Friday, April 27, 2012

A Living Example

I devoted myself to the work on this wall.  All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land. (Neh. 5:16)
            I know of no New Testament apostle who was a greater living example then the Apostle Paul.  He encouraged the believers in the church of Thessalonica by saying, “you became imitators of me and of the Lord…” (1:6)   Paul lived a model life worth imitating.
            D. L Moody once said, “Á holy life will produce the deepest expression.  Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine.”
            Nehemiah was a living example, and let his light shine so that others might follow him and the Lord.  What kind of example did Nehemiah set?
(1) He and his assistants did not use their official expense account to feed themselves, nor did they tax the people in order to eat. (v. 14)  Wouldn’t it be refreshing if some of our government officials would pay their own way instead of using tax payer monies?  

(2) Nehemiah and his assistants did not use their positions to “feather their own cap” and gain personal wealth at the expense of the people. (v. 15)

(3) Nehemiah and his assistants were not merely advisors, but put their shoulders to the work.  They stood shoulder to shoulder with the workers, and got the same blisters, bruises, and backaches as others. (v. 16)  Jesus said, “I am with you as one who serves.”  (Luke 22:27 NIV)

(4) Nehemiah not only paid for his own food, but he shared what he had with those in need. (vv. 17-18)  He was generous to a fault and asked for no reward.

(5) Finally, he did all of these things as a service to the Lord.  He was interested only in the reward that the Lord might give.
There are some important lessons in this chapter about leadership:
Lesson 1 – expect problems in ministry.  Where there are people – there are potential problems.  Christian brothers are not exempt from personal differences.
Lesson 2 – confront the problems as soon as they occur.  Don’t make the mistake of sweeping them under the rug thinking they will disappear by themselves.  They never do.
Lesson3 – let it be said of you, what God says of Job.  ”He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”  (Job 1:8 NIV)
Lesson 4 – every problem presents an opportunity for the Lord to act.
            What kind of living example do we offer to a world that is in darkness?  Are we lights that shine forth the gospel of Christ or burnt out bulbs?
Thought for the Day: There is no problem that is too hard for God to solve.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pass it On - Part Two

That the generations to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children.  (Psalm 78:6 NASB)

   How can families mirror God's image?

The obvious answer to that question is -- through their children.  Every parent has been charged by God to pass on to the next generation the Biblical teachings concerning his nature and character.  A godly home is the seed bed of future messengers of the gospel.  Children sitting at the feet of mothers learn the rudiments of prayer and devotion.  A godly father models compassion, friendship, commitment, loyalty, and faith.  All thse elements shown consistently produce godly offspring. 

   The Psalmist instructs us that these values are to be tqught in the home.  How are you doing?  What legacy are you passing on to your children?  Are you teaching them godly principles?  Are you modeling patience, compassion, and love for God? 

   Write a statement outlining the legacy that you want your children to remember you by and place it somewhere that it can be read at a later date. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pass it On - Part One

These words which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

   Every person who departs this world leaves behind a legacy. 

   One generation has the responsibility to pass on to the next generation certain Christian values and teachings.  God instructed the fathers of the Jewish nation to not only obey his statutes, but to pass them on to their descendants.

   The lifestyle and moral values that you follow during this life will greatly influence those around you.  I have heard many testimonies where the individual came to Christ because they saw him reflected in the everyday lives of other believers.  How we conduct our lives in the here and now determines the legacy that we leave behind when we leave this world. 

   Be assured that all of us will leave behind some kind of legacy.  The question is: Will it be a legacy of love and faithfulness to the master, or will it be one of wasted years and disappointment?  Are we endeavoring to pass on to our children the moral values and principles that will enable them to navigate safely in a progressively evil and hostile world? 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Live Bodies Needed

Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem, but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while nine-tenths remained in the other cities.  (Nehemiah 11:1

  Now that the walls and gates of Jerusalem were restored, it was necessary to get the Jews to populate the holy city.  It would be difficult to protect the city without people to guard the walls and gates.  Why rebuild the city if you don't plan to live there?  In other words, God needed people -- live bodies -- to inhabit the city.

   I like what Warren Wiersbe says about this in his commentary "Be Determined."  He says, "Never underestimate the importance of simply being physically present in the place where God wants you.  You may not be asked to perform some dramatic ministry, but simply being there is a ministry." (p. 144)

   The very presence of the Jewish people in Jerusalem acted as a witness to the skeptical Gentiles around them who constantly posed a threat to their security.  Seeing men patrolling the walls and gates provided a deterent to attack.  

   God places you and me in different places to act as his sentinels to shout the alarm when sinister forces try to overcome his beloved people.  We are his sirens to warn against the attacks of the evil one.  We need to take our task seriously and be on alert all the time for opportunities to stand in the gap against evil forces.  How do we do this?  Through the power given us in the Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit.  What did Jesus use when he was tempted by the devil?  He said, "It is written."  The Word is our sword  so let's use it mightily for the Lord.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jesus' Darkest Hour

But Peter said to him, "Even though all may fall away because of you, I will never fall away.  (Matthew 26:33 NASB)

   I've always thought that the darkest hour for Jesus was either in the garden of Gethsemane when he was presented with the cup of wrath, or when he was on the cross and his Heavenly Father turned his face away from of our sin.  During my daily reading of Matthew 26 another possibility arose.  Between the garden experience and the false trial, Jesus encountered the betrayal of Judah.  Not only that, but no one bothered to declare his innocence.  None of his disciples spoke up for him.  Not even outspoken Peter, who so boldly proclaimed, "Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you."  The Bible states, "Then all the disciples left him and fled."  Yes, you read that right, all of them.

   Have you experienced your darkest hour?  Perhaps a close family member passed away, or the doctor said, "There's no cure," or a marriage partner suddenly abandoned the family.  In those moments, you faced your darkest hour and the world around you collapsed.

   My darkest hour occurred in 1949 when my father, at the young age of 49, suddenly died due to a blood clot on the heart.  My world suddenly collapsed.  I was left alone, fearful, and confused.  A huge void appeared in my life.  What could I do?  To whom could I turn for comfort, courage, and strength?

   I found t the only person who can provide these much needed remedies is the Lord Jesus Christ.  By turning to him by faith, he will fill the empty voide in our lives.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Open Doors

Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut...." (Revelation 3:8 NASB)

   God is always working, and every day doors of opportunity open to share the good news.  Whether at the super market, gas station, mall, or on the streets, opportunities arise.  Paul's prayer in Colossians states, "praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ. 

   Open doors of opportunity await every believer who is willing to step through and testify to the wonderful grace of Jesus Christ.  Are you praying and looking for open doors?  It might surprise you where opportunities appear. 

   Paul tells the Roman believers, "But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him?  And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?  And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?"   (Romans 10:14 NLT)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

One Way Road

I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.  (John 14:6)

  I can recall twice in my lifetime when I got confused and traveled the wrong direction on a one-way street.  Many people today are endeavoring to get to heaven by traveling the wrong way.  The road sign in John 14:6 reads: one-way street to heaven.  How could God make it any clearer than that?  Yet many are ignoring the clearly marked sign and trying to get to heaven by another way.

   Other one-way signs have been ignored in the past and dire consequences followed.  For instance, Adam and Eve ignored the one command that God gave them in the Garden of Eden; consequently the were expelled and brought a curse ;upon mankind.  Noah built an Ark at the command of God and the people ignored the warning sign and perished in the flood. 

   Are you traveling the wrong-way on God's one-way Jesus street?  Are you heeding the warning signs?  There is a consequence when you ignore the signs and travel the wrong way on a one-way street.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Only One Thing

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that shall I seek!  That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.  (Psalm 27:4 NASB)

   Children as well as adults love to receive gifts.  What is a birthday or anniversary without a gift?  To me, Christmas is the best time to give and receive gifts.  God loved us so much that he gave us his Son, Jesus Christ as our Christmas gift. 

   If you were to ask God for only one thing, what would it be?  I know from the above verse what David wanted -- to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Have you ever wondered to yourself, What kind of  gift would God  ask for?  Do you think it strange that God would seek a gift?  I don't!  I believe the gift our Father in heaven wants most from us is our love and worship. 

   Are you ready and willing to give God the gift he most desires?  Tell him today how much you love him and he will respond in kind. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Official Greeters

The churches of Asia greet you.  Aquilla and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.  All the brethren greet you.  Greet one another with a holy kiss.  (1 Corinthians 16:19-20 NASB)

   I saw on TV where a female bulldog gave birth to a litter of 21 puppies.  The dog's owner stayed up all night greeting each new arrival.  When the interviewed he said, "They just kept popping out."  What a fascinating remark!

   This incident reminds me of the different types of official greeters we have in today's culture. There are doctors, nurses, farmers, and vetenarians who are official greeters for newborn babies and animals.  We have heads of state who act as official greeters for foreign dignitaries.  The President traveled recently to greet our military personnel fighting on foreign soil.  The official greeting by ;a soldier is a slute. 

   Most churches have official greeters at the door to welcome people with a smile, a handshake, and words of welcome.  At one large mega church, official greeters are stationed at every door.  After the service, a special place was set aside for the pastor to meet new people.

   The Lord wants each one of us to be an official greeter.  It is our task to greet people and instroduce them to the Lord Jesus Christ.  How are you doing as an official greeter?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Observer, Planter, Builder

According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. (1 Corinthians 3:10 NASB)

   My observation tells me there are three kinds of people in the world.

 First, there is what I call the observer.  The observer is content sitting on the sideline and watching others do the work.  A good example is found in Nehemiah 4:1, "Now it came about that when Sandballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews,"  You will always have those who won't participate in the work process, but are ready to criticise those who do.

The second kind of person is the planter.  The planter is the one who is willing to put forth an honest effort.  He is a starter person.  He may not know how to go about the job, but he is willing to allow God to use his abilities and sills to advance the kingdom.  The planters remind me of the first responders to an accident.

The third kind of person is the builder.  The builder is the person who acdepts the job and runs with it.  He has the ability and desire to expand on the efforts of the planter.  He makes things happen.  He's what we call a shaker and a mover.  He gets things done.  There is a great need for planters and builders in the worldwise harvest fieldls.

   Are you an observer, planter, or builder?  The challenge for the church is to get the observer to become a planter, and a planter to advance to the building stage.  Are you willing to be used of God?


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Christ is Risen

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.  (John 20:1 NASB)

   All was quiet, no sound, not even a whisper.  The birds were still asleep as Mary and the other women made their way to the gravesite.  A faint sniffling could be heard and the soft shuffling of feet as the sky turned a faint gray.  Dawn had arrived!  As the women peered at the tomb, they were shocked.  The stone was rolled away -- the tomb was empty.  Mary ran as fast as she could to tell the disciples the news.  Was it good or bad news?  Had someone come during the night and stolen the body of Jesus? 

   The disciples came and saw the empty tomb with the linen wrappings lying there along with a face-cloth folded neatly in a place by itself.  The Bible says, "for as yet they did not understand the Scripture that he must rise again from the dead." (John 20:9)  So they went to their homes.

   Mary couldn't tear herself away from the tomb and stood outside weeping when she turned and saw two angels who said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"  She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do know where they have laid him."  When she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
Immediately she recognized that it was Jesus and HE WAS ALIVE!

Yes indeed, HE IS RISEN, Hallelujah!

Friday, April 6, 2012

The ONE and only one.

Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!"  Ane he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  (John 19:30 NASB)

   Last nights dramatic production of the Easter message ONE at First Baptist of Orlando was an awe inspiring performance.  From the opening choir number I Am to the closing number Garden Tomb the cast gave an incredible display of talent.  The music lifted the rafters and the voices echoed throughout the sanctuary.  Over 2,000 people observed once again the story of the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The cast included children, young people, and adults dressed in costumes depicting the Biblical times.  The acting was superbly orchestrated, and the orchestra performed magnificently. 
    What better way to celebrate Passover week than to revisit the events leading up to the final hour when Jesus laid down his life as a sacrfice on behalf of our sins!  Yes, he gave his life so that you and I could receive the forgiveness of sins and gain eternal life.  The proof of what he accomplished lays in the fact that God, His heavenly father, accepted his sacrifice and raised him from the dead on the third day. 

   What a glorious savior!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Keeping our Ducks in Line

"In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  (Proverbs 3:6 NASB)

My first experience plowing a field reminds me of my walk with the Lord.  I'd never driven a tractor, let alone with a plow behind.  As I came to the end of the row and turned, it looked as though a snake had made the furrow.  I realized that plowing wasn't as easy as it looked.  Neither is plowing a straight line in the Christian walk.  Satan places so many obstacles and distractions in our path.  I found that ignoring the pull of the world took a lot of faith and courage.  Paul warned his apiritual son Timothy not to "entangle himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier."  (2 Timothy 2:4)

   How are your plowing experiences today?  Are your furrows nice and straight, or are they crooked like mine were?  I found that I had to keep my eyes glued on a specific goal if the rows were to be straight.  Life is much easier if we keep our ducks in a straight line. 

    Don't let your focus on Jesus get sidetracked by the glitter and glamour of the world!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Limitless Grace

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. ( John 1:17)

   Businesses in the U.S. offer special deals on items that say, "Limited time only," or "limit of two to a customer," or "while the supply lasts."  There seems to be limits placed on everything.  Highways have speed limits and newspapers have deadlines.  Products bought and sold have limited time warranties. 

   There is one area where a "no limit" sign is posted.  There are no limits to the grace of God.  He offers us "limitless grace."  The world seeks to pour cold water on the fires of grace and truth, but God keeps the embers of grace smoldering.

   When Christ died to provide us with grace and truth, he wrote "teleo" -- over our sins meaning they are paid in full.  That is what Jesus meant where he said, "teleo -- it is finished."

   Because of God's matchless grace the Apostle Paul could write, "There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus."  (Romans 5:1)  If you are burdened down with sins, take them to Jesus and leave them at the foot of the cross.  He will extend his "limitless grace" to you.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Splendor of God

“You alone are the LORD.  You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars.  You made the earth and the seas and everything in them.  You preserve and give life to everything, and all the angels of heaven worship you.”  (Neh. 9:6 NLT)

            What aspect of nature fills you with a sense of awe and causes you to reach out to the Creator in a spirit of worship?  Would it be a spectacular sunrise or sunset …a full-colored rainbow … a Rocky Mountain snowcapped peak … a zillion stars twinkling like diamonds in the night sky … icebergs crashing with a thunderous roar … schools of dolphins jumping and racing over a foamy sea?  It might be as simple as a newborn baby smiling at you from a bassinet?  A new life fashioned after the image of God is fascinating to gaze upon.  Anyone of these things is enough to stir our inner spirit and direct our hearts towards God.

            Nothing stirs my inner spirit more than the sound of the wind whistling through the pine trees in northern Pennsylvania where I grew up.  Along the driveway at my grandma’s farmhouse were a row of long needled pine trees.  As a young boy, I remember lying in bed at night listening to the musical sounds generated by the gentle blowing breezes as they blew through the branches.  A sense of peace pervaded my heart and I felt safe and secure.  It was a pleasant sound I won’t soon forget.

            Music played an important part in the lives and worship of God by the Israelites of the Old Testament.  They used trumpets to call the people to worship.  One trumpet was used to summan the leadership, and two trumpet blasts meant everyone must attend.  Asaph, the son of Berechiah, was King David’s music director and served in that capacity for over forty years.  Asaph is responsible for at least twelve of the Psalms (50,73-83), and undoubtedly wrote the music for many of David’s psalms. 

            The one we worship today is not only a God of beauty and order (creation is proof of that), but he is also the originator of music.  We are told in Job 38:7 that “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”  Both the beauty of nature and music were created to bring glory to our Creator God. 

            The next time you have the opportunity to watch the sunrise with all its gold-orange-red-blue-yellow hues, or listen to the musical whispering of the pines, be sure to lift your voice in praise and thanksgiving to the great Creator God who made it all possible.  You would be orchestrating a glorious act of worship.