Sunday, November 01, 2015

Doing Everything for Him

One thing the Lord has been impressing on my heart lately is the importance of doing everything that we do for Him. It is so easy to do certain things for Him, especially the more directly ministry-related things (church, Awana, etc.), while doing almost everything else just because it is what we do. Often times it may not be noticeable from the outside. When I'm sitting at my desk at work, coworkers might not see me typing extra fast and decide that it must be because I'm working for the Lord and not for men. But Lord willing, they will see me as a diligent worker and see the Lord through me. It is so vital that we do the right things... and not just the right things, but do them with the right motives.

This evening, we were putting some fliers on doors for a Grief Seminar in the community that our church is putting on next weekend. It was a constant battle in my heart when I'd see an open garage or someone in the yard to want to skip that house out of fear of awkwardness or whatever the case may be. I walked up to one garage with a few guys in there... shirts off drinking beer watching a football game. It's at points like that where the Lord really has to work in my heart and remind this often hard-headed guy that those guys need the Lord as much as I do. One of the other people I walked up to was leaving and I wasn't even going to go to that house yet, but this young man didn't look like he would be the kind of guy that would do anything but laugh at me handing him a card that says, "Grief" on it... and yet when I did (thanks to the Holy Spirit not letting me get away with walking on), he thanked me several times and said that he really needed this right now. It almost brings me to tears because I wasn't going to stop and hand it to him. I was going to put it on his door, but whoever was home likely would have taken it and thrown it away before he got back. Yet, God was gracious to him and to me by granting the courage to do it because of Him--because He is worth it. I feel so pitiful sometimes... so weak and lacking in boldness. People are dying every day because they believe in Jesus and I can't walk up to someone and hand them a flier. It comes down to motivation. Am I passing out fliers for Daniel, or am I passing it out for the God of the universe?

I was encouraging a friend recently that we work for a King--the King of the universe. We would do well to remember that as we go about our daily lives whether that be at home, work, softball, interactions with neighbors, grocery shopping, filling up the gas tank, etc. Take a look at this:
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
This is something that seems to come back to me often. I wish I could learn this lesson one time. One of the two sermons that I've had the opportunity to preach was on this very thing--how quickly I lose focus! I am such a poor judge of people's hearts. Who am I to think that I know who needs and doesn't need to hear the message of hope that comes from the God of all comfort?! A friend of mine was challenging me on this very thing yesterday. As he was sharing about his own life and how he has often been wrong in this area... that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart, I was challenged but didn't do anything with that challenge. God gave me something to do this afternoon. I love how He is so faithful to teach me things. He can speak truth to me through His Word and through others and then follow it up with a chance to put it into action. I am so grateful that he works through our weaknesses and grants us more courage and more faith as we are obedient in small ways.

God, make Yourself so glorious in my heart that I'd do everything for Your glory! Cast down the idol of myself and fill me with Christ so that I might love Him and please Him. Grant me boldness to do whatever I do because of Him rather than for me. Show me when my motives are anything other than to glorify You. Thank You for Your faithfulness and grace.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Buried--but not still buried!

Our sermon last week was about Jesus being buried and what that means for us as God's children. I was reading in this morning in Acts 2 when the man who denied knowing Jesus three times stood in dependence on the Lord and spoke boldly for His name's sake. I love the way he compares Jesus' burial to David's burial (the king they respected the most). Take a look:
Acts 2:29-39 “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
With David, all we have are memories... the things he has written... stories about him... etc. With Christ, He said that it is for our benefit that He died, was buried, and raised again to sit at the right hand of the Father, for if He didn't, the Holy Spirit would not have been sent to us (John 16:7)! The Holy Spirit is sent to guide us in all the truth (John 16:13). God made Jesus both Lord (Master, ruler, owner of everything, the one with all authority) and Christ (Messiah, the Anointed One, savior). What is David to us today? He is a man that died many many years ago, a man after God's own heart, but a man that made a mess of a lot of things during his life time. We have some of his words as encouragement to us as we try to live to please the Lord. But with Christ, we have the Holy Spirit with us! We have a living Savior! We have the hope of being resurrected someday (1 Cor. 15)!

It says that the people hearing this were pierced to the heart. I think we are often not pierced to the heart by His Words because we have hardened our hearts. But I think we would do well to understand why they were pierced to the heart and why we ought to be. It wasn't just them that crucified Jesus. It was us. Romans 5:8 says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The people listening asked an important question: "What shall we do?" We must ask the same question... whether we have a relationship Jesus or not, we must ask ourselves the same question. Peter says to these men and women that they ought to repent and be baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit. For me, having repented and having been baptized, this is the most important decision one can make. To repent and submit ourselves fully to Christ is to have hope of eternal life with Him. But every day is a day of repenting for me as a child of God. No, we don't become perfect all of a sudden... and no, my repenting doesn't earn me salvation. Jesus' death and resurrection paid the entire cost of my sin. My repenting is the appropriate response to Him for all He has done. I must turn from my sin and turn to Christ as my ruler.

As we celebrate Easter, may we remember that He was buried, just like David... but He didn't stay buried. Since He didn't stay buried, "what shall we do?"

Monday, February 23, 2015

Counting the Cost

This concept is really well known in the business world, perhaps not as well known as it should be in our personal finances, but when it comes to our life direction, it is absolutely essential. In the business world, if we don't count the cost correctly, we might bid low on a job and lose money. In our personal finances, we might start a project and not be able to finish it... or in the worst case, have to declare bankruptcy. When it comes to our life direction, we either determine to follow the Christ or to live our own way. We need to count the cost for these choices.

Let's look at the cost of these choices:

If we determine to live for Christ:
  • We must give up living for ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
  • We must be willing to suffer for the sake of Christ (Philippians 1:29, 1 Peter 3:13-17, Matthew 10:22)
  • We must have new priorities--now Christ must take first place (Colossians 1:17-18, 1 John 5:21)
  • We must be willing to give up anything for the sake of Christ, perhaps family, friends, jobs, possessions, health, money, comforts, etc. (Luke 9:57-62)
  • We must commit for the long-haul... not just for the moment (Matthew 24:13

If we determine to live for ourselves:
  • We will spend eternity separated from God in hell (Revelation 20:11-15).
  • We will live a life of being humbled by God (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5-6)
  • We will find ourselves hoping in worthless things that will always let us down (Isaiah 44:9-20).
  • Our lives will ultimately be useless (1 Peter 1:18)
  • We will have no lasting peace (Romans 5:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:3)

We have a decision to make. We must count the cost of both options. We would do well to carefully consider the words of Jesus. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? This is not an easy choice, but is the most important choice we will make.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Fear of the Lord

I was reading these verses today and really encouraged and challenged to live in the fear of the Lord.
And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding. Job 28:28

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever. Psalm 111:10

How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways. Psalm 128:1

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate. Proverbs 8:13

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

The fear of the Lord prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. Proverbs 10:27

In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death. Proverbs 14:26-27

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord Than great treasure and turmoil with it. Proverbs 15:16

The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility. Proverbs 15:33

By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil. Proverbs 16:6

The fear of the Lord leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil. Proverbs 19:23

The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord Are riches, honor and life. Proverbs 22:4

Do not let your heart envy sinners, But live in the fear of the Lord always. Proverbs 23:17

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear. Isaiah 11:2-3

The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. And He will be the stability of your times, A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the Lord is his treasure. Isaiah 33:5-6
So what are the benefits of living in the fear of the Lord? Wisdom, hatred of evil, understanding, blessing, hatred of pride and arrogance, knowledge, longer life, strong confidence, refuge, life, avoid snares of death, joy, good rest, riches, honor, lack of envy toward the wicked, decisions made based on His wisdom, stability, and treasures.

My prayer is God would help me fear Him more and more every day so that I would honor Him and reap all of these amazing benefits of living for His fame.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

I am second?

You may have seen those videos going around Facebook from people saying, "I am second". If you haven't, from the two or three that I've watched over the course of my life, they are talking about prioritizing God and others. But really, we are not "second"... we are far further than the list than "second". I was reading Romans 12 in light of the end of Romans 11 this evening...
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And 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. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
As I read this passage, I see that we are to present ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice. This moves us down to 2nd because we are living for God. Then we read on, we are told not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Reading on, we see that we are given gifts to be used to serve others. In fact, it seems to imply (and we know from Philippians 2:3) that we are not actually second, we are actually last! We are to give preference to one another, we are to serve the Lord as we serve others. We are to rejoice... not just for our own reasons, but to celebrate with others and share in their joys. We are to weep with those that weep... to put aside ourselves for their benefit. Lest we think that we are not actually called to be "last", we are even told to give food and drink to our enemies and be good to them.

Jesus showed by His example and then told His disciples in Matthew 23:11 that the greatest in the Kingdom will be the servant of all. May God give us grace to put ourselves aside... to put aside the ever pressing desire to be "first", and give us hearts to put Him in first place and everyone else before ourselves for His glory. May He give us true hearts of greatness!

Monday, June 30, 2014

When He is Sought

It has been far too long since I have taken the time to write here. I've been thinking this evening about what it means to be seeking the Lord with all of my heart. It is something that we are supposed to do at all times and yet, it is so easy to seek Him with parts of my heart. As Pastor Tim said several years ago, our hearts are idol factories. God has given us good things in life to pursue for His glory and what it joy it is to pursue them when He is kept at the center! It is when He becomes secondary that we run into big problems. It is so easy to take what He meant for His glory and use it for personal gain--especially since what He desires to be for His glory is also for our good! I was readings several passages this evening and have been reminded of this:
Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God; arise, therefore, and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy vessels of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the Lord.”

So now, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek after all the commandments of the Lord your God so that you may possess the good land and bequeath it to your sons after you forever.

He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.

And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.

Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

He continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding through the vision of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him.

The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God.

When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”

The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.

Fill their faces with dishonor, That they may seek Your name, O Lord.

Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.

Evil men do not understand justice, But those who seek the Lord understand all things.

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help And rely on horses, And trust in chariots because they are many And in horsemen because they are very strong, But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord!

Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.

So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.

Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.

Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.

For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel, “Seek Me that you may live.

Seek the Lord, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden In the day of the Lord’s anger.

The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.”

So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’
I highly recommend reading these in context, but it is clear from all these examples in scripture that there is huge blessing when we seek the Lord with all of our hearts... in fact, He promises to be found by us when we seek Him with all of our hearts. We will always go the wrong way when we do not seek Him! We naturally do the things that are not pleasing to Him. But what a blessing it is that we can have a personal relationship with the God of all the earth! We don't serve a God that is far off, but One who has given us direct access to Himself through the blood of Christ! He longs to be near to us an for us to be near to Him! May we continually seek Him with humility and submit ourselves fully to Him.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Cost

This week has been crazy. I don't think I've worked so many hours in one week ever, though I have nothing to complain about. I know many people personally that work more hours than I did this week just about every week of their life. God didn't establish 40 hours as a work week (though I like that number for the sake of having time to spend with family and do ministry). It's been nice to slow down a little bit. The carpet was installed in the house today and there were little issues here and there... the hammer crushing the edge of the wood floor that I installed and carpet being a slightly different color along a seam... but in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal. Got the saw out and cut out the piece of wood that was damaged and got it replaced. I need to follow up tomorrow about the carpet color issue and see if there is anything we can do about that. I feel so blessed though... I mean really... having this nice carpet when so many don't even have a home, or if they do... have the cheapest carpet out there that is 15 yrs old... I feel blessed and really have no complaints (though I hope they do fix it if possible).

I was reading tonight in Proverbs 7 and the end of verse 23 caught my attention. This is not a "fun" proverb. This section of it is talking specifically about a young man who gives gives in to the temptation to sin with the enticing of a flattering woman. That is where verse 23 comes in...
So he does not know that it will cost him his life.
So many of us may not fall in this manner... but don't just assume that you won't. I don't assume that I won't. Our walk with the Lord is a daily, moment-by-moment thing. Too often we do the equivalent of calling Abraham our father like the Jewish people were doing and using that as "fire insurance". You are saved by the grace of God? Great! So walk in Him! I can think of person after person who I viewed as godly (in fact, I think they were godly) who fell into sin in this manner. This is not me casting judgement... this is me realizing that none of us are beyond that and looking to Proverbs 7 as a reminder of what the end of that path is--it is the way of death. Another proverb says, "the dead are there". By His grace, may we walk wholeheartedly in the ways of the Lord!