Wednesday, May 30, 2012

God's Not Fair

"He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities." - Psalm 103:10

Have you ever heard someone make the statement that God is not fair?  I have often heard people ask questions about why God has allowed something to happen in their lives or why God did not stop something from happening.  I have even heard people make the statement that they were not getting what they deserved, and they were not happy about it.  

"Those who would like the God of Scripture to be more purely ethical, do not know what they ask." - C.S. Lewis

I don't know about you, but I am so thankful that God is not fair!  I am also thankful that God does not give me what I deserve!  If God was fair and gave us what we deserved, we ALL would be Hell in this very moment because of our sin and rebellion against Him.  You and I deserved the judgment and wrath of God, but instead He gave us forgiveness, redemption, and sanctification when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation.  I am so thankful that God gave me what I DID NOT deserve, mercy and grace!

The reason why most people think that God is not fair is because they start with a false premise; they naturally assume that they are a good person.  Have you ever heard someone ask the question of why bad things happen to good people?  The truth is, according to God's Word, there are NO good people (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:10,23).  A better way of stating it would be that good things happen to bad people.  When we look at it that way, it will change everything!  

We are so quick to ask why something bad happens, but we hardly ever stop and ask why God might bless us with something good.

"Fairness is an excellent principle when we're good, but an unfortunate principle when we're not so good.  And when it comes to God, we are pretty much always going to be on the no-so-good side of the fairness equation. But we can be glad that God is not fair; we don't get what we deserve.  Instead of punishment we get death-defying grace.  And we get God with us, especially in the midst of life's most difficult and painful experiences." - Craig Groeschel

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful that You are not fair!  Thank You for not giving me what I deserved, but instead You gave me mercy and grace.  Father, help me to remember that You are good all the time!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Shedding Of Blood

"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." - Hebrews 9:22

Since today is Memorial Day, I would like to share a quick thought about the shedding of blood.  First, I would like say thank you to all of our veterans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country!  It is only because they were willing to shed their blood that we can be free!

Today, as we reflect on the sacrifices made by so many people sown through the history of our country, let us not forget the One who made the supreme sacrifice for ALL of mankind!  Without the shedding of blood we would have no freedom in this country, but more importantly, without Jesus Christ shedding His blood on the Cross we would have no hope of eternal life.  It is only because of the blood that Christ shed on the Cross and His finished work of redemption that we even have the possibility of eternal life.  If Christ had not willingly sacrificed His life on the Cross for our sins, everything would be in vain and we would utterly be without hope.

However, I am so thankful today that Christ did go to the Cross and that He willingly shed His blood for my sins because of his love for me.  I am so thankful that He took the punishment that I deserved and gave me what I did not deserve; mercy and grace.  So today as you celebrate Memorial Day and reflect on the sacrifices that our veterans have made for this country, do not forget the sacrifice that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords made for you on the Cross.

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for our country and the men and women who have given their blood to protect us and keep us free.  More importantly, thank You for coming to this earth in the form of Jesus Christ and taking my sin upon You on that Cross.  You took the punishment that I deserved by taking my place.  Thank You Lord for making that sacrifice so that I might be saved and have eternal life all because of Your love for me!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My Failure

"All that the church and its members need for the manifestation of the mighty power of God in the world, is the return to our true place, the place that belongs to us, both in creation and redemption - the place of absolute and unceasing dependence on God." - Andrew Murray

I just want to share a quick thought this Sunday before church.  I was reading a passage by Andrew Murray this morning in my devotions and I came across this quote and the Lord just spoke to my heart about it.

Do you desire to see the power of God manifested in your church?  What about you personally, do you desire to see God's power manifested in you and through you?  I would hope that we all would answer yes to both of those questions.  

I can honestly say that I truly long to see God's power manifested in our church and in my life personally, but I can't honestly say that I have really seen it.  When I don't see it in our church or in my life, I get very down and very discouraged.  Why don't I see it?  It is a very simple question that has a very obvious answer.  I don't see the mighty power of God manifested in our church and in my life personally because the church is not in the right place, and neither am I.  That is a pretty tough pill to swallow, but it is the truth.  When I do not see the power of God manifested in my life, it is because I am not in the right place, the place that belongs to me and the church both - the place of absolute and unceasing dependence on Christ.

What about you?  Are you in the place of absolute and unceasing dependence on Christ?

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, forgive me for not being in the right place, a place of absolute and unceasing dependence on You.  Help me to be in that place of absolute and unceasing dependence on You so that Your mighty power would be manifested in and through my life.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Faithful In Prayer

"Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me." - Psalm 66:20

During my 10 years in the ministry, I have found that the most important church service is also the most neglected and poorly attended service, the midweek prayer and Bible study.  If you were to announce that you were having some form of entertainment you would be amazed at the turnout, but announce that you are meeting to spend time in prayer and hardly anyone shows up.  Why is this?  The answer is simple, Christians do not have the right priorities.  Even in our unfaithfulness to God, He is still faithful to us.

Let's think about our prayer lives for just a moment.  Think about how faithful God has been to hear our prayers even we have not been so faithful to commune with Him in prayer.  Notice what Charles Spurgeon says about this: "Oh! it is marvellous that the Lord should regard those intermittent spasms of importunity which come and go with our necessities. What a God is he thus to hear the prayers of those who come to him when they have pressing wants, but neglect him when they have received a mercy; who approach him when they are forced to come, but who almost forget to address him when mercies are plentiful and sorrows are few."  If we are honest, we all would have to admit our neglect to be faithful to God in prayer; we only call on Him when we are desperate.  Even with that said, God is still faithful and merciful, not only to hear, but also to answer our prayers.  I must admit, I am so guilty of doing this very thing.  When things are going good I tend to slack in my prayer life, but then when things take a turn for the worse I am calling out to God for help.  Let us purpose in our hearts that we are going to be faithful to commune with God in prayer just as much when things are going great as we do when things are going wrong.

Now, let's turn to another aspect of our prayer lives: what about the character and nature of the prayers that we offer to God?  Here is what Spurgeon said about the nature of our prayers: "In looking back upon the character of our prayers, if we do it honestly, we shall be filled with wonder that God has ever answered them."  Let us be totally honest about the character and nature of the things that we pray for.  Sadly, most of the prayer requests that you hear from Christians during the midweek prayer service are very inwardly and carnally focused.  We have gotten away from getting on our faces before God and crying out to Him for the spiritual needs of those around us.  Yet, despite our inwardly and carnally focused prayers, God is still faithful to hear and answer our prayers.

I pray, that because God hears our prayers such as they are, it will touch and stir our hearts to be more faithful to God in our prayer life.  I pray that it will stir our hearts to be more spiritually and eternally minded when we approach our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Are You Satisfied?

"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!  For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." - Psalm 107:8-9

Have you ever really craved a certain food, and then after finally eating it, you have a feeling of satisfaction but a longing for more of it?  Ever since our family left the country of Paraguay five years ago to come back home, I have had a longing and a desire for many of the foods that we enjoyed while living there.  There are times when I think how awesome it would be to just have one more opportunity to eat some Chipa or to drink a glass of Guarana or to drink a glass of yogurt (yes, I did say drink yogurt.)

As I was reading some during my morning devotions, I came across these verses and the Lord really spoke to my heart.  They give us a glimpse into the character and the nature of God, but they also contain something else very thought provoking and sobering.  As I read verse 9, the Lord began to speak to my heart and deal with me about my own walk with Him.  Am I satisfied?  Does my soul long for Christ?  Is my soul hungry for more of Christ, His Word, His presence, and His power?  The verse says that the Lord will satisfy the longing soul and that He fills the hungry soul with His goodness.  Are you satisfied?  Do you long for Him?  Are you hungry for Him?

At the risk of being looked down upon for my honesty, I am going to be completely honest about my own spiritual life.  To my shame, my soul does not long for Christ they way that I should nor do I hunger for Him the way that I should.  I know that this is the cause many times of me not being satisfied.  If you were to be honest, you would have to say the same.  Oh that you and I would hunger after Christ that we might have more of His Word, His power, and His presence!  If you and I will bring our longing souls to Christ, He will satisfy our souls!

In Psalm 63, David writes about how he thirsted for the Lord as one would thirst for water in a dry wilderness. According to David, life would be nothing without the Lord.  Then we read that David became so engrossed and consumed with the thought of God's love that he meditated on it all night long.

I pray that you and I will bring our longing souls to Christ and allow Him to satisfy that longing!  I pray that we will hunger for Christ and allow Him to fill our hungry souls with His goodness!  Are you hungry for Christ?  Do you long for Christ?  You should!

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, forgive me for falling so short of your perfect standard.  Lord, I pray that you would burn in my heart a hunger and a longing for You!  Father, I pray that You will fill my hungry soul with Your goodness and that You will satisfy my longing soul!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Prove It!

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8

Have you ever made a statement to someone to have them respond with a statement like this, "Prove it" or something along those lines?

In times of prolonged adversity, we can begin to entertain thoughts that cause us to doubt Christ's love for us.  At some point in our lives, we all have done this.  Satan is going to come to us and try to get us to doubt Christ's love for us.  He is going plant thoughts in our minds like, "If God really loved you, then He wouldn't let this happen" or "If God really loved you, then He would do this for you."  In order to fight this, we must store up truths in our hearts about God from His Word to use as weapons when Satan tries to convince us that we are not loved by Christ.

The most convincing evidence of God's love for us is when He gave Himself in the form of Jesus Christ to suffer and die for our sins on the Cross.  If you look at the verses 6-7 of Romans chapter 5, you see the depth of the love of Christ.

"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." - Romans 5:6

"For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare die." - Romans 5:7

First, we see that Christ died for the ungodly.  Secondly, we see that it is inconceivable to someone would even die for a good man or even a righteous man.  This tells us the depths of Christ's love for us, because according to Scripture, we are not righteous and neither are we good.  However, despite what we are, Christ died for us. He took the punishment that you and I deserved, suffering the wrath of God the Father because my sin and your sin was laid upon Him.  What love He demonstrated!  God showed His love for us by meeting our greatest need - paying our sin debt with His own life's blood thus satisfying the wrath of God the Father.

"Calvary is the one objective, absolute, irrefutable proof of God's love for us." - Jerry Bridges

Jesus Christ has already proved His love for us, and as a result of that, let us prove our love for Christ and demonstrate that love to a lost and dying world!

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, thank You for demonstrating and proving Your love for me through Christ's death on the Cross.  Forgive me for the times when I doubt Your love for me due to my circumstances.  Help me to prove my love for You and demonstrate that love to those around me.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Justifying & Condemning

"He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD." - Proverbs 17:15

I have read through the book of Proverbs many times and I never noticed this verse they way I did last night as I was reading before going to bed.  I just want to share a few thoughts on justifying and condemning.

There are a lot of sins that are mentioned in God's Word, there are some that God says He hates, and then there are those that God says are an abomination.  If you look up the definition of the word abomination, here is what you find: 1. anything abominable; anything greatly disliked or abhorred 2. intense aversion or loathing 3. a vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit.  This puts it in perspective how the Lord feels about certain things when He said they are an abomination.

Notice what the Lord says in this verse; He says the person who justifies the wicked is an abomination, but He also says the person that condemns the just is also an abomination.  The Lord Jesus Christ told us in the Gospels that the day would come when this would happen.  He said that people will persecute true Bible believing Christians thinking that they are doing God's will and doing society a favor.  Let's face it, we live in a society where wickedness is exalted and you are condemned for obeying and following God's Word.

However, with all of the above being said, I want to look at this verse in a different light for just a moment.  How many times have you and I been guilty of justifying the sin(s) in our own lives while at the same time we condemn others for the sin(s) in their lives?  Ouch!!!  The Lord laid that thought on my heart as I was reading this verse last night.  Many times we look our own sin as no big deal, or that God is somehow going to make an exception for us, but we condemn others for their sin and act as if God cannot or will not forgive their sin.  Then concerning the last part of the verse, many times we are also guilty of that one too.  How many times have you and I not had our hearts right with God bringing us to the place where we condemn those that are right with God?  If we all are honest, we will admit that we are guilty of this.  We look at the person living right and being obedient to Christ and we mock them or we tear them down because we are justifying our own sin and wickedness.

Lord help us as Your children to NEVER justify sin and wickedness whether it be in our society or in own hearts.  Then, Lord help us to NEVER condemn the just due to our disobedience and to the fact that our own hearts are not right with you.

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, I pray that You will search my heart and reveal ANY wickedness in me.  Help me to NEVER justify my own sin and disobedience to Your Word.  Help me to Never condemn those who are being obedient to You because of the sin and wickedness in my own heart.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Playing Church & Playing Games With Christ

"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know who thou oughtest to be have thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." - 1 Timothy 3:15

I just want to share a quick thought with everyone today.  I have been observing the landscape of our churches over the last several months, especially in the last week or so.  I have come to the conclusion that we have a lot of people in "American Christianity" that are simply playing church.  Now, I am sure that to many of you this does not come as any surprise or new revelation.

In light of remarks that were made by our President last week, we have begun to see a separating of true Bible believing Christians and those that profess the name of Christ, yet openly disobey His Word and make no apologies for it.  This division is only going to get clearer as we get closer to Christ coming back for His Church.  The bottom line is that we are going to find who is truly following Christ and who is just playing church and playing games with Christ.  Like I said before, the sad reality is that we have so many people today who are just playing and pretending, not ever taking what Christ has said seriously.

If you are saved, the Bible says that you will stand before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ and give an account for everything that you have thought, said, done, or things you should have done but didn't.  My question is, do you really believe this?  I am convinced that the majority of those that profess Christ don't really believe this, because if they did it would scare them to death or at least change the way they live.

The world looks at professing Christians and the Church today, and they see something that is not real.  A friend of mine said this the other day, "Sinners and God have something in common, they are looking for something real."  We must show and reflect that Christ and the Church is real to us!

The bottom line is that professing Christians have become good at playing church and playing games with Christ, just as good as a politician is at playing politics.

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, help me, that when others see my life, they see something real!  By Your grace, help me not to play church or play games with the Christ.  I pray that in every thought, every word, and every action I will be reminded of the fact that I will stand before Christ at the Judgment Seat to give an account.  Give me the strength to stand for you in the days that lie ahead, no matter the cost!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Where Is The Church?

"And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." - Acts 17:6

Over the last several months I have been burdened by a single question, where is the Church?  The Church in the book of Acts is accused of turning the world upside down.  Sadly, the only thing that the Church could be accused of today is selling out.  We are such a far cry from what the Church is supposed to be as read in the book of Acts.

Have you ever heard another church member recalling a story that ended with one of these statements:

"That church split over the color of the carpet!" or "The deacons meeting ended in an actual fight!" or "She walked up and slapped the pastor across the face!" or "She actually flipped the pastor the middle finger in a business meeting!"

You might be thinking that those statements sound extreme and that something like that would never happen.  I can tell you from personal experience that these things do happen.  The last example of someone flipping the pastor the middle finger in a business meeting actually happened to me last year.  Many Christians could share stories with you that defy the imagination.  Let me emphatically say that church is not supposed to be this way!

All you have to do is look around the community that you live in and you will see people that are hurting, people that need someone to love them and care about them, people that need someone to show them Christ.  Where is the Church?  We have gotten so caught up in our theology, our programs, and ourselves that we have quit being the Church!  What will it take to break our hearts for people in our communities?  What happened to  Christians helping their neighbors with a need?  What happened to Christians donating their time to the food bank or homeless shelter?  What happened to Christians just showing a simple act of kindness so that they might show and reflect the love of Christ?  Now please don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that we should do all of these things in place of witnessing and sharing the Gospel of Christ with the lost.  We must do all these things in conjunction with witnessing and sharing the Gospel of Christ with the lost.

May God break our hearts for those in our community!  May God so burden our hearts and our souls that we will start being the Church by showing a radical love and compassion for those in our communities.  I am all for having the right theology and doctrine, but those things are worthless if it doesn't radically change our lives and compel us to show unbelievable compassion to those in our community.

‎"The knowledge that God has loved me to the uttermost, to the end of all my sin and meanness and selfishness and wrong, will send me forth into the world to love in the same way." - Oswald Chambers

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, I pray that You would break my heart for those in my community!  Break my heart for their souls, their needs, and their burdens.  Help my to show them Christ's love in every way imaginable!  Give me a radical love and unbelievable compassion for those that are lost, those that are hurting, and those that just need to see that someone cares.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hiding His Word In Our Hearts

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." - Psalm 119:11

First, let me say that it is good to be back blogging!  Last week we had a Prophecy Conference at FBC with Dr. Billy Martin.  It was a great week, but I did not have the opportunity to update my blog at all last week.

I want to share something that has been heavy on my heart over the last several months.  I have observed that our churches seem to be severely lacking when it comes to God's Word.  The statistics are very disturbing to say the least.

  • Only 16% of churchgoers read the Bible everyday.
  • Only 32% read the Bible at least once a week.
  • Only 37% say that reading and studying the Bible has made a significant difference in the way they live their lives.

We must do something about this!  As I said, the statistics are very disturbing to say the least.  Just a little over 1/4 of our congregations are reading their Bibles only one time each week.  It is no wonder that our churches are in the shape that they are in!  Could you imagine only eating physically one time a week?  Most of us couldn't even imagine eating only one time a day.  We all know that if we skip eating that we are not going to grow physically; in fact, we are going to get weaker.  Why is that we do not apply the same standard to our spiritual lives?  How can we expect to grow spiritually if we are never in God's Word, or if we just read it once a week?  We are spiritually starving ourselves to death!

The most disturbing of these statistics to me is that only 37% say that reading and studying the Bible has made a significant difference in the way they live their lives.  This should not be!  If you are truly a child of God, every time that you read God's Word, it should radically change you!  I truly believe that what we have in many of our churches is a bunch of lost people trying to read the Bible and understand it, which is the problem.  I hear so much about how people say that they cannot understand the Bible.  Now let me be very clear, even as a Christian, you are not going to understand everything you read in the Bible, but you should have a general understanding.  As a child of God, when you read His Word it should convict you and stir your heart, it will change you!

I believe one of the biggest contributing factors to this epidemic is that many pastors and churches push reading your Bible through every year.  I have heard countless preachers talk about how many times they have read their Bible through during their lives.  I have even heard them make condescending remarks about those who have never read their Bibles through during the year.  It is not important whether or not a person reads their Bible through each year, but rather it is more important that they read their Bibles everyday.  We must encourage our people to get in God's Word everyday, even if they only read a few verses each day.

I will be the first to admit that I don't spend time in God's Word like I should, and if you are honest you would have to admit the same.  Purpose in your heart, that moving forward you are going to spend time in God's Word each day, but more importantly, that you are going to allow His Word to radically change how you live.  Get in the Word!!!

"The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver." - Psalm 119:72

"Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction." - Psalm 119:92

"O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day." - Psalm 119:97

"How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" - Psalm 119:103

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." - Psalm 119:105

"The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple." - Psalm 119:130

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, help me to spend time in Your Word each day!  Father, I pray that as I read and study Your Word each day that You would radically change my heart and my life to look more like Christ.  Father, give me a burning desire for Your Word!  In Jesus name, Amen!