Wednesday, October 13, 2010

God Still Blesses Obedience

Last week, I actually allowed myself to wonder if I shouldn't keep my tithe and offering and double my tithe payment next paycheck so I could finish a couple of projects around the house. I knew that this is not what the Lord would have me to do, but I still thought about it. I was convinced that this was the only way that I would be able to get the work done.

Reluctantly, I gave my offering on Sunday and reminded the Lord that I had needs wondering how I was going to meet them. The main job that I needed to finish was grading and gravelling the 15 ft. strip in front of my yard. This project was going to cost more than I had to spend and would take several hours (if I had help) or several days (if I did it myself).

I called the city of Auburn on Friday afternoon after the office had already closed and left a message with the roads department and asked them to call me on Monday so I could request a truckload of gravel.
Promptly, per request, at 7:00 AM Monday I received a call from the roads division of the City of Auburn. Explaining what I had need of, the city representative informed me that the area in question was not an "easement" but was actually a "right-of-way". As such, Eric (from the City) said that he would be by that afternoon to see the area.

At 8:00 On Tuesday AM, a tractor, backhoe, and gravel truck showed up at my house and they got to work. It didn't cost me anything and it saved me countless hours of weeding and grading.

God is so good. Please pray for Eric. I am going to be sending him a "thank you" letter this week along with a Gospel tract. Please pray that he will read it (the tract) and be saved, if not already.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Serving God in the harvest

Thinking about the harvest time that is now upon us, I was reading 1 Chronicles 9 last night. I came across something that made me take notice. The passage in question is listing all of the people who had a part in the temple worship and their responsibility. I was amazed to see the name of Shallum in this list.

You may be wondering who Shallum was, well to be honest, I was too when I first read it. Reading the rest of the verse, we see that he was the great-grandson of Korah. Of course, we know that Korah was the one who lifted himself up against the leadership of Moses in the wilderness and led the rebellion that resulted in him losing his life.

I often thought (growing up) that his entire family died with him, but here we see evidence that this was not the case. Looking back to Numbers 26:11, we read that "Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not". I can imagine that people looked down on them and held against them the fact that their daddy was responsible for the death of many, himself included. I know that children can sometimes be harsh in their criticism and ridicule.

Irregardless of what was said to them or what they felt about what had only recently transpired, we see in Korah's kids a desire to go on serving God and not letting the sins of their family keep them from the present and future that God had reserved for them.

Now, many years later, we see Korah's great-grandchildren faithfully serving God in the place God has set for them. There were 11 psalms written by the sons of Korah (Psalms 42, 44-49, 84-88). Some of his sons were porters in the temple. Others were keepers of the doors. They all had a place and they were all in their place doing the work of God, and God was using them in a big way.

Praise God that he graciously allows us to serve. When we dedicate ourselves to serving Him, we often find that He blesses us and uses us (in spite of our frailties) in ways we could never have dreamed possible. If serving God was only for those who came from good families, there are not many of us that would be accepted.

I'm praying that God will give us a great harvest as we serve Him in the only work that REALLY counts for eternity.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Good American

On the way home from church yesterday, my son Andrew was telling me about his class at church. It is fun to see how a little mind works and what details stick out in this memory. Without knowing what the story was ahead of time, it was very hard to know what Bible story had been taught.

His description was as follows: We learned about the man that was beat with a bat and then thrown into a pit. Then the Levi came by and saw that he had blood and said "Oh yuck. He has blood." Then he walked away. Then another guy came by and said, "Oh no, he has blood" and he walked away from the pit. Finally the good American came and helped him. He did this because he was American and he was good.

Of course, the story is supposed to be the Good Samaritan and although he got some of the details wrong, I'm glad that he loves hearing Bible stories and is always excited to share what he has learned with me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Have you ever felt like there was way too much going on all at once in your life? I sure have. Sometimes, with the responsibilities of parenthood, work, ministry, and marriage relationship you can feel a little worn-out just trying to keep up. With all the things that make one tired, I can't think of anything that works harder against alertness than travel. By the time we have settled into our seats on the plane, I am already fighting sleep (and usually losing).

Reading in the Gospel of John chapter 4, I find that Christ also got tired from travelling. That in itself is amazing to me. Think of it, Christ (the creator of the universe) got tired during His travels. He truly was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin. I find even more amazement in how Christ coped with his fatigue.

So often, my response is to find an isolated place and try to get some rest. That is not at all what Christ did. the Bible tells us in verse 6 "Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour." To completely understand what is happening here, you need to study the oriental culture. Much like many cultures throughout the world still today, the well was a central part of the town. It was the place where all would go for water. It was a place that the women would go to daily for the water needs of their household, as they washed dishes, clothes, cooked and cleaned.

To sum it up in a few words, Christ went to the place where people gathered when he was wearied. He chose rather than to seek out some obscure, remote location for rest to follow the leading of the Spirit and go where someone was going to need spiritual water.

The passage also says that "he must needs go through Samaria". Christ never did anything on accident. He always had a purpose in the steps he took. He went that way and rested there (at the well) because He knew there was a need coming His way.

As I go through the day, I am praying that (even when tired and weak) that I will allow God to speak and guide me to the place where there is a need. Christ did this and a lady was saved along with countless others. Later in the passage, it tells us that "they (the men of the city) went out of the city and came unto Him." In the end, many believed because of the word of the woman and many more for the word of Christ.

It's okay to be tired, just don't let your tired keep you from doing something for God.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Vision of a Child

Mark 9:35-37 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

Luke 18:16-17 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

Beginning on January 15,1945 and for the next 27 years on both radio and television, Art Linkletter reminded us that kids have a unique perspective on things (One that would be good for us to adopt many times). Kids have a unique ability to cut through the hype and fancy layers and get to the root of the issue.

Yesterday, while playing with my kids (Andrew and Renee) my son presented me with just such a moment. He and Renee were drawing with chalk on the patio and called me to come look at what they had produced. Looking at my son's drawings, I guessed at what they were but got it wrong. My son informed me that it was "sad balloons". Jackie and I asked him why they were sad and he replied that they were sad "because no one had told them about Jesus yet".

Even though the theology might be a little off (balloons being saved), I'm glad the message has resonated in his heart that without Christ there is and can be no joy. We teach them Bible verses and sing Bible songs about joy only coming through a relationship with Christ. How precious and innocent a statement.

I believe that we, too, would benefit from such a viewpoint. Without Christ, there can be no peace or joy. This doesn't only apply to salvation and eternal peace, but also to our daily walk with God. If we, as believers, attempt to live as if God is not Lord in our lives, the best we can hope for is unhappiness.

Thank God for a simple child-like faith and an equally simple point of view.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Doing right brings its own reward

Two months ago, while out doorknocking, we were able to witness to a young mother named Esmeralda. She was wonderfully saved that next week along with her husband. A few weeks ago, she let us know that she is trying to bring her son, Jose Antonio, here from Mexico. He is 12 years old and has early signs of Leukemia.

The family is very poor and didn't have the money needed to bring him here. So, we took an offering to help her in our evening service. To God be the glory, the amount raised was enough to help bring him here. He arrived last week.

Three days ago, Esmeralda noticed that her other son (Christian, pictured at left) was not looking well. She took him to a clinic and they told her that he was having liver problems. He had been the recipient of a liver transplant 3 years ago. It seems that the liver is now trying to reject his body. (Please pray for him and Jose Antonio. Neither of them are saved yet but both are asking a lot of questions.)

While meeting with the family at the hospital this evening, the doctor asked her if she has any family in the area that can be a support system for her and her family during this time. She initially answered "no" but then changed her answer and said this, "My church is my family. They are more like a family to me than my real family is. When I needed help getting my son here, my family didn't do anything to help but my church family did. This IS my family." What a wonderful testimony of God's grace at work in her life.

I'm so glad that the Lord led us to knock on her door and introduce her to the Saviour. I am so glad that she sees our church as her family. I'm so thankful that God has given her a place to belong.

I wonder, what she would be doing right now without God?
How would she be dealing with this situation?

When you do right and show and share the love of God, it truly does bring its own reward.

John 13: 15 "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

Friday, May 28, 2010

In my reading this week, I came across a very familiar passage and noticed something new. I love it when the Lord does this. His Word truly is alive, quick and powerful.
In Daniel 1:8 (you would probably think that I would mention something about purposing in your heart, but I'm not going to this time), we read that Daniel "requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself". We see, in this phrase, that humility and submissiveness of Daniel. When many of us might exercise our mouth and say something we later will wish we hadn't, Daniel (realizing that there is a correct way to do these things) requested permission to not defile himself.

The Bible says in Proverbs 15:1-2 "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grevious words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness."
Again in Proverbs 13:3 "He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction."

Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying "it is better to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

The words that we use and the way in which we use them are VERY important. I imagine that if Daniel had gone to the prince and demanded anything, he would have been rejected and possibly would have lost his life. But he went in with graceful "speech seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6) and the Lord gave him favor with the prince.

I wonder how often the Lord plans to give me favor with others and I go charging in like a bull in a china shop demanding what I desire. This passage proves the point that it does matter how you do something. Even someone with great intentions and right desires will not get as far as someone who goes forward with the right attitude. Don't give up your principles and convictions, but at the same time, don't be a jerk about it. So often, I fear that we have forgotten to be graceful in our speech.

To be able to control our words and our testimony, we must be Spirit led. To walk outside of the leading of the Spirit and try to be Christ-like is, at best, an effort in futility. Romans 8:8 "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

The key to having the right talk is not to have the right positive mental attitude but rather to have the right influence in your life, the leading of the Holy Spirit of God.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Successful Church

Last week, my son, Andrew was playing GO FISH with my daughter, Renee, and I and he was quite upset that he was not able to win each game we played. He would giggle and get all excited each time he would collect the cards he was looking for, but each time someone would take one of his cards he would begin to pout and (a couple of times) cry. I asked him what was wrong and he replied, "Dad, I want to win. I don't like to lose." He has such a competitive drive.

None of us likes to lose at anything we do. We all want to be winners. Those that have the most success are often lifted up and given places and positions of prestige and honor because we are a people who hate to lose.

Our desire to be successful should never be confined to only our secular life. We ought always to strive to "run well" so that we may obtain a crown in Heaven. The following characteristics are some of those found in every successful church and, since the church is made up of people, in every successful Christian. May each of us, the Lord helping us, be successful in our Christian life.

Ten Characteristics of a successful church

1. Unity Acts 2:1
A local church ought to be completely different from a secular organization through its spirit of Unity. The United States of America has an expression printed on all the currency it produces, E pluribus unum, which means "out of many, one". This should be the motto of every successful church. God takes each of our individual abilities, talents, and personalities and makes one cohesive body for His glory. (1 Cor. 12)

2. Faithfulness Acts 2:1
This was not a Mystical gathering, but it was a time when the people of God left their homes and with a purpose gathered together in a specific place. We cannot be successful, nor can our church be successful, if we are not in our place. Any body that is missing a part is referred to as handicapped. We handicap our local body of believers when we are not in our place. Hebrews 10:25

3. Power Acts 2:4
A church’s power does not come from its methods, nor its men, nor its organizations, but from the power of the Holy Spirit. Without God, the best plans and intentions are all for naught.

4. Preaching Acts 2:14
It is not the preacher, nor his sermon, nor his eloquence, but the Holy Spirit that makes the sermon live and produce fruit. God uses the "foolishness of preaching" to call men unto Himself. 1 Cor. 1:21

5. Salvation decisions Acts 2:41
These people saved in this passage were not saved because the disciples spoke in tongues, but because they heard the Gospel in their own language in which they were born. The power was not in their speech, but in the simplicity of the Gospel. I Cor. 15:3-4

6. Baptisms Acts 2:41
Notice that baptisms occurred immediately.

7. Bible study Acts 2:42
The successful, growing church will be actively invovled in teaching and studying the Word of God. This is something that not only should be done in the church, but also in the homes of the believers. 2 Timothy 2:15

8. The Lord’s Supper Acts 2:42
This is the second ordenance of the church. The Lord's Supper has no part in our salvation. The Lord's Supper is only for those who have already been saved and scripturally baptized.

9. Offerings Acts 2:45
The Jews practiced the tithe, but now we find that those members of the church were giving above and beyond the tithe. This gift was between the individual and the Lord, it was not given by command but according to the desire of each believer.

10. Personal evangelism (Soulwinning)
People were saved. It was not only the preaching of the Gospel from the pulpit, but also the people of the church were testifying and winning souls. This is still God's plan. We are sent out to go door to door, person to person. The decision to receive Christ as Saviour is an individual one. Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:18-20

Friday, April 2, 2010

I have been reading a wonderful book "the Master's Indwelling" by Andrew Murray. In the few weeks now that I have spent on it, I have received many wonderful reminders of God's great work in my life through His indwelling. I have often wondered why some Christians live as if God is not really there, while others practice the presence and leading of Christ every day. The Scripture tells us that we are to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly. We are also to do everything on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Col. 3:16-17) I really appreciate what Mr. Murray said about knowing God. I hope this will be a blessing to you as well.

"What can be the reason that so many of God’s beloved children complain continually: “My circumstances separate me from God; my trials, my temptations, my character, my temper, my friends, my enemies, anything can come between my God and me?” Is God not able so to take possession that He can be nearer to me than anything in the world? Must riches or poverty, joy or sorrow, have a power over me that my God has not? No. But why, then, do God’s children so often complain that their circumstances separate them from Him? There can be but one answer, “They do not know their God.” If there is trouble or feebleness in the Church of God, it is because of this. We do not know the God we have. That is why in addition to the promise, “I will be thy God,” the promise is so often added, “And ye shall know that I am your God.” If I know that, not through man’s teaching, not with my mind or my imagination; but if I know that, in the living evidence which God gives in my heart, then I know that the divine presence of my God will be so wonderful, and my God Himself will be so beautiful, and so near, that I can live all my days and years a conqueror through Him that loved me. Is not that the life which we need?"

God has been so gracious to me. How much greater ought to be my desire to know Him. This must be the prayer of my life, that I may know my God.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Little at a Time

In my Bible time this morning, the Lord showed me that often His plan takes longer than I originally think it will. My problem is that I get in a hurry while God never is. I find myself having to come back to where I left God so that I can once again walk forward in His will. Deuteronomy 7:22 tells us that "the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee little by little: thou mayest not comsume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee."

How often we allow the frustration to settle in and control our hearts and minds when things don't go as fast as we thought they should. Even in these hard, dark times we must realize and remember that God is at work in our lives. We don't (and won't) always see what God is doing but that doesn't mean that He is not working.

Sometimes the reason for the delay is that God knows that we are not ready for the blessing. In the passage mentioned above, the people of Israel were not physically ready to take full possession. They needed to grow before God could give them all of the land.

With every blessing of God comes the responsibility of using it correctly. Sometimes, the blessing takes a long time to come because God has to grow us to the point that we are able to accept the blessing and the responsibility that comes with it.

"Lord, help me today to listen to your voice and follow your leading so that I, too, may be better equiped to recieve the blessing you have for me."