Tag Archives: God

The Gift of Himself

The Gift of Himself

I read about one boy named Alfred who “wrote a letter to Santa which read, “Dear Santa, you did not bring me anything good last year. You did not bring me anything good the year before that. This is your last chance. Signed, Alfred.””

Of course, us humans receiving material gifts is not the purpose of Christmas. Modern thinking tends to focus on gifts to the neglect of the reason for Christmas to begin with.

As the Christmas day approaches news reports always come in about record sales or low sales at the stores.  As soon as Black Friday hit, we heard of the large number of retail sales.  Online sales soared again on Cyber Monday.  Business owners perhaps are thinking “this is the best Christmas ever!”

When everything is said and done – the first Christmas is the best Christmas.  It was on that day, that Jesus inserted Himself into this human experience, took on flesh, and began His mission to seek and save the lost.   He gave Himself to us as a gift.

With all the busyness of the season, please do not forget the reason for this season.  God’s love.  His Gift. God’s Son. His Sacrifice. Our Sins. His Forgiveness.  Thank the Lord Jesus came to earth for us.   Thank God for the gift of His Son and the Salvation He purchased at the cross.

Philippians  2:5-8 is a good Christmas reminder: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Be Like Your Dog

Don’t Be Like Your Dog

“A little lad of six was invited out to lunch in a neighbor’s home. As soon as all were seated at the table the food was served. The little boy was puzzled, and, with a child’s frankness, asked, “Don’t you say a prayer before you eat?” The host was uncomfortable, and mumbled, “No, we don’t take time for that.” The lad thought silently for a while, and said, “You’re just like my dog! You start right in.””

Don’t be like your dog on Thanksgiving.  Remember to give thanks to the Lord.

One of my favorite things to do each holiday season is to watch Charlie Brown and his talented dog, Snoopy.  One of the best yearly reminders of God’s blessing to early America can be seen in Charles Schultz’ rendition of the Pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower, meeting Chief Massasoit and Squanto and sitting down to dinner and giving thanks to God for surviving the brutal and deadly winters they were unprepared for.  With little food, a majority of the settlers buried, and with great uncertainty facing the future, they stopped everything to praise and thank the Lord.

It has been said that being truly “thankful” involves “giving.”  After all, the word Thanksgiving is a compound word; and both “Thanks” and Giving” are words rich with meaning.  Grateful people are happy people.  Have you ever seen a complaining, grumbling person?  Sure.  Are they happy?  No.  We are most happy when we have thankful attitudes, grateful words, and gracious actions.  If you are consistently giving praise and thanks to the Lord, you will be less likely to be critical, self absorbed, and feeling negative about life.

We need to be like the Apostle Paul who said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  The early Christians living in the city of Thessalonica were challenged and encouraged to give thanks in everything in life.  Every life stage.  Every circumstance.  Every weather event.  Every electoral cycle.  Every season of life.  Every start to the week.  In.  Everything.  Give.  Thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Thank-you for reading these devotionals.  I am grateful for each reader and pray that these postings will be a help to you.

 

 

 

 

 

(Snoopy rendition by Charles Schulz, from internet search)

The Bodies Were Still Warm

The Bodies Were Still Warm

Blame.  Who is to blame?  500+ people shot, nearly 60 dead. The worst shooting scene in American history.  The dead bodies of the concert goers were still warm when people began to play the “blame game.”

Politicians began to politicize.  The Media began its narrating and spinning. Conspiracy theorist started to make their guesses.

Some blamed Isis.  Others blamed the US Constitution and the Second Amendment.  Still others even went so far as to blame Christians.   Other ideas from “white males” to the President, drugs, and even money were brought up.

What was the shooters motive?  Was there only one shooter?  Is there more to the story? How long did it take to plan for this?  Early news reports are just that – early.

Some commenting on this event are so violent (in their mind) that they even suggested that “white colored, country music fans” deserved to be killed because they were most likely Republican!

Vilifying one another, casting blame, and trying to legislate morality does not actually address the deeper issue here.

Why do bad things like this happen?

Sin is the cause of all heartache, pain, loss, suffering, and death.  Sinful thinking leads to sinful deeds.  Theologians call this “Origional Sin.” That is the problem. All. Problems. Stem. From. Sin.

Proverbs 23:7 teaches: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”  What is in the heart of man is what eventual comes out.

Adam and Even introduced sin into this world.  Mankind is to blame for our own sin.  God is not the originator of sin.  He allows mankind to make choices.  Adam chose rebellion and disobedience. He chose sin.  We have had to live with the consequences since then.

While you may never take another persons’ physical life, Jesus taught that hating people is the same as murdering them.  Read the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapters 5-7.  Try, with God’s help, to live that way.

How did we get here?  How is it that new records of evil and atrocities are being recorded in our lifetimes?   Where we live?  How?

Romans 1:21 tells us: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Instead of valuing God, we value money.  Instead of valuing truth, we value what is convenient.  Instead of loving our neighbor, we are loving ourselves… to death.

Examine your heart.  Are you living in spiritual darkness?  Those who commit such acts have been living in darkness for some time.  Come to the light today.  Believe in Jesus.  Become a Christian and then enjoy a daily relationship with Him.  God is love!  He wants us to love one another.

No matter if we ever find the motivation, or if accomplices are ever uncovered, we can know that our fallen sinful nature is blame.

As a whole, these United States are no longer submitting and yielding to Jesus, the author of love and peace.  As a result, we are divided.  People are being unkind to one another. And sadly, more tragedies will unfold.

Pray. Ask the Lord to help us to turn back to Jesus.  Turn to your neighbor with love and kindness. And look for ways to show kindness to your fellow man.

If you have not yet believed in the Gospel, please go to the “How to go to Heaven” section on this site to learn how to be forgiven of your sins and be saved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Politics Do Not Matter

The Politics Do Not Matter

Kneeling during the Anthem, drinking Gatorade in the locker room during the unfurling of the flag, and protesting on team time is a growing trend among many American athletes today.

When it comes to the interaction of the citizen and the government leaders of a country, respect must be the underlying principle.  As our country becomes increasingly sinful, some have suggested that the Constitution is out of date or is no longer useful.  Quite the contrary; the Constitution is not broken, the people are.  Our nation, like every other nation in history is following a path to destruction because we have, as a whole, denied the truth.  Human nature is full of sin, rebellion, and selfishness.  The main reason things are the way they are is because we are… people.  Whenever a group of people no longer fear God, read the Bible, or have respect for Biblical values, there will be an increase in troubles.

Back to the flag, kneeling, and protesting on team (company) time.  The Bible says that Christians are to respect the government and governmental leaders.  Subjection, while unnatural to a man full of pride, should be the goal of the Christian filled with the Spirit of God.

Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Christians about their relationships towards their government:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.  Romans 13:1-4

It is apparent that the Lord wants to save the lost leaders from their sin just as much as He saved the Christian from his sins.  The Lord can even use the believers response and attitude of respect to challenge, encourage, and convict a leader of his need for Jesus.

Our respecting of leaders is demanded and has nothing to do with policy.  Our submission has nothing to do with policies or political party.  Our attitude towards leaders is not to be impacted by the leader’s personality, brashness, or decisions.

Do you know the cultural and societal insanities that were being projected upon the people when Paul wrote to the Roman Christians?

  • Criminals were many times tortured to death in the coliseum.
  • Christians were fed to the lions.
  • Some Christians were burned alive for their faith.
  • The shedding of blood was a popular sport that people would flock to see in the coliseum.
  • Some Roman Emperors even demanded people to worship them as a deity.

No matter how bad some suggest living in America is – we are still living in the most just, least prejudiced, and most advantageous (to personal success) country in the world.  We still have a very relaxed legal system compared to most other countries today.  It is even harder for an American to enter and try to live in other countries of the world.  Proof of work and a verification that you are not taking jobs away from another countries citizen is a general requirement.  Things are relatively easy in America.

Those who complain about poverty are probably more-wealthy than most people in many places of the world.

Work ethic, respect for others, personal discipline, and a peaceful existence lends itself to a more productive life than protesting, walking around streets late at night, inciting riots, and sitting around complaining on the internet.

I encourage you to pray for our leaders. Respect those the Lord has placed over us.  Participate in government with a good attitude.  Work at loving your neighbor.

The political party nor the particular person does not diminish the Lord’s command to be subject to and show honor to our leaders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Being Remade?

Are You Being Remade?

We used to live in a place in the great state of Tennessee that had beautiful red clay.  All the dirt around our house was clay.  We could barely dig a hole in that clay!  It was some tough dirt.

The Lord likens our lives to clay.  Clay that a potter uses is moldable, pliable, and shapeable.  The hard clay that is dry, hard, and un-moldable is not useful to the potter.

The Lord speaks of Jeremiah’s people, Israel, in Jeremiah 18.  The Lord wanted to do more than just repair them; He wanted to remake them.

Jeremiah 18:1-10 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.  Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

Recently, we were looking at a wall in a room in our house.  The wall needed some construction attention.  Drywall and drywall mud is kind of like clay. We had hoped to repair the drywall, but there was so much damage, we needed to start over with the wall.  We tore the whole wall out and put new sheet-rock up in its place.  Instead of repairing the wall, we remade the wall.

Repairs to walls or pottery will generally leave a mark.  A cracked vessel will reveal the repair when light is shined on it.  A section of wall that has been repaired will be evident as it does not match up exactly.

Starting over and remaking a clay pot will make the old broken vessel new, useful, and valuable.  Repairs to vessels, such as a pot, do not always hold water the right way.  They may not fulfill their intended function.  Remaking it -makes it over again – the way it was intended to be in the first place.

As Christians, we do not want to merely repair ourselves.  We want to be remade by the Lord.  We do not want to be remade into a “better image of ourselves.”  We want to be remade into the image of Jesus.

When dealing with other people, please know that if they have a submissive heart to the Lord, then He is remaking them into His image.  Be patient with other people.  Be thankful for the Master Potter Who is shaping the lives of those Christians around you.

Take one turn on the potter’s wheel to apply this truth to yourself.  Be pliable clay and let the Lord shape and mold you.  Do not grow dry and unuseful.  Be moldable into the image of Jesus. Be thankful that the Master Potter is still working on you to make you the new person that God wants you to be – more like Jesus.

Pray each day to have a heart and life that is submissive to the will of the Master Potter. Are you being Remade?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons for a Revival Meeting

Five Reasons For a Revival Meeting

Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Psalm 85:6

We need revival.  Every Christian needs the renewal, refreshment, and revitalization of commitment, perspective, and a deeper fellowship with God. Notice this study from several years ago:

“The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago recently released its finding from the first comprehensive study of spiritual beliefs in the former Soviet Union since the fall of communism. Among the most interesting findings is the large percentage of conversions from atheism. Twenty-two percent of the population at large said they were once atheists but now believe in God. Andrew Greeley, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, wrote a report on the findings and titled it “God Is Alive and Well and Living in Moscow” Greeley said, “It would seem, at least at first glance, to demonstrate that after the most serious attempt to obliterate religion in human history, they are experiencing the most dramatic religious revival in human history.””

The word Revive (Chayah) means to “restore life, make alive.”   Some believers have been saved for a while and have and lost the fire and joy of their salvation. Some go through the motions of Christianity while drying up spiritually inside.  Others do not even go through the motions anymore.

Backsliders today were in need of revival yesterday, but tragically, they neglected it.  That does not have to be the case!  Embrace your life in Christ.  Have hope for a closer walk with God today!

Evangelist and friend, Dr. Rich Flanders identified 4 ideas that hinder Revival in his book “Back to Normal.”   He said:

  1. “Let’s define revival from history.”
  2. “Let’s improve the plan of salvation.”
  3. “Let’s not talk too much about the Holy Spirit.”
  4. “Let’s get in touch with this new generation.”

Those are definite ways to hinder revival and we could do those things purposefully – or accidentally, if we not think about it.

When Paul wrote to the local churches he expressed that, many times he found hope, encouragement, and refreshment in their testimony and steadfastness.  Their walk with Jesus renewed Paul’s joy.  If you are living in revival, you will encourage others too!

2 Corinthians 7:13 says, “Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.”  Again in 2 Timothy 1:16, “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:”

Evangelist Gypsy Smith, was asked what the secret of revival is. He said, “Go home. Take a piece of chalk. Draw a circle around yourself. Then pray, ‘O Lord, revive everything inside this circle.’”  Put yourself in that circle today and ask the Lord for revival in your own heart and life.

King David lost his joy.  Following his selfish sins with Bathsheba, the cover up and murder of Uriah, he confesses to God in Psalm 51:12, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”  If you do not have an inner, long-lasting happiness and satisfaction in Jesus, you can have it restored in your life today – through revival.

Here are 5 areas affected by personal revival…

  1. Your Heart. Ephesians 4:23 speaks, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”

Now, my perception of self-shifts from being selfish to being Biblically accurate.  My emotions are controlled.  I am not easily offended.  Where I may have been depressed, now I am thinking of God and others.  Where I may have been discouraged, I find my self-worth in Jesus.  It could be that I was defiant to rules, authority, or leadership; now I am submissive to the Holy Spirit.  Bitterness is not allowed to take root because I deal with disappointment on a daily basis.  My anger is under the control of God.  My relationship with God is primary, and my relationship with others is prioritized.  Like Mark 12:30 says, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”

2. Your Hope. Philemon 1:20 encourages, “Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.”

Paul anticipated, expected refreshing, and change for better when hearing about Onesimus and Philemon.  We can have the same confident expectation of the Lord.  God can change us!  If we are not willing to admit our sin, wrong thinking, or guilt, then hope for change is diminished.  That is the beauty of confession of sin.  Sin is something that can be repented of and then a change in life and action can take root.

Sin does not need to control you – you have hope for change following confession.   I no longer need to drown in the sea of temptations, the Lord will deliver me.  Revival brings about this hope for change.

Bible hope comes from God.  Observe 2 Thessalonians 2:16, “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace.”

Our hope is also in Christ.  Our hope is not money, personality, ability, or other men – our hope is found in Jesus Himself.   1 Timothy 1:1 says, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.”

Christians can lose hope from time to time.  We lose hope when we focus on now instead of tomorrow.   Problems can be BIG, but God is BIGGER.  Today may be terrible, but tomorrow is much better!  Don’t let fear, anxiety, and worry define your life.  Look to Jesus. Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

3. Your Help. Psalm 138:7 teaches, Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.

God is our help in times of trouble. II Corinthians 4:8-10 says, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”  Notice the contrast of terrible situations with the deliverance and helping hand of the Lord in those verses..

When it seems “all hope is lost” find help in Jesus.  Call out to Him.  Pray to God the Father in Jesus’ name.   Help is found in prayer.  Hebrews 4:16 emphatically states, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

4. Your Healing. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a common verse preached concerning revival. Please read it again: “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.”

Humility, praying, turning to God and turning from sin are all active parts of repentance and true revival.  We cannot be healed until the need for healing is admitted.  A relationship cannot be restored until a confession of the need of restoration is made.  A marriage cannot be mended until contrition of sin, bitterness, or resentment is expressed.  A renewal of commitment to Bible reading, prayer, church participation, and witnessing cannot be made until a confession of those things being lacking is made.  Simply put- you cannot fix what is not believed to be broken.

Let revival begin the healing process in every part of your life.

5. Your Honor. Romans 8:6-8 admonishes: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

It is possible for a Christian to live like a “dead man” for a short time.  To have a fleshly, or carnal mind is living against God and that brings about death.  Some Christians are decaying from the inside out because they have loved their sin more than Jesus.

In contrast, Life and peace come about from a life yielded to the Holy Spirit.  This is a person who is developing, and growing in the Lord and is “spiritually minded.”

If you find yourself struggling with your flesh, being quick to anger in your heart and mind, or are not able to overcome the temptation to live after your human nature, you need revival.  Come back to the first things that you learned when you were saved.  Determine with God’s help, that the renewed, refreshed life in Jesus is something that you will ask, seek, and find each day.  With all the honor of your being commit to glorify and honor the Lord.

The Wilton Baptist Church covenant is a good summary of the Christian life.  While these expectations are the goals we have committed to, there will be times that we sin, deviate from theses principles or do wrong.  It is not the letter of the law, but the spirit of the life that really counts.  I may not live up to these concepts perfectly, but “I am trying to.”  With God’s grace, have an attitude of “I will do the best I can and when I mess up, I will confess it, seek forgiveness, and keep moving forward for and with Jesus.”

“Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of our Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now, in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.”

“We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to give it a sacred preeminence over all institutions of human origin; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.”

“We also engage to maintain family and private devotions; to Biblically educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred, acquaintances, and all others; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful to our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to abstain from worldly amusements; to be free from all oath-bound secret societies and partnerships with unbelievers; to abstain from the use of tobacco in any form, narcotic drugs, or intoxicating drink as a beverage; and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior.”

“We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy of speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior, to secure reconciliation without delay.”

“We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.”

When the Revival Meetings comes, the tv and media players, and cell phones are turned off, the Bible is opened, and we ask the Spirit of God to work. We put ourselves in a place to allow the Lord to work in our lives.  Time is set aside and specified for a special working of God in our lives.

These are five good reasons to have a revival meeting.  I trust you will pray and plan to be here at Wilton Baptist for our revival meetings. Discover the HOPE and Christian life that God has for you at revival meeting.

Outside of the Apostle Paul and Jesus Himself, some preachers would say that C.H. Spurgeon was the greatest preacher who ever lived.  He said: “A genuine revival without joy in the Lord is as impossible as spring without flowers, or day-dawn without light.”

What a good thought.  Find the joy of your salvation.  Discover the hope that revival brings.  Develop the attitude and mind of Christ that spiritual renewal brings with it.

Good Intentions Are Not That Good

Good Intentions Are Not That Good

I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.  Jeremiah 17:10

“In one Peanuts comic strip Sally was struggling with her memory verse for Sunday. She was absorbed in her thoughts trying to figure it out when she remembered, “Maybe it was something from the book of Reevaluation.””   (min127).

We must allow the Bible to impact our hearts and lives. Each time you read the Word or hear a Bible message, do a reevaluation of your heart and mind. Let the Bible cut right to the matters of the heart and decide to not merely have good intentions in the Christian life, but to actually takes steps and strides with Jesus.

Some people say: “God knows my heart” in an effort to justify or rationalize a lack of faithfulness or to explain a decision that they have made. God knows your heart, but that is not an “Excuse” for what you DO or Do Not DO.  He does not just examine intentions but actions.  The Lord “gives” according to our “ways” and doings.”

Good intentions are not the same thing as good actions. Good intentions left by themselves are not that good. They need to be accompanied by good actions.   Because God knows your heart, He knows what motivates you and what discourages you.  He knows why you do what you do and “what makes you tick.”

Like Jeremiah 17:9 says – the heart… is “desperately wicked: who can know it.”  Don’t just follow your heart – follow the heart of God.  Do not merely obey your will, but obey the will of God the Father.

Go beyond having “good intentions…”