Friday, May 29, 2020

God's Way Is Best

When will we as Christians ever learn that God's way is best? No matter what facet of our lives, no matter what situations we encounter, no matter how much we think we know, always remember, God's way is best!

Scripture tells us in Psalm 37:5, "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act". It seems, today, that many Christians insist on clinging to their own ways when it comes to serving God. They don't want to let go of their old habits, and in some cases they are reluctant to give up their old lifestyle. These individuals are some of the most miserable people in the church. Why? In a nutshell, they lack spiritual victory in their lives. 

Listen folks, if we are to enjoy God's best for our lives we must yield our way, our will, our work and our walk completely and entirely to Him. We must be willing to deny ourselves for the benefit of others. This is all a part of commitment to God. 

We as Christians often fail to trust in the Lord as we should. If we continually rely on our own strength we will continually fail. We sometimes depend too much on doctors, lawyers and friends. Now don't take me wrong. I am not advocating the exclusion of these influences in our lives. We should be thankful for the help of others, but our ultimate trust must be in God! Remember, bank accounts may fail, money markets may fail but Jesus never fails!

God rewards those who are totally committed to Him. God rewards His people by enabling us to be a blessing to others. God will use a totally committed person to reach out to others and in so doing will draw others to Him.

God's way is best. He is not only rewards the faithful in this life but He rewards us also in the next life - eternally. After all, friend, that's what really matters.

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Friday, May 22, 2020

Christian Or Religious?

Many people claim to be Christians when, in reality, all they are is religious - if that. They lack understanding of what a Christian really is. 

I remember doing an informal survey many years ago. I wrote on small pieces of paper the following: "In your opinion what does it mean to be a Christian?" I handed them out to dozens of people I came in contact with. I received most of them back. As you can imagine, there were very few correct responses. 

Even today, many do not have a clear understanding of what it means to be a Christian. They can come up with any number of answers. Perhaps these are answers they have heard through the years or even been taught somewhere along the way. Yet they are not correct answers. 

Some say they grew up in a Christian home so they are Christians.  Cindy and I were asked to teach the adult Sunday School class at a church we attended a number of years ago. I thought it would be good for each person to share their salvation experience. Each person was sharing when and where they believed on Jesus and accepted Him as their Savior. One lady, raised by her grandmother said, "You aren't raised by my grandmother and not be a Christian". We discussed what the Bible said about salvation and what it took. She just knew she was saved because she was raised in her grandmother's house. 

Wrong answers!

Some say they go to church every Sunday and that makes them a Christian. Some even attend services multiple times a week. The famed evangelist, Billy Sunday, once said, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car". I venture to say there are people who attend church every Sunday who have never believed on Jesus. It is routine to them - something they have always done. 

Wrong answer!

Some have Sunday School pins (do any churches still give them out?) or certificates for perfect attendance. Some believe because they grew up going to Sunday School they are a Christian. 

Wrong Answer!

Many say they try to live by the Golden Rule and they live a good life. That's a good thing to do but just living a good life won't get you in to heaven. 

Others say they have been a church member for many years. They put such an emphasis on their name being in the church membership book. 

That won't get you in to heaven!

Is your name in the Lamb's Book of Life the Bible speaks of? We recently sang a song titled, "Please Search The Book Again". The chorus goes like this:

Please search the book again, I thought my name was there;
I went to church on Sunday, though I never knelt in prayer;
Please search to book again, it's too late now I know;
Please search the book again, before you make me go.

You see, its not about the things we have done. We cannot work our way into heaven. We cannot save ourselves. Jesus paid that price - once for all. Once we believe on Him we are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the Day of Redemption. 

I recall hearing an interview with a man on a Christian radio station several years ago. He had a terminal disease and was not long for this world. He was a Christian and was at peace knowing what his eternal destination was. At the end of the interview he shared some words that I wrote down in the back of my New Testament that I had with me. He said, "Above all else, get to know Jesus!" These words have stuck with me. I have used them often while preaching. It's imperative to keep the main thing the main thing. There is nothing more important than getting to know Jesus. 

I encourage you to examine your life. Do you recall that time you believed on Jesus? Do you recall the difference He made in your life?

Quit saying you are a Christian if all you are is religious. "Above all else, get to know Jesus!"

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Friday, May 15, 2020

Run YOUR Race

How often have others come to you and told you how they think you should run your race or live your Christian life? Sometimes they are sincere in their thoughts while other times they are being meddlesome busybodies who want to have some sort of sway or control over you. 

We must be mindful that God didn't call us to be them. Many years ago I wrote a song that our son sang that said in part, 

God didn't call me to be a Billy Graham
He did not not call me to be just like my dad
But since I opened up my heart and let Him come in 
He wants me to be "me" and to be "me" for Him.

You see, God wants us to continue to be who we are but to be the best "us" or "me" we can be for Him. He desires to use the personalities, qualities, traits and talents He has give us for Him and for His glory. 

Don't attempt to be someone else. Don't attempt to pattern your life after someone else. We should be looking to be like Jesus, not some other individual. 

Many will want to tell you how to live your life and what to do and how you should do it. For the new Christian I understand the need for training and discipleship. However, this discipleship training should  be limited to the Bible and spiritual growth as opposed to telling them what to do and how to do it. 

Other people's experiences will not always be what God has in mind for you. Just because God has led me one way does not mean He will lead you down the same path to do the same thing. We all have different callings and giftings that God will use as He sees fit. 

God may very well have a different path for you. As Hebrews 12:1-2 (CSB) says in part, "...Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfector of our faith."
We need to run the race that lies before us. We do that while keeping our eyes on Jesus. You won't go wrong or get off course doing this. 

Don't run someone else's race. Run your race!

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Friday, May 8, 2020

God Has A Plan

It is comforting to know that no matter what we face on our journey we can rest assured that God has a plan. Sometimes the plan is obvious while other times the plan appears to be hidden, at least from us. But God has a plan. 

God has a plan for every trial, sorrow, heartache and difficulty we face. It may not seem like it when we are going through the difficult times but we can rest assured that our infinite God has a divine plan.

There are those who do not think God's plan is fair to them. Let's face it, life is not always fair. But God has a plan.

Some do not like God's plan as it pertains to them. Others simply reject God's plan out of hand. But, still, God has a plan. 

We don't always understand God's plan. Let's look at what God spoke through Isaiah the prophet:

Isaiah 55:8-9 (CSB) - "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways." This is the Lord's declaration. "For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."

So you see God's plans and ways are far bigger than ours. He sees the big picture. We see but a snippet of the picture. God is working His will out in our lives. Why are you facing what you are facing? Because God has a plan!

The world may be in a mess. But God has a plan. The church as we have known it is in disarray but God has a plan.

Some things will never the same as a result of the COVOD 19 coronavirus. I'm okay with that. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps God is wanting believers to get out of the rut they've been in for so long. Perhaps God wants to use this to get us outside the four walls of the building we meet in. I submit God is using this time to move His people "outside the box" of organized religion or religion as we know it today. 

We can choose to get lost in fighting the political battle for a land we are just passing through or we can allow God to use us to affect eternal change in the lives of people as we move "outside the box" of organized religion. Which will you choose?

Remember, God has a plan!

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Friday, May 1, 2020

God's Direction

Over the months and years I have heard many Christians say they wish they could know God's direction or will for their life with certainty. Several have even said they sometimes wish God would write His direction or will for them via a "handwriting on a wall" so as to make it plain to see, read and understand.

You may recall the one time the Bible speaks of "handwriting on the wall" was in the Old Testament under the old covenant. It was a message of judgement to King Belshazzar. With that in mind, I must say I am not the least bit interested in receiving a "handwriting on the wall" message from God. Besides, this was the Old Testament.

We are New Testaments believers living under a new and better covenant. Praise God for that! As believers, we are to be led by the Holy Spirit. He indwells the believer and will lead us and guide us in to all truth. This sure beats a handwriting on the wall, in my opinion.

Too often, believers fall into the trap of looking for a "sign". Jesus said signs are for unbelievers. We don't need a sign when we have the Holy Spirit. Again, God has provided a much better way for us.

In my personal life, God's direction or will has always been clear. I knew when to step out in faith and do something. I would sense His leading, I would pray about it and then step out and do it. We've been on some great adventures with God by following His direction and will for our lives. Fortunately, God gave me a wife who is the perfect ministry partner for me. Don't get me wrong, not everything went smoothly and without issues. Satan won't allow that. But God is greater! He has always seen us through when we follow His direction and will.

I think its important to point out one other thing that is equally as important as God's direction and will. His timing. This often takes just as much prayer and discernment as determining His direction and will. God's timing is of paramount importance. Timing is everything in the spiritual realm.

Let me give you an example of God's direction and timing in my life. God led us to pastor a little country church that had undergone a great deal of difficulties. After just over five years, He led me to "retire from pastoral ministry". I didn't retire from ministry, just  pastoral ministry. Just over two years later the church suffered a bad split. God led us to return to the church. I knew it would not be a long term situation for us. God sent us back there for the healing process and to love and encourage the people. We did this. God began preparing me to once again leave the pastorate. In fact, I knew seven months before I even announced I was leaving. I knew God's direction and will in this matter. However, I had to wait on His timing to make my announcement. Once I announced it was another five months before I preached my final sermon as pastor.

While God's direction is always clear, it takes discernment to know His timing. I can't stress this enough.

Even now God is opening new doors and leading down a path I've never gone before. Its a path I could never have imagined. It's exciting. It's exhilarating. I'm confident His direction, as well as His timing, will be made His time.

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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