The Ways of Man

Proverbs chapter 16 contains many phrases pertaining to the “way,” or path, that a man might take. In fact, it seems to be a theme of the chapter.

Verse 2 states: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” This speaks to the heart of man being “deceitful…and desperately wicked, who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Our own ways seem “clean” to us, they seem all right, but the verse ends by saying, “the Lord weigheth the spirits.” This is an interesting statement. The word “weigheth” there means “balances, equalizes, adjusts to the standard.” The word “spirits” means “disposition (of various kinds), unaccountable or uncontrollable impulse.” God takes our unaccountable disposition, our uncontrollable impulses, and brings us balance, and adjusts us to the standard (His Word!).

Verse 3 admonishes us to “Commit (our) works unto the Lord, and (our) thoughts shall be established.” Now, we know that ways (works) and thoughts are connected…His ways are above our ways, and His thoughts above our thoughts, and as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Through this idea, we can conclude that if you think it, you’ll do it. Your inward thoughts direct your outward actions. But this verse in Proverbs seems to suggest the opposite: if we commit our works unto the Lord, then our thoughts will be established. In other words, if you DO RIGHT THINGS, eventually you will THINK RIGHT THOUGHTS. What an amazing revelation. We can actually “train our brain” by doing what we know to be right, even though our carnal nature, our “flesh,” is against it. He that “knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). We do good, it trains our brain to think right, which results in more “doing” right, etc. It’s not a “vicious” circle, it’s a VICTOR’S circle!

Then we come to verse 9: “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” We must live our lives in such a way, we must BE where we are supposed to BE, that when our heart (deceitful and wicked) tells us to do something, the Lord directs our steps. His Word is a LAMP unto our FEET (revealing where we are) and a LIGHT unto our PATH (revealing where we should go). When we let the Lord direct our steps, we are overriding what our heart is telling us to do. And the more we do this, the closer we can walk with our Lord! In fact, verse 17 says, “…he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.” And verse 32 tells us that “…he that ruleth his spirit (is better) than he that taketh a city”!

And don’t forget the best advice concerning the ways of man. Verse 25 says: “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Your way can’t SEEM right, it must BE right. Allow the Lord to adjust your ways to the standard of His Word. Walk with God. Be pleasing in His sight. Rule your spirit well. And as Proverbs 3:6 says: “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Posted in Christianity, Hope, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

It Is Finished

Over the last several Wednesday nights, we have taught a new series entitiled “Cross Ways: Life Lessons from the Cross.” The principles we have discussed are very foundational to our Faith, and are things that a) we put into practice daily, and b) we should make an integral part of our lifestyle. Daily things like prayer/access to the throne of grace (“The Veil Was Rent”), Forgiveness (“Father, Forgive Them…”) and the understanding of Who He is (“Surely This Was the Son of God”). Other things that we come to realize as we walk with Him daily: you are NOT forsaken, embrace afflictions, and don’t live your Christian life as a “secret!” The final lesson was taught last Wednesday and gives us the assurance that this journey is not in vain (though it seems so at times), and it will come to completion. There IS a finish line. John 19:28-30: After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. Perhaps the most POWERFUL and SIGNIFICANT statement that Jesus made on the cross, and His final words before “giving up the ghost.” More so than “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” More so than “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” More so, even, than “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Found only in the Gospel of John, the Greek word translated “it is finished” is tetelestai, an accounting term that means “paid in full.” When Jesus uttered those words, He was declaring the debt owed to God by mankind was ELIMINATED – the debt of sin. Just prior to His arrest by the Romans, Jesus prayed His last public prayer, in which He said: “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4). Chaussures adidas running The work Jesus was sent to do was threefold: 1. To “seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10), 2. To provide atonement for the sins of mankind: Romans 3:23-24: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:, and 3. Ugg 2017 To reconcile sinful men to a holy God: 2 Corinthians 5:18-19: And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Here is the point: when He said “It is finished,” it was only the BEGINNING of new life for us! All who were once “dead in trespasses and sins” but who are now made “alive with Christ” (Ephesians 2:1,5). The application of this “finished” principle is found in Hebrews 12:2-3: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Because HE finished, you have the power to finish! Galatians 6:9: And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Adidas Soldes He is the Author of ETERNAL SALVATION: Hebrews 5:9: And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. Kånken Rucksack He is the Author of PEACE: 1 Corinthians 14:33: For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. And He is the author AND the FINISHER of our faith! AUTHOR: Jeremiah 1:5: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. FINISHER: Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the thoughts (plan or purpose) that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Philippians 1:6: Being confident (be persuaded, believe, trust) of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: “perform” (epitele?): fulfill completely, execute, finish. chaussure asics Do not be discouraged! Jesus will finish the work He started! The 1992 Summer Olympics featured two tremendously poignant moments. American sprinter Gail Devers, the clear leader in the 100 meter hurdles, tripped over the last barrier. She agonizingly pulled herself to her knees and crawled the last five meters, finishing fifth–but finishing. Even more heart-rending was the 400 meter semifinal in which British runner Derek Redmond, a favorite to win a medal, tore a hamstring and fell to the track. He struggled to his feet and began to hobble, determined to complete the race. As he struggled, His father ran from the stands to help him off the track, but the athlete refused to quit. His father said, “You don’t have to do this.” Derek said, “Yes I do. I have to finish.” His father replied, “Then we’re going to finish together.” He leaned on his father, and the two limped to the finish line together, to deafening applause. Another great “finishing” story is taken from an earlier Olympics, the story of John Akwhari. He understood why he was in the Olympics like no one else. He represented Tanzania in the Marathon in the 1968 Olympic Games. Early on in the journey, John stumbled, fell and injured his knee and ankle. He was immediately out of medal contention. By 7 p.m. new balance baskets an Ethiopian runner won the race. new balance soldes John stumbled into the stadium with a bloody leg and injured ankle over an hour later, which is a lifetime in an Olympic competition. Yet, thousands of fans remained in the stadium awaiting his arrival. And as he limped and hobbled, the people stood and cheered him on. Even though he was not a medal contender, he was a true competitor. Reporters could not understand why he continued to run despite his injuries and the plain and simple fact that the he was out of the race early on. adidas tubular shadow He somberly explained to reporters what they had missed about the Olympics. It was not simply about him and his achievement or failure. nike air max 90 femme He represented something bigger than himself. He said, now this is translated but you get the jist: “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to begin a race; they sent me to finish the race.” God has called you, equipped you and empowered you to not only stand, walk, and run…but to FINISH.

Posted in Christianity, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

The Action of Love

1 John 3:18: My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. I shared this Scripture with you last week as we talked about the fact that everything we do is tied to truth: we worship God in spirit and in truth, we serve God in sincerity and in truth, and we love in deed and in truth. I want to expound on the idea that LOVE is an action word, that it is all about behavior…indeed, we show love by what we do. Jesus taught in John 13:35: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” All men will know that we are disciples of the Lord if we have love one TO another (as opposed to having love one FOR another). Having love one TO another really shows us the true nature of love – it is something that must be shown. Jesus gives us more insight into this in two portions of scripture found in the gospel of Luke. One is in chapter 18, and it is the familiar story of who we call the “rich young ruler”: Luke 18:18-23: “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. bottes ugg Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. adidas ace And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.” With this young man, Jesus emphasizes the commandments that have to do with behavior: adultery, murder, thievery, lying, etc. nike free trainer However, in a very similar scenario, Jesus seems to give a different answer. Take a look at Luke 10:25-28: “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. air jordan 31 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” Same question…different answers. Seems to be a contradiction, right? But take a closer look: In Luke 10, it’s all about the love. In Luke 18, it’s all about works. But since we know that LOVE is ACTION (you show love by what you do), Luke 18 must be speaking to MOTIVE and FOUNDATION. The “certain lawyer” answered correctly, that the greatest commandments were to love God and love our neighbor. chaussure timberland homme The “certain ruler” had it all wrong: he was not motivated by love, but simply by works. ugg chaussons louboutin soldes Jesus is not contradicting Himself in teaching the young ruler that it’s not about what you do…but your motive behind why you do it. Mochilas Kanken Classic If you love God and love your neighbor, you will, by default, obey all the other commandments that have to do with behavior, because you are motivated by the right thing…love. timberland homme And if your motive is right, you will have no problem giving it all up, selling what you have, giving it to the poor, and simply following Jesus. But the young man couldn’t do it. A sad story. God will reveal your motives, the “intent of the heart,” to discover if you are truly pure on the inside. And if you are, that is when you will see God (Matthew 5:Smilie: 8). One of the most popular Bible verses of all time is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Notice the very first words: “For God so LOVED the world, that he GAVE…”. Love motivates you to give…to act…to do. timberland earthkeepers bottes Let us always love in deed and in truth.

Posted in Christianity, Demonstration, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

TRUTH In All We Do

The idea that TRUTH (and not just Truth, but THE Truth) should be at the center of everything we do is found in Ephesians chapter 6, when Paul describes the armour of God that every believer should be equipped with. The very first piece of armour, and rightfully so, was the girdle of Truth: “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…” (Ephesians 6:14). In the ancient soldier’s armour, the girdle was the very centerpiece, and every other piece of armour on his body was attached to this. Remember, Jesus identified HIMSELF as the Truth embodied, when he proclaimed “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

There are three particular Scriptures which seem to speak to this idea. I want to share them with you today.

The first is very familiar to most of us, and is found in John 4:24: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” An important concept: it’s not enough to worship Him in spirit, but it must be attached to truth. In fact, this is so important, that the previous verse actually says that God is “seeking such to worship Him.” He is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth! Know this: while you are seeking God, He is seeking you. Be a TRUE worshipper!

The next scripture I want to share is found in Joshua 24:14: “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.” It is vital that we serve the Lord, not just in sincerity, but in truth! I know many people who are sincerely, but it is possible to be sincerely wrong. Your sincerity must be clothed in truth for it to be accepted by God. And I will tell you this: I believe that God is calling those that are sincere, hungry and thirsty, and will reveal the Truth of His Word to them. Let us continue to pray for this!

Finally, we come to 1 John 3:18, which says, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” This is proof that love is a verb – an action word. You cannot merely SAY you love someone, you must SHOW (by your “deeds”Smilie: ;) that you love someone. It is significant that Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Did you notice it? We must have love one TO (not for) another. They KNOW it when we SHOW it.
Here is a summary of what those scriptures teach, and please notice again the emphasis on attaching TRUTH to each command: We are to WORSHIP in spirit and in truth, we are to SERVE in sincerity and in truth, and we are to LOVE in deed and in truth. Make sure you are connected to TRUTH in everything you do. This is what pleases the Lord!

Posted in Christianity, Demonstration, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

Getting Rid of the “Stuff”

The following is an excerpt taken from an article in the New York Times by Carl Richards, entitled: “New Rule: All Purchases Subject to a 7-Day Mental Quarantine.”:

My wife and I are setting up a customs screening station in our driveway. No, we’re not starting an international airport. And it’s not for solicitors, strangers or gift-bearing guests.

It’s for us and our stuff.

From now on, before anything new comes into the house, resident buyers will need to answer a series of questions. How much did it cost? Are you replacing something you already own? Why do you think it’s amazing? And if it’s food, are you sure you’ll eat it?

We’re doing this because stuff is taking over our home. And right now we’re in the process of getting rid of things we never use. We’re organizing, sorting and throwing things out from one end of the house to the other. And it feels. So. Good.

You know what I’m talking about, right? That moment of sheer relief when that thing you no longer need or even really want finally leaves your home. But here’s the catch: Throwing stuff away is only half the battle. You have to stop stuff from coming into the house in the first place.

Consider, for example, what customs might have said about the super precision gyroscope with gimbals (??) that I bought more than a year ago and used precisely once: Cost? $250. Is it replacing something? No. Why is it amazing? Because of the gimbals! But $250 for gimbals? Denied.

Don’t get me wrong, the gyroscope is incredible. It works perfectly, so it’s not the gyroscope’s fault it sat around in a box for a year. It’s my fault for buying it in the first place. It never should have slipped through customs.

I recommend a stuff quarantine of seven days, particularly if we’re talking about anything that costs more than $50. Anything that you’re considering ought to sit in your head for at least a week, and you should test it out on your fellow customs officers. Look, I know that buying things feels good. So does tossing out stuff that you don’t use. But wouldn’t it feel so much better to spend that time and money on something you’ll actually use or enjoy instead?

The answer is not just to throw away the junk. The answer is the customs gate and the quarantine bin. Otherwise, if you’re not careful, the stuff you buy today will be the junk you throw away tomorrow.

Now, the spiritual application should be obvious. We all have “stuff” in our lives that we don’t need, and that in fact, may be hurting or hindering us from becoming all that God has called and created us to be. The point I really like about this story is this: it’s not just about what you get rid of in your life that benefits you – it’s also about what you don’t take in to your life. True repentance is not just about getting rid of the “old man”, old habits, old addictions, old stumbling blocks – it’s about replacing that stuff with new habits, new disciplines, new commitments – walking in the newness of life! (Rom 6:4).

Take the “7-day Mental Quarantine” challenge – pray long and hard about what you bring into your life, now that you have put off the old man and have been renewed in the spirit of your mind. Remember, Ephesians 4:22-24 teaches us that the next step is “putting on the new man.” And make sure that it’s not the “old man” in disguise.

Posted in Christianity, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation

A MAXIMUM Mentality

Too many times as Christians, we are concerned with only doing the “minimum.” We may not voice these questions out loud, or even on purpose, but sometimes down inside we say, “What can I do to simply “get by?” How get I put forth the least amount of effort, and still be saved? What is the minimum required attendance to stay on the roll?” Hopefully, these are questions that are not a part of your thinking process!

I think I know where this partially comes from. Has anyone ever heard the phrase, “He’s so heavenly minded that he’s no earthly good?” We are sometimes too careful on the spiritual side of things, to the point that we back off way too much. A little like Martha when she complained to Jesus that Mary wouldn’t help around the house. But don’t forget Jesus’ answer: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42). When Jesus is in the house, nothing else matters but to worship! We’ll get to the other stuff, but don’t miss the time of His visitation. And here’s the thing: Mary was not lazy, and was not just simply sitting around waiting for Jesus to come. Here is what Martha says when she approaches Jesus: “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?” Please notice the words: “my sister hath LEFT ME to serve alone.” To me, this is saying that Mary was involved in the preparation for Jesus to come over, but once He showed up, it was time to worship! This is the attitude we must have: don’t be afraid to work for God, but when His presence is in the house, it’s time to stop working and start worshipping!

In fact, the scripture does not teach “moderation” when it comes to Spiritual things. Just the opposite. It teaches moderation when it concerns the world and the flesh. For example, Ephesians 5:18: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” In other words, don’t live in EXCESS when it comes to fleshly matters, because that will cause you to sin. But you must be FILLED with the Spirit – in other words, don’t get drunk on wine, get drunk on the Spirit! We need a MAXIMUM MENTALITY when it comes to the things of the Spirit: prayer, worship, church attendance, giving, fasting, witnessing, etc. Do these things in EXCESS. “I will bless the Lord at ALL TIMES.” “Pray WITHOUT CEASING.” “Rejoice EVERMORE.” “His praise shall CONTINUALLY be in my mouth.” And so on.

Look at it this way: what if, when you are preparing to get married, you say to your potential wife, “I love you with all my heart. I am totally devoted to you, and am committed to making you the happiest girl in the world. Now, can you let me know, what is the minimum amount of time I can spend with you, and still stay married?” Will this girl marry him, or not? You got it. NOT.

Are we not treating our relationship with the Lord the same way? “Lord, what’s the minimum amount of time I can spend in prayer and still be saved? What’s the minimum amount that I can give, and not rob you? What’s the minimum number of church events I can come to and still be considered part of the church?” Does that really make sense to anyone? But…actions speak louder than words. That’s how some of us live.

May the Lord grant us a MAXIMUM MENTALITY. Serve Him, love Him, and worship Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Give your best. Give your life. Give it all.

He did.

Posted in Christianity, Hope, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, Religion, Salvation