Are we in Sync with God?

"Woe to them that are at ease in Zion..." (Amos 6:1).  Amos speaks here to the people of God concerning the danger of growing apathetic in our commitment to God.  Then he brings this charge against them: "but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph."   In Amos' day this charge meant that Israel was unconcerned about the fate of their brethren in the South.  God was concerned.  His heart was broken.  But their heart was unmoved.  They were out of "sync" with the heart of God. If we would apply this to ourselves, we must ask a very pointed question.  Are our hearts in "sync" with the heart of God?  Are we moved by the things that move Him?  Are we people who care about the things God cares about?  Is our passion His passion? That should then lead us to another question.  What is God passionate about?  His passion is people.  He reached out to us when we were without hope and poured out His grace upon us.  This is why Jesus came and lived and died.  We must realize that true [Read more...]

Beware of Traditions

As summer draws to a close we are faced with the reality of the routine.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  Routines can simplify life somewhat and make us feel more comfortable.  But sometimes we allow certain routines to become full-fledged traditions.  By that I mean they take on significance far greater than simply being a convenient routine.  In fact, some things become almost holy and unchangeable.  When those things are tinkered with, people become very upset.  It is as if we have willfully flaunted a commandment of the Lord when we tamper with those things. But what is the ultimate test of tradition?  Well, Christianity is first and foremost a matter of the heart.  Jesus is after a transformation of the inner man.  He cares more about our heart condition than the observance of religious tradition.  So we might say that the ultimate test of tradition is "Does it deal with our heart trouble?" When traditions are established which assist us in knowing God and communing [Read more...]

Exchanging our Strength for His

Scripture is filled with wonderful promises and one of my favorites would have to be one provided by the prophet Isaiah.  In Isaiah 40:30, 31 we read: "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." The promise to those who wait upon the Lord is that they shall "gain new strength."  Literally, it means that those who wait upon the Lord shall "change" or "exchange" their strength.  The idea is that as we draw near to God, waiting upon Him expectantly in faith, trusting Him as our resource, that He will then impart to us His strength.  The truth is that our strength runs out.  What we need is new strength, and that's exactly the promise that's made to us.  We will "gain new strength."  We will exchange our strength for His.  What an exchange it is! But look at the impact that [Read more...]

Shine as Lights in the World

God has created us to reflect His glory.  Paul tells us in Philippians 2:15 that we are to "shine as lights in the world."  It is important to note where we are to shine.  Too many Christians think that the place they are to shine is in the church.  They must think this because that is the only place that they make any effort to shine.  But we are to shine where it is darkest.  We are to shine in the world. The world is often referred to as a dark place.  Here in our verse in Philippians Paul describes it as a "crooked and perverse nation."  We are crooked and perverse in many ways.  Good is called evil and evil is called good.  Satan now rules in the hearts of men and women.  This world can be a dark place indeed. But God has delivered us from this darkness.  He has set us free.  We have been delivered from the world but we have not been taken out of the world.  As those who have been delivered from the world, we are now to shine in the midst of the darkness.  God has left us [Read more...]

Genuine Christianity

As mentioned in my last post, the general attitude in our society is turning more negative toward Christianity.  No doubt the devil is at work to encourage those who are not Christians to portray Christianity in a negative light.  More often than not, the media coverage directed toward Christians focuses on some person or ministry that is either extreme or corrupt.  Rarely is there a story that shows the positive impact of a Christian or a Christian ministry.  Even when the media focuses on the triumph of the human spirit, rarely does it ever focus on the value of faith as a positive force in society. Of course another reason why Christianity is often portrayed in a negative light is that there is a lot of stuff out there that passes for Christianity that is not Christianity at all.  To put it bluntly, there is a lot of phony Christianity.  There are those who are deceived and are deceiving others.  There are those trusting in rituals and church membership.  There are those claiming [Read more...]

Standing Upon The Word of Truth

To stand upon the truth of God's Word is to invite opposition.  Paul refers to this in his letter to the believers at Philippi.  After exhorting them to "stand fast in one spirit...striving together for the faith of the gospel," he warns them of "those who oppose you" (Phil. 1:27-28).  It is important for us to understand that we will have opposition. We should not be surprised by this.  Our culture is fast becoming anti-Christ and anti-Christian.  The same people who preach toleration for all points of view are the most intolerant when Christians begin to state their views.  Apparently, the only views they want to tolerate are those with which they agree.  Any views that claim that there are absolute truths are extremest and full of hate and are not to be tolerated.  And as we take a stand against this mindset, we will come under attack. Paul told the Philippians that he wanted them to stand for the truth "without being frightened in any way by those who oppose."  There really [Read more...]

Too Good To Be True – And Yet True!

Have you ever received good news and at first refused to believe it?  With all the mailings and emails we receive telling us we've won millions of dollars, we've all become a bit skeptical.  This morning I received a phone call from someone claiming to be a representative from Publishers Clearing House.  Supposedly I had won 1.5 million dollars and a 2016 Mercedes.  It didn't take long to realize I was being scammed.  The real clue was when he told me the funds could not be released until I paid the IRS.  Oh well!  Who needs 1.5 million anyway?  The news was simply too good to be true. The disciples were caught in the too good to be true syndrome when it came to the news of Christ's resurrection.  Their first response to the reports and evidence pointing to the resurrection was disbelief.  First, the women came telling them that the tomb was empty and that they had seen the risen Lord.  "Nonsense" they said (Luke 24:11).  Then the Lord appeared to the two men on the road to Emmaus. [Read more...]

Resurrection Life

Part of living is dealing with pain.  As we grow older our bodies begin to deteriorate in the natural process of aging.  Ultimately all of us are going to have to face the fact that we will grow old and eventually we will die. For the Christian, however, there is good news.  The good news is that although we cannot do anything about the fact that we grow old and die in this life, one day we will be raised from the dead.  In this resurrection we will receive a body that will be made for the eternal realm.  It will be a glorious, powerful, eternal and spiritual body like the body Jesus has.  This changes everything.  This gives us hope. Because of the resurrection of Jesus we now have the assurance that death is not the end of life.  We don't really die.  Our bodies do, but our spirits are translated into God's presence.  But that is not it.  For the Bible teaches that one day our very bodies shall be raised again (I Cor. 15:35-49).  To each of us God will give us a new [Read more...]

Christianity is about Transformation

I suspect there are times that all of us would like a change for the better.  We realize that we have not yet arrived at the place where we want to be.  We are still on the journey. But while we are not what we want to ultimately be, we are not what we were either.  We are on the way.  We have made some progress.  And this should give us great hope.  We are being transformed more and more each day as we follow Christ.  This is the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ working within our lives.  Christianity is all about transformation.  Christianity is all about change.  It we are not changing then we are not living.  God has begun a great work in our lives, and He will continue to carry on that work until completion.  And one day God will bring His work to fulfillment in our lives as we see Him face to face. This is the blessed hope for the Christian.  We look toward that great day of Christ's return.  It will be a day of great transformation for us.  God's purpose for our lives [Read more...]

Renewing our Minds by the Word of God

There are two ways that we can think - the way of the world or the way that leads us to the mind of Christ.  In regard to thinking along the lines of the world, Paul tells us in I Corinthians 3:19 that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God."  Don't think that the wisdom of this world really has the answers to the deepest questions of life, because it doesn't.  With all of our technological understanding, the increase of knowledge, the amassed wisdom of human kind, we still have not solved the basic issues of life.  The problems of disease, poverty, racism, hatred, and a host of other concerns, continues to plague our society.  The fundamental problems of life are still with us because, for all our accumulated wisdom, we don't have any real answers to these questions.  We can make a better computer but we can't solve these issues. We need to understand that the place to find answers to the problems that confront us, namely the sin problem, is in the Bible, the Word of [Read more...]

Christmas is for giving

It's that time of year again - Christmas!  Just the mention of the word stirs up a myriad of mental images.  The sights and smells and sounds of Christmas are wonderful.  We anticipate seeing friends and family and relaxing from our regular routine.  Without a doubt Christmas means many things to many people.  But we must admit that the one aspect that rises above all others is the giving of gifts.  Christmas has become synonymous with giving. This isn't all bad.  It's good to have a holiday with a reputation for giving.  True, it has been exploited by some, but we have the right idea - giving.  Giving shows care, concern, and commitment.  Consider the greatest Giver - God.  He knows a lot about giving.  On the very first Christmas He gave just what the prophet foretold: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given" (Is. 9:6).  The Bible teaches that God cared so much that He sent His Son to our planet.  This was not some insignificant token but rather the ultimate gift.  In [Read more...]

Our Inexhaustable Source of Strength (part two)

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:30,31). The promise to those who wait upon the Lord is that they shall “gain new strength.”   Literally it means that those who wait upon the Lord shall “change” or “exchange” their strength. The idea is that as we draw near to God, waiting upon Him expectantly in faith, trusting in Him as our resource, that He will then impart to us His strength. The truth is that our strength runs out. What we need is new strength, and that’s exactly the promise that’s made to us.   We will “gain new strength.” As we wait upon Him, we bind ourselves together with Him and receive His strength. So when it says that we shall renew our strength, it means that we will exchange our strength for His. What an exchange it is! But look at the [Read more...]

Our Inexhaustible Source of Strength

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:30,31) Sometimes I just get weary of it all. Sometimes I’m tired in body and in spirit. My strength is exhausted, my determination is shot, and I’m irritated with life. Have you ever felt like that?   I thought so! Unfortunately, one of the plights of people, even redeemed people, is that our strength is exhaustible. We are not superhuman creatures. Our strength runs out and we face the common problem of weariness.   While we must face the reality that all of us must deal with weariness, there is hope from the Scriptures of a deeper reality in which we can tap into the inexhaustible strength of God. The passage above reveals that although we all get weary, there is a source of strength for those who trust in and wait [Read more...]

“I’m Saved! Now What?”

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess. 5:23) As Christians our new birth is something that we should never get tired of. We ought to praise God continually for the fact of our salvation. But we should also realize that there is more in store for the Christian following the new birth. God has something in mind for us. We are saved with a clear purpose in view. What God has in store for us can be summed up in a word. That word is sanctification. Sanctification simply means that we are caused to be holy. It carries the idea of being set apart by God for His use.   God has saved us with this as His ongoing purpose. It is not only God’s desire to sanctify us; it is His desire to sanctify us through and through. As Paul puts it, God desires to “sanctify you wholly.” The Greek word means quite completely, entirely or perfectly. The above verse [Read more...]

Seeing Beyond our Circumstances

Paul shares with us the secret to contentment in Philippians 4:11-13. Paul said that whatever our circumstances he had learned to be content. How did he do this? Was he not paying attention? Was he in self-denial? What was his secret? I believe that Paul saw more than just the outward circumstances. I think he saw through the circumstances. Paul knew that God was sovereign, that He was in control. He knew that he could trust Him.   He knew that God was at work in the midst of even the most trying circumstances to perfect His purposes in his life. When we look at the circumstances of our lives, what do we see? Some circumstances are good. Some are bad. I’m not implying that everything that happens to you is good. The Scriptures nowhere teach that. But they do teach that God is at work in every situation, good and bad, for our benefit. In other words, He can take even a bad situation and build some good thing into our lives. So, before you label something good or bad, ask yourself [Read more...]