Quenching An Unquenchable Thirst

“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” — John 4:10-14

Over the centuries there have been individuals who, at that time, seemed to harness the ability to make the impossible possible. For example, there was Thomas Edison who invented the first light bulb. His largest investor, J.P Morgan was told multiple times by his own father that he was a fool for investing money into something as foolish as electricity and that it should only belong in the circus. Now it is unimaginable to live without electricity for today’s society. There was also Henry Ford who invented the automobile known back then as the “horseless wagon.” Until that point, no person had ever dreamed of driving an automobile. These men and countless others have made what was once thought to be impossible to be possible.

As brilliant and as intellectual as these men were, the intellect of man can still never compare to the power of God. God became manifest in the flesh (which is more than can be said for Buddha, Mohammed or any of the other false God’s) and was all man while at the same time all God. He was man enough to weep at the death of Lazarus yet He was God enough to raise Him from the dead! He was man enough to hunger, yet He was God enough to feed the 5,000! He was man enough to thirst yet He was God enough to provide Living Water to a Samaritan woman. God is still man enough to be touched by the feelings of our infirmities and God enough to provide us with a peace that passes all understanding. He knows your situation and is God enough to carry you through whatever it is you’re facing today!

In John 4 we see once again the immaculate grace and power of our God at work. In this story we find a sinner in need of help and didn’t even know it. This Samaritan woman was surprised that Jesus would even talk to her at all because back in that day, the Jews and the Samaritans were not to have any dealings with each other. Jesus never was any good at following man made rules and boundaries. He said that He came to seek and save that which was lost and regardless of the rules and regulations and standards of man, He was determined to accomplish His goal!

As Christ asks for water the Samaritan woman asks Him how He plans to get it considering that He had nothing to draw it with. Not only did He blatantly disregard the standards of man by even being in Samaria (His disciples would not even enter the city with Him!) but the methods He was using were confusing to the minds of mortal man. This is even present in our modern society as this world doesn’t understand how we can live for and follow God in an ever sinful world. They can’t see how that even though society is making evil good and good evil, we can still rejoice in our Heavenly Father. We can do so because we know that our joy is not of this earth but is of Heaven! The source of our joy is not of this temporal world, but is of an everlasting origin! She was thinking of things temporal while Christ was speaking of things eternal. The Apostle Paul told us in Colossians to “set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” The things of this life are only temporary but Jesus is still offering an eternal salvation!

Jesus told this Samaritan woman that if she only knew the “gift of God” then she would be asking Him for a drink of Living water which springs up from a well of everlasting life. This gift is spoken of again by Paul in Romans 6:23 where the Bible says “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

This gift is still offered today for any and all who will receive it.

Paul tells us in Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That “whosoever” means exactly what it says! Jesus made the impossible possible with the Samaritan woman because due to her temporal thinking, she could not fathom a well of Living water that would quench a thirst for all of eternity!

There are many today who have an unquenchable thirst. They have a void that they have filled with temporal pleasures yet they never seem to fill the emptiness of that void. No matter how much alcohol they drink, regardless of how many people they sleep with, no matter how many needles they stab themselves with there still exists that emptiness. Many of our young people are experiencing that void resulting in juvenile centers being over crowded with young offenders who don’t even shave yet.

Stop trying to quench that thirst with things of this temporal world, but rather allow Christ to quench that thirst with a drink of living water from a well that will never run dry. Trust Christ today with your life and your eternity. Call upon Him today and let Him quench your unquenchable thirst!

Identifying Your Ai

In Joshua 7 we read an interesting story. It is the story of one man’s sin that ultimately cost 36 men their lives. Joshua has just led the armies of Israel to a victory over Jericho while saving Rahab and her family because she hid the spies that Joshua sent into the land before taking it. Now in chapter 7 they are excited and fired up and ready for battle again! The last verse in chapter 6 tells us that the Lord was with Joshua and that the fame of Joshua was heard throughout all the country. Now there is a huge problem as we begin the next chapter. A man by the Achan, the son of Carmi, has taken some gold, silver, and a Babylonish garment from the land. Because of Achan’s sin God’s anger was kindled against the children of Israel and caused Joshua much grief. But before the sin of Achan is revealed, Joshua sends three thousand men to a small little piece of land called Ai. The men thought that because there were so few people in the land that it would be nothing to take it and be victorious once again. After all, they did just defeat Jericho so Ai should be a piece of cake. Unfortunately they found that there is no victory outside of the grace of God as the few men of Ai sent the three thousand men of Israel running with their tails tucked between their legs! They thought they had this little land whooped but because of the sin in the camp they could not see victory that day.
This is much like the modern day Christian. We let these little sins stay hidden in our lives while we say “I can handle it!” Unfortunately the grave yard is full of those who thought they could handle sin. There are many drunks walking the streets digging through trash cans for a bite to eat and falling asleep in their own filth because they “could handle it” since it was only one drink. There are unfortunate individuals today who are literally coughing up their lungs because they “could handle” just one cigarette. Every Sunday there are people who never make the effort and have no desire to make the effort to be in the House of God because they “could handle” just missing one service! These little sins that once seemed so easy handle can be referred to as a spiritual Ai.  Solomon told us in Proverbs that “Pride goeth before destruction.” Be aware of that cocky attitude because instead of you handling it, that sin just might be handling you!
This is something I have experienced recently. I accepted a position working at a secular rehabilitation center for at risk teenage boys. The job seemed perfect to begin with. Great pay and awesome benefits. At first it involved having to miss a church service here and there because of the schedule. No big deal. Then it got progressively worse. I was working every single Sunday and every single Wednesday night. There was now no time whatsoever for church or the ministry. Now I’ve been in the ministry for over 15 years and preached in hundreds of pulpits across the country, yet here I was not going at all anymore. This was in no way the fault of the employer, but it was my own fault for choosing to take a position that would pull me away from the things of God because I thought “I could handle it!” Now that I resigned, I have taken a drop in pay and lost a few benefits, but I have gained a lesson that is much more valuable which is to keep my eyes focused on Christ and not a crowd. For me, that was my Ai. I thought that it was just a little thing that didn’t matter yet it ended up costing me more than I was willing to pay.
How do we identify these areas in our life? There will not be a huge sign or big warning that says “CAREFUL! THIS IS YOUR Ai” but there are a few ways we can rightly judge whether or not we are getting ready to be defeated by our own spiritual Ai.
How can we tell if we are in over our heads spiritually? Never under estimate the power Satan has over our minds today. He is the prince and the power of the air. He knows how to distract us from the oncoming defeat of Ai while convincing us that we have nothing to worry about. Is what you’re doing keeping you from being faithful to the Word of God? I know we all have busy lives including myself. There are times rather often that I must sit down and reevaluate my time management because i seem to leave out time for my personal devotions with God. Is what you’re doing keeping you from having the time to spend in God’s Word daily? If so, it should be red flag right there. There is no particular time of the day where we are supposed to stop and read the Bible and have personal devotions, but we are supposed to make time on a daily basis to spend with our Lord in His Word. If what you’re doing is causing you to neglect your personal walk with God then it’s only a short matter of time before you have no walk with God whether personal or public! What about church? I understand that life happens and we may not always be able to make every single service every single week. There are some whose work schedules won’t allow them to be there consistently every single service and others who may have health issues that cause them to have to stay home and take care of themselves. Life happens and situations change from time to time but that doesn’t mean we should allow something in our lives that keeps us from being in church with fellow Believers. The apostle Paul told us in Hebrews 10:25 that we are to “forsake not the assembling of ourselves together.” It becomes a problem when we spend more time away from the things of God than we do actually serving God. It becomes a problem when missing one service here and there turns into missing multiple months worth of services at a time. It becomes a problem when that one drink turns into habit causing you to lose your family and friends and even your own health. It becomes a problem when that one night out on the town turns into a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life.
One last thing to ask yourself is “who is getting the glory out of it?” Is what you’re doing promoting and sharing the good grace of God or is it displaying your own goodness and the work of your own hands? Paul tells us in the scriptures that “He must increase and I must decrease” In other words, Paul said “enough of me and more of Him!” If what you’re doing fails to give the glory to God then watch out because you may be preparing for a loss to Ai. Don’t allow Ai to take over you or even defeat you. Guard your heart by staying in the Word of God and staying focused on the things of God! Don’t look at the crowd, rather look at the Christ. How do we keep our hearts and lives clean? We do so by bathing in the Word of God. There we can experience first hand the awesome and amazing grace and mercy God offers to all. We can have the peace we’ve been searching for. We can have the rest we’ve been desiring. Stay alert! Stay focused! Stay in the Word of God and don’t be defeated by Ai!

Who Is To Blame For the Downfall of America??

For the last several weeks I have sat back and watched as our great Nation has divided itself over the issues of the confederate flag, gay marriage, immigration, etc. We have watched as one twisted human being decided to act upon his hatred for those who are different and take the lives of 9 innocent people in a bible study. We have watched as the liberals placed the blame on the conservatives and the conservatives placed the blame on the liberals. The last several weeks in America have been literally heart wrenching for those who still love their country. With all the killings, the hatred, the racism, the bigotry, the deceit and the lies, where does the blame lie? Is it really the fault of the conservatives or the liberals? Is it the fault of the north or the south? There are parts of America that resemble a third world country and they are closer to home than you realize. Who is to blame?
If you will read the scriptures and study the times you will plainly see that problem is not one of a social nature. Regardless of whether you think so or not, gay marriage has nothing to do with the problem in America. The confederate flag has nothing to with the problem in America. Racism has nothing to do with the problem in America. The blame for the downfall of our great Nation lies strictly with the church. We love to quote and post 2 Chronicles 7:14 and say that if America will repent then we can see God work again. It might make for some really good preaching, but it makes for a terrible truth. If you read the verse it plainly starts by saying “If my people..” That verse has absolutely nothing to do with the world. That passage of scripture was meant for the child of God. We have seen the downfall of a great country because we have lost focus in the church. If we apply 2 Chronicles 7:14 to the child of God, we can plainly see that the world is just being the world. It is the church that needs to repent!
For the last couple of weeks I have watched as two preachers, who I grew up believing were “heroes of the Faith,” argued and called each other names and ridiculed each other on social media over the issue of whether or not young people should wear shorts to church. Seriously? Who cares as long as they are wearing something! And we wonder why the churches are empty today. We have had christians who can pronounce judgment on gay marriage and the banning of a flag, yet they struggle with telling somebody about Jesus. If you can rant on social media about social issues without caring about  what others think, then where is that same passion for telling somebody about Jesus? We have churches that say “we’re not racist” yet won’t allow a black family to join their congregation. We have preachers who will rebuke a sinner for not living right yet never share the gospel with them. We can never see a movement of God as long as the churches are more impressed with their standards than they are the Savior.
If you want to place the blame for the downfall of America, then it can be placed upon the practices of the Christians. It is no longer a normal thing for a family to sit together and have a devotional time with God and read and study the scriptures together as a family. It is no longer a normal thing to see people being faithful to their church as much as possible. It’s funny how that we can find time for a hobby yet struggle to find the time to make it to church. The problem is that we have decided to use Christianity as a hobby instead of living for God. We read the Bible when we can find time. We tell others about Jesus when it is convenient for us. We might make it to church this week if nothing comes up. Christians, if we want to see a change in society, we are gonna have to make a change in our lives.
So often in the church we are taught to avoid those who are lost and wicked, yet the scriptures never dictate that reality. We are told and commanded to be separate in our mind and heart. We must learn that being a Christian doesn’t mean we have to walk around with our noses stuck up in the air avoiding anybody that may have some issues. We must learn how to live for God while living in this world. Unfortunately, we don’t have a choice. We are still in this world so we are gonna shop, work, eat, commute and even live around those who are not Godly. It is up to us to be mature enough as a Christian to be able to stay strong in our faith regardless of the crowd. If we want to see God move in America again, then the church is gonna  have to make time for those we are taught to avoid. We are gonna have to make time for those who are addicted to drugs and have needle marks and are suffering the effects of drug and alcohol abuse. We are gonna have to find the time for those drunks who are sleeping in their own vomit and have lost everything to support a God-less habit. We are gonna have to make time for those women on the street corners who are selling their bodies to twisted people who will pay them to have sex with them. We are gonna have to learn to make time for those young men who aren’t even old enough to shave yet they have a criminal record from living on the streets. We are gonna have to make time for those who have marked their bodies up with tattoos. We must make time for those young ladies who aren’t even old enough get a drivers license yet they have given their virginity away. We are really quick to criticize and judge their lifestyle, yet we aren’t very quick to put our arm around them and lead them to Jesus.
We long for the days when kids were safe at school and didn’t have to worry about getting shot or being searched at the door. We long for the days when young ladies could go to public without being raped and we could leave our doors unlocked at night. But where are the days when mom and dad gathered the family together and prayed and thanked God for being so good to them. Where are the days when the whole family would get up on Sunday Mornings and go to church and worship together? Where are the days where we got up an hour early to spend time with God instead of sleeping in and then hurrying off to work as if God had nothing to do with waking you up one more time?
My point is this…if we want to see society get right with God, then we must get right with God. There will be no change until God’s people get their focus readjusted. It is time God’s people quit placing the blame on society and started repenting and begging God for a clean heart as David did in Psalms. If we can’t make time for God in our own lives the don’t expect society to live righteous and Godly. Jesus even said that the “harvest is plenteous but the laborers are few.” There are plenty of people who want to hear about Jesus, we just need plenty of Christians are willing to tell them. 

The Right Reputation

   I recently started reading and studying the book of Joshua in my personal daily devotions. Joshua starts out with God putting Joshua in charge and taking the place of Moses after his death. The Lord spends the first chapter encouraging Joshua to have courage and not to be afraid. In chapter 2 Joshua gets to work planning victory for the children of Israel. Joshua decides to send two men over into the land of Jericho to spy out the land and do a little reconnaissance work. When they get there, they find a harlot by the name of Rahab and she puts them up and gives them a place to stay. We all know the story of how she hides them and then gets them to promise to spare her and her family’s life. But what really spoke to me was how she knew the men. In verse 9 she begins to tell them that she knows of their reputation and respects them and desires for them to spare her and her family. It’s interesting to see the reputation that the children of Israel already have in the land.
   What does this world know about you? Do you have a Godly reputation that will help you point others to Christ? Too many times we go to an extreme with our reputation. There are those who want the world to see their standards and convictions and leave little to no room left for the grace of God and then there are those who show no signs of being born again as there is no change in their life. The scriptures tell us that a false balance makes God sick so how do we balance it out? Studying the reputation of the Israelites will help us a little bit.
    The first thing Rahab told the men that she knew them by was the miracles of God. She informed them that she had heard how God had dried up the Red Sea. Can this world look at you and see the miracles of God or do they see the works of your own hands? Understand that it is nothing more than an absolute miracle that a loving God would die for you and love you enough to want to spend eternity with you. Being saved from Hell is nothing short of a miracle. When the world looks at us they should be able to identify the goodness and the grace of God. They should see that God can take even the lowest of wretched sinners and give them a brand new life in Christ Jesus. Nothing else in this world can provide such a benefit!
    Something else Rahab knew about them was their actions while in the wilderness. She had heard how that they had slain two kings of the Amorites. These men were already known in the land for the victories they had already been given in the wilderness. Can this world see victory in your life? Often times all we can see are the extremes as I mentioned earlier. Some will have no change at all in their life therefore leaving the world to wonder what victory is even being talked about or there is the other extreme with those who are so focused on their standards and convictions that it almost seems they never have any victory at all. Where is the balance? How does the world see whether or not a child of God has victory in their life? Probably the most familiar way for this world to see victory in the life of a Christian is by the attitude and spirit of the christian. If you must brag about how Godly and spiritual you are and are always pointing out everybody else’s sins then don’t expect the world to see any victory in your life. If you truly are Godly and spiritual, then your attitude will portray it more effectively. Looking at the attitude of many Christians today
one would think they were either mad or just really didn’t care. I know the book of Titus says that we are to be a “peculiar people” but God didn’t stop there as many preachers do in our day. He goes on to tell us that we are to be a peculiar people “zealous of good works.” It is becoming more of a rarity to see Christians doing good works. I often see videos and read stories on facebook about people “paying it forward” and I sincerely thank God for those individuals, but God’s people should be the ones out doing these things more. We have an obligation to tell and show this world that Jesus loves them, died for them, and wants to save them. We often look down on sinners and those who are less fortunate than us and it has become more common for God’s people to walk around with their noses stuck in the air. There was once a day in this country that if you said you were a christian it meant good things. Now if you say you are a christian people think twice before doing business with you. What happened to God’s people doing great things to show the love of God to society? It won’t hurt you to buy a tank of gas for a stranger at the gas pump or a cup of coffee for the guy behind you in line at the restaurant. God’s people have become a selfish crowd and that reputation has bled over into the world and now it is harder for the world to see Christ because of the reputation of the christian. We all know that good works can’t save us, but it doesn’t hurt for the world to see a Christian who genuinely cares about them as a person.
     I don’t want this world to see the works of my own hands because I am indeed the ultimate failure. Instead, I want them to see how that a loving God gives me victory and the strength to make it through another day. I want them to see how that God can take a nobody headed nowhere and turn them into a somebody headed somewhere who wants to tell everybody about Somebody who loves them! I want them to see that Jesus does care and that He is able to do exceedingly more than we could ever ask or dream of! I have days where I am defeated and days where I am discouraged. I am not always the cheery smiley christian I should be but I do try to face the day with a smile on my face and an attitude that says “even though the world may be falling around me, I can still smile because I know Jesus cares for me and is gonna meet my every need!”
    So what does the world see in you? Do they see someone who is always defeated or do they see a victorious child of God? Can they look at you and see the works of an Almighty God or do they see the works of your own hands? When my heart pumps the last ounce of blood and my lungs push out the last breath, I want to be known as someone who cared about sinners. Someone who desired to tell others about a God who died for them, loves them, and wants to save them! May we strive to have a Godly reputation that will allow this world to Christ instead of the christian. 

The Biggest Failures in the Bible

I have always enjoyed studying and reading about the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. It is safe to say that Paul is my hero in the New Testament second to Jesus Himself. Paul was bold in His preaching, tender hearted with sinners and a comfort and encouragement to the saints of God even most of his letters to the church were written while he was incarcerated. I have preached and taught hundreds of times from 2 Timothy 4 where the Bible gives us the account of him “passing the gauntlet” on to young Timothy. While reading that passage again today I  noticed something I have never seen before. In verse 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul tells Timothy that he “fought a good fight.” Paul never once said he fought the best fight. He only concluded that he fought a good fight. I pray that I can be a portion of the man of God that Paul was! Paul died more right with God than most people in the church live today! But Paul still acknowledged that it was a only a good fight. Paul knew that there had been times when he was not the man of God he was meant to be. He recognized that at one point in the past he was by definition a complete failure. This got the gears in my mind to turning so I flipped over to Hebrews 11 and started reading the Bible’s Hall of Faith. As I read, it became clearer to me that some of the greatest men of the Bible were at one time some of the biggest failures of the Bible. Look at Abraham. In Genesis 12, he gathers his wife and heads to Egypt because of a famine in Canaan. Before they get there he tells his wife Sarah to lie and say that she is only his sister. Abraham was scared that because she was so beautiful that Pharaoh and his men would kill him and take his wife for themselves. When they arrived in Egypt, Abraham’s fear became reality. His wife’s beauty attracted Pharaoh and she was taken into his house. God decided to punish Pharaoh for this by sending plagues to him and his household. So now Abraham is a lying con – artist and ended up causing someone else to suffer yet he ends up being mentioned in God’s Hall of Faith. Next we see David. If you study the life of David you will find that he was one of the most wicked men of the Old Testament. On a day when David should have been on the battle field he was at home taking it easy. He ends up seeing Bathsheba naked while she was bathing and decided that he wanted her for himself. So David takes her and has his way with her. In order to cover up his adultery, he had her husband placed on the front lines in battle to ensure that he was killed in the line of duty thus allowing David to further cover himself by taking her to be his wife. So here we have David being an adulterous murderer, yet God called him “a man after my own heart!” When Christ returns in all of His glory, He will be sitting on David’s throne. We can even see this same trend in the apostle Paul. Before Paul became a Christian, he was the enemy of all Christians. He made a really good living by persecuting and killing the people of God and doing it legally. How could a man who killed the people of God lay on his death bed and say that he has a crown of righteousness waiting on him in Heaven? Let’s look at the biggest failure in the Bible. We’ve seen how that Abraham was a liar and deceiver yet ends up as the father of God’s chosen people. We’ve seen how that David was an adulterous murderer yet was a man after God’s own heart. We’ve seen how that Paul was a killer of Christians, yet had a crown of righteousness waiting on him in Heaven. So who was the biggest failure of the Bible? Was it David? Was it Paul? Was it Abraham? The answer is none of these. The biggest failure in the Bible is none other than Jesus Christ Himself! He told us that the foxes have holes and the birds have nests but the Son of God has nowhere to lay His head! Think about this for a moment. God incarnate in the flesh. The Creator of the ends of the earth. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Living Water and the Bread of Life. The Living Word was right here in the flesh, yet was poorer than any other creature. Abraham left Egypt a very rich man. David was wealthy as the King of Israel. Paul had churches and saints that took care of him while on his journeys. Jesus had nothing. By man’s standards He was the biggest failure in history. I fret and worry about being able to pay for cable tv and a new truck, yet Christ literally had nothing. Even the very tomb He was buried in was borrowed.
This speaks volumes to me as it teaches me that failure is not final. It’s not even wrong to fail. If we look at each great man of we have mentioned we can see that each of them have a common denominator. They did not let their failures determine their future. Abraham is not known as a liar, but as the man of faith who was willing to sacrifice his only son to God. David is not known as an adulterer or murderer. When we think of David we typically think of the man after God’s own heart. When we think of Paul, we don’t see a man who killed God’s people. We see a man who gave it all for God. Even though Jesus had nothing on this earth, He was still God. We don’t have to let our failures in life determine our future in life. God specializes in second chances. Second chance doesn’t mean second class. Neither does the third chance, the fourth, the fifth, and so on. A hard truth for me to swallow is that I will fail. I will fall and there will be times I let God and others down. But I can stand back up! I don’t have to stay down! We all get knocked down and we all have moments of regret, but we can still move on past those moments and still do something great for God! If God forgave you of your past then forgive yourself and move on! Stop dwelling on the mess ups of yesterday and focus on the opportunities of tomorrow. God hasn’t given up on us so we shouldn’t give up on Him! I know for a fact that when it comes time for my heart to beat for the last time and for my lungs to pump the last ounce of air that I won’t be able to say that I fought the best fight. There will be things I know I could have done better. But with the help and grace of God, I want to be able to say that I fought a good fight. I want to be able to say that even though I failed multiple times, I got back up and went on to do greater things for the cause of Christ. May God help me to not let my failures determine my future!

Peace In the House of God

So often we hear of nonsense in the church. If you were to take a poll in your local area on why people are not interested in church there would be hundreds of different responses, but I can say with almost complete certainty that they would have one thing in common and that would be that each person has either been hurt or knows someone that has been hurt due to unnecessary nonsense in the church. It is sad that there is so much drama in today’s churches. I’ve seen members get upset and leave over the silliest things and I’ve also seen pastors hurt members with unnecessary meddling. I can fully understand the hurt that many are feeling due to drama in the church and I pray that they find them a good bible believing church in which they can continue to worship the Lord. Nevertheless, we must still remain active in our duties to meet together and worship the Lord. Many today are using the “hurt” as an excuse to not go and therefore fall short in worshipping the Lord in His house. I have had to remind myself on numerous occasions that I do not go to church for others, I go for the Lord. There have been shootings and robberies at Walmart but I still go there. There have been robberies and even murders in banks, but I still make sure I get to the bank to manage my money. Why should I treat God any different? Just because others may have a bad spirit or may not have the right and choose to live in a manner that is hurtful to others doesn’t mean that I should neglect the Lord and His house. I don’t avoid the bank because it got robbed once so I shouldn’t avoid God’s house just because someone else, who by the way isn’t perfect, hurt me in some way or another.  I may not go back to that branch of the bank or I may even transfer my accounts to another bank, but I’m still going to the bank. The same should be true for the child of God. Maybe you’re not comfortable going to a particular church or maybe you have reason to find a different one, but nonetheless you should still make every effort to not avoid God’s House. There are circumstances which may not always allow us to be in church, but as much as we can we should make every effort to meet together in His house and worship Him. Paul even tells us in Hebrews 10:25 that we are to make even more effort in these last days to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. It is harder and there are different circumstances today than there used to be. So why does God put such a huge emphasis on meeting together to worship Him? He does so because He loves us and wants us to grow in His mercy and grace. Though we don’t have to be in the church in order to worship the Lord, it is near impossible to grow and abide in Christ if we forsake the assembling of ourselves together. This flesh gets weary and will eventually tire out and convince us that we just don’t need to even bother. God’s house should be a place of peace. It should be that one place that you can run to when every wall of your life is crumbling down on top of you and nothing seems to be going right. It should be that one place where you can come and find needful rest spiritually. It should be that one place we can go when we are discouraged and ready to quit. When the coworkers and neighbors and even family are on your case trying to convince you that you shouldn’t be going up there to that church. When peer pressure gets to be too much and everyone else is mocking and making fun of you for living for Christ. When discouragement sets in and you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn. The house of God should be that place of peace and rest that you can run to. When you’re bearing burdens that nobody else knows or even seems to care about, the house of God should be that one place you can run to that will help you bear and/or relieve that burden. When you’re ready to just throw it in and quit, the house of God should be that one place you can go that will encourage you and give you the strength to keep going. When you feel spiritually weak as if you just can’t take the pressures of the christian life anymore, God’s house should be a place of strength and renewal. Here are 3 reasons that God’s people need His house:

1: Because of the people of God.

          Though sometimes other Christians can be a real means of discouragement, they can also be a great encouragement as well. One thing that I have learned about young people is that many of the problems that today’s youth face can be avoided with positive peer selection. The same concept is true with God’s people. We should find us a place of worship where the people are more concerned with the Savior than they are with their standards. A place where you can be encouraged to keep on serving God even if you fall and fail. We should surround ourselves with other like minded Christians who have a deep down burning desire to serve God and when we do it will certainly provide us with encouragement and excitement to go on for God in spite of the situation!

2: Because of the presence of God.

       If there is one thing that the modern day child of needs needs to experience again, it is the presence of God. We’ve forgotten the awesome wonder that being in God’s presence brings. It will provide us with much needed joy. In the midst of life’s circumstances, it is almost guaranteed that you will at one point or another lose your joy. Being in the presence of God will renew that joy and that happiness! God’s presence also brings peace and contentment. No matter what the situation is, we know that it will be just fine because God knows what He’s doing. Though we can experience the presence of God outside the church, nothing compares to meeting with God in His house!

3: Because of the promises of God.

      God promises to bless us if we stay faithful in serving Him. He tells us in Deuteronomy that He will never leave nor will He forsake us and then Paul reiterates this truth again in Hebrews. God not only gave us His best at Calvary so that we can be saved, He promised us His faithfulness throughout the rest of eternity. What more can we ask for as Christians? If He promised to be faithful to us even though we are undeserving, we should be faithful in giving our all to Him. After all, Paul told us in Romans 12:1 that is only reasonable for us to give ourselves to Him.

So the next time the Devil tries to give you a million excuses as to why you shouldn’t go to church, just remind yourself of these three reasons and keep on serving God. Let God’s house be that place of peace, of strength, and of rest. Even the Psalmist said he was glad when he was told “let’s go to the house of God!” When we finish the service at church, may we be like David and know that it has been good to be in the house of God! 

The Right Thing In The Wrong Place

Who doesn’t love the smell of freshly cut grass in the summer time? We all enjoy sitting out on the porch as the sun goes down and taking in the wonderful scent of a freshly mowed lawn. I am no different. I love working in my yard and making it look good and clean. Well today I was raking the rows in my gardens and I started getting a little frustrated because of all the grass in my gardens. I pulled it out along with a few weeds and even picked up a few rocks from in between the plants. A little bit later I decided that it was time to mow the lawn. As I was doing so I started noticing several bare spots in the yard and made a mental note to fertilize the yard. Within a moment the thought came to mind that I am often the same way with the Lord. Just a few minutes earlier I was frustrated because there was grass growing in my garden and here I am now preparing to get it to grow again. The grass is a wonderful thing, but it was just in the wrong place. So many times we allow things in our life that are not necessarily wrong, it’s just not the right time. It’s sad how many times we try to get ahead of God because we think we know better. Solomon tells us in the scriptures that there is a time and a season to every purpose under the heavens. We tend to think that because someone else is doing it and God is blessing them that it’s ok for us to do it. This is not always true. Sometimes God is still working on us and knows that we aren’t quite ready yet. We make decisions in life without seeking the will of God first. There is so much in our lives that isn’t necessarily sin, but it doesn’t belong there. Isaiah tells us that if we wait upon the Lord He will renew our strength. To renew means to bring back that which once was. If He is to renew our strength, then our strength must first be drained. So often we spend so much effort in doing things our way that God has to bring us all the way back down to the bottom for us to realize that His ways are always better and best. Thinking on it now its almost comical that one moment i’m chopping and pulling grass up and throwing it away and the next i’m trying to grow it again. The Christian life is much the same. One day we’re praising God for His greatness and mercy and the next we’re trying to bypass His ways because we think we know better. Just as the grass in my garden, life is a never ending struggle. It’s during those times of struggle that we learn to wholly lean on Him and trust His works, His Word and His ways. Effort and work are great things, but we must make sure we are making the effort to work for Christ and not for ourselves. This is why the Apostle Paul said he “died daily.” Not a physical death, but a spiritual one to himself. He made sure that he cleared his life of the unnecessary things that would hold him back from giving his all for Christ. The grass in my garden, if left alone, would eventually choke out all my vegetable plants and I wouldn’t have any food to put up. We must have the same mind as we are living for the Lord. We must be like David and give God the reigns of our lives and allow Him to search us of anything that will choke away our love and desire to serve Him. Do you have grass growing in your spiritual garden? Are you like David and asking God to search your life and weed out the wicked ways and get rid of anything that will hinder you from serving Him to full capacity? Though the grass may look and smell good, it is harmful in the long run if not taken out of my garden. The same is true in our lives. If we don’t spiritually weed ourselves then eventually we will be choked and hindered from serving the Lord. May God help me to take the time each day to repent of my sins and ask God clean and weed my life and heart so that I can make a difference for Him today!

A Wise Investment

Investing. Such a broad topic yet so risky at the same time. Today we have many who invest their money and others who invest their time. There are those entrepreneurs who invest both their time and money into some business they believe will make it to the big time. There are others who invest their time into some sport or other hobby that helps them forget about their worries for a bit. There are some who invest themselves into giving back to their community. Regardless of what the investment may be, we all invest something of ourselves or our lives in general to something or someone we love and enjoy. Did you know that the scriptures teach us about wise investments? Christ tells us in Matthew 6:19-21 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” There is nothing wrong with trying to make a wise investment with your money or even your time and efforts, but we must not let that get our focus off of the greatest investment of all. It’s time we started investing in what will never go bankrupt. If you ask any investor in wall street why they invest so much money they will tell you that they are trying to find security. They are trying to find that one investment that will allow them the security of a lifetime. Christ gives us that exact investment opportunity right there in the scriptures! A lesson I have had to learn recently is that there is no such thing as “security” in this life. Regardless of our career, our salary, our benefits or even our retirement plan, it can all be taken away in a moment. There are unfortunate individuals waking up and going to work in the morning and coming home unemployed. There are those who have spent their lives saving and working towards that perfect retirement only to have it snatched right out from under them in only a moment. Paul tells us that we are living in “perilous” times. This means that we are living in dangerous times. What you have today can be taken away tomorrow. So though there is nothing wrong with working hard and planning ahead, we have no guarantees in this life. But according to the scriptures we can make an investment that will reap eternal returns. It’s an investment that can guarantee a productive return. What is this investment? It is the investment of ourselves to the will of God. Christ told us to “lay up treasures in Heaven.” He even goes on to ensure us that it can never be stolen or corrupted. How do we make this investment? We do so by finding the Will of God and living in such a manner that pleases the Lord. If you make an investment on wall street, you must be willing to make that investment with your money with the knowledge that you may not get it back. In other words, you have to be willing to give up something very important to you with the hopes that someone else is gonna do something bigger and better with it and provide you with more in the end. The same is true of our eternal investment. We must be willing to invest to God that which is near and dear to our hearts with the faith that God is going to take that little bit that we give Him and turn it into much more than we ever dreamed possible! You can never make a return on an investment without first making the investment! Though we know that our salvation and our eternity is not based on the works of our own hands, we often lack the blessings of God because we don’t have enough faith that He will bless us. We must see it to believe it these days. James tells us in the New Testament that we have not because we ask not. We must be willing to give to the Lord that thing which we love the most. Whether it be our career, our spouse, our family, our money or even our time we must be willing to give it up to the Lord. Christ tells us in Matthew 6 that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also. So the big question is “Where’s your heart?” Christ gave us all He had. The least we can do is give Him our lives to use as He sees fit. Here in this life we must do the best we can with what we’ve got, but never let that take your focus away from giving all you’ve got to the One who gave you everything.

Killing the Celebration

In the 15th chapter of Luke, we have some interesting stories comprised of some very interesting characters. This is the chapter of things that were lost and then found. In this chapter we can find that there is a sheep that was lost and was retrieved. There was a silver coin that was rediscovered and there was a son that was lost and then reclaimed. All three stories tell us of something or someone that was lost and then found.

This is of great significance to the child of God as it has a powerful spiritual application for us. Not only were things lost in the chapter, but every story has someone who cares enough to search and find and restore that which was missing. We hear all the time about how people “find Jesus” but in reality, it was Christ that found that them. You weren’t looking for God before you got saved. You were busy doing your own thing and being your own person. Admit it, before you got saved you couldn’t care less about the scriptures, the Savior, or the saints of God. You may have been seeking peace and truth, but that’s like trying to find the taste of pizza without trying to find pizza. The scriptures tell us that the purpose of Christ coming to this world and manifesting Himself in the flesh was to “seek and to save that which was lost.” You are saved today because Christ cared enough to seek you out and save your soul.

If you are saved, it is because the Holy Spirit of God came knocking at the very door of your heart and convicted you of your sins and showed you your need of the Saviour. Only then did you find the peace and truth that you were so fervently seeking. In John 6  are told that He will “in no wise cast out.” This means that not only does Christ seek us but He also promised that He would forgive our sins and cleanse our hearts and promised us a home in Heaven!

So it is easy for us to see how that the theme of the chapter is especially beneficial to the born again child of God. Now allow me to zoom in on a certain portion of the scripture and examine it a bit closer. In this chapter we have the widely familiar story of the prodigal son. Every bible teacher, pastor, evangelist, sunday school teacher and bible professor has at one time or another taught or preached on the prodigal son. I have preached from this story all over America. I have heard outlines on the prodigal son from evangelists and pastors in most every denomination. I have heard it preached that the prodigal was backslidden and I have heard others say that he was lost. Personally, I believe that he was backslidden and not right with the father. I have personally preached in many churches and to many congregations about this prodigal while comparing him to the modern day Christian and this is a needful and very accurate comparison. But as I look closer at this familiar story, I see another character that intrigues me and may even have a greater comparison to the modern day church than that of the prodigal.

This character is none other than the older brother. unfortunately, we often neglect to apply the principles and spiritual lessons that we can learn from this older brother. Upon further study, it is excruciatingly evident that there are many more “older brothers” in the church than there are prodigals. We are all so familiar with the happenings and the mistakes of the younger son that we have failed to see the actions of the elder son. If we could take a trip back in time and just simply observe and report the story from a third person point of view, we would see the older son as that responsible and hard working young man that every parent is proud of. He knew what was expected of him and he performed his duties without regards to pay or compensation. He simply did it because he felt that it was the right thing to do. This boy looks like a saint right now compared to his younger brother. While the younger brother is out sowing his wild oats, the older brother is busy at work on the farm. He has not failed to perform that which was expected of him while his younger brother continues to spoil the good name of the family with his dangerous way of living.

We all know that eventually the younger son comes to his senses and decides to go back home and work as a slave instead of as a son. Going back to our third person point of view we can see this worried father stepping out on the porch daily and looking far out on an old dust filled road wanting to see his boy coming down that road but all to no avail. Then one day he completed his daily morning routine and stepped out on the porch to look down that old dusty trail once more. This time he saw the figure of what he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt to be his youngest son. His boy had come back home! Oh how excited he was! He leaped off the porch and ran to meet his boy. The boy cried and repented and told his father how ashamed he was that he had lived such a wicked life and ruined the name of the family and then he told his father that he was not worthy to be called a son but wanted to work as a hired servant of his father. The ecstatic old man would have none of it! He called for the fattest calf to be killed and the best robe to put on him. He put a ring on his finger and new shoes on his feet and they began to rejoice and celebrate that the prodigal had come home!

This is where we begin to see the true colors of the elder son. This older brother didn’t like this rejoicing and this celebration. He considered his younger brother to be unworthy of such an occasion. He even told his father that it wasn’t fair that the younger son got a celebration while he continued to work in the fields. The father explained that he was celebrating the return of his son because he was lost and is now found but the older son would have none of it.

Unfortunately, this is the state of the modern day church. We have become so obsessed with the ministry that we have neglected to honour the God of the ministry. Perhaps we have become so obsessed with the church that we have turned the church into a god instead of serving the God of the church. There seems to presently be a mentality that borders on the belief that anything done for God has to take place inside the local church. Now I am not belittling the importance or the value of the local church. Scripture tells us that Christ gave His life for the church. All I am simply saying is that we have neglected to take the gospel to the streets and have kept it locked up within the confines of the local church. Just as the older son was too obsessed with the work of the field to recognize the value of the celebration of his brother’s return, we have become so obsessed with the happenings of the ministry and the local church that we have neglected to minister to those in the real world. Though we know that the biblical church is not the building but rather the body of believers inside the building, we have forgotten that the church is the last place to we need to be taking the gospel. You can take medicine to a pharmacy and discuss and learn about that medicine all day. As a matter of fact, knowing and learning about the medicine is an integral part of helping people. But nobody will ever receive any help if the medicine is never offered to those who are sick. The same concept is true of the church. Jesus said He came to seek and to save that which was lost. Christ Himself said that they who are not sick do not need a physician. He came to call sinners to repentance. We are faithful as clock work to the church and its services and that is great, but what about the person next to you in the grocery store? What about the coworker you work along side of every single day? What about your neighbor that you watch the game with and have barbeques with? Have you told them the gospel? Have you told them that Jesus loves them, died for them, and wants to save them? We’ve become so obsessed with growing the church that we’ve neglected to meet the spiritual needs of our own local community. There is presently a disconnect between the church and society and it is largely due to the neglect on the part of the church. We must not forget that our purpose here as a born again child of God is not build a big ministry or even compete with other ministries. Believe it or not, the world can see right through that front being put on by many christians. They can tell if you are real or not. The ministry is not a competition but rather a journey.  

Ask yourself daily “what can I do today to impact somebody for the glory of God?” This may be accomplished at work, at starbucks for your morning latte, during your lunch break or maybe as you meet someone in the grocery store. Being a christian is not a career or a part time job. It is a life long journey and way of life. Christ didn’t just halfway pay for our sins on Calvary so we shouldn’t give Him half hearted service by only serving Him during church services. Going to church is like going to the gas station. You receive a spiritual fill up while at church so that you can leave the church and go out into the world and society and make an impact for the cause of Christ.

So every morning as we face another day, may we not have the mindset of the prodigal’s older brother and kill the celebration of someone receiving Christ into their hearts simply because we are too concerned with the ministry to minister.

Keeping God In A Box

I was raised to believe that if you didn’t follow certain standards, then you probably weren’t saved. I was taught that if you had a tv, you were lost. If your wife wears pants then shes a reprobate. If you eat at a restaurant that sells alcohol then you’re a drunk. If you have a secular job that requires working on sunday then you are a God hating reprobate. These and many other ridiculous traditions were what I grew up hearing and believing. But as I grew older, I started seeing something interesting. The older I got, the more I realized that the churches I grew up in and around that preached all these ridiculous standards and traditions were all sitting stagnant. Nobody ever got saved in them anymore. They were never actively trying to engage the community in the things of God, though they were very quick to ridicule the community for wearing the wrong clothes or for watching tv. I noticed that these churches are crying about nobody coming to church, but they are quick to run someone off from the church for not having the correct standards. I’ve noticed that they criticize the southern baptist young people for being worldly, yet they do nothing to reach the young people in the community for Christ.
The more I sit back and watch, the more I see them putting God in their little box then preaching that nobody cares about the things of God anymore. They keep God in their box, yet complain that the church won’t grow. It’s truly sad to think that there are people that could be reached with the gospel, but the church is more interested in whether or not they have any standards. It’s a sad reality that young people are moving away from the church and toward the streets because the church refuses to let them participate in anything unless they live perfect.
Here’s a newsflash: God does not fit in your box! Why would anybody want to be a part of an orginazation or denomination that keeps God in their box and refuses to move forward for God all in the name of living right? The God that I serve can use anybody He wants to! The power of God is not limited to those who have certain standards.
Take for example the dresscode of preachers. Nothing in scripture even comes close to saying that a suit and tie is required in order to preach the gospel. Independent baptists argue that it is a respect thing. Ok. I agree that the preacher should show respect for the office he holds, but just because he isn’t wearing a suit and tie doesn’t mean that he’s not respectful. I usually wear a suit and tie when I preach or teach, but there have been times when I did not. Miraculously, God still chose to use me even in the times I wasn’t wearing a tie. John the Baptist wasn’t wearing the finest clothes of his day, yet God still used Him.
The point is that God is much bigger than your box. As christians we should strive to walk as close to the Lord as we can, but we must realize and understand that nobody is perfect. God can still use a man if he’s not wearing a tie. God can still heal a broken heart regardless of divorce. God can move amongst His people even when we’re not perfect.
Don’t put God in a box. Don’t limit the power of God. It’s not our job to police people, it’s our job to point people. We are not called to fix, but to follow. Those who keep God in a box must only endure their salvation. Salvation can be enjoyed, not endured. God’s power is not limited to a certain genre of music, a certain dress code, or a certain lifestyle. If we could truly believe that God is not limited to man’s standards, then we could really start reaching others for Christ.
There are people who are hurting. They have tatoos. They’ve been divorced. They’ve done drugs. They smoke cigarettes. They bear the marks of sin and have the regrets of living of a life without Christ, but now they just need someone to love them and point them to Christ. They don’t need to be fixed, they need to be saved. I don’t know about you, but I desire to reach those that nobody else cares about. Those that the churches deem to sinful and dirty. Those that don’t meet the church’s standards. Those that can’t afford a suit and tie. Those that have no money to give to the church. That’s the kind of people I want to reach. Trying to make sinners live right is like trying to make a cat bark. It’s just not natural. They just need Jesus and He will take care of the rest. May God help me to be willing to reach someone regardless of their clothes, their past, or their lifestyle!