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Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Gift of Hunger

The Gift of Hunger

There are many gifts God gives that we often take for granted; hunger is one of them. Often times we think of hunger as a burden but it truly is a blessing. If we don’t eat we will die, and if we never know we are hungry we may never know to eat. Naturally as adults we know we are to eat if we want to live. However, a new born baby doesn’t know this. For this reason, God designed our human bodies, starting from birth, to become hungry so we will know to eat, so we will grow, be healthy, and live.
In I Peter 2:1-4 the Apostle Peter describes the hunger of one who is a new born babe in Christ. A new born babe in Christ is one who has recently repented of their sins, (I Peter 2:1), and has turned to Jesus. (I Peter 2:4). He said, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” (I Peter 2:3). Then he said in the next verse, “If you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”
In other words, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord by recognizing His grace and received it, and you have repented of you sins and tuned to Jesus, and therefore become a new born babe in Christ, you will have a longing, a hunger, for the word of God. Though I am not the one who sits in the judges seat, I seriously doubt that the one who claims to be converted and has never had any hunger for the Word of God, or anything of God’s is a true conversion. The truly converted, especially the new born, will have a longing, a hunger, for the Word of God as well as all things from God.
There are times when the human body will lose its apatite, its natural hunger, and not want to eat. But, those times are a sign that the body is not healthy. In the midst of battling cancer I was asked one question above all else: “How is your appetite?” If the body is not healthy it will not want to eat. In the same way, if we are not spiritual healthy we will not have a hunger for the word of God; we will have no hunger for anything of God. It is at that time that we should know we stand in need of repentance.
The new born will especially have a hunger for the Word of God. Just as a new born in the flesh is limited in its ability to do things so is a new born in Christ. Just as the new born in the flesh has a longing to grow, learn, and do more, so will the now born in Christ. The new born in Christ will have a specific longing for the Word of God for the very specific purpose of growing in respect to their salvation. If there is no longing to grow in the salvation than one needs to seriously question whether or not they have a true salvation.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Fool’s Gold

Fool’s Gold

“A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.” Proverbs 18:2

Shortly after the discovery of America, English treasure hunters raced to the new found coastline in search of riches. Many had more zeal than knowledge and skill. They often filled their boats with what they presumed would make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. Upon their return to England they would quickly be disappointed when they tried to sell what they presumed was gold. They would discover that they didn’t have gold that was greatly valuable; instead, they had a mineral called iron pyrites that was practically worthless. This mineral became known as, fool’s gold. Most of these treasure hunters invested all they had to pursue these riches, only to be left with nothing, leaving them totally devastated.

I am often confronted with people who are full of pride in their opinions. They think that they have understanding and often are arrogant enough to speak on behalf of God. Unfortunately, most of these people are totally ignorant of God’s Word. I have even seen “experts” on news broadcasts that are obviously clueless as to what the bible actually says. They think their opinion is a treasure chest full of riches not understanding that their man made opinions are fool’s gold. If they invest their lives on these opinions rather than the true treasure of God’s Word they will be left devastated.

In reality our opinions do not matter. Only the truth of God’s Word truly matters. When Jesus returns the bible tells us He will judge the nations with the sword that comes out of His mouth. (Revelation 19:15.) That sward is the Word of God. (Hebrews 4:12.) God has given to us His word so we can know Him and His will for our lives. He has also given to us the Holy Spirit who not only inspired men to write the Word of God but will also teach it to us. Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-27, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” Not only do we need to hear the Word of God, we need to act on it; we need to turn from our ways and to God.

In this world of false teachers who profess to be wise it is extraordinarily important to study God’s Word on our own. Yes, we are to sit under God called teaching and preaching as well, and that is also important, but if we know the Word of God we will know if they are rightly dividing the word of truth and will not be left with fool’s Gold that is worthless and potentially devastating.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Called for His Glory

Called for His Glory

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.” I Corinthians 1:26

More often than not God calls the week to demonstrate His might. Why? He wants His glory to shine and not ours. What we perceive to be our strengths so often become our weaknesses in the kingdom of God. We think we have wisdom, strength, and might, and think our skills and abilities are sufficient, not realizing they can lead us to great failures when we don’t surrender them to the Lord.

Paul was a greatly educated man with great skills as a leader. However, he said, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (I Corinthians 2:2). He also said in I Corinthians 2:4, “and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” Paul didn’t trust in his education or his skills; he trusted in the power of God.

Whether we are unlearned or greatly educated God will use us if our heart is to let His glory shine. If we are unwise and unskilled God will give us a great anointing and ability through His power if we are surrendered to Him. If we are full of wisdom and skills they too must be surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus. Even the greatest of education and skills are nothing compared to what God will give to us if we are humble. However, if we are full of pride we will fail. God will not share His glory with another.

Repentance isn’t just turning from sin, it’s turning from self. Repentance is turning from our ways, our heart, our desires, our goals, our visions, and seeking God’s. Remember, true repentance is turning to Jesus, making Him the absolute Lord and authority of our lives. Anything else falls short of His glory. After all, why would we want to trust in our abilities since I Corinthians 1:25 tells us, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Seeking God Produces Holiness

Seeking God Produces Holiness

In the eyes of the world, the Prophet Isaiah was a holy man. He was a righteous prophet of God who others strived to be like. In the fifth chapter of the book of Isaiah, the prophet pronounced six woes upon the people of the land proclaiming the judgment of God upon them, as well as the punishment that would come as a result of the wickedness of their hearts. Isaiah was correct and justified in every woe he pronounced. However, in the next chapter we find Isaiah in the very presence of God where he then pronounced a woe upon himself as he says in Isaiah 6:5, “Then I said, Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”  

What was the difference between the fifth and sixth chapters? In the sixth chapter Isaiah was standing in the very presence of God. In Isaiah 6:1-4 he describes how he saw “the Lord lofty and exulted sitting upon His throne.” He saw the angels before Him worshiping Him and heard them proclaim, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” When Isaiah stood in God’s presence and saw Him in all His majesty and glory and when he recognized the absolute Holiness of God, he also recognized that any righteousness he thought he had pales in comparison to God’s.

Upon the recognition of his sinfulness in the presence of God’s holiness, he proclaimed in verse five, “woe is me, for I am ruined.” He knew that sin could not come into the presence of God and would, therefore, be destroyed. He knew in his heart that he would be ruined, undone, destroyed. However, upon his confession of sin, God chose to give him grace and cleanse him from his sin instead of condemn him. When Isaiah recognized the grace that God had given to him, he chose to worship and serve Him all the days of his life.

Many years later Isaiah proclaimed the word of the Lord in Isaiah 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.” We see that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts; and His ways are not our ways, when we are okay with sin. We have no problem with the little white lies or the stirring up of strife so long as we get our way. We have no problems walking in the conformity of the world, although we are ignorantly walking against God rather than with Him. For this reason, we so desperately need to seek God! We need His presence in our lives to show us His ways so we can repent of our own, to know His thoughts so we can rebuke the lies and deception we thought were truth.

When we seek God and find Him as His word promises us we will, we discover how sinful we truly are in light of how holy He truly is. This should then provoke repentance of sin within our lives, drawing us all the more in love and on fire for a holy God. God has promised us in I John 1:9 that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When He forgives us of our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness, we then can have true fellowship with God.

However, we need to truly seek God in our lives. Apart from Him we have no desire to repent from sins. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” God gives us the “will” to live “for His good pleasure”. Apart from the presence of God in our lives, we won’t have any will to repent of our sins and serve Him. Jesus also said in John 16:8 that He sends the Helper, which is the Holy Spirit. “When He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” Praise God we do not have to fight the battles of the flesh on our own. He has given to us a Helper.

However we need to submit ourselves to the standards of God and seek the Helper to guide us down that path. A great scripture that I often pray is Psalm 139:23, 24 which says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” I seek God asking Him to search me and try me because I may be unaware of sinful attitudes and actions within my life. Everyone else in my life may know of my sins, but I could be totally in the dark. However, when I seek God and ask Him to search me and try me and to show me everything in my life that does not line up with Him, He will. This then will produce a heart and a mind of repentance to where I will fully know the grace and mercy of God through a life of fellowship with God. He is a holy God that not only requires holiness within my life but will also produce it, if I seek Him and allow Him.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Our God is a Holy God

Our God is a Holy God

We try so hard to justify our sins. We say things like “A little white lie has never hurt anyone” or “It’s okay if I take a little more than what’s mine; after all I deserve it.” We entertain ourselves with things that curse God’s name and promote the very things that God calls an abomination. We have allowed ourselves to become conformed to the ways of this world yet God’s word says in Romans 12:2, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” We need to understand that God is not okay with sin-any sin-not even a little white lie!

I Peter 1:15, 16 says, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” God is holy in all His ways, His thoughts, His actions, and His motivation; even in His wrath and anger, He is holy. We so often fail to recognize the holiness of God. We fail to recognize that when we choose to sin (yes, even the small sin) and make excuses for our sin, we are dishonoring the very nature of God and who He has created us to be. He is holy and, therefore, requires His children to be holy. We ask and seek and knock; and when the door does not open, we automatically assume that there is something wrong with God. Rest assured there is nothing wrong with God. The short circuit will always be found on our end.

We need to ask ourselves, “Are we living out the holy lives God has called us to live”, or are we living lives that glory in the flesh and the things of this world? Have we been conformed to this world? Are your daily thoughts of God, or of this world? Do your actions glorify God or point to the world? Is your attitude one of Christ-likeness or of careless desires that lead down the path of least resistance? Is God your constant object of worship or do you marvel at the mortal ways of man?

It isn’t difficult to discover who we are living for if we simply take an honest look at how we are living. I John 1:5, 6 says, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Clearly this scripture is teaching us that if we have fellowship with God we will not walk in darkness. Walking in darkness is walking in sin. If we walk in darkness we are walking in sin and, therefore, do not have fellowship with God. God is holy and, therefore, will not fellowship with an unrepentant sinner.

I am not saying that a Christian cannot sin. All Christians are susceptible to slipping into sin. However, this scripture is talking about walking in sin, not slipping in it. If you slip and fall, you get right back up, repent of your actions, and continue walking in the right path. However, if we are walking in darkness it is a demonstration of who we are. It is the consistent pattern of our lives. I Corinthians 6:9, 10 says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Does this mean that anyone who has ever been drunk or stolen anything or has been guilty of coveting cannot be saved? Of course not! Paul is speaking here of the unrepentant soul whose sin define who they are. They are continually walking in and practicing the very things that God tells them to turn away from. The holy nature of God will not allow Him to fellowship with the unrepentant sinner. The Bible is clear, if we say we have fellowship with God yet we have unrepentant sin in our lives, we are liars. The Bible tells us to repent of our sins. (Acts 2:38). To repent is to turn away sin and turn to Jesus.

As we have already discussed, the church is the representation of the Kingdom of God upon this earth. We are commanded in God’s Word to preach the gospel of repentance to the whole world. The church should with open arms be inviting and welcoming to the sinners just as Jesus did, but expecting repentance and change within their lives. However, to the one who calls himself a Christian yet chooses to live in open and rebellious sin against God,  II Corinthians 5:11, 12 says, “But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.” Although we think little sins like little white lies are acceptable, be reminded that due to a little white lie about an offering God was the first to remove the wicked man from the church. (See Acts 5:1-11). God is holy and is in full expectation of His children and His church to be holy.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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The Holy Spirit Teaches us About God

The Holy Spirit Teaches us About God

The depths of God are so far beyond the wisdom of man’s rationale. We try to comprehend the wonders of who God is with the mind of man and leave greatly disappointed. To truly understand who God is, we need a master teacher-a teacher who perfectly understands the character of God and is able to skillfully teach even the most unteachable the wonderful riches of God’s glory and splendor.

God has indeed given us a master teacher. Our master teacher is none other than the Holy Spirit Himself. Paul explained in I Corinthians 2:9 what our master teacher, the Holy Spirit, is capable of revealing to us. “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” We often make the mistake of putting a future tense on this scripture. However, Paul was not speaking of revelations of God to come. As you look at the entirety of I Corinthians 2, you see that Paul was telling us the master teacher, the Holy Spirit, opens our eyes to those truths today.

I Corinthians 2:10 says, “for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.” Who better to teach us than the Holy Spirit, the one who searches even the deep things of God? Paul also said in the next verse, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” Again, who better to teach us the thoughts and mind of God other than His very own Spirit?

Paul continues in verse fourteen of the same chapter by saying, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” The natural man is the unsaved man who does not have the Holy Spirit within him. Therefore, he cannot understand nor comprehend the things of God. He has no teacher. However, of the Christian Paul says in verse twelve of the same chapter, “we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.” God has given us His Spirit so we may know Him, and the Holy Spirit will reveal all the truths of God, even the “depths of God.”

Again, God wants us to know Him. He has given us everything we need to know Him. Jesus died on the cross to remove the obstacle of sin; He lived before us to demonstrate His character; He has given us His Holy Word; and He has given us His Spirit to bring us the revelation of it all. What an awesome God we truly serve. We are truly lacking in nothing. The conclusion then is this: If we do not know God, it is not because God has not given us the opportunity to know Him. It is because we have chosen not to know Him.

Romans 8:14 says, “for all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” When we set in our hearts and minds to truly seek God, we must totally submit ourselves to the Spirit of God. Ephesians 5:18 says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” So often we put full attention on not being drunk with wine with no attention on being filled with the Spirit. If we are filled with God’s Spirit, we don’t have to worry about the “drunk on wine” part. Why? If we are full of the Spirit, we are full; and there is no room for anything else. If we are full of the Spirit, we are full of God; and God will then draw us into His glory.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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It’s not Religion

It’s not Religion

Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Jesus ended that statement in the same verse with “for they shall be satisfied”. We are blessed and satisfied when we hunger and thirst for righteousness. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is hungering and thirsting for God.

God has placed a natural void in our lives that He intended to be filled with Himself. However, most people (Christians and non-Christians) try to fill that void in their lives with many things of this world only to discover that they are never satisfied. Money, power, sex, possessions, drugs, or anything else of this world will never satisfy us. Only the righteousness of God that comes from seeking Him will ever satisfy us.

However, if the devil can’t draw us away from God with the immoral rivals of this world, he will attempt to distract us with the invalid rituals of religion. Satan loves religion. That may  strike you as odd at first, but hear me out. We must ask ourselves “what is religion?” Religion for the most part is a system of things that we should do and things that we should not do. It is a meaningless and emotionless system that is only rooted in what we do and is focused entirely on us. The things that are done out of the spirit of religion may be good and proper and even biblical; yet, they are done out of a sense of tradition rather than a Spirit-led soul that seeks the face of God. Many times religious rituals are done out of a sense of guilt, trying to appease God rather than out of a heart that is sold out to God.

As we look in the Gospels, we find that the people that Jesus was the harshest to were the Pharisees. The Pharisees had religion down to an art. However, Jesus said of them in Matthew 25:27, 28, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Religion focuses only on external things to the neglect of the soul. God isn’t concerned with outward things. He is focused on the heart.

Shortly after God called me to plant a church in 2006 He gave us our first convert who repented from her sins and wholeheartedly gave her life to Jesus. When that first convert walked forward, I noticed she was wearing a shirt with a large beer logo on the front of it. It didn’t bother me; however, the religious person would have turned her away and said, “Don’t come back until you are dressed properly.” What we later found was she had lost everything she owned in Hurricane Katrina except the clothes on her back. In the process of rebuilding her life, her newly acquired home as well as her few belongings burned to the ground just a few days before we met. The clothes she had on that day was all she owned, and they were given to her by someone else. Had I been a religious, person I would have turned her away in her most desperate time of need. She most likely then would have viewed all Christians and all churches as cold and heartless, and her soul would have been forever condemned to hell. Yes, Satan loves religion.

Being focused on the external rather than the internal keeps our focus off of God as well. Jesus said in John14:15, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments.” Notice Jesus did not say, “If you keep My commandments, you will demonstrate your love for Me.” That is religion. However, if we know Jesus because we are seeking Him, we will love Him. And if we love Him we will obey Him-not out of a sense of necessity because that is the right thing to do, but out of a sense of bringing honor and glory to the One we love.

What do you think my wife would have done if on our wedding day I would have said to her, “Honey, I will stay faithful and true to you all the days of my life because that is the socially acceptable thing to do and that is everyone’s expectation of me? Besides, what would everyone think of me if I was ever unfaithful to you?”  She would have thrown the ring back in my face and marched right out of there! I am not faithful to my wife because it is the right thing to do. I am faithful to her because I love her. In like manner, I am not faithful to Jesus because it is the right thing to do. That is religion. I am faithful to Him because I love Him.

God despises religion but longs for relationship. God loved us first; and, therefore, desires for us to love Him back. I John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” God doesn’t want our hearts and minds focused on ritualistic religion, but He wants a relationship that longs to know Him more and more. Why do I then go to church? To seek Him and worship Him and to know Him more! Why then do I pray? To seek Him and worship Him and know Him more! Why then do I read His word? To seek Him and worship Him and know Him more! Anything I do for the Lord should be for the purpose of seeking Him, worshiping Him, and knowing Him more-not because it is simply the right thing to do.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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