Saturday, October 21, 2006

A lot of times we see something on TV or in the possession of a friend and we just have to have it. Perhaps we started out with good intentions of pursuing a goal we believed God was leading us toward, but it takes a lot of money to live, and well, we deserve nice things too!

Many times the pursuit of things, which of course require money, becomes our focus instead of God. Most people, even those who don’t know Jesus as their Savior have probably heard “money is the root of all evil.” Well, here is the passage of Scripture from which it comes:

1 Timothy 6:6 - 10 (NLT)
6. Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. 9. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

I see you noticed that other well known saying, “You can’t take it with you.” Many times, rather than an incentive for ignoring earthly treasures we use that saying as an excuse to spend more and do more things that we want to do. You may have seen the bumper sticker, “I’m Spending My Children’s Inheritance” or something to that effect.

Paul’s reason for writing this passage was not to give us an occasion to amass great amounts of money and spend it. Neither was it to make us feel that all money, in any amount, is evil. Rather, that our seeking after the things of God, pursuing His desire for us to lead lives of purity, love and respect for others ought to be NUMBER ONE.

Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Here’s the right kind of “roots.” Let this benediction guide your thoughts in the coming day, week and ….

Colossians 2:6 - 7 (NLT)
6. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Friday, October 20, 2006

You may have heard the song that Aretha Franklin sings called, “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” Or perhaps Rodney Dangerfield’s famous line, “I don’t get no respect.” These examples may have made the word itself famous, but they have not increased the frequency of the act of respect.

I am always hearing “You have to earn respect.” Some of us that are parents say it. Some of you may say it to your friends. The truth of the matter is that we are talking about a person’s worth. To respect someone is to acknowledge that they have worth in God’s eyes. ALL people have worth in God’s eyes. That doesn’t mean we have to agree with their beliefs, or actions, but it does mean that we are to treat them with respect even if we disagree with them; even our parents; even our children!

You may say, “They don’t respect me, so I don’t have to respect them.” Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:44,

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Perhaps it would help to remember that saying “It is better to give than to receive.” Now consider the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy:

1 Timothy 5:1 - 2 (NLT)
1. Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. 2. Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.

Paul here is assuming that one respects their father and mother, brothers and sisters which is something that has declined in our society as the family unit has undergone drastic attacks in the last several decades. Paul’s right to “assume” comes from one of the Ten Commandments:

“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
Exodus 20:12 (NLT)

Respect is not something that we earn, it is something we are due as a creation of God. We need to keep in mind that ALL people are due this same basic respect:

ALL your friends that hurt you...
ALL your teachers…
ALL your business associates…
ALL the people you come into contact with EVERYDAY.

All were created by God. We are told to first love God and then our neighbor in Matthew 22:37-39. It is very difficult to love someone if you don’t first respect them as one of God’s creation.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Your friend did something to hurt you and you were supposed to help them with a homework assignment. What do you do?

Your best friend called and cancelled an outing with you that you were looking forward to going on. You found out later they took another friend. What do you do? How do you react?

We all are hurt from time to time by people that we love. How we respond to that hurt is a good picture of our character and of what we are made in the spiritual sense. It is a good bet others will see how we act and draw some kind of conclusion about our character and perhaps even our relationship with God.

I want to introduce you to a word that you have heard of before and, like most of us, think it is simply the prayer said right before we eat. That word is:

GRACE says that the definition of grace is “a disposition to kindness and compassion.” says grace is “the free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God.” And Calvary Chapel defines grace as “The undeserved favor bestowed upon sinners, a gift from God giving us Christ's riches which we do not deserve nor can earn.”

God’s grace appears to be mixed with His mercy. When you think about what we deserve for our disobedience, it ought to be punishment or some kind of disciplinary action. But God in his mercy gave us His Son, Jesus Christ. And the Bible tells us in Romans 5:8 that:

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Most people are familiar with the verse that says, “For God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Not only did Christ die instead of us, for our mistakes and wrong doings, but because He did, we are free to experience God’s forgiveness and live with Him forever.

That’s grace. That’s love. That’s God.

So, the next time someone you love deserves (in your thinking) anger or retribution, think about exercising God’s type of grace mixed with mercy!

Ephesians 2:8 - 10 (NASB) 8. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9. not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Endurance Race: Staying power…

1 Timothy 4:1 - 4 (NASB) 1. But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2. by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3. men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;

One only has to look around to see that what was once predominantly a Christian nation, is no longer. People are being told half-truths by cleverly charming leaders in an attempt to create a following; to create a new religion. The rise in the number of cults is astonishing. We are definitely in the “later times” that Paul spoke of in his letter to Timothy.

Well, does that mean we who claim to be followers of Christ are to give up, to hide ourselves in our houses until the Lord appears to take us home? Never! We are to continue to be faithful to God’s command to 19. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20. teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19 - 20 (NASB)

None of this is any surprise to God; the false teachers, the numerous cults and their followers. Jesus told His disciples these things were going to happen.

Matthew 24:11 - 13 (NASB) 11. “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12. “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13. “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

Endures to the end. Endures in what? Endures in the truth. What is truth? Jesus said “I am the Truth.” (John 14:6)

Stick with the One who made you and gave His life for you so that you could spend eternity with Him. His name is Jesus!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Never too bad…

I’ve often heard people say, “God could never accept me. I’ve done too many bad things for Him to love me.” And, feeling like that about their self, they continue to live a life below the potential that God has created in them.

I want you to take note of one of the greatest preachers and missionaries for God that ever existed, Paul. Here’s what Paul had to say about his own condition:

1 Timothy 1:12 - 15 (NASB) 12. I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13. even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14. and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

No one is “too bad” for God to love, for God to save or even for God to use in the furtherance of His work here on earth. If you feel that God couldn’t possibly love you or forgive you then right now you need to admit your short comings to Him and ask His forgiveness. The bible tells us that if you do…

… he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9b (NLT)

God wants you to succeed. He sent Jesus for everyone who would believe in Him. “For God so loved the world…” and that includes you. Trust Him today and discover the rich and rewarding life that He desires for you.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB) 11. ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

What a picture of happiness for us! The problem is that, all too often, we fail to read the scriptures that come before and after this verse. We want to find the stuff that sounds good and keep only that part.

God was angry with His people and sent Jeremiah to tell them that they were to be taken captive by the King of Babylon. He even told them that they were to build houses there, plant gardens (29:5), to have children there (verse 6) and to 7‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ He also told them that they would be in that city for seventy years!

Some of the people didn’t want to go into exile, the punishment that God had sent for being disobedient. In essence they were refusing to accept the discipline that God was dishing out and were continuing in their disobedience to Him. Listen to God’s response to them in the same chapter:

17. thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Behold, I am sending upon them the sword, famine and pestilence, and I will make them like split-open figs that cannot be eaten due to rottenness. 18. ‘I will pursue them with the sword, with famine and with pestilence; and I will make them a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse and a horror and a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, 19. because they have not listened to My words,’ declares the LORD, ‘which I sent to them again and again by My servants the prophets; but you did not listen,’ declares the LORD. Jeremiah 29:17 - 19 (NASB)

Our verse for today is indeed a wonderful promise but it is conditional on our obedience to God. Yes, He has good plans for us. Yes, He wants to give us a bright future full of hope. But it is up to us to obey Him and His will for our lives as found in His Word. We are never to take the Word of God out of context; to pick and choose pieces of it to serve our own purposes.

1. Bend down, O LORD, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help.
3. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly.
4. Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you.
5. O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive,
so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.
6. Listen closely to my prayer, O LORD; hear my urgent cry.
Psalm 86:1, 3-6 (NLT)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

2 Thessalonians 3:14 - 15 (NASB) 14. If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

The church of Paul’s time didn’t have the printed version of the New Testament like we do now. So, when he says “this letter” to the people in Thessalonica, we today can more broadly interpret that to mean “God’s Word.”

This verse reminded me of another from the book of Romans:

17. Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
Romans 16:17-18 (NASB)

We, as children of God, are called to a life of holiness, purity, separation from the world and obedience to God. George Barna says that a very small percentage of people that sit in the pews (or chairs!) on any given Sunday are actually born-again Christians. That’s not for us to decide, but when we see someone who is calling themselves a Christian and yet is acting contrary to what Christ puts forth in the scriptures, we are not to associate with them.

Well, “ok” you say, “but what if they’re my best friend? What if it’s somebody I like a lot?” If someone in the church is causing dissension and hindrances to God’s work, or blatantly disobeying God, we are to avoid them even if they are our dearest friend. That may not be easy, but that’s what God says to do.

Now obviously, if we were that close to them, we could probably talk to them about it and, through God’s Word, gently and humbly lead them to seeing their error, but if not, we are to avoid them. Otherwise we will be seen as agreeing with their disobedience to God and, by association, be accomplices to it.

Prayer Verse:
Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you?
Psalms 85:6 (NLT)