Friday, June 29, 2012

Is Anyone Seeking the Truth

There are six things the Lord hates – no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord among brothers.  (Proverbs 6:16 NLT)
            Where are the truth seekers?  Today’s culture is literally riddled with falsehood.  From false advertising, false claims, false identifications, false promises, to false accusations; there seems to be a lack of desire to seek the truth.  Those in the highest offices of government feel no compunction, if telling a lie garners them an advantage over an opponent.  Others make no apologies for exaggerating or stretching the truth.  We are quick to label these half-truths as “little white lies”. 
            Here are a list of “little white lies” that are on common use today:
·        You look wonderful!
·        Don’t worry.  He doesn’t bite.
·        A child can assemble it.  All that’s needed is a screwdriver.
·        Guaranteed for life.
·        Of course I remember you.
·        This won’t hurt. You’ll just feel a little discomfort.
·        Drop in any time.  You’re always welcome.
·        The doctor will be with you in just a moment.
·        You don’t need an umbrella.  It’s not going to rain.
·        The car has low mileage.
Let me share in interesting experience I had with the computer.  I went on the internet and asked:  “When is a lie, not a lie?”  I thought the computer would have a heart attack.  It got all befuddled and in the end accused me of deception.
            Isn’t that one of the problems with lying?  When we lie not only is the truth being suppressed, but we are leading someone else astray.  To say the least, this is deception. 
            Why do people resort to lying instead of facing up to the truth?  A few suggestions come to mind:
·        To save face in light of a revealing truth.
·        To cast doubt on another person’s reputation or character.
·        To try and elevate ourselves in front of others.
·        To put someone down.
·        To gain an advantage.
·        To avoid a setback.  
I’m sure you can come up a few more reasons, none of which are valid in the eyes of God.
            How does God view these so-called “little white lies?”  The writer of Proverbs is quite clear when he says that God “hates,” or “detests” – a lying tongue and a false witness.   “When is a lie not a lie?”  -- Ans: There is never a time when a lie is not a lie. 
            We must be very careful when accusing individuals of being a “liar.”  To do so in my opinion makes us judgmental.  I can say to a person, “You are not telling the truth,” or “I believe you are lying,” but I’m not going to be judgmental and label you as a “liar.”
            To me the term “liar” refers to someone that is incapable of telling the truth.  God placed Satan in that category when he said, “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does.  He was a murderer from the beginning.  He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  (John 8:44 NLT)
            Let it be said of each of us that we are “truth seekers” and always ready to be bearers of the truth of the word of God.  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Is Anyone Listening?

Is Anyone Listening?
My child, listen when your father corrects you!  Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.  (Proverbs 1:8 NLT)
            The Greek philosopher Zeno made a statement that parents have used with their children down through the ages: “The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is that we may listen the more and talk the less.” 
            If Zeno were living in today’s culture, he might have revised his philosophy from listening with open ears to covering his ears to protect them from all the noise. 
            Ancient Greek culture did not have amplifiers and boom boxes blaring out loud rap music (120 dB), the roaring of jet planes taking off (150dB), noisy lawnmowers (100 dB), chain saws (120 dB), packed football stadiums (117dB), or jack hammers (140 dB). 
            Zeno didn’t stop his car next to a hot rod with speakers so loud the vehicle was shaking, and causing his to shake as well.  Most of us have had at least one experience with noise so loud that it hurt our ears.
            Having said all this, a far greater tragedy occurs when there is so much noise around us that we fail to hear the voice of God when he speaks to us.  In his efforts to teach us wisdom, our heavenly Father is confronted with the clutter of noisy communications from the man-made devices that tend to pull us further away from hearing the truth.  The only way we can listen and hear the words of God is to find a quiet place where noise is eliminated. 
            A similar situation existed in Solomon’s day when he wrote the book of Proverbs.  God was trying to speak to the children of Israel, but for one reason or another, they weren’t listening.  He mentions two voices in Chapter one, vv. 8-19 that were trying to get their attention.
            First, there is the voice of a godly father as he seeks to instruct his children:
            “My child, listen when your father corrects you!  Don’t neglect your mother’s instructions.  What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.”
            Please take note that both parents are involved in the teaching process.  There is an old adage that says: “Families that pray together – stay together.”  Perhaps the failure on the part of families to heed this sage advice has led to the breakdown of the home.  Nevertheless, the combined teaching effort will ultimately pay off in rich dividends.
            Second, there is the voice of a father warning his child to watch his path and steer clear of wrong associations.  The temptation of going along with the crowd is strong, and it takes courage to avoid the traps that lead to sinful consequences.  He uses the illustration of a bird who watches a trap being laid:
            “If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away.”  In essence he is saying, “Aren’t you smarter than a bird?” 
            How many times during the past 70 + years have I placed a beautiful, juicy, mouthwatering worm on a hook, and sat for hours watching a cork that never bobbed or was taken under by a fish?  I have been outsmarted by fish many a time.  
            Finally, the writer sums up his instruction by saying, “But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”  (Proverbs 1:33 NLT)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is God in Everything?

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.  (Ephesians 4:5,6 NLT)

   Is God in every area of your life?

   Paul encourages the Thessalonians by saying, "In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  (5:18 NASB)  If God is not in everything, how can we honestly give thanks for every circumstance, struggle, and trial of life?  There is no way I can rejoice in my predicaments if I don't have the assurance that God is right there beside me.

   King David believed that God was in everything for he said, "For the angel of the LORD is a guard, he surrounds and defends all who fear him."  (Psalm 34:7 NLT)  It is obvious from the context that David experienced this truth on a personal level.

   Does this mean that we are encircled by the presence of God?  Absolutely!  Even in times of testing and trial?  Assuredly!  When we face financial or family difficulties? Right on!  We know from experience that God is in everything -- even the things we don't like and that give us pain and distress.  Keep on trusting -- he is right there with you.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Promise Box

Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise.  In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.  He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.  (Romans 4:20-21 NLT)

   It is a wise person who thinks carefully before making promises.  It is easy to get caught up in the emotion of a situation and make frivolous promises that are later forgotten and left unfilled.  That happened to me one time, and I seriously regretted the decision.  It almost cost me a relationship with my grandson.

   Aren't you glad that we worship a God who makes and keeps his promises?  Jesus promised his disciples that after his death, he would rise again -- and he did.  He also promised that he would come back again -- and he will.

   The world today is full of trouble, but that light at the end of the tunnel isn't a train coming -- it's the promised Messiah returning to set up his kingdom.  An added plus is the fact that all the saints will be coming with him riding on white horses.  (Revelation 19:14)

   Early in our marriage our family had a promise box on the table.  At mealtime the children would pull a Scriptural promise out and read it aloud.  All of us need a promise box to remind us of God's infallible word.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pressure Cooker Time

Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.  (Matthew 11:29-30 NLT)

   During the 60s and 70s my wife made great use of a pressure cooker.  She used it for canning vegetables out of our garden.  After the water and ingredients are placed inside, we locked the lid and turned up the heat.  We are living in a pressure cooker age.  The meltdown of the economy, loss of jobs and homes, people's 401Ks losing value, and shrinking retirement funds are causing undue pressure on many families.  Trying to solve financial problems have become a nightmare.  How are we to deal with these ever increasing pressures and demands?

   Peter said, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you" (1 Peter 5:7 NLT).  In verse 9 he continues, "Take a firm stand against him, (the devil) and be strong in you faith.  Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of sufferings you are."  

   Deliverance from stress and pressure is found only through the Lord Jesus Christ.  His promises are valid and need to be claimed and clung too.  He ready and willing to carry your burdens and lighten your load.  Trust him completely and find rest and peace from the cares of this world.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Prayer is Hard Work

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  (Philippians 4:6)

   Recently I spent a lot of time pulling weeds, digging up bulbs, turning over the soil in preparation for planting my flower bed.  At the age of eighty, I consider that hard work, but I know a task that is much harder -- PRAYER.

   Knock down, drag out prayer is strenuous.  I'm not referring to prayers like God bless my friends and family, or God bless my church, or God bless the missionaries, or even God bless America.  No, I'm talking about getting down on our knees in the dirt and praying for specific needs.  That's really hard work.

   Maybe you don't consider prayer hard work, but I do.  There are so many distractions and so much busyness that I find it hard to take enough time for prayer.  I have the tendency to rush in and rush out of God's presence.  Even when the request is urgent, I find it difficult to persevere.

   If you have the same problem as I do, ask God to help you set a specific time and place to meet daily with him.  The Lord knows -- this old world needs it and so do all of us.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Power Outages

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.  (Acts 1:8 NLT)

   We have experienced our share of power outages from weather related storms.  On several occasions in the past our subdivision suffered lost of power due to broken tree limbs that fell over power lines.  It's amazing how helpless we feel when suddenly our power is cut off.  We scramble to save food from spoiling and work diligently to clean up the mess.  Fortunately times of severe distress provide the opportunity to deepen relationships and bring people together.  It's a time to reach out with the gospel and provide comfort and relief.

   These power outages also remind me of what happens when we lose power in the spiritual realm.  When lines of communication are broken and individuals fail to stay focused upon the Lord.  God elected to accomplish his purposes through the power grid of the church of Jesus Christ.  It takes every believer fully involved in ministry to accomplish this task.  All of us working together can bring about the completion of the kingdom of God.

   Are you powerFULL or powerless?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Planters Needed

Behold the sower went out to sow -- the sower sows the word.  (Mark 4:3,14 NASB)

   God is always on the lookout for planters.  Believers who are willing to take the word of God and cast it out freely trusting God to prepare the soil for its reception.  Just as important as the sowing is the watering.  A regular watering of the seed with prayer is vital in forming a good root system for the plant to stand on its own.  In due time through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, a harvest takes place.

    I have a friend who loves to plant a garden.  Year after year he raises tomato plants from seeds through the winter, and transplants them in the spring.  Wally is in his 80's now, but still labors to plant his garden.  When asked why he does this, Wally says, "I just love to see things grow."  I have often benefited from his tomato patch.  There's nothing better than a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich.

   Where would the kingdom of God be today without the planters?  Are you willing to take your place as a planter?



Friday, June 15, 2012

A Place Called Home

How happy are those who can live in your house, always singing your praises.  (Psalm 84:4)

   A soldier sits on a jeep in Iraq and dreams of home.  He visualizes a spacious green lawn, a swimming pool, a comfortable Lazy Boy recliner or a hammock swinging between two trees.  His nostrils pick up the scent of bar-be-cue brats steaming over a hickory charcoal fire.  In his mind's eye it all seems so real, so vivid, but oh so far away.  If only he could be in a place called home.

    I wonder what went through Daniel's mind while he was lying on the cold stone floor of the lion's den, or Peter and Paul's mind as they sat bound by chains in a damp dungeon.  What did Paul Bunyan think of while he was incarcerated in a London prison?  I'm sure thoughts of their heavenly home filled their minds.

   Are you weary and worn down by pain, poverty, or insurmountable problems?  Do you dream of a place called home?  Jesus said, "Don't let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions, I go to prepare a place for you.."  (John 14:1-3)     

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fear of the Lord

Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil.  (Proverbs 15:16 NLT).

   I love this verse of Scripture because it depicts our families way of life.  If you compare our way of life to that of the rich and famous we were considered by their worldly standards to be poor, but you know what, we never knew we were poor.  Good health and contentment are far more valuable than a lot of possessions that will ultimately rust and fall to ruin.

   We've always had a healthy "Fear for the Lord."  I like Warren Wiersbe's definition of the Fear of the Lord.  He says, "if we truly fear the Lord," we acknowledge from our hearts that he's the Creator, we're the creatures; He's the father, we're his children; He's the master, we're the servants.  It means to respect God for who he is, to listen carefully to what he says, and to obey his word, knowing that our disobedience displeases him, breaks our fellowship with him, and invites his chastening."

   This is not servile fear like a slave before his master, but a reverential and respectful fear of a child before his father.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Life is Unfair

He took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king's prisoners were held.  But the Lord was with Joseph there, too.  (Genesis 39:20,21)

   When was the last time you heard yourself saying, Life is Unfair?

   This could have been the cry of Joseph in Genesis 37 and 39.  Being thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, and put into prison (none of which was his fault) is enough to make a grown man cry - Life is Unfair.  

   Joseph isn't alone when it comes to unfair treatment.  Moses was accused of trying to kill the Israelites with thirst and hunger, Daniel was thrown into the lion's den for praying, a pastor refuses the attentions of a female church member only to be accused of sexual harassment.  Life is full of unfair accusations and circumstances.   How do we maintain a positive attitude in the midst of negative circumstances?

   The key is found in Genesis 39:21 and 23, "The Lord was with Joseph there."  When God is with you, even a prison cell can become a place of blessing.  Joseph found favor with the jailer and peace in his heart because he knew God was with him.

   Praise is the key that unlocks the door of your prison cell.  Write three things that you can praise God for today.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Perfect Picture

But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.  (Matthew 5:48 NLT)

   What would you consider to be the perfect picture?  Would it include any of the following:  Viewing first hand the Stonehenge landmark, Arundel Castle near Portsmouth, Royal Pavilion in Brighton, H.M.S. victory in Portsmouth. or the Tower of London?  I've seen them all and they can't compare to what I've experienced while sitting in a tree stand on opening day of deer season.

    I got there before dawn and climbed up into the tree.  I sat on a five gallon bucket with my rifle in my lap and waited.  Slowly a pre-dawn sky began to change from pitch dark to a soft gray.  As it grew lighter the sun's rays peaked over the treetops and everything turned a brilliant orange, then light yellow and the day began.
"What a perfect picture," I thought.  I heard the scampering of the squirrels, the tweeting of birds, and pecking of turkeys below me.  The words of the great hymn "How Great Thou Art" came to mind.

   O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy pow'r thro'-out the universe displayed. 

   When thro' the woods and forest glades I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees, when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.  

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee' How great thou art, how great thou art!

Is there anything more beautiful than living the words of that great hymn?  If you have not done so, look around you today, and marvel at what God has made.  After all it's THE PERFECT PICTURE!


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Overflowing with Confidence

And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.  (Philippians 1:6 NLT

  When I read Paul's letter to his friends in Philippi, the word confidence jumps out at me from the page.  Pau's confidence in what God was doing in their lives assured his friends that they were in tune with God's will.

   The word confidence involves an act of faith, trust, reliance, and dependence upon God and His word.  Paul is quick to remind them that it was God that began his work in them and it is He who will bring it to a satisfactory conclusion when Jesus returns.

   All of us have confidence in someone or something.  We need to ask the tough question: Upon what and whom is my confidence based?  Is it founded on the rock Christ Jesus, or is it in man's self-effort to achieve?
Your answer will determine where you spend eternity!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Look Alikes

For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  (1 John 2:16 NLT)

   Have you noticed how difficult it is becoming to tell the difference between those who claim to be Christians and everyday people in the world?  I see believers, including pastor's wives, getting tattoos like those around them.  I hear Christians using words like "it sucks" which to say the least is vulgar language if not immoral.  What's going on?  Are we now taking on the language of the world as our norm?  Do we have to participate in worldly functions in order to reach the world for Christ?

    I have never forgotten a challenge given by one of the professors in chapel when I was in Bible college.  The title of his short message was "Dare to be Different."  I'm finding little difference in today's society between believers and non-believers.  Christ is not a part of their everyday language unless used in a negative fashion.  The Bible is no longer revered as sacred or held in high esteem.  Other religious books are placed on the same level.  Separation from the things of the world is "pooh-poohed" and classified as old-fashioned/out-of-date.

   Where are the believers in America who are willing to stand for a sanctified, separated life?  Am I one of them?  Are you?  May God give us the courage and strength to say, "This is the hill I'm willing to die on?"

Friday, June 1, 2012

Secrets Revealed

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repents the matter separates close friends.  (Proverbs 17:9 NIV)

   Have you ever shared a secret with someone only to find that the information was not kept private?  A sure fire way to ruin a relationship is to break confidentiality.  You can rest assured that whatever you reveal to God is kept to himself.  God knows how to keep secret things.

   Moses tells us in Deuteronomy. 29:29, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God,...." 

   No wonder Solomon reminds us that "he that disregards another person's faults preserves love; telling them separates close friends."  (Proverbs 17:9 NLT)  We should be willing to overlook the faults of others because that is what our Lord does for us.  Aren't you thankful that our all-powerful Savior, full of grace and truth, love and compassion doesn't give us what we deserve?

   As an act of love and worship today, look for opportunities to disregard the faults of those around you, and strive to uplift the brethren in Christ.