July 16

Matthew 28:18-20 ~   And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Acts 1:8 ~ But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The purpose of the church is to evangelize the sinner. We are to bring to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the good news of salvation that has come to mankind because of the vicarious sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary. He came to pay our way to Heaven because there is no other way.

But just because He has paid the way does not mean that everyone automatically gets to go. We must accept that we are sinners who have violated God’s law (Rom. 3:10-12 and 23). We must realize that we owe a penalty for our transgression which is the second death; eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire (Rom. 6:23a and Rev. 20:14). We must believe that Christ paid our way to Heaven on the cross (1 Cor. 15:1-4 and Rom 5:6-8). We must repent and turn from our own way of life which carries the guilt and penalty of sin. We must turn to the new life offered to us by Christ which is in Christ. By faith we receive this new life when we receive Christ as our Savior (Rom. 10:13 and Rev. 3:20).

God has ordained that people who have received Christ are to share the Gospel with those who do not know Christ. This is the Great Commission of the church. We are given this commission in the first five books of the New Testament. In Matthew 28:18-20 we are to go to all nations. In Mark 16:15 we are to go to all people. In Luke 24:46-48 we are to go and preach repentance. In John 17:18 we are to go in love. In Acts 1:8 we are to go with power. In Philippians 2:16 we are told to go holding forth the Word of Life. In John 15:16 we are told to go and bring forth fruit that should remain which is the eternal souls of people.

This is a work of people who have been redeemed. All who have received Christ are to be Gospel witnesses. They have witnessed the saving power of Christ and therefore they are able to give an account of what has happened to them. A witness in a court of law is someone who has seen the truth and gives an accurate account of that truth. We are to tell others what Christ has done for us and what He can do for them. It is our responsibility because we are witnesses of the truth which is in Christ.

If angels could do this work, then surely an angel would not have instructed Cornelius to send for Peter in Acts chapter ten. Here we see a man who has heard the Gospel but does not know how to receive Christ. He has heard of the light and is praying and seeking for more light. Those who embrace the light will receive more light. He is praying to God for himself and his family. God hears the penitent prayer of a man who is searching for the light and sends an angel to instruct him.

The angel did not witness to him because the angel has never been lost and has not experienced the saving power of God. Cornelius is instructed to send for the Apostle Peter. When Peter comes and preaches the Gospel to Cornelius and all who are in his house they are saved and baptized. This is God’s way of reaching the lost; the redeemed instructing the lost on how to be redeemed.

We are told to do all things without complaint. You are to live the best you can so that you may not only be a witness, but that you may also be a good example for others to follow. You are to let the light of the life that you have in Christ shine in this corrupt sin-cursed world in which you reside. You do so that you may find an open opportunity to share Christ with others. Some will hear and receive, some will not. Your place is to shine and to share, to live clean and separated, in Christ, for Christ, and for lost souls. - Preacher

 

 

WEEK 29

July 15

The Purpose of the Church: Encouraging the Saints Pt 3

Matthew 18:15 ~   Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

Another part of encouraging is to urge and warn others of dangers and pitfalls. But it also involves warning them to get back on the right track when they have gotten away from it. There is a right way to do the right thing and there is a wrong way to do the right thing. When someone has gotten away from the Lord, we need to pray for them to repent. But we must also work to restore them.

There is something we are to consider if we are to restore someone who has gotten off the right path. In Galatians 6:1 we find, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Ye which are spiritual are those who live by faith and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit daily. They are the ones who spend a great amount of time in prayer. They will be the one with a burden to pray and seek God’s mercy and grace to help restore this fallen brother or sister. They are not sinless, but they must be blameless.

We all make mistakes and we all fail, but this is referring to those who have allowed some sin to take them away from the path of righteousness. The fall could have been brought about by some trap of the devil. He will strike at the area of your life where you are weak. For someone who was saved out of alcoholism it could be the temptation to drink that allures them away.

But the devil will also work on those areas where you may be very strong. For the godly person who has a great Christian family the temptation of adultery could be your Achilles heel. No matter how great your family relationship may be, the devil knows how to get to you. Job said that he made a covenant with his eyes (Job31:1). The Psalmist said that he would set no wicked thing before his eyes (Psa. 101:3). The lust of the eyes and the pride of life are very slippery slopes. You must be vigilant and beware of the tactics of the devil because he knows where and when to place temptations like a hunter setting a trap for his prey.

Many people have been taken in his snare on the internet by allowing the temptation to look where they should not look take them off their guard. No matter how strong a person may be, the devil uses the lust of the eye to weaken the strongest will. Those small ads on the side of the web page and the unwanted e-mails can be the source that gets your curiosity peaked. The lust of the eye opens the door to the lust of the flesh. Unfortunately, many strong Christian families have been destroyed by this seductive trap of the devil. Those who were strong found themselves weak.

It matters not how they got there at this point, it matters only that they find deliverance from whatever has caused them to fall. The spiritual person is the only one who is to help them at this point. But even they must be on their guard. They must be humble and realize that they put themselves into a situation where pride can get into their heart. The pride of life is as much a slippery slope for the spiritual Christian as the lust of the eye. They should never try to restore someone if they feel they are better than the person they are trying to restore.

The fall of a church member affects the whole church. At this point we can invoke the process known as church discipline in Matthew 18:15-17. However, we must keep the firm goal of restoration as our focus. We are one body and we are a family. When someone falls it is a fault between them and the entire church. If the spiritual person cannot convince this person to repent of their fault, then they must go to someone else and get their help in this situation. The same principle of Galatians 6:1 still applies here; go in humility and in love to restore a fallen brother or sister.

If they will not here these then it must be brought before the church. At this point it must be done the right way. It is not to point out their fault and make a public display, it is to give them another chance to be lovingly compelled to repent and get right with God. It is to be done with gentility, kindness, and with great love. Remember that in church discipline restoration is always the ultimate goal. 

Are you embracing the needs of the saved and the lost through your service to Christ? Are you embracing your need to embrace the needs of others through your service to the Lord? - Preacher

 

 

WEEK 28

July 8

The Purpose of the Church: Exalting

Acts 20:28 ~   Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

The first occurrence of the word “church” in the entire Bible is in Matthew 16:18. In verses 13-18 of that chapter Jesus was enquiring who the people thought He was and who the disciples thought He was. Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). In verse 18 Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

There has been a false doctrine built upon this verse. That false doctrine is that Peter is the “rock” that the church is built upon. Peter is just a man who was chosen to be an Apostle of Christ. I mean no disrespect for in my mind he is a great man of God, but just a man none the less. This false doctrine has come about because Peter comes from the word “petros” which means “a piece of a whole; a small rock.” But the word rock in verse 18 comes from the word “petra” which means “a mass of rock; a stone.” The rock referred to in verse 18 is the testimony of Peter in verse 16; “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

The rock upon which the church is built is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the sure foundation upon which the lives of individuals, families, and churches are built upon. He is the one who died for our sin, and though He was buried, He rose again and is alive forevermore.

In Acts 20:28 we see that God purchased the church with His own blood. Therefore the church is of great importance to Him. Though it was Christ who shed His blood and died on the cross, yet it was the blood of God for He is God in the flesh. He did not get His bloodline from a man, it came from God. The blood that coursed through the veins of the body of the Lord Jesus was the blood of God Himself. When Christ shed His blood it was the blood of the living God.

The church is not the building and the grounds. These are just the tools and the resources which God has so graciously given to us with which we can build and grow His church. We meet together to get what we need to live Christian in a sin-cursed world. We bring people in to exalt the Sovereign, to exhort the saint, and to evangelize the sinner.

The church is the people that meet together to worship and serve God. We are the “ekklesia”, or the “called out assembly”. God who is merciful, loving, and kind has called us out of the world, saving us from our eternal demise and giving us eternal life (Jn. 17:6 & Rom. 6:23b). God has saved us and called us out of the world and yet we must live in this world (Jn. 17:11). Even though we must abide in this world we are not to be of this world (Jn. 17:14). We exist in this world for a purpose and part of that purpose is to go out into the world and tell others about Him (Jn. 17:18).

The purpose of the church is to exalt the Sovereign. God is the Creator of all that exists anywhere and everywhere. There is nothing made that was not made by Him. The Lord Jesus is also the Creator for He was there in the beginning with God. God is the source of all of Creation while the Lord Jesus was the agent of all of Creation (Jn. 1:1-5). He is the Sovereign Son of the living God.

Everything that exists today had a cause that brought it into being. But science will verify that there cannot be an infinite regression of causes. This simply means that as we trace the causes back to the beginning, you will find an uncaused cause that started the whole thing. It was not the big bang theory because something had to cause all of the matter that existed before the big bang (an unproven theory rejected by many scientists). That which caused everything which has no cause of its own is God. There is nothing before Him for He inhabits eternity.

Therefore we exalt Him as the Sovereign Creator of the universe and all that exists. Every star, planet, asteroid, meteorite, dust particle, cell, atom, nucleus, neutron, proton, and electron was caused and created by Almighty God. Life came from God for in Him is life. We live and breathe and have our being in this life because of Him. Without Him nothing would exist.

Therefore He is worthy of all acceptance and He is worthy of all praise. Every step that you take today ought to be a shout of praise to God. We are to exalt the Sovereign with praise; Hallelujah, glory to God, praise the Lord, AMEN!! - Preacher

 

July 9

The Purpose of the Church: Exalting the Savior Pt 1

John 12:32 ~   And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

The purpose of the church is to exalt the Savior. The Lord Jesus said that He must be lifted up from the earth. He said that in doing so He would draw all men unto Him. He is telling His disciples the form of death that He would die for the sins of the world. He had told Nicodemus, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:14-15).

The Lord Jesus is the High and Holy One. He must be lifted up between Heaven and earth so that He can be the appropriate, absolute, accomplished mediator between a Holy God and fallen man. He is the only one who could bridge the gap between God and man. Man is unable to bridge that gap himself because of his fallen and faulty nature. Since man could not come to God on his own, the Lord Jesus came to pay man’s penalty for him so that man could have the choice to come to God.

God’s pure and perfect justice requires death as the penalty for those who violate His just demands. That death is eternal separation from the love, presence, peace, mercy, and grace of God in the Lake of Fire. Therefore Christ must be lifted up on the cross and die in man’s place. When man looks to that payment for sin, turns from his own works which are flawed by sin and his sin nature, and trusts the work of Christ on the Cross he can be saved.

Believing on this work of Christ will bring salvation. However the word “believe” today has lost the meaning that it once had. Today many use the word “believe” very loosely. Someone may ask, “Did you turn the oven off?” The reply is, “I believe I did.” There is no confidence or assurance in the word “believe” when used in that way. In the Bible the word believe in referring to the Lord Jesus is followed by “in” or “on”. It means to put the full weight of your confidence and your faith upon the finished work of Christ on Calvary. It means to put the full weight of your trust on the authority of the Word of God. This is the full and firm persuasion that Christ is the way of salvation and the only way of coming to God (Jn. 14:6).

The Lord Jesus Christ in being lifted up makes of Himself a friend to sinners. When they need help He is the only one who can truly help them. When they need hope He is the only one that can give them hope. He has always been and will always be the hope of the penitent heart.

Unfortunately the Lord Jesus will also be the Judge of the rejecting heart. He gave up all of Heaven and all the glories of that place to become a man. He became a man so that He could be the final and ultimate sacrifice for all of sin. He is the once for all men, once for all sin, once for all time sacrifice. Those who reject His offer will stand before Him and give an account of why they rejected Him.

As you go through your day today and as you go through your week, hold up the Lord Jesus and let others see Him as the hope of mankind. Christ Jesus is the answer to every problem that confronts people today. He is the peace and joy that the empty and lost souls are looking for. He is the only One who can fill that emptiness that people are trying to fill with the pleasures of the world. The problem is that they do not know and someone must tell them. Someone must lift Him up to them so they can find what they are searching for in Him. He is what they need and we must tell them. Will you tell someone about Christ Jesus today? - Preacher

 

July 10

The Purpose of the Church: Exalting the Saviour Pt 2

John 12:32 ~   And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

Those who reject Christ are doomed to their own choice and their own fate. Rejecting His way of salvation is to choose to pay your own way into eternity. The best you could ever hope to achieve by paying for your own sin is an eternity in the Lake of Fire. It is a place where you will never cease to exist. It is said that the smoke of the torments of that awful place will ascend up for ever and ever (Lk. 16:23, Rev. 14:11, Rev. 20:11-14). We are told of the rich man in Luke 16, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments”. That verse was in present tense then and still is today because today that man is still in that awful place “being in torments”.

The Lord Jesus was lifted up to appease the just demands of the law that we might be lifted up to a right relationship with Almighty God. Believing on and receiving Christ as Saviour raises us to a higher plain of existence as the children of God. He has now become our Father by way of adoption. Christ was lifted up as payment for our redemption. He died so that we could have our sins forgiven. But His resurrection is what justifies us before a holy God and brings to us the adoption and the gift of eternal life. Christ was lifted up to redeem us from the curse of the law on the Cross.

But Christ was lifted up to Heaven to intercede for us with God. He is our advocate to plead our case before God. When we come to be saved He is there. When we come for help He is there. When we have needs He is there. When we seek help for others He is there. Christ is there to help our prayers be heard and to get us the answers we need.

Christ is worthy of your acceptance of Him. Not just for salvation, but for all of life now and in eternity. He is worthy of all your praise. You must lift Him up in worship. You must worship and adore Him as the matchless and eternal one. There is no other so worthy of all of your attention. You must live for Him for to live for Him is to live a life of worship. He should be your first thought when you wake up and the last thought when you go to sleep. Give Him the glory He is so deserving of for the life that He has given you.

He was lifted up for us and we must lift Him up before a dying world so that others may know and receive Him as their Savior. Lift Him up on high that others may see and turn to Him. Tell others about their choices for eternity (Heaven or hell). Tell them about Christ paying their way to Heaven. Tell them about the peace they can have with God because of His selfless sacrifice. Tell them of the blessings of God in this life because of His intercession for all believers.

If you cannot talk to people give them a Gospel tract. This is lifting up and exalting the Saviour. He said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” Wherever you go, in whatever you do, hold the Lord Jesus high and lift Him up in your heart, your thoughts, your words, and in your actions so that others may be drawn to Him. - Preacher

 

July 11

The Purpose of the Church: Encouraging the Saints Pt 1

Hebrews 10:24-25 ~   And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

The purpose of the church is to exhort the saint. “Exhort” means “inciting to good deeds by words or arguments; encouraging; counseling.” Therefore we are to encourage and edify one another by enriching hearts through fellowship, empowering lives through teaching, and embracing needs through service.

We are told that we are not to forsake our assembling together. This is especially true as we see the day of Christ approaching (Rapture: Day of Redemption 1 Ths. 4:13-18).  We are to gather together more and we are to encourage one another more. We come together to worship and praise the Lord. We come together to hear and to learn the Word of God. But we also come together to be an encouragement to one another in the work of the Lord. The exhortation of the saints is to help one another to bring glory to God and to further the Gospel of Christ in and around our community and around the world.

We exhort one another by enriching hearts through fellowship. We are to provoke unto love and to good works. That word “provoke” means “to incite; to call into action; to arouse.” The Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 teaches us to treat others the way that we want to be treated. We are to love others when they love us as well as when they do not. We are to love one another with a love that is sacrificial, selfless, and unconditional. When people come into the house of God they should feel and experience this love.

Our fellowship together is a part of the unity of the church. We spend time together praying and receiving strength from one another. When one of us is hurting we all hurt. When one of us is rejoicing we all rejoice. We are one in the Lord and we are family. The fellowship that we share encourages us to stay the course when others are quitting. Our fellowship together helps us to live a life that will honor and glorify the Lord. It gives us joy to have this special relationship with those who believe as we do.

We encourage the saints when we empower lives through teaching. Our only authority is the Word of God. We believe it to be the inspired, inerrant, infallible, accurate, authentic, authoritative, Word of God. It is our sole guide in our faith and in the practice of living out our faith.

Living and raising a family in this day and hour requires that we teach the word of God (Deu 6:6-9). We are admonished to teach our children the things of God from the very earliest ages. They are never too young to be taught the Bible. Neither is there a time when we cannot teach them God’s Word. There was a time in our nation when the verses from the Bible were used to teach reading and writing. If we could get back to that we could change our nation for the better in just one generation.

We encourage one another in the work of the Lord and we encourage others to come to the Lord. Are you enriching through fellowship and empowering through teaching? When you enrich others you are enriched yourself. When you empower others you are empowered as well. This is a part of giving yourself to the Lord; given to invest yourself in the lives of others. When you do these things you will receive dividends now and for all of eternity. You benefit by the principles of sowing and reaping. - Preacher

 

July 12

The Purpose of the Church: Encouraging the Saints Pt 2

Hebrews 10:24-25 ~   And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

The exhortation of the saints is accomplished by embracing needs through service. Embracing needs through service is meeting the needs of the people in our church as well as the people in our community. God put a good, strong Bible believing, -teaching, -preaching, -practicing church in your community to serve the needs of the people in that community. He put you in your church to serve Him as you serve His people and help with serving the needs of the people in your community.

There are various needs that we can embrace in and around our community, but the primary focus is to use our service to hone in on the spiritual needs of the people. Through our benevolence we are able to help the needs of our community. But people need the Lord and we have Him with us wherever we go. We must go with the mindset to meet the needs of the people so that we can share Christ with them.

We can embrace the needs of others by visitation. There are so many people who are lonely and just need a friend. We should befriend those in our church who live alone. I believe many of us fail at this. They need someone to fellowship with other than just at church. They need someone to talk to and to share the events of their day with. I am not promoting gossip, just a genuine concern and love for those who need a friend to share their life with.

A part of being a living sacrifice is to sacrifice a little of our time to minister to others. When we visit the fatherless, the widows, and widowers we are being a minister of Christ. Yes, if they are saved they have the Lord, but even He sent His disciples out two by two. People need the Lord but people also need each other. Just a phone call to let them know you are praying for them. Just a call to check up on their needs will do a lot to encourage and instill joy in their hearts.

The needs of the church are also fulfilled in our service to Christ and to others. By going out our need to fulfill our purpose in the will of God in reaching the lost is accomplished. Your need to serve is embraced as you got out and put shoe leather to your faith. The purpose of the church is to embrace needs through service. In doing so you are able to fulfill your need as a Christian to serve the Lord.

The purpose of the church is to exalt the Sovereign and to exhort the saints. We exhort the saints by enriching hearts through fellowship, empowering lives through teaching, and embracing needs through service. You are given a place to serve to help other Christians. You are given a place to serve to help the lost come to Christ. Are you doing your part in your church to fulfill the purpose of the church? Are you actively involved in enriching hearts, empowering lives, and embracing others needs in serving? - Preacher

 

 

WEEK 27

July 1

God’s Amazing Grace

Psalm 121:1, 2 ~   I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

All throughout the Bible we can see God’s Amazing Grace. The word “amazing” in this context is an adjective describing the grace of God. It means “very wonderful; exciting astonishment, or perplexity.” Grace is the “free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him.” The acrostics for grace are “God’s Redemption At Christ’s Expense” when speaking of salvation and “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense” when speaking of the benefits we receive to live the Christian life. When we speak of the amazing grace of God we are speaking about the wonderful love and favor of Almighty God on hell bound, undeserving sinners.

We all came into this world spiritually bankrupt. That means you could not have a relationship with God and you could not communicate with Him. But His grace made it possible for you to have communication and to be restored to your originally intended relationship with Him. You do so by appropriating His grace through your faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. You came into this world as a hell bound sinner, but praise God, through His grace, you leave this world as a saint of God.

As God’s creation He loved us. That means that He does not want to see anyone in hell. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. God does not send anyone to hell; He made a way to escape that place through the Cross of Christ. Those who go to hell go because they have rejected the truth of the love and grace of God. Rather than rest on the work of Christ in paying for sin, they choose to rest upon their own works or their own way to get to Heaven. Unfortunately their self-efforts fail because we are all spiritually bankrupt without grace.

God proved His love towards you by allowing His only begotten Son to die for your sin. He died as your substitute to stand in and receive the punishment for your sin, so that you could be set free from the guilt and the penalty of your sin. Your sin debt must be paid for because the justice of the Law demands death for sin. The Law was satisfied in the death of Christ for sin. God accepts what Christ did as payment for sin for every person who will believe on and receive Christ as their Saviour. Sin was imputed to all for Adam’s disobedience so that righteousness could be imputed to all who would accept Christ who was obedient.

Now we can choose to accept the terms of His grace and live a more abundant life, or we can refuse the terms and live life without God’s Amazing Grace. God loves you right now whether you are saved or not. His love is sacrificial and selfless. When He allowed Christ to be your substitute He was thinking about you. When He punished Christ for your sin He was thinking about you. When Christ suffered your punishment, your shame, your reproach, and your disgrace for your sin, He was thinking about you. God the Father and God the Son proved their love for you when Christ died for you. God does not force His love upon us because He wants us to choose to love Him freely. Knowing that all of this was done for your benefit, how could you not love Him?

You may have come into this world spiritually dead and bankrupt, but you can appropriate the grace of God by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ; trusting His payment for your sin and receiving the new life that He offers you. At the very moment that you do this, the grace of God fills your spiritual bank account to overflowing with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus (God’s Redemption At Christ’s Expense). His righteousness can never be exhausted no matter how many come to Him. Therefore you are justified and adopted as a child of God; as much a child as the Lord Jesus Himself; it can never be revoked.

Use this grace wisely to be a blessing to others. Tell someone about God’s Amazing Grace and help them to go from spiritual poverty to spiritual riches. – Preacher                     

 

July 2

God’s Amazing Grace: The Gracious Deliverance

Psalm 121:1, 2 ~   I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

God’s amazing grace sends to us open opportunity. Through His grace we are saved from death. That is eternal separation from God in the lake of fire. Revelation 20:14 says, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Grace gives us the opportunity to escape this eternal separation from the love of God. We can escape the eternal punishment for our sin because of God’s Amazing Grace that allowed Christ to pay for our sin because we could not pay for it. 

We are saved from death and saved for life that is eternal. Do not misunderstand me; eternal separation from God in the lake of fire is not the end of a godless life; the grave is not the end of existence and the lake of fire is not the end of existence. There will be an eternal, conscious existence in that place of eternal, horrid, torments. The greatest horror of this place is the eternal separation from a loving, benevolent Creator.

The Lord Jesus preached on the subject of hell more than any other subject. The rich man in the parable that He taught in Luke 16 is there today. The Lord said, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments ” (v. 23). It was in the present tense when He said it then and it is in the present tense today; that man still exists there in that place today “being in torments.”

We are told in the Revelation that the beast and the false prophet are to be cast into the lake of fire at the end of the Great Tribulation. Christ will set up His kingdom on this earth and reign for one thousand years from His throne in Jerusalem. At the end of the one thousand years the devil will be set free for a short time to deceive some of the peoples who will then be living on the earth. Those whom he deceives will attack the saints of God and God will destroy their armies with fire from Heaven. God will then cast the devil into the lake of fire where he too will spend all of eternity.

The Bible says, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). That phrase “where the beast and the false prophet are” literally means that after one thousand years they are still in conscious existence in the lake of fire. Those who end up there do not cease to exist; it is just the beginning of an eternity of suffering that the human mind can never begin to imagine. The only escape from this grim existence of eternal affliction, agony, anguish, misery, and pain is by God’s Amazing Grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Open opportunity saves us from death and saves us for eternal life. Eternal life begins at the moment you are saved. There is the life that we live in this world and the life that will exist for all of eternity beyond this world. In this world we can have life more abundant. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10).

The abundance of life is in the riches and the blessings of God to live in a world that is not getting better. It is a sin-cursed world and it will continue to get worse until Christ returns to set up His kingdom. We live our life by faith in and of the grace of God. If it were not for His grace we could not be saved and if it were not for His grace we could not have peace and joy in this world.

The saved who depart this life will continue to exist in the palaces of Heaven where Christ abides at the right hand of God in His eternal throne room. When we come to the realization that we shall never taste of death it causes us to live differently. You must set your affections and your focus on the eternal things and not on the temporal things. This world will pass away one day and only those who know Christ will exist forever. That which is temporal will be burned up with the renovating fire of God. Then He will make a new heaven and a new earth and all things will be new. You have the open opportunity to be a part of this because of God’s Amazing Grace. Give God praise for this wondrous truth and share it with someone you know today. Preacher

 

July 3

God’s Amazing Grace: The Gracious Promise

Psalm 121:3, 4 ~   He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

We are blessed with spiritual blessings and riches because of God’s Amazing Grace. We have the Holy Spirit of God who takes His fruit and develops and grows these graces in our life. He will cultivate in you the love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance that the natural man (lost) and the carnal man (saved; not growing in the Lord) are lacking. You can live the life of a child of God who abides in an abundance of His grace. You are blessed and benefit from these graces and the actions that they produce in your life. By the grace of God others will benefit from the abundance of life that you possess as well.

The Spirit-filled Christian can expect that the Lord will help his people out of the hands of all their enemies. He will deliver them from their troubles and afflictions. Living in this old sin sick world guarantees that there will be troubles. Living the life of a Spirit-filled Christian in this old sin sick world guarantees trouble and persecution from the enemies of God. One thing is for sure, God must approve everything that comes against His children. Therefore you must stay the course and resist the temptation to quit. You are on the winning side and you are more than a conqueror. If you quit in the battle, in the storm, or in the trial, you will never win.

There is a reason for the troubles that you may face as a Christian. When trials come you must have the right attitude. You must not be negative about the problems that you face. You must look at the positive side. In every circumstance there are things to learn. There are things that will strengthen your faith and make you stronger in the Lord. Some of the storms you encounter will bring out weaknesses that you need to strengthen. Some will help you to develop good things in your life for the glory of God. Sometimes God may allow a storm to direct you onto another path as He did with Jonah when he was going the wrong way.

God will help you in the performance of your duties. He will give you the fortitude to exercise your Christian graces and bear your cross every day. God will direct your footsteps and lead you in the way everlasting. You need only to endeavor to be in subjection and obedience to the Word of God. You must learn to listen to and hear the voice of the Holy Spirit so that you may submit to His leading and guidance. You may ask, “How do I know the voice of the Spirit when He speaks to me?” You can only know His voice if you spend time with Him every day. That means daily Bible, Prayer, and Praise time (Eph. 5:19, 20).

You are on a journey to the Promised Land. But you are living the Promised Life right now. It is a life of abundance when you walk in the ways of the Lord. If you do not walk in the ways of the Lord you will find yourself wandering around in a spiritual wilderness begging for simple needs to be fulfilled. You must cross over the barrier of the Jordan which is overcoming the world and the flesh. You must decide every day that you will live godly in this present evil world. There are battles to be fought but they are the Lord’s. When you follow Him He will fight the battles for you and you will be victorious.

God will bring you into blessings that are temporal and spiritual. You will have all of your needs fulfilled and you will find an abundance of supply when you determine to walk daily by the Savior’s side. His help is always quick and present when needed. His help is always suitable, seasonable, and sufficient. You should be encouraged to know that you can expect His help whenever it is needed.

No matter what the circumstance may bring to you, your Father is the Maker and Creator of all that exists in Heaven and in earth. What is there that He cannot do? He has promised to help and He is faithful to keep all of His promises. He has made provision for you to bring your petitions before Him at the throne of grace. There you will find hope and you will find help. There you will find mercy and grace in the hour of your need. All of this you have because of God’s Amazing Grace. - Preacher

 

July 4

God’s Amazing Grace: The Gracious Guide

Psalm 121:5-6 ~   The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

It is God’s Amazing Grace that saves us (Eph. 2:8-9). Grace brought us salvation and cleansed us by the blood of Christ. Grace delivered us from the penalty of sin. That penalty is eternal separation from God in the lake of fire. Grace helps us and strengthens us in trials and troubles. All that we are and all that we have in Christ is a direct result of God’s Amazing Grace. This grace of God has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11).

Grace sanctifies the believer. It does so when we are taught through the Word of God the things we need to know. We are taught the negative things that we do not need in our life. It teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts (Titus 2:12a). Anything that is contrary to God and His ways is ungodly. Here are some ways to determine if something is ungodly. If it does not glorify God then you would do well to stay away from it (1 Cor 10:31). Can it be done in Jesus’ name (Col. 3:17)? Can it be done for the Lord (Col 3:23)? What is its appearance (1 Ths 5:22)? Is it something that would hinder another Christian in their spiritual walk and growth (Rom 14:21)? Is it pleasing to God (Gal 1:10 & Eph 6:6)?

We are to abstain from worldly lusts. Those things that pertain to the world’s greed and the world’s gratification of fleshly desires must be abolished from the Christian’s life. You cannot overcome sin by indulging in it. By the same principle you cannot overcome the world by indulging in it. Little sins will lead to greater sin. And again, the same principle applies to worldly lusts. A little worldliness in the Christian’s life will lead to more worldliness. Lusting after the things of the world is lusting after the things of Satan. He is the god of this world. God says, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (Jam 4:4).

The world is based upon the benefits of “me, I, and myself.” The world seeks to feed its greed by whatever means necessary. It does not know what true love is but is geared towards doing unto others before they do unto them. The world is wrought in things that are dishonest and unjust. It seeks to gratify the lusts of the flesh and of the mind. The world’s way is a way of chance on something that is not of God. It will deny God and His ways because it wants its own ways. The world wants to take the path of least resistance and the path that requires no self-discipline. It wants to lurk in the shadows of the night and to hide in the dark. It does not want the light to shine in and reveal what it is up to.

Advertisers strive to show how much fun sin can be. They work to deceive people into thinking that something is good in moderation. The truth is that sin is pleasurable for a very short time. But the deception is that sin has consequences. There are always aftereffects of sin that affects the person involved as well as those who are around them. The Marlboro man made it look manly to smoke cigarettes. What the world does not tell you is that he died of lung cancer. They make it look like great fun to drink and party with your friends. They do not reveal the carnage of drunk-driving disasters, the hangovers the next day, or the unwanted sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies. The world does not tell you about those who have died from alcohol poisoning due to overindulgence.

It is God’s Amazing Grace that allows us to have a Bible so that we can know that ungodliness and worldly lusts are spiritually and physically unhealthy for us. How would we know the dangers of these things if God had not revealed it to us in His word? By His grace His word gives us the wisdom to live godly in this present evil world. He is our shield by night and by day. He protects and keeps us safe as we draw close to Him and walk with Him every day.

Give God the glory that is due unto Him for His amazing grace. Give Him thanks for His grace and love towards you. Give Him praise for His mighty and wondrous protections. He has given you knowledge and the wisdom to use that knowledge. You have His word and hopefully you have His Holy Spirit. One of the many ways that God protects you is by the transformation that comes from the renewing of your mind through His word.  This you have because of God’s Amazing Grace. - Preacher

 

July 5

God’s Amazing Grace: The Gracious Preservation

Psalm 121:7-8 ~   The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

God’s Amazing Grace does so much more than we could ever put into words. His grace gives us peace and calm in the storms of life. There was a ship caught in a storm at sea. The passengers were distraught with fear. There was a little girl on board who was very calm. Someone asked her, “Why are you so calm and quiet? Are you not afraid?” She answered, “No, my father is running the ship.” When the storms rage on, when they beat you down, upset you, and trouble you, remember that God is your Father and that He has all power.

There are many troubles that come into our lives. There is sickness, disability, grief, doubt, uncertainty, financial troubles, fear of old age, and death. But in these troubles there is the grace of God to get us through. You can do all things through Christ (Php 4:13). He will strengthen you in the troubles and make you stronger when you come out on the other side. Even in the valley of the shadow of death there is the peace of knowing that God’s grace will get you through (Psa 23:4). The key word is “through”. That means that you will come out on the other side because of God’s Amazing Grace.

Many are too busy worrying about tomorrow when they should only focus on today. God will give us the strength for today. God will give us provision for today. When you wind a watch you do not wind it for the week, you wind it for today. When you sit down at a meal you do not eat for a week, you eat for that meal. God will give you the strength you need for whatever trouble, trial, or storm you are in right now. He will give you strength every day, but He will give you only what you need for this day today.

There was a man who had fallen over a cliff. They asked a small boy if he would tie a rope around his waist and take it down to the man. The boy looked over at his father with his big strong arms and said, “I will go if my father holds the rope.” You do not need to fear life nor do you need to fear death. God is your Father and He is holding the rope for you. Beneath you are the Everlasting arms of Almighty God.

We are preserved by God’s Amazing Grace. Our help comes from the Lord. We are kept through all of life by His grace. And we are a preserved people by His grace. Evil has no hold on the child of God. God will keep you in perfect peace as long as you keep your mind on Him. When you abide in Christ and His words abide in you, the evil of this world cannot touch you. You have been sealed by the Spirit of the living God.

When you preserve something it is protected and guarded from decay and corruption. When my wife is canning vegetables she puts them in a jar while they are still hot. When they cool down the top of the jar will pop. When you hear that pop you know that it is sealed, protected, and preserved. When the Holy Spirit came into your heart, you were sealed, protected, and preserved (Eph 1:13, 14). Now you belong to God and evil cannot harm you.

When a child of God gets harmed physically by violence of some kind, or if they die an untimely death, this verse is still true. The evil cannot harm the child of God. Even in cases where believers have been violently murdered in a school or a church by some wicked criminal, they are preserved and evil cannot touch them. To be absent from the body is to be in the very presence of the Lord. When their life is taken they have immediately stepped into the presence of the Lord. Evil may harm the body but it cannot touch the soul.

You are preserved and you can enter into the throne room of God at any time that you want. You can leave at any time that you want. It is because of the grace of God through the Lord Jesus your Great High Priest that you can come boldly to the throne of grace and find mercy to help in the hour of your need (Heb 4:14-16).

You can come and go from this special place any time you like. God has an open door policy that can only be closed to you through unconfessed sin. But He has made a way for that fellowship to never be broken through confession, forgiveness, and cleansing (1 Jn 1:9). God loves you so much and He wants to do so much for you and with you. His Amazing Grace is all too efficient for whatever you need. You need only to look unto Him for the help that you need. So, look up Christian, for your redemption draweth nigh. - Preacher

 

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! 

I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.

 

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; 

How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed!

 

Thru many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; 

'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.

 

The Lord has promised good to me; His Word my hope secures; 

He will my Shield and Portion be, As long as life endures.

 

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail, And mortal life shall cease; 

I shall possess, within the veil, A life of joy and peace.

 

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow; The sun forbear to shine; 

But God, who called me here below, Will be forever mine.

 

When we've been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, 

We've no less days to sing God's praise Than when we'd first begun.

 

 

WEEK 26

June 24

Troubles Are A Part of Life

Genesis 13:5-7 ~ And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.  And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.  And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

Some will try to tell you that if you are truly saved that everything will be smooth sailing. The truth is that God did not promise us a smooth road, but He did promise us a sure road. Even the Scriptures tell us that if we try to live godly in this old sin-sick world that we will have persecution. The fact that the world lies under the sin curse with its social, economic, and political system governed by the devil, there is going to be troubles in trying to carve out a life.

There is nothing wrong with building a life for yourself and your family in this world. There is nothing wrong with having nice things for your family as long as you do not allow anything to come between you and the Lord. If it is His will for you to do these things, He will bless you as long as you keep Him Superior in your life and live according to His Word.

Abram had trouble with his nephew Lot. This conflict came about because each of them had such great possessions. It seems that the more stuff you have the more time that you spend in taking care of it. The more you have the more headaches and troubles you will have. More is not always better. But the conflict between these men had to be resolved because the worldly Canaanite and Perizzite were watching these men of faith to see how they would handle this situation. It was on the verge of getting out of hand as their employees were now beginning to fight among themselves.

How you deal with your troubles in life will tell a great deal about your character. Some may not like what they see when the heat; what you are under pressure is what you really are on the inside (Mat. 15:18, 19). It is an issue of the heart when it comes to responding to and dealing with problems. If the heart is right with God you are more likely to handle problems better that when the heart is not right with God. Are you walking daily by the Saviour’s side? Do you rest each moment in the Crucified? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? The closer you are to God, the cleaner and the more pure your heart will be. 

Here they both have great wealth and power. They have each built their own businesses and have a great number of people working for them. The problem is that they both need room to expand, but there is not enough room for the both of them to reside in the same area. Because of their relationship, I believe they wanted to remain together, but they have built their lives and now will have to part ways. As I have already said, there is nothing wrong with having great wealth. The Scriptures teach that God gives the power to get wealth (Deu. 8:17, 18). The problem arises when your things begin to control you. That is when you are headed for trouble (Matt. 6:19-21).

The Word of God continuously reminds us that this world is a temporary place for all. What we do here will be rewarded in the end. Those who are saved will give an account of what they have done in this life. If you walked and talked with the Lord every day as did Enoch, Elijah, the Apostles and countless other saints over the centuries, you will have good reward for your labors here. But if you do not live this way, but are like Demas, one who went from serving the Lord with Paul to serving the world and self, you will suffer loss of rewards.

You can build a great life in this world and do a lot of great things, but if your focus is off, you will suffer loss. If you are truly saved and you turn away you will be punished. But the closer you get to the Lord in serving Him the more He will bless you. Draw closer to Him and use His blessings to His glory. - Preacher

 

June 25

Faith Responds To Trouble in Love

Genesis 13:5-7 ~ And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.  And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.  And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

The men who were working for Abram and for Lot wanted the best ground for their flocks. They were looking for the best places where there was plenty of green grass for the herds and plenty of water for them to drink. This is where things begin to get off track. Their focus was on self, individual rights, and the things of this world. When you take your focus off of Christ, off of the spiritual, and off of the eternal, you are looking in the wrong direction (2 Cor. 4:15-18).

I am always reminded of Peter who took his focus off of Christ while he was walking on water in the middle of the storm (Mat. 14:24-31). As long as he was focusing on Christ, he was on top of the water in the storm. When he looked at the storm, his focus changed, his faith turned to doubt, and he sank. When you focus on the trouble and allow it to take your focus off of the Lord, you are overcome by the storm. When troubles arise in your life, do not allow self, individual rights, and the things of the world to remove your focus from the Lord. The Lord has a purpose, so turn your eyes upon Jesus and let Him and His purpose be the focus of your heart and your life. Keep your faith in the Lord and all will be well with your soul.

Men of faith should be gracious, loving, and kind. A people of faith should be able to dwell together with peace and harmony among them. Abram here in these verses begins to make a proposal to Lot for peace. Abram's faith in God allows him to be loving, gracious, and kind to Lot; his love is selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional. Abram tells Lot that there should be peace because they are brethren. As such there should be love and respect for one another, even among their herdsmen.

This is true within the church of today, we are brethren and there must be love and respect among God's people. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn. 13:34, 35). Lost people cannot see the Lord in a church where there is envy, strife, and contention. Jesus said they would know we are Christians by the love we have towards one another. We are to love one another as Christ loved the disciples.

Our Lord Jesus, the Lord of Glory, washed the disciple’s feet. That very vivid illustrating principle given by our Lord tells us that we all make mistakes and we all need daily cleansing. There is no person in the church that is any better than any other. None of us are perfect. We are an imperfect people in need of a perfect Saviour. We are to treat one another fairly and to look out for the whole of the body and not the needs or the wants of the few. We must be gracious, loving, kind, and compassionate, even towards those who may cause trouble. We are to love and forgive, even as God has forgiven us. If conflict is left unresolved, it will hinder the blessings of God.  (READ Mat. 18:21, 22; Lk.  17:3-5; Eph. 4:32; I Cor. 13:4, 5)

Our God is a consuming fire. He is just, holy, pure, and true. He must judge and punish sin or He would not be just, holy, pure, and true. But God is a loving and benevolent Creator. He loved us and gave Himself for us in Christ. He shed His own blood for the church. He did all of this because He is the God of love who is Himself love.

Does your love for Him reveal itself in the way you love your brothers and sisters in Christ? If not, why not? Too many claim to love the brethren but turn their noses up at them when they should support, help, and defend them. That is not love. Your love must be selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional. - Preacher

 

June 26

Faith Responds To Trouble Through Sacrifice

Genesis 13:5-7 ~ And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.  And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.  And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

Abram also referred to the fact that the lost world was watching them to see how they would deal with their internal problems. The problem that this caused for Abram and Lot was that they were seen and perceived to be divided and weak. That would enable the Canaanites and the Perizzites to be bold towards them. It would allow them an advantage should they decide to attack and take their possessions. They were also aware that Abram served the Most High God and they were watching to see what his God would do in this situation.  They would evaluate the power of his God based upon how he and Lot conducted their affairs with each other.

We know that if God is blessin', that the old devil comes a messin'. He loves to see the church have a source of contention. It is a crack where He can get his claws dug in and begin to work on the problem to blow it up into something greater. It will tear down the testimony and the witness of the church. When there is trouble in the church the devil will see to it that the world knows about it. They will conclude that the church is no better off than they are. They will think that Christianity is not all that it claims to be. It brings greater disdain upon the name of Christ. The devil wins when there is strife in the church because the outreach to the lost world is hindered.

Abram was the man of faith. He stepped out and took the initiative to resolve the issue peacefully. He was the elder of the family, and yet, he gave up that right and allowed Lot to have first choice. He placed Lot's needs and benefit ahead of his own. He knew that whatever Lot chose that God was going to bless him anyway. With God's blessings he knew that all would be well with him no matter what.

As Christians, we are supposed to put the needs of others ahead of our own needs. We are to look out for one another's best interest. It may mean that we have to sacrifice sometimes along the way, but God will bless us for all that we do. We are to care for one another and see to the needs of the weak. We should work to keep peace in the church which can only be accomplished by having genuine love in our hearts. When we walk and live by faith, we have peace, unity, and a whole lot more harmony in the church. (Php. 2:4; Rom. 15:1)

God had already told Abram that the land was his. So knowing this he was able to let Lot choose. What we need to realize is that all that we have in this world comes to us from God. Too many like to look at their accomplishments and say, “What a great job I have done.” But if it were not for God you would not have been able to accomplish anything. God gives you a job skill, provides you with a job, gives you the strength and health to do the job, and allows you to bring home a paycheck. 100% of all that you have comes from the Lord.

It is sad to see some hold on to it as if it was all of their own doing. How sad for some that they can never see all of the benefits and the blessings of God in their every-day life. I may not have all that I would like to have in this world, but I do have the love of my Father in Heaven and I have the promise of His DAILY provision for me and mine. So if there is need to let go and let someone else benefit, you can do that because God will bless and He will provide. He is always working things out for your own good (Rom. 8:28). He did it for Abram, He has done it for me, and He will do it for you. Acts 20:35 tells us, “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” - Preacher

 

June 27

Partaking of the Divine Nature Pt 1

2 Peter 1:5-7 ~ And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Those who do not abide in Christ and allow His Word to abide within them will wither away spiritually; they grieve the Holy Spirit. You can be saved and not be living the spiritual life that God desires for you to live. You can be a carnal Christian that is not growing in the knowledge and the grace of God. A carnal Christian may be saved and may possess the Holy Spirit, and yet, not enjoy the great and precious promises of God. They miss out on being a partaker of the divine nature because they continue to feed the old nature. In this chapter there are some characteristics that are listed that will evidence your spiritual growth.

There are some things that are added to our faith as we submit to the teaching to the Holy Spirit. That means that we must have faith if we are to add to it. Our faith is our believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and resting in the confidence that He is able to keep us safe in the Father’s care (2 Tim. 2:12). It is the faith of the doctrines that we adhere to and contend for out of the Word of God. Real faith is trusting God in every situation of life and in death; death for the Christian is the experience of leaving this world and entering into the portals of Heaven (2 Cor. 5:8; Php. 1:6, 20-24). Our faith is the way we live because “the just shall live by faith.

We are to add virtue to our faith. Virtue means “valor and excellence”. It is the moral goodness of a Christian who practices abstinence from all that is ungodly and worldly. It is living the separated life and being transformed by the Word of God. Virtue is not religion though it is an adherence to all that is moral and upright by God’s standards, not the world’s standards. Virtue is holiness; being blameless, not sinless.

Do not get this confused with condoning sin. You can choose to live sinful which is not blameless or you can submit to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and power to live holy and be blameless. We are all imperfect creatures that are subject to making mistakes, but the more spiritually mature you become the more virtue you have and the fewer mistakes you will make. Virtue is a moral character that will always strive to do the right thing.

You are to add to your virtue knowledge. Knowledge is a clear and certain perception of that which exists or of truth or fact. It is having a clear understanding of the Word of God. This is spiritually discerned because it is the Holy Spirit that teaches you the Word and gives you the understanding of God’s ideas, philosophy, precepts, principles, and His doctrine. Knowledge comes from you getting into the Word of God and allowing the Word of God to get into you. You must let His Word mold you and make you the person that God wants you to be. Knowledge is gleaned from studying and living by the Word in your daily life and learning from the experiences that you have in living by your faith.

Along with faith, virtue, and knowledge you are to add temperance. This is self-control. Temperance is moderation in regard to the indulgence of the natural appetites and passions. It is a restraint in the practices of eating and drinking which could lead to gluttony or drunkenness. Temperance is patience, calmness, sedation, and moderation of passion. It is the Christ-like attitude of “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Temperance is a control of thoughts, tongue, tempers and temptations.

We are to add patience to our Christian walk and character. I am not saying, “Pray for patience,” for it is the trying of your faith that will bring patience. If you pray for patience you will go through trials. It is something that is learned while you are in the fire of temptations and tribulations. Therefore you need to be patient in learning and building patience. It is endurance under hardship and being unmoved in your duty and devotion to God and to Christ (1 Cor. 15:58). Godly patience can only come through faith in God, having moral virtue that will stay on the high road in hardships, having a working knowledge of the Word, and being temperate in all things.

Are you adding these characteristics to your life? Do you see the evidences of these things growing and becoming more prevalent in your daily walk with the Lord? If not you should pray and ask God for forgiveness and for help to incorporate these things into your spiritual growth. If you are doing these things, thank God for His grace to grow and continue your efforts to progress in these characteristics. Pray and submit yourself to God and ask Him to use you be a help to someone who may be struggling in their Christian life. - Preacher

 

June 28

Partaking of the Divine Nature Pt 2

2 Peter 1:5-7 ~ And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

We are to give all diligence to add to our faith the characteristics that are given us in these verses. In the Greek the word “diligence” means “to dispatch with speed”. What it is saying is that you must make steady application of these things in your life. You must be constant to strive to accomplish these characteristics without unnecessary delay. God has given us the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. That means we will always have the power and the ability through submission to the Holy Spirit to accomplish these things. It is the Holy Spirit that equips us to be steadfast, unmovable and always abounding in the work of the Lord, even when that work is to be done upon self.

Faith is trusting Christ and God for salvation and sanctification. Virtue is our moral uprightness and holiness. Knowledge is a clear understanding of the Word of God and making it applicable to your daily life. Temperance is self-control; not as I please but as the Lord pleases. Patience is enduring under pressure; unmoved in our devotion to God. Everything begins with and is added to your faith. Without faith it would be impossible for you to please God.

Add to our patience godliness. Godliness is right thinking. When your heart is right you must learn to think right (Php. 4:8). If you do not think right you cannot live right. Your godliness is a fulfilling of your Christian duty to God and to others. It is having right works because of right thoughts. Godliness leads to a life of righteousness. It is having a right heart, right thoughts, and right motives. It is having a fear of God which is a reverence and trust of who He is with hatred for all that is ungodly and evil. It is to worship God in spirit and in truth; giving time to prayer and praise as well as hearing and heeding the Word. 

To your godliness you are to add brotherly kindness. This is the Greek word “philadelphia” which means brotherly love. This is that part of the Royal Law which says that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mat. 22:37-40). The evidence of your salvation can be seen in how you treat the brethren. Those who are truly born again can love in spite of differences. This is because of the greater agape love which resides in those who have been born again by the Spirit of God. If you do not love you brother or sister in Christ, if you do not have a desire to fellowship, worship, and serve with them, you cannot love God (1 Jn. 3:10). Jesus said that all men shall know we are His disciples when we have that brotherly love, that brotherly kindness toward one another.

We are to add charity to our brotherly kindness. Charity is a fondness and benevolence towards others that resembles a love feast. Charity is love without conditions or demands. It is to love someone in spite of their flaws or weaknesses. It loves the unlovable. It is selfless, sacrificial, longsuffering, humble, agreeable, forgiving, and steadfast in looking out for the good and benefit of others. Charity is true love and never fails. The world’s view of love is based upon the benefit of self. When that benefit is removed the love is gone. That is not true love but it fits into the idea of lust; coveting, craving, and yearning to fill some strong desire that is based upon self and the flesh.

All of these characteristics start with our faith in Christ and are wrapped in the divine agape love; the same love that God has for us. The carnal Christian is lacking in these things and comes to a point in his life that he may even forget that he was ever saved (2 Pt 1:9). But those who do these things have assurance of their salvation and of their purpose in this world. The person who does these things will never fall for they will be living the abundant life that the Lord has designed for His children to live. They will be the ones who are blessed in their deeds.

Are you adding these characteristics to your life? Do you see the evidences of these things growing and becoming more prevalent in your daily walk with the Lord? If not you are on a slippery slope that is taking you away from God not closer to God. You should repent and turn back to the Lord so that you can fulfill His will and purpose for your life. We all need to give diligence to do these things daily. This is how we can be partakers of the divine nature; otherwise we will wither spiritually and grieve the Spirit within us. - Preacher

 

 

WEEK 25

June 17

The Happiness In Obedience

James 1:22-25 ~ But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Obedience to the Word of God will bring the blessings of the peace of God and the reward of deliverance. God will reward our obedience with a more fruitful life and with happiness. In the Gospel of John we find where Jesus was willing to humble Himself and teach a symbolical lesson by washing the disciples feet. He then said, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.  If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (13:15-17). It was a lesson of the daily cleansing we all need as we confess our sins and seek forgiveness, a lesson of agape love, a lesson that we are all on equal footing under grace, and it taught that the only way to be happy in Jesus is to trust and obey.

The one thing that the world is always looking for is happiness. Unfortunately, most of what the world has to offer is “happeness”. That means that their happiness and their joy are based upon the circumstances that surround them. That kind of happiness is short lived because it is based on something that is temporary.

Many seek for happiness in physical relationships. They go from one person to another without ever finding fulfillment in a deep and lasting relationship. They marry, divorce, and marry again. Some think that happiness is found in having more money, so they will buy lottery tickets and gamble, hoping to find the big payoff. Some will even try to find happiness by drowning their sorrows in drugs and alcohol.

The only way to find true and lasting happiness is to look to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. But that is just the beginning of true happiness. Once you are saved, you will find that the Holy Spirit is consistently drawing you into a closer walk with God. He leads you to find and surrender to God’s perfect, divine purpose for your life. It is only by paying the price of obedience that you will find true happiness. True happiness for any Christian can only be found in obedience to God’s divine purpose. Obedience will bring true, lasting happiness. Look into God’s Word daily and let Him instruct and guide you. Remember that obeying the Lord is to do what is commanded and to refrain from things forbidden. Only then will you find fulfillment, joy, blessings, deliverance, and happiness. The old hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Trust Him and obey His Word and you will be blessed and happy. - Preacher

 

June 18

The Protection & Blessing In Obedience

Job 1:8 ~ And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

Obedience will also bring the hedge of God’s protection upon us. When we look at the life of Job we find that God protected him, even when He gave the devil permission to tempt and test Job. The devil knew that God was protecting Job and asked Him in Job 1:10, “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?” The hedge of protection encircles the one who is obedient to the commands and the will of God.

When a person disobeys God, God does not turn away from that person, that person removes themselves from that circle of protection. The hedge of God’s protection does not keep bad things from happening. Bad things happen to good people. God’s protection keeps out those things that are not a part of God’s will for the individual. There is a divine purpose for everything that God allows to come into your life! Stay in the love of God in the center of His divine purpose for you and you will be safe inside the Lord’s protection.

Obedience then affords us the opportunities to do greater things. In Luke 16:10 Jesus stated that, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” He was teaching upon the doctrine of stewardship, but the principle applies to the life of the Christian. If we are willingly and joyfully obedient to the commands and the will of God for our lives, He will reward us with greater opportunities to serve.

A great example is that of Job. Who could better relate to someone losing a child than Job? He was more able to be a greater blessing to those who suffered loss after his encounters with the devil than he was before. Job glorified God in and through his troubles and losses, and God blessed him double. Job was faithful in that which was least which made him a good steward and God rewarded him with greater opportunities to do greater things.

God will also reward you with guidance in your daily walk with him. Proverbs 3:5, 6 tells us, “ Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” The center of God’s divine purpose for you may seem like a hard place to get to and a hard place to stay in. But if we just daily commit ourselves to doing what we know to do, and follow the Lord and live by His Word, we find that it really is not that hard. God will enable and equip you to do whatever He calls you to do. He will also give you daily guidance in the direction that He wants you to go. Just follow Him, listening to the Spirit speaking through His Word, and He will direct your footsteps. Focus on being obedient in every area of your life and let God work out the details.

When you obey the Lord, He will bless you with peace, deliverance, and make you fruitful and happy. Obedience brings the blessings of protection, opportunities to do greater things, daily guidance, and eternal rewards when you get to Heaven. Remember that God has promised A Blessing, If Ye Obey! - Preacher

 

June 19

The Way Back To God: Removal

Genesis 13:1 ~ And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.

Abram left the Promised Land to go down into Egypt (the world) because of a famine. His turning to the world for help and provision proved to be a very disastrous venture. Remember that when you go down into the world you are going away from the life of faith and blessing. In this place Abram lied about Sarai and encouraged her to do the same. He became very self-centered and created the potential for others to fall into sin. He left Egypt worse than he found it and ruined his testimony in their eyes (Gen. 12:10-20).

The good news is that failure does not have to remain permanent. In the life of faith we serve a God whose “mercy endureth forever” (Psa. 136). God is always ready, willing, and able to forgive and to cleanse when we repent of our folly or wrongdoing. We see here that “Abram went up out of Egypt.” Any time that you put the world in the rear view mirror and start walking by faith back to God you are on an upward path.

We sing the hymn Higher Ground: I’m pressing on the upward way, New heights I’m gaining every day; Still praying as I’m onward bound, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.Lord, lift me up and let me stand, By faith, on Heaven’s tableland, A higher plane than I have found; Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” If you have gotten away from the Lord, whether it was intentional or unintentional, there is hope; there is a way back to God!

The way back involves the removal of some things. First, Abram had to remove himself from Egypt. This is the principle of separation; to turn and leave the world behind as we draw closer to God. You cannot live the life of faith and blessing with the power of God unless you separate from the world and its ways. Pharaoh could have killed Abram for what he had done. But here we see grace in action as he was allowed to take his leave from Egypt. This is what grace is; it is God blessing us rather than giving us what we deserve.

I know that I deserved and was on my way to a devil’s eternal hell and torments, but God was merciful and gracious to deliver me from that awful condemnation. We are delivered from condemnation, but God will chasten the wayward Christian. He chastens those who belong to Him because He loves and cherishes them, just as any parent does their own child. He does it through love and grace.

There needs to be the removal of all that we have from the world. When Abram left Egypt he did not leave anything that the wicked world could use. He took everything that he owned with him. All of his resources went with him when he returned to the Promise Land. Many today say they are living for the Lord and all the while they spend more of their resources on the world’s pleasures rather than commit them to the Lord and His work. When a Christian lives the life of faith and blessing they have separated from the world and have committed and dedicated all that they have to the Lord. The principle of sowing and reaping says that you will be blessed in proportion to your giving.

There needs to be a removal of our potential from the world. Abram took Sarai with him when he returned to Canaan. She was the source through which the covenant promises that God made to Abram would come. Abram knew that God wanted his family in Canaan not in Egypt. It is the place where God had said that He would meet with them and bless them. God does not just want our person (spirit, soul, and body) and our resources; He wants us to place the potential of our entire future in His hands.

Can you honestly tell me any better place to be than in the hands of the benevolent, merciful, gracious, loving God our Father?! The way back is to remove yourself, all that you have, and all that you ever will be from the world’s ways, pleasures, and things. Come back to the place where God will meet with you and will bless you. – Preacher

 

June 20

The Way Back To God: Returning

Genesis 13:3, 4 ~ And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;  Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

The way back to God requires us removing our person (self), our possessions, and our potential from the world. This involves the principle of separation. But the way back to God also requires that you must come back to the place where God will meet with you and bless you; return to the place of God’s worship. Abram made his way back to Bethel, The House of God. It was there that the altar had been erected. The altar was the place of true worship; it is the place of true communion with God. In Egypt there were no alters and no prayers. There was no word from the Lord.

For the Christian, one of the most sacred places should be the place of the altar. There should be a family altar in the home; a place where the family comes together to pray. When I was a child the family altar was the dining table where Mom would have devotion and prayer with us before school every morning. When the family gets on the altar together it will alter the family in positive and productive ways.

The altar in the church should be a place frequented by God’s people. I do not understand why so many Christians avoid and neglect the altar at church. It should be a very sacred place for the Christian to come and make their petitions known. It is a holy place of intense personal worship. It is a place where God can be encountered. God said that His house should be a house of prayer and the altar is a place of prayer and worship. When God’s people gather together at the altar and pray together, the power of God will come down upon the church.

The way back to God requires that you return to the place of God’s working. Abram returned to the very place where God had worked in his life. If you get away from God you must return to the place where you left Him. Where you got off of the path is the very place that you need to get back on the path. You cannot get back on the right path - get back to the life of faith and blessing - ahead of where you exited from.

If you have gotten away from God, He is not the one that moved. God is always waiting with open arms for those who repent, remove, and return to Him. He is ready, willing, and able to receive the penitent sinner with open arms. He is waiting to bless you just as He did before. As a young Christian I got out of the will of God. The most vivid thing that I remember about that time was the loss of peace and joy in my heart because I sincerely missed the fellowship that I had with the Lord. Do you not realize that the peace and the joy are missing from your heart and life while you are away from Him? He will restore that at the very instant that you return to the altar and the place where you left Him.

The way back to God also requires that you return to the place of God’s will. God has a place for you to be. That is the place where you need to be so that you might be in the center of God’s perfect will.  Abram returned to Canaan where God had originally sent him because that was the perfect will of God for Abram. That is the place of blessing. That is where God can bestow His very best upon you. God will allow you to be right with Him and not be in the center of His perfect will, but that is not the place where He can bless you the most. If you truly want His blessings you need to be in the place of His choosing.

I tell Christians all the time that if it is God’s will for them to be in our church, we are excited and glad to have them. But if it is not God’s will for them to be there, we do not want them there. God will bless them and they will be able to do some things for God in that place. But the truth is that the full weight of God’s absolute best for them will not be realized until they are in the exact place of His choosing. They will never be able to reach their full potential for the Lord outside of His perfect will. So be in the place of God’s will.

I have found that the hardest thing for someone who has gotten away from God and has gotten out of church is for them to take that first step back. The first step is always the hardest. But once that step is made, the rest just fall into place as if they had been rehearsed for a thousand years. The forgiveness, the cleansing, the return of that missing peace and joy of fellowship with the Lord, all comes rushing back in and it is the sweetest thing to experience and the sweetest thing to see. If there is something missing in your heart and life today, find an old fashioned altar and get alone with God until that peace and joy come flooding back in and that sweet fellowship of the Saviour is restored. - Preacher

 

 

June 21

The Way Back To God: Reviving

Genesis 13:1-4 ~ And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.  And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;  Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

If you are not as close to the Lord today as you were at any time before, then you have moved away from Him. If you have moved away from the Lord then you are obviously closer to the world. Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom before he moved into Sodom. If you are closer to the world than you are to God, you need to come back; you need reviving.

You need to return to the place of God’s working; the place of faith and blessing. You need to return to the place of God’s will; the place of His choosing; the place of worship. Be actively involved and be in the center of God’s perfect, divine will and purpose for your life.

The way back to God involves reviving your devotion to God. Abram found within himself that there was a desire to renew the old things that He once had with the Lord. His worship of God became a preeminent in his life. Every Christian who is living and walking by faith should live a life that worships. Remember that God is not a priority; He is the Superiority of your life.

As Christians we are to be filled with the Spirit which is to daily give ourselves to the Lord. You received all of the Holy Spirit when you were saved. But as you give yourself to Him daily He receives more of you, allowing the Spirit of God to fill you and use you more and more. He says that a part of being continually filled with the Spirit is “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). Devotion to God is giving Him all of you and putting Him first in every way.

We discussed the altar before, but let us look at what all is done at the altar; it is a place of sacrifice; of seeking the Lord; of repentance; of surrender; of thanksgiving; of forgiveness, both given and received; of supplication (praying for the needs of others and for self); of praise and worship! May the Lord help us to remember the way there and how to use the altar for His glory! May we have a reviving of our devotion to the Lord every day we live!

You must revive your dependence upon God. “Abram called on the name of the LORD.” He has left Egypt and returned to the place where he left the LORD. He left God’s chosen place when there was a famine. Rather than depend on the Great Provisionary, he turned to the world for his provision. That is where he got off of the path and that is where he has to come back to in order to get back onto the path. You must realize that you are totally dependent upon the Lord for everything. You can do nothing for yourself.

This is the way I always look at God’s provision; He gives me the ability to work, provides me with the work that I need to take care of my family, gives me the wisdom and understanding to do whatever vocation that He has given me, and blesses me above measure. We need to always turn to and trust God our Father to give us the things that we need in this life. The Lord delights in our faith and our dependence upon Him and He will honor genuine faith with His provision.

You must revive your dedication to the Lord. Abram has dealt with the problem that he had in his heart. He had left his first love but we now see him return to that first love. He has no doubt remembered the sweet fellowship and the blessings that he had left behind. And now he has repented and has returned to his first works. He has removed some things, he has returned to some things, and he has revived some things. This is a revival in the heart of Abram.

What every Christian needs is a revival in their heart. What every church needs is a revival to break forth in their congregation. What America needs is a revival to sweep across the land. We do not need a revival to restore our nation to her former glory, we need a revival for the glory of God because HE IS WORTHY! As an individual believer, as a child of God, if you are not as close to Him as you once were, no matter how long it has been, remember that sweet peace, joy, and fellowship, repent of letting distance come between you and your Father, and return to the former things that you had when you were closer to Him. May the Lord bless as you seek to be closer to Him every day! - Preacher

 

 

WEEK 24

June 10

The Five Crowns Pt 1

1 Corinthians 9:24, 25 ~ Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

Our life in this world as believers is like a race. In that race there are five crowns given in Scripture that the born again believer can win or earn. We win them when we finish our race well. Paul used that analogy in his writings and those who love the Lord will strive to finish their race with dignity and honor. Paul says that we must put aside all of those things that would hinder our ability to run the race well. He said, “… let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). When your heart is in the right place and you are doing good works with the right motive, then you will earn rewards. But you may also win the five crowns. These crowns are not ours for the keeping. They are the victor’s awards that we will lay down at the feet of Him who brought us the victory; that is Christ our Lord. 

The first crown is the Incorruptible Crown. Those who will earn this prize are those who will live a surrendered and a sacrificial life for the love of Christ. When Paul said the love of Christ constrained him, he was saying that there was no other life that he could live except the crucified life. To be crucified with Christ is to be dead to the world, the flesh, and the devil. It is to determine that you are going to live a life that is pleasing to God and not to the world. It is being that living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable unto God. It is a disciplined life of temperance, keeping your body under subjection, and having victory over sin.

Paul fought the good fight of faith. He said in II Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” The battles that he fought in his life were the Lord’s battles. In other words, they were the battles of the Lord’s choosing. By the power of God in His life he fought the good fight and he finished his course. He finished the life that God had mapped out for him in this world. Through it all - the hardships, trials, tribulations, and the horrendous persecutions - he not only fought well and finished his course, but he finished well, and he kept the faith.

The next crown spoken of in Scripture is the Crown of Rejoicing in I Thessalonians 2:19: “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” This is the crown that is won by those who would win the souls of the lost to Christ; it is the soul winner’s crown. In Proverbs 11:30 we find this nugget of wisdom: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” We are commissioned by Christ Himself to go after others several times in the Scriptures. We are told to go out into the highways and the hedges and to compel them to come in. We are told to go and teach all men how to be saved, and we are told to go and preach the Gospel. A part of the Christian life is to let your light shine and to share the Gospel; you are to hold forth the Word of life in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. You sow in tears of compassion and you will reap a harvest of souls in joy (Psa. 126:5, 6).

Are you running your race well? Are you earning the Incorruptible Crown as a disciple of Christ and the Crown of Rejoicing as you go after others for Christ? If not, then why not? Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Begin today doing those things that will earn you rewards and begin laying up your treasures in Heaven. All that you earn and receive you can give back to the Lord for all that He has done for us. I wonder if our love for Him will be measured in the amount of the rewards we have when we get to Heaven? Run your race and strive for the mastery of obtaining all that you can for His glory and honor. Press toward the mark of finishing your race with dignity and honor for the Lord. - Preacher

 

June 11

The Five Crowns Pt 2

1 Corinthians 9:24, 25 ~ Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

The next crown spoken of in Scripture is the Crown of Rejoicing which is the crown that is won by those who would win the souls of the lost to Christ; it is the soul winner’s crown. Next in Scripture we find the Crown of Righteousness for those who look forward to and love the Lord’s appearing. In 2 Timothy 4:8 we find Paul recording for us, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Paul was beyond ready for the appearing of the Saviour. He said, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:6-8). Paul was ready to go and be with the Lord but he knew that it was more needful for him to stay and minister the Gospel and the doctrines of the Gospel of Grace to a lost and dying world. He told the Church at Philippi, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:  Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Php 1:23-24). Paul said that those who love His appearing, those who are ready to depart and to go and be with the Lord, shall receive the Crown of Righteousness.

There is the Crown of Life given to those who with patience run the race that is set before them. We find in James 1:12 tells us that those who endure will receive this crown for the Saviour promises it to those who love Him. To endure is to remain, to stay in your place under trials, and to persevere through them all. If you have faith it will be tried. If faith is not put to the test it will not prosper and grow. Trials are like food to our faith because they feed and help our faith grow.

Trials also produce patience because as we stay in our place when we undergo trials we must endure through them to the end. That is what patience is; it is endurance under pressure. We can win the Crown of Life when we are steadfast and unmovable. We must learn that the Lord will never put more upon us than we can handle and will always make a way of escape in every temptation that we face. The Crown of life is also known as the martyr’s crown. Those who die under trial of persecution will receive this award when they stand before the Lord. If they were faithful unto death this crown is theirs.

The Crown of Glory is for those who are leaders among the flock. Many say that it is the pastor’s crown, but I say that any leader can win this crown. Leadership titles mean nothing without a humble heart of love for the Saviour and His people. 1 Peter 5:2-4 tells us, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” This crown is for those who take a leadership role in the church for the purpose of edifying the flock of God.

Leaders are those who set a good example and who are earning the Incorruptible Crown as a disciple of Christ, the Crown of Rejoicing as they go after others for Christ, the Crown of Righteousness as they look forward to and work towards the Lord‘s appearing, the Crown of Life as they endure in the work under pressure and temptations, and the Crown of Glory as they willingly work in the church for the simple joy of pleasing the Saviour.

Are you running your race well? Are you a single crown winner, a triple crown winner, or are you one who will strive for the mastery and press toward the mark of a quintuple crown winner? - Preacher

 

June 12

Loss of Rewards Pt 1

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 ~ For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and they will give an account of their life that they lived on this earth. This judgment is not to determine whether or not they can go to Heaven, but what rewards they shall receive. In 1 Corinthians 5:10 we find “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.” We shall be judged and we shall either be rewarded or we shall suffer loss of rewards. Now this judgment is to judge our works from the time of our salvation till the time that we leave this world. It will be according to the motive of our heart in doing the works we do. It will make known whether we had a right motive and a right heart or whether we did not.

This judgment is for Christians who have done good works for the Lord. If they did them for the glory of God and not for self-recognition then they shall be rewarded accordingly. But there is a warning given in the Word of God that says that we can suffer loss of rewards before we ever stand before the judgment seat of Christ. As ambassadors of Christ we are the watchmen for His glory. We are to keep watch to protect and to guard and warn others of the consequences of their wicked ways. We are to keep watch to warn the wicked and to warn the righteous against doing wrong.

In Ezekiel Chapter 3 we find Biblical principle about the loss of our rewards in fulfilling our duties to the Lord. In Chapter 3 we are warned that “When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” We suffer loss for the wrongs we do, but we will also suffer loss for not warning others against doing wrong and sinning against God. Their righteous works shall not be remembered for those righteous works are lost to those who did them.

Some may not agree that we can do good deeds and then lose the reward for them by doing wrong. Some may argue that this is an Old Testament principle and that it is not relevant today. But the truth is that it is a Biblical principle and we are again warned by Christ Himself in Revelation 3:11, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Only if you are faithful to maintain good works to the end shall you receive rewards.

If you were to “backslide” or turn back to sin you will lose what you have earned up to that point and you can never recover it again because it shall not be remembered. Now when you repent and return to working for the Lord you can lay up treasures for the good that you do from then on. But your rewards will never be as great as God intended for you because you did quit, slide back, or turn away from what God had you doing.

Over and over God cheers us on and warns us to be steadfast, unmovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. Pray that God would reveal His purpose for you to you. Once He does then put your hand to the plow and never look back. – Preacher

 

June 13

Loss of Rewards Pt 2

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 ~ For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

God has a chosen purpose and a specific, divine, and perfect will for your individual life. That purpose and that will of God is not the same for every person, but it does have part in His grand design. It does not matter who you are or what you do, but it does matter that you are following God’s will for your life. Paul gave the analogy of the human body in Romans 12:4-5: “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” We all have our place in the body of Christ; God’s specific purpose for you. But all members work together to accomplish the Great Commission given by our Lord to His body, the church.

Whatever God’s purpose may be for your individual life we all have the one supreme task of being ambassadors for Christ. You represent Him in whatever your occupation or office may be. You represent Him to the world. But you are also a watchman who is to warn others of the consequences of sinful living. You are to try to compel others to come to Christ because He died for all. Your one main focus and purpose in life is to help others come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

According to Ezekiel Chapters 3 and 33 we find that we will suffer loss for not giving them warning from their wicked ways. How do we warn them of their wicked ways if that is what the whole world is doing? If everyone is doing it then it must be good and right. That is not a wise philosophy to live by.

We are to lovingly and gently show them the evils of sin and its demise while giving them an alternative (the clean, abundant, joyful life, eternal life, heaven, rewards and blessings, etc.) that will encourage them to embrace the truth of the Gospel and be saved. If you do not warn others when you have the opportunity then you will suffer loss of rewards when you stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

I have asked the question before: “Will our love for Christ be measured in the amount of the rewards we have when we get to Heaven?” I believe that your rewards will be in proportion to the love you have for the Saviour. Let us do more than we have ever done before simply because He is worthy of more than we could ever accomplish. The more we see going wrong in the world the more we need to be about the Lord’s business. Jesus said, “… the night cometh when no man can work” (Jn 9:4).

I sure would like to get to Heaven and have a mountain of rewards to show my love for Christ for saving an old wretched sinner like me! What about you? - Preacher

 

June 14

The Safety In Obedience

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 ~ Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;  A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:  And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.

James 1:22-25 tells us that only those who hear and do God’s word are those who are truly blessed. Those who hear and do not apply it to their own personal life deceive themselves. There is no benefit in knowing what the Bible says if you do not use it and put it into practice.

There are benefits and blessings in obedience to the Word of God. Those blessings cannot come if we are disobedient. We are saved by the grace of God which He freely gives to us through the sacrifice of Christ. But with salvation there is laid upon us the great responsibility to live a life that is pleasing to God. God knows what is best for you and God wants only that which is best for you. So He gives us safety barriers known as commandments to follow so that we might have that great and beneficial life of blessing that God desires for us to have. But these blessings only come through obedience to His Word. As our loving Father He certainly will not reward and bless us for not following the safety rules of life.

If you disobey, do not think that God is going to place some wicked curse upon your life. There are built in blessings and curses to the commandments. When you obey you are inside the safety barriers of life and you will be blessed. When you disobey you are outside the safety barriers of life and there you reside in a dangerous place. In that place you are no longer under the protection of the almighty hand of God’s providence and have left yourself open to innumerable dangers. When I say that God will not personally curse you that does not mean that He will do nothing; God loves you just as a father loves his child and your Father in Heaven will chasten and scourge every child that belongs to Him. He does not want you to come under the curse of disobedience.

In raising my children I set boundaries that kept them safe. These were rules or commandments that they had to follow so that they would be blessed with safety from harm. If my child were to chase a ball into the road and I see a car coming down the road I am going to begin running towards that child and calling for them to get out of the road. I want my child to be obedient to the simple commands as I have trained them to do.  Immediate obedience will keep them out of harm’s way. Delayed obedience is not obedience and it puts them in harm’s pathways (1 Sam 15:).

If they do not listen they are in a place of danger. They have gone beyond the boundaries I have set for them and they are now in harm’s way (the curse of disobedience). The same is true with God our Father who loves and cares for us infinitely more than we ever could our own children. His commandments are our protections from our own flesh and its desires, the world that wants to chew us up and spit us out, and the devil who wants to steal, to kill, and to destroy.

You are a steward of the life that God has given you. He has given you the gift of eternal life and that life affords you the abundant life that you now live by the faith of the Son of God. As a steward you are responsible to use your time wisely and to make wise choices and decisions in your life. You are to care for and maintain this life with the greatest respect of the One who bled and died so that you might receive it. God paid a great price to redeem you from the bondage and the wrath of sin. You have received life from God and now you are to manage that life according to the divine dictates of His Word. He desires to give you a life of plenty and blessing. But you have a great responsibility laid upon you to take care of that life. As you hear and obey the Word of God you will be blessed in your deeds. The more you obey the greater your blessings and the greater your heavenly rewards. – Preacher

 

 

WEEK 23

June 3

What Are You Teaching Others?

Matthew 5:19 ~ Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

You must remember that your words and actions begin in your heart. Your words will tend to follow your heart. If your heart is not right then your thoughts are not right. If your thoughts are not right then your words and actions will not be right. You can fool people for a time but there will come a time when the truth of your heart will be revealed. Therefore you must be sure that you are who and what you say you are.

When you claim the name of Christ you should strive to never shame the name of Christ. Others will learn from your example. Teaching others does not entail standing in front of a class. It does not necessarily mean that you intentionally give lessons to another. Teaching comes from what you say and do. The moment you claim that you are a Christian others will be watching you.

Some may watch to find your mistakes so that they may criticize and ridicule you. Some may watch to see if you really are what you say you are. Some may watch with hope that you really have it to see if it is real. You are teaching all of these in some way. However you live, whatever you say or do, you are teaching others; you are influencing others in some way.

Be sure that you set a right example before others. If you make a mistake own up to it and people will see that you are real. Do not try to hide mistakes or faults, do not run from them. Just be humble and honest about mistakes knowing that no one is perfect. Strive for perfection and the mistakes you make will become fewer and fewer. That is growth.

God will reward honesty and He will forgive and cleanse those who walk in honesty. Being a Christian is not about being better than anybody; it is about a way of life that is governed by the love and forgiveness of God. When you are trying to set a right example of Christianity before others God will be honored and He will honor your efforts with His power. He promised He would give you the power to be His child (Jn 1:12).

If you diligently seek to walk with God and be closer to Him every day He will reward you. The closer you walk with Him the more like Him you become. The more like Him you are the more of a good influence you will be on those around you. God tells us in this one verse that there will be a greater reward for those who do well and teach others to do well. - Preacher

 

June 4

Guard Your Heart

Matthew 5:27 ~ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

The Bible is perfectly clear that adultery is an immoral sin. Many today are caught in adultery and many do not care if they are caught. It has become the norm for our culture; to have and to be with as many partners as you can. This is why 1 in 2 sexually active people have an STD. There are 20 million new cases reported every year; half of those are between the ages of 15 and 24.

Christ taught us that if you think immoral thoughts about another person that you are already guilty of adultery. This is because it comes from a heart that is already corrupted by sin. You can be saved and have an impure heart which is why we are warned in Scripture to guard our hearts with all diligence. The devil is good at putting traps in place to ensnare you. Many godly men have ruined their reputations and their families through internet pornography.  

But there is another form of adultery that you need to be aware of. It is spiritual adultery and it is worse than the immoral act of physical adultery. Spiritual adultery happens when you knowingly turn to sin. When a person willfully commits sin or omits something that they know they are supposed to do then they are guilty of spiritual adultery. At this point you are not being faithful to Christ who loved you and gave Himself for you. You have allowed yourself to fall into the sin of spiritual adultery.

Judah was absolutely guilty of gross spiritual adultery. God said, “I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields” (Jer 13:27). The prophet Jeremiah was used of God to warn them of the judgment that would come upon them due to their physical and spiritual adultery. God told them that they had gone a whoring after other gods. They were guilty of gross promiscuity, shameless adultery, and every kind of immoral indecency. The word “neighings” speaks of a horse which is in heat and neighing in sexual lust.

This sounds a lot like America today. All that is immoral and wicked is called good and clean by the culture of today. All that is good, clean, and wholesome they call intolerant, bigoted, racist, homophobic, etc. Society today has come to the place where they call evil good and good evil; darkness is light and light is darkness; bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. So it was prophesied so it has come to pass (Isa 5:20 & 2 Tim 3:13).

We are not a part of this present evil world and its system but we are vexed by its sinfulness every day. There is heavy immoral influence and bias everywhere you turn. The world will make laws to persuade us to go along with what they call good. You must be aware of the traps that Satan is putting into place to catch you and cause you to turn into sin. Judah did not fall into gross immoral conduct overnight. It began with small compromises here and there that led them so far away from God. Do not try to reason with God’s Word to cover up sin. If you do you are guilty of spiritual adultery. But you must determine now that you will not compromise the Bible.   

Guard your heart with all diligence. Refrain from doing those things that the Bible perfectly declares as sin. If it is something that is questionable you must look at what it does to your relationship with the Lord and your relationship with other people. Be sure to do those things that the Lord has directly revealed to you to do out of His Word. If you will do these simple things you will not easily fall into the traps of Satan and the world. You will be strong against temptations and you will be victorious over spiritual adultery on a daily basis. May God bless you with wisdom as you grow and keep you from falling into spiritual adultery. – Preacher

 

 June 5

How’s Your Vision?

Matthew 6:22 ~ The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

Here the Lord is teaching on priorities. He is talking about what is most important in our life. Is it the riches of the world or is it the riches and rewards of Heaven? You must choose every day whom you will serve. You will serve the gods of this world and strive for what the world has to offer, or you will serve the God of Heaven and earth and strive to lay up treasure in Heaven. He says that where your treasure is located will be where your heart, your desires, and your priorities will be focused.

If you do not have your priorities aligned with God’s purpose for you then your rewards will suffer and your labors will be vain. What you have in this world is a temporal thing; it will only last for so long. If you leave this world none of it will go with you; it will become someone else’s. All that you can see around you, all of your earthly material possessions will be burned with fire one day. Even the beautiful church buildings that we worship in will be consumed with fire.

It is good to provide for your family and to leave them with something when you are gone. But what are you leaving them for eternity? Which is more important to you; are you leading them in the way of everlasting life or are you leading them to work their life away for money and possessions? Remember that your children will do what you do more than they will do what you say. If you say one thing and do another they will be just like you. You may train them to do as you say and not as you do, but the harsh reality is that they will do as you do and not as you say. What do they see you doing? What do others see you doing?

If you have your priorities aligned with God’s purpose for your life then you will do well. This is what the Lord means when He is talking about having the single eye. He is saying that if you will focus your priorities on Christ and eternity then you will do well. You will be a good example for your family and for others to see and follow. But you must have your priorities in line with God’s specific purpose for your life.

All of your life’s work, building a business, a family, a home, a church, must revolve around God and His purpose for your life. God CANNOT be a priority in your life; HE MUST BE YOUR LIFE; HE MUST BE PREEMINENT IN YOUR LIFE. All of your priorities must revolve around Him. All of your labor and your works must revolve around Him.

Too many “Christians” today make God their number one priority UNTIL something else gets in the way. Things happen that will cause you to rearrange your priorities and then where will God be on that list? If your business is suffering, if your home is in jeopardy, if someone is catastrophically sick, what becomes your number one priority then? If God is your top priority then He can be shuffled around as needed. But if God is preeminent He will always be at the forefront. He will be the first one you turn to for help and praise in bad situations and the first one you turn to with thanksgiving and praise in good situations. Your Father is not a priority He is your life!

You must seek out Him, His kingdom, and His righteousness. You must set your affection on the eternal and the Heavenly things. Let these be the things that you work and strive for as you provide a life and a home for your family. Let Him be the center of all that you think, say, and do and you will have great rewards laid up in store when you get to Heaven. Your family will be more likely to follow you there and have rewards of their own when they arrive. These are the rewards that will last forever, not the temporal things of this life.

Lot did not have a single vision and He lost over half of his family to the world. Let your vision be single and there will be enough light for you and your family. Let go of the world and embrace God in love and devotion. - Preacher

 

June 6

Why So Judgmental?

Matthew 7:1-2 ~ Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Our Lord is teaching us to be Christian in heart and soul. If you do not have a Christian heart you cannot live the Christian life. The word “judge” in these verses came from the Greek word “krino” which means “to distinguish or decide; to try, condemn, and punish.” It carries the idea of being critical and condemning others. The Lord Jesus says that if you are critical and condemning of others that you can expect the same treatment from both God and man.

The Christian life is steeped in the love of God. It is a love that is unconditional, sacrificial, and freely given to all, even the unlovable and undeserving. Such was all humanity; undeserving of God’s love yet He gave it freely, mercifully, unconditionally, and sacrificially. The mind of Christ is to be compassionate, considerate, loving, gentle, kind, and tenderhearted. These are the traits of a humble, giving, and loving soul.

A heart of love will find it hard to be critical of others because you will find that love covers all ills. It will endure the worst of treatment and continue loving. It may hurt, it may upset you when others are critical or mean spirited towards you, but you must respond in love and kindness, not react with critically. When the world hates on you remember that it hated and condemned Christ and yet He asked the Father to forgive them for their cruel treatment. He loved them regardless.

How you treat others is what you can expect in turn. “Mete” comes from the Greek word “metreo” from which we get our word “meter.” It speaks of how we deal with others. Do you deal with others with an understanding heart? Do you show consideration when you are dealing with others? Do you give them a break when they are being rude or obstinate? Or do you return the same thing to them? Have you walked a mile in their shoes today? Do you know what they are dealing with in their life?

Compassion is to feel what they are feeling. How can you know except you have compassion and take an interest in them? You cannot know what they are going through or what they are feeling if you criticize and condemn. You must respond in kindness. Try to find a way to help them have a better attitude. A Christian heart will desire to reach out and touch their heart to lift them up, to comfort them, to encourage them, to invest in them. That is how you influence and impact the world for the better.

We are commanded in Scripture to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and so we should. But if we love our enemies as Christ tells us to do, then we must learn to be kind tenderhearted, and forgiving of them as well. He prayed for forgiveness for His enemies on the Cross. He responded to their verbal assaults with kindness, love, and an even temperament. He used the Word of God to refute their attacks. But He loved them enough to tell them the truth and to die for them.

This is not to say that we are to compromise our beliefs. You can stand upon the Word, stand your ground, and yet be loving and kind. When the world tells you that you must accept their corrupt practices and agree with them or else face their wrath, you must stand firm and trust the Lord, but do so with a level head in love. You cannot change them if they do not hear and receive truth. Therefore you must communicate in a way so that they will be more apt to listen.

Try to reach out to someone that is having a hard time and pray that God will give you the right heart and the right words to influence and impact them for the better. Pray for them and give them a verse, a smile, a kind word to brighten up their day. We are encouraged in Scripture to overcome evil with good. Treat them as you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes. They may be deceived, hurting, confused, distraught, but they all need Jesus. Show His love through your actions and words. - Preacher

 

June 7

The Golden Rule of Life

Matthew 7:12 ~ Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

When I was in elementary school we received a new 12 inch ruler every year compliments of the local Coca-Cola bottling company. These rulers had printed on them in big bold letters the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is the principle of Matthew 7:12. You are to treat others the way that you want others to treat you. If society today were to hold to this Golden Rule there would be a lot less venom (hatred), variance, and violence in the world.

So how do you treat others? Do you treat them with love and respect? Do you treat them critically as we discussed in our last devotion? How do you do to others? Many today believe that they must “do unto others before they do unto them or do unto others as they do unto them.” But along with the Golden Rule there is the Royal Law: You are to love God with every fiber of your being and to love people as you would love your own self.

Therefore you are to be selfless, helpful, and generous. We must consider the needs of others over the needs of self. You can look out for me, I, and myself but you will have a vain and empty life. You can have all that the world has to offer but it does not satisfy if you do not have someone that you can truly share it with. God has blessed you with the gift of abundant and eternal life so that you may be free to be a blessing to others.

Some of the richest people in the world look like they have life so easy. They have everything they want and desire at their beckon call. The problem is that inside they are really empty and miserable. They do not know what true satisfaction is. They do not know true fulfillment and peace. They have hidden fear within because they do not know what tomorrow holds for them. They try to come off as not being worried or concerned about dying, but truth be known, in the back of their minds they have great anxiety about what happens after death.

As a child of God you can know true satisfaction. You can have peace with God and that gives you even greater peace. The peace that you have with God through Christ gives you peace of mind and heart that will deliver from the worries over the future and what it holds. We know who holds tomorrow and we know who holds our hand. We know what awaits us beyond death for it is only the beginning of an eternal existence without the presence of sin and its affects.

This satisfaction and peace will empower you to look out for the wellbeing of others with a selfless attitude. You do not have to worry about tomorrow or what the future holds for you because you are in God’s hands. God blesses you as His child so that you may have the freedom to be a help and a blessing to others. For you it is a win-win scenario to be a child of God; you receive His blessings, this in turn allows you to bless others, and that compounds your blessing because it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.

Not only are you to be selfless and helpful, but you are to be generous in doing so. The more you give the more your Father will give to you. You cannot out give the Lord. When you help someone, go above and beyond; do not just meet their need, exceed their need. The Lord Jesus promised “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Lk 6:38). Give more of yourself through consideration, charity, and compassionate forgiveness than you have ever given before. Give more financial aid than is required or needed. When you exceed God will bless you indeed. - Preacher

 

 

WEEK 22

May 27

Fellowship: Preferring One Another

Romans 12:9-10 ~ Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

One of the fundamental landmarks of Christianity is this: We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. Jesus said in John 5:24  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” He also said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Then in I John 3:14 we find a landmark proof of being on the right path: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”

When we are giving directions to someone we use landmarks to let them know they are on the right path. After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2005, we had to find new ways to give directions because all of the landmarks, street signs, and the buildings were gone. While doing construction on the beach front, we would pick trees to use as landmarks. There was one in particular that resembled the shape of the Statue of Liberty so we dubbed it the Statue of Liberty Tree. We used that tree as a landmark to give directions east and west on the beach front.

God gives us landmarks in the Bible as proofs of our salvation and to keep us on the right paths. The love for and of being around God’s people is one of those landmarks. Those who do not love and want to be around other Christians need to give themselves a serious examination of heart. If you do not desire to be around godly people then you need to have a heart checkup with God.

There are some verses that come to mind when we need to examine ourselves. In Psalm 26:2 the Psalmist says, “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” He is asking God to examine his heart and reveal anything within that needs to be changed. In Psalm 139:23-24 the Psalmist gives a perfect example of opening your heart to God for inspection and examination: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” You should open your heart willingly to God and allow His Spirit to inspect, examine, and to repair anything that is not right. This will keep your heart in tune with God and with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Again in 1 Corinthians 11:28 while partaking of the Lord’s Supper we are told this: “… let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” We are warned in this chapter that it is better to examine and judge ourselves rather than fall under God’s judgment. And again in 2 Corinthians 13:5 the Lord says, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” If we do not prefer to be around the Lord’s people, then there needs to be some serious self-examination going on. 

Not only are we admonished to prefer one another, we are to do it without dissimulation. There should not be any “cliques” that we run around with. There are going to be some whom we would prefer above others because our hearts will be knit together just as King David and Jonathan. But that is no reason to not to be associated with all of the brethren. Cliques have a tendency to set groups of people apart for all of the wrong reasons. These only cause division and are a source of gossip within the body of Christ. 

Do you prefer to be around other Christians or do you prefer to be around worldly people? This is a landmark of salvation, but it is also a landmark of a healthy spiritual life. With a true heart of assurance you should prefer to be around the people with whom you worship God with. They are your eternal family and they should hold a special place in your heart and life. You are to love God and love the brethren. - Preacher

 

May 28

Discipleship: Assurance of Salvation

John 5:24 ~ Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

A disciple is a person who is a learner or a pupil.  Hence, a disciple is one who follows and adheres to the teachings of another. Those who have accepted Christ as their personal Saviour are to be disciples of Christ. If you are going to be a disciple of Christ then you are going to have to discipline yourself to follow Him. Come what may, you have to be disciplined if you are going to be a true disciple.

There are some disciplines to learning from the Master. You must learn these disciplines if you are ever to make it through all of the negative things that will intrude into the life of discipleship. If you cannot discipline your own self in preparation to follow Him when He calls you to some work, whether within your home church or some other church, then you will never be a true disciple.

I would rather sleep in a tent in the woods and be a disciple of Christ than to live in a mansion in the middle of town. Do not misunderstand me; the life of a disciple is not a life of poverty and want. Our Father always provides our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19), and He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we could ask or think (Eph. 3:20). But as you look at and learn the discipline of a disciple, you must also examine the priorities of your life and put them into proper perspective as well.

To be a disciple of Christ you must first have the assurance of your salvation. God has given us His Word as a basis for our assurance. Jesus said that those who hear and believe, with the heart (Rom. 10:9, 10), “shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” The Bible teaches that you can know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13 says, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” “These things …” that are written are the Word of God that the Apostle John, under the moving of the Holy Ghost, has written in this letter. You have the sure Word of God that you can know that you have eternal life.  It is given to you that you may know the Gospel of Christ and be given the opportunity to be saved. Having His Word to show you the way to be saved and to give you the assurance of salvation helps you to stand strong in the Lord.

You have His Word to give you the landmarks of salvation. Landmarks are markers that will give the evidence that you are on the right path. When you give someone directions from one place to another, we tend to use landmarks. “Go to the Sonic on the corner and turn right. Then go to the Baptist church on the hill and turn left. Go down past the meat market on the left and past the school on the right.” Landmarks are there for direction and guidance and as evidence that you are on the right path. John has given landmarks in this letter to let you know that you are on the right path and as the assurance, or the evidence, of your salvation. These landmarks include your relationship with the Father, with the Son, with the Holy Spirit, with His Word, with the world, with sin, and with the brethren. These are evidences of your salvation. That is why you “… may know that ye have eternal life.” 

The thrust of “knowing” that you have eternal life is that it is a present possession. You are a child of God if you have truly received Christ as your personal Saviour. If the Lord tarries His coming and your body gives out, you will go to be with the Lord because you possess eternal life. When He died on the Cross He took death for you so that you do not have to ever be separated from Him or the Father. He sealed you with the Holy Spirit so that you will be ushered into Heaven when your time on earth is done.

This precious knowledge is not a license to continue in sin; it is a catalyst and a freedom to live the victorious Christian life as a disciple that will honor Christ and His sacrifice to bring honor and glory to your Father in Heaven. Go out today and live a life that is honorable for the Lord; shine and share His love. - Preacher

 

May 29

Discipleship: You Must Be Born Again

John 3:5-7 ~ Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Before we look at the evidences for assurance let us first list some evidences that should make you aware if you are not truly saved. Some include having no hunger for the Word of God. Or, when you do read or hear the Word, you cannot understand it at all. Another proof of being lost is having sin in your life and continuing in it with no conviction. If you love the world’s things more than you love the things of God, if you do not look forward to the return of Christ, and you do not enjoy being around godly people, you should check your salvation. If you have claimed to be saved and there has been no change within your heart that counters these things, more than likely you are not saved and you should be very concerned. 

We are told that, “… it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment,” (Heb. 9:27). That means that there is a line drawn in front of every person that we will not cross. It is the place where your life on earth ends and you step out into eternity. Where you go for eternity is up to what you do with Christ in this life. Did you accept and really trust Him for salvation without adding to or taking away from the payment He made for your sin? In other words, did you trust Him alone without your own personal works, such as good deeds, baptism, church membership, etc., for salvation? Did you just go through the motions or did you have no other hope when you came to Him?

Before I received Christ as my Saviour, I knew for years that I was lost. I believed what the Bible said about Jesus; His virgin birth, His sinless life on earth, His death for my sin, His burial, and His bodily resurrection. But if I died I knew I would go to hell because I knew I was lost. Just because I had head knowledge and gave mental accent to the facts of God’s Word did not equate to salvation. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom 10:10). It is with the heart that we truly believe and trust Christ for salvation. It is not with the head.

I had prayed the sinner’s prayer at youth camp two different times as a teenager because it was what others were doing. I did not have the right intent or the right heart. I did not fully intend to turn from my old life which means I was just going through the motions. I wanted to be saved but I did not want the life that went along with it. There was no true repentance and therefore I did not truly get saved. The real proof of not being saved was that there was no real change on the inside.

When I asked Jesus to save me at the age of nineteen I was truly saved. I knew that my way of life was leading me down the broad way to hell. I knew that I had no other hope because my life had left me without hope and without help. I came to the place where I truly wanted the life Christ was offering; I was repenting; I was turning from the old to receive the new. It was Jesus and Heaven or it was hell and I wanted Jesus.

There was something different after I prayed that day which was very unlike the other times that I had prayed. I was different on the inside; there was a distinct change within. I could no longer continue in sin without a deep conviction over that sin. I had a sincere hunger to read and know the Word of God. I wanted to be at church with God’s people whereas I had not wanted that before. I wanted to change the music I listened to and the lifestyle that I lived. I was a different person because the Spirit of God had come into my heart, raised me from spiritual death, and gave me a new life in Christ. On that day I was birthed into the family of God and the only regrets that I have is that I have not been a better Christian. 

If you are truly saved and born again then you will have these changes within. You will desire to be in God’s Word and to have God’s Word in you. That is what it is to be a disciple and it is a joy to delight in the things of God when you know Him. - Preacher

 

May 30

Discipleship: Walking In The Light

1 John 1:7 ~ But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, …

The experience of salvation should change one forever, for at the very moment of salvation there should be an immediate, internal change. That internal change is a feeling within that compels and pulls at your heart to be closer to God; to bask in His light. It is the Holy Spirit that resides within and He is the Spirit of God which sheds the love of God abroad in your heart. It is this love felt within that makes you want to be closer to Him. This is a fulfillment of a verse in the Bible which says, “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). God loved you enough that He let His Son, Jesus Christ, die for your sin.  If He did not love you, why would He let Christ take your sin penalty upon Himself so that you could be saved? Why would He punish Jesus, His only begotten Son, in your place unless He loved you?

If you have truly given your heart to Christ and He has saved you there will be a desire to be right with God. If you are saved there should be a desire to have fellowship with the Father. But if you continue in your same old life style without a changed heart, the Bible says you are not right with God. If you continue to walk in darkness you are not in fellowship with Him. If God could have fellowship with those who continue in sin then that would mean that He is condoning that sin. But He says in His Word that if you continue in darkness (sin) you lie and do not the truth. It is only when you walk in the light as He is in the light that you can have fellowship with Him. It is then that you have the evidence that you are saved. It is then that you know that the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed you from all sin (1 Jn 1:5-7).

So how can you know what is light and what is darkness? When you walk in the light you are doing what is right and when you walk in darkness you are doing what is wrong. You walk according to the Word of God which means that you are living your life according to the Bible. It is His Word that tells you what is right and what is wrong. The culture today does not want to hear this great truth of right and wrong. They do not believe that there is an absolute truth, an absolute right, absolute morality, or an absolute wrong. But if the Bible says it is sin, it is sin (darkness). It does not matter what society and the culture thinks it only matters what God says in His Word. Is He pleased with the way you live; are you walking in the light?  

The Bible says that if you are saved, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby” ( 1 Pet 2:2). The word “as” tells us that there is a certain manner in which we are to grow.  You are a newborn babe in Christ when you first get saved. You are birthed into the Family of God and now you are His child. There should be a desire within for the Word of God. When I first gave my heart to Christ there was within me an intense craving to read the Bible. I wanted to know all that I could about God and about how to live for God. I wanted to be obedient to the commands of God’s Word. This is an evidence of a person’s salvation for we are told in 1 John 2:3, “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” There is that desire within to have and to know the genuine and pure Word of God.

Assurance of your salvation is based upon how you receive the Word of God. Do you receive it as absolute truth; as God’s pure and holy Word? Do you desire to learn it, love it, and live it daily? Do you hunger and thirst to know more of His Word so that you may live it? Is it a burden or a hardship for you to obey the Bible? Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” (Jn 14:15). How is your love for the Saviour? Are you walking in His light?

Assurance of salvation is evidenced by your belief and trust in the Word of God; by your desire to be under the counsel of its teaching, under the commands of its preaching, and the conviction of practicing what you have received. Assurance is evidenced by a good relationship with the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the Word. Assurance is evidenced by a life that is separated from the world, situated against the devil, and successfully victorious over the flesh and its wicked, lethargic desires. How is your assurance? - Preacher

 

May 31

Discipleship: Your Purpose in Life

2 Timothy 1:9 ~ [God] Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

The word “discipline” has various meanings, but the one we are dealing with is “Instruction and government, comprehending the communication of knowledge and the regulation of practice; as military discipline, which includes instruction in manual exercise, evolutions and subordination.” It is the governing of our self-will and letting it out to the Holy Spirit that He may guide and direct our lives. In other words, my will and wants and desires are given up so that I might live His will, His wants, and His desires. To be a disciple of Christ is to have His attitude when He said, “Not my will, but Thine be done, Lord.

However, this is easier said than done. There is a part that we have and that is the role of determining and purposing to do other than we would normally. I determined that it was vitally important for my spiritual life to sacrifice sleep to spend time with God every day of my life, including Sundays. I determined that it was vitally important to have this time when I first awoke in the mornings. This framed my thought processes to always put God first; first in every day puts Him first in every way.

Sometimes it was hard to get out of that bed. But because I had purposed in my heart that this would bring me closer to God I determined that I would do it. I was able to discipline myself to put God first and to get up anyway. This is now the norm for me as I have done this for over two decades and I do it seven days a week, 365 days a year.

For you it may be to take time at the end of the day to read and study your Bible. But when you awake in the morning, try to meditate upon what you were reading and studying the night before. You can do it as you are going through your morning routine getting ready for work. You may have to get up a few minutes early so that you can just look over what you were reading. Whatever time you choose purpose in your heart that you will spend private time alone, just you and God, every day.  

Enoch was a man who walked with God every day of his life. He was close enough to God that one day God just took Enoch home with Him. We are walking and talking with Jehovah God, the Creator of all things and the Sustainer of life. We are taking instruction from the One who made the heavens and the earth. He is the One who brought us into existence and then offered us the gift of life through the selfless, sacrificial death of His dear Son; the One who arose from the dead with the power to also raise us. When we spend time with Him every day He will instruct us in the things pertaining to life and happiness. He will reveal to us our purpose in life and He will give us clear direction, but only if we stay close to Him.  

What is your purpose in life? The better question is, “What is God’s purpose for your life?” Purpose means “That which a person sets before himself as an object to be reached or accomplished; the end or aim to which the view is directed in any plan, measure or exertion.” According to the Scriptures God created us with some glorious purpose in mind; He has gloriously redeemed us for that purpose. He told Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” The principle is that God knows us before our conception and birth. Our Father brings us into a certain congregation and there has a place for us to serve Him and to serve others. You need to grasp that He did not just allow you to come into the world happenstance and that He has a definite plan and purpose for your life.

God has a specific purpose for you to bring Him glory now in this life and for all of eternity in Heaven. And you are created to fear God, to keep His commandments, and to worship Him in every aspect of your life. Discipline your life to spend time with Him daily and know your purpose and place in life. - Preacher

 

 

WEEK 21

May 20

In Service We Are One Body

Romans 12:3-5 ~ For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Christians are a brotherhood that is made up of many different parts. And yet all of those different parts are a part of the whole in Christ. Therefore they are tied together in the cause of Christ. The analogy is given in Scripture of the body and its different parts. There are the eyes for seeing, the ears for hearing, the hands for holding, the feet for walking, and the nose for smelling. These are all different parts and they all have different functions and yet they are all one body. And the Bible says, “God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him”(1 Cor 12:18). God is sovereign and does what He does for the good of all mankind but especially those who are of the body of Christ.

God has dealt to every person the measure of faith. This faith, when placed in Christ gives us a place in the body. The office we hold is up to God and therefore we need to look to God to find His purpose and plan for our life. Christ gives gifts and talents to people to fulfill the purpose of calling and building His church. “And He gave some, apostles; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Eph 4:11). These are the gifts of Christ to His body “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12). We are given a place in the body to help others within the body and to fulfill the purpose of reaching others with the Gospel. “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” We are members one of another, we are tied together just as the links of a chain.

Do you ever look at someone and think you can do it better than them? Remember that it is God who calls and delegates His gifts to whomsoever He will. He is sovereign, and just, and holy, and pure, and does what He does to fulfill His divine will for mankind. We are members one of another and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Eph 6:10).

When you see someone struggling to do their job, do not look down on them or think wrongly of them. Pray for them and offer to be a helping hand. No one member of your body can function of itself but requires all of the body to perform its job properly. When one member is infirm or deficient it affects the entire body. If you look down on someone who is doing poorly or struggling, you become the weak link in the chain.

Whatever you do you need to do it with all of your might. When you put your hand to the plow you need to keep your focus forward. A plowman who looks back does not plow a straight row. Therefore they cannot be a fit plowman. Every job, every office, has its own place and its own purpose, but every job and every office depend on each other to accomplish God’s divine will for the Church of Jesus Christ. Remember that we are all tied together in one body and it takes all of us doing our very best at all times to accomplish the Lord’s work. - Preacher

 

May 21

In Service We Are Gifted To Benefit Others

Romans 12:4-7 ~ For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

There are gifts given to men and they differ according to Grace. God has given gifts for the purpose of edifying and enriching the believers. One of the gifts is the gift of prophecy. Prophecy in the New Testament deals more with forth-telling rather than foretelling, which aligns with the preaching of the Word. Preaching has to do with taking the Bible and showing the fault and folly of sin for the purpose of drawing people’s hearts to a place of repentance. It is the preaching of the Cross which is the power of God. It is foolishness in the eyes of the world and yet through the preaching it pleased God to save them that believe.

It is preaching the Word of God that enriches the lives of believers. It expounds the Word of God which is profitable for doctrine so that you can believe the right things. Preaching will give reproof from the Word so that you might get right with God and stay right with God. It gives correction so that you can have the solutions to the problems and struggles that you have to deal with. It gives instruction in righteousness so that you can have the fortitude and discipline in your life to be an example and teach others to live right.

Then there is the gift of ministering. To minister is to give aid and assistance to the needy; to bring relief to those that are unable to do for themselves. Most every outreach in the church has the need for those who will minister, from visitation and soul winning, to bus routes, to the worship services, to caring for the elderly and needy,  and all that goes on within and around the church. Ministering simply means that we are willing servants in and around the church to help supply and meet the needs of others.

Those who minister are those who are Christians being Christian; loving and serving God while loving and serving others. They are the people who are always working behind the scenes and never need a word of recognition or thanks. They love the Lord Jesus supremely and serve only to bring recognition to Him. They love God’s people and seek only to serve and help in any way that they can.

The gift of teaching is more than going into a classroom and teaching a lesson. Teaching is accomplished by setting the example for others to follow. It is living the Bible in every aspect of your life. Those that would be an effectual classroom teacher are those who would spend hours every week praying over the Word of God. They would study and meditate upon a portion of Scripture given them by God so that they would know it inside and out. A real teacher will have hours of study during the course of the week to teach one lesson. They would also be sure that they are living according to what they are teaching others.

A teacher would spend time with God every day, not just for the lesson, but because they love the Lord and would want to walk daily by the Saviour’s side. But they would also spend time in prayer over those who would be in their class. They would have a burden for their students to walk close to God. Their objective would be to reach the lost, get them saved, and bring them in and train them up in the way they should go. A real teacher would be deeply involved in visitation and soul winning. Their motto would be something like this: “I must go if I am going to reach them. I cannot teach them if I do not reach them. And I cannot reach them if I do not go.” A true teacher will be involved in seeking out the lost.

Once you are saved you begin to grow in the Lord. The more time you spend with Him the more like Him you will become. You are a teacher to others whether you stand in front of a class or not. Someone is always watching you to see what you are. They will judge your talk by your walk. You can be a good teacher or a bad teacher. But you will be a teacher to someone. - Preacher

 

May 22

In Service We Give

Romans 12:4-8 ~ For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, …Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.  

The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. God gives gifts to people so that they may enrich the church body. They are “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” (Eph 4:12). There are the gifts of preaching, ministering, and of teaching.

Exhortation is a need in every church. Those who exhort are the cheer leaders in the church. The music ministry is a ministry of exhortation. Preaching is done with exhortation. It is to encourage others. It is to lift up the feeble. Every part of the body is to encourage every other part of the body. It is to cheer up the downtrodden. When we lend a helping hand we need to do it with Christian joy. We need to lay our burdens aside so that we may with encouragement help others with their burdens. We are to comfort others with the same comfort that God has comforted us with. We can help someone in a bad situation if we have been in that place in our life and God has helped us through (II Cor. 1:4).

As we give ourselves to minister and to encourage we are to give with cheerfulness. Some may be able to give more than others. If we are able to give a little or if we can by the Grace of God give in abundance, all should be done with a grateful heart. II Corinthians 9:7 says, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” The cheerful giver is one who is so glad that God has enabled them to give that they are about to break out with laughter.

We are all to give our tithe to the Lord. He told us to give the tithe and He challenged us in doing so. He said, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10). He challenged us to prove Him by simply giving back 10% of the 100% he gave to us.

I have personally seen this to be true in my own life as we have watched God come through time and time again. But as you read this, do not think that we are saying that God will make you a millionaire. To some God will grant power to gain wealth so that it may be used for God’s purpose. To others He will provide all your needs as you faithfully give to His church and the cause of Christ. Mr. Kraft of Kraft Cheese tithed 25% and he said, “The only dividend that has paid increasing dividends is money given to LORD.” 

Robert Gilmour LeTourneau (November 30, 1888 – June 1, 1969) was born in Richford, Vermont, and was a prolific inventor of earthmoving machinery. His machines represented nearly 70 percent of the earthmoving equipment and engineering vehicles used during World War II, and over the course of his life he secured nearly 300 patents. With the help of his wife, the late Evelyn Peterson (1900-1987), he founded LeTourneau University and the "LeTourneau Christian Center" camp and conference grounds in Rushville, New York. LeTourneau was often referred to by his contemporaries as "God's businessman.”  It is said that he started out tithing 10% of his personal earnings to the Lord and by the time he died he was giving 90% of his personal earnings to the Lord. The thing is, when he died he was wealthy beyond imagination.

As we encourage one another and give to the Lord, He rewards us with the blessings of peace, prosperity, and joy that pass all understanding. We do not say that if you give God will make you rich, but if you give God will certainly bless and reward you according to His riches in glory. Be a cheerful giver in your church with your love for the Lord and for your brothers and sisters in Christ, giving of your time, talent, and your tithe, and do it with the joy of Heaven in your heart and see what God can do. - Preacher

 

May 23

In Service We Give All

Romans 12:4-8 ~ For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, …Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.  

You must first give yourself to the Lord or you will never be able to fully give anything else you have to the Lord. Give yourself and all that you have back to the Lord and see what God will do with what you give Him. Sow bountifully in the Lord and you will reap a great harvest of peace, prosperity, and the joy that passes all understanding.

We need to give of our time to the Lord. I start every day, seven days a week, reading my Bible and then I spend time in prayer. Even when I have to get up and go to a job at 6:00am, I sacrifice a little sleep so that I can have time with the Lord to start every day. Do I always feel like getting up at 4 or 4:30am? No, but it is a discipline that I am glad to have because I love the Lord. If we are going to be real disciples for Christ we must understand that it is a life of discipline. The words “disciple” and “discipline” come from the same root. You cannot be a disciple without discipline. Following Christ means doing what He would do and He rose up before daylight and went out to spend time with the Father (Mark 1:35).

Christ gave Himself to minister to the needs of others. He gave Himself to do the Father’s will. He came to humble Himself and to give Himself a ransom for all. You too could give yourself to the Lord as Christ did. You can take up your cross daily and put the Lord first in every day. You could give yourself to doing exactly what God would have you to do every day. You could give yourself to serving the needs of others if you would just learn to be more like your humble Saviour.

God saved you and He has a purpose for you. You may have to work to support your family, but God knew you had to be on the job when He saved you. God saved you knowing this so that He could use you on your job. You can be a witness to your coworkers for Christ. Be the best you can be at your job and pray that God would give you wisdom to do your job well. Become a vital asset to your employer. Then you can build relationships and earn the liberty to speak of Christ to them. Do not allow your job to conform you, but pray, seek, and knock for open doors of liberty to live your faith so that others may see Christ in you. Be a transformer not a conformer.

If you own your business then you must be the best you can be as well. If you have employees you must treat them with great respect and appreciation. You can be humble and still lead your people in a way that they will respect and appreciate you. Have some Biblical standards and teach them to have those standards as well. Build relationships that will allow you to have freedom to talk to them about the Lord. God saved you and He can use you in whatever place you are in.

We are to give our talent to the Lord. If God had given me a talent to sing I would not be out singing worldly music. Music stars win awards and then thank God for their ability to sing. If they really wanted to show their gratitude why do they not sing His music? Why do they not give their talent and time to the Lord who blessed them with that talent to edify His people? They could be a real part of the body by ministering and exhorting others with their music.

If God has given you a talent, whether it be musical, artistic, writing, photography, etc, give it back to the Lord and let Him bless you so that you may be able to exhort and minister to others. “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). We say to give all that you have to the Lord, but to give yourself is to give all that you are to the Lord as well. - Preacher

 

May 24

In Service We Follow & Participate

Romans 12:4-8 ~ For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, …Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.  

And He gave some pastors who are to rule over the flock of God. “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (Heb. 13:7). These men of God have a greater responsibility than anyone else in the Church. They are not to lord over you as a dictator or a tyrant, but as one that must give an account to God. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:7). We follow our pastor as he follows Christ. God put the pastor in place to lead the flock; he is the under shepherd of the Great Shepherd.

A true pastor will be diligent in His work to feed and care for the flock. He is to see to all the needs of the people. He must feed them spiritually and he must tend to the needs of the families. From the spiritual education of the children to the academic education of the children the pastor must be diligent to be involved. In this day and age education is important because public education has become the progressive tool of indoctrination. Christian’s gave the academic education of children over to a liberal progressive government decades ago and now we are reaping a harvest of spiritually illiterate children. The diligent pastor will be diligent in training up the youth of tomorrow to be the leaders in the church of tomorrow.

A true pastor will be diligent to reach out and care for all age groups in the church. He is diligent to make sure the social needs of all age groups are met. He will have programs and activities that will be age specific. But he will be diligent to make sure that there is interaction in events and fellowships with the different age groups coming together. We have a Seniors’ Bible Luncheon every month, and now we are bringing our children and youth in to serve and interact with our seniors. We teach our young people to listen to their elders and to glean from the years of wisdom that they have experienced.

A true pastor who is diligent at his work will also reach out to the lost and bring them into the fold as God saves them. This in turn may create growing pains as new people are added to the flock. But by God’s grace we will all benefit by God’s generosity and grace. A true pastor is worthy to be followed as He follows Christ.

We are all to be merciful; it is to have the heart of the Lord. Remember that God has been, is being, and will always be merciful to you. Every verse in Psalm 136 ends with “for His mercy endureth for ever.” If God is merciful, and you know He is, then to be merciful to others is a godly trait that we all need to practice. Webster’s defines “mercy” as “that benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; … tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant.” God grants us His mercy (not giving us what we deserve) and grants us His grace (blessing us with blessings that we do not deserve) so that we may bestow that same mercy and grace upon others with a cheerful and a glad heart. This is how we show others the love of God, not just towards believers, but His great love towards every person!

Every job, every office, has its own place and its own purpose, but every job and every office depend on each other to accomplish God’s divine will for the Church of Jesus Christ. Pray and work in the place that God puts you and always be ready to do more and to give help and aid to others in the ministry. We are tied together; we are all one body in Christ. - Preacher

 

 

 WEEK 20

May 13

Consecration

Romans 12:1-2 ~ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 

There comes a place very early in the believer’s life that the Holy Spirit will compel you to consecrate your life to the Lord. Consecrate means to set apart, dedicate, or devote, to the service and worship of God. Service and worship are conjoined twins. You cannot truly serve without devoted worship and you cannot truly worship without devoted service. You are to consecrate your life to Him if you are going to glorify Him.

When you consecrate yourself to God you cannot leave any part of your life out of that dedication. There is a story of a Native American who wanted to give something to God. He gave his bow which was a much cherished possession that he himself had made. He laid it upon the altar and walked away. Sensing that God was not pleased, he returned and laid his hunting knife on the altar. As he walked away he again sensed the Spirit of God saying that God was not pleased. Then he went back and took the eagle feather from his headband, which was a reward of honor that he received when he became a man. But, alas, he still heard the Spirit of God speak to his heart and tell him that God was not at all pleased, not even with all of his prized possessions. Finally, he ran back to the altar, and laying himself across it he cried out “Take me; it is all that I have to offer thee.” That’s what God desires from all His children; to give Him your all!

You are to be a living sacrifice that God can use; a vessel of honor that He can fill; a tool in the Master’s hand. Knowing that Christ gave so much, how can you not give your all for Him? A sacrifice is laid upon the altar and the flesh totally consumed by the fire. So your flesh should be given in sacrifice to God because you are to be dead to the flesh and its lustful desires of the world.

You are commanded, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth” and “put on the new man” (Col. 3:5a and 10a). And again you are commanded in I John 2:15 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” A living sacrifice is dead to self and to the world; it is resistant to the devil’s fiery darts and temptations. When thinking about a living sacrifice, meditate upon this verse for a while: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

Anything in your life that means more to you than God is a hindrance to your relationship with Him. It will interfere with your daily walk with the Lord. It will hinder your potential to serve the Lord with your life. It will silence your worship. It will rob you of the blessings God has in store for you. Anything in your life that means more to you than God will become your God. It could be a business, a job, a hobby, material possessions, or even a person. When you are called upon by the Spirit of God to cut ties with something or someone, it is best that you do what the Spirit tells you to do. If you do not you cannot be the person God desires for you to be nor can you worship, serve, and glorify your Father in Heaven.

God has great plans for your life. He can do with you what He cannot do with someone else in your place because He has put you in your place. You are where you are in life because God needs you there. He has purpose for you in your family, in your job, in your church, and in your community. Yield to the Holy Spirit and give the Lord your all. Ask Him how you can be wholly consecrated to Him. Seek a closer walk and relationship with the Father and the Son. Knock on the doors of opportunity and God will open up great and mighty things for you. - Preacher

 

May 14

Consecration: Separated Unto

Romans 12:1-2 ~ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 

We are to be set apart for God; separated from the world and separated unto the Gospel. This will make us acceptable in His sight. We cannot separate from something without being separated to something. The Apostle Paul stated in his opening statement of Romans, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God.

Such is the case with your Christian separation. You separate from the ways of the world by giving yourself wholly to the ways of God. You pledge your allegiance to God and to His Word. You stand and defend the Gospel because you are not ashamed of it. You know it is the power of God unto salvation. You contend for the faith because it is the best life for you.

The world is full of envy and strife which is not beneficial for you. To live a holy life is to be set apart for God and separate from worldliness. Do not let worldliness infiltrate your devotion, your dedication, your service, nor your worship of God. When you allow a little leaven (it is always sin in the Bible) into your life and let it go unconfessed and unchecked, it will infiltrate your whole being, it will damage your testimony, it will dim your light for Christ, it will taint your influence of society, but most importantly, it will hinder your fellowship with the Lord!

A living sacrifice is one who has put away selfish desires that are entrenched in the world and the things of the world through the process of separation. It is to allow the Bible to infiltrate your way of thinking so that your thought processes are governed by the Word of God. This means that His desires for you and His theological philosophy of life become your desires and your way of life. It is the crucified man who has died to the flesh on the Cross of Christ and has risen to walk in the new life that is bathed in the love of God. It is to have the mind of Christ whose pleasure is to fulfill the Father’s purpose. It is to have the compassion of Christ to look to serve others when and where you can; to be a help and not a hindrance. Are you a living sacrifice that is consecrated and seperated unto the Lord our God? – Preacher

 

May 15

Consecration: Reasonable Service

Romans 12:1-2 ~ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 

Consecration to God is our reasonable service because we are not our own. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” This goes back to being that vessel that the Potter has designed us to be.

Only God knows what is best for your life and the sooner you realize that the sooner you will become a vessel of honor. You belong to Him but He gives you the choice of serving and following, or of rebelling and forgetting what He has done for you (Read Deu 6:1-12). Even when you have done that which is commanded you are an unprofitable servant. But if you get a fire burning within your heart and determine to be a second mile Christian, then with joy you will be profitable and honorable before the Lord your God.

The word translated as “acceptable” means “fully agreeable”. We can only be fully agreeable with God and to God when we are separated unto Him and the Gospel. This is all of faith and without faith it is impossible to please Him. Anything that is not of faith is sin (Rom 14:23). So by faith we walk with God in separation from the world and set apart to Him and for Him.

The word translated as “reasonable” means “that which is rational or logical” as it is used here. It just makes sense to present yourself out of sheer gratitude to the One who birthed you into the world, redeemed you from sin, and gifted you with eternal life. He gives you abundant life now to live, to worship, and to serve Him all the days of your life.

Service” means “to minister to or to worship.” Your service is a part of worship. You serve the Lord by obedience to the commands of His Word. You serve the Lord by looking to others with the mindset of serving people. Loving God and loving others is the fulfillment of the Royal Law (Mt 22:37-40). It will require sacrifice to fulfill these commandments, but when you do it will return bountiful dividends. You will prosper and benefit more than those whom you serve. You will be pleasing to the Father to live your life for Him and for others.

You are to consecrate yourself to investing, influencing, and impacting the world around you. Those who are in your travel lanes during the week should benefit from being around you. You should have some positive influence on their life. As you invest in others by helping and serving you will make a difference. Let the fire of God’s desire and the fire of obedience burn deep, hot, and high in your life for the glory of God and the benefit of others. - Preacher

 

May 16

Consecration: Resist Conforming

Romans 12:1-2 ~ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 

What does it mean to be conformed? The word translated as “conformed” means “to fashion alike”. It refers to being molded into the image of the world. Conformity is detrimental to your Christian walk and your fellowship with the Lord. Conformers will allow the world to mold them through their influence. You cannot allow the world to put you into their mold of how they think, speak, and live. God has instructed us to not be like the world. He went so far as to tell us that to love the world is to not love Him (1 Jn 2:15-17). A living sacrifice will not be conformed to what the world wants because it is dead to the world and its influence.

What does it mean to be like the world? It is to allow the lusts of the flesh to rule your desires and govern your thoughts. When the flesh rules the works of the flesh will begin to show up in your life. Galatians 5:19-21 gives us a list of these works which are “… Adultery, fornication, uncleanness [physical and moral impurity], lasciviousness [uncontrolled lustful actions], Idolatry, witchcraft [the acceptance and practice of demonic things such as witchcraft (Wiccans), sorcery, enchantments, astrology, horoscopes, etc], hatred, variance [contentious differences], emulations [heated, jealous competition], wrath, strife, seditions [cliques, factions, dissention], heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings [the party life of loose living], and such like:”. This is what the world strives to get us to conform to by acceptance of their lifestyle without any condemnation on our part.

I have seen many Christians fall into the traps of the devil and the world by getting caught up in one or more of these things in their life. It really became an issue when home computers became the rave and you could click into anything that the flesh desired. There are hidden traps on the internet today that will pull young people in before they realize that they have been snared. Then they try to justify it with sayings like, “It doesn’t hurt to look as long as you don’t touch.” We are warned repeatedly throughout the Word of God to flee from temptations. Christ taught us that with the heart man is corrupted; when you think and meditate upon it you are already guilty of it.

Now there may be an impure thought come into your mind from time to time because of something that you have inadvertently seen or heard. But that is not the same as thinking upon it. If you flee the thoughts and kick them out before they take root you have done as you should. But if you hesitate and think on them a little before you kick them out then you are on perilous ground. This is the bottom line: do not be like the worldly crowd. There is pleasure in sin but it is short-lived. The consequence of breaking fellowship with the Father and with Christ is not worth the pleasure. The consequence that sin brings with it is not worth the pleasure.

Do not allow the world to push you into their mold. Do not compromise the Word of God from which you get your Theological philosophy of life. Do not allow the worldly religious crowd to cause you to abandon your doctrine. Be not conformed to this world for it will pass away one day. Only those who do the will of the Father will abide in a right relationship with Him forever. Be strong and of good courage and resist the world and its ways. Develop a little iron in your backbone and stand for what you believe in or you will fall for anything. – Preacher

 

May 16

Consecration: A Sacrifice Transformed

Romans 12:1-2 ~ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 

We are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Transformation is a metamorphic process like the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. We renew our minds through hearing, learning and absorbing truth. God’s Word is truth. We hear the Word of God through the teaching, the preaching, reading for ourselves, studying and meditating, and praying over It. Our mind is renewed through continual supply of the Word of God. It cleanses and renews our mind through the power found in its pages and the power of the Holy Spirit to use it aright within our hearts and lives. 

A living sacrifice is completely dependent upon God. You cannot just sit around twiddling your thumbs and expect God to do everything for you. You must do what you know to do. Do what God has revealed to you in and through His Word. By being a doer you will be blessed, but you will also prove the good, the acceptable and perfect will of God for your life.

God’s will is good because it causes you to bring glory to God. It is acceptable because it is pleasing to God. It is perfect because it brings you into spiritual maturity so that you may be productive for God. Your Father will never force you to present your life as a living sacrifice. But as you walk with God you will find the desire to be more like Christ whose sole desire was to fulfill the Father’s will.

It is said that Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, once had captured a prince and his family. When they came before him, the monarch asked the prisoner, "What will you give me if I release you?" "The half of my wealth," was his reply. "And if I release your children?" "Everything I possess." "And if I release your wife?" "Your Majesty, I will give myself." Cyrus was so moved by his devotion that he freed them all. As they returned home, the prince said to his wife, "Wasn't Cyrus a handsome man!" With a look of deep love for her husband, she said to him, "I didn't notice. I could only keep my eyes on you - the one who was willing to give himself for me." Turn your eyes upon Jesus and set your affections upon Him and eternity.

Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Their conviction resulted in untold sufferings for themselves and their families. Of the 56 men, five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army. Another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the war. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships sunk by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in poverty.

At the battle of Yorktown, the British General Cornwallis had taken over Thomas Nelson's home for his headquarters. Nelson quietly ordered General George Washington to open fire on the Nelson home. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and mill were destroyed. For over a year, he lived in forest and caves, returning home only to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion. These men truly gave their all a living sacrifice for God and others.

Is what God is asking you to do too much for you? He has adopted you and given you His name and eternal life. Is it too much to ask that you and I would present ourselves as that living sacrifice to be transformed and renewed daily as His child. Many have given more than we ever will. Live to honor and glorify Him? “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). - Preacher

 

 

Week 19

May 6

Faith Is An Investment

Matthew 17:20 ~ And Jesus said unto them, … If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

You cannot grow as a Christian without the Word of God. You need that manna from Heaven every day of your life if you are going to have spiritual health. It is certain that a daily diet of the Word of God will increase your faith. You need to hear the teaching and the preaching as much as possible. You need to read through the whole Bible, not just once, but at least once every year. You need to hear it and you need to heed it if you are to increase your faith and grow in faith. A stronger faith makes a more productive, powerful, persuasive, and persistent Christian.

In order to increase your faith you must act on the faith that you already have. In Mark chapter nine we find a man had brought his son to the disciples to be healed. They could not do anything for the boy. But when the Lord Jesus came on the scene He told the father, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.  And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” The father was in a situation where his only hope was in Christ. He acted upon the faith he had and then asked for help to believe even more. He was saying that he believed, but he wanted the Lord to take up the rest, increase his weak faith, and heal his son. The Lord rewarded his weak faith, healed his son, and in so doing he increased the man’s faith and helped his unbelief. 

Faith is an investment. The Lord Jesus taught us that we only need a mustard seed size faith to have great power with God (Mat. 17:20). The father no doubt had that mustard seed faith and he invested well by putting it upon what the Lord could do. God will reward the faith you have if you will invest that faith in Him and step out upon that faith. Remember that you cannot please Him without faith.

We read the accounts of the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 and find that they invested their faith in God. When they trusted God he answered their prayers. When He answered their prayers their faith was increased. When their faith was increased it led to them stepping out more boldly to accomplish greater acts and see greater miracles. Greater accomplishments led to greater faith which in turn led to more answered prayers, and on and on. Whatever degree of faith you might have should be invested in what God can and will do. Then you need to step out on that faith trusting God to do what He says He can and will do according to His Word. 

Abel had a faith that worshipped. You can give God the glory in all things and in all circumstances. Enoch had a faith that walked with God. He stepped out on his faith every day and spent time with God just walking and talking to Him. When you have a faith that will worship and glorify God in all situations you will walk with God daily. Abraham had a faith that waited daily upon God to fulfill the promises that He had made. He believed that he would receive what God had promised and with patience he waited for it. Noah had a faith that worked; he believed and took God at His Word. He stepped out on faith and built an ark to the saving of his house. Now that took a real genuine faith to build a boat that size in the middle of dry earth where there had never been any rain or flood of any kind. But God rewarded his faith and when the flood came Noah and his family were saved. What a picture of salvation; a picture of God’s love and care for those who trust Him.

A faith that worships and glorifies God in all situations will lead you to walk daily by the Saviour’s side. That is the kind of faith that will lead you to patiently await God’s reward for your faith. A faith that will wait upon God will lead you to work all the more for Him as you see your faith increased and your investment of faith giving dividends. The more you step out on your faith the more you will see God do. The more you see God do, the stronger your faith becomes. The stronger your faith, the greater the work you will do. Even if your faith is weak you must invest that faith in God and He will reward and increase your faith.  - Preacher

 

May 7

Don’t Be An Achan

Joshua 7:1 ~ But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, …, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel. 

There are many good examples for us to follow in the Bible. But sometimes we need to look at examples that our Lord has given us that we should not follow. When we look at someone like Achan who did something very wrong we see that there are consequences for our actions. And we need to see the extent of those consequences so that we may guard our hearts against the entrapment of the devil and the world.

Achan was not a bad man, he just broke a direct commandment: “And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.  But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.” Everything taken in the spoil of Jericho was consecrated unto the LORD. Therefore, to take any spoils for themselves was to steal from God Himself. 

In doing this Achan brought the anger of God against all Israel. When we bring our sin into the church we have defiled the sanctuary. Some may think that the sacredness of the sanctuary would make the unclean clean. But that is not the case. God told His people in Ezekiel 5:11, “Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity.” When you come into the sanctuary with unconfessed sin and an unrepentant heart you walk upon thin ice with the Lord. He is not at all pleased with a prideful heart. To enter into the courts of the Lord without a penitent heart is prideful and rebellious. Be careful not to be an Achan and trouble the church. 

Now God could not bless that which Achan was a part of because of his trespass. When the men went to battle at Ai they were defeated by a weak army because God could not bless them. God did not have to curse them just as He does not have to curse us in our sin. If He removes His hand of blessing what do we have? I am a firm believer that the failure of God’s people today to stay with godliness and holiness and to keep themselves from the accursed thing is the reason our country has gone over a cliff. When you allow the world’s things to come into the sanctuary of God you have defiled His sanctuary and have removed yourself from under His hand of blessing. Take note to always be careful to have a penitent heart when you come into the house of God and to have your heart prepared by holding no unconfessed sin. 

Achan not only brought death upon Israel, he brought it upon his family. He tried to hide his sin after the defeat at Ai, but you need to understand that your sin always has a way of finding you out. What I mean by that is that no matter how hard a person may try to hide their sin it will always give them away. Once they found out that he was the one who had trespassed against God and Israel, they brought him and his family out of the camp and took all of their lives. They stoned him and all of his family. Then they burned their bodies and raised a great heap of stones upon them.

Bringing your sin into your family will have dire consequences. It destroys the family and the home. It will wreck and ruin lives. Children suffer the most because they get the wrong influence and many times will follow in the parent’s footsteps without the proper guidance and help. This is a good reason for running bus routes and bringing in the children of our communities into the church to get them saved and to teach them the things of Christ. This will give them stability and assurance to have a good and prosperous life. What hope does the world afford these children today without the Blessed Hope?  Don’t be an Achan and trouble your family and your home nor your family in the church. - Preacher

 

May 8

Beware of The Demas Hour

2 Timothy 4:10 ~ For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

Paul records Demas as one who loved this present world more than he did the things of Christ. But in Philemon, Demas was recorded as a fellow laborer of Paul (Phm 1:24).  So what happened to Demas? Well we can only speculate what truly happened. But when we take his account given us here with the whole counsel of the Word of God we can learn a very valuable lesson. It is a lesson that should strengthen our faith and give us courage in the face of danger. Let us beware of the Demas hour!

Demas was in Rome where Paul was imprisoned and awaiting execution. It was a time of great persecution for the Christians under the emperor Nero. Paul tells us that Demas loved his life in this world more than he loved the Lord. His faith was a superficial faith. Rather than take a stand and be counted with the Apostle Paul as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ he chose to leave and keep his head on his shoulders. What would you do if there were a possibility of the government coming in and taking you to prison or even executing you for being a Christian? We cannot truly know what we would do until we are faced with that scenario.

We need 100% assurance of our salvation. There are so many people who are “hoping” that they will get to go to Heaven when they die. They are not sure if they are saved or if they are not saved. Some believe that they will get to go because they pray every day. Some hope that they will do enough good to outweigh the bad in their lives and gain entrance into Heaven. Others believe that there is no real hell or that the real hell is the life we live here on earth. There is just too much uncertainty about salvation. 

The Bible is very clear that Jesus died for our sin, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day. If you believe that you have sinned, that the Lord Jesus died for your sin in your place, that He rose again the third day, then you can have the gift of eternal life. But you must believe it with your heart. Your faith comes from the heart and a faith that saves is a faith that turns to Him to yield and work. Once you are saved there should be a willing desire to know and to live by the commandments of God.

Salvation is a gift that cannot be earned because that would make it wages and not a gift. A gift is freely given and cannot be taken away. God’s gift is eternal, everlasting, never ending, and it is a present possession. 1 John 5:13 gives you the assurance of knowing that you have (in your possession NOW) eternal life (see also Jn 3:16-18, 36 & Rom 6:23). That assurance is based upon the Word of God. You can take God at His Word because He never has and He never will break His Word or His promises.

We therefore can conclude that Demas’ faith must have been a superficial one. He loved this present world more than He loved the Lord. He must have not been assured of Heaven being his home and his eternal destination. If he were sure of it then how could he love this world more than that place of absolute perfection and love? How could he want to stay here rather than to depart and be with the Lord in Glory? If you profess Christ as your Saviour, make sure that you possess Christ as your Saviour. In John 3:36 there are two types of people; believers and unbelievers. Which are you? Is your faith real? A faith that saves is a faith that will yield to God’s word and become a doer of that Word.  This faith, this assurance upon the Word of God will sustain you, even in troublous times, even in the face of adversity and death.

The assurance of your salvation is the first step to standing in the evil day of persecution. It will give you a holy boldness. It will assure you that Heaven is indeed your home and your eternal destination when your life on earth ends. Once you have this nailed down in your heart your faith will grow and soar. You will want to stand for Christ in the face of adversity. You will want to give your absolute all for Him. There will be no fear of death in persecution because of the fact that you shall never taste of death. So step out in faith and assurance and live your life to the full for the glory of God. - Preacher

 

May 9

Love One Another

John 13:34 ~ A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 

Jesus commands us to love one another just as He has loved us. Our Lord Jesus Christ loved us unto death. He loved us so much that it killed Him. He willingly laid down His life that we might live. The Apostle John went around telling people all of the time, “Love one another.” The story says that a lady once asked him why he always told them to, “Love one another.” He said, “If we love one another it is enough.”  Love will prompt us to act in the behalf of the object of our love. Love is the fulfilling of the law. Jesus in quoting the Law said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” He then went on to say, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mat. 22:37, 39). We are to love others as Christ has loved us.

Jesus gave up everything for you. He gave up His family, His home, and His own place in glory. He gave up His wellbeing just to take your punishment. He did this so you would not have to remain condemned under the guilt and penalty of sin. All of this He accomplished and went through because He loves you. He taught us that the greatest of love is to lay down your life for your friends. This He did on the Cross when He acted towards us as our Friend while we were yet His enemies. This is the type of love that He wants Christians to have for one another (John 15:13). 

When we exhibit true love it will manifest itself in our willingness to see others benefit and succeed. It is the opposite of covetousness. Rather than look at others success and prosperity with an internal desire and envy to have what they have we are truly joyous over their good. That is the love that will sacrifice our good to see that others prosper in their lives. It is as a parent who will sacrifice their own needs to see to it that their children have what they need. A parent will choose to provide their children’s need rather than buy things for themselves. Love is sacrificial in nature. 

We are commanded to love with the same love that Christ has for us. You do not have to like what people do and may be in disagreement with them, but you are to love them none the less! In fact, that is when you need to love them all the more. When you were in disagreement with Christ He loved you all the more. He was longsuffering with you to bring you the Gospel message of salvation; to bring you to a place of repentance so that you would give Him your heart and soul. He loved you when you were unlovable. His love did not go around putting you down and talking about you like you were a lowlife who deserved to be dropped into the fires of hell, but He was your friend who wanted to see you saved from the curse of the law. He worked on behalf of your benefit rather than just leave you to yourself. He worked for your good when He could have weighed in against you. Whether you like or not, you are to love them and pray for their well-being. You should never work to bring others against those with whom you have a disagreement or a dislike. That is not love; that is not Christ!

The love of Christ should constrain us. It should get a grip on your heart and never let you go. You should allow the love of Christ to take hold as a rescuer who reaches out to save. You should embrace that love with a supernatural grip so that it would never slip from you. Someone’s life may depend on your love for them. It was Christ love that reached out to you and saved you. Now reach out to others to bring them to the Saviour. Jude says, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  And of some have compassion, making a difference:  And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 21-23).

I love that God has placed us in a church where people love one another and they love the people in the community. We do not have to like their lifestyles, but we find a reason to love them where they are and try to help them with their spiritual needs as well as their temporal needs. People need the Lord. They need the love of God in Christ. They need to be loved even though they are a vile sinner. It is love that will make a difference and may bring them to Christ. Love one another and share that love with others. - Preacher

 

May 10

Prayer Is A Necessity

I Thessalonians 5:17-18~ Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

A life of prayer is a necessity to have the victorious Christian life. If you are to have victory over the flesh, the world, and the devil you must live a life of prayer. Prayer is power and prayer works. Your own flesh will deceive you and trip you up in your Christian walk because it is weak. That means that it is going to look for the path of least resistance. It is enticed by worldly pleasures and the worldly ways. The old nature is dominated by the flesh and the flesh actually lusts after the things of the world.

This world system that we live in is under the control of Satan at this time and he will use the world’s things to try to lure you into his traps. His desire is to entrap you and to get you away from your relationship with God. He does not care about you and he does not care if you have any pleasure or not. He only cares about getting you caught up in sin to break the sweet fellowship and communion that you have with God. He is jealous because you can have such a personal relationship and eternal life to spend with the Father. If you do not have a good, strong prayer life you cannot have a victorious Christian life.

A life of prayer is a necessity to fight the good fight of faith. A good fight of faith is to fight in spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare is where the real fight takes place. The devil knows the power of prayer and he will try to stop those who live a life of prayer. He does not want you to pray because when you pray all of Heaven is at your disposal to fight against him and all his evil cohorts.

We may find that when we pray we are reminded of some sin that we have committed in the past. It detracts away from the focus of our prayer time. Even if that sin is confessed and forgiven it can still have the effect of getting you away from your task in prayer. The devil and your own flesh will work against you in your prayer time to give you those thoughts that will take you off course in prayer. When you pray you must push through those thoughts knowing full well that if God has forgiven you that you have nothing to worry about. What is in the past is in the past. You can do nothing about it and when your Father forgives you He forgets and will remember those things no more. He sees His children robed in righteousness, justified, clean, and not guilty or condemned. What a mighty and loving Father we have.   

A life of prayer is a necessity if we are going to do anything worthwhile. A life of prayer is a life that works. You are to be fervent in prayer; to pray without ceasing. When you do you will find that you are moved to action because you will find a holy boldness as you get closer to God. You will discover an exuberance to do more for the Lord. You will find that your faith is increased as you see your petitions come to pass.

The more we pray the more power we have. The more power that you have, the more you will see your prayers answered. The more answered prayer that you see the more your faith is increased. The more that your faith is increased the more you will want to do for the Lord. The more you want to do for the Lord the stronger your relationship becomes with Him. The stronger that your relationship becomes with the Lord the stronger you become in your Christian walk. The stronger you become in your Christian walk the more you will want to please Him. The more you want to please Him the more you want to do for Him. A life of prayer is a life that works.

We are to pray without ceasing. We have not begun to scratch the surface on prayer. I would strongly recommend that you get a copy of Dr. John R. Rice’s book, Prayer: Asking and Receiving and read and reread it cover to cover. If you cease to pray you cease to truly live. Prayer is the essential resource that will bring the power, the promises, and the provisions of God that you need on your journey. A life of prayer is a life that will move you to action for the glory of God and for the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. - Preacher

 

 

Week 18

April 29

Increase Our Faith

Luke 17:5 ~ And the Apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

Faith is a growing process. Jesus came down from the mount of transfiguration and found that a man had brought his son to the disciples for healing. They could not heal him. The boy had a dumb spirit that controlled him and the father said to Jesus, “…if Thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.  And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9: 22-24). 

God wants our faith to increase and our unbelief to decrease. 

  1. Faith is needed in prayer. Jesus said, “Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them (Mark 11:24). This is a promise that we can take to the altar every time that we carry a need to the Lord. And again in James 5:15 we find, “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” The earnest prayer of faith will accomplish much with the Lord.
  2. It is a sin not to have faith. Romans 14:23 tells us, “… whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” And Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Our Lord wants us to have faith because He is well pleased when we fully trust in Him for everything from courage and strength to our daily provisions. It is your Father in Heaven that gives you the ability to do the work that is necessary to earn a living. He gives you the understanding of your trade, the wisdom to do the work, the strength and the power of your body and mind to accomplish your tasks. It is all of God your divine Provider.

Jesus asked the fearful disciples after He stilled the winds and the waves of the storm, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith” (Mark 4:40)? And again, after His resurrection, He found the disciples fearful and lacking faith. In Mark 16:14 we find, “Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.” 

Jesus once asked the disciples, “… when the Son of man cometh, will He find faith on the earth” (Luke 18:8)? In this verse He is speaking of the body of beliefs known to Independent Baptists as the Doctrines of the Faith. It is that body of beliefs “… once delivered unto the saints… ” that we are admonished in Jude 3 to “… earnestly contend for…” Our faith rests upon the Word of God from which we get our doctrines or body of beliefs. His Word gives us the faith we need to live as a Christian.

Again Jesus asked the disciples in Luke 8:25, “Where is your faith?”  In Hebrews 12:1 we find that “…the sin which doth so easily beset us…” is the besetting sin of lack of faith.  The previous chapter is the great chapter on faith in the Bible and the “Wherefore” in verse one of chapter twelve ties it to chapter eleven.  The witnesses spoken of are those heroes of the faith who have gone home before us who have fought the good fight of faith, and have finished their course, and have kept the faith. 

May the Good Lord smile upon you today and give you wisdom to step out on faith. Learn to just take God at His Word; believe what He says and receive what He has for you for this day. Walk in faith trusting Him for every concern, every need, every decision, and in every circumstance that comes your way. Total dependence upon Him pleases Him. Get into His Word and allow His Word to get into you for there is your faith found to increase. - Preacher

 

April 30

Have Faith In God

Mark 11:22 ~ And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

God has given to every person a measure of faith to be able to turn to and trust the work of Christ for salvation (Rom 12:3). But there is a growing process that allows us to trust Him in every aspect of our life. The more you trust Him the more your faith will increase.

If it is a sin not to have faith, what can we do to obtain faith and to increase our faith? God has told us that, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). If we truly want to increase our faith, we need more of the Word of God and less of the world’s stuff.  The more of God’s Word that gets into our hearts the purer our hearts will become. The purer our hearts become the more we will trust in the pure absolute truth of God’s Word. Our faith increases with more of the Word.

It is like having a glass of dirty water. You would not want to drink the dirty water. But if pure water were being poured into the dirty water, over time the dirty water would become clean. I believe that is what is meant when the Lord tells us in His Word, “…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:25, 26). He also prayed for us before He went to the Cross, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). 

The Word of God cleanses out the filth of the flesh and of the world. It purifies our heart so that we may see the truth and that is what sets us free from the bondage of sin. That is the bondage that chains down our faith and does not allow us to receive the manifold blessings of God. When our faith is truly unleashed it opens the floodgates of Heaven and we will be able to see great and mighty things. We can see real revival, miracles will happen, and people will get saved on a daily basis. But only when we believe and our faith is increased. 

Oh to believe! Believe what God has done! Believe that God can do it again! Believe that God will do it again! Believe that God will use you to do it again! - Preacher

 

May 1

Faith Increases By Hearing

Romans 10:17 ~ So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Faith is a growing process. If it is a sin not to have faith, what can we do to obtain faith and to increase our faith? God has told us that we are to listen to His Word to increase our faith. So the first thing we need to do is to begin reading the Word of God that we may learn the nature of God. It is in God’s nature to create life and to give the gift of eternal life. It is His nature to love others and to want the best for them.

Your best life is to be on the Lord’s side. He has always been on your side but it is up to you to decide to be on His side. God loves us unconditionally because God is love. In His love you learn of His mercy, His grace, His compassion, His sacrifice, His enduring patience, and His desire to have a personal relationship with you. Isaiah 55:7 tells us, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

God is omnipotent in His nature. He is the greatest force in the universe. He has the power of creation, reconciliation, restoration, and even the power of destruction. There is none that can compare to the awesome power of the Almighty, omnipotent LORD God Jehovah. He is ALL POWERFUL!  It is by His power that you were born into this world and it is by His power that you are birthed into His family. It is the power of His Gospel and the power of His Blood that delivers you from the bondage of sin and delivers you into the eternal kingdom of His dear Son. 

God is omnipresent in His nature. He exists everywhere and there is nowhere that God is not present. No matter where we can go throughout the universe and beyond there is no place that you cannot be in the presence of God. He is omnipresent; He is everywhere present. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;  Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Psa. 139:7-10).

God is omniscient in His nature; He is all knowing. There is nothing that God does not know. The Bible is not everything that God knows; it is everything that He wants you to know. And even within Itself there is more than you will ever know even if you had a hundred lifetimes to learn it all. You need to read more of the Word of God that you may know the nature of God. We are told also in Isaiah 55:8, 9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Listen to what God is saying in His Word to you. You can trust God in any and all situations and circumstances. God knows, God is present, and God cares about the big things as well as the small, mundane struggles of life. God is all powerful and He will be there for you always. You are never alone and you are never without His presence. Therefore you are never powerless to live victoriously and to increase your faith consistently as long as you walk with Him and trust in Him. - Preacher

 

May 2

Faith Is Hindered By Neglect

Hebrews 2:3 ~ How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 

We need to read the Word of God that we may learn of His pattern of behavior. He is very forgiving of others when they come humbly before Him in repentance. He forgave the thief on the cross in Christ even though he at first railed against Him. He forgave Saul of Tarsus even though he was persecuting the Christians by having them imprisoned and put to death. He forgave Israel repeatedly when they would get out of the pathway of righteousness and worship other gods. When they turned back to Him He received them with open arms of love and forgave them their trespasses. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chr. 7:14). 

It is in His behavior to provide for others. He took care of Elijah by the brook when he had the ravens bring him bread and meat in the mornings and the evenings. Many times He afforded the Apostle Paul the provisions that he needed as he traveled on his missionary journeys. In the goodness of His nature He provided the needed sacrifice for the sin of the world. He gave of Himself because of the fact that no other sacrifice would do. He is Jehovah - jireh, the LORD will provide. He provided the sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac to spare both the life of Isaac and the posterity of Abraham on mount Moriah. It is the same mount where that Christ would bleed and die to provide salvation to the world. He provided us with the measure of faith that we placed upon Christ for salvation (Rom. 12:3). 

There is great tragedy of neglecting the Word of God. We cannot get closer to Him without His Word to guide us and strengthen our faith. If we read too many other books of the world we will become more like those books rather than more like Christ. We cannot listen to every whim and every new doctrine that man conjures up without it affecting us (televangelists). Newspapers and magazines are so full of liberal bias and spin that it would behoove us to steer clear of them for news. We trade our golden shields of faith for the brass shields of worldliness. 

There are too many gadgets in the world today that rob us of our time with the Lord. With the youth it is video games, I-pads, cell phones, laptops, Facebook, social websites, etc., etc. It seems to be a never ending production of new gadgets and toys to occupy their time. Then there are the grown-ups who are just as addicted as the youth and even have a time dealing with the real world because of LARP (live action role playing) games. What else does the devil need to continue his frontal assault on Christianity?!  What else does he need to weaken our faith?!

Your faith is weakened by the amount of the world you mingle and mix with. If you want to increase your faith you are going to have to spend more time reading and heeding the Word of God. It is no wonder that the besetting sin of so many is that of a lack of faith; “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Neglect of the Word weakens your faith to live the salvation that was freely given to you. Spend a little more time reading your Bible and making it applicable to your life and you will see your faith increase and grow stronger. – Preacher

 

May 3

Faith Grows With a Proper Diet

Ecclesiastes 8:4a ~ Where the word of a king is, there is power: …

For those who, like the Apostles, want to increase their faith there must be a desire to have more of the Word of God. The Bible says that as newborn babes we should have an intense craving for the pure and unadulterated Word of God (I Pet. 2:2). We have already covered the fact that our faith comes by hearing the Word of God, so it is evident that more of the Word will increase our faith. 

Not only should we read more of the Bible, we need to read the entire Bible. When our Lord was tempted by that great tempter in the wilderness He revealed a great Bible principle that we all need to live by. The Lord Jesus informed Satan, as well as all believers, that, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeded out of the mouth of God.”  If we are to live by "every Word" that God has given us then it just makes since that we need to read the whole Word of God.

It is vital to our spiritual growth and therefore it is vital to increasing our faith. That means that we need to start at Genesis 1:1 and read through the Bible until we get to Revelation 22:21. We need to read the Chronicles as well as the Psalms. Read every Word of the genealogies (no matter how boring they may seem) for they are the Word of God and they have purpose for being in His Book. Read the genealogies of Christ as well as the life of Christ. Read through the Minor Prophets as well as the Major Prophets. Read it all for our Lord instructed us to live by every Word of God and faith comes by hearing the Word of God.

Another aspect to hearing the Word of God is to hear it in the teaching and the preaching. Hebrews 10:25 says that we are to look for more reasons to attend church so that we may exhort one another which means to incite (persuade) to love and good deeds by words or arguments (preaching), and to encourage and to counsel (teaching). This is one area that I personally cannot understand about people who want to be closer to the Lord but look for reasons to call off church rather than look for reasons to be at church. I wish it were like the days of old when the church met daily to worship and praise God. It was then that people were saved daily and the power of God was upon the church. 

There is a very stern warning against forsaking this assembly to hear the Word of God given us in Proverbs 28:9: “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” That word abomination literally means that it will be abhorrent and disgusting in the sight of God. If you do not want to hear the Word of God then He will not hear your prayers. Turning away from hearing His Word is sin and your sin is a break in fellowship that will hinder your prayers from being answered.

You cannot grow as a Christian without the Word of God. You need that manna from Heaven every day of your life if you are going to have spiritual health. It is certain that a daily diet of the Word of God will increase your faith.  You need to hear the teaching and the preaching as much as possible. You need to read through the whole Bible, not just once, but at least once every year that you live and breathe on this earth. You need to hear it and you need to heed it if you are to increase and grow in faith. A stronger faith makes a more productive, powerful, persuasive, and persistent Christian. - Preacher