his days of Christian ministry than he did the other days of his life. While he was a religious law enforcer, he pretty much had it made. Whatever he wanted, he had access to it. But now that he was a servant of Christ he suffered much.

Paul knew that there had to be some reason for his suffering. He knew that a greater glory had to be waiting behind the dark clouds of hurt. What was it? What was worth all of this tragedy? It was the furtherance of the gospel. He knew that through his suffing, someone could come to know Christ as their Savior. I wonder if he ever thought, "Ahhhhh, I don't want to get on this ship and go there. I'm so tired."? I wonder if he questioned at times why he was were he was? If so, it is never recorded in our scriptures. So there is no reason for us to speculate about it. What is recorded in scripture is that he had confidence in knowing that God was going to do something great with the gospel through his sufferings.

Funny thing is, Christians today never want to endure suffering so that the gospel could go further. When we suffer, we see it as punishment instead of an opportunity. You could choose today! I could sit and whine about what has happened in my life, or I could shine for the gospel of Christ. I could let them see the One who suffered more than any other person on a cruel cross. It was for a better hope. A greater grace! The furtherance of the gospel!

Friday, December 2, 2016

I'm Nothing But A...

Mark 6:7-13
And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

I'm nothing but a... Fireman, Mechanic, Social Worker, Seamstress, Bus Driver, Teacher, Mom, Dad, Grandparent, Garbage Man, etc... what kind of difference could I make? I can't tell you the number of times that I have heard someone say this or see this reaction on their face. Over and over again, Satan is doing His best to get you to feel unqualified.

I can remember 22 years ago trusting in Jesus as my Savior. It was at the end of my 11th grade year in school. I remember going to English class one day and hearing some of my close friends say, "I'll give him two weeks tops". The feeling that came over me was, "They may be right, I'll never be able to do this."

Well over the summer months I had begin to feel this calling to preach on my life. I can honestly say that I didn't wrestle with the call itself, because I knew God was moving upon me. I did wrestle with feeling so unworthy and unqualified to ever do anything like this. When I told my Pastor about this his answer was, "Okay, you'll preach this Sunday night". Well needless to say I preached my first sermon that Sunday night. The very next sermon opportunity came when my senior year started. I was given the opportunity to speak at our school's Christian meeting called First Priority. All I really remember about that morning is crying like a baby and trying to tell all those friends that I had been changed. Some may have thought, "Well, it stuck over the summer".

As I look back on all of that, I still today hear people say, "He won't make it." But can I tell you that I'm still holding on, or better yet, He is still holding on to me. Yes I'm undeserving and under qualified, but that's God's Grace! We are all undeserving of Heaven, but because of Grace!!! I'm nothing but a... born again, blood bought, child of God that is saved by His grace and kept by His power!

I gotta go, I'm about to start shouting and crying and I don't know how to type that.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

What To Do, What to Do?

2 Timothy 3:14
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

On a daily basis I'm asked by someone or confronted myself with this question. What in the world is going on? Things and people are going crazy. Our nation is fighting within the walls as if we are in a modern civil war. Destruction is rampant. Divorce is on every street. Abortion is so common that you can do it under coverage of insurance. Theft, rape, alcoholism, heroine, among many other evil acts seem to be in every home and especially in every prayer request.

I must admit there are times that my prayers are greatly effected by these conditions. I find myself asking God, "What should I do? What will we do? Lord, what is going on and what do I do?" If we are honest we all probably feel this way at some time or another. Wondering and praying for direction.

Paul has just told Timothy about what we will see and experience in the last days. People who will love themselves more than God. Disobedience, pride, unnatural effection, trucebreakers, despisers of those who are good and the list goes on and on. Probably not Timothy, but when I read it I wonder, "What will we do?"

God didn't leave me without an answer. He said, "But continue thou..." God said, "You continue..." In what? In the things which you have learned. Which to me is Jesus Christ is Lord! In the things which you are sure of. Which to me is Jesus Christ is Lord and I'm saved because of Him. So for me, no matter how tough or perililous these days may seem, I will continue preaching what I've learned and know for sure. Jesus Christ is the Lord who loves me and saved me and He's willing to do the same for you!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Made You Something

2 Corinthians 5:21
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

How special is it when your son or daughter comes up to you after Sunday School and says, "I made you something"? It could be a picture that they colored of Jesus and His disciples. It could be a tissue paper flower for Mother's Day. It could even be a print of their hand or foot on a piece of paper that they have made into a turkey. No matter what it is, isn't it special?

With every stroke of the crayon, with every tickle of the paint brush across the bottom of their foot, they already knew who they were going to give this gift to. With anticipation and excitement they hurry to find you. Searching for you through the crowds of people. Asking others, "Have you seen my Mommy? Have you seen my Daddy?" They have put so much effort in their gift and they can't wait to see you receive it.

God has made His Son, Jesus, to be sin for us. He painted Him with suffering and stripes. He was pleased to bruise Him. God allowed His Son to be beaten, spat on, ridiculed, mocked, and nailed to a cross. He painted Him with pain and death and offers His gift to you. He has gone through the crowds of people in order to give you this exciting gift. Notice that He made Him to be sin so that you could be made into the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ. He made Him to be a portrait of sin so that you could be made the son or daughter of God.

What if you were to take that gift your child hurried down the stairs to give you and crush it their faces? Their brokenness couldn't be repaired with an ice cream cone. They would think of that moment you took their gift and threw it away. I'm asking you this morning to think of what God has brought you. Think of the gift before you throw it away as if it were a flyer being passed out in the grocery store parking lot. This gift that God has for you took everything that He had. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..."

Listen and hear God say, "I made you something..."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Do You Know Him?

John 17:25
O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

Don't you think it would have been so great to talk with your ancestors? What about George Washington, Alexander Graham Bell or Thomas Edison?  We can know them by articles written about them. We can understand some of their thought processes in inventions. We can feel as if we know them because of others that have written of their presidency. But he truth is we will only know of them and not actually know them. 

The scriptures teach us today that the world hasn't known God. Although we have so many things written of Him in the Word of God and many other books, the world does not know Him. They can only know of Him. Jesus declares that He knows the Father. He has been with the Father and is the Son of the Father. But look further!

He then says... These also (the ones that know Him) know that the Father has sent me. Wow!  Look at what He is trying to show us today. He says, "If you know me, you know the Father and if you know the Father, you should know me".

John 14:6-10
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

Even though Phillip knew Jesus, he was missing out on actually knowing Him. Just like Phillip, the world and many church goers today know of Jesus but are missing out on actually knowing Him. May I ask you a question this morning?  How well do you know Jesus?

1 John 5:20
And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Those Same Hands

John 1:3
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Do you have time this morning to take a timeout?  Think about something with me. Think of the hands of God. The word of God teaches us that with his hands and fingers, Jesus created all things. "And without Him was not anything made that was made."

Psalms 8:3
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

Those hands stretched out the blanket of Heaven. They flung the stars off of the fingertips. Those hands drew a line in the sand which told the ocean to stay put. It's so awesome to think of the creation hands of God. Think of how He created the rivers and valleys in the palm of His hands. He molded the hills and mountains in perfect balance with those hands. 

Isaiah 40:12
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
and meted out heaven with the span,
and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure,
and weighed the mountains in scales,
and the hills in a balance?

Then we go n in the scriptures to read that those same hands are stretched out for us unto salvation. 

Isaiah 59:1
Behold, the Lord 's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save;
neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

Then we continue to read that those same stretched out hands were rejected and placed on a cross. After His resurrection , Jesus shows the disciples His hands that were nailed to the cross. 

Luke 24:40
And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

But what really amazes me this morning is that in all this... He still stretches out those hands to us today. Right now, He is extending those same nail-pierced hands to you with forgiveness. Oh, how He loves us! Thank you Jesus for those creation, rejected, salvation hands. I hope the first image I see in Heaven will be those same hands that made me, my surroundings, and brought me salvation.