Tuesday, July 30, 2013

GO Zimbabwe '13 

Recently Lifepoint Church sent a 10 member team to Zimbabwe, Africa to continue our partnership with Gregg and Donna Fort.  This was Lifepoint's 7th trip to Zimbabwe.  The dates for the trip were July 14-28, 2013 and in this time, this team was able to be part of many ministries in the Mberengwa area.  This years ministry site is about 15 miles from the site we served two years ago.  We were able to see God move in MANY ways as we were obedient to prepare and GO!  My next several blog posts will be based on our ministry time in Mberengwa and these will be an effort to help you understand how God is working in Chiedza. (Chiedza means Light!)

The first way I would describe the trip is - POWERFUL.
Listed below are some of the highlights of how God moved in a POWERFUL way while we were there and how He will continue to move. 

Chiedza Baptist Church was LAUNCHED!  
The church's first service was Sunday July 21.  I preached on John 4, The Samaritan Woman.  The church is located at a newly established bore hole.  This bore hole provides water for over 100 families that previously had to walk more than 3 miles for water.  
[10] Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”  (John 4:10 ESV) This living water is what the people of Chiedza need!  Thankful for God's grace as 2 individuals gave their lives to the Lord including a lady that is 89 years old.

Our team spoke with BOLDNESS:  Our team combined to shed the truth of the Word of God in the lives of many.  Each team member was obedient to share their story along with the story of Creation to Christ.  MANY individuals and FAMILIES gave their lives to the LORD.  I am so very thankful for His GRACE.  Ephesians 2:8-9

Pator's Conference:  This was a great time of communicating and encouraging several leaders from churches that we have planted over the last 7 years.  By his grace, I was able to share how God's Word speaks!  Our God is not created by the hands of a man!  [7] The craftsman strengthens the goldsmith, and he who smooths with the hammer him who strikes the anvil, saying of the soldering, “It is good”; and they strengthen it with nails so that it cannot be moved.  (Isaiah 41:7 ESV)

[2] and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  
(2 Timothy 2:2 ESV)

We visited with the ORPHANS of the Caring Centre:  We loved on the 12 orphans that are there.  We heard their stories, formed relationships with them, and shared our stories with them.  This is a true account of James 1:27, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

We gave them a glimpse of Jesus as we shared the JESUS film.  Many that were there each evening had never heard of Jesus.  We shared the Jesus film that was created in 1979 and we would share worship through music, testimonies and preaching each evening.

We were able to give them a new 'Soakaway.'  This is a huge hole that is used for a drain system.  This particular soakaway will be used for a laundry area where the children that are at the caring center can wash their clothes.

We were able to see the fruit of our labor!  The lives of many were changed, including our own team members.  These changes were a result of obedience for the sake of the gospel.  We were, and are carriers of the 'light!'
[15] And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” [16] But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” [17] So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.  (Romans 10:15-17 ESV)

A special thank you to all that prayed for our team while in Zimbabwe.  Look for more updates in the coming days regarding our trip!  
Check out this website for on going ministries at the  Caring Centre.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Discussion on Holiness...

Several have asked about my notes from this past Sunday's sermon/teaching time with students.  Here are the notes.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Be Holy, Because I am Holy
July 22, 2012

When you think of the word expectation, what do you normally think of?

I am so excited to be able to meet this morning with the students of Lifepoint Church.  This morning we are going to learn an expectation that God has for ALL His people and how we apply this expectation even in our culture today. 

As we jump in this morning, I want to take an opportunity to reflect on an item that we covered Wednesday night; the idea of our greatest need and that is to know our God!  Not merely know Him, but He must know us; that happens through salvation. 

So if you were with us Wednesday night, how do we know Him?

“The Bible is the self revelation of God, the Bible is the only source from which we learn who God is and where we develop our understanding of Him.”  We do not shape and determine God and ANY of His characteristics, He does that through His Word.

I.  A call to Holiness

This morning we desire to explore and to seek what God would have for us from His Word and as I think about His call for the life of ALL believers I am driven to two similar passages of scripture.

[41] “Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it shall not be eaten. [42] Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are detestable. [43] You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, and become unclean through them. [44] For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. [45] For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”  (Leviticus 11:41-45 ESV)
[13] Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [14] As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, [15] but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, [16] since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  (1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV)

קָדַשׁ [qadash /kaw·dash/]
to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate.
CONSECRATION* Separation of persons, utensils, buildings, or places from everyday secular uses for exclusive dedication to holy or sacred use. In the Bible consecration was demonstrated by an appropriate rite or vow. Hebrew expressions imply “separation” (Ex 13:2; Lv 8:10–12; Dt 15:19), “dedication” (Lv 21:12; Nm 6:9), or “ordination” (
. “filling the hand,” Ex 28:41; 1 Kgs 13:33). NT references are fewer, but they frequently connote the idea of holiness (Jn 10:36; 1 Cor 7:14; 1 Tm 4:5).
In church usage, especially among hierarchical denominations, the term describes solemn rites that establish a bishop. It is also used to describe dedication of shrines, reliquaries, cathedrals, elements of the Mass, or buildings set aside for ecclesiastical functions.
Protestant teaching stresses the priesthood of every believer. Thus all Christians are “saints” (from the same root word as “consecration”), that is, devoted to God for life. In Roman Catholic doctrine the church consecrates (canonizes) great Christians as saints after they have died.
Consecration is significant in relation both to God and to the world. The apostle Paul spells out the term’s meaning in Romans 12:1–2,

[12:1] I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

stressing that consecration involves a living sacrifice to God. Its importance in relation to people and things is a basic theme of the apostle Peter’s first letter. In everyday life each Christian is meant to live out a “holy” and “royal” priesthood for God’s glory (1 Pt 2:9).

[9] But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

Christians consider the consecration of one’s own personality by the work of the Holy Spirit to be an important mark of spiritual maturity.

[qadowsh, qadosh /kaw·doshe/]
Holy One, saint, set apart.

Observation 1:  God’s expectation for us is to be;
1.  Consecrated
2.  Holy
3.  Set apart

II.  A call to mental purity

This observation becomes very challenging when we apply the call of holiness on our lives as we live in a very unholy world.  Specifically in the area of purity.  Living a life of holiness is possible through a life of purity.  What does God’s Word say about purity?

[31:1] “I have made a covenant with my eyes;
how then could I gaze at a virgin?
[2] What would be my portion from God above
and my heritage from the Almighty on high?
[3] Is not calamity for the unrighteous,
and disaster for the workers of iniquity?
[4] Does not he see my ways
and number all my steps?  (Job 31:1-4 ESV)

As believers we are called to purity and to guard our eyes!  Young men, if you are loosing in this area of your life you need to contact me, call me or see me in order to gain freedom from the kingdom of darkness in this area of your life.  Victory in this area of purity does not happen with a shallow walk with the Lord.

[27] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ [28] But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
(Matthew 5:27-28 ESV)

[25] Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;
[26] for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread,
but a married woman hunts down a precious life.
[27] Can a man carry fire next to his chest
and his clothes not be burned?
(Proverbs 6:25-27 ESV)
If you have lusted after another, you have committed adultery.  Understand this is another example of failing to desire holiness in your life.  Are you in the battle?

[2] It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.
(2 Samuel 11:2 ESV)

Observation 2: 
The battle for purity begins in the mind. 
A person that is Holy is a person that strives for purity and guards their eyes; singled or married.  Purity does not end at the altar.
[Lusting after another person is defined as adultery by the Word of God]
III.  A call to physical purity

[12] “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. [13] “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other.
The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. [14] And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. [15] Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! [16] Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” [17] But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. [18] Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. [19] Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, [20] for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.  (1 Corinthians 6:12-20 ESV)

Observation 3:  God’s expectation for holiness requires we avoid sexual immorality.  

1.  As believers, we are members of Christ.
2.  We are not our own (19) but belong to?
3.  We are one Spirit with Him.

I honestly believe there is some significance in a True Love Waits card.  I also recognize that there are those that are here today that God is prompting in your heart to commit your life to Him and to Holiness which means purity.  I want you to be encouraged that both take a great deal of work and if you are only hanging on till you can find Mr. Right or Ms. Right that may not be enough.  God desires our lives to be focused on Him and when we are, He will orchestrate the rest.  Too often we take action and often times their are negative consequences we reap. 

I also recognize that God is a forgiving God and though you may have already given away your virginity and you are not able to return to that, God can forgive you and God will honor your commitment to Him and to a life of holiness today. 

How will you respond to what you have heard?






Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Camp Flatline Prayer Guide

Please join us in prayer leading up to and while we are at camp July 2-5, 2012. We covet your prayers! Please pray for the following:

1. Leaders and students alike would grow wiser in who God is and how to fear Him.[14] The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. (Psalm 25:14 ESV)

2. That everything about camp will be intentional for His Glory, from room assignments to recreation.[3] Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3 ESV)

3. That leaders and students alike will desire to cut the roots of sin in their lives..not just desire but be willing to sacrifice anything for greater obedience to Him.Romans 6:1-2..Luke 14(the cost of following Jesus)

4. That students will begin to experience what its like to be defined as a child of God and experience the security in that instead of a false security that the world offers.Luke 9:25

5. That hearts will be softened and eyes will be opened to the treasures that God has to offer in being His and the joy, peace, worship, and fellowship that comes from being His child. Isaiah 51:1-16

6. That the Spirit of God can break the chains of religion, legalism, false gospels, false conversions, and lack of knowledge of who He is, so that the Word will be preached, heard, believed and souls will be added to the Kingdom! Romans 10:14,16

7. That youth would be convicted and encouraged to begin/resume a passionate walk with the Lord throughout their whole life..possibly starting with this camp but definitely not ending with it. Praying for ZERO mountain top experiences, praying for zero lukewarmness, and praying that students and leaders can repent of sin and walk with our "first love". [4] But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
(Revelation 2:4 ESV)

8. That gossip will be handled and recognized as being destructive.[20] For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. (Proverbs 26:20 ESV)

9. For relationships to be made and discipleship to take place long after camp.[17] Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
(Proverbs 27:17 ESV)

[12] Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
(1 Timothy 4:12 ESV)

[20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 ESV)

The Leadership of Amos

In my reading this morning, I was drawn to Amos 7 and I am reminded how often times the truth hurts.  Amos is accused of being a "seer" because he is giving a "bad" report to Jeroboam.  When in reality, Amos had been called to speak the truth about the future of Israel.


[10] Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. [11] For thus Amos has said,
“‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
and Israel must go into exile
away from his land.’”
[12] And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, [13] but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”
[14] Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet's son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. [15] But the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ [16] Now therefore hear the word of the LORD.
“You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel,
and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’
[17] Therefore thus says the LORD:
“‘Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city,
and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,
and your land shall be divided up with a measuring line;
you yourself shall die in an unclean land,
and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’”  (Amos 7:10-17 ESV)


I am so challenged and reminded that many of us need TRUTH in our lives.  We need people that love us, speaking truth into our lives with compassion and grace.  Our responsibility, "Are we seeking truth?"  Do we have someone in our life who loves us, who is wise in the wisdom from the Lord that encourages us and tells us hard things?

In this passage Amos speaks a difficult truth that God has given him to communicate.  We then see Amaziah question Amos' credentials and I love how Amos responds.  Amos is not a prophet but a herdsman and a dresser of fig trees.  Amos is not even the son of a prophet but he left his livelihood to be obedient to the Lord.  He was willing to communicate the truth when so many others were more concerned about the consequences of telling the truth.  So motivated on several fronts this morning


First, am I seeking wisdom from the Lord?  Am I living out this wisdom in my own life?  Am I leading my family to live out this wisdom from the Lord?  Am I being a good shepherd to my wife and my family?

Second, do I have men in my life encouraging me with; at times, "Hard Truth?"  What am I doing with this encouragement?

Third, am I loving people and attempting to have a relationship with them in order to encourage them to be all God is calling them to be?  Do a genuinely care about the brethren?  Am I being a good shepherd to the families and students that God has placed in my life?

This morning, is the Lord trying to remove you from a "flock" as He did Amos, and have you boldly declare something for His glory?  Will you seek to be obedient to Him?


Father, grant me favor among men to encourage with truth for your ultimate glory.  God, I desire to be obedient to you and I pray that you will continue to birth in me a desire to love people through their circumstance and the wisdom to encourage them as well.  Father, I need your love and discipline in my life to mold me into the man you would have me to be.  Thankful for the men in my life that tell me difficult things.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jehu and the Worshipers of Baal

This morning as I am peeling through 2 Kings 10 I see almost an unreal account of the life of Jehu and I am reminded of how serious God takes idol worship.  

[18] Then Jehu assembled all the people and said to them, “Ahab served Baal a little, but Jehu will serve him much. [19] Now therefore call to me all the prophets of Baal, all his worshipers and all his priests. Let none be missing, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Baal. Whoever is missing shall not live.” But Jehu did it with cunning in order to destroy the worshipers of Baal. [20] And Jehu ordered, “Sanctify a solemn assembly for Baal.” So they proclaimed it. [21] And Jehu sent throughout all Israel, and all the worshipers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left who did not come. And they entered the house of Baal, and the house of Baal was filled from one end to the other. [22] He said to him who was in charge of the wardrobe, “Bring out the vestments for all the worshipers of Baal.” So he brought out the vestments for them. [23] Then Jehu went into the house of Baal with Jehonadab the son of Rechab, and he said to the worshipers of Baal, “Search, and see that there is no servant of the LORD here among you, but only the worshipers of Baal.” [24] Then they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings.
Now Jehu had stationed eighty men outside and said, “The man who allows any of those whom I give into your hands to escape shall forfeit his life.” [25] So as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guard and to the officers, “Go in and strike them down; let not a man escape.” So when they put them to the sword, the guard and the officers cast them out and went into the inner room of the house of Baal, [26] and they brought out the pillar that was in the house of Baal and burned it. [27] And they demolished the pillar of Baal, and demolished the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day.  (2 Kings 10:18-27 ESV)

Here are some observations and applications from the text.

First, Jehu is zealous for the Lord...or is he?
Many believe that Jehu was out for selfish gain.  "The end justified the means in Jehu’s mind, so he felt no qualms of conscience when he deliberately lied to the people and claimed to be more ardent in his worship of Baal than was Ahab. He was joined in this plot by Jehonadab, a dedicated Jew who was anxious to rid the land of idolatry.
Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1993), 2 Ki 9:14–10:28.
One could make an argument for either case, but I do believe that Jehu had selfish motives and that bearing false witness NEVER pleases the Lord.  (That is an entire different topic for another day)

Matthew Henry also comments on this account in scripture.   [16] And he said, (Jehu) “Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.” (2 Kings 10:16 ESV) This is commonly taken as not well said by Jehu, and as giving cause to suspect that his heart was not right with God in what he did, and that the zeal he pretended for the Lord was really zeal for himself and his own advancement. 
Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), 2 Ki 10:15–28.

Do you perform seeking advancement?  Working hard is not a bad thing, but are you doing your work to glorify the Lord?

Second, what are our heart motives?
Obviously Jehu had some issues with his heart as we all do.  This challenged me to think about my heart motives.  For example, why do I do the things that I do?  Is my motivation the genuine concern for the lost or the brethren?  Perhaps we look at this story in this light, the end justifies the means?  The truth is that what we do and how we accomplish things in life speaks volumes about our relationship with the Lord.

When we serve and worship God, what are our motives?

Lastly, I am personally challenged to rid my life of idols and to be challenged by close friends concerning my priorities.  Idol worship, specifically Baal worship, was rampant in Israel in this day.  This was an attempt to not only end the influence Ahab had, but to begin to rid the land of idol worshipers as defined by the mosaic law.  "The human heart is a factory of idols." (John Calvin)

I want to battle against idols in my own life and I want to lead my family to prioritize our lives around the example we see from the Word of God!  

[4] “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [5] You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 ESV)


Father God, I thank you for another day.  I thank you for my salvation and because of your great love for me, God help me to love others.  Help me to lead my family well, continue to convict my heart as I falter in this area of my life.  Help me to fight against apathy.  Help me to be content.  Remind me that at the end of my time on this earth the things that matter most - my relationship with You and love for your Word, the love and investment in my wife, my family and my ministry will be the things that will last.  Help me to lead and leave a legacy of my love for you in the lives of my wife, children, the brethren and the lost for your ultimate glory. God, I desire the ultimate level of obedience in my life.  May I suffer well for the sake of the gospel.  Amen

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Way of Death

As I read this morning, I am reminded from Psalm 49 much about the wisdom of the Lord.  Actually, this Psalm is a Psalm of wisdom which addresses a common thread in all of humanity, that thread being death.

 [49:1] Hear this, all peoples!
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
[2] both low and high,
rich and poor together!
[3] My mouth shall speak wisdom;
the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
[4] I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.
(Psalm 49:1-4 ESV)

First, the Psalmist identifies for whom this Psalm is written, "Hear this, all peoples!"  This Psalm is for everyone and we should lend an ear to hear.  Not only is this Psalm for everyone the Psalmist continues to clearly articulate that this Psalm is speaking to ALL types, the poor and the rich.  This is a Psalm regarding wisdom and we should incline our ears to listen.

[5] Why should I fear in times of trouble,
when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,
[6] those who trust in their wealth
and boast of the abundance of their riches?
[7] Truly no man can ransom another,
or give to God the price of his life,
[8] for the ransom of their life is costly
and can never suffice,
[9] that he should live on forever
and never see the pit.
(Psalm 49:5-9 ESV)

Secondly, the Psalmist writes that the reality in life is no matter the circumstance, even when those around us "cheat us" and it seems like the rich and wealthy are only getting more; NO MAN ESCAPES DEATH!  I love that phrase in verse 7, no man can ransom another or give to God the price of his life.  Nothing we can do pays our debt to the Lord.  We are born, unable to earn our way, ransom our way or buy our way into heaven and the ultimate end to each man's life is death.

 [10] For he sees that even the wise die;
the fool and the stupid alike must perish
and leave their wealth to others.
[11] Their graves are their homes forever,
their dwelling places to all generations,
though they called lands by their own names.
[12] Man in his pomp will not remain;
he is like the beasts that perish.
(Psalm 49:10-12 ESV)

Thirdly, even the ones who trust in God and seek His ways and His wisdom will undoubtedly face death.  All must perish.  To be real honest, this does not encourage me.  However, the full counsel of the word of God is needed in times like this.  What we must recognize is that a life apart from Christ, this life we live is what we live for and focus all of our efforts towards.  A life apart from Christ will lead to a distorted view of life, a distorted view of God, our view of Jesus and the gospel will be distorted.  We have to recognize and always remember, we do not define God, we do not define His son, His Word defines Him!  Our feelings and emotions cannot get in the way of our view of God but God is who He says He is and He does not need our help in defining Himself!  In verse 12, man in his pomp (his pride) will not remain.  All men will perish.  That leaves one to contemplate eternity.

 [13] This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;
yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah
[14] Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
death shall be their shepherd,
 and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.
[15] But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
for he will receive me. Selah
(Psalm 49:13-15 ESV)

Next, the unfaithful are identified as the ones that place foolish confidence in the approval of men.  These, however are as sheep appointed to Sheol and have no place to dwell.  Often I struggle with the desire to be approved by man when in reality because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ and my trust in Him, HE WILL RANSOM my soul according to verse 15.  I need not the approval of man, I am already approved in Christ.  I am justified by HIM!  Now that is HOPE.  My life surrendered to HIM and my trust in Him that what He says He will do is my ONLY chance at an eternity spent with Him.  I am trusting in that!  I am so reminded and thankful this morning for Jesus and I want to ask, "What do you trust in?" According to the way you live your life, by the demonstration of your life, what would others think about where your trust lies?  (I am very convicted by this)

That is why the gospel is so important and displaying the gospel, living the gospel, declaring the gospel is a must.  The gospel should be our life because apart from Jesus Christ, we not only suffer the death in this life but we live on in eternity separated from the Father, the giver of life, FOREVER!

The Psalmist concludes;

        [16] Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,
when the glory of his house increases.
[17] For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
his glory will not go down after him.
[18] For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed
—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—
[19] his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
who will never again see light.
[20] Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
(Psalm 49:16-20 ESV)

No matter how wealthy the rich become, we carry nothing with us.  Many that are wealthy count themselves blessed and are praised by others but the Psalmist reminds them, and us, that the way in this life is death apart from Christ.  A man without this understanding perishes apart from the LORD.  A great reminder of the need to be certain of what I believe, can I explain it and am I living this out personally and am I leading my family to live this out as well.

Some thoughts this morning on Psalm 49.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Joseph's Trust in God

I am sitting here recapping some small group notes from last night’s meeting and I am afforded the opportunity to reflect on Acts 13:52,
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 13:52 ESV)

"We must have a correct understanding of God in order to have Joy in the face of both acceptance &
rejection. God is at work in all things and He is ultimately in control of whatever situation we find ourselves."  Matt Brewer

I wonder what this must look like in a believer’s life today?  I join this thought with my daily reading from this morning in Genesis 45.  I am so amazed at the way God orchestrates the life of his servant Joseph.  In the text we see, and are reminded that God is Sovereign over all.

[4] So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. [5] And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. [6] For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. [7] And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.  (Genesis 45:4-7 ESV)

Often times in the midst of extreme loss and heartache we question God about why He would allow such things to happen.  I am reminded that when we have doubts in life, we must battle those doubts with the core truths of the Bible.  The core truth of the sovereignty of God is echoed through this text.  The reality is, Joseph had been hated by his brothers and so as an effort on their part to rid their lives of Joseph, they sold him to a traveling group of Ishmaelites.  Joseph is then thrust into a situation in Potiphar’s house where he is head over all of Potiphar’s affairs.  Then Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of a sexual advance, that did not occur, and Joseph finds himself in prison.  He makes his way through the ranks, while in prison, and the next thing we find is an encounter with two men that needed dreams interpreted.  As the one man, the cupbearer is returned to his position in the house of Pharaoh, some two years later Joseph is called upon to interpret one of Pharoah’s dream’s.  In this instance, as Joseph stands before Pharaoh, Joseph could have credited his own power for interpretation of the dream, but Joseph declares that only the God of the Hebrew’s can interpret dreams and this HE does through Joseph.  What a story, but the story doesn’t end there.  Pharaoh makes Joseph second in command to only him and because of God’s wisdom and providence, Joseph is used by God to spare Joseph’s entire family.  In Genesis 45, (above) we see Joseph reveal himself to his brothers and more important than that, we hear Joseph’s view of God through his circumstance.

Joseph declares that his brother’s should not be mad.  That would be because Joseph is not mad and he has forgiven them all for their action of trading him as a slave some 13+ years before.  Joseph recognizes that through his journey, God has sent him ahead to preserve life!  Wow, what a view of God and what God’s purpose is for Joseph’s life.  If you are like me, my inclination is to think, “Well that is good for Joseph.”  The core biblical truth is that just as God used Joseph to spare Jacob and his brother’s, God desires to use us to preserve his remnant.  God desires to do this in the lives of our families and in the lives of those that we call friends and quite frankly, in the lives of those we may not view as friends.  The real question is; do we know HIM, do we recognize His plan and are we obedient to HIS plan for our lives?  I am certain of this, God gets glory through those that seek no self glory and His plan is to save people and to draw people to Himself.

[9] The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  (2 Peter 3:9 ESV)

The question that I must ask myself is; do I trust HIM to get me through the tough times in life and do I believe HIS WORD.
[8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8 ESV)
[6] And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  (Philippians 1:6 ESV)

[28] And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  (Romans 8:28 ESV)

God did not do a wondrous work of salvation in our lives for us to remain full of ourselves, selfish and left in immorality.  May we join the battle and may we crucify our fleshly desires in order that we make much of GOD so that others see the love of Christ spilling over and out of our hearts.  God break our hearts for people and allow us to see beyond our circumstance for the advancement of YOUR KINGDOM.  GOD YOU ARE SOVEREIGN!

[18] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Can I look but not touch?

Job’s fight for purity is something that is almost extinct in our culture today.  Immorality runs rampant around us and for many of us, myself included, we turn a blind eye.  Let me be the first to say that this topic is not written from the perspective that “I have it figured out” or that “I have it all together,” because I do not.  I am a sinner but not an excuse maker.  This  is not written from the perspective of “I am the judge and the jury.”  This is written for us to think about what God has to say about living a life of purity.

As I think about purity, I must search the scriptures to detail what God thinks about purity.  The thoughts of God recorded thousands of years ago apply to this day in 2012.  Immorality, what is immorality?  What better place to go than to an area that was jacked up with immoral sin.  Let’s look at what God says through his servant Paul to the church at Corinth.  “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans,”
According to 1 Corinthians 5:1 immorality is defined: 88.271 πορνεύω; ἐκπορνεύω; πορνεία, ας f: to engage in sexual immorality of any kind, often with the implication of prostitution—‘to engage in illicit sex, to commit fornication, sexual immorality, fornication, prostitution.’
Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996).

And lets take a “fresh” approach on immorality as defined by Merriam-Webster; immorality is defined as  the quality or state of being immoral; especially : unchastity.  

Now as I read these examples, my flesh and my mind think, “That is extreme.”  No one would really behave in such manner (prostitution?  really???).  I am then reminded of the culture we live in, what was  happening in Corinth is exactly what happens today.  Are we desensitized to sexual sin in our culture and in our churches?  The reality is that most do not wake up and think suddenly, “I believe I am going to have sex with a prostitute today.”  That being said, sexual immorality and sexual sin obviously is a process.  So what does God’s Word say in the book of Job about Job’s dealings with sexual immorality?  I am so glad you asked. 

First, Job addresses sexual immortality in chapter 31 of his book.  
[31:1] “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?
(Job 31:1 ESV)

Job recognizes that HE is the Lord’s and that by being fully surrendered to the Lord, Job is in a covenant relationship with the FATHER.  That being the case, Job is committing himself to purity of the eyes.  Job is stating I will not look at a woman lustfully.  In our culture, we have adopted two vantage points with our eyes as men.  First, for young men that are unmarried, the culture’s view is looking hurts nothing.  Second, for those that are married, our culture declares you can look, but do not touch.  I would have to say that with Job’s wording in this verse, biblical men must not even look!    Let’s view Jesus’ teaching in the beatitudes.  
[27] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ [28] But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
(Matthew 5:27-28 ESV)

According to this passage, to look with lustful intent is to commit adultery.  So the real question is how do you feel about adultery and about the commandments.  I have heard on dozens of occasions that the commands are old and irrelevant in our culture today.  With this thought, I am again reminded of the words of Christ.  
[17] “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. [18] For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. [19] Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [20] For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:17-20 ESV)

First the law is fulfilled in Christ, not abolished.  Second the law and God’s Word will NEVER pass away.  Third, we would do well to teach these to all that we know especially our children.  “You shall not commit adultery.
(Exodus 20:14 ESV) is so important for genuine believers.  To live a life of sexual immorality mentally and or physically is not the will of the Father for HIS children.  Our response is to identify immorality in our lives and confess it as sin.  Repent of this sin and to find someone to hold us accountable.  Sexual immorality in the form of internet pornography is a struggle that few men can overcome on their own.  Men, we have to recognize that viewing immorality in any fashion (sneaking a peek on the internet or when we think no one is watching) is detrimental to who God is calling us to be in HIS word.  

Lastly, in Job 31 we see a consequence for an immoral man.  
[9] “If my heart has been enticed toward a woman,
and I have lain in wait at my neighbor's door,
[10] then let my wife grind for another,
and let others bow down on her.
(Job 31:9-10 ESV)  
Our approach must be taking every thought captive and filtering our thoughts through the word of God!  May we guard our eyes men!  The text means exactly what it says.  If a man’s heart is enticed toward a women then his wife will be involved in sexual immorality.  We don’t know what all that means but may we be warned that there are dire consequences for each person’s immorality and that is why we must wage war for purity to be at the foundation of who we are as a biblical man.  Men, join me in praying that there would be a massive movement and a heart cry for purity in the lives of all that profess to be Christians.  The sad reality is that many proclaim, but few are genuine converts, which is a different topic for a later post.  I will close with this passage as an instruction from the apostle Paul; 
[18] Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. [19] Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, [20] for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:18-20 ESV)  
Stay tuned for a follow up post, Romans 6; slavery and the sinner.