Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Rules of Engagement for Christian Opposition

And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;  having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.  For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” – 1 Peter 3:13-17

When I read these verses today, Mr. Dan Cathy, owner of Chick-Fil-A, and his recent battle over his open confession of his beliefs on homosexuality came to mind.  Now don’t turn me off yet.  I’m as tired of all that drama about him coming out-of-the-closet with his beliefs and all the haters as anyone!  It’s like playing a scratched record.  Eventually you stop hearing the music and all you hear is the scratch!  I fully agree with Mr. Cathy, as does God the Father and His Holy Word. But this really isn’t about Mr. Cathy.  But is this winning souls?  I fear that all the anger Christians have pushed out against the angry non-believers has done nothing but widen the gap between us. 

These verses tell us how to handle conflicts in beliefs both with non-believers and other believers (aka “the opponent”).  Here’s what He says:

1.      Don’t be afraid of them or worry about what they say.  If you are, consider the Holy chain-of-authority.  No one will harm you or hurt you without God’s either allowing it, or causing it.  He is in charge of all.  Some battles aren’t meant to be won, but are an exercise to grow you or your opponent.

2.      Be ready to give a reason for your beliefs.  God’s Word is either believed or it’s not.  If you’re talking to someone who sees it as just another book, you might as well stop talking.  But to those who believe God is true, His Word does prove as the source for all truth.  Do you know why you believe what you stand for?  If not, it’s best you find out before you discuss it. 

3.      Discuss it with Meekness and Fear. You don’t pound your beliefs out upon the opponent as if you were driving nails through their skull, you answer in meekness, and fear.  Fear of what? Fear of offending them!  It’s not about convincing them as much as it’s about not offending them.  If you offend an opponent with your steadfast beliefs that are true, you close a door that God has opened for you to discuss Him with them.  It’s about keeping that door open.  No one can learn when they turn a deaf ear, and all your shouting will certainly deafen them!  We’re all called to be gentle, and part of being gentle is knowing when to just shut up. 

4.      You have a choice.  You can suffer for doing good, or YOU can suffer for doing evil.  God takes no pleasure in seeing His children proclaim His word through hatred.  You can either persuade with a tongue that’s as gentle as a morning breeze and be blessed, or you can slice and dice that heart God loves in front of you with the blade in your mouth.  But if you choose slicing and dicing, know that your reward for pushing out God’s word just went up in smoke. 

Few are the chances to see a Christian at work actually being a Christian at heart.  But when you do, and when the opponent does finally believe, is it not worth it?  Is it not worth their seeing the truth as God reveals it to just let Him take over?  We can affect what the opponent hears and knows, but God can affect how they feel about it.  The heart is His territory.  Don’t go stomping on God’s ground and making them feel angry.  If you will be gentle, even with all your passion, you will find that they will be drawn to Him like water running downhill.

Monday, July 30, 2012


“By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.” – Leviticus 10:3

Today is Monday.  Today there is one thing that must be accomplished: Glorify God.  Sure, there’s 8 hours or more of work ahead.  There’s doing laundry and cooking dinner.  There’s having polite conversations with people who may not be polite back.  There’s resisting the urge to say what’s really on our mind because we know it would be hurtful.  Yes, today is a work day from all corners.  But God needs to be glorified in it.

Glorifying God means to make Him the V.I.P.  It means to point all good towards Him, and acknowledge what He has done.  This is just one way we come to know Him.  We look around us at the things created.  Look at the tall trees that bend in the wind and don’t break.  Just as an artist is revealed in his painting, God is revealed in His creation.  Look at the daisy that takes the same wind and doesn’t lose a petal. 

So if God’s creation is to declare His glory (Psalms 19:1), then aren’t we part of that creation?  Is it not our daily – even minute by minute – goal to glorify God? 

Every morning before beginning work I look at the stuff I have to do.  I look at which client has the most urgent need, take care of that first, then the others, and work by deadlines and other criteria.  But when I’m done reviewing it, I have a list of goals.  I work on each goal for the day until they’re done, or until I’m completely exhausted.

What if we took the task of glorifying God on with the same routine?  Who needs to hear about His greatness most?  Who needs to know what He is capable of?  What has He done lately that needs some publicity to grow someone else’s faith?  If we were to work for God with the gusto that we work for a living, imagine what we could accomplish…even on Monday.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save TO THE UTTERMOST those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.  For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, FOR THIS HE DID ONCE FOR ALL WHEN HE OFFERED UP HIMSELF.” – Hebrews 7:24-27

If you lived in a country where you were not allowed to wear the color purple, and today that law was broken, what color would you wear tomorrow?  I’m betting it would be purple – and for some of us it would be head to toe!  We’d be so thankful for being out from under such a hard law that we’d immediately move into the freedom of not having the law.

That’s why I have such a problem understanding why people want to pin additional deeds to being saved beyond believing in Jesus and accepting Him as your savior.  The Word is crystal clear on the matter.  But some want to live under the old laws, thinking they have to obey all the laws given to man in the Bible in order to achieve righteousness.  Listen carefully, if we could do it on our own – Jesus’ life and death were unnecessary.  Listen to what God’s word says:

whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” – John 3:36

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” – John 6:47

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ JESUS CAME INTO THE WORLD TO SAVE SINNERS, of whom I am chief.  However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to BELIEVE ON HIM FOR EVERLASTING LIFE.” – 1 Timothy 1:15-16

“let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. NOR IS THERE SALVATION IN ANY OTHER, FOR THERE IS NO OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN GIVEN AMOUNG MEN BY WHICH WE MUST BE SAVED.” – Acts 4:10-12

“that if you CONFESS WITH YOUR MOUTH THE LORD JESUS AND BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART THAT GOD HAS RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, YOU WILL BE SAVED. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” – Romans 10:9-11

even the righteousness of God, THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST, TO ALL AND ON ALL WHO BELIEVE. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, BEING JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRADE THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS” – Romans 3:22-24

I think it’s pretty clear that all that’s required of us for salvation is to believe in Jesus for it.  It’s the A-B-C’s of Christianity again.  Admit you are a sinner (“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23), Believe that Jesus is God’s son, crucified for your sins and risen to Heaven, and Confess Him as your savior. 

Why do we want to complicate things saying that we can lose our salvation if we don’t live a perfect life?  Is the life He gives eternal or temporary?  How does the Holy Spirit who moves into your heart at the time of salvation suddenly vacate the temple of your soul?  Tell me where that is in scripture.  Instead, let me show you want it does say on the matter:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” – Hebrews 6:4-6

Would you have Jesus to be crucified again?  Was His death not enough?  If so, then why did My High Priest SIT DOWN at the right hand of God when He arose?  A priest never sat in the days of the earthly priesthood.  His work in offering sacrifices was never over. 

My Savior has done enough.  And He did it all because there was nothing righteous in me to make it happen on my own – and there still isn’t.  Don’t complicate salvation.  It’s meant to be reachable by all – even to the weakest of us. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Humility and the Little Child

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:1-4

The disciples were looking to Jesus to define for them the government of Heaven.  Who’s the leader? Who must we impress?  Who is in charge?  Jesus answered that question by showing them not a strong man with bulging muscles, a wise man with a degree from the local college, the richest man in town, or even the most righteous priest.  He showed them a little child.

So what’s so great about a little child that we’d need to be like one to be in the Kingdom of God? Humility.

Humility is often misunderstood.  It’s not a weakness.  It’s not derived from a lack of anything.  Humility isn’t even grown from a neglect of the gifts and talents God has given you.  It’s the absence of pride.  Pride says, “Look at me, look what I’ve done, look at who I have become, look at my bank account, check out my position in my church, do an inventory of my works upon this earth.”  But Humility says “Look what God has done for me, look at how He has used me.”  It’s not neglecting the gifts God has given, but acknowledging that He has given them.  It’s “Tebowing” – acknowledging God openly. Its understanding we are not independent of God, but reliant on Him for everything. 

John 15:5 says “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; FOR WITHOUT ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING.” A little child knows they are dependent upon their parents for food, clothing, crossing the street, getting better when they’re sick, protection, learning how to live, EVERYTHING. 

So if we’re bearing fruit, who is the fruit for?  You don’t see a tree take its limbs, pull them around to another limb, then pick and eat of its own fruit!  Instead, someone comes along and picks the fruit from the tree.  There’s an old song by Mac Davis that says “Oh, Lord, it's hard to be humble, when you're perfect in every way…”  As funny as that song is, it can be true.  It is hard to be consistently humble.  When people praise us, it can be easy to just say “Thanks”.  But God gets no glory from that if we don’t point it to Him.  Our fruit then just rots on the tree.  He doesn’t choose to build us up for the sake of making us some sort of overloaded fruit tree, bent to the ground and heavy with fruit.  His goal is to lead others to Him by using our “fruit” (blessings, talents, revelations, answered prayers, money, time, etc…) as an example of His goodness. Where pride says “Thanks”, humility says, “Thanks, but all the praise is to God who did it through me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The CEO of Your Life

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “ALL AUTHORITY HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE.” – Matthew 28:18-20
After the crucifixion, the eleven remaining disciples felt abandoned.  Their leader had been unjustly murdered; they were seen as accomplices to his popularity, and worried for their lives.  Jesus knew their hearts and appeared to them and gave these words of comfort.

We often fail to read what’s really there, and see only the great commission to go and make other believers in other nations.  But it’s the words I’ve put in capitals we need to hear.  These are words of encouragement, given not only to the disciples, but just as the great commission is ours, the encouragement is ours as well.
Now, consider this.  If Jesus, who has not been dethroned in the nearly 2,000 years since His death, has authority over all things, what does that mean to you?  What problem do you have that He does not have authority over? 

Authority is a chain of leadership. Sure, you can go to your next-in-command with your problems, but why not just go to the Commander and Chief?  Why not take it to the CEO of your life?  You can get on the phone and talk it over with your best friend, or you can get on your knees and give it all to Jesus.  Frankly, as wonderful as my friends are, they aren’t in the problem solving business.  And as sweet as they are, none of them can make the promise that they will be with me “ALWAYS, EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE”.
Can you say as the psalmist said in Psalms 121, that you know where your help comes from – that it comes from the Lord?

Find courage in knowing that there is ONE who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), and you have never left His sight.  None of your problems are a secret to Him.  And in His eternal vision, they are already solved.  So why wouldn’t you drop that problem at His feet?  It’s a dead issue anyway in His eyes.  Pray for courage, pray for more faith to trust Him, pray for strength, and leave the rest to Jesus.  He is there.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Blessing of Day and Night

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” – 2 Peter 3:8

Today is Thursday.  All 24 hours of it are just Thursday, the day before Friday, the day after Wednesday.  But in God’s eyes, it’s not.  With God, time is without the period at the end when we sleep.  To Him who neither sleeps nor slumbers (Psalms 121:4) time is just time.  But yet on the very first day of creation, even as the very first act of creation, He chose to make day and night.

I think the reason He made them was for us.  We need to split our days up.  We need to have yesterday with all its troubles pass, and rest before starting today.  We need the hope of tomorrow.  We need to know that His mercy is “new every morning” (Lamentation 3:23) so we don’t feel like every day is a failure. 

Imagine if there was no period at the end of the day with nightfall.  Imagine the dread that would become each and every hour as we dredge through life like soldiers cutting hours off of life one by one.  How would we make a fresh start? How would we number our days?  There would be no calendar, no birthdays, no holidays, just time. 

I think this gives new meaning to Isaiah 55:8 which says ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.” And I think it shows even again His great love for us that He would begin and end our time on earth with mornings and nights.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Praying Mercy For Others

Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil. Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children. And let THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD OUR GOD be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.” – Psalms 90:14-17
Moses was the writer of Psalms 90, and it begins by acknowledging God’s sovereignty over man and His goodness as He has been their refuge for years.  He then confesses man’s frailty in life as being cut down and withering, and their evil ways.  He expresses that God’s wrath has been upon them because of their sins. 

And then He says “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  The heart of wisdom comes from knowing and applying God’s word to our actions.  It’s not the “head” of wisdom he desires for his people – it’s a heart change.  Only when the heart is changed will the head and the actions follow.

And then Moses does what all leaders should do.  He cries out for mercy. He asks that the “BEAUTY OF THE LORD OUR GOD” be upon them, and that He would again lead them and establish their daily actions.  
We are all leaders.  No matter who you are, there’s someone that looks to you as their unofficial role model or guide in this life.  It could be your children, your friends, or even perfect strangers from time to time that will watch to see how you handle life. 

I think far too often I myself cry out to God for mercy for me, rather than mercy for others.  It’s quite easy to pray to God that they change their ways, that they see a better life, that He send the punishment that corrects, but what about asking Him to be merciful?  What about asking Him to just go after that one that left the ninety-nine?  What about asking Him to grant them time here on earth to come to an understanding of His sovereignty? What about asking Him for the beauty of the Lord God to be upon them?     

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Beauty of the Lord

There is so much more to understand about the Beauty of the Lord.  The study is a deep one.  Be blessed by the lyrics to this song.  His love is so overwhelming.

What is the Beauty of God?

What is the Beauty of God?

“One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek:  That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life,
To BEHOLD THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD, And to inquire in His temple.”
– Psalms 27:4

Angels have it pretty good in my opinion. They behold God’s beauty every day. But what is that beauty? Surely it’s not hair, skin, eyes, figure, and the things we call beautiful. I believe He explained it to me this morning like this:

Two angels are talking as they oversee the operations of Heaven. One says, “Look, there He is! He saw what she did! Will He forgive her for that too? She’s done that so many times, and He’s forgiven, and forgiven, and forgiven. Surely this will be the time that He sends punishment and correction! After all, she is His child! He has to punish her!”

The second angel says, “Yes, but He has said that His mercy is new every morning, and it endures forever. He’s also said that for those who much has been forgiven love much. Maybe He seeks to forgive her to gain more of her love? Or maybe you are right. Maybe this time He will….but wait, look what she’s doing! She’s asking for mercy again!”

“Then it’s a done deal. He never fails to forgive when they ask.”

Now that’s God’s beauty: a love overflowing. It’s an unquenchable, unending love, that we cannot comprehend.

“For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.” – Psalms 86:5