Tag Archives: Jesus

This Never Takes a Day Off

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 

2 Timothy 3:13

Do you look forward to a vacation?  Christmas break? Spring break?  How about the end a work week?  Sure.  We look forward to moments of rest and relaxation.  Jesus even told His disciples to “Come apart and rest a while.”  Rest is good.  While we need physical rest, emotional/relational relaxation, and spiritual renewal, we should never “take the day off” from be vigilant Christians.

We have an adversary who is always on duty.  We have an opponent who never takes a break.  We are in a spiritual battle and at just the right time, a moment of weakness, or unawareness, Satan will pounce.  1 Peter 5:8 says, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…

Radio preacher Erwin Lutzer suggested: “No matter how many pleasures Satan offers you, his ultimate intention is to ruin you. Your destruction is his highest priority.”  He is certainly right about that.

Here are several sobering thoughts:

  1. Evil never takes a day off.  Just turn on the news.  Evil is escalating everyday.
  2. Satan never takes a day off.  Like a ferocious lion, he is always prepared to pounce.
  3. Temptation never takes a day off.  Every one of us, everyday, will face new temptations.  Sometimes the temptations are recycled forms of previous temptations.  Sometimes they are brand new.  Whatever the case, the Lord can give you victory over that temptation.

Because Satan, evil, and temptation never take a day off, I encourage you to not become lazy in your Christianity.  Be aware of the score.  Know what is going on in the battlefield.  Pack your “spiritual bags” at church to be more prepared when tempted to sin.  Hear more Bible preaching, not less.  Be filled and satisfied with Bible truth, not with the non-sense entertainment and distractions of the world.  Put on the whole armor of God.  Keep your shoes on to flee from Satan.  Be around spiritual people who will encourage you and challenge you to faithfulness in service to Jesus.  Open the Bible and let the Word of God into your life.  Don’t be deceived! Be an aware believer, engaging actively each day.

Your life depends on it.

Your family depends on it.

Those around you will be influenced by your choices.

Don’t take a spiritual day off.

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4 “Plans” for Avoiding Sin

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 6:23

Everyone is tempted to sin.  When our lust begins to control and consume us something is born called sin.  James chapter 1 speaks much to this process of temptation becoming sin.  While temptation is not sin, it leads to sin.  Could I suggest that allowing temptation to grow, or even actively nurturing it could also be sin?

John Eastwood made an insightful statement:  “People do not decide to be drunkards, drug addicts, prostitutes, murderers, or thieves, but they pitch their tent toward Sodom, and the powers of evil overcome them.”

Each of us know people whose lives were changed overnight, because of sin.  One temptation acted upon can alter an entire lifetime.  I have met teenagers who are not able to finish high school because of sin.  Many soldiers and sailors have made one bad choice and find themselves in legal trouble, or in the brig.  Ever notice the genuinely homeless people asking for food along the road?  Perhaps one bad choice, led to a whole string of bad choices and they end up with nothing.

If one sin can have such an impact, we should be looking to Jesus fervently and seeking His guidance and help to avoid sin! Here are 4 “plans” to help you avoid sin.

  1. Prayer Plan: Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
  2. Prevention Plan: Psalm 101:3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
  3. Protection Plan: Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
  4. Escape Plan: 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

What happens if I falter and fail?   What should I do when I commit sin?  For sure we do not want to abuse the Grace of God – see Romans 6:1-2.  But when we sin, we do have an advocate with the Father – His name is Jesus.  We are instructed in 1 John 1:9 to confess our sin to God.  When we confess, we acknowledge our wrong and God forgives us.

Don’t forget about repentance.  Remember Romans 6:1-2?  That verse tells us to not continue in that sin.  That would be abusing the grace of God.  In other words, a person who confesses his sin to God, also should repent of his sin and turn around from it.  Repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of direction.

So, can these 4 “plans” help you avoid sin?  Yes they can.  While we will never be perfect in our lifetimes on earth, we can choose to honor Jesus by living holy lives that are dedicated to Him.

I Can’t Wait

I Can’t Wait!

And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.  Psalm 39:7

You have said it.  You have thought it.  Any young person you have near you has also said it – “I Can’t Wait!”  We can get excited over many things in life.  Looking forward with expectations of good things is natural.

“I can’t wait to see if the Yankees win.”  “I can’t wait for the basketball season to start.” “I can’t wait until the medicine or treatment helps me to feel better.”  “I can’t wait until school is out.”  “I can’t wait until our wedding day!”  “I Can’t wait until I see Jesus.” Or my favorite: “I can’t wait until…. dinner!”   These are common examples.

Make you own “I can’t wait” statement:  I can’t wait _____ _______ ________.

What if we changed our thinking and our perspective a little bit?  Instead of focusing on an event, situation, or outcome, what if we placed our expectation in a person?  Not a spouse (or fiancée). Not a promotion, start of a season, or outcome of a game.  What if our expectation was in Jesus?

In the 13 short verses of Psalm 39, David portrays his need for the Lord.  He declares that his hope is in the Lord.  He mentions controlling his tongue, sorrow, anger, his physical frailty, the vanity of most men, deliverance from evil, the judgment of God, praying to the Lord, and recovering strength in moments of weakness.  He covers a lot of topics in this short chapter!  Right in the middle, in verse 7 he says: “What wait I for?”  It is a good question!  If our hope, expectation, satisfaction and fulfillment is completed in Jesus, what are we really looking forward to in life?  What more can a Christian have if Jesus is truly his “All in All.”

I believe that we should have healthy expectations.  We should be looking ahead and be forward thinking in our mind.  At the same time, while we are looking forward to events and outcomes, we must realize that true fulfillment, peace, and satisfaction does not come from the Yankees winning.  Real satisfaction is not found in relationship, events, or outcomes – but in Christ.

This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote in Colossians 2:10: “And ye are complete in him…”  While the “I can’t wait” things may be good, Jesus is the best.  What more can we find in life if we do not place our hope in Jesus and Jesus alone?  The answer is nothing.  Without Jesus at the center of our life, decisions, and personal satisfaction for living, we will not find true purpose or meaning for life.

The next time you say: “I can’t wait…” look ahead to Jesus for a moment and remind yourself how He is the ultimate goal we are looking for.  Find your fulfillment and completion in Him.

 

 

 

 

No Safe Alcohol

No Safe Alcohol

An August 24 report concluded after extensive study “there’s no safe level of alcohol consumption.”  Millions of cases from 200 countries indicated that 1 in 10 deaths are actually -alcohol related.  “Any protective health effects of alcohol were offset by the drink’s risks:” including cancer, car wrecks and more.  “The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising.” The lead scientist said.  Look up the Chris Carbone report carried by Fox News for more information.

This scientific report concluded something the Bible has already been telling us for thousands of years – avoid alcohol.

Some Christians, when misreading or not understanding the textual and historical context of various Bible passages will stretch the Word to allow (in their mind) for consuming alcohol.

For example: 1 Timothy 5:23 where Paul tells Timothy: Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

Paul would not suggest to Timothy to stop drinking poisonous and putrid water to go find some fermented and rotting juice that has become alcohol.  That is like saying: “stop drinking that poison, try this poison instead.”  This is stretching the passage to fit a permissive lifestyle.

  • Fresh grape juice is what Timothy drank. The health benefits of grape juice is well documented.
  • Fresh grape juice is what Jesus made out of water.  The wedding celebrants in Cana commented on the fresh drink tasting better than the old or fermented drink.
  • Fresh grape juice will not get a person drunk or cause them to violate all the prohibitions of the Bible against alcohol.
  • Reading in context a person can discern if “wine” in the Bible is fresh or fermented.

The very first mention of wine is in Genesis 9 when Noah becomes drunk. Other sins stem from his drunkenness. Not a good first mention.

The word “Wine” is the Greek word “oinos” that has a Hebrew origin.  It means wine that is either “literally or figuratively, wine.”  I have always understood from Bible classes and training that “wine” means “fruit of the vine” or “juice of the vine.”

There is a big difference in the “New Wine” and the “Old Wine” in the Bible. The difference is Fresh verses Fermented.

Please prayerfully read and consider the following passages:

  • Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
  • Proverbs 23:31-33 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
  • Proverbs 31:4-5 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: 5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

Be encouraged to “live like a king – don’t drink alcohol!”

For those hoping there is more about this in the Bible – there is.  We are told the only 2 good uses of alcohol in Proverbs 31:6-7.  And here you will note, it is not for pleasure, fun, celebrations, social events, or to have a “good time.”

Proverbs 31:6-7 teaches, Give strong drink (Alcoholic wine) unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. 7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

  1. Men on Death Row. These men were heavy of heart for their crimes and impending judgment.  Right before public execution, many were given alcohol. Commentator Adam Clark noted: “Inebriating drinks were mercifully given to condemned criminals, to render them less sensible of the torture they endured in dying.” When Jesus was a dying on the cross, he refused the alcoholic drink offered Him.  We would do well to follow His example.  (Mark 15:23)
  2. Medicine for physical pain near death. Alcohol is a type of drug.  That is why is considered a “controlled substance.”  Alcohol can be used as medicine.  Does Nyquil still have alcohol in it?  We still anesthetize for pain before surgeries in similar ways today. Alcohol should only be available as a prescriptive drug to alleviate the pain of a dying person. Even if the wine Paul recommends to Timothy was alcoholic (I do not believe it was) it was consumed only as medicine.

WebMD.com writes in “The Buzz about Grape Juice” the following: “With grape juice, you can drink enough to get the benefit without worrying about becoming intoxicated.” What’s more, alcoholic drinks don’t seem to improve the function of cells in blood vessel linings the way grape juice does. And alcohol generates free radicals — unstable oxygen molecules that can actually cause damage to blood vessel tissues — dampening any of the benefits that red wine’s antioxidants may offer.”

One final thought: Not only would I not drink alcohol I would not serve it or sell it to other people.  I believe it is actually a sin to serve alcohol to another person.  If my job at the department store, gas station, or restaurant required me to serve or sell alcohol, I would look for a different job. Here’s why: Habakkuk 2:15, where a warning is given: Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!

Alcohol has historically been used to take advantage of other people.  Ask many of the women of the “me too movement” if drugs or alcohol was part of the equation.  Even the first mention of wine with Noah included taking advantage and shameful nakedness. Drinking decreases mental ability, creates false narratives, encourages foolish and more sinful behavior, and clouds a person’s judgment. Don’t drink it! And don’t give it to others.

Be encouraged to live like a king – avoid alcohol.  Understand there is “no safe amount” of alcohol. It is not good for you – for many Biblical reasons!  Happiness is not found in a can or a bottle!  Instead of being filled with alcohol – be filled with the Holy Spirit of Jesus (Ephesians 5:18).  Let Him provide the peace, satisfaction, and fulfillment you are searching for.

 

 

 

 

A Demonic Inspiration?

A Demonic Inspiration?

One 12 year old Michigan girl set herself on fire attempting the “Fire Challenge” she saw on Youtube.  She burned over half her body and will need 3 more surgeries.  She poured rubbing alcohol on herself and lit a match.  This “challenge” phenomenon on social media is a dangerous trend that appeals to many young people and teens.

Other challenges include the “Hot Water Challenge” with kids being burned with boiling water.  Participants either pour the boiling water on self, another person, or allow it to be poured on them.  An attempt to see what level of pain tolerance one has?  Perhaps. Dangerous and foolish no matter the reason why.

Kids are easily influenced for foolish things.  Be careful of Who and What you allow to influence your kids.  Avoid giving young person unmonitored access to the internet on ta phone or computer.  It could turn our dangerous for them and for you.  Have guidelines, expectations, and accountability in place.  Like 1 Corinthians 15:33 teaches, Be not deceived: evil communications (Companions) corrupt good manners.  If you want your child to turn out right, make sure you instill discernment for who influences your child as a friend, or companion. Even the internet companions hold tremendous influence.

Speaking of the Christian’s physical body, 2 Corinthians 6:16 says, And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

As Christians, our bodies and our lives belong to Jesus.  His desire is that we care for our bodies.  We are the temple of the living God and as such, our bodies are to be cared for and maintained to the glory of God.

What is the deal with setting self on fire?  Here are several thoughts that may put this ridiculous activity in perspective.

  • Hell is full of fire.
  • Fire is indicative of judgment.
  • Satan wants people to go to Hell.
  • A demon possessed boy in the New Testament passage of Matthew 17:14-19 would constantly jump into a fire. Jesus rescues this boy.

And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Could it be that “self-harm” is suggested by a demon?  Is it possible that the “fire challenges” are demon inspired?

While Jesus is interested in life – Satan and his demons are interested in death and dying.  When kids are tempted to play “Russian Roulette,” or get as close to drowning as possible, or have a self-induced near-death experience – are these forms of Satanic oppression or even possession?  I believe it is very possible.

God says, take care of your body and live.  Satan says, destroy your body and die.

Parents, if you find your teen participating in self-harm or similar dangerous activity, please take them to Jesus right away.  Jesus is the answer your teen is looking for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Revival Prayer

A Revival Prayer

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.   Habakkuk 3:2

With our annual Revival Meeting nearing, it is good to pause and to pray for the Lord to send revival.  Will you pray for personal revival in your life?

What is revival anyway?  A basic and most thorough definition I have used for years is this: “Revival is falling in love with Jesus all over again.”  Simply stated, and right to the point.

As time goes by and we are further away from our conversion and new birth as Christians, we can become complacent.  Just like many people let their physical bodies get out of shape, or neglect proper eating and exercise, we can do the same thing spiritually. Many Christians have become lethargic in their walk with God.  Their service in church is pale and anemic, their pulse for loving God and other people has slowed down, and their appetite for the Word of God has decreased.  Even just opening the Bible at home causes difficulty in breathing.  If I was describing symptoms in a person’s physical body, you may think the person had a heart problem.

Some Christians have high blood pressure spiritually (in some cases literally) and are complaining and bickering with others then wonder why they do not feel as close to God as they once did.  All of this is symptomatic of a much bigger problem – a spiritual heart problem.  Are you loving Jesus more today than you were loving Him yesterday?

Why or why not?  It could be that loving sin, reveling in pride, or loving the world has diminished you love for Jesus.  Will you pray for personal revival?  Will you pray for family revival?  Will you pray for church revival?

Pray like the old-time prophet Habakkuk, who poured out his heart to God after hearing the Word of God spoken: O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.   Make his prayer – your revival prayer today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Football, Respect, and Jesus

Football, Respect, and Jesus

Recently NFL Legend, Jim Brown declared that he would always stand for the National Anthem.  He said that kneeling is disrespectful to the flag and that he always wanted to respect the flag: “I am not going to denigrate my flag…” he went on to say to a reporter while visiting the Football Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio.

With football season nearly here, this will be a topic of discussion from all the radio, tv, and media “talking heads” to regular news, the people at your workplace, and the family around your dinner table.

Respect is an emphasized theme in the Bible.  Many passages speak of respecting elders, leaders, and those in authority.  Here are 2 for example:

  • 1 Peter 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
  • Romans 13:1-2 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. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

Apparently, the Lord desires for us to show respect for “All men.”  This would include those with whom we do not agree with personally or politically.  When Paul wrote this passage and when Peter penned these words, one of the most tyrannical, ungodly, and incredibly cruel leaders ever- was the Roman Emperor.  Just look him up in a history book sometime.  His name was Nero.  If Paul and Peter could show respect to the leaders in their day, we can certainly show respect to our leaders today.  Paul even set a goal to personally give the Gospel to the Emperor.

What about the social injustice?  Some injustice is real.  Some injustice is fabricated.  Some injustice is embellished. And, some things happen because people make foolish personal decisions.  If a person is acting suspiciously, fidgeting, pacing back and forth, or being loud and aggressive, people take note, and suspect something is wrong or about to go wrong.  Where does “injustice” fit into this “respect thing.”

While I am for doing what is right for myself, my family, and for our community – it should be done with a realistic mindset.  Human government, civil disobedience, political movements, and a more informed public will not achieve the goals of the social engineers or even the people who are sincerely trying to make the world a better place.  Why not?  Because we cannot do what only Jesus can do.  Let me explain.

With worthy goals and good intentions, some people are organizing, coordinating on social media, and attempting to influence others to make things “better” or at least their version of what “better” is.  But human ability, intellect, and willpower can only do so much.  The human heart is misguided according to God in Jeremiah 17:9 when He warned us about following the human heart: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Only Jesus can change a heart.  He is the only one who can create lasting and motivationally pure change.  Even when we do the right thing, many times it is not with the right motive.  We simply cannot do the work of God in righting all the wrongs in this world.

During the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus will rule this earth and He will bring about what many people are trying to achieve today: world peace and human harmony.  Observe Isaiah 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

This verse is speaking of the day when King Jesus is directing the world from His Millennial (1000 year) Reign in Jerusalem.  No one would dispute or deny that the peace described in Isaiah 11:6 sounds wonderful.  People want this peace.

Speaking about the Christians who will rule with Christ during the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus says in Revelation 2:27: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.  Jesus will not tolerate any sin.  No social injustice will be allowed. Jesus will ensure that no-one is taken advantage of.  He will insure peace.  He will provide civil, political, and social equality and stability the likes of this world has never seen.  Leaders the world over in governments, think tanks, and college campuses can only dream of the incredible authority by which Jesus will rule.

But we cannot.  We are not capable of achieving something that only God can do.  So, while we wait for the Millennium, it is a good idea to have realistic goals and a right perspective of pointing people to Jesus.  After all – He is their only hope.

Before the Millennium, there are several things that must happen prophetically.  They are:

  • The Rapture. When Christians are taken to Heaven and given new, sinless bodies. Christians are serving the Lord while waiting for the “trumpet to sound!”
  • The Tribulation. When the Lord judges a Jesus rejecting earth. In this 7-year timespan the world will embrace and empower the Antichrist.  He will set up a singular global empire consolidating all economies, militaries, governments, and religions (except Biblical Christianity because all the Christians were raptured).
  • The Battle of Armageddon. Jesus returns to earth and defeats the Antichrist and all the enemies of God.
  • The Touchdown. Jesus lands (bodily) on the Mount of Olives.  The earth quakes and Jesus proceed to walk to Jerusalem and claim the eternal throne of King David.
  • The Millennial Kingdom. Jesus sets up His 1000-year reign.

What many people claim they are working and hoping for will only come about – when Jesus is King. What should we do while we wait for this?  Honor those in authority.  Be thankful for the military.  Understand the value of a nation respecting it’s flag and the lives sacrificed for what that flag stands for – freedom.

And the greatest thing you could do – introduce someone to Jesus.  Give the Gospel.  Help others know how to have their sins forgiven and a home in Heaven.