Tag Archives: Christianity

Shouldn’t We All? (Acts 18)

I know we Christians believe in Jesus. We have faith that He is God, that He died on the cross as a substitution for us, taking on the penalty for our sin. We believe that He rose again and lives today. We believe that the Bible is true, and God is who He says He claims to be.

But are we ready to give an answer for the hope we have, in the faith we possess? Do we know WHY we believe, and can we defend what we know against someone who believes differently?

When Apollos went to Achaia, “he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” (18:18, emphasis mine)

Shouldn’t we all be able to do the same?

In Reverence for God (Nehemiah 1-5)

While leading the Jews to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, Nehemiah found out the nobles and officials had been overcharging the people in taxes, and charging high interest rates on loans people needed in order to pay those taxes and also to buy food for their families during the famine. When Nehemiah confronted them they didn’t even try to defend themselves. They knew they were guilty.

Nehemiah asked them an important question: “Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?” (5:9) Shouldn’t misrepresenting God to non-believers cause you to fear Him?

The guilty nobles and officials promised to reimburse the people they had cheated.

Nehemiah pointed out that former governors had placed a heavy burden on the people with high taxes, and demands for luxurious living for themselves. The people remembered how hard life had been under their rule. And as Nehemiah was using himself as an example of how to treat people fairly, he said in verse 15:

Out of reverence for God I did not act like that.

I feel God asking me this morning if I’d dare set myself up as an example of how to treat people. And if not, why not?

Shouldn’t I walk in the fear of God? Shouldn’t I live my life out of reverence for God? If I really did that, I would have no reason NOT to tell people to imitate me.

Nehemiah reminds me unsaved people are watching me. I believe non-believers judge Christians by the choices I make. I believe their opinion of God is influenced by how I represent Him.

This morning as I sit here and think about this passage, I am considering what living with reverence for God looks like here in 2020. I think it involves both love for God and fear of Him. It involves service and worship, kindness and obedience, honesty and purity and courage and humility and surrender. It means standing out in a crowd, and standing up for Truth.

I want to live my life out of reverence for God, and I want Him to get the glory. I want to live my life out of reverence for God, because anything else is not what He deserves.

The Choice (Esther 1-5)

Mordecai would not bow or pay honor to Haman, even when the king had commanded it. Haman didn’t like being disrespected, so he plotted to kill, not only Mordecai, but the whole Jewish race because of it.

Mordecai still refused to bow.

I haven’t seen the movie “Infidel” yet, but I think I need to. It’s about a Christian journalist who is arrested and sentenced to death in the Middle East because of his faith. I understand it looks at the persecution of Christians, and I think it probably ought to be seen by all of us who think it can’t happen here in the good old USA.

I listened to a FOX News interview with the star of the movie, Jim Caviezel. What he said in that interview came to mind this morning as I read about Mordecai’s unwavering stand.

Mr. Caviezel quoted from Ronald Reagan’s “Time for Choosing” speech (1964). Reagan said we were (and I believe we are again) facing the choice between providing for our children “the last best hope of mankind on earth,” or choosing to set our children on a path to destruction.

My friend, I believe it will take Christians refusing to bow.

Caviezel said something that hit me. He pointed a finger at liberal, tolerant churches, Christians, priests and pastors, and said the problem with our “policy of accommodation is appeasement” and plays right into the hands of the enemy. He cautions us that when Satan delivers his final blow “our surrender will be voluntary…We will be so weakened from within spiritually, morally, economically,”our surrender will be seamless.

As I read about Mordecai’s courageous stand, and consider what is happening in our world today I want to encourage all of us who know Jesus as our Savior to stand. Our enemy wants to make us afraid when Jesus tells us we have nothing to fear. Look at God’s promises in His Word and believe them. If we are faithful, HE WILL BE FAITHFUL!

Caviezel said, and I agree, that maybe it’s time we “tell our enemies there is a price we will not pay, a point beyond which evil will not advance.” Do you know where that line is drawn in your life? Are you ready to take that stand?

It’s time to make a choice. Are we with God or not? Are we going to stand for Truth or not? Are we going to speak up or go along with the crowd?

Let’s pray for each other. Let’s pray for our pastors, priests, teachers, parents, children and great-grandparents. Let’s pray for voters and lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats. Let’s pray that God will move in the hearts of people and find us willing to bow only to Him.

Let’s choose God while we still have that choice.

Turn Around (Ezekiel 8)

I think every time I read Ezekiel’s vision I gasp when the people turn their backs on the Temple and bow toward their pretend gods in the east. That picture of blatant rejection of God shocks me every time.

Yet, even with this defiant act of disobedience, these were still citizens of God’s chosen people, Jews, Israelites. They considered themselves God’s favored nation even when they worshiped other gods. It blows my mind.

Today, however, God is asking me to do a gut check. Here are some questions I feel Him ask of me today:

Do I call myself a Christian, but refuse to repent of a sin?

Do I attend church on Sunday, yet live a lifestyle no different than my neighbor who has no use for church?

Do I read my Bible out of duty instead of letting it change me?

Do I read my Bible at all?

Do I live my life focused on myself, my feelings, my needs, my rights, my dreams, yet tell people I follow Jesus?

Do I know what is right according to Scripture, yet compromise the Truth?

Do I go to church expecting an experience, or do I go humbly, trembling at the seriousness of approaching a Holy God as He demands?

Oh, there are a lot of ways I can turn my back on the temple, so to speak. And I should be as appalled with myself as I am with those twenty-five people in Ezekiel 8 when I do. Today I am asking God to reveal any shift, no matter how small, from my worshiping Him in total Truth. I don’t want any part of me turning away from Him.

In fact, if God reveals the slightest movement, I want Him to convict me. I want to be sensitive to Him, and obedient. If I am facing the wrong way, I want to turn around and bow down to the one and only God according to Scripture.

Where are you facing right now? Is it time you turned around?

The Desires of Your Heart (2 Samuel 13-15)

Some people are never satisfied. They are always looking for more, dreaming bigger, lusting for that person or job or possession they believe would guarantee happiness. Sometimes that “want” becomes an obsession, and they begin to compromise, deceive, use people and manipulate circumstances in order to get that which is the focus of their desire.

But often, once their dream becomes a reality, they are left empty, unfulfilled, and may even end up despising that very thing they had sold their soul to have.

That’s what happened when Amnon finally had sex with Tamar, after his obsession with her ended up with rape. He certainly didn’t find the happiness he thought he’d enjoy once Tamar was his. In fact, all he felt was hate.

God is asking me to consider the desires of my heart. Where are my thoughts, my dreams directed? For what am I working; what is it that I believe would make me happy or successful or fulfilled?

If my focus and desires are centered on what God wants for me, I won’t have to make myself sick over an obsession, or some person I am sure would make me happy, or a job I think I need in order for me to feel good about myself. In fact, if my “obsession” is to be as close to God as is humanly possible, everything else will fall into place without my compromises or manipulations.

Psalm 37:4 says this:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. (emphasis mine)

Give you.

Now, what this isn’t is a magic formula to have Junior fall in love with you, or for you to get that raise you know you deserve. But here is what is so cool about God: If we delight in Him, if we walk with Him, communicate with Him, enjoy our position as His beloved child through the blood of Jesus, God will give us exactly what we delight in.

Himself!

And with that comes everything He wants us to have and be and enjoy in this lifetime. We will realize that what He wants for us is so much better than we can ask or even think. He will give you the desires of His heart.

Wow.

 

 

How Dare You! (Judges 13-15)

I am bothered by what I read today in God’s Word. Samson killed a lion with his bare hands. Then later he saw that bees had built a nest and were producing honey in the rotting carcass of the lion. Samson reached in, snapped off part of the honeycomb, and tasted it. He gave some to his parents to taste, but he didn’t tell them where he’d gotten it.

Then at his wedding feast (where he was marrying a Philistine woman – a huge act of disobedience toward God’s commands) he told a riddle. “Out of the eater, something to eat. Out of the strong, something sweet.” He made a game of it. He promised a big reward if someone could figure out the answer to his riddle.

I’ve read this story many times. It marks the beginning of Samson’s war with the Philistines, and the rescue of the Jews from Philistine rule. But it is also the beginning of the end of Samson.

I think there is a very important lesson in this part of Samson’s story. As a man brought up as a Nazarite, he absolutely knew God’s Law. He absolutely knew touching a dead animal rendered him unclean, and he knew the steps required by God to address the uncleanness. Samson knew the truth, and ignored it.

It’s one thing to blatantly disobey, but how dare he make that decision for his parents! Eating that honey made them unclean. Didn’t they have a right to decide for themselves whether they were willing to be unclean in order to taste the honey? And shouldn’t they have been able to then take the steps required for cleansing? They didn’t even know they needed to take the steps.

Not only that, but Samson made a joke out of the situation. A joke! Did he think disobeying God was funny? Evidently he wasn’t taking his disobedience seriously.

Some of you were raised in a Christian home. You’ve heard the Gospel, probably memorized John 3:!6. But something happened along the way. Now Sundays are for sleeping in, making pancakes for the kids. You’ve gotten in the habit of using God’s Holy Name as a punctuation mark. And you laugh the hardest at jokes about sin.

You’re like Samson. You know better, and choose sin anyway. That’s on you. But how dare you make that choice for your children.

I’ve heard people say they are going to let their children choose for themselves whether or not to do the Christian thing. So they don’t take their kids to church. They don’t talk about Jesus in their homes. They don’t sing the hymns, or read the Bible. And somehow they think they are allowing their children to decide for themselves.

If that is your thinking, let me ask you something. Where do you think your children are going to hear the truth? TV? School? Their friends? Maybe you think they’ll get some supernatural visit or something. If you want your children to make an informed choice, you’d better be sure they are informed. YOU’D better be sure they are informed.

Samson’s parents needed to know they were unclean before they could decide whether or not they would take the steps to be clean. The fact that Samson didn’t tell them, didn’t negate their uncleanness. It did, however, prevent them from being clean again.

Your children need to know they are sinners before they decide whether or not to accept Jesus as their Savior.  If you aren’t telling them, it doesn’t make them less of a sinner, or negate their need of the Savior.

I’m praying for you parents. Yours is an important responsibility. I know many of you are living examples of Christ to your children. I thank God for you and pray with you that your children will choose Jesus at an early age.

All of you are raising eternal souls there in your home. Are you raising them to choose heaven? Or are you okay if they go to hell? Are you willing to make that choice for them? If you know the truth and aren’t teaching it to your children, you are making decisions for them that have eternal implications.

How dare you!

 

 

It’s Time (Joshua 9-11)

God promised to give the land to the Israelites. But accepting that gift meant going to war. It required bloodshed and obedience. God went before them, fought for them, even miraculously brought victories on occasion. But the land wasn’t simply handed over to the Jews.

Scripture tells me Jesus died for the sins of the world. But that doesn’t mean the whole world is saved. Accepting God’s gift of redemption requires obedience.

God promises to never leave or forsake us, that He works all things together for our good. But to receive the blessing of these promises, we must obey.

I’ve heard it said in regard to this pandemic, “God’s got this.” That seems to be a common response when people go through difficult or uncertain circumstances. And absolutely our Sovereign God not only has got this, He’s already on the other side of it. Yes He’s got this. But do we?

Satan may have used his limited power to get this virus going, believing it would throw the world into a tailspin, that it would close church doors, and cause people to blame God. He’s not wrong, really.

But what if every quarantined Christian pulled out his or her Bible and began to read, to pray, to search, to get to know God again, to allow God to put a finger on sin in our lives, to break us, and heal us. What if during this forced isolation, Christians regained our first love, and were revived as we renew our faith through God’s own Words?

I know the temptation is to pick up a good commentary or study guide, or to read our favorite author. And I’m not telling us not to do that. But if you have time to read Josh McDowell or Joel Osteen or John Grisham, you have time to read the Bible. And, dear ones, we all have a lot more time than we did before this virus scare.

I know without a doubt that our world could experience the greatest revival of our history if Christians, if you and I, spent time reading the Bible, and asking God to do His thing in our lives as a result. Revival isn’t only possible, it’s a sure thing if we obey.

What Satan intended for evil, God can turn into something amazing. Think about it. When this time of isolation is over, can you imagine the impact revived Christians will make on our world? Can you picture what the Church will be when Christians are right with God? Can you even dream how our world would be changed if Christians change?

Is revival possible? I guess that depends on you and me. God’s giving us the land. Will we take it?

I think it’s time we did.

 

But we had food… (Exodus 16-18)

The problem with the Jews was, they had left Egypt physically – but not emotionally. Look how often they told Moses they wished they were back in Egypt where life was good.

“We had food in Egypt. We had water. We were protected.”

This following God stuff was hard. But the Jews seem to have forgotten that in Egypt, they had been slaves. They had no power, no free will. They were in bondage…

but they had food.

Didn’t they remember that the food they ate was produced by the sweat of their own brows, and the lashes on their own backs if they didn’t work fast enough or produce what was demanded? They were mistreated…

but they had food.

I am going to chase a rabbit trail here.  We are at a crossroad in our country. Socialism is attractive to many who want “food.” They hear the word “free” and they jump on board. But hear me when I say nothing is free. The Jews paid for their food with hard labor. You will pay for yours with taxes from sparse earnings from companies where you work; government controlled companies struggling because of heavy taxes, and lack of autonomy. Those who are in favor of socialism are listening to a millionaire hypocrite, and although fiscal equality sounds good I doubt even you would work eight hours a day to support someone who would rather get what you earn for free.

But what we read in Exodus isn’t just about free stuff. There is an eternal lesson here. That manna that was given from God was Israel’s salvation. That water that came out of a rock came because God provided. Their victory in war wasn’t because they were superior soldiers. That victory was God’s.

The lesson here is that God IS salvation, and there is no other. There may be easier ways to live here on this earth. But there is no other way to the Father, no other door to Heaven. You can take what God offers, or leave it. Just beware. if you reject what God offers, you might have “food” for a while…

but that “food” won’t last for eternity.

 

December 19; Be Prepared

I Peter 2:13-5:14; Jude 1:1-6

When was the last time someone asked you to give the reason for the hope you have in Jesus? Some of you will answer that you had that opportunity yesterday. Others might have to confess it’s been a while – if ever. Why is that?

God is asking me today if people even know I’m a Christian without me saying anything. Do I stand out in a crowd by being joyful, content, kind, caring, willing to serve, truthful…? If the only thing people know about me is that I go to church, is that enough reason for them to ask me about the hope I have in Jesus? A lot of people go to church, and still have no hope.

Paul tells us to always be prepared for people to ask us about Jesus. I don’t think that just means reading your Bible and praying every morning – although I hope that is the first thing you do before stepping onto the battle field every day.

I’m thinking we prepare to share Jesus by the choices we make, the life we live, the words we say. If we wear His name, can people see Christ in us? Or do we look like everyone else in the crowd?

If people see Jesus in us, they’ll naturally want to know more about Him, because what we have with Jesus is so much better than what anyone has without Him. Do they see that in us? Are we an enigma in a world of distrust, anger, discontent, depression, and immorality? We should be.

If you call yourself a Christian I can guarantee someone is watching you to see if your hope is real. Let’s determine to prepare ourselves to show them it is, and to tell them how they can have the same hope in the Savior

 

December 10; Respectful and Firm

Acts 23:12-25:22

Paul was in prison, although he had not committed any crime. His incarceration, totally unjust, came from the jealous hearts of evil men. Paul was a victim.

But it was because of his imprisonment Paul was able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with kings and rulers. Paul never turned down an opportunity to talk about Jesus. His example still speaks to hearts 2000 years later.

What example? In the face of a conspiracy of lies, Paul didn’t lose his cool. He didn’t strike back. Even when the crowd was in a frenzy, Paul did not react in like manner.

But Paul didn’t roll over and play dead, either. He respectfully and firmly demanded his rights. He respectfully and firmly faced his accusers and called their bluff. “Prove what you accuse me of,” he said. They couldn’t prove a thing because he wasn’t guilty of anything.

Paul’s example speaks to me today as I consider the climate in the US. We are a nation of reactionaries. We actually believe we have a right to get even, to shout louder, to destroy property if someone says something we don’t like. It’s insane.

Do you like the climate in our nation? We who hold the Truth need to respectfully and firmly proclaim it. And keep proclaiming it. Paul went to prison doing that. Are any of us willing to do the same?

Paul was able to look his accusers in the eye and challenge them to prove him guilty. Are we living our lives in such a way we could do that, too, and be confident there was nothing they could hold against us?

Christian, America’s hope lies in us. I think it’s time we were respectfully firm, and demanded our rights to proclaim the Truth of Jesus Christ. But here’s the thing:

What if the future of the Church in America, and the nation of The United States of America depended on you. Just you. Take a good look at your life, your commitment to Jesus and the Truth of Scripture. If we depended on you to be respectfully firm, what would our future as a nation be?

I’m asking the same of me, and I really don’t like what I’m finding.

May God raise up people like Paul who was respectful and firm when he stood up for the Truth that Jesus Christ is Lord. I want to be counted in that number.