Archive for April, 2011

Who Do You Belong To?

April 30, 2011

From church, city, gang, state, sports team, stereotype or generation, people are always looking for a group to belong.   In his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation, Abraham Maslow became a renowned in psychological circles for his Hierarchy of Needs Theory which purports that all people have basic needs.  The need for love and belonging is third in his list of basic human needs.  In love and belonging, he theorized that humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Whether we agree with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or not, we all agree that people need to feel loved and a sense of belonging.  In my job for the past twenty years, this need has been truly observed in the thousands of students whom I have worked.  Many times, students will sacrifice their values or principles of right to pursue an action the violates what they believe in just to feel accepted or to belong to a certain group.  Maslow nor I have uncovered anything novel.  The Almighty God knows that man has this need.  He addressed it many times in the Word from Genesis to Revelation.  For the sake of today’s post, our text is Isaiah 43:1.  Below is the verse:

But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

As plain as day, God tells Israel, which includes every believer in Christ, that I have redeemed and summoned you by name; you are mine.  If you know Christ as Lord and Savior, we belong to GOD.  Listen to the benefit, fear not Israel.  When we belong to God, we do not have to fear.  This meets another basic need, safety.  Being safe and belonging are such human pleasures.  Even as the tornadoes raged this past week, a woman whose children survived the tornado only to have a tree fall on her kids killing all of them stated, “they are in a better place.”  She was referring to her kids being with God.  When we know who we belong to, we should not have any fear.  I know that this is a struggle for us all.  Let us meditate on this Word day and night, so that we will be prosperous and successful. If you don’t know Christ, get to know Him and be blessed.

Promise: The Lord Promises to Provide

April 29, 2011

In the aftermath of the storms that tore across several states, some are wondering why.  Others are wondering how?  How God saved their lives in the midst of the tornadoes destroying trees and homes.   Our needs manifest in many forms.  For those of us in storms, we need protection.  For those who are hungry, they need food.  For those who are sick, they need healing.  For those who are…, they need the “I AM”. We can look to the Word to find answers to those and many other questions.

Our text (Psalm 145) today addresses many needs, but in each one, God promises to provide for all our needs. Psalm 145 compliments other texts where God promises to meet our needs.  God promises to provide for all of our needs. If according to His will, God will give us everything we ask Him (see Philippians and James).  God desires bring glory to Himself as He meets our needs.  God is good and seeks to do good (Psalm 100:5).  Let’s go to Psalm 145

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
The LORD is faithful to all his promises
and loving toward all he has made.
14 The LORD upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

We are told the following things about God:

  • The Lord’s kingdom is everlasting
  • The Lord’s dominion(rule) endures through all generations
  • The Lord is faithful to all his promises
  • The Lord is loving toward all he has made
  • The Lord upholds all those who fall
  • The Lord lifts up all who are bowed down
  • The Lord gives food at the proper time to all who look to him
  • The Lord opens his hands satisfying the desires of every living thing

I am not sure about you, but I have positioned myself to be the recipient of all those blessings.  Those who surrender and humble themselves before God are poised to receive those blessings. In order to have the promises of God available to you, you must commit to the Lord.  When you have given your life to Him, He will give you life and access to all His promises.  Why?  2 Corinthians 1:20-21 tells us “20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.”  As James 4 tells us, when our motives are right, God will answer.  What is the right motive?  The motive is for us to stand firm in Christ.  God will answer any prayer that will cause us to stand firm in Him.  Hallelujah.   This is how the Lord promises to provide.  Stand firm.

Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

April 28, 2011

I am not sure about you, but there are times when we give more praise to God than others.  Today is one of those days.  He has done the same thing, but I am just more in tune to His blessing.  Last night, storms tore across several states spawning tornadoes and flicking trees across yards and houses.  The tornadoes killed at least 11 people here in northern Georgia.  As I drifted in and out of sleep due to the raging winds, crashing of thunder and popping of trees, we survived unscathed.  My children and wife are well; even the home that the Lord has provided received no major damage.  I am sure that I would have struggled to praise the Lord had my wife and/or kids not made it through the night, but fortunately, they did.  As I sat to write, I believed God was calling me to simply say to us just praise Him for His goodness.  We did not need to survive the storm for that.  We just needed to look around or to look within to see His mighty blessings. See what the psalmist said:

Psalms 148:5-8
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.
6 He set them in place for ever and ever;
he gave a decree that will never pass away.
7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding

Last night, truly the lightning and hail along with the stormy winds did his bidding.  If you are reading this regardless of whether you survived the storm or not, you are in position to offer praise to the Lord.  Just praise Him.

Promise: Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think

April 27, 2011

As a child, I remember reading Dick Tracy comic books.  I just could not imagine a watch with a tv screen where I could talk to someone else.  Today, not only are there watches, there are cell phones, computers and other mobile devices like the iPad where one can see another in other part of the city, state, country or world.  Just this past weekend, I spoke with several people via FaceTime.  Many of you may have webcams on your computers where you talk to a loved one in another part of the country or world.  I am not sure if you have ever considered the depth of things that people ask for or for the things that people think(imagine).  If we consider that example or what we see in books or movies, we can only be convinced that our imaginations stretch the limits of the conceivable.

In our text (Ephesians 3:20-21) today, we see that God states that there is no one who could ask, think or imagine anything that He could do in the lives of the saints for His glory.  The difference with man is that we ask, think or imagine for our own use or edification.  The focus of this verse is the glory of God.  Verse 20 says exceedingly abundantly above what we ask or think. We already know that we can stretch the limits, but God says He can do immeasurably more than that. We must be sure to understand the context of this verse.  The context is that God will do this in His church, that is those who are save.  The context is that He will do this in the church for the glory of the church and for the glory of Jesus Christ for all generations and eternity.  God will be glorified in people (saved) and in Christ throughout eternity.

Glorifying God is the reason we were created.  This is contrary to what we see and hear daily.  In most circumstances, people seek to bring glory to themselves; however, for the believer, we see here that we are for the glory of God forever.  This is really too much to try to speak about this morning, but I want you to consider what the psalmist said regarding the various endeavors of our life.  Psalm 37:5-6:

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Even as I contemplate a number of hopes and dreams, I can only commit them to the Lord.  If they are acceptable and pleasing to Him, He will make the righteousness of them shine like the dawn; the just of my cause like the noonday sun. What a great word picture of what God does for those whose intent is to bring glory to God through their endeavors.  God knows the heart of man; therefore, He will determine whether what we ask, think or imagine meet His criteria to grant us those things.

Promise: Joy cometh in the morning

April 26, 2011

For the past few days, we have seen how God kept His promise through the crucifixion of Christ.  Long ago, God promised Abram (Genesis 12,15) to bless the whole world through his seed.  Jesus was the fulfillment of that “seed” blessing the entire world leading to an expansion of that great nation too numerous to count.  It is also in the crucifixion that we see the wrath of God in response to sin.  The difference was that Jesus did not sin; He died for our sins.  1 Peter 2:24 tells us 24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”  That was a very dark night full of supernatural events.  The woman, disciples and followers of Christ were truly saddened that night.  I am sure that their hopes and dreams were dashed not for long.  In this case, no more true is the oft quoted “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning”.

That is our text for today – Psalm 30:5.  Almost everyone has heard that verse or some semblance of that verse quoted during a rough time in life. What is not shared is that the promise of joy is only guaranteed to the believers in Jehovah, the Almighty God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.  A little further investigation into chapter 30 of Psalm shows who is being addressed.  It is the believer, the saint of God who is being addressed.  The bible is written to the believer; its promises to those who stand in faith in the Almighty God. Here is verse 5:

5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Here is what a writer on the blueletterbible had to say about that text: “You may weep and you may mourn over the troubles of this life, but know this you believers: your weeping will last only a night—for the smallest portion of your life. Once your joy is restored, those times of sadness and despair will seem only the briefest of moments. This life can be seen as a time of weeping; but when compared with the joy of eternity, our suffering seems slight and insignificant indeed. Praise the Lord that He is soon coming!”

We definitely know that troubles will befall us in this life.  It’s not a question of if but when.  We should arm ourselves with the knowledge that joy follows the storm just as sure as day follows night.  We should praise God for the promise of joy for our lives regardless of what happens.  Watch out; trouble is coming!

Promise: Jesus doesn’t betray or abandon

April 25, 2011

Easter has come and gone, but the benefits of Jesus’ resurrection continue on. I see the value of celebrating Easter.  Without Easter, there would be no believers/followers of Christ of this magnitude.  Let’s contrast the main characters presented in the Easter account, man and God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus prophesied to the disciples that they would scatter at His crucifixion. John writes in 16:32 “32 “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”  Mark also quoted Jesus who said “27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd,    and the sheep will be scattered.” As we know, Judas betrayed Jesus for a few pieces of silver.  Peter disowned Jesus three times just as Jesus had told him.  It could be argued that none of the other disciples stood by Jesus’ side as they watched the events of the cross from a distance. Moreover, the same people who were praising and pinning their hopes of a governmental overthrow were the same ones who shouted “crucify him” to Pilate. While that is true, Christ did not do that to them.  He did go to the cross and remain there even with the taunts and doubts of who He was.  Note: when we know who we are, we are not prone to people’s teasing of us. Not only did Jesus do that, he appeared to the disciples and others on several occasions after His resurrection. Our text (John 20) today is one of those occasions.  See a portion of that text below.

 24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”  26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”  28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The text above shows Jesus’ commitment to carry out the Father’s plan and to His people.  He came back like He said He would.  He, for the doubting believer, went to further lengths beyond coming a man and dying.  He responded to Thomas just as Thomas had exclaimed – “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”  He did show them to Thomas, and he believed.  After all that Jesus had done, He could have let Thomas fade away into oblivion, but He does not betray or abandon. Jesus is alive to aid the believers which is what he did.  He provided them peace as He stated “Peace be with you.”

Since Jesus has shown that He doesn’t betray or abandon and that He lives, let us celebrate daily by being true to Him.  Celebrate is also a song by Fred Hammond reflecting on that Jesus lives.  Listen to the song by clicking the celebrate link.  Rejoice and celebrate that Jesus lives.  The Lord and Savior is no longer dead, so that you too can live.  Don’t betray or abandon the Lord today.

Promise: I will destroy this temple and build it in three days

April 24, 2011

As my Lord hung from the cross, the onlookers quoted His promise as a taunt toward him. “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!”  They did not remember Numbers 23:19 which says God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill” Rest assured, God delivers on every promise He has made.  They asked Jesus to come down, save himself, and He did only after keeping His promise to the Father to win the souls for the elect.

Today is Easter.  The believers’ remembrance and celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and ascending into heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the Father.  Because of His incarnate sacrifice, crucifixion and ascension, God gave Him a name above every name where every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.  Whether now or at the inception of eternity, it will happen as the Father has stated.

“1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Mark 16:1-7

Easter is really about Jesus keeping His promise to God.  We really should be celebrating the faithfulness of our triune God.  God, in Genesis 12, 15, told Abram his plan on redeeming man.  Jesus was the fruition of that plan.  Without Jesus, we have no hope for being redeemed and needless to say resurrected.

He has risen.  He has risen indeed.  It is true. Jesus is alive.  Hallelujah!!!

Promise: Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed

April 22, 2011

Yesterday, we talked about Jesus being before Pilate and the crowd shouting crucify Him. The crowd got its demand.  Christ was crucified. Today is what Christians call “Good Friday”. It is to commemorate Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross.  Why is that good?  Jesus, in John 12 and other gospel accounts, told His disciples and us.  Hear the words of my Lord.

“23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:23-25

There, Christ prophesied His own death, the reason for it and the result of it.  Jesus went to the cross to be gloried.  The cross is about God; it always has been, and it always will be.  Salvation is a by-product of His glory no more than the glow on Moses’ face when God showed him His glory.  No, I don’t mean to devalue the significance of what Christ’s death on the cross meant, but I want to remain true to what the Spirit, who only says what He is told from the Father, is telling me.

As Jesus normally did, He spoke in parables or analogies giving word pictures to help people understand a deeper truth.  In verse 23, Jesus clearly states why He is to die.  In verse 24, we see how His death becomes a good thing for those who lose their lives for His sake (v25).  Jesus says, 24 “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”   Without the sacrifice of death, the seeds prophesied about in Genesis 12 and 26.  God is always about fulfilling His promises.  This brings glory to Him as a true and faithful God who does not lie as Numbers 23:19 attests.

Make no mistake, salvation is available to those who have not chosen Christ.  Salvation is mine because of the cross and His resurrection, but the whole matter is about God being glorified through what He does which attests to His greatness and holiness.

Are you willing to die to produce many seeds? Yes, God has told you that He wants your life, but specifically, God has already identified for you what He wants you to sacrifice for Him right now.  Be a good L.A.D.  Listen And Do what God has said.

Good Friday to you.  Take advantage of the good that Christ offers you – Die to be a blessing to many.

Jesus Before Pilate

April 21, 2011

Wow, I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking today. I want the Word of God to speak to us; however, ponder this – the creator and ultimate judge is being judged by His creation who found Him guilty.  Of what, we still do not know.  What had Jesus done to deserve such treatment? How quickly will people turn on you.  As the Word describes, those praised him now are pursuing his crucifixion.  Let’s just read.

Jesus Before Pilate

1 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

6 Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.  Mark 15:1-15 NIV

How have we, wanting to satisfy the crowd or at least a few, have crucified Christ? Meditate on this.

Promise: We will never walk in darkness

April 20, 2011

Over this past weekend, I witnessed an age-old phenomenon.  My brother-in-law’s 3 children slept over with my two kids.  While here, his oldest son asked me if I would come and play with them as they were hiding from each other in the basement.  He hadn’t been able to find them.  I agreed to help him. I told him that I knew how to make them come out without asking.  He asked how would I do that.  I just said to watch me.  They were hiding in the area of the basement that are away from the windows.  He did not know there would be no light coming into the hallway, bedroom, bathroom and other rooms in the basement once I cut the light off in the big open room.  He followed me.  I told him to cut off the light.  We walked in the hallway.  His 4 year-old brother ran to me with his hands raised which is the universal symbol for pick me up.  I closed the door.  It became pitch black dark or as my step-dad used to say “blacker that 20 mid-nights in a cypress swamp.”  After that, I began making the ghoulish sounds.  They came out screaming, but the 4 year-old said nothing but laughed.  They gave themselves away by making sounds.  Soon, I had grabbed them all. Then as I turned on the light, the 4 year-old said, “I am not afraid of the dark.” The other said, “let’s do that again.”

It was fun to them because they knew who it was looking for them making the threatening sounds. The 4 year-old was not afraid because I was holding him the entire time I was making the noises and grabbing kids.  It was all fun, but so representative of what happens in life with or without Christ.  For those of us who have surrendered our live to Christ, we are like the 4 year-old.  In those moments in life as we see the lights fading to the blackness of 20 mid-nights in a cypress swamp, we can realize that Christ is standing right there with us.  We can hold up our hands in surrender being picked up and held in the safety and security of His arms.  He promised so in our text today, John 8:12.   12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Greek word for darkness is skotia. It means 1) darkness; 2) the darkness due to want of light; 3) metaphor used of ignorance of divine things, and its associated wickedness, and the resultant misery in hell.  The Greek word for light is phōs. It means 1) light b) anything emitting light; 2) metaphor a) God is light because light has the extremely delicate, subtle, pure, brilliant quality; b) of truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual purity associated with it 1) the power of understanding esp. moral and spiritual truth

The 4 year-old, as soon as he saw the lights go out and the room only illuminated by the sun coming through the slits in the blinds, reached for me. Likewise, Christ has declared that He is the light of the world, and whomever follows Him will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  Undoubtedly, we will go through dark moments in our lives, but they don’t have to be dark.  No matter how bad they may seem, God has promised to reveal to us his divine purpose – giving us the knowledge and truth of the matter. While that is true for followers of Christ, the opposite is true for those who do not follow Him.  They do not have the assurance of having Christ be the light and security for them.  They have no real and true God to carry them through their darkness. Moreover, this reveals another truth about eternity.  Those with Christ will live eternal in the presence of His light.  Revelation says that there will not be a sun as the Son will be our light while those without Christ will be in darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Follow Isaiah’s admonition, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6  After that, you will never have to fear the darkness.