Monday, August 29 2016
The headlines are bad. These are just from this morning and from one news outlet:
ISIS suicide attack kills 45 pro - government troops in Yemen
$50K reward offered in the 8-year-old girl's stray bullet death.
Sheriff investigates after video shows 4-year-old boy being thrown off a bridge into a river
It seems that news companies survive on the bad news. Perhaps, I am the only one, but it just feels like the world is not getting any better. As a Christian, I am not surprised by the degradation of the world because of the curse of sin brought onto us by Adam and Eve. The Apostle Paul was clear when he penned:
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Yes, the devil and his demons exist and it is their sole purpose to destroy. They use distraction and tricks to deceive those that have a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is never greener on that side of the fence.
Is there hope? Absolutely! We do not get our hope from the world, politicians or even friends, but from God. The Psalmist wrote:
Psalm 71:5 For thou art my hope, O Lord God : thou art my trust from my youth.
A few weeks ago, I was studying the Bible. There was a scripture that jumped out at me. As the Children of Israel were making the exodus out of Egypt, the Egyptians began to chase them. They had the Red Sea at their front and the Egyptians at their rear. Of course, many of them started to cry out against Moses (their leader) because their situation looked desperate.
Many of us know the story, Moses held his hand over the sea and God parted the sea and the Israelites escaped through their obstacle. But prior to that miracle, God performed another miracle. It is found in Exodus 14:20:
Exodus 14:20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them , but it gave light by night to these : so that the one came not near the other all the night.
The Amplified Version says:
Exodus 14:20 Coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. It was a cloud and darkness to the Egyptians, but it gave light by night to the Israelites; and the one host did not come near the other all night.
God put a pillar between the Israelites and the Egyptians. It shined a light during the night on the Children of Israel, but the Egyptians remained in the dark.
The Israelites are a type of the church. We will remain in the light as long as we stay in the church. The Egyptians are a type of the world. The world will always remain in the dark because of sin.
Our hope is found in Jesus Christ. Even in our most difficult situations, look to Jesus. We may have to go through some obstacles, but it always better than going back to the bondage of sin. The Israelites were escaping slavery, but some wanted to return as soon as it became difficult.
As long as we stay close to Jesus, we will walk in the light. John wrote:
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Stay focused on Jesus and in the church. The lights are always on!
Monday, August 22 2016
We are blessed to live in the United States of America. It is the land of opportunity and the home of the American Dream. You probably already know this.
Christians are a large voting block although statistically, we do not show up to the polls. That is sad in a country where we must fight for our political freedoms daily.
So, how should we vote? Well, I am not really sure. As I sit here writing this, I have my opinions. I am torn. In my heart of hearts, I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. There is very little that we agree on and she has historically crossed my Christian beliefs.
This is what I plan to do. I don't want to be preachy and tell you what to do, but I think it is wise to search out the matter.
Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
It seems many people are influenced by the headlines or social media posts. In a conversation, someone said something about a candidate that I did not know. So I researched it out and found that it was true, but not the whole truth.
Search out to see if the candidate supports your beliefs as a Christian. There are many unknowns.
What if the candidate appoints or can vote for United States Supreme Court justices that oppose Christianity?
Are the candidates pro - life or pro - abortion?
Will they bolster religious freedom or destroy it?
Do you feel comfortable with the security of our nation in their hands?
There are many questions and many answers.
From local to national elections, it is most important to research the views of individual candidates. It is imperative that every Christian becomes an educated voter understanding the issues and pulling the lever for the candidate that parallels your beliefs.
Should Christians vote Republican, Independent, Libertarian, or Democrat? We should vote for a candidate that best represents the view of Christianity.
Monday, August 15 2016
I am a man. I do not like to ask for directions or read the instructions. Yes, that is stereotypical, but there can be some truth in stereotypes. But in reading the Bible, I found that God was very specific in His instructions given to mankind. It started in the Garden of Eden.
 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
God continued His detailed instructions throughout the scripture.
 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of : The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.
 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.
 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it
 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
 And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
There are many other examples of this type of instruction to humanity from God. Obedience has always been required of man. After King Saul disobeyed the instructions of God. Samuel told him:
1 Samuel 15:22
 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord ? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
God has given us instruction in the form of the Bible. He continues to speak to us through His Word and we must resist the thought that somehow we know better or God has given us "wiggle room" to do as we please. My dad says that we do not have a "cafeteria style religion". We cannot choose what we like and leave what we do not.
The Christian world preaches, "You do it your way and I do it mine and we will all get to heaven." The reality is, we do it God's way or we don't make it to heaven. I am saying that I am right and everyone else is wrong. The Bible is right and we must follow it down to the last word. The Apostle Paul writing to his son in the Gospel wrote:
2 Timothy 2:15
 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
When we study, we must be sure that we "rightly divide" or as the Amplified Version says, "Correctly analyzing and accurately dividing rightly handling and skillfully teaching the Word of Truth."
Be obedient to the Word and you will make it to heaven. Within the pages of the Bible are the instructions to gain eternal life. Mankind has fallen many times. We live in a society taught to question authority, but you can choose obedience.
Monday, August 08 2016
There is a tremendous amount written on the concept of "growth". I started to listen to podcasts on a regular basis when I read an article on five ways to grow in 2015. Things that do not grow will die. We need to grow as people, in our relationships and in our Christian walk. As a Christian, we cannot be isolated and expect to survive. We need the church and each other to grow. Solomon wrote:
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
So, how do we grow as a Christian? Here are five ways to grow as a Christian.
1. Attend church
How important is church attendance? Well, the writer of Hebrews wrote:
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is ; but exhorting one another : and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
We need to worship together.
2. Small group or church Bible study
A church must be a unified body. They must understand the Bible and be heading in the same direction. Corporate Bible studies allow the pastor to raise the whole ship as a church body. Church - wide Bible studies are a time that doctrines are taught and the Christian maturation process or sanctification is solidified in the Christian.
3. Corporate Prayer
The Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost was poured out in Acts 2 during a prayer meeting. Peter was delivered from the jail during a prayer meeting. Church prayer meetings are not old fashioned, but a necessary part of our Christian walk. When the church comes together to pray, the miraculous happens. The Bible says:
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
4. Personal Prayer
A relationship is grounded in communication. Therefore, our prayer life is necessary to maintain a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Matthew 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
A Christian must have a personal prayer life. Praying in the car, waiting for church or even family devotions do not replace a personal prayer closet. It is necessary to set time aside everyday to have a time of prayer.
5. Personal Bible study
The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The Word of God is our guide to heaven. It is the very words of God to His people. We need to know the word so that we can live a life that is obedient and pleasing to God.
Monday, August 01 2016
Words are essential to the survival of a relationship. The wise man said, "Death and life are in power of the tongue". We know the old adage about sticks and stones is wrong. Just as words are important in our natural relationships, they are in our walk with Jesus Christ.
In studying this morning, I came across the following scripture:
 And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.
It was one of those scriptures that jumped off the page at me. In this scripture, God is telling the Children of Israel to not mention the name of the false gods that were worshiped by other nations. The gods made with hands have no power, but would their spoken names give them credibility? Would the mention of their name release something in the demonic kingdom? God did not give specific reasoning in that verse, but it was important enough that He said not to do it.
When Hosea was calling the Israelites to repentance, he wrote:
 O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
 Take with you words, and turn to the Lord : say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.
Hosea was specific that it would take words to repent.
It was Isaiah that prophesied concerning the church:
 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
There are other scriptures, but how do these scriptures apply to us in 2016?
First, in reference to Exodus 23, we should watch what we say concerning the evils of this world. We are in a spiritual warfare and we could be helping the enemy by our words.
Secondly, have you ever heard someone say that they were "praying in their mind"? I have no scriptural proof that praying through your thoughts is wrong, but I have overwhelming proof that speaking our prayers is effective. Jesus said to speak to the mountain.
In your personal devotional time, pray out loud. Yes, God can read our mind, but there is enough scripture to reveal to us that God wants to hear our voice when coming before Him in prayer. The writer of Hebrews penned:
 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Our words are important to God and the effectiveness of our prayer. As Christians, our relationship with Jesus Christ is our highest priority. Therefore, we should do everything that we can to be pleasing to Him including getting out of our comfort zone.