Archive for December, 2013

How To Win Over Your Wife

December 31, 2013

How to Win Over Your Wife sprouts not out of my great effectiveness but out of my great need. I readily admit that I could use daily help with this one. Most men struggle with having their wives adore them and be live out the “Stepford Wife” interaction. Not to say that men want women who are obsequious, but we certainly do not want one who is overly assertive or brazen. I digress.

This post came out of nowhere. I had been reading for over an hour in two other passages. I had been intrigued by a statement my pastor, Robert Benson, had made about Christ being God’s right-hand man. I began reading Matthew 20 where the mother of James and John, Zebedee’s wife went  to Jesus to ask Him for a blessing for her boys. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” The word used in conjunction with right hand is dexios (de-ksē-o’s) which connotes a place of honor or authority. occurs 53 times in the NT (right hand (39x), right (12x), right side (2x).) Here are a few instances from the OT mighty hand or right hand.

We all, even our mothers, want to be in the best position possible in life. As a man, I want my wife to be in the best place with God, but I also want her to be in the best place with me. I want to get along well with her. I want her not to have hurt feelings or feelings of resentment. People get hurt when their needs are not met. People feel resentment when they feel they have been wronged. James 4 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” That is simply our pride/selfishness surfacing.

How to Win Over Your Wife is answered by Jesus in Matthew 20 as He answered James and John’s mother and the disciples. “25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.””

The word for servant in verse 26 is diakonos (dē-ä’-ko-nos). In NT scriptures, the context of its use is shown in the following:

  1. one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master, a servant, attendant, minister

    1. the servant of a king

    2. a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use

    3. a waiter, one who serves food and drink

The word used for slave in verse 27 is doulos (dü’-los). In NT scriptures, the context of its use is shown in the following:

  1. a slave, bondman, man of servile condition

    1. a slave

    2. metaph., one who gives himself up to another’s will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men

    3. devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests

  2. a servant, attendant

In essence, Christ told the disciples that they must be servant slaves in order to be great among the disciples and the people of the day. In order to win over my wife, I need to serve. In fact, serving will win over any other person I seek to have a significant relationship. I must be committed to the interest of others at my own sacrifice. First God, then others out of honor for God. I must be committed to promote the welfare and prosperity of the body of God that is the church. I must maintain a permanent servile with others our of my relationship to Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Paul told them that they should have the same mind of Christ who though He was God “he made himself nothingby taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself     by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” After all, Jesus Himself said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Last year this time, I was about to write Count It All Joy. God was speaking to me about His right hand out of my divine directed quest for joy. Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” This is really not about How to Win Over Your Wife. I see now that God is trying to grow me by using my desire to please my wife. God wants me to be a servant slave because that is what Jesus was, and as a Christian, I must embody and exemplify who and what Christ is.

What to do about Your Divided Heart and Mind?

December 30, 2013

As we face the end of one year and the beginning of another, we are sure to encounter calls for resolutions for the upcoming year. Perhaps, you will vow to lose weight and get into better shape. Some will promise to reduce their debt or absolve it completely. Others may become resolute in improving personal relationships.

In Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul addressed a resolution with the Colossians regarding their personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the risen Savior. Paul provided instructions on What to do about Your Divided Heart and Mind? His proposition reminds me of basic computer programming language. According to Oracle, the if-then statement is the most basic of all control flow statements. It tells your program to execute a certain section of code only if a particular test evaluates to true. I also remember if-then statements from Geometry. Let’s take an example shared on Mathplanet.com. If you get good grades then you will get into a good college. We know that the part after the “if”: you get good grades – is called a hypotheses and the part after the “then” – you will get into a good college – is called a conclusion. Hypotheses followed by a conclusion is called an If-then statement or a conditional statement. A conditional statement is false if hypothesis is true and the conclusion is false. The example above would be false if it said “if you get good grades then you will not get into a good college”.

In Colossians 3, Paul uses an if-then proposition regarding the Colossians trust in Christ as Savior and Lord.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

The proposition is that the Colossians, or any believer, has been raised with Christ certain actions are required. Matthew Henry describes it as “It is our privilege that we have risen with Christ; that is, have benefit by the resurrection of Christ, and by virtue of our union and communion with him are justified and sanctified, and shall be glorified. Hence he infers that we must seek those things which are above. We must mind the concerns of another world more than the concerns of this. We must make heaven our scope and aim, seek the favour of God above,”

Paul is saying if you have surrendered your life to Christ or have been raised with Christ, then you will set your hearts and minds on the things above not on earthly things. There are certain behaviors that are requisite of you as one who has been raised with Christ. In verse 2, Paul explains the duty. In verses 5 & 8, he shares what and how to maintain behavior requisite of the follower of Christ.  He sharing  What to do about Your Divided Heart and Mind?

Remember, a conditional statement is false if hypothesis is true and the conclusion is false. In this case since/if you have been raised with Christ, then, set your hearts on things above, and set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Paul is saying that if we are focused on earthly things as outlined in the text as well as how to get rich, how to gratify the desires of our flesh, then we are not who we claim to be. He gives us the road map on What to do about Your Divided Heart and Mind?

I don’t have to ask if your heart is divided. You are human; thus, we are subject to living for self. Romans 8:5 speaks of our dilemma. Romans 8:5 says, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” To undivide our hearts and minds, we must set them on the things above.

10 Virgins

December 29, 2013

By virtue of the title of this post, 10 Virgins, I am sure that today’s post will garner more views than most. I have noticed that views increase when the title has some alluring nature to it. Go figure. So as not to mislead you any further, this post is not about virgins or sex. It is about being ready for Jesus’ return. If that does not interest you, you can stop reading right now.

In the posts This Is How I Roll and God uses Similes, the notion of God using comparison and contrast to teach us was discussed. In the parable of the 10 Virgins, Jesus uses that parable to show what the kingdom of heaven will be like. Let’s go to Matthew 25 to read the parable.

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

I do not want to over simplify the text. There are a number of dynamics that surface in the text from use of virgins, to the number of virgins, to lamps/torches and lamps/torches with oil. Simply put, the point Jesus wants to convey from this parable is to be ready.

From Jewish customs, it has been proposed that there were ten lamps used in the Jewish bridal procession. Again, the focus should not necessarily be on the number but on the distinction. Let’s look at the similarities of the 10 Virgins:

  • all were invited to participate in the wedding (to know God)
  • all had lamps/torches (body for the Spirit to inhabit)
  • all had their lamps/torches with them as if to be ready (appeared to ready themselves for Christ i.e. some oil)
  • all all became drowsy and fell asleep (dealt with natural questions in waiting for Christ to return)
  • all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps (were aware that Jesus had indeed returned and positioned themselves for His return and acceptance of them)
  • all went in with the bridegroom to the wedding banquet.

Now, let’s look at the differences of the 10 Virgins:

  • five were wise (prepared for the coming of the bridegroom – Jesus)
  • five were foolish (unprepared for the coming of the bridegroom – Jesus)
  • five wise had more oil to light their lamp/torch (the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us to live a godly life. verse source 1 & 2)
  • five foolish did not have more oil to light their lamp/torch
  • five foolish did not go in with the bridegroom to the wedding banquet

The Holy Spirit lights the way for the believer. Here, He is the dividing criteria. Those who have the Spirit and those who do not have the Spirit. Romans 8:9 “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” We see those five virgins who did not have the Spirit were not permitted into the kingdom of heaven. If Christ is not your Lord and Savior, you do not have the Spirit of Christ. You will be like the unwise virgins. Which of the 10 Virgins do you desire to be like? Do you desire to go into the wedding or have the door shut on you without a chance of ever entering?

What Israel Prayed For – A king

December 28, 2013

Good morning Lord,

Thank you for allowing me to arise and to know who I am and who you are. I thank you for the opportunity to open your Word and to hear from you. As I have continued to look at What Should I pray For?, I see a wide variety of things. Today, I believe you want me to learn from the negative rather than the affirmative. In the text (1 Samuel 8) today, we see that Israel who at that time were being led by Samuel’s sons, Joel and Abijah.  ”His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice. NOTE: The people of God have a hard enough time doing right when being led by a godly man. When ungodly leaders lead them, they almost always go further astray than they would if a godly man was leading them.

We see this dynamic in this chapter. Listen to What Israel Prayed For – A king. In 1 Samuel 8:5, the people came to Samuel and said, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” The people had gone further astray than they had when being led by a more godly man. Under Joel and Abijah, the people turned to covetousness that is to desire, covet, take pleasure in, delight in something or someone other than the LORD. They wanted to be “like all the nations” who were led by a king. When we are incessant in having our own way, God knows our heart. He knows that despite His warnings we dead set on having our way. He allows us to have our way especially when we don’t heed His warning.

6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”

Like the Israelites, when we covet something or someone other than the LORD, we are rejecting Him as King. He is the King of King and Lord of Lords. Whether we allow Him to be king of our lives or not, Christ is King despite our choice. When we repeatedly reject God, He , in most cases, allows us to experience the fruit of our ill-advised choice. That’s what happened above when the Israel Prayed for A King. God reminded Samuel to convey to them, Hey, this is me; remember all that I have done for you and you want to kick me to the curb; Remember, I brought you out of Egypt and gave you victory in challenges where you depended on me since then. You still want to reject me after all of that? God says, okay, I have reminded you of how I governed you. Let me tell you how this new king will govern you. Despite the warning

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”  21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

When we are persistent in rejecting God, He will not violate the choice He has given us. God will allow you to experience the consequence of your choice. What Israel Prayed For was – A king. It was not the wisest choice. It was a rejection of God. God even warned them, but the people refused to listen to Samuel; therefore God. Have you refused to listen to the LORD? What has God said to you about what you are praying for? Who is the Samuel in your life to give you the warning from the Lord? If you don’t know the history of Israel, you should take a quick survey of the Hebrew kings and the impact of their kingship on the people. Needless to say, they don’t compare to the King of Kings. Rejection of the King of Kings has always carried a dire consequence. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” Look at the verses below that also show the consequence of rejecting God as King of your life.

Hosea 8:3
But Israel has rejected what is good; an enemy will pursue him.

Mark 12:10
Haven’t you read this scripture: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone ;

1 Timothy 1:19
holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.

2 Timothy 3:8
Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.

1 Peter 2:4
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him

1 Peter 2:7
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, ”

What Time Is It? It’s Your Time!

December 26, 2013

Before we can discuss What Time Is It? It’s Your Time!, we must understand how time is defined. According to dictionary.com, time is defined in the following ways:

1. the system of those sequential relations that any event has to any other, as past, present, or future;
indefinite and continuous duration regarded as that in which events succeed one another.
2. duration regarded as belonging to the present life as distinct from the life to come or from eternity;
finite duration.
3. ( sometimes initial capital letter ) a system or method of measuring or reckoning the passage of
time: mean time; apparent time; Greenwich Time.
4. a limited period or interval, as between two successive events: a long time.
5. a particular period considered as distinct from other periods: Youth is the best time of life.

For man, we would all agree that our life on earth has a fixed time although we are not privy to how long that time has been designated. We bound by many things in this life. Many of which we have found ways to compensate. There are wheelchairs for those who cannot walk and ramps for those confined to those chairs. There are razors for those who have the dominant gene for baldness. There are ladders for us when places are too far out of reach. There has even been supersonic air flight for those who need to get some where in a hurry. I could go on and on about our efforts to compensate for our limitations.

I cannot do that in regards to time. We cannot create more time as God has reserved that for Himself. Since God created us and determined the days in which we would live on this earth, it is important that we understand and are able to answer the question What Time Is It? It’s Your Time!

Time is not at our discretion. We do not innately have the right to use time as we wish. On the contrary, we, as believers in Christ, are told to “15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5) God wants us to walk in step with the Spirit of God. What Time Is It? It’s Your Time! has not thing to do with us; it has everything to do with God.

I know there are many experiences that I just loath. I hate them because they are slow, painful, and uncomfortable. If I viewed this as Godly Path + Godly Perspective = God’s Peace, I would understand that I am Not Rejected but Redirected. This morning as I awoke, God had given me a powerful message to write. I laid there in the bed for awhile as it was not quite 4:00. As I began to think about the previous day, Christmas, that powerful message left. No matter how much I prayed and thought, the thought did not come back. I heard one statement that shaped today’s post. I heard that God gave some one a gift.

We know from Romans 6:23 and Christmas‘ story, that God’s greatest gift to man Jesus Christ. As we think about our lives, there are undoubtedly things that disappoint and hurt. God wants us to remember What Time Is It? It’s Your Time! Again, this reference is connection with God and how He wants us to understand, accept and apply that principle. It is not any clearer that one of my favorite songs. I heard it back in 1986. Gently, it has taught me What Time Is It? It’s Your Time!.

What Time Is It? It’s Your Time! is my herald to man to say stop looking at the world through your eyes because you can’t see. We are blind without Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” God created our lives in time. It is God’s just right to dictate to us how our time should be not only spent but viewed. Time is not mine but God’s.

What Time Is It? It’s Your Time! It is your time to realize that God makes all things beautiful in His Time. Time is not our time but His Time. When we recognize and realize that fact, we will ask and answer What Time Is It? It’s Your Time!

Read these words to this song and then listen to it.

In His Time (He makes all things beautiful), by Maranatha MusicIn His time,
In His time,
He makes all things beautiful, in His time.

Lord please show me everyday,
As Youre teaching me Your way,
That You do just what You say,
In Your time.

In Your time,
In Your time,
You make all things beautiful, in Your time.

Lord my life to You I bring,
May each song I have to sing,
Be to You a lovely thing,
In Your Time

BIBLE VERSE DERIVED FROM:
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men,” Ecclesiastes 3:11.

How Did You Respond When You Saw Jesus?

December 24, 2013

Today is Christmas Eve morning. It is obvious that we are preparing to celebrate Christmas, but there are millions of people are oblivious to what Christmas is all about. I know. I used to be one of them. You may ask how could that be. It’s the same phenomena of someone being in a large crowd of people but being all alone.

We know it’s Christmas, but the more important question is How Did You Respond When You Saw Jesus? Fundamentally, there are several response. One, you see Him but don’t see Him; thus, your response is nothing because you are not aware of who it was you saw. Two, you see Him but make no big fuss ignoring Him, because while you know who He is, there are greater priorities. Three, you see Him, and you marvel at who He is and what He has done or will do.

From the posts  Godly Path + Godly Perspective = God’s Peace, Right Path and Right Perspective and  Not Rejected but Redirected, we know that how we see God makes all the difference in how we will interact with God. In Luke 2, he gives us an account of how several people responded to Jesus even as a baby. Most of you have heard about Joseph, Mary, heavenly host and wise men, but I want to focus on two people whom you may have never considered or remembered. Let’s see a little of what Luke 2 says…

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Simeon and Anna gave praise and thanks for Jesus and both prophesied about Jesus after seeing Him.  The Spirit of God had revealed to them who Jesus was and how He would bless all nations. Both knew that Jesus was the fulfillment of many promises God had made. Simeon knew that Jesus would bring salvation for both the Jew and the Gentile (v. 31-33). Simeon had peace when he beheld Jesus. Do you have peace when you see Jesus? Maybe, I should ask do you see Jesus at all. In regards to Anna, to reiterate, she gave thanks, but she also spoke about Jesus providing the redemption to all in Jerusalem who were looking for redemption.

Simeon saw salvation in Jesus. Anna saw redemption in Jesus. How Did You Respond When You Saw Jesus? Do you see salvation and redemption in Jesus? If so, did you run to Him in obedience and appreciation? If you have not seen Him, ask God to open your eyes that you may see Him giving thanks and praise for who Jesus is – salvation and redemption for man.

A House of Cards Will Eventually Crumble

December 22, 2013

There are terms in the English language that communicate more intricate realities in a quicker fashion. Idioms do such a thing for us. The idiom that serves as the motivation for this post is “A House of Cards Will Eventually Crumble“. A house of cards is a person, an organization or a plan that is very weak and can easily be destroyed. Jesus talked about a life in a similar fashion when He talked about house built without a strong foundation in Matthew 7 and Luke 6. Matthew 7:24-25 says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

The same principle exists in building relationship with people. If we hear God’s Word, we need to apply the principles presented in God’s Word to relationships. If we do not, a relationship made out of A House of Cards Will Eventually Crumble to non-existence. Most of us have played the card-building game where we use the whole deck to build a structure like a house. We may erect it, but invariably, it falls because the structure does not have a solid foundation that extends its support to the other framing parts like the walls and roof of the house.

Likewise, this is true in relationships. As a consequence, A House of Cards Will Eventually Crumble. Let me give you a recent example. At the beginning of the school year, there were four students who always walked the halls together. They ate lunch together. They had classes together. They, in terms of appearances, were together. A week ago, some trespass or offense happened between two of them. It resulted in a shouting match and a little bit more. Upon the return of one of the students, I observed the student walking down the hallway perturbed. I pulled the student aside. We talked about what had previously transpired. We talked about us being flawed people who would eventually do or say something to harm a relationship, but we must forgive one another. Forgiveness was the foundational ingredient that would allow relationships to remain despite the trespasses or offenses that occurred. The student talked about advise received from a parent about if someone walked up on you to handle your business. I shared with the student a verse that guides me many times – He who covers an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9) That student promised if something happened to where angry and violent feelings arose that the student would come see me.

Well the next morning, I saw the other student with whom the first student had a riff. In essence, I was sharing the same thing to the second student when the first student walked by and said it would not make a difference. Undeterred, I continued in hope that the student would listen to me, but more importantly, the Word of God and the principles of God would make an immediate impact averting another clash.Well, for one day, it appeared that the intervention worked. As I sat in a meeting in the conference on the last day before Christmas Break, I heard unusually loud noise in the hallway. I was alarm sort of like a parent who knows the varying cries of his/her baby. We know when something is wrong. Much to my hip’s surprise, I sprang up and dashed to the situation unfolding the hallway outside the office. There they were -those two students. One yelling so fiercely and being restrained by two adults while the other being restrained by the School Resource Officer. There had been other adults who intervened on behalf of those students, but it did not prevent another verbal joust and a physical altercation. Moreover, the parent of one of the students allegedly issued a threat to the other parent. “Explicative, I know where you live”. Despite that, I know from Isaiah 55 that God’s Word does not return to Him void. I stood on His Word not on A House of Cards when talking to them.

Because those students did not apply the Word of God to their relationship, we saw that a relationship made out of A House of Cards Will Eventually Crumble. Don’t despair, the greatest teacher, Jesus Christ, has a lesson that contrasts the shaky or wavering relationship seen with the House of Cards. We know that Jesus had an intense relationship with the disciples. They ate together, traveled together, made a living together, were challenged together and lived together for three years. They, in terms of appearances, were together. A 2000 years ago, some trespasses or offenses happened between them. We know from scripture that one disciple betrayed Jesus. Another disciple denied knowing Jesus, and the other disciples abandoned/deserted Jesus. We know that Jesus continued to stand on the Word of God through His disciples betrayal, denials and desertions. He stood on the Word of God as He was being crucified. Why? Because of the principles found throughout His Word like in Proverbs 17:9. He wanted to promote the Love of God not a selfish and sinful agenda. It resulting in forgiveness for all nations.

Listen to what Jesus told the disciples in Luke 24:46-4846 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.” Like them, I am a witness that forgiveness of sins was preached to me. By God’s grace, I accepted the message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. I was forgiven by God and empowered to forgive those who betray, deny and desert me. It is so freeing and liberating when I harness my sinful thoughts of retribution.

Will you be free and establish relationships on the firm foundation of God’s Word or will you personally learn a relationship made out of A House of Cards Will Eventually Crumble to non-existence. Let Jesus Tear Down Walls in your life.

Let’s Make A Deal!

December 19, 2013

As a small boy, I loved to watch this game show called Let’s Make A Deal.  I am sure that some of you know the show; however, for those of you who are to young to have had the privilege to watch it, I wanted to provide this image before I briefly explained it.  As all game shows have,  Let’s Make A Deal had a host, Monty Hall.  In sheer excitement, a contestant would have a product given to him/her.  Mr. Hall would come to the contestant, call his/her name, and offer that person a deal.  The contestant would have the product and some unknown commodity behind the curtain or door.  The lure of the unknown coupled with the contestants desire to get something he/she truly longed for was too much for many contestants to over come.  There was one episode where a lady was given some Turtle wax and something behind the curtain.  Mr. Hall offered her $500, then $600, … a $1,000 finally $1,500.  She refused the money saying that she wanted the car despite not knowing if there was a car or not hidden from her view.  Then she switched stating that she wanted the money.  The desire to get something greater, even if you might lose it, was worth the risk of the opportunity cost for most contestants.  For her, it was not worth the risk.  She chose the money.  Mr. Hall revealed what was hidden.  It was a $4,000 car.  The lady tried to cope with her disappointment by stating that she needed the money and was happy.  I am sure what Proverbs says was true for her.  Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Just like Let’s Make A Deal, life offers many opportunity cost decision but none as important and eternal as choosing between living your own life or living the life of righteousness that only comes through Christ (John 14:6). In our text for today, Matthew 7:12-15, Jesus shares how Monty Hall’s concept of Let’s Make A Deal was not a novel idea.  Matthew 7:13-14 says, “13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  This is the choice between life and death.  Life is obeying and following God.  Death is disobeying and following someone or something other than God.  The Triune God had begun to offer man a deal when time began.

Adam was offered the choice to choice between life and death.  Genesis 2:16-17 “And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Implicit is the notion that if Adam did not choose to eat of that tree is that Adam would live. God told Adam that he could eat from any tree except one.  Which one did Adam choose?  The wrong one.  Life or Death is always before us.

In a conversation with my daughter yesterday, we discussed the wide and narrow gate concept in Matthew 7:12-13.  Before anything else, Jesus tell us to enter through the narrow gate as He juxtaposes the two choices.  I explained to my daughter that this verse is the basis behind why I ask her to not follow the crowd, to not want to be accepted by the masses.  I am not sure if she understands now, but we all are old enough to understand that God is offering us a choice.  Our day is filled with choices to enter through the wide or narrow gate.  Behind one door is life; behind the other door is death.  Which will you choose?  When we say no to God, we are saying no to life, peace, joy, assurance, and so many of God’s other benefits.  Life will not go on like the contestant mentioned above.  Hear the voice of the Lord calling your name today saying, “Let’s Make A Deal”.    Remember, “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Choose wisely!

Tear Down Walls

December 18, 2013

In the post Not Rejected but Redirected, I referenced Ephesians 2 as an example of God’s care and concern for us.

Listen to what Ephesians 2 says about Jesus being our peace and bring peace with God.

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Have you ever been so mad at a person that there was nothing they could do to make it right with you?  I am sure you have. In a few of those cases, you may still be mad at that person and a wall remains or exists. It seems insurmountable to scale. As Michael Jackson said, “To high to get over, to low to get under, you’re stuck in the middle and the pain is thunder…” The thunder of the pain keeps you from moving forward. It leaves you desiring to Tear Down Walls.

This is what our sin is like to God. It is offensive. It his hard. Sin builds an impenetrable wall between God and man. It separates us from our God who created us to be in fellowship with him. Jesus is our peace. It is Jesus, through His sacrifice on the cross, death and resurrection, who is able to Tear Down Walls.

I don’t have much time, so I have to stop now. It matters not what I say but what the Word of God says. God’s Word says, “13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” Our sin made us far away from God, but Christ tore down that wall between God and man if He is the Lord and Savior of your life. It is this same Jesus who enables us through His Spirit to tear down walls between our fellow-man and us. There is someone, perhaps a sibling, a friend, a spouse or relative that has sinned against us creating a hug wall that is too High for you to get over. Jesus will enable you to Tear Down Walls. You just have rely on His strength to do so. It will be challenging because our mind keeps going back to how we were offended, no just done totally wrong, but God says “14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:20-22, Matthew 18:34-35. Luke 6:37 says, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 17:4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” We have no option if we want to Tear Down Walls.

Christ, through forgiveness, has enabled us to Tear Down Walls.

Does God Really Notice Me?

December 17, 2013

How does man become righteous? Romans 3:21-22a says, “21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” It is only through Jesus that we can become righteous in the eyes of God. It is God who will judge the righteousness of man; therefore, it is important that we meet His criteria for righteousness.

In the post Where Are God’s Eyes?, that questioned was answered succinctly in Psalm 34.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.

In this life, we want to be loved and accepted. The amount of attention one gives us is a barometer of the care/concern for us. I continue to think about the notion that God has His eyes on me. His focus is not condemning or damning, but restorative. I am trying to comprehend that the Almighty God is attentive to my cry. The word for cry is shav`ah (h7775) which means cry for help.

Imagine that, for the righteous, Psalm 34 tells us that God’s ears are attentive to their cry for help. Does God Really Notice Me? If you know Jesus as Lord and Savior, we can be assured that God notices you especially when you cry for help. If you want to be encouraged, go to biblegateway.com, perform a key word search for the terms “cry out” and “cried out”. You will be amazed at God’s willingness to respond to man when he cries out to God. There is an imbalance of instances where man had done wrong and ignored God, but when man humbled himself and cried out to God, God answered. While I don’t want to paint the wrong picture, God holds us accountable, but He is also merciful. Even in our consequence, God is merciful.

Does God Really Notice Me? Oh yes He does. “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry;” What more could we want? Give praise to God. More importantly, cry out to God.